Saturday, July 16, 2011

R.I.P Buddy

Life on the homestead is generally a fun, rewarding, and often maddening experience.  It's amazing to be an integral part of the cycle of life going on around you; to know that the food you are putting on the table comes from a developing balanced ecosystem (aka permaculture).  Also, the knowledge that our animals are raised humanely, in the manner God designed them, is a huge blessing.  Not only is it better for the environment and better for the animals, but the food is more nutritious as well.

But, it's not always sunshine and laughter.  I was speaking to a colleague at work who is almost a vegetarian because she just doesn't like the idea of something having to die so she can eat.  Death is always a part of life.  The minerals in your vegetables come from the soil and the soil largely gets it from dead animals.  Accepting that is part of living on a farm.  But, it isn't always easy.....

Buddy's Story

I was out in the garden Thursday morning and got a call on my cell phone.  (I was using its iPod to listen to The Survival Podcast while I was out there.)  It was a post office about 50 miles from our house.  "We have your chicks.  Where is <my hometown>?"  When the post office doesn't even know where you are, that's a pretty bad sign.

I told them roughly where we lived and they hatched a scheme to pass the chicks off from post office to post office to get them to our town.  To me this sounded like a bad idea.  In and out of the A/C; truck to truck, handler to handler.  It sound like a recipe for sick chicks.  So, I piled the kids into the Suburban and off we drove to get them.  The post office had them for about and hour and a half from the time the called me to the time I picked them up.  In that time, 2 Barred Rock pullets succumbed to the cool temps in the climate controlled post office.

Healthy chicks:  to the front is a Rhode Island
Red cockerel, left a Barred Rock pullet, the
others are Rhode Island Red pullets
Another hour and a half and we were home.  The chicks still living were moved into their brooder, but we noticed that one of the Rhode Island Red pullets was having trouble standing.  We decided to brood the bunch inside with our little sick one treated for splayed legs and in her own "hospital box" inside the larger brooder.  (The treatment for splayed legs involves using a band-aid or first aid tape to hobble the legs and bring them under the chick so they can develop the muscle tone to stand normally, if you want more info, comment below and I'll help you out.)  She did well the first day, drinking her sugar water, taking some honey off my finger and eating some.  By day two she was trying to stand, but still having trouble.  She seemed determined to douse herself in her water dish at every opportunity, so we spent a lot of time holding her near the brooder lamp so she'd stay warm enough.  She was noticeably smaller than her brothers and sisters.  My older son named her his "sick little buddy."  So, Buddy she became.

This morning she was still alert but unable to stand.  Thinking that she was likely vitamin deficient at this point, we fed her some more honey and ran out to the feed store and got her some nutri-drench.  My daughter stayed home to rescue her from her tendency to wet herself and get chilled.  When we got home, she was much the same.  My husband picked her up to examine her and noticed she had worn the skin off her knee standing on it and her bone was exposed.  The knee was totally dislocated and there was no sign of the attendant tendons.

So, we decided to put her down.  When you've spent so much energy keeping an animal alive, it's never easy doing what needs to be done.  But, death is always a part of life and little Buddy will become soil soon, to nourish life anew.


  1. It is hard work keeping an animal alive that is sick/hurt. We have done it a few times with wild animals like a chipmunk, rabbit, bird. They all ended up dying and the kids were so hopeful that they were going to save it! I hope your kids weren't too sad.