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Not my chook

blindchook

Stole this chook off’n FaceBook. I tell you, I like FB so much more now that I’ve quietly unfollowed a bunch of people and added chicken, history and beer groups.

Anyway, this girl has just gotten back from the vet, where she was diagnosed as having gone blind. Judging from comments under the picture, this is not hugely unusual, even in otherwise healthy hens.

In any kind of serious poultry setup, such a chicken would be culled. But hobbyists will make accommodations and blind chickens can apparently do well. The important thing is putting their food, water and bedding in exactly the same place.

The most famous blind FaceBook chicken (why yes, there is such a thing) is Mumble. (Her gallery is here, but I think you have to be a FB user to see it). She was hatched entirely without eyes, which doesn’t look horrible. In fact, Mumble is weirdly cute.

Even most hobbyists would cull a seriously deformed hatchling (Mumble’s owner was advised to do so), but she seems a thriving, happy bird. She’s a year old now, I think. In that time the owner has been contacted about eight other chicks hatched in the same condition. Nature is weird.

Honestly, we should use the domestic chicken as an emblem of something. Fortitude. Placidity. Calm in the face of adversity. Just getting the hell on with it.

Anyhoo, this is a long weekend here. It’s not celebrating anything particular, it’s just known as the August Bank Holiday. And, believe it or not, it’s the last public holiday in Britain before Christmas.

These people need Thanksgiving. They could call it Hooray, We Got Rid of all those Wretched God-Botherers Day.

Good weekend!

August 26, 2016 — 9:25 pm
Comments: 13

Chikken science

comb

You know I’ve always told you that a chicken’s position in the flock is signaled by the size of her comb? Well, I found me a gat-dang scholarly article about it.

The question of whether attributes of the combs of laying hens have any consistent relationship with dominance behaviour has yet to be answered unequivocally.

Nonsense! I told you it did, didn’t I?

Pullets (n = 120, Hy-line® Variety Brown) were allocated randomly to eight groups of 15 hens for 32 weeks. Over this period the length and height of each hen’s comb was measured regularly to estimate the total comb area and hens were weighed. In weeks 3–10 the aggressive interactions between hens in each group were observed to calculate a behavioural dominance score (David’s score) for each hen.

David’s score is a measure of the dominance of a single member of any group of animals using the formula DS(interactionmatrix, prop=c(“Pij”, “Dij”)). No, I’m not shitting you. No, I don’t have a clue. Google if you math.

The luminance, purity and dominant wavelength of the colour of each hen’s comb was measured in week 27 using a telespectroradiometer.

What would you give — WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE — to watch an actual scientist apply a telespectroradiometer to a chicken’s floopy red hat?

There was no association between body weight and dominance score but there was a significant inverse relationship between dominance score and the dominant wavelength of the comb (gradient of slope = −0.067 ± 0.023, P < 0.01).

I buy this. My dominant hen is the smallest in the flock. She’s a fearsome little beast. Though I’m not entirely sure about the gradient of the slope of the dominant wavelength of her headgear, TBH.

This indicated that hens with combs perceived by humans as more yellow-red than pure red were generally more successful competitors. Further research is required to ascertain whether or not hens utilise this information on comb size and the underexplored area of comb colour to assess the competitive ability of their opponents.

“Stay away from Edna today, fam — she’s looking a little orange, iykwim.”

The underexplored area of comb colour. Hoo! Why didn’t I go into chikken science for reals? Oh, yeah…I can’t math.

Anyway, there you have Violence the Chicken as a young layer and three years later as Boss Lady.

Two of the three new girls are laying for sure. Possibly all three, but I haven’t caught Colette on the nest yet. When I stuck my head in the coop this morning, Rosie was on the nest and she shrieked at me. It really is like walking in on a teenager in the bathroom.

August 18, 2016 — 8:53 pm
Comments: 7

chicken problems

chickenbutt

Not original. I pinched this off one of the many chicken groups of which I am an unashamed member.

I think all the eggs I’m getting from the new girls are coming from Jenny. She’s the only one I ever see on the nest. But damn, she churns one out almost every day. She’s the one that looks most like Lucia, too, so it’s no surprise she’s a superstar.

All my little peckerheads are doing well and loving the Summer.

Another weekend of good stuff lined up. I’ll report back next week. Have a good one!

August 12, 2016 — 8:33 pm
Comments: 3

‘Merica intensifies

baldeagle

Yes, that’s a bald eagle. No, I don’t suppose most falconers are allowed to keep one, but these guys breed all kinds of endangered hunting birds. Though I’m happy to report that old baldy is no longer endangered.

Another pic from the fete over the weekend; a falconry exhibit. Cool stuff, but I realize these things are repetitious. That’s partly what I like about them; they’re the same every year.

This was the fete that has the miniature horses and the guy who herds Indian runner ducks with border collies. If that rings a bell, this one always happens on the same day as the one with the really good boot sale (read: flea market) and we dash to get to both of them.

It was followed on Sunday by a music festival we’ve never been to, and we haven’t been to it again. We got there and the whole village was full up. No place to park.

This weekend we have a steam rally and an event in aid of the RNLI. Can I take the pace? Good weekend, all!

August 5, 2016 — 9:36 pm
Comments: 10

Friday Chikken Update

chikkens

The new girls in the onion bed (I can’t call them the little girls any more; they’re as big or bigger than the old girls). Pic horribly out of focus, sorry — I don’t know what my camera was focusing on, but I took a whole bunch of these today and they’re all bad.

Funny thing. I was sitting out in the garden playing the banjo this afternoon, as you do, with the chickens happily pecking around me in the grass. All six of them suddenly leapt up, tear-assed across the lawn and gathered together in one spot, someplace behind me. After a minute, they slowly dispersed. This happened three or four times before I got up and turned my chair around to face The Spot.

We’d left the casement window in the kitchen unlatched — the window I throw chicken treats from. Periodically, a gust of wind would catch the window and blow it wide and they’d dash over hopefully. With me sitting there. All praise the generous and mighty Window.

God bless them, chickens are stupid. And greedy.

Ektually, the news is that there’s no news. Chickens come in to lay between 20 and 24 months weeks, and the new ones are 21 and a bit. I stare forlornly into their nest box every day. Their faces are all red, though — that’s how biology tells roosters it’s Go Time.

Yes, the two speckledy hens (who are biological sisters) interact with each other more, often leaving the lavender Odd Chicken Out. Yes, the old girls are still picking on the new girls. Well, all except Head Chicken — such things are generally beneath the dignity of her office.

I’ll let you know when I finally get an egg from a noob. Good weekend!

ATTENTION – ATTENTION – ATTENTION: Jenny has laid her first egg! When I let the girls out this morning, she was sitting on the nest, so I waited in the garden. Glad I did – after she laid it, she was pecking at it hard. Probably a case of WTF IS THIS?, but if she’d penetrated to the delicious innards, I’d have a real problem on my hands.

July 29, 2016 — 6:46 pm
Comments: 8

*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: 18

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