Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Death and Farming: Crusty Butt

Death and Farming

Farming in general is about life, growing plants from lifeless seeds into life giving food.  Breeding livestock to create milk production and provide meat.  Raising chicks who will in turn provide eggs which become further chickens and again life giving nutrients.  On the other side though, is death.  At the end of each fall the plants will die, eventually the calf grows up and will be slaughtered, the chicken becomes roast chicken.

Today we had our first experience of this as Crusty Butt unfortunately did not pull through.  This chick, as you may remember, had some health issues from the beginning.  Sara has been playing nurse, making sure that no further pasting occurred, by daily inspecting and cleaning the chick's vent.  This problem seemed to have cleared up, but as the days went by and the rest of the chicks have gone well down the road towards chicken, Crusty Butt remained a tiny fluff ball of a chick. We watched her closely, and she seemed uninterested in eating or drinking, and seemed just to stand around to be jostled by her siblings.  Eventually we decided to separate the chick from the flock, in an attempt to protect it from being trampled and pecked at, as well as to make sure that it was getting plenty of feed and water. Chickens are prone to cannibalism, and we didn't want to encourage it by leaving a sickly chick to be picked on, or feasted upon.

Early this morning the solitary cheeps--which had been coming from the closet we had her safely tucked in away from Katniss and the cold--stopped.  When Sara checked on her she found a small little chick spreadeagled with her feet up in the air.  This was a sad find, but not unexpected.

A typical chicken raiser can expect between 2.5-5% loss of chicks.  Ideally, we would have liked to not have lost any, but this is the nature of the life we have chosen.  We consider ourselves fortunate to still have 26 healthy and thriving chickens though, and Crusty will become part of the compost pile to help nourish life in a different way.

Farmer Donnie

RIP Crusty Butt

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