Wednesday, June 18, 2008

And back to regular programming ...

Here it is, we have come back. I no longer have my babies, but that doesn't mean I won't plan on either getting more chickababes ;) Or, chickens.

BUT ...

Now we get back to discussing raising the chickens overall. I rechecked the last blog that I wrote about the chickens before the chicks and I was going to discuss weather changes.

That was until today.

I allowed the dogs outside to go potty at 3 pm - their usual time. I kept watching the chicken coop as I was enjoying one of my oatmeal cookies that I made with chocolate covered raisins, when I noticed that I didn't see Lily in her pen.



Oh look, there happens to be a chicken NOT in her pen. And there are three dogs running around the backyard.

Now, if it happened to be just Amber and Chewbacca outside going to the bathroom, not a big deal. Since they are the smaller ones. However, this is a big deal since Sabrina is also outside. Sabrina is my Australian Shepherd. Sabrina happens to be 60 lbs of killing when she wants to be. I have taught her to kill on command so I do not try to hinder that instinct in her.

But, this is my pet chicken we are talking about. The chicken is her sister. Not. Food.

Sabrina has, since day one, wanted to kill the chickens. It's been what ... over a year now since getting them? I've never allowed her to be near the chickens alone. I never allow her to get too close. She has ALWAYS took it upon herself to grab at them as they run past.

Well, that was also when Lily would run. Lily no longer runs. Lily takes on a group of crows - for your info a group of crows is called a Murder and that concludes school for today. Lily takes on squirrels that dare getting too close to the cage. She frequently enjoys even picking at my legs when I don't give her enough attention during the day.

Yes, she is a stinker - as my dad used to call me : )

As I was saying, Lily no longer runs from the dogs.

So, I look out to the corner, that is by her pen and oh look! a chicken! I promptly yell, "Stubborn Chicken!" Throw my cookie down, run out the back door and run to get her back in her pen before my little killer, Sabrina, notices she's with Amber by the pen.

Which promptly makes my mom run outside thinking something happened.

I go back inside, (so did my mom) finish off the cookie - which is of utmost importance to finish mind you - then realize that Sabrina had come over to her and didn't really pay her no mind. She was paying attention to the chicken, but was no longer with the PREY instinct in her and the KILL thoughts. She was paying attention to me when I told her to stay away from Lily and overall was fine. When normally, once that KILL hits her, good luck getting her attention. She is a one-track killing machine.

I thought I'd go ahead and let Lily back outside the pen and realized that we have now reached a new level of respect within Sabrina and Lily. Granted, little Miss Attitude Lily just prefers beating up the dogs when they harass her too much. Which makes me laugh because here are three dogs that are more than outweighing her, but yet ... they leave her alone. Reminds me of my mom's dog, Katie, that passed away near the beginning of last year. Her rememberance video if you'd like to see it is here - - it's a 15 min video, so I'd only watch if you have the time. I worked on it myself, same with the website it's attached to, for my mom.

Anyhoo, here is the video of Lily with the dogs out in the backyard. You'll see crap from us building a new staircase on the side of the yard, and get to hear me whisper yell, "Quit!" as Lily decides to poke at my leg. I have to wonder if Sabrina's new acceptance of the chicken is also something to do with being around the baby chicks.

It was tough to get the video, since, as you see, Lily insists on coming over to me, she wanted follow me around, and the dogs didn't care about being near her! Aggravating :p

And yes, her booty is dirty. Chickens that roost don't have that problem, but I don't care. It's not like I'm trying to win an award for her beauty. So she has poopies on her booties. Whatever.

And ...


Friday, June 13, 2008

Now sadness turns to anger as Chase passes away.

Not one day after I wake up to find Amara passed away do I lose Chase. Same thing as everyone else. I thought, as you can read in the other post, that she might make it, but I truly wasn't sure. I thought she was getting her strength back. But truthfully, I think that half her problem was pure heartbreak. She was constantly coming to the edge of her home and screaming so I would go over and take her out to hold her. I think she did die more of a broken heart.

