Here is May 14, with a few peeks at an American Mandrake, or May Apple, and a quasi-Death Ray cat.  Don’t cross the Klingon Princess kitty Indy!

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May 15, with  few other critters hanging around.  I was in a bit of a hurry, and I can’t remember what I had in my right hand that I didn’t want to put down but… for whatever reason it was, I ended up writing the day’s info with my left hand.

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And here is the  16th… today I was working on getting wood into the yard, and packing for the road trip to visit Ryan on the AT… and of course since I have a lot I’m working on… something else crops up that NEEDS dealing with first.  Today, it was Nutters, darling Nuters.  In the morning, I noticed she was a bit uncomfortable looking.  As the day progressed, she got worse… I spent a lot of time checking the internet to see if she was egg bound (not, I checked using a glove and petroleum jelly… no egg).  To make a long emotional, stressful experience into a smaller Nuttershell story, she was getting worse all day, and through the afternoon she seemed to accelerate, where as she was sort stabilized for a bit earlier in the day.  Her rear end/abdomen got REALLY swollen and red, and soft.  For a while, I was worried she was laying internally (basically, the system in her body which makes releases the egg from the initial spot and floats it off to the rest of the system that catches it goes a bit haywire, and the egg just floats off into the body cavity… and sorta develops there-which is a problem.  I was also worried about a condition basically of fluid building up in the abdomen (another name for this symptom is ascites), for whatever reason.  In chickens, many things can cause it, but for the most part, they’re not treatable with great success, especially when the chicken is showing really noticeable signs.  Which means…she’s probably not going to get better.  Some people on the web described a somewhat straightforward and simple way to relieve the issue temporarily… poke a hypodermic needle carefully into the abdomen to drain the fluid… but this doesn’t cure the issue… just makes the chicken more comfortable until it builds back up, as you haven’t solved the initial problem.  Also mentioned was the issue of a chicken’s natural life span… depending on where you look it’s usually said to be “8-12” years… but the people were pointing out alongside some of the medical conditions I was checking that that’s for well bred chicken…as in birds coming from breeders breeding for health, longevity, etc. not for massive amounts of heavy laying for the first 1-2 years with the assumption that the hen will probably get eaten anyway when it slows down laying, so what’s the point worrying about long term health and longevity, we just wanna make money-money-money, and sell-sell-sell those chicks to people who want birds who lay eggs.  So… mass production, like in most breeding programs often leads to …broken products.  And Nutters, along with Oregano (who arrived with the leg deformity), Rosemary, Basil, Parsley, and Paprika all came in a group from a friend of a neighbor who had bought something like 100+ young birds and was finding them to be too much to deal with as the started laying and he was getting like dozens and dozens of eggs every day. They showed up with a lot of lice which I got rid of for the most part (but they keep picking up from the woods I think), and leg mites (which I’m still fighting). Rosie, Nutters, Basil, and Parsley all looked very similar, and I think were some sort of Gold Star hybrid (or similar high production cross).  A couple of them had clipped bills (which seemed to grow back slowly) to prevent them from pecking other birds (not an issue when you give them enough room instead of putting them in industrial settings) or themselves.  They have seemed to be the least capable of taking care of themselves in the free range setting, and also seemed more prone to parasites than the other Easter Egger mutts etc. in the flock.  And I’m pretty darn sure they were not bred for longevity… they laid through the winter their first winter like little machines… which was nice in a way, but I think they genetically were paying the price…

I spent a lot of time agonizing about THE decision while checked on her, checked the internet for more info, checked on her, tried to do some chores and move some wood, checked on her … maybe maybe she will get better? or she won’t and I let her die slowly because I’m to …emotionally attached to her to do what is right… or what if she will get better… how do I tell her I’m sorry you’re sick so I’m going to kill you? But in the evening she was obviously going down hill, and in distress, so I did.  Of all the chickens I have killed, she was the easiest on several levels.  It was a mercy to her, she was obviously distressed and stressed and uncomfortable, to in pain.  Chickens hide pain well, but respiration and body posture were pointing to not good, and when I carried her to, and put her in the killing cone/log with the wire for her head, she barely resisted and showed further signs of discomfort of being upright.  She didn’t even fight when I used the wire to hold her neck out… so it sucked but I feel I made the right decision, and whether or not she understood it, I hope if I was in this situation, I’d rather go quick than slow.  Anyway, I miss her a lot, and I worry that her “hiding from the roosters” was also in the end, hiding from the flock because she was slowly feeling worse before she was showing signs of not feeling well that I noticed.  Chickens are programmed to hide illness and injury so the flock doesn’t turn on them, which makes it really hard to catch things until it’s too late.  The only upside about this loss in the flock is that nobody else seemed to be in distress or discomfort, and I’m pretty sure whatever went wrong with poor Nutters system was genetic and not contagious.  I did do a quick necropsy after she died, and there probably was at least a quart of fluid built up in her body cavity, I didn’t see any eggs building up in her abdomen, or any other obvious deformity.  I then cremated her body… and wished her well in whatever chickens have after death.  I’m gonna miss her!

