Overcoming Bloglessness


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Bird Stuff

Daily Prompt: Now You See Me

You have a secret superpower: the ability to appear and disappear at will. When and where will you use this new superpower? Tell us a story.

I’ve have been using my superpower. Haven’t you noticed? I’ve been disappeared most of the winter. I just kind of got unbloggy; distracted by holidays, Scrabble, TV, jigsaw puzzles, naps, baking, sewing and bird stuff. My brain is full of bird stuff.

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1000 pieces = 2 days to completion.

Fowl Fashion Update

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Betty, Fanny and Penny

The hens would rather not touch snow, but when the sun comes out, who can resist a little walkabout?   Their coop is warmed by heat lamp, since  Betty was molting when the artic air arrived and Fanny has had foliage issues since I got her last summer.

Here she is in July, dehydrated and underweight with no pants and a big scab from being pecked on in an overcrowded henyard.

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Ta-da!  Here’s Fanny now in her new finery.  She still has a small bald patch in the wayback, but that will fill in too.  By summer, she’ll be fully feathered.

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These hens are good layers.  The heat lamp helps with winter production.  I’m getting three eggs most days.   Some eggs go right back to the hens or the crow, scrambled or hard-boiled.

Raven gets raw eggs.  I bet he’d like ’em scrambled too.

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Full moon over Taj Ma-henhouse.

Suki

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Taking a snowbath.

The name Suki didn’t really stick.  My husband consistently calls her “Crowbar”.  I allow that because it’s better than what he was calling her, which was “FUBAR”.   (F@#*^d Up Beyond All Reason)   Don’t call her that!
After reading about a crow named Chicken (CORVUS, by Esther Woolfson)  I started calling her Chicken. Or Crow.  “Suki” has become her formal name; the one she would use on important legal documents.

Crow stays busy all day, bathing in  snow, climbing her tree, caching and uncaching food and watching flighted birds soar by.   At night I bring her inside, to her crate.  One recent evening she stepped off her tree onto my hand and rode all the way inside!  That had never happened before and  I was plum tickled.  She’s done it a few times now, but she won’t do it every time.

In the morning, after scrambled eggs, I open the patio door and let her walk out on her own.  Here’s her route.

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Owls

I’ve learned to keep my hood on when cleaning or feeding the owls at bird rehab.  A great grey owl deliberately befouled my hair!  And a barred owl smacked me upside the head as I exited his chamber.  He didn’t hurt me; his talons were not in kill position.  He just flew into the back of my head for reasons untold.  Maybe just for kicks or maybe he didn’t like my outfit.  I promise not wear that orange camo hoodie again.  It really is hideous.

Great grey owl

Great grey owl


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Fowlishness

This is Penny. She’s new.
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She’s the same age as Betty and Wilma, but only half as big.  There was a lot of competition for food where she used to live.

Penny came from a large flock of hens that lived in a weathered and smelly henhouse that was four generations old.    Farmer Kris was downsizing.  The hens all looked similar, but some had more feathers than others.  Some were molting and looked awful. Molting is normal,  but I hoped to score a bird with no bald spots.

A sea of golden sex link (why the weird name?) hens swarmed forward when Farmer Kris opened the henhouse door.  I crouched down and waited for a volunteer to step up.   I missed the first hen, but nabbed Penny on the next try.  Mr. Raven said he was proud of me; not in a you should see my wife catch a chicken kind of way, but in a I’m glad it didn’t take all day kind of way.    It was a lucky catch; a good hen, no bald spots.

She rode home in a cat carrier, panting, stretched out on the cool, clean plastic floor.  It was probably the first time she’d ever been alone.  I thought she semed relieved to be out of the hubbub.

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Her new home is cleaner and less crowded. There’s more fresh air and sunshine.  Food is abundant here.  Penny tasted grass for the first time and spinach and yogurt and mealworms.  She drank a lot of water.

The hard part for Penny is getting used to these two thugs.  They are not amused.

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Wilma, the biddy on the right, is head honcho. And she’s a pecker. She always wants what Betty has, even when they both have the same thing.   She pecks Betty, Betty goes to the other dish, Wilma pecks her away, Betty goes back to dish one and here comes Wilma…  They go back and forth like that until it’s all gone.

