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The varieties of mille fleur

feathers

Bloody hell, is she still on about this?

More feathers. The red ones are Rosie (“Rosie is red…”) and the paler ones are Ginny. The proportion of red, black and white determines the overall ‘tone’ of a mille fleur.

Lucia was even whiter than Ginny (when she was a chick, she was practically all white). I do have Lucia feathers. A whole bag of them. But as Lucia was such an awesome chicken, I believe her feathers must have powerful juju.

I’m probably kidding.

Why yes, of course you can have a large color photograph of a bunch of chicken feathers.

October 19, 2017 — 8:57 pm
Comments: 12

Mille fleur is *hard*

speckledy

Mille fleur. ‘Thousand flowers’. I’ve had three chooks of this variety, and lovely fat hens they’ve all been. But I’ve dreaded trying to paint them.

Working hard on my chicken portfolio just now, you see.

They aren’t just speckledy. When you see an individual feather — particularly a long feather — there’s at least something of a pattern. It’s a brown feather with a black stripe before a white tip. But jumbled onto a chicken…it’s hard.

Let’s see that in color, with this lovely picture of Lucia the Mille Fleur and Mapp the Ginger having a dust bath in the onion bed.

October 18, 2017 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 4

Guess what?

parsonsnose

Deborah HH asked in the thread below whether I used my own chickens in the paintings I recently showed in town. I did indeed and, I must say, I was surprised and pleased at how well received they were.

I am become S. Weasel, Famous Painter of Chickens.

So it shames me to admit I cannot unravel the terrible central mystery of the chicken physique: how the HELL do all those poofy tailfeathers come out of that little dealie on the ass end of a chook?

I leave you to ponder. Have a good weekend!

September 1, 2017 — 10:14 pm
Comments: 21

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