Today we just wanted to share a quick story that illustrates how unpredictable farming can be. As you know, we need to replenish our laying flock and are starting our trial Cornish Cross meat bird batch. Well, instead of relying solely on incubation to replenish our flock, we chose to order some day-old chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery. We were ordering our Cornish X chicks anyway, so we figured it would be worth it to add to that order and save on shipping. Anyway, this is the week we have been waiting months for; hatch week! We got a text message and email from the hatchery that our birds were in the hands of the United States Postal Service in Iowa. We anticipated receiving the chicks the following morning (since it’s such a short distance from the hatchery), so we left our ringers on when we went to bed Monday night to field the pick-up call bright and early.
Unlike past orders, the call didn’t come before dawn. At least we would be rested when the chicks arrived. Now, we’ve heard horror stories about shipments of chicks being lost in the mail for days and arriving dead when they finally turn up, but we’ve never had any issues with our past orders. When the phone rang at about a quarter ‘til 10 we were informed that our chicks were ready and waiting for us at the post office. After putting away groceries and grabbing a second cup of coffee, I headed into town to pick them up. When I arrived I was in line behind a person from our local Orscheln farm store who was there to pick up chicks for their store’s “chick days”. When it was my turn at the counter I stated that I was there to pick up baby chicks, too. The same USPS person I had spoken to on the phone just 30 minutes earlier said, “are you sure? We don’t have any more chicks back there. Let me look again.” Uh oh. I overhear her ask another employee and hear mention of Tractor Supply, so I text Shannon that I think our chicks went to our local Tractor Supply store when they came to pick up their order. She quickly got on the phone and called over there to confirm that, yes, they in fact had our chicks. One of their employees was calling me about the same time, but I didn’t answer because it wasn’t a local call and I was in the middle of trying to figure out where our chicks could have possibly gone in the last 30 minutes. One of the USPS employees came back out and said they think they accidentally sent them with the Tractor Supply order and that they were trying to get ahold of them. I let him know that my wife had tracked them down and thanked him for his time. He was apologetic and I was frustrated, but getting upset with him wasn’t going to do either of us any good. Hopefully next time he will just take the extra time to read the labels to make sure the package is heading to the right place.
I ran over to Tractor Supply and picked up the chicks, so ultimately there was no harm done. I’m not sure what I would have done if they hadn’t noticed and went ahead and put our chicks out with the rest of theirs. I certainly would have been a lot more frustrated with the postal service and someone would have gotten a pretty good deal on some blue-laced red wyandottes and silver-grey dorkings! While this was ultimately a non-issue, I think it illustrates that even with the best laid plans, some things are just beyond your control. There will be days that nature doesn’t accommodate your plans. There will be days that the post office manages to lose your chicks in the 30 minutes it takes for you to get to the post office after they call. There will be days stray dogs decimate half of your laying flock. But, all of those days will strengthen your problem-solving skills and make you assess just what is actually important in life. Is my time better spent yelling at a post office employee that already feels bad? Or is my time better spent letting him know that mistakes happen and not ruining both of our days over something as trivial as 54 day-old chicks. Maybe that’s easier said than done and perhaps it would have been a bigger problem if it had been a batch of 500 meat birds that my livelihood depended on. I don’t know. I’m just glad it all worked out and now we get to watch these little peepers grow.