Two nights ago, we experienced one of the unfortunate possibilities that come along with caring for animals.
It was after school time, and I was determined to get one of my sewing projects completed before dinner. Ray was having free time in another room, watching YouTube videos. As I was wrapping up my project, I heard barking in the backyard. Immediately I jumped up, thinking, “someone’s dog got into our yard”. So I ran to the back door to find that our own dog, our new puppy Rollo, had been let out to use the bathroom and forgotten about.
My heart sank as I saw him near the chicken coop, frolicking about, obviously playing with something that he had trapped against the fencing. I slipped on my shoes and ran out to see what the cause of commotion was, to find one of our newest baby chicks laying nearly lifeless on a battlefield of feathers. I picked her up and held her close, chastising Rollo, while he was oblivious to the crime he had just committed.
I started towards to the house in a full on panicked rage. Raygan, stirred by my backyard yelling, came outside with tv glazed eyes and from the porch asked, “what happened?!” Without hesitation, I chastised her too. I barked, “you CANNOT leave him unattended in the backyard.” Her face sank. She saw the tiny chicken wrapped inside my arms and cried, “I didn’t let him out!” Streams of tears and sobs commenced. Her little heart was broken.
We came inside and I quickly grabbed an old towel to wrap our wounded friend in, to hold tight as she finished leaving this world. As the baby chick took tiny, shallow breaths and struggled to keep its eyes open, Raygan said, “It’s all my fault. I was wondering where Rollo was and I didn’t get up to find him. And now Zinc (what she named the chick) is dying and it’s all my fault!” More tears. I too, was on the verge of tears.
By this time, I was able to compose myself and had a moment of clarity. My reaction was totally out of line. My feelings were hurt and I took it out on the next closest beings, responsible or not. I honestly couldn’t remember if I was the one who let Rollo out and left him or not. I had gotten myself so engrossed in the project at hand that I muted everything else that was going on around me. If he wouldn’t have barked, I would’ve had no clue as to what had just happened. Life is so fragile.
As we sat there, baby chick in hand, still hanging on by a thread, I apologized. Unsure of really whose fault it was and realizing that at this point it didn’t matter anyway, I knew that my quick blame and angry expression was uncalled for. Raygan was already convinced that she was solely responsible at this point. She kept circling back to how she could’ve prevented it, what she could’ve done differently, and even more worried that I might further punish or get rid of Rollo. My feelings were yet again, hurt.
I did my best to explain how situations like these, aren’t our faults. This is the unfortunate part of life. We have to remember these feelings and use them to fuel us towards a more grateful and loving lifestyle in the midst of the not knowing when some day might be someone or something’s last. We hugged and had a few moments of silence and reflection.
The thought came to me to grab the heating pad and lay the baby on it, as I’ve always heard that when a creature (humans included) are in shock, they’re cold. With chickens having a normal temperature around 105°F, we cranked it up and wrapped her gently inside. Moments later, she shook her little head and her eyes opened wide. Her pupils dilated on and off, she looked around, worried, processing what had just happened (my guess). I decided to check out the damage, to see if there was anything else we could do to help her.
Under her wing was bloody. It was obviously punctured, and by the little bit of blood that I saw exiting her beak, I was sure it was a death sentence. Feeling queasy at the thought and sight, I quickly closed her wing back to her side and wrapped her back up. Surprisingly, she was becoming more and more alert as the minutes passed. I laid my hand on her and prayed a quick prayer, “Lord, if this baby is suffering, please take her so that I don’t have to. But if she is able to be restored, show me what I need to do to help her.”
The baby chick started to pant, typically a sign that they are hot and thirsty. So we opened the heating pad to release a bit of the warmth and I got a small dish of water. She took a sip or two.. a good sign. A few minutes later, I thought about the chick’s sister who must be worried sick at this point, as they are a bonded pair and are side by side literally all day long. It must have been torture to have to watch her other half be mangled right in front of her eyes.
I had the thought to go outside and grab sister chick (Poppy) and let them see each other. When I brought them close, they started a quiet chirp back and forth. They were obviously communicating, and soon both of their spirits were lifted. Our injured patient started to squirm in our hands, so we made a quick nesting box in the garage and set them gently inside, together. It was remarkable how quickly the diagnosis shifted from imminent death to a possibility of survival.
We left the two together for a while without interrupting their reunion. Later when we returned, we were surprised to see both chicks gently moving around, eating and drinking. I was amazed. The body of the bird that I had picked up off the ground just hours before, showed no promise of life. The sisters stayed inside throughout the night and thankfully, the next morning, they were both alive and accounted for. Here we are, now 2 days later, and our feathered friend seems to have made a full recovery. Thank you, Jesus.
Last night, as I was taking the trash bins to the end of our driveway, the sound of little footsteps followed close behind.. just as they had done most of the day. I quickly started to get agitated, thinking to myself, “I can’t even take the dang trash to the road by myself.” And just as I was about to voice my feelings, I paused, and kept my thoughts to myself. I placed the bins where they belonged and as I turned back towards the house, a little hand slipped into mine.
She asked me, “Mommy, you know how celebrities have fans?”
I replied with a short, “yes”.
She followed up with, “I’m your number one fan Mom.”
*Insert ugly cry.
Wow. If I had allowed the thoughts that were running through my head just seconds before, would she still have shared that with me? I guess I’ll (thankfully) never know, but I can only assume that if I had barked at her the way that I did with the chicken incident, she most likely would have retreated and kept those precious words to herself.. and even worse, try not to be close to me in the future.
We learn so many lessons here on our little homestead. How to better take care of our animals, our land, our home, and most importantly- each other. I know many of you have found yourselves confined in close quarters with your loved ones for longer periods of time than what you’re used to. Let me encourage you today.. you will survive. The days can be hard. Shoot, even the nights too. But before you let your frustrations consume you and your thoughts and actions cause damage to the ones that you love the most in this world.. take a breath. Keep your mouth closed and your body language neutral. Take a few seconds to envision the outcome of you lashing out. Is it beneficial? Will it improve or wreak havoc on the situation? Will you be happy with the results?
Friends, please know that this is something that I struggle with weekly. I am practically with my daughter every waking minute of every single day. I know that it’s easier said than done, especially in the heat of the moment. I fail often, but I’m learning. I know how difficult it is to admit that we, as parents, have done wrong. I know how difficult it is to ask your child for forgiveness. But it is crucial. Not only does it help to mend the feelings that have been hurt, but it sets such a vital example for them.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is for a child to say they’re sorry and admit that they have done something wrong? Maybe they just have not had a proper model to learn from.
Ouch. That hurts me just as bad as it probably does you. This is a revelation that I’ve been blessed with and it is one that I just couldn’t keep to myself. I pray it reaches you encourages you as well.
This parenting thing is tough. Really tough. And especially with the given circumstances, it feels a little tougher. You are not alone. These are battles that we all face, and hopefully ones that we can learn from.. together.
I hope this post speaks to you in the way that it has spoken to me. I hope you step back and reassess your immediate reaction the next time an explosive situation arises.
Embrace the pause. These are precious times that slip away so quickly.
If you enjoyed this post, I’d be honored if you’d share it with your friends and family who might enjoy it as well. Leave a comment if you’re human like me and make mistakes too. I’d love to hear from you, laugh with you, cry with you, pray with you.