Almost Homestead Fail

I’m very grateful! A lot of things go right around here, regardless of our inexperience and sometimes despite our “okayest” efforts. Turkeys live, plants survive and things turn out tasting better than I thought they would.

But sometimes, there are very close calls and definitely teach us lessons!

Yesterday, We had to run errands and I knew we would be gone a couple of hours. No problem, they are covered with the tarp on the tractor and bin for “brooder”.

The top of the brooder and how it hangs down.
Yay, they are using it right! Go under to get warm!









While we were running our errands which may have included a trip to Home Depot. Of course while we’re out it started to rain. No problem. They were fine. We got home and it was raining pretty hard so we ran from the car to the house and heard them fussing. I know, it’s raining and the end of the world, you’re fine, I thought.

Made supper and sat down to eat and something just nagged at me. In my pajamas, I grabbed a flashlight and went to check on them. Because they need the heat lamp, they aren’t too far in the front yard so the extension cord can reach.

On the way there, I stepped into a huge puddle of water. Uh-oh! I kept walking towards them and they are losing their tiny bird minds! The water got deeper and by the time I got to the door, my shoes are wet. I shined the flashlight inside and my heart drops. I lifted the brooder up and they are standing in an inch of cold water, which, for 1 week old chicks, it was really deep!  If they wanted to be dry, a couple were in the sideways bin we had in there to block the wind. But, to be warm, they were having to stand in water. When I set up the tractor, I had perfectly aligned it so there was a low spot right under the brooder!

I ran into the house and gathered the troops! Everyone reacted fabulously! While one grabbed chicks, one held the flashlight to find them all, one set up the old brooder, and one transferred chicks to the bin. Everyone worked as a team! So Stinking proud of my family!

The boys carried the bin into the house while DH and I got the waterer and heat lamp. How can we get these chicks the warmest soonest?

J with 2 chicks in his pockets. Such a chick magnet!

Everyone got a towel and a chick. For the next hour, we held the wettest of them and dried them as best we could. They were pitiful. Their downy feathers were matted and stuck to their bodies. The front of them didn’t even look like there were feathers on them. They were so scrawny looking compared to the dry fluffy ones. Everyone pitched in and had great attitudes. All 4 of us held them in our hands like warm cups, warming them with our own body heat. At one point J put a couple in his pockets. T got concerned because when he held one and it warmed, it stopped chirping loudly and closed it’s eyes. We had to reassure him, they had a rough couple of hours and as they have gotten warm, they actually fell asleep in his hands. Of course, he thought that was cool!

We put the heat lamp as low and safe as we could. No one was dripping wet anymore but, out of 30, only 4 were really dry. And sometimes you have to walk away and let the heat do the work. They weren’t screaming any more, just doing their chick chattering.

We watched TV for an hour and I went to check on them. Apparently the heat did the work because they weren’t huddled dangerously* together. The were on the other side of the bin, away form the heat lamp and were looking a lot better. They were walking around more and drinking. I love that they do a great job of regulating their own body temperature. I’m cold, I’ll get closer to the heat. Get too hot, move away!

I guess the ordeal wore them out because they were quiet throughout the night. It’s like when your baby sleeps through the night, you wake up a little panicky and look in on them, hoping they are okay.

Today, they are fine, still a little matted looking but they are all up, eating, drinking and hopping around the tractor again. I did move it to a higher area so there was a slight slope and I’ve checked on them all day. My DH works to the west and when he gets rain, we get it about 30 minutes later and he texted me to let me know it was raining at his office. I so appreciated this!

The one thing I’m the most impressed with is my family. There was absolutely no complaining, no hesitation, just 100% teamwork! I have a teenager and they are notoriously independent and huffy. My guys are ON IT! We all got out there, did what had to be done to save these little guys. And my teenager turned off his video game to help out! How crazy is that?!?

In hindsight, I realize it wasn’t negligent, or lazy or intentional. It was an honest mistake and we learned so much from. I learned to pay attention where I set the tractor! I learned that we can towel off and dry chicks quickly to save them. Most importantly, I learned that my family is a bunch of Superheroes!!! I am so proud of them and couldn’t ask for a better family!

Thanks for reading, hope this helps in future chicken keeping for you!

Have Fun!

*Sometimes if chicks are cold they can huddle together so tightly to get warm that they smother the ones in the middle and those can die. Something to be aware of.

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