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Besties

We went to see my friend with the pet turkey today. This is her with her best friend, a rescue hen. They cuddle. (D’awwww). They’re largely inside pets now.

Yes. I asked. They just wipe it up. Bit of a hippie, this one.

She had a whole flock of rescue chooks at one time, but the fox got most of them. This girl was spared because the other chickens didn’t like her so she was asleep on the porch by herself when tragedy struck.

There’s some kind of life lesson there, but I can’t work it out.

Miz Turkey was amazingly vocal this time. It wasn’t gobbles, either. It was little whistly sounds. She was trying so hard to talk. Then she walked over and got a big beakful of my upper arm and gave it a good shake.

Ah. Hungry.

The lady would maybe like to take one of my four cockerels and I’m tempted, but they do seem to have an awful lot of accidents re: fox. I’d have to live with the fact I sent my boy into the danger zone. Also, these two are so sweet together, I wonder if a loud-ass rooster is really wanted in the mix.

I’ll have a think. Good weekend, everyone!

August 27, 2021 — 7:24 pm
Comments: 5

And at the other end…

Check out Albert’s spurs. This is the weapon roosters use to kill each other in the ring, though they are sometimes equipped with wicked metal cockspurs to increase the damage.

He can do plenty of damage without. The tactic is to leap in the air and come down spur first on your opponent’s vulnerable bits. Shins, in my case. He can actually poke bleeding holes in my flesh right through jeans (somehow, mysteriously, without poking holes in the jeans themselves). If he catches a joint, he can cripple me for a day.

Two of my other boys also try this gambit, but they’re such fuzzy lightweights it’s merely amusing.

That leaves the blessed Mo, who has never been aggressive. The girls love him and he leads them all around the garden. Wot a rooster is Mo!

I never go out there now without a walking stick that I keep between Albert and me at all times. He almost never gets past my guard now.

God, aren’t Poland legs ugly?

Good weekend, everyone!

August 20, 2021 — 7:29 pm
Comments: 10

My chicken is purple

I don’t know if the Ivermectin is helping Albert or not, but I noticed a couple of days ago that the bald spot was bleeding. Chickens will do that. Even though he’s a strapping big brute, it’s not out of the ordinary for a fellow chicken to sneak up behind him and have an experimental peck on an odd patch of skin.

And once blood is drawn…chickens are absolute piranha with a bleeding chicken. That’s when chicken keepers pull out what we call ‘purple anti-pecking spray’. I bet you’ve guessed what that is already.

Gentian violet.

It acts as a disinfectant and the purple color isn’t nearly as attractive to chickens. Holy hell it goes everywhere, though. And, of course, indelibly stains anything it touches.

When I was a kid, it was seen as a last-ditch treatment for poison ivy. My brother, who was terribly terribly allergic, spent most of his Summers with purple legs.

When my mother was in nursing school, one of the med students was getting married. They chased him down, stripped him and barber-striped his penis. (His fellow male med students, not the nurses).

If that story is apocryphal and every med student knows it, please don’t tell me. I like it too much.

Oh. Right. Purple chicken. Sorry for focus. Albert is never still.

August 19, 2021 — 7:38 pm
Comments: 13

Lookit the fuzzy distraction

Sam as a newly-hatched chick. I’d like to call your attention to the tiny fuzzy claw hooked over my little finger. Even at this age, pekin chickens have feathery feet.

I’m having some trouble adjusting to my regular working schedule after all this time. You mean, I have to go in to work tomorrow? But I went in to work today!

July 8, 2021 — 8:11 pm
Comments: 8

Happy hatchday, boys!

My two pekin cockerels. The one on the right was hatched on the Fourth of July, which is why he’s named Sam. The one on the left is named Mo because he was originally named Molly and he let me down. He hatched a few days earlier than Sam. My first ever home grown chick, in fact.

I asked our good old country vet if he would neuter them for me. He refused. The one time he tried it, he said, the bird died on the operating table. Apparently, chicken kidneys are very close to chicken gonads. Makes you wonder how French farmer’s wives have managed to grow capons all these generations.

This picture was taken, obviously, before these two became blood enemies. That happened suddenly one day when they were about 18 months old. One afternoon Mo, number two cockerel, decided he was number one cockerel and kicked the shit out of poor Sam. I didn’t know what had happened until Sam turned up missing at roll call. Eventually, he came out of the bushes the muddiest, bloodiest chicken you ever saw. No real harm done, but he was it was a sorry sight.

If you can’t see what’s going on here, Mo is having a happy dust bath in a pot of soil – one of the many, many things my chickens do to annoy Uncle B.

Hope you had a great Fourth. I went back to work today – officially off furlough – so I has a sad, as the meme cats say.

July 5, 2021 — 5:31 pm
Comments: 12

Then there’s this garden drama

In this hole, there lives a chicken. At least, I hope she’s still there – I haven’t seen her today.

She’s a jaunty little orange poland hen who vanished over the weekend, presumed devoured. But then she appeared briefly the next morning, nervous and starving hungry, before zooming out of reach and disappearing. Same again the following afternoon.

