I’ve always prided myself on being a Kansan because we are the most common-sense, down to earth, pragmatic people I’ve ever met. I used to think it was because we live with the knowledge that everything can be taken away in a gust of wind, but when you rebuild it’s even better, and because we know just how precious life is and how tenuous our grip is upon it.
In the last several days, we’ve had to deal with a great deal of stress and worry, followed by two unexpected deaths on the farm – animals, but still family members. If you can’t understand that, there’s no way I can explain it to you and you should probably stop reading this right now. Suffice it to say that on a farm, the potential for death is ever-present not just for animals, but humans as well. The biggest threats to humans on a farm are accidents involving machinery (especially tractors) and accidents involving animals. The threats to animals are numerous, and what we have been dealing with this past week is a deadly virus. We’ve lost two animals so far, but we know the potential is there to lose them all before we’re through.
Living on the farm offers up close and personal experiences with death on a regular basis – as I write this, I can see three buzzards across the street, eating something just inside the fence. My neighbor owns that pasture, and I know that he has a calf who hasn’t been doing well, and I’ll bet the buzzards are either eating the calf or some poor critter that got hit crossing the road last night or this morning. Death… it’s all around us.
Just as depression over the deaths of our animals sets in, new signs of life are everywhere. There’s a barn swallow sitting on her nest just above my front door. I know the babies will be hatching soon. There are cabbages the size of softballs, broccoli coming on really well, baby peppers appearing on the plants that will go in the ground this coming week, and sugar snap peas coming on out back. It’s hard to stay depressed with all of these signs of life. Those of us who appreciate the delicacy of life also appreciate, in some way, the constant awareness that death brings.