For some reason, I started off this season optimistic. Maybe it had something to do with the rain. After watching the crops wither and die, the ground crack under the unrelenting sun and scrambling to get hay for winter, rain was life.
And though the cows didn’t get pregnant on their last trip to the bull, I had some encouragement that the bull’s fertility could have been affected by the drought and then by extreme cold and their lack of pregnancy might not actually have anything to do with them. And that gave me some hope that when we try again in June, we might finally have calves to look forward to.
And in early March, as spring finally arrived, the bees in one of my hives emerged. I had finally seen a hive through winter and I was optimistic. I ordered a replacement package for the other hive and felt like we were finally getting somewhere with all these plans.
But then winter hit again and for three weeks there wasn’t a single day warm enough for the bees to fly nor warm enough for me to open the hive to check on the bees. And in those three weeks, my second hive starved to death. I added a second package to my order.
Only the entire shipment got stuck in a snow storm in Wyoming. Apparently, when the truck driver checked on them, he thought the bees looked a little cold so he turned up the heat. And cooked them all.
While doing evening chores, I saw a coyote run up the road. The dogs had flushed it out of the ditch across the street. Thinking about it crouching there, watching and waiting sent chills up my spine. But it took off and the dogs stood in a line just beyond our property, seeing it off with a chorus of angry snarls.
I can’t help but think it was the same coyote that came back later that night, while I was sound asleep, and woke me with its yipping. Right down by the henhouse. We have’t had coyotes on our property since we got Flee, our Great Pyrenees. Yet, this one walked right by him to get to the chickens and therefore knows he has boundaries he cannot cross. And though Luke ran it off before it could get in, it sent the birds into a panic that resulted in three geese and a duck killing themselves in their terror.
We lost Bunny (whose full name is Sally Bunny LE’s Bunny Hanley) and I had to hold a very sad little six year old who cried for her friend. Her very first pet. Her comfort and companion after losing her little brother. We don’t know what happened but we also don’t know how old Bunny was. We got her as a full grown adult and had her for over two years.
I lost my drake. My almost perfect drake whose breeding plumage came in so lovely and I was so looking forward to showing him this year. Not to mention hatching his little ducklings, but his death left me with three females and no hopes of breeding until next season.
A cold snap coupled with a string of heat lamps burning out within days (three in a week!) took out half of my ducklings I was so excited about.
When I found the sixth little body, I couldn’t take it any more. I stormed out of the garage in a temper, yelling at ducklings. Yelling at circumstances. Yelling at God.
“I can’t take any more.”
“I can’t do this.”
“I am done.”
“I. Give. Up.”
And I did. Right there on the porch waiting for the ducklings’ water dish to fill up.
Because all the failture was too much: the bees, the ducks, the geese (all two years in a row), the dog I had to give up, the dog that got hit by a car, the cattle and my son. Because whenever I feel like this, it always goes back to that night because all loss hurts a little deeper and stays with me a little longer and seems a little more hopeless because it brings up the feelings around losing Tiggy.
And somehow, when everything is going wrong, you can’t help but wonder why.
Is this not what I am supposed to be doing?
Or is there something I am supposed to be learning through all of this?
My judgment is a little too clouded to see through the frustrations of the present to really figure out the difference. But one passage of Scripture keeps going through my mind.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope.And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
I’m just not totally sure it applies to farm animals.
But this also isn’t quite the end of the story. The rest will come . . . hopefully . . . tomorrow.
Because I have a lot to write about and some of the nausea surrounding this pregnancy is finally abating.