Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘chickens

Overnight Snow

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It’s so much more gorgeous to have snow brightening up the landscape this time of year. We awoke today to a nice coating of white covering everything, which pleasantly provided a precise visual for the travels of our resident wildlife on Delilah’s and my walk this morning. The timing of snow and our walk meant that we came upon individual, single tracks from the fox, raccoons, deer, and a cat who visits almost daily.

The chickens showed a reasonable bit of hesitation upon exiting the coop, but quickly got over it and skittered their way through the trees toward the barn for breakfast. They didn’t linger long there. Before Delilah and I had even completed our full circumnavigation of the property, the chickens had scrambled across the driveway to one of their favorite spots beside the shop garage.

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Rocky was his bold self despite his aversion to putting both feet down into the white stuff. There is a lot of single-foot balancing that goes on during the snow season for our birds. They’re such chickens.

Yesterday, while traveling the trail on the southern border of our property, I caught sight of a bald eagle circling the precise location where the chickens hang out, flying just above the trees. Before I could react, I found the birds were all under the barn overhang and the eagle was already moving on to the neighboring fields.

It was an immediate relief but obviously only a temporary reprieve. Our birds free range in a cruel rural world where predators prowl.

Every day they come through unscathed is a victory we celebrate.

Tomorrow through Tuesday we are expecting sunshine and daytime temperatures above freezing, so the white-flocked Christmas card views out our windows won’t likely last.

Nothing lasts forever so we practice appreciating the sacred in each precious moment. A fresh coating of pristine white snow helps to make that exercise a breeze.

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Written by johnwhays

December 19, 2020 at 11:22 am

Minor Minutiae

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…the small, precise, or trivial details of something.

Trivial details, I got.

One thing that bugs me is how my attempts to craft simple little features without engineering them to a level of “bombproof” end up reflecting the amount of proper preparation I failed to put into the effort. (See how I twisted that around?)

I really am pleased with all of the features and framing of that image I captured, but the intended subject was simply the “out-of-level” timber frame I installed as a base for a portable sink feature Cyndie wanted beside the door during summertime. I’ve commented many times about my surprise over how much the ground is constantly moving. It’s like the surface of the sea, except it moves a little slower. Currently, the right-hand side appears headed for the trough while the opposite side is reaching a crest of the rolling land wave.

I was so proud of the effort I put in to make that frame level when I built it. I have no idea if there is a prime time of year to re-establish level again, but I’m guessing it’s not while the ground is frozen. It doesn’t really matter for the sink. I just don’t like the sagging look it presents loud and clear every time I walk up to that door.

While I was taking that picture, two of the Barnevelders showed up to see what I was doing, in case it involved any scraps of food a chicken might enjoy. It didn’t.

 

I love how the closer bird looks like she’s got a foot like a duck and it’s kicked out at an odd angle. It’s a leaf she’s probably standing on. You can’t really see her feet buried in all that snow.

That dusting of flakes was just enough to make things a little slippery in places on our trails and combined with a very noticeable drop in temperature, are making it feel a lot more like December around here. I actually had to dress like it’s winter when I took Delilah for her bedtime stroll last night. Overalls, extra top layer, and mittens! Not gloves. I wore gloves in the afternoon walk and realized it was time to change so the fingers don’t each have to fend for themselves against the frigid temps.

If you are reading this from some warm climate, don’t feel you need to be jealous of how great we have it to enjoy such a full depth of seasons throughout the year. I heard a weathercaster on the news the other night speak erroneously, probably from having the long spell of unseasonably warm weather and getting out of synch with the season. She emphasized that it could get “below freezing” when she meant below zero (F) with the wind chill. It was already below freezing.

It’s enough to make little chicken feet long for the warm sands of summer.

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Written by johnwhays

December 15, 2020 at 7:00 am

Various Tidbits

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It took wearing a face mask at work to discover how often I find a stray hair or fuzz on my keyboard that I want to purse my lips and blow off. It’s no longer the solution it used to be.

Sometimes, I wonder what the lesson is for me to learn as a selfish driver cuts directly in front of my car without bothering to signal. I watched him then make two more equally selfish lane changes without signaling as he navigated his way through traffic as if he and his vehicle were all that mattered in the world.

Speaking of driving, last week I was stuck in a traffic backup caused by a crash. Eventually, at a crawling pace, I reached the variety of emergency vehicles surrounding a car on its roof amid a scattering of debris. I hardly batted an eye. Just made my way past in the quest for a return to highway speeds. Why didn’t I feel any immediate concern for the victims of the crash? When I realized that, it bothered me. I’m afraid maybe I’ve been doing the long commute for too long if a flipped car is no big thing to me anymore.