I would place a shirt on the bed, lay down, then place her on the shirt. She would stumble around and come to lay by my face, cuddling in and going to sleep. I told my mom when I had her hold her sometimes was that I was trying to keep her awake. Same with Haley if you remember. I was trying to keep her awake so she'd eat more, bit she just didn't have the strength for it. I'm not going into the story. You can read the other's stories here->

They followed the same path as their sisters. As I pointed out to my mom when she thought she was doing well, her body wasn't as big as it should've been.

She suffered a heart attack at 5 pm - shortly after this video was taken. As you can see, her wings are larger than her body, which should be the other way around. I was feedng her some ground food, as well as some cat food to give her some extra - much needed, protein.

So yes, I'm sad, but more so ... angry. I'm angry that this had to happen so maybe others will learn. I'm angry that they didn't get to be spoiled like my other chickens were. It just plain old pisses me off. I want to hit things right now. I want to yell. I want to scream. But instead I will write because I'm in a very aggressive mood right now.

I am hoping that through my pain - at the very least - people will learn. As once someone told me, "The people that can handle the pain are the ones that are put through it. They are the ones strong enough to deal with it. They are put through the pain because through their pain is how others learn. That is why you had to go through pain like this, because you are strong enough to handle it, and in turn, you will help others learn." I agree.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Amara is gone :'(

So this morning it happened. I woke up and Chase was screaming for me. I went in and checked on them and saw Amara lying on the bed area, dead. She'd died in the middle of the night obviously. I'm tired right now and very sad. She fought so long and hard, but had all the same problems as Haley did. What I'm most sad about is the fact that I wasn't with her when she died. I was with the other two and was holding them when they passed. With Amara? I wasn't there. [tearing up] That is what is hardest.

[deep breath] Amara had the same problems that Haley did. It simply took longer to affect her since she was a lot stronger. I wish that something could've been done. I tried the vitamins, tried everything I could. Nothing worked with her, same as the other two. She had all the same problems. Minus the sneezing. She had more of the sound in her nose/mouth area when she breathed ...

Chase is sad too. She calls for me when I'm not in the room. I took her out earlier and put her on a shirt on my bed. She walked over to me and nuzzled my face, then got as close to my nose as possible, and went to sleep. She's also been having the sounds when she breathes, like the other three. Let's just hope this one survives. She's always been the one that wanted me in the beginning, like Amara, so I'll be reallly sad if she dies as well.

These two that remained have always had simliar symptoms to the ones that didn't make it as well, but I was always hoping they wouldn't progress further. Guess I was not correct in that assumption.

[rubs face in hands] As you can tell, I'm not quite there right now. Everytime I lose one of my pets, no matter how many I lose, it's like the first time. I lose a part of myself and I become very emotionally drained for the next couple days afterwards - whether or not I've cried a lot, they are just a part of me. So I am sitting in my room with Chase in her spot, she's been quiet, but at least eating and surviving. I really hope she keeps going. It hurts too much to lose them. My littlest dog, Amber, is lying next to me on the bed and my other dog, Sabrina, and her keep checking on the baby chick that survives.

And, as with the other two. I buried Amara outside in the chicken coop in a small box with a purple washcloth. Lily helped. Aggravatingly though. But, she did her part.

Once again ... - the dangers of cedar chips people ... :'(

That's all before I start crying again...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Two of my babies have passed away :(

The two babies that were sick have now passed on. And if I think about it too much then I am going to start tearing up, so hopefully I can get through this without doing so! I think I've cried enough while holding onto them as they passed on. I've been having to repeat this over and over to people so how about I simply write this out, then link everyone to this post :p It'll work so much better for me.

(Temporary pause in my story so I can go make some dinner for the fam and I though. Cornbread and what else? And if a 'certain' person - oh you know who you are big boy - suggests chicken I'm gonna hunt you down and ...)

