Last night we went outside after dark to put the chickens to bed, assuming that once again we would need to grab the baby birds one at a time and insert them up top. Last night we waited longer before going outside to do this. Before we were going out at or shortly after dusk. This time it was totally dark by the time we went out there. As Cindy and I approached the coop we noticed that we didn’t see any movement down below. As we got closer we both looked at each other excitedly, they actually went up top themselves. I quietly raised the ramp and secured it in place. Cindy peeked in the side door and saw not only were they up top but they were on the perch instead of piled on top of each other. It took six tries but it seems they finally get it, hallelujah. After securing the ramp the chicks got a short bumpy ride as I moved the chicken tractor to fresh grass, something we do every two days. Cindy and I were both very happy as we headed back inside. The babies are going to have quite a few chilly nights ahead of them with a cold front that rolled in last night.
So I buried Shadow in the dark last night. I put her within a couple feet of Pumpkin who died exactly one week ago. Unlike Sunday where Shadow was still drinking and eating somewhat, she pretty much shut down yesterday showing no interest in anything while standing/sitting with her eyes closed and beak tucked under her wing for most of the day. When Cindy got home Shadow was barely breathing. It was getting colder outside so Cindy put some shavings in the bottom of a rubber tub and brought Shadow inside so she wouldn’t be cold which was sweet.
When I got home and saw Shadow I thought she had already passed. Only after careful observation could I see she was still taking long, slow breaths but she was unresponsive otherwise. I talked to and petted her a little before I let her rest. After eating dinner we checked on her again she was gone, although we double and triple checked. When Cindy picked her up the heat had left her body and the stiffness had already started to set in. As usual the death of another pet invoked an emotional response in me. I feel responsible and that I should have been able to do more.
As I placed her in the deep hole I said my final goodbye, covered her up, and placed spike covered palm fronds on top to hopefully prevent an animal from digging her up and desecrating the corpse. The walk back to the house with the shovel in hand felt extra dark and cold.
Last night I started the modifications I spoke about, blocking off access to the coop “basement”. I also took one old spare plastic roof panel I had in the shed and put it across the frame of the playground to give the birds some other covered area to hang under. I plan on getting more of the panels and attaching them to a proper frame that I can secure but also remove to easily clean/refresh the ground underneath. It may take some time for the hens to get the idea but I think they will like the arrangement eventually.
Last night might have been a first, I had a new EV device delivered and didn’t even crack open the box. My Ranger X1 AT (all terrain) electric skateboard showed up last night. The FedEx guy didn’t ring the doorbell until after 8PM. By that time I was in the middle of a few other things and I was bummed about Shadow, so I just leaned the box against a cabinet where it remains today. Hopefully tonight I will get a chance to pull out the new board and take a look.
So we have another chicken that has not be doing well, Shadow. She has been low energy for a couple months and it has been progressing downward. She now is too weak to easily get up on the perch at night, she spent last night on the floor. I suspect she will succumb as well before too long.
So the death of Pumpkin and the illness of Shadow has made me look more in depth at what we are and are not doing right in the care of the birds. A good portion of the chickens have had diarrhea like droppings for quite awhile. It’s been so long that Cindy and I sort of just have accepted it as the norm but, we shouldn’t. Seeing that in a bird long term is a sign of a problem. The problem with that problem is the possible causes of it are immense.
The hens, especially during wet season are exposed to very dangerous conditions where standing water is common as is the hens deciding to drink the dirty ground water which is terrible for them. We also don’t supplement the birds water with vitamins and electrolytes as we should and there are few other cleaning/maintenance things we do but not often enough.
I know at least for me, it seems that my daily routine is already pretty full which may lead to a “good enough” attitude when it comes to chicken maintenance. However I am going to try to do my best to do more for the birds, to help them have a healthier day to day existence. Over the winter I really need to do whatever I can to raise the ground level inside the entire chicken area to prevent it from getting flooded out during wet season. Doing so will require probably a dump truck or two of fill, opening up and then redoing a section of fence, a Bobcat and an infinite amount of shoveling and raking.
Well when I posted this picture yesterday showing sweet little Stephie in the bottom right I had no inclination that I would be writing about the hen opposite her, Pumpkin the very next day. Yes we had another death in the flock yesterday, only two days after Stephie disappeared with no explanation on Saturday morning.
