Ugh.

Well.  Now I feel terrible.  We just returned from checking on the chickens and changing water.  As usual, we spent a little time cuddling with them (also known as sneaking up on them so we can grab them and make them let us hold them), and they were their usual charming (sort of stupid…but sweet) selves.  One of the BORBs that will be going to the 4H family tomorrow was eating from the feeder and I reached down and gave him a little pet…and he didn’t have a total meltdown.  So I picked him up and held him for a bit and let him stand on my leg.  He warbled and complained when I first picked him up, but then he seemed to calm down and seemed to enjoy being held and petted.  He relaxed a little bit and sat down and let me pet him all over, but never took an eye off me.  Before I set him back on the floor, I felt his little nubs on his legs and that caused him to complain a little too…but probably because we’d only been dating 5 minutes.

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He calmly walked away and I looked out at Tom who was parked in the chair with his feet on the straw bale.  Tom just said “He’ll be fine.”  Because he knew what I was thinking.  I was regretting selling them.  Tom tried to reason with me about how it would be better for the flock, etc. but all I could think about was that I was the one that got them and now I was getting rid of them.  That makes me feel bad.  I guess I’m just really a little too soft.  I worry about whether they’ll have a nice coop and the right food and if they’ll get their weeds that they love every day.  I hope that I can trust these people who are taking them to be good chicken keepers.  Even as annoying and aggressive as the BORBs are…I still raised them from chicks and I guess I feel a little maternal…even if they do peck on Vinnie’s head like they’re buff colored jack hammers.  He probably had it coming, knowing him.

I feel like I’m betraying them a little.  Like I promised to take care of them and then said “OH…Just kidding!  I don’t care where ya go but ya can’t stay here!”  UGH.  Queen of the Rotten Chicken Keepers.  QRCK.  That’s ME.

Tomorrow, I’m not going with to shuttle the BORB’s to their new people.  I sort of don’t want to know anything about it.  Tom and Greg have to go to Illinois anyway, so they’re going to take them and I’m going to stay home.  I have plenty to do here and I’ll help get them into the carrier tomorrow and wave good bye.

borb

And then I’m going to lay face down on the sofa all day…because I feel GUILTY.

Why can’t I just be one of those people who doesn’t CARE???

Because I wouldn’t like me very much if I didn’t care.

Good luck guys, you’re jerks but I still love ya.

Uh oh.

I’m out of scratch.  I know that puts me on the list of “WORST CHICKEN KEEPERS EVER”.  Actually, I didn’t know that until the chickens pointed it out.

Last night, when we went out to try to convince the chickens that it was time to go inside for the night, we did our usual routine.  I went into coop yelling “CHICK CHICK CHICK!!!  COME ON GUYS!” in my ridiculously high-pitched, sing-song voice and sat down on my usual spot on an upside down livestock waterer that we placed in the corner of the run to put nesting boxes on.   The chickens, came barreling into the coop (most of them anyway, a few INSIST on being holdouts) and led by the incorrigible Vinnie.   Vinnie looked at me with one eye and came waddling over to see what treat I had for them.  Usually, I sit there with a container of scratch or snacks to entice the little darlings to move their fluffy butts and get inside before they’re eaten by a Sasquatch.  Vinnie came over and looked at me expectantly and chortled and whistled.  I held out my empty hands which he inspected thoroughly with one eye and then he looked at me again like he couldn’t believe it.  By this time, I had several others waiting for treats too. They stretched their necks out very long and it was quite obvious that they knew it should be treat time and WHY didn’t I have any?  Vinnie pecked at my rings a few times, whistled and muttered to himself and finally went to check out the feeder because SURELY I had put something delicious in there because darn it…IT’S TREAT TIME.

No treats.  Out of scratch.  I tried to explain it to Opal the Buff Orpington who seemed to be watching and listening intently.  She finally gave a half-hearted few peep/clucks and she too wandered away to check the feeder.

It seemed that disappointment was hanging thick in the air.

I tried to explain and one by one, they all went back outside, completely disregarding my repeated “I’M SORRY!!!!”.

