As someone who has always done what I can to help the innocent creatures of this world, not being able to save a life might be the most difficult part of this homesteading lifestyle that I have chosen.

When I was a kid, I remember visiting a pig farm in Oklahoma.  The place wasn't very well kept, and I was shocked at the conditions in which those pigs lived.  As we toured the facilities, the farmer was gathering up the dead piglets, which he apparently would do every morning.  He had a bonfire going, and was just chucking the little bodies into the fire without a care in the world.  I was horrified, and that memory has stayed with me through the years. 

Couldn't that farmer have done something differently to improve the conditions?  Shouldn't he at least have been less cavalier about the deaths of his livestock?

Fast forward thirty years, and here I am with my own farm, responsible for the animals I have chosen to bring here, even more so for the new lives that are created.  I do not take bringing new life into this world lightly.  I don't see my animals are purely profit, and I don't measure their lives in dollars.  I see myself as their caretaker, for better or worse.

On some days, the "worse" part of that phrase is just difficult to take without drowning in guilt over those creatures who might have lived if I had done things differently.

I haven't lost very many animals since choosing to travel the homesteading road, but those that I have lost stick with me.  Unfortunately when dealing with the care of animals, learning how best to do so sometimes costs an animal it's life.

Sometime in the night, our French Lop rabbit gave birth to six babies.  By this morning, three of them were not in the nest and had died from the cold.  When my husband found them, there were three scattered randomly across the floor that were cold, and were not moving.  I picked them up, wrapped them in a towel and tried rubbing their little bodies while holding them under a light to warm them up.  No response.  I ran them into the house where it was warmer and tried everything I could, but they were gone.

I can't help but feel responsible, and guilty, for their short lives that were filled with suffering.  I was worried about this doe having her first litter in February for this exact reason, but because of her age she needed to be bred.  I could have brought her inside to watch her more closely.  She shouldn't have had as much room as she did.  I should have checked on her more often, and sooner.  On and on I go, knowing that things like this happen on a farm, but regretting that it happened on my watch.

And so, today I will be sad about the three that didn't make it, and tomorrow I will be happy about the three that did.  I have learned some lessons, and while I am glad to gain the experience, it just breaks my heart that those lessons have so high a price.




 


Comments

02/08/2013 9:38pm

My hard thing to deal with is when you try to save kits and they make it for a day or two and then die. Rips me up every time.

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Tina
02/11/2013 9:56am

Aw, Mike, it's always good to hear from a tender hearted man. It is sometimes very difficult to be responsible for all these little lives, isn't it?

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Grace
02/08/2013 9:51pm

Oh no, Mike, that is terrible!

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BE
02/10/2013 7:42pm

God bless those little souls, and thank you for the three survivors.

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Tina
02/11/2013 9:58am

Amen, BE. We try to be good stewards of the land, and equally good caregivers to our creatures. It is the least we can do, when we are the ones responsible for bringing them into the world. It is a very emotional thing, both good and bad.

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sue
02/11/2013 12:01pm

Tina, here's something else. They may have been stillborn and she kicked the bodies out of the nest, in which case there is nothing to be done. It doesn't seem that she would look after some of her litter and neglect the rest.

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Grace
02/11/2013 12:34pm

;)

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Tina
02/11/2013 12:47pm

Sue, now that I have had a few days ot cogitate over it, here is what I think happened; Holly likes to sleep next to Tom. There was one dead bunny right there, and it was HUGE. I think she had that one there, and because that bunny was so big it was kind of acting as a "plug". As she headed toward her nest, she had two more, which were also dead when I found them, right at the opening of her enclosure that we made. She made it to the nest and had the last three, which survived. I think two of them were stillborn, and the third died of the cold, as it was a perfect little replica of the three that survived. Of course, I will never know, but next time I won't give a mama bunny near as much room, and will confine her so that her nest is right there.

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