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ChickenMama to the Rescue! July 4, 2006

Posted by Laura in Uncategorized.

Sunday I woke up late and so was rather hurried in my morning chores.  I fed kids and then went out to take care of the sixty-something animals.  In my haste, the poor, deprived dogs got only dog food (they are usually treated to a Rocky-style breakfast of kibble generously mixed with the previous day’s cracked eggs [raw] and whatever the kids left on their plates).  They were appalled at my callous behavior.

I fed the adult chickens that were in the henhouse, then the adolescents and their mothers who are still running around loose.  Then I headed down to the barn stall to tend the poults (the proper name for baby turkeys) and their mothers. 

When I opened the stall door, I saw that one of the poults that belonged to the yellow hen had hopped into an aluminum feed pan, but had be unable to hop back out.  It had exhausted itself trying and then laid down to rest.  Having no feathers yet, spending the night in the cool pan alone had chilled it and it was on the brink of death.

I scooped it up and noticed it was still breathing and moving slightly, so I dipped its beak in water to keep it from dehydrating.  It took several sips- a good sign.  Then I took it up to the house.  I wrapped it thoroughly in a dish towel and put it in a plastic dish, hoping it would recover.  Joe laughed at my newest bleeding heart project and just shook his head.  I put the recuperating baby by the warm crockpot that was “cooking down” beans from the garden prior to canning.  It occasionally opened its eyes and made a few “peeps.”  I got the kids dressed for church, but then began to worry that the baby would wake up and fall off the counter while we were at church.  I’d hate to have it recover only to have a fatal fall from 3 feet high.  I tried to think of other safe, but warm places to put its little hospital bed.  Joe said he thought it would be best off back down in the barn with its mother.  So, I ran it down there and put it on the floor in an out of the way place.turkeypatientbed.JPG

By this time, I was way late for Sunday School.  I sent Joe and the kids on and quickly got ready.  I imagine he explained my absence at the beginning of class by explaining that I had undertaken a turkey resuscitation because I got a lot of grins when I crept in late.

When we got back, I immediately went to check on the little poult, church dress and pearls notwithstanding.  One of the adolescent chickens, or possibly its mother trying to get it up, had knocked it out of its “recovery unit” and it was splayed in the dirt.  How they unrolled the dishtowel I’ll never know, but somehow they did. turkeypatientwrap.JPG

I scooped it up again.  I brought it up to the house, rewrapped it, and put it back beside the crockpot.  Its little beak is visibly opening and closing with each breath, but just barely.  I don’t know if it will make it-  Joe doesn’t think so, but I’m not giving up hope yet.



4:30 p.m. update-  Despite my paramedic attempts, the baby turkey has passed.  Chickens can’t count higher than 2, so the mama hen won’t be aware of her loss.  It was fortunate for Russia that this wasn’t her one baby.

Farm-life can seem so harsh at times, and way too “real” for many people.  For a while, I was somewhat concerned that our children would be repeatedly overwhelmed by sadness as animals completed their life cycle one way or another.  Instead, I think they have a very healthy perspective on death- it is part of every creature’s life.

We are believers and look forward to heaven.  We have explained to the children that when someone dies, we are sad because we miss him, but if that person was a Christian, he is overjoyed to be with the Lord in heaven instead of here.

In some ways, I think their experiences with birth and death have helped them to understand God’s plan for our time on this earth.  We love and appreciate each of our animals, but we know that God did not set them equal to us.    

This world isn’t a Disney movie.  Animals don’t talk, carnivores aren’t evil villains, and none of them live forever.  God created each creature with a specific purpose and niche.  Since our children are growing up with a complete picture, I think they are much less upset and shaken than most kids when animals pass.  That’s not to say they aren’t concerned (both regularly checked on our little countertop patient) or that they don’t mourn (we still talk wistfully about Gus and other “lost” animals a lot), but they aren’t traumatized. 

We feel exceedingly blessed to have been granted caretaking responsibilities of this little plot of earth and all the animals (minus the skunks maybe) that we have encountered.  We look forward to future blessings and lessons.  



1. The Farm Chronicles of Blessed Acres » Turkey Poults on an Outing - July 12, 2006

[…] We only have 4 of the original 6 left. One was lost to chilling and I think the mother is to blame for the other loss.  She had been taking them through very tall grass sometimes and I think one got behind and couldn’t catch up before the mama got out of sight. […]

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