Anyway, I’ve only included one picture of the many pictures and video I took (because I wanted a record for the future of her symptoms and behavior, and what seemed to be wrong…).  It’s one of the first ones, of her looking hunched, because folks, if you have  bird doing this, CHECK THEM OUT it’s not a good posture, there could be one of many things wrong and some of them, if you HELP the bird, they might get through it… and some of them may need you to consider their quality of life.  I also included a picture of one of the ladies sunbathing, Lacey.  The weather was nice, and a lot of them were doing that. A lot of them were dust bathing in the wood ash in the dog house, which I put there for that purpose, but they seem to have camera radar, and as soon as I aimed in their way, they bailed on the coop, so no pictures of them.

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May 17. I was doing a lot of packing and planning and other chores, and so I did a rush job of the Egg-A-Day, but hey, here are the pictures.

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Here is what I had for May 18, a quick grab of the eggs before I hit the road…

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And then when I got back, here is Egg-A-Day for the 21st.  I have had suspicions that something has been sneaking around the yard and coop at night, and maybe even during some days.  And I’m pretty sure I should have had more eggs…. I also wasn’t sure I saw Noodles at ‘toes on coop perch’ when I closed up that night.  Then again, someone was LITERALLY up in the space between the ‘drop ceiling’ of reflectex and the actual coop roof.  And they wouldn’t come down, and I had had a LONG day, so I didn’t have the time to really futz around trying to get them down.

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May 22 comes around, and when I went to let the chickens out in the early morning (as in clocked in at 5 a.m. at work early) there were MORE chickens in the upper roof space, and I can’t even see how they were getting up there from in the coop… I’m pretty sure Gizmo (the outcast rooster) is up there, and maybe a few others.  So I folded back a corner of refectex to make sure they could get down, and opened the doors etc., and headed to work. I figured if I scare the beejeebers out of the birds trying to get them down, they might not even come down, they might get tangled and injured,, and I might be late for work if I spent too long doing it…. or late for work with a bird with a leg stuck to something hanging upside down where I couldn’t get to them and they can’t get down, and I have to leave them anyway to go to work… so I just let them figure it out in their own time.

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Unfortunately, although it seemed like the flock was out and about when I got home, I didn’t see Noodles at Toes on Perch for close up… I have a bad feeling about this.  Remember, Noodles hatched with curled toes, which never completely straightened out.  She has been doing all right in the flock, although she is on the lower end of the pecking order. For the 23nd, I get home after dark, and do the whole Egg-A-Day after dark.  Again, there is no Noodles, and I start the whole thing out by finding out, hey lookit that, either the chickens (who will stand on the top of the feeder or even hop in it and eat from the inside) or some wandering forest creature totally knocked it over and spilled the food.  At least I was able to scoop most of the mound back in…

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And here is the 24th… spoiler alert: No Noodles… I’m pretty sure I won’t be seeing her at all (serious sad face, I was fond of her!).  Here are a few peeks of pants in the yard as well, including a Hickory Ryan is fond of (and me too), the onions and garlic plants I released into the planter tub when they requested instead of being eaten (a.k.a. they sprouted), and an ash tree trying to recover/resurrect after the emerald ash borer killed the existing adult tree.

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Here comes May 25, with a look at the Jewel Weed behind the fence, and the eggs too.

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Home stretch now, it’s yesterday’s Egg-A-Day, the 26th.

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And today, the 27th’s Egg-A-Day.  Haven’t seen Noodles, and that settles one debate I’ve been having.  I enjoy the suspense and the fun newness and the cute fuzzyness and all that jazz of having chicks in the spring, but I hate knowing about half of them will be killed in the next year or so, simply because they were unlucky enough to be male, because the flock can’t support more roosters.  I also don’t really think we need a larger flock, we don’t eat all those eggs!  And Ryan’s not home this summer while I’m gone at work or doing errands, that means the yard is more deserted and less dog patrolled, so I’m worried about the predators feeling more at home in the yard.  Having Pixie (or Lacey, if she went broody again), sitting on eggs in the little coop for 21 days means she’d be either locked in there all days by herself to keep the other chickens from harassing her, or just locked alone at night, with me being the only human to keep an eye on her.  It also means that after that, for several weeks, she and her kiddos would be locked in there 24/7, with me the only person to check their food and water, which they tend to knock over, poo in, or fill with dirt by scratching the ground at least a few times a day.  And they also cheep… cheep cheep is cute… and sounds oh so small and yummy and vulnerable… and like a HEY COME AND EAT ME to any passing predator…so I’m not going to let the chickens have chicks this year.  We’re not starving for eggs, and I hate killing chickens, especially just because we have too many, so hey, I can watch cute videos of cute critters on the internet, or hug one of my cats or dogs to get my cute and fluffy fix.

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So yah, while those pictures were loading, I went to do Toes on Perch and Close Up the coop.  Guess what… the feeder was tipped over again!  Grr.  So, I scooped what I could back in, and put it away.  But hey, there were all 15 chickens in the coop, I like that!  I’m a bit worried about Oregano, because I caught her up along the road side away from the flock today, and she occasionally hides out in the little coop, but I haven’t seen any abdominal issues yet… And as you can see, the chickens still enjoy using the dog coop with ash in it. Kyle is keeping an eye on me, which is ok, ’cause I can keep an eye on him too, that way.

Thanks for sticking with this longer post.  Hope you enjoyed seeing some of the chickens! Have a great one (or two, or whatever!).  Stay tuned for eventual pictures of my sun burn over on the regular Addie Vision and maybe some other pictures!

 

 

 

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