They, whoever they are, say death comes in three’s. Since I last wrote about my chickens, one more has died, which brings the number of fatalities to 3. It was the little chick I was worried about before. The antisocial black one with a little yellow spot on its head who stood in the corner and stared. She didn’t even get a proper burial in the chicken cemetery. I watched J-Dub carry her by her legs and toss her over the barbed wire fence into the pasture. Apparently, we’ve become desensitized to chicken death. It’s just the way it goes. My husband says, “If you’re gonna deal with livestock, you’re gonna deal with death.” He’s right. Nothing lives forever. And what is it that old Augustus McCrae says in Lonesome Dove when young Sean gets bitten all over with water moccasins, “Life’s short. Shorter for some than others.”
But I must admit it’s a bit embarrassing to confess how many I have lost. I feel like it’s my fault. The first thing people say when they see me is not Hi, How are You, but rather,”So how many chicks have died now?” And then they look at me like I have Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy or something. I am hoping the death spree is over. One died on Wednesday, one on Thursday, and one on Friday. I now have 14 surviving chickies, and I’m feeling pretty dern good about the health of these 14. I haven’t seen Ol’ Spaz, the seizure thrower, convulse in a couple of days, and Molasses, the one who got trapped under the water trough seems to be doing just fine. I even think she may not be as bow-legged as she once was. Truthfully, I can’t even recognize her anymore. I’m confident these 14 will survive. At least until I put them outside and a chicken hawk or bull snake gets a hold of them. But for now, they are safe and sound in my spare bedroom. For now.
I get a kick out of them. They are quite enjoyable and provide many laughs for us. When I put fresh straw in their box, if by chance there is a little piece of seed head that even faintly resembles a bug, one of them snags it up and starts running, thinking they’ve really found a treasure that they’re not sharing. As soon as the other chicks catch on that their sister has a jewel, they begin chasing her around trying to nab it. They start grabbing at that little seed head, pecking it from each other’s mouth, even playing a little game of tug o’ war, all the while, peeping loudly.
After watching this sport, I got a little nerve and decided to give them something “real”. Something they would forage for in the yard. A tasty morsel to fight over. I scraped some mud off the bottom of a big flower-pot and found 4 earthworms. Scrumptious, juicy, wiggling earthworms. I took the smallest I could find and tossed it in their box. At first, 2 or 3 chicks circled the worm taking turns pecking at it. They displayed a little curiosity, but not any real gumption. Not until this bold little chick walked right up, pushed her way through the circle, grabbed the worm in her beak with one peck and away she scrambled with the others right on her tail feathers. After a couple of circles around the box, a zig, a zag and a fake-out, she quickly found a spot in the corner, tipped her head back, and swallowed the worm right down her gullet. Thinking she was Hot Stuff, she strutted around, sharpening her beak on the box. In a few minutes, the others laid down for a nap, but not Hot Stuff, she was loaded up with protein and feeling fine and frisky.
I have since put in a couple more worms, and every time a few of them circle and peck until Hot Stuff struts in, nabs the worm and eats it whole. The funny thing is she’s the smallest of the bunch, but definitely the most fearless. It will be interesting to see if she turns out to be the most dominant chick in the coop.
Well folks, that’s it for today.
Tune in next time for more Tales From the Chicken Ranch for the latest fatality report and our special segment, “What’s on the Menu?”
Until Next Time,