Greta (our livestock guard dog and general love bug of a Great Pyrenees) is an absolute SuperDog when it comes to protecting our farm. We've had hardly any loss since she arrived here three years ago, patrolling the perimeter as well as she does each night. I've come to be woken up by her barking and letting that settle me back into sleep knowing that all is well and she is taking care of things. It's amazing, really, considering how much is out there in our woods that could come after the sleeping beings in the barn and henhouse - plenty of fox, coyote, coy dogs, and so say our neighbors, mountain lions too - out on the prowl at night. The losses that we have had have been under unusual circumstances - broad daylight when Greta is napping, or in the midst of a storm. I'm not sure if that's usual, but the latter is something we've been noticing. That when a heavy storm in happening, it's harder for her to suss out what's going on out there. Understandably. And the wild animals take advantage of that. Earlier this week, one of our ducks disappeared, with only traces of blood and feathers left behind...and an injured duck too, clearly from an attempted nab by whatever predator it was. And so Herman, the drake, (named after skateboarder Bryan Herman, as one does) has now been tucked safely and securely into the hospital ward of the barn, where he is being carefully tended by Adelaide. He's joining StellaLuna there, our lone Pekin duck, who was a gift to Adelaide on her fifth birthday when we moved to the farm. I cannot believe that Stellaluna is still going strong, to be honest, at over six years old now. But she is beloved and therefore demanding the utmost of care and attention, even if these are her last days. Of course, there may be a miraculous recovery by both and we certainly hope so. For their duck beings obviously, but just as much so for the kids.
These kinds of moments are some of the hardest on the farm. When we deliberate carefully between trying to help heal an animal if possible, or to help end the life of one that is suffering. And where we delicately balance empathy for the animals and understanding for the children who love them dearly. Though our favorite duck doesn't go down every day, loss in certainly a big part of our life here. Yet, while these are some of the hardest moments on the farm, they are also some of the most important and most treasured by me, as I witness my children making thoughtful decisions, showing empathy and care. And I am reminded just how much the little acts of kindness matters, for both the giver and the receiver. A sweet lullaby sung by a five-year-old to an injured duck. A cozy nest of hay built by an eight-year-old. And the steady quiet presence of an eleven-year-old sitting by their side knitting. These things, those moments, they matter most of all.