Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vultures.... the model of efficiency

I was in one of the chicken coops yesterday looking hopefully for eggs and putting out fresh, cold water for everyone. I was quickly distracted by a loud racket coming from the goats. Wailing is more like it. My heart immediately sank knowing that the sound was a cry of hurt and not a normal goat sound.

I ran over to the pasture and found our newest little Mommy, Happy, looking into the donkey pasture and just crying over and over. A quick count of the goats came up one short and the missing one was Happy's little baby. Uh oh. And there it was, lying dead in the donkey pasture, trampled by one of the donkeys. Poor little thing.

Many farmers keep donkeys as guard animals to protect their goats and sheep. They will singlemindedly chase down a predator and trample it to death. I've seen it happen once when our dog accidentally got in there and those donkeys were chasing him down! We prevented it that time but not this time. The fence between the two pastures had a little area where the fencing had been stretched and I guess the little baby squeezed through it and into the donkey's area. I can't blame the donkeys. They are just doing what they are programmed to do (although seriously, they should know this little goat is not a threat since they see it every day right next door!).

I finished my chores and went home to tell my husband that we needed to dig another grave. His first response was why didn't I bury it. No way! I have to draw a line somewhere. Truthfully, I can't bear the thought of that yet. Maybe someday.

We didn't get back out to the farm yesterday, but we all went out first thing this morning. Driving up the long drive to the farm, all we could see were vultures everywhere. I wish I had brought my camera! It was amazing to see! Vultures are big and they were in the pastures, on the fencing, in the trees, on the power lines, on the chicken coops.... even sitting on top of the water trough in the goat pasture. There were at least 50 or 60 vultures in a fairly contained area. The sight was a bit creepy but definitely a sign of Nature in progress.

Cole headed out with a shovel and his daughter to bury the little goat. For some reason, Annaliese is fascinated with anything to do with the animals. She wants to watch their surgeries, shots, help bury them.... she's certainly braver than me! They came back when it was finished and Cole said the vultures had definitely done their job. There wasn't much left of the little goat. Yesterday afternoon it looked whole and complete. Apparently the vultures had a busy night and were still working when we arrived.

When you think about it, vultures are quite fascinating. They somehow locate a dead animal, tell all their friends, head over to the party and get to work. And they do it quickly. They are not pretty animals, but God made them for a reason and they do that reason well.

So in the past two days, we've lost a chicken and a goat. That's enough for now. I'm going to go buy some hatching eggs. I feel the need for new chicks! The circle of Life....

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