rancherwriterpoet

Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Archive for the tag “chickens”

RIP, DEAR PRADA

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It turned out to be an eventful day around our house. I received the customary phone calls and the usual assortment of Father’s Day cards. And I am so grateful for my children and grandchildren. So, thanks to all my family and especially to my “Rancherette” wife.    However, there was a moment of sadness yesterday. If you are a pet lover as we are, then perhaps you may understand. We have many animals around our home. Chickens, geese, dogs, and they all seem to cohabitate with each other, within certain parameters of course. We love each and every one of them. So it is with that certain sadness we grieve a bit over the loss of one.

Prada, a beloved standard poodle, lost her bout with cancer. She was two weeks shy of her 10th birthday. She was an exceptionally sweet dog with a like disposition. In all of her days, I never heard her bark. She never growled. If there was ever a dog that smiled, she was the one. She was shy, yet playful in her own way. Never a cross word with any other dog. She was small for her breed and never had puppies.  She loved peppermints as do all of our dogs. However, she was terrific at “helping” to unwrap the mint. When we let the dogs run from their kennels in the afternoon she would hang around in order to get an “extra”.  It was almost like a game with her. I’ll miss that.

I do not know God’s plan for animals. He certainly must have enough love for each. It is with a certainty that dogs bring about a sense of belonging in the world. They serve a purpose. In my life I have had many dogs and a few cats. I have loved each and every one and each has brought joy to my life in one form or fashion. The remaining dogs in our kennels must sense a loss in some sort of way. I suppose they grieve a bit as well. So this new day breaks and our lives continue and the days move forward.  This will happen again and again. I will never get used to it. RIP, dear Prada.

The Travelin’ Fuzzy Band

I, being the bus driver for the Fuzzy Chicken Band concluded a bus trip this past Sunday with the band in Comanche Texas.  It was a two day gig with four performances.

 As with any trip we take, the bus must be prepared for the journey.  The “Rancherette” and the “Rancherwriterpoet” had packed their bags the night before. We typically wait until the last minute before departure to inform the Fuzzy Chicken Band. They get so antsy and uptight that we go to all lengths to keep them in the dark.  However, they must have suspected something was up. Probably it was the baths and blow dry the day before.

You could hear cackling cries of “road trip, road trip”.  Even the chickens who free range next door got excited. Their enthusiasm created more uproar around the neighborhood. Mind you now, the neighborhood fowl do not travel, except into the dog yard and that usually is not a good thing. Luka, our little rescue Italian Greyhound with a hitch in his get-a-long, can still chase down a free range chicken in record time. If that chicken cannot fly back over the fence, well, chicken nuggets.

All the band members were raring to go, except for Cowboy the Cochin. He was still miffed because I did not get him a new ride as he suggested last trip. He wanted to know, “what’s in it for me?”  “Ho hum, another show, another award”.   Reluctantly He agreed to go if I would program the satellite radio to his Bluetooth. Seems he is a huge fan of the Traveling Wilburys with Tom Petty and George Harrison. He loves “The End of the Line”.  You can listen here if you are so inclined.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwqhdRs4jyA

If you listen closely you can hear Cowboy singing along.

Well it’s alright, riding around in this Ford
Well, it’s alright as long as I’m not being bored.
Well, it’s alright doing the best that I can
Well, it’s alright as long as I’m pleasing my fans

Of course that’s Cowboy’s version. He’s got more but I refused to include any out of respect for my readers and of course, the Traveling Wilburys.

So bags were packed, the bus loaded, the first class quarters readied for the Fuzzy Chicken Band and the traveling music is ready on their Bluetooth.

They were fluffed and primped and ready for the big trip and of course the performances. This would be the first time for two performances each day in a two day show. The manager, AKA “The Rancherette” had them at their best. She gets the most from these performers. You should hear her at times. She cajoles them; sweet talks them, bribes them with treats and in general persuades them to listen to her coaching. Notice I said persuades; I’ll leave it at that. But me thinks she could probably coach a hockey team with her sweet demeanor.She  taking notes, I’m staying clear.img_7121

On Saturday, before the judging began, The Fuzzy Chicken Band made the rounds meeting and greeting the other performers. They met new friends, renewed old acquaintances and in general were on their best behavior.  It is really interesting when the band jams with other bands. They make beautiful music together. Especially since they all speak in different dialects and foreign languages. The little Cochin Sisters performed admirably. A couple of newbies made their first appearance and did well. The “Rancherette”  is always on the lookout for new talent for the Fuzzy Chicken Band. Cowgirl did her best in spite of Cowboy’s lack of harmony. I think Cowboy was still not on his game. Sunday brough about two more shows and Cowboy’s attitude was a tad better.

