1 Aug 2011, 11:26pm
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sacred questions

a couple of weeks ago i headed into the greenhouse to sift some compost (we use on-site sifted compost and soil, plus perlite and sand, to make our own potting and seeding mixes). when i lifted the lid of the almost-empty sifted compost bin, i was startled to find a small wood rat hanging out at the bottom. i ran back to the bunkhouse to report my findings. “what should i do with it?” i asked. “kill it” was the answer, of course. it was probably the culprit who’d been sabotaging newly-seeded trays of veggies in the greenhouse. i couldn’t bring myself to do it. i scooped it up in a yogurt container and walked down through the farm to the driveway, where i let it go in the weeds at the edge of the woods. fox food, maybe.

later that day, or maybe the next day, i pulled back the shower curtain in the bathhouse to find another wood rat in the tub. this time i put it in a bucket and, feeling sort of silly about the rat i’d let go, gave it to the others to, well, do with as they saw fit. i.e. kill it. then i took a shower. i found out later that flo gave the rat to the chickens (theoretically they’ll kill and eat small rodents), but they weren’t particularly interested and it got away easily. while i was drying off from my shower, i watched another rat walk across the roof of the bathhouse (it’s translucent plastic greenhouse material) and climb down the jasmine plant growing inside and outside at the corner. someone else found another rat, maybe the one i saw on the roof, in the tub the next day. i’m not sure what happened to that one.

soupy was cleaning out her toolshed when she found a huge elaborate wood rat nest behind some boxes on a high shelf. she cleared it out, and the next day it was almost completely rebuilt. traps were set, rats were killed. today she found a half dozen tiny babies, eyes still closed, possibly or probably mostly dead, almost certainly orphaned. they were beautiful, fragile, and brave—or, really, too young to know they were being brave in crawling over our fingers and opening their little mouths to whatever we might offer them. there was nothing to do but kill them. we talked a little bit about whether we should give them to the chickens or the foxes who live under james and penny’s porch, to make their death a little less useless or wasteful, or whether we should give them the quickest and least painful death we could.

after a little while it was just soupy and i sitting with them. i said that i wanted to say a prayer or something, and soupy talked quite eloquently about how she was thankful for the opportunity to confront death, and that she hoped that maybe by the time she was approaching her own death, she would have found the wisdom to know what to do and how to feel in situations like this. i said i wished they might know or sense our compassion for them, and then soupy drowned them in the pond.

i do not know what is right. i can’t really decide if it’s radically egalitarian to imagine that we as human beings can live without contributing directly to the suffering of other animals, or foolish and unrealistic. this sacred question is one of the blessings i didn’t expect to receive in my time here on the farm. i carry it with me.

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(other blessings, expected and un-)

flowers (and people!)

food (so much abundance i mostly take it for granted and don’t photograph it!)

fauna

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me & my sweetheart
(by the way)
(so happy to have and be a partner)
(so grateful for the lessons i learned with past lovers, and for the patience A & i have had with each other and the lessons we have learned together)
(just sayin’)

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