Winter is upon us at Daisy Hill and as in the past it is once again rearing it's ugly head. I quickly learned that owning and running a hobby farm is not for the faint of heart. It is hard work, really hard. But more than that there is a lot of heartbreak, a lot of death and loss. This is never more clear than during a harsh Michigan winter. This year we were lucky to have such a long stretch of warm, mild weather and really not much snow at all until January. It was easier on us as caregivers to not be shoveling snow paths to all of the outbuildings as early as November, not be dressing in 5 layers of Carhartt's , not be hooking up heat lamps, extra bedding, extra heated bowls and extra sweaters for the goats. It was much easier weather-wise. However, with every kind of climate on a farm comes every kind of problem. Warmer, wetter weather means more parasites. Mites and lice love warm wet climates. It also means that everything, every area where animals live becomes a mud pit. Everything gets smelly, really smelly. And everyone and everything is dirtier. The last two winters were particularly rough. We had multiple days where the temps dropped way below freezing. We lost animals to the severe cold both years and it was devastating. Not only did we feel guilty that we couldn't prevent the losses, but we were heartbroken. When one of our animals dies, it is a hard loss. They are our pets, not just livestock. We spend the majority of our time with them, caring for them and loving them. Some animals are really expensive and we have to drive many miles to get them. Some are particularly sweet, or tame, or were a bottle baby who really never stopped acting like a baby. Some are just sweet rescues who were in such bad shape when we got them that they are hardly recognizable now. So to lose one who you have nourished back to a healthy, happy creature is just too much to bare. I have learned to not call anyone my "favorite". It seems that once you call it your favorite, it somehow manages to be the one who gets eaten by a predator or contracts a mysterious disease and passes away. I no longer have "favorites". They are all just equal. They are all wonderful, magical creatures who we share our lives with. Wether we rescued it, hatched it, assisted in its birth, or just went and bought it, they are all special and enhance our daily existence. Three weeks ago we lost one of our gorgeous bucks to an illness. We took him to MSU to try to save him but he lost the fight. I cried and prayed before I knew we had to put him down because I wanted him to make it. Then I cried again when we did give the o.k. to put him down. The second cry was because I knew he was no longer suffering, almost like a relief. That is how my farm emotions have evolved. I have learned to live with the loss. It's not any easier, but it's almost expected. Today I found one of my young Silkie chicks, not quite full grown, trampled and flattened like a pancake in the smaller coop. She was my daughters favorite. The other birds must have trampled over her when they were all filing in for the night to get out of the deep cold. It made my heart sink when I saw her. I had to fight back my tears of frustration. It was an accident. Nothing more. A sad accident. But a few minutes after that I found a nest in the Flemish Giant hutch and seven day old baby bunnies. My heart soared! The doe who we assumed could not get pregnant had secretly delivered a littler of seven kits! It was a joyful moment, and my pain of losing the Silkie swiftly disappeared. That is how it goes on a farm. Life and death. Pain and joy. Tragedy and miracles. It goes full circle, this circle of furry, feathered lives. The good and the bad. But the small miracles always outweigh the losses. Each and every time. Every time a tiny chick emerges out of it's shell, every time a tiny goat drops on the ground, just born, all wet and strong, every time a little fluffy nest stirs with newborn bunny kits, it's all worth it. All of the pain and sadness becomes a faint memory and the joys of the new lives encompass us, captivate us, and help us to remember why we love doing what we do.
"The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." ~George Washington Burnap
I am Amy, a mother of 3 wonderful teens. I am a self proclaimed animal fanatic, hobby farm enthusiast and lover of all things natural. I enjoy writing, junking, cooking, creating, decorating, home renovation, gardening, exercising, spending time outdoors, traveling, working our farm, raising our children and living life to the fullest.
Lulu, Misa, and Pearl, all part of one happy family!
Me and the guy who made it all possible, Rog.
Lulu with Dexter the Mini pig.