Sunday, August 31, 2008

De Facto Segregation

Well, happily-ever-after, it seems, is a very short amount of time. My grand plan of complete and utter chicken integration has failed miserably.

You'll recall Blackbeard had taken over command of the playground and a sense of mutual respect amongst the boys had ensued. After all, Bob was four times the size of both Blackbeard and Jack. It was all fine and dandy until Ol' Jack, out of sheer frustration, figured if he couldn't cavort with the ladies than by George he wasn't going to let Bob do it either. So it was two against one and that was more than Bob was up for. He started spending almost the entire day inside the coop. Needless to say he was getting a little frustrated and was taking his frustrations out on the ladies. The ladies were not impressed with the situation at all.

"Do something lady or else we're never laying eggs."

So I had a chat with The Pirates. They weren't happy with the new arrangement either, even though they liked the deluxe accommodations. They demanded separate but equal facilities. So we quickly converted the storage side of the hen house into the Pirates lair.

A Pirate sized roost.

And some Wench sized nest boxes made them happy.

But they still didn't like looking at Bob and were about to start holding sit ins and other demonstrations when...

we hurried up and finished the second run. Now Bob and his Fat Bottom Girls are on one side...

and The Pirates are on the other.

Where they will live happily ever after or else they'll go visit our 82 year old neighbor who said he'd LOVE to have them over for dinner.

So this, my friends, concludes The Year of The Chicken here on the farm. After five long months all of our chicken chores are done other than providing them with food, water and gathering eggs. Believe it or not, my next post will have absolutely nothing to do with chickens!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Johnny Depp Lives in My Backyard

And we call him Blackbeard.

"Shall we dance?"

It's tough to capture this elusive creature's beauty in a photo. His iridescent feathers are striking in person. Sometimes turquoise, sometimes royal blue, sometimes a deep forest green, always beautiful. It's easy to understand why the ladies love him.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Come gather round. We have an announcement!

Don't push. Don't crowd. Leave some room for you to


something more priceless than diamonds. More precious than gold.



the world's most expensive to produce egg...

Isn't it marvelous? Is it not the most spectacular thing you've ever seen?

Yes, I thought so, too.

It seems if you build it, they will come...the eggs that is. If you build nifty nest boxes out of dish pans and some scrap lumber the hens will suddenly up and decide they must use the new facility immediately.

Little Beth, our "special" chicken laid her very first egg, yesterday. Bob stood by her side the entire time. We were so proud of both of them, we let them celebrate with they're favorite treats of apples, weeds and breadcrumbs.

Now if we can just get 12,000 more eggs from them it will pay for the coop. *cough, sputter*

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Technical Difficulties

I can't function without my camera. I can't form a complete sentence for this blog without a picture in front of me. Last Sunday we attended the Indiana State Fair. I took lots and lots of photos. Then spent all night trying to figure out what went wrong with my camera and attempting to revive the photo files that were clearly there just not in the right format. I'm still working on it.

While we were at the State Fair we participated in the Army Virtual Experience and the kid walked away with a free video game. Never mind they'll come knocking on his door in a few years wanting to be paid back. I then spent two days trying to get it to work. I quickly exceeded my gaming expertise and had to call in the big guns. My brother came over and fixed it enough to get part of it working. I'm still working on the rest.

While he was here a very heavily loaded semi truck was passing by and had to slam on his breaks to avoid an oncoming car. Why they even try to get up and down this road is beyond me, but that's not the point. He was transporting a HUGE piece of construction equipment. You know, the kind that have wheels the size of your living room. That piece of equipment broke loose and was about to come careening off when the driver managed to get the truck stopped. Stopped directly between the curves in the road where he couldn't be seen by traffic coming either direction. So we spent about an hour directing traffic. I'll bet he's still cleaning his drawers.

School starts Monday so I've been adding the needed software to the computer. Do I even need to finish this sentence... I'm still working on it.

So today, tired of it all and ready to get back to my chickens and blogging, I grabbed my old point and shoot camera, dusted it off and proceeded to figure out that I have no batteries for it.

I'm going to bed now, I may or may not get up tomorrow.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Speaking of High School

One-Eyed Calico Jack commandeered the main coop vessel the other night. It was a quiet mutiny. We didn't even know it had happened. But when I opened up the coops the next morning here comes Ol' Jack strolling out of the big bird's coop. Just as proud of himself as he could be. He was no doubt the king for the night, because we know Bumbling Bob's plum scared to death of him.

Jack must have sneaked over to their side and hid inside the coop amongst The Girls before we locked up for the night. (I have visions of the scene from the movie ET, where ET is hiding in the closet with all the stuffed animals.)

