I wish I could come and give you a big hug right now. Wherever you found this article from Google, Pinterest or social media, you’re feeling the pain of losing an animal.
I wish it got easier each time. I wish I could tell you this one thing will keep all those predators away.
Instead I want you to know that I know exactly how it feels to lose these animals we form a bond with. The ducks we call over by name. The chickens that come to us and hang out. The pigs who go for walks with our dogs.
I know it all too well. And I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t.
When we first moved out to the country four years ago, we had a sweet grey cat with her two kittens show up on our back deck. I’m an animal lover. I had to feed them.
I knew my husband would freak out at the fact we were feeding one cat, but THREE? No way.
You know what this homestead life has changed my husband’s heart. And mine. He loves those barn cats, and he will even admit it now. Sometimes I’ll see him out in the barn petting my first pig- Bentely. The one who he hated lviing inside our home.
And these things warm my heart. I love my animals.
Last summer we adopted a set of three ducks from a friend who was unable to keep them. In fact we adopted her bunnies and mini pig too. You can see them all here.
We had a set of five ducks before and lost them all. It was heartbreking.
This time I wanted to keep them in our new barn and have them go in each night to the barn. I thought surely that will keep them safe.
The ducks sleep with the pigs, the pigs will protect them. This worked for a whole year. They even risked the walks to our pond in the back.
But this morning, when you get taht sinking feeling whe nan animal isn’t around. You just know.
And althought there is something strange about knowing, but not being able to find evidence, your mind plays tricks on you for the day.
“Well could he be hurt?” Maybe she’s lost?
With cats there is always the period of waiting a day, sometimes even a week. They tend to wander.
Ducks. Well, our sweet Mr. Duck wouldn’t leave his ladies this long.
And my heart hurts. Last summer my husband and I took our annual camping trip to the Adirondacks and the car died where we had no reception. It was stressful enough with everything going on in our lives, we didn’t get to really relax and escape this black cloud that seemed to follow.
On the way home terrified if the car would die again- we didn’t stop once, I got a text that our sweet first barn cat- Momma cat- who has brought so many wonderful kitties into our barn- got hit by a car.
The agony of not being in control. The wishing you could do more.
In reality there is only so much we can do.
I was just holding that duck last night. He would come to us and eat out of our hand.
And today, it’s a different story.
Today I’m constantly running outside to check on the two girls that were part of his flock. We incubated duck eggs in March and the 7 younger ducks are out in the pig pen- still safe for now. I’m hoping these two girls join them. There are a few drakes.
I want to protect them. I want to not let them escape through the pallet fence. But I also love the idea of the ducks being able to wonder our 11 acres. And with that is the risk. The reality of life out in the country.
For tips on how to deal with the stages of grief for a pet check out this article.
As I walked out to our woods, I saw a grey fox at the edge of our field. And of course I thought it’s coming back for the ducks.
I had kept the girls in the pig/goat pen that morning. Before they found a hold to get through and would wander the yard like our chickens do and go in our pond.
They were crying out that morning but seeing the fox confirmed I’m keeping them locked up. At least for awhile.
Does anyone else struggle with this? Loving the chickens and ducks roaming the yard but the agony of predators?
Here are few quick tips that can help.
If you do not pasture raise your animals, look for any holes where your animals can escape or predators can come in.
And most importantly, forgive yourself. Nature is a beast.
You can read this post on actual tips to to keep your chickens safe from predators.
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