I did a political ‘Shop tonight, but it sucked, so please enjoy some chicken porn instead.
Yes, there is another, empty nest box right next to this one. Chickens don’t care. They’re natural conservatives. (That’s poor Vita top left, with only her tail showing. The rest of her is buried somewhere under the other two pushy old birds).
I had another talk with a local chook breeder today. She’s had a good hatching this time. Possibilities we would be interested in include black, chocolate and lemon (my, that sounds delicious). It’ll be another month before they’re old enough to tell the girls from the boys and take them out from under the heat lamps. That’s the earliest we can bring a couple home.
Oooo, the anticipation…
May 15, 2013 — 11:03 pm
A Mapp egg. They’re always like this. Usually, she lays half a dozen or so and then goes broody for the rest of the season, so <shrug>
Changing the subject. I’ve tried not to, but couldn’t miss some of the very public ugliness triggered by Maggie’s death. Out of all proportion to anything she actually did. Not too many of the intellectual elite who hate her most are coal miners, after all. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s because she laughed at the chattering classes. And because she was right. And because of a quality that’ll take me a minute to explain.
I’ve told you before, working with engineers was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Engineers are practical men. They do what I used to think scientists do: they do stuff, they observe the result and they are confident they have just learned something worth knowing. How much pressure did the fastener take before it snapped? At what temperature did the adhesives fail? How much schmutz accumulates in a pipe carrying hard water over an 18 month period? (“Schmutz” is a useful engineering term I learned).
Some of the scientists were like that too, surely — or science wouldn’t advance. But some were more interested in the hypothesis and not so keen on the result.
And moving away from the hard sciences into the soft sciences and the humanities, I observe there is a whole class of clever thinkers who fall in love with ideas. Big, complicated ideas. Elegant ideas. Beautiful ideas that are difficult to grasp. And really, honestly, deep down but without saying so they don’t give a shit if the ideas are true or not. They’d rather not know. It spoils the effect.
In fact, I’m convinced some of them especially love with ideas that are false, because it takes so much effort, so many hours of study, so much scholarship to clasp a falsehood to your bosom. You have to be one of the highly-educated elite to believe really obviously dumbass stuff. Squares don’t get it. Your grandma don’t get it. Toothless hillbillies laugh at you, so you KNOW you’re on the right track.
So you get Joe Biden — nobody’s idea of an ideas man, but he hangs around them and absorbs their chatter like a parrot — wisely opining that we have to spend money to keep from going bankrupt. Because you have to be extra fucking smart to understand how that works.
And then along comes Maggie and says, “any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.” Cash in, cash out, new shoes will have to wait until next month to make it balance. A housewifely skillset. And she governed with it. And it worked.
And all the overcredentialled Oxbridge (or Ivy League) technocratic smarty pantses who believe themselves our natural ruling class (including quite a few on “our” side of the aisle) foam and gnash their teeth. It’s all so ugly and ordinary and dreary.
It demeans them and their powerful brains.
April 9, 2013 — 10:12 pm
I would have liked to’ve been a musician. But at some point in my teens, I plateaued at a place that really wasn’t good enough and figured I’d hit the limit of my talents. I’ve just widdled around and played for fun ever since.
A year or so ago, I decided to see if I could push back the boundaries a little. I started practicing, not necessarily for long periods, but in a focused and disciplined way. And, um…sonofa bitch. Practice works. I can almost hear new neural pathways sprouting like potatoes. I’ll never be great, but is sure does scratch an old itch.
I never knew until recently, reading up on it, how many hours the average professional musician puts into practicing. I had just assumed they were crazy talented. I know that’s a simple thing not to grasp until late middle age, but my universe includes whole galaxies of stupid.
So I started meditating. I figured if I could make new brain channels for difficult scales, I could practice being happy and get better at it. When I read that the US Marine Corps was looking into mindfulness training for stress reduction, I thought, “fuck yeah! It’s not just for hippies any more.”
