We have recently made an investment in raising baby chickens. As I mentioned in an earlier article about our new chicks’ homecoming, we are excited because we will no longer be contributing to the large corporations that exploit and torture so many hens each day. We are also looking forward to fresh eggs in a few months, and my kids have fallen in love with our new additions.
Our adventure started off with five fluffy baby chicks. There’s Blackie, named for her black feathers, Bruiser, who seemed to be the aggressive one, Reds, named for her beautiful red coloring, Wednesday, who just always seemed to be in the middle, and Poop Butt. Poop Butt was smaller than the rest of the crew. The day we brought her home, we noticed her vent (which is basically a chicken butt) was clogged with poo. This is quite common among baby chicks, so we were prepared to clean her and nurse her back to health. Unfortunately, it seemed that her vent had been clogged since the day she hatched (at this point she was about 5 days old), and the build-up covered her entire lower half.
The Cycle of Life
I noticed right away that Poop Butt wouldn’t lie down like her siblings. She was always standing and wouldn’t eat as much. Delicately, I began cleaning her as best I could. I rinsed the area with warm water and a wash-cloth. I was able to clean most of the mess from her, but realized that due to the severity of the problem, all of her tail feathers were gone. She seemed cold, and as a result, spent much of her time under the heat lamp.
Over the next 2 days, we noticed she was becoming more and more isolated from her group. She wouldn’t eat as much, and when they’d be lying down she’d run over to them chirping loudly, trying to burrow in-between them for warmth. Usually, the entire group would get up as if annoyed, and move to the other side of the brooder leaving her alone, chirping wildly. She seemed to find comfort when I held her, however, so she spent a lot of time in my hands, resting.
On our third night with her, we realized she looked extremely lethargic. She had finally laid down, but now was not getting up. She was nestled in a corner by the food, abandoned by her siblings. I picked her up and tried hand-feeding her water in a small dropper. She took some water, but could not lift her head. She’d let out the occasional peep, but her breathing was becoming labored. Then, after about an hour of trying to comfort her, her eyes burst open and she looked right at me. I had a moment of hope, and then she was gone. Her breathing had stopped and her body went limp. Poop Butt died in my hands.
Searching for Answers:
The next morning, I explained her death to my son, who is not quite 3. We carried her to a spot in the back yard and buried her. We both said goodbye, covered her up with soil and rocks, and returned to the house. When I had time to reflect, I realized that her death resonated with a recurring thought that has bothered me since the death of my father. I wrote I Am Human in an attempt to explain and understand not just death, but what it means to be human. I understand that death is a part of life. There is a grand cycle and in order to keep things in balance certain animals need to die. What bothers me, however, is that death is rarely a peaceful event. There is fear, sadness, and suffering. For people, the survivors are then struck with grief and sadness which they may carry with them for the rest of their lives. My question is, Why? If there is some divine creator, then why did it design our existence to encompass so much suffering?
I am always searching for answers to these types of questions as I work on my newest book, Food for the Archons. I’ve often heard that I will never understand, or I am not meant to. But I will continue to try. I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions about the cycle of life, and invite you to read I Am Human & We Are Not Who We Think We Are for free. Just add your email below and the link will be sent to your inbox.
As for the other 4 chicks, they are doing great! We just finished building their coop, so stay tuned for future articles with pictures! (Subscribers, check you Inboxes!) Overall, despite the loss of Poop Butt, we couldn’t be happier with this experience so far. I feel a sense of independence that comes with the responsibility of caring for these hens. Although a small change, the impact on our family truly has been a massively good one!