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Death Valley

Spring is usually a time when new life is breathed through our cold and stiff winter world. Everything feels fresh. We open our windows and sit on the porch and gaze at the sprouting beauties peeking out from the now green-clad dirt. We wash up our house and freshen its atmosphere in anticipation of the busy summer months just on the horizon. The garden is planted and baby birds arrive chirping and fragile.

I love spring. I love everything about it (save: tornadoes). January tells us it’s time to start over, but the months that hold spring are really when it all seems fresh. Ready for life.

Our newest batch of baby chicks came in the mail yesterday morning. At 6:40 a.m., to be exact. And as I gazed into the box containing 69 24-hour old babies all was right with the world.

Matt set them up just like always and we went about our day lighter because spring is surely near due to all new lives that had just landed on the farm.

But when I checked on the babies later, I was stunned. Death was everywhere. The hope of spring had vanished.

(Background: I’m not one that gets emotional over farm animals, even our dogs. I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I’ve cried over a farm animal’s death. Ever.)

I had to take a step back, cry a little bit over the loss of life and loss of money and then my practical side took over. I put the sadness in my pocket, pulled on work gloves and took to the task of sorting out the death from life.

It was awful but good. Healing.

Forty-two were dead. Two more died this morning. That leaves us with 25 live babies.

The hatchery said there must have been something happen to them in transit. They and we know that that kind of loss is not normal. We should be getting some replacement babies by the end of the week, free of charge, thankfully.

While I was shocked by how emotional it was for me to see the death, it helped me. Death always makes us appreciate life more. To stop taking breathing for granted, until the sting of death fades and the cycle begins again. Just like the seasons.

Yesterday our farm felt like Death Valley. Today I’m hopeful the sun will bring some warmth of spring to our earth and I will be much more thankful for all that live and breath on it.

I still love spring.

Categories: Animals on the farm


My name is Ginia Oehlschlager and I'm a small-town gal from Missouri. Join me as I document my crazy life on the farm with my husband and four kids. I'm always looking for frugal, simple ways to live the life God set before me. Where faith, family and fun come together on the farm.

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