TODAY, I CRIED
There’s no denying it, but I cried a little, a tiny but healthy bit of relief and redeeming joy.
It was 5:00 or so and the sun was settling in for the evening and I had gone out to the goat shed to check on our newborn family and tuck them in for the night. I was excited about spending a few minutes with the new kid on the block, but immediately disappointed when I arrived across the arroyo to discover that Tony, Luisa and the baby were nowhere to be found.
In the background the big ball of fire that had illuminated the day was quickly disappearing behind the majestic Ortiz Mountains and I was likewise rapidly beginning to panic, because it was dinner time for the coyotes and all the other unseen predators of the high mountain desert.
Ironically, I had spent a good half hour from 3:30-4:00 reinforcing the goat pen’s fencing in an effort to keep our little horned leprechaun in and the hungry devilish wildlife out.
However, I don’t recall whether or not I had left the gate open while I was upgrading the security, so that I was shocked that an hour later the family had not returned and we’re not anywhere near enough to be seen or heard.
In a slight panic I called our Shepards who were down at 48-B turning the compost and asked them if they happened to have the goats with them. “No,” was not the answer I wanted to hear, but Enzo suggested they might be deep in Chelenzo’s Arroyo.
As we continued to speak I walked over there and I was immediately pleased to see two pairs of horns and crazy tufts of spiky hair that always trigger flashes of Billy Idol signing Rebel Yell or White Wedding.
But, but, upon closer inspection I did not see our precious little puddle skipper. I looked all about the parents and was hoping I would soon find the lost kid in the direction that Luisa was bleating. Alas, no dice and no cute little snowball to be found.
By 5:30 I was getting desperate and ran back to The Shed to get my high-powered handheld 800 lumens lamp, so that I might be ready to miss dinner, as I searched through the night up and down the dry creek beds of the hills of Cerrillos.
As resigned in purpose as I was, my optimism was quickly dwindling because nay was the little skipper in sight nor was her little “mahhh” to be heard. I began to believe that soon I would be recovering a dead body, rather than rescuing a live one.
The fear and dread of finding our animals in the jaws of coyotes has been one of my greatest worries from day one. This is why I ultimately converted our chicken coop into a high security prison. Hence, it’s name - Coop Knox.
The continual upgrades were quickly prompted by our first killing, which I witnessed when a hawk left a chicken with a broken neck in our yard, after I startled it away.
Then came the two heinous crimes by our resident killer brothers, our rat terrorists-slash-terriers, which ruthlessly murdered two chickens just so I could find them smugly smiling each time with the limp victim jointly held and hanging from their mouths.
To once again witness nature-in-action merely prompted me to feel more concerned about the sharp-toothed critters that actually hunted because of hunger and not simply for fun.
Thus, tonight’s fear and dreadful anticipation; and hence, this is why I cried when I finally found our small puff of a nimbus cloud tucked deep in the center of a Juniper tree, completely silent and immobile, so uncharacteristically still that I thought it might be stuck within the branches, asleep or maybe even dead.
Thankfully, it was simply serenely waiting for me - to reach in and pick her up, so I could carry her back home.
I was so overwhelmed with joy that I wept a rightful tear or two that appropriately brought closure upon another blessed day here at Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms.
7 AM Saturday morning.
Alas, irony abounds and nature or reality or some combination thereof has its way of whipping its tail back around to remind you that you are merely a pawn in the game of life in the country.
So, albeit our powder puff is safe, we lost two ducks last night.
It seems that the front door to Coop Knox was left wide open overnight. So, either they succumbed to the inevitable prey factor, as seemingly the odds we’re against from the start or they simply flew away because we talked like hungry wolves over dinner about our prep for the slaughter that we have planned today.
Since we we’re planning a feast in their honor to begin with, this loss does not bear the emotional weight of cuteness that losing the kid would have.
Unfortunately, that simply means two of our other ducks are meeting their fate today, a bit earlier than planned.