Friday, January 13, 2012

Saying goodbye to an old friend

See that cute little guy right there?  That little guy is, well, was, Buddy.  Buddy came to us back in 2002.  It's actually kind of a funny story.  My neighbor found him running around in the middle of a busy street.  He stopped, picked him up and brought him home.  Problem was, my neigbor had 2 female dogs and the little guy he brought home wasn't fixed.  So everyday, looking out my office window (I worked from home), I would see the little Yorkie just sitting in the backyard.  I began to feel sorry for the little guy and one day, after my neighbor had left for work, I snuck over and got him and brought him back to my house.  I gave him a bath (he was pretty stinky) and observed how he interacted with the kids.  We called him "Little Buddy".  Then in the afternoon, before my neighbor returned home, I would sneak back over and put him back.  This went on for some time but then the little guy began sitting at the fence, staring straight into my office window, barking for me to come get him...EVERY night.   They would call him to come in and he would pretend he didn't hear them.  I knew my gig was about to be up, so I got up my nerve and went to call on the neighbors.  I told them that the kids loved him and that we would be happy to give him a home.  They happily gave him into our care and that is where he stayed until this past August.  I asked what they were calling him and they said, "We were just calling him Buddy."  So, Buddy it was.  A couple winters ago (the winter of the big snow), we started noticing that maybe Buddy was losing his mind a little.  He would bark for us to come get him upstairs (he liked to be upstairs where it was quiet but had fallen coming down the stairs and refused to come down on his own now), we would let him out and then he would stand there on the front porch, sometimes for 10 minutes, like he couldn't remember why he wanted to go out.  It was when he started going to the bathroom in the house that we knew it was time.  He had NEVER pottied in the house and you could just tell that it really bothered him when it happened (we didn't fuss at him because we knew he couldn't help it).  So, I set a date and I did it.  He was 13 years old (actually the vet estimated his age as 3-5 when we got him so he was 12-14, we always just went with the middle).  It was a rainy, miserable day, but all the better to hide my tears, right?  We went to the vet's office and then we brought him home in his little bed and buried him in the woods behind our house.  I still see him sometimes (no, I don't believe in ghosts, just my mind seeing what it's used to seeing).  I'll turn the corner of our driveway and think I see his little self trucking it down the road.  I still hesitate before I put the recliner down, because we accidentally shut him in it once.  It's hard.  These little lives become a part of ours and even though you know it's for the best and that they can't live forever, you just don't want to say goodbye.

Wednesday, my mom had had to take Kaylee in for the same reason.  Kaylee was my grandmother's dog.  My grandmother passed away 2 years ago this past July.  My mom and I promised my grandmother that we would take good care of Kaylee.  She began having some bathroom issues months ago but we just chalked it up to stress, because my mom leaves on weekends to work on a volunteer building project, and my sister was keeping her.  But recently, she started getting that look in her eye, like she didn't know where she was or what was going on.  Sometimes, she wouldn't respond to her name.  Wednesday, she lay in her bed unresponsive, after having just gone to the bathroom in her bed.   So, it was time.  It wasn't fair to keep her around just because she was the last living memory of Grandma.  So Mom took her in, and now she lays in the woods next to Buddy.  She was 13 years old.

We are so thankful for the joy they brought to our lives, the silly things they did to make us laugh, the times they lay beside us and licked our tears and the companionship they gave so willingly when we needed it most.  We will miss them but they will live on in our memories and the pictures and stories we tell.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Senior is no more...or...Killing a chicken to eat

I honestly never thought I would be writing this when we began this chicken endeavor.  I truly thought all my chickens would live to a ripe old age and die a natural death at which time we would bury them in the woods and say goodbye.  However, reality set in and you realize that you can't just keep feeding these chickens for 15 (!?! did you know chickens could live 15+ years) years and not get anything in return.  At least not and continue to eat ourselves.  So after having hatched out 9 roosters this year, we began talking ourselves and the kids into the fact that they had to go.  We continually spoke of how much better it is to eat a chicken that has had a good life, been well taken care of and loved and fed healthy foods than that stuff you get at the store.  We spoke of how this is a "farm" (of sorts) and how each member has to contribute and this is the roosters way of contributing (because believe me, our poor hens don't need but one of them contributing in the other way).  We said these things, repeatedly, but we didn't feel these things.  We were just trying to convince ourselves.  Don't get me wrong, I do believe that stuff but let's be honest here...we are just not killers.  We weren't made that way.  We love, we nurture, we enjoy...we do NOT kill.  Do you know the lengths we have gone to to save baby squirrels, birds and racoons?  Many a person would say, "There's enough of them there things in this world, just let 'em die."  That's not us.  We love this earth and we love the little gifts we've been given and we feel it is our obligation to take care of them the best we can.  Even so, we killed a chicken.  It was horrible.  It was nauseating.  It was horrible (did I say that already?  Well, it can't be said enough, as far as I am concerned).  We are out of the chicken killing business.  I couldn't eat it (I say "it" but we have referred to the dead chicken as him since his demise...such as, "I need to put Senior in the freezer."  "Can you go get Senior out of the freezer?"  "Senior is on the cooker."  "I think I am going to have to put Senior in the crockpot."  "He's getting tender now.")  I couldn't eat him.  I know, I know, all the blah, blah, blah, loved, healthy food, blah, blah blah.  I don't care.  I had a relationship with that bird and just the thought nauseated me.  I have made sure not to develop relationships with the baby roosters we hatched out this year.  I think I could eat them, but not if my husband kills them.  There's just something about it.  He was traumatized by "doing" Senior and I guess it's the whole "one flesh" thing but if he's killing, I'm not eating.  So we are going to have to figure something out in that regard, work out a deal with someone because I would love to see a return on my investment (chicken feed is not cheap!) but it's got to be on my terms!  So long Senior.  It was good while it lasted!

In Memory of Rooster Cogburn "Senior".  12/31/11