The accommodations for the performers at Comanche Crossroads were excellent. img_7114They were the best the Fuzzy Chicken Band had ever experienced for these poultry shows. The staff, Dwayne and Melody,  are to be commended for their first-rate adherence to perfection.They took very good care of the humans with free donuts, cold drinks and a genuine attention to detail. As the bus driver for the Fuzzy Chicken Band I’m always looking for free food. It is a sure bet the the manager, AKA The Rancherette” will solicit an invitation to the next show in Comanche. The bus driver seconds that motion. Cowboy, not so sure.

Well, the trip home was a quiet one. After four performances this little band was very tired. Cowboy kept his mouth shut, at least low enough where we could not hear his complaints. I’m thinking now that it could be because “Zorba, not the Greek”, did not make this trip. The two of them usually collaborate on a duet at least twice during the trip. The two newbies tried, but they are too young. Yep, that’s it. No duet! Maybe next time, Cowboy.

No rest for the Fuzzy Chicken Band. They have already begun rehearsing for the next show in Beaumont and looking forward to jamming with other bands. Hope they get it together before we travel and not while we are traveling. I’m keeping very quiet about this next trip. Do not want to start any hubbub with the divas or the divo.

The Fuzzy Chicken Band sends HAPPY VALENTINE to all. And especially to the bus driver’s best helpers.

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Is It Christmas Yet?

Ever have that feeling about not wanting to get up in the morning? One day this past week, it was my desire to stay in bed a little longer than usual. But we have animals to take care of and they usually do not want to stay in bed. The dogs in the kennels do not seem to mind the cold or that it finally warmed up.  And the chickens could care less. They are ready no matter what. The humans, not so much! So out of the warm bed I arise. I stumble to the kitchen, turn the switch on for the coffee pot, (the “Rancherette” is sweet enough to prepare the ingredients the night before), put on my long johns and make ready to placate the aforementioned animals.  I do insist on having a steaming cup of coffee before I brave the elements.

Having a touch of the “I don’t wanna’s” this morning, I slowly began to move around. I am feeling the effects of a cold I contracted from a recent chicken show we attended in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Then, the “Rancherette” comes bouncing from the bedroom full of vim and vigor. She wonders, “How are you feeling?” I mumble “OK”. Probably, not too convincingly I might add.

So after my jolt of caffeine, I make my way to the dog kennels. Recently, the morning temps fell down into the upper teens, and with that, their water dishes turn to ice. This was my first clue that winter is approaching. With the dogs fed, ice in their water broken and fully attended to, I turn my attention to appeasing the chickens. Ever try to appease a chicken? Good luck with that. The “Rancherette” usually comes along to save the day. She definitely knows how to appease a chicken. She is in the chicken appeasement business. I’m not sure but I think they understand the “bach,bach,bach” of my voice and I am convinced they really know what the “Rancherette” says. I am pretty sure she understands what they say, too. Me? I don’t think so. Now when it comes to the dogs, I am much more enlightened by their “voices”. I fully understand them. I speak dog, fluently. I practice every day. However, one could possibly acquire some of the characteristics of these fine feathered fowl (maybe osmosis).  For example, I catch myself crowing on occasion. Nothing out of the ordinary, that is until they crow in return. Scary!

For those of you who do not know, the “Rancherette” raises show chickens. Silkies and Bantam Cochins are her favorite breeds.Both breeds are also very funny birds. Most of these birds have names, such as Mick (after Mick Jagger) Bella, Cowboy, Cowgirl, Smoky Bear, Miss Peggy, (she has a peg leg) and so on. Thus one can become attached. (Her name shall remain anonymous).

However, when it comes to our kennel dogs, that’s another story. They are retired show dogs, from the Standard Poodle line, living out their retirement days. Apollo, Ty, Denali, Grendel, Prada, Andora, Stella, and so on. They all have a very extended name, fitting the royalty of the breed, but way to much for this post.Then there is Alfie, a hitchhiking female Airedale. “nuff, said.

