So, poor little Donna the Barnevelder died. Despite the medicated water and the vaccinations, the expensive rented brooder with its profligate wood shavings, the mercy dash to the Pet Barn for pharmaceuticals. She heaved her last, suddenly, huddled in RB’s hands, before even losing her last baby fluff. People wiser in the ways of poultry than we may know why. Obviously, we blame ourselves. She became RB’s favourite chick posthumously.
Now we are watching the remaining two chicks like hawks. No, that came out all wrong. What I’m trying to say is: we are watching them anxiously for signs that they might be poorly whilst, at the same time, trying to remember that infancy is a numbers game. And consoling ourselves that, for all our inadequate husbandry, at least these are not McNuggets. If only you make it through the tough early days, girls, there’s a promise of near-infinite insect prey and greenery. Hang in there! Wrangle that microbiome! The sunny uplands of maturity await.
Ok, so the news hound metaphor may be redundant, even tasteless. But there’s so much more I could say here: about the cruel elisions of a “dolphins will nudge out your baby” view of reproduction; or the fundamental unpredictability of gardens and the things that live there, fairly large and very very small; or the not entirely perfect miracle that is vaccination. But enough. Goodnight Donna, you are not just a metaphor, not at all.