21 April 2011

The Silent Box

For those dear readers who are Facebook friends with Mrs. Fuzzy this will not be new news but now it comes with photos. I will warn you, some of them are not pleasant but you get to end with happy photos.

The big order of chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery was shipped on Sunday and arrived on Wednesday, a day later than their absolute maximum transit time. Now, a chick lives its first 3 days on the nutrition is has from absorbed yolk before hatching and the short time between when the PO calls and introducing a chick to sustenance doesn't seem to make a lick of difference but these chicks were five days old when they arrived. Needless to say, I didn't see much reason to rush and collect a silent box of dead animals so I stopped at the coffee shop first. I wanted to pretend that my new coop would soon be filled with dozens of cute chicks:

Amazingly, there were cheeping sounds coming from the box... but not many and not exactly "lusty throated." I put it in the back of the car so I wouldn't be tempted to look before getting into the coop, just in case doing so would cause a chill to the survivors. When I opened the box it was a horror scene:

Yes, that is what 40 dead chicks looks like. Five were still standing and ten more semed viable so I took them out, introduced them to the water fount, and covered the bottom of their tiny brooder box with feed so they wouldn't have to hunt for food. I spent about one and a half hours repeatedly dipping their beaks in the water and food until they seemed to understand what they needed to do.

As I checked in throughout the day ( I had feed to pick up and a flooring installer to meet) more and more chicks died... but clearly not the ones who had been standing when I opened the box. You might imagine our sadness and revulsion each time another few animals went into the compost bin.

That's what you do with them. The USDA actually requires that if they aren't trucked away. At least they will be creating new life in some small way, eh?

My usual word for a day like this is "suckfest." It's a good, clean, word that usually makes things better just by its' utterance but it proved utterly inadequate... so I got angry and called the toll free number for the US Postal Service. The flippant tone that greeted my explanation ("I just received a box of chicks and 80% are dead because the box did not arrive on time.") really ticked me off. He wisely pawned me off on the complaint department who mow mowed me and gave me a case number.

The hatchery folks were much more helpful. They knew why there had been a delay and told me. (The sorting center in TN is now a crime scene.) They also commiserated on my loss and explained it was happening all over the region because of the snafu. On Friday I'll call with a final count and they'll schedule a shipment of replacements to be sent once the USPS has its act together.

What was lovely about the call was when I explained who lived and who died. The lady said, "You mean some arrived alive and seem like they're going to make it???? That doesn't normally happen when they're this late!" She was really excited and happy.

So, now it is after 10:30 in the evening and I have this truly miraculous photo to share with you of our Ressurection Chicks. There are five survivors now and all are avidly eating and drinking, moving about their brooder box, and chirping away. We know they aren't out of the woods yet because their little bodies will need time to recover from the trauma but for now they are doing all the tings a chick is supposed to be doing.

I was even happy when one of them pooped on my hand while holding her. Now to come up with five female names of people who have come back from the dead. Any soap opera fans out there?


Lausanne said...

Such a sad shipment of chicks! I'm astounded that 5 could survive deprivation for so long. I'm glad you gave the postal service a piece of your mind! What variety chicks are these? I can't wait for the rest of the happy ending when another batch arrives in a more timely manner. How many chickens will you have all together?

Lausanne said...

I admit, i keep visiting your blog to find out if the next shipment has arrived yet and if the Post Office has straightened out their act!