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*groan*

chickensedan

Do those chickens look amused? No, they do not. Chickens probably have the least sense of humor of any animal I’ve ever dealt with. Chickens are serious birds.

I’m not taking credit for this stinker. It was sent to me by someone named Mad Ivan.

But the chicken article everyone is sending me is this one: mosquitoes hate the smell of chickens. They are almost never found with chicken blood in their systems, and putting a chicken in a room results in up to 80% fewer mosquitoes landing in the traps.

The BBC’s somewhat bizarre headline for this story is Chicken odour ‘prevents malaria’ research in Ethiopia finds. The Mail’s headline is the rather more jaunty (and accurate) Forget mosquito repellent! Sleeping next to a CHICKEN will keep the blood-sucking insects at bay.

I have not yet convinced Uncle B to try the experiment, even though he suffers horribly from mosquito bites such we have to sleep with all the windows closed and an insecticide plugin. I have made the case that chickens fall asleep instantly when the lights go out, but he’s made the counter-argument that my chickens burble volubly the moment the sun comes up. Stay tuned!

Good weekend, y’all.

July 22, 2016 — 9:38 pm
Comments: 4

The 9 types of combs recognized by the American Poultry Association

combs

Heyyyyyy wait, that’s only eight! I was robbed, random internet article!

I know what you’re thinking: what is that there purty Satan bird with the wicked horns and where can I get me one of them? From the link, I guess it’s either an Appenzeller, Crevecoeur, Houdan, La Fleche or Sultan. Yeah, I dunno either.

Not obvious in the picture: the strawberry comb is more of a raspberry comb, with a deep indentation in the middle. Couldn’t help thinking about all the shit that would get in there and get infected and stuff.

Chickens have the best resting bitchfaces in the aminal kingdom, don’t they?

The Labour Party is descending into farce. Jeremy Corbyn is a bugfuck-crazy Marxist Bernie Sanders type. He won party leadership by a huge margin because the chirruns love him, but he’s electoral poison. The other Labour MP’s have tried in vain to kick him out of the nest, so they put his deputy up to run against him for leadership. In fact, they weren’t even going to put his name on the ballot at all, but they lost their nerve on that. The chirruns would kill them. They’re already throwing bricks through his challenger’s headquarters window.

I’d enjoy the hell out of this if the Tories weren’t such shit right now.

See? I’ll make you beg for chikken blogging!

July 12, 2016 — 9:40 pm
Comments: 13

Could be worse

swans

Ah, there they are. We hadn’t seen the swan fambly for a while, but here they are Sunday. Sorry about the distracting vegetation, but it’s only because Unkle B has a fancy-pants camera that he got any pictures at all: he had to raise it over his head and tilt the backscreen down so he could see what he was aiming at.

I know what you’re thinking; there were nine. Maybe there still are; it was awfully hard to count without being able to see beaks. But there are eight for sure, and that’s pretty good around here.

Foxes. Badgers. Stoats. That one stinking mink.

My cousin called me from the States tonight to ask what the heck is going on over here. I suppose it’s being reported that gangs of Hitler youth are roaming the streets beating up brown people. Or something. That’s The Narrative and they’re sticking to it — most of the papers, the pundits, even the police.

Whether there’s been a real rise in racial conflicts, I have no idea. They say calls to the police abuse hotlines are way up, but most of the actual reports seem to be Rudeness in the First Degree or Really Hurtful T-Shirt Slogans.

Exit question: if your thesis is that most English people find it terribly, terribly hard to get along with non-English people, is by-god we’re going to force them to really the most workable long-term solution?

June 29, 2016 — 10:10 pm
Comments: 9

Lookit the pretties

cookie

Itō Jakuchū (1716–1800) was a Japanese painter and Zen Buddhist lay brother who painted many subjects in nature, but famously birds. Mostly famously CHIKKENS! Particularly roosters.

He’s well worth checking out — his paintings are more naturalistic and less stylized than many of his contemporaries, but nevertheless beautifully detailed and formalized. I’ve spent a happy hour banging around Google Images search.