Apparently being eaten by a Sasquatch is better than not getting a treat.

So, I’m sitting in the coop…all by myself at this point…looking at my phone and trying to figure out how I was going to redeem myself and how I could convince them that they should come inside.  Tom walked into the coop as I was sitting there…with the place completely void of chickens…and kind of looked at me like I’d lost my mind because I was sitting in a chicken coop in a corner reading Facebook.  Hey…there’s important stuff on there…I have to keep up.

I explained the scratch dilemma and he went outside to suggest that they come (read as: SCARE THEM) back into the coop.

No dice. They merrily flapped and ran around the run.  No treat…no bedtime is apparently the thought process.   Can I use “thought process” in a sentence about chickens?  I’m not sure they HAVE a process for thinking.  I think they just have a big picture of a bag of scratch in their heads.

Anyway, I remembered a big bag of frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer.  Hmmmm….I mentioned it to Tom that maybe they’d like some vegetables!  I bet they come right in!  Tom stood there for a minute and then said

“Do you want me to go make them vegetables?”

“Oh…you don’t have to do that…”

And he trudged back to the house because he’s the worlds best husband (Hi, Honey!!).

I filled the plates with vegetables, so incredibly proud of myself for remembering that we had such a nice treat in the freezer and making a mental note to pick 543 more bags of vegetables.  I set the plates on the floor and resumed my “CHICK CHICK CHICK”ing…(maybe it annoys them too…maybe it’s not just the neighbors thinking a cat is being killed in their yard).

Nothing happened.  I looked at Tom, he looked at me.  I PROMISED him that once they saw the heaping plates of vegetables they’d scoot right inside.

Nothing.

Finally Vinnie stuck his head in the door and chortled with a question mark at the end. You know what I mean, right?  He spied the full plates and made another noise in his throat and eight chickens showed up and all tried to squeeze into the coop at once.

YESSSSSS!  I knew the other four would follow once these clowns came in.

They all stood in the doorway, crammed together, looking at the plates.  Vinnie took one step and suddenly became the world’s tallest, skinniest chicken.

I like to change the words of songs so they fit situations.  When we first got the chicks, we noticed that whenever they’re afraid, they get VERY tall and skinny, so I replaced the words to “If You’re Happy and You Know it” with the following:  (please sing along)

If your neck is long and skinny, you’re afraid.

If your neck is long and skinny, you’re afraid.

If your neck is long and skinny and your eyes are small and beady,

If your neck is long and skinny you’re afraid!!

My daughter thinks I’m a musical genius.  You should hear what I do with Pharrell’s “Happy”.

Vinnie eyed the vegetables suspiciously and took a step again while viewing the vegetables with one eye and whistling softly to himself.  The rest of the chickens that had followed him inside were also very tall and skinny and took a step toward the vegetables too…practically in unison.

chicken veg 1

They were AFRAID of the vegetables.

I couldn’t believe it.  I expected full-on chicken mayhem when they saw them and all they could do was view them from a distance so that they didn’t pass out from terror.  They circled the plates, edging ever closer…and closer…and then someone would move too fast and they’d all get tall and skinny again.  Sigh.  Always the weird animals.  Always ME.

I kept encouraging and coaxing and finally Vinnie stepped all the way up to a plate and got a good close-up look.  Hmmm…he took a corn kernel and scurried away. I watched him as he dropped it and looked at it with one eye and then tasted it again and dropped it and he soon had the undivided attention of the rest of the flock.  He munched it up with his beak and swallowed.  I held my breath.  He cocked his head back at the plate and went back to check it out again…hmmmm…he tried a carrot..and another piece of corn…and then more corn.   Maybe these weren’t the killer vegetables that he’d heard about after all.

