One of the first lessons I had to learn as a livestock farmer is, there is a season. A time to live and a time to die. Some have said to me, “I don’t know how you do it. I could never be a farmer. I would become too attached.”
Do I become attached? Absolutely! I believe as a woman, God created me to give life. Women carry babies, give birth and life. We nurture and are caregivers. Not that daddy’s do not nurture. Yes. That’s not what I mean. My wiring as a woman is different than that of a man. Emotions process first. It becomes very hard to deal with the death and dying part of raising livestock. Yet, when it happens, I remind myself of Solomon’s writing in Ecclesiastes 3:1:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven;
a time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted;
Farmers come face-to-face with the cycles and seasons of life every day. We watch grasses sprout, grow, become mature, shoot a seed head, and then die. We watch all types of life being born and we also see death.
The pictures above is one of our laying hens. I could tell a couple days ago she wasn’t feeling the best as she just sat on the ground, head bent forward. When I can easily pick up an animal, it’s a pretty good indicator they are on their way out of this world. I picked her up, set her into a nest box so the other hens would not pester her (nature can sometimes appear cruel to you and me), and let her rest comfortably. She stayed in that same nest box, sleeping or slightly awake for a couple days. I would check her in the mornings when opening nest boxes and in the evenings as I gathered eggs and close them again. I left hers open in case she wanted to leave it. On Sunday morning, I found her like this. Beak tucked under her wing, like she was sleeping; only she entered eternal sleep. Sadness overcame me as I had prayed over her that perhaps Jesus would heal her. He had. Just not like I had hoped. Haven’t we all had those prayers over loved ones and animals?
For me, it is a continuous reminder of the great cost all humanity and nature pays for sin. It’s a continuous reminder of the need for a Savior. God planned for and has redeemed us through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus. Redeemed? Yes, paid a debt we could not pay to make us right with God; to have that broken relationship restored.
I am grateful for this restored relationship and also that He has given me work to do by living on this farm, caring for the animals each and every day. To love them, pray over them, laugh over their antics, watch them express their individuality as creatures of God. I love watching the hens scratch around through the grass and the cow pies, running across the pasture, or cackling in their nest box announcing to the world they just laid an egg. I have come to love chickens!
It wasn’t always that way. Before we started this adventure, I clearly announced, “I hate chickens! I hate birds of any kind and anything with feathers. We are not going to raise chickens!” Again, God laughed! I’ll share that story with you tomorrow!