On that Saturday morning I had to pick up Pumpkin and carry her outside, she was on the floor of the coop just sitting there. She was one of the few chickens that didn’t pick on Stephie on a regular basis. At that time I wondered if she saw the attack, was scared and decided to stay in the coop.
Well over the weekend both Cindy and I noticed Pumpkin just wasn’t herself, acting very lethargic and out of it. We noticed she had some pasty butt action going on which can cause problems. We cleaned her and a couple other hens Sunday morning. I figured she would come around from there as she has had similar episodes in the past.
When Cindy cleaned the coop yesterday she noticed that Pumpkin was already under the platform, isolating herself, not a good sign. I got home late due to traffic. Cindy had gone out to put the chicks to bed and came back to tell me she didn’t see Pumpkin in the coop….
So by the time I changed and came out she said she found her, dead, under the coop. I could not believe that we just lost another hen. Based on the experience we had with Lucy where she was prematurely assumed to be dead I looked under the platform with faint hope Pumpkin wasn’t dead. However both feet straight up in the air with no motion dismissed that idea immediately. Now I had to get her out.
Her body was a good 8 feet under the platform. I grabbed a large plastic tray we keep out there for me to lay on when needed. I then got the long rake I normally use to comb the run. Getting her out was a delicate procedure that took time as I did not want to pull her out in a way that would mangle or harm her any further. After about 10 minutes of work I finally had her still body in hand. Of course I had tears in my eyes as I placed her in the wagon to take her out back to be buried.
As I was pulling the wagon out there I was getting absolutely mauled by mosquitoes as the sun had just set, the prime time for them. I swore out loud several times at the lunacy of living in a place that has active mosquitoes alive in December. They continued to attack me mercilessly as I dug Pumpkins grave, I gave up trying to swat them and just ignored the constant pin pricks. I tried to dig her grave deep, much deeper than the other birds as we have had issues with other animals digging up the remains. We both said our good byes as I laid her into her final resting spot, feeling guilty that somehow I should have been able to prevent this outcome.
Pumpkin was another sweet bird that like Stephie was pretty far down in the pecking order. In recent weeks I had been giving both her and Stephie treats away from the other birds so they wouldn’t get hassled. To lose both of them in the span of three days is surreal.
I actually feel a bit numb to what happened. All of a sudden our adult flock is down to six birds, of those six only two of them seem 100% ok. Kathy has chronic pasty butt, Kristen has been laying lash eggs which identify a possible internal infection, Katie has a bad leg which has had her limping for weeks, and Shadow is also low energy and has been dropping liquid egg looking stuff. Only the Jersey Giants, Cupcake and Cutie Pie seem 100% healthy at this point. Today Cindy is doing a full cleaning of the chickens feeders which we have been really bad at doing on a regular basis (at all). I need to make sure I add that to my mental check list of things that HAVE to be done.
I stayed up to watch the Eagles last night. During the first half it seemed like the Eagles were setting themselves up to fall flat on their face. Lucky for them they were playing the one team that has been more decimated by injuries than the Eagles have. That streak continued last night when the Redskins back up QB broke his leg, just like the starter did two weeks ago, an incredible string of bad luck.
The end result was Mark Suck Sanchez, who had a brief stint with the Eagles but hadn’t thrown a pass since 2016, was inserted into the game. After some early limited success, Sanchez returned to his old form throwing a bad interception and having an embarrassing butt fumble in the second half (that he recovered). It was a nice win for the Birds which allows them to still control their own destiny, setting up a monster rematch with the Cowboys next week for the division lead. If they manage to win that game the team may still have a pulse.
Friday after work I got out to run once again, my third week in a row. I had just done lower body work on Wednesday so my legs were feeling rather cement-like and sore but I trudged through my conventional 13 laps without a major incident. After the brief reintroduction to group exercise on Thanksgiving, where there were 7 or 8 other people on the track, I once again was the only person out there which in most ways I prefer.
So on the weekends I am usually the one that does chicken morning clean up duty as Cindy does it every other day of the week. I headed out there pretty early, a little after 7AM. I started doing my preliminary tasks like scooping poop in the run and spreading scratch grains around. As I did I looked around and didn’t see Stephie in close proximity which was a bit unusual since she normally likes to hang close to me. I figured she was maybe out in the yard behind the coop or maybe even under the deck of the coop, although it would be pretty early for her to be under there.
