Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Archive for the month “November, 2014”

Important Inventions I Like

We have two brand new baby chickens in the brooder and I was concerned about their warmth, so I got up out of sleep to check them out. They were fine however, I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. My mind began to wander, that happens a lot.

Anyway, I spent a good part of the night thinking about what is the world’s most important invention. I do not know which the most important one is, but I have my ideas.

My first idea of that subject is the wheel. You surely have seen the cartoon character riding what appears to be a unicycle. A solid stone carved into a round shape that resembles a unicycle. For a cave dweller, I think he was pretty good at keeping his balance. I have difficulty in walking, let alone, riding a unicycle.

But, if you think about it, the wheel led to many other inventions. Just look around you and see how many things have a round shape like a wheel. Pies, cakes and cookies are but a few. Everybody knows that pie are round, cornbread are square. I don’t believe I have ever seen a square wheel. Flat maybe, but not square.

But, if there were no wheels, we would have to walk everywhere we go. I already mentioned the balance thing .We would not have vehicles, if there were no wheels. If we had no vehicles, there would be no car radios, if no car radios, then no satellite radio, no satellite radio, no Blue Grass station to listen without commercials, and so forth. Stagecoaches had wheels, but no satellite radio. And GPS. If they had, then maybe they would known about the robbers waiting in the hills. And did I mention that radios have round knobs? So, you see, wheels are very important.

I don’t know if this qualifies as an invention or not. But, in the early days of Adam and Eve, they wore no clothes. After that old serpent seduced them into eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they discovered they were naked. They covered themselves with fig leaves. I looked into that and discovered that a Fig leaf does not cover as much as a Catalpa leaf. If it had been me, I would have used a catalpa leaf. In Texas, the Catalpa worms are famous for fishing bait. You look at these images and decide which would cover more.

Catalpa leaf                          Fig leaf

Catalpa Leaf

Fig leaf








Of course, God did not like that, so He expelled them from the Garden of Eden. I’m thinking they had it made in the shade and they really messed it up. But if clothes had not been invented, or discovered, whatever the case, then you can imagine the sights to which we might be subjected. Plus, here in North Texas, the weather is not conducive to running around in your birthday suit. In the summer, one may sunburn in places where the fig leaf would not cover. So, clothes are very important.

Next, we have the television remote control. This is important to the male species. Usually, the other gender is not remotely, (notice the play on words) concerned about the gadget. For example, with a remote, one can view two or more football games in the same picture. Or, you can switch back and forth between two different TV shows.

Do you remember when the father would tell the kid to get up and adjust the volume or change channels? That worked for other things as well. Like, get me a beer or fix me a sandwich. But those are other stories.

I remember; I was a kid once. Had to go outside and turn the antenna while my dad would yell from the window, “a little more right or that’s enough.”

Anyway, the remote was a very important invention.

As I got into writing this piece, my mind began to wander and think of many more inventions that are worthy of being on my list. I need to keep this short so I will save those for another article. In the meantime, if you have a list of favorite inventions, please let me know. I would love to hear them.

I hope you have a wheely good day.

It’s Time

Well, it is about time. The incubator has been running full cycle for 21 days. And it finally happened. We have been waiting for three weeks for our firstborn. Firstborn Silkie chick, that is! It made its presence known early this morning. We do not know its gender. Thus, we call it an it. And unlike human babies, we won’t know the gender for several months. The “Rancherette” AKA, mother hen, did one of those chicken ultrasounds on the eggs, but it did not disclose its gender. I looked very closely and could not see anything dangling.  But, then, I can’t see anything in human ultrasounds either.

There are “old wives tales” that suggest how to tell the gender but most are only meant to predict a boy or girl after the chick is hatched. I read on http://www.backyardchickens.com of a method that says, “If you pick a chick up with two fingers by the neck, the pullets will draw their legs up to their body and the cockerels legs will dangle.”  I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to hold up anything by its neck or anything else that dangles before my eyes.

As I write this, it is nestling among the eggs that have not yet seen fit to join the birthing club. The newest chick in our flock is starting to exhibit its authority by cheeping loudly, rolling the eggs around, and in general, explaining the process to those still enclosed in their shell. This is how the pecking order begins.

When the one with the strongest pecker makes its debut, it begins to order all the other chicks around. This will continue throughout life. Authority goes to their head. I suppose in this hatch of eleven, if they all hatch, another authority figure will stand up and demand homage from the passive underlings be they cockerel or hen. Then the battles will begin. Of course, some old biddy hen may revolt and argue the circumstances.

Anyway, I hear it cheeping and am trying to translate. It is very difficult, however I think it is trying to say:

       Come out of there, I am hungry and the mother hen (that  would be the “Rancherette”) will not take me out to feed me  until I have companySo get out of there.   Use your little pecker. It will break the shell.”