.So I am up and “at’em” this morning. This Christmas Eve, Eve! Got all my presents wrapped for the “Rancherette” and placed in a conspicuous space where she cannot miss them and this in turn tempts her a bit. No shaking the packages or X-rays allowed. This is premeditated on my part. Now that the gifting is completed (and a day early, I might add), I turn my attention to checking my social media pages.

I see numerous and varied accounts of people and their activities on social media pages. Hidden among the many postings, I see some with treasured memories of years past. For others it brings sadness and a dread this time of year. Still others delight in the many celebratory events of Christmas.

I see posts from a varied assortment of people, from my friends and others I do not know. First and foremost are the many varied posts from all of the chicken friends on social media. There is a considerable amount of “chicken speak” in these posts. (i.e., the “Rancherette”) I have not yet learned much of that language.

Then others are depicted wrapping Christmas gifts and sharing their experiences. Some are wondering if other family members will make it home for Christmas. Some are showing the results of a toy-drive for kids. There are pictures of children sharing their love through homemade Christmas gifts with nursing home residents. Some use the social media pages to outline their Christmas list. (Personally, I’m not sure this works well, but give them credit for ingenuity) Let me know if it does.

I see posts of young children sitting on the lap of Santa, some crying, some in awe and others readily sounding off their wish list. Obviously, they have all been good, wink, wink!

I see posts describing recipes for Christmas Delights and I admit they all look inviting. These are very interesting.

Then there are still a few who either challenge the presidential election results or laud the outcome. To these very involved people, I say, Merry Christmas to both groups.

The closer it gets to Christmas, the more posts we see about the event. Not all will be about a religious phenomenon and yet it is my opinion that it was never about a secular circumstance. It was and always will be a celebration of the birth of Christ, whether one chooses to believe that or not.

I find it fascinating that our animals depend on us for their survival while many humans do not depend on God for anything. In their own way, these animals say thanks every day, a tail wag here and a “bach,bach, there. Would it not be great if the human race could acknowledge a better understanding of peace and joy on this earth?

I grant you that we live in a free society and thus are completely free to agree or disagree. However, I for one am proud to say I believe the Biblical account of the Christ Child born for the salvation of mankind.

Thus I can say unequivocally,

Merry Christmas.

Go West Young Silkies

This past Monday afternoon, five of the “Rancherette’s Silkies flew the coop. I guess their feathers got ruffled. They headed out west to the Morris Bird Ranch in Yoncalla, Oregon. As I understand it, this is a kind of a Dude Ranch/retirement coop for chickens and these five birds had seen the propaganda and were hooked. I don’t know how they found out about this place, they have no WiFi in their coop. Heck, they don’t even have a TV. Evidently, they must have had some help.

But. three square meals a day, meal worm treats, fresh fruit and veggies, and of course, cooler weather than here in Texas, along with a substantial pension convinced these little Silkies to give it a try. Well, it convinced Little Mick. He in turn, convinced the rest of the brood to defect with him. He said it would be so much fun and they all agreed. He would have convinced more birds if he had his way.

So these three little Porcelain Cream Silkies, Little Mick Jr,, Bubba, Baby Sis, and a mated pair of unidentified Silkie whites (they snuck in the car) departed for the wild, wild west. Some folks think Texas is the wild, wild west (wild, perhaps, but not west) but according to the map, Oregon is actually in the west while Texas, is a bit south. But you probably already knew that. They still have cowboys in Oregon and rodeos. I know of at least one chicken wrangler in Yoncalla, Oregon.

The story goes like this; I’m thinking that the “Rancherette” should not leave her cellphone unattended when she goes into the coops. One never knows what stranger may choose to pick it up and make unauthorized phone calls. I do know she has a secret place where she keeps her phone when she goes to the coops, so I’m not sure how Little Mick Jr., could have got it, I am curious, tho. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure he was the culprit who used her phone. He, undoubtedly, had to use caution when texting, as his toes are not opposable. He reserved all First Class seats for his accomplices on the USPS AIRINES service. He seems to be the leader of this ring of foul fowl. But the “Rancherette” got wind of this and managed to change their 1st class seats to Coach class. However, there was a fee to change the tickets. Little Mick, Jr., had already charged the tickets on the “Rancherette’s” SilkieEspress Card and they were non-refundable. She should be more careful with her password. I’m pretty sure that 12345 is not a secure password. But, I believe he used his cleverness to lull the “Rancherette” into helping him with his plan. He has always had the “Rancherette” eating out of the palm of his chicken feet.

