I have a wide variety of duties here at 1840 Farm. I am a wife, mother, cook, housekeeper, gardener, handyman, appliance repairman, etc. Luckily, I’ve never had to be an undertaker. Well, until a few days ago.
We just added eight baby chicksto our farm. It was a big step, but as soon as they arrived, we jumped right into chicken farming. My kids took their new responsibilities very seriously. My daughter has been spotted more than once cleaning out the brooding box and changing their water without the painful prompting that only a mother can apply.
My son helps in his own preschool way. That is to say that he fills up their feeder and almost manages to get some food into the feeder instead of onto the bottom floor of the brooding box. Now if I could just get them to feed the dog. Oh well, I mustn’t be greedy.
The first day with the chicks was all fun and games. We checked on them every few hours and laughed at how funny they were. It was like watching bobbleheads move around the brooder. They were unsteady on their feet and didn’t know quite what to make of life. They were adorable. It was great entertainment.
Then we noticed that one of the chicks seemed a little off. While they were all sleepy from their long journey to the farm, this one seemed not only sleepy, but lethargic. She didn’t travel with the rest of the flock. She stayed under the heat lamp while they explored their new surroundings. When I picked her up, sometimes she didn’t have the strength to open her eyes.
So, I did what any modern-day farmer would do. I went straight to the Internet. I searched. I read. I only came up with one option: feed the chick sugar-water with a syringe. I have to be honest and say that I never imagined myself standing in the garage after midnight doling out the elixir of life by hand to a sickly animal. I just didn’t. Not that I’m not an animal lover. Not that I don’t love a challenge. I just never pictured myself as an avian Nurse Ratched.
But it was all for naught. The next morning, the little chick was no longer with us. The rest of the flock was going about their business. They were eating and drinking and keeping each other in line. Now it was time for me to bury the chick. Here I go, still in my pajamas, out to the field with a shovel and the baby chick wrapped in newspaper.
It was grey and rainy out. Good weather for undertaking, I suppose. So, I did what I needed to do and then headed inside. Fast forward a few rainy morning hours and it was time to tell my children before they saw it with their own eyes at the pre-breakfast chick check. They took it surprisingly well, but with understandable questions.
The most popular question was “why?” I didn’t have a good answer because sometimes there just isn’t one. I reminded them that we had prepared for this before the chicks arrived. We talked about how delicate they were and that they might not all make it. It’s one thing to say it might happen. It’s another to explain that it actually has.
But we were farmers now. It was time to take a deep breath, grab our boots and head out to check on our remaining charges. We did and my children were happy to see that the remaining seven chicks were all very active. They were going on with their day. Somehow they knew that they had to. In nature, there is no time for mourning because it isn’t productive for an animal to stop their daily quest for survival to dwell on the past. They were living in the moment and marching forward. If the seven of them wanted to survive, they had to. It wasn’t a choice. It was necessity.
I hadn’t intended to teach my children a life lesson when we ordered eight baby chicks for the farm. I should have known better.Pin It