Wilma hasn’t laid a pretty green egg in months; not since she was ill.   But she’s my best holdin’ hen.   She’s a heat seeker and she loves to be held.  I can carry her anywhere.  Wilma falls asleep in my arms.

Why, Momma?  Why did you get her?

Why, Momma? Why did you get a new bird?

Betty is a sweet, soft-spoken girl and a good layer, but she’d rather not cuddle.   I thought a third hen would take some of the pressure off Betty. She’s not on the bottom of the pecking order anymore. I was surprised to see her puff up like a big assed turkey and growl at her new little sister.  She pecks at Penny, but she doesn’t hang on like Wilma does.

You’re supposed to isolate a new bird.  Penny had her own little area, but she was stressed at dusk, all by her lonesome.   She wanted up on the perch with the big hens, so I let her in the coop.  Betty and Wilma growled and puffed and tried to peck Penny, but they didn’t get off their perches.

Penny lays a brown, unspeckled egg every day.  She’s very timid, hiding from her wicked step-sisters who block the exits and guard the waters.  She sleeps on her own perch, across from the big girls.  She hides in the henhouse.  I realized I’d made a mistake.  I should’ve gotten two new hens.  Penny needed someone her own size.

It was a different scene the second time I visite Farmer Kris.  He opened the henhouse door and no swarm came to greet us.  There were fewer hens and they had retreated into the depths  where I was not willing to trod.

Farmer Kris explained as he poured food in a wooden trough, “I had to catch six of them yesterday.  They’re onto us.”

I crouched and Farmer Kris stooped and Mr. Raven waited patiently with the cat crate,  but the cowards stayed back.  It was hot and stanky and nobody wanted it to take all day.   When a hen finally wandered close to him, Farmer Kris nabbed it.  Into the crate she went, without inspection.

I was dismayed once I examined her at home.  Her top parts looked okay, her tail looks grand, but her behind is bare chicken skin and under one wing there was an open sore the size of a half dollar.

“You can take her back,” sighed Mr. Raven.

“No, that’s okay.  She needs attention.  I’ll take care of her.”

Chickens will  pick on a bloody sore.   That’s why they used to make rose colored glasses for chickens, so they can’t see the blood.  Really!   But I have no rose colored chicken glasses.

I gave her a bath, dabbed the wound clean and covered it with antibiotic ointment.   The wound looks much better today.

Now Penny has a friend her size and the two littles are getting along well.

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The new hen hasn’t told me her name yet.  I called her Fanny at first, cuz her butt was showing.

So, now there are four and there will be no more.

This time I really mean it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilma Gets Pampered

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Wilma had lost her joie de vivre. She felt dumpy and blue and wouldn’t lay an egg or race Betty to the food.

Wilma needed a spa day.

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I expected a kerfuffle when I lowered her into the tub, but she settled right in and nodded off in the warm water.  Betty was not nearly that calm for her bath, but Wilma is a heat seeker.           
After a good soak and a rinse I swaddled her in a towel. Then the blow-dry.
Wilma stood still, closed her eyes and dug the hot air.

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It takes a long time to blow-dry a chicken.  Outside it was coolish and windy, so I let Wilma finish drying in the cat carrier in the warm laundry room.

Now, I don’t give a chicken a bath just so she can feel pretty. Wilma needed a butt soak. It was a mess. She’s dropped a few weird, soft shelled eggs. She may be egg bound or have an infection.

I went to the Ag store for a pouch of antibiotic powder that dissolves in drinking water. The burly Ag store man laughed when I told him I’d given my chicken a bath and blow-dry.

“Gee, I’m coming to your house!”, he says. I keep thinking how I might have replied. I just laughed and got outta there.

This evening Wilma is feeling better. She ate some cornbread and she’s walking and talking more.  She was quiet, when she was ill. Poor baby.

I hope tomorrow she’ll be her bossy old self again.

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Daily Prompt Write about anything you’d like, but make sure that all seven colors of the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet — make an appearance in the post, either through word or image. via Roy G. Biv.

Red combs and wattles. Orange feathers. Yellow sign.  Green grass.  Blue sky.  Indigo and violet send regrets.

