I was out of town for 5 days last week working to further my education and edging closer to Dolphin MPS certification. It was a whirlwind trip and I got home late in the afternoon on the 21st.
My hubby has been a trooper this last year….. working full time, and managing the farm when I am out of town either educating others or getting educated myself. We are a great team, he and I, and we both see the benefits of what we are working towards.
As I drove up the driveway, I automatically began scanning my the pastures and doing a mental farm-ily checklist. I stopped and checked water troughs. The last one I checked caught me right in the heart. Despite the fact that there was a piece of wood floating in the trough (for little critters who might fall in and need a lifeboat), there were two dead squirrels. Drowned.
Of course, my first thought and breath prayer was that neither body belonged to Henri. It was not in an area that I could imagine she or her babies would be, but still….. it’s also not that far from the house. Charlie went out and disposed of the squirrels and cleaned the trough. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it… simply because I wasn’t sure who exactly had drowned. Let’s face it, squirrels all look pretty much alike. As much close contact as we have with Henri, I still can’t tell her apart from other squirrels except by her personality and approximate size.
We have incredible relationships with all of our animals out here, and although we grieve when one passes away, we are healthy about it. Life goes on, and so must we. What is nearly harder than death is when an animal comes up missing. It’s been a rare occurrence, but it has happened. Then you have a kind of limbo grief it’s hard to let go of… not knowing whether to grieve and move on or keep on hoping. Charlie hadn’t seen Henri the entire time I was gone so she had been missing already for about a week. As the days wore on, I started giving up on hope. I left nuts out and they didn’t get eaten. She really seemed to be gone, so my hope was that she had just gone into the wild and not drowned. That thought was a little sad too… but better than the alternative reason for her absence.
Today was a great day! Henri returned…. acting as tho she had never been missing. She looked thru the window and asked for nuts. Her favorite nuts come from our local pecan orchard, Foster Crossing Pecans.
Henri will snub the native pecans in favor of these babies. Just like the prodigal son…. only the best for our girl! (The owners are friends of ours and cannot believe we buy high end pecans for a squirrel. What can I say? She is worth it!)
Henri was more affectionate than usual now that she’s home, clearly happy to be with me and asking to be stroked for a few minutes before she got back to the business of eating and hiding pecans. I have no idea where she’s been, but my heart is lighter knowing she’s still with us.
Home is where your squirrel is, right?