Since these chickens were resolute in their desire to leave, the “Rancherette” gave in and put together all the paperwork to help these ungrateful birds with their passports, (Coming from Texas, one has to have passports to enter Oregon, it’s the law). Texas will take anybody. She had to take passport photos, secure their medical history, and place their identification bracelets on their ankles. These thankless critters were now ready to fly away. She secured their luggage and provided them with snacks for the trip,The USPS does not take chicken feed in exchange for snacks. 

As they were about ready to leave, Bubba  asked if Uber was here yet? Another unauthorized use of her cellphone. She should take that app off of her phone. Needless to say, she canceled that ride.This was out of character for Bubba. I would not have guessed that he knew about Uber.

I did not tag along on the ride to the USPS AIRLINES. I’m guessing the birds were cackling all the way while the “Rancherette” was quiet and somewhat reticent. Before they left, I made it a point to ask Little Mick, Jr., if he would let us know when he and the gang arrived. He crowed he would. And he did.

On the flight, they had a one day layover in Salt Lake City. However, they were unable to take in any sights. So, today, Wednesday, the 28th, about 9 A.M., Texas time,the “Rancherette” received a phone call. However, it was not from Little Mick, Jr., it turned out to be the curator or the headmaster, or the farmer’s daughter, or maybe it was the Innkeeper, I’m not sure of her title. But the gang all arrived safe and sound. The “Rancherette” is breathing a sign of relief. These little fowl were also hungry.They probably pigged out on the snacks the first hour and then were left with nothing.

Now, I look at the Lavender Pen, it is empty! No birds! I must admit, I miss these little birds from the Lavender Pen. You birds mind your manners, don’t be pecking. No squabbling or bickering. And if you get homesick, well, call the “Rancherette”. Or better yet, call the “Rancherwriterpoet”.

Have a great day.

The New Doggie Door

In case you may not have seen my original piece, titled “Uses for a Pickup Truck”, posted in April 2015 Archives of rancherwriterpoet.com, then perhaps you could read it for the background.

The storyline is this: The “Rancherette” brought home a “hitchhiker”, an Airedale that “supposedly” opened the front door of my pickup, jumped in and “hitchhiked” home. I’m pretty sure the “Rancherette” knows better than to pick up hitchhikers, however, one look into the eyes of this Airedale and she was hooked. I still have my doubts.  We later named her, Alfie because of the strange resemblance to the “Alien Life Form”. We know this character as “ALF”, from the TV series in the late ‘80’s.

Alf

                                                     Enduring Eyes

The alien is described as  a “protagonist, an orange-haired, pint-sized 299-year-old space alien with an aardvark-like nose and a propensity for mischief and comic sarcasm”. That’s our Alfie, except for the pint-size and the age.

When Alfie first arrived in the spring of 2015, she ate the wood trim around the entry door, the wood casings on the custom built bench, the drywall around the windows, and anything else that would fit into her mouth. She had a proclivity for chewing anything. I first thought the “Rancherette” had brought home a beaver. We could not keep any kind of bedding for her comfort; it became something with which to play with not sleep in. She, after all, was only fourteen weeks old.  Alfie on the rug

So now at 18 months of age, she has matured (?) somewhat. Of course she sleeps on the area rug. It’s a good thing it is large, or it would become fodder. She isn’t quite as destructive as she once was. The trim and drywall seems to be untouchable now, however, when we look for new toys to occupy her time, we describe them as a thirty minute toy or perhaps a forty-five minute toy, meaning this is about how long it will last before she destroys it, too.  Forget any toy we deem to last an hour. There is no such toy that is indestructible for Alfie. Not happening! Some maturity, huh?

However, one thing she seemed at which to be familiar was the doggie door. Because we already had Apollo, a Standard Poodle living in the house, we obviously had a doggie door. Alfie, being the smart dog she was, took to the door as though she had been using it all her life. She is definitely a smart canine. Her enclosed backyard opens into the main yard and is divided with a chain link gate. She quickly learned how to open the gate latch. We had to put a fastener to prevent her getting out without our knowledge. (Maybe she really did open the pickup door, hmmm) However, for 18 months now she has used the doggie door, so much so, that she has broken the frame and destroyed the flap from the use.