So we are waiting and pacing, pacing and waiting. The incubator is in a spare bedroom for now, That makes it convenient to do that. The “rancherette” goes back and forth from room to room; she cannot stay away from the incubator, sort of like watching a pot of water waiting to boil. She sits and watches, just waiting for another mouth to feed. It’s not as if we have so few mouths to feed if you count our ten canines. Sitting and watching, that’s the “rancherette”.

The “rancherette” may be the mother hen of sorts, but it isn’t like a mother-to-be, it is more like a grandmother-to-be. You have all the thrill of delivery and none of the pain. It is all pleasure.

Around the world, there are people waiting to hear about the newest additions to our flock. We appreciate your enthusiasm and best wishes. I am sorry we did not have any baby showers; however, we are registered at Neiman Marcus if you are interested. Not to worry, though, we will let you know ASAP. In the meantime, here is the first baby picture.

Our first born november 18








I know, it looks dead, but it isn’t, it is our firstborn.

Mother Hen

On a cold and windy day here in North Texas, I find myself dreaming about warmer weather. Oh, well, I can look forward to the middle of April when it begins again.

In the meantime, I spend my time working with the “Rancherette” as she prepares for the new chicks that will be arriving into this world on or about the 18th of this month. We know this because she has placed the fertile eggs in an incubator. We know fertile eggs are in the incubator because she has candled them. That’s like an ultrasound for chicken eggs. You see, you run a little gel on the stomach, then rub, no, wait, you don’t really do that.

Anyway, I built a Candler for the “Rancherette” to use. It is a simple little device. I took a  large commercial size green bean can, cut a hole in the bottom of the can smaller than an egg, turned it upside down over a keyless light fixture, placed a 60 watt bulb in the light fixture and voila, you have a Candler. You cannot tell if it is a boy or girl like human ultrasounds but I’m working on that.

Candling is where you place the egg over the hole in the can. The light shines through the egg and you can tell if there is a mass inside. If there is a mass, then the egg is fertile. The rooster did his job. The way he struts around in the pen, he already knew that. He’s as proud as a peacock. The hens, however, look like they just went through a windstorm. Talk about a bad hair day.

There is a lot of work to do to prepare for the new additions. We set up the brooder in the garage, with the infrared lamps, new pine shavings, and all the paraphernalia that goes with baby chicks. You should see the “Rancherette” acting just like a mother hen. Change this, fix that, turn this, move the box here, test the humidity, the temps too low, are the lamps working… etc. Just like a mother hen.  I’m thinking that the real mother hen could do this job without all our interference. When she sets on the eggs, she doesn’t know or even care if they are fertile or not, she just likes to set on the eggs. In fact, if she is broody, she may even set on golf balls.

I wonder if when the feathered mother hen does this on her own, does she discuss this with the father of the chicks before hand? I’m thinking that if he had to go through this kind of hubbub he would elect to disregard her flirty eyes and keep things to himself. Just saying…

Well, we are just playing the waiting game now. “The bags are packed the car is gassed up, and we are ready to go”. The expectant “Mother Hen is nervous but not nearly as nervous as the expectant “Surrogate Father” is. Please keep that under your incubator.

Stay tuned. For your information, in the back room, there are other incubators. On the top of each is a schedule. In the second incubator, a hatch is scheduled on or about the 26th of this month and another hatch on or about December 2nd. The good times just keeping a coming. Bach, Bach, Bach. Cock a doodle do!!!

I think we should plan the next mating season for a delivery in warmer weather. The rooster may not want to cooperate, but we can “fix” that. I got to go now, must go to the store and get some cigars or should I get donuts? Maybe some of both.  I have to be ready.

Problem Solving

I love it when the first cold front comes marching in. It isn’t like a mild change in the temperature, I mean it rolls in with a vengeance. However, the way the wind was blowing in from the south yesterday, I sincerely believed the weather prognosticators were getting it wrong.

It isn’t like they always know. And on that subject, when I was a child here in Texas, we often had “blue northers” blow in. Nowadays, we have a “polar vortex”. Just shows how much I keep up with the weather, nowadays. Yesterday, the temperature was in the 70’s, today it is in the 40’s. You might call it a “blue polar  norther vortex.”

So, I stepped into the cold air this morning for my morning “running of the dogs” and raced back inside to get a coat. I have noticed that the dogs do not pay much attention to the cold. In fact, they seem to enjoy running about while I stand shivering in the wind. It seems they like to jump and want to play much more so than when it is hot.

These dogs are spoiled. They have heaters in their inside pens and their outside pens are protected from the wind, but do they thank me for that? Noooo, they want to keep me outside in the cold wind.

I think the cold weather causes certain hormones to escalate in canines, but I don’t know for sure. The females sashay around the male’s pens and flutter their eyes, and shake whatever gets the males’ attention. Of course, the males like to hang around the females’ pens. With five females and four males in the kennels, you can see the “excitement” that builds in the kennels.

