The drive home from work Friday revealed that full blown panic had ensued, spurred on by a NOAA potential storm path graphic that showed what was tropical depression 9, slicing across Florida in our vicinity on Wednesday. All it takes is one of these predictions, regardless of how unreliable they are this far in advance to start lemming madness. Every single gas station I passed had long lines of vehicles, desperate to fill up, 6 days early. Think about it, more than likely many would need to get gas again during that time period but seeing cars in line spurs something primal in human beings, also known as FOMO. (fear of missing out) I heard reports of people raiding stores, desperate to hoard as much bottled water, toilet paper, and other food items as they can. It’s the same thing that happens up north as soon as a substantial snowfall is predicted. Panic mentality has always bothered me.
My Friday evening was busy again. Despite playing pickleball at lunch on Friday, my third time in two days, I decided to jam my evening with more action. I got on the road bike and put in my 10 mile course. My time and overall average pace was better than I have logged in a long time, for some reason. When I got home I immediately slapped cargo shorts over my biking pants and weeded the property. With less and less daylight, doing this one-two combo on a Friday is getting more challenging. Pizza prep only begun once I returned inside, sometime after 7:30. I slept very soundly Friday night.
Thankfully on Saturday morning the revised storm path had shifted considerably west, making it pretty unlikely that we would receive a direct slap from Ian, although we will likely get some effects from the storm. The revised path showed immediate results at the gas stations and stores. I did my grocery shopping at Walmart without major hassle.
Saturday morning when I went out to the coop Kathy’s energy and alertness had taken another turn for the worse. The best I could do was get her to poke at some tomato I cut up for her but she had next to nothing left. I moved the chicken tractor to the front of the chicken yard and put Kathy in a nesting box inside of it. She basically did not move at all once I placed her there. I knew the end was coming.
I kept busy throughout the day, weed whacking the yard wearing my boots to combat the mucky sections of the property. It again was brutally warm and humid. I was dying. When I finished I jumped in the pool, fully clothed, turning it into a YouTube Short. The short generated the most views of any so far, amassing, almost 30k views in a short time period. Having an interesting title is crucial in Shorts performance.
I decided late in the day to do a live stream. I had been texting Gladys’s sister Monique about Kathy’s decline, saying I would not be surprised if she passed during the night. Monique suggested I bring her inside with me, an idea I rejected at first but then reconsidered. Years ago we brought Lucy inside as she was dying but I have never done it since. Every chicken that died did so out in the coop. Well the more I thought about it the more I softened. I had some concerns about Elsa being weird with Kathy inside but decided I would take the chance. I laid down a big cover and brought Kathy in, still sitting in her nesting box. She was very out of it, I’m not even sure she knew she was on the inside of the house she only knew exclusively from the outside her entire life.
I showed Kathy a couple times during the stream but did not want to talk about the situation much because I knew it would make me emotional. Elsa was an angel, seemingly sensing Kathy’s illness, she never did anything threatening. When I was done I brought Kathy into the bedroom with me. Before I went to sleep I told her once again how I loved her and how it was ok to go. I was almost positive that when I woke up Sunday morning she would be gone, she wasn’t.
I could hardly believe it when my groggy eyes focused and saw Kathy was still with us, barely. At this point her head was hanging over the edge of the nesting box and she was breathing deep and slow. When I got out of bed I laid down on the floor by her for quite awhile, petting and talking to her. I really thought she could pass at any moment, but she was still hanging on. I started doing some of my Sunday morning things. I was sitting on the computer paying bills when I heard a noise from the bedroom. When I rushed in there I witnessed what is described as death throes, something I never had seen a chicken do and hope to never see again. She was making these noises and at the same time her body was spasming. I quickly reached down and tried to hold her still until they subsided, which they did. I watched her take her last breath, with tears streaming down my face. Elsa was right there behind me sensing something was going on that made me very sad. It was a rough few moments.
I let Kathy be for a couple hours until I went about the task of deciding where I was going to bury her. For years I have been burying the birds towards the back of the property to not attract predators that could try to dig up the remains into the chicken yard. Well since there are no more chickens to threaten, I decided to bury Kathy in the chicken yard, right in front of the Kathy Mae plaque Cindy made for my mom years ago. The plaque now has dual meaning. Burying a hen has always been a gut wrenching thing for me but Kathy was especially tough because she was the last, it signified so many things to me. It was an end of an era that stretched damn close to a decade.
If I think about all of the time, effort, energy, emotion, and money that I have invested into the hens over the years it is staggering. I couldn’t even begin to list how many things I did on their behalf, just because I felt responsible for making sure they had a good existence. Every direction I turn in the chicken yard there is a different story about this thing or that thing, it has been a very, very long saga. Initially this was seen as primarily as a cool way to get fresh eggs and little more. It morphed into something much more consuming.
Kathy’s death is bittersweet. As horrible as it was to watch her finally succumb, it also signifies the end to a responsibility that quite honestly has had considerable negative impact on my life. Ever since becoming a chicken owner I have felt extremely hesitant to do anything that would take me away from their care because of some hard to explain sense of responsibility for them and a hesitancy to saddle somebody else with their well being, as it could be not fun. When Cindy moved out I had to swing my schedule even earlier to take care of the birds before leaving work which was difficult. All of that has now come to an end.
I have a bunch of things to undo in the chicken yard. I’m going to be selling or giving away pretty much anything that was hen related. I have a bunch of things I did exclusively for their protection from rain/sun/predators which will be taken down. I have a half a dozen Ring cameras out there for surveillance which aren’t needed. I will repurpose as many as I can. Of course the solar system and some other tech will remain in place out there but the vast majority is no longer needed. I fully expect this process to be filled with sad thoughts as well, as removal of something makes you think of the memories of when you installed it in the first place. I don’t have any immediate plans to repurpose the chicken yard/run/coop. Having an area like that ready to go might be attractive to a potential buyer down the road, maybe.
Sunday afternoon I listened to the Eagles/Washington game while mowing. Carson Wentz had a dreadful first half, taking a ton of sacks, fumbling and basically being inept. It made me remember why he frustrated me so much when he was our QB. The Eagles did all of their scoring in the second quarter and won 24-8 but the game wasn’t really that close. Jalen Hurts had another big day. It’s been a pretty perfect 3-0 start to the season so far. I had some ideas about doing a tire change on one of my EUCs but decided later Sunday afternoon was not the time to do it. Instead I took Elsa with me to grab some coffee and then do the mile loop around the park. Both her and I were quite bothered by the heat and humidity which was oppressive, again.
This week we will have to see what sort of collateral damage we get from Ian. Otherwise I am going to be slowly working on getting a number of things out in the chicken area as they will be going forward. I have my CT scan this week so I am hoping to get the final answers I am looking for in that area of concern.