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I’m not proud of myself

Mo’s special girl is G. I can’t tell which of them leads and which of them follows, but I used to find them together well away from the rest of the flock, like they were making a break for it. That’s before Mo went all ‘alpha cockerel’.

It makes sense as they’re very similar color. Chickens are hella racist.

In the comments of yesterday’s post, Mrs P asks an uncomfortable question:



Yes. God yes. It’s really shaming.

I make an effort to observe the flock together and not pair them off randomly, but it’s awkward as hell. Particularly in the evening when I’m putting a hen in with a cockerel that has been cooped up for hours. They can be…swift and ungentle.

Fortunately, chicken sex is undramatic. They bump bottoms three or four times. The roughness is because the cockerel steadies himself by getting a big beakful of her neck feathers. She doesn’t like this one bit. If the hen is completely unwilling, they’ll go ’round and ’round in circles (and I’m afraid I usually intervene).

And always – every time – the hen shakes herself afterwards, head to toe, like a wet dog. She doesn’t go brrrrr, but it’s implied.

April 16, 2020 — 7:48 pm
Comments: 10

More chook talk

BJM asked for more pics of Spoon and Chel, on account of they are funny. Here’s Spoon and Po, back when Po still had a big, round, poofy girly crest. All my boys looked like girls until they were almost three months old.

And Deborah HH asked how I feel about the boys, since I had resisted have a rooster for so long.

I like my boys. Males have lots of strut and personality. Unfortunately, they can be crazy aggressive with each other (and with people, too, though none of mine are). I spend a lot of my day shuffling cockerels around to make sure everyone gets some garden time.

I’m sure it’s pretty miserable for the boys in captivity. They particularly hate seeing other cockerels having sex, and I make sure certain hens only go with certain boys (they have definite preferences).

The alternative was death. Experienced chicken keepers, even of hobby flocks, toughen up and kill their excess boys. I couldn’t. It would ruin the whole chicken experience for me.

I’m told if you have enough room and enough girls, you can keep multiple boys without incident. In fact, I’ve seen it. One of my chook suppliers has a mixed flock that seems to get along pretty well.

All-girl flocks are just fine, and I’m not sure I’d seek out another cockerel in future. To build such a flock, though, means getting chickens from someone else and choosing a breed you can sex at an early age. You want them young enough that they will get used to handling, but old enough that you can reliably spot the girls. For Pekins, that’s about six weeks.

This will rule out Polands for me in the future, sadly, as it’s months before you can tell for sure. It also rules out incubating my own eggs, which is even sadder. I loved hatching eggs!

p.s. did I mention roosters are noisy as hell?

April 15, 2020 — 7:20 pm
Comments: 8

That makes sense…

Thanks to social distancing, drive in theaters are making a comeback. There. Not here. They never had a first time here, on account of the weather.

We’ve had a return to cold the past two days, and I now understand why some people aren’t loving the lockdown. *shakes fist at sky*

Pictured: Sam. Once head cockerel, now just one of many.

April 14, 2020 — 7:24 pm
Comments: 9

I just realized…

…it’s Monday night. I gotta post something!

See, we got our menus out of sync this weekend and had leftovers we had to eat on Easter Sunday (ain’t nobody waste leftovers at the moment), so we’re having our Easter Sunday dinner tonight. That’s what threw me.

It’s only a chicken, but those are mighty scarce at the moment. Unless you’re willing to buy one of them fancy, free-range birds that costs a fortune.

It’s not the fancy free range chicken in the picture, though. She wouldn’t make a proper snack. She’s just a silly bird having a bath in a flowerpot.

April 13, 2020 — 7:56 pm
Comments: 11

Uncle B had a good Friday

Good Friday is when people traditionally planted their potatoes in this country. It’s about the right time of year, and it’s one day the poor bastards had off work.

So Uncle B planted our potatoes today, in one of the raised beds at the end of the garden. The Eastern boundary of our place is a stream (it’s actually a drainage ditch, but that’s a lousy name for a thing that has swans living in it). He was rocking out to Bach’s Goldberg Variation on the headphones, he looked up, and not a dozen feet away these two (and their mum) were cavorting about on the far bank in the sun.

At that moment, he declared it the Easteriest Easter EVAR.

Happy Good Friday, everyone, and stay safe this weekend!

April 10, 2020 — 9:19 pm
Comments: 21

Nothing happened again today. It was glorious.

I could get used to this lockdown stuff. I’m not only idle, I’m idle by order of the Prime Minister and he’ll pay me to do nought. I can’t visit anyone, no-one can visit me and the roads are as quiet as Christmas morning. The weather is lovely, we have food and booze enough for now. I am content.

The girl in the picture is Chel. She followed me around all day. Whenever I swept stuff into a pile, she’d run over and scatter it again, looking for delicious bugs, grubs and worms.

Happy Maundy Thursday, everyone. First the first time anyone knows, the Maundy money has gone out by mail.

April 9, 2020 — 8:04 pm
Comments: 9

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

Nice timing



There’s a huge arable field across the road just to the west of our house. It’s mainly used to grow animal fodder, something different every year.

This year it’s rapeseed.

We’re allergic to rapeseed.

Well, maybe not allergic allergic, but there are volatile oils in the crop that irritate some people and cause bronchitis-like symptoms. Also, it smells nasty. And looks ugly.

The prevailing wind blows right across the crop and into our front door. The main symptom? A ragged cough.

It’s all I could do getting through my shopping yesterday without having a hacking fit in front of strangers. THE faux pas in the time of Coronavirus.

Honestly, I’ve had so many lung issues this year, I’ll never know if I get the bug.

Except fever. I keep my eyes peeled for fever.


April 7, 2020 — 8:23 pm
Comments: 10

We escaped into the wild…!

We are allowed to shop for food occasionally, of course. But we took a very, very roundabout way to get there. Uncle B was worried about the car sitting idle for so long, so we gave it a good run on the way.

Gosh, it was beautiful out. Sunny and warm. The hedges are coming into bloom (hawthorne, mayflower, all in white) and lambs EVERYwhere. It’s an unremarkable cellphone pic through the windshield, but I feel compelled to share it in color.

We had a long debate beforehand:
Farm shop? Nearby. Low risk. Not much more in stock than milk and bread, though.
Supermarket? Far away. High risk, but they’d have all sorts of things we’re running low on.

In the end, we settled for a large local independent market, which fell halfway between the two on all counts. Still a pretty daunting experience.

All the open shops are organized along ‘one comes out, one goes in’ principles. We queue up six feet apart all down the sidewalk. We aren’t both allowed in at the same time. Slathered in disinfectant at the door, hands and the handle of the shopping cart. All cashiers behind plexiglass shields with a hole cut in for the credit card machine (they’ve raised the contactless limits. I hope we aren’t seeing the death of cash).

Today was the first time in fourteen days I’ve put on a pair of shoes.

April 6, 2020 — 8:07 pm
Comments: 11


I didn’t make that image today. I made it six years ago in a post wondering if ebola was the overdue pandemic. Probably not, I concluded, but buy some extra cans of tuna just in case.

Told you I’d been waiting for this sucker for a long time. And yes, I bought plenty of extra tuna in February.

Now comes the close of Week Two of the Lockdown and I heard a rumor today there’s a confirmed case nearby, though no-one seems to know exactly who. Have a good weekend and take extra care!

April 3, 2020 — 7:46 pm
Comments: 18