Friday, April 29, 2011

the difficult days

As I write this I hear the red hen, Penny, calling again and again to the flock that will not answer. I've been up since 3:30 this morning when I heard bird cries through the window. I grabbed a dim flashlight and ran to the hen house in boots and pajamas. I didn't want to look. I didn't want to scream if I saw it - the creature who had torn these bodies and lay them out in the pen yard. Some bodies were missing, some looked as if they were killed for sport, their beautiful feathers plucked and left in the mud.

Two birds looked dead at first, but upon further inspection I could see they were breathing. They are inside and I'm hoping for the best. Two chicks found a crack in the wall to hide in. Their bodies were so stiff with fear I thought them dead at first. I put them in my shirt while I searched for survivors. Three adults looked at me from high in their perch.

As the sun came up the morning birds threw their songs back and forth in the trees above. My path back to the hen house was paved with dandelions; some of them rose and flew away - goldfinches - I wasn't paying attention. I was thinking about telling the kids. I hurried them out the front door to the bus this morning. I wasn't ready for the tears. The birds we have had for close to three years are gone. All but two of the teenagers are gone. Belly feathers fell from the sky - sparrows were collecting them for nests. The survivors got a drink of water. I grabbed the rake and started to cleaning.

This week the southeastern storms washed away many of my seedlings setting back the garden by weeks. My hen house, inside a fence within a larger fence was ravaged. Around town I've listened to the stories of lambs being dragged off, wild dogs killing kid goats, and hen house slaughters. I wondered if I could escape the experience - it seemed everyone with livestock had their story. How can you ask to be this close to life and only accept one side of the coin? This is the baptism -this is the "jump-in".

I've posted my childhood prayer for animals before. We'll say it at their grave today:

Dear mother
hear and bless
thy beasts and singing birds
and guard with tenderness
small things that have no words.

Rest in peace,
Falcon & Friends


  1. Oh, Rosemary... I'm so sorry!!

  2. Thank you. I did tell the kids when they got home this afternoon. The initial tears have turned to Peter and the Wolf fantasies. In the neighborhood over the past couple weeks another lamb has disappeared and a dog had its ear torn off...they want to find the beast and march it through the town.

    Another strange thing is that Big A had a dream a week ago that something ran off with Falcon (the hen) and he had to go get her back. He's not one to wake-up and share dreams, so it stuck in my mind.

  3. O.

    this post and the next after it are the only good to come of this.

    so sorry.



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