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What is going through his tiny pea brain?

Sam, my #2 cockerel. I’ve told the story before. He used to be my #1 cockerel. One day, my #2 cockerel had enough of Sam and beat the snot out of him, henceforth #1. I didn’t realize it until chicken bedtime and I had to coax a muddy, bloody Sam out of the hedge.

When I get home from work and let the pekins out, Mo swaggers up to the girls and Sam runs round the back of the house as fast as his feathery feet will take him. There, he perches on the back of a chair and stares at me.

He’s looking right over my left shoulder as I sit in my comfy chair and shitpost on my laptop. He’s there for hours.

I would love to think he’s having weird, small, chickeny thoughts about the room, but it’s probably more about the oats we throw out the back door from time to time. Roosters are all about freedom, food and sex (in season). Not so much interspecies curiosity.

Good weekend, all!

January 27, 2023 — 7:05 pm
Comments: 6

It’s a chickenspiracy!

Okay, here’s one of the stranger conspiracy theories on offer. The woman in the video at the beginning of this thread says she’s been keeping chickens for thirty years and her chickens have never completely stopped laying in Winter. But this year, she didn’t get a single egg after October.

Until she switched from commercial chicken food to a mixture of corn, sunflower seeds and commercial goat food. Now they’re laying again.

But that’s backed up by tweet after tweet down-thread and some reposted Facebook threads saying the same thing. Lots of backyard chicken keepers say their hens stopped laying in September/October this year while eating commercial layers pellets. Not enough protein, some speculate.

A few years ago, one of our neighbors gave up keeping a few pigs for market. The government had mandated that commercial pigs be raised on commercial pig food. No more kitchen scraps. That was a red flag for me at the time, because it meant the government effectively controlled the price of pork.

It didn’t occur to me it also gave them an avenue to put something in the feed and hence the food supply. You know, tell the manufacturers that thus an such a chemical was a required de-wormer. Like something to make pork taste less awesome, or statins or a vaccine or an anti-fertility drug.

Okay, okay…I’m getting carried away. But who puts anything past the bastards now?

My chickens? My fancy little hens never lay from October to March, though they did stop earlier then usual this year. I’d be surprised if the conspiracy hopped the pond and contaminated a good old British brand like Marriages.

January 23, 2023 — 8:14 pm
Comments: 9

I think I have rooster problems

Behold, the Dorking Cockerel. Yes, there really is a place in Surrey called Dorking and it is known for a fine breed of domestic chicken, called the Dorking. They were brought to Britain by the Romans and – unusually for a chicken – often have five toes.

This big metal bird was erected in the middle of a traffic circle in 2007. Locally popular, he is occasionally subject to fond guerilla knitting campaigns.

I have not seen this fine bit of civic sculpture. A visitor from Surrey told me about it and I thought I would share.

January 19, 2023 — 8:30 pm
Comments: 5

Doesn’t exactly strike terror

Armet with Mask Visor in the Form of a Rooster
ca. 1530
German, probably Augsburg
metmuseum collection

I mean, it’s a miracle of steel sculpture – and far be it from me to impugn the courage of roosters – but it’s hard to see this as anything other than a helmet with a lil’ chicken face.

They also have one with a lil’ people face, that’s apparently more common. It has a kind of Simpsons look about it, don’t it?

Our router has been flaking out on the regular today, so I’d better hit ‘publish’ before it goes again.

December 13, 2022 — 8:15 pm
Comments: 7

Transchickenism

I got an email from a friend tonight. She’s got four new hens, all laying nicely – but one of them is now transitioning into a cockerel. It’s the latest thing.

You’ve probably heard of this phenomenon before and almost as surely heard it poopooed as an old wives tale. I got curious one day and chased it down and it’s (kind of) real.

Right. In hens, only the ovary on the left is normally functional. The one on the right is a sort of generic gonad that typically doesn’t develop. Nature is weird. If something happens to that left ovary – let’s say a cyst – the one on the right might wake up.

And it wakes up mad. It becomes a frankengonad – or, to use the real word, an ovotestis. As you deduce from the name, it’s a maybe ovary, maybe testicle. It doesn’t know. It doesn’t matter. It secretes all kinds of puzzling hormones and that’s that.

So the hen may develop male characteristics – big comb and wattles. Saddle feathers. A cock-a-doodle-doo – but not an actual cock. The changes are all purely cosmetic and my friend has almost certainly lost this hen as a layer.

Links for the curious here and here.

The picture, however, is my proper fine boy Mo. He’s got allllll the secondary sexual characteristics and the ladies love him.

