Lessons to be Learned

Pipestone Flyer

Life wasn't always easy on my eighty acres.  It took a lot of work to build a farm here. This had been a bare piece of land with a north rise and a spring. The land had never been plowed and Labrador Tea, mint, nettles, rose hips and spruce buds provided all the tea you could want. Routinely,  I'd see coyotes, deer, moose, and sometimes feel the presence of cougar and bear, later evidenced by scat or tracks. Least weasels and tiny shrews hunted small unwary prey.  Bald and golden eagles skimmed through the trees navigating sideways barely  missing the thick growth while barred and great grey owls occupied the "between times" to hunt their favorite diet of voles.

    The spring that sprung from the roots of an ancient spruce  evidenced  an older time; a burnt down cabin near the source and  a scraping tool from the " Water People" as my Cree friend called them.

    I have made my home amongst the past and present on this land,  paying careful respect and tribute . I have paid my rent many times with favorite chickens or ducks to  my feathered and furred neighbors,  but nothing like the rent I paid. this early rainy morning.

    The yard was eerily quiet when I went outside to do my chores. I raise turkeys, broiler chicks and laying hens as well as four pet ducks, one rabbit and one guinea pig. The morning cacophony and enthusiasm of hungry birds, all within pens topped with bird netting was missing. All  are normally protected by a very diligent  and ever present Great Pyrenees.  Last night when I neglected to lock up my five favorite young hens (raised from eggs set under an old clucky hen last summer) I wasn't too worried….  My mistake!

    I went out and read the story as if it were a book. Feathers here, feathers there, drop of blood here,  signs of struggle there.

    I was devastated. I had wanted to start a new flock with this young group of five Americana/ lace- winged cochons.  This seed flock was going to be the shining star of my years of raising chickens! How could I be so careless! 

    My Pyrenees had been accidentally locked in the barn when the large sliding door had been shut and he couldn't get out to protect his charges.

    As with everything in life, we can wallow in our disappointments and failures or learn from it and move on. From the difficulties ( third setting) of getting a hen to hatch my " golden" eggs to the raising of five babies through an Alberta, Canada winter in a chicken coop separate from the main flock;  to the time I spent admiring and getting to know each young hen;  and finally to the morning of the loss;  the journey is one of learning.  Life is a cruel but efficient teacher,  teaching us many things we'd rather not learn.  This lesson broke my heart but in the long run or the big picture helped propel my animal husbandry practices into the Twenty-first century.   

       I have lived  on farms and confidently raised chickens all  of my life.  I will never lose a beautiful flock of five young hens again.  This journey really is one of learning from your mistakes and then moving on . In farming, there are  a lot of lessons  to be learned  but luckily there's also a lot of teachers.

Just Posted

Watch: Gravel truck turns into wrong off-ramp at Highway 2 Ponoka

The new Highway 2 and Highway 53 intersection at Ponoka caused some confusion for one driver

Pigeon Lake man’s remains found in ditch by Morinville

27-year-old Kevin Dean Damien Yellowbird had ties to Ma-Me-O Beach

County approves development plans with Ponoka, Camrose counties

First Nations collaboration remains county goal

Wetaskiwin county defers land use bylaw decision

Tempers remain high over RV controversy

VIDEO: Tragically Hip singer-songwriter Gord Downie dies at 53

Downie had been fighting brain cancer for over a year

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

4 B.C. prisons install body scanners to combat drug smuggling

The scanners are aimed to combat the smuggling of contraband including weapons and drugs

Outspoken Mountie assigned to admin duties for refusing to shave goatee

The 15-year veteran of the force said he believes the RCMP is targeting him

Victim in fatal ammonia leak remembered for his passion and smile

Friends and colleagues remember Lloyd Smith as someone who was always willing to help people

Gymnast McKayla Maroney alleges sexual abuse by team doctor

Olympic gymnast said she was 13 when the abuse started

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge expecting child in April

Kate Middleton had announced she was expecting a child back in September

Prisoners in Canada among alleged leaders in massive opioid ring: US authorities

It’s being called the most prolific fentanyl-trafficking and money-laundering operations

Dodgeball is a wild sport – and Canada is very good

World championships set to begin on Friday outside of Toronto

Most Read