But, I’m thinking, I have a “fix” for that. The males may just be barking falsetto, if they keep me in this cold much longer. Maybe if I teach them what “snip, snip” means, then things may change around here.

In the meantime, the “rancherette” ventured to the chicken coop to let out those little fluffy little loveable critters from their insulated confine. Upon opening the door, the one known as Captain Kanga Roo, stepped out onto the ramp and discovered the “rancherette’s” bare legs.

Not being a chicken psychologist, I don’t know if he thought those legs were a hen, in which case he and the “rancherette” both had a problem,  or if he actually thought they were a rival for his hens affection. Either way, he got up close and personal.

From across the back yard, I heard her raising her voice at him. I’m guessing, that if he does that again, he may become the focus of what some might call cruel and unusual punishment. He may even be subjected to the same “fix” as the male poodles.

I’m not a chicken  authority. I leave that to the “rancherette”. So I never knew a rooster could be “fixed” until I researched this. Guess what I found out. The “fixing” procedure in chickens is called caponizing. I am not about to go into detail. Just know that it is possible. I’m pretty sure I would not like it.

Now that I know, I can tell you that if Captain Kanga Roo doesn’t change his habits, he is likely to find out what happens in Neuter Neuter Land.  He will meet up with the resident neutician. He isn’t Catholic but he just may become an altered boy. Do you suppose a rooster can crow falsetto? They say, it improves the quality of the meat. Hummmm! Old Captain better just keep his harem in line and laying eggs and leave the “rancherette’s” legs alone.

So, now in addition to the phrase “Chicken Nuggets”, I another warnings for  the resident Roo. “Caponize”. And for the dogs, Snip, Snip.

In the meantime, enjoy the cold blue polar norther vortex . Have a nice cold day. Cover all the vital parts to keep from freezing. Seriously, it is cold out there.

Not Just Another Day

Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, commemorates the end of World War I. It was declared over in 1918 at the 11th hour on the 11th day of November, the 11th month. That date is a day set aside to honor not only those veterans of WWI, but also, all veterans, men and women, who served in any war. It includes those who also served in peacetime.

Even though this poem is written in the masculine gender, in no way does it overlook the women who also served, even in the Civil War.
This poem is my effort to commemorate those brave men and women who honored me with their call to duty. I hope you find my efforts to do so an encouragement for you to do the same.

Not Just Another Day

Entwining filament into fiber,
Twisting the yarn into fabric,
the master weaver unites the nature
of his creation with the strength
of his morality.

Out of loyalty to his convictions
he strives for triumph, for success.
he does so, because it is ingrained,
fixed, and deep-rooted
in his character.

The fabric of the master soldier
Is linked with a thread of passion
and a strand of patriotism.
Bonded together, they form a shield,
a shield of honor.

In times past, the master soldier
has faced his adversaries
with courage, with daring,
with bravery and even fear.
His efforts do not go unnoticed.

I offer a mark of distinction to each
Of those who brave the unknown,
who risk their very existence
to stand for the principles of freedom.
I honor those who have served.

                                                                                                 Pete Robertson                                                                                                                                          November 11, 2014

November 11, 2014

Mail Delivery

It is another damp, dreary day here in North Texas. Yesterday, it rained all day, then all last night and is continuing today. But I am not complaining, at least not about the moisture. Although, I could stand for it to be a bit warmer than 52 degrees. I realize that temperature is warm to some of you folks outside the state of Texas.

We have been in a drought situation for the last three years in our area. Our pond dried up months ago, except for a few inches in the bottom. Even those precious inches are covered by algae. But I am not complaining about the moisture. On days like today, it is almost impossible to find any projects I can do that are not rained out. However, the “Rancherette” can find plenty to do.

Just this morning we get a call from the Post Office. They notified the “Rancherette” that there was a package waiting to be picked up. So, she braves the cold and wet rain to go to the post office and pick up her package of eggs. (She knew eggs were in the package but the post office did not know, otherwise they could have been scrambled).

I know, most people get their eggs from the grocery store. There is a variety of eggs available at the grocery store. Organic, (whatever that means) low cholesterol eggs, large eggs, medium eggs small eggs, brown eggs, white eggs, egg whites only, artificial eggs, just about any kind of chicken egg you want. But, my “Rancherette’ marches to the beat of a different drummer. She buys eggs and has them delivered by the U.S.P.S.

I suppose I should tell you these are Silkie Chicken eggs. I know you cannot buy these eggs in the grocery store. These eggs are specifically purchased for the sole reason of incubating them. You know, that process where as the chicken, when hatched, does not know his/her mother, since they will hatch from a machine. I can just see it now, when grown and feeling abandoned, the chicken will search the internet to see if he/she can discover his/her birth parents.

