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The Chicken Man, the Chicken Man

After work today, we went to see the Chicken Man. I’m sure he has a name, but I’m sure I don’t know what it is.

We bought our first two chickens from him, eight years ago, and one is still going strong. I remember I was eyeballing some baby Orpingtons (perfectly ENORMOUS chickens when they’re all growed up) and Uncle B was looking miserable about it. Thinking of his garden, and what those giant poultry bombs could do to it.

We decided to decide later. On our way out the door, we passed some pretty little chickens. Uncle B said, “what are these? They look nice.” And the chicken man said, “pff! Those are bantams. I thought you wanted chickens.”

And the rest is history.

He’s far away, he’s very expensive, but I needed some stuff and sometimes only the Chicken Man will do. Have a great weekend!

June 1, 2018 — 8:46 pm
Comments: 15

y u do dis?

Anybody understand seagulls? I grew up a thousand miles from the sea, so I don’t have the usual seaside prejudices about gulls. On the other hand, they’re a mystery to me.

In the town where I work, the rooves are covered with little clumps of moss. And every Spring, the gulls pluck the moss off clump by clump and drop it on the sidewalk. I mean, seriously — the sidewalks are covered with flattened mossburgers where people have walked on it.

Today, I had to sit through a meeting on an upper floor, and I watched a gull on the roof across from me busily snatching up clumps of moss and tossing them over the side.

I know what you’re thinking – they’re building nests. Well they’re not. Okay, maybe they are, but I don’t see them doing it. I see them plonking them into the road deliberately. Last year, I was talking to a lady in the street when a wet ripe moss splatted onto her head. She said, “eh, they do that.”

They do! Buy why?

Think on it, get back to me, and have a good weekend!

April 27, 2018 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 19

Swans, Mr and Mrs

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue was called out to the Eastbourne Road to deal with an injured swan. Minutes later, they were called out to deal with the injured swan’s spouse. Nothing wrong with it, they just travel in pairs. Both are expected to be fine.

I like the colorful swan cozies.

It’s not at all uncommon here to see someone halt a car and get out to escort swans or other critters across the road. Animal mad, these people.

I had a lovely Easter weekend. Got lots of sleep, made my work deadline. Not really ready for that alarm to go tomorrow morning.

p.s. Pity nobody had Winnie Mandela in the Dead Pool. Nasty piece of work.

April 2, 2018 — 8:25 pm
Comments: 12

You sure got to work it to offend these days…

Yep. Flaming chickens.

On Monday, the museum tried to explain that the chickens had not been harmed in the making of the work, stating that the video was made using special effects. (The work was housed in a separate exhibition room with a content warning.)

The museum said the work was produced in Morocco with a team of creative technicians and that the chickens were subject to a “flame effect only for three seconds and under the strict control of the technicians and the artist to avoid any suffering.”

A three second flame effect, huh? I doubt the chickens were impressed. Also, I dunno, “In 2008, the San Francisco Art Institute canceled his solo show that featured a video, “Don’t Trust Me,” which showed six animals being slaughtered with a sledgehammer.”

It is Monday, we are back inside a cold snap (known as “Beast from the East 2”) and I’m in a vile mood. I got problems only gin can solve.

March 19, 2018 — 9:50 pm
Comments: 14

one chicken leads to another

My first two chooks, Mapp and Lucia. Lucia was alpha hen. She woke up every morning, laid an egg, woke up the others and led them all over the garden, and dropped dead suddenly at three years old.

Mapp started laying six months after Lucia. She lays a handful of eggs every year and then goes broody, sitting on the nest all day trying to hatch baby chicks out of straw. At the end of the Summer, she picks herself up, shakes herself off and rejoins the flock. She will turn eight this Spring.

I tell you, laying eggs isn’t for pussies.

This year, I’m seriously considering calling her bluff. The farm where I bought these two also sells fertilized eggs. I’m thinking of popping half a dozen under Mapp to see what happens.

Most likely to happen: nothing. For once in her miserable life, she doesn’t go broody. Or she doesn’t do it right. Or they aren’t properly fertile.

Worst case scenario: they all hatch and they’re all roosters (but I wouldn’t find this out until I’m completely attached to the little peckerheads). That would be tragic. I couldn’t keep them all, I’d rather not keep even one, but I couldn’t bear to let them go for fox food. I’d have to market them as hand tamed pets and sweeten the deal somehow. Maybe give them away with a little watercolor portrait.

There are all sorts of in-between scenarios, like she could panic and murder those weird little fluffy things that destroyed her precious eggs. That happens sometimes. But ideally (and this is a long shot) I’d get a couple of good hens, and these ones would be properly hand-reared and friendly.

We’ll see. I’ve never heard of a bantam living past nine, so this is Mapp’s last chance. I promised her if she lived through the Winter, we’d give it a try.

