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Don’t mess with Number One Chicken

Lucia was always…the boring chicken. Pecked stuff. Made quiet clucking noises. Kept out of the way.

Then she started laying eggs and became a whole ‘nother bird. Still a steady, quiet chook (and a reliable five-eggs-a-week layer), but she is — no doubt about it — Boss Chicken.

First thing in the morning, everybody gets one good peck (just to remind the flock who’s boss), and then it’s happy family for the rest of the day. (Except Mapp. Clearly fed up with this broody bullshit, Lucia gets a big beakful of Mapp’s neckfeathers and tugs until the poor crazy bird runs ’round and ’round in circles shrieking).

Uncle B tried to shoo Lucia off the vegetable patch the other day, and she reared up to full height and stood him down. Like, “young man, do you know who I am?”

She has one vice: a fascination with sneaking in the kitchen door. We’ve never scolded her for it, but she’s quite furtive. We have to watch ourselves in the morning, as we are apt to find her unexpectedly underfoot.

I suspect my crap housekeeping is to blame; all those delicious bits of cheese and potato chips, just lying around for a chicken to find.

I don’t care. She’s never yet shat upon the floor, and she’s a hell of an automatic floor sweeper.

Heh. My Roomba makes breakfast.

sock it to me

June 16, 2011 — 10:28 pm
Comments: 20

Madd Mapp

Mapp has always been our most eccentric bird. Vocal. Excitable. Flappy. Chases dickie birds. Chases cats right out of the yard. She’d probably chase cars if she had the chance.

She didn’t start laying last Fall. She didn’t start laying right away in Spring. I always said if she ever laid an egg, she’d be a total drama queen.

Boy howdy. She laid four eggs and promptly went broody. X-treme broody.

“Broody” — for all three people out there not currently keeping chickens — is where chickens go to become mothers. They lay a clutch of eggs and then sit on them day and night for 22 days until they hatch. (Eggs don’t develop until warmed to hen temperature, so they all hatch the same time and same developmental age).

Frequently, though, a chicken will go broody without a clutch of eggs to sit on. And when that happens, how does she know when to stop? She doesn’t. Stupid chicken.

Pekin bantams are famous for going broody. Hard broody. People use them as incubators. Someone told us a horrible story about accidentally mowing his pet bantam to death because she was brooding in the high grass and wouldn’t get off the nest.

As of yesterday, Mapp has been broody for eight weeks. Just sits in the empty nest box all day. Shrieks and screams if anything goes near her.

Once or twice a day, I lift her off the nest and make her stretch her legs and eat something. She sits immobile in the grass for a few minutes, then shakes herself off and develops a kind of chicken Tourette’s.

“NARRRGH!”

“Mnyeh!

“EEEEEEEEEEERch!”

Which I guess is chicken for “titties!” “pee!” “assholes”

Then she eats something and goes back on the nest.

I think that hen needs a good mow.

sock it to me

June 15, 2011 — 9:36 pm
Comments: 23

Violet: number three and climbing

And then there’s Violet, who is tiny and fearless. I think she’ll always be small (contrast to big, shy Vita).

Voted the Chicken Most Likely To Fly Onto My Head and Tug Painfully at the Delicate Hairs at the Base of My Neck Several Times a Day, Violet is the only chicken that seems to like being picked up and carried. Or riding about on my shoulder (no luck teaching her to say “pieces of eight” – so far).

Though she’ll squeak and run when chased, I’ve seen her pluck treats right out of the boss chicken’s beak.

We’ve taken to calling her “Violence” and reminding her that she doesn’t solve anything and she’s not the answer.

But who are we kidding? That cheeky little runt will be Numero Uno chicken some day.

sock it to me

June 14, 2011 — 9:48 pm
Comments: 17

Profiles in Poultry

It’s a cinch nothing as fun as Weinergate is going to happen this week, so let’s look at my chickens! Chicken baseball cards, as it were. The new girls are coming up on 14 weeks, and already my little flock has established a clear pecking order.

This is Vita. She’s the very bottom of the hierarchy, poor thing. She’s big, beautiful, sweet, shy, slow, clumsy and everybody picks on her. She doesn’t even try to get her share of treats. I throw a few bits her way, but she’s scared of them.

When chased, she honks like a mistreated squeeze box. At rest, she makes a pi-cuck, pi-cuck sound, like an oil can.

I’m hoping she doesn’t have some kind of congenital weakness in her legs, because she’s always been a lumbering, slow thing. Given a choice, she sits. Last week, she actually went lame and limped around the garden pitifully for a few days. Worried us quite a lot, but she seems back to normal now.

Whew. I wasn’t looking forward to telling a vet I had a gimpy chicken.

When she’s all growed up, it’s clear Vita is going to be the biggest and most beautiful chicken in the whole flock. And still they will pick on her.

sock it to me

June 13, 2011 — 10:05 pm
Comments: 20

Can I interest you in a codpiece?

Earlier this week, I spotted something interesting in an auction house window and asked if I could phone in a bid. I was directed to this website.

It’s an auction aggregator, and it’s much cooler than it sounds. Well, I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it.

If you think about the sorts of things likely to come up for auction in the UK (and a few sites on the Continent), you’ll get what I mean. That codpiece, for example, is from a sale of historic items from the Stone Age to the Medieval period.

You can browse through individual collections, or do a keyword search across the lot. (To work out the guide prices, today’s exchange rate is $1.62 = £1).

