Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Archive for the tag “coops”

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.

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.

Keeping Up with the Chickens

It has been eight months since my last post. That blog (March 2014) was my introduction to becoming an official “chicken rancher”. If you recall, I was thrust into the ‘enjoyment?’ of raising chickens. Not just plain old ordinary everyday chickens, but a distinctive breed called Silkie chickens. With special birds flown in from Missouri and Oregon, we became the recipients of a well-stocked chicken ranch.

Those special Silkie chickens have now grown into a cackling and crowing flock. Although as with any such endeavors with animals, we experienced a thinning of the flock. Those who remain live in duplex condos with amenities like you would not believe. No HOA fees either. They spend their days in chicken luxury.  In fact, I was just remarking to the “Rancherette” recently, how some have really taken to their surroundings.

In our flock, we have seven hens and two roosters. Most have names. There is Henny Penny, (my thanks to Aesop), McFatty, Sassy Girl,  Splash, a multi-colored rooster, Captain Kanga Roo, who thinks he is Foghorn Leghorn, and four hens I call A, B, C, and D. Basically, they look alike to me, so today ‘A’ may actually be a ‘C’ and tomorrow she may be a ‘D’, and so on. It is obvious that I cannot tell them apart. Now the “Rancherette”, well, she knows her ABC’s.

As I said, these birds live in a duplex condo. Each side has one rooster and each has his harem. They seem to be happy birds. Well, the roosters seem happy. They obviously cannot get together for Rooster games because of the separation of their roost, however, they can brag through the wire about their personal space. After all, they do go to bed with the chickens.

I’m not sure if the hens understand the polygamy of the situation. I think someone once said something about changing the rooster to a hen with just one shot,(Dolly Parton in a particular movie involving chicken ranches) but I believe that is another story… One thing for sure, I’m not letting the hens have a weapon.

Before becoming an “Official Chicken Rancher”, my previous experience with chickens involved chicken nuggets. In fact, if any hen gets feisty with the rancherette or either rooster gets amorous with a hen, I merely call out in a loud voice, “CHICKEN NUGGETS,” and they immediately settle down.Chickens are smarter than you think. I suppose I could mention fried chicken or roast chicken, maybe even chicken soup and get the same result. Anyway, that is my experience with raising chickens.

The hens are now laying eggs. I do not know which hen lays which egg, however, we are getting two and sometimes three eggs a day. The sizes of these eggs certainly are not jumbos.I think it would take at least a half of dozen to make a decent size omelet. So, production is the key to having an egg farm. We probably will not have an egg farm. But I am thinking about collecting the eggs as HOA fees. No eggs? CHICKEN NUGGETS!

Well, now that Fall is causing the temperature to begin dropping, I must be thinking about keeping these little critters warm. And while we do live in Texas, sometimes the winters can become a little cool for these fine feathered friends. I don’t quite have it figured out just yet, but you can bet, the HOA fees will go up.

In the meantime, you can decide if these fowls live in luxury.

Luxury coop

Shades of Foghorn Leghorn!

Now ya’ll don’t go counting your chickens before they hatch

Officially, A Rancher

In order for this to be explored in context, I must repeat a portion of my first blog, “Puttering around East Texas”, published in May 2011. You may check the archives if you wish to read the entire blog.

In that blog, I said this:

“I have one of those quite placid names. It evokes no imagination, no illusions, nothing that would conjure up an interest in reading the words before you.  Thus, it became rather difficult to name my blog. I certainly want others to read what I have to say, (as if I really had something to say).

However, in order to do that, the name must immediately grab the reader’s attention. Therefore, it must be “unique”. I settled on rancher, writer, poet.

First, I am not a rancher; I just thought it sounded good. I am however, a writer and a poet. You, the reader, will have to decide if I can use the adjective, “good”.


I have these images of a cowboy roping and riding with a six-gun at his side. He wears a cowboy hat, a plaid shirt and denims. He sits tall in the saddle and talks funny. He hustles his cattle across the wide-open range, disperses rustlers and evil land grabbers, and is always trying to protect the fair maidens from harm. He has sons named Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe.  To me, that is a rancher.

Well, now it is official. I am, at last a rancher, at least by marriage. My wife and I were married in May 2009; however, until recently I did not realize I had married a “rancherette”. I knew that she was a dog breeder and an animal lover when I married her. I am fine with that. With eight Standard Poodles, and a couple of rescue dogs, we were in the “business”; however, I do not think this qualifies me as a “rancher”.

Thus, I was unprepared for what “the rancherette” did next. Did you know, one could order twenty-five chickens online? They mail them to you.  They arrive at the post office. They come in a little box with holes in the side. United States Priority Mail. To the post office. Two-day delivery. The postmaster called this morning and said the birds had arrived, could we come pick them up because they were cheeping and wanting to come home.

I thought perhaps they could have given them flight plans and flown, but they don’t yet know how to read or fly.

These baby chicks, mailed only a day after they are hatched must be taught how to eat and drink. Dip their little beaks in water so they know what water is and poke their little beaks in food. One might wonder why their momma did not teach them. Well, it is because they were taken away from their momma even before they were born, uh, hatched. You see, they have these little trays called incubators and the eggs go into those little crates as soon as they are laid. There, thanks to technology, the little trays automatically turn the eggs every so often until the eggs are hatched.

So, they don’t ever get to know their momma. But, not to worry, us humans can substitute for their momma.

So, in the tub, they went. The “rancherette”, took each little critter, one at a time, poked his/her head in the water. Funny thing about that gender stuff. We don’t know which is which. Won’t know until they get big or start crowing, whichever comes first. Anyway, they took one little drink and was hooked on the stuff. I don’t think they had ever had a drink before. Then she gently stroked each one and poked his/her head to the food. Guess what? They were hungry. You would be too, if you had never tasted any food before.  Luckily, for me I married a “rancherette”.

Hoo boy, now I am a “rancher”. There is such a thing as a chicken rancher, isn’t there? Osmosis, you know. You should see me in there herding those little critters. Git along, little dogie, git along. Them little rascals are sure hard to rope, but I’ll learn. I can’t wait ’til they get bigger.  The “rancherette” ordered twenty-five, but got twenty-seven. One died, so that left us with twenty-six. I looking online for baby names, now. Maybe, I’ll just use the alphabet. 

Maybe you might be interested in becoming a “rancher!” this is a picture of the “herd” They are called “Silkies”.  I gotta go build a coop now. Cluck, Cluck!  Help me out here, Little Joe.

baby chicks first day

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