People say, "That's so hard." Hard for who? How hard? Hard like tough or hard like painful? Each persons hard is different, too. So, really when other people tell you it's going to be hard, it's all relative. Today for us was a hard day, hard like painful. It was a day that I knew would come with all the animals. We've been taking a lot of risks and with that comes responsibility and, at times, pain.
Our little chicks were really coming along this morning. We had one little guy completely out of his shell but his umbilical cord still stuck to the shell and he toted it around with him all over the incubator. We named him Trailer since he looked like he had a trailer. The chick who had started cracking open his shell first was still working away at it and getting closer and closer to emerging. There were also two other chicks making progress on their shells. Then there were three left that we weren't sure what would happen with. Technically not "due" until tomorrow we were optimistic that maybe even they would still hatch. I was aware that 100% hatch rate is very rare but thought at least this would be a good, tiny lesson in life and death for the kids if they didn't make it.
Sadly, through human error, the incubators temperature was accidentally turned up. By the time we got back from AWANA it had reached 110*. It needs to be kept at or very close to 101*. The scene we found was hard to see after all the joy we experienced in watching the effort each chick made, celebrating the success when one came out, and anticipating the others arrival. The chick who had been working the longest to get out never made it. Despite the fact that another chick got out of the shell, he did not make it either, and was lying along the side of the incubator, lifeless. There was another chick who'd made just enough progress to poke his beak out but he was dead, too. The other eggs showed no sign of life but we're leaving them another day just to make sure. Amazingly, Trailer was still walking around, cheeping and he had finally lost his shell, though we knew it was him because of the drying umbilical cord hanging from behind (his hitch as it were). Josiah thought we should rename him Survivor. We're still not sure if he's out of the woods or if his health has been so adversely affected that it's only a matter of time. I have to say, he looked better than ever and I am optimistic. Andrew is putting together the brooder for him. He'll be lonely for a few days but we have more chicks expected next week.
We took the three chick's little bodies and buried them between some trees in the side yard. We'll add a little cross tomorrow. It's hard knowing they were so close to life and, by a mistake we made, their life was snuffed out. The kids are all taking it differently. It's interesting how they grieve with their different personalities and ages. I did have a chance to pray with them and remind them that God knows how painful death is. We can go to him and know he understands the depth of our pain. I was also thankful that I had experience with death because I felt like I was able to lead them through this in healthy ways. Still... it's hard.