The other chicks were now a little frantic because they were afraid of the new vegetables but Vinnie seemed to be enjoying them and WHAT the HECK should they do about that?  Finally, they all approached cautiously and started tasting vegetables.

chicken veg 2

What followed was like a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds.  Absolute chicken hysteria.  They pounced on the plate like they’d never seen food before and that this was likely the LAST time they’d get any.  Corn, peas and carrots were flying, everyone was whistling, clucking and peeping, and if one ran away with a choice piece of the snack, you’d better believe there were two or three hot on the trail.  The other plate sat largely untouched because they were SO obsessed with this plate, that they hadn’t even noticed there were two.  I moved the second plate so that it was in view of the run door because there were still a few outside that were defying the odds that they’d be eaten by a Sasquatch.

All of sudden, a beak and two beady eyes appeared at the doorway, followed by the others in the run.  They watched the vegetable carnage occurring in the coop and didn’t take much convincing that they’d better hustle their downy butts inside RIGHT NOW or they weren’t getting any of WHATEVER that scary stuff was.  The vegetable madness continued (I was proud of myself for thinking of the vegetables and was all puffed up like a toad) and the others leapt right into the fray.  Carrots seemed to be the prized item from the piles of vegetables and so there was quite a bit of arguing about who got them…even though there were TONS of them still on the plate, obviously the BEST one is being held in the beak of someone else who is running away like their feathers are on fire.

As the last one stepped its scaly toes into the run, Tom quickly closed the run door.

AHA!  I triumphantly ran over to close the door tightly and the chickens realized for a moment that they’d been had and then went back to the carrot argument.  They were completely obsessed with the plates of vegetables.

We’d gotten them in early, actually, so we watched them for a bit as they careened around the coop chasing each other to try to steal each other’s carrots.

I’m always happy and content when I put them to bed at night.  I could have sat in the coop watching them for hours, but Tom reminded me that when we’d left the house, Emma was in the shower and by this time she most probably had used half the water in Evansville.  We gathered up the empty vegetable container and as I was leaving the coop, I took one last look back to where they were squabbling at each other about carrots and sucking down green beans.

I’m buying those things by the PALLET.

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Learning.

When I embarked on this chicken journey in March, I was semi-clueless about what it takes to raise chicks into chickens.  I’d been around chickens at my cousin’s farm, but admittedly, they were all locked up in the hen-house and the most I saw of them was their peaked, pale faces pressed up against the screen door of the hen-house.  I really didn’t know anything much more than that so to say I was inexperienced was probably the understatement of the century.

Along the way, as the chicks grew, I studied and learned as much as I could about their care.  I read website after website, finally settling on a natural approach to attempt to raise the flock without the addition of chemicals or non-natural medications to their life.  It just feels right to me.  I think the major league sports world can be used as an example.  You can have a darn fine baseball player who is pumping themselves full of chemicals and steroids.  You can also have darn fine baseball players who earn their records by working, practicing and playing by just using the gifts they were given.  I think, most people would agree that they are going to respect that second player more when it comes to the end of the season.  Also, the huge problem of the development of resistant strains of viruses and bacteria in the world has become more and more of a concern for everyone.  So I decided not to throw unwarranted, unneeded chemicals and antibiotics into them…if I could at all help it.  I certainly won’t watch them suffer if veterinary help is needed, but I also appreciate that there is often a simpler, smarter way to do things and just because society or a lawyer or a doctor  says it’s the way to do things, it’s not necessarily the absolutely correct thing to do.  What I’m doing feels right to  me based on what I believe and what I’ve learned and the flock is doing beautifully.  So I’m proud of what I’ve learned and the steps I’ve taken to care  the for them.  I go a little over the top, but again, it’s what I’ve chosen to do and I am enjoying it and benefitting from their health.

square eggs and i

While weeding through the internet for information, I’ve had to be careful to not get sucked in by those who are presenting information in a flashy way, because often flash and constant giveaways are used to keep readers when content is poor (I blog…I know these things).  I’ve read everything though, from the good, the bad and the truly ugly and weighed it against what I believe to be correct based on my personal research and used what information is valuable to my philosophy about raising these animals.  I do a little research, I read different authors to look for commonalities and then I make a decision about what seems to be the current thought about what is the correct thing to do.  Certainly that’s more benefit than our predecessors had who were basically blundering around doing the best they could with the tools they had…which wasn’t modern chemicals and antibiotics.  I’m sure that those things may have their place in the mass production of poultry and eggs, but that’s not what I’m doing here.  I’m a small backyard flock owner who is concerned about protecting her flock via preventative measures. Hey…preventative medicine…I believe that’s all the rage in human medicine right now.  I can’t be totally off base.

