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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

The Year of the Pigeon

Excuse me if I’m bleary; we were startled awake in the wee hours by a pigeon. Pigeons. There was a lot of flapping and hoo-hooing.

It was so loud, I was sure it was a bird loose in the bedroom, but it warn’t. It was perched by an open window making a terrific racket.

Might have been multiple pigeons. Was probably sex-motivated.

Zo! In the last hour, two senior members of the Cabinet – the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care and the Chancellor of the Exchequer – have resigned. The is big and important, but I’m damned if I can tell you what it means.

An immediate coup? Maybe. Or maybe they’re distancing themselves in case of a coup in the near future.

What can I say? I am, after all, a ferriner. I can only tell you this has been a dreadful government and more dreadful people still are waiting in the shadows.


July 5, 2022 — 6:49 pm
Comments: 12

These are not my pigeons

Today has been a day of pigeon drama. When I got to work early, one of the little ones was on the ground by the front door, looking stunned. I could see mama pigeon perched above watching him and I thought to myself, let nature take its course, Weasel. I found the other one had flown off (never to return, Wikipedia tells me).

About an hour later, when he hadn’t moved from the spot, I lost my nerve, brought him upstairs and put him back in the nest. After all, one of them was several days younger than the other, so perhaps this one was not quite ready.

Both mom and dad turned up to feed him, several times all morning. That in itself is unusual – we might see one of them, once, feeding the chicks. So I figured they were helping him build strength to try again. Which he didn’t seem at all inclined to do.

Until these two showed up.

These two are not the parents. They are totally different birds. I’ve never seen them before. They began to peck and pinch and kick the baby and make him squeak. I had never heard of any sort of bird community parenting – does it really take a village to raise a pigeon? – but I assumed they were encouraging him to fly off. Concerned aunties, maybe. It seemed awfully cruel, but I thought to myself, let nature take its course, Weasel.

The little one was ducking under the geraniums, squeaking and squirming and refusing to fly off and I lost my nerve again. Spooked them away.

I raised the blinds so they could see me better and waved at them. I shoo’d them off half a dozen times, at least. Eventually, they stopped coming back, though they did investigate the window box at the far left for a while (there are three).

You know what I think? I think they were trying to kick him out and steal that primo nesting spot. The internet won’t tell me if pigeons ever do that.

I’ve watched this little bird from egg to ugly mutant and I wasn’t about to see him harmed just as he was looking like a proper bird.

Things were stable when I left. Mom had been back to feed him again. He was stretching his legs and his wings and looking a lot more capable.

Thing is, I don’t work tomorrow. I will probably never know quite how this turns out. When I go in Thursday, there’s likely to be nothing to see, no matter what the outcome.

Except possibly a pigeon sitting on eggs again. They mate for life, return to the same nest and will hatch littl’uns over and over again, even in Winter, if the food supply is good.

I’m told oatmeal is good for them. Or rice.

June 28, 2022 — 7:40 pm
Comments: 4

Boneless chicken

Chickens blissing out in the sun dissolve into formless heaps of feathers.

When we see a cat folded in half backwards off a sofa with his paws in the air and his mouth open, we’re like d’awwwww, he’s drooling. But a chicken relaxing in the grass looks like a stern object lesson about pesticides in the garden.

Relaxed chickens are impossible to paint.

June 22, 2022 — 7:56 pm
Comments: 9

More, d’aww…

Yes, they both hatched. I forgot to tell you. You can just make out a second beak at the arrow.

Pigeon number two is several days younger and therefore smaller. I couldn’t really see him until the parents started leaving the nest for longer periods.

Both parents are still highly attentive. I can’t tell if they both feed the babies, but they both babysit. We’re having a bit of a mini-heatwave at the moment and the parents don’t sit on the nest, they sit on the edge and provide shade from the morning sun.

Honestly, smarter than I thought pigeons were.

Have a good weekend!

June 17, 2022 — 7:20 pm
Comments: 5

Meet my cleanup crew

They they go through a lot for this for this. The chicken run is clear around the other side of the house and they have to go through a fence (specifically set up to keep them out) along the way. Anything for those sweet, sweet Friskies.

You will never forget the unmistakable sound of three beaks bouncing off a cat’s bowl. Who needs a Roomba?

p.s. actually, I do. I hate Hoovering. Have any of you got one? Does it work?

June 16, 2022 — 6:51 pm
Comments: 6

Start the weekend with a d’awwww

A couple of weeks ago, I watered the window boxes in the office, turned my back for a moment, and when I turned around again – an egg! Why this daft pigeon decided to lay an egg in wet earth, I don’t know, but it’s not quite as bad a spot as it sounds. There’s a roof overhang, so it stays dry when it rains and she’s relatively protected under all those geraniums.

She laid a second egg two days later. Eighteen days it takes to incubate a pigeon egg and I’ve been watching her cautiously. Sometimes, the male (I assume) comes and sits and gives her a chance to rest and feed. It’s easy to spot the difference: she’s got a dark gray head with white speckles and he’s pale gray.

I hardly ever see the nest without a bird on it, but yesterday she stood up and – behold, baby pigeon! (bottom right). It must have hatched moments before, because it’s still wet and the shell is still there.

Baby pigeons are ugly mutant looking creatures, so I won’t give you a closeup of the little bugger, but I love the look on her face. She’s probably just startled and I’m anthropomorphising, but she looks like a proud mama to me.

By Monday, we’ll see if the other one hatches or is a dud. Good weekend, all!

June 10, 2022 — 6:16 pm
Comments: 3

This is not an obituary

Spoon did not turn up at rollcall Friday night. My favorite chicken didn’t come home to roost.

You remember Spoon, the goofiest of Polands? I’ve been bailing her out of trouble since she was a chick.

She wasn’t in the field next door (she’s done this). She wasn’t in the neighbor’s garden (and this). She wasn’t up a tree (multiple times) or on a roof (she quickly discovered that’s where the bees are). Once it gets dark, you kind of have to give up and hope for the best come morning.

Next day, Uncle B came down early and the cat was complaining loudly. There was a chicken in the kitchen. Standing back in a corner, silently. We remember finding her in the kitchen at noon (they sneak in for cat food), but we had no idea she never left.

She’d been there all afternoon and all evening while we were banging around cooking lunch and then supper. The lights must have interfered with her sleep, but she didn’t make a sound. Just standing there.

Of course, being a chicken, she had shat all over the floor, but hey.

May 30, 2022 — 6:14 pm
Comments: 2

Sunset chickens

Quick snapshot of the girls with ladies’ man Mo this evening. Huh. Doesn’t really work in black and white.

Uncle B was treated to another dead rat on the floor this morning and, for a little variety, a dead bunny on the threshold this afternoon.

The bunny was undoubtedly a gift from the cat. He’s not usually so generous. We know this because we don’t feed him much and yet he’s very fat. The vet didn’t scold us when we took him in to have his leg looked at (all better now, thanks), so I guess he’s not dangerously fat.

He must be absolutely stuffed full of bunny and whacking them for sport at this point.

May 19, 2022 — 7:30 pm
Comments: 2