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

Archive for the ‘Chronicle’ Category

New Eggs

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Our newest batch of chickens appear to be coming of age. The hours of daylight have started to noticeably reveal their shift in duration so maybe that is inspiring our young ones to get on with the whole egg-laying process.

Cyndie reported the surprise of finding two little eggs in the nest boxes yesterday. It’s not entirely surprising, since it is right on schedule for their age. The timing for us with this latest brood is just a little off because they were hatched so much later in the year than the first two batches we’ve raised. We are not used to seeing this kind of laying activity in January.

It’s exciting. And a little mind-boggling, when we consider there may soon be around a dozen eggs a day.

If we keep this up, Wintervale may need to start marketing eggs for sale.

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2021 at 7:00 am

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High Perches

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Yesterday, Cyndie happened upon the chickens roosting on the fence and gate under the overhang of the barn. It’s great to see them making themselves at home in the protected spaces we are able to provide.

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They appeared to appreciate the brief visit of actual sunlight. We haven’t seen a lot of sunshine lately.

 

my mind is able to travel
to visions of high perches
where I see things from a different perspective
insight drips in slow transitions
from vacancy to vibrancy
energized elasticized
drastically fractionalized
collages of distinction
mixed in transfixion
a modal depiction
of a different view

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Written by johnwhays

January 14, 2021 at 7:00 am

Chicken Entrance

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There have been multiple iterations of ramps for the chicken entrance of our coop over the years. Here’s a refresher of the process that got us to where we are today:

The first version suffered a fair amount of abuse from the chickens who took a liking to pulling apart the branches I wove into it. I patched it up once, but then Cyndie smashed it with a shovel when executing a murderous possum that had snuck inside for a night.

So, I built a second one that was much sturdier. Or so I thought. The chickens liked picking that one apart, too. In addition, after several winters of abuse, we grew weary of the ice and snow disaster that built up on it because the ramp crossed beneath the low side of the slanted roof.

Accumulated snow would slide off or drip directly onto the middle of the ramp. Design flaw, I admit.

So, I did something about it. Last May, I completely changed the ramp to a version that ran parallel to the drip line, just inside the short overhang of the roof above.

Okay, how many of you engineering types can see the problem with this solution? Let me give you a hint. How does snow slide off the edge of a slanted roof? (Click here for the answer.)

I had hoped the new sideways design was just far enough inside the dripline. It’s not. That brings us to the latest enhancement. Over the weekend, I built a new chicken entrance overhang to extend the dripline well beyond the ramp.

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Using materials we had lying around from previous projects, including a salvaged hail-damaged clear roof panel from the woodshed, I gave the chickens a luxurious awning over their entrance. Makes the place look downright palatial.

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If that ramp still gets messy, I’ll drop walls from the overhang and give them an enclosed entrance. It’ll be their mud-room where they can kick the snow and mud off their feet before going inside.

Let’s hope that won’t be necessary.

We are now awaiting more snow to see how this works out. Stay tuned for future status reports…

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Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2021 at 7:00 am

Bloody Mystery

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It is never a good thing for chicken owners to come upon loose feathers and blood drops in the snow. Yesterday afternoon, that is precisely the scenario Cyndie happened upon.

First, here are the facts we know. All 14 of our chickens are still with us. Cyndie was walking Delilah and came upon spots of blood in the snow. As they approached the barn, the appearance of enough loose feathers to imply something amiss raised her alarm. She secured Delilah in the barn and rushed toward the coop.

We are putting the basis of our conjecture about what might have happened on her findings upon arrival. Rocky was standing guard outside the coop and all the hens/pullets were inside.

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After determining none of the chickens were missing, she went back and followed the blood trails. When she told me about it, I joined her and we walked a long way to see if any more information could be gleaned from the evidence. We could tell the tracks made it all the way to the road, and by that distance, it seemed clear the bleeding was greatly reduced.

The size of the footprints lead us to suspect a small cat, which aligns with the location where we have frequently seen a cat of unknown ownership prowling.

The rest remains a mystery, but we have developed a possible explanation from the data available.

We think our rooster, Rocky, took on the attacker and successfully fought it off, sending it away wounded.

Earlier in the day, while I was walking Delilah, Rocky let loose with a series of about seven “cock-a-doodle” calls. He is still about one syllable short of the classic rooster crow, but it gets closer each time we hear it.

Cyndie is hoping to get a closer look this morning to assess for possible injuries. It looked like there were mostly yellow feathers tossed about, which points toward the Buff Orpington. They all looked okay in the coop, but the birds do a pretty good job of masking any problems they might be suffering, which makes good sense as a survival instinct.

Here’s hoping the wounded visitor will lose interest in our flock now and redirect its attention somewhere a little less threatening, and that our theory about Rocky’s heroics happens to actually be true.

Written by johnwhays

January 11, 2021 at 7:00 am

Still Gray

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Another day dawns under continued winter fog that is making the world feel small but making surfaces magically white. It’s not a bad thing, except in that it mirrors the sense lingering after the insanity that played out five days ago.

