Posted in Animals

A Broody, Moody Hen

I’ve got a broody hen.  In other words, she wants to be a momma.

This hen in particular sits in a wheelbarrow.  Day after day.  Night after night.  She won’t eat.  She won’t drink.  And if you go near her, she puts her hackles up and makes a noise that frightens me.   I’ve never been harmed by a chicken, and yet I still am frightened.  It is an unwarranted fear that I can not explain, especially considering the fact that my hens are darlings.  Perhaps it dates back to when I read a children’s book, “Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in her Pocket” and Junie B. was worried that the chickens were going to peck her head into a nub, and she would have to walk around in a pair of overalls with a nub as a head.  I’m sure that is it, since that is so very logical.

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So day after day, night after night, this yellow chicken sits in a red wheelbarrow hoping beyond hope that the egg she ISN’T sitting on will hatch.   Crazy chicken.

It is  impossible that she will ever set a nest and have a baby chickie because:
1) there is no rooster here to fertilize her egg, so no matter how long she sets a nest, it will still just be an egg.
2)  There is no egg that she is setting since we removed it from underneath her weeks ago, hoping she would be about her business.

No such luck.

Day after day, one of us, (mostly Ash, but sometimes me if I’ve had a shot of whiskey first) will pick up the hissing, pissed off chicken, afraid that her head is going to spin around and start pecking me to a nub and throw her out of the wheelbarrow, so she can get a drink of water and maybe a bite to eat.   And as soon as we do, she lets us know she is not a happy chicken.  And as soon as she can, she makes a run for the water trough, gets a drink, and before you know it, she is back in her wheelbarrow on her imaginary nest, dreaming of waddling babies.

But if you were ever wondering where the expression  “got her feathers ruffled” originated, my belief is it came from an insane broody hen after she was tossed from her wheelbarrow.

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Posted in Animals

The Chicken Ranch Case #378—–A Mild Case of Chicken Discrimination

For all my beloved followers who have stuck by me through the “adoption” of my 14 little chicks way back in March of 2011, who watched me nurture them, watched them grow, loved them, and cried through their misfortunes, I have yet another tale to tell.

But first, for old times sake, remember them when they looked like this?

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And this?

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Now they’re just a lot of five little old hens.  Yes, only five.  The herd began at 14 and I’m sure there would be many more with me if I had cooped them, but I allowed them to free-range and wander the world as all chickens long to do.  You must watch your tail feathers when you’re a free range chicken, as other things range freely as well.  Like coyotes and wild cats.    And of course there are the freak accidents as well, horse trough drownings and mysterious disappearances.

When we decided to move to New Mexico, I was going to leave the chickens in Texas.  The new owners showed some interest in them and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to take them with me.  The girls haven’t been laying eggs in quite some time now, probably due to the lack of daylight, and I’ve actually had to purchase eggs from the store for the first time in over a year.  But once we got here and discovered we could actually have them, I borrowed a huge dog crate and loaded all five of them up and put them in the back of a Toyota pick-up and headed west.  I looked a little “Jed Clampish” with a pickup bed  full of chickens and two dogs, a front seat full of plants and a backseat of two girls.

Now is the time that you shouldn’t judge me, as the chickens lack a coop at this time.  That first night I arrived, I had to make due by putting them under the back porch where they would be secure from any predators, minus the dogs of course since they have grown to love them as I do.  This was to be a temporary situation, but life has a way of making easy things hard and we just haven’t had the time to put up a proper house for the girls yet.

The next day, I let them out to explore the back yard with the dogs and peck around.  Then that night, as good chickens do, they cooped themselves back up under the porch, where they believe their home to be.  The problem here is chickens like to roost at night, up high, and there isn’t a place to do that.  The next night when I went to check on them,  4 of them were roosting together all snuggled up on the top of the borrowed dog crate, while the fifth one was sleeping on the dirt floor.  Poor little chicken.