I know that some will disagree, while others embrace this concept whole heartedly.  We all get to choose what we believe and what information that we follow in everything we do.  I’m finding a wealth of solid, valuable information on smaller websites and blogs that have been written by people, like me, who learned from the beginning, from trial and error and by studying everything they could so that they could do the right thing.  The movement toward living in a simple, natural way is much larger than I’d imagined.  Being educated as a medical type person, a few years ago, I would have waved off the entire natural movement.  Continued news of bacteria and viruses that are simply re-engineering themselves to be super organisms is unsettling to me.  Birds are prime carriers of some of these organisms.  Anything I throw at my flock, could potentially cause additional shift and mutation and I just don’t want any part of that.

Honestly, I don’t think there is ONE right way.  Much like when raising  your children,  you educate yourself as best you can,  you decide what you believe in and then give them the best care you can based on those beliefs.  Although I may, as a rookie, choose to do something that a veteran would not do…it’s my choice.  I’m the one who deals with the results.  If I do something extremely stupid (and I’m smarter than that…I’ve raised three beautiful children and if I can raise a kid, I can raise a chicken) then I have no one to blame but myself and then I adjust what I believe, or I simply just try again.  I  keep reading though, and there is a WEALTH of magazines, websites and blogs to present me with choices regarding what treatment and care to give to my birds.

There’s no rocket science to this.  They’re chickens. Even though they look confused on a good day, they basically have this whole gig figured out.   Despite our misguided notions, they’ve existed for tens of thousands of years without our help and most certainly without our intervention with chemicals and medications.  They’ll continue to exist, provided that we as humans, don’t try to derail what is most assuredly a process that nature and chickens have long ago figured out.

We all love our little flocks.  That goes without saying.  I think that most of us do everything we can to ensure their health, safety and well-being.  I’m going to continue to read and learn and observe and sift through the information so that I can know everything that I can to make sure they are happy as can be expected and receive the best care that I possibly can offer.  I don’t think there’s anyone out there, who isn’t interested likewise.

Stick around.  I’m sure something weird will happen along the way…and you know I’ll write about it.

flowers

 

Roosters.

You might remember from my previous rantings, that I have more roosters than I know what to do with.  Currently, I have 3.5 roosters…what?  Well. Vinnie doesn’t count for a whole rooster because…well, he’s more of the “flock mascot” than an official rooster, so I only count him as half a rooster.  He doesn’t really act like a rooster, but more like maybe a rooster in drag as a hen.  I don’t know.  He may need some counseling to figure the whole thing out.

Let’s just go over the rooster population again, shall we?  Well, we’re going to anyway.

cluck

Cluck Norris is a rusty colored fellow with a bright-colored coral pink comb.  Cluck was in our first batch of chicks and is an Easter Egger.  He’s generally a good guy.  I’ve never had any problems with him being overly aggressive or bossy.  He tends to keep to himself, keep an eye on the sky, and tries to keep the rest of the group under a modicum of control.  We were a bit worried about Cluck’s personality because he eyes us suspiciously when we come into the coop.  Although, the neighbors eye me suspiciously when I’m outside in those black and white leopard print pajama pants, so I can’t say that he’s entirely out of line.  We also are BENT on making sure these chickens are used to being picked and that they understand that we aren’t there to hurt them and that they must humor us from time to time by letting us pick them up and tell them what nice chickens they are.  Cluck thinks that’s the dumbest idea he’s ever heard.  He has, once in a while, started to get a bit of an attitude…that’s when we make sure that we corner his feathery butt and carry him around under our arm until he understands that maybe he’s not completely in charge.  One night, he even sat on Greg’s leg for a significant period of time without being restrained in concrete shoes.   He’s beginning to grow spurs, but he’s still gentle and submissive with us.  I’m sure his “I’M A ROOSTER!!!” hormones haven’t kicked in yet.  He also still peeps like a chick and I’ve talked to him several times and told him that he’ll never be taken seriously if he keeps peeping, but if he feels the need to CROW, please wait until after 10 am and then just crow quietly.  He just looks at me like he’s thinking “When is this bat going to put me down”.

