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Day 169: A Sad Sunday

We lost a chicken last night, a barred rock. From what we could tell, a fox got into one of the hen houses. Luckily, it was I who found her this morning and not one of the children. The rest of our "girls" were OK.

Don't believe that you can't become attached to a chicken; you can. Especially after raising them from little yellow cotton balls and giving them all names.

They each have their own personalities, too. My favorite chicken was a little gray and black hen who thought she was people. Each morning, when the hens were let out of the coop to run the yard and forage for bugs, Little Black would run to the house.

She'd spend breakfast with us out on the patio, greedily eating any morsel we'd toss her way. She'd spend the day scratching beneath the windows, within earshot of the family. I'd call out her name and she'd respond with a clucking.

Little Black died from a mysterious illness a few years back. I still miss her and even feel guilty that I couldn't save her.

Today, though, we were grieving for our Sara Lee. It was tough having to tell the kids what happened. They took the news hard.

For a split second, I wondered if I wasn't doing my kids a disservice, exposing them to so much death. After all, chickens aren't like dogs or cats. They occupy a much lower rung on the food chain, so losses aren't uncommon.

And, as country kids, they see more death than other children. They watch the neighbor raise a calf each year, knowing it's bound for slaughter. The Great Horned owls that nest in our pine often leave their left-over dinner by our back door. Watching the red-tailed hawk's airborne acrobatics often end with a small critter in it's talons.
And, sometimes, our pets take their own place in the food chain for a wild creature.

But they get to see more life, too.
Last summer, the Great Horned owls hatched three babies. Their proud parents would lead the fuzzy, flightless chicks from the tree, across the roof of our house to roost on the T.V. antennae. Throughout the night they would bring the babies back morsels to eat. We're hoping for more owl chicks this year.
Today, we noticed new growth on our cherry tree and got more seeds planted in the ground. We've been watching the red tailed hawks build a huge, twiggy nest in a tree near the back of the property.

Nature's lessons are the toughest to learn. She can seem harsh and cruel. But she is also beautiful and awe-inspiring. Nature is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. Nature just is.

So, maybe, my kids will be blessed by what they learn here, in this rambling old country house. Yes, they learn a lot about death, but most importantly they learn about life. That life is wondrous, life is special, life is precious and must be celebrated. Even the life of a chicken.

We'll miss you, Sara Lee.

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