rancherwriterpoet

Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Archive for the tag “Silkies”

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.

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Poodle Home Security

So during the past few months, I have had a tooth pulled, finished the 3rd chicken coop, gone through cataract surgery, (hooray, my vision is excellent), experienced flooding from the May rains, (now back to the August drought), and gained a new resident, (not counting all the chickens that come and go). I have much for which to be thankful.

In the meantime, I got behind on my writing. Not having the ‘muse’ sitting on my shoulder, I must take action and determine a subject for another fine piece of literature. Then it comes to me, I mean literally, he comes to me. Apollo, our Standard Poodle, places his head in my lap, looks at me with his big eyes and says, “Write about me, Dad”. He calls me Dad through the voice of the “Rancherette”.

Apollo firmly believes himself to be the dominant character in this household. He has rules, his rules. Several years ago, he became a business owner. He established Poodle Home Security. He is the CEO and the lead investigator. He is quite adapting at fending off the UPS and/or FedEx drivers. He allows no cars to enter our driveway unnoticed. The weekly refuse truck should not tarry long or perhaps suffer the consequences. He wards off squirrels, bunny rabbits, gophers, etc., which threaten us from time to time in our yard. Even evil spirits are subject to his menacing bark. Occasionally, when the cattle in the pasture across the road begin to chase their food truck, he hurries them along. And, we always know the comings and goings of our neighbors.

Once a day, he makes his rounds in the back yard. He checks his PeeMail, for messages, and replies if necessary.

PeeMailHe also inspects the kennel dogs and their surroundings, much like a drill sergeant with his recruits. He is constantly barking orders. Some recruits are a bit more stubborn than others are. This only increases his authoritative nature.
He alerts us to storm threats, issuing warnings of severe thunderstorms and comforts the “Rancherette” when there is lightning followed by thunder. Yes sir; we have the finest Poodle Home Security money can buy. Life could not get any better, or so Apollo thinks.
Enter his new trainee, Alfie the Airedale. So named for she looks like Alf, the alien from the TV series in the late ‘80’s. Notice the eyes.

AlfAlfie the Alf

Unbeknownst to Apollo, he is going to have to work overtime to shape this “recruit” into a lean fighting machine. She already has one strike against her. She is not a Poodle. That can be assuaged as long as she takes her training seriously. I dare not forget, Apollo is an  equal opportunity employer.He does not discriminate when it comes to hiring.  However, if she expects to wear a detective badge for Poodle Home Security, she must immediately realize this is serious stuff. The offenders that drift into Poodle Home Security territory do not necessarily have treats in their pockets. They do not have squeaky toys under their arms. Not everyone she meets will come bearing gifts.

She does have the ability to keep the little Silkie chickens in line, as long as they stay on their side of the fence. That is fortunate, a good first step. However, I’m thinking that the Silkies do not pose any threat to the Rancher or “Rancherette”. She is also good at urging the lawnmower along, digging holes, and chewing doorposts or any other inanimate object that gets in her way.
She is smart, already learning from Apollo that water tastes better with ice cubes in it. Not bad for a rookie. She has quickly become adept at frisking pockets. In case you have something in there that is not allowed, like doggie treats, she will promptly confiscate any items not allowed. Occasionally, for training purposes, certain objects are left in the bark of trees and other locations for her to find. She is very good at searching out those items. I might add, they smell like cheese and her smeller is superb. However, I think Apollo must work with her on her attention span. She has so much to learn before taking her place in the barking order.

I have heard that when life deals you lemons, you should make lemonade. I am not a lemonade aficionado; however, I suppose I could learn. I can use rainwater to make the stuff if it ever rains again. That is, if Alfie hasn’t stolen the lemons. We probably should have done a background check before “hiring” her. Apollo, you still have work to do. Poodle Home Security 2

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

A “Brutal” Winter, Round 2

In my previous post, A “Brutal” Winter, it seems I was a bit premature with my assessment of “Brutal”. Being a dutiful Texan, I am always subservient to the whims of tall tales. Not that there was any exaggeration with that post, however, as I said, “That was then, this is now.”

Accordingly, I am providing an update.

The winds blew, the temperature was dropping, all the way down to 33 degrees and the snow began to fall. This happened after I rose from bed this morning.

My first thought, after listening to the list of school and government closings and the urging of officials to stay home, was to call the television station and ask them to add http://www.fuzzychickens.com

Fuzzy Chickens dot com 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

and JPR Kennels to their lists of closures.JPR Kennels

For my part I was paying attention to the stay-at-home stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

Should I call, I would respectfully ask that all Silkie chickens and Standard Poodles at these locations to stay inside today. I am cancelling all their activities and rescheduling their feedings until tomorrow. The hens do not have to lay eggs today. Besides, this is the first time any of our chickens have ever seen the delicate white stuff. They would be quite hesitant to venture out into this stuff, anyway. The hens could lay their eggs in the snow and I would be unable to find them. They have a tendency to drop their eggs wherever they happen to be at that particular time. Silkies are funny that way.

Now the dogs, on the other hand, consider this white stuff to be old hat. But for the caretaker, not so much. So they can just postpone their sniffing wherewithal until tomorrow. Everyone may as well reschedule their morning events. They can all just have the day off. I am not offended that they think otherwise.