borbs

Paul and Reuben were once named Pearl and Ruby.  They came from that notorious bin at the farm store that is marked “PULLETS” and of course…they aren’t pullets.  They’re also known as THE BORBs (Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers).  When we first got them, even as chicks, there was a lot of challenging each other and chest bumping.  It’s just gotten worse now that they’re bigger.  They are nasty little dudes.  In addition to challenging each other constantly, they also bully the other chickens in the pen, including poor Cluck.  Remember those two velociraptors in the first Jurassic Park movie that trapped the kids in the kitchen?  These guys remind me of those two raptors.  Their whole day revolves around being rotten.  They steal the choicest chickweed stems out of the beaks of the pullets and they mercilessly torment poor Vinnie by chasing him away from piles of weeds that I throw into the run.  Vinnie takes it all in stride, chortles a little bit, and then moves onto a BORB free pile of weeds (I make sure I throw out several different areas of weeds so the more submissive chickens get a shot at some).  While Cluck is concerned with watching the sky and sending out “DANGER CLUCKS”, the BORBS are obsessed with getting all the best food, running over other chickens in the run, unprovoked pecking and just being general all around jerks.  They are skittish and aren’t responding to our “You’re a Nice Chicken” boot camp either.

So, I have these 3.5 roosters that are now just over 2 months old.  That means, crowing could be just around the corner (unless Cluck just sticks with peeping and is made fun of at rooster school).  Crowing is the only thing that I’m completely worried about.  I should be worried about being spurred to death, but someone who is spurred to death generally doesn’t wake up the neighbors at ungodly times of the day.  Crowing does wake people up at ungodly hours of the day and then after a few days of that, those people show up on your door step with torches and pitchforks…and they aren’t there to help clean the coop.

Then there’s the problem that is eventually going to occur where one of the roosters decides it’s time to make an attempt at achieving the title of “SUPREME UNIVERSAL RULER”, which is going to cause problems because even Siri on my iPhone refers to me as “SUPREME UNIVERSAL RULER” and much like the Queen of England, I’m not quite ready to relinquish that role to a mere chicken…that was not a shot at Prince Charles…I swear.

I decided I would keep Cluck and of course, Vinnie…who, by the way, hasn’t shown any signs of being a rooster other than his red comb and wattles and slightly curved tail feathers.  The BORBS were going to have to go.  I know that many people just (gulp) eat the chickens that they don’t need for laying.  I was fully aware of that when I got the chicks.  I was on a chicken forum one day lamenting my rooster population when one very nice girl mentioned sending them to “freezer camp”.  Freezer camp?  Huh.  I thought about it for all of 2 seconds and knew I couldn’t do it.  No  matter how rotten they are, I can’t kill them.  They are absolutely  beautiful young birds…with absolutely crazy raging hormones.  They can’t help it.  They’re just wired up to be who they are and I’m wired up to be a soft, sappy, animal lover who can beat the hell out of a spider with a bunny slipper, but who also considers these feathered crazies as living beings who should have a good life…at least as good of a life as a chicken’s life can be.  They just can’t live at MY house.

I ran a couple of ads, one at work and one on Craigslist and had absolutely no one bite on the ads.  I was getting concerned because they’re getting even more aggressive to their run mates and I feel like the anxiety of the whole flock is noticeable.  I found a listing for a small animal swap that was coming up at a local farm store and I decided I’d haul their feathery tushes to that and hope that someone bought them…or that I could PAY someone to take them. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but it had to be done.

Then I got a text.  “Do you still have the roosters?”

