rancherwriterpoet

Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Archive for the tag “coops”

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Not Our First Rodeo

So, the big day came and went. To which big day am I referring? Why, the South Texas Classic Poultry Show in La Grange, Texas. I thought all folks knew about that event. Well, chicken folks in the state of Texas for sure. We were looking forward for several weeks to the trip and finally the day came. It was about a four and half hour journey in the truck with eight birds in the rear seat all properly resting in their properly vented traveling lounges properly fitted out with feed and water. Why do we call chicken feed, “feed” and dog food, “food”?  Or, cattle feed, “feed” and cat food, “food”.  Just wondering.

There were two roosters and six hens, separated much as if one would separate two or more siblings who insist on asking the proverbial question, are we there yet? If one can understand chicken talk, then those are exactly the phrases coming from the mouths of these birds. The only good thing (If you can call it good) is they did not mention having to go to the bathroom every ten miles. Well, maybe they did and I just ignored them. I recall that with my children back in the day.

The two roosters, named Zorba, the Silkie and Cowboy, the Cochin, were dueling tenors. The hens were the backup singers for those two. They covered all the chicken hits in alphabetically order, beginning with, “Ain’t Nobody Here but us Chickens”. A couple of times I had to quiet them down, once when they began doing the “Chicken Dance”. It was way too crowded for that. Try getting that earworm out of your head. Long before we arrived in La Grange, I just about had it with chicken songs. I decided to mention a phrase I have used before. “CHICKEN NUGGETS”, I yelled. They thought it best to refrain from any more musical interludes and remained silent the rest of the trip. I did hear a bit of mumbling back there, but I was calm.

Upon arriving, we ventured to the Fayette County fairgrounds to “coop in” as they say. You place each bird in a separate cage with your identifying number on a card, furnish them with gourmet feed (or is it food) and small containers of water. They are now bedded down for the night. And, luckily, we adults did likewise, at a local hotel, (I won’t use their name, however the chickens had it better).

At precisely Nine A.M., the next morning, the judges begin their job of inspecting each bird in the building. That was an exhausting all day affair. However, it did have its rewards.

If you recall from a recent post, A Day at the Spa, the “Rancherette” invited her fine little Silkies and Cochins to a day at the spa. That was a significant ceremony for it worked wonders on these fluffy birds. The “Rancherette” outdid herself, three 1st place awards and a Best of Variety prize.  One had a comb tht leaned a bit to the right. I wonder if we should have combed her wattle or wattled her comb. Needless to say the”Rancherette”was happy, I was happy. Having spent a couple of days at the Fort Worth Show, (with awards) the “Rancherette” and the “Rancherwriterpoet” were old hands at this. One could say this was not our first rodeo.

After a brief tour of the La Grange area, a visit to Walmart, (That should be on everyone’s traveling list) a meal at a local BBQ stable, tailgating in the parking lot with the birds, resting a bit and afterwards heading home. The birds gloated all the way home. I was calm, I just let them have their say; after all, they were winners. All in all, it was a great trip. Who can argue with that?

That’s How My Day Went

Various situations have occurred the past two months, preventing any posts to my blog. I will not elaborate on those circumstances. I am just picking up the past two weeks, starting with how my day went.

Day One.

So the “Rancherette” and I are sitting around discussing what new projects we can accomplish around the old homestead. Having constructed the last of three chicken coops, our attention turned to some, much needed, repairs to our little farmhouse.

“It needs new paint”, I said. (The “Rancherette” moonlights as a painter.)

“It needs a complete makeover”, she said. We should hire someone to put new siding on the house, she said. “You can supervise”, she said.

So, the plan began to take shape. Except, I said, “I can do it, myself” (not the staining part). Famous last words”!  she said.

I immediately sprang into action. Got out my measuring tape, my quarter-inch scale pad, a sharp pencil, and engaged my brain. Must have a materials list, you know. I walked around the house, measuring and visualizing the steps that will be required, writing down the information as I went. That was how the Sunday afternoon went.

Day Two.  

Pardon me if I go off subject for a moment.

Around our little Silkie chicken ranch, we have several roosters. They all have names, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Dust Mop, Bloopety Blue, Goldfinger, and Tallyho. Goldfinger was once Goldilocks and Tallyho was once Tallulah, until we heard them crow. And speaking of crowing, they will crow on command, Seriously! Except for Mick and Rod, who refuse to crow at all.

