I was driving home yesterday looking out from the bridge on our road, gazing toward the next ridge over, realizing just how quickly the leaves have lost their brilliance and plummeted to their death before turning into soil. The image struck me. Autumn, as an old man, leaning creaky bones back in his rocker, slumping quietly into Winter. That is precisely, the end of the season, and nothing has been more perfectly put in my mind. Fall is brilliant in the beginning, but within a few (very short) weeks you pick up your head in a panic surrounded by decay and eerie silence.
Life, and so death, are ever present on any farm, constantly dancing, and it’s hard to tell day to day which one will take the lead. Every time a life is lost, whether it be disease, or predation, they all come flooding back to me. I look down at my hands, knowingly, wondering if anyone else can see the blood that seems to cover them, lapping up my arms. A calf we had owned for just three days sick with pneumonia in 2014, two litters of piglets aborted the following summer, chickens nabbed by our woodland neighbors, along with many others over the years. Some are harder than others, with some we carry more blame. Of course, not everyday is so bad, or even bad at all. There are lots of days we get it right. But it is always shocking when we don’t.
In 2018 most mistakes don’t cost us much. Perhaps time, which can be made up by skipping a TV show, or speeding in your car, usually money, which there will be more of come next Friday. Aside from doctors and soldiers most mistakes in the 21st century don’t cost a life. But mine do. And not just any life either, one that has been entrusted to me, without the will to choose. If I don’t feed them, they’ll die. If they get sick and I don’t see to it, they will dwindle into a slow painful demise. So once again this week, I’ve set my shoulders square and decided to do the best I can. To tend to my creatures, my co-workers, as well as I know how. There will be more loses, I know, but there will also be more life when Spring quietly slips in through the crack of the door.