CRAIGSLIST!!!!  I replied that I did and told her they were $5 dollars and the next text said that they were looking for 4H project roosters for their daughter and they would like to take them both and since they were a bit of a distance away, they’d be happy to meet us half-way if that was agreeable.

Agreeable???  I could hardly text back because I was so excited.  I might just give her the darn things and be done with it because I’m so grateful to get them to a new home!

So we set up to meet this Saturday.  We’re going to box up the BORBs and shuttle them to a small town about an hour from here in Illinois where we’re meeting the folks who are going to be their new caretakers.  I’m so excited.  The text told me to get off at this specific exit, drive past the hotel to the Shell station and they would be waiting in a black van.

Seems, legit…right?

Greg’s convinced they’ll be in a pot pie by Sunday.

Rotothingy.

Last night as I was rocketing home from work, I noticed an appliance dolly in the side yard as I pulled up to the house.  It’s never a good sign when an item meant to carry around appliances is out in the middle of the grass and it could only mean that Greg and Tom were up to something that I would probably tell them I hadn’t approved and to STOP IT.  I don’t recall signing any paperwork that mentioned appliance dollies.

As I was getting out of my SUV, Greg and Tom pulled into the driveway and loaded in the back of the truck…surrounded seraphim and cherubim…was the thing to till up the GARDEN.  I might have done a tiny dance right there in the driveway…which only adds to the neighbors’ case that I’m batty.

I went back to check the chickens to make sure that Vinny hadn’t taught them any other horrendous tricks.  Everything was good…everyone had their scaly toes on the ground where they should be.  So I grabbed my weed basket and headed for my favorite chickweed patch.  As I came around the back of the pool area, this is what I saw

greg 1

They were starting to till up the garden!!!

Although the fact that they had just started and Greg was already holding a finger gun to his brain was probably not a good sign…and look at that expression on Tom’s face…they’re clearly very excited about this garden project.

I fully expected the rotothingy (nope, not in the WordPress spell check) to be unloaded and parked near the garage and in a few days there’d be stuff hanging on it, like extension cords and jackets and eventually we’d forget we had it and the rental company would just charge us enough to buy the damn thing which is fine, because we had no idea where it was anyway and we’d end up buying tomatoes at the farm market.

But NO!  They were out there and the process was actually STARTING!  I skipped around and picked weeds for the Beak Faces, trying to look nonchalant, but still trying to keep an eye on the progress.  Finally, I gave up being stealthy and just walked over and watched.

I asked Tom why there was a dolly in the side yard and he replied that Greg’s initial idea was to carefully skin the sod off the ground and then transplant it into areas of the yard where there were dead spots of grass.  I looked over at the side yard and indeed, there was a small chunk of sod.  Apparently, Greg had tried his brilliant, money-saving idea and found that skinning sod off the yard is a TERRIBLE idea because it’s very DIFFICULT.  So you’ll notice that the idea seems to have been abandoned in the photos because Greg is just tilling the grass into the garden.  Also, it would have been two years from now by the time he’d gotten all that sod moved and replanted and then there would have been watering and “KEEP OFF THE GRASS” signs and remember Greg had already left the hose on for six hours, so the water bill is going to be ridiculous and by NOT moving the sod, we’re actually saving money, See how that works?

greg 3

Anyway, it was slow going with the rotothing, so I annoyed Greg and took a couple more photos and then took my basket back to the coop where the forlorn chickens were peeping sadly because they’d not gotten their chickweed yet and I’d been gone with the basket for what seemed like years to them.  I need to get them a clock…and maybe teach them to tell time…although they can’t even roost without drama, so I might hold off on that whole clock thing.

