Life and/or Death

January 23, 2017
Dottie, in a brief moment of alertness after being fed through an eye-dropper

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.


  • Just another day on the farm

    January 23, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Best of luck in your choice, it sounds like the chick will make it for you.. It is never a easy thing, but it will get better with time. I know that seems a touch cold, and I don’t mean it to.. but you do get the point that you can see the percent in how things will do.. and it will help settle your mind on things.

    You will also sadly get to the point where it will be kinder to your own mind state to humanely help them cross over.. I am so sad to read that they were not looking after the chicks properly, in my area, we order then in, and they come properly sized box’s with bedding and their air holes, you must pick them up within a time frame and they are strong, healthy looking chicks and the place I work with always gives you one to three extras per order to make sure you get the amount your ordered from..

    The idea that they would be just out in tanks in the feed store is something I am not used to..

  • Hot Mess Homesteader

    January 24, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Its always so sad. You dont want to do it but no matter how long youve owned them, they become yours and you are attached. But i always think about the animals. Whats better for them? I am sad and feel for you. I am not sure even after time it helps. I have faith you will make the right decision. Sad the truck was delayed and the chicks suffered.

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