I hope our unplanned rooster Rocky Roo will do an outstanding job of protecting the girls from predators in times of need. I want to have something to offset the trauma of watching the ladies becoming the undesiring victims of his “affections.” It happened yesterday as I was lolling around the coop waiting for them to hit the roosts. I heard squawking from one of the girls and found Rocky on top of a Light Brahma, biting her neck to hold her down while he jumped her. To my surprise, the Buff promptly showed up to convince Rocky to knock it off. For now, he yields to her. I’m guessing that won’t last.

On Wednesday this week, Cyndie described an instant of classic convergence of two things that rarely happen both occurring at the same time. At the very instant she was involved in a virtual meeting and a key point was about to be made, someone came to the door and triggered Delilah into a fit of barking. Cyndie had to apologetically excuse herself from the meeting for a moment to answer the door and tell the stranger, who just happened to be a neighbor we hadn’t met yet, that she couldn’t talk because she was on a business call. The speaker in the meeting hadn’t waited, so Cyndie missed that point and also wasn’t able to find out what the slow-talking neighbor wanted. (Subsequent inquiries with another neighbor we do know revealed the person was searching for a dog that’s been missing since October.)

These days, Cyndie has few occasions for business meetings –even virtual ones– and we almost never get strangers venturing up our long driveway to knock on the door, less so since the virus pandemic.

I don’t really have a point to all these tidbits. They just are what they are. Maybe I wrote them out to see if they would lead me somewhere. At the very least, typing them out might free them from cluttering my headspace. That will make room for whatever new tidbits show up next.

If they lead you anywhere in particular, let me know. Maybe that will reveal a reason I chose these snippets of my take on things and experiences today.

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Written by johnwhays

December 11, 2020 at 7:00 am

Big Boy

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During the recovery phase after Cyndie’s knee surgery, we’ve enlisted the assistance of our animal sitter to help with outdoor chores on the days when I am at work. Yesterday, she reported to Cyndie that we should check on the Buff Orpington hen because it looked like maybe she’s getting pecked, most likely by Rocky.

This didn’t startle me at all. I’d already witnessed those two square off and challenge each other’s perception of dominance. First, the Buff fluffed up all her feathers to look twice as big and stood up tall. Then Rocky did the same exact thing to pretty much equal her size. Since that didn’t decide anything, they took turns jumping on each other’s back.

There was a little pecking exchanged by each, and after a very short time, it appeared that both agreed to call it a draw. Calm was restored very similar to the way our horses would immediately return to grazing seconds after a spat.

The possibility that Rocky was starting to gain an advantage over time was not unexpected.

He’s grown into a very big boy. How would you like to be prowling the territory and suddenly find yourself face to face with this menacing looking guy?

In the afternoon yesterday, Cyndie ventured outside using a walking stick to look in on the chickens while I walked Delilah. She couldn’t find the Buff. By the time I returned to see what I could find, the Buff was standing right in the middle of all of the chickens. In fact, I wondered if Cyndie had mixed up the adult hens somehow because I couldn’t find the Wyandotte anywhere.

When I closed in on the chickens, I found just what Anna was talking about. The Buff looked like she had been mugged!

But, I have seen this look before. She is molting.

A short time later, the Wyandotte appeared. All 14 chickens accounted for, safe, and sound.

Hopefully, Rocky will see no need to challenge the Buff for however many weeks it is going to take for her to get her new feathers in. According to what we’ve read about molting, the new feathers are highly sensitive and touching them can be very painful.

I would expect a true protector to know how to respect her situation for the time being.

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Written by johnwhays

December 10, 2020 at 7:00 am

Mornin’ Chickens!

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For a few days now I will be the chief chore person while Cyndie convalesces after a minor surgical fix removing problematic bone growth behind her artificial knee. It was beginning to impinge a nerve and tendon and creating unwelcome disturbances in her force.

She regularly comes in after morning chores and shares stories about the adventure, so I decided I would record the opening of the chicken door so she could see what she missed today. As a result, you get to enjoy the splendor, too!

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I wasn’t counting them as they poured out, but I had a sense someone was lagging.

The result was perfect.

Take a moment to share in the morning chicken coop routine we get to see every day!

