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Don’t rub it in

Somebody sent me this. It comes from our popular classical station, Classic FM, via a Tumblr called Music Theory. I think I have all that right. I like to attribute where I can.

Those are Polands. I have whined before about how much I want one. I got some ‘fertile’ eggs that weren’t this Spring, supposedly including at least one Poland.

Note, at right, they have a knob on their skulls that those stupid feathers sprout out of. So even when they’re tiny fluffy chicks, they have ridiculous hairdos.

The roosters grow up to look like potted ferns and the hens have fluffy afros. I know owners who have to trim around their eyes or tie their headfeathers into hipster buns so the poor birds can see to walk around.

Oops! I hit premature PUBLISH. Well, that’s all there is to say about that, I guess.

November 8, 2018 — 4:53 pm
Comments: 8

Weasel TV

I hate to admit how much time I’ve spent watching this image. I mean, not this image, the live version. The surveillance cam in the chicken house.

It was originally trained on a hen sitting on fertile eggs nest box. Two months, night after night, I watched that image hoping to see a newly hatched chick poke its head out.

As it happens, the first batch of eggs were all total duds. The second batch was half duds. That’s why I spent two months watching a broody hen when the gestation period is around twenty days.

Anyway, newly hatched chicks don’t poke their heads out. They don’t come out from under mama for days and days, so I discovered any hatchlings by lifting her up and peering into the nest, long before I saw a chick on cam.

I have hours and hours and hours and hours of recorded chicken cam. I actually bought a backup hard drive to store it all. Wanna see?

November 7, 2018 — 10:14 pm
Comments: 5

Gonna give my boys a complex

Uncle B took this on his cellphone. Bigass male pheasant stalking around eating the bits messy chickens leave behind. (Sure and you want to see this pretty boy in color). I wasn’t home so my flock was in the cage, looking stunned.

He’s about three times the size of one of my chooks.

Uncle B asked if we had pheasants in the States and I honestly didn’t know. Wikipedia says they’re everywhere, but they’re only native to Asia.

Any pheasants where you are?

November 1, 2018 — 8:57 pm
Comments: 24

My other boys

Roosters. I swore I’d never have one. I promised the neighbors.

But this year I got it in my head to put some fertile eggs under a broody, knowing roosters were a possible outcome. And how.

The final result: twelve ‘fertile’ eggs resulting in three live chicks. Two of whom are cockerels.

The first six were duds. Then I got four more in a close-to-hatching state, of which only two hatched. I may have damaged the other two somehow getting them home, for which I feel rotten. So I got two more newly hatched from the lady I’d bought the eggs from, from the same clutch of eggs.

What I’m going to do with these two handsome boys, I do not know. It all depends on how they act when the testosterone takes hold.

We’ve started to hear faint and feeble cock-a-doodle-doos of a morning.

September 26, 2018 — 8:31 pm
Comments: 11

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