Compassion in World Farming

Monday, 12 October 2009

Some sad news ... and a little miracle

Well despite feeling under the weather with a cold & hacking cough I took perfect care of my lovely little chicks like a proud Mother hen & they seemed to flourish. By their 1st week birthday I felt sure they would all survive into adulthood. But I learnt a lesson in how fragile they can be the hard way. For no apparent reason we lost 2 of the Porcelain D'Uccle bantam chicks. It was absolutely heart breaking. Because I incubated the eggs & saw them hatch out I just felt so responsible, despite having been told to expect to lose a couple along the way. It really was a wretched experience. Of the 3 sets of eggs they did have the lowest hatch rate with only 4 out of 6 chicks emerging. The eggs were muddy when they arrived via the post, but as per the seller's instructions I didn't wash them. I'm wondering if the chicks were maybe weak because of dirt/bacteria entering the shell. I just don't know & no matter how much I wish it was possible I can't bring them back. On an even sadder note Beaky, the first chick to hatch, was one of the 2 we lost. Why, oh why? However, on a more positive note the remaining 2 D'Uccles seem to be healthy & are growing to be very pretty little things.

By Thursday my awful cough had brought on my CFS / Fibromyalgia so I was feeling quite miserable, but to sit & watch the remaining chicks playing, squabbling & learning together would instantly bring a huge beaming smile to my face. On Friday morning I checked in on them at about 7am & I didn't notice anything wrong at that point. I took out their water container & filled it with fresh water. In the time it took me to do that & take it back to the chicks one of my little Chamois Polish Frizzles was laid prostrate & motionless in the sawdust, away from the main huddle of chicks. Instantly my heart fell. I touched it's little body & it felt cold. I just felt desperate. Not another one! I couldn't bear losing another little life. I gently picked it up & held it's completely limp & lifeless body in the palm of my hand high up under the heat lamp & gently massaged it's back. It was barely alive. It's beak opened & closed helplessly. I just wanted to give it a peaceful exit from the world so I kept gently stroking it. I whispered a prayer to the angels to draw close to my little chick. Youngest son came to find out where I was & I explained that I thought we were losing it. As I spoke it became completely motionless & choking back the tears I told youngest that I thought it's life had slipped away. But something made me keep rubbing it's back as if I could somehow bring warmth back to it's body again. I can't explain why. Something told me not to stop, not to let my little chick go. To my utter amazement it made a small movement! It was still with us! I told youngest that I needed to stay with the chick & so to just carry on getting ready for school without me. I summoned up all the love in my heart & breathed it into the little chick's feathers & just kept on rubbing & rubbing the warmth back into it. Slowly but surely life crept back into it's body. I could tangibly feel it, but it was still so limp that I really had to tell myself not to build up my hopes. But again, something drew me on. As limp as it was I gently placed it's beak into water & incredibly it took a little sip. Then I dared to believe that there was hope. It managed another little sip & then I went back to massaging it, holding it safely against my chest so that my own body heat would warm it. I now had a dilemma. Although I had already informed the office that I wouldn't be at work because I felt so poorly I had youngest son to get to school. What was I to do? I couldn't put the little fellow back amongst the other chicks in this pitiful condition. So I did the only thing I could. I popped the little chick inside my top so that it was nestled safely against me & then drove youngest to school just hoping upon hope that the little chap wouldn't die. Youngest said a farewell to the chick as I dropped him off. As I drove home I started to feel little tickly movements against my skin & I just felt elated. 'Come on , little fellow I know you can do this' I shouted inside. Then as I drew nearer to home it began to cheep! When I arrived home I carefully extracted my little miracle & dropped a gentle kiss on it's feathers. I managed to sort out a little box for it positioned close to the heat lamp & carefully laid it inside. As poorly as I felt I didn't leave it's side. I kept helping it to have sips of water & gradually, bit by bit it regained some strength. Enough to hold itself upright at first. Then enough to take water on it's own. Then enough to show some interest in some chick crumbs that I scattered at it's feet. Incredibly by 10.30am the little fellow was eating & drinking by itself & cheeping at me every time I had a coughing fit. I think adrenaline just kept me going. I stayed crunched up, feeling poorly & in pain with that little baby because we had a special bond now & there was no way I could leave it's side. Every time it felt sleepy it would cheep really loudly until I picked it up & nestled it back against my chest. Then it would sleep for short periods, comforted & safe. The love I felt towards my little miracle was strong & determined. I cheeped & chatted to my other little charges, who cheeped & responded to me & to little sick chick every time they heard it cheep out. I felt incredibly maternal towards them all & made a solemn promise to them all that I would be the best substitute Mother hen that ever was. So the minutes & hours ticked by with me watching over, comforting & nursing sick chick and would you believe it, by the time youngest son had returned home from school collected by hubby it was back in with it's fellow hatchlings as if nothing had happened at all. I thanked the angels for bringing it back to me & tears of joy just tumbled down my cheeks. It was one of those moments in which you just feel incredibly humble, as if you've been touched by something 'holy'. To some it would be just a chick that I got to in time, but to me it was an emotional, spiritual experience. Something that moved me deeply. Something that reaffirmed my love of Mother Nature & my belief that there is a powerful, life giving force in the Universe.

Special chick is now called Cassie, or maybe Cassius if it turns out to be a cockerel, after Cassius Clay due to it's amazing fighting spirit:

Three days on & my 13 remaining charges are growing at a rate of knots. The 2 chicks that I helped from the shell have shown no signs of problems which is a huge relief to me. Now that they are feathering the 2 of them look as if they will have the frizzled feathers - so cute! Hubby has built an extension to their brooder box which they have explored with excitement. I still pick up Cassie every day, drop a motherly kiss on the top of her head & whisper how special she is. Please, please, surely now they are safe? Let's hope so.


  1. you have to keep that CHICK till the end of time now dont you!!!

    you big soft pudding!!!!! well done

  2. I'm so sorry you lost two chicks. I'm so happy that your Polish lived! I cried when I read this post. Fingers crossed that you won't lose any more chicks.

  3. ps a loss of 2 out of 15 is pretty average sara!!

  4. You've done it to me Again !!

    Thanks so much for your latest ; so life-affirming, and reassuring.



  5. I think you have done very well with them Sara - often it is cold which kills them off when they are tiny, so you did the right thing with Cassie/ius. Hopefully they are all now past the critical stage - hope you are also feeling better.

  6. What an amazing story! I hope little Cassie exceeds all expectations to become the greatest layer in the coop!

  7. To quote The Beatles; "All you need is love", those chicks of yours are never going to go without it! Well done Sis!

  8. Ah bless! You are doing a really great job you know...

    My lot are doing well..but they have a momma hen to keep them warm..I think it IS a much easier option, tbh...