While at work a couple days back I got a text from hubby that said, “I have sad news.” When I read it, my heart sank. When you have homestead full of animals of all sorts that usually means someone is ill, injured or dead. Immediately, anxiety set in.
I hate this feeling.
When anxious, I battle racing thoughts… “What happened? How did it happen? Why did it happen? Who is affected? Is it too late? Will I get home in time? Is this my fault? Could it have been prevented? If so, how?” and the litany goes on and on.
Honestly, the only way for me to get ahead of the racing thoughts and over-all anxiety is to face the facts head on, so I called home to get the scoop.
Apparently one of our older hens, Gabby, who has had health issues throughout her little life, poor thing, was found dead lat dusk. There were no obvious signs of struggle, which is good, I hate for them to struggle. This did not appear to be a predatory attack or territorial dispute with some of the bigger birds. If anything, she just succumbed to the recently brutal low temps. She was on the thin side and was found huddled up against the house.
We are VERY good about the care of our animals on our homestead. They are tucked in EVERY night BEFORE dark. The coop buttons up SO tightly we have NEVER lost a bird to a predator at night (the time when most predators strike). We make sure to do a headcount to be sure no one is missing and if they are, we go looking until we find them or lose all hope (which does not happen quickly or easily for us). That’s what happened this time. Gabby was missing at headcount so Brent went to look for her and found her under the deck stairs where the flock likes to perch during foul weather days. By the time he found her, it was too late. She was already gone. Poor Gabby.
So when I called, he told me the details and then I was left to think about it all obsessively (another manifestation of my anxiety) all the way home in the driving snow.
I felt terrible, as I always do when we lose someone. Sure, they are “only” animals and “livestock” at that but animals have always been more to me. I guess I have a bit of a Doctor Dolittle soul.
As I looked over her little lifeless body to assess probable cause of death (yes, as a homesteader you have to wear the coroner hat at times) I apologized to her for not spending more time with her lately.
This was my wake-up call.
Now that I am working part-time and still handling all the family errands, it is easy to spend more time out of the house, off the homestead than I should. And when I am home, it is all too easy to get caught up on tasks and projects IN the house, especially in the winter. Incidents like this remind me that to be successful and without regret, a homesteading lifestyle requires lots of hands-on on a daily, regular basis. Sometimes, if you even just blink, you’ll miss something really important and occasionally something that is a matter of life and death.
Would it have made all that big a difference if I had been home instead of working the day Gabby died? Probably not. But it WOULD have made a difference if I had been the one tending her and the rest of the flock more often this winter because only by daily, regular interaction can you pick up on the nuances of the homestead. Brent is very good about meeting the basic needs of the animals on a regular basis but he works full-time and can not really spend time out assessing the well-being of folks on the homestead. No. That part needs to be my job.
This is not the first time I have had this realization. Life just has a way of getting too busy sometimes and then the next thing you know, something goes wrong and calls you back to task. Believe it or not, even plants can take a nose dive in no time at all. I recall just last season when my brassicas were doing so well I thought nothing could knock ’em back, but in a matter of days the cabbage moth caterpillars hatched out and ate everything down to nub in like 24 hours! It was unreal.
So, now that I have again been recently reminded, what’s the plan?
Building on my new year’s intention of fine tuning my life’s focus, I intend to focus better on my homestead and its needs. I plan to set up a regular weekly schedule of the days I will work, the days I will run errands and the days I will work on home or homestead tasks. I don’t want to overthink it, but I do want it to run more like clockwork than it recently has.
Here is what I am thinking to be specific:
SUNDAY Day of rest, relaxation, hobbies, family time, planning
TUESDAY Home a.m., Work p.m.
WEDNESDAY Errand Day
Wish me luck and feel free to ask me how it’s working out in the future.