So, we get this new doggie door. No problem, right? I beg to differ. Alfie does not like change. I once moved her food and water bowls from one side of the room to another. It was two more days before she wanted to eat and drink from that location.

The “Rancherette” decided to relocate her office from the shared room with Alfie. If you know Airedales, you can certainly understand that. For another two days, Alfie stood in a far corner of the room before she finally ventured back to the gate. This gate separates her from the main house. We had hoped she would acclimate herself to the main house, however, that was wishful thinking. She definitely has an idiosyncrasy about change.

We love this creature. She keeps us in stitches every day. She is very playful and energetic, loves to aggravate the “Rancherette’s” Silkie chickens through the fence and in general rewards us with much pleasure. Her antics are hilarious. She can search your pockets and pick them clean, will chew on my shirt buttons looking for “cookies”.

Pocket 3

Her vocabulary starts and ends with “cookies.” As for the new doggie door, well she doesn’t like it one bit.

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                                                       img_7029-2

 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

The “Rancherette” took her Fuzzy Chicken Band, “On the Road Again,” this past weekend. We usually begin road trips listening to the “The Fuzzy Chicken Band with lead singers, Cowboy, the Cochin, and Zorba, Not the Greek, rehearsing for the “big show”, and this trip was no different as they practiced by warbling out “On the Road Again”. Cowboy crows the lead and Zorba, Not the Greek, harmonizes, (Cowboy pictures himself as Willie Nelson) and of course, he makes a few changes to the lyrics.

On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is seein’ chicken friends again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again

On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may not want see again,
But I can’t wait to get on the road again.

I apologize, Mr. Nelson; I am only the bus driver, not the manager. I know you were making music with your friends and you had absolutely nothing to do with chicken bands. But you do not have to listen to these squawking birds for another four hour trip, I do. They have the most up-to-date and comfortable seats in the bus and they still complain. (Only a personal opinion, after all, this Fuzzy Chicken Band has won numerous awards from their performances and they pay a decent salary).

This particular road trip sent us to the West Texas Fair and Rodeo, in Abilene, Texas, for another live chicken show performance. After consulting with the Fuzzy Chicken Band, their agent (and manager), the “Rancherette”, booked this performance. The Fuzzy Chicken Band only plays at marquee performance halls and the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene was certainly one of those.

Regardless, every musical group has a bus driver, so I went along to provide the chauffeuring for the trip. I am also in charge of providing accommodations and cuisine for the “Rancherette” and the band’s bus driver. I’m always looking for restaurant signs along the way that say “bus drivers eat free.” That appeals to me, for financial reasons of course. Typically the “Rancherette” prefers a different epicurean adventure.

Now the Fuzzy Chicken Band can eat anywhere and anything, however, they have their own special cuisine, concocted by their handler. The “Rancherette” is in charge of that department. Yet, when it comes to eating, no one can match up with “Cowboy, the Cochin,” who happens to be the lead singer; not even the Little Cochin Sisters, who have their own reputation to maintain.After, or should I say, during, the rehearsing by Cowboy, the Cochin and Zorba, Not the Greek, the Little Cochin  Sisters were warming their vocal cords with this little ditty:
“Abilene, Abilene”
Prettiest town I ever seen.
Hope the judges don’t treat me mean
In Abilene, my Abilene.”

I apologize to Mr. George Hamilton IV. He sang it much better, but, as I told Mr. Nelson, I am only the bus driver, not the Fuzzy Chicken Band’s manager.

Eventually, we arrived at the Taylor County Expo Center, where the Fuzzy Chicken Band would be performing, along with other chicken bands in a contest to determine which band or performer is better. However, the band was a little disappointed in their dressing rooms. But being the troupers they are, they would manage. Cowboy did occupy a prominent location and was happy about that; however, Zorba was relegated to a lesser spot. The Cochin Sisters are happy as long as they have sufficient food and water. When they do not, they get happy feet. Their stage is not large enough for performing the Chicken Dance, yet they still do their little happy dance.

Cowgirl joins The Cochin Sisters in the Cochin Trio performing their own work “Pecking and Scratching” and the Little Motown Clucking Silkies, with Cowgirl in the lead, presented one of their oldie favorites, “R E S P E C T”, (again with apologies, this time to Aretha Franklin.)