So after my morning session with the “boys”, I turned my attention to the “running” of the dogs. Their daily constitutional is of utmost importance. It requires less attention to the sanitation of the kennels if they are allowed some freedom each morning.

While I am closely monitoring the canines, the “Rancherette” is tending to the “girls”, the female gender of chickens, who also have names. Just to name a few,  Sassy, Beauty, Baby Splash, Frosty and Rag Mop, who coos when the “Rancherette” sings R-A-G-G… M-O-P-P…, RAGMOP.

The “Rancherette” visits with each little hen every morning andthen  turns her interest to the two groups of baby chicks. They are kept in separate pens, the “Pre-K” chicks that are about two weeks older and the “Toddler” chicks, kept in their toddler pen. They do not have names as yet.

So, Monday morning, after the chores of tending to the chickens and running the dogs, I suggested we make a lumber run to the big “Blue” box lumberyard. I grabbed my list and off we went to the big “Blue” box lumberyard. Did I mention I also needed a new air compressor? 

After spending a couple of hours (and X-amount of $$$), we returned home, feeling exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. That was how Monday went.

Day Three.

Bright and early Tuesday morning and very excited to get started, I rushed through my chores with the animals and turned to the process of transforming the exterior of our home. I began by unloading some of the lumber and arranging the siding for the “Rancherette” (AKA, painter-deluxe) to start the process of staining prior to installation. She was spending her “girl-time” with the very friendly little Silkie hens and waiting on me. Sorry to say, I had to interrupt her session, as you will see next.

At this point, I will not go into describing each and every step, however, the first step of demo involved removal of some rotted wood. This being accomplished, I set up the table saw to rip a board into what is called a “water table trim”. This item can be purchased, however, it is quite expensive. Thus, I decided to manufacture this trim myself. About 10:30 A.M., The world changed dramatically. Without noting the graphic details, I was ripping the “water table trim”, and my little pinkie and ring fingers on my right hand, made contact with the table saw. Fifty plus years I have been around power tools, never having an accident of this nature. I must tell you, no matter how experienced you may think you are, it definitely is not enough if you do not remember to be SAFE!

Thanks to the “Rancherette” for her driving skills to the emergency room, the doctor thinks I will not lose my fingers, or perhaps only the tip of my pinkie. I will know for sure next week. It would appear that I am lucky  to keep the digits on my right hand. It has been quite a Summer to remember, what with new skin (Skin Cancer removal),  new eyes (cataract surgery) and now in the Fall a couple of finger repairs, I feel sort of like the “Bionic Man”. Rebuilt and even better than new.

And that was how Tuesday went. I can’t wait until Day Four. It will be here before I know it. In the short-term, I think I will go spend some time with the roosters. They may give me something to “crow about”.

Be safe out there.

A Chicken Wrangler’s Poem

 

I got an invitation to write this cowboy rhyme,
‘bout the Chicken Wranglers who ride from time to time.
So I sat down in my cowboy corner and in my cowboy chair
I searched my cowboy brain and wrote this cowboy prayer.

“Lord, bless the Chicken Wranglers, the ones who ride the range
And keep them little chickens safe, away from critters strange.”

I wrote this with my trusty cowboy pen.

A Chicken Wrangler’s Poem

The old chicken wrangler moseyed out her back door
She had chickens to tend to and that’s always a chore,
They scratch and peck and preen and dig holes in the dirt
As the cantankerous old “Roo” just sidesteps while he flirts.

The old chicken wrangler or sometimes, “Rancherette”
Comes to see this “Roo” as something of a threat,
So, she speaks very softly, but she carries a big stick
‘cause this ornery old rooster is often just too quick.

He’s just about one of the best of the breed
Worth every nickel she’d spent on his seed.
He has all the makings of championship stock
Old Cap’n Kanga “Roo” reigns over his flock.

But a wrangler can’t have just one stud in his herd
And this chicken wrangler? She needs a brand new bird.
So from her Silkie flock way up on the hill
Comes a nice Blue cockerel that gives her quite a thrill.

This brand new Silkie rooster comes with Silkie chicks
Bringing with his hatch a brand new bag of tricks.
While pullets scratch and peck and preen and dig ‘round in the dirt
“Big Blue” is just a crowing, still learning how to flirt.

