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This woeful beastie is Mapp Chicken, today. I really should have snapped a photo a couple of days ago — you can see here, the pinfeathers are already well grown on her neck. Monday, her neck was as nekkid as an oven-ready broiler.

And her tail! Just a sad nub of pink flesh (that thing we call the Preacher’s Nose and the Brits call the Parson’s Nose – or is it the other way around?).

Reminder: Mapp as she was meant to be. Sexy, sexy bird.

Molting is triggered by the first cold snap. It signals chickens to stop laying eggs, drop their feathers and divert all the protein they would have devoted to egg-laying into feather-building. It means they’re all fully feathered up and cozy by the time the real cold weather hits.

But it also means they face the first cold of the season part naked with uncomfortable quills sticking out of their tender places. They’re cranky as shit.

Which birds molt and how completely is affected by a variety of factors. It’s a rule of thumb that the better the layer, the more quickly and thoroughly the molt. Commercial layers — the kind bred to lay an egg a day for the first year — apparently lose them all at once, overnight. You go down in the morning and find a coop full of feathers and a bunch of joke shop rubber chickens on the perch.

Think of that, and this picture when you see photos of ‘abused’ birds from factory farms — this is what even a pampered family pet looks like during a partial molt.

Good weekend, and keep yer feathers on!

October 21, 2016 — 7:39 pm
Comments: 10

I shall call him…Channy


Engineers working for Scottish Power found this submarine in the North Channel off the coast of Scotland, and they weren’t even looking for it. It’s near a place called Stranraer (Elmer Fudd couldn’t hitchhike to here if his life depended on it).

It’s either UB-85 or its sister boat UB-82 – apparently, with the paintjob worn off, it would be impossible to tell the difference. Both were WWI wrecks. Everyone’s hoping it’s UB-85, because that one was scuttled by a sea monster. Okay, scuttled by the British Navy after the German crew surrendered, but it had been unable to dive because of sea monster damage.

The German captain described it thusly: “large eyes, set in a horny sort of skull. It had a small head, but with teeth that could be seen glistening in the moonlight”.

All the officers emptied their sidearms into it and it swam away, but it had damaged the forward deck plating so they couldn’t submerge. They had to float around waiting for the inevitable. The Royal Navy scooped up the crew and sank the u-boat, apparently without examining it first. I don’t suppose there’s anything left to see now.

I had a poke around, but the story just came out today and that’s all there is to it so far.

October 19, 2016 — 8:55 pm
Comments: 6

Sixty-eight days to Christmas!


Forget Vladimir Putin cuddling a puppy! That was last year’s calendar (no, really).

This year’s offering in the beefcake calendar market features Putin, among other things, with a kitten. Going straight for that internet demographic. Kitty does not look happy.

I don’t like the news around Mad Vlad at the moment. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say he’s right and we’re wrong in the Syrian conflict (I’m not absolutely certain sure I wouldn’t go that far, either), but I really, REALLY don’t like all the saber-rattling we’re doing.

By ‘we’ in this context, I mean the UK. I think the US is at least as bad, isn’t it? I’m only getting the news I occasionally glimpse between my fingers.

Whoever has the right of it, I’m absolutely as sure as I’ve ever been about anything that fucking Syria isn’t worth starting WWIII over. Could we not?

I could not come up with a good take on ‘Vlad the Impaler.’ Here are all the two-syllable rhymes for ‘impale’. Anything strike you as suitable?

