When I got home I found Cutie (middle in picture) motionless with her head hanging over the edge of the nesting box. Of course sorrow came rushing back in but there was also a sense of relief that her suffering had come to an end. As I mentioned previously her mobility has been limited for well over a year due to some sort of leg issue. Despite this she seemed happy enough. Hell just this past weekend, Cutie was still alert and as normal as normal got nowadays. She hungrily gobbled blueberries I got her as well as watermelon.
All of a sudden early in the week she started acting noticeable weaker. When I saw her starting to tuck her head under her wing a couple days ago I knew the end was coming as this was a scenario I had seen played out with multiple birds. Chickens and all birds in general will do their best to hide injury/illness as long as possible. When they pass it often happens quite suddenly.
Cutie got her name because she was a very cute baby chick and was also very inquisitive. She was a Jersey Giant with incredibly soft black feathers. Her and her sister Cupcake felt like pillows when you would pet them. She was always friendly and somewhere in the middle of the pecking order, even when her legs started failing her. As she relied on me more and more to move her around our bond become closer. I would say her name and she would respond with her cute noises. She knew when I was coming to give her a ride, she would stand up abruptly and take a few steps in my direction. She would normally eat seated in front of a dish, when she had cleaned out the area she could reach she would look at me, letting me know. I would spin the dish and she would resume chowing down. When I would put her on the perch at night I would make sure her feet were in the proper position and stand guard until she got herself seated as she would sometimes be shaky during the transition.
Most of the times when I bury hens I would wrap them up in the coop area first in plastic before carrying them to the back of the property. For whatever reason I didn’t want to do that with Cutie. I cradled her in one arm as I carried the shovel in the other. I always get emotional when burying one of the hens but this was a few clicks higher on the sadness scale for me. Cutie and Cupcake were two of my all time favorite birds. I don’t recall a time in chicken ownership where we lost birds so close together, in this case exactly one week apart. I am down to Kathy and Fiona. I am more attached to Kathy as she is the last OG hen. Fiona, who is about two years younger has never been anything resembling friendly her entire life.
The burial derailed any motivation I had to go out and road bike tonight. Perhaps I will find the time/motivation to put in the 10 miles over the weekend instead.
Today was not a good day. The vet went ahead with the X-rays that I authorized. The results seemed to rule out water belly as the issue although we already sort of knew that since neither of us were able to extract fluid. What the vet did see is what looked like possible egg fragments floating around which is a sign of egg peritonitis. Basically what can happen is an egg ruptures inside the bird and the contents floating around inside quickly cause infection which can cause among other things, swelling in the abdomen.
For Cupcakes swelling to be as big as it was this probably was going on for awhile. The vet said that a bird can still lay eggs with this condition, something that didn’t make sense to me at first, since Cupcake popped one out yesterday. So with this information in hand I asked for options, none of which were good.
She said she could try to operate on the bird and clean her out but she said the odds of success were not good. She then said we could try oral antibiotics for two weeks to see if it knocks back the infection which was already clearly well advanced. If we did that she said we should keep Cupcake isolated and under a heat lamp full time which sounded logistically impossible. We didn’t talk about option 3 yet, putting Cupcake down.
I thought out loud to the vet, saying that none of the treatment options she was providing me sounded like they had a probable outcome of success. Despite that I hung up the phone after telling her we would try the antibiotics. In the moment sentencing Cupcake to death, who still was alert, eating, and even gave us an egg the previous day, seemed like too harsh and too hasty of a decision. Of course dollars and cents were factored into this as well since just getting to this point cost a few hundred dollars in diagnostics.
So after hanging up I texted Cindy what was up. She was firmly in the camp that the humane thing to do was to put Cupcake down. Obviously the bird was suffering but still, it is/was very hard for me to be ok with putting a pet to sleep that seemed totally fine only a handful of days ago. However as I thought about it more and asking Cupcake to endure isolation and more misery for a treatment plan that had a very low probability of ultimate success just didn’t make a lot of sense if I stepped out of the circle of strong emotion I was feeling about the situation. I told Cindy I would make the call.
I called the vet back and told her after some more consideration we felt it was best to put Cupcake to sleep. I repeated back to her that it seemed like any option she had was not likely to succeed. Later when I looked up egg peritonitis I saw it is almost always fatal, unless caught very early. This obviously was not caught early. The vet said she would follow my directive. As I hung up the phone I again felt like an executioner, like I gave up on giving Cupcake a chance, no matter how small it was. I tried to keep my mind busy as possible to keep from thinking about what I just set in motion.
I left work early to pick up Cupcake’s body before the vet closed. I had a hard time thanking the staff for offering their condolences without my voice cracking. Part of me felt silly for getting so emotional about the loss of a chicken but it is a track record that has been well established. Once I got her still body out to the truck I lost it for a few minutes, crying in waves. I just felt terrible for my part in all of this. Now yes I do realize in the big picture that Cupcake enjoyed a pretty stellar existence by chicken standards her entire life. But even with all that I do/have done for the birds, I still felt responsible, like I failed her. That feeling of failure is something I just don’t deal with well.
When I got home Cindy did her best to console me which I appreciated. When I buried Cupcake in far rear reaches of the property the tears once again flowed freely. It’s such an act of finality. With as many birds as I have buried at this point you would think I would have built up more of an emotional callous but nope, every time, it just wrecks me.