Now five deaths attributed to the insurrection at our nation’s capitol building. Days of shocked reaction have followed with innumerable calls for consequences, only some of which seem to actually be happening. Participants who have been positively identified are getting arrested. The primary media pathways for spreading falsehoods and calling for more unrest are being shut down.

That’s all well and good, but it still feels like we are thrashing around in the deep end of a pool on the brink of drowning and we can’t get to the edge to grasp some respite from the threat.

Calls for impeachment and/or removal by the 25th amendment seem like just words. Justice is understandably slow. The thing that leaves us feeling so helpless is the inability to immediately disarm the imminent threats. Calling people (politicians, police, extremists) out for their misdeeds as a way of maybe shaming them into suddenly having a change of heart and becoming reasonable, upstanding, well-meaning seekers of actual truth and justice doesn’t feel like a very effective plan.

So, we wait for the next calamity and for the most viable consequences to play out, greedily longing for a chance to get over to the edge of the pool so we can catch our breath.

It’s hard to argue the racial component overtly evident in the angst of Trump and his followers. My thoughts on that continue to align with the need for the rest of society to be the solution.

Edmund Burke —

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

If we neglect to acknowledge the racial injustices that have brought us to where we are and that continue to exist inherently in today’s society, we are doing nothing to foil the triumph of evil.

We reap what we sow here folks.

I gotta put my shoulder to the mechanism of sowing love and give an extra heave-ho today. Love will be my life-preserver on which to cling out here in the foggy, gray deep end.

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Hunting Hounds

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On a thickly gray Saturday morning, we stepped out of the house behind Delilah and quickly noticed a sharp sound in the distance. Swallowed by the crunch of our boots on the snowy path, the muffle of hats over ears, and the sound of our own voices as we chatted about some minutia, we had to stop in our tracks to identify what we were hearing.

There was a helicopter far in the distance, but that sound just faded. After a moment of no sounds, there was the bark of a dog. Then, several more. The hunting hounds were out early.

We resumed our trek down the trail, but not for long. The echoing bellows were only getting louder, so we reversed direction and headed back toward the house, through the back yard, and on to the barn. Delilah was delighted with the added excitement and romped her way along with us, reversing direction only several times to see if we couldn’t just check on the vocal hounds in the woods.

I wondered if we might suddenly see coyotes sprinting past us in a run for their lives.

With Delilah secured in the barn, Cyndie and I tended to the tasks of setting out food for the chickens and opening the coop. I could see the trucks of hunters slowing moving by on the road while we mingled with the chickens and I cleaned off the poop board. Rocky made a failed attempt to mount one of the Domestiques. We took solace in his acceptance of her objections.

Cyndie continues to offer feed from her bare hand in effort to condition the flock to always accept humans as safe and valuable companions. With respect to the New Hampshire pullet, Cyndie got nipped as the overzealous girl went after a mole on her thumb.

Can’t fault that as malicious, but geez. That hurt.

Returning to the barn, Delilah bursts forth with excitement at this moment because she knows the next phase of this daily routine is to take her up to the house where she will receive her morning meal. We exit the barn door and while I am closing the door behind us I notice Cyndie struggling with everything she’s got to hold the leash.

Delilah is trying to drag Cyndie up to the driveway to where a cute looking hunting beagle is standing all alone.

We decide to let Cyndie take Delilah back into the barn for a bit while I see if I can coax the beagle to get back on the job and find the rest of his pack or the scent of a coyote.

Knowing the hunters were driving nearby, I walked with the happy radio-collared beagle toward the road. A truck pulled up just as we arrived. The hunter said she was one of two that had gone astray.

Meanwhile, Cyndie took the opportunity to pop out of the barn and head up to the house with Delilah on a short leash. They quickly were surprised by the other stray. This time, Delilah was in reach to make contact, and luckily, with wagging tails the dogs met gently, nose to nose.

Cyndie said she offered Delilah the deal of continuing up to the house for her breakfast, and the two dogs trotted together for a bit and then parted without incident as they reached the door.

The hunter I spoke with at the road said our neighbor had alerted them to a sighting of coyotes early this morning, so they were hopefully tracking a fresh scent. By the time we were having our breakfast, nothing but quiet had settled in around us. I’m guessing the trail was lost.

Subsequent calm and quiet was a welcome outcome after the adventurous start to our Saturday.

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Written by johnwhays

January 9, 2021 at 11:12 am

Coping Mechanisms

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A speedy recovery from a day of dramatic events involves more than time alone. Humans can be very inventive about devising ways of coping with stress. Health professionals might commonly recommend meditation, exercise, or soothing music. Non-professionals might lobby for mind-altering substances, shopping sprees, or aggressive video games.

I am never shy about flaunting the marvels of forest bathing.

