Roof! Roof!

April 11, 2010

I hope to have pictures up by tomorrow or Monday.

Building an escape ladder into the chicken coop

Chicken House Under Construction

If our current project were a film, it would probably be called, “Laurel and Hardy Build a Chicken House. Nevertheless, much of the frame is now up. The baby chicks arrive at the end of April.

A few weekends ago, Mommies and Random Granddaughter visited us, in part to help celebrate my wife’s 62nd birthday.

Shortly after they arrived on Saturday afternoon, we walked over to the Friendly Neighbors so the mommies could buy some fresh eggs and so RG could pet the chickens and view the ducks.

Mommy (my daughter’s Out of Law Partner and RG’s birth mother) teaches at a private school for high-IQ children I call for blog purposes SVBC (School for Very Bright Children). When Mommy decided to move RG to the school’s preschool, the school rejected her as a) not smart enough and b) too introverted. However, a while later, SVBC said, Let’s rethink that and tested RG again. This time they said, very, very smart; we will be happy to enroll her.

The mommies have been considering whether to enroll RG in public kindergarten or SVBC kindergarten. As we walked to the Friendly Neighbors, RG told me, “I will be going to SVBC.”

I was a little surprised. I thought the decision was not coming for a couple of months.

Later, the mommies told me that SVBC (which is very expensive, as befits a private K-12 school that is rather like a version of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, or Stanford for small children) had made a very generous financial aid offer. I realized that the mommies wanted to send RG to the school but had been worried about the cost, especially as my daughter will be quitting her job and taking another stab at graduate school next fall.

Mommy also confessed she had peeked at IQ scores of other students. As a teacher she is allowed to do so. Even among this collection of carefully selected little smart asses, RG scores as one of the brightest there.

In terms of premiums for David Rochester’s pledge drive, when the total contributions actually arriving at David’s mail box with an indication they wish to receive the “See Random Granddaughter’s Photography Premium” reach a total of $25, I will make available to those contributors two photographs: one taken by RG, and the other showing her petting a chicken. (If you already sent in your contribution, and notify me now, that’s fine. This is a “we’re easy” pledge drive.”)

I just uploaded the photos to my online photo storage site.

 The first photo, framed very nicely by four-year-old Random Granddaughter, shows Mr. Friendly Neighbor, Mrs. Friendly Neighbor, Grandma Random, Grandpa Random, Mommy (birth mother and Random Daughter’s out-of-law partner) and Mama (Random Daughter).

The other photo shows Random Daughter petting a Dominique chicken. I don’t know if I am an expert on decoding chickens’ facial expressions, but it looks like a fairly pleased chicken to me, as well it should be.

RG will be visiting us on the island (with mommies in tow) on Sunday for “Baby Doll Tea” at an Island tea shoppe. We went to this event a year or two ago. I don’t have the post on this blog site, but the striking occurrence we all noticed was RG’s superior parenting skills. At the next table a young mother with a real baby was feeding it pop in a bottle. At our table, RG pulled up her t-shirt and nursed her dolly.

Who knows what RG will do this year? Perhaps if she sees a real parent and real child fussing at each other, RG will pull them together and conduct a family therapy session in the midst of the tea shoppe.

As we visited the Friendly Neighbors and their poultry, she explained that one of the chickens, a Rhode Island Red, was the head of the pecking order. Indeed, the hen pushed the other chickens aside to get the best bits of lettuce as Random Granddaughter held them out to the flock.

A couple of the chickens are black. They are Australopes. Random Granddaughter has an Australope at her preschool.

One of the Australopes stood at the fence to the chicken yard clucking loudly. The Friendly Neighbor explained that she detected some danger outside the garden–perhaps a weasel or a fox–and was warning the other hens.

The hens are specialized. They have a boss lady and an alarm lady.

As we headed out of the garden, RG asked Mommy for her digital camera. She then told everybody she wanted to take a picture of them. We stood under an archway. She directed us where to stand, and told Grandma to kneel down so she could get everybody in the picture. She took a few other pictures as well, with practiced skill and confidence.

