Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Making Modifications

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Our three surviving adult hens were presented with a big change in their sleeping and nesting quarters yesterday. In preparation for moving the new chicks out of the brooder in the coming weeks, we gave the coop a thorough cleaning and then installed some temporary barriers to subdivide it.

We opted for netting up above to allow the young chicks and adult hens to become familiar with each other behind protected space that will allow the youngsters to stay out of reach of aggressive gestures.

So the thinking goes, anyway.

Cyndie was reading to me yesterday from a multitude of internet sources on raising backyard chickens and introducing new birds to an existing batch of hens. There were very few where we meet all the precautions and instructions described, but I sense they were written with an overabundance of caution in mind.

Real-world situations are never as precise as the theoretical instructions convey. We are taking the information as a rough guide and will rely on good old trial and error to learn what works for us.

I will always remember the effort of yesterday as being burdened by the tropical dewpoint temperature and the looming threat of thunderstorm (that in the end barely slipped past to the south of us) which complicated my tasks and hurried several steps, capped with my getting attacked by a hornet as I rushed to put things away.

My shirt was plastered against my skin, saturated thoroughly with sweat, and my arms were ridiculously full with tools and equipment I was rushing to return to the shop when the angry beast of an insect unleashed its burning venom as I stepped out of the barn. I screamed into the thundery dark sky and frantically contorted in attempt to pull my shirt loose from my skin to eject the attacker.

After failing twice as the burning increased, I dropped something and finally got a grip of slippery fabric behind my neck and yanked violently. That’s when I caught a glimpse of the almost humming bird-sized monster as it instantly found a second perch on my bare forearm. At that point, everything I was holding went flying in every direction, and flailing of arms and wailing of curse words dwarfing the ominous weather in ferocity were unleashed.

As quickly as possible, while ducking the continued threat of the hornet, I grabbed everything I could find and ran to the shop to lay down on my back on the cold concrete in hopes of soothing the fire raging in the flesh of my back.

That grand finish will always be my memory of fixing up the chicken coop for the soon to be mixed batch of our free-range backyard chickens.

Today’s project will involve mitigation, and hopefully, removal of stinging insect nests near the barn.

Oh, joy.

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Written by johnwhays

August 9, 2020 at 10:22 am

Tables Turned

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First of all, let me say that Delilah is experiencing some discomfort but we expect she will heal and be back to her old self soon. At the same time, the details of her latest incident of ‘dog bites dog’ involve a bit of poetic justice when considering her history of being the attacker in a previous fracas up at the lake.

This time, our heroine was the victim. The versions I have gleaned from Cyndie boil down to an unleashed dog sprinting up and landing a chomp of fangs into Delilah’s hindquarter as Cyndie and Delilah attempted to make haste for the relative safety of the main cabin.

The intriguing aspect of the attack is that the aggressor is essentially an out-of-town cousin of the dog who Delilah bit one year ago. Was this a dose of revenge? Does the dog world work that way?

It’s unlikely, but it fits too many movie scripts for the actions of human gangs that it flows naturally to correlate it with possible canine pack behavior.

Who can know what the conversations of remote barking might have been between all parties involved during the day, or two, running up to the “hit.”

[Barking] “I know who you are.”

“You’re not so tough!”

“This is for Gracie.”

Since Delilah was in her harness and being pulled forward by Cyndie, the conflict was one-sided, which may be a good thing. Delilah yelped at the bite, the neighbor arrived to take command of his dog, and Cyndie and Delilah hustled back to the house.

There was some blood, but through Delilah’s thick coat it was hard to know the extent of injury. With time, her mobility declined and Cyndie decided to race home a day early to have her seen by our local vet.

Yesterday afternoon, the doc shaved that hip and inspected the area to find three deep puncture wounds. No nerve or organ damage suspected. Treatment is two versions of pain killer –pain being what was limiting Delilah’s mobility– an anti-inflammatory, and an antibiotic.

It’s hard to guess whether the long term outcome will change Delilah’s perspective one way or another. Will she be less prone to behaving with aggression after this humbling interaction or become more distrusting of other dogs?

I’m wondering if she will now associate going to the lake with having been bitten.

For the time being, she looks a little meaner with her punk hair styling. It’s offset a little by her loopy pain-free drug-induced stupor, but that should wear off before the hair all grows back.

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Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2020 at 9:30 am

TwentyTwo Days

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I’m happy to report that the chicks are all progressing wonderfully in their daily race to maturity. In fact, they are beginning to seem a little crowded in our water-trough brooder.

When I had the cover askew yesterday while cleanng out the waterer for a poop-free version, one of the New Hampshire chicks made a leap for the lip of the water-trough and achieved a perfect pin-point landing. She seemed entirely pleased with herself over the accomplishment.

I didn’t give her a moment to enjoy it, reacting instantly to snatch her in avoidance of further escapades. The two New Hampshire chicks appear to be the boldest and bossiest of the twelve, although the others will all push back when getting picked (pecked) on.

The one Barnevelder chick that was lagging in development continues to hold her own against all the others who take every opportunity to make sure she knows she is at the bottom of the pecking order. I figured she would remain half their size as they weren’t going to stop growing to allow her to catch up, but it is getting harder to instantly spot her among the brood of active chicks.

It is normal for chickens to always want what another bird has picked up in its beak but the littlest chick didn’t shy away once last night when a rival repeatedly pecked at the very spot where the first one was eating. In fact, she even alternated to pecking one slot closer toward the rival in a perfect tit-for-tat response.

“You take one of mine, I’ll take one of yours.”

I’m gaining confidence that she will do just fine as they all grow into the phase of full feathered “pullets” in a few more weeks.

