Life and/or Death
We brought three more baby chicks home on Saturday. They were supposed to have arrived at the feed store on Thursday, but because of some oversight the delivery truck was delayed for two days. The girls and I got to the store just an hour after the chicks arrived, and the large metal stock tanks were filled with weak, shivering, and dying babies. It was heartbreaking. Of course, I wanted to take them all home.
I didn’t, don’t worry.
I did, however, go ahead and purchase the three chicks I came for: Gladys, a Rhode Island Red; Gertie, a Black Sex Link; and Dottie, a Silver Laced Wyandotte. We tried to pick out the healthiest looking chicks, and in the end I think we did a good job with Gertie and Gladys. They are gaining weight and full of spunk, like a chick should be. But not Dottie.
I think it must be starve out. She is weak, and sleeps almost all the time. When she does stand and walk, she is wobbly and just doesn’t have much control. I hand fed her with watered-down mushy chick starter, yogurt mixed with water, and an electrolyte mixture from an eye dropper throughout the day yesterday, but she only took a little at a time, and then only halfheartedly. At the end of the day Jasper gently suggested that perhaps this was too much work for a single chick, and that culling her might be the best course of action.
I brushed him off last night, but now I wonder.
I know death is as much a part of life as living is. I also know that sometimes, especially in situations like these, it can be the kindest thing to do. But it’s still hard. An impossible decision to contemplate, even though she’s just a single, solitary chick and so small that she’s no more than a puff of down in my hand.
It’s a decision I’ll have to make soon though. I’ve got children to take care of and work to do, and tomorrow is Dumpster Day at the farm, and there is just no way I can continue to feed Dottie every two hours by hand. Sigh.
Can I do this? Farm, I mean? Homestead? Raise animals for meat? Make these hard decisions? Do these impossible, awful, and yet sometimes essential things and then just go on with my day? I don’t know, not really. I guess I’ll find out.