I downloaded the pictures to my computer. The portrait of the Barely Extended Family came out well, nicely framed and level. RG at four years old is already a skillful photographer.

When the next contributions to the Keep David Alive Drive reach $25, I will post the picture on my      picture storage web site and make it available to the persons or person who have made the contribution. When you send your contribution to David, put your name and indicate that it is for the RG snapshot premium. David, please keep track and let me know.

Random, the merciless pledge slave driver

Madder Than a Dry Duck

August 18, 2008

Last night we had the Friendly Neighbors over for dinner. As my wife gets very tense just before company comes, we only screamed at each other once. Just as we were calming ourselves, or maybe drawing breath to start yelling at each other again, the doorbell rang, ten minutes early. (They had been a few minutes late once, the time my wife had been preparing a soufflé; so now they worry about being late.)   As we opened the door, I invited them to watch the special entertainment we had prepared for them, called “Fighting in front of your guests.”

They updated us on their chickens and ducks. One of the chickens is injured. As best they can tell, it has a leg which is either broken or dislocated. They have prepared a field hospital for it, and they are providing loving and tender care to see if it survives. (I presume so they can eat it at a later time.)

 I suggested they purchase a small chicken wheelchair for it.

 Another of the chickens fell into the duck pond. Mrs. FN found it up to its neck in water. She rescued it quickly. “A wet chicken is very heavy,” she complained. She dried it off with a towel, put it in the sun to dry out and fight hypothermia, and worried that it might not survive. However, the next day it seemed to be making a full recovery.

Although Mr. Friendly Neighbor drained and cleaned the pond; since the chicken fell in, the ducks have refused to get into their pond.

I suggested this was something like the “color” line of the old days of segregation. “We just don’t get into pools where chickens have been swimming,” the ducks say firmly.

 I expect to see mass chicken splash-ins any day now.


On August 13, stevo wrote:

Perhaps you could reach some sort of truce with the rabbits? Or make them your minions?

The problem is the fleas. They do not understand the meaning of peaceful co-existence.

On August 17, Pete wrote (among other interesting thoughts):

If you are going to buy an air rifle, consider a few things: The scope is really nice but not necessary. Just be sure the sights are adjustable. Also the feeding of it. You can get ones that you can load a bunch of pellets in at once (Very convenient) but they are more prone to jam. The single feed ones are less convenient but there is no action to jam. a pellet pistol will only be accurate at close range, and rabbits are generally not known to let you get close.

Your comments (and Cameron’s) are pertinent, and as I continue my hunting tale I will tell some interesting things about fast and slow moving rabbits.

On August 17, Jenny wrote:

My mom took the boys and I to visit her very elderly grade school teacher, Miss Ida. A delightful woman, full of life and humor, she told us about her chickens and how much she loved them. One morning, she went to the coop to gather eggs and saw a snake, a vile enemy of Miss Ida and her hens. The boys hold Miss Ida in great esteem after she told them how she saw that the snake had swallowed an egg and she wrestled the snake, squeezed the egg back out of its mouth and then killed the snake! The morale of this comment… don’t mess with a woman and her hens! You’ve been warned.

We have a lot of garter snakes in our garden, and Mrs. Random is very fond of them. I kind of doubt they prey on chicken eggs, but we will have to see.

Pete also posted:

The chickens actually have a little personality, too. The one bummer is they are hard to sex when they are one day old, and sometimes you end up with a rooster when you don’t want one. A good example of when you don’t want one is 5:00am when it is crowing. The roosters are always the most attractive, too (If there is such a thing…) And if you have lots of coyotes and raccoons you might find dead mauled chickens from time to time. I finally built a cage with a wire roof that seems to do the trick nicely. We go for the Anaconda’s (Likely wrong spelling), also known as Americana’s (Not to be confused with coffee drink.) They lay blue eggs, which is quite handy come Easter time. Also chickens make great fertilizer. They run free in our garden all fall/winter/spring when there are no crops. The soil is always good to go the next planting. So I say go for it and get a few, at least three, in case you decide to get rid of an unwanted rooster.

