On Wednesday, the Admiral and I arrived in northern Virginia for a visit with my folks. Thursday morning, the Studmuffin called: “Get your butt in the car and come home RIGHT NOW.”
The Studmuffin was up and moving early that morning, as he was due to go to breakfast in town with a friend. He tossed the coffee grounds in the trash and hustled to get the cans out to the road for the garbage pickup. Coming back into the kitchen, he spotted some grounds scattered on the wall. Chiding himself for making such a mess, he started to clean it up when he realized that the dark spots weren’t coffee grounds: they were fly predators. We get a monthly shipment of them in the cocoon stage and are supposed to release them around the barn once they hatch. Somehow, they had escaped from the sealed pouch and were looking for a way out of the house.
But it got worse.
After opening the windows in hopes they would find their way out, the Studmuffin headed out to the chicken coop to open the door. Upon approach, he spotted the body of one of our Aracunas behind the coop. It had missed the final boarding call when the coop was closed the previous evening and had fallen victim to a possum. (We know it was a possum and not a racoon that got the bird because…….well, because it’s head was still attached. Welcome to rural living. Sorry.)
But it got worse.
The goats wouldn’t come out of the barn. Scanning the pasture for what had them so spooked, the Studmuffin spotted a brown head just above the grass in the far southeast corner of our pasture. The animal was clearly flailing about, injured. Thinking that it was one of our kids that had been attacked by a coyote, he took off at a run toward the suffering animal.
It wasn’t a goat kid. It was a fawn, still in spots, with a broken neck. Somehow, it had jumped inside the fence but couldn’t get back out. It had tried to crawl under the fence, rubbing all the hair off the back of its neck, and — how, exactly, is still is unclear to me — broken its spine. Since we are out of deer season, the Studmuffin could not legally shoot it. He had to call the local Sheriff’s office, who dispatched a deputy to take care of the deed. Then, it was left to the Studmuffin to dispose of the carcass, and quickly since temperatures were in the 90’s that day.
This is the not-so pretty side of raising livestock and owning rural property. Animals get sick or get attacked by predators, or escape into places they don’t belong. “Come home,” the Studmuffin said. “I can’t do all this by myself.”
“Sorry,” I said. “The Admiral and I have a spa appointment.”
And, until those fly predators are out of my kitchen, I’ve got better things to do.