The chickens will be 5 weeks old on Monday, and I finally have the energy to type out the story of their arrival.
We had ordered 11 chicks, all different breeds, except for 3 Silkies. Shortly before they were shipped we were informed that one of the breeds, the Easter Egger, wouldn’t be coming. There was some sort of horrible happening at the hatchery, and they lost all their hatching babies. So we were down to 10.
They were supposed to ship on Monday or Tuesday, and arrive on Wednesday. The post office was supposed to call around 6:30am when the express mail came in. Wednesday morning, we waited for the call. It didn’t come. We called them, and the post office said the chicks hadn’t been on that express shipment, but there was another shipment coming in that afternoon, and they would call if the chicks came then. Then didn’t call. So to be sure, we called them, and were informed the last shipment had arrived, and the chicks hadn’t. We were told there was definitely NO WAY the chicks were coming until Thursday morning.
So we stopped obsessively staying beside the phone and didn’t worry about it. Around 6pm, someone called the cell phone, and I said: “You’d better get that; it’s the chicks”. Ha ha. (I really need to start listening when I say things, more often than not, I’m right.) But we were busy, and didn’t pick up the phone, and the caller didn’t leave a message. About 4 minutes before 7pm, someone called again, and this time they did leave a message – which we didn’t get until around 8pm. “This is the post office. Your chicks are still here and we don’t know what to do with them. We’re closing at 7pm.”
Still here? When did they come? And they had our cell phone numbers, and our land line, all of which have voice mail – why didn’t they leave a message earlier than four minutes before closing????
Panicked, we got in the car and drove to the post office, but of course they had closed an hour ago, and no one was there. We called everyone we could think of who might have a connection to a postal worker, but no one knew a worker in our city. So we called 911 and asked if the police had a number to reach the post office after hours. The dispatcher was very concerned for our chicks, and sent a police officer, but they couldn’t find anyone to help either. The best they could say was that the night crew came into the post office around 1am, and if we showed up then, we could talk to them.
So we went home, waited until 1am, and went back to the post office. No one was there. We waited a half hour, and a delivery guy showed up. He couldn’t help us either, but he did confirm that the chicks had been inside earlier, and the postal workers had been very concerned about their health. He said the night crew didn’t show up until 3 or 3:30am.
So we went home, went to bed for an hour, then came back to the post office at 3am. No one was there. We waited an hour, and at 4am, two workers finally came – including the lady who had called us. She was glad to see us, but warned us that some of the chicks had died. She had opened the box before she’d left work to give them water.
She brought us inside, opened the box, and it was one of the saddest sights I’ve ever seen. Out of the 10 chicks, 3 were obviously dead – one of the them having drowned in the bowl of water she’d put inside the box. I know she was only trying to help, and she was horrified when she saw what had happened, but you just don’t put full bowls of water in with just-born creatures. Out of the seven still alive, three more were crumpled up, just barely clinging to life, and the other four were shaky but standing and peeping weakly.
Mom put the three that were the worst off inside her shirt to help warm them, and I drove us home as fast as I could. Sophie (our Silver Cuckoo Maran) was so nearly dead, that probably the only thing that saved her was holding her up to the car heater on the way.
Once home, we put them under the heat lamp, and taught them how to drink water. It took us another two hours to get them stablized enough that we thought we wouldn’t lose any more. I finally went to bed around 7am, and got a few hours of sleep. Everything that could have gone wrong with this shipment, did go wrong. We discovered the hatchery had forgotten to put the heat packs in their box, so it’s no surprise these poor little things were so cold. We were so glad we had cared enough to spend all those hours waiting at the post office – if we hadn’t, I think by morning they ALL would have been dead.
As it was, we had lost our Speckled Sussex, and two of the Silkies. The remaining Silkie seemed like she was going to survive, but the next day she got really lethargic and died. So we are down to just six, but these girls are survivors.
They are already devoted insect hunters, weed eaters, compost makers, and of course, sweet little lap chickens. They love to be held and snuggled. My garden is going to pot because I don’t want to do anything but play with the chickens!
If you want more about them, including video of their exploits, check out their facebook page. (You don’t have to have a facebook account in order to see any of it!)
The next day, we got a phone call from Animal Control. The police had given them our number, and they wanted to know if we had gotten the chicks, and how they were doing. When we told the whole sad tale, Animal Control was appalled and said they were going to get some sort of emergency number from the post office, so they would be prepared to handle this sort of thing in the future.