I rambled a lot to make up for the months it has been since I posted to your blog!

When I was in high school in Wisconsin, I had a crush on a girl named Delores, who played trumpet in the marching band. (As I was such a dork at that age, the crush never went anywhere, as she later joined the Marines, which was very unusual for a young woman to do in the 1950s. If I had gotten fresh, she probably would have beaten me up.) In any case, one summer she got a job as a chicken sexer. A local farmer sold baby chicks to research laboratories for medical experiments. Depending on the experiment, the purchaser sometimes needed boy chicks (so to speak) and sometimes needed chick chicks. Delores’ job was to examine each chick closely and then put it into the boy chick crate or the girl chick crate so they would be shipped to the proper mad scientist. When I saw her at school the following fall, Delores told me she had become very weary of looking closely at chicken private parts. (As far as I know, roosters do not have a Playrooster magazine for looking at improper centerfolds of chicks.)

Some of the organic farmers on the island make what they call chicken tractors. These are chicken cages on wheels. They move the chickens to one part of a garden that has lots of weeds. The chickens spend the day scratching the ground and eating the weeds without being able to get at the food plants. That part of the garden has then been weeded and sort of plowed.

Cameron wrote on August 18th:

We have a few friends with chickens who bring eggs to church each Sunday. You truly can tell the difference in the size and quality of eggs. I don’t know anyone who regrets having a few chickens. Start thinking on names for your soon-to-be new arrivals.

Maybe I will assign Random Granddaughter the job of naming the chickens to be.

On August 18th, Vicky wrote:

We have 6 chickens at the moment. Enough to keep us ,as well as a few other families, in eggs.

I cannot even think of eating eggs from the store anymore, but I don’t especially care for the chickens.

Our grandson (5) thinks they’re great and he collects their eggs everytime he’s here. Otherwise, my husband does it.

Last year, RG visited a farm with us, and saw the farmer’s wife milk a goat and gather an egg from under a chicken. She was rather intimidated by the whole experience, but after she names our chickens, she may be better able to deal with it. Also, she will probably be four years old by then, and it may be that four-year-olds are mature enough to deal with chickens and their eggs.

On the same date, David Rochester wrote:

After all the comments, I’m jealous that I don’t have room to keep hens. As I understand it, however, the eggs are in rather a regrettable state upon exiting the ovipositor, and I fear I wouldn’t like touching them. I would have to do it with gloves, which would probably offend the hen.

On another but related topic, I think it’s strange that we eat bird ovulations.

On the other hand, I don’t know if David will be mature enough to deal with chickens and their eggs when he is 40 years old.

5A At the County Fair

August 17, 2007

Yesterday, my wife and I went to the county fair. I saw a bunch of bunnies. They would have been easy to shoot with my air rifle, as they were all in cages. However, I didn’t bring my air rifle to the county fair. Also, all of the bunnies I saw were pet bunnies and 4H project bunnies as well, and the young 4H members who were raising and showing the bunnies at the fair would not have taken it well. Also, these bunnies were well groomed and probably did not have fleas. Also, one of the bunnies was a Flemish Giant bunny. Flemish giants are the largest species of bunny. He was very large, and I suspect if I had acted in a threatening manner, he might have taken me out before I had a chance to complete my evil purpose.

My wife has her heart set on having chickens. She has decided she wants Dominiques.

When I was in junior high, besides having a cow, which I milked before and after school, and then a goat, which I milked before and after school, we had chickens. Although not a terrible experience, it was not a great experience, and left me turned off on having farm animals and farm birds. I have told my wife this.

In the poultry exhibit, I heard a woman talking about her chickens. Two of her chickens were Dominiques, she said. I introduced her to my wife. She said to my wife, “My Dominique chickens are my favorites. They are very friendly. They are good at laying eggs.”

“Hello, Mrs. Chicken.” Mrs. Chicken isn’t here yet, but I see a chicken in my future.

Today, we are going into town to see Random Granddaughter.