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The Chicken of New Year’s Eve

This is Po. Guess what was written on his eggshell? Though why you would need to note the egg was a poland when it seemed polands were all the seller kept, I do not know.

Looking at his beautiful round crest, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s a hen. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, all my birds were misidentified as hens at this age and I breathed a sigh of relief.

He later developed the spikey ‘potted palm’ hairdo and the male saddle and sickle feathers. His color is called white-crested cuckoo. Yes, his crest went white.

The smallest of my boys, he has a thin and squeaky crow but makes an astonishing range of quiet verbalizations as he pecks around the garden. Squeaks. Trills. A funny sort of clicking or purring. I do wonder what he’s trying to say.



Welp, here we are at the ass-end of 2019 and I don’t really know what to say about it. Some bad things happened, but we are solvent and well and I’m afraid to complain for as long as those two things are true.

Best wishes for the preposterously named ‘2020’ and we’ll see you on the other side of the fireworks!

December 31, 2019 — 6:40 pm
Comments: 15

Monday’s chook is full of woe…

This is Rackets, the first of the boys. You can see his crest is just starting to get loosey (when mature, the girls have afros and the boys look like potted palms). Not long after this picture was taken, I found him unresponsive in the grass and he died an hour or so later. No idea why. Very sad.

One lady on the chicken forums said she gave up on polands because they always reached two months old and fell over dead. I suppose I should be grateful it was only the one.

He was chamois colored, like Chel — the only color to repeat — but there wasn’t anything written on his shell, so I named him after Nick Rekieta.

If you don’t know the name, Nick Rekieta is a small-town lawyer with a YouTube channel. He occasionally does short explainers (here’s a good one on impeachment), but his stock in trade is live streams that go on for hours while he drinks whisky and reads lawsuits line by line. It’s surprisingly interesting.

It takes twenty-one days for a chicken egg to develop and hatch, and the incubator sat on my desk the whole time listening to Rekieta (AKA Rackets). When little Rackets hatched, it looked for all the world like he was trying to follow the sound.

Which…I dunno…could be. They learn in the shell, and mother talks to them when hatching time is near. I’d like to think he imprinted on Racket’s voice.

I’d also prefer he hadn’t died.

December 30, 2019 — 8:22 pm
Comments: 7

Happy 27th, which has no significance at all

Another pretty girl. She had “ch” written on her shell which, I correctly guessed, stands for chamois. So her name is Chel (like the Portal character; I’ve always assumed that’s short for Michelle).

To answer the question I’m sure you’ve asked by now, no. They don’t see very well at all. When they panic (which is often) they zoom around and bump into things. The pekins take terrible advantage of them.

I honestly can’t tell if they’re crazy and stupid or just blind.

I tried trimming their crests around their eyes, which helped a little. But it takes patience and a long time holding a chicken on your lap waiting for an opportunity (they hate having their crests touched), which I have not been willing to do in December rain.

Yes, it’s still raining. Yes, I’m going mental. It was glorious and sunny on Christmas Day and only on Christmas Day (a true xmas miracle) but it’s gone right back to shit ‘n’ chips.

These are pictures from Summer. There is nothing sadder and more hang-dog than a wet poland.

December 27, 2019 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 18

Happy Boxing Day!

Our Christmas was lovely. Our Christmas dinner exceptionally nice. We mostly gave each other things to keep warm, like nice socks, and we were happy with that. We R old.

So, anyhoo — TADA! I finally got those poland bantams I’ve always wanted. I had to make ’em myself. I bought an incubator and six hatching eggs off Ebay. Everyone reassured me they wouldn’t all hatch.

Spoiler: they all hatched.

The problem with polands is that you can’t tell the males and females apart until they’re at least two months old. In fact, I posted pictures of mine at eight weeks to a chicken forum and several experienced poland keepers told me they were all female.

Spoiler: they weren’t.

Some of the eggs had a scrawl on the bottom to indicate what they were, so I named them based on that. The is G at eight weeks old. She’s a Golden laced poland bantam.

And she’s a very pretty girl, too, but frutty as a nootcake.

December 26, 2019 — 6:20 pm
Comments: 18

I’m dreaming of a white chicken…

Baby Sam wishes you the merriest of Christmases!

December 25, 2019 — 12:00 pm
Comments: 11

On the Second Day of Chickmas

And here they are, all growed up, in the same order. This is obviously before Moe decided Sam Had To Die. The boys all have to be separated now.

My chickens are a disappointment in black and white. They really are very pretty birds.

