Randomness and life

Today is one of those days where I am struck by the total randomness of life. Oh, I know there are going to be people who will insist that it is all planed and that everything has a reason and God puts obstacles in our lives so we can grow. The worst of the platitudes, I think, is that God is testing us. Sorry, I can’t buy any of that anymore. Shit happens. No good, no evil. Just shit happening all the time. If we are lucky, it’s good shit. If we aren’t, well, we have two choices…deal with it or not. This is life.

The past month has not been easy. Ups and downs like a roller coaster, one where you don’t know if it is finished at the end or you will go hurtling into space. Today, I got handed a cup of lousy shit.

I woke up to the sun with an unusual amount of pain (even for me) Cramps so bad last night that it tore muscles in my thigh and left bruises. But it was sunny and warm and It would be a lite day of Dr’s appointments and physical therapy. The canning was caught up and I thought maybe I could get some sewing done before tonight’s class. I was even running on time for a change. Then I looked for the deer to give them their morning bottle.

Three were outside the window and as the fourth came up I could see that it was dragging a badly broken leg. A deer hardly ever gets a minor break. Their beautiful delicate legs break in two. Only a flap of skin was holding it on. Not a vet, not a surgeon, not even the God people pray to, could fix it.

My heart dropped, my stomach rolled and I ran in to vomit. None of this helped the doe now lying under the forsythia bush. I needed to take action. I called my husband to see if he could put her down. After so much time close to these animals, I’m just not sure I could do it unless there was no other choice. He told me to go to my appointment and he would come home and take care of it.

I wanted to give her one last bottle, but Nosey has always been the shy one and she struggled to her feet. I was afraid that she would leave the yard and James wouldn’t be able to find her. she might suffer alone in the woods till some thing killed and ate her. I didn’t want it to end that way. I opened the gates and called the others for their bottles. Nosey came in the yard, but would not eat. She lay near the chicken coop and the others went to be with her. I said goodbye as best as one ever can and said a prayer for her next life.

She was still there when my husband came home shortly after. He dispatched her as gently as he could and buried her. I thought later that we should have taken her body to the woods and left it to feed other animals. It seems somehow disrespectful, to simply put her in the ground.

I went to my appointments and when I was alone in the car, it hit me. She had struggled to get back home to me. Even with the excruciating pain of her broken leg, she came HOME. She trusted me to fix her or free her from pain. So many of the animals that I have raised, have come home mortally injured or ill, just to die where they felt safe.

I had a goose once, who came as a baby with a broken wing. When it was grown, I drove it to a pond not far away, where I knew it would have open water and other geese for company. It lived there for two years until one day, I found it standing patiently by the gate. I let him in and he went to his favorite spot and settled down. I found it near its untouched food and water dish two days later. Its head was tucked under its wing like it was sleeping, but it wasn’t. It had died in the night. Did it know it was dying? Was that why it came home? I never saw any indication of illness when it came, yet it walked over a mile to get back home to die.

Home, that magical place where you live….and hope to die peacefully surrounded by what you love. If animals can indeed love, then there must be love for me, just as I have for them. This unnatural, cross species connection we have, somehow lasts. In whatever memory they possess, there is an indelible spot for me and for home.

As I cried in the car I thought, I can’t do this any more. It just hurts too bad. Someone else can take over and deal with all the blood and shit and death. I want out.

The rest of the day was not as sunny, or so it seemed to me. It passed in a cold fog and I functioned only as needed or expected. Then tonight, in the middle of Karate class, someone brought me a shoebox with a very tiny, very cold baby squirrel. I sat with it in my hands as it warmed and began to nuzzle and lick my thumbs. We made soft little squirrel sounds to each other and it fell asleep when I tucked it in my pocket.

It sucked down the warm milk when we got home and I wondered how this would end. I don’t care. It will end as it will end. It all begins with home and it grows with love and a chance for life and freedom in the wild. But always, there will be home and there will be someone to take away their pain. I’m not going anywhere….no matter what shit comes my way.

FIrst day

It’s “First Day” You mothers out there get the first day of school. This is the first day out for the fawns. The problem is that I send my children out to play in traffic and with coyotes and dogs and men with guns and arrows. The gates have been lowered for 6 days now, but the fawns have not paid attention till yesterday evening. As I left for class, I saw all four of them in the neighbors yard. My mind was on them all through Kung Fu and I’m lucky I didn’t get kicked in the head from the distraction.

I didn’t expect them to be home when I returned, and knew I would spend a sleepless night. That first night when I know they are not in the safety of the yard is always the longest night of the year. I constantly jump at the least noise and go to check if they are home. I wake up bleary eyed and stagger to the back door and call hoping that they will come all well and whole.

But when I went to the back yard and called, four pairs of glowing eyes shown in the light. I called again and they all came running for their bottles. We had never seen them so eager and hungry. I checked them all over and the worst I could find were tails full of burrs and muddy coats. They happily returned to their favorite bedding spot in the back yard.

This morning I called and only Princess came. She is used to hanging around the house while I make breakfast and will often share it with me. This morning, she only wanted her bottle and was back over the fence to find the others.

Remember the commercial “Do you know where your children are?” I don’t know where my children are. They are out of my sight and out of my control for the first time since they came as helpless babies in the spring. How fast the summer has gone! The beautiful spots that helped me identify each by their pattern are now fading and sleek brown coats replace them. There are tiny bumps of the bucks heads and the little girls have taken on the look of the graceful does they will become.

My rambunctious group of babies have grown into teenagers and the last thing they want is a human mother following them around. The time has come to give them back to nature and let them find their way.

I suspect that Nosy or Midge will be the first to totally disappear. They bonded the least with me and will hopefully join with a group of other does and their fawns. These surrogate mothers will be able to teach them the ways of the wild far better than I. Most of them will be does that I have raised in the past and seem more eager than the wild born to take them in. If I am lucky, I will catch glimpses of them in the following weeks.

Prince and princess, I expect to return for their bottles much longer. Princess, especially. She was the first and bonded the strongest with me. She likes to come into the house and visit and NEVER misses a meal or treat. Prince, is bonded to Princess, so he tolerates me and will sometimes come for affection. Often I have one or two of the deer come to the door for bottles or treats through November.

But the day will come when I go to the door and call “Babies!” and no one will come. I’ll put away the bottles. The basket of apples and peppermints by the door will be moved and the house will be quiet. I get very few animals in during the winter and since they are adults, there often little I can do, but ease their final hours. This is the time for taking in lost dogs and small animals that are no longer wanted or able to be kept their owners. Christmas will come and go and the deep sleep will be upon the land.

The first signs of spring will be the change in the trees that lets me know it is time to set the taps for maple syrup. The snow will melt into dirty piles and spots of green will peek through the dead grass. I’ll start stocking up on formulas, bottles, and baby shampoo. By March and April the studio will be filled with cages of squirrels and people will be begging me to take raccoons. The first fawn will come in mid May and the cycle will begin again.