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Tuesday, August 5 2014

August 5th, 2014

Once again, the life and death cycle played itself out at Woodcrest, with pain followed by joy. When I went down to feed the guineas this morning, two of them were sprawled on the ground with their eyes closed. They weren’t the first or the last of the keets to die from this unknown killer: one died yesterday and one this afternoon. Grandma thinks they caught a highly contagious virus at their previous home and that it is just now rearing its nasty head. The disease swiftly sweeps through flocks, shutting down their respiratory systems. Unlike most of the other deaths I’ve witnessed this summer, there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop the process from happening. Every time I checked on them, another little bird was motionless in the grass, weakly gasping for air. Frustration filled me as I helplessly watched the babies die. I can’t imagine how much more painful it was for farmers of the past to witness grasshoppers eat their crops and chickens get carried off by foxes. Watching your livelihood vanish in front of ¬†you wrenches your stomach apart.

But while the keets were passing away, one of our Jerseys, Fiona, gave birth to a baby girl. Grandma named her “Eve” in hopes that she will be the mother of the new Dexter/Jersey breed she hopes to start called “Homesteader.” She hadn’t even nursed yet when we found her, and she chugged a bottle of milk in record time.

Joe, Shea, and Megan did a fantastic job cleaning out and reorganizing the barn and milking kitchen. Joe moved cabinets, reconfigured shelves, and even spray-painted the sinks so that there’s much more room to haul heavy pails in and out. Shea worked hard clearing out the miscellaneous section of the barn and the end result is a significant improvement. I started making tomato sauce, Beth worked in the garden, and Megan planted several trays of seeds as well. Despite the tragedy of the guineas, today was ultimately redemptive and productive. Hopefully tomorrow will be all of the ups of farm life without the bitter pills that are part of the job.

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