My younger daughter and her family live on a small farm of almost 20 acres. Currently they just have goats and chickens but have plans to add more animals in the years to come. Farm life has its ups and downs. There is the joy of new life, and the sorrow of loss.
They started nearly 2 years ago with a flock of 10 chicks. At first, they were kept indoors until they were big enough and it was warm enough for them to move outside. After about a year, they added a rooster. Each chicken was banded and named. They have lost 2 of their hens–one to a predatory bird and one was stepped on by a goat and injured. The rest of the flock pecked at the injured bird until they had to take it out of the flock and kill it. I didn’t know that chickens would do that, but it makes sense.
One day, my daughter’s favorite hen, named Mischief, could not be found. They finally discovered her under one of the goat’s bowls which had turned over. She must have been under that bowl for most of the day because she was quite disoriented. Being that it was a favorite chicken, they separated the chicken from the rest of the flock and nursed her back to health. She survived. In fact, she became quite adventurous, and my son-in-law came home one day at lunch to find Mischief in the house. She had come in through the dog door. She was reintroduced to the flock. She may be at the bottom of the pecking order, but she is doing well.
Not long after they acquired the chickens, they also got twin female goats named Lucy and Ethel. They were very vocal about leaving their mother and moving to their new home. They soon settled in and got along well with the chickens. However, they tried a couple of times to get into the chicken coop which required some repair and modifications.
Several months ago, my brother-in-law gave my daughter and son-in-law, a male goat (buck). You guessed it. They named the buck, Ricky. It took a while to be sure but it was soon obvious that Ethel was pregnant. Lucy was a couple of months behind.
Over this last weekend, they were sure that Ethel was close to giving birth. The signs were there. They were expecting some kids to appear at any time, and separated Ethel from Ricky. However, when they awoke yesterday morning, they found that Ethel had died while in labor along with her babies. They had taken such good care of Ethel. She had been healthy. It was just one of those cruel tricks that nature likes to play.
I was so sad when my daughter texted me that Ethel had died. My heart aches for my daughter because I know that Ethel was her favorite goat. I liked her, too. Ethel was the only one who let me pet her. Whenever I would pull up to the house and walk up to the back porch, I could hear Ethel greeting me. (Most likely she just wanted me to come out to the pen and feed her.) I will miss her.
I have learned a lot about God my father from having children of my own. When our hearts break over the struggles and difficulties our children face, I realize how much more God longs to reach out to us to comfort us in our sorrows. I know my daughter will grieve over the loss of her goat. God is there to walk with her and comfort her. I will be praying for her.
God loves us more than we will ever completely realize on this earth. He cares about us. He is concerned about the things that concern us.
Life is an adventure with all of its ups and downs. Life is also tough. We face illness, struggles, sorrow, and pain. We also experience joy, love, hope, and peace. I have the hope that God will be there at the end to welcome me home with open arms.