So a Chicken Wrangler’s work is almost never done
and cleaning all that poop ain’t never been much fun
But wrangle on they will ‘cause it’s built inside their genes
and just like kids, they love ‘em, even when they’re teens.

                                                                                 Pete Robertson                                                                                                               March 2015

Evil Twins

I try my best to help the “Rancherette” with chores around our home. I believe it is the right thing to do. At my age, I don’t always get it right, but I still know how to do the right thing. So, I try.

Sometimes, I help with the dusting of furniture. Sometimes, I miss a spot. Sometimes, I help with the vacuuming. Sometimes, I miss a spot. Sometimes, I wash the dishes. Sometimes, I miss a spot. Sometimes, I make the bed; sometimes I miss a spot, uh corner. Every once in a blue moon, I will cook something, however, that is generally left to the best person for that chore. Did I mention the “Rancherette” is also a “Bakerette?” Which is very good, except for my waistline.

I realize that there are chores around the home that usually fall to one gender or the other. But, it does not have to be that way. For example, I usually tend to the yard work. However, the “Rancherette” did not get her name by sticking to housework, only. She draws plans for a chicken coop on a napkin, I build it; she paints it. That is what we call sharing. I consider it a privilege to help around the house.

However, there is one area I tend to stay clear. The Laundry! It so happens, in our little farm house, the laundry room is also in my bathroom. I see the laundry appliances every day, morning, noon and night. They are evil. They stare at me. I undress for my shower, they are watching. I shave, they are watching. I brush my teeth, they are watching. Anything else I do in my own bathroom, well, I’m telling you, they are up to no good. Consequently, I almost never do the laundry.

It seems, every time I do put something in the washing machine, it loses it. Not all of it, only part of it. That very nice pair of socks, the washing machine ate one, only one. What am I supposed to do with only one argyle sock? I can’t replace it; they only sold one pair at Walmart, and then discontinued that style. But that is another story.

That wicked machine will turn my tee shirts wrong side out, and then, since the “Rancherette” does the folding she has to take the time to turn them back the right way. I’m sorry about that, but it is that revolting machine. If she accidently folds the tee shirts that way, then I wind up putting them on wrong side out. How on earth does that machine do that?  I’m telling you that machine is up to no good. It even turned my “whitey-tighties into a pale pink. How stupid do you think that looks at the gym?

Occasionally, it will throw a temper tantrum. Have you ever seen a washing machine throw a temper tantrum? Well, it bounces up and down, crawls all over the place, rolls over and spits up bubbles on the floor. No, I’m not talking about a two year old. I am speaking about the horrible, obnoxious washing machine. It cannot control its bladder, either. Sometimes, it will have an “accident”. Wicked, I’m telling you.

It also has an evil twin brother (or sister, I’m not sure of the genders) Its name is “dryer”. Washer and Dryer, two peas in a pod, as they say down here in North Texas.

I once placed a nice beige sweater in the “dryer”, another fashionable piece of clothing I purchased at Walmart. The “dryer” ruined it. It shrank so badly, that even Luka, the rescue Italian Greyhound could not wear it.

I cannot even begin to tell you how wrinkled the “dryer” left my pants the last time I tried to use it. The creases in the folds were destroyed and the shirts lost all their buttons. Do you know what it is like to put on a shirt with no buttons? I can understand losing my marbles, but buttons? And you know the one sock that the “washer” did not eat? The “dryer” did. As it turns out, this was a blessing in disguise; I was able to purchase a complete new pair.

Since its evil twin washed the peppermint inside my pants, the “dryer”   went ahead and melted it to the fabric. Conspiracy for sure. Now I have a sticky spot in my pocket. I told you they were evil.

Machines like these are supposed to make your life a little more efficient and I suppose they do, to some extent, however, I am going to stick to my dusting, making the bed and washing dishes, even if I do miss a spot.

If I hear the “twins” calling my name, I’m running outside to mow the grass, or burn leaves or shovel snow, or build something. I think that may be the right thing to do. Thank you, “Rancherette” for your expertise and willingness to fight off those evil twins in my bathroom. They frighten me.

