I Don’t Like the Turn, Turn, Turn

You know a post that has “Turn, Turn, Turn” in the title is surely about there being a season to everything, a time to live, a time to die. You’re right on that.

It is a stark, unfortunate truth, there is a season for everything.

Yes, death is a part of the circle of life. And sure, I can sing that song too. (“from the day we arrive on the planet…”)

But knowing the words to the songs doesn’t mean that I can deal with it. And being able to quote Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” doesn’t make it so.

I am faced with the “turn, turn, turn/circle of life/loved and lost” concept much more frequently since I moved to a farm. And, quite frankly, I don’t like it. I’m not so happy about that part of farming. (I keep saying that I should just stick with turnip farming.)

You have heard me talk about one of the sweetest, most friendly chickens ever hatched, our Sicilian Buttercup we called TyGee. She was the tiniest in the flock. She was also the most loving in the flock. She’d rather be held by me or my daughter than to eat.

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She was sick last week. I did my best to nurse her back to health, but I failed. Epic failure.

One morning I went out to the coop and our sweet TyGee had passed in the night. Her little head was tucked up under her wings, her eyes were closed, so I believe that her passing was a peaceful one. When I had locked the flock up the previous night, she was snuggled up beside our big beautiful rooster. What a champ he is.

I dreaded sharing the news with my daughter. TyGee was the chicken she always scooped  up and cuddled. I went to pick my daughter up from school and decided to wait until we got back home before I said anything to her about TyGee. I’d put on the tea and get out the Girl Scout cookies (of which we have tons) and we could hug and cry together. I could show her where I buried TyGee under the ancient apple tree. I could explain how I had carefully chosen and carried each rock on top of her grave from the mountain stream in front of our house. We could mourn together.

But. There. In. The. Car.

My daughter tells me about a nightmare she had the night before: “In it, TyGee died,” she said, still shaken by the dream. “It was terrible!” she said.

I couldn’t believe my ears. I just blurted out right then and there that TyGee had indeed died during the night.

Now, how can you explain that? So strange.

We are sad. Being new to a farm, we haven’t learned to compartmentalize our love of farm animals. We love them just as much as we do other animals. Which is a ton. We don’t know how to do otherwise. Has anyone figured that out? Help us learn to do that.

My daughter won’t eat eggs since TyGee died. There could be a baby TyGee inside? she asks. I guess so, but they couldn’t be incubated at this point. They’ve been in the refrigerator.

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So she won’t eat eggs until she’s sure that they aren’t TyGee’s eggs. Have I mentioned how “farmers we’re not.”

Ug. These are the things you don’t think about when you order those cute baby chicks.

This is TyGee in my daughter’s arms when she was a baby. The pattern and color of the top of her head is how she got her name. We thought it looked tiger-y and somehow we began using a fake sing-song accent: “TyGee.”

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As a baby chick, we’d pick her up and seconds later, she’d fall asleep in our hands. Precious.

TyGeesleeping

One friend told me that this just happens to chickens: they’re fine one day and gone the next. I tell you that so you’ll know. Order the chicks, but know that they are more fragile than larger, sturdier farm animals. There will be losses. And it will hurt. Do your best to insulate yourself and your heart.

Someone offered me free goats the other day. You know what I said? No.

Someone else wondered if I’d take a guineafowl that needed a home. You know what I said? Nope.

Another person wanted to give me a miniature donkey. You know what I said? No thank you.

The local horse rescue asked me if I could foster an older horse for the rest of the winter. You know what I said? I can’t.

And that’s what happens. You shut down. You close up. You put up the wall. You don’t want to be hurt again.

Until.

THEY SAY. That one day you feel stronger and better.

Waiting on that.

As I wait, I’m trying to use up my supply of eggs in the refrigerator, so all TyGee’s eggs are long gone.

Here is one of my favorite egg recipes for breakfast or brunch.

Use ‘Em Up Egg CasseroleP1140072

  • 6 slices, white (or other) bread, torn into bite-sied pieces
  • 1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage, cooked and drained (optional)
  • 1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and drained (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place bread pieces in a baking pan (13×9 or similar size), sprayed with cooking spray.

