On bloody expectations



Bye-bye birdie

Perhaps I am in the entirely wrong frame of mind to write this, but getting it on paper (figuratively speaking) is helpful to me. I just buried Bonnie, one of my favorite chickens. She’s on the banner above. She laid our first egg. And this morning, she died in my arms. She was killed by a neighbor’s dog on the back deck of our house.

That it happened on the first day of spring, and likewise the fifth anniversary of the beginning of what we are calling The Iraq War is a bit ominous. Today is also Holy Thursday: a high holiday of hand-wringing in the Catholic and other Christian churches. Spring is supposed to be such a season of hope, of new beginnings. I hope that hope finds me somewhere, sometime, soon.

I ask myself: am I going around carrying a bagful of expectations? A file folder of Entitlements? I wonder.

Yes, I suppose it was not unreasonable of me to expect that a dog would come into my yard and find the chickens interesting: chickens ARE everyone’s favorite dish, after all. But why not take an obnoxious guinea, or one of our not-so-friendly chickens? I likewise expect (stupid of me, but there it is) my marriage to be a strong one, that my child grows up healthy and hearty and curious and happy. I expect my own health (mental and physical) to be good. I have a hope (can’t consider it an expectation) that we can continue to earn enough money to cover our basic needs.

I do expect my government to at least TRY to get out of this wasteful war. As an outlier, I expect it to admit that it was a mistake of our own making, so, hey, sorry to fuck up your country, why not just keep your oil profits from the oil you sell to us? We’ll gladly buy your oil, you know, as we’re too bullheaded to consider an alternative.

So this morning finds me considering the trappings of war in terms of electrified fences and other means to contain and secure the landholdings around here. I do not like this military mindset. Should the worst fears of many really come true, and Peak Oil and other disasters (all man-made of course) flesh themselves out into our worst nightmare, I suppose this is a mindset I need to embrace and keep. It wasn’t, believe me, why I moved to a farm.

I wish I had a job, though, where my main responsibility was to worry. Wow, would I be raking in the big bucks!

21 responses to “On bloody expectations

  1. Holy shit that sucks. I know it’s all part of nature, hell we’re supposed to eat them too, but it should happen this way. I’ve got nothin but hugs for ya.

  2. I’m so sorry about yr girl.

    And I’m with you about this fucking war.

  3. Wow, El…powerful post. I’m so sorry about Bonnie. What a horrible thing and to such a sweet, friendly bird. Incredible the way you pulled this together to reflect on safety/security, perceived safety needs, the bloody war, and being invaded (or being the invader)…your mindset is where it should be (imho) – pls don’t alter it to reflect (and thereby unfortunately support) the militaristic obsession of the current administration. I don’t think I said what I wanted to say very well – sorry for that – but I feel where you’re coming from, truly. Sorry again about Bonnie.

  4. What everyone said… I love how you brought the whole world into the painful experience of having your beloved chicken die in your arms. This is how the heart goes, doesn’t it? It can hold an experience so close and then see how it relates to the world, in ever-wider ripples.

    I wish you, your family, your garden, and your chickens tremendous peace and growth as we move through the seasons again.

  5. So sorry about Bonnie, El. As to the war, you would think that I would have a frim sense of how I feel about it considering my own violent loss…but I find all tangible thoughts escape me when I try to think too hard on it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us El. xoxo

  6. I’m impressed with your ability to think rationally at all — let alone draw all those connections.

    I am so with you — I am completely unable at this point to be rational about our fearless dumbassed leader, let alone his pointless, destructive, demoralizing, disastrous war. Fortunately, I’ll never get close to him, I’m not sure I could control my temper.

    So sorry about Bonnie, I do hope the neighbor was at least apologetic. In Maine, the law states we are allowed to shoot nuisance animals.

    Do you suppose a dumbass is a nuisance animal?


  7. I have a motto I sometimes inflict on people:

    “The world would be a better place if people would just run things by me first.”

  8. Hi ,
    I’ve been a reader of your blog for awhile now. I enjoy reading your thoughts and experiences , not sure how I found your blog but I’m glad I did.
    So sorry to hear about Bonnie. I hope to get chickens for the first time in the next two weeks. I dread dealing with predators , but it’s a part of farming.

