Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Feel Terrible...

So, yesterday I come home, and go about my business. Did some computer work, some laundry, then headed out to check on the chickens. When I lifted up the feed bags that were covering the holes, I was amazed to see empty nests, and the regular chickens on top of the boxes. Apparently the bags had worked, and kept out the chickens. It just kept out too many chickens. I assume the sitters went out to get a drink or to eat something, then could not get back into the nests. I felt so guilty.

Then I went out to the tack room, where I was keeping the babies.

I had a meeting that morning with my crew leader, and I did not pay a lot of attention to the animals because I was running late. I had glanced into the tack room, and raised the heat lamp a few inches above the night level, because they don't generally need as much heat during the day. The ambient temperature rises, and they stay warm with that. What I failed to notice was that they were almost out of water. The chick waterer is a small round tray that screws onto a mason jar. When the jar is inverted, the water comes out into the tray. When I looked, I saw the tray was wet, but not how much water was in the jar.

Without water, chicks overheat.

I killed 10 little babies.

I thought more were going to die, but I removed the heat lamp completely, sat my guilty butt on the floor and started feeding the sickest ones drops of cool water with a small syringe. 5 were really, really close to dying when I found them. When I was done, 4 had recovered. It took the better part of 2 hours to make sure everybody was rehydrated, but I now have 17 live chicks. I better take care of these ones, because I don't know that anymore will hatch out after being cool without the hens.

Damn...Bad day...


  1. Jennifer, I was talking with my kids tonight about washing hands so we don't get sick. My son said that if his sister got swine flu she would die. She said she didn't think she would die because her job on earth wasn't done yet. I found it all very interesting and humbling. Perhaps the babies had done their job, and so it was time to go to chick heaven. It is okay there-the heat is just right and so is the water and I bet the dirt is perfect for scratching. You did the best you could.

  2. So, you raise chickens? My friend Kathy wants to raise chickens in her backyard -- in Louisville! I told her I don't think it was allowed. That's when we decided we needed to buy a farm.

  3. Thanks, Jennifer for the sentiment. You made me tear up. You're not supposed to do that to me.
    Jan, I talked to a lady at Dogwood that had 6 hens only, no roosters (hence no noise), and I think she lived kind of in town. Maybe suburbs. I also knew a lady years ago that had just a single hen as a pet. She kept it for several years, and enjoyed her immensely.
    But then, the farm idea is good too. Dream big, right?

  4. Jennifer, I'm so, so sorry about the chicks. You did the best you could, and that's all any of us can do.

    When I was a kid, my mom gave me a chick to raise for my very own. She had a whole gang of chicks and gave me the runt. It grew into a big white rooster and followed me everywhere--I guess he thought I was his mommy. Then one night a hound dog got hold of him and killed him. I was heartbroken.

    I've had a very bad day, too. Hubby's store was robbed last night. The thieves cut the telephone line and the security wires, then cut a hole in the back wall of the building, which is out of sight from the highway, and went inside. Hubby has been all day assessing the loss, repairing damage, trying to shore up against more theft. The security system has been upgraded and improvements have been made elsewhere, but we'll still be scared every night that someone will break in again.

  5. Jeez, Devon, and you were just talking about this! I guess you probably didn't have time to get new insurance, huh? That's a serious bummer. Know any big dogs? Any chance they'll catch the creeps that broke in? Do you have cameras in the store?