There seems to have been a run of misfortune on the farm recently, with a newly-hatched duckling and chick, as well as a young adult goose, dying in the past few weeks. This isn’t “usual” around here, but deaths are part of farm life. And I think it’s important to show that side of animal husbandry, too.
One of the six remaining geese from April’s hatch died today – photo above from happier times. She was the last gosling to hatch, needing a little assistance. From the beginning, she had what I can only describe as a “dreamy” look to her, as if she were always thinking of a far-off place. She grew normally and, until now, she’d been healthy and active like the others.
One of the ducklings died today. It was one of the last hatchers, the one with the most yolk that needed to be absorbed…which it did. Its navel had healed nicely and it seemed to be behaving normally until this morning, when it kept peeping, a sound very similar to a chick’s distress peeping. It wasn’t cold (it had easy access to the heat from “Mama Heating Pad”), its butt wasn’t pasty (I checked), and I saw it drinking. Its legs had grown stronger and it was much more coordinated today.
So why did it die? It’s a puzzle – there were no obvious signs of abnormality, it wasn’t injured, and even if it hadn’t eaten, its absorbed yolk could easily have sustained it through today. I know that I’m not going to have a definitive answer to this question, but I can’t help wondering if that duckling just wasn’t meant to live in this plane right now. I assisted it in hatching, and maybe it wasn’t meant to hatch at all…nonetheless, I don’t regret trying because the alternative (the duckling dying in the shell) would, at least to me, have been worse than it living briefly, interacting with other ducklings, dabbling in water, and being free of the confines of the shell. I’m just so sad that it never got a chance to take its first swim.
Wherever you are now, duckling, I hope you can swim, safely, to your heart’s content.
The bitter cold is dangerous for animals, including wild ones. One morning, a small goldfinch hopped into the garage, seemingly seeking refuge from the frigid temperatures (it’s been in the negative double digits with wind chill).