We’ve had a lot of highs and lows around here lately. Both of which I oddly feel were kind of rights of homesteading passage.
Let’s start with the high point. We made our first potato and carrot harvests!
I had not anticipated getting much, if anything from either of them. So I put off digging them up. The rest of the garden hadn’t been breaking any records, lets just say. So when I finally decided to get my tush out there and harvest them, I was really expecting nothing exciting. And maybe to some people our tiny harvest wouldn’t be exciting but rather a disappointment. But I was so thrilled! And my girls were super excited too. It was like a treasure hunt and every time a little potato or carrot came to light we cheered with excitement! I can’t wait to try potatoes and carrots again next spring – I can only image what they will do when I put more effort into them.
And now the low point. We lost one of our chickens. That was a sad day.
We got lucky a month or so ago when I first accidentally attempted to free range the chickens. Last week I ignorantly thought they had grown large enough to be unable to escape through the holes in the fence. I may have been right about that, but what I failed to realize was that these chickens are escape artists and they found new holes in the fence. These holes were on the side of the yard that we share with a neighbor… who has a dog. Unfortunately one of the chickens became lunch for their dog.
It’s been a difficult thing to process. I feel foolish for making the same mistake twice. I guess it was just ignorant optimism…and an intense desire to have these chickens forage on the ants and spiders that crawl about in the grass where my children refuse to wear shoes…ehem… And I simply had no idea that A) we had such an inadequate fence and B) that chickens are so crafty! Lessons learned, chickens. Lessons learned.
It was the first time my girls have had to really deal with an animal death. It didn’t affect my 2 year old in any apparent way. But my 3 year old was definitely upset by the loss. Luckily I had always been very up front with the girls that these chickens were not pets and that one day we would eat them, like the chicken we get at the grocery store. So I think she understood to some extent, but this was very sudden and shocking to all of us. I was so impressed with how she handled it. She cried and was very upset for several minutes. But after lots of hugs and talking about it, she quickly accepted it and moved on. It was amazing. I know people have scoffed at us for choosing this lifestyle, and one reason for that was concern over the impact it would have on our kids to be a part of the life-and-death cycle on a farm. Well, I think we can all set that criticism to rest. Children are much tougher then we think they are. And they are more capable of understanding big concepts then we give them credit for. She handled the whole thing in such a grown up way. I was so proud of her. She learned a hard lesson, and so did I, but the important thing wasn’t that it was hard – it was that we learned.
I’m learning that hard isn’t bad. It’s just hard. And if you’re paying attention you can learn through hard experiences what you couldn’t through easy ones. This week we learned that our fence is not at all, in any way, chicken proof. And we learned life is fragile and eventually everything comes to an end. We also learned that when you put work into something, sometimes it pays off and you get some yummy carrots and potatoes. We learned what fun it is to go on a potato and carrot harvest, even in with the hot Florida sun beating on your back. We got to experience the satisfaction that comes from working and growing something yourself. And you better believe that when those eggs start rolling in, we’ll be so grateful for the three chickens we still have!
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