Hard Life Knocks on the Farm

fieldpenA horrible sight greeted me in the field pen this morning. Let me preface this gory tale by saying I haven’t experienced this scale of blood boiling murderous rage and trembling hysteria ever! And all over a chicken!

That shows you how sheltered a life I’ve lived, if nothing else. Let me remind you, I’m an Austin “pansy” transplanted into this mid-westernly rugged way of life. My husband has kindly dealt with most of our animal euthanization, and up till last fall, I wouldn’t have thought I could even stomach butchering chickens.

Two long days last week were spent helping our neighbors butcher their 100 broilers, along with 12 of our 16 broilers. I left four of my broilers home to “grow up” a bit more. Now I’m wishing I hadn’t.

On Friday night, something got into the field pen (pictured above) and made away with one of my birds. It left a chicken foot and back to tell the tale. Now this only slightly appalled me. The thought of a predator calmly sitting in the pen licking his chops on friend chickie WITH the other 3 chickens cowering in a corner watching?!? The nerve! The other thought for consternation was: Well then, now something has discovered a pen full of tasty treats and he will for sure be back for more! Argh!!!

Hubby assured me he had it under control. Somehow a varmint had popped a couple of zip ties off the base of the tarp and pen, and then had climbed up the inside of the tarp till he could get through the pen’s panels to the chickens. Hubby, an accomplished trapper, set a trap using the chicken remains I’d found, and though I had a few issues with leaving my remaining three birds at the crime scene another night, I decided to leave it in God and hubby’s capable hands.

After all, it was a perky Saturday afternoon, and I was blithely gardening and selfishly didn’t want to think about where to put three homeless broilers. Yes, I could have/should have butchered them, but I had a glorious day for gardening, a dry garden for once this wet spring(!) and lost myself for eight straight hours tilling, planting, making wide raised beds with my fun eight year old’s help…

Along came Sunday morning. Dh went to check his trap. Bad news. The thief  set off the trap, successfully stole the bait AND made away with TWO more chickens!!!

In a snit I stomped down to the field pen to gather up lone birdie intending to put it in a safe spot till I could get around to butchering it in the afternoon.

TOO LATE! Upon arriving at the field pen I caught said varmint in the process of enjoying one last luscious morning snack. In broad daylight!!! Good grief. There goes another fried chicken dinner!

I’m glad no one saw my snarling face as I gave that POSSUM the what for. If Christians had swear words, I would have used them. I mean, I screamed at that mangy, nasty, greasy nosed snot. And then I screamed for my husband!!! Finally he stuck his head out the front door and I yelled, “GET YOUR GUN AND GET OUT HERE!!!”

He kindly obliged.

Meanwhile, Possum is stock still, mildly looking me in the eye, probably wondering what kind of crazy weirdo could make such a racket. I can’t tell whether the chicken is dead or not, so I assume it is. It’s laying inert in the grass in front of Mr. Bad Guy. I’m standing there, shaking like a victim, throat burning from my hollering fit, heart racing, eyes streaming. SO mad and just willing my husband to hurry so Possum will get his just desserts.

Finally hubby arrives, pistol in hand, and possum scrambles for his life. How satisfying. Take that, and that. BANG BANG. We see the chicken move around in the pen and dh is optimistic.

“Maybe the chicken was just playing dead,” he says, opening the door and going in to scope things out.

I’m feeling more and more of my city girl roots. Frozen to the spot. About to melt into a sniffling puddle of writhing anger and grief. Very weird combo. I really think it scared dh because I’m normally cool as a cuke.

“Nope. It’s not playing dead. But it’s not dead either.”

Possum has been eating my live chicken from the feet up. It’s missing its entire back end, and it’s still alive!

Okay. At this point, I’m a bawling mess. I don’t care if I resemble my four year old after a nightmare. Thinking about that stupid possum not even having the decency to kill the chicken first. COME ON.

And you’re thinking…sheesh, you just participated in a killing spree of these same chickens only three days prior! What gives?fieldpeninterior

Well…to that I’d sputter…”But we did it humanely! And-and, that was the purpose behind the past eight weeks of growing up chicks. To feed my family, not a family of possums!”

