Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Small Tragedy


There are lots of cool and happy things happening on Maggie's farm these days: new turkey poults in the barn, our 7 adolescent chicks orphaned but thriving, no significant sheep troubles. But we had a bit of a tragedy this week as well.

It all started with the baby raccoons. These two were found wandering around on the dirt road in front of the house.
What to do? They were young, though not infants. Did they still need their mother? Would she be back?

Before long a crowd (well, a rural New England-sized crowd) had gathered, the neighbors and their kids and grandkids, me and my kids. We tried feeding them (dogfood) but they seemed only slightly interested.

We tried capturing the raccoons to give to a wildlife rehabber but the babies were not into that idea, spitting and screaming and quite unexpectedly frightening.

I called the rehabber, and she said to let them be, that the mother was off foraging and would probably be back for them later.

So we did.

We didn't see them the next day or the next or next and so we felt we had made a good decision. The mother raccoon must have indeed returned.

Which brings me to yesterday... when our dog, Luka (Not Maggie who at 14 is quite deaf and somewhat blind, and not Milo who is too goofy and sweet for such things) found these two wandering around the woodpile and killed them.

I can tell you that as a mother and farmer, raccoons are sketchy creatures. They eat chickens and carry rabies and some other neurological diseases. But they are also cute as hell, at least when they are babies. Am I a bad farmer to care so much about this small tragedy? To think about it more or less all day? To be mad at my dog and myself?

With any bad thing, there's the second guessing-- if I had just disregarded the rehabber's advice and gone with my instincts... if I had searched a little harder... if I had kept Luka inside..... No. Some things feel orchestrated like Greek tragedies, everything following from the first all the way to the (miserable) end. This incident was a bit like that.

Wouldn't it be nice, though, to be able to peel back the curtain of the future and see where one simple decision would lead?

Sorry about the sad post, June always sets me to thinking this way. Maybe it's because we've had family losses in past Junes, maybe it's because all the joy of this burgeoning spring comes with a slick black tail of death, orphaned chicks and raccoons, frog eggs laid in disappearing pools, baby birds fallen from nests. June is a raw month.

Next time, we'll be on to something more uplifting.

2 comments:

Nina Powers said...

If I could build a time machine, or find a crystal ball that would show us the results of our decisions, I would share it with you in an instant. I guess life wouldn't be life if we knew the consequences of our actions or in-actions, or our decisions.
Don't be too hard on Luka, its in his nature to hunt as it is in ours to ponder why things are as they are.
Hugs,
Nina

Annie Boreson said...

I'm sorry to hear about the baby raccoons. I know they are carriers of disease and what have you, but they are adorable. At least you know you tried to do something, but were advised to leave them be. Life is pretty fragile, even at it's best.