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My dad with the chickens, who loooooooove watermelon!
Lady Macbeth, Goldie, Esther and Penny all seemed hale and hardy and clearly enjoyed the freedom to roam, but unfortunately Cluck died around noon.
I kind of feel like this was our induction into the world of farming, although not the first chicken death I have dealt with (I had the unfortunate experience of losing both of my cousin's chickens to raccoons while house sitting three years ago....). Chickens get sick pretty easily, and we had been lucky to have all five chicks make it past chickdom, so to lose one at 10 weeks was sad, but not tragic. I think we handled it in the respectful but pragmatic way we want to deal with all animal deaths in our little family, treating the animal with dignity but moving on after the death has occurred, and not belaboring the point. Our best guess at the cause of death is Coccidiosis, a common infection among young chickens. It comes from ingesting chicken poo that is infected, so we are now keeping a much closer eye on the cleanliness of the coop and cleaning and refilling the water dish far more often, while looking for a waterer that will be easier to maintain. You live and learn, I guess, and it may be that we were being too lax about the state of the coop and the water, although it also could be something far more random. Luckily, the remaining four pullets are all healthy and lively and strangely seem more tightly knit and flock-like without Cluck.
On a brighter note, we had a great weekend visit from my parents, enjoying the fun of watching the chickens being, well, chickens, eating lots of good food, and trying to beat the heat (highs have been around 90 degrees again for the last few days and are predicted to stay that hot for the next week at least). Before we ended up in Portland, I took the train to Centralia, Washington and met my parents there, and we camped nearby and spent all day Friday at Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, exploring and enjoying the various visitors' centers, and taking a 6-mile hike through the desolated blast zone on an epicly clear and gorgeous day.
We hiked from Johnston Ridge Observatory, on the north side of the volcano, facing the crater formed by the 1980 eruption. Thirty years after the lateral blast knocked down trees and covered this area in up to 100 feet of silt and ash and killed every living thing in its path (including 57 people), the land is still barren in most places, although gorgeous with wildflowers and scrubby brush, but no trees. In the photo above, you can see the new lava dome that is growing inside the crater. If you enlarge the photo, you can see the many vents sending up steam on top of the dome, as well as a big puff of steam venting of the near slope of the mountain.
Photos by Dad
My parents have been wanting to see Mt. St. Helens and the monument since the eruption before I was born, and we finally did it!
Mt. Adams behind Spirit Lake, which was displaced and filled with trees leveled by the eruption.