They still get requests for other clucking songs and also autographs. They are happy to oblige. But Cowboy stole the show. He received numerous standing ovations for his performance and a very élite accolade. He was the only one to receive this award from all the fuzzy chicken bands performing there. Other members of the band did well, with a few 1st place awards.

This was only a one nite stand, and they, meaning the band, were exhausted from their performance, thus the drive home was one of mostly silence. I, being the bus driver, was happy about that. I couldn’t wait until I got back home and put the bus in the garage. And speaking of the bus, Cowboy, being the star, wants a new ride. He chose this one.

rooster-car-copy

Hope you have a very happy day.

The County Fair, Part II

County fairs are so much fun, with all the vendors selling everything imaginable. The sideshows, the rides, (which I do not attempt) and , of course, the food, which I clearly DO attempt. There were concerts each night with several name stars performing. We were only there for Friday night, and the concert featured The Triumphs, a band from Rosenberg, Texas. They were an outstanding band and starred B.J. Thomas, with special guest, Roy Head. Roy is old school, very popular in the 60’s and 70’s. We were pleased to visit with him at the hotel where we both were staying, even meeting his wife. They also enjoyed holding one of the “Rancherette’s” little Silkie chickens. Later, we attended the show. Since we are of that generation, it was very entertaining for us. The “Rancherette” was fortunate to get a “selfie” with him.  It has been difficult to live with her ever since.

jennie-and-roy-head

While the entire fair is exciting, I think the main focus is on the kids, the youth who participate and show their animals. These young people work very hard to care for these animals and reap the rewards for such endeavors. If you have never been to a county fair, you can only imagine how many sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, ducks, geese and chickens these kids have entered in competition for various awards, scholarships and sportsmanship trophies. They receive  medals, belt buckles, plaques and other prizes. They experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, yet they hold their heads high and show good sportsmanship to each other. Time and again I watched these youngsters compete with their animals. The judges for these premier competitions are extremely helpful to the young people. They explain different aspects of their particular animals and always in a helpful manner with words of encouragement for each one. I am in awe of the maturity of these youngsters. I think the country is in good hands when these young people reach adulthood. I also want to commend all the adult volunteers who help make this a great time for these kids. And hats off to the Fayette County Fair officials, great job.

The segment that inspired me the most and gave me particular pleasure occurred when a very young girl entered the show ring leading her heifer as her grandfather walked beside her. It was a very moving picture. I spoke to her grandfather after they finished and he told me that “they like to start them young”. A lack of wisdom on my part, I did not get their names.
grandaughter-and-grandfather-2

For me, however, this was the sparking event of the fair. That is, except for the awards the “Rancherette” received for her birds. She did well, but then she was not up against the youth either.

Our part of the show ended and you know what that meant, a four hour drive back home in North Texas with harassing among chickens. It has to stop. If I could have just send these birds home via FEDEX or UPS, then I would have had a quiet ride home.Should have stopped at Walmart and bought a pair of ear plugs. because you know the birds in the back discussed all the way home, cackling, squawking, and crowing about how some birds won a ribbon and some did not.

Just take a look at the gloating after we arrived back home. This may be the Silkie that Roy Head was holding at the hotel. Regardless, she definitely has a big head, flippant little chicken!

just-a-strutin-2

Check out the county fair where you live, you will certainly enjoy it.                                               Have a great day.

