Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Death is Inherent in the Farm Life

Death is a part of life, and I'm honestly more used to it than I'd like to be. Out here, though, I'm glad for it. It's not as difficult when we lose yet another barn cat, or entire families of ducklings or chicks. But no matter how familiar it becomes with the farm animals, it's never easy when it's a family pet.

In the last year, we've lost two long-time pets. Last fall, we lost our little puma -- a black turkish angora who stole our hearts when we saved him from dying of road rash like the rest of the kittens in his doomed litter, and again when he drug his car-smashed body back into our house after being missing for almost two weeks, and lastly when he died in Munchkin's lap from what seemed to be kidney problems, maybe from his many car encounters.

I wasn't home when this happened, but my heart ached for my girl as I raced home to hold her in my arms. Her heart isn't as hard as mine is yet, and I know that she needs this experience to be able to handle the death that invariably happens when you own multiple animals, whether farm type or home type. It didn't stop me from crying for her and with her.

That was nine months ago. We finally went out early this spring and adopted another little puma, just as black, just as much long hair, and just as character-laden as the first. She is an important part of our lives today and has really filled the void in our lives.

Just as life settled in again, though, we began to lose Little Dog. We had guessed cancer by the symptoms, and with his age and quickly decreasing physical abilities, we decided to make him as comfortable as possible. We couldn't stay home, so did our best morning and evening to find him and treat him and love on him. We finally lost him last weekend.

He too was a stray, wandering onto the farm of Red and Chevy Mama a decade ago. Being part Jack Russell and part lucky (and bigger) neighbor dog, he was the perfect playmate for an ADHD-type toddler. We took him home, trained him to stay in the 1-acre yard (he was very social), and took him on many adventures -- to our parents' homes, on bike rides and walks, and to the ranch. When we moved here, he was finally allowed to roam free. He chose to follow us everywhere, and after a while, to ride on the toolbox of the truck instead of running behind it. He let the Behemoth chase the coyotes while he barked encouragement from his post at the house. He shook as if frozen at the front door, even when the weather was reasonable, and then snuggled up on the rug in Munchkin's room or in front of the heater.

Replacing Little Dog will be harder, but we'll do it. The Behemoth is young and needs a playmate with stamina and strength, as well as the ability to help him guard the ranch. Dude needs a good farm dog that will help with the chores without drooling all over him like the Behemoth does. Munchkin is older now so the energy thing isn't as important for her, but she too will enjoy a new mutt around the place. But it will also take finding a slightly-trained dog who won't kill the chickens or ducks or kittens.

Because the last thing we need right now is more death. It's time for life, and that more abundantly.