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Written by johnwhays

December 5, 2020 at 10:45 am

Happy Chickens

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Our newest chickens are now about four and a half months old and have reached a size that has the two remaining hens from the previous batch mixing with them as equals. As a group, they are behaving as the happiest and friendliest of yard pets. Almost too friendly, in fact. They are showing no hesitation about racing up to us when we are walking Delilah, who would not hesitate for one second to grab a mouthful of feathers.

On an afternoon walk after our Thanksgiving feast, Cyndie made me stop to occupy the chickens while she hustled ahead with the dog.

She paused to look back and see me chicken-whispering to thank them for agreeing to wear face masks for my little photoshoot the day before.

They had been very accommodating, lining up politely for their fitting.

This morning, there was a new level of excitement because Rocky found his voice again and was crowing many times in a row after weeks of silence following his initial experiments.

Rocky’s coloring and sheen are launching him far beyond the splendor of his brood of adoring pullets.

We continue to visualize his protective spirit as one that will include us and any people visiting as non-threats. He could be our ultimate test of the power of our chicken-whispering abilities.

For now, we are thoroughly enjoying the present state of bliss caring for our growing chickens. They seem totally happy, which is making us even happier.

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Written by johnwhays

November 28, 2020 at 9:55 am

Thanksgiving 2020

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Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2020 at 7:00 am

Glazed Labyrinth

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Our little mess of weather that couldn’t make up its mind about being rain, ice, or snow ended up being a little of all three earlier this week. It was a little intimidating at the time, but created some nice scenery.

At least I didn’t need to plow or shovel. It was a little crunchy walking the dog over frozen grass and leaves. I am reveling over the fact that for once we weren’t the zone that received the most snow.

Our chickens appear to have enough sense to stay under shelter in times of freezing rain. They hung out under the barn overhang for the most part. Looks like they’ll have at least one more break from full-time winter in the week ahead with daytime temperatures expected to rise above freezing.

So, in case you hadn’t noticed yet this morning, it’s Friday the 13th today. In the year 2020. That seems kind of redundant, doesn’t it?

Tolerating the reality of exponential numbers of spreading virus cases during a global pandemic makes Friday the 13th seem almost quaint.

It could be a good day to walk the crunchy labyrinth and focus our mental energy on positive possibilities. Peace, love, good health, absence of false accusations, full compliance to COVID safety practices by all people, and children able to learn in school full time.

Oooommmmmmmm.

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Written by johnwhays

November 13, 2020 at 7:00 am

Australorp Succumbs

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And then there were two. Our beautiful Black Australorp chicken succumbed to her ailment overnight Tuesday. It became obvious she was shutting down for good when Cyndie could no longer convince “Asteroid” to accept offerings of electrolyte water. We made her comfortable in the barn under a heat lamp Tuesday night and Cyndie discovered the end had come by morning yesterday.

Our little three-some of adult hens were all that remained from a group of 12 we had started with a couple years before. Now, just a Buff Orpington and a Golden Laced Wyandotte are left without their third companion. On the bright side, maybe this will lean them towards becoming more friendly with the new brood who all keep getting bigger and more prominent.

Yesterday, as I pulled up toward the house when I got home from work, I spotted the two hens scratching through leaves with one little Domenique pullet right beside them doing the same thing.

Seemed rather quick to me that they would so suddenly pal up with a new friend on the same day that our “Asteroid” had just died.

That nick-name, Asteroid, happened after Cyndie misheard me when I was actually asking how our sick Australorp was doing.

Well, now she’s off flying with the real asteroids, no longer a prisoner to those wimpy chicken wings.

Shine on you crazy asteroid. Shine on.

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Written by johnwhays

November 12, 2020 at 7:00 am

Clear Evidence

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As autumn dries out the growth across our landscape, all sorts of sights that were once buried in greenery are becoming revealed.

It is clear that our Wyandotte didn’t entirely kick her habit of finding places other than the nest boxes for laying her eggs this year.

Cyndie found these after several obviously old eggs began to appear in unlikely open spaces in the nearby vicinity. It seems as though some critters of the night had discovered the stash and were working on moving them to hiding places of their own choosing.

It’s a good thing we aren’t trying to subsist exclusively on the production of our layers. As always, I like having the chickens for their ability to control flies and ticks. Free-range eggs are a byproduct. Indeed, a precious bonus, but not a requirement we demand of them.

Still, it’s sad to find the bounty we’ve been missing out on that has gone to waste.

Silly chicken.

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Written by johnwhays

November 10, 2020 at 7:00 am