I wanted to integrate the two groups from the get go, but it seemed like The Pirates were public school street-smart hoodlums with mad ninja skills and Bob and The Girls were the over-protected homeschool kids. Didn't quite seem fair to throw them all together. So we figured we were going to have to keep them separated forever.

When all the birds piled out of the coop that morning though I thought maybe we could make it work. Jack hadn't killed Bob, which is what we were afraid of. And The Girls hadn't started dressing provocatively, smoking cigarettes and getting tattoos or anything. So I went ahead and moved Blackbeard and The Wenches in too. They quickly took over and made themselves at home.

Now it's very much like high school out there. When you glance around the yard they very much have their cliques. The Wenches want nothing to do with The Girls and all the guys keep themselves busy showing off.

Bob is four times his size, but Blackbeard is most certainly in charge. I think Bob respects him a lot. In fact, I've noticed Bob's even picked up a few pointers on how to treat the ladies. He was doing the Hey-look-at-me-I-have-a-tasty-bread-crumb-for-you song and dance beautifully yesterday. I almost misted up I was so proud. Poor boy still needs some work on his approach though.

"I just don't understand why they don't like me, Mom?"

"Don't worry, you'll figure it all out eventually, son."

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Freshman

Can you believe it's almost time for school again? Didn't we just finish up last week? Surely it was last week? No?

I'm officially in beginning-of-the-school-year panic mode. Especially considering we're *gulp* starting high school. Funny how when you homeschool it's the parents that get the jitters instead of the kids. I think I have all my bases covered. Curriculum is all here and ready to go except some literature I decided to throw in at the last minute. It's on it's way.

Here's the schedule:

Speaking & Writing Skills
Pre Algebra/Pre Geometry
World History
Spanish I
Essentials of Communications

We sat down last night and determined the field trips we'll be taking with a local homeschool group. We will be:

Rock climbing
Laser tagging
A war reenactment of the War of 1812
A weekly art class
A weekly gym class
A Bonfire
A Corn Maze
& a few movie nights

all on top of our weekly group meeting every Wednesday and other events that pop up along the way.

And that's just the first semester.

Suddenly, I want to crawl in a hole with Bob.

I think I'd better go breathe into a paper bag.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's Always Something

My Mom told me the other day that I needed to get a life. She thinks I've been spending too much time with my chickens. I think she's probably right. But I do have a life, it just doesn't make for interesting reading. I mean really, would you rather read about laundry, housekeeping and homeschooling or about Broody Betty?

I thought so.

You see, in order to get the hens to know where to lay an egg you're supposed to put a fake egg in the nest. That makes their tiny brain say "Oh, lookey there, I want to lay my egg next to that one." And it works fabulously. A little too fabulously. Now Broody Betty won't get off the nest. It seems she thinks that since all the other eggs go missing and this is the only one that stays she'd better get busy and hatch it. Problem is, she's trying to hatch a golf ball.

A golf ball with Chase's name on it no doubt. I don't know who Chase is but I know he's missing one of his balls.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Garden Without Weeds

Finished another quilt top. This one's sole purpose was for me to throw something simple together. Something I could use to practice free motion machine quilting. I think the dark colors and busy patterns should hide all my goof ups nicely. The pattern is called Pathways by Betsy Mennesson. It eludes to brick paths and rows of flowers. This is the extent of gardening I want to do by the time August rolls around.

I feel the need to mention that my design wall is a little wonky. My seams are wavy, but not that wavy.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Final Four

After the engineer had a chance to settle in, I calmly explained my rooster dilemma and displayed for him my wounds. We decided then the time had come to send the boys off to freezer camp. 'Cause that's where roosters go to live happily ever after. *wink, wink* So I packed their little bags and chauffeured them to the site and the engineer took it from there. I've never been more proud of my engineer.

Not all of the roosters went to camp. One-eyed Calico Jack didn't want to go to no stinkin' camp.

And of course Blackbeard couldn't go because he has to take care of The Wenches.

Little Jack Scallywag wanted to stay with his poppa.

And of course...

we couldn't let Bumbling Bob go. His grace and agility is improving and he's grown more popular with the ladies now that he's taking dance lessons.

"Put your left foot in, put your left foot out, put your left foot in and shake it all about..."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Queen of Hearts

It's true I enjoyed my little vacation. But there's more to the story. You see while the men folk were missing from the picture, I still had eleven roosters. Anyone who knows anything about chickens knows that's about ten too many. But I love my chickens. Especially the roosters, cause they're so full of spunk and personality.