December 8, 2022 — 8:09 pm
Comments: 6

A tail of two roos

The rooster on the left was once the #2 boy. The boy on the right was #1 when this picture was taken.

The girl in the middle was eaten by a fox, but that’s another story.

One day, rooster #2 had a beakful of it and beat the snot out of roo #1, becoming hisself #1. I didn’t realize this until I came out later and the white chicken was nowhere to be found. I called and called and he finally slunk out of the bushes all muddy and bloody and sorry for himself (he wasn’t seriously hurt, but comb and wattle injuries bleed horribly).

Since that day, the white chicken (whose name is Sam because he hatched on the 4th of July) has gotten smaller and smaller. He’s about half the size of Mo now. He mopes around the back door, away from the other chickens. I make sure to throw him treats. Honestly, I’d love to fatten him up a bit.

So! Is this hormonal? Emotional? Is he ill? (If so, he’s been ill a long time without being visibly sick). It’s sad, really. Chicken politics is savage.

November 22, 2022 — 7:25 pm
Comments: 4

My poultry empire groweth

I fully intended to downsize my flock, but the boys have all hung on tenaciously and there’s one poor rooster whose housing is simply unacceptable. It was okay in Summer when he could swan around a sunny garden all day, but completely inadequate for the long dark nights and biblical levels of rain we’re having.

This is the cheap little house I bought and it’s just right for one adult bantam. It’s due here tomorrow. I suppose I can always use it as a hospital pen or a way of introducing baby chicks to the flock.

No more roosters, ever again. Sadly. I’ve enjoyed my boys, but they are a helluva lot of extra effort.

I reckon this will just fit between my first house and my second, making a sort of chickenhouse city skyline. Though I’m mighty tempted to put wheels on one end and roll it around the garden. (Some of the really expensive ones do that).


Oh! I forgot Jerry Lee Lewis died last week and I promised you a Dead Pool this week. Okay, okay…queueing one up now…DEAD POOL TODAY.

November 3, 2022 — 7:04 pm
Comments: 9

That was quick

My power supply arrived. Yeah, these people are good.

It’s a monster – hand for scale. It says it fits in an ATX case. Let us hope. But did I install it this evening? I did not.

I was busy chasing a little white rooster round and round my neighbor’s driveway. Damn, that little bastard is quick.

I chased him through blackberry brambles. I chased him through stinging nettles. I am alive with small ouchies.

I never caught him, but I did manage to chase him through a hole in the hedge so he could make his way back to the henhouse. It was well past chicken bedtime.

You know the previous post, when I said only one of those chooks in the picture is still alive? It was him – the little white bastard on the right. He was pushing his luck tonight.

September 28, 2022 — 7:18 pm
Comments: 7

This guy!

Excuse late, I’ve been chasing a chicken ’round and ’round a sheep field.

Occasionally, one of my birds pops through the double fence and finds itself in the field next door. This is bad. They frequently can’t find their way back and, isolated from the flock, they’re very likely to get picked off silently by something carnivorous. So when somebody doesn’t turn up at roll call, that’s where I look first.

Unfortunately, it was Sam – my quickest and nimblest chicken. Bastard ran me ragged.

Worse, we’ve had thunderstorms all day. Every time I ducked under a hawthorn, it pissed down my back. Worse yet, I finally cornered him in a patch of stinging nettles. Yes, I was wearing shorts.

My shins are alive with the sound of music.

So I’ve had a hot bath and a cold gin and I’m off. Stupid rooster. Yes, he’s fine. Wet and sorry for himself, like me.

August 17, 2022 — 7:49 pm
Comments: 5

Chicken selfies

Teej pointed to this site a couple of threads ago: chicken.photos. Yes, .photos is a top level domain now. From the about page:

The system consists of a Canon 7D, a speed flash, a Raspberry Pi, and an ultrasonic motion trigger.

Whenever a chicken (or any other animal) passes in front of the motion sensor, the Pi snaps a photo on the camera, which in turn fires the speed flash. Once the photo is taken, the Pi downloads the photo from the camera’s SD card and uploads it to our website. The photo is then tweeted and potentially minted as an NFT.

Everything is protected in waterproof housing and uses custom designed PCBs for power and signal routing between the components. It uses the gphoto2 library to interact with the camera, and CircuitPython for the firmware on the Pi.

I still do not understand NFTs. As far as I can tell, you’re buying…bragging rights?

So, they’re motion-sensor selfies. I like the sort of milky, porn-y soft focus. I reckon that’s damp on the waterproof housing. It gives them an otherworldly look.

It’s worth reading their About page. Oh, and looking at all the lurrvly chickens.

August 2, 2022 — 7:15 pm
Comments: 11