The kids excitedly watched the two chicks who hatched. None of the others hatched and per the directions, we disposed of the rest of the eggs. We cleaned the incubator and returned it.
We could have returned the chicks, too, but it was also acceptable to send them to a farm where they could be cared for and sometimes visited. The children had made arrangements with a family they are friends with who already have chickens. So, we were able to keep the chicks and watch them grow for several more weeks.
The children developed quite an attachment to the chicks – “Flower” and “Shocked Face.” They never tired of playing with them although they sometimes grumbled about changing the water and bedding. We fed them cornmeal and oatmeal per the instructions we were given with the project.
It was soon time to send them to their new home. The night before we were to take them to our friend’s farm, Child #1 cried about the possibility that Shocked Face would forget her or that we wouldn’t be able to tell our chicks from the other chickens on the farm.
As it turned out, we were not able to drop them off the next day. And that night, Shocked Face grew ill and died. We don’t know why. The children were in tears and the ‘funeral’ was very sad. I wrote a poem as the children were afraid we would forget him.
The worst part was that Flower showed signs that she would not make it through the next day. She huddled in one spot and would not eat or drink. We took turns holding her, petting her, assuring her of our love, and dipping her beak into water. At midnight, I checked on her and found her drinking water on her own. She improved from that point on. We gradually switched her over to “chick food” and dropped her off at her new home over a week ago. We haven’t gone back to see her, but reports from our friends say she is doing well.
The children have learned a lot. This was more than just learning about eggs and chickens. (They have asked me to never have them raise chickens from eggs again.) They learned that not all life makes it beyond the ‘incubation’ stage and the ones who ‘hatch’ don’t always make it to ‘adulthood.’
They have learned what it is like to love and then lose the one they love. It is a harsh life lesson, but one I was glad to be there to share with them.