Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Red-Light District

The dilemma of the frozen water. An issue near and dear to my frozen fingers hearts. After consulting 19,000 fellow chicken owners over at the simplest, safest solution is to run a heat lamp at night over the water fount. But not just any heat lamp. A safety heat lamp. One with a ceramic base that cannot overheat. One that can be secured securely to the ceiling. After this photo was taken we took it a step further and attached it even more securely with a zip tie and then used electrical tack thingys to secure the cord. That sucker's not coming down any time soon. And with a thermostatic outlet, it can be controlled to only turn on when it gets down to 32 degrees.

In the mean time though, it's keeping Jack's side of the coop just warm enough for the new girls not to freeze their precious little bums off but cold enough that they want to cuddle with him. Which leads me to this little revelation....

while gazing at the amber glow emitting from the coop and pondering some of the comments on the last post I realized I can now add "chicken pimp" to my list of lifetime accomplishments. Nice.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Boy Meets Girl

It really is a small world. Milton, the man we acquired Jack's girlfriends from, was a student teacher for my high school biology teacher. Which in an of itself is strange but if you knew where I went to high school you'd swear it was some sort of miracle. My high school is in such a wide-open and remote location it's now a wind farm. I'm talkin' WAY out in the middle of nowhere land.

Anyway we brought his girls home yesterday and since they've spent their entire lives inside a nice warm and cozy house we knew we needed to gradually get them accustomed to their new living conditions. They spent the night on the back porch with the dogs. Where it's between 55 and 60 degrees. Normally before you introduce new birds into your flock you should quarantine them away from the flock for a week or so just to make sure they're healthy. Which was our plan when we brought them home.

The little dog changed our plans. She thought it would be a fun game to bark incessantly at them in the middle of the night. We've since decided the new birds look perfectly healthy and since we know they were raised in the guy's house away from other birds they were moving outside TODAY.

At first we contained them inside a clear plastic tub. They could see Jack and Jack could see them. He stood around flexing his muscles and trying to do his best George Clooney impersonation.

Then after a few hours of him posing we decided to release the girls. I swear to you, she immediately walked right up to him and pecked him on his head. He just stood there looking at her like "What the heck did you do that for?" Then he did a little "I've got an invisible morsel for you" dance. And the pecking and the dancing continued for a while.

Then he jumped up on the perch and proceeded to announce something to the world. I only wish I knew roosterese. I'm not sure if he was begging for someone to come save him or bragging that he had a girlfriend?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lonely Bantam Rooster Seeks Female Companions

It started about the time I noticed Old One-Eyed Calico Jack hanging out inside the coop all day. I could only assume he had tried cavorting with one of The Wenches and Blackbeard banished him to solitary confinement. Then the freezing weather hit and I grew weary of breaking up the frozen water in the north end of the coop. We designed the coop to have passive solar heat in the south end. The north end was designed for storage. The south end's water wasn't freezing. The north end's was. So I declared a state of emergency and forced all The Pirates to evacuate the north end.

It was tense at first, but Blackbeard soon established dominance over Bob and pecking order was established. But Old Jack still was staying in the coop all day. Once I couldn't find him at all. He was hiding behind the food storage box. I don't know how long he'd been back there.

I let it go on for a couple of days, but noticed Old Jack seemed really, really hungry when I would sneak him a treat. Bob and Blackbeard were relentless in their heckling and even the Fat-Bottom Girls were chasing poor Old Jack. I don't think it helped any that he was trying to cavort with them while they were laying an egg. Then came the final straw when I realized he'd spent the entire night hiding behind that storage box while the others pooped on his head.

While doing the chores that morning I left the door to the north end open. Jack high-tailed it in there looking for a place to hide. I closed the door behind him and gave him his own private food and water. He was famished! I left him to rest awhile in peace. When I came back later he had his craw so packed full of food you could actually see it bulging in his neck.

