Life is full of promise and heartache and Martha’s Kitchen Garden is full of life. Every single one of eight very cute ducklings hatched last week was snatched away by the nesting red-tail hawks who dove from the tree-tops to feed their own chicks, who will no doubt appear with their white caps in another month or so and fly away to find their own territory.
Another duck has made a nest under the deck in an old kitchen cabinet we put there hoping that she would. After finding a headless duck under the deck a couple weeks ago… I have been keeping her locked up with some food and water that she rarely touches. I hope to keep her ducklings safe under there until they are too large for the hawks. Although I think I have secured her from the raccoon or owl (my best guess) that was preying on them, I might also have to put up a snake-proof fence against the lattice. Just today John, (my son who does a lot of work around MKG) was mowing and scared a large black snake out of the grass who might have been headed for the chicken coop.
As if losing eight innocent little ducklings wasn’t enough for one week, our beloved old dog Mercury also passed away. He and I spent the last couple of years together with him following me everywhere, whenever I was outside. He finally was a just too feeble for the hills on this mountainside and he wasn’t able to move around much at all. He was a faithful, loving dog for more than twelve years and we all miss him and his barking.
I’ve been thinking that even with the heartache I get much pleasure from living with animals, and how they are as much a part of a community as the people. The Muscovy ducks look beautiful on the water when I leave and come home, and they follow me around making funny hissing sounds and wagging their tails. They also keep the ponds cleaner and eat mosquitoes and fertilize the field. The goats are endlessly entertaining. They also eat brush and recycle nutrients into the soil. The chickens have their own society and provide eggs and more chicks. (I have four broody hens cuz I haven’t been collecting eggs cuz I don’t have a kitchen right now and they decided to sit on them…)
Our cat, King Arthur, is the Senior Pet now and terrifies all the other animals. He’s pushy, and no help in the garden and a menace to birds, and sheds a lot of fur and well, then there is Bobo, my very own puppy, the first dog I ever picked for myself, who I walk at least twice a day and who will look after all the other animals.
People sometimes say to me that I am, or that I could be self-sufficient. They wonder if I might be one of those preppers. But I am neither. Probably, very, very few people are self-sufficient, and even if they are, they learned their skills from someone. But I am striving to be communifficient. I want to support people who are doing things that are useful, support my growing animal community that supports the ecology of this land I am looking after, and maybe most importantly, support the fungal and bacterial communities in the soil.
Addressing erosion and water flow and depleted creeks extends beyond the arbitrary lines of our individual plots. A vibrant community can come together to make life more beautiful and literally more fruitful for everyone walking on the land. That just seems like so much more fun than flying solo.