First of all, I want to say “thank you” to everyone who reached out to me on this blog and Facebook yesterday. The chicken community really does understand what these feathered critters mean to us and I have to tell you that every comforting word did its job. I still, and will always, carry the guilt for this one, but it was wonderful to be given so many hugs from fellow chicken owners.
One person, who hatched some chicks yesterday even named a chick “Violet” in honor of our little bird. How beautiful is that? Violet’s spirit lives on.
I did get one letter from a woman who has decided to not follow me anymore because of what happened to Violet. She raised some interesting points in her email (which is now a Facebook post.)
She chastised me and said that you should NEVER introduce less than 3 chicks into a flock and while this is ideal, it’s not going to happen with some backyard chicken owners. Concord NH, for example, allows you to have 5 hens in your flock. If one died over the winter, you can either wait until more die to replace them or try to replace that single bird. Most people go with replacing what was lost. Flocks simply come in all sizes.
I got Violet as a single chick, just like I had gotten Charlie as a single chick. Neither bird had been planned but I wasn’t going to say no to them. In Charlie’s case, she lived because I was willing to do her foot surgery. In Violet’s case, she died, not because she was a single bird, but because I didn’t recognize a danger in the coop.
Both were raised in the house because it was too cold (we live in NH) to put them outdoors, if I could have put them near my bed at night I would have, but I think my husband would have put his foot down on that one. I didn’t raise them indoors as pets and then throw them to the wolves as one poster suggested. I raised them indoors because that is what I always do with my chicks.
I have, in the past, successfully introduced one bird at a time to our flock. It can be done. With all but Charlie, my chicks get moved out to the hen house at around 6 weeks (as many of you know, Charlie lived indoors for 6 months but that’s what you get for adopting a newborn in January.) Violet had been old enough, had spent time in the flock (both caged and un-caged) and I had made sure there was a place for her to get away from the others. The first time I let her loose (after living caged in there for a week) in the hen house was in the evening, knowing that the birds would soon settle down to roost.
My mistake is that I didn’t realize Violet would hide and then get stuck inside the cinder block. It just never occurred to me that this could be a danger. I know differently now.
The name of this blog is Lessons Learned from the Flock, life is about learning and I learned a big one this week and you can be sure I’ll be passing it on.
When (not if) I get more chicks, you can bet that I will be more on top of the situation when it comes time to put them into the flock (if I have to sleep out in the hen house to keep them safe, I will.) Holes will be filled, the birds will be more supervised, and there will be more check-ins.
I am also going to be warning everyone who uses cinder blocks (and I actually advise using cinder blocks as a base for your water feeder and for the water heater in the winter) to make sure the side holes are filled in. Unfortunately, it’s one of those things you don’t know about until you know about.
My chickens, like my children, teach me new lessons every day. I am not an expert on life, instead I am a listener. I could have said nothing about Violet, I could have simply dismissed her and pretended that all was fine. I could have let you believe that there was nothing but sunshine and rainbows in our flock.
But I am a storyteller and a teacher. I see. I learn and I pass information on.Violet is a big part of our flock story, and it would have been easier to for me to stop breathing than it would have been to not tell her story.
That’s just who I am, warts and all.
On a somewhat related note, my heart goes out to a friend of mine who lost 31 chickens (including her beautiful Cuckoo) in the past 2 weeks due to predator invasion. Oh Linda, I’m so very sorry.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.