I am going to miss seeing Cupcake running up to be first in line for any attention I was providing. She was a beautiful bird with a personality. She was always the most broody of our hens, sitting on eggs for hours because her instinct to want to have babies was so strong. She was still doing this, despite her age. We just had to separate her a few weeks ago during a broody episode.
I just have to do my best to focus on the good life she enjoyed, the good feelings and smiles she brought into our lives and the fact that her sudden but serious suffering is now at an end. As I tamped the soil with one final pat of the shovel I told Cupcake one last time that Daddy loved her…..
So the last thing I had on my to do list from my long weekend was get the Tacoma aligned. When I did my last front to back tire rotation I noticed the front tires had some wear that was indicative of bad alignment. My plan was to take it to the nearby Tuffy Service Center who I have had do several things on my vehicles over the years. I first called them on Friday. When I said I needed an alignment they told me their alignment machine was broken and needed a part which was supposed to arrive on Saturday. They advised me call back on Monday to verify it was working again, so I did.
When I called Monday the story was the same, the part did not arrive Saturday but should be there today, call tomorrow. So I did. For the third time in a row I got the same song and dance, part didn’t come, machine still broken, call tomorrow. Well since Tuesday was my last day off I really wanted to get the list item crossed off.
Cindy suggested taking the truck to Tire Choice near Sam’s. I had also taken vehicles there in the past and stopped going there after a bad experience. I have had a ton of bad experiences with auto mechanics since moving to Florida. Even after two decades of living here I can’t say I have found one that I actually trust to do quality work without ripping me off. So anyway, I decided to give Tire Choice another chance. I called and they said they had openings to do the work so Cindy followed me there so I could drop the truck off.
A few hours later I got another call saying the truck was all done. The $125 it cost was a little more than I was expecting but at least the job was complete. Since I will be daily driving the truck for a couple months it made sense to get the alignment correct. So I get back out on the road and notice a couple minutes into the drive that the steering wheel is not straight. It was about 10 degrees off center. I pulled off at a turn and called them, intending to take it right back. I tell them I just got the truck back from an alignment and the steering wheel is crooked, how can that be?
“Jeff” at least was immediately apologetic. He said this was the third call back they had gotten that day about crooked steering wheels after alignment. He said their machine must need a calibration of some sort. He told me to call back next Monday and they will get me back in to align it again. Ok great, that’s nice that they admit their screw up but it is ironic that after waiting all weekend for another place to get this done, the place I wind up going to screws it up anyway. After I hung up I kicked myself for not asking Jeff why their alignment procedure doesn’t include a brief road test afterward to make sure everything is good. I was frustrated as you can imagine.
So Cupcake was not improved yesterday, still carrying a large and uncomfortable sack between her legs. I was amazed that somehow she managed to get up into a nesting box yesterday AND laid an egg. She has really been the only chicken laying any eggs at all over the last several months. To have her lay one in her current condition was unbelievable.
So when I woke up this morning I made the decision I was going to call the vet to have Cupcake looked at. My hope was she would have success extracting the fluid where I failed, although this is only a temporary way to address the underlying issue which would likely kill her sooner or later. Of course vet visits are never cheap either but I would feel badly if I didn’t at least try to help Cupcake. She has been one of our most energetic, friendly and healthy chickens from day one. Whenever I walk outside Cupcake is almost always the first one waiting at the gate for me to come in.
So I called the vet after they opened. They said they were booked solid all day but asked what was up. When I explained the situation they were nice enough to try to squeeze Cupcake into the schedule. So once I got the green light to take her I had to quickly drive all the way home from work, corral Cupcake into the pet carrier and then drive her to the vet. When I got home I just tossed my work clothes on the counter, put on shorts, t-shirt, and boots to do the deed and then changed back into my work duds once I had the hen in the truck.
She looks healthy in the face although you can tell she is not nearly as talkative as she is when she is feeling ok. She just sat quietly during the truck ride. It was the first time she had been in the truck since we picked her up as one week old chick from Rural King. The front desk staff at the vet was very sweet when I dropped her off. They said they actually had a rooster in the back to be looked at as well. Not many would care enough about a farm animal to take them to the vet and not many vets even will look at farm animals. I am glad this one does. We took Lola and Lucy both to her years ago.
So I got a call from the vet a couple hours later. She was also unsuccessful in getting any appreciable amount of fluid out of Cupcake which was not the news I wanted to hear. She had suspicions that she could be egg bound but I told her Cupcake just laid yesterday so that was unlikely. They gave me two options, they could do X-rays which are expensive but will give them a better idea of what exactly is going on in there. The second option was to just give her antibiotics as a hail mary that it will address whatever is going on in there. A third option which I didn’t talk about yet was to just have her put down so she doesn’t suffer. After some pause with spending a decent chunk of change for x-rays, I still opted to go that route in the hope that we can at least get an answer. The way this came on seemingly out of nowhere is really, really strange. She seemed absolutely fine Sunday and was sitting like a duck on Monday although it is possible it had been slowly growing and she had been able to function.
I am hoping for a resolution to Cupcake’s ailment but I certainly am not optimistic about it happening. Regardless, to me she at least deserves the effort after being such a long standing and bright spot in the flock for so many years. If you don’t understand why I feel attachment, affection and responsibility for my chickens, you are not alone.
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.