The following evening, I stepped out on the back deck to feed the dogs and heard the sweet sleeping noises of the chickens and found 4 of them all roosting together all snuggled up on a patio chair, while the fifth one was sleeping by herself on another patio chair.

My heart broke a little bit.  It isn’t much colder here than it was in Texas, if at all really.  But I couldn’t help but feel bad for the little chicken who is all alone without the warmth of her hen-mates keeping her warm.  I contemplated fixing the problem, but really it’s just the way of the animal kingdom and I shouldn’t interfere and how could I fix it anyway.

But is it coincidental, that the little left out chicken just so happens to be a black chicken?  The only black chicken left in the group?  I have 2 yellows, and 2 black and whites, but only one black chicken remains and she is being ostracized.  Can these chickens see in color?  Do they realize she’s the lone one of her “kind”?  Are they discriminating?

Or perhaps these “mean girls” are jealous because the black ones really are the best layers, when they are laying.

Or does this black chicken choose to be alone?  Perhaps she wants to sleep by herself, heaven knows I would love a night of solitary sleep where I could spread out and toot if I want to.

So many questions remain unanswered.

The case of chicken discrimination remains open at this time.  I will be investigating this further and will report any new information as it becomes available.  In the meantime, rest assured that there will be no hazing or bullying of the black chicken under my watch.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thank you.

P.S.  If you’d like to read some chicken archives, I highlighted some in orange in this post you can click on or you can always click on the words “Raising Chickens” in the topic list on the right side of the screen.  They have been quite the adventure.  Almost makes me want to get new ones.  Almost.

Posted in Animals

The Rat

 

Ah, the joys of moving.  I’m in the middle of moving to a new home, which means a whole lot of cleaning, throwing out, organizing, donating, uncluttering, and packing.

I’ve tried to organize the process and do a little bit in a certain area each day, and so far I’m about 5 days behind schedule.

I have empty boxes piled in the living room, right next to packed boxes piled in the living room, while still trying to maintain the rest of the house and quite frankly, I feel like I’m living in a rat hole.

I’m not sure why story books and cartoons portray mice as such cute critters.

If you ask me, there is nothing cute about a mouse.

They’re dirty, they’re nasty, they scurry about leaving those little mouse turds behind.  And I just got the shivers, no lying.  In the cartoons, they always have a cute little face and live in a  tidy little mouse-hole with a rocking chair and an afghan.  Maybe a little table and a few chairs formed from old thread spools they’ve collected.  Mama mouse wears an apron and daddy mouse usually dons a vest with a pocket watch with a pair of spectacles resting on his nose.

But that’s Hollywood or Walt Disney and certainly not an accurate portrayal of the rodent which I hate.

Living in the country, mice are pretty inevitable.  I mean, really I’m living on their turf out here in a big open field.

Not too long ago, I blogged about my mouse troubles here.  And how I went about getting two little kittens from my mom’s to help ward off the mice.

Well, I think they are doing their job.

Or something is.

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This is the gross of the grossest, I know.  But this rat was lying dead in the drive the other day.   J-Dub doesn’t have a gigantic foot by any means, but nonetheless that is one big dude.

Funny, I don’t see his little pocket watch or spectacles.  This isn’t one of Cinderella’s little helpers is it?  More like Templeton from Charlotte’s Web, who is the accurate depiction of a true rat. A  nasty, fat, filthy varmint.  A dead one, at that.

So kudos to the cats.

Or the dogs.

Or the sudden acute coronary thrombosis that took his life.

 

Posted in Animals

The Cat’s Meow

We haven’t had any chicken killings, no wild horse escapades,  nary a snake has snuck up on me of late.   The dogs have been calm, the skunks have been distant, no electrical or water outings to speak of.  Save my 9 month old causing a ruckus, it’s been relatively quiet here at the J & A Chicken Ranch.

The weather is turning cooler, and if you live in the country, inevitably means the mice try to scurry inside.