So... You've read that two of the babies were sick. Well, since that post, Ruby (one of the Bantams) and Haley (one of the New Hampshire Red's) have since passed away.

Ruby. Ruby had a problem - as you can read from before - with her head. She acted like she had seizures a lot of the time. But, then they stopped. She seemed like she was doing better. She was healthy, running around, and everything else. But then, she had a funky way of walking. Like her legs were bothering her. I didn't think much of it since she was still eating and drinking just fine.

Then it went downhill. She stopped eating and drinking unless I tried getting her to drink through a syringe (without needle of course). All she wanted to do was to sleep. It broke my heart to see her not really having the strength to do anything but there wasn't too much that I could do for her. Two days. That's how long she, and it, lasted. Two days. One day she was fine, two days later, she died.

She started gasping at the same time that she stopped eating and drinking. There were so many things that it could've been that was causing it. I started administering Poly-vi-sol baby vitamins 3x a day for her. She could barely muster the energy to take the vitamins though.

Two days later from the day that she quit moving, eating, drinking - I woke up and looked at her. She wouldn't make it. I knew it as well as I knew that I was awake. Don't ask me how. It's just something I do. I started crying, but there wasn't much I could do. Again, I tried to get her to drink some water, but she was by this time, barely gasping. I thought it because she finally stopped, but I realized it was only because she no longer had the strength to do anything.

I picked her up and held her in my hand. I didn't want to put her down whatsoever. I was afraid to leave her alone and have her die without me. I wrapped one of my small tank tops around her as I held in my hand. I kept kissing her and she'd look at me, but then go right back to sleep. I think it took all her energy to even open her eyes. I couldn't stop myself from crying even then.

I finally had to leave her because I had other things to take care of - other pets that did still need me. Even though I didn't want leave her. So I placed her in a small basket in the tank because I didn't want Haley knock into her.

Back and forth I went. All day long. Every moment I could. I'd hold her for a bit, kiss her head and try to be there for her.

Finally, I went in there at 5 pm and I saw her taking really big intakes of breath. I couldn't stand seeing it though :( I picked her up - she was already pretty cold all day, and held her. I stroked her, kissed the top of her head and told her it was okay to let go. Okay, I more mumbled it out since I couldn't stop crying, but I told her it was okay to let go. She took two final breaths, then nothing. She died at 5:30 pm on Thursday, May 29, 2008. [Waves hands at eyes] Okay, so not crying anymore ... Anyway, I placed her in a small box with a purple washcloth, then taped up the box, placed a small pink flower on top of it, and buried her the next morning with Lily's help, in the garden where Lily is. That's the place I've buried Elysia and Circe before her...

Haley. Haley was special. Don't get me wrong. I adored Ruby as much. It was just ... there was something about Haley. She was sweet. She was adoring. She would've been the chicken that wanted to snuggle on your lap all the time. She was just special. She hurt the worse to lose. And it wasn't just me. Her sister and the remaining Bantam, Chase, also felt it. They were, and still are, pretty quiet now that Haley passed.

[Takes a deep breath] Okay. I'm doing this. Haley started out as me noticing that she wasn't as big as her sister. She was half the size of her sister. I feel pretty stupid, even now, that I didn't noticed it until two weeks ago. But, to be honest with myself, even if I didn't notice that her body was absorbing the nutrients the same way that the other chicks were, I don't think I could've done any different, or made any difference. She might have lived an extra week? But still, she wouldn't have made it. I realize that only because it took me until her death to realize that no matter what she was eating, her body just wasn't absorbing the nutrients.

You know what's funny? That one tiny little chick. An animal that can fit into the palm of your hand, can bring a strong woman down. Just this little being that can make you hurt so much. Oh, here I go again. [blinking tears back] Trying to get through this here ...