Top with sausage and/or bacon, if including meat. The add cheese.

Beat eggs, milk, salt, and pepper with a whisk. Pour over ingredients in pan.

Bake 40 minutes or until casserole is set in the center.

NOTE: This is great with veggies instead of or in addition to the meat. Broccoli, asparagus, red peppers, black olives, mushrooms, onions, oh you name it and it’s good in there! 

 

Yummy Crustless Quiche

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, chopped
  • 10 asparagus stalks, chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese (or other kind of cheese)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray your pie plate or similar pan with cooking spray.

Melt butter over medium high heat and add onions. Sautee for 5 minutes and add other veggies. Add garlic last.

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Mix together eggs, milk, mustard and salt. Whisk.

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Put veggies in prepared dish. Pour egg mixture over. Add cheese last. Carefully mix to blend.

Bake about 20 minutes until set.P1140262

Again, any kind of vegetables are excellent in this dish.

We had it tonight with salad and bread. So good.

And yes, you’re right, that’s my favorite pan.

Talk to me.

Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!

Lots of love, The City Farmgirl (Learning to Live in the Country), Rebekah

Leave a comment 24 Comments

  1. Linda L Graziano says:

    I write to you with tears running down my cheeks over the loss of our beloved Dachshund Scooter.. I had been thinking ofhaving chickens, I remember very little about my grandmother, but she raised chickens.After reading your post, I am convinced that is not for me. I have found the website Rainbow Bridge and the book It’s OK to cry by Maria Luz Quintana very helpful. Best to you, animals give so much and ask so little.

  2. Megan Escareno says:

    I’m so sorry. It is so very hard to lose a beloved pet. Insulate your heart, but don’t shut down for good. You will learn to “move on” –not in a cold, callous way, but in a way that when the next animal comes along, you will remember the good times you had with the one that has past, and it will help you to love the new one even better. I know what you’re thinking. What happens when you love even more and then that one goes?! You heal. You learn to love more. Better.
    When I was a little girl, my parents wanted us to get a taste of hobby-farming, so they ordered us 30 chicks and two bunnies. My bunny was beautiful. Really. She was a smokey, sable gray. Smokey became her moniker. I played in the yard with her every day. I walked her on a leash like a puppy. We sat on the grass inside a little chicken-wire fence to snuggle. We decided to breed her. We were going to learn how to sell the babies and run a small business. I was excited about the babies; not about selling them. However, that was the least of my worries. Easter morning came in with a rolling thunderstorm. Smokey went into labor. I woke up to two blubbering parents standing over me–not the best way to wake up your child, by the way. They had come to tell me that Smokey had gone into labor from the stress of the storm. She gave birth to 9 babies, but died with two very large, breech babies inside. I cried and cried and cried, but while I cried we ran outside to recover the babies because now we had to find a nursing doe for them. We drove through the country. I cried at the doorstep of all the local farmers–not a one had a nursing doe. We nursed the 9 babies every two hours, every day for two weeks until slowly, each one passed. And each time, I cried. I was devastated. It took me a very long time to get over her, but in the mean time, I was given another bunny, and we successfully raised up to 18 rabbits at one time. I never loved another bunny liked I loved Smokey, but I didn’t take the other bunnies for granted either. In reality, it was the loss of life that I encountered that year that helped me to learn to deal with death as a young woman. It may not seem like it’s a good thing, but there is beauty to be found in the ashes.

  3. LeVern Burback says:

    I am so sorry to read about your loss. As I read your despair…I thought how lucky you were to have such a special pet…it sounded like right from the start she was a star…loved by you from the very moment she came into your life and loving you…in the most special “pet” way, unconditionally. Pets come into our lives and stay such a short time…I grieve with you as I, too, have felt this kind of special connection.