So I’ve had all day to ponder this ordeal, and have come to some conclusions. Bear with me. You might wonder at my need to make this mean something…but I believe God allows all things for a reason, and that we can learn so much if we just wait on Him to open our eyes and understanding. After all, Jesus used many every-day things to portray his teachings through parables. So here goes. This is what I’ve processed about my emotional upheaval this morning.

The quivering rage I felt towards that possum helping himself so INHUMANELY to my chickens is NOTHING compared to the righteous anger of God when another one of His children dies without Him. The Bible tells us that “He is not willing that ANY should perish, but that all should come to repentance…” How impossible it must seem to such a loving God, that any of His creation could live a life for any purpose other than what God created it for, much less live life rejecting God’s free gift of salvation–free to us, but costing God so great a price–His son’s life.

How angry He must get at our apathy towards people who don’t know Him as their personal Savior. He’s given us very clear directives–the Great Commission,  for Heaven’s sake–and how many of us are actually actively sharing what Christ has done for us with our friends and neighbors and yes, even strangers at the grocery store?

You know, I was pretty apathetic towards my chickens’ plight, preferring to garden the day away. I spent from 2 p.m. till 10 p.m. playing in the dirt, letting hubby deal with the traps, and do the evening chores for my chicks. In retrospect, he thinks he only saw 2 chickens in the pen Saturday night, which means one more was whisked away during the daytime Saturday. I could have been more on top of things. Knowing something had gotten to my chicks was one thing. SEEING it with my own eyes on Sunday morning was an incredible SLAP in the face.

You know, in other countries and continents, mutilations and killings of Christians is something people see on the streets. Subscribe to Voice of the Martyrs if you don’t believe me. It’s one thing for me to tell you about it. But what if you had to watch it happen to your little girl? Or your husband or wife? God sees these horrendous happenings every minute on our planet.

What anguish,  grief and anger He must have towards the evil one, and yes, even those of us who go life’s merry way. Too busy gardening or homeschooling or working to worry about messy things like that happening half a world away.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8, that we need to be sober and vigilant because the devil is like a roaring lion, roaming the earth,  seeking whom he may devour.

God is a real and personal God. We are His creation. He cares about us to the point of knowing how many hairs we have on our heads! He knows every sparrow that falls! This is a loving God–this kind of love none of us can fathom. How He must long for us to exhibit even a blink of compassion for the lost who have before them the yawning hole of everlasting fire! Or the ones that are being martyred for daring to have faith in Him? How much time does it take to remain aware of the persecuted ones and pray for them on a daily basis? Why is it so hard to share the good news with the unsaved people in our lives when taken into account that they will burn in hell forever without it?

It supremely bothered me to see the wasteful demise of something I’d raised for a worthy purpose. It’s been worrying at my mind all day. Hymn singing and my daughter’s homemade brownies have helped somewhat, but I hope this experience stays with me enough to remind me that real Christianity happens in the nitty gritty ugliness of life.

Until next time,

Mary

12 thoughts on “Hard Life Knocks on the Farm”

  1. 2 Cor. 4:15, indeed the whole chapter, illustrates so well what your chicken experience is all about. You suffer for whatever reason (the demise of your precious hens). I’m a spectator. As I watch, I see how you access God grace (His truth). I recognize His loving hand at work. So how can I help but praise Him that He loves you enough to test you. According to this verse, your handling of this awful experience stimulates praise in me and God gets the glory. Why? Because His power and His plan are once more at work! I love it. I love it! And I thank God for you and your so-dear hubby and precious kids.

  2. Mary Lynne,
    Thank you for sharing. This reminds me of when we lost all the summers worth of garden produce when one of my sons left open the freezer door and I didn’t find the mistake until three days later. I to understand the rage, the loss, and even though “nothing” was eating the produce, I appreciate you sharing what you learned and have tapped into my feelings and have applied it to my life as well. This came at such a good time because I have become tired in teaching my fourth and fifth graders…and wonder if it makes a difference…and then I read your thought about telling others about Christ and have a renewed sense of urgency in reaching my world for Christ. I am so sorry that your chicknes died that way. I love you. Jamie