A “Brutal” Winter

So, it has been a few days since my last post. Been busy around this “ranch”. Had new pens to build for the “rancherette’s chickens and what with the weather being nice, I just could not bear to sit myself down inside.
I decided to close in the carport where I keep my mowers. Much of my lawn equipment is currently stored in the garage and we house our brooder pens there as well. Forget about parking a car inside, that will never happen.

New eggs arrived from Oregon and Georgia last week so we need the covered room outside for all my “stuff”. This will give us a bit more room for the brooder chicks when they hatch.
I made a trip to the “big box” lumber center to pick up a load of material for the carport project. You will notice that I mentioned earlier the weather was nice, in the mid sixties near seventy degrees.
I managed to lay the block foundation for the wall on the north side and frame the wall with high hopes of completing the job by early next week.

Well, that was then and this is now.

The temperature has plummeted all the way down to 28 degrees, expecting to hit 24 by Tuesday morning. The wind chill hovers near 18 degrees. We have almost a half inch of sleet that has practically covered the back yard and now it is snowing a bit. I have on two layers of clothing with a third on standby for when I venture outside. The furnace is working overtime, (not to mention the electric meter). And did I mention that it is very difficult to type this article wearing insulated gloves?

Each day, we let the kennel dogs out for their morning constitutional. Have you ever seen dogs tiptoe? Most took one look outside their pens and made a beeline back inside. I can’t know for sure what they were thinking but I’m guessing  the question they were asking me is, “What were you thinking? I’m NOT leaving the comfortable warmth of my inside pen!” Yeah, well, guess what dogs, I’m not rushing out for your afternoon pleasure either.

Before storm

Kennels

After Storm

Backyard kennels

This kind of weather keeps them inside on days like today. Their heaters keep them at a constant 60 degrees. Aah, such is a dog’s life. I noticed this morning a coyote in the pasture across the road and he was high tailing it towards the woods. He apparently does not like this weather either.

However, there are some animals who enjoy a cold snap. Such as the Silkie chickens. At least the four adults do. They thrive on the rush of adrenaline. However, there are some young birds we call “juvies” (short for juveniles) who are not as well versed as the adults. They have a heat lamp and readily stay near the warmth. These are the residents of the “Chicken Condo”.

Chicken Condos

On the hill, over looking the pond, we have a “High Rise” where eleven adolescents, four “juvies”, one blind hen, one broody hen and one smashing rooster reside. There temperature is also at 60 degrees. The only problem I see, is the hens are not laying eggs.Must be too cold.

 

High Rise

Yet, all the animals are in their comfort zone, including the geese.

Snow coverd geese

I, on the other hand, am dismayed at this weather.
But I am not too worried. By Thursday, the temperature will be back in the low to middle sixties, maybe even seventy, I will be back, hammer in hand, working on my carport, the dogs will be barking to be let out, the chickens will be laying eggs again and winter in North Texas will be back to what we call normal.

I realize my friends in New York and Atlanta and other places with “real” winters will scoff at my account of our latest winter barrage, nevertheless..,

Hmmmmm, Are those snow clouds I see on the horizon?

Rated PG13

The “rancherette” and her chick “delivery room” just completed an incubation period for chicks. It appears this particular hatch was not very successful. There were not as many hatched as we had hoped. This is a sad state of affairs. The “rancherette” so wanted the little chick babies, however it was just not to be.

I got to thinking, (A highly unreliable and dangerous process,) perhaps there was an underlying problem. Could it have been the incubator? There is some scientific evidence that incubators do not always do their job, or, is it possible that the rooster did not do his part? This is a dilemma.

I began to wonder about the egg fertilizing process. Just how difficult is it for a rooster to fertilize eggs? Then, does the rooster fertilize each individual egg, thus repeating the cycle every day, or is there enough fertilizer from one episode for, say, a dozen eggs?

From what little I know about the mating of chickens, (I guess this is where they do the Chicken Dance, do-de-do-do-do-do, do-de-do-do-do-do), it is an ongoing process for the rooster. I am pretty sure from the rooster’s point of view, he would prefer to fertilize each individual egg; do the Chicken Dance, fertilize an egg, do the Chicken Dance…

This gets me back to my original thought. Did the rooster not do his part?  Judging from the facade of the hens, they are all having a “bad hair” day. Their little topknots are wrangled and somewhat spiked. Perhaps, the rooster can account for their hairstyle, or maybe they used a “gel”.  However, it is evident they need to see their local feather duster to streamline their appearance.