    I’ve been against this stupid war since it started. I’m looking forward to a new president that will start bringing the soldiers home and trying to make some kind of Peace in our World.

    Your post about fishing was so thought provoking , what a shame to have a lake and be afraid to eat the fish. My Dad loved to fish too , brought back memories of my childhood.

    Wishing Bonnie a wonderful journey into the animal spirit world.

    ~ JoyceAnn ~

  9. El, I’m sorry to hear about Bonnie. That sucks. Did you at least get to shoot AT the dog? Or beat him with a big stick?

  10. Oh, El. Poor Bonnie, poor you, poor us in this messed up nation.

  11. The loss of my first favorite chicken, along with other circumstances similar to the connections you make, sent me into almost 2 years of vegetarianism. I get where you’re coming from, and I’ve been having a hard time recently keeping myself from falling into despair over all signs which seem to point to another Great Depression.

    These are scary times to be living and raising young ones, but I find solace in the fact that we’re already far along a path of self-sufficiency. My grandparents were from relatively poor farming folk going into the Depression, so life for them didn’t change much. I hope that we’ll be able to transition somewhat gracefully ourselves. It’s the unknown that gets me. I’d rather face a fully fledged demon in front of me than one lurking in the shadows.

  12. El, I’m sorry about your chicken; that’s never fun.
    Don’t you wish we had the president the majority elected?

  13. so sorry to hear about Bonnie!

    I was screaming the “the sky is falling” before the Idiot in Chief declared war, and will never forgive him and his “team” for the misery and destruction he has inflicted on Iraq, and the way the war’s financial costs have broken our economy.

    It’s a time of sorrow – hard to be a citizen of the country causing so much pain.

  14. I’m so sorry you lost a favorite hen. I’m just getting ready to get chicks and that’s the one thing I’m most worried about. My thoughts are with you.

  15. You guys are all so kind. I’ll miss the girl. She was pretty clever, as far as chickens go. Chickens factor into the quality of life here, and we will always have them; I need to rethink my responsibility to them, though as a compassionate person. Free-range obviously is a great benefit to them, but they are exposed to the risk of predation.

    As far as the rest of it, I’m far less sanguine than I am about the death of my bird. I feel like such a five year old, stomping my feet and shouting NO FAIR, because it has not been: I, your average middle class married person, hasn’t been asked to do SHIT to sacrifice for this war. Instead, the burden falls to other people, like Angie’s (Farm Mom’s) family, and they get asked to sacrifice again and again and again.

    But Ali, I would definitely consider Cheney and Bush to be nuisance animals, and yes, in Michigan, I am allowed to shoot to kill.

  16. Sorry about your chicken.

    Ditto on your thoughts about the war.

  17. El, I’m so sorry. I feel your pain. It’s been a tough month for us here as well. My outlook toward humanity as a whole is not looking so great at the moment. Boy as a society we don’t think enough, talk enough, act with a conscience enough.

  18. El,

    Sorry to hear about Bonnie. Wish I had met her.

    love to you all,

  19. I just found your blog via Liz’s photo on Flickr… My family is thinking of getting some chicks and raising them and this sort of thing worries me as I know from my own childhood of living on a farm that roving dogs (and coyotes and all other predators) can wreak havoc on chickens… We’re trying to be as prepared as possible…

    However, what made me comment is all the rest of this post. I must add that I understand what you’re saying here—-that one would expect a certain amount of life to be predictable and stable. I would expect that more people would be completely appalled by this war and the lives lost and the funding and all of that but they aren’t. Unfortunately, we seem to now live in a society that is apathetic and I don’t know what to do but to live my own life the way I want and hope for the best…

    Love your blog and I’ll be back…

  20. Jan, thank you.

    Melinda, I know you’ve had a rough month, too. Here’s hoping all things improve.

    Philly, thanks.

    Berlinswhimsy: Yes, you’re right to expect a bit of heartbreak with any domestic animal. I guess what I am saying the heartbreak doesn’t outweigh the benefits of having them. And that’s the controllable part for me. It’s the rest of it that really chaps my hide. I suppose I am to be thankful this war hasn’t cost me anything but a bit of tangential worry. I am just not made that way, though.

  21. Heartbreaking. You’re a very gifted writer. I just stumbled upon your blog 15 minutes ago and it has already profoundly changed my day.

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