I was so mad at the others for starving him, Jack now has his own private living quarters in the north end. Problem is, chickens don't like living alone. So I had no choice but to place the following add on craigslist:

Lonely Bantam Rooster Seeks Female Companions

Old One-eyed Calico Jack would like to settle down and start a family. While he's partial to Ameraucanas, at this stage in his life he's pretty much willing to cavort with any bantam who will take him. If you have two or three lovely ladies that might be interested in meeting Jack, please contact us. We are willing to trade a few of our large-breed fresh layers since they seem to be out of Jack's league and too much for Old One-eyed Jack to handle, or pay a reasonable price.

I'm happy to announce a man named Milton took pity on poor Old One-eyed Calico Jack and offered up a couple of his darling mixed bantams. We'll be picking up Jack's two new lady friends on Friday to come hang out with him in his swingin' bachelor pad. They're small, young and impressionable and should think Old Jack is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'll be back to breaking up frozen water again but that's okay. He deserves it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Circle City Copperworks

Have you dreamed of a custom made copper range hood or maybe a copper farmhouse sink? I'm not ashamed to admit I have. And you know what? I touched one today. And you know what else? Within minutes of me touching it the germs I left on it were dead. Deader than a doornail. You know why? Because copper itself is an antimicrobial surface that naturally kills bacteria. Cool, huh?

Today our homeschool group toured Circle City Copperworks. A company in Indianapolis that manufactures unique one-of-a-kind copper sinks, countertops, range hoods, cupolas, finials and spires. I think everyone needs a spire. The bathtub below can be yours for a mere $10,000. Or you can custom order a cookie cutter in the shape of the Colts emblem. They do it all. And they do it extremely well.

We learned how it all starts out mined from rocks like these.

To how it's shaped and finished.

And three or four days worth of work later, a master coppersmith like Dan here, can make a range hood like the one behind him. It is unbelievably beautiful in real life. My first born should have been nervous while I was contemplating how I could ever acquire such a beautiful thing.

Dan gave an absolutely fabulous tour of their impressive shop. It was fun, educational and extremely interesting. It was really surprising to see that not all that much has changed over the years. Oh sure, he showed us the fancy laser cutting machine attached to the computer. But he also said it takes so much time to design something on the computer they often just do it by hand, given they're usually only making one of whatever it is. The fancy computer sits right next to some shaping tools that are over 100 years old. You wouldn't believe what he can do with just a hammer and a stump.

In the end, no question went unanswered. The kids really enjoyed it and learned some valuable life lessons along the way. The importance of studying geometry for instance. It was a great hands on learning kind of day. And learning from someone so passionate about their work, always makes it exciting. Thanks, Dan. As soon as I win the lottery I'll be back for that tub!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bob Receives Stay of Execution

It just so happens that Bob is the luckiest rooster that ever lived. Really. I'm considering a Vegas trip for the boy. In an odd turn of events, Bob's life has been spared.

For the past couple of weeks I'd noticed the dogs sniffing around the chicken runs. I just assumed they were looking for dropped morsels of chicken treats. Because if you asked them they're plum starved to death. Never mind they're so fat they can barely make it out the door together. Anyway, I didn't pay much attention to the sniffing.

Early Saturday morning, while the knives were being sharpened, I proceeded about my usual chicken chores. First I let the Pirates out, then Bob and the girls, then I start tossing scratch grains out to keep them busy so I can go inside the coop in peace. I generally make a complete circle around the entire chicken compound, tossing it out evenly so everyone can get some. But this time I was stopped dead in my tracks about half way around. Some varmint had dug a huge hole next to the fence and would have gotten in had we not buried the hardware cloth a foot underground!

This very well may explain Bob's nasty behavior of late. It's possible something has been lurking around and Bob knew it. So Bob's really just trying to protect his turf and his ladies. *sniff* And to think he was a frog's hair away from becoming soup.

I apologized profusely to Bob, told him he was a very good boy and refilled the hole. This morning the hole was back again, not as big this time though. So we'll be keeping Bob around for awhile. We'll step back and let him do his job as night watchman. The lucky bugger.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dead Bird Walking

Well, I've pretty much had it with Bob. See, he's being a real pain the the buttocks. Down right mean even. So a few days ago I decided to get busy with a little bit of tough love therapy, rooster style.

