Life and Death By Katrina Lester

When people think about farms, they think of sunshine and fresh air, green grassy fields covered with dew, and animals munching contentedly.

If they’ve been on one, they think of noise, hard work, calloused hands, and sweat. All are true, all are vividly accurate and a daily part of life on a farm. They are what I see too, but now I see something deeper as well, feel burden that I didn’t carry until this past year.


Every year on our farm we play god, deciding who lives and who dies. Who brings forth life, and when. Who stays with us, and who gets sold away to a life unknown. It is a position of power like no other, deciding the fates of so many lives…  That responsibility is a joy and a burden, and farm owners cloak themselves in it and carry it all their lives.


But sometime there is no power, no control. Sometimes it’s an ache as old as life itself. Sometimes your heart breaks and tears fall unnoticed onto the cold body of what was once a friend.

Sometimes there was nothing that could be done, and you feel helpless. Sometimes you could have done something, but you failed. And that… Well, there is nothing in the world worse than that.


Until now, the vast majority of those repurcussions have rested on the shoulders of my mother. A significant portion still does, since she’s the farm owner and manager, but now I notice the burden as well. I chose and purchased the animals, fed and bred them, and am responsible for their wellbeing. Not to mention that I love them.


But they die… They die by the dozens.


I have always felt the pain of loss when an animal dies. They have been my joy and passion since I was a little girl. But there is more now… Now it’s more than a tragedy, it’s a failure. It’s a loss of money, effort, time, feed, hopes, dreams, and painstaking plans. It’s the loss of a helpless life that I swore to protect…


No amount of expensive feed can guarantee a healthy birth. No measure of prevention can keep an animal completely safe from drowning, or getting caught by a wily predator, or getting an illness and dying.


And as I cradle their cold little bodies in my hands, or stare at the feathers and blood strewn across the ground, my soul cries more than my eyes can manage.


For what, you ask?? What is worth so much pain and loss?

Life, my friends… We get to touch budding life every day. And life is always worth it.



Life and Death By Katrina Lester — 7 Comments

  1. So is the life of the farmer, living close to the Originator the Weaver, who is always in control, even when we are not. But it is so hard to give up that control and surrender our need to be in control. We have no control, when it comes to life, or death, only the great Farmer has control.

  2. You have expressed my feelings about life on our homestead in a way that I never could. I wish we were neighbors.

    • Thank you Shannon. This was actually written by my daughter and it expresses my feelings well also. And I could always use more homesteading neighbors. Welcome.

  3. This is so vividly true. I could never quite put my finger on the emotions quite like they were worded here but I know the pain for loss and failure when you lose a life (or many) on the farm. Or the joy when a new healthy baby animal arrives. Thank you for sharing. :)

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