Monday, June 8, 2015

Paging Dr Phil

Just when I thought things were finally settling down at Fractured Farm after the addition of six Rhode Island Red chicks and doubling the flock...

Oh, it started innocently enough. Buttercup has always wanted his cuddles and Goosey has gotten into the habit of hopping up next to me in the afternoon, waiting for an invitation to my lap. One of the Red chicks likes to climb up my back and perch on my shoulder like a parrot when I'm trying to do chores; hence her name, Polly. So one day I sat on a straw bale with Polly on my shoulder, Buttercup under my arm and Goosey on my lap. Or so I thought, until Goosey marched up to the interloper on my lap and began pecking her on the head!

Goosey looks exactly like another one of our Orpington hens, except she has black spots on her tail feathers. I checked the attacker and yep, it was Goosey. I was surprised, because she was the only Orpie who'd ever shown any interest in affection before! The one in my lap looked up at me for a minute, then laid her head down on my arm and I turned into a puddle of goo. I had a lovey baby, so of course I called her Lovey.

I fended off Goosey's attacks on Lovey while trying to figure out how to get both of them on my lap. It might have been easier if I didn't have a Silkie rooster under one arm and a six week old Rhode Island Red chick peering into my eye. How did I lose control? I just wanted chickens for safe eggs. I live somewhat close to the contaminated egg factories from a few years ago, and the new bird flu outbreak area. It seemed reasonable, but I didn't plan on them becoming jealous, needy little things.

Buttercup got shoved out from under my arm in all the chaos and promptly threw a tantrum. He did his stomping dance and bit my ankle, as if to say, "this is all your fault!"

"What did I do? I didn't do anything."

Polly decided she'd had enough of the drama and flew off my shoulder. Lovey and Goosey left too, occasionally pecking at each other and Buttercup was completely done with me.

I don't know what I'm going to do with them. Especially Polly, when she's not a four inch tall chick, but a full grown chicken trying to climb up my back and sit on my shoulder.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Not Enough Lap

I may have to start eating more. I don’t have enough lap.

I’ve already mentioned my snugglebug chickens, Cheeto and Buttercup. Cheeto is lovey when he wants to be, but Buttercup wants love just about every morning, and he’s usually pecking at my feet when I’m still trying to get the fresh food and water out. I haven’t figured out how to separate the top & bottom of the waterer one handed yet, so I usually have a tantrum throwing rooster on my hands while I’m throwing the old water in one of the compost bins and filling it up with fresh water.

The other morning I had two lovey roosters on my lap and we were doing our morning cuddles when I felt a light pecking on my lower back. That’s what the boys do when they want to snuggle – they peck, I reach around to give them a skritch, they snuggle up under my arm and I lift them into my lap. Ok, these days Buttercup usually jumps when I put my arm out.

Anyway, Cheeto decided he’d had enough and hopped out of my lap so I reached around and pulled a surprised hen into my lap. She blinked at me a few times but didn’t try to jump down! Well, not until Mr. Cheeto noticed somebody else in Mama’s lap! There was quite a bit of squawking and wing flapping, and she eventually hopped down. Buttercup just watched the whole show. I suppose he was thinking “hey, as long as you’re not trying to get on my side, who cares.”

So now I’m going to have three chickens trying to cuddle in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, it’s adorable. I never imagined chickens would want to cuddle. Then again, I never imagined they’d throw tantrums either. That’s just one more thing they never mentioned in the books. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Escape Artists

Here's another one that I didn't read about in the chicken books. Some of my feathered kids have turned into escape artists. If I don't open the coop soon enough in the morning, some of my little dears will stage a jailbreak. Don't let them fool you; "dumb cluck" is a contradiction of terms.

Take Honey, for example. I named her Honey because at first she wasn't the brightest crayon in the box and you just wanted to say "oh honey,, bless your heart..." Don't let that sweet face fool you though; if there's a way out of the coop or the run, she'll find it and stage a break worthy of a Stallone movie. The other morning, I went out to parole the chickens and Honey and Fuzzy were roming around the back yard. The minute they saw me, they hightailed it back to the run, squeezed under the gate and stood there blinking innocently at me. It turns out they had popped the screen out of the window and literally flew the coop. So I had two escape routes to fix - the window and the gate. Just what I needed before coffee.

The good thing is that if I can keep Honey in the coop, the others will stay in too. Not only is she a bad influence, but she's the smallest of the chickens. It's just a good thing she's cute and a good layer, and I'm a real softie. She'll break out of the run and when I put her back in, she'll peck around the yard, clucking happily and I forgive her for being naughty.

At least they don't go far when they escape. Dogs will roam for miles and cats can go anywhere but chickens will stay close to their coop. The farthest they'll go is the side of the garage near the front of the house. My only concern is that hawks, eagles and neighbor dogs will go after them so that's why they don't get to free range all day, every day.

I should write a book...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Baby (chicken) fever

It looks like we're not going to have babies at Fractured Farm this year.

Waaaaaaaaah!  I want babies!! 

Not people babies, no way.  The factory is shut down.  If I end up in a family way again,  bloodshed will be involved.  I cruised past 47 this year gang; a new munchkin would mean all sorts of sucky tests and probably no caffeine.  Battle hardened Marines don't want to be around me when I'm told I can't have coffee.

