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Zen Poultry

I got a message from YouTube today; somebody asking to use a sample from this chicken video of mine.

I’ve rewatched in like a bajillion times since then. My first two chooks pecking around in the sunshine. I could watch it all day.

I hope he doesn’t use my nice chooks in chicken porn.

February 18, 2020 — 8:43 pm
Comments: 7

Goose Xing

A village near us is famous for this: its flock of town geese. The picture is from Twitter. The occasion is the policeman erecting the ’20 MPH’ sign in the background, for protecting of the geese.

I don’t know if one has ever been hit by a car, but I do wonder about the fox. Hm. Must ask someone I know in the village where they go at night.

Every time we drive through, the flock is milling around the green happily. Always about the same number. I wonder if they ever import stock to strengthen the bloodline?

I’ve posted about them before. During the village fete, the goosemaster borrows one for Goose Shit Bingo.

Coronavirus update: cases jumped by almost 4,000 yesterday. Total 24,631 today, of which 24,405 in Mainland China. This is very peculiar. From rumor and leaks, the damn thing seems very contagious where it’s hot, but it has hardly spread at all elsewhere. This argues for a longer asymptomatic time (very not good) or an Asian racial vulnerability (less not good, for us non-Asians, anyway).

February 5, 2020 — 7:26 pm
Comments: 14

Positively Lovecraftian

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one of these in the wild, just in displays. Sinister looking thing. They call it a mermaid’s purse, but it is in fact a skate or ray eggcase.

You probably knew that. I grew up a thousand miles from the sea, which catches me out a lot here. There is no spot in Britain that is farther than 100 miles from the ocean. True phact.

Anyway, here’s a handy pdf chart for identifying various eggcases. In it, you will discover there are such creatures as catsharks and nursehounds in the briny deep.

The ocean is weird.

February 3, 2020 — 9:26 pm
Comments: 8

Landshark, for reals

Scientists have discovered nine species of walking sharks. They mostly ‘walk’ along the sea floor, but they’re capable of walking over the tops of coral reefs, out of the water, to reach new feeding grounds. Only a matter of time.

I was going to use the picture from the NatGeo article, but when I right-clicked to copy I got a pop-up warning me to be respectful of copyright. I don’t think that’s right — once you’ve put an image in a tweet, I believe you lose exclusivity per the TOS. Otherwise, you could sue people for retweeting stuff.

Eh. I’ll be honest. I’m just sitting on Twitter following the #coronavirus hashtag again.

Have a good weekend, y’all!

January 24, 2020 — 9:29 pm
Comments: 9

Science is wild

We recorded 333 high-frequency vocalisations from 13 Holstein-Friesian heifers during oestrus and anticipation of feed (putatively positive), as well as denied feed access and upon both physical and physical & visual isolation from conspecifics (putatively negative). We measured 21 source-related and nonlinear vocal parameters and stepwise discriminant function analyses (DFA) were performed. Calls were divided into positive (n = 170) and negative valence (n = 163) with each valence acting as a ‘training set’ to classify calls in the oppositely valenced ‘test set’.

Did you get that? Researchers recorded cows mooing. Horny cows, hungry cows about to be fed, hungry cows not about to be fed and lonely cows. They analyzed them by cow and state of mind (‘valence’ in this context meaning mood). They wanted to know if cows have individual voices, and if those voices remain individually recognizable no matter how the cow is feeling.

Spoiler: they do.

Oddly enough, science is only beginning to explore domestic animals and livestock in this sort of way. I have thunk long and hard about chicken toys, and keeping chickens amused. Not so much for my own flock, which gets regular free range time and a view of the garden when they’re penned up, but I’d like commercial flocks to have happier lives. I like eating chicken and I’d like to feel less shit about that.

Pro tip: ‘animal welfare’ people are the ones trying to make livestock happier. ‘Animal rights’ people are the nutters who think monkeys have human rights and domestic animals are traitors for working with people.

p.s. the cow study was in Australia.

January 15, 2020 — 9:14 pm
Comments: 7

Purty

This is neat. Spanish photographer takes high resolution video of birds in flight and isolates the birds from the landscape. He uses movie cameras and slow motion and films them for several days before picking the image apart in Photoshop.

His name is Xavi Bou and if you click that link, it’ll take you to a Google Images search of his name. Do go look; my little black and white photos don’t half do him justice.

I love watching birds in flight. I could do it for hours.