This year is the 300th anniversary of his birth, so there’s lots of his stuff to look at online, though sadly much of the accompanying text is Japanese.

But this? This is not an Itō Jakuchū cockerel. This is a cookie in the exact shape of an Itō Jakuchū cockerel. And a pretty good copy it is, too.
 

 

Thanks to Bob Mulroy for sending me this fun link.


June 7, 2016 — 7:20 pm
Comments: 13

Worth a hundred bucks of anybody’s money

japanesechikken

Stoaty,

You’re one of the few people who can appreciate my recent acquisition, a small statue/table/nightstand featuring a chicken. It’s carved from teak wood, and I bought it at an antique sale outside of Tokyo.

These antique dealers buy most of their stuff from local Shinto and Buddhist temples. With the small houses maintained by most Japanese (relative to Western homes), people who inherit their parents’ belongings rarely have space for all of it. So they donate it to the local temples, who sell it to generate additional income. The antique dealers snap up most of it and resell it – at a much higher prices, of course. This little item set me back 100 USD, but it was worth it. : )

I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Regards from Japan,
tinman in the comments

Majestic! Mag-nificent! I should point out, though, it’s surprisingly difficult to say the Teak Chicken of Tokyo.

Yeah, you just tried it, didn’t you?

So I finished my Chickenology course with an grade average of 92% (there’s always that one question). Learned a lot (really), enjoyed it much, got the certificate. I wonder how long I’ll have to wait before someone asks to see my credentials.

One more time, I highly recommend the site: Coursera. Their catalogue of classes is extensive, offered in association with some very good schools and, it looks to me though I haven’t done it yet, if you enroll properly you can audit courses for free.


June 6, 2016 — 7:46 pm
Comments: 10

Hug a chicken

chikkun

I woke up feeling inexplicably sad this morning. Do you ever do that? It must be a lingering something from a dream.

Though we are having the most awful, depressing weather: relentlessly gray and cold. Like, seriously, heat on at night, everybody back in their sweaters and coats. Something to do with the Gulf Stream faffing around ineffectually. All the wind is coming straight down from the North.

First day of June, my butt.

This is the last week of my chickenology course, and it’s on commercial farming, slaughtering and culling. Well, of course it is.

I’m’a go take a hot bath…

June 1, 2016 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 13

I’m shaving just like daddy!

moarswans

Uncle B was able to get quite close and observe our new swan behbehs. How they’ve grown. The little dude at left…B thinks the same one is often off by himself, away from the other eight. We don’t know if he’s alpha cygnet or special needs cygnet.

Anyway, he was able to take some footage without disturbing them. Check it out. It’s so obvious Timmy Cygnet is imitating Mommy Swan (or Daddy Swan, hard to tell).

I wouldn’t know. I’m not into swans. I’m strictly a disciple of chickenology. This week’s lesson: What is chicken welfare? Defining “welfare”, ethical obligations, and welfare standards.

I just hope it’s not going to be a lot of depressing videos of meat farms.


May 23, 2016 — 8:14 pm
Comments: 8

Didn’t work

mapp

Eh. So I tried soaking Mapp in a bucket this afternoon. She got over herself for an hour or so and then went back on the nest.

To be fair, she was supposed to have half an hour in the water and she only had ten minutes or so. I peered under the towel to make sure she hadn’t fallen asleep and drowned or something, and she came flying out like a chest-burst alien.

I see more chikken-soaking ahead.

Good weekend, everyone!

May 20, 2016 — 10:28 pm
Comments: 9

The first time I soaked Mapp in a bucket

wetmapp

My girls don’t lay from about October to March. They don’t see enough sunlight to make eggs. They would stay in lay if I gave them a little artificial light, but frankly laying is hard on a bird and my lot are mostly pets. Let them rest.

Mapp grew to laying age just as the season ended and laid no eggs at all her first year. Lucia, same age, squeezed out a few before Winter came. But that’s Lucia, a chicken made entirely of awesome.

