I cradled the baby bird in the palm of my hand, watching it struggle to take each breath. It was so young that is didn’t even have fuzz over its entire body, just little tuffs of down in patches here and there. It had all happened so suddenly. I came home and entered through the garage door. As I stepped onto the stoop getting ready to enter the house I heard a thump. I looked up to the swallow’s nest that they had built just above our doorway and saw nothing unusual. Then I looked down. I saw a tiny little blob wiggling on the ground. The little guy was so tiny he didn’t have his eyes open and couldn’t even stand up. He was literally a wiggling blob. My breath caught in my throat. I looked up again, that was a long drop to the ground. Did it really fall all that way? Now that I thought back, I think something brushed my shoulder before I heard the noise, maybe I inadvertently broke its fall. Or maybe my mind was just trying desperately to make sense of this situation.
But now came the dilemma. What do I do? Do I let nature take its course? Or do I intervene and try to help? If I intervene what should I do, try to place it back in the nest or try to raise it myself? I think the best case scenario would be to put him back in his nest but there was no way I could get up there myself. The swallows had built their nest in the highest peak of our garage and it had a veritable maze of support beams, and trusses surrounding it. As for nature, well, I understand that these things happen but I also couldn’t let my dogs act as nature’s enforcers in the matter. I closed up the garage and scooped the little guy up into a carton and called Hubs. He informed me he would pull out the big extension ladder when he got home and see if he could get it back in the nest. Whew, at least we now had a game plan. Hopefully the little guy could hang on till Hubs got home.
This is the part of farming that I struggled with regularly. I understand on a cerebral level that things happen. There are two sides to every situation, life and death, yin and yang, light and darkness. However, that knowledge does nothing to comfort my tender heart when these all too frequent situations arise. I’ve met many people over the course of the years that say they would love to live on a farm, but they acknowledge that they could never face the harshness of daily farm life. I have no response to these people because in truth, farm life is harsh and unforgiving. You can find yourself begging, bartering and/or praying when you watch a new born baby goat struggle to survive. You can become bitter or depressed when you sit holding that same baby goat, or cow, or pig as you then slowly watch them give up the fight. Farming is hard, not just the amount of work or the long hours, it is emotionally taxing. There is no arguing that fact. However, as I mentioned before, there is another side to this tale. Just as there is darkness there is light. Farming also allows me to witness the beautiful birth of baby goats. I get to see them stumble to take their first steps to find mom so they can nurse. I get to see their playful antics as they bound across the pasture as if attached to springs. I am privileged to have a parade of wildlife that wanders through our property, everything from deer, coyote, rabbits and even an occasional bear. I get to see the first bit of green as the garden springs to life and taste the sweetest and freshest vegetables available when it’s time to harvest. These are gifts.
One of the most important things I have learned from living on a farm is that to survive the hard stuff you have to cherish the gifts. In farm life, no in ANY life, you will have two sides and you must appreciate both to live life to the fullest. To focus on the hard stuff would break me. I would easily become depressed, bitter and overwhelmed by the sheer sadness. On the other hand to focus only on the blessings would make light of the struggles and feel disrespectful to the animals in our care that didn’t make it. So, for me farming, and life, is about finding balance. Learning to weep during the difficult times and then pick myself back up and appreciate the beauty of this heartbreaking, wild and take your breath away miraculous lifestyle we chose. It’s not easy, but for us it’s the only choice.
Edited to add: Hubs managed to climb up and put the baby bird back in the nest and this morning momma bird was back and caring for it. ❤ Happy endings.