Crows call my focus to the treetops – a sign my saunter interrupted their feast of prey. Within a few steps, I find a dead rabbit in my path.

I occasionally encounter this sad sight on my walks, the auto’s intrusion of the natural world’s cycle of capture, kill and consume. My consolation is the animal was spared a slow, torturous death by carnivorous birds.

And the yapping crows aren’t happy to be deprived their pickings, and demand their free meal.

The rabbit’s lifeless, dark eyes look up to me as I take it by a foot and throw it into the hedgerow. I don’t want other vehicles running it over.

Do the crows thank me for serving their breakfast? Well, I don’t know crow-talk, however, those brass, black birds sound like they’re mocking me. But I don’t hold it against them. This is a broken world, and I’m broken, too.

That’s why I walk alone. To converse with my merciful Lord.

I resume my walk under the fair, blue sky and remember the first spring in our new country home. Our three teenagers gathered by the bedroom window facing west. A hideous, inhuman scream came from the tree line along the road. Never had we heard anything so dreadful.

Later, a neighbor informed me the sound was that of a rabbit in the claws and jaws of a predator. I hoped and prayed my family and I would never hear that scream again. Thank God, we haven’t to this day.

As I turned and walked uphill, our first year in Addison Township flashed before me. Calling upon the fortitude of my Scots-Irish-German ancestors, I began building our slightly self-sufficient and sustainable homestead.

Homegrown food in the refrigerator, freezer, and canned in the pantry, for instance, like my granny did with her garden and hens. She gathered eggs and butchered meat birds for her delicious fried chicken.

I began our little farm with flowers and tomatoes, and soon learned rabbits are the gardener’s number one foil. For they nibbled my chicken wire guards, yielding a half-empty freezer and pantry to depress the woman who planted enough seeds and seedlings to feed her family and neighbors.

That’s why Granny built a strong fence around her garden, tall enough to discourage local men who drank too much at Beulah’s place from pulling up her tomatoes and corn again.

A dairy farmer, Great-granny Hunt birthed ten children, one of whom she named Ollie, my granny. Great-granny hitched her team of mules to her milk wagon and loaded it with crates of eggs, milk and butter. She sold her farm products along Peter Creek, Granny’s small mercantile included.

Fourth generation McCoy-Hunt from Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains, my somewhat agrarian life is a mere remnant of my matriarchs’.

Dear Reader, I’m satisfied with growing garlic, asparagus, raspberries, rhubarb, lavender, peaches, pears, and apples. And gathering half a dozen eggs.

Yet, come spring, I’ll plant again tomatoes, greasy beans, and collard greens in hopes to fill my pantry.

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