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Chook update

chooksupdate

No, no…these are not new baby chooks. This is the trio from last year, who are now all growed up and doing well. It occurred to me I hadn’t given you an update in a while.

The two millies are fat and happy and each lay an egg every day like little champs. The lavender has gone broody and sits on the nest sulking.

These are by far the most neurotic chickens I’ve had. They haven’t warmed to me at all. Usually, a chicken — by virtue of natural gluttony — will ultimately come to love you, because you represent FOOD. These girls? Scream and run away from corn if you throw it at them.

Run away. From corn.

They’re greedy enough. They come back and eat it eventually. They’re just super, super spooky and neurotic.

And old Mapp is doing fine. She’s seven this year, which is a damn good run for a bantam. And, yes, she’s gone broody this year as she does every year. Poop out three eggs and then go broody. Useless old bird. She and Colette sit on the nest together and scream at the other chickens.

I’ve made her a promise: if she makes it through another Winter, I’ll give her some fertile eggs to sit on. Motherhood would serve her right.

Right! Tomorrow, 6WBT, Dead Pool Round 99! Be here or I’ll give you some fertile eggs to sit on.

August 10, 2017 — 10:26 pm
Comments: 3

Mad as a wet owl

wetowl

Is that a saying? It should be a saying. Another picture from Saturday’s owl deluge.

In the previous thread, Ric Fan says: “I love the Old English name for August, ‘Weodmonað’ – Bede says it means ‘the month of weeds, because they are very plentiful then’!”

I know this! I’m currently working my way through a History of England podcast (from the departure of the Romans to…not sure. Haven’t finished yet). Most entertaining. He listed the months of the year in the old Anglo Saxon (per the venerable Bede), and I thought it was so cool I wrote it down. Rough notes, I’m sorry.

I’m indebted to Ric Fan for the ð – I used the audio ‘th’. Other Anglo Saxon spelling howlers, undoubtedly.

Here we go!

Dec 25th is Modrenecht: “the night of the mothers”. Not sure what that means or if it’s a pagan festival that predates Christmas.
Month 12, 1 Juil: (Jule, Yule). Last month of the old, first month of the new.
Month 2 Salmanac: the month of cakes. Or mud. They made buns.
Month 3 Arethae. Should that be Areðae or something? No further information.
Month 4 Aeostre. Easter you should recognize.
Month 5 Trimicle. Three milks. Cows are milked three times a day.
Month 6 and month 7 Lethe. Something about the moon. He says we know no more.
Month 8 Weodmonað. The month of weeds, as Ric Fan said.
Month 9 Halechmonað. Spelling unk. The month of sacrifice, festivals, harvest.
Month 10 Wintirfirað. First full moon of Winter.
Month 11 Blodmonoð. Blood month. The time when it makes more sense to slaughter livestock than feed it through the Winter. Much feasting.

I’m getting quite addicted to using podcasts to get me through dull, brainless jobs. This one is recommended, if you have any interest in Jolly Olde.

August 1, 2017 — 10:43 pm
Comments: 24

A conversation with Rudyard Kipling’s chikkens

kiplings

The whole flock right there. Nothing much to say for themselves, actually. I don’t know if they kept chickens in Kipling’s day, but the mill was already there — meaning grain — so probably.

I can identify a Buff Orpington and a Light Sussex. The rest are just…you know…chickens.

We did a field trip to Bateman’s (Kipling’s place) last Friday on the idea that when the weather is nice, we’ll pack sammiches and go. It’s how you have to approach an English Summer.

It has been thoroughly miserable ever since. Damp, overcast and nighttime temps in the fifties. We have the heat on tonight. IN JULY.

I sometimes wonder how much more traction they might have gotten in Britain if they stuck with their original idea and threatened us with global cooling instead.

July 24, 2017 — 9:32 pm
Comments: 13

Genius loci

spirit

What’s the difference between a crow and a baby rook? NOBODY KNOWS!

Erm, at least, it’s very hard to tell by looking. Baby rooks have yet to develop that crusty white flesh where the beak meets the head, the signal characteristic of the adult rook.

Pretty sure this one’s a baby rook, though. A) he had some remnants of babyfeathers sticking out of his back, B) this area is known to be alive with rooks. Not so much crows. And C) he was acting like a knucklehead chattering to Uncle B for a solid half-hour. Got some cracking good pictures, though some of the best had stupid bits of grass waving in front of strategic bits.

June 26, 2017 — 10:12 pm
Comments: 8

Homeboy

red-tailed-hawk

This from the country show on Saturday. Whenever it’s on offer, I always pay a couple quid to hold a raptor (that’s me on the left). Homeboy settled down eventually and let Uncle B snap some better pics.

Hope you had a nice long weekend, full of all the red-tailed hawks you could possibly desire.