Tom and I had to take Emma to her school last night to test drive instruments for next year’s fifth grade music program. So, we left Greg to his own devices with the rotothing which is risky on a good day.  I don’t like going places at night after I’ve worked all day.  I think it’s because I’m old, because it never used to bother me.  We drove over to the school and there were two-zillion cars there.  Once inside they directed us to the gym where we had to fill out far too much paperwork for a music program and were given a “PARENT PACKET”, which is always terrifying because those typically include RULES which I’m bad at following.  The program stretched ON and ON and I griped MORE and MORE and then mothers started asking questions that were CLEARLY answered in the packet if they would just put down their phones and READ THEM.  The leader of the evening noted that she was not going to read the packet to us because we were perfectly capable of doing that ourselves and then she read the packet to us.  By this time, I was an axe-swinging-curse-mumbling maniac.  They had started the program LATE which always makes me mad and I hadn’t eaten all day and why can’t we just PICK an instrument and get out of there.  When they asked “are there any other questions?” and another mother raised her hand, I almost tackled her.  Tom kept giving me the “STOP IT” look.  Finally, they turned us loose to the “instrument petting zoo” and then we had to stand in line….which makes me even crazier.  Emma finally settled on playing the viola (YES!) which I told her was a good choice because orchestras are always in the air conditioning and flutes have to walk with the marching band in 900 degree southern Indiana heat.

Right about that time, Greg sent me a text image.  HE WAS DONE!  My spirits lifted a little!  We headed home and when we got there, Greg was cleaning things up and noted to me that I had just gotten my Mother’s Day present for the next five years.

garden

Then he asked where the Tylenol was…apparently running a rotothing is physically painful work when the ground is packed clay and hasn’t been turned over since the dawn of time.  I haven’t talked to him this morning.  Hopefully he’s not lying on the floor of his apartment in a full body muscle cramp.

So, the garden is finally tilled.  I guess they’re going to give it another till today to work it up a little bit more and then LOOK OUT!  I am going out there and I am going to PLANT like a fool!  Which is more accurate than you think, because I noticed this morning that the squirrels had trashed Greg’s carefully cultivated and planted morning glories that he was trying to train to climb the pergola by the pool…which also means, they’ll be digging up everything that I bury in the garden.

Which means this project is probably doomed because squirrels are jerks and I’ll end up buying tomatoes at the farm market this year anyway.

 

 

 

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Sneaky.

I always seem to get animals that have some sort of personality issue.  I was going to write “disorder”, but they aren’t really problems, they’re just….eccentricities.  Or, as my husband likes to call them “WEIRD”.

For example, I used have a show horse named Apollo that was the son of a world champion Arabian stallion.  Apollo was big and goofy, was afraid of mushrooms growing in the arena footing, and when we went to horse shows, he would get all freaky and need to have his tongue held.  No, no, you didn’t read that wrong.  He wanted me to hold his tongue.  He’d stand in his stall at the show with his tongue hanging out and he’d push his face against you until you held his tongue.  He’d then sigh deeply and close his eyes half-way in relief.  So there I’d be…standing next to the stall holding his tongue.  Son of a world champion…complete wuss.

We have a variety of dogs with odd behaviors too.  One insists on chewing on the strings of your workout pants and will basically drive you INSANE until you either change pants or give her what she wants.  This is why my pants that are supposed to have draw string waists, don’t have draw strings anymore.   Another not only insists on being carried to bed (thank goodness she’s a chihuahua) but then when you put her on the bed, she drags her back legs around like she’s paralyzed.  Not a thing wrong with her.  Just WEIRD.  I could go on, but you see where I’m going here.  We have our own little animal “group home”.

This morning (Monday…ruining my life since 1964), it was incredibly hard to get out of bed.  It’s only because I had to go to work which instantly saps me of any shred of motivation that I might have had left over from the weekend.  I walked around and drank Diet Pepsi and whined for a while and then figured that since there was no giant snowstorm predicted (that’s the only reason work would close and tell us to stay home) and the likelihood of one forming in ten minutes in 72 degree temperatures was remote, that I’d better get hopping if I wanted to make it to work by my usual 20 minutes late.

I scuffed out to the chicken coop, because I KNEW that they were in there standing and staring at the door to the run and wondering where the hole went that they normally went through to get outside.  I don’t think they completely comprehend the concept of a DOOR.  Yesterday while I was cleaning the coop, I locked them all outside and they stood there dumbfounded that the HOLE was gone and pretty soon they were all trying to stand on the ramp and pecking at the door itself as if that was some sort of chicken “OPEN SESAME” trick.