After my suggestion about calling the TV station, the “rancherette” decided, for whatever unnerving reason, to build a “snow chicken” in the backyard. The local television station is always asking for viewers to send in their pictures. She said this would be a great picture for TV and she could put her website in the snow as well. What a great marketing tool, she said. And it would be fun, she said. I can put it on Facebook, she said. And it is very cold, I said.

They say that when one reaches a certain age, one has a tendency to revert back to their childhood. I can attest to that.

Being the artist, she is, and with her blank “canvas” before her, like a “phoenix” rising from the snow, a creature comes forth with a funny little beak, a fluffy head and a cedar bough for a tail. It looks just like a chicken. A Silkie chicken! Fuzzy 7

 

 

 

 

 

What with the temperature hovering near freezing, my solution would have been to just set one of the chickens out in the snow and wait a few minutes. Voila, instant “Snow Chicken”.  That did not go over very well.

nice chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was this morning, now it is afternoon. The sun is beginning to come out, the temperature is rising and the snow is melting. The ‘snow chicken” is shrinking. The day is just about gone. The dogs and chickens did not pay any attention to the cancellations anyway. I should have known better. It is too late to call the station back and remove my closures from their lists. And I was pretty sure we were in for a blizzard. Just shows you how much I know about Texas weather.

With the temperature the way it is, I have a hankering for a bowl of chicken and dumplings or chicken noodle soup. That would really hit the spot. Chicken sounds good about now.

Stay Warm!

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?

Christmas Morning

It is Christmas Morning. The agonizing wait is over. The house has a different air about it. Yesterday, there was so much anticipation and this morning that anticipation has been replaced with an attitude of joy. Smiling faces with tussled hair and sleepy eyes that are just now starting to focus, grip the morning with varying squeals of delight.

The first thing I noticed this morning was a white residue in the milk glass beside the empty cookie plate. Something or someone removed those contents during the night. Then I saw the stockings full to the brim, bulging with stuff inside. There were candy canes sticking out over the edge of each. And the Christmas Tree was loaded with wrapped gifts that were not there yesterday. Santa has come and gone. He really knows how to impress a person.

So breakfast will have to wait. There are gifts to be opened and those stockings so full to the brim, well, they must be pulled off the shelf and emptied on the floor. That is the best way to see what is in there. But I must be careful, Santa has been known to put breakable stuff in those stockings. Fortunately, this morning, that was not the case.

I peered into my stocking to see a variety of male toiletries, which I might add, I love, then a wonderful box of chocolate covered Cherries, really my favorite, and a Christmas tradition in my house for many years. I also got a couple of toothpaste Squeeze-It devices. These are designed to get every bit of the toothpaste from the tube before you throw it away. That is ingenious. Wish I had thought of that. Sure beats pushing and squeezing the tube in the middle. I bet the inventor of that device celebrates Christmas in a big way.

I opened a wrapped gift next. The tag said it was from Santa. I think this Santa looks a lot like my wife. I don’t know how Santa knew I needed a new pair of pajamas. I will wear them tonight. Maybe that will impress “someone”. Santa outdid himself this year.

I must admit, it is fun to open gifts. But my enjoyment really comes from watching the “Rancherette” open her stocking and gifts. Of course, in her case, Santa knows what she likes and is happy to contribute to her desires.

I am undecided as to which gift she likes the most. I can tell you, she adores her Silkie chicken calendar. And then, Santa filled her stocking with traditional stuff.  She opened the stocking to discover an apple, an orange, candy canes, nuts, (assorted, of course), and chocolate candy, Ghirardelli’s chocolate candy! Another gift she received was a sweet-smelling bottle of Burberry perfume. I helped Santa think of that.

However, sometimes, a gift goes awry. Such is the case with the Silkie Chicken Clock. It does not work and must be returned. I don’t think Santa takes return gifts even if he did not get it right. It probably is the problem of one of his suppliers. I will locate the business address of that firm and do the return for him. I will inform Santa of that particular supplier so that he doesn’t use them next year.

I noticed after I took a shower this morning that Santa forgot one of the items on my wish list. This is the umpteenth time he has forgotten. Every year, I ask for a new birthday suit and every year he forgets. I’m telling you, the birthday suit I have now is wrinkled and really beginning to wear out. Oh, well, I tend to be somewhat of a pack rat and keep everything much longer than it was designed to be kept. At least, this one still works for me, but, I’ll keep putting that wish on my Christmas list.

But I don’t despair, it is still a wonderful Christmas, the “rancher” and the “rancherette” sharing with each other. We share gifts with each other during the course of the year, but it seems that Christmas brings out the true meaning of giving, at least for me. I realize that others do not share the same Christmas celebrations that we as Christians do. For those who do not, I sincerely hope you find something (or someone) in your life to celebrate and when you do, make it special to the one you love. If it happens at this particular time of year, then, that’s just icing on the cake.

Well, it is time to begin the overindulging. I helped the “rancherette” in the kitchen by chopping onions and celery. That will pay off in the form of dressing later today. I love dressing, too. The “rancherette” is an expert at discussing with Santa what gifts to bring me, but she is also an expert at cooking and baking.. But in the meantime, I think I will start with the chocolate covered cherries. That is a tradition each year as well

I hope each of you have a very Merry Christmas.

Important Inventions I Like

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catalpa leaf                          Fig leaf

Catalpa Leaf

Fig leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Anyway, the remote was a very important invention.

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

I hope you have a wheely good day.

It’s Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our first born november 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Mother Hen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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