A thunderstorm hit late this evening, bringing lightning, driving rain, and vicious wind. We sheltered inside and delayed the evening feeding, in the hopes that we could catch a break. Little did we know that we would lose two of our gaggle.
After delaying an hour, we went out and discovered that the winds had actually shifted two hoop tractors, moving them several feet from their original location. The gosling tractor, horribly, had landed atop two of the goslings and crushed them to death. They were well beyond resuscitation when we found them, with heavy lumber planted squarely across their bodies. It was a traumatizing find. And the guilt – could we have saved them if we’d just gone out in the storm? They would still have likely sustained serious internal injuries, but the thought of those babies trapped and dying…too horrible to imagine and yet playing over and over in my mind.
After we extricated the bodies of the goslings, we checked the other (small) hoop tractor – it had also moved several feet, but most of the ducklings were simply free ranging nearby. Four remained in the tractor, and none were hurt. A miracle, no doubt. Perhaps being smaller had been advantageous in avoiding harm. In any case, I’m grateful.
Knowing that the tarps had allowed the winds to lift the tractors, we immediately shortened them (in half) and reattached them to the tractors. Now, they really only cover the top and provide no protection from the elements on the sides, so we’ll either attach shadecloth, which is perforated, or come up with another solution. Beginning tonight, the surviving goslings will go into the duck coop with the adult ducks and older goslings at night, and the ducklings will also be brought inside, for my peace of mind.
It’s been a day that, otherwise good, ended up being gutting. The winds here are unpredictable, sometimes cyclonic, and they show no mercy, even to those that deserve it. We’ll miss both beautiful goslings, but especially our little crossbill gosling who was the leader of the gaggle and the very best forager. May both be enjoying endless green pastures where they are now…we won’t forget you.
Raising animals comes with great highs and terrible lows. While this is clearly the latter, we’ll just shed a few tears (at least I will), pick ourselves up, and continue on.