When Bob comes out of the coop and starts to come after me I just scoop him up and give him a big ol' hug. As you can imagine he doesn't care much for that. In fact if he had panties they'd be in a big ol' bunch. But it did seem like it was starting to help keep him from attacking me. Until this morning.

To say Bob and I had a brief scuffle, would be stating it mildly. He came after me. I scooped him up and gave him a big ol' hug. But when I tried to readjust my grip on him he somehow managed to get close enough to bite my lower lip. And that's when the feathers started flying. I was the one with bunched up panties at that point. And I was bleeding. And I was MAD. Real mad.

Normally when he comes after me I just lift my boot and let him run himself into it. I don't believe in hurting animals so I don't actually use any force against him. He's stupid enough to hurt himself. Today though, I have to admit I helped him a little as I scrambled for the exit holding my lower lip.

So the time has come to make a decision about Bob. So far I've been able to deal with him because he doesn't have any spurs yet. But they're growing fast. It won't be long and he could do some serious damage to someone. I hate having to make this decision. I love that dumb bird.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rogue Roosters

A must read...

Crossing the Line

There are a couple of things you won't often read about here, religion and politics. I find them both very personal matters. Matters that I don't feel the need to thrust upon you as I am sure you all have your own opinions. And I respect you for that. But given that this blog also serves as a journal for me to reflect back on I would be remiss if I did not mention the election.

This election is not just significant for our country, but for the first time in my adult life Indiana is actually a real player in the game. That's pretty cool. This election has also been significant for my family. It's the first year my daughter is eligible to vote. It's also the first year my husband is eligible to vote. And by the sound of his voice at 6:30 this morning when he roused me out of bed to tell me he'd voted, I'd say he was rather excited about it. I guess I would be too if I'd waited almost 40 years for the right to do so.

I have to admit, as a woman, every election year I thank my lucky stars that I live in this great country where I have the right to cast a ballot. This year I watched every debate. I researched every hot issue. But what it all boiled down to in the end, for me, was one deciding factor. I have a fifteen year old son. A son who is bound and determined to join the military once he turns 18. That time will go by like a blink of the eye. So today I voted not just as an American. Not just as a woman. But as a mom.

Please, go vote today to stand up for the issues that are near and dear to your heart.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Should Have Zagged

Have I ever mentioned how much of a klutz I am? It's a wonder I'm still alive really. Just ask any of these folks I live with. I was hanging up one of the engineer's shirts in his closet the other day. The rod is way too tall for me so I was on my tippy-toes. I felt something in my back crunch right between my shoulder blades. Not a good thing, but not debilitating. It hurt a little but no big deal. Then yesterday, while doing my version of The Biggest Loser workout, I think I broke myself. Because it suddenly became a REALLY big deal.

Not willing to admit I'd broken myself though, I proceeded to shower as usual and still planned on cleaning the chicken coop, putting the garden to bed and painting the upstairs bathroom. By the time I finished the shower, where I narrowly missed drowning, I decided lying down with an ice pack was probably a better plan. So I did. For about 20 minutes. Then I determined I should just try to work through the pain and go ahead and clean the coop. I managed to get the big bird side done but nearly passed out, either from the pain or from this stupid diet I'm on. So I fried up an egg with toast followed by a cookie and milk. Figured that was enough protein, carbs and sugar to cure what ailed me. Then I went back to bed and stayed there for a couple of hours this time, under close supervision of the cat.

By the time I managed to pull myself out of bed I'd completely lost all hope of continuing this dumb diet and exercise routine. It's apparently going to kill me. So I hobbled outside where the engineer was and asked him if he wanted a soft drink. He said "yes". I said "Great, then you can pick me up some Cheetos while you're at the convenience store." And he did after he laughed at me a while. I finished the other side of the coop with much less enthusiasm. Then I pulled up all the tomato cages and hauled those to the barn and emptied the pots and buckets my herbs had been growing in. After that I gave up the charade and admitted defeat. It was either that or actually do the screaming out loud and not just in my head.

This morning it's more sore and achy than sharp and shooting pain. I still can't make any sudden moves. The bathroom is definitely not getting painted today.