For the record, me and mice, we don’t jive. I usually keep poison out in little hidey spots and have a trap or two set, but now that our little EK is crawling and nosing around, neither poison nor traps are a good idea.

In case it bears repeating, me and mice, we don’t jive.  So I couldn’t just live with the nasty little varmints.  I knew they were around, being the light sleeper that I am, I could hear them in the night and quite frankly I was just a tad creeped out.  My mother told me she heard that rats ate a baby in New York City once and I just couldn’t bear the thought of mice nibbling on my tot’s ear or at the very least scuttling about throughout the house.

I had to do something, so do it, I did.

I brought home some cats.

Two little kittens were born under my mom’s house about 3 or 4 months ago.  My mom and my niece worked diligently taming the little cuties, feeding them saucers of milk, getting them to come in the house, until they were just almost pets.

One is a little gray and white one that Ashy mistook for a girl and named Flower and the solid black one is name Bandit, Bandi for short.  He’s a bit wilder.

I had to bring Flower out first, as we only had one cat carrier, and couldn’t fit them both in the carrier, much less catch the little black one.  As soon as the door was opened, Flower was MIA.  He took off and I didn’t hear from him for 3 days.  The food was eaten each night, but I wasn’t sure what exactly could be chowing down in his absence.  Finally on the 3rd night, we heard a meow coming from the tree so we knew he was still hanging around.

The next day, I quickly went to my mom’s and got Brother Bandi.  Now this little wiry black kitten is skittish and wild acting, but when the door to the carrier was opened, he just stayed put for a while.  Then he nonchalantly walked around the yard, sniffing around, venturing out of the front yard fence momentarily.  I was pleased to see that he wasn’t going to run and was hoping that he and Brother could reunite shortly.

I sat out and watched the reunion closely as they began mewing at one another.  Slowly the little gray kitten tiptoed off the haystack where he had stayed hidden and they scurried off together running underneath an outbuilding.  I sat on my bucket on that beautiful fall afternoon smiling  at how grand life is.  Then I went in the house.

It wasn’t much later that the quiet, grand life was interrupted with yelps, and barks, and bangs, and growls.  As I ran to peer out the back window, I discovered that Bandi had found his way into the backyard and the two dogs, Drew and Grace, were not appreciating their intruder.  The backyard had turned into a boxing ring with 2 against one and the dogs were winning.  I ran out there screaming and shouting, but our dog Drew will fight to the death and refuses to be called off of anything he has cornered.  The only way was to open the gate and convince them to go outside where Drew could go chase invisible rabbits and dig holes under pipe.

Once the dogs were gone, the little black cat pressed himself against the back screen door, wide-eyed and panting.  His fur was matted and wet from the battle and his heart was pounding.  He stayed there frozen.  I went to him to try to help him, but he ran away and climbed into a bush in the backyard where he stayed perched for at least an hour.

Finally, with EK in her stroller, I got a chair and stood atop to reach up and remove the little fellow.  He quickly hopped down, found his way out of the dog’s backyard territory and has stayed hidden every since.

My mom and Ashy came out that evening after I called and told them the story and were able to woo the frightened little guys out of hiding for a few minutes of reassurance.

Needless to say, the dogs are back in the backyard, one cat stays hidden on top of the stacks of alfalfa, the other stays hidden under an outbuilding.

I don’t think they like their new home much, but on a good note, I haven’t heard from the mice lately.

 

 

Posted in Animals

Chasing Rabbits

We have these two dogs.

Drew and Grace.

 

Grace is so appropriately named and could have easily been named Faith.  She is loyal to the end.  Always there right beside you.

Drew on the other hand, should have been named Retard.

He’s just  a big goofy dog who likes to chase rabbits.

We have some pipe lying around because

1) we live in the country and country people acquire crap like pipe
2) J-Dub was going to build something but instead it’s laid in the pasture collecting rabbits.

