rancherwriterpoet

Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Archive for the tag “hatch”

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

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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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