I have always been a sucker for the underdog. For my sixth birthday all I wanted was a white kitten to name Snowflake. When my mom FINALLY took me to the shelter to pick out my kitten I walked straight past the beautiful white kittens to this tiny pathetic little striped kitten in the back. She was five weeks old, alone in her cage, and cowering in the back. This little one ended up being Snowflake. This weakness for the little one, the runt and the underdog has continued throughout my life. When I was working at a hog barn right out of college I would keep close track of where the runts were and I would spend way too much time making sure they got to nurse and trying to pull them through. More often than not those little ones I invested so much in didn’t make it. I tend to turn a blind eye to the whole “survival of the fittest” thing. That doesn’t always work out for me.
This morning I had another one of those experiences. I have been really good so far this year about not bringing home any chicks or ducklings from the farm supply stores (They’re SOOOOO cute!!). Yesterday when I walked into our store at the co-op I started chatting with the girls that work up there about the chicks they had in. They mentioned that they had a runt that was not looking good and were talking about what to do with it. To make a long story short, I left work last night with three chicks (one of them was the runt) and a host of supplies along with a bottle of electrolytes to try to give the little one a boost to make it through. I dubbed them Matilda (the runt), Ophelia (the biggest one with more dark) and Eloise (the lightest colored one). I spent time making sure that Matilda got something to drink and that she had access to food if she needed it. From there, I let nature take its course.
They were very popular little ladies last night. My parents helped me get everything set up in my spare bedroom for the girls. A bunch of kids from the neighborhood came by to see them and were totally fascinated. Seth and Debbie stopped by to see the girls as well. They certainly were not lacking for attention!!
I knew that Matilda was extremely weak. Despite all of my attentions she was struggling to move and was clearly not comfortable. So this morning I was not surprised to find that Matilda had not made it through the night. I was sad and relieved at the same time. I knew going into it that she was the weak one and probably wouldn’t make it, but that was what drew me to her. I’m glad that I had the chance to try to save her and I’m also glad that she isn’t struggling any more.
For me it doesn’t matter whether it was Matilda or one of the approximately 12,000 piglets that were under my care at the hog barn; the way I felt about losing them was exactly the same. For anyone involved in agriculture a loss is a loss. It means lost profit, lost time and most importantly (and painfully), a lost life. Because I have a weak spot for the little guy, I will probably face a lot more little heartbreaks like Matilda. I also know that won’t stop me from trying to help the underdogs and that is something I am completely okay with.