Friday, February 05, 2010

The Sky Is Falling

Meet the ducks. A flock of about 30-something Muscovy ducks that live a pretty cush life here on the farm. The males hang around, eat too much, and bother the females when they are not fighting with each other. The females provide our family and the community with fabulous, huge, fresh eggs.
And once in a while, a baby duck. Being free roaming critters they tend to create nests wherever, and on 10 acres we don't always find them. So once in a while one of these will come waddling out.
Meet Sunrise. You can tell by the look on my boy's face that this is the current love of his life.  But that's not all...

There is a flock of wild chickens that live in our driveway here on the farm. It started as one crazy hen we affectionately called "Freaky Chicken", and over the years they have multiplied (as animals tend to do) and now there is an impressive gang of truly free range poultry that roam the edge of the property and the neighboring yards. I am unsure how and why, but one elderly gentleman neighbor came by the day we discovered Sunrise and handed us this.
(I know it looks like he's going to drop the duck, the hold was gentl corrected right after the photo was snapped.)
Now deeper in love. "Oh Grandma we HAVE to keep him, PLEEEEEASE!" Who could say no? Sunrise went back to mom to stay warm for the cool night. And Chicken Little moved in with us.
(He spent the night in our bug box which allowed warmth and air while keeping him contained and safe from giant spiders and gaggles of geckos.)
Cheep-cheep-cheeping until the wee hours he finally settled in and slept soundly under his warm light.
The next day we started loving all over Chicken Little. Grandma and Grandpa built him his own play yard away from the big animals, we researched baby chick care, and basically spoiled the tar out of him.
But perhaps we loved on him a little too much. Or maybe it just wasn't meant to be. The power went out in the middle of the next night.  He was without his heat lamp, but come morning he seemed perky and fine, even following grandma around the kitchen while she made breakfast. Then out of the blue he lost his perk. He sagged. He flopped. The life was draining out of his little chicken body.

Enter boy, stage left. If he had walked in when the chick was already lifeless, it would have gone so much smoother. But he came in while grandma was sitting on the couch trying to keep the chick warm while he lay limp and struggling for breath. Watching Chicken Little suffer his last minutes on this planet, he went through all the stages...
Hope: Maybe we can lay it under the mama duck? Maybe he needs some food? Maybe we need to go find the wild chickens and put him back with his family?
Anger: Why didn't anyone keep him warm enough? He shouldn't have been alone at night, he should have been in bed with us! Who's fault is this?!
And sadness... little tears welling to his eyes, his innocent face unable to mask the feelings welling up inside. "Does it hurt? How will we know when he's gone? Will he remember me?" Just as he got a stiff upper lip about Chicken Little and was planning a grave stone, Grandma found Sunrise... mangled by a hungry mongoose.

I wanted to sweep it all away, but I knew I couldn't and shouldn't . Physically watching him grow, ache, experience, learn in such deep increments... I don't know if it was harder on him or on me. The sky was indeed falling.

16 comments:

Joy said...

Aww...that's so sad. And yet, how wonderful to have a baby chick even for a little while. Those duck eggs look delicious!

House Mother said...

Poor Zach and his mama -- sometimes life's lessons are so hard. Boo hoo. At least you were together in a place full of beauty when this particular lesson was learned.

Seven C's said...

So sad. We go through that here once in a while. Whether it is the baby rabbits, a baby guinea or chicken.
They can be so fine and perky and just as quickly - lifeless. It is something that the kids have learned is part of life.

The farm looks so fantastic! What a wonderful place! Is this your parents farm?

Beth said...

Awwwww....I was enjoying that picture of him hugging his duckling and chick so much when the story took a turn for the worse. I feel bad for him. I guess that must happen a lot on farms...Poor Zach! Beth

Michele said...

POOR ZACH!!! Please give him a hug from his Aunty Michele.

Erin J said...

Awww, so sad but a necessary part of life. Curly and I watched my beloved dog die of old age and heart failure. It was a bonding moment for us and good for her to share it I think, even though it was sad.

Leslie in Adams Morgan said...

I guess your not back to Annapolis yet ... we are having a major snow storm this weekend ... enjoy the warmth ...

Kimberly said...

Our sky is falling in a much less poignant way. Somehow, enormous quantities of pristine snow makes you feel all cozied up, like the world is enveloped in a dense, feather comforter. It gives you an excuse to tuck in, cuddle, relax, and enjoy. In sunny paradise, precious innocents (and innocence) are slipping away. As the blizzard blasts away outside, we feel warm and safe--insulated from sorrow and disappointment.

Little Lovables said...

Awe, this reminds me of when we rescued an abandoned baby peacock egg. We named it Baby and helped it hatch. It lived for a few eeks, so sad, to lose both Chicken Little and Sunrise at the same time!

Little Lovables said...

( ps. do you still have your etsymom website? I saw these porthole stickers and thought of you!

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=39951926 )

Christine said...

i can only imagine how present you needed to be for your son, allowing him to express all his feelings is a gift.

gardenmama said...

I appreciate your writing here so much Cindy. Losing a pet is one of THE hardest things for children (and mamas!!) but t also feels like a rich lesson for our little ones to see life and death firsthand, as it allows for questions and thinking. I believe it will help later in life. Your a great mama and little Zach is too cute with his dimples! : )

eringoodman said...

oh cindy. thank you so much for sharing this. so beautifully written.

we too have experienced a wide range of emotions while raising chickens.

there have been times (when we have experienced multiple losses in close succession) that i have questioned why i am exposing my young children to such pain but we have always found rich lessons and opportunities for growth...even in the sad places of caring for our animals.

~erin

Cam said...

Oh goodness! It hurts another mama's heart to read something like this! We all want to protect them from loss and pain, but we know that is an impossible task.

I hope your hearts mend soon!

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Beautifully written post. It is so hard to see our children experiencing sadness and loss. I, ofcourse, would prefer that it never happen, but these natural lessons with you by his side are so much better than the way many children learn about death these days: cartoons or violent tv/video games...either the cartoon characters suddenly come back to life or the images are so gory and traumatic that the whole process seems far removed from reality. Growing up in the country I was surrounded by birth and death on a daily basis as part of the natural world. I think it is a hard,but important part of growing up and in many ways I think you may be right. It is hard to see it all now from a parent's perspective and to overcome that desire to protect or hide it from your son. You are a good mama for holding him close and letting him experience it with you.

Masasa said...

These pictures are so beautiful.

It sounds like these experiences are rich and full of learning and growing.

As for the death of the little bird, soooooo heartbreaking, and I felt your pain in watching your son endure. When our dog died this December, watching the kids try to cope was among the hardest things.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...