From their outward appearance, the rooster was involved in some sort of ill-conceived (pun intended) venture. Yet, it may not have been as enterprising as hoped. Perhaps, he may need to see a specialist. Who knows what is lurking in his DNA?

It is definitely not his presentation. He has the “side-stepping” and the “wing-flapping” down to a science. (See “do-de-do-do-do”, above). However, I don’t believe the rooster is really concerned about any offspring anyway.

I think I really need to study this more. I might just enroll in Chicken Psychology 101 and take the rooster with me. He might appreciate a few pointers. Or, I could just set up a camera and video the egg fertilization process. Naah, I might be arrested.

The rooster did not agree to an interview, thus, these opinions are mine and mine alone.

Have a great day.

The Three Stages of Life (In our Backyard)

Shortly after the first of every New Year, many writers sometimes want to stop and reflect on the happenings of the past year. Me, I have a problem with remembering the events that happened the past twenty-four hours, let alone the previous 12 months. Now, I am not one to pick on the mature generation, after all I am a charter member, (of an elder generation, not a maturity level).
So we will dispense with the reflections of yesteryear and focus on what is happening today, January 2, 2015.
I call it “The Three Stages of Life (in our backyard)

Around our home, we have varying degrees of maturity. For example, yesterday, the hatchery introduced a “peep” of ten baby chicks. Newly hatched chicks are called a “peep” or “clutch”. Quite ingenious to name a group of birds “peep”. Wish I’d thought of that. They had just enough “maturity” to break out of their shells and begin the process of life in the fowl world.
At this stage, we do not yet know which birds are cockerels and which are pullets. It isn’t like determining the difference between a male and female puppy. One cannot just roll the bird over and look underneath.
Baby chicks must be taught how to eat and drink and since the Mother Hen (AKA, rancherette) is good at teaching old dogs new tricks, I believe she is very capable of teaching new birds old tricks. It is my privilege to allow her that discretion. That would be a bit of maturity on my part, you know, old dog, new trick. So, this is our nursery and the First Stage of Life (in our backyard).

On to the kindergarten group. There are nine birds in this group. They are not yet out of the “peep” stage, but not into the “big chick” flock, either. Sort of like a youngster turning thirteen going on twenty-one. (Where they think they know everything). These birds range in age from five to six weeks and are beginning to feather out nicely. Because they are Silkies, their skin is black and you can see their flesh through the feathers of the lightly colored chicks.
They are like five-year-old children; do NOT want to share anything. And they will NOT take direction from anyone. Of course, there is dissension among these birds however; the “Mother Hen” is still the mothering type. I can hear her now, “You two stop that fighting; wait ‘till your father gets home, etc…” Have you ever heard that before? Hmmmmmm, maybe I do remember some things from my past. That counts for maturity, doesn’t it?
Soon these birds will be ready to move next door to the “big chick” pen. It will be like a middle schooler moving to high school. (where they think they know everything) While in this pen, they can observe the happenings of the “big chicks”. They should learn from their elders, as if that ever happens.
But such is the Second Stage of Life (in our backyard)

And speaking of the “big chick” pen, there are six hens and one rooster in that group. We can officially call this group a flock. This is when a chick becomes an adult, (where they think they know everything,) and is now past the age of thirty-seven. I’ve noticed this trait in our kennel dogs as well. In fact, this even sounds a lot like human characteristics. Maybe it hits closer to home than I imagined.
Most of these “big chicks” have names and are quite proficient at laying eggs. Well, obviously not the rooster, he is so busy annoying the hens that he wouldn’t take the time to lay an egg even if he could. However, he does “lay” it on pretty thick. He also does a good job of protecting his harem. He encourages them on egg-laying procedures. He wards off evil spirits; you should see his voodoo dance, and he makes sure they have an abundant supply of mealworms. Occasionally, he mistakes the legs of the “rancherette” for a wayward hen and has to be brought back to the real world. That, perhaps, is a lack of maturity on his part.
So, those are the Three Stages of Life (in our backyard) for today. I’m thinking of making a video of these happenings in our backyard. I am going to call it “The Big Chick Flick Trick.” Sounds a bit mature, don’t you think?

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.

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