THE COUNTY FAIR, Part I

Many of my readers know that I have experienced some heath issues these past few months. Thankfully, I can say that I am recovering nicely and beginning to hold my own, partly, thanks to steroids and definitely thanks to God. So, in a manner of speaking I was able to take a side trip this past Labor Day weekend from our North Texas home to La Grange, Texas. The “Rancherette” was showing her prized Silkie and Cochin bantams at the Fayette County, Texas Fair. La Grange is a great little town. This was our second trip to La Grange and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
So we began our trip with a pickup load of chickens. Let me assure you, they ride in their custom made chicken containers in the back seat of the cab. The seats fold up, thus creating room for these spoiled fowl. They have the air conditioner vents spaced in such a fashion, that each bird practically has their own personal vent. Wonder how all this fits? Well, the ice chest with all the drinks and snacks for humans, along with the expensive luggage, rides in the bed of the truck. Obviously, if one needs a drink or any other personal item, I pull over and climb in the pickup bed to obtain such creature comforts. One can probably identify with the priority.
The trip was fun, if you can understand chicken language. Because space is limited, some birds must share their crates with each other. The hens are cackling, causing one to think eggs are being laid. Wrong, they are communicating with each other, discussing the pros and cons of traveling to a chicken show, like which chicken is going to win and squabbling and arguing with each other. I’m thinking that we were not 10 miles down the road before they began asking, “Are we there yet?” Sometimes, they quarrel and fight and then blame the other for starting it. “You started it”, did not, did too”. When this happens they must disciplined. The “Rancherette” is in charge of discipline. I suggested she use the code words, CHICKEN NUGGETS!, however, she disagreed. If you have children, you will understand the personalities of fowl.
When the “Rancherette” scolds them, most of the time it doesn’t work. When it seems to make a difference, they cease cackling and begin pecking on the bottom of their crates. You may think they are only pecking, however; they actually are speaking in Morse code. It is a trick to confuse us humans, thinking, of course, we do not understand. They do not know I was in the military and can understand every utterance. Then, if that is not enough, the roosters get in on the act with their crowing. The “Rancherette” encourages it even farther by pitting Cowboy, the bantam Cochin against Zorba, the Silkie, in dueling squawks. First Zorba crows, then the “Rancherette” says, “your turn, Cowboy”. And back and forth, they crow. Meanwhile, the hens are still engaged with their Morse code. Reminds me of the movies where the incarcerated rattle their tin cups against the bars and pass notes from one cell to another. The “Rancherette’s” chickens are very smart, but they do not possess the skills to write notes. Therefore, they use codes so the correctional officers will not understand.

And one other thing, the next trip I am going to record some chicken songs on a CD for these birds to listen while we travel. Songs like, “Ain’t Nobody Here but us Chickens, or Ray Steven and the Hen House 5’s version of “In the Mood”.  If you wish to hear their favorite ditty, click on  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PENJxl-THS8. The chickens just love this version.

The last thing I need in the back seat of my truck is a flock of chickens dancing to the tune of the “Chicken Dance”, so that one will not be included. And to think, this is only the first leg, we must still travel back home with these bickering little birds.

Have a great day and Stay tuned for Part II

The Character of Nature

As I write this article, I do not make light of the circumstances of anguish and grieving. Certain parts of the country have received much more than their share of rain. I empathize in their despair for I too have experienced the misfortune and anxiety that comes with the disaster of flooding.  My heart goes out to those who are suffering a loss, especially a loss of life. My prayers are with you. Do not lose hope. 

Nature’s Character

Lately, we have experienced drought conditions and extreme heat. Plant life is being raddled to their limits. Green shrubs are turning brown; their leaves curling under and giving up the ghost. The once vibrant green grass no longer rises above the plain. It too, is having a brownout. The peaches not ready for picking have all shriveled and shrunken. The pond is drying up. The heat is taking its toll. To keep all this watered is not only time consuming but it puts a strain on the pocketbook.  Our water bill is approaching astronomical heights.

The “Rancherwriterpoet” and the “Rancherette” have the utmost respect for nature; however, as humans, we do take the necessary precautions for keeping cool, that being under the influence of the air conditioner most of the day. Of course, the electric bill is in the stratosphere alongside the water bill. When we do venture outside, we do not tarry long. I’m pretty sure the neighbors would object were we to wear less clothing.

The kennel dogs do not really care for the misting system installed on their partially shaded pens. There is only a soft hot breeze blowing across their outdoor pens, but with the misting system, it does cool the concrete pads and the air. All the standard poodles have a summer cut yet some prefer staying inside their buildings and under the fans, as if they are fused to the floor (they do not like to get their feet wet). Others will lie comfortably just out of reach of the mist but close enough to feel the coolness as it comes across their body. Occasionally they stand up, shake off vigorously, turn round and round several times and lie back down.  It’s what dogs do. When they lope out of their pens for their afternoon constitutional, they immediately tend to business and return to their pens. The afternoon sun is very warm and they prefer their shaded home sweet home.