She didn’t understand a word of that, of course, but still. You don’t break your word to a chicken.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

March 16, 2018 — 8:35 pm
Comments: 17

Chickens! In cool tinted specs!

A chicken’s vision is weighted toward the red/orange and away from blue/green. Makes sense when you remember their ancestors were woodland creatures and, then as now, they peck a living by spotting edible seeds and insects in grass and leaves. The downside is the sight of red, red chicken blood can make a flock go cannibal. In a big flock, little injuries happen and may not be noticed until it is Too Late. It starts with a peck and ends with…everyone eating Mabel alive.

So this guy invented red-tinted chicken specs that effectively make a chicken colorblind. They’re hinged. When the chicken leans forward, the lenses swing away and the bird can see normally. On the ground, where the food is.

Yes, they work. No, you can’t buy them any more. They’re mounted on a chicken’s beak by inserting a pin through the nostrils. It probably doesn’t hurt, but you know how people are about these things.

These days, they do the same job by beak trimming. A blunt beak isn’t good for plucking feathers (which is usually how a chicken gets the injury that leads to blood that leads to tragedy). Used to be, this was a pretty awful practice. There is feeling in the beak as it gets closer to a chicken’s face. These days, though, they have a neat procedure where they run a laser across the beak of a young bird, which cuts the blood vessels and the tip of the beak later falls off.

Make sure to follow the link and watch the lefthand video (it shows funny chickens in spectacles, not having stuff put through their nostrils).

March 13, 2018 — 8:08 pm
Comments: 16

The case for the prosecution rests, M’lud

robin3

Sorry. Got jammed up tonight (if you’re impressed with the post I didn’t post, you should see the work I didn’t work!).

I leave you with this iconic image and remind that the avian asshole on the right is a European robin and the poor birdie on the left is an innocent blue tit. I’m telling you, they’re a menace. A tiny, beautiful menace.

Teehee! Blue tit!

March 7, 2018 — 10:51 pm
Comments: 11

The last thing this poor girl ever saw

robin2

Okay, not really. Just a photobomb. (Video at the link).

This is a European robin, Erithacus rubecula, like the one I posted about last week. If you read the text, they’re all awwwing and cooing and wishing they had something to feed the adorable robin.

I guarantee you, if we could speak robin, that little thug is tweeting something like, “hey! HEY! I didn’t authorize you to take pictures! Come over here and I’ll mash your beak in for you, you big pink pansy!”

What would it be like to be a belligerent, psychopathic asshole trapped in the body of a tiny adorable feathery tennis ball?

March 6, 2018 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 17

Robin on the chicken house

robin

The robin here is a European robin (Erithacus rubecula). There are lots of other birds called robin redbreast in the world. Our own American one is a very different beastie, actually a breed of thrush with the charming designation Turdus migratorius.

Brits love they robins. It’s one of the few birds that stick around for the whole Winter. Hence they frequently feature on Christmas cards, which puzzled me mightily at first.

They’re cheeky little peckerheads, shaped like chickadees. Red breasted tennis balls. The classic picture is a robin on a spade handle, because they follow gardeners turning earth, looking for worms. I always know where Jack is in the garden, because our robing follows him around and yells at him.

We’re probably on our thirtieth robin by now, but we always have one and they all look the same to me when I chase them off the chickens’ food.

They are not shy. They’re fiercely territorial; they’ll fight to the death with other robins and take on much bigger birds. In fact, I strongly suspect if we could understand and speak robin, we’d find them the most horrible little assholes in the bird kingdom. But awwwwwww, aren’t they cute?

Uncle B took this picture in the garden today. It’s not his usual razor sharp focus because the little bastard was hopping around and wouldn’t pose.

Another day off work today. In fact, I doubt I’ll get in for the rest of the week. Tonight is the last night in the twenties, but it’s not much warmer tomorrow and the wind is going to double into the 40 mph range. Then Friday the wind dies down and heavy snow is forecast.

It’s the wind that’s the problem for us. It’s blowing hard from an unusual quarter, right across an enormous sheep field, picking up snow and landing it in our garden. Our central heating can’t handle it, so I’ve had to pile up in bed under the electric blanket.

I’m trying real hard to look sad about that..

February 28, 2018 — 8:27 pm
Comments: 15

It sounds worse than it is

caputmortuum

At last, I got my caput mortuum! I didn’t order it specifically, it was part of a package of pigments. Cheapest way I could get my hands on a sample of all the colors I wanted.

But I have found it! The holy grail! The pigment that best matches color of a chicken’s comb with the sun shining through it! It is cadmium vermilion and I am inexpressibly chuffed.

It looks brighter when you mix it up.

Have a good weekend, everyone, and may all your chickens have bright and shiny combs.

February 9, 2018 — 10:32 pm
Comments: 11