Every spring, we let some of our hens go broody, hatching hybrid chicks that are as varied in shape, colour, and size as can be. We also bring in a few heritage hens to keep the flock genes strong…and this year we purchased three, day-old Barred Rock chicks from our local farmer’s supply.
We carefully set up our brooder pen inside the coop with all the necessities to give our chicks the best start in life…clean wood chips, fresh water with a little apple cider vinegar in for an intestinal boost, and some organic starter feed. We turned on the heat lamp and said goodnight.
The next morning, I peeked in on my round of chores and was dismayed to find the lamp bulb had burned out and two of our chicks were dying. In fact, I assumed one was dead with its body positioning and wide-staring eyes. I raced them up to the house to waiting hands to gently coax life back into them.
I hinted to the kids that there was a good chance these chicks would not make it, they were so very far gone. Their bodies were cold and stiff, with just the faintest gasping for breath.
We wrapped the two chicks up in bits of wool from shearing day (another great reason to own sheep…to rescue other farm critters!) and cuddled them kangaroo style close to our hearts.
After some time by the cookstove (we lit it just to warm up the chicks), we were inspired by our beloved James Herriot books and tucked them in a container with the wool into the warming oven of our cookstove. And wouldn’t you know, within ten minutes, we heard peeping which grew steadily louder and more demanding. Those little chicks were standing on their wobbly little legs pecking at the container!!!!
Back down to the coop we marched, this time both lighter on our feet and in our hearts. We now have our little miracle chicks thriving where they belong…though, they are spending a good deal of time being cuddled and held as well.