Friday, April 15, 2016

When The Mystery of Life Meets The Inevitability Of Death

Ashley has thrown herself head long into learning and practicing small livestock husbandry. She has developed ambitious yet realistic plans for for duck and rabbit production. She first began to put the plan into action with baby ducks.

She researched duck egg production and got her first set little ducks--cared for them well, built an outside pen with plans for a small duck pond as they got older. The ducks were close to the dog pen which I expected to keep any night prowlers away. They were growing explosively.

But yesterday something, I take it to be a coon, broke into the pen and killed several of the ducks. I hated to see this happen but at the same time I am glad that having been raised with livestock, by people who were raised with livestock, I recognize that death is not only natural, but inevitable.

Years ago a heavy storm broke red maple limbs around the horse lot. We scoured the pastures and got up every limb that touched the ground before the leaves could wilt and become toxic to the horses. it was hard wok but we got it all done.

But it did not occur to me to scour the trees above to see if by chance a broken maple limb had blown over to the top of another tree. There was such a limb and it fell into the pasture a few days later. I only found it after a horse had eaten the wilted leaves. He had no chance of recovery and was put down the next day.

He was a wonderful young horse and I hated to see him die, but I understood something that farm kids understand that might seem callous to city people. I understood that there were other horses out there who were also wonderful and needed my care.

And everyone of those horses have something in common--they are all going to die one day.

There are three reactions to that fact that seem logical to me. The first is to consider the pain of loss to be so great that one stops owning horses or developing relationships with them. The second is to become obsessive about preventing death or injury to the degree that one eventually replaces the practice of loving a horse with the practice worrying about that horse. The third is to move on and help the next horse that needs you.

The third one is the only option that seems ethical to me. Humans have four principle virtues--kindness, generosity, courage and resilience. One must aspire to all four but without resilience, always springing back, never giving up, the other three can be exhibited for but a short while.

It takes great deal of resilience to throw yourself headlong into a project only to face such a shocking setback as going out to feed up only to find some of the ducks dead and yet to never slow done--to work for a stronger anti predator solution and to figure out how to solve the problem and move on.

That is what Ashley will do. She is more resilient than anyone that I have ever known.

Kids who are not taught that death happens and that resilience matters are short changed by their culture--and their parents.

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