Well it's been over a week (more like two now) since our peeps hatched, so it's time for an update. Below is a picture of our mottley crew after a recent bedding change. Those babies can sure poop! They've doubled in size too.
We have some good news and some bad news to report. We lost a black bantam orpington chick, about 2 days after hatching. I'm not sure what they died of, but I found them laying very still one morning. I cupped them in my hand for about 10 minutes, and when I checked again, they had passed away completely.
It was a little upsetting at the time, but you have to expect some loses - it's only natural.
If you also look at the picture above, you'll notice two (very light grey) araucana chicks to the lower, right hand side. These two were part of the last 3 to hatch, and at the time I noticed they were a little noiser than the earlier arrivals. Especially one, which seemed to flop around the incubator as soon as it hatched.
I thought it was normal at the time. Turned out (24 hours later) both couldn't stand properly and needed their legs strapped together with a bandaide. This process is explained here.
Unfortunately, that wasn't all the bad news to be had. The noisiest chick which flopped around the incubator initially, had a bad case of crooked neck. This is him after having his legs taped together. You cannot really see his crooked neck, because if he sat on his bum and put his weight back, his head would stand up. Read more about the causes and treatment of crooked neck here.
I was deeply worried for him, and even contemplated culling as he was struggling against the more nimble siblings. He would get knocked over, couldn't stand and always ended up on his back, cheaping loudly. Poor baby.
After taping his legs, I monitored him for the next few days. He was getting some food and water, but always had to compete with the other chicks as his head kept wanting to flop between his legs. The material I'd read about crooked neck, seemed to suggest it would only get worse.
Dave offered to "do the deed" one morning while I was having a rest, before he had an appointment in town. Needless to say, I was very surprised when I got up an hour later and saw our little guy, still in the brooder. I was so happy Dave didn't go through with it. When he returned from his appointment, I asked what had stopped him - he said after he went in the room to get the chick, he quietly watched the little fella fight so hard to get at the food and water (with an obvious disability) he thought he deserved a few more days to see if there was any improvement.
And there has been!! Yay! His neck still isn't as nible as the other chicks, but he now has control of it. No more flopping between his legs or walking backwards. He gets around so much better - we should be able to remove his bandaide soon. The other chick is already bandaide free now, and gets around like Speedy Gonzallis.
Here is our crooked neck wonder chick today - now holding his head up high. He could not do this a week ago - his head would be laying on the ground.
What started out as a worrying struggle, turned out to be an incredible victory for our two little fighters. Would you believe I prayed that God would show me how I needed to approach life through this new struggle?
After the first chick died and it looked like we may have to kill another, it didn't feel like the victory I'd been planning. At the time, I was struggling with my own health too - my diabetes treatment wasn't working, the work outside was piling up and I felt extremely useless.
Despite all that went wrong however, the victory of those two little chicks over life, put the rest of my life into perspective. If you're given a chance - just ONE chance to live against the odds, then you have to fight for it. There are going to be days you want to let your head flop between your legs, and it feels like you're walking backwards - other's may push against you or stop you from reaching your goals too. But don't give up, because tomorrow you might get control back. Just a little bit, but it may just be enough to stand on your own two feet again.
We couldn't have hoped for a better introduction to hatching our own chicks. By the way, my health has improved remarkably too, along with the chicks; and we're all on the road to recovery together. :)