When Pigs fly, little girls cry. It was inevitable. I knew from the moment that I saw that 3-day-old starling on the ground in front of me that this was going to be a big lesson for my kids. I knew that Bella would take the release the hardest. I knew I would encounter negative views on starlings and people who thought me nuts for raising one. I knew all the hard work I would have to put into this. But, you see, God gave me a big heart, one that feels empathy above most other emotions. I have an inborn ability to put myself in the shoes of others, humane or not. It is a hard, heartbreaking, emotional life to live, but He made me that way for a reason. So the second that I saw that starling on the ground, I also knew that I had to do all that I could to make sure it made it back into the wild where it belonged as a healthy juvenile. And when that day finally came, I debated over where to release our Pig.
After days of wondering and worrying, figuring, calling, being rejected, and finding no other feasible option, I made the decision to release him on the land where we are building our homestead. I could go back there several times a day and check on him, leave him food and water, and make sure that this attempt at release worked better than the first. And when he was ready, he could fly off and find other starlings on his own. I was sure of that. There are plenty around.
Here is our Pig, ready to GO GO GO! At this point, Bella has run away, determined to be no part of this release. It's too much for an 8-year-old's heart, the letting go.
So Max opens the door of the cage for us. (Thanks to Julie Zickefoose for the use of the cage. I saw many a bird raised and release in this cage in my younger years, and it made such a difference the last two weeks with Pig.)
Pig says "Um, is this for real? Are you really gonna' let me FLY???"
Why, yes, Pig, yes we are. And he did. He flew right up into the trees beside the house, and then he was gone. We left the food and water and would check on him the next day to be sure he made it through the night, but I didn't expect to see him again. He was there, and then he was gone.
Then Bella was there, sneaking around the side of the house to where we let him go, calling, looking. She was hoping beyond hope that he would fly down onto her shoulder, I would say, "Well, I suppose we have to keep him forever," and we would put him back in the car and bring him home.
We talked the talks that go with these things. Life lessons abound in these instances, and you hope that you remembered to include them all in the talks. But in the end, we left without a bird and with a girl, sobbing behind her American Girl Hairstyles book.
She is a girl after her Mama's heart. And that is just alright. The world needs another soft soul or two, in my opinion.