and then there were 10..

April 10, 2012 I picked up fifteen day old chicks from the hatchery and brought them home to the farm to begin my new adventure in chicken keeping. I had been talking about it for almost a year..I really, really wanted chickens. But I only wanted 4. To me, four seemed like the perfect number (I like even numbers) would be a small, personal flock that I could easily care for and learn from. Then, we got to the hatchery and they had 15 fuzzy, cute as a button baby chicks that made my heart melt the minute I laid eyes on them. I was in love. In fact, we have a video of that day when we drove away from the hatchery, my box of 15 chicks, chirping at my feet and we had pulled over so that I could finally pick one up. I picked it up and we were bonded in an instant. I was in love with them.

Then, one passed away. I was heartbroken. It was my first loss and I took it pretty hard. I tried my best to give them the best that I could and I blamed myself. Even though I heard from everyone that you usually lose 50%, I still cried.

But then, time went on, my babies grew and I knew I had done it. I raised 14 chickens out of infancy and in to their prime. I was officially a chicken farmer! Of my flock of 14, 5 were roosters. I knew it was coming but I kept denying it until one day when I went to the coop and I found one of my barred rock roosters bleeding. My roosters started to fight. I didn't know what to do..I couldn't bare to butcher them, they were my pets after all. So I left it..just for a little while.

Fast forward 2 weeks and, while at home with my parents, Adam called me from the farm to tell me I had lost said rooster the night before. It had fallen over where it slept and he had taken care of it for me. Problem solved. Then we were down to 13. The next day I came home and rushed to my coop to see my babies. I always miss them when I go out of town! What happened next was unexpected but my favorite rooster, Roo, attacked me and wouldn't stop. He kept charging me no matter what I did and pecking at my knees, drawing blood. I couldn't have roosters behaving badly, especially with children coming around so I asked my farmer to get rid of Roo and his sidekick, the remaining barred rock rooster. And that left me with 11.

I liked my flock of 11, they were calmer, quieter and easy to keep. They made me laugh with their silly antics and I loved how every day when I came out for afternoon treats, Dharma would pace back and forth, so excited to get fed again. Their clucks would let me know they were enjoying their treats and I enjoyed sitting there, watching them for sometimes hours.

Last Tuesday, when I came home to cure this lovely cold of mine, my MIL told me Dharma wasn't doing well. She was laying flat on the ground and wouldn't eat. I was shocked and worried, she had become my little baby. Her beak had crossed when she was just 2 months old and I had taken pity on her right then and there. I always made sure she got extra feed and loved picking her up and holding her as she never fussed when I did so. Her antics while eating were hilarious and I loved how she paced in the pen whenever she saw made me smile

When we got to the coop this morning, I spent my time shoveling out the snow from the pen so that my babies could get some fresh air before I opened up the coop to give them their morning feed. Adam came in with me and immediately my heart sank. There was my little girl, collapsed on her bed of straw, right where she fell asleep. The animal lover that I am, I asked Adam to deal with it because I couldn't and I walked away and cried. It wasn't near as hard as my first loss {unfortunately you do get used to it} but it still hurts none-the-less. I worried that I hadn't done enough these last few days. Maybe I should have separated her? Brought her in to the shop to keep an eye on her? I won't ever know..

What I do know is that my coop is now just a little bit bigger and a little bit quieter..
When I went back in to feed my remaining flock a little while later, I couldn't help but notice her absence. There was no "Dharma" sounds of excitement when the feed was poured, there was no chicken scratching in the trough like she used to do...just my cozy little flock of 10, pecking away, silently.

Goodbye lil miss Dharma..I'm really going to miss you lil girl!

 Dharma at 1 month old, right when we discovered her cross beak

1 comment:

  1. aaawww Dawn, this is so sweet and sad, got me teary eyed. I have always loved your posts about your babies and have seen them grow up on your blog. What a great mama you've been to all of them, always loving them and worrying about them and taking good care of them.

    So sorry for your loss of this sweet lady, I know you loved her so much and she knew it too. Hard to believe it will be one year soon, that's when we met too. It was thru WITL with Ali, wow time really does fly.



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