Trial by Fire

I should have better prepared.

I know myself.

I am an empath. And if that is too new age for you, then just label me a “highly sensitive person,” or HSP, as it is often shortened in the media. Blame it on highly active mirror neurons or some shit like that.

I knew some of the chicks would die. That’s why I felt OK ordering 26 of them – the minimum order for shipping in March when the temperatures are lower. My left brain logically figured that several of them would die.

A combination of one part of me that hoped for a miracle and a whole bunch of other parts of me that went “not going to consider it, not going to consider it” resulted in a huge dose of “I did not prepare.” And what I mean is that I did not have a means of putting the little ones who were not going to make it, out of their misery.

So I sat with them. And cried a lot. And when each had passed, I gently wrapped them and, one by one, placed them in a tiny cardboard box that I will bury out in the pasture among a whole slew of blooming daffodils.

When I was not crying or anxiously watching my sickly ones die slowly, I castigated myself for not being prepared. I mean I had JUST READ Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower, whose heroine is a hyperempath, the result of some drugs her mother took while she was pregnant. This hyperempath is trying to survive a quite believable dystopian future where people die near and around her with some frequency.

One sub-theme in the novel explores her vulnerability that results from her hyperempathy. Because she feels another person’s pain and death throes, she can become completely incapacitated and thus at risk for being harmed or killed in an increasingly violent society. As a result, she has learned countless ways to cope, including how to kill another person quickly if she needs to, to save herself and/or others with her.

I realize that this is a heavy and dark discussion to pair with cute adorable chickens, but hey, that’s how I roll. Bottom line is that being an empath and HSP can be extremely challenging, and I am still learning how to navigate it. And I will learn how to humanely cull day-old chicks because it is better for me and for the chick!!

All that aside, the GREAT NEWS is that I now have 22 active, adorable, eating, drinking and pooping chicks.

While a few of my kiddos likely would have died from the shock of the transport alone, I finally realized that the recommended 90-95 degrees was not working. Once I dropped my brooder floor temps down to the low to mid 80s, even the healthy guys were noticeably happier and more content. Not sure if the issue is being indoors and so I don’t need to have the heat on the brooder floor be as warm, since the whole room is also as warm?? But there were enough posts about “go by the behavior of the chicks” that I slowly lowered the temperature and saw things improve.

One thing that would have been hugely helpful, a resource that I did not run across organically and did not think to seek out, was a good set of day-old chick recordings. Knowing what they sound like when they are happy and content compared to when they are unhappy and distressed would have been super helpful. I know that where they move and huddle is important to observe, but there is happy huddling to take a snooze versus nervous huddling because you are too cold or too hot. The sounds can really help discriminate between the two!

I survived my trial by fire.

I feel much more farmer-ly now. 👩‍🌾

*Many thanks to Marko Horvat on Unsplash for the beautiful Featured Image photo at top.

Published by thefemfarmer

Born in Chicago, grew up in Mississippi, and raised a family in Seattle. Coming back home to MS for part of the year to work on our new farm and spend time with my father. These are my voyages.

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