Death, continued

One of our turkey poults died and, for the first time, I was upset by a livestock death.

The poults were big enough that we put them in the all-purpose poultry pen, which had been vacated by the ducks a week earlier. We’d cleaned out the house and the sheltered area under it, but the duck pool was still there, and we planned to take it out and fill in the hole. As a temporary measure, we covered it with a piece of plywood.

The plywood wasn’t quite big enough, and one edge of the pool was exposed. Both Kevin and I, independently, saw it, understood the hazard, and made a mental note to empty the pool and fill in the hole as soon as possible.

But we didn’t do it and, yesterday, one of the poults drowned.

Anyone who keeps any kind of livestock is prepared to lose some. There are predators, there are diseases, there are accidents. But this was just rank stupidity. Terrible management. We were careless and negligent. We understood the danger and didn’t do anything about it. This bird died because we failed it.

Over the two years we’ve been doing this, I’ve accustomed myself to the cycle of life and death, and life again.  But the idea that I killed an animal by carelessness is gut-wrenching. 


12 people are having a conversation about “Death, continued

  1. So sorry to hear your news. I have to say that I admire you candidness and how you took responsibility and shared with us the story and your gut-wrenching guilt over it. Life isn’t all roses and butterflies. You share with us the ups and downs with wit and grace. That’s why I am hooked on your blog.

  2. Condolences, Tamar. What a difficult thing – we know no one is perfect, but when we are responsible for other lives, the cost of imperfection seems unbearable.

    As I constantly tell my students (and sometimes the administration, which never wants to hear it): We rarely learn things the easy way; we almost always learn by failing. But I know there’s little consolation in this right now.

  3. I, too, appreciate the sharing of your successes and failures. You’ll learn, but because you share, we all will, too. Thank you.

  4. I’m a fan of your blog for many reasons: (1) I grew up on Cape Cod (2) I find your education into the realm of sustainable living fascinating & I can see myself in your shoes so many times (3) your writing, which is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always honest & heartfelt. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I’m sorry about the poult.

  5. Blurg.

    Most, if not all, my useful experience was gained through rank stupidity. Some near misses, and some fatalities. Do you feel crippling guilt, and also angry frustration at the loss of a potentially valuable meat animal?

    Sorry for you and your turkey.

    FYI – never inject a sheep stood in a stable full of bedding because you WILL drop the needle and have to skip out the entire stable to find it. Animals can actually suck thermometers into bottoms when you’re taking a temperature, so buy one with a tag for tying onto a string. If you cut corners disinfecting your chicken feeders, you WILL lose an entire brood of chicks to disease…

    You get the idea.

  6. dont beat yourself up
    poults are thick as mince and are incredibly hard to rear
    I have five turkeys and I know they really get under your skin with their slow deliberate ways..

    watch out for the females though they can be terrible bullies when older

  7. Kim Graves says:

    I made a similar mistake just last week. We make mistakes. That is our nature. That’s how we learn. The “gut-wrench” we feel is invaluable for that learning.

    I have a favorite cousin who, years ago, was dating a medical student who I was very fond of. I once asked him if he had ever killed anyone by his error. My cousin was aghast at the question. But he was very matter of fact about it. He hadn’t, but he fully expected to kill as part of his education and future practice. He would do his best not too, of course, but it was inevitable.

  8. I’m sorry! I know I would be really upset too. Mistakes are made so that we can learn from them. If we didnt make mistakes we wouldnt learn much 🙂 Dont beat yourself up too much.

  9. sonja stewart says:

    Well what do they do in the wild? Fall into every lake, pond and stream and drown? Really, they are not the brightest bulb in the box. Not your fault!

    I have been following your blog for over a year now and do so because I am not brave enough to do what you guys are doing… but we have talked about it often.

  10. Thanks, all, for the encouragement and support. It’s true that making a mistake, with your own little hatchet, is the single best way to not make that mistake again.

    Sonja, thanks for coming out of the closet. I can assure you that it doesn’t take courage to do what we’re doing. It really only takes interest, and a small piece of land. Take a small step — get chickens, start a garden, go fishing. See how you do, and take another small step. And please don’t think one comment per year is your limit.

  11. Sorry Tamar- what a hard lesson to learn. But, you learned it, and you’ll probably never let it happen again.

    I had to take a safety course with my new job today, and boy, did it every open my eyes. I may continue to let the weeds go when I see them, but I won’t let safety get away from me- mine or the animals’.

    Thanks for learning this one for all of us.

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