We are not seeing the number of deer we usually do at this time of the year. Last winter there were deer everywhere; we would see groups of 50 - 60 deer in one bunch. But last winter we had a very cold winter with a lot of snow that was tough on a lot of wild creatures. Throughout the summer the dogs and I would find deer bones out on the pastures, evidence of the ones who died there. Harsh seasons are natures way of culling a population.
I can write those words with little emotional attachment. I love to see the deer but I’m not raising them, nor is there any monetary value attached to them in my case. It’s entirely different when it comes to the ewe sitting in a pen in the shearing shed, who seems to have pneumonia and is going downhill rapidly. I tell myself this is also Nature’s way of culling but for her, I can’t help but fret and feel a sting of anger and frustration.
I don’t like to lose any animal but over the course of several years and several hundred sheep I’ve dealt with the loss of many of them. And I always feel anger when it happens and because sheep are tightly attached to me making a living I always fret over the cost of losing one. I try to convince myself that money should not be attached to a life or the loss of a life. But the truth is, I am stuck on a belief that my living is threatened anytime there are losses.
And so where death is concerned I have this ongoing two-sided relationship with Mother Nature. I understand her culling process and I’m okay with it, as long as it happens “out there” but it's pretty tough pill to swallow when it happens at home on the ranch.