Our dogs are outside dogs who live in the backyard, lush with dirt, having trampled or eaten every stitch of grass or weeds that ever attempted to grow there.  But each evening when it’s time to do the evening chores, we let the dogs out.  Who let the dogs out?  I said we do.  Opening the backyard fence gate is like shooting off a gun in the 50 meter dash.  Away they go, barreling past, knocking you down if you hadn’t the foresight to move quickly, sprinting towards the wide openness.

Grace runs a little pace and then realizes she is Grace the Faithful and comes back and follows whomever is doing chores, getting the hay, the horse feed, gathering the eggs.  She’s their little sidekick.

Drew the Retard on the other hand, heads to the pipe.  Because once upon a time, many moons ago,  he chased a rabbit.  And maybe that rabbit ran into the pipe.  So Retard thinks it’s still in there and he is determined to chase it out.

He starts at one end of the pipe, sticks his nose in, tail wagging maniacally, sniffs around, then runs to the other end of the pipe, sticks his nose in, sniffs around, then back again to the beginning.  Ad nauseum.

Every night this is his routine.  After he has run circles around the pipe, sniffing and wagging,  he then begins to dig.  Because if he can’t sniff that nonexistent rabbit out of there, by golly, he’ll dig it out. He starts at one end of the pipe digging ferociously, runs to the other side and digs ferociously over there, then back to the beginning, ad nauseum.

 

Perhaps he’s digging a grave for the nonexistent rabbit when he ousts him from the pipe in which he does not live.

Finally around sundown, panting and bloody toenails, he is exhausted.  But he will not leave his post.  No sirree, not this soldier.  While Grace the Faithful lies on the porch waiting on master to put her up, Drew the Retard lies beside the pipe and keeps vigil on the nonexistent rabbits until we have to call him home to his lush dirt backyard to rest up for his next night of rabbit chasing.

 

 

Posted in Animals, Children

Peace, pecks, and pigs—Randomness

It’s a peaceful kind of morning.  No hustle, no bustle.

There’s a cool breeze, and it’s a nice respite before the West Texas July sun follows it’s usual path in the cloudless sky and the daytime temps rise to scorch and wither.  But after all, it is summer.  What else do we expect.

EK and I sat outside for a spell.  Me with my coffee, she with her glee.

Watching the world through the eyes of a baby brings on a new light.  I read that every day to a baby is like a visit to Paris for the first time for us.  The new smells, the new sights.  We would be on high alert, taking it all in.

Her yard is a far cry from Paris, I would have to imagine since I’ve never visited there.  But oh, how she takes it all in.  She notices the smallest things.  A leaf blowing across the yard, a black bird flying to rest in a tree top, the bark of Drew and Grace from the backyard saying, “We want out, let us out, we want to see you this morning too”, the choo choo whistle as it rolls down the tracks.

A chicken flew up on the arm of our chair with her beady eye and pointy beak.  Me, I’m a bit intimidated.  I don’t know why I suddenly became afraid of my chickens, as if they could peck me to death or something.  I usually shoo them away afraid they might peck EK, but today we just sat.  The chicken jerked her chicken neck around studying us, and EK stared back.  I put EK’s hand on her feathers to let her feel.

The other day my mom mentioned how the baby needs one of those toys, you know the kind we used to have as a kid.  Where you pull the string and the animal makes it’s sound.  I said, “Mom.  Look around.  Why does she need that?  We have horses that say neigh, dogs that say ruff, chickens that say bawk, cows that say moo, right here.”

That seemed to satisfy my mom, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she pulls up with a pig in the passenger seat one day.

 

 

Posted in Animals, Children

First Day on the Job with Daddy

Yesterday, EK went to work with J-Dub.  He’s breaking her in young.  He documented their day with pictures.

Driving lessons in the feed truck.
Someone has to get the gate.
Daddy and Emma counting cows.
There’s dinner……and I don’t mean steak.
Closing the gate.

Feeding G.G.
feeling the grass with her footsies for the first time.
Relaxing in the wildflowers after a long day’s work.