Now, if you have a broody hen, she could become an adoptive mother. Just not quite the same as a birth parent, however, And your hen may not be broody, depends on the hormones (doesn’t everything?) but still the chick would not know the father.

Well, the “Rancherette” brings home the package of eggs. The shipper has bubble wrapped each egg and placed them into a box filled with shredded newspaper.The grocery store doesn’t go that far. Their shipper puts them into a foam container. You know how at the store you open the foam carton and inspect each egg to see if it is broken? Well, that happened with this package of eggs, too. I must say, they are packaged very well. So well, in fact, that each egg is hidden in the shredded paper and she had to look carefully through the package, hunting for the eggs. One would have thought she was on an Easter egg hunt. I should have got her an Easter basket.

The shipper had marked each egg as to which family tree it belongs. B stand for Buff, L stands for Lavender, PT stands for Paint and so forth. Those are colors of different varieties of Silkies. However, these are still eggs and have yet to be hatched. We also have to hope the rooster knew what he was doing.

In about 21 days or so, the “Rancherette” will become a surrogate mother to a flock of Silkie chicks. We won’t be able to determine how many boy chicks or how many girl chicks will hatch until a couple of months down the road. They keep those things well hidden. However, when they eventually hatch, you will be the first to know. Since I am a non-smoker, I will not be passing out cigars.  I may be a surrogate father and as such, maybe I will pass out some Chicklets gum.

I’m thinking that maybe I would like a slab of bacon to go along with my eggs. But I can’t mention that or the “Rancherette” might want to start raising pigs. I can just hear her now, “Oh, they are soooo cute! That would lead to me building luxury pigpens, with special pig feeders and all the other luxurious items that pigs enjoy, like mud. There is plenty of that today.

Me, I just want the bacon. I can get it delivered by mail.

Have a wonderful day.

Everyone is Happy

It seems this morning that it is a good day to start the biennial Daylight Saving Time debacle, uh debate. I can deal with the time change twice a year, but it certainly throws the schedule off for all our animals. We have seven Standard poodles, two Cairn Terriers, and one Italian Greyhound. They live in nice insulated indoor/outdoor kennels, with heaters for the winter and fans for the summer. They seem to enjoy their conditions. Twice a day, we let them run freely in the fenced acre behind the house. They have a time for everything. Eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, etc. Everyone is happy.

We also raise Silkie chickens. Silkies are a special breed of bantams. They too, enjoy a very nice domicile. Wood chips on the floor, insulated coop, covered with chicken wire to keep out the hawks, with food, water, and nesting boxes to lay eggs. They don’t quite have the hang of the egg boxes, just yet. They lay anywhere they want to, under the ramp, on the bare ground and even behind the tree.  They get treats every day as well, usually, dried mealworms.But, they also have a time for everything; eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, etc. Everyone is happy.

Well, let me get back to the DST storyline. Just Saturday, I tended to the dogs at 7 A.M., Daylight Saving Time, The sun was barely peeking over the horizon, the wild birds were beginning to flutter in the trees, the neighbor’s cows were mulling about, calves wanting to nurse, the roosters were crowing, the hens were beginning to cackle and everything seemed in place. I let the dogs out of their pens for their morning constitutional and they ran and played, sniffed all the bushes and each other and the males marked they territory, just as they do every morning. Did I mention, they also get a treat each morning for just being dogs. Imagine that. Everyone was happy.

The “Rancherette” lets the chickens out of their coop into their fenced runs. They scratch and peck the ground, cackle at each other or at the roosters who then become amorous and they do all the things that chickens do. They have no set schedule as when to lay eggs. Sometime during the evening before, someone deposited one in the doorway; it almost became scrambled. They also get treats every day, just for being chickens. Everyone was happy.

That was Saturday. On Sunday, we reverted to Central Standard Time here in North Texas. Seven A.M., Saturday became Six A.M. on Sunday as we set the clocks back one hour. That is supposed to give us an extra hour of sleep. That means when I went out to the animals at Seven, I was an hour later than before. That did not work for the animals. They got up with the sun just as they do every morning. Barking, cackling and crowing, they wanted their regular routine.They were not so happy this morning.

Why do we change the time anyway? I don’t think Arizona or Hawaii changes their time. I’m thinking that since this is a free country, we do not have to change our time either. I do not have to be anywhere at a certain time. So what, if I am early or late! Who cares? The “Rancherette” and I discussed this last night after we went to bed at 9:15 P.M. or was it 10:15 P.M.? I’m not sure I was happy.

So I have decided, I either have to adjust my schedule to correspond with all the animals; meaning I have to get up an hour earlier or place clocks in all the pens and teach them how to tell time. They are smart animals, they can learn. What ever happened to my extra hour of sleep? Everyone is happy, well, maybe not everyone.

But I certainly hope you are.

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