Before the engineer left I had him slap together a little lean-to type structure, or a mini run-in shed if you will, to leave in the outdoor run. It could serve the purpose of both keeping the food dry and protecting the birds from a hail storm if they so chose to use it. So when the engineer left, the setup was 18 hens and Hermie the Love Chicken in the main coop, The Pirates in the storage side of the coop, The Stew Brothers with the run-in shed in a sectioned off part of the run, Bob in his bachelor pad and The Scallywags inside in a brooder. I should have been good to go.

But anybody who knows anything about chickens knows that even if the roosters can see each other, that's too much contact. I'm now one of those people. I wasn't before. The roosters pace back and forth at the fence line with their chests all puffed out and every once in awhile throw in a little dance action, which is kind of amusing if you're on the right side of the fence. There comes a point though where someone has to go in and feed them. After spending all day pacing and dancing all their sense of reason seems to drain from their little heads and their pent up aggression has to come out. Even if the visitor is trying to sustain their lives with food and water.

I expected removing Bob from the main coop would let Hermie the Love Chicken calm down a little and return to the sweet, loving rooster he once was. I was wrong. It seemed that The Stew Brothers being in close proximity was the bigger issue. So I returned Bob. And moved The Stew Brothers to the bachelor pad. I came out of the ordeal only slightly maimed. And everybody seemed happier for oh, 24 hours or so. That's about the time Hermie the Love Chicken turned into Hermie the Maniacal Maniac.

You see, I tuck my chickens into bed every night. I go out and shoo them into their little chicken doors and lock them up. Then I lock up the run. This makes them doubly secure inside the coop where nothing can get to them. I do this because I love my chickens so much, I don't want them to get hurt.

Hermie the Love Chicken decided he no longer needed this service. When I went out to lock up he charged and attacked every time I tried to get near the chicken door. I have the flesh wounds to prove it. Hermie the Love Chicken spent the night in the outdoor part of the run.

The next day was about the time I noticed one of The Stew Brothers hadn't left the perch in a long time. I made a mental note of it and went about my business. The Scallywags were getting restless and starting to cause little dust plumes to erupt from the brooder. Bob busied himself doing his bumbling act while Hermie continued to get more and more of a crazed look about him. I could actually see the pupil of his eye shrinking then growing, shrinking then growing, it was freaky. He attacked again and spent a second night outside.

Another day passed and when doling out the rations I noticed that one Stew Brother was still on the roost. I eyed one of the others suspiciously and wondered if maybe he wasn't allowing the first one to get down. So I grabbed the roosting rooster and stuck him inside the storage side of the coop while The Pirates were out and about. I gave him some food and water and the poor bugger nearly stuck his entire head in the water dish he was so thirsty. That told me I needed to get the bully rooster out of the bachelor pad but I'd run out of places to put him. So he spent the next few days in a clear plastic tub with wire attached with clamps as a lid on the back porch. Where the cat nearly died of a heart attack when she just happened to be casually passing through at the same point he let out a crow. She loves watching the baby chicks but apparently not so fond of a full grown rooster.

So at this point I have seven different rooster locations going. And scars and flesh wounds all up and down my arms and legs. Did I mention how much I love my chickens? (said through gritted teeth) It was all I could do not to meet the engineer at the door with a meat cleaver in my hand and denounce "Off with their heads" upon his return. But I was afraid he might turn around and run seeing how I now had the same maniacal look in my eye.

(to be continued...)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Vacation is Over

Well, I didn't really go anywhere. The men folk jetted off to exotic locations. Well, maybe not exotic. The kid went to Grandma's house for a week of Grandma Camp and the engineer returned to his homeland for a cousin's wedding. I stayed here and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Well, as much quiet as you can get with a cat, two dogs and a flock of chickens. Come to think of it, it's not quiet at all.

I indulged myself in as many girly activities as I could muster. Things like shopping. It's not particularly a joy to go shopping with a 15 year old boy in tow. Their enthusiasm leaves a lot to be desired. So I shopped all by myself with great pleasure, both at my favorite quilt shops and at department stores where they sell fun things like clothes, shoes and underwear. You're not allowed to shop for underwear when you have a 15 year old boy. They'd prefer a gruesome death than to be caught shopping for underwear.

I also spent some time with my sewing machine. The poor thing having been ignored since the holidays. I finished up a paper piecing quilt top I had started last December.

Then I decided it's too warm yet to have a heavy quilt in my lap while quilting it so I set it aside and started another one. It's a simple one so I should get it done over this weekend, I'm already half way there.

When I was out shopping I picked up a bread maker. So I've been puttering around with that too. That was the extent of my kitchen work while they were gone. I have an amazing ability to survive on nothing but cold cereal. So the engineer is home now and it's back to fixing meals again. We just polished off a feast of our own green eggs, bacon from the pig from around the corner and homemade toast and jam. Tonight we're going to have fried chicken, but that's a story for tomorrow...