So I continued on my clean up for a few minutes but still didn’t see Stephie (bottom right in the picture) show up. Ok well she must be around here somewhere so I stop what I’m doing and start walking around the chicken area looking for her. I look in the back yard, the front yard, in the corners of the coop and then down on my knees to look under the coop deck. When I scanned under the deck and still did not see her the red light went off. Where the hell is Stephie….
So I didn’t want to panic too quickly so I repeated my search pattern one more time, hoping that I somehow just missed her hiding somewhere, anywhere. I again came up empty. The harsh reality that something happened to my favorite hen was sinking in…
So now I went inside and told Cindy I can’t find Stephie. I confirmed with her that she was in the coop last night at bedtime, which Cindy said she was. Cindy said she swore when she came out of the bedroom she saw Stephie walking in the yard. If you recall earlier this year I added a second automatic door to the chicken run so when the birds get up they not only can exit the coop but also the run so they can go outside without us letting them out. Stephie was normally one of the early hens to come out as she was generally the outcast of the flock and picked on by many of the others.
Cindy immediately headed out there to do her own search. I instead headed to the computer to try to pull the security DVR footage of the coop to see what the hell was going on. My emotions of sadness and despair were joined by frustration when I realized that the DVR had not been recording footage for several weeks due to some sort of problem, unreal. The only recorded footage I had was the camera on the house that shoots towards the coop. All recordings are motion based and the times that camera recorded did not show anything of significance.
So now we had to assume that some sort of predator came in between when the outside door opened at 6:30 and when I went out there a few minutes after 7. When we had a coyote take Cocoa over a year ago it happened early in the morning as well. We went into investigative mode, trying to get a clue to what happened. There were absolutely no signs of an attack or struggle in the chicken area itself. Normally you will see at the very least a collection of feathers and/or some blood. Stephie was nervous, agile and fast, I had a hard time imaging something grabbing her so easily without a struggle. We expanded the search to the rest of the back yard, walking the entire fence line, again looking again for any signs of an attack. Cindy and I both walked the fence independently and neither of us saw even a single feather.
I later emailed my neighbor across the street that had chickens and predators attack them. She said her guess was it was a cat of some type, maybe a bobcat or panther. She said they are can clear a fence easily and are lightning fast. I guess that is possible but I still have a hard time believing there would be no traces visible of the event. I was so angry that the DVR did not record the incident as this is exactly the reason I installed it in the first place.
I loved Stephie, as I said she was my favorite hen. She knew her name and would come when I called her to give her treats away from the other hens so she wouldn’t get picked on. At night when I put them to bed she would often jump across the perch, getting bit by the other birds as she did just so she could get close to me so I would pet her before turning off the light. To have her just vanish and not know what happened broke my heart.
So of course not knowing what happened means it could happen to the other hens so I had to make some changes. Having the outside door open automatically was something to give the birds more freedom but I didn’t ever think it would also present danger. I wound up getting a second smart switch. Before the coop and the run door were on the same switch so they both opened at the same time. I now have it set so the coop door still opens at 6:30 but the door to the run does not open until 7:30 (but still closes automatically at night) so that we will be the ones to let the hens outside so we can prevent this scenario from happening again.
I thought about Stephie a lot all weekend. Each time I did a rush of sadness accompanied it with the realization I won’t have her fuzzy face and sweet demeanor to experience any longer.
So my KingSong 18XL demo wheel showed up Friday. I charged it up overnight . I needed to get a good test ride in so I suggested to Cindy to ride out to Ave Maria, a 30 mile plus round trip. So normally riding to Ave Maria would be something I would only do myself, it’s just too far for Cindy to ride on any of our wheels, however things are now different. With the arrival of our Dualtron scooter last week Cindy now has something fast, comfortable, and capable of traveling distance matching or surpassing my biggest EUC’s. She said she was down for the ride.
The 18XL that I was testing has a bigger battery and bigger foot pedal than the 18L that I bought earlier this year. Both improvements were substantial as my feet hurt less than any other wheel I have ridden. Cindy LOVES the Dualtron. That thing is pretty amazing. For the first time ever I couldn’t keep up with Cindy at times. At a few points in the ride she approached 35 mph. The video does a good job of detailing the experience.