  4. I wish I had great words of wisdom for you. I don’t have a lot of experience with animals. I can only wish you healing and peace. I think you will… adapt… to losing your animal friends. You will remember that the days/months/years/ of joy they bring you are worth the pain, and you’ll find the courage to bring more animals home. But it will probably always feel like a sock in the gut at first, when one of them dies.

  5. Bonnie says:

    I am so very very sorry.
    Having animals is so joyful…..and so sorrowful.
    The joy is amazing…the sorrow never gets easier.
    You need to grieve. Your daughter needs to grieve.
    But please don’t shut down for too long…..you will miss out on the joy that is waiting for you!
    Sending hugs to you both, from Oregon.

  6. maureen says:

    Find strength in the life you gave her. It was pretty much “Club Med” for chickens, and that’s a wonderful thing. Probably wouldn’t have been as great if that little chick had ended up somewhere else. How wonderful that she touched your heart and passed in such a peaceful way. Remember and accentuate the positive, it softens the blow.

  7. Sherry H says:

    I know exactly how you feel. My first loss of one of my fav chickens I bawled like a baby. But what Bonnie said is SO true. I had to put one of my goats down this year…she had cancer. She trusted me and I had to end her life. It broke my heart…but I will continue to have animals…because the joy they bring is worth the pain that can happen. Kind of like having kids. Don’t give up on having the animals…people like you and your daughter are EXACTLY the kind of people who SHOULD have animals. Having them makes us better people and gives them a good life while they are here. Celebrate the life they have while they are with you. Hugs to you!

  8. Sharon Larson says:

    Dear Rebekah,
    I send a hug. From someone who has lived on a farm her entire life….loved and lost. Try to think of the GIFT of knowing your little ones at all…..the blessing of having them in your life, even for a short time. How much love and happiness that they gave….and what a blessing they were. Place a photo in your home and talk about the “good things” with your daughter each day. Scrapbooks help also. Better days are coming…..with more wonderful pets! <3

  9. Wendy Thomas says:

    Ah, the pain of loss. Been there. I’ve been writing about chickens for a few years now, some of them like your TyGee have gone beyond being “just chickens.” There was Alkia, a tiny little fighter whom we literally pulled out of her shell – she lived 2 months before she died. I cried. I moved on because I had to.

    Then there was lovely little Violet. I had raised her from a chick, she was the sweetest little thing who thought she was a puppy and would sit in our laps and on our shoulders. She died because her first night (her first damn night) in the coop, she panicked and got stuck inside of a concrete block, the rest of the flock pecked her to death. I hated the flock, I mourned Violet (I still do) but I moved on. Because I had to.

    That’s what you have to do when you take on the responsibility of caring for animals.

    And then I had Storm, baby Storm who was also pecked nearly to death in our flock. (not again, right?) I nursed her back to health, she lived in our house for about 3 months and she got well enough to transition back out to the flock.

    Storm continues to do fine.

    It happens, sometimes we lose those who have wiggled their way into our hearts, but sometimes we manage to save them as well.

    The lesson learned is to not stop trying.

    Ever.

    Because that’s what you have to do when you take on the responsibility of caring for animals.

    Healing wishes being sent to your family.

  10. jinx says:

    Glad you shared your post and am sorry and understand about your sadness and shut down for not wanting other animals right now. I did the same thing when my beloved dog died. I didn’t want that pain again. And then I rescued an old, emaciated dog off the highway and 4 months later I am so in love with him and he is so happy to have us. The joy we bring each other is worth the sadness that will one day come. You only have today to do good things for other animals and people. As a fellow animal lover I ask you to reconsider fostering an older horse or saving a donkey and giving it a good home. They need you and will bring you more joy and love. They need companionship and love and safety. Just like your chicken whom you gave a good and happy life to that passed through no fault of your own.

  11. Rene Foust says:

    I am wiping the tears away as I write this post so sad for you. This is exactly why I don’t have any farm animals; I just cant get up the nerve to overcome the fear of the sadness that will surely come after their passing. I finally got another dog after the passing of my dear old Daisy dog friend this past summer, evidently I love deeper than I thought. I do think that the advice that got me to be able to adopt another dog was when someone told me that there are many dogs that need to be loved like Daisy. I guess this allowed me to stay sad over the loss of Daisy but to find the room in my heart to love a dog that was in need. I hope you find your peace real soon. I think about your adventures in farming often and pray that you find much success because in your success I just may find the nerve to take the second step. So very sorry for yours and your daughter’s sadness.