abeille, airedale, airmail, amell, anael, ancell, arsdale, asail, assail, avail, avale, azrael, barksdale, barrell, bartell, bataille, beam scale, besayle, blackmail, black whale, borrell, brix scale, brown snail, bulk mail, cadell, camail, canaille, capell, cardell, carpale, carrell, cartmell, carvell, cattail, cicale, cigale, clinkscale, clout nail, clydesdale, coattail, cocktail, conrail, contrail, correll, curtail, cutrale, deer trail, defail, derail, descale, detail, dimsdale, dinsdale, doornail, dorrell, dovetail, downscale, drysdale, dugdale, e-mail, elayl, email, embale, empale, enscale, entail, euryale, exhale, fantail, fee tail, female, fence rail, ferndale, fife rail, fin whale, fish scale, folktale, forced sale, foxtail, fresh gale, full-scale, garrell, glendale, goodale, gorrell, gray whale, greenmail, greenvale, grisaille, guardrail, handrail, hay bale, hemdale, hillsdale, hinsdale, hobnail, holmdale, horsetail, houdaille, imail, impale, inhale, inrail, intail, inveil, jamail, jarrell, jerrell, kinsale, lambale, land rail, langdale, lansdale, large-scale, lavell, lawnsdale, levell, lonsdale, macphail, maleyl, marcell, mare’s tail, mcgrail, mchale, mcphail, medaille, mervaille, mikael, mikhail, minke whale, mireille, mishael, modell, mondale, montale, montvale, mortell, nadell, nasale, near gale, northvale, oakdale, oil shale, orrell, ovale, palmdale, parail, parcell, percale, perrell, plate rail, plymale, podell, poraille, portell, potale, presale, prevail, prunedale, quesnell, radell, rafale, ragsdale, rattail, regale, renail, resail, resale, retail, reveille, revell, ring mail, rocaille, rodale, savell, scarsdale, scotch gale, scottsdale, sea kale, secale, serail, shemale, slop pail, sociale, soft scale, soleil, split rail, springdale, spring scale, square sail, stockdale, stocksdale, strong gale, stub nail, subscale, sumrell, surveil, sweet gale, tagtail, tarsale, teasdale, telltale, the taal, third rail, thumbnail, time scale, tirrell, today’ll, toenail, toothed whale, topsail, tramell, travail, trouvaille, truesdale, turn tail, udale, ungueal, unnail, unscale, unvail, unveil, upscale, urteil, vandale, verrell, voicemail, wage scale, wassail, whitetail, white sale, white whale, wholesale, whole gale, wide wale, wind scale, withnail, yisrael, zapmail, zerwhale

October 18, 2016 — 7:31 pm
Comments: 6

SPOILER: Normans win


Friday was the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, which was actually in Battle. (Maybe. No artefacts have ever turned up in the field next to Battle Abbey, where It supposedly took place).

And what was Battle called before the Battle? Senlac. It was called the Battle of Senlac Hill for a while. True story.

Is it my imagination, or have the Saxons chubbed up a bit in the last 950 years? Eh.

There were, of course, all sorts of celebrations ’round our area, all of which we successfully avoided. Uncle B and I once went looking for fish and chips in Battle on October the 14th without remembering our history and wondered why the town was stuffed full of Normans and Saxons and whether we’d slipped through a time gate or some shit. Once is enough.

I noticed in some of the FaceBook pictures there were ladies in chain mail on the battle field. Weasel does not approve. This is the re-enactment equivalent of breaking the fourth wall.

First person who says Boadicea, I shall gut thee with mine trusty seax. She was a one-off and that was a thousand years earlier.

Yes, there was plenty of handwringing about whether the Conquest was a good thing. These people can sure hold a grudge. A good old Anglo-Saxon value, that.

October 17, 2016 — 7:49 pm
Comments: 18

One thing leads to another


Tonight, we went to a lecture on vernacular architecture. That’s basically any architecture built from local materials — and local materials, back in the day, were things like bricks dug out of and fired in your back yard. In Sussex, this is all very cool, because there are narrow bands of everything from sandstone to flint to clay, meaning vernacular buildings are VERY localized and very different to each other.

First hit when I did a Google images search was this Pinterest board on vernacular architecture. It fun, a lot of silly hippie houses, but still. Fun.

And that led me to this marvelous place — the one in the picture. It’s called the Hall i’th’ Wood and it’s a for-real half-timbered Tudor manor house. Like our house, only (I hate to admit it) even cooler.

And with that CARL WINS THE DICK! The King of Thailand snuck in and died on me, leaving me another dick in debt. This ain’t Carl’s first trip to the rodeo. Between him and Mrs Carl, that’s…how many dicks? A whole heap o’ dicks. The Carl family is blessed with dicks.

No. Nope. Never gets old.

Back here. Tomorrow. 6WBT. DEAD POOL ROUND 89!

October 13, 2016 — 9:52 pm
Comments: 13

No, I did not buy a banjo on eBay this weekend…

I bought two banjos on eBay this weekend. This one – the first one arrived today.

Pretty little thing. Not much wrong with it. Mostly cleanup and a new head (yeah, I’m going goatskin shopping!).

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before — Britain is the Land of Goofy Banjos. Banjo was the first musical fad to cross the Atlantic and it caught on like wildfire here — first with minstrel shows (nobody likes to talk about these now, on either side of the Atlantic), morphing into a peculiarly British style known as Classic (not classical) Banjo. It was a black-tie-and-tails sort of thing and featured some of the weirdest banjo designs ever.

For the eighty or so years that ‘jo was all the rage, they were manufactured in attics and backroom workshops to some very peculiar designs. Many of them were not terribly well made, and many of the designs were impractical, so all kinds of wonderful instruments can be had for not much money. Many of them falling to bits.

This one is pretty orthodox, with a lovely (if thin) scrap of ebony fingerboard. A project for the approaching cold Winter nights.

