It was a bad day around here. It started out when Diana our mini donkey knocked me down, causing me to fall into a fence and rip my jeans. It took some doing for me to rip the denim from the wire and get up before she or Jack stepped on me. That should have been my signal to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. In the grand scheme of things I was the lucky one today.
Yesterday I shipped two boxes of day-old chicks to excited customers. The first box arrived with all ten chicks deceased. It appears as if they got left out in the cold for several hours before they ever got on the plane. The second box got to within 50 miles of it’s destination and made no progress all day. Those babies, if still alive are spending the night in some Tulsa postal facility. The third box, carrying a juvenile bird won’t get to Florida until tomorrow, hopefully alive. I have shipped a lot of chicks and never had anything like this happen. The postal service takes no responsibility for shipped birds, even nullifying the $100.00 worth of insurance that comes with every Express package shipped. The only thing they will do is reimburse the postage if the over night shipment does not make it by then end of the third day. What? How do they get away with that? They just do. My fingers are crossed that the other arrive safely but I think it is highly unlikely. I think the blatant mistreatment of these birds occurred in Sacramento before they ever left town. There was minimal evidence in the pictures I received to make me think they lived very long after I dropped them off. Truly sad.
The next near catastrophe occurred when I was letting the Icelandic chickens out and feeding them some scratch. One of my original hens, Lukka, is always broody. She has hatched a number of times this year already and has been sitting on three eggs for fourteen days today. She is usually good about leaving the nest to eat and drink, run around like a crazy hen, then going straight back to her eggs. This time she has apparently not been taking care of herself. I have not observed her off the nest and she has resisted all of my attempts to get her off to eat or drink. Today she was eating at the feeder and I was glad to see that. Then she stumbled out the pop door to find water when I saw that something was terribly wrong with her. She fell in a hole, stumbled on rocks and ran into the wall. When she turned toward me I could see that her eyes were dried up and shut, completely black. She was blind. I dropped everything and climbed over the rail to grab her. I was so upset at the condition she was in. I had seen her drink quite a bit at the waterer but she needed help badly. I grabbed the three eggs out of her nest and we headed for the house as fast as I could go. I deposited her eggs in the incubator then found a crate to put Lukka in. As I carried her, she gripped my arm with her feet. It was obvious they were ice cold from lack of circulation. I also felt liquid running down my arm. It was blood. It was coming from Lukka’s eyes! The area around each eye was rehydrating rapidly and apparently the tissue was being torn and there was quite a bit of bleeding. It was amazing how fast it happened after she drank. I got her in the crate and gave her water with Chick Saver in it. She was thin but not as thin as I would have expected. I sat down next to her crate and just cried. It was as awful a chicken sight as I have ever seen, especially in a chicken who is as loved as Lukka. I stopped most of the bleeding by holding pressure with a paper towel, which she hated. While she drank I came into the house and scrambled an egg for her. She ate every last bit of that scrambled egg in a minute and 27 seconds. I sped the video up 700% so you don’t have to watch the whole thing. She was still hungry and was pushing her head through the bars trying to get the bits of egg that were on the cement. So I waited an hour or so and scrambled her another big egg and she ate every bite of it as well. I prepared a nest for her in the small broody coop and placed her three eggs, warm from the incubator in the center. I carried her out to the coop and put her inside. She immediately saw her eggs and climbed in the nest box and settled in on them, cooing and purring to them all the while. I bawled like a baby. She is still on her eggs tonight. Tomorrow I will make sure she eats and drinks and gets out for a potty break and some exercise. I did some research online and read that broodies who starve and become dehydrated can also suffer liver failure. I hope this was caught before anything permanent could occur. These are Lukka’s last babies until next Spring. I am going to break the broody out of her each and every time until then. Her poor little body needs a break.
Here is the video. You can see her stumbling around, tripping and running into the side of the barn. It is hard to see how bad her eyes were in the video but it was the stuff of horror movies. Notice the bleeding around the eyes when she is in the crate. Just enjoy the scrambled egg footage.
So tonight I will say a little prayer for the baby chicks who passed away, for those still in the system that they are alive, and for our sweet Lukka. As for me, my knee hurts and my pants are ripped, and Diana is banished to the donkey pasture for the night. She’s going to hate that. It serves her right, the pushy little diva. Remember, more people are killed annually by donkeys than airplane crashes. I was a almost a statistic!
I am glad to put a period on this day.
Just to let you know our prayers were answered when the other ten chicks arrived in Oklahome alive and well! Still haven’t heard how the older bird did. I know it was picked up this morning. I am hoping for a status report soon.
Sweet Lukka survived the night sitting on her Barnevelder eggs. I went out late last night and checked her with a flashlight. She had her head tucked under her wing and was sound asleep. I watched her breathing until I knew she was ok then left her alone. She was on her eggs this morning when I went to give her fresh water and food. She jumped right down off the nest for that! When she finished she returned to her precious eggs.She still has some bleeding from her eys but her comb color is improving. I sure hope she pulls through this. Her babies should hatch next Thursday. She’s on the homestretch.
Here she is on the nest this morning.
Here is a close-up of her right eye. Poor thing. She just wants to be a full time mama and it almost killed her.