And son-of-a-bitch! It works! The most tangible and measurable benefit is, I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the hell that is insomnia. Most noticeably, it’s easier to fall back asleep in the morning after the light wakes me.
There’s a shit-ton of free stuff on the web, including guided meditation MP3s — very helpful at first. I started about the beginning of the New Year, twenty to thirty minutes every day (I miss some days). Basic mindfulness meditation, no chanting or anything. Just focusing on breathing mostly. And then sometimes, when monkeybrain is quiet, sneaking in some happy thoughts. Picturing my chickens running up to me. It’s a chicken-based meditation practice, basically.
So, anybody else want to cop to this? With or without chickens?
April 1, 2013 — 11:01 pm
For those of you for whom this weekend has religious significance, happy Easter.
For the rest of you, here is a chicken eating pasketti.
Oh, it’s from last year, when there was a big, warm, yellow thing in the sky that made me want to eat my lunch in the garden (we had a heat wave this time last year, no lie).
And no, I didn’t just toss my ‘skettis in the grass for the chickens. I was sitting in my chair tucking in when Lucia, Leader of all Chickens, flapped up and landed wetly in the middle my plate, like a sack of feathery oatmeal. Chikkens really like paskettis.
Sure, it was kind of cute. But I remind you that chickens will stand around in their own shit burbling happily, given the opportunity. There really wasn’t any question of eating the rest.
Anyway, Brits take Easter seriously (I know, right?), so everything is shut until Tuesday here. Not including this blog, of course. Have a good weekend!
March 29, 2013 — 10:08 pm
You remember Mapp, right? The crazy chicken? The one with chicken Tourette’s? The one that lays a couple of eggs every Spring and then goes broody, sits on the nest and won’t come off for the whole rest of the Summer?
Welp, there she is. I found her there this afternoon, away from the rest of the flock. Yes, that’s an old flowerpot. It had a lily in it last, I think.
Mapp is no lily. I laughed at her. Then I fetched Uncle B and he laughed at her. Then we took pictures of her. I stroked her and poked her and tried to sweet talk her off, but she stubbornly hunkered down in the flowerpot.
About an hour later, I heard an almighty beGAKking, ran out back and found Mapp happily pecking away with the other chickens, and a fresh egg in the flowerpot.
That’s right, we spent the afternoon taunting a poor chicken trying desperately to lay an egg. Heroes!
Oh, hey, housekeeping issue: I’ve gotten something like a fifty-fold increase in comment spam in the last few days. So much that I no longer screen the spam filter, I just flush it a few times a day. If you posted something that Akismet took issue with, I’ll never know. Apologies.
March 18, 2013 — 10:34 pm
I mentioned this earlier — this is Vita’s sister (same farm, same flock, same breed, same year, same batch of eggs) winning it all. Needless to say, they look a lot alike. They’re chickens. But Vita has a darker beak, and a permanent look of rising terror.
Bottom of the pecking order, poor thing.
That would be my cue to spoil her rotten, but she’s even scareder of me than she is of the other chickens. She makes baby-chick peeping noises and runs from me, despite being a big, blowsy bird. For a bantam.
Today, she tried to lay an egg in the driveway and she let me scoop her up and carry her off to a proper nest. The Power of Estrogen.
Eh, sorry to fob you off with such weak sauce. I’m feeling vaguely and indescribably but very distinctly unwell today. Dunno what it is. I might have picked up a bug. Or, you know, I might have eaten something that was bumping around in the back of the car for two weeks. Maybe.
February 25, 2013 — 10:15 pm
There it is, folks. Proof that Spring is just around the corner, if you can hang on a little longer.
Specialist laying breeds will lay all through the Winter (and all chickens will lay through the Winter if you give them a few hours of artificial light). But fancy poncy fru-fru chickens like ours knock off between, oh, mid October and mid February. It’s the amount of daylight what does it.
How precise is a chicken’s internal clock? Wellll…Lucia laid that first egg (the grubby one on the end) on the 15th of February. Last year, she laid her first egg on the 16th of February. Of course, she is the Mary Poppins of chickens — practically perfect in every way.