The next Spring came around and Mapp finally laid an egg. Several, in fact. And then she stopped. And sat on the nest looking distressed. For days.

So being a compete n00b chicken lady, and a nervous one at that, I came to the obvious conclusion she was eggbound. That is what it sounds like, and it’s extremely serious and often fatal. Oh, I tried soaking it out and I tried scrubbing it out. I ringed her vent with olive oil (we don’t talk about this). I soaked her in a bucket of warm, soapy water.

You can see how happy she is. Turns out she was just broody and eventually got over herself.

Broody. A wild chicken will lay a clutch of eggs and then stop laying and spend 21 days sitting on them until they hatch. That is broody. She’ll get off the nest maybe once a day for a few minutes to take a huge and extremely offensive shit and eat a little something.

Pekin bantams, like what my flock are, are famous for going broody. Hard, impenetrable broody. Inappropriately broody. Broody on a totally empty nest all Summer long. If you’re trying to hatch some eggs, they’re perfect. But a broody hen stops laying, neglects herself into terrible condition and scares other chickens off the nest when they need to lay.

Mapp, alone of my chickens, has gone broody every single year. She lays a few eggs, and then she plants herself on the nest and refuses to come off. Shrieks and screams if you go near her.

The classic treatment is to put the broody in a ‘sin bin’ — a cage, up off the floor, with food, water, lots of light and no nesting materials until she gets over herself. I don’t really have a setup for that, so every year I just pull her off the nest a couple of times a day, make her eat, and leave it to her. ‘Horrible condition’ or not, she has now lived more than twice as long as Lucia, the Mary Poppins of chickens.

Anyhoo, according to my chicken homework last night, SGOTI (some guy on the internet) says soaking a broody hen in cold water will do the trick.

Oh, Maaaaaaaapp….?

May 19, 2016 — 10:15 pm
Comments: 5

Shun, SHUNNNN the pariah!

pariah

MikeW asked a question about the pecking order in the thread below, and I think I can wring a whole post out of it.

This is Vita, the biggest and most beautiful hen in my flock. The variety is known as gold partridge; her feathers are a sort of gold/bronze color with black markings. Bee-yootiful. At least to people. To other chickens, she’s a hag. Go figure.

The pecking order isn’t necessarily one, two, three, four… It can be one, two, everybody else. Or one, a bunch of twos, a bunch of threes. You get the idea. Bottom hen is known as the omega or pariah hen, and not every flock has one.

Though a lot of it is down to the personality of the bird, you can adjust the pecking order sometimes by humiliating an aggressive bird, or separating her from the rest of the flock until she loses her status.

But I suspect Vita is a natural born omega. When she and Violence were little, she didn’t engage in any of the usual status-related play: leaping, pecking, belly-bumping (this is hilarious). When pecked, a normal chicken will squeak and get out of the way, but Vita just stands patiently and takes it as her due. It’s heartbreaking.

One day, when she was fully grown, I looked out the window to see Vita motionless, beak-down in the grass. The other chickens were whaling the shit out of her. I thought she had died or collapsed and they were trying to revive her, but no, they were just giving her a good pecking. I have seen them do this until they were too exhausted to peck her any more.

Oh, I kept an eye on it. They never drew blood. If they had done, she would have had to be separated instantly. Chickens go a little nuts at the sight of blood and will peck until death and beyond (horrible little cannibals).

But the sad truth is, she’s more scared of me than the other chickens. Any attempt to pet her or give her treats just makes her more miserable and might even call down the wrath of the flock. Sometimes, no matter how much you want to make it better, you just have to leave animals to it.

When I mixed Maggie and Coco in two years ago, Vita got super aggressive with them. I assumed she was trying to establish a new position for herself as not-pariah. Sadly, neither of those girls lived long enough in health to join the flock properly.

She being super aggressive with the new girls now. They stay well out of pecking range, and it gets briefly ugly if she manages to corner one against the run. But I have a feeling these three, when fully grown, will be well able to put her back in her place.

Poor Vita.

May 18, 2016 — 9:39 pm
Comments: 7