When you are a parent, all you want to do is make your children happy. Sometimes you don’t stop to think in your pursuit of their joy. An example of this happened recently when we decided to fulfill the oldest country kid’s Birthday Wish. You see, all he wanted was a pet quail…… They only cost $2.00…. We rock!!! Wrong!!!!
What started as four tiny, adorable quail chicks, turned into a homesteading nightmare. Oh, the first week went great..... But then they started to drop like flies!!! In a matter of three night, we lost three quail chicks. I stayed up night after night, trying my best as not only a parent, but as an animal lover, throwing antibiotics at them, adjusting every element of their care to the best of my ability, but to no avail. I failed the chicks and I failed my son. What started as such a great adventure was turning into a lost cause.
If you didn't know, quail chicks are TINY. They are so delicate. They can drown in their own water bowl!?!?! Yes, keeping quail is not like chickens chicks, not even close. They scratch their food everywhere. They eat their own poo, which can be laced with disease. I am not a vet, nor do I play one on TV, but I have been raising critters most of my life and if I were a betting woman, I would bet they died from coccidiosis. This is a disease that works on their digestive tract and while they were eating, they were starving. I believe they came with it, but they could have picked it up from anywhere as coccidia is common, it is everywhere, even dirt.
Luckily, one of the chicks was a bit older, and with antibiotics and a stronger immune system, it continues to thrive. But that has led to a whole new set of "what the heck" moments. You see, quail are lightning fast and they learn to fly VERY early. So the first time, I saw him ON TOP of his pen, which was covered with a metal grate, I was a bit startled. He was only a couple weeks old! Thus began the escaping....... I understand, he was just testing his wings, he was bored, he was lonely, I get it, there are a million reasons he was busting out, but it was getting a little ridiculous! No matter what I did, he got out. I swear it was time to rename him Houdini!
And then it happened..... He got out and disappeared..... Gone! I saw where he went, but no matter what we did, from moving furniture to playing quail calls off YouTube, we just couldn’t find him. After ten hours of watching and waiting, I went to bed, but not before putting out a plate of food for him. While everyone else had given up that we would ever see this quail again, I was NOT giving up. I would not have him perish and stink up my house after all the work I had invested in him to keep him alive and to make the oldest country kid happy.
I have no clue why at 1:30 am I sat upright in my bed that night, all I knew is that my gut told me to get my butt downstairs and check the food. As I crept to the door jam…. THERE HE WAS!!!!! Dancing in the glow of his heat lamp, nibbling his food, totally unaware I was watching. I slipped to another room and grabbed a butterfly net and ever so carefully I inched my way toward him in the dark. *BAM* I caught his lightning fast little Houdini butt!!!!! I wanted to scream with joy, but it was 2 am and I didn’t want to wake anyone, so I just did a little happy dance and returned him to his pen and ungraded the cover, again. I fell into bed exhausted but happy.
You can imagine my surprise the next morning when the oldest country kid came running into our room, quail in hand, exclaiming he had caught the quail. Wait, I caught the quail! Turns out, the quail had got out AGAIN!!!! What!?!?! So much for being the awesome mom who saved the world. This had to end, I couldn’t keep living with a runaway quail in my house. I set my hubby on the problem, while I went to the Farmer’s Market to clear my head. But that dang quail was on my mind the whole time, so much so, I ended up buying it a gift. That’s right, I bought my son’s bird a bush for its pen, because isn’t that what all crazy homesteading mamas do?
So with my hubby's cover upgrade, and my cute little plant for cover, I am happy to report we have not had a break out since. Though I swear the quail is plotting and testing. Oh and the lungs on this tiny thing are really trying at times to my eardrums. They have an amazingly loud call! So my friends, let me just save you all from heartache and frustration..... Heed my warning......
Quail Do NOT Make Good Pets!!
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