Broody! I knew they had a hidden place they were laying eggs (I get more eggs when they’re locked up), but I’ve looked all over and couldn’t find it. I finally managed to follow her back to this hole.

It goes way back and is too small for the fox (I hope). It’s covered in layers of brushwood. I think she’s okay in there.

It’s about six feet from the bin that It raids at night

But here’s my dilemma: I’m pretty sure she’s sitting on duds. They’ve been laying there (or somewhere hidden) for months. And, anyway, if they aren’t duds, the LAST thing I need are more chickens. Giving them away wouldn’t be easy, either – they’re mixed breed mongrels and chicken keepers are snooty about that.

I could try to catch her and snap her out of it, but it’s awfully distressing for the chicken. Not to mention the eggs, if they’ve started to germinate.

Pekins go broody at the drop of a hat – they’re famous for it – and I have plenty of experience shooing them off empty nesting boxes. But this girl is not a pekin. She is serious, is sitting on actual eggs, and has a shot at being a mama. I really hate to interfere.

One way or t’other, we’ll know on the 4th of July.

June 23, 2021 — 6:46 pm
Comments: 15

Werewolf, probably

This is the bin I keep my chicken food in. It’s large and has clips on either end. Something has been raiding it for a week. Something big.

I didn’t think much of it at first. I assumed whateveritis would sample chicken pellets, go “ew” and leave them alone, but the bastard has developed a taste for them. Three days ago, it tore the lid off and left the bin open to the rain all night. I woke up to a brand new 20 kilo bag of layer’s pellets soaked into a foot-thick layer of disgusting slush.

So yesterday I hauled my old CCTV cameras and set them up. That sounds simple, doesn’t it? Let’s leave it at that.

Now we wait.

In Britain, it can really only be a fox or a badger. There just aren’t that many large mammals left here. It seems too strong for a fox, but not destructive enough for a badger. Suspense.

I remember now why I stopped using the CCTV: I feel compelled to stare at it all the time.

June 22, 2021 — 6:56 pm
Comments: 17

Chicken talk

That’s my best boy Mo, doing the doodle-doo.

In the thread below, tomfrompv linked to this interesting article about chicken language. Any holdouts who think the noises chickens make aren’t intelligible speech…well, they don’t keep chickens. That’s all I can say.

The article says there are 25 recognisable ‘words’ in the chicken language, but the chickenology course I took made it 50. It’s a lot, anyway.

The “look, especially delicious food!” sound they describe as tuk-tuk I would say is more like chort! A good rooster makes that sound to call the hens over when he finds a rotten log covered in ants, f’rexample. My two pekin boys do it regularly, but the poland boys never. Sam has been known to make the sound when there’s no interesting food there at all, which I guess is some kind of performance anxiety. The hens come running, anyhow.

Sometimes a hen will accidentally chort! over a treat, and then look around furtively hoping nobody noticed. Hens are greedy.

I heard on Radio 4 once (and you know it’s true because Radio 4) that chickens are the only animal we know of that has a word for you, their owner, which they teach to any new chickens coming in. The word for me is buh-BAH-buhbuhbuh. They do it when they catch sight of me. I was annoyed to find they do it for Uncle B, too, so it’s just their generic word for ‘person’. Boo. Don’t they know I am their deity?

The egg song is famous, though my poland girls don’t sing it. Or make that contented meeping sound through their noses while they peck around in the garden. Always sounded like monkey noises to me. The polands aren’t nearly as vocal.

Except for Po the poland cockerel, who makes the most extraordinary trills and squeaks and whistles for no apparent reason. Sam the pekin makes a sort of purring noise when he’s frustrated. It’s actually the chicken version of vocal fry. Sam also whimpers when I put him away, which makes me feel awful.

As for the cock-a-doodle-doo, let’s not go there. I have four of the buggers at it right this minute. I’m the most popular girl in all the land.

May 4, 2021 — 8:36 pm
Comments: 5

Poland Express ready for takeoff

My boy Po flapping his flappers.

It was nice out today. Warm in the sun, still cold in the shade.

I tried chasing the chickens around the garden with the lawnmower, but my mower is unwell. It’s the first mow of the year and motor catches but peters out immediately.

I know not to put old gas in it (it goes off), though there was a little bit left from last year. I’m now working on the theory the air filter is clogged. I have washed it and am waiting for it to dry. That gives me at least one more day of not mowing the stupid lawn.

HELLO WORLD. LISTEN TO ME BITCH ABOUT MY LAWNMOWER.

April 27, 2021 — 8:14 pm
Comments: 11

Nice old bird

Meet my friend’s new pet turkey. I won’t tell you her name, because they have as a family, like, six or eight different names they call her.

She turned up at a nearby biker cafe. She was very friendly and the bikers fed her french fries all day. She’s had a wing clipped, so she was definitely domestic and probably a pet.

How she came to my friend, I didn’t catch, but she really was a sweetie. Best friends with the remaining chicken (they have a fox problem). Definitely not destined for the pot.

She made funny keening noises, not at all like gobbles. And graciously accepted hugs (not from me. I can’t imagine hugging a turkey).

I didn’t tell them what we’re having for Easter supper.

April 1, 2021 — 7:51 pm
Comments: 7