Chickens and the Natural Order

We’ve been raising chickens since last spring. My husband is trying to breed specialty breeds to sell in Swap Meets, and I’m a bit worried that this is never going to pay off. Why? Two factors:  1. “I need this chicken so I can make that chick, but we need another coop to keep them exclusively a breeding pair” and 2. Chick mortality.

In addition to the chickens, we have some peafowl (also lovingly referred to as “Pip-Squawks” and “Velociraptors”) and five ducklings. Most of our birds were adopted as babies, though we did pick up some adult birds here and there. We name our birds, pet our birds, and they are all convinced they are really parrots.

Chicks need to be kept warm until their full feathers come in, so we’ve kept them first in brooding bins, then in an unfinished part of what was once the garage until they are old enough to be moved outside to one of the coops. 

Our biggest coop was dubbed “Gen-Pop,” and we have a Polish coop (Auschwitz?) that also holds some chickens that couldn’t get along in Gen-Pop, and a Serama coop that holds nothing but cute little seramas. Prince should, by rights, be in that coop, but he fights with the other tiny Roos, so he’s in Gen-Pop, because he has friends there and has learned NOT to tangle with the bigger Roos.

Walking into the back aviary room one evening, I had to call Adam to see what had happened. The chickens and ducklings were “properly sorted.” The five ducklings were all lined up, the white Leghorns were clustered together, Cochins were in groups of like-colored Cochins, Mottled Java chicks were in another area, and our two adult Buff/Red silkies sat somewhere in the middle of the room. None of this was orchestrated by human intervention. It was done by the birds themselves.

It occurred to me that chickens share some of the personality flaws of human beings.

  • Chickens can be racist. They tend to pick on chickens that look different, whether that difference is color or size.
  • Chickens tend to starve out the weak when the going gets tough. Hey – why waste resources on a bird that is less likely to survive anyway? 
  • There is a pecking order that favors the strongest, but weaklings can survive and even thrive by making nice with stronger chickens.

Chickens also share some of our better qualities.

  • Chickens are inquisitive. They like to investigate things.
  • Chickens show genuine affection to other chickens and even other animals. Our chickens have befriended the duck, pig, the dog (somewhat) and the bunnies. They can’t be friends with the peafowl, because the peafowl tried to eat a couple of young silkies (and killed one) when they managed to get to the wrong side of a divide. They also can’t be friends with the button quail, because they believe button quail are food. We’ve seen chickens appear to mourn the deaths of other chickens.
  • They have a language system that sounds complicated. We’ve learned what some of the sounds mean. They also sing Babaloo. And each rooster has a distinctive crow.

Two of our funny looking Roos were adopted from the county shelter. The man who caught them and boxed them for us thought they were mean. When we got them home and held them, they became big snuggle-birds. Well, at least one of them did, the other tolerates us, but tends to evade being touched very often.

I suppose things like forming cliques and pecking orders are a natural means of survival and order. But we can all look beyond our fear-driven ways and cohabitate peacefully when we try.


Reclaiming stuff

I have the computer that has been circulating around the house for months now. AND I have sole use of our lousy internet connection, such as it is. So I am actually able to blog from home without trying to type into an iPhone screen. Woo Hoo!

I’ve re-enrolled in Object Oriented Programming, which now utilizes C# instead of C++. Wish me luck.

I’m attempting to clean the house, and declutter. I think I need to take my older sister’s advice and follow the Kon Marie method.

Things in life are not always what we would like them to be, but I can make what I will of what we have. One loop, one knot, one word, one photograph at a time.

Sadly, we did lose the baby bunnies. But there are bound to be more bunnies in the future, and we have the grown-up bunnies to love and care for and use for wool harvesting.


Welcoming 2017

New Year’s Superstitions… what are yours? Do you eat Black-eyed peas, or say “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit”? Start the year with a kiss?

Our family superstition is no laundry on January 1st. “If you do the wash on New Year’s Day, you’ll wash the year’s luck away!”

I’m not particularly superstitious, but I’m NOT risking it. 

I will NOT be eating black-eyed peas, however. No matter how many of those disgusting little things I eat, the money thing doesn’t happen. In fact, I think it’s been worse since I started eating them. Sure, you can doctor them up with tons of cheese and rice and maybe some super-salty ham. Or, you can just avoid them like the plague they are.