No, I'm talking baby chickens.  This time last year Cheeto and Honey were under Mama and we were on Hatch Watch.  I was reading books and the kids were trying to peek under Mama but she'd peck at them whenever they got too close.  I understood;  I wasn't always a cheerful pregnant lady either.  At least her kids weren't kicking her bladder and making her barf several times a day. 

The boys are trying though.  I feel sorry for Fuzzy.  He keeps trying to get some action and just gets pecked on the head for his efforts.  Do they make blow up hens?  Cheeto does better, but he has really bad aim.  He was sideways once.  That's not going to get the job done.  Buttercup has been trying to coach him and that's helped, except he's gotten caught in the middle a few times.  I've read a LOT of books about chickens and none of them have covered chicken porn.  Please tell me I'm not the only one with an X rated coop.

Animals won't breed when it gets too close to winter so we're running low n baby chicken making time.  Maybe I need to put my tablet in the coop and play a little Michael Buble. ..

Monday, July 21, 2014

So Much For My Jenna Woginrich Moment

I thought I was having a true Jenna Woginrich moment with the chickens this morning.  If you haven't read her books, you're really missing out.  She writes these beautiful books about her journey from corporate cube drone to living and supporting herself on 6 1/2 acres with gardens, sheep, 2 horses, chickens and all that stuff you dream about when you were stuff in traffic on the way to work, the copier is jammed AGAIN, and some creep stole your Post-It stash.  She raises her own food, writes and all that good stuff.  It's hard work, but she's only supporting herself and her critters, and I daydream about being Jenna when the boys are chasing each other through the house with shaving cream.

This morning I thought sure I was having a Jenna moment.  The kids were sleeping in, it was quiet out back, and I was doing the morning chores with the chickens.  I filled up the waterer, tore up  bread (because Honey will lose her mind if she doesn't get bread every morning), put out the little pail of sunflower seeds so the girls will go bobbing for seeds and scattered chicken feed around.  Chickens were clucking, Cheeto was crowing now and then and it was so peaceful and nice.  It was exactly what I was picturing last winter when the Polar Vortex had me pulling the curtains and watching anything on TV that showed green grass.  Buttercup pushed up against me and I pulled him into my lap for our morning cuddle.  He snuggled against me, cooing and making all sorts of cute chicken noises and I thought, "I could get used to this."  After a minute though, he hopped off my lap and scuttled off, which is unusual for him.  I thought maybe he'd caught sight of an interesting bug. 

Then I saw my t-shirt.

Biiiiiiig wet spot.

The little creep peed on me!

Nobody has peed on me since I learned how to change a diaper in under 30 seconds!

I bet Jenna's chickens don't pee on her.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Return ofChicken Happy Hour

Old Man Winter has finally been clubbed into submission and warm temps have arrived.  The chickens can finally leave the run and get at the grass that's been buried under a few feet of snow since December and they're getting a little rowdy.

Over the winter, love bloomed between Fuzzy and one of our hens, so he didn't take it well when Cheeto decided to engage in what we call Chicken Porn.  Hen's squawking, Cheeto is trying to do his thing and Fuzzy is pecking him on the head.  Cheeto gave up and Fuzzy moved in to finish the job.  Cheeto is a handsome boy but he's not too smart.  I think Fuzz will end up opening up the whumpass again.  Cheeto really needs a helmet.

Our neighbor got a kayak over the winter and he finally got a chance to take it out.  I wish my phone could zoom enough to get pictures of his dogs as they watched him paddle away from the dock the first time.  Imagine two Marmaduke sized dogs, watching a kayak paddle away with a look on their faces that you just know means, "DAD!!  DON'T LEAVE US!"  I'll give 'em credit, they didn't howl.  Dad got love when he got back though.

Cheeto tried it again with Fuzzy's girl.  I told you he wasn't smart.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Blizzard

2014 is coming in with a small blizzard here at Fractured Farm.  Ok, the roads aren't drifting shut but the day is still young.  They're calling for snow most of the day but the chickens are doing better this winter than last year.  Moving the greenhouse so it's parallel to the run may have limited their view of the Mississippi River but it's blocking the wind so there isn't snow in the coop.

The chickens seem to be dealing with the cold and snow better than I am.  There doesn't seem to be the feather pulling of last winter, which just further convinces me that it was Forte the rooster behind it all.  Everybody is much happier since we re-homed him with a chicken farmer who needed another rooster to grow his flock.  When the temps first started dropping, they weren't too happy about being stuck inside most of the time, but since I started throwing their food and some corn on the floor of the coop, they perked up.  Don't worry, I put fresh bedding down frequently.  On the rare occasions lately when it hasn't been below zero, Cheeto and Honey and sometimes a couple of the hens will sit under the coop and soak up the sun.  

Yeah, they're handling it much better than I am.  Bud's had a head cold for a week, and I haven't been able to sleep much because of his snoring.  Since he's sick, he can't do much but get caught up on TVin the living room, which is something he wanted to do this winter, but binge watching "Dexter" isn't my cup of tea.  Serial killers don't help my stress levels, even if they only kill bad guys.  I'm huddled under blankets in the bedroom, trying to warm up by watching the Rose Bowl Parade.  There aren't a lot of heat vents in the office and while Bud can putz on his computer for a while in there, I can't write with numb toes.

How many days until spring?