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one chicken leads to another

My first two chooks, Mapp and Lucia. Lucia was alpha hen. She woke up every morning, laid an egg, woke up the others and led them all over the garden, and dropped dead suddenly at three years old.

Mapp started laying six months after Lucia. She lays a handful of eggs every year and then goes broody, sitting on the nest all day trying to hatch baby chicks out of straw. At the end of the Summer, she picks herself up, shakes herself off and rejoins the flock. She will turn eight this Spring.

I tell you, laying eggs isn’t for pussies.

This year, I’m seriously considering calling her bluff. The farm where I bought these two also sells fertilized eggs. I’m thinking of popping half a dozen under Mapp to see what happens.

Most likely to happen: nothing. For once in her miserable life, she doesn’t go broody. Or she doesn’t do it right. Or they aren’t properly fertile.

Worst case scenario: they all hatch and they’re all roosters (but I wouldn’t find this out until I’m completely attached to the little peckerheads). That would be tragic. I couldn’t keep them all, I’d rather not keep even one, but I couldn’t bear to let them go for fox food. I’d have to market them as hand tamed pets and sweeten the deal somehow. Maybe give them away with a little watercolor portrait.

There are all sorts of in-between scenarios, like she could panic and murder those weird little fluffy things that destroyed her precious eggs. That happens sometimes. But ideally (and this is a long shot) I’d get a couple of good hens, and these ones would be properly hand-reared and friendly.

We’ll see. I’ve never heard of a bantam living past nine, so this is Mapp’s last chance. I promised her if she lived through the Winter, we’d give it a try.

She didn’t understand a word of that, of course, but still. You don’t break your word to a chicken.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

March 16, 2018 — 8:35 pm
Comments: 17

Sensible chuckle

It started with zoo keepers, but the funniest ones are from the punters, naturally. Twitter hashtag #rateaspecies rates animals as if they were Amazon products.

I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon. If you pay too much attention to the ratings, you’d never buy anything.

March 15, 2018 — 11:06 pm
Comments: 9


Ah, I’ve been waiting for this! My girls stop laying in October and don’t pick up again until March. To be exact, March 14 (as it turns out). They’d lay all year if I gave them artificial light, but I don’t need the eggs and they need the break. Laying eggs is hard on a chook.

Yes, I know who it was. It was Jenny. I opened the door to the henhouse and she was sitting on the nest looking very serious. It’s very serious business, I tell you. Then she gave us a rousing chorus of the egg song. ‘Twas fine to hear.

I used to think the egg song was foolish from an evolutionary standpoint. You know, loudly calling attention to the vulnerable package you just delivered. But, observing them, they seem to wait a while and move away from the nest, so perhaps it’s a distraction technique. Whatevs.

Gosh, it was nice today. First day it truly felt like Spring. Won’t last. We’re expecting cold weather and maybe even snow at the weekend, but that won’t last either. It’ll be lambs before you know it!

March 14, 2018 — 10:25 pm
Comments: 13

Chickens! In cool tinted specs!

A chicken’s vision is weighted toward the red/orange and away from blue/green. Makes sense when you remember their ancestors were woodland creatures and, then as now, they peck a living by spotting edible seeds and insects in grass and leaves. The downside is the sight of red, red chicken blood can make a flock go cannibal. In a big flock, little injuries happen and may not be noticed until it is Too Late. It starts with a peck and ends with…everyone eating Mabel alive.

So this guy invented red-tinted chicken specs that effectively make a chicken colorblind. They’re hinged. When the chicken leans forward, the lenses swing away and the bird can see normally. On the ground, where the food is.

Yes, they work. No, you can’t buy them any more. They’re mounted on a chicken’s beak by inserting a pin through the nostrils. It probably doesn’t hurt, but you know how people are about these things.

These days, they do the same job by beak trimming. A blunt beak isn’t good for plucking feathers (which is usually how a chicken gets the injury that leads to blood that leads to tragedy). Used to be, this was a pretty awful practice. There is feeling in the beak as it gets closer to a chicken’s face. These days, though, they have a neat procedure where they run a laser across the beak of a young bird, which cuts the blood vessels and the tip of the beak later falls off.

Make sure to follow the link and watch the lefthand video (it shows funny chickens in spectacles, not having stuff put through their nostrils).

March 13, 2018 — 8:08 pm
Comments: 16

It finally happened to me


I thought it would never happen to me. I’m not one of those people who takes her phone to the loo and watches Gone with the Wind on the throne. I didn’t even remember the silly thing was in my pocket until I heard it >plonk< into the swirling waters of Flushing Stream.