  12. Donna says:

    I am so sorry to hear of TyGee’s passing. I, too, lost my most dear and precious yellow Lab, Reilly, last October, and I still find myself looking for him to be sitting at the storm door looking out waiting for me when I pull into the driveway. All I can say is that it definitely takes time…although, for me, I’m not so sure I will ever be at peace knowing he is gone. Our pets become part of us, and when they have to leave us for the Rainbow Bridge, it’s as though we lose a part of ourselves. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I hope you can find some peace in knowing that you gave TyGee a wonderful life while she was here on Earth.
    Sincerely,
    Donna

  13. Mary Jane Walsh says:

    It is so sad!
    As you age over the years, little things will remind you of a pet or a person loved one!
    Glad you have such happy memories of TyGee.

  14. Kimberly N says:

    So, so sorry for you & your daughter’s grief!!!
    There is an aspect to this that I wanted to share that helped me through losing a sparrow I found on the ground outside my bedroom window at the very tender age of 13! I had never had a pet until I found Billy Bird, and I was determined to be the very best mommy to this pink, featherless, newly hatched baby! And I was, and Billy Bird was fully grown when she was killed – it about killed me…I grieved so hard for that bird! The only thing that could comfort me was the thought (my mother told me this) that Billy Bird’s life had been the best it could be because I had been the best in caring for her (13 year olds do not naturally get up round the clock to feed a baby chirping bird)…so while TyGee brought you all so much pleasure, you also gave TyGee a wonderful life as well.
    I have had quite a few pets since that 13th year but the intensity of loving a pet was the purest with Billy Bird, it did change me. We love our pets because they love us back and noone can tell me that Billy Bird, a common sparrow, didn’t know me and prefer to perch on me over anything else! I had my mom to help me grieve…heck, she cried with me! So help each other, it is a bond you will cherish in years to come. I don’t know if it is possible to compartmentalize love – I do know that love like this is not lessened with time, but the sharp acute pain of loss will. Hugs!!!

  15. Gracie Barnes says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss and I so understand the pain you are feeling.
    Last year we lost our three chickens to a predator and then in August our dog died and then in September our cat died. It was a very rough year for us. Our animals became our children after our children grew up and moved on with their lives. I am still grieving their loss. I was very angry but them spent time remembering all the fun times we had with them. The chickens were 5 years old and the dog and cat we got at the pound the same day and they were 15 years old. So we had lots of great memories of them. We have since gotten new chickens but it will be a while before we get another dog and cat.

  16. Candace says:

    I’m so sorry to read about TyGee! I would give you a hug if I lived closer! How fortunate TyGee was to be part of your farm family! Even though she lived a short life she couldn’t help but know that she was sooooo loved and cherished. Not all farm critters have such a grand life as that. If I had a goat, a miniature donkey, an aging horse or a guinea-fowl to find a home for you would be the person I would approach because you care so much.

  17. Marcie says:

    So sorry to hear about little TyGee. I feel your pain. Our little pets, whether they are feathered or hairy, give us unconditional love and we give them love, food and shelter. Rebekah, you and your family loved TyGee and gave her a beautiful life. You built the cute little chicken house for your chickens and you really take care of all your farm animals. The way you care for your farm animals shows them you love them. We do that too. They are more than farm animals, they are ‘family’. The pain and hurt will heal but you will never stop missing them. Give your daughter a hug and tell her this will make you both stronger and proves how deeply you care about what you are doing on your farm. Prayers and thoughts are with you.