  3. I’m glad you caught the possum, I didn’t know you had them there, Here in NZ they’re a major pest.

  4. I understand your rage. A couple of weeks ago one of our little town’s “wandering” dogs (a pit bull) trapped our bucket calf and chewed her ears off – to the skull. Her head is concave on both sides, and we’re pretty sure she’s deaf now. This was also in broad daylight, hubby was only gone a few hours in the afternoon when it must have happened. It was her first day out of the barn, one of the first warm sunshiney days, and she got mutilated. As if having no mother wasn’t bad enough already. The fury I experienced at the horrible cruelty of it all was frightening – and I agree with you, I too often just “don’t think about” persecution of Christians, etc, because it’s too upsetting. I should be motivated to pray for my brothers and sisters suffering instead of being araid it’s going to happen to me, or worse, my loved ones. Thanks for the reminder! (PS – Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to shoot our offender yet – he’s smart, unfortunately. We’re watching for him, tho.)

  5. Oh no, Haley! Your experience sounds much worse!!! Poor little calfie–bet that was super hard to explain to your girls! We’ve had bucket calves here too, nothing sweeter. Wow. Hope you get that dog! Isn’t it illegal to have pit bulls roaming loose? I’m glad someone can understand my fury–even over a chicken. Hubby set two more traps last night and nailed two more possums! SCORE!

    Thanks, Bethanie, Amy and Mom. Thankfully these possums aren’t rabid. They were *very* healthy looking. I wonder why. Grr!

    Mom, I saw your comment last night but wanted to read the passage you mentioned first. Here’s a funny…I looked up 1 Cor. 4, instead of 2 Cor. 4, and it really fits the situation too! Thank you for sharing this! I appreciate you and your love and encouragement!

  6. Jamie, sorry I didn’t reply to yours earlier, it was lost in the moderation queue! Now that you’ve been “approved” you can comment anytime and they’ll show right up. Sorry about that!

    Your comments just wrapped a hug around me! Thank you so much for letting me grieve and knowing what it’s like. I remember you writing when that happened to all your produce…I was in total angst for you! I hope we can keep this sense of urgency.

    Hugs to you cousin!
    Mary Lynne

  7. We didn’t let the girls see her for a few days, she looked so bad. She was their pet, so it was horrible to have to tell them what happened – and somehow they’re not supposed to be afraid of dogs? I’m afraid for them to go outside while that dog is still alive – they still do, but it never leaves the back of my mind. We did call the sherriff, and took pictures of the tracks, calf, etc. But, we’ve seen the dog since – at a distance, and on other people’s property. Argh. Hopefully we’ll catch him yet.

  8. What a story!! And I love how you placed Christians in the story on how they are being executed. I was also thinking about the unborn how they are butchered merclessly.

    My friend’s cat was attacked by two pit bulls. Jed (name of cat) was in my friend’s garage when they dragged him out. He got away from one but the other pounced him. They ripped this poor cat to shreds. My friend couldn’t get them off either and no one came to her aide as she screamed and screamed.

  9. Quite a long story but really good to read. I thought living in a farm like that is boring, but upon reading your story it gives me an quick idea that living in a farm is requiring passionate. Although there were few horrible things happens in there but i don’t think it can be avoided. Perhaps living in there awaits a new adventures to come.

  10. Haley, don’t you have a fenced in section at least? Otherwise, that is very scary! Thank God it was the calf and not one of your girls. But still! :O( I told my girls your story and my youngest piped up that Bethany had told her all about it! I’m sure it’s especially hard for you guy to deal with the dog when you live right there in town. Need to borrow a trap? ;O) We’re catching possums left and right…

    Leticia…I read your story and just as with Haley’s, wanted to throw up. Your poor friend having to stand there and watch that and not have any way to stop it. And your parallel of the unborn being aborted is EXACTLY spot on. To think I was so enraged at that possum taking my chicken. I have NEVER been that outraged at the amount of abortions going on in the world. Saddened and horrified, but not passionate or involved enough to be angry. So easy to ignore it when it isn’t staring you in the face. Thanks for bringing that up.

    Bretagne, definitely a long story! In fact, I debated on telling it in two parts, but had to get it out there. Therapeutic, writing! ;O) Glad you stuck with it and thank you so much for commenting. We definitely have new adventures here every week. Today we’re getting ready for 150 baby chicks that will hopefully arrive tomorrow at the post office! Those possums better STAY AWAY…

    Have a great day everyone!

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