Sometimes the Bar Eats You

One of those days. Those. Days.

Something died today. Those are the hardest days. I can work straight through lunch and long after dark…no problem. Come inside, grab a bite to eat and a shower and fall asleep within seconds then bounce up to do it all again the next day.

But when something dies…well…then I don’t sleep.

I lay awake and wonder about it. Will it happen again tomorrow? Or tonight even? What can I teach the children from this?

Am I to blame? Certainly.

I should have been more attentive. But I was busy doing 10 other things, all of which were important and one thing slipped.

One chore got missed.

One routine got skipped. One job that I never do…but should ensure gets done. My oldest has his own little enterprise. Well, not anymore.

And it really is my fault. It’s not like a raccoon broke through the perimeter and went on a frenzied murderous rampage. No. This is worse.

And it really hurts.

Today I got eaten by the bar. And I’m feeling pretty low.

I have to help my son learn from this experience without letting it defeat him. He made a mistake. I made a mistake. It was a costly mistake but …well, it can happen. It does happen.

You can’t lose them if you don’t have them. We do our best. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes, well, sometimes the bar eats you.

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9 thoughts on “Sometimes the Bar Eats You

  1. So sorry to hear that. Sometimes the best teacher (and harshest) is our mistakes. I wish that wasn’t true because none of us like going through it at the time. The important thing is how we handle the mistake. Does it defeat us, or make us stronger?

  2. Sounds like a tough day. There are times when I desperately want to say – “all this responsibility I’ve got? You can have it, I don’t want it anymore” but somehow life doesn’t allow us to get away with that. Even surfers have some responsibility (I think). Hopefully your boy will find it in himself to rise again to the challenge of being responsible for living beings and find the pleasure that is surely in the job. I can’t think of any role in life that doesn’t in some way involve responsibility that impacts other lives around us. We may think surfing is free and easy, but it has risks and responsibilities like anything else. Flipping burgers, punching the buttons on a cash machine, driving, creating software, teaching, parenting – all have risk and responsibility. It’s a rough deal, some days. Thank goodness we get new days to start again.

    • And he will start again. We’re going to take our time. Maybe get through the heat of summer, clean, repair and consolidate equipment then kick it off again.

      Had a similar situation with the younger son’s worm farm. “So, where are the worms? Looks pretty dry in there.” Not enough supervision on my part. So the worm farm has been relocated and the enterprise is half mine.

  3. Thinking about this again, I am reminded of what happened in Steven Curtis Chapman’s family a few years ago. I am not sure that the burden of guilt can be greater than what was experienced by both son and father on that day. With God’s grace that family has risen up to embrace life again, as tough as it must have been.

  4. I recall a fatal incident back in ye olde arctic char fish farm days. It was a all water recycle system with sixty 300-400 gallon tanks of brood fish each on their own independent biological gravel bed filtration system and pump plus the production area of seventy 600 gallon tanks on a shared huge bio-filtration system with a drum filter to separate the solids (fish manure -fertilizer) then the water went through two 10’ tall silo type sand biofilters with friendly bacteria, oxygenated via gravity drop and finally ran thru UV then recycled back to the fish tanks. All was of course dependent on power to run the pumps to all systems. A diesel generator was on standby and wired to kick in anytime the power failed. Someone was on call every night with an exclusive cell phone ringing if there was trouble and the on site 3 residences were also all hard wired with a piercing fire alarm bell.

    One night the power went out about 2 am and the ex was on call and went to ensure the generator started up and do the clean up. I went and helped for a while, as whenever the power went out rust would run through the system with small pieces of it plugging up the spray bars on each tank, reducing the force of the spray that provided their oxygen. Two hours later, all is back to normal, tanks were good (in that industry we say “round and round, belly side down” meaning they are content swimming in a schooling pattern). Incubators were flushed through and rust siphoned out, zero losses, I headed home and he wrapped up a few things and then headed back to bed after the huge marathon. Next day is Sunday, sleep in a bit after a full night, go into the hatchery and just about 80% of the production fingerlings, fry and some fish are belly side up – dead – about 150,000 of them. Cause – the power went out a second time. Turned out btwn the middle of the night grogginess and fatigue the ex forgot to turn the alarm back on after overriding it in the first outage. The power went out again and the generator had started for the duration but ran out of fuel. When the power comes back on it does not automatically switch off with power taking over again you have to manually switch it over.

    Dark, dark days of despair. You had put everything you got into it, you spawn and fertilize the eggs, care for the eggs in the incubator as they eye-up then hatch, move them out when they first start swimming, feed them every hour, clean their trough with a feather so as not to hurt them, etc as they grow. There were no antibiotics or meds, no chemicals, in their food or otherwise just above good husbandry throughout the whole system. You would kill the whole biosystem if you used these. The medicine bag contained iodine for disinfecting, salt was the only “medicine” and clove oil as a sedative. It took about 2 wks with labour ready manpower there for days loading dead fish up for the rendering plant for pet food, and cleaning everything up – everything you had worked so hard for.

    On top of the internal self-flagellation that this was a human error, we had the huge grief of failing when taking on the responsibility to keep fish alive in an artificial environment that they could not survive on their own – they relied on us and we let them down in a fatal way. Like a Sheppard with a big flock you don’t have them all named or know them individually but the strong bond is still there of – this is my flock and above all I shall provide for them and protect them from predators, snow storms, drought, etc.

    A secondary lost life we didn’t realize initially was the friendly bacteria that died off in the biofilters with no incoming matter to feed it. We had to get new bio bacteria, kind of like a sourdough starter – the healthy ecosystem had died off.

    On the business side we had to deal with the business partners and the Distributor who went out on a limb with marketing of our future production, an untried venture of inland aquaculture on the Prairies. I still feel some grief in writing this comment of the lost lives we were responsible for. It may never go away but is a good reminder of the responsibility I have with all my animals. That is one School of Hard Knocks certificate I wished I didn’t own. I wish I knew some words of wisdom to impart here but I don’t really have them. I think for me I learned that there is only so much hashing it over, beating self up with coulda, woulda shoulda. Seems to be a necessary step in a bad situation but it has to end. Figure out the cause, take ownership, write it down if you have to, so you don’t ever forget it, and stop devoting time to that step once complete. All one can do next is take the responsibility, adjust as needed so this never happens again and day by day pick up the pieces, start over or move on and learn from the mistake and improve. After this long-winded story you now know that I really mean it when I say I feel for you and your son with your loss, I have a pretty good idea of how you feel. 😦

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