250 chicks left at PO
JUST A HANDFUL of the more than 250 chicks Paul Grant took in at the Granary Feed Store after a delivery mix-up left the birds in limbo.
It wasn’t your average delivery – it was much louder, much fluffier and much more vulnerable than the usual shipments seen at the Sonoma Post Office on Broadway.
On Thursday, 250 fuzzy chicks, just hours old, arrived by mail from Fresno, but no one picked up the peeping package.
It all boiled down to an administrative mix-up. The unidentified Valley resident who ordered the birds said he never confirmed the order nor paid for it, and did not want the chicks or the $657.68 delivery charge. The company that sent the birds, Belt Hatchery, said that the order went through even though they couldn’t get in touch with the buyer.
“We tried to call him after the birds were hatched that morning. I made the decision to go ahead and send them because this week is our last hatch … We’re sold out for the season and I didn’t want the customer unhappy if he did in fact want them,” said Debbie Belt, who’s owned the business with her husband for 23 years. “It was really just a misunderstanding of communication between us and the customer.”
When the buyer didn’t claim the chicks, the post office staff contacted Belt Hatchery, who suggested the birds be returned to Fresno. Chicks are born with a yolk sac that provides them with nutrients for two to three days, a natural safety net while they learn where to find food. As long as that sac isn’t broken by feeding the birds, they can stay alive, assuming they’re kept warm.
“The birds can go up to three days without food or water. That’s why they’re shipped the day they hatch, so they have the most time with that yolk sac,” Belt said, adding that her company routinely ships chicks to New York and Atlanta, which require two- or three-day delivery.
But the post office staff did not know about the protective yolk sac. Convinced the chicks were in danger, someone had the bright idea to call Paul Grant at the Granary Feed Store, which sells chicks year-round.
“They wanted to send them back, and that would have been a shame because they’d all be dead,” Grant said. “They’d just throw them in the dumpster.”
Grant agreed to take ownership of the chicks, as long as he didn’t have to pay the delivery charge. He immediately put the chicks in a brooder, a device designed to keep chicks warm, and provided sustenance.
“They were all in the food and water as soon as they got here,” Grant said.
He worked with the original buyer to find an egg producer in Santa Rosa who wanted 200 of the chicks, which were transported north on Friday.
“They went to a good home,” Grant said.
The other 50 he will sell at the Granary, which are available to purchase now at 19626 Eighth St. E. Belt Hatchery chalked the $650 loss up to the cost of doing business with livestock.
“Our product, we can’t put back on the shelf,” Belt said. “It was a money loss for me, yes, but I was much more concerned about the chicks.”
“… Thank goodness for Paul (Grant), he’s a real sweetheart of a guy.”