It’s…okay. I peeled off the case and the seal and put the whole lot on the radiator for a few hours. Works okay. Looks kind of wonky.

The video is sort of de-interlaced and I have a spooky purple vignette around the edges of the screen, but only sometimes. I don’t know, is that residual moisture or actual damage? Doesn’t matter. I’m not due for a new phone yet and I’m kind of attached to this one.

Also, I just now tried to update my plugins so y’all can preview comments again, and the preview plugin broke the blog. I nuked the plugin from the control panel and it’s working again, but you still can’t preview. But I think you can edit! Will that do?

March 12, 2018 — 10:45 pm
Comments: 15



We blew a…gasket? Washer? Something in the dish washer input line last night. Water everywhere. Until the plumber comes, I’m doing dishes by hand.

I don’t mind, to be honest. For a few days anyway. It’s kind of Zen.

My mother, who was an aggressive proto-feminist, used to say that washing dishes made her feel a direct connection to all the women in her ancestry. I don’t know about that. I can tell you for sure some of our foremothers were too snooty and high-falutin’ to wash their own dishes and some, I would guess, were too slatternly. And if you go back far enough, some probably just squatted on their haunches and drank straight out of the crick.

I know I do.

She wouldn’t live in a house that didn’t have a window over the sink, so she could look out and daydream. I have one, but it’s dark now.

Anyway, nothing planned for the weekend but dish washing, chicken painting and (yes) more yogurt making (that’s going really well, thanks for all the encouragement). Have a good weekend, whatever you may do!

March 9, 2018 — 10:38 pm
Comments: 15

Happy International Women’s Day


Pictured: International Women’s Day march and general lady strike in Spain.

What the hell is that gesture supposed to represent? The Wall of Hoo-Hah? The Sea of Poon? “I self-identify as a giant hole”?

I wish women would make their minds up about this stuff. Like, I want you to see me for a brains and, hey, have you seen my pussy hat?

Anyway, the slogan for this Spanish thing was, “if we stop, the world stops.” But, ummm…things seemed pretty much normal here. I’m guessing nothing much ground to a halt anywhere, even in Spain.

March 8, 2018 — 10:46 pm
Comments: 12

The case for the prosecution rests, M’lud


Sorry. Got jammed up tonight (if you’re impressed with the post I didn’t post, you should see the work I didn’t work!).

I leave you with this iconic image and remind that the avian asshole on the right is a European robin and the poor birdie on the left is an innocent blue tit. I’m telling you, they’re a menace. A tiny, beautiful menace.

Teehee! Blue tit!

March 7, 2018 — 10:51 pm
Comments: 11

The last thing this poor girl ever saw


Okay, not really. Just a photobomb. (Video at the link).

This is a European robin, Erithacus rubecula, like the one I posted about last week. If you read the text, they’re all awwwing and cooing and wishing they had something to feed the adorable robin.

I guarantee you, if we could speak robin, that little thug is tweeting something like, “hey! HEY! I didn’t authorize you to take pictures! Come over here and I’ll mash your beak in for you, you big pink pansy!”

What would it be like to be a belligerent, psychopathic asshole trapped in the body of a tiny adorable feathery tennis ball?

March 6, 2018 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 17

If a tree falls in the forest…


There’s a lot going on over here. I wish I could tell you more about it, but the only accurate news we get is word of mouth. Or tweet of Twitter, as it were.

The map is pinched from Katie Hopkins’ Twitter feed. It’s a map of all the ‘gas explosions’ London has had lately. The little Islamic symbols on the markers is because Islams are super, super unlucky with their natural gas services.

The big one recently may actually have been an illegal moonshine still. We can’t know. We don’t have a national press.

That supermarket that was burned to the ground in Dublin? The perps we saw in the videos didn’t look Irish, but what do we know? They’ve made nine arrests and released no names. I can’t imagine why.
[edit: names released. Sounds like mostly Irish boys].

If you follow the link above to the Belfast Telegraph, it even says “Unverified social media footage appeared to show looting at a Lidl store in the west of the city, as well as heavy machinery being used to damage the property.” That’s it. That’s all they have for reportage. Unverified social media footage is all we got.

Also from Ireland: their new Prime Minister is looking to boost the population of Ireland by a million migrants. Current population: 4.8 million. I can’t wait for all the stories we won’t ever hear as a result of THAT.

Addendum: Everything back to normal, except I had a squintillion emails to deal with.

March 5, 2018 — 10:24 pm
Comments: 10