I sure hope I have the coop subdivision completed by then. (Maybe I should actually start on that project.) The three adult hens are about to lose some square footage and will soon have to deal with a dozen rambunctious new neighbors.

I’m sure they will be just thrilled about it.

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Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

Heartbreaking Tragedy

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From multiple angles and a variety of distances, people held up their mobile devices to record an increasingly intense hangar fire that was setting off fireworks, unaware of what was about to happen. The city of Beirut, Lebanon, is in a world of hurt after the massive explosion at its main port that took lives and shattered people and buildings of the surrounding area.

It is difficult to wrap my mind around the suffering this heaps on top of the economic crisis, mass protests, and increasing coronavirus caseload the country was already experiencing. Looking out my windows at the glorious August greenery and listening to the peaceful sounds of nature as I stroll down to the barn to check on our latest batch of chicks is in such stark contrast to the descriptions and images of the aftermath of the explosion.

I don’t have to wonder where my next meal will come from or how I will replace broken windows when every window for several kilometers needs replacing, as well.

I can’t comprehend how bleak things must seem to those who lived through this calamity but lost everything.

My heart goes out to them all. If I could bottle the peacefulness and abundance we are blessed with here to send as a care package, that would be great. Since it doesn’t work like that, I will send love.

Love, hope, and some sense of responsibility and safety for government officials who seem to be lacking.

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Written by johnwhays

August 6, 2020 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Scared Chicks

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While Cyndie is away at the lake, I am filling in for her as “chick mom” when I get home from work each day. I think they had me figured out the first moment I stepped into the role. I can see it in their faces.

“You’re not doing it right!”

“Mom always cuts the crust off.”

“We don’t strip down to our underwear for naps.”

I’m definitely the dad in this relationship. They have a heat lamp and some water. They’ll be just fine.

While staring at them romping around like a bunch of 3-week-old chicks for a while the other night, I mindlessly belched a frog-voiced burp. I scared the daylights out of them!

Never saw twelve chicks move so fast all at once like that before.

In a blink, the scattered puff-balls instantly became one tiny pile of little heads squeezed into the smallest possible space at the other end of the brooder, frozen in a motionless defense move that looked like an attempt to appear invisible while maintaining absolute silence.

We both held our positions until I broke the spell by speaking to them in my best falsetto “dad-charming-chickens” voice to let them know it was just me and everyone was safe. As quick as they froze together, they went back to fluttering about as normal.

“Say ‘excuse me’ Dad.”

Excuse me.

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Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2020 at 6:00 am

Culvert Replacement

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While we have been busy tending to multiple maintenance projects on our buildings, the Township in which we reside has been preparing to replace the drainage culverts beneath our street. Yesterday just happened to be the day the work started.

Once they got underway, there was only one option available exiting our driveway. Our route south was closed for the day.

I have no idea how they measure the need for replacing culverts, but there is plenty of evidence that our street is deserving of resurfacing. I am hoping the culvert work is simply a matter of taking care of things below ground before upgrading the surface above.

The road crew guys are never timid about flaunting their command of the right-of-way footage. They didn’t hold back at all in their reshaping of the landscape area immediately beyond the culvert where it opened up on our side of the road. I think it deserves to have some rock added there, but since they never have included that in the past, I’m suspecting they won’t again this time.

It would be great if they could toss some grass seed over the area I mow and replace the gravel where the entrance to our hayfield gate is located. I don’t know whether I have any say in how it is finished, or not. Maybe if I tell them I am a descendent of three important Pierce County families of 150 years ago it could give me a little extra clout.

Of course, when they are on location, I am 65-miles to the west at the day-job, so there isn’t much chance we’ll talk.

Cyndie is up at the lake this week, so I’ll just have to settle with whatever the road crew sees fit to do.

It is their right-of-way after all. I trust they know what they are doing.

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Written by johnwhays

August 4, 2020 at 6:00 am

Freshly Sealed

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At long last, the logs of our home have a fresh seal from the elements. Last year there were two primary maintenance projects that were both reaching burdensome levels of urgency against the elements: our deck and the walls of the house. We ended up doing the deck ourselves and hiring out the sealing of our logs.

The contract was accepted last year, but they weren’t able to get to us before winter arrived and so the work was rescheduled to first thing after the weather warmed this spring. That didn’t play out as we expected. It took until mid-July, but now the job is finally done.

Over the weekend, we got the resealed wagon wheels remounted on the front steps to cap off the completion of the weatherization of the house.

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The house looks good as new.

I’m very pleased over the professional opinion of the contractor who told us that our deck project looked well done and didn’t warrant any additional seal coat of its own.

That suits me just fine.

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Written by johnwhays

August 3, 2020 at 6:00 am

Rainbows

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

August 2, 2020 at 9:56 am

Sixteen Days

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The chicks have entered their third week and continue to grow like they are in a hurry to move on to being adult hens. Wing feathers remain the main fashion trend they are flaunting.

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Use ’em if ya got ’em seems to be the impetus that drives them at the moment. Who can blame them? Of course, the other primary driver of their activities is an imitation of every action they see.

I don’t know why “copycat” ever became a term for mimicking. Seems to me that “copychick” would have been much more appropriate reference.

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Written by johnwhays

August 1, 2020 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

Same Night

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I am so lucky that Cyndie offers me pictures she took and allows me to post them here. She created some wonderful art out of two very different sky views on Wednesday night. I’m jealous. Her percentages for photographic success are much higher than mine lately.

It was a beautiful evening, but she has taken it to the next level with this combination. They look like paintings.

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We are so blessed to have access to such incredible views every night.

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Written by johnwhays

July 31, 2020 at 6:00 am