Example: given that I have four chickens, you might assume that each of my girls has kindly laid me an egg. Well, you would be wrong. (Seriously, don’t you get tired of being wrong all the time?). The score would be Lucia 3, Vita 1. The other two just…better not…look too delicious until they start laying some damn eggs. Moochers!
I’ve been chatting up my chicken pushers, scoping out the new Spring collection. Hoping to add two more soon. Turns out, Vita’s sister won Best in Show at the Reading and District Bantam Society Annual Show last year. Same breed, same year, same flock, same batch of eggs.
Vita is the beautifullest of chickens, but she’s the very bottom of the pecking order in our little flock. Ain’t life funny like that?
Another Dead Pool?! *sigh*. I had no idea who Jerry Buss was, but Uncle Al was so chuffed to win dick, I couldn’t bear to see a hurt looked on that adorable little mug of his. You do have an adorable little mug, right Al? I mean, I had an Uncle Al who was as ugly as a smacked ass, but that’s neither here nor there. Meet you back here Friday, 6WBT for Dead Pool Round Umpty-ump!
February 18, 2013 — 10:59 pm
The chickens have not left the henhouse for a week, except the occasional short foray into the run for a peck. I wouldn’t put it past them to starve themselves into anemia.
It’s not the snow. It started two days before the snow, when we had a heavy, white frost. The chickens took one look and announced, “the grass is white. Grass is not supposed to be white. Ergo, we will not leave this small wooden enclosure until the grass ceases to be white.” And they meant it.
Changing the subject, Uncle B was up uncharacteristically early this morning. When I slouched out of bed several hours later, I asked him what was up. Said he was woken up by a Very Bad Smell. Which he decided was me, since I’d eaten a bowl of exceptionally garlicky soup for lunch.
Just now, I told him I was going to tell this story, he was all, like, “be fair — I did say I thought it might be the cat’s box.”
That’s supposed to be mitigation, you understand: he couldn’t decide which smelled worse, his sleeping wife or a dirty litterbox.
Huh. Anyway. Not guilty.
January 22, 2013 — 10:20 pm
Oof. Sorry. Got all jammed up today. So please enjoy this snapshot of my chickens.
It’s been raining for weeks here. Raining and windy. We’ve had floods and villages cut off and everything.
Rain means chickens don’t come out. “Mad as a wet hen” is a real thing. I tiptoe out in my silly rain hat, open the chicken house…and there they are, glowering back like the Four Chickens of the Apocalypse.
But today, it was sunny! And, oh – the time they had. They went places they aren’t supposed to go and ate things they aren’t supposed to eat (styrofoam, poisonous rhubarb leaves and bits of coal, mostly). It was chicken heaven.
It’s back to chicken apocalypse tomorrow.
January 2, 2013 — 12:04 am
Ah. So that’s where the chicken feed is going.
Not one, not two, but three rats. Well, very big mice or very small rats.
There are paving slabs in the bottom of the chicken run, but these bastards are clever. They chew. They dig. And they can insinuate themselves through improbably tiny spaces. I think I know where they’re getting in this time, but I have to keep tiptoe-ing out to check. They’ve been known to attack and kill sleepy chickens, so this isn’t funny.
Also not funny: we’ve got one under the floorboards. This house is upwards of 400 years old; the walls and floors are like rodent superhighways and we’ve been listening to this little furheaded bastard run up and down the space between the livingroom and the bedroom for 24 hours now.
The Council rat man put lots of poison down a few years ago, but that’s just it. They never REALLY go outside to die, do they? No hope getting the floorboards up. They’re gigantic slabs of iron-hard ancient oak.
Last Christmas, Saint Nick brought us a world of stink. Directly under the bed, from what we could tell. We slept in a cloud of eau de Rat Zombie for weeks.
Oh, it’s all going to hell, I tell you.
November 15, 2012 — 11:54 pm