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Who is the most difficult chicken in the land?

Spoon.

It’s always Spoon.

She’s been on the roof of the garage and the roof of the house. She got so far up a climbing rose, I had to trim it to a stump to get to her. She spent the night in a hedge once. When she vanished this afternoon, I thought there was a good chance she was up a tree somewhere.

And so she was. On the other side of the hedge, in the field next door, jussssst high enough I couldn’t cut her down with the loppers. In the end, at the absolute upper end of my reach, I managed to coax her onto the blade of a hoe and lower her gently to the ground. I think I stressed my sternum.

She would have been safe enough in the tree overnight, if a bit chilly. It’s when she came down at the crack of dawn that’s the problem. Chickens who go into that field often don’t come back.

Have a good weekend and look out for Spoon!

December 4, 2020 — 4:34 pm
Comments: 6

They’re winning…

This here is what it’s all about. I have my own self-sustaining protein snack factory.

Actually, they’re wearing me out. I have to eat a minimum three a day or they start to outpace me. I hard boil them and put them in salads, mostly.

Oops! I hit ‘publish’ on that prematurely. Oh, well…it’s not like anything happened today.

April 8, 2020 — 7:50 pm
Comments: 14

Nothing happens to me now that doesn’t involve chickens

I had a brilliant idea to take Mo, my most violent cockerel, and shut him up with his girlfriend in the fruit cage, so he could get some free ranging time without being within murdering distance of the other boys.

Bad plan. He managed to escape in about ten seconds flat and corner the two poland roosters way deep in the hedge where I couldn’t get to him. I’m crawling on my elbows through brambles trying to grab his scrawny neck when the kitten wonders, academically, whether it would be fun to chase the hen around the fruit cage, violently.

I got everything sorted in the end and sat down, scratched and muddied, to an ice cold cup of coffee.

Say a prayer for my girl Spoon, pictured, who didn’t come home at roll call. I think the two cats energetically playfighting in the garden occasionally spooks a chicken out of her usual territory. I’m not out with them all the time. I walked around and called to her until it was too dark to see anything.

Cross your fingers that she turns up in the morning. She’s my favorite chicken.

March 26, 2020 — 8:33 pm
Comments: 10

Keep your chickens close

This pretty girl is G, and she didn’t turn up for roll call last night. She tends to wander away from the flock on her own and has given me a scare at evening before. I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting chickens roosting where they shouldn’t, but I went ’round and ’round the neighborhood and couldn’t find her. I went to bed pretty sad about it.

When I got up this morning, there she was…pecking away happily in the garden. I don’t know where she spent the night, but she’s a lucky girl. Most chicken stories don’t have a happy ending.

So far, the locals have been (in my opinion) underreacting to the pandemic, but the panic buying finally hit today. We’ve been gradually stocking up for weeks, but Uncle B went out for some fresh bread and milk this afternoon. No dice.

I think supermarkets need to set up a public webcam aimed at the bread aisle so we don’t waste our time again.

All my many (ahem) social engagements have been cancelled or postponed, but they still haven’t shut work. I could easily do most of my job from home, but my boss is stubborn and cantankerous. And very much in the high-risk category. It will come.

By suggesting but not ordering people away from restaurants and other small businesses, the government is killing their custom but they can’t claim on insurance. If nothing is done to shore them up, this will be the end of a lot of shops here.

And think of all the shows and festivals and village fetes we go to every year. If they pause for one year, there’s a good chance they never come back. This virus will make permanent changes in local society.

All very sad.

March 16, 2020 — 8:56 pm
Comments: 23

My dinosaurs are cranky

Illustration by RJPalmerArt

Happy Leap Day!

I ran across a neat article about a dinosaur exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. I looked up the show only to find out it closed in January of 2017.

I hate the Internet sometimes.

Screw it. Still a neat article. It’s a NatGeo about feathered dinosaurs. I mean, we’ve known some had feathers for a long while, but the article went into more detail.

T. Rex was definitely feathered, apparently, because they fossils of his cousin, Yutyrannus Huali, have plumage.

I remind you that a chicken is a living dinosaur, and I wish to inform you my dinosaurs are very unhappy at the moment. It has not ceased to rain. I can recall on one hand the days without rain in the last six months. The lawn around the chicken run is mud, and the mud is now the consistency of chocolate pudding.

Three times a day, I pull on my wellies and squish out to feed wet, unhappy birds. The straw of their bedding just seems to suck moisture from the air. I can’t tell what’s mud and what’s chicken shit, I just know I come in covered in it. I’m sneaking heavy bags of wet straw and chicken shit into the household trash hoping I don’t get done for industrial waste.

