A family farm

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

tough times

The day after Christmas was a particularly tough day. Christmas night I had looked in on the chick that hatched in the morning. It was deformed. It's top beak curled over the bottom one, and it was missing an eye as everything in the head curled around toward one side leaving no room for it. It would never be able to eat or drink. I had heard of this sort of thing happening, but had never seen it. I was amazed that it even got out of the shell. Other than the deformity in the head, it was a healthy, robust little chick, and I was not looking forward to killing it. I've had to kill chicks before that were near the end, but I've never had to kill a healthy one. I didn't want this little guy to suffer slowly. So, Dec. 26, right before work, I took it outside in the cold and set it down in front of the cat. She showed absolutely no interest. This was the great hunter of wild chicks in the barn - swallows, sparrows - you name it, she's caught it, killed it and eaten it. However, this little deformed chick must not have posed much of a challenge, because she turned her nose up to it. This meant that I would HAVE to be the one to do the deed. I was running out of time, and I was having a hard time thinking of options. The weak chicks weren't that hard to suffocate, but this little guy would not be put down so easily. I settled on smashing it with a bucket that was full of ice. It would be quick and from what I could tell, only painful for a second, if that. I set the chick down on the driveway and prayed that it didn't move, which it didn't, and brought the bucket down on the chick with all my power. The ice in the bucket broke, and when I pulled it away, the chick was dead. It was awful. I hope I never have to do that again.

Later in the day, my daughter called and told me that Porterhouse, one of our dairy beef steers, was laying down on his side and wouldn't get up. He had slipped and fell on the ice. I called the vet. Kellie went to the neighbors who moved him off the ice. I was stuck at work, Chris was on his way home from getting Alex his driver's license. Later that evening, when the vet finally arrived, we got him in the barn. He had been jarred, and would probably lay for a few days. We needed to give him some grain and hay in the barn. We would need to turn him over so he spent time on each side. It was a horrible feeling thinking that he might die.

New Year's Eve wasn't that great either - Porterhouse had gotten himself laying flat on his side/back and was starting to bloat up. We called the vet again. As Chris was on the phone with the vet, I got him up on his side/belly and he belched and started eating hay.

Today, Porterhouse is still laying in the barn, but hopefully over the next few days he'll find the strength to get himself up. It's been tough to deal with because you can't just lift him to his feet as he weighs 300 lbs. The vet said it could take two weeks. Arg!

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