Not that they haven't lost animals before. My oldest lost his guinea pig on his twelfth birthday, and we've also lost two hamsters. But this has been a whole new experience. We started out with chicks and got to watch them grow. The kids even helped us build the chicken pen, so it was exciting for them when the chickens were old enough to go outside. After that we added ducks and then turkeys.
Somewhere along the line, we bought an incubator and decided to try our hand at hatching new chicks. We figured out how to candle the eggs to figure out which ones had chicks developing, and we were careful to make sure we did everything right. The first time didn't work out, but the next time we were able to hatch a couple. And then a couple more. And then even more.
Then came Lucky. It was a tiny little bantam chick who had legs that weren't quite formed right, and it was just a little runt. I was determined to help it survive, but nature has a way of choosing the strongest, and it passed just a week or two later. We decided to hold off on hatching anymore for the year.
This year we started with a batch, and for some reason only one of the twenty hatched. It took a couple of days before it finally broke out of its shell. I was worried about it because its feet wouldn't go flat, but stayed curled up. We tried a few things to help it, and made sure it got food and water.
And because chickens do better with other chickens, we decided to get more for company. This ended up being the cause of death of this poor chick. I won't get into the grisly details, but tonight we had another chick go off into bird heaven as I held it.
My son sat next to me and tried to control his emotions as we had to say goodbye, but he lost it. And I think that's perfectly okay. They got to see life as the chicks hatched, and the other side of the coin is the loss and learning to say goodbye.
The thing I'm most thankful for is that no matter what mortality brings us, I know this isn't the end. We move on and our bodies become perfect again, and we get to see family and friends who went before us. And while death is a sad thing as a mortal human being, it's also a good time to teach my children what comes next.
Farewell, chick. I'm glad we got to know you, and I'm glad you're no longer in pain.