I’m amazed none of the birds has gotten sick.

And tomorrow, we’re getting tropical storm Jorge (the Spanish named this one). High winds, rain and hail. I’m so utterly beyond sick of it, Oh My God.

But, hey, at least I didn’t mention the flu! Good weekend, everyone.

February 28, 2020 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 10

Zen Poultry

I got a message from YouTube today; somebody asking to use a sample from this chicken video of mine.

I’ve rewatched in like a bajillion times since then. My first two chooks pecking around in the sunshine. I could watch it all day.

I hope he doesn’t use my nice chooks in chicken porn.

February 18, 2020 — 8:43 pm
Comments: 7

Goose Xing

A village near us is famous for this: its flock of town geese. The picture is from Twitter. The occasion is the policeman erecting the ’20 MPH’ sign in the background, for protecting of the geese.

I don’t know if one has ever been hit by a car, but I do wonder about the fox. Hm. Must ask someone I know in the village where they go at night.

Every time we drive through, the flock is milling around the green happily. Always about the same number. I wonder if they ever import stock to strengthen the bloodline?

I’ve posted about them before. During the village fete, the goosemaster borrows one for Goose Shit Bingo.

Coronavirus update: cases jumped by almost 4,000 yesterday. Total 24,631 today, of which 24,405 in Mainland China. This is very peculiar. From rumor and leaks, the damn thing seems very contagious where it’s hot, but it has hardly spread at all elsewhere. This argues for a longer asymptomatic time (very not good) or an Asian racial vulnerability (less not good, for us non-Asians, anyway).

February 5, 2020 — 7:26 pm
Comments: 14

Purty

This is neat. Spanish photographer takes high resolution video of birds in flight and isolates the birds from the landscape. He uses movie cameras and slow motion and films them for several days before picking the image apart in Photoshop.

His name is Xavi Bou and if you click that link, it’ll take you to a Google Images search of his name. Do go look; my little black and white photos don’t half do him justice.

I love watching birds in flight. I could do it for hours.

But tonight, the storm rages, so I’d best be off. Go look at pretty pictures.

January 14, 2020 — 7:26 pm
Comments: 14

But wait! There’s more!

Last one! Meet the test egg. I usually call her Baby.

My incubator came before my Ebay eggs and I wanted to test out the functions, so I pinched an egg from my own flock to experiment with.

Incubators do three things: heat, humidity and turn the eggs regularly. Well, some of them don’t do that last thing and you have to do it by hand, but I got a good one. 100% hatch, y’all.

When the eggs came and it was all ready to go, I thought “what the heck?” and left the test egg in with the others. I really didn’t think, after all the handling, it would hatch.

I was very excited when I candled the eggs on day 7 and Baby was swimming around inside. Yes, they do that. Freaked me right out.

So this is the child of Sam and Millie. He’s off-white, she’s mille fleur and Baby is the same silver color as Spoon. Chicken genetics are very complicated.

She’s much smaller than the polands. She’s smaller than the other pekins, even (she came from a tiny egg from a young hen, so it’s not surprising). But she can see and the polands can’t, so she runs rings around them. And me. Flighty little miss.

And that is my flock: nine chickens. Four male, five female. Four pekins, five polands. I have comfortable accommodations for six, so things are a little tight.

Back to normal next week, but I got one more weekend and I’m going to laze right through it. Happy Friday!

January 3, 2020 — 8:15 pm
Comments: 8

My girl

This is my girl Spoon. She’s my favorite chicken, though goodness knows why. She’s almost been the death of me twice.

She went through a phase where she had to sleep as high up as possible. This meant me, with chest infection, hauling myself up a ladder to retrieve her from the roof of the garage. Next, she got so far up the roof of the house that I had to knock her off with a stick and catch her in mid-air. (I couldn’t really leave her to come down on her own. She would have fluttered down at dawn and been easy pickings for senor fox).

Spoon gets locked in early now.

There was nothing written on her shell and I was kind of named out. She’s an overall silvery color. I was going to go with Sterling, but I thought that was a dumb name for a chicken, so Spoon it is.

Chicken folk call this color ‘self blue’. Self, because her crest is the same color as her body, and the silvery color is bluish, I guess. I forgot to mention yesterday that Albert is a white-crested blue.

If you’re keeping count, that’s the three pekins and the six polands accounted for.

January 2, 2020 — 7:50 pm
Comments: 3