Then we moved them to an old abandoned chicken run just behind the farmyard. They were safe there – and boy did the hens produce a LOT of eggs – but we never saw them. We had no relationship with them whatsoever. Besides the pleasure of having fresh eggs, it was if we didn’t even have chickens anymore. And that felt sad to us. ..
As I’ve often told you, there is no shortage of heartbreak on the farm to balance out the intense joy and deep sense of happiness we often feel from sharing our lives with so many wonderful animals. Sometimes I look out my kitchen window while I’m making tea in the morning and see a cat or two, a dog or two, a pony or two, a handful of hens and/or the occasional lamb or pig escaped from their enclosure. I can also usually hear a combination of calls from the horses, the donkeys and the rooster. Often the whole scene makes me laugh out loud, but other times it makes my throat tighten up and my chest hurt. We came back from our Easter vacation to the news that our three hens – the only remaining three that is – had been eaten by the fox while we were away. It was particularly sad because we had raised those last three from birth and they had just started laying a week before we left. After giving ourselves a week to mourn them, we decided to start again and went to see Mabel at the local bird sanctuary to collect a new rooster and ten hens. ..
For all the animal joy that exists on the farm in every direction that you look – chickens, kittens and dogs on the lawn, pigs and horses in the stables, donkeys and more horses across the field – there is, unfortunately, also a good dose of animal heartache.
Late in the autumn, Coco lost one of her beloved pigs suddenly and without explanation. The twin Gloucestershire Old Spots had been her 10th birthday present the summer before last, and she fed them and cared for them all that first summer...