Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Fate of the Ostrich

by Pa Rock

My dad used to have a saying, one of many:  a person should only have what he can take care of.  That lesson was brought home clearly to me through my efforts at trying to keep an ostrich.

As I noted in this space a few days ago, I bought two young ostriches on a whim back in the days when I had my little farm outside of Noel, Missouri.  One was a bit too young and disappeared the first evening that she was there.  The other, an adolescent male, quickly grew to tower above me and learned that he had the ability to physically frighten me - or, as my neighbors would have put it, he "got his bluff" in on me.

After our foot-and-fist fight, I had a new respect for, and fear of, the ostrich.  For the next few weeks I always had my gladiator shield (garbage can lid) in hand when I went into the barn lot.   The dance we did was one of careful observation and extreme caution.

But then one day I came home and the ostrich was gone.   I had what I felt to be adequate fencing to handle the menagerie of goats, and pigs, and emus, and the ostrich - but the big bird had somehow managed to to scale (or jump) the fence and hit the road to freedom.  And I would have wished him well in his travels and moved on if not for the fact that he was dangerous and posed a threat to others in the neighborhood.

I rounded up a neighbor lad who was good with a rope and also had a rifle.  When we located the bird, he would not let us get close enough to try to lasso him, and, as evening approached, I gave the order to shoot.

That act, killing an innocent bird, was hard to experience at the time, and it was hard to write about just now.  The poor ostrich did not asked to be born into captivity, nor did he choose to be sold off to someone who lacked the proper training to raise him successfully.   He was a creature meant to run free, yet his life was completely at the mercy of people.

Pa Rock had acquired something that he couldn't take care of.  The fault was his.

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