Betty and Wilma Walk on the Wild Side

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No more chickens on the lawn; that’s the new rule. Mr. Husband treated the back lawn with things that chickens shouldn’t eat, so Betty and Wilma have been confined to their henyard, which is plenty big for two hens. Still, Betty paced the fence, trying to find a way out to the green grass she loves.

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There’s no grass growing in the henyard, so dear husband bought us an old fashioned bale of hay, to sweeten the deal. (He doesn’t do flowers, but a bale of hay is cool.)

It feels like of a rite of passage, My First Bale. I’m country now. I can lounge in the sun on my own bale of hay, chew on a straw and cluck with the biddies. I’ve taken my coffee out there, to the bale. Wine too.

The good news for Betty and Wilma is, there’s a gate in the henyard that they didn’t know about. It opens to a big world they’ve never seen, beyond the fence; a world of grass and dirt, and fields and a road and predators. One day I opened the gate and took Betty and Wilma for their first short excursion. 

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 We stayed close to the fence at first, until I saw how they’d behave.   I was a little nervous. What if they run away? What if a dog happens by?   But no dogs happened and the hens kept an eye on me and stayed nearby. When it was time to go in, I shoo-shoo-ed them, like I always do and they went right back through the gate. Such obedient little hens.

I’ve taken them a little further each day, down the length the back fence. One day, a weird slap of wind reared up and blew our plumage backwards. I was afraid it would blow the hens away! I wanted to scoop them up, but that’s not realistic, so I just ran and yelled to them, “C’mon! Let’s go!” They understood.

Follow Momma! They ran as fast as their drumsticks could carry them, back along the fence, through the gate to the safety of the henyard. I was so proud of them. Such good girls.

Today, they followed me like puppies, out to the front yard.  They’re getting the lay of the land. One day we’ll go all the way around the house.

I don’t leave them out in the world unsupervised. I shepherd my little flock, keeping an eye out for predators. I think Betty and Wilma enjoy our little field trips. I like to keep life interesting for them.

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Daily PromptYou get fantastic news. What’s the first thing you do?
via Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

The first thing I do is tell my husband. “Betty and Wilma are so smart! Guess what they did today?”


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Chookery

Daily Prompt  Play Lexicographer.
Create a new word and explain its meaning and etymology.

 

Chookery- noun: that part of the backyard that has been given over to chickens.

They say it will get bigger; that two hens will not be enough. You want a white one named Doris Day and you can’t resist new chicks in spring and next thing you know, you need a larger, cuter henhouse, a bigger coop, more fencing, electric elements to heat bigger water delivery systems, large quantities of feed and grit and oyster shell and hay and outbuildings.

Pretty soon you have so many eggs you can’t give them away. Pretty soon there’s too much poop. You can’t sleep in. You can’t go away. You’re over-chooked.

That will not happen to me. Betty and Wilma are enough.

But if there’s a white one that needs a home I would name her Doris Day.

Or maybe Blanche.

Wilma

Wilma

Hindsight

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Hindsight; it’s not what you think. I mean, for me, today, hindsight makes me think of dingleberries.

Chicken dingleberries.

You see, Betty had a bad case of dingleberry butt. I’d been hoping the chicken was self-cleaning; that the problem would auto-correct, but the problem kept getting bigger and bigger. It must have been uncomfortable, packing the extra weight around. It certainly was unsightly, in hindsight.

Something had to be done.

So, I gave the chicken a bath. And a blow-dry.

It wasn’t as bad as you’d think. It was no worse than giving a dog a bath. Maybe even easier. Chickens don’t look at you with big sad eyes.

I put Betty in a chicken sized plastic tub full of warm, slightly soapy water. The little tub was in the bathtub with fresh water for the rinse. I wore latex gloves. It took awhile, but I got rid of the big shitlump. Then I got out the hairdryer and fluffed her downy drumsticks and butt dry. Betty stood pretty still for all that. She clucked a lot, but didn’t flap around much. It wasn’t as chaotic as I’d imagined it might be. I just hope I got her dry enough that she doesn’t catch a chill tonight.

And I hope I don’t have to do it again. I bet Betty hopes so too.

Betty

Betty

Daily Prompt<

via Hindsight.