We moved up here to be closer to nature. I know that sounds all dirty-crunchy-granola-hippie-esque, but it’s true.
In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve come to learn firsthand that nature isn’t a still, peaceful Ansel Adams photo. It’s messy, violent, competitive, unpredictable and ridiculously complex. I see this played out from my kitchen window…the dance between predator and prey is always on display.
Consider the chickens. Lot’s of critters want to eat the chickens (including me). Hawks want to eat the chickens. Coyotes want to eat the chickens. My psycho dogs want to eat the chickens (but I have control- albiet limited- over them) Even the eggs are not safe. Magpies want to eat my chicken eggs. Hell, the chickens sometimes want to eat their own eggs. And what are the chickens eating? Bugs. See? Predator and prey…
On a side note: Did you know that if you give a chicken some chicken she’ll eat it? I was once blissfully unaware of chicken cannibalism. (Wonder if chicken tastes like chicken to chickens?)
I am all too aware of the coyotes, bears and mountain lions roaming around here. And of the owls that probably think our wiener dog would make a lovely little meal, so I’m his bodyguard while he is doing his business at night.
Amusingly, the predators I once feared, I now adore. Just last night, I was ecstatic to see bats swooping around my front porch. God bless ’em- eating the mosquitoes that have been relentlessly feasting on me and my kids. Predators come in all sizes…insects will gladly make a meal of you at any given moment.
Even the swallows that made a city of mud nests in the eaves of our barn are an example of raw nature at work. (At first, I thought the swallows were delightful, then a 1000 pounds of bird shit later…not so much) Some of the swallows fly so fast that they smack right into the barn walls and we end up with dead swallow bodies scattered on the ground. This gave the children an up-close lesson in the life cycle of a fly (maggots! Weeee!).
Though, my kids still haven’t come to understand the balance between predator and prey. Just the other day my son asked “Why do people kill deer?” (Dearest husband and I were talking about hunting). We explained that you hunt to eat- just like we kill chickens to eat.
His jaw dropped in disbelief and he shouted at me with conviction:
“NO MAMA. WE EAT NUGGETS. NOT CHICKENS!!!”
This whole country adventure is proving to be nothing but enlightening for the entire family.