Is errbody ready for Christmas?

December 24, 2019 — 8:00 pm
Comments: 13

On the First Day of Chickmas…

As I plan to avoid anything that even remotely requires thinking or work for the next two weeks, I figured I’d give myself an easy out and post about my flock. I haven’t kept you up to date on my chooks because I thought for a while I was going to do a whole website about them, then I remembered I’m lazy and I hate to make websites.

These are my oldest three, a day or two after hatching in July of 2018. I had a hen go hard broody (that’s her), so I bought six ‘fertile’ eggs for her. She sat on them for a month and they were all duds. She was so forlorn, I couldn’t bear it.

So I got four more from someone I trusted, and two hatched. I went back to the lady and bought two chicks from the same batch. (That’s four total, but one vanished from the coop one morning. Probably eaten by bears). I got her to accept the new ones as hers.

Twelve eggs, net result: two roosters and one hen.

In order, that’s Millie, Moe and Sam. They’re Pekin bantams, like all my previous chooks. You know, with the feathery feet.

December 23, 2019 — 8:07 pm
Comments: 5

Jolly Olde

Uncle B ventured out for some weekend supplies. He sent me these labels from the posh local grocery. If you can’t quite make it out, it’s £77 and £97 for a turkey crown [that’s a breast to you and me], and £87 for a goose (according to my currency converter, that’s $100.211, $126.239 and $113.221 in today’s money). No, ours didn’t cost nearly that much and we got a whole fancy bird.

Still no joy on the new cat front. The worst are the people who leave their ads in after they’ve sold the cat and then don’t get back to you when you contact them. Feh. People. ‘Swhy I prefer cats.

In the thread before this one, Drew458 asked if we were getting the rain that the BBC is blathering about. We’re personally not flooded, but there’s flooding around us in Sussex. The ditch at the side of our driveway is worrying and the fields are standing in water.

But IFITDOESN’TSTOPRAININGISHALLKILLSOMETHING. I mean it. I’m losing my mind. In the past three months, I can literally only remember ONE day that it didn’t rain, and that was last Wednesday. And it’s desperately dark all the time.

The worst is the chickens. They’re wet and muddy and miserable and no matter how often I shovel out their various houses and enclosures, it’s all wet again next day. If I don’t keep mucking it out and replacing it somebody’s going to get sick. The ground around them wobbles like jelly and is slick as snot, and I’ve got some kind of rat taking advantage of the soft earth and tunnelling in to get leftover food.

BUT! BUT! We’ve bought all our everything, the fridge is full, the tree is lovely, there’s a bottle of cheap champagne cooling and I am now off work for the next two weeks! So a very merry weekend to all of you, and I’ll see you again on Christmas Eve eve.

December 20, 2019 — 8:34 pm
Comments: 18

It shouldn’t be this hard!

Kitten shopping. Nobody has them in stock.

I’m taking two weeks off work, so I thought it was the perfect time to add a cat, while I had time to fuss over it and help it adjust.

Yes, we started with the local shelters, of which there are many. Brits like their cats and dogs and all of their shelters are private and no-kill.

Two problems there. First, they nearly always try to home them in pairs. It makes sense if the two are very attached, but I don’t think that’s always the case. We definitely don’t want two.

Second, most of the shelters do home inspections. Do they do this in the States now? I think it’s completely mad. There’s even advice online for passing your inspection (like hiding the wine bottles). I am not inclined to put up with that for the privilege of taking in an old stray moggie.

So now I’m burning up the classified ads. Most of those, as you can see, are purebred animals with eye-watering prices. But check out that first little sweetie — an ordinary tabby-and-white and they’re trying to get £250 for her. There’s a lot of that going on.

So far, everyone I called had gotten rid of the cat ages ago and didn’t bother to take down the ad. Or they simply haven’t returned my call.

How can it be this hard?

December 19, 2019 — 8:42 pm
Comments: 21


It was last posting day for Christmas cards today. I think I got all mine done, though most I got to hand people in person. Fortunately. Stamps are not cheap.

And the thing in the pictures is the very first commercial Christmas card, 1843. Invented by British civil servant Henry Cole, who realized he was spending much of his Decembers writing holiday letters and thought there has to be a better way.

There’s a fun little post about it on the Library of Congress blog.

They take their Christmas cards seriously here. Although maybe it’s me — maybe people take them seriously in the States, too, and I’m just rough and unsocialized.

Did you send any this year?

December 18, 2019 — 7:25 pm
Comments: 11