Farm life: sad truths

Most of our days are great, but every so often, sad things happen. Nothing major, just the realities of farm life & raising livestock.

The other day my husband & daughter went on a breakfast date. I asked them to bring me something home. I meant a yummy breakfast treat, but instead they brought me a new baby chick. Which is actually pretty cute & made me smile.

I currently have a brooder going with our four young egg layers (4 weeks) and two turkeys (2 weeks). They still require the heat lamp so this is why they aren’t out in the coop with the other 27 chickens. We put the new chick in the brooder & they all seemed fine together. Usually you need to slowly introduce new chicks, but they were doing fine together, even snuggling, and I thought with them all being so young they would be ok. I checked on them multiple times that day- everything was good.

I went out the next morning to feed & water the brooder chicks, and sadly the new chick had been pecked to death overnight. I felt so bad, poor little thing. I learned a hard lesson that even young chicks need time to accept new chicks into the flock.

A couple of weeks prior when I introduced the turkeys, I didn’t feel confident in the meat chickens, who were still in the brooder at that point, to not attack (the meat chickens are weird, mean, dumb birds). I put the turkeys inside of a laundry basket, inside of the chicken pen. They could see each other, but could not get to each other. After five or so days I let them integrate & all went smoothly. When I moved the meat chickens to the coop, I kept them in the pen inside the coop so the older egg layers could get used to them. Again, they could see each other but not get to each other. After a few days, integration went smoothly.

So sadly I have learned my lesson about new chicks. The pecking order is important, even to four week old chicks.

This wasn’t our first hard lesson on the farm. When we first got our pigs they were two weeks old. They had to be removed from their mother because the other piglets from the litter had been eaten. Yes, that is disgusting and I was horrified to learn that that happens. Nature can be strange! So being only two weeks old, the piglets had to be bottle fed six times a day. Six! It was time consuming and fun, and you haven’t lived until you’ve bottle fed a grunting, hungry piglet! So cute.

A few days after we brought the piglets home, one of them started looking strange. It turned out he had ‘Greasy Pig Disease‘. He probably came to us sick & we tried everything to rehab him. We hesitated but did give him a couple doses of antibiotics, coconut oil baths for his skin, topical antibiotic solution. He kept getting worse & we didn’t want him to suffer. I called the breeder & he told me something that put it into perspective for me: ‘think of this like business, do not get emotional.  You can’t save him. The pig is sick, you need to put him down.’

My husband did the dirty work and put the piglet down. At the end of the day, even if he had recovered we did not want to eat a sick pig. It was a lesson for us all.

Farm life is fun, but sometimes sad. I’m learning everyday to care emotionally for the animals, but to also be detached and business minded when it comes to the reality of raising livestock. Farm life truth: sad things happen.

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