The 4-H chickens came in to our office this week. I was available to help -so I did.
It’s a great thing I love chickens. Way back in the day I spent many hours memorizing chicken breeds, brooding temperatures and other fun tidbits. I also showed purebred breeds in fairs and at other chicken shows. (Obviously my social life as a teen was kind of slow) When the girls get a little big older I want to get a few hens to raise with them..But I digress.
After these 4-H chicks were all handed out to their respective new owners there was one group that was not able to be claimed until after working hours.
I took them home for the new owners to pick up, since they live near my house. Plus, as a working parent myself, I totally get the constant logistics struggle that it is.
The girls thoroughly enjoyed “chicksitting”. Lynn was very VERY happy we were JUST chicksitting, and didn’t have new pets.
One of the chicks was deformed, and it was obvious that it may not make it. The girls asked why it wasn’t moving like and acting like the others. I explained to them that it was probably not going to survive the night.
Caroline and Claire spend the bigger part of two hours talking to them and ever so gently petting them. They also sang sweet childlike songs to the deformed one to “help it get better”.
When the owner came to collect the chicks, my rascals bounded out mouths-still-stained-with-spaghetti-dinner to say goodbye to their temporary charges. Despite our best efforts, the deformed chick was struggling to breathe and its death was imminant, even to my girls.
All the other chicks had pepped up significantly with the sugar water I had given them to revive them from their flight on a plane from Texas…And were merrily pecking and scratching at the box that they were in, warming. That made the difference between the healthy ones and the unhealthy one more apparent.
The girls paused. Looked at it. Looked at me.
“Mommy. What wrong with dat one?” Claire whined softly, pawing me.
“Is it going to die?” Caroline asked quietly her eyes wide and sad. Being older, she has seen more life, new life and death on the farm than her sister has.
I explained to them gently and honestly it probably was going to die, and likely soon. And while that was very sad, it was not unusual for chicks to not make it the first few days of their lives.
Two glum little girls trudged back in. Caroline lost her appetite and could not finish her dinner. Claire cleaned her plate and asked for dessert.
They perked up and moved on before bed, and it wasn’t mentioned again.
Until I picked them up from daycare today.
The first words out of Claire’s mouth “How dat one chick?” I had to tell her big blue eyes that I had heard it died.
She needed a long hug.
Caroline waited until we got in the car. “Mama. Did that sick chick live or did it die?” I had to tell her too, that it died before it made it to its new home.
She needed a hug too.
Sweet sensitive girls. I hope they always care about the welfare of lives entrusted to them.
I hope they always care tenderly for life, because it is the right thing to do.
I hope they learn that caring might hurt, but being the kind of person that cares enough to get hurt is what makes our lives rich and meaningful.
I also hope that in the near future we can be three crazy chicken ladies (and maybe wear floppy hats, flip-flops and overalls) and raise a batch of our own healthy little chicks.