Say, do any of you have any favorite site scraping software? I like to keep the original eBay listings for stuff I buy, and it’s a tedium downloading all the pictures and bits manually. I’d love to have a piece of kit that just sucked it all down for me in one go.

October 12, 2016 — 9:12 pm
Comments: 7

Infinite are the arguments of chicken keepers


It’s that time of year again: the time when hippie chicken keepers claim that pumpkin is a natural chicken de-wormer. According to this bomb thrown into the Keeping Poultry at Home forum, probably not. Though, having read the article, I think the most you can say is not proven. Still, everyone’s chickens love pumpkins, so why not?

Except mine. My flock has an irrational fear of large, frightening vegetables. I hung a cabbage in their run once (a thing you’re supposed to do to keep them amused) and they didn’t come out of the henhouse for three days. Until I made the horrible thing go away.

A big orange beachball puking seeds would probably give them avian PTSD.

October 11, 2016 — 6:42 pm
Comments: 8

it’s all relative


My Sweet America is a Belgian shop that offers American delicacies (the picture is a capture of their FaceBook page header).

A new shop, My Sweet America, hopes to take away all of that angst by adding a new ingredient: American-style customer service.

“By living in the USA, I really learned what customer service means,” explained James, the shop owner, in a recent interview. A native of France, the owner and his (Belgian) wife have lived in New York City and Los Angeles for the past several years…

You got that? They learned the true meaning of customer service by living in Los Angeles and New York City. Oh, my sides! That gives you a glimpse what it’s like in France and Belgium.

Unfortunately, while the FaceBook link above works, their shop seems to be down, and the site I found it on doesn’t want to let me link directly to the article. Hell’s yes it matters — they do mail order! I’d kill for a proper PopTart (our local supermarket has them, but it only carries the gross flavors like Chocolate and S’Mores).

On a related note, I ordered some Benadryl off eBay this week. Did you know you can’t buy Benadryl as an antihistamine any more, just as a sleep aid? Fun fact. Anyways, I ordered some in bulk from a seller called uksleep expecting them to ship from the UK (duh), only to find they shipped from Texas.

Second class, three days, free shipping. I ordered Sunday, got the notice it had shipped on Monday and got my order today. The world of international shipping is a confusing but sometimes gratifying place these days.

October 6, 2016 — 8:01 pm
Comments: 15

Okay, *now* they’ve lost me


Well. So. They’ve spent the past year or so taking pictures of themselves with kittens to soften their image and attract new recruits(!). Now senior clerics have issued a fatwa against cats.

Raising cats indoors, anyhow. They’ve been going door to door in Mosul confiscating kittens.

“ISIS have issued a fatwa against cats because they say the animals are against a jihadist’s ‘vision, ideology and beliefs’.”


October 5, 2016 — 8:07 pm
Comments: 11

The lean season is upon us

buttercup The old girls have stopped laying completely. The young ones have banked it down. Six chickens, one egg a day.

To be fair, head chicken is molting, headcase chicken never lays more than a dozen a year and I don’t know what’s wrong with Vita. I switched from pellets to crumb and that didn’t work out so good, so I’ve switched back.

The cold is upon us and there are feathers everywhere.

Here’s a nice little article from Modern Farmer on the Inner Lives of Chickens.

Do Chickens Have Feelings?

Yes, says British researcher Jo Edgar, who determined that hens, at least, experience empathy. He designed an experiment that simulated chick stress and found that the mother hens behaved as if they themselves were experiencing the pain—a classic sign of empathy. Chickens are also known to display mourning behavior when another chicken in the flock dies, and they will show signs of depression if they are removed from the flock and placed in solitary quarters.

Also hens are notoriously promiscuous, typically mating with several roosters at a time. They have the unique ability to eject the sperm of inferior roosters after copulation[!], however, ensuring that their genes will be coupled only with the most studly cock around.

And A surprising number of people suffer from fear of chickens, a condition known as alektorophobia. My mother-in-law is a chickenphobe. Also my nephew, which was fun — Mapp had a fine time chasing him all over the garden.


Recent research has shown that chickens can distinguish between more than 100 faces of their own species and of humans, so they know who you are and will remember you if you treat them badly. They’ve demonstrated complex problem-solving skills and have super-sensory powers, such as telescopic eyesight (like birds of prey) and nearly 360-degree vision (like owls). Chickens are the closest living relatives of the Tyrannosaurus rex (researchers determined this in 2007 by testing proteins from a particularly well-preserved T-rex leg bone), and they outnumber human beings on the planet 3 to 1.

So, you know. Watch yourself. The Time of Chooks may be at hand.

October 4, 2016 — 5:53 pm
Comments: 10