Life in the country is fun most of the time, but here lately, it’s been extra fun. It’s been extra fun because we don’t have to go anywhere. Not going anywhere means that we get to get muddy as many times a day as we want to. We get to build things, hatch chicks, and garden to our heart’s content.
Just this week we hatched 14 baby chicks.
Baby chicks are the cutest with their little fluffy bodies and their sweet chirping. They hop around pecking at random things and they chase each other around. They get excited about food and water. They cuddle close to each other under the heat lamp to nap.
They have the death stretch, where they kick one leg out, stretch really hard, fall over, and lay like that. For a whole nap, one leg kicked out, neck stretched to the max. My heart stops every time I catch a chick in a death-stretch-turned-nap.
I have a precious three-year-old. She is WILD in every sense of the world, but she is precious. She loves all things fiercely and this farm life is really her jam. She was obsessed with the incubator and checked the eggs often. I thought she was big enough to understand lockdown and to leave the incubator alone for those 5 days.
Boy was I ever wrong.
The incubator got opened all of the time, especially once the chicks started hatching. One day, we were roasting marshmallows outside and she came inside to potty. She came back out with one of the chicks nestled into her hands.
“What? He is cute, Momma!” She protested loudly against my taking of the chick and returning it to the incubator.
So in the last hours of leaving eggs to hatch, I candled the remaining eggs. I found 3 that still contained living chicks and left them in the incubator. I knew the humidity had most likely fluctuated too much for them to hatch but I always hold out a little bit of hope for those late bloomers.
One chick pip’d and I was watching through the little plastic windows for his progress. The protective membrane was dried out and I knew he would have a hard time hatching. I gave in after a while and helped him with the membrane and shell—which experienced hatchers will tell you is a big no-no. I couldn’t help myself. I felt bad that my daughter had created a dry environment that contributed to his struggle.
Experienced hatchers would have been right – it was too soon to help him out of the shell. There was some blood, and his yolk sac wasn’t fully sucked up. His abdomen wasn’t properly closed up. I held him in my hands for a moment and my heart felt heavy. Here was this little life that I was shepherding and everything possible had gone wrong – at the hands of us humans.
I laid him on a paper towel and gently put him back in the incubator to stay warm. I was conflicted between whether he was in misery that I was supposed to end or whether he was a fighter and I shouldn’t do any more harm. You know what I did? I prayed over that little chick. God knows how He made chickens grow, and He knew more than I did about that little baby.
I simply asked him to either take the chick quickly so he didn’t suffer or to let his little body close up and for him to be a healthy, happy chick. But I let God decide. I did the dishes and then it was time for our grocery pick-up. Off to town we went.
Fast forward a couple of hours, and I hear the sweetest little chirping coming from the incubator. I kind of thought one of the other two eggs must have hatched, but I inched closer and peeked through the window. It was the little chick I helped!
He was up and running around. I was shocked. I let him spend the night in the incubator without opening it. In the morning, he was the rest of the way dry and you couldn’t even tell he had a rough start to life. I scooped him out and put him in the brooder with the other chicks. Later, I regretted not getting a picture of him by himself, because now I can’t tell which one he is.
The point: this earth is God’s creation, and He cares deeply for it. He didn’t look at what He created and call it good for no reason. We serve a God that knows and sees and is moved by our prayers. Nothing is too small or too big to take before our good, good God.
Until next time,