But tonight, the storm rages, so I’d best be off. Go look at pretty pictures.

January 14, 2020 — 7:26 pm
Comments: 14

But wait! There’s more!

Last one! Meet the test egg. I usually call her Baby.

My incubator came before my Ebay eggs and I wanted to test out the functions, so I pinched an egg from my own flock to experiment with.

Incubators do three things: heat, humidity and turn the eggs regularly. Well, some of them don’t do that last thing and you have to do it by hand, but I got a good one. 100% hatch, y’all.

When the eggs came and it was all ready to go, I thought “what the heck?” and left the test egg in with the others. I really didn’t think, after all the handling, it would hatch.

I was very excited when I candled the eggs on day 7 and Baby was swimming around inside. Yes, they do that. Freaked me right out.

So this is the child of Sam and Millie. He’s off-white, she’s mille fleur and Baby is the same silver color as Spoon. Chicken genetics are very complicated.

She’s much smaller than the polands. She’s smaller than the other pekins, even (she came from a tiny egg from a young hen, so it’s not surprising). But she can see and the polands can’t, so she runs rings around them. And me. Flighty little miss.

And that is my flock: nine chickens. Four male, five female. Four pekins, five polands. I have comfortable accommodations for six, so things are a little tight.

Back to normal next week, but I got one more weekend and I’m going to laze right through it. Happy Friday!

January 3, 2020 — 8:15 pm
Comments: 8

My girl

This is my girl Spoon. She’s my favorite chicken, though goodness knows why. She’s almost been the death of me twice.

She went through a phase where she had to sleep as high up as possible. This meant me, with chest infection, hauling myself up a ladder to retrieve her from the roof of the garage. Next, she got so far up the roof of the house that I had to knock her off with a stick and catch her in mid-air. (I couldn’t really leave her to come down on her own. She would have fluttered down at dawn and been easy pickings for senor fox).

Spoon gets locked in early now.

There was nothing written on her shell and I was kind of named out. She’s an overall silvery color. I was going to go with Sterling, but I thought that was a dumb name for a chicken, so Spoon it is.

Chicken folk call this color ‘self blue’. Self, because her crest is the same color as her body, and the silvery color is bluish, I guess. I forgot to mention yesterday that Albert is a white-crested blue.

If you’re keeping count, that’s the three pekins and the six polands accounted for.

January 2, 2020 — 7:50 pm
Comments: 3

Saved the big boy for New Year’s Day

The fourth and final cockerel: Albert. You get a sense of the scale of him standing next to Po. He was always double the size of the other chicks; I’m not convinced he’s a bantam. Bear in mind this was months ago, he’s much bigger and shaggier now.

He did actually have Pol written on his shell, and that’s what I called him until he developed that giant, preposterous white crest.

You’d think being such a great hulk he could defend himself, but no. Before I had to separate the boys completely, I would frequently come out to find Albert missing. The pekin boys would have chased him right out of the garden, and I had to trudge around the neighborhood in welly boots calling his name, to find him standing someplace awkward, patiently waiting for me. It usually involved stinging nettles.

He’s a sweetheart, but he’s too big for my flock. Too big for the girls, too big for the cages. I had someone lined up to take him, but she had another cockerel foisted on her the week before. It didn’t work out.

I do the best that I can for him, but it’s awkward.

p.s. he goose-steps.

January 1, 2020 — 7:39 pm
Comments: 3

The Chicken of New Year’s Eve

This is Po. Guess what was written on his eggshell? Though why you would need to note the egg was a poland when it seemed polands were all the seller kept, I do not know.

Looking at his beautiful round crest, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s a hen. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, all my birds were misidentified as hens at this age and I breathed a sigh of relief.

He later developed the spikey ‘potted palm’ hairdo and the male saddle and sickle feathers. His color is called white-crested cuckoo. Yes, his crest went white.

The smallest of my boys, he has a thin and squeaky crow but makes an astonishing range of quiet verbalizations as he pecks around the garden. Squeaks. Trills. A funny sort of clicking or purring. I do wonder what he’s trying to say.

 

 

Welp, here we are at the ass-end of 2019 and I don’t really know what to say about it. Some bad things happened, but we are solvent and well and I’m afraid to complain for as long as those two things are true.

Best wishes for the preposterously named ‘2020’ and we’ll see you on the other side of the fireworks!

December 31, 2019 — 6:40 pm
Comments: 15