I had just finished feeding the horses, feeling content in the ability I have to take care of them properly. Before I went back to the house, I decided I would freshen Juliee's water trough and then do Misty's. Juliee mostly drinks out of Misty's trough, as it is larger, and probably stays cooler; but I like to keep the smaller one of Juliee's fresh, anyway, even if she never drinks from it. Just in case, you know.
I finished filling Juliee's trough and pulled the hose over to Misty's. I did not like what I saw. There on top of the water lay two dead starlings. The water did not look good at all and I wondered how long these two birds had been dead. Juliee would have been ok, cause she had her own trough to drink from. But Misty can't get to that trough like Juliee can get to Misty's. Yikes. Not good! Poor Misty!
It couldn't have been that long since the water was checked and freshened, but I marked in my mind to do a better job of checking it daily. The starlings had been thick today so maybe it was just from today, but I had a feeling it was at least two days these birds had been there.
My first concern was if this water could make the horses sick. To tell you the truth, I don't really know. But I did not want to take any chances. And my next concern was when had Misty last drank some water. She was eating well and seemed ok, so there was probably no need to worry.
I keep a 5 gallon bucket readily available for when I need to scoop water from the trough to give it a thorough cleaning. I went to grab it, but realized Sam had grabbed it just the other day for a fishing bucket when Matthew had forgotten his on their first fishing day of the season.
Ugh! What would I use? I was pretty certain it would be fruitless, but I tried to tip the bucket without first emptying any water. Nope, too heavy; that was not going to work. I couldn't budge it. And I had to get those two birds out of there before I did anything anyway.
I spotted the snow shovel in the corner of the house in my yard and garden tool box. Worth a try, I thought.
It worked perfectly to remove the two dead birds. I picked them up in one scoop and drained the excess water from the shovel. I found a spot where I could bury the two birds, placing them out of the way to come back to. I wanted to get this water fresh before I did anything else.
I started scooping the water with the snow shovel and found it worked perfectly. Even better than my 5 gallon bucket, because it didn't get as heavy and was easier on my back. It actually didn't take that long to get the trough empty. I left the trough only about a quarter full (yes that was my first choice of words - "full", not "empty". Of course, in this scenario "full" is probably the negative view.) Anyway, I digress. It was now empty enough that I could begin to rock the trough back and forth enough to garner motion so that I could dump the rest of the water from the trough.
WHOOOOOOSH....success! Now if only that soil would soak up the water better. The ground was not absorbing it very quickly, leaving a big puddle on top. I was now standing in it with only my flip-flops on. I hoped the water wasn't harmfully tainted. Germ-phobia that I am.
I grabbed the hose and started cleaning out the trough as best as I could. I rinsed and I rinsed and I rinsed. I even sprayed the puddles around the trough that had gathered. If it was too tainted I didn't want the horses to drink from that, either, as I know they sometimes will. I figured I could at least add more water to the puddle to freshen it to some degree. I had noticed the little killdeer wanting to come to the puddle to drink and I didn't want them to get sick either. I just didn't know. Dead bodies of birds surely tainted the water. I didn't want to take a chance for my horses or the little birds.
Finally, I was ready to fill the now clean trough. I wanted to show Misty the tank had clean water, so I grabbed some fresh grass so she would come over to the trough and see the water would soon be clean and fresh. The hose was quietly running now with the nozzle at the bottom of the trough, but all the little birds seemed to know. Misty seemed uninterested in the water, but was certainly loving the fresh grass I was picking. As I stood there offering her the grass, I noticed a bird high in Matthew's 25 year old "Birthday Tree". I couldn't quite see what the bird was, but I was curious. As I watched, the killdeer kept coming and next a robin. I started to get worried about them too. I didn't want them to drink the water yet, until it had all been freshened - even the puddle on the ground. I decided I would just go stand by the trough and hold the hose, thinking that my presence would scare the birds away enough until the trough was full.
It didn't really work. As I stood there holding the hose, the sound of the running water seemed to draw more birds. A tiny humming bird came to the tank, apparently wanting a drink. She hovered and hovered, then flitted about before hovering some more. Now how in the world does that little buddy ever get a drink out of such a large tank, I wondered. She didn't try, apparently the running hose was enough to give her some apprehension, but she certainly wasn't afraid of me.
At some point the bird I had wondered about in the tree had flown to the ground and was standing in the mud. Oh my goodness you are beautiful, Mr. Cedar Waxwing, but please don't drink yet! I just want it to be a bit fresher first. He put his beak to the ground and sipped a bit. I lightly flipped the hose his way. I didn't want to frighten him, but neither did I want him to drink just yet. He simply looked up at me through his black mask as if to say, "Why not?" He stood there momentarily, not drinking, but seemingly unafraid of me. I held a life-giving source. It was in my hands and I was in control of it for all these little creatures around me - the killdeer, the robin, hummingbird and now the cedar waxwing. To tell you the truth (don't laugh and don't think me disrespectful)...I felt a bit like God in that moment..."I know what's best for you", I thought. And I will withhold this life giving source from you until the just right time. Hahaha...oh the places my mind wanders! ;-)
Yes, we all know that very simple truth. God knows best. It is a simple facet of our faith. But today, for me, it was a good reminder anyway. Sometimes one can feel pretty alone in our earthy challenges and the "why" questions always seem to come far more easily than the answers - even if they are simple.
I didn't really like momentarily playing God though. I worried the birds wouldn't come back. I worried I was chasing them from my yard forever, not giving a proper respite. I just wanted to see them all be able to drink right now! As I stood there holding the hose and letting the tank fill, they really seemed to have no fear. It was almost magical. They watched and waited patiently. Sometimes they stopped to look at me, not daring to come closer, but not flying away either. This was a very special moment for me - I was in a haven with my birds - still and watchful, with only the sound of a running hose...Oh and I guess some normal target practice shooting in the background. lol I LOVE where I live.
Finally another bird started to come. This one not so desired - it was that nasty mosquito. And he seemed to come with a vengeance. I swatted at him, and swatted at him some more. He would be what would finally drive me away. (Nope. I am not God) I left the hose in the tank to fill and went to bury the two dead starlings. Funny that I didn't care about these two, but yet I was so worried about the rest. (Nope. See above parenthesis. lol)
I did wonder what had happened to these two. There seemed to be a wound on the chest of one. I didn't look that closely at the other. When I told my husband later, he commented that maybe they had hit the wire....that didn't seem too likely to me, but who knows...
One thing is for certain. I am not the Giver of Life and probably not even a sustainer of life. I am just a lowly care-giver. But I do care and I want to be the best care-giver I can be. Sometimes I simply need a good reminder of who I am and what I am supposed to do.