Most people agree that caring for pets brings on a wealth of mental health benefits. We have a fair share of creatures relying on us for sustenance, with chickens being greatest in number. Cyndie has figured out the trick to renewing their interest in venturing from the coop during the days.

While I pushed to let them figure out for themselves that they can walk the packed snow pathways to get to the dry earth under the barn overhang, Cyndie preferred to provide them a straw surface on which to tread.

They liked Cyndie’s plan much better than mine.

We’ve figured out a way to help the chickens cope with snow. The wimps.

As for my interest in controlling the amount of sugar in my diet, it is forever challenged by my passion for other carbs. Yesterday, Cyndie decided to cope with her residual stress by baking seven loaves of bread

There goes my diet.

Four of those loaves are breakfast bread. Enough said.

I’ll cope just fine.

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Written by johnwhays

January 8, 2021 at 7:00 am

Especially Exhausting

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I suspect people around the world have already received news of the Trump-inspired mob storming our nation’s capital yesterday. It brought me to tears. It felt like a disaster to our democracy that can’t be undone, even though it accomplished nothing in terms of the mob’s assumed goal of disallowing a peaceful transfer of power to happen.

What can’t be undone is the obliteration of our ability to profess our style of government is above the violent disruptions common in many other parts of the world. The 45th President has successfully trashed everything about our reputation as a world-leading country.

Luckily, the brief insurrection was pushed back, out of the capital and off the grounds by the time darkness fell. Unfortunately, I doubt we will recover any respectability for decades, if ever.

By the time I was ready to turn in for the night, there seemed to be a few glimmers of hope that some of the Republicans who have been enabling the dumpster-fire of a President for years were finally making timid statements that hint of a realization of the error of their ways.

In a year of unprecedenteds, I found myself actually listening for the first time in my life to a few speeches from the floor of the house and senate chambers after they reconvened. They actually sounded sane to me! They also sounded like there was a growing momentum to drop the fomenting of election fraud claims. Ya think!?

The whole afternoon was especially exhausting. The day of certifying the electoral votes historically was only noticed by a small number of geeks who live for all things political and the press whose job it is to cover it. Yesterday, it grabbed the attention of the nation and beyond.

Why? For only one reason. The delusions of a lunatic. He is the main reason, but also fully culpable are the political fools who enabled him and the hoards of citizens who choose to believe the lies professed by him.

I guess it should be no surprise that it’s all so bleeping exhausting.

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Written by johnwhays

January 7, 2021 at 7:00 am

Never Imagined

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I never imagined that in my lifetime the United States would become a laughingstock of the world. It’s rather embarrassing to witness our once-powerful democracy devolve into such a mockery of itself. We are probably the last ones to finally see the hypocrisies being laid bare with the blatant disrespect for last November’s election. The rest of the world has seen through our holier-than-thou attitude for a long time.

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Try as I might to preserve the sanctity of my mental space, I failed miserably last night at preventing the invasion of the outrageous gobbledygook related to an hour-long phone call of bullying malfeasance that was recorded for all the world to hear. Sad. So sad.

I sure wish there were swift consequences for such blatant abuse of power.

Thank goodness I have Cyndie and our chickens to brighten things up for me. In a perfectly timed intervention that adjusted my attitude splendidly, Cyndie shared this tidbit:

She decided to offer our chickens the aging remains of an unfinished apple pie from Christmas. She set the foil pie pan in the coop on Sunday night when she closed the coop. Yesterday morning, when she opened things up for the day, Cyndie said there wasn’t a single trace of apple, crust, or the oatmeal crumble topping anywhere in sight. Just a perfectly clean pie pan.

I guess it’s safe to say our chickens like apple pie.

They do not automatically eat everything we set out for them. Some kitchen scraps get entirely ignored. We get a little extra entertainment value out of the times we appear to have offered something that catches their fancy.

That little story lightened my outlook nicely. Like a sunny winter day after an overnight fog.

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Dry Ground

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Slowly but surely, our chickens are showing signs of adjusting to the cold hard facts of winter around here. They have occasionally been venturing out of the coop and over the weekend even made their way the full distance to the barn where they can stand on dry ground beneath the overhang.

I stopped by to visit with them for a bit, tossing out a treat of cracked corn and mealworms for their enjoyment.

They were being rather chatty so I played along and mimicked their sounds, pretending they would magically then consider me a member of the flock. Mostly, they just gave me strange looks in the way chickens do, with a tilt of the sideways turned head.

At the same time, several of them came over and lingered close, giving me a chance to feel somewhat included. I think they just wanted to see if I had any more treats to offer.

The winter sunlight through gauzy clouds illuminated the depth of hues in the fabulous feathers of our Barnevelders.

It was nice to see the chickens taking advantage of the dry space under the overhang. Everywhere else was as white as could be.

I wonder how long it will take for this brood of chickens to find their way to the labyrinth. Something tells me it won’t be until long after the snow has melted and we have dry ground everywhere once again.

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Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2021 at 7:00 am