Friday, April 03, 2009

Cycle of Life

Spring is usually filled with new life, both in wilderness and in domestication, but anyone who is connected with nature knows that death is an intricate part of life. This sometimes means that some new lives do not last very long at all. So those of us who live any kind of agrarian lifestyle also know that the joy of spring is sometimes tempered by the sorrow of young lives passing quicker than seems right.

This spring is no different on our farm. Most of dad`s few cows have been calving over the past week and a half. While this has led to 8 beautiful young calves running around, we did lose one a few days back. We were wondering if there might be issues for this particular cow but money is tight and that means limited veterinarian support. We did have one set of twins so everything is balanced, but it is always sad nonetheless (not to mention the lost income makes improving the farm all the harder).

But I did learn something out of the situation. I had asked dad the day after the stillbirth, if he wanted me to come and help him remove the dead calf. He said yes, but that we needed to wait 2 or 3 days so that the mother would be less upset. Lesson learned, I had thought that she`d be upset if we did not clear it out soon. Now I know better for when it is my situation to handle.

So today we removed the poor deceased critter. Apparently, one is supposed to bury such cadavers but we have so much carrion wildlife around that it seems ridiculous to not allow the cycle of life to continue. So off to the bush we went. I got another lesson in how horribly out of shape I am, as I struggled through much deeper snow that I had thought (ass deep if you`re curious). But once it was suitably placed I took a quiet moment to kind of wish its spirit well and to thank Nature for its cycle of life. Unfortunately I was a little too distracted by heavy wheezing for the kind of moment I had intended, but at least I remembered to take it.

This may seem macabre to some, but I was uplifted and felt peaceful when I drove past that stand of trees on my way back home and saw that the crows and ravens were already beginning the cycle of redistributing that life energy. It reminded me that as short as was that critter`s life, its passing means other life can continue and flourish. Soon the coyotes would have moved in and taken their share. After they were done the carrion birds would return and finish the macro decomposition. By the time spring sets in fully, there will be little remaining but bones and some sinew. This will draw the worms and the microbes. In time, even the bones will likely decompose into their various elements, to settle back into the soil, allowing yet more life to flourish.

Such is the blessed cycle of life.


linda said...

This was beautiful. Thank you for taking that moment to contemplate the lost life.
I didn't read macabre in this post at all. It was well balanced and for those of us who are still city dwellers with farms in our dreams, eye opening.

SoapBoxTech said...

Thank you linda. I hope it wasn`t off-putting in its eye-opening.

linda said...

One reason I can't get my thoughts around owning animals in the first place is that even if I don't slaughter them for food, they will eventually end their life cycle. Then what? Most of us urbanites who want to go back to the land need to know these things! You have basically grown up on the land and if you have information that isn't pretty, I am still going to suck it up like a sponge. Keep up the honesty!