Okay. So... I noticed Haley just wasn't very thick. She was emaciated. Her body wasn't absorbing the nutrients from the food. I was told to get her on the baby vitamins (Poly-vi-sol Enfamil 3x a day) which is how I ended up getting them in the first place. You can buy them at Walgreens for about $10. Also, it was suggested to get Avia Charge 2000 to place in her water (McMurray Hatchery for around $40 for a 1b tub) for vitamins - also for the healthy babies I can use it. Also, some plain organic yogurt for digestion.

Then, when I asked for advice on the backyardchickens forum, about the watery poop, they suggested that I put electrolytes in her water. Purchased from local feed store for $4.99 for 8 oz, or a quick emergency one would be gatorade, or pedialyte. Better to use the one for chickens though.

I was so excited last week because she had a solid dropping. I was so ecstatic. I was so sure that it meant that she was getting better. And that her body was finally absorbing nutrients. I had so many of those times. I would get happy since she showed progress, then it bummed me out because she got worse. It was up and down, up and down, for those two weeks.

But she wasn't going up in progress. She was going down in progress.

The last two days, I ended up having to grind up her food and make it into water because she wasn't getting up to eat anymore. Her legs were failing her in strength and she had to hobble around. At first it was just one leg, but then both became too weak for her. She couldn't move herself around very well.

By that time, I'd placed her and Ruby in a separate aquarium because I didn't want the two stronger ones to knock them around. So Chase and Amara were in one tank, while Ruby and Haley were in another.

The last two days were basically the same as Ruby. I went in there a lot to feed her and continue the vitamins. The vitamins were supposed to make her start showing progress, but never did that happen.

The last day, it was the same. She continued to try to eat everytime that I gave her food. Everytime I gave her vitamins. Whenever I had to clean the icky off her bottom. She always kept fighting. Even until that last day, she would hobble around, then fall, but she fought with everything she had.

On that last day I saw it with her too. I knew that she wouldn't make it to nightfall. She was sleeping more and no matter what I tried, she couldn't stay awake long enough to even keep her eyes open. I did the same with her that I did with Ruby. I didn't want her be alone when she passed. I kept her in a small basket with a tank top wrapped around her and took her with me everywhere. It was warm for her, but just like with Ruby, I felt her body was pretty cold already, all day long.

I was crazily looking up info on both of them for two weeks, trying to figure out what was going on and what I could do. I couldn't figure it out. The tank was clean. Their bedding was cleaned constantly. They were on towels topped with pillowcases. I'd stopped using the shavings when I saw them trying to eat them. There weren't any matching diseases with their symptoms!

At 5:30 pm I went in my room to give Haley some food - through the syringe thing - and when I held her, she couldn't really wake up. I held onto her and kissed her, knowing that she was done. Then, as with Ruby, it started. She took a deep breath, only this time she jerked and slightly squeaked. I knew it was her heart giving out. I'd watched Ruby do the same, and I've seen my hamster and many other animals, suffering from heart attacks over the years so I knew her heart was giving up.

It hurt me so bad to hear her scream. She'd been opening her eyes to look at me the entire time, off and on and everytime I started crying. I couldn't stop it. It hurt me so bad. I knew I could 'cull' her as people on backyardchickens would, but it's not in my nature. I cannot kill an innocent animal. As much as it hurt me to see her in pain, as much as it hurt her to be dying. I just couldn't bring myself to do it, which is also what was causing me to cry. I just couldn't do it and it hurt so bad to watch her.

I held her and kissed her, crying the entire time telling her I was sorry and telling her she could let go. She squeaked a few more times as her heart gave out and I held her, taking big gasps. Finally, as I was rubbing her softly, she stopped doing it. I just sat there, not entirely believing it to be true. But, finally, I placed her in her small box with a pink washcloth and pink flower on top of the box, like with Ruby. She died at 6 pm, Saturday, May 31, 2008. [sniffles]
I've since figured out what the problem was. Please don't ever use cedar chips as bedding for any animals. Cedar oil poisoning.

And yes, I buried her the next morning, next to Ruby, with Lily's help.

Now, I'm closely monitoring Amara and Chase. Amara is showing weakness in her legs so I'm worried. Very worried.