Life and Death

Yesterday if really felt like spring, Steve did a bit of clean up now that the snow is gone and we discovered the garlic sprouting. 25 heads so far, the first bit of green around the homestead and it is very welcome. Especially the way we go through garlic around here. A few tulip bulbs are peaking out and the crocus are actually blooming now. Maybe this winter actually will end after all.

On of our chickens died yesterday. Branwen our Black Austrolorp and matriarch.
There she is behind Mrs. Beeton’s silly big head.

I went out in the afternoon and she was just sitting on the floor of the coop, she wouldn’t get up. Luckily Steve was home for the day and he brought out his med kit and went into Vet Tech mode. I had picked her up and saw her vent was in pretty bad shape but just sat with her while Steve got his stuff together, I figured why stress her out twice by me taking a look too. Prolapsed uterus, she died while we preparing to put it back in. Whenever we loose livestock I second guess myself, what could I have done to prevent it? I know it is a part of farming, animals die when you don’t want them too, and sometimes you miss things. But I am a perfectionist and I do think I should see everything, always. She was quiet the day before, but fine yesterday morning, beating myself up will do nothing, won’t stop me from doing it, but it doesn’t help matters I know. I will be a better steward, I think every time we loose someone it makes us better farmers, does that sound horrid or just realistic?

I know we only have small livestock but one thing they have taught me is that farming is not for sissies, it is not collecting eggs on a sunny dew speckled morning in your gingham dress with clover scented wind in your hair. It is sitting with guts in your lap while your husband tries to save a life and can’t, kits that die of the cold and starve because someone is not a good mother and you got there too late. But that is LIFE and without that none of the rest of it could be.I wouldn’t trade it for anything, our animals have a great life as long as we can provide it to them, or until we respectfully take it to sustain ourselves in return. It is messy and dirty and sometime cruel, but it is real in a way that I never truly understood before.

On to lighter topics…

I figured out a way to filter out larger quantities of beeswax for my lotions and soaps yesterday. I used the same principle as the solar filter but used the oven, cheesecloth secured over my soap pot (enameled steel stockpot with a lip). Put all the beeswax on the cloth then set in a 200F oven for a few hours until all that is left is the gunk. It worked like a charm. Came out to 116 grams I think I have used about 90 grams already from that harvest so the total would be about 200-210 grams of filtered beeswax from last springs harvest.

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The hand cream/butter recipe is really nice, so far rave reviews. It is really, really hard core though.
I think one more small batch and it will be ready for the world. I need something to call it other than hand cream/butter though. Today Nan and I will be working on a regular lotion, something a bit less intense. That cream is meant for major dry skin I want to try something lighter now. Soap is curing and we will test the first batch next week, as well as get creative with making a new batch. Something with coffee and cocoa butter I think.

This entry was posted in Beeswax, Chickens, Homesteading, Life, Livestock, Soap & Lotions, Urban Farming, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Life and Death

  1. Kathleen says:

    so sorry about Branwen — it is dreadful to lose an animal one has cared for — thank goodness Steve was home to do his doctor thing. and both of you for the love thing. you are both good stewards.

    and the wine, superb! bless those little grapes for giving their lives so we can all be happy.


  2. shirehouse says:

    Thanks Kathy! I was very glad to have Steve home. Glad you liked the wine, we will have more next time. 🙂 I worked out the kinks in my lotion recipe so as soon as I get some of that soap cured I will be sending a package your way.

  3. Seasonsgirl says:

    Sorry about your lady… we lost a chicken a month ago and it was hard. I asked myself the same questions “could I have done more or noticed sooner”. My chicken died in my arms too and since it was the first of our first flock it was hard. I have been around life and death on a farm all my life, but as an adult and wanting to be a good steward of the animals it was harder. 😦 Hope spring comes your way soon 🙂

  4. shirehouse says:

    Thanks Seasonsgirl, it is all part of the package, but it does take some getting used to when you are the one with the ultimate responsibility doesn’t it?

  5. I am so sorry to hear about Brawen. We lost a baby piglet today and I named him Chester and cried. Its so hard every time! Brawen was lucky to have such a great chicken wrangler to live with!

  6. shirehouse says:

    Oh no! Was it one of the runts or a total surprise? That just stinks, I am so sorry. Steve wants to take one of them home they are so cute right now.

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