  18. Robin Ayers says:

    My heart is breaking for your and your daughters loss. Our family has been in the same place. Many times. We have been there with chickens, with goats, with horses and cows as well as our dogs and cats. When I lost my first horse it was sudden like your loss. I was blindsided and like you, my heart shut down. I felt my heart collapsing. Suzy died in the fall and the following January a neighbor asked us to make a home for a 20 year old horse whose owner had been killed suddenly in a car accident. Just like you I said no. The neighbor must have mentioned it to my grandmother because she called my right away. She asked why I had declined to take the mare, we had the room and we had the time. I told her I just couldn’t take on another horse knowing sooner or later it would die as well. My grandmother gave me some advice that I will pass on to you. She told me the greatest way I could honor the great impact that Suzy had on my life was to open my heart and dare to love again. She said the greatest gift our animals give us is teaching us how to love and the best way we can honor them and the impact they have had on our lives is to take those loving lessons and shower them upon another animal. She said if I didn’t have animals any more it would be to show dishonor to Suzy and how she had taught me to love. I thought about that for a few days, mulling her words over and over. After a week I called the neighbor and told her I would take the mare. For weeks I had to literally force myself to interact with the horse but slowly over time I felt my heart begin to thaw. Finally, slowly, I fell in love with the new mare. 8 years later when she died I cried and was heartbroken again but my grandmother had been right. The greatest gift that Suzy had given me was the gift of opening my heart to an animal and daring to love completely. I felt that I honored her memory by “paying it forward” so to speak and passing that love on to another. Each time one of our animals die it breaks our hearts. We mourn and grieve and cry. But for me, continuing to love, continuing to provide a loving place for another creature has been the healing balm.You aren’t replacing your lost loved one by loving other animals, you are taking the love they nurtured in your heart and spreading it around, making a loving life for another. This is what has helped us. Maybe it will help your family too. Bless your heart. May you feel whole again soon.

  19. Beverly Coles says:

    Many years ago while running my horse boarding and riding facility we decided to keep some chickens. Despite everything we did to safeguard them one night a predator managed to get into the coop and slaughtered all of them but one little banty hen that we had rescued earlier and added to the flock. I honestly didn’t know what to do with her so she was moved into the barn with the horses and barn cats. I didn’t expect her to do very well but she thrived bedding down with the horses, eating cat food (yes even chicken) with the barn cats and riding on the manure wagon when we mucked out the stalls. She became a barn mascot and would ride on the horse owners’ shoulders if they offered her a perch. She died peacefully and from natural causes and everyone in the barn, people and animals alike, missed her.

  20. Pam deMarrais says:

    I am so sorry for your loss of Tygee. Been there, done that, and it makes the heart ache for so long. Here’s a farmgirl hug!
    On a lighter note, the recipes look great. I will be trying them out!

  21. Katie B. says:

    OK, that’s it… I’m never raising chickens…

  22. Lorraine says:

    I don’t know if this is any consolation, but I hope it is. I learned, when I had parrots, that birds will not show how ill they are until they are near the end. It’s a survival skill they developed because sick birds can make the whole flock vulnerable. Because of that, they are run out of the flock when they show signs of illness. I’m sorry you lost your sweetie, but know that you were definitely fighting the good fight in an uphill battle.

  23. Doris Hall says:

    Hey Rebekah,
    As always my husband (of 54 years) and I watch for your postings. We love them and feel like we know you :). I would love to send you a picture of my “special” 13 year old granddaughter. She has fallen in love with their chickens. She has to feed the girls everyday as soon as she gets home from school. She holds them, talks to them and even sing to them in her own special way. Her mom calls her the “chicken whisperer”. She has named several of them. My daughter is on facebook with some pictures and also a clip of her swinging the chicken last evening and singing to her. I know your daughter would love to see them. Our other 14 grandchildren love Caroline and enjoy her funny antics. Could you contact me so I can send you a picture?

    • Rebekah Teal says:

      Hi Doris! Thank you for your sweet words. I would LOVE to see the photos of your precious granddaughter! Please email me at Rebekah@maryjanesfarm.com. Tell your daughter to “friend” me on facebook. I should pop up in a search for “Rebekah Teal”? I want to see that clip. Take special care!

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