As for rabbits, I don’t say “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit,” but I do think it’s lucky we have three baby rabbits. They were born on the 30th, to our white French Angora.

Whatever your superstitions (or lack thereof) may be, have a healthy, prosperous and happy New Year!

Reflections on 2016

All in all, it wasn’t the best year, but we didn’t lose any more human family members. I’m hoping that stays true…

We have made many changes. Moved to Adam’s childhood home, “adopted” enough animals to start a petting zoo, and watched as my grandmother nearly died but recovered enough to be recovering in an assisted living facility.

My daughter is moving in with her father. While I will miss her, she will have opportunities in New York that she simply doesn’t have in the isolated and rural place we now live. She is sixteen, and needs to develop more ways to be independent, which won’t happen when everything here requires use of a motor vehicle, and she is not yet driving. Nor do we have any extra vehicles to spare…

We have been hatching chicks – Cochins, Polish, and mutts.

We have Angora bunnies (English and French) and Flemish giant rabbits, and today the French Angora female had kits. It’s looking like some kind of crazy Easter-themed zoo around here.

I still need to photograph more bunnies, chicks and ducklings. Yeah, we have a few of them as well…

The Angora bunnies are also going to be used for their wool. We’ll be making felt and yarn, if I can get them better used to grooming and gathering. 

And my crochet lace projects have been getting a little out of hand.

I’ve finished more work on the table runner since capturing this photo.

I miss writing, though. So I suppose I need to find time for that somehow.

To all my WordPress friends, have a safe and fun New Year’s Eve and Day, and a healthy, prosperous 2017.

Public Service Announcement

I am just going to state here and now, to anyone who may be going through a separation or divorce… sometimes things just don’t work out and that IS your best option. And when it is, do your best to bury the hatchet, get past the hard feelings, and separate as amicably as you are able, especially if kids are in the picture.

I am so glad that my ex and I have been able to get to a place where we can work together for the good of our kids. God knows, kids sometimes need all the help they can get, and having two parents (or more sometimes, in the case of steps) can make a real difference.

My Autumn Photos…

Inspired by Cordelia’s Mom and her post, Don’t Fence Me In, I decided to post a couple of fall foliage photos of my own.

Everyone has such lovely leaves. Much like Charlie Brown with his Halloween bag of rocks, we have sand spurs.

Lovely, aren’t they? Here’s a closer shot:

Yeah. They are extremely painful when they get imbedded in the bottom of your foot because you’re an idiot who thinks it’s a great idea to walk outside barefoot to clean and refill the water jugs for over 40 chickens or 6 pea fowl. Yes, I am a bird hoarder.

Anyway, there was something kind of pretty by the sand spurs:

As for said birds, we’re pretty sure we have three pea cocks and three pea hens. 

The boys get bluer every day. 

The hens are beautiful, too.

We have Silkies, Seramas, Polish chickens, Blue Andalusian, Sicilian Buttercups, and our original mixed flock. We’re averaging about 2-3 eggs a day at this point.

It’s funny, when I moved to Dunnellon years ago as a twelve year old kid, I thought of farming as smelly, gross, something I wouldn’t want to do. Now I enjoy every minute spent at home with the biddies and the piglet and the kids.

Lost stuff, Faeries, and Absentee Blogging

It’s a wonder what lack of a decent internet connection will do to one’s blogging habits. Also, what a lack of workspace does to one’s writing habits in general.

Life has become an endless cycle of work, driving, caretaking (humans and birds and other assorted living things) and stitching or beading. Aside from the whole car and electricity thing, I may be working my way back to the 19th Century.

I was musing on “things lost” the other day when I misplaced yet another pair of sunglasses… I can never seem to keep track of keys or sunglasses… 

At some point in my life, I was told when items mysteriously disappeared that I could blame their disappearance on mischievous faeries. Because faeries love to take everything from used teeth to car keys. Then when you’ve given up on ever finding them again, they reappear in an unlikely place.

I’ve lost and found many things these past few months. It’s easy to lose stuff when you are moving great quantities of stuff. Things missing? Movies, music, clothing… normal people lose socks in the wash. I lose socks, and pants, shirts, sweaters… how?!

The one thing we always lose that can’t be replaced is time. We all need the time faeries to bring us some extra days.