When I bring the chicks back in from free-ranging outside, I have them inside a huge plastic tub. I cut a small door in the side, and when I open it, generally the chicks rush out. There are always a couple of stragglers, but with a little coaxing, they hop out and back into their crate. Yesterday, there was one small chick, significantly smaller than most of the others, that would not go back inside. Even after all the rest of the flock had gone in and were happily dust bathing themselves, it just stood there, looking sad.
Concerned, I immediately quarantined the chick. I set up a small plastic bin with food and water. I made it some scrambled egg (I know this might sound wrong, but it contains all the nutrients that they need, and the chicks go nuts when I treat them to it). The chick pecked at the food, and slowly ate some, drank some water, and went to sleep.
I was hopeful that it I would be able to nurse it back to health, but when I came out this morning, it could barely stand up. It just wanted to curl up in my hands and sleep. I noticed that it kept twitching its head, so I gave it a dust bath with Diatomaceous Earth.
Eventually, after it pooped in my hands, I wrapped it in a couple of paper towels and nestled it on my chest, to keep it warm. It slept there for most of the day as I plodded through my day’s programming tasks. Eventually, after a long pitiful cry, it died. I cried … actually I wept. I wanted so badly to save the chick, and I wasn’t able to. I felt silly being so emotionally wrecked by something that would have eventually been food for us, but I wanted that it to have years of happily exploring outside before that day came. I didn’t want it to suffer. At least it got to die surrounded by warmth and comfort.
I buried the chick out by the hen house: the place I was hoping that would have been its future home. The chicks seem to be particularly fond of Dandelions, so I picked a single yellow flower and laid it on top of the tiny, freshly dug grave.
Tonight when I was again bringing the chicks in from their free ranging excursion, as I always do, I count to make sure that everyone was there. I paused at the end, as everyone was happily dust bathing inside, minus one.
Goodbye Little One, I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.