On Sunday, Dad and I took a quick jaunt up to PA to manage some affairs for my grandmother.  We had a great trip – lots of talking and laughing together, and a trip around my grandmother’s old homeplaces. The business stuff went smoothly, too, so it was all good.

Snowman, our Polish hen who died.

Snowman as a baby.

Except that while I was gone Bella, our female Great Pyr, squeezed herself under two fences and killed two of our chickens – Violet and Snowman, one of my favorites.

I spent most of yesterday in that fog of shock and grief that comes when I lose a living creature that I love.

This morning, I was hung over with sadness, weary from the long days’ drive.  I got myself out, though, just after dawn to feed everyone.  The chickens didn’t charge the door like usual, so I guess they were a little weary, too.

Bella was subdued, aware – in the way only animals can be – that she had done wrong.

I carried our kitchen kettle of hot water to each set of animals, watching the steam pour as the ice gave way, and I cried.  Just a little.

Sometimes it takes tragedy to remind us of the crucial things:

  • Secure boundaries protect us all.
  • Tomorrow will come, and we’ll still need food and water.
  • There is always more love to be had.

Now, I’m going out to feed everyone again, another kettle full of hot water at hand and a fresh 50 lbs of sweet feed for the caprine gals.  I’ll pet Fern, who must be missing her buddy Snowman, and I’ll nuzzle Bella close.

Because if there’s one thing farm living teaches me it’s this – sometimes we do each other harm in powerful, unintentional ways . . . and the only way to live again is with a good snuggle and a great heap full of grace.