Saturday night we watched Red Sparrow, a movie with some very explicit and graphic scenes, dealing with the Russian/American spy programs. Despite several “oh shit” scenes I found the movie interesting and unpredictable enough to earn a solid B+. If you ever wondered what Jennifer Lawrence looks like naked, this movie will satisfy your curiosity.
Sunday morning I did another test ride on the 18XL to Dunkin Donuts, a staple ride for all of my PEV’s. There was a extremely strong headwind during the ride which made it downright unenjoyable at times. The 18XL however once again performed well. I told the story of the demise of Stephie during the middle of the ride.
Since the Eagles don’t play until tonight my Sunday afternoon was pretty open. We did a run to Home Depot and later when we got home I walked around the property and sprayed all the castle stones I de-crudded last week with Wet and Forget, this stuff that I tried before to remove the crud by itself. It wasn’t effective in that role but my hope is spraying the stones after cleaning will delay the onset of more black crud returning.
Early in the evening I almost started the task of trying to replace the inner tube in my Gotway Monster. However I came to my senses and realized that starting what is likely to be a frustrating task to close out the weekend would be a mistake. Hopefully I can take a shot at it one night this week.
So real “winter” weather has flowed into south Florida the last couple days with overnight lows touching the 40’s (gasp). I am really enjoying the change and only wish it wasn’t something that happens so infrequently that I can normally count the days each year on my fingers. The only cold that really bothers me is when it starts creeping into the 30’s since that is when real damage to the landscape can occur.
So the six baby chicks are doing well and growing fast. In the two weeks we have had them it seems like they have doubled in size. With growth comes challenges. The latest one being they are getting big enough to hop up onto the edge of the container we have them in. Twice we have discovered chicks hanging out up top. We have some plastic netting in place now to discourage the behavior.
Having the babies in the house brings back memories of our last chick raising period three years ago. It seems crazy that these cute little fuzz balls quickly transform into full sized, cantankerous birds in the span of a few months. It will be quite interesting to see how the integration with the adult hens goes down the road. I am sure the pecking order is going to have some major shuffling around.
On Friday I talked about my problems with FedEx and how I laughed at their theory that the label fell off the box somehow. Well apparently that is what actually happened. In a call back to the trace department Friday morning they said they found the box based on my description. I had the option for them to relabel it and have it delivered Saturday or I could pick it up on Friday. Despite it being a roughly 60 mile round trip I chose the latter option. I used my lunch hour to drive to the FedEx distribution center and get my new wheel.
I was sort of surprised at the security at the facility. It was surround by a 10 foot fence with barbed wire lining the top. I wasn’t allowed to actually go into the building, instead you speak through an intercom and somebody brings the package out to you, outside the fence line, some 30 yards outside the building. This practice seems like it would have serious flaws considering the frequency of downpours in SW Florida as there was absolutely no protective canopy or cover of any kind.
I wasted no time and unboxed the wheel right there in the parking lot. I wanted to make sure all was well after it’s cross ocean and cross country journey. It powered up and I was able to ride a slow loop around the parking lot. I left it unboxed so I could take it into the office and let it charge up during the afternoon.
Friday night I did something odd around 8PM. I told Cindy I wanted to go and get my run out of the way. At first Cindy objected but when I told her how it would be nice to not have a 6AM alarm to deal with Saturday the idea sounded better to her. It was not ideal circumstances as we had already downed our Friday night pizza so I was worried that I could get side stitches but the idea was in my head and had to be executed.
So I quickly threw on my running clothes and headed over to the track. I also had my new 18L in the trunk to try out for some night riding after the run. So I have not run at night in a very long time. I have done a couple night time 5k’s but I don’t think I ever did a training run at that time of day. During the first half lap I felt pretty strong, I recall thinking “Maybe I will feel less miserable running at this time of day”. That thought was very fleeting. It did not take long until the heat and humidity felt oppressive, despite the sun being down. It was once again a run of survival, not speed. Lap 13 felt like it would never come.
I was a sweaty, panting mess afterward but I still wanted to try out the wheel some more. My legs were pretty spent so I felt a little unsure of myself as I got rolling. I made sure to do slow, big arcing turns, doing nothing that was tough on the legs. I was impressed by how good the headlight is on the wheel, making riding in the dark not a big deal at all. The King Song wheel felt smooth and powerful, as I expected.