Okay, here’s the coolest part: you can participate in the auctions in real time. You have to register with the site to listen in. (Don’t worry, you won’t accidentally buy an 18th C Chippendale dining set — if you want to bid, you have to jump through extra hoops).

Then go to the Live Auction page and click on any of the listings with a Watch live.

They show you the image for each lot as they go through and you can listen in to the bidding (hit the speaker icon to get the audio going). If you registered to bid in that auction, there’s a bid button, too.

You can also browse recently closed auctions to see how the actual price stacks up to the estimate. Interesting. Looks to me like coins and other small, valuable collectibles are being snatched up well over the guide price. Bad economy and worries about inflation, I reckon.

I’ve not been to many real auctions, but I saw occasional crazy bargains happen when I did. I suppose aggregating sales might put an end to that, at least for desirable or specialist items. But it’s an awfully fun way to waste an afternoon.

sock it to me

June 10, 2011 — 7:01 pm
Comments: 26

Me, I’d be all, like, GRRRRR

No. No, no, no. Huma Abedin’s “more saddened than angry” reaction to her husband’s willy-waving is just not plausible.

Yeah. No. Don’t bother reminding me of other political wives who stood by their men. Those ladies had years, whole lives, children with in their shitbag spouses. They had incentive.

Abedin and Weiner had been married one month when he took up with this blackjack dealer. Married, July 10. First contact on the FaceBook transcript, August 13.

One month. Newlyweds.

Very public marriage. Googlable.

So when he sex-talked this Vegas lady, he effectively said, “sexually, emotionally — my brand new wife doesn’t cut it.”

I don’t care if Huma Abedin hails from a culture where multiple wives is the norm, they still have jealousy where she comes from. “Sad” would have nothing to do with it — I would be incandescent with rage at the insult, never mind the rest of it.

I mean, unless I’d married a career path instead of a man.

sock it to me

June 9, 2011 — 11:03 pm
Comments: 30

Know Your Mustelid!

Honestly, some people couldn’t tell a marten from a weasel if you hit them in the face with one.

HOQUIAM, Wash. – Police say a man was carrying a dead weasel when he burst into an apartment and assaulted a man in Washington state.

The victim asked, “Why are you carrying a weasel?” Police said the attacker answered, “It’s not a weasel, it’s a marten,” then punched him in the nose and fled.

And with the news that Mrs Weiner is pregnant, the Weinergate scandal is officially No Longer Fun for me.

Oh, not because I have a soft spot for motherhood (the failure to reproduce myself is my gift to the gene pool. You’re welcome).

It’s because — for people as ambitious and calculating as I take the Weiners to be — the suddenness and enormity of what just happened to Huma Abedin is…staggering. It makes cold sweat bead along my hairline, empathetically.

FAR harder to endure than if she’d married him for love (I cynically assume she didn’t).

Of course, I always had a sneaking sympathy for Lady MacBeth, too.

sock it to me

June 8, 2011 — 11:14 pm
Comments: 36

Moar Weiner

This isn’t an insightful observation; I just noticed what a big ol’ head the congressman has. Still, you have to give it to him — the man has taken care of himself. Nice pecs.

Sorry to be a bore, but I’m still loving this scandal. The man who launched a career with dirty tricks has deep-sixed it with dirty pics.

Dirty dick pics.

Teehee.

If you’re starting to feel a teensy bit sorry for this Weiner, watch the CBS interview this lying shitbag did just a few days ago. Or read this transcript (warning: .pdf) of his FaceBook chats with that Las Vegas lady (who knew liberal sex talk included so much politics?).

This is one self-immolation we can all enjoy guilt free.

sock it to me

June 7, 2011 — 10:17 pm
Comments: 65

Wee wilting Weiner

O #Weinergate, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

Andrew Breitbart says he was contacted (a week before Anthony Weiner’s gray crotchshot hit the innertubes) by a woman who claimed to have traded rude snapshots with the wee Congressman. That’s why rumors of scandal pre-dated the scandal (leading many to suspect a set-up). Looks like he intends to dribble the pics out slooooowly at BigJournalism and BigGovernment.

The ones that aren’t too rude to print, he says. For all we know, the super nasty ones are of the lady, but I’m happy to let that stench waft around indiscriminately.

If you can spare the time, nine minutes and nine seconds of Weiner being a screaming, sarcastic dick in his capacity as progressive hero. Sure, it’s painful to watch, but when it’s over, you’ll find yourself enjoying the droop of Weiner as much as I do.

Will I ever tire of Weiner jokes? Ask the blue tits on my fat balls. Ask Aunty’s Spotted Dick. The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

No, wait…that’s fart jokes.

sock it to me

June 6, 2011 — 2:12 pm
Comments: 18

Coupla goodies for e-readies

As of today (last Thursday), the National Academy of Science has decided to offer all of its titles in .pdf format for free. That’s all 4,000 currently published titles, and anything new coming down the pike. Their business model is Pay for Paper, E is Free. I just made that up. Catchy, innit?

Press release here, hat tip What’s Up With That, and all the wunnerful, wunnerful freebies here.

Oh, and thanks to my Kindle, I’ve gotten back into long-form journalism, so this was an especially lucky find: Longreads.com. Dedicated to collecting, sifting through and recommending the best in long-form journalism.

To read these puppies, here’s what I do: call up the article, switch it to printer version (if available), print to .pdf (I recommend the free version of CutePDF Writer), save the result in my documents folder, leave it on sort by date and manually move any new files my Kindle whenever I synch.

To read a .pdf on Kindle, it helps to switch to landscape view.

sock it to me

June 5, 2011 — 4:02 pm
Comments: 15