May 29, 2017 — 8:38 pm
Comments: 20

Got a haircut today. And it’s raining.

poland

Pic unrelated. That’s from somebody’s Pinterest page of Poland hens.

Go on, click. Nothing’s as cheer-you-up as a whole page of chickens with afros.

We needed the rain. We haven’t had a proper soaking literally for months. That may seem improbable, given England’s reputation for raining all the damn time, but we do get periods of draught.

When that happens, the irrigation ditches run low and the foxes and badgers(!) use them as super highways. Our neighbor across the way shot a fox with his (the neighbor’s) big Buff Orpington cockerel in his (the fox’s) mouth. Given that shotguns are all they’re allowed here, I didn’t like to ask after the rooster.

One of these days, I’m going to open a Twitter trolling account in the name Buff Orpington.

Oh, and I found the identity of Jack’s nemesis, the big ginger-and-white cat who’s been beating him up and stealing his lunch money. He’s a feral unfixed male who was deliberately introduced to the farm two farms over as a rat catcher. I wonder if they’d notice if his balls turned up missing…?

May 18, 2017 — 7:42 pm
Comments: 24

Optimism-of-Yesterday

chickenoftomorrow

The story that goes with is a bit of a downer – it’s about the beginning of factory farming – but I wanted to leave you with a happy image for the weekend.

Something I learned from my chicken behavior course: you know today’s meat chickens are mature in six to eight weeks and ready for market, yes? That’s because they’ve bred them (the old fashioned way, generation-to-generation) to be eating machines.

So. Fine. Six weeks of gluttony and out. There are worse lives, even in modern agriculture.

chick But when you want to make more of these little porkers? You have to raise male and female eating machine chickens to adulthood, without letting them get too obese to function and breed.

That means the parents of these little chubboes are kept strictly to regular chicken rations, making them crazy hungry all the time.

Adult meat birds have the worst escape record of any commercial chicken. Or the best, depending on how you look at it.
 

Woops! I wanted to leave you with a happy picture. Here’s an adorable fluffy chick I stole off the internet. Have a good weekend!
 

 

May 12, 2017 — 9:22 pm
Comments: 10

Awww!

crow

Somebody’s opened a crow cafe in London – like a cat cafe, but…you know…with corvids (there’s also a rook and a raven).

Good idea. I like corvids. We had a couple of pet crows when I was a kid. I’ll tell you stories some day (some other day; it’s late and I have to go take a bath).

rook

Their rook probably needs a buddy. Rooks are the sociable ones. You know the old saying: if you see a solitary rook, it’s a crow; if you see a bunch of crows, they’re rooks.

The trees around our house here are alive with rooks and I’ve been awfully tempted to feed them.

Know how you tell the difference? Crows and ravens look pretty much alike, except ravens are bigger and shaggier. But rooks have a strip of unpleasant-looking crusty white flesh where their beaks meet their heads. Thusly:

And on that educational note, I’m off to my bath. Toodle pip.

April 19, 2017 — 9:14 pm
Comments: 20

Weasel and the Swan

swan

Today I played the banjo to a swan for an hour. There were three of them in the big field behind the house, but two of them flew away while I was fetching my ‘jo. Have you ever heard a swan fly? It’s like heavy machinery. Whuff-whuff-whuff-whuff.

I intended to write a song especially for him. I was going to call it There’s a Swan in the Big Field Behind the House. But I suck at composing so, really, I just played some of my favorite odd chords at him before settling down to a standard bluegrass repertoire.

First he stood on one leg for a while. Then he stood on the other leg for a while. Then he tucked his head under his wing and had a little kip. Then his friends came back and they all flew off together.

A most enjoyable afternoon.

Have a good Easter, everyone!

April 14, 2017 — 7:56 pm
Comments: 14

Freeeeeeee!

runningchickens

Not my birds. Somebody else’s birds. I didn’t have a picture of mine running. I’ll definitely have to get some this Summer, as there’s nothing quite as funny as a flock of chickens running at you full tilt.

The quarantine was lifted today, at last. It was lifted for most of the country weeks ago, but we are in what is regarded as a high risk area, so we had to keep our birds bottled up a little longer.

On a serious note, the quarantine may have played a role in the death of Violence and Vita. Chickens are susceptible to bacterial infections caught off their own poop, and being locked up exposed them to it for longer periods.

That’s something I learned from my chicken course: for all people go on about the cruelty of cage-reared birds, they are generally healthier than barn-reared or free range birds because their poop falls through the bottom of the cage and away.

So. Today is the start of a four-day weekend for me. Brits take more official time off at Easter than Christmas! I’ll be back here tomorrow with something pointless and inane to say, though. That’s my promise to you!

April 13, 2017 — 9:35 pm
Comments: 10