Conversely, the Silkie chickens do not seem to mind the heat as much as us humans or dogs. They are wont to hunt and scratch and peck and chest bump and do the chicken dance around their coop. They run in little circles chasing anything that moves. They are always snooping around for food no matter that they feeder is full.  They engage in wide ranging conversations. Clucking and cackling, crowing and chirping, they express themselves quite effectively. Why, even the “Rancherette” understands chicken speak. This is how she knows to serve up frozen treats every afternoon; grapes, pineapple, and strawberries being among their favorites. They stand at the coop door and chatter vociferously, impatiently waiting for the “Rancherette” to calm their ruffled feathers. We obviously keep plenty of fresh water for them to drink. There are fans in their roosting coops for an air flow through their buildings. And did I mention the show birds domicile? These are the cream of the crop, uh, flock. They attend the chicken shows and bring home the bacon, uh, ribbons. They have they own individual pens, in an air conditioned building, never touching the ground or feeling the hot breeze outdoors.  They have it made in the shade, so to speak.

So, finally, the skies have opened up and delivered the much needed moisture. For three days, we have seen almost three inches of slowly absorbing rain, the kind necessary to break a drought. But, the kennel dogs do not like the rain any better than the misting system. The show birds do not even know it’s raining. It’s business as usual for them. The outdoor Silkie chickens do not care one way or another. All pens have some shade covering; but does not prevent the rain, so, instead of dust baths they now take mud baths. Good for the skin, I’m told, but their crested heads are having a bad hair day. In this case, they are wetter than an old mad hen.

The good news? Plants and grass are smiling. The water meter is smiling. The electric meter is smiling and the air conditioner gets a break. I’m smiling. Nature is smiling.

 

 

 

 

Sun’s Gonna Shine in my Backdoor Someday

Well, hello there and in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’m back., sorta. I have been on the mend for several weeks now and with my current medications, the severe bouts with RA are dwindling. This is what has kept me from my writings for several months. I can certainly empathize with anyone who suffers from this immune system irregularity. It is said you can’t really know what another person feels unless you walk in their shoes. My feet are firmly implanted in the shoes of a sufferer of RA. But now, after many doctor visits, specialists, x-rays, MRI’s, medications, and all those wonderful prayers, it appears that this old “ritus” character is going into remission.  I continue to improve; however, my treatment plan still requires medicine.

For the better part of four months, I was unable to drive. The “Rancherette” did all the driving. I might add, well appreciated. Now that I have some degree of mobility, I can drive my truck again. A few days ago, I was returning from a trip to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and with the modern day conveniences of satellite radio, I was listening to my type of music. I am a huge fan of Bluegrass music. At that particular moment, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were sounding off to an old tune that seems to fit my situation, at least the opening line. I turned the volume up. Being alone in my truck, I am allowed to turn the volume up loud. Not so much when the “Rancherette” is with me.

The tune, “Sun’s gonna shine in my backdoor someday”, speaks for me, especially here in the middle of August, in Texas, where the temperature is a balmy 103 today and a heat index approaching 110. And since my back door faces west, I can feel the brunt of that heat.

Living in a rural area, I am exposed to many facts of nature. As I was driving home, I noticed a lonely oak tree in the middle of a pasture. Mind you now, this was not a large oak tree. It bordered on a twenty to twenty-five feet umbrella. A nice enough shade but not very large.

Standing underneath this canopy was a small herd of cows. They were huddled so close together that I doubt one could slip a sheet of paper between them. At first glance, they appeared conjoined. I am well aware that cows prefer the shade to the hot sun. However, they were so tightly packed together that I cannot believe they were feeling any cooling effect. Cows have a “pecking order” just like chickens. If one does rank high enough in that order, then they do not share any benefits. They are left out in the cold, except in this case outside the parasol of the shade tree. There were two or three standing in the sun just on the edge of the shade. I assume the “leader” had the best spot.  And if I had rolled down my windows, I probably would have noticed a scent of bovine methane. They must ignore that aroma or maybe they do not have a good sense of smell. I noticed one cow standing in the tank, (if you are from South Texas or pond if you are from somewhere else). I figured she (or he) was the smartest cow of all, not to mention, the coolest. One can learn a lot from observing cows.

But that tune by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs means to me that “someday” has arrived. The sun is shining through my windows and doors and the sky is so blue and the trees are waving greetings at me when I walk out the “back door” without my cane and the cottontail rabbits stop and wiggle their noses at me.  The birds chatter a “welcome back” chirp. The kennel dogs seem glad to see me, even the chickens seem to recognize my voice. Yessiree, God is good. And because we need a cooling down and rain, showers are quenching the thirst of the plant life today and the temperature is hovering around 72 degrees in the middle of the day. God is indeed good.

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