It felt nice to not have to set the alarm as we laid down in bed that night. It was going to be a treat to have two days in a row where we can wake up whenever we want. Well that fantasy was shattered about 2AM in the morning. Cindy awoke first which woke me up. I was greeted by the overwhelming stench of dog fart. It was really bad. I tried my normal tactic of just covering my face with a pillow until it dissipated. When that didn’t work I told Alexa to turn on the ceiling fan. It was strange, nothing was making the smell lessen.
Cindy was almost retching from the stench. Elsa does fart sometimes but not often, it was odd that this was so bad and so persistent. Cindy got up to go into the bathroom, when she flipped the light on the true nature of the disaster was revealed. Cindy had a look on her face like she just witnessed a murder, Elsa had covered the bed in diarrhea, oh my…
So Cindy was freaking out and immediately launched herself into massive sterilization procedures, stripping the bed and anything related. I took Elsa outside immediately where she had more episodes of the shits. I felt bad for her. It took awhile until she was able to stop crouching in poop position. When we came in Cindy had stuff in the washing machine and bleach in hand where she was sanitizing left and right. The entire house stunk, we had fans on, windows open, candles burning, and the AC cranked down, all in an effort to remediate the stench. It took awhile but eventually it aired out. By the time we remade the bed and got back to sleep I bet a couple hours had transpired. It was so gross it was almost comical. Needless to say we did not awaken Saturday morning feeling rested.
Despite the rough night I once again had a sizeable plate of things I wanted to get done Saturday. Originally I hoped with the aid of Cindy I could get it all done in the morning. That got sidetracked because she needed to take Elsa to the vet to see what was up as she still had similar diarrhea once we woke up, thankfully outside this time. So I tackled coop duty, weeding, weed whacking, pool maintenance, tractor tie rod replacement and the mowing solo, consuming the day until close to 4PM.
Despite being wiped out I wanted to get a DD ride in on my new wheel. I had it on the charger overnight to give me a full charge, or so I thought. When I turned it on I noticed the app said I only had 76% charge which made little sense. I wrote it off as a glitch and headed out. The ride went well. The 18L feels fast and smooth, a very comfortable wheel to cover long distances on. The only negative was the battery level being lower than it should be, causing some unexpected and rather jarring tilt back on the way home.
Saturday night we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a movie by JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame. This movie is set in the same world and general timeframe of Harry Potter. I was a big fan of the HP movies and I read three of the books. I did not feel this new effort matched up although there were a lot of the same cool things going on. I guess I just did not like the main characters in the story line nearly as much. I’d only give it a B.
So Saturday night I once again put the wheel on the charger, expecting it to fully charge overnight. When I woke up Sunday I had a green light on the charger but once again when I checked the battery level it showed only 76% full. Great, I officially have a problem. Despite the issue I took the 18L, the One Wheel and Cindy’s skateboard out in the morning. We did a short ride near Dunkin Donuts were Cindy showed her returning board skills. It was fun but hot.
So I reported my battery issues to my reseller. He asked if I’d be willing to rip apart my wheel to do some further testing. Of course I wasn’t keen on the idea of opening up my brand new wheel but it was better than trying to ship the wheel out and wait for a repair/exchange. He wanted me to remove both sides of the wheel and disconnect one of the two batteries and try to charge. In my two prior charging sessions the batteries never showed voltage over 78 volts which was another symptom. The batteries should be reading 84V after a full charge.
So I did as instructed. I felt pain as I pulled apart my pristine wheel. Doing so at least gave me an appreciation of the build quality of the unit compared the Gotway wheels I have owned for a couple years. King Song is at another level in QC. After disconnecting one of the batteries I attached the charger to see what would happen.
When I checked on it a couple hours later the light was green I fired up the wheel and saw the battery was reading 100% and 84.2 volts, just like it should. Wow, ok so I guess the other battery pack was bad, pulling down the overall voltage. I reported the result to my dealer, thinking we definitively found the problem. However a little later I thought to myself, just to be sure I should do the same test with the other pack. Imagine my surprise when the other pack, when charged by itself was also fine, reaching full 84.2 volts. The behavior was baffling but my plan now is to put it back together, ride it, recharge it and see if the batteries recharge as they should. Of course it isn’t fun being a guinea pig but it’s better than being without the wheel for an extended period of time.
