“When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.”
— Thomas S. Monson
Have you ever held a creature in your hands and looked into its sad, pleading eyes, knowing that death could snatch it away at any moment? Knowing that your split-second decisions could either save a life or destroy it?
Now, I don’t mean to get all dramatic here, but it’s kind of a sobering responsibility, taking care of animals — and I’ve found that the more critters you have around, the more often you’re forced into those kinds of life-or-death situations.
Take last week, for instance.
Me, Lindsey, and our two little girls crowded around our incubator, silently cheering, as four fluffy, peeping little chicks fought their way out of their eggshells and into the bright new world. Two days later, one of those chicks (the runt of the litter), was lying belly-up, hardly breathing, apparently right on death’s doorstep.
I discovered it almost by accident though.
It’d been a long, tiring day at work, and I was more than ready to go inside and eat some dinner — but when I peeked into the brooder box on my way in from the garage and saw that poor little chick lying there, all thoughts of dinnertime and relaxing just kinda flew out the window.
In an instant, I snapped into “doctor” mode and started running through a long mental list of possible maladies.
I still don’t know exactly what was wrong. Honestly, it could have been any number of things. But the poor little fuzzball was so limp and weak, I immediately scooped it up and decided the first thing to do was to get some fluids and nutrients in it.
Now, I know they sell specially-formulated electrolyte packets for chicks, but shocking as it may be, I’ve never actually bought any of the stuff myself (and I don’t ever intend to, either).
Instead, as soon as I got in the kitchen door, I called out:
“Lindsey! Do we have any Gatorade powder?”
From somewhere in the living room, she answered:
“I think so… Is everything alright?”
When she turned the corner and saw me standing there with the little chick in my hands, she just kinda smiled a knowing little smile and then shifted into “nurse” mode.
In no time at all, she’d mixed up a little cup of Gatorade — and I’d fished out an old syringe from our “catch all” drawer — and, with my 3-year-old sitting on my knee, I forced a few drops down the chick’s throat.
It didn’t put up much of a fight. And to tell you the truth, I expected each breath to be its last. But after an hour or so (and 2 or 3 more force-fed drops of Gatorade), the little chick began to bounce back.
He was still heaving and panting and struggling to even stand on his own, but at least he was cheeping again.
For about a day and a half, we kept up with the Gatorade-nursing routine, several times a day, until finally I decided we’d done all we could do for him. If he survived, that’d be fantastic — but if he didn’t, at least we could rest assured, knowing we’d done all we could.
Fortunately, at the time of writing, he’s still on the up-and-up.
It’s kind of amazing how fast those little peepers can bounce back…
Not all our stories have such a happy ending around here, but this one did.
Oh, the barnyard is busy, in a regular tizzy,
And the obvious reason is because of the season
Ma Nature’s lyrical, with her yearly miracle
Spring, Spring, SPRING!
All the hen-folk are hatchin’ while their men-folk are scratchin’
To ensure the survival of each brand new arrival.
Each nest is twittering, They’re all baby-sittering,
Spring, Spring, SPRING!