The birth of 18 little quail chicks was such an exciting time at Second Journey Farmstead. They were all so cute with their fluffy down, their inquisitive nature, and their wobbly legs. They would run to greet us as soon as they noticed us peering in on them, only to turn and flee when we opened the door and tried to touch them; all except for one. One of the chicks was born with the tendency to hold its legs straight. This made standing, let alone walking, impossible. While the other chicks ran around, this chick continued to lie down with its legs fully extended.
Not being able to walk meant that the chick could not get to its food and water, run from danger, or fight back when the other, stronger chicks started to peck at it. So began our family’s discussion about whether this chick could be saved or if it needed to be put down before it received any farther harm. And, with this debate, came the beginning of Anastasia’s heart break.
Anastasia fought vehemently that, regardless of how slight the chick’s chances of leading a normal life, every effort should be put forth to save this tiny newborn chick. I am certain that almost every livestock owner has had this debate, at one time or another, with their children and, like us, they have been left with some of the hardest questions to answer: How do you explain to a child who still thinks that everything should be fair that sometimes life is not? How do you convey that sometimes babies are born damaged and that, in the animal kingdom, it really is survival of the fittest? How do we prepare our children for the eventual death of a baby that they have already fallen in love with because it is just so cute and that it needs someone to love it? So, when the chick was found dead the next morning, we did the only thing we could. We tried to comfort Anastasia through the tears.