Sunday night we went out to dinner with Cindy’s family for her mom’s birthday. In total there were something like 15-16 people that congregated at Longhorn’s Steakhouse for the celebration. Of course I opted for one of the handful of non-steak dinner options. I took the edge off the social anxiety by downing almost three full 20 ounce Miller Lite drafts during the dinner. It worked like a charm.
I wrapped up my weekend with yet another EUC live streaming event. I was sort of tired as we started the show an hour later than normal but it worked out ok, I think.
So after Lucy’s miraculous recovery from being on her back with feet in the air Thursday and a night in our tub she seemed pretty alert on Friday morning. She seemed to actually be pretty normal. As a precaution we put her back in the chicken area but into the chicken tractor so she would be isolated from the other hens, just in case. We put a few big chunks of watermelon in there with her, she wasted no time going to town on it. It seemed amazing that this was the same chicken that was on her back the day before.
So when I got home from work Friday I looked out the window and was glad to see Lucy standing in the tractor and not on her back. I walked out there to let her out. Although she was standing she seemed off and her face looked very pale. She continued to stand there as I tended to the other chickens. As I was moving stuff out of the tractor I noticed a few drops of blood on the frame. I quickly looked at Lucy and did not see any blood on her feet so I wasn’t sure what was up.
When Cindy got home I told her how Lucy was acting odd. Cindy looked at her and noticed some blood on her beak. She looked at her bad wing and found something horrible. Evidently Lucy spent a good portion of the day pecking herself, right around the swollen area. There was an ugly bloody wound as a result. I could only imagine why she did this, perhaps the swollen area was hurting her and she was trying to do whatever she could to relieve the pain. Whatever the reason, we now had another problem to deal with. We had to try to bandage the area in a way that she would not be able to peck herself.
I held Lucy as Cindy did the best she could with the bandages we had. I felt terrible. After covering the area we again set her up in our bathroom where we could keep an eye on her. She was acting very lethargic and I thought we may lose her Friday night. Low and behold we woke up Saturday morning and she seemed alert, her resiliency was pretty amazing.
So I figured we will put her out in the open with the other chickens, perhaps being isolated and bored lead to her pecking herself. We immediately threw more melon in the yard which Lucy and the other chickens started working on immediately. Once again, besides a swollen, bandaged wing, she seemed pretty normal. I left the hens be as I worked on some other stuff in the yard. Later in the morning I glanced out there and saw a chicken on her back, feet in the air, by the melons, it was Lucy.
I ran out there and she was looking at me so I at least knew she was alive. She was flat one her back with her wing bandages laying on the ground next to her, wtf? I scooped her up and took her inside the coop to one of the nesting boxes. She sat there with her mouth open like she was hot but otherwise seemed pretty ok, this was almost a carbon copy of what happened on Thursday. So once Lucy calmed down we again wrapped her up using better bandage supplies we bought from CVS that morning. We put her back out in the yard and this time threw corn on the cob in there. Once again all of the birds, including Lucy, went nuts for it.
So late afternoon Cindy said she saw a chicken in an odd position in front of the run. I went out and once again Lucy was on her back, looking at me, with her bandages by her side. I then started to realize what was happening. She wanted the bandages off so badly that she dropped to her back and used her feet to grab them and pull them off. However she was physically not able to flip herself back upright after doing so. I felt terrible that the bandages were bothering her that much but I felt we had to prevent her from being able to peck the open wound.
So once again we wrapped her up. When I took her back out to the run I stood there to observe. She stumbled backwards as she tried to pull the same trick, making noise like she was in pain which broke my heart. As she fell to the sand, one of the other hens, Pumpkin made an aggressive move towards Lucy which I immediately shut down. I scooped Lucy up and took her back in the house, it was our third night of having an indoor chicken. Before bed you could see she was still trying to get the bandage off but too tired to do so. I totally expected to wake up Sunday morning to have her be alert and fine, again.
