Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Milestones in the Lives of Chickens
All babies start from seeds. Like gardening, those seeds are raised up with lots of tender loving care. Most survive and some perish along the way. It is the nature of life. Sometimes, we never understand why some things live and some things are not given the chance to grow and thrive in their environments. I have learned that it takes a great deal of patience, understanding, love and appreciation for each living thing that we encounter in our time on the Earth.
As with children, baby chicks need us too and certainly my heart always fills with a great sense of joy when these little day old chicks learn and reach their developmental milestones. I think for many the first milestone is reached when they arrive at their new home. Either through the mail or at the feed store, their journey through the US mail system is amazing. Sometimes taking as long as three days, these little ones are held in many hands to arrive at their destination. Their lives depend on the care and compassion of the postal workers; complete strangers. They are precious cargo. When they finally arrive at our homes, we open the peeping package to discover the ones that safely made the journey are ready to imprint on us as their parent and in our hearts.
As we lift them from the box, another milestone will soon be reached as we dip their beaks into the water. One at a time, we anxiously watch on as they tilt their heads back ever so slightly to feel their first sensation of drinking water. Some need reinforcement with another dipping of their beaks and others return for another sip just from hearing the gentle tap of our finger on the rim of the waterer. Our finger serves the same purpose of mother hen's beak. Next we dip them into the feed and watch as their lives begin before our very eyes.
Soon enough they are tired and need to realize that they can lay down to sleep. I remember watching on after they had their first meal. The little ones were so sleepy and drowsy after their long adventure, that theywere falling asleep standing up. One by one, they would become sleepy and topple over. It didn't take long to realize that their legs did in fact bend and the shavings were much more comfortable. This milestone did not take long to reach as they formed a fuzzy pile of new sleeping little chicks.
Over time, more milestones were reached in the flock including learning to roost, learning to return to the coop for sleep, figuring out that you should not fear treats, how to avoid hawks, how to lay their first eggs, where to lay their eggs, sorting out the pecking order and surviving through the first Winter. Each time they reach a milestone, my heart smiles. I feel a sense of parental pride. The pride is not the same sense of pride that a parent feels putting their child on the school bus, seeing their child be kind to others or watching them learn to read. However, it's a pride in knowing that these little things are the big things in the lives of my chickens. As with any children, we have dreams for them. My dream is that one day, my flock will eventually meet the milestone of crossing over our stony driveway and venturing off to see what is on the other side.
Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest