A Chicken is good for a laugh or two

When we drove to a nearby city on Friday, January 27th to check into the hospital to give birth, we thought we’d only be gone a couple of days, and so we prepared for being gone only a couple of days.  But as fate would have it, it turned out to be seven.

J-Dub drove back to our home about 3 times during that week to check on things, get the mail, do a little work, overall, just tend to the things that needed to be tended to.

Of course in a situation like this, a lot of necessary tasks are overlooked for a short time, one of which being the chickens.  We left the chickens out, as is our custom, to free-range the place.  They had plenty of food and water and fresh air.  The day after we returned, I quickly went out to do a head count. Thirteen is the magic number.  But only twelve chickens did I find.  A yellow one was gone.

Naturally, I assumed the worst.  My mind returned to the coyote snatching that occurred a few months ago.  I quickly did a half-way-walk-around-the-place for any signs of demise like a plethora of feathers scattered about.  I checked the horse tanks, as we all know my chickens are fond of nearly drowning in a horse tank.  There were no signs.

I counted my losses, allowed myself a moment or two to grieve, and returned to the house.  Since then, J-Dub’s been penning them up for me at night.  Their range is no longer free.  They are jailbirds, for their own good.

Yesterday evening, a guest speaker was speaking at the church.  J-Dub was asked to play the drums for the praise and worship time.  He didn’t bother to unhook his horse trailer from his pick-up as he would be using it this morning to haul some horses to a nearby town for breeding.  Shortly before the service was to begin, I received a text from my husband informing me that a yellow chicken was in the church parking lot.  Evidently, she had hitched a ride to church in the horse trailer and then flew out once they were stopped.

Fortunately, some friends of ours recognized her and as the music was gearing up inside the church, I can only imagine our friends running around the parking lot chasing a stow-away chicken.

She was captured, trapped, and returned safely to her home later that evening.

I’m glad she’s home, and plus it gives me hope.  If one chicken can hitch a ride to church, perhaps my lost chicken is not dead after all.  Maybe , just maybe, she crossed the road and hopped a train.  Perhaps right now she’s drinking a Pina Colada in Mexico.  Living the life.   I can see her.  Beach chair, sunhat and shades, bikini, sipping on a long straw.  Because, after all, the winter’s do suck here.

The Coyote Snatching

It’s getting on sundown here at the J &A Chicken Ranch and the girls are heading in to roost for the night.   All thirteen of them. Yep, you read that right.   No typo intended.  Thirteen.  As life would have it, murder, mayhem, and malice struck the Chicken Ranch early Sunday morning past when an unsuspecting fowl fell victim to the first coyote snatching on record.  J-Dub had just stepped outdoors just shortly after dawn, when suddenly the door flew wide open, expletives filled the room, and the gun cabinet was heard opening and closing.  Sitting in the lazy boy enjoying my morning cup of java, I hurriedly asked him what in the Boone’s Farm was going on as he dashed back through the living room on his way back outside. “A coyote just got one of your chickens!”  I jumped up (as much as one can jump while 7 months pregnant) and stood in the door frame to witness a nasty, vulgar, repulsive coyote running across the pasture with a helpless, vulnerable, limp, yellow chicken hanging from his jaws. Shots were fired at the coyote.  The chicken was dropped with a poof of feathers and dust, and the coyote ran off with shots kicking up dirt behind him.  Another coyote who was off to the right watching the action and hoping to have a chicken for breakfast also ran off.  We only had  pistol handy that morning and unfortunately, a bullet never made contact with the coyote.  But in a matter of minutes, the ne’er-d0-well was back to pick up it’s abandoned meal only to be  scared off again with another round of shots.  I told J-Dub I was going to get my chicken out of the pasture.  I was not going to let that murdering cur have the satisfaction of tasting even a morsel of my golden girl.  Sparing me the task, J-Dub walked out and carried the dead bird back to the house and disposed of her. Realizing the dogs would return, I quickly penned all my hens and secured them safe and sound in their coop where they have spent the last 5 days miserably.    They were mad for a good while, and the other day I think I even caught a couple of them with a file and a saw tucked under their wings.  A blueprint drawing of the coop with arrows and lines was discovered crumpled in the corner.  It was obvious to any onlooker that plans for a Coop Break was underway, I got home early enough today to let them out for a couple of hours of exercise before dusk.  You’ve never seen such elated birds.  They ran, and pecked, and flew, and clucked.   I sat outside with a rifle not 30 feet away when dusk settled and I dared those good for nothings to sneak up to the house again. In the famous words of Scarlett O’Hara….”I can shoot straight……if I don’t have to shoot too far.” In Memory of a Yellow Chicken:

Chicken Drowning Averted

The fourteen chickens who run this ranch have full reign of the place.  At times, they may be found perched on the hood of a truck, sitting on a tractor wheel, or stealing the horse’s feed.  They do as they please, when they please, which is just fine with me.  I can’t bear to coop them up.  They deserve to free birds.

As long as chickens roam free, there is risk involved.  The chicken hawks, the snakes, the speeding cars on the adjacent highway.  And then there’s the horse trough.

There is a debate in the poultry world as to whether chickens can swim or not.  I didn’t know this until the other day when I was forced to.

J-Dub was tending to the animals one evening when he noticed the water in one of the drinking tubs for the horses was rather low.  As he drew near to put the water hose in, he discovered a Barred Plymouth Rock in the water.   That’s a breed of chicken for you laypersons.  The dear fowl was soaked to the skin, feathers drenched, exhausted, and very stressed. 

He rescued her from the drinking tub where she couldn’t fly out either because a) the water was too low and she couldn’t scale the top or B)because the trough is narrow and she couldn’t spread her wings fully to fly out.  We don’t know how long she treaded (is that a word) water.  But we know she was sure glad to get out of there.  I’m positive my husband coddled her and spoke soft and tender reassuring words to her.  He put he in the chicken coop where she sat dripping in a state of shock emitting a long sad whimper.  If you can imagine a chicken whimpering. 

And then he came in and told me about it. 

It could’ve been bad if he had not found her.  I worried for my sweet chicken all night, well at least until I fell asleep.  The next morning, her feathers were badly ruffled, she seemed a little tired and perhaps a bit stove up, but was no worse for the wear.  She has made a full recovery and hopefully learned a good lesson. 

I might have to put some floaties on her wings just in case.

Not really my chicken
image found at dogswhotwitter.com

Eggs!!

I peeked into the chicken feeder to see how low the chickens were getting on feed, and just take a looky-look at what I discovered.

 

Yup, eggs.  In the feeder.  Our very first crop, if that’s what you call it.  I had been checking for eggs daily, but foolish me, was looking in the nesting boxes, not in the chicken feeder.

It’s a good thing I have this handy little egg basket. 

Since there were four eggs, I assumed they might be from one hen, and have possibly been sitting in a the summer heat for a few days, so my niece and I did the egg freshness test.

When you put the egg in a bowl of water, if it sinks quickly and lies on its side, it is good to eat.  If it ever floats, it needs to be discarded.  If it sits on the bottom of the bowl, but stands up on one end, it is not as fresh, but is still safe to eat. 

All our eggs aced the test.

 

They are quite tiny.  But the chickens are only 4 months old, and I’m hoping as they mature a little more, the eggs will increase in size. 

Despite their size, they made a good breakfast. 

With a taste nothing like store-bought eggs.  Much richer.  I was a bit leery at first, wondering if it’s safe to eat the first eggs, but we did anyway, and we didn’t even get salmonella or botulism or anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country Troubles

Somedays the  J&A Chicken Ranch has more excitement than my feeble heart can handle.

This beautiful breezy morning I am waiting for the water well repair man as we have no water coursing through our pipes.  The precious commodity, the life blood, the toilet flusher has seized for reasons unknown to me, but hopefully not beyond the scope of knowledge of the water well man.  In today’s America, one does not realize how fortunate and blessed we are until one does not have running water.  It is taken for granted, assumed that at the turn of a faucet, we can clean our bodies, brush our teeth, water our plants, or rinse our dishes.  No less humble does one become than having to relieve themself outside in the middle of the night, saving that one last toilet flush for the inevitable morning poop.  Forgive me, but as is life.  But yea for the man who can repair the problem and I only hope he arrives before my bowel movement decides to. 

When I first began dating J-Dub, I would ride with him to tend to his cattle.  At the beginning of the trip, he would inquire, “Are you brush broke?”  At first I didn’t know what that meant, but quickly learned when you are miles and miles from modern conveniences, there will come a time when you have to squat in the brush and piss in the pastures or you’re going to be very, very uncomfortable for a very, very long time.  Yes, I am very brush broke.

I slept in a bit this morning but knew I needed to let my fourteen dear chickens out of their coop.  Not until you’ve watched fourteen chickens come out of a coop, do you understand the true meaning of the phrase “cooped up”.  The chickens have a coop that was an old metal garden shed with a sliding door.  It sits in a side yard, up against the edge of the backyard fence, but not in the back yard.  Surrounding the shed is a chicken pen, enclosed with chicken wire, and covered mostly over the top with protective wire.   I keep the sliding door to the coop opened enough so they can come and go freely into the pen to get fresh air or take a dirt bath or something equally chickenish.  Each morning, as early as possible, I open the door to the pen and let the chickens run out so they can free range around the yard and pasture.  Our back yard and our two dogs, Drew Miller and Grace, are enclosed directly behind the chicken coop and pen.  Never have the dogs and chickens come into direct contact.  I fear it would not be a pretty sight.

When the chickens eye me coming their way, they get so excited.  They know freedom is in sight.  They will run to the corner of the pen, clucking and bocking, eager to get out.  This morning, before I was about to open the door, I heard a commotion.  It sounded like chicken feet on metal and I assumed a chicken was inside the shed, trying to jump on the metal nesting boxes as they sometimes do.  With their chicken claws slipping and sliding and feathers flapping to maintain balance, it sometimes makes quite a ruckus.  The next thing I heard was a terrible sound like nothing I had heard before.  It was the sound of a chicken in distress.  The clucking was rapid and high-pitched.  I then noticed out of my peripheral vision, the dogs were agitated. Through a crack in the gate of the backyard, I saw 3 streaks of black running past, back and forth.  First a black  chicken, followed by Drew Miller, followed by Grace.  My first thoughts went something like this: Is there a chicken in the backyard?  how did a chicken get in the back yard?  There is no way possible that is one of my chickens.  It must be somebody else’s chicken in my backyard.  Mine are all right here in the pen.  With my hand on the door to the chicken pen, ready to push it open, I glanced over and did  a quick headcount.  1-2-3-4……  1-2-3-4-5……, 1-2-3-4 I began adding quickly:  4 Barred Plymouth Rocks + 5 Buff Orpingtons + 4 Black Australorpes = 13 total chickens.  THERE’S A CHICKEN MISSING!  And it is presently in grave danger.  Immediately I began screaming NO DREW!  NO GRACE!  and with ninja like skills I flung open the backyard gate, grabbed Drew Miller by the collar and tried to get the whole party to settle down.  The dogs were having no part of calming themselves, so I drug Drew Miller by his collar over to where his leash hangs, put it on him as he jerked about, acting a fool, and I tied him to a post.  He is the dangerous dog.  He is the porcupine attacker, skunk killer, possum murderer.  He loves the kill.  Grace, a heeler, doesn’t want to hurt the chickens, she just wants to herd the chickens as she slinks down, belly close to the ground, haunches shaking, eyes fixated.  She doesn’t even wear a collar or has never experienced a leash.  She is right by your side most all the time and if she wanders too far, a quick command draws her back to her spot.   So there we were in the backyard:  Drew Miller and the blue leash wrapping  tighter and tighter around a post, a chicken petrified yet unscathed, Grace slinking beside me towards the chicken and me a little afraid to try to pick up this chicken who just might turn into a fighting, pecking, scratching defender.  The little black chicken was behind the dog’s water dish.  I gave her some time and space to see if she could find her way out of the gate on her own.  I thought of trying to corral her out, but decided that might agitate her even more.  As I reached down, she hunkered close to the ground, terrified, but allowed me to pick her up, hold her to my bosom, caress her little back.  Her feathers were hard and stiff where Drew’s slobber had already dried on them.  He obviously had his mouth clamped on her at some point. 

It was a close call. Perhaps even a miracle.  I think I’ll call her Lucky.

I still don’t know how in the world she managed to get into the back yard.  I walked through the pen and the coop looking for holes.  I can only figure that she flew out the small opening in the roof, walked across the wire roof of the pen, walked across the roof of the coop, which was the commotion of chicken feet on metal that I heard, and flew over the fence into the backyard.  

Stupid chicken.  I hope she learned a lesson.  The next time she tries to escape, she better hope I’m squatting in the yard.

The Chickens

My life has no D.R.A.M.A.
Thank God.

 I am approximately 18 days into my summer vacation and I am B.O.R.E.D. out of my G.O.U.R.D.
Thank God.
I would much rather be bored than have drama.  Hands down.

My day consists of
wakening, letting out the chickens, and going back to bed. 
Re-awakening,  checking my facebook and email, and having a little Shredded Wheat with my sugar. 
Yes, I eat Shredded Wheat.  And Raisin Bran.  And Grape Nuts.
I’m old, okay.

Occasionally, I’ll walk the drive-way a few times for exercise, catch up on DVR’d Beth Moore episodes, and perhaps kill a snake.  Okay.  Once.  That just happened once.
But it’s not as if it couldn’t happen again.

This sneaky snake was in my yard, with a friend I might add, just the other day.  You have to look closely.  He’s got the camo thing going on.  And ignore the broken flowerpot growing a weed, it’s not really marijuana, it just looks like it.  Just moments before this picture was snapped, I was standing at the tail, right there on the sidewalk, just hanging out.  I nearly peed down both legs.

Back to my day:

I don’t put on make-up or fix my hair.
I dig through laundry piles to find my cleanest, dirty shirt (name that song).
I swat flies and eat popsicle.
Then I lay down again and sleep the afternoon away until my husband’s diesel rouses me and I must scurry about as if I’ve been busy all day long.  Which it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out I haven’t.  With the piles of laundry and popsicle wrappers lying around.

That’s it.  That’s my day, every day, in a nut shell.

The highlight of which is walking to the mailbox every evening and being utterly disappointed that no one has sent me a handwritten letter.  The last letter I received was postmarked 1995.

And since my life is shrouded in a cloud of laziness and patheticism, I have nothing to offer you today (as if I do any other day) than a Chicken Update.

The chickens are 3 months and 2 days old and the ones who survived the box are still surviving.  All fourteen of the little boogers.

None have been carried off in a chicken hawk’s beak or swallowed whole by a serpent.

However, this one just spun her head around, sorry you missed it.

They all still love me very much, but only because I feed them overripe bananas and moldy bread.

Occasionally I get pecked, but it doesn’t hurt and they quit after I give them a  swift kick in the butt.  A swift and gentle kick in the butt.

Risking losing all of your respect right here and now, I must confess, I no longer know which one is Freedom.
I used to identify her by her head markings, then they changed, so I noticed 2 stripes on her tail, then they changed, then I could identify her by a jagged tail feather, then it must’ve fallen out.  She is now unrecognizable, even to her mama.  Please don’t weep. 

They won’t start laying eggs until they are 5-6 months old.  Which will put us around Aug-Sept. 

These two are already looking for the monster that laid this one.

So, how about you and your summer?  What have you done?  Are you bored yet?  What’s your favorite color popsicle? What is today, anyway?

Peace, Quiet, Serenity, and other lies of Living in the Country

 
 
 
 
 

 We’ve all seen the magazine pictures.  The quaint farmhouse set on a hill with rolling green meadows and white rail fencing.  We imagine the serenity, the peace that we could experience if we could just get away from the city.  The hustle and bustle, the horns and sirens. 

But put a trailer house out in the middle of the windy, hot, dusty, dry Texas Panhandle and you get a whole ‘nother atmosphere.

Yesterday Manic Depression plagued me.  My neurosis of the day for June 7 is Fear and Anxiety.  Really I was doing just fine until the snake incident a couple of days ago.  Now I tiptoe gingerly everywhere I go.  If a feather breezes across my path,  I jump a foot.  And then there was the fire today which set me into a nervous dither.

  I was piddling about the house this morning wearing an apron.  Well not JUST an apron, but an apron over my clothes (hoping that would inspire me to clean) when I began to hear sirens.  Weird with a capital W.  I glanced out the window and saw a couple of firetrucks whiz by which caused an elevation in heart rate due to the fact that we are in a major drought with wind gusts upwards of 40 mph.

More sirens, more window peeking.  I then decide to go outside so I can see what is happening on the highway that runs parallel to my house.  The sky is dirty. It could be dust or it could be smoke.  The traffic slows and then stops from both directions.  A highway patrol passes.  A Department of Transportation vehicle passes.  It could be a wreck or it could be a fire.   I make a few phone calls, to my Sister-in-law who has a scanner but knows nothing, to the Sheriff’s office which confirms a fire, but mostly panicked pleas to my husband’s voicemail.  In a matter of a very few minutes I contemplate how I’m going to get my dogs and my chickens evacuated, checking off a list of important items to grab:   i.e. computer hard drive, a few photos, my wedding ring, and my husband’s handmade cowboy boots.   And then decide in order to quit worrying, I’ll just go right to the source, so I walk across the road to where the nearest fire truck is parked and question the fireman if I indeed need to be calling my insurance company within the next half hour.  I was reassured that everything was under control and my biggest problem would be getting back across the highway since they have now released the traffic.  So I did just that.  I darted across the highway and thanked God for his mercy.

Fast forward 10 hours. 

I’m piddling around the house, this time without an apron, when my husband says, “I’m going to do chores.”

“I’m going with you.”  I announce.

Chores around here consist of feeding and watering horses and dogs.  I’ve got the chickens set up to only need care about once a week. 

This is an old walk-in cooler or something that was here on the place when we bought it.  Yes, it’s an eyesore, but so is everything else around here so we’ve come to love it.  Plus, it makes a very efficient feed room.  Rats and mice cannot enter and it’s just the right size to store all the sacks of feed and buckets necessary.
 
J-Dub and I go out and began our evening chores while our two dogs Drew and Grace follow along, searching and sniffing.
Suddenly, I notice Drew is very intent on smelling underneath the “feed room”.  I call to him and he ignores me.  I’ve seen him sniff out a possum from under a porch before and he is in exactly the same stance and frame of mind as the aforementioned possum massacre.  I call to him again.
 
“Leave him alone,” my husband tells me. 
“There’s something under there,” I answer.
By this time, our other dog Grace has joined Drew in the excited sniffing and smelling escapade that is taking place.
“It’s probably a rabbit,” says Jason, “Let them be dogs.”
 
When all of a sudden, the body of the something that is under the feedroom comes into view.  And once again, for the 3rd time in about 3 days I get to see yet another snake.  Only this one is a behemoth, a mammoth, curled under the “feed room”.  My husband begins his investigation of the kind of snake lurking and I begin my departure.  Slowly backing away and taking the extreme long way around.  After my husband throws a rock at it, to get it to move so he can see it better, I hear this sound that can only be a rattler to the untrained ear (mine). 
“It’s a rattlesnake!” I exclaim. 
“No it’s not.  It’s just a bull snake.  He’s opening his mouth and hissing as me,”  my husband informs as he is hunkered down peering under the feedroom.
 
And then it was over.  The dogs were called back into the yard, my husband continues his feeding, and I am about to crawl out of my skin.
 
My husband doesn’t kill bull snakes.  My husband only kills rattlers.  Bull snakes are “good” snakes if ever a snake were to be found.  They eat rodents.  They’ve been known to eat rattlesnakes.  They eat chicken eggs, but never mind that. 
Fear grips my body as the realization that I am living with a den of snakes, one of which is likely the mother to the other and has hatched a whole passel of eggs, and will continue to do so.  And there’s nothing I can do about it seeing as how hard a time I had killing a baby one. 
 
Acting as calmly as possible, I carry on a conversation with J-Dub as we water the yard.
“So, that snake bites, yes?”
“Yes, but it’s not poisonous and it won’t bite unless you’re provoking it.”
“So,”  I pause, “do you think the snake lives there permanently?”
“No, he’s probably just shading up.”
“Okay, so he’s just visiting.  So, how often does he need to eat?” Concern for my chickens erupts my thinking.
“I don’t know.”
“So, tomorrow morning, if I open the door and he’s curled up on the porch, I’m supposed to just step over him?”
“No, he might bite you if you step over him,” I’m calmly informed.  “Get a broom and push him off the porch.”
“Okay, what if he coils up and hisses at me like he just did you?”
“Just get something long enough and push on him, he’ll slither away.”
And then I got the Augustus McCrae quote from Lonesome Dove, “You’re  going to give yourself the drizzles if you don’t relax.”
 
Excuse me, but I have the sudden urge to go the bathroom.
 
 
 
 
 

The Villian Part 2

The Villian is dead.

He is no more.

My facebook friends already know part of this story for I had to brag immediately, but for my fellow bloggers and non-facebook friends, I could not leave you hanging on the snake saga.

Two days ago, I encountered a snake lurking ever too closely to my chicken coop.

After a 40 minute stand-off, the snake slithered away into a deep, dark hidey-hole.  My hopes were it was never to be seen again.

But alas, the following morning, after a nice little walk, I went to sit in my black and tan striped lawn chair to commune with my chickens only to find The Villian lying underneath my chair. 

After a quick scream, a high jump, a skit, and a scatter, I gathered myself, picked up the phone and called my husband to rush to my rescue.  He was 30 minutes away.

So, another stand-off began.  For about 10 minutes I stared at the snake as he did nothing but lifted his little serpent head and wiggled his tongue.  I then decided to abort this little game and go into the house for awhile to wait on my husband. 

And now friends, I fear you won’t believe the rest of the story, but if you could see me now, I’m holding up 3 fingers and swearing scout’s honor. 

After a brief break indoors, I walked back outside to check on the status of The Villian, when there by the corner of my house was another snake.  Yes, another one.  Two snakes, alive, at the same time.  In the same vicinity.  I just about died.  Died, I tell you.   The second snake was yellowish and I knew it was harmless, but still the idea of living with a den of snakes is a bit unsettling to me. 

I dialed my husband again, “THERE ARE NOW 2 SNAKES RIGHT HERE!  TWO!  DO YOU HEAR ME?  I REPEAT 2 SNAKES!”

He was a bit aggravated at this point and said he would get here as soon as he could.

So I waited and I watched.  The yellow snake slithered towards the first snake.  The first snake decided he wanted no part of meeting a new friend and slithered across my path.  And that’s when I had my chance.  Raising my shovel mid-air, with a hearty Tawanda yell (Fried Green Tomatoes reference) I gave that snake a good whack.  Unfortunately one whack barely did any damage.  It just kind of stunned the fellow.  So I kicked it into overkill and began madly whacking the snake repeatedly, issuing primal grunts the entire time.  I just couldn’t stop. 

After I caught my breath and allowed my heart rate to decline to at least 400 beats per minute, I glanced over to where Mr. Yellow was last seen.  He was gone.  Perhaps he witnessed the event and decided he better get the heck out of dodge if he knew what was good for him.

J-Dub arrived shortly after and confirmed that it was just a little old bull snake, completely harmless, perhaps even considered a good snake as far as good snakes go, and tossed it into the pasture where it is slowly rotting and crawling with ants as we speak.

TAWANDA!!

 

The Villian

A Villian is loose on the J&A Chicken Ranch tonight.

Mothers, hold your babies.

Men, gather up a posse.  

There’s trouble.  And I don’t think I’ll be sleeping until The Villian is captured.

Let me start at the beginning.

I let a cantaloupe go bad, so I decided to cut it up and take it to the chickens.  So there we all were, me and the chickens, them enjoying their moldy treat, and me bawking at them, trying to carry on a conversation.  Bawk, bawk, bawk. 

  When all of a sudden, I caught the movement out of my excellent peripheral vision.  It didn’t take long for me to be up and alert, on my feet, like a jungle cat, well aware that very close to me and my chickens, a snake was slithering.  A snake.  My heart raced.  My breath quickened.  My fight or flight response kicked in. 

What does a brave, strong, fearless country girl like me do in a situation like this? 

Panic, that’s what.

I screamed.  I ran to the house for the phone.  I called my husband, only to get his dadgum voice mail. 

Thoughts raced.  The snake was little, a mere baby, with a head no bigger than my thumb.  It was grayish, with black diamonds covering its back.  I didn’t see a rattle, but baby rattlesnakes don’t always have rattles.  It could be a Bull Snake.   It was skinny, and I feared not for myself but for my chickens.  He could easily squeeze his moldable body through the chicken wire, unhook its massive jaws and swallow a chicken in one gulp.  I was sure of it. 

Seconds ticked past.  As The Villian surprisingly slowly crawled underneath a whole bunch of junk laying up near the saddle house, I searched frantically for a weapon and found a shovel.   He was unattainable at this point.  I could see his head, and his tail, but could reach neither.

  So began the stand-off.  I would wait him out.  He’d have to come out eventually.  And when he did, WHACK!!

He stared at me. 

I stared at him.

He darted his forked tongue at me.

I darted mine back.

Then my cell phone rang.  It was J-Dub.  I informed him I was having a snake stand off.  He advised me to leave him alone.  But I insisted that The Villian must die. The chickens.  I must protect my chickens.  He was still lying underneath several branding irons, amidst stacks of bricks.  My beloved tells me to get something long and poke it at him.  And of course, he offers to come home and take care of The Villian.  But I hate to bother a working man, so I tell him I’ll take care of it myself and hang up the phone. 

Alone.  Scared.  Just The Villian and I.

We stare each other down some more.  I decide against poking him.   I’ve watched the Discovery Channel.  I’ve seen snakes lash themselves out 70 feet with mouth spread wide and venom dripping off their fangs.   I didn’t want to make him mad.  I’m nonconfrontational after all.  I prefer the surprise sneak attack: stand like a soldier until he crawled out, and surprise him with a shovel chop to the head. 

Thirty minutes pass.  The snake has fallen asleep, dreaming of chicken dinners.  I, however, remain vigilant.  I am ever alert.

Finally growing tired of standing in one place, I gather all the courage I can muster, and using my shovel I move around some branding irons.  The Villian stirs.    I’ve got him running scared now.  I use my shovel again and manuever some more junk around.  He moves some more.  If only he would come out of his hiding place.  If only he would stick his head out, I’d chop it off.  I see myself raising my weapon, whacking his head clean off, I see his tail twitch, I see my prize kill lying before me.  But instead he turns around and slithers off somewhere  deep and dark.  A hidey-hole of which I can not find.  I lose The Villian.  He roams free tonight. 

Fathers, protect your daughters.

Chickens, sleep with one eye open.

Birthing Babies

My husband, whose Superman cape is presently hanging in the closet while he lounges in his Lazy Boy has a pretty in-depth resume’.  Among his many talents include cowboss, gourmet chef, drumming dynamo,  and husband extraordinaire.  But most recently, he has added foal nanny.  The ranch he works for decided to buy a horse.  A horse who happened to be pregnant.  The horse nanny position was assigned to J-Dub.  So he’s been watching a bred mare for quite some time now checking her for signs of birthing.  Normally, a horse would have a foal and raise it in the pasture and life would go on without any interference from man. 

But this mare is a bit on the high-end, with good breeding for a cutting horse.  The hopes are that the baby will have good cutting horse tendencies and make a nice investment.

It’s a gamble.  There’s probably better odds betting 13 black with a spin of a roulette wheel.  But I like to play it safe anyway.

Due to the investment of this animal,  instead of putting her out into a pasture to have a baby, my husband built her a nice little stall and has been horse-sitting.  

Much like Prissy in Gone With the Wind, J-Dub “don’t know nothing ’bout birthing no babies.”  Except cows.  Who are put in the pasture to calve.

The reason he must watch this horse closely is the very small window of time in which the foal needs to be “imprint trained”. 

Much like Prissy in Gone With the Wind, I don’t know nothing about imprint training, but this is how I understand it.  As soon as the foal hits the ground, before it even stands up, a human begins working with it in order to imprint its brain  with certain techniques to enable it to be trained easier later in life.   

Last Saturday night we left town for a music festival in a nearby town believing that she was still 24 hours away from foaling.  Some other expert in horse gestation and delivery said if she wasn’t waxing (whatever that means) then we’d probably be okay until Sunday.

But when we returned on Sunday afternoon to check on the little mama, she had a little horsie by her side.

Although we were late and weren’t sure when the baby was born, J-Dub began his work.

He tied up Bobby, the momma, to get her out of the way and keep himself out of danger. 

Then began his newly acquired knowledge of imprint training on the little baby girl.

Mama  pawed the ground, knickered, and kicked up quite a stink, and some dirt, while her baby was taken from her and poked, prodded, pestered, and primed.

The idea of imprint training is to establish a bond between the baby and a human and to get it used to being handled to desensitize it for later training.  J-Dub laid the baby down on its side and rubbed it all over.  He picked up its feet for when it needs to be shod, rubbed under its tail so it won’t spook if a rope rubs it there, flexed its legs, stuck his finger in every orifice on its body and rubbed it all over until it was calm.  Then he rolled it over and did everything again on the other side. 

Then the two were reunited.  Four days later, Bobby the mama, was hauled to a nearby town to be bred back to foal again in about a year.  When the baby is weaned, she will be sent to a trainer and hopefully her imprint training will have taken effect.

J-Dub spent all that time building a nice little horse stall, equipped with pine shavings for a bed, and Bobby didn’t even use it.  Here’s the afterbirth laying in the horse pen.  Isn’t fascinating?  It looks like a big oily rag or something.

I just had to throw that in there.

You can thank me later.