Well instead shortly before 4 AM Cindy awoke when she heard a noise in the bathroom. We got up and went inside just as Lucy moved her legs for the last time. We literally watched her stop breathing as her eyes were closed and her head was tucked down. It instantly brought tears to my eyes but in reality I was relieved she finally passed. She was suffering and was not going to recover. I was glad her suffering was at it’s end but sad and somewhat guilty that we were not able to save her. Later Sunday morning we buried Lucy in the back of the property, next to Peaches. It was a solemn and sad event. Lucy, despite being the most skittish and scared around us was amazingly tough and sweet in the end.
There were non-chicken related things during the weekend as well. I installed a new 12V battery into the Prius since the installed battery was starting to read low which can cause of myriad of issues with the car. The battery is located in the trunk and is not convenient to replace but not all that tough either as illustrated in the video.
On Sunday morning I was feeling very sad about Lucy’s passing. I tried to temper that sadness by taking the OneWheel down to the Greenway to ride. It was my best ride yet with the board. The varied terrain and twisting pathways made for a very enjoyable riding experience, more fun than any prior ride I had there on EUC’s. I took the board all the way to the gulf and back. You can get a good sense of how much fun it was from the video.
The hybrid battery installer was supposed to arrive early afternoon to replace the Prius pack for the third time. of course that ETA was missed. While I was waiting I decided to get out and mow despite very threatening skies. I mowed through several rain outbreaks, luckily none of them were deluge intensity. As always, it felt great to have the task completed.
The installer said he was delayed in Miami and showed up somewhere around 6PM. I asked him if normally they have to come back multiple times to replace packs. He said out of the 100 or so repairs he has done I am only the second customer that had two failures, lucky me. Once again Jonathan and his dad worked quickly, getting a new pack installed in roughly an hour. He said I should be good to go but once again, if I have any problems to let them know. I assured him I would do exactly that.
It was an emotional, rough weekend. I look forward to smoother waters ahead.
So late yesterday afternoon I got a message from Cindy to call her ASAP which is never a good thing. When I called her she was crying, she told me that Lucy was gone. She said she didn’t see her come out when treats were put down. She was looking on the cameras to see her but couldn’t see anything other than Lucy coming out for some food and water around 11. She got on her knees and finally saw Lucy laying under the coop by one side. She was laying in an awkward position, motionless and Cindy said she did not respond in any way. Hearing this news immediately sent a wave of emotion over me. I told her I would try to get out early to take care of it. Cindy had to go teach a spin class.
So the entire drive home I was alternating between sadness and dread of the task of extracting Lucy from under the coop. I knew it would be emotionally crushing for me. We had tried so hard to nurse her back to health. When I thought back to the way Lucy grabbed Cindy’s finger the night before it made me tear up to think that was maybe her way of saying goodbye.
After changing I headed outside with the pool brush in hand for the gruesome task. I figured the long extendable handle would allow me to reach Lucy regardless of how far under the deck she was. After laying down some plastic I layed on my side and saw Lucy’s body laying there. The visual burst open the emotional floodgates, I broke down crying for a minute or so.
I calmed down and focused on getting her body out. I fished the pole past Lucy and then started bringing it in. As it touched her body her one leg shot up in the air. I stopped in horror, I thought it was some sort of post death muscle reaction. When I tried to resume pulling her towards me, I heard it, she was making noise….. oh my God, she isn’t dead. I was horrified and hopeful at the same time.
So I ran to the outside of the coop to the side she was on. It seemed impossible that the bird was alive, her head and neck were twisted back in a very unnatural looking way but her eyes were half open. All of a sudden I was in emergency rescue mode. There was no way I was going to try to pull her out using the pool brush, I instead needed to get through the hardware cloth that the deck opening is covered with. I ran up to the garage and grabbed tools. I returned and feverishly started prying out staples and cutting the hardware cloth in two spots so I could fold it down like a flap. Once I got access I very carefully lifted Lucy out, her neck returned to normal position and she seemed to be very weak but holding on.
I carried her into the coop and set her into one of the nesting boxes. She was able to sit there while I went inside to get some water and yogurt, one of her favorite treats. It took some time and patience but I eventually got her to take some water and eat some of the yogurt. I stayed out there with her for over two hours until Cindy returned home. By that time she had definitely perked up as she ate quite a bit of yogurt off the spoon I was holding. She even stood up and walked unsteadily to another nesting box and plopped down there.
