Death on the Farm

I’m not naive enough to think that there will never be a death on the farm. Death is part of the circle of life (as we all hear Elton John singing now…sorry about that).  I’m also a sucker for happy endings and my empathy meter is seriously off the charts. I cried during the movie Battle: Los Angeles (http://youtu.be/Yt7ofokzn04), it’s not The Notebook…there should have been no crying. I cry while reading (and finishing) books, when something sad or horrible is shown on the news, I’ve even been known to shed a tear while listening to certain love songs.

You get it. I am a cry baby. One of the saddest things in life I know, is a tiny life taken before they have a chance to live-even on the farm. I understand natural selection, survival of the fittest, but that doesn’t mean I have to like  it.

If you are one of our faithful followers, you know last weekend we brought three little pigs to live at our farm. They were bringing fresh blood lines to area for breeding the Hereford line. They were all doing well until Friday morning, I noticed one looked weak and was dragging her back legs. I told the hubby and left to take our daughter to school. I got a call from him to bring home a baby bottle and Vitamin D milk for her. He had brought her inside, when I picked her up, she was cold. Her little head just rolled and I had to work hard to contain the waterworks.

We had a super cold winter, at one point, the kids and I were warming rice in a tube sock to put under our blankets to warm our beds. I heated one up, put it in the blanket and swaddled little Fat Patricia (the girls were named after a character from the movie Pitch Perfect). I was able to get some warm milk into her belly, as she awkwardly tried to suckle, and I squeezing the bottle to get it down her throat, and within an hour, she was warm and comfortable. I think I held her for about three hours (yes, I was even rocking her at one point before I caught myself). We had to go to town and she was sleeping well so I put her in the kennel still wrapped warmly. That night, I was able to spoon feed her some oatmeal. She wanted it, but didn’t seem to get much down (at least, there was a good bit on the floor). I gave her sugar water as well. My new kitten Phoebe was a bit jealous of all the attention, so she climbed up on my other arm. I laughed and told the hubby I felt like James Herriot. Once she was comfortably asleep, I put her to bed in front of the fire.

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When we woke the next morning, she was quiet and still. I prepared a bottle for her, warmed the rice sock and sat in front of the fireplace holding her in freshly washed and warm blankets. She never opened her eyes, just sighed a lot. The same sound you hear in the ICU or CCU of a hospital when someone is at deaths door. I talked to her, rubbed her belly, squirted sugar water down her throat to try getting her some energy, but I knew the end was near. I held her up close to my heart and waited until she drew her last breath. The hubby was getting ready to leave so I asked where he wanted me to bury her. He was such a sweetheart. He went out and dug the hole for me. Fortunately, he was still there when she passed on so he took her out with me and we buried her.

Fat Patricia is not the first death we have had at Beautiful Nazareth Farms. The amazing dog the hubby brought home back in February was shot less than a week after he left to go back to California, and died on our living room floor, in front of the fire with our youngest daughter laying next to her. Lilly’s death was tragic. Unnecessary. Heartless.

Was Fat Patricia’s death necessary? Maybe. She might not have been able to be bred, or had some sort of health issue that would have cost us down the road. But I wouldn’t say it wasn’t heartbreaking. Obviously.

Death is a part of life. I’m a big girl, I know this. I value life whether human or animal, but that doesn’t mean I don’t eat meat or animal products. I am thankful we have the animals to provide for our needs.  I told the hubby I would be a terrible farmer if I couldn’t handle an animal dying without crying (whether it’s a natural death, or time for slaughter), and he was so great. He told me “Just be you”. He didn’t laugh at me or scoff that I cried over a little piglet. Just held me tight.

RIP Fat Patricia

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11 thoughts on “Death on the Farm

  1. Well let’s hope it isn’t that porcine diarrhea that’s killed two to six million baby porkers. It’s around 3% of the swine herd and l like bacon too much to see them not make it into the food chain.
    Look what the reduction in the cattle herd has done to beef prices.
    Uncle Ron

    • Good point! Thankfully, the symptoms don’t match and the other piglets are fine. They are quarantined but I’m wondering about greater measures like transferring with muck boots etc.

      • Not to sound like a paranoid, but I would take as extreme a measure you could do without actually spending money. Things to sure you are not spreading contamination is a logical next step when you are dealing with an unknown. It may take a little more time….but if something does happen at least you can say you did everything possible.

        As you know I don’t know ANYTHING about raising animals, but I have youtube and the rest of the internet (minus the porn) to figure out what is the best course of action. I ordered my chicks yesterday then at the end they want to charge me an extra .25 to inoculate them with MRK Marek’s (HVT) Vaccination Service. So I stop in my tracks and googled it and figured it better to be safe than sorry, but a I didn’t want to spend the beyond the 100 bucks I budgeted so I went with less chicks and more piece of mind. Risk assessment is the best insurance we have. Sorry I made this about me, but I hope you see my point….do all you can with what ya got.

        • I hear you. I don’t worry about Mareks btw. Buy from a reputable source and you shouldn’t have issues.

          I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth it to have two sets of boots so I don’t track germs from quarantine to my herd. It’s only worth it if I can ensure that there aren’t other ways to transfer the bugs. Ultimately, I don’t want to bring new animals on the farm. That’s safest. I also need to protect my critters from other vectors. Pigs can get diseases from humans for example. Don’t feed them your leftovers if you’ve been sick.

  2. OK, you’ve just confirmed that we got the same teary, cry over almost anything gene, so we must be related. So sorry about the piglet. She looked like such a sweet little thing. You did everything you could, but I know it still hurts. Sometimes I cry just thinking about something happening to our kitty, or somebody else’s animals. Like yours, maybe I’ll even shed a little tear before I go to bed for piglet. And for you! Dear sweet Charity, I cannot wait to see you and just hug you really hard!

  3. Thanks everyone. I know sometimes it’s just not meant to be, but not knowing why, if we did something, or didn’t do something…just breaks my heart. We are stewards of the land and animals…I feel like I failed with her.

    Uncle Ron, I worried about that too, thankfully Jeremey has great resources to double check on those things.

    Damian, I know how you feel! And the first time you see one of your chicks do this awkward stretching thing with their leg, you will think you have to slaughter the entire flock and start over…again, you can never research too much…and always make sure it’s from a reputable source.

  4. We’ve being doing this a long time and I’ve long since lost count of the number of deaths like that we’ve experienced. You’re right that it’s part of this life because it’s part of natural reality. But may we never grow indifferent to it. May we mourn every death. May we shed tears. When we no longer feel the pain of the loss, then our essential humanity has been lost.

  5. I just came across your blog…teary eyed after reading about sweet Fat Patricia. I, too, have that ‘cry over anything’ gene. I do not farm, but admire the farmers. I have a friend who has a small farm here in north Idaho and see that death is a big part of her world, but the rewards are many, too.

    • Thank you Amy! It’s good to know we cry-ers aren’t alone. :) Welcome to our blog. We love visitors; most of them end up becoming friends. Please feel free to follow us, and check back any time.

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