Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This Morning Is A "Turkey"

Ironically, death is part of life on the homestead. It's not something that we enjoy, nor do we look forward to it. But, IT happens. Sometimes death comes about intentionally, like when it's time to prepare the chickens for the freezer. And sometimes death comes about unexpectedly, as it did this morning.

This morning was like most mornings around here: rise at 5:00 A.M., grind beans for freshly brewed coffee, grab a good Bible, devotional books, prayer journal, and pen. Then I spend an hour listening to Him for guidance and direction for the day ahead. (I need that guidance first thing. Don't you?) Afterward, I pull on my grubby work clothes, then head outside to greet the Labbies, Bodie and Yeller, who then escort me while I check on the garden. From there I usually wander 'round back to clean the horse pasture. This morning, however, came with a new twist: after I picked up the stable fork, then turned to get the wheel barrow I caught sight of Yeller looking like he was going to get a lesson from a wild turkey hen. She looked none-too-happy with him, and I thought, well, experience is the best teacher. I think I'll wait to see what happens next. But, I noticed that Yeller was interested in something other than the hen. Oh no! She has poults (babies)!

Yeller, you see, is a bird dog. We adopted him one year ago when he was age  3. We're not sure what kind of training he's had, but he hasn't had a whole lot. And he's a tracker. When he gets on a scent, it's hard to get him off. He's also a little obsessive, which can be a good characteristic in some situations. But, not in this one. So, I put myself and my stable rake between the poults and Yeller, as I hoped to keep Yeller back as the hen lead her young ones away. It worked for a little bit, but then Yeller darted around me and caught a bird.

Oh, I was mad. No, I was sad...I was both. Conflicted.

He's a bird dog by breed and following his instincts; doing what a retriever will do without proper training. (We are working with him to retrain his behavior and making progress.) I was sad for the little poult and sad for its mama who was calling for her fourth offspring. On the other hand, it was pointed out to me that we have an awful lot of turkeys around here, especially this time of year when poults arrive. The fact is, a bird of prey or a coyote is always nearby and they certainly get their share of the wild turkey population.

Nevertheless, a loss like this is hard. And, it's a reminder that I am not in control of this situation or any other situation. I have to trust that there's a good reason for it all; that there's a plan and a purpose for all things under heaven.

Do you lose animals to predators on your homestead? How have you learned to handle it? Please leave a comment.

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