Cindy was amazed this is the same bird she had seen earlier laying motionless under the coop. We agreed that we should let Lucy stay in the house overnight to see how she is. There was no guarantee she would make it through the night so we would rather have her close to us. We set her up in the cat carrier with a bed of shavings, water and some scratch grains. Before bed I saw her eating some of the grains, another good sign.
So when trying to figure out what happened to put her in a near death state it was a crapshoot. She did lose a considerable amount of blood over the last couple of days before we could get it stopped. Maybe her blood pressure was really low as a result and she passed out. Maybe she had a stroke, maybe she had a mini-heart attack, we will never know. All I know is she is alive and kicking now.
This morning we took her back outside to the chicken area. We were cautious and separated her by setting her up in the portable chicken tractor. She appeared to be doing ok, hungrily chowing down on the piece of water melon we put in there. I will be closely monitoring her over the weekend of course. Who knows how much time she has left but I know I am thankful that she has more of it. Never in my lifetime did I have a pet that I thought was dead turn out not to be so. It was an emotional roller coaster that will not be soon forgotten.
So on Tuesday and once again yesterday the dreaded “red triangle of death” returned to the Prius. I am on my second replacement battery pack from battery4prius. This current pack has been absolutely fine since it was installed 2-3 weeks ago. I was getting great mileage and had more power. On Tuesday when the light came on I cleared it and the car was still running fine. Yesterday when the light came on I knew it was bad because the hybrid battery cooling fan was screaming at full blast.
My code reader not only gave the general bad hybrid battery code but also two additional codes that identify at least two battery banks that are bad in the pack. When the battery gets to this state the car is borderline undriveable. If the battery voltage drops below a certain point the Prius shuts it off and tries to run on it’s gas engine only. However it also affect the transmission, the car feels like it is constantly slipping. Despite high engine revs it’s tough to get the Prius to do over 45 mph in this state.
So I babied the car on the drive home, having to pull over a couple times to reset the battery system to get me out of turtle mode. I once again contacted the battery installers and told them my second replacement pack is bad as well. I knew getting a refurbished battery had the possibility of this scenario popping up although I certainly didn’t expect it to happen twice in the first two months.
On the way home I actually bought a replacement 12V battery for the car as well. The battery has never been replaced since we owned it and I was showing readings as low as 11.4 volts on the unit. A low 12V battery can cause all sorts of strange things to happen with a Prius so I figured I should replace it as well. Like most things on the Prius, the special trunk mounted battery needed is not cheap. I dropped over $250 for a replacement which I hope to install this evening.
The battery installers hopefully will be out this weekend to throw yet another hybrid pack into the car. I feel bad for them in a way but it’s not my fault that the packs they are installing just are not holding up. I am fortunate that we live in a three vehicle household where I can park the Prius and just use my Tacoma as my daily driver for now. I have to admit that I did submit a Costco pricing request on a Bolt yesterday, just for fun.
Tending to Lucy the chicken has been stressful. She has at times been uncooperative when we give her the meds by mouth. It takes a lot of patience. Last night we removed the bandages we put on Tuesday for her bleeding wound. Somehow during that removal process she started to bleed again. Cindy was able to get the bleeding stopped with a very generous application of the stypic powder. We have used so much of it at this point that I need to stop and grab some more today. We are trying to be optimistic and look at Lucy being more resistant to the meds as a sign that she is feeling better and more energetic. We still have over a week to go yet with the twice a day antibiotics.
There was a very cute and touching moment last night. After we got the bleeding stopped Cindy was cleaning off Lucy’s feet which had some dried blood on them. As she was doing so Lucy gently wrapped her toes around one of Cindy’s fingers. It was almost like she was doing a chicken equivalent of holding hands. In our minds it felt like she was maybe expressing thanks for our attempts to help her. Instead of placing her on the perch we let her stay in one of the nesting boxes overnight, figuring it would be a more comfortable spot for her to rest without putting pressure on the wing.
This morning, after giving her the morning dose of meds she immediately started on her chicken business, seeming normal outside of the drooping wing. Birds are very tough, usually they will do an amazing job of hiding ailments until the very end. Cindy and I are hoping for a miraculous recovery but even if it doesn’t happen we are both committed to doing whatever we can to help Lucy.