Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Farewell Little Red

Yesterday "Little Red" died. The idea that living on a hobby farm will teach the facts of life to our children is not new. We have been witness to the birth of critters from fluffball chicks to gangly foals. The girls have listened in as we unfortunately learned that our dog Jake was the proud father of 11 puppies. The neighbor dog is okay after delivering them, thanks for asking. Seeds sprout, flowers bloom, eggs are hidden in dresser drawers in hopes they hatch.

The new life bits of hobby farm living are heartwarming, skin-tingling and joyful.

The death bits, not so much.

Little Red was not the first of our hens to cross the road. (Couldn't help myself there.)

We lost "Hairdo," a Polish Crested, to a raccoon nine months ago when we were at the hospital delivering Laura. (There's an irony, circle-of-life point in there somewhere. I think I'll leave it alone.) Sarah mourned Hairdo in theatrical passion, with black armbands and much wailing and gnashing of teeth. She flopped on her bed and soaked her pillow in tears. She scoured the photo files for a remembrance of her favorite chicken.

Hairdo was incredibly ugly. She was also so tame that we took her to school for show-and-tell in the "Mystery Box." Not one first grader guessed there was a live, crazy-topknot chicken in the box. When the girls would walk out to the coop in the mornings (this was pre-chalet), Hairdo would cluck her greeting and actually hop into Sarah's arms.

In January, when the EGE discovered Hairdo's date with fate had been met, he shuttered all the womankind of the farmette in the house and took care of traditional manly duties. I don't actually know what he did with the bird. This does not mean I have given up my farmgirl charter membership. It's merely based on my just having given birth.

But when Sarah discovered Little Red in eternal slumber yesterday, there was no trace of the broken-hearted girl of nine months ago. She calmly came in the house, autumn breath still steaming up from her lungs into the dawn frosty air of the kitchen nook. She announced that Little Red was dead. She asked to call Daddy at work.

One short sentence later, she turned to go back outside.

Of course I quickly called the EGE to ask what their conversation was. You know I did. He reported that he'd told her he would take care of it when he got home.

Who knows what motivated Sarah to single-handedly dig a hole under the biggest Maple tree. Who knows how she lifted that six-foot-tall shovel. Who knows why she pounded together two of the EGE's finish carpentry moldings into a (somewhat sacreligious) cross. This is one tough farmgirl. Oh, scratch that. She's a farmchick.

And in other deep pondering matters, did you notice Gracie's attire as she attended the brief chicken funeral? I had to be sneaky-like with the camera, because I was annoying the bejeebeez out of Sarah by thinking she was cute.

In other Suite news, I spent a long, long day driving across two counties for photos of completed survey and engineering projects.

I saw some cool stuff too:

They took an apple branch in for paint matching.

They painted to match the cow skulls and bleached-out wagon wheels.

The sun and shade painted this one.

Farewell, Little Red. There are other chickens waiting for the roost. It's a circle of life thing, and I'm learning it alongside the girls of Farm Suite. Of course I prefer the springtime excitement, but fall's okay too. We get tougher, we circle the wagons. We paint our houses cheerful colors. We challenge adversity with true grit.

If we only had the springtime, we wouldn't know how much we could grow into summer and how strong we could be to face fall's gusts of icy wind.

Of course I'm fully aware that "for everything there is a season." It's biblical, it's songworthy, it's so often quoted that it's nearly cliche. But right now, it's so true to me that I wish I could hang a placque.
For everything there is a season. There's even a season for learning from our children. I am impressed with Sarah's resolute action. I am impressed with how quickly she's matured. I want to be more like my kids. Is there a season for that?


Katie said...

*sigh* I think that this is the most beautiful thing you have ever written.

I laughed. I mourned.

This is the season for learning from our children...

Farm Chick Paula said...

I agree with Katie... beautiful words.
And I have to admit- Sarah has handled this tragedy better than I would have. When a stray dog (ugh) sent my favorite little cochin hen to that great coop in the sky a couple of months ago, I cried for three days.
*sigh* They grow up so fast...

Andrea said...

Poor Little Red. The girls look like they had a really nice ceremony. I love the funeral attire.

I love the fall colors. We don't seem to get much of that down here. Great shots.

Alexis - Chickie Momma said...

Beautiful. The words and the photos. Makes me almost enjoy autumn.

Mokihana said...

Yes, a lovely post. I remember only too well when things like this used to happen on our little mini farm. Two daughter cried buckets of tears everytime, as did I. We three mourned together, while Daddy did the burial.

Sad as it was, our girls also learned about the cycle of life...