It was another gorgeous morning here, a few clouds, perfect temperatures, nice breeze.  I was sort of enjoying the short walk to the coop.  I’m sure the neighbors were enjoying it too because I was wearing black and white leopard print pajama shorts, purple Crocs and a Jimmy Buffett t-shirt.  I like to think I’m their morning comedic relief.  I sort of see it as a public service.

Anyway, the coop doors were all closed and locked, the run was empty and I always check for evidence of predators trying to get into the run or possible holes they may have made trying to get into said run and everything looked pretty good.  The ground surface of the run looks like the surface of the moon after being scoured by 12 chickens, but I told them they had to make the weeds last, so if they chose not to listen, not a thing I can do about that.  They were warned.

I opened the door to the coop and my jaw dropped.

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When we built the interior of the coop, we built a four-foot fence to separate my little work and sitting area from the area where the chickens hang out.  They’ve been out there for several weeks now and everything has been going very well…except for the preponderance of wasps or some sort of flying bad thing that seems to think the rafters of the coop would be a great place to set up shop for a nest.  I’m totally getting a Waspinator…look it up on Google…I had no idea…again someone is raking in tons of cash from an oddball invention, while I slave away in my office and losing every hint of color to my skin.  Anyway, nothing has been bothering the coop.  That wasn’t what I found when I swung open the door.

I unlocked the door, swung it open while singing “GOOD MORNING!” in my high-pitched chicken voice (the neighbors ADORE me) and there standing on the rail of the four-foot fence, looking EXTREMELY proud of himself was Vinnie…that darn Barred Rock.

Remember how the other chickens can’t even figure out how to get to the roosts and we went through “Roost School” (read the whole blog…it’s in there) one night?  Everybody kept falling off and acting like they were 100 feet in the air instead of just TWO feet?  Yeah.  I remember it.  That’s when I thought that perhaps I’d gotten a group of chicks that had been deprived of oxygen in the incubator at the hatchery.  You know, the hatchery worker just said “OOPS!  This group is going to be extra-stupid, but no one will know the difference because…well…chickens aren’t rocket scientists to begin with” (although it’s rumored).

Anyway, Vinnie strutted back and forth on the rail while I stood there with my mouth hanging open.  He fluffed his feathers, stretched one wing and foot at the same time, and whistled and chortled happily like he’d done something REALLY COOL.  He was more like “Aren’t you PROUD of me MOM???” instead of “UH-OH…busted”, which he most assuredly WAS.

All I said was “VINCENT MORTIMER” (that’s his full name).  He did a couple of gymnast-like maneuvers and whistled happily because he was SURE I’d give him a treat.  Then he fluffed his feathers again and sat down.  Like he was staying there.  Because he’s cool…and he obviously thought that I thought he was cool.

WRONG.  I snatched him off the rail and gave him a gentle scolding while he whistled and pecked at the “MARGARITAVILLE” on my t-shirt.  I placed him back in the coop with the herd of water buffalo…I mean, CHICKENS…who were preparing to stampede out into the run when I made the hole in the wall reappear by opening the door.  After the dust settled and they were all outside, I tried to figure out what he’d done to get up there, because FLYING is not his strong suit…neither is anything else, now that I think about it.

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Last night, when we were turning off their fan and tucking them in for the night, Vinnie had shown a little extra effort and had jumped up on the roost bar…just two feet…I wasn’t as impressed as he thought I should be apparently.  We stood and watched them for a while and noticed that Vinnie seemed to be listening to the sounds of the toads drifting in through the open window which is covered with screen.  He walked back and forth on the roost bar and right about as we were ready to go back to the house for the night…in fact, I was walking out of the coop…we heard a crash and looked at the window and there was Vinnie, smashed up against the screen, standing on the window sill looking triumphant.

TAHDAH!!

For PETE’S SAKE.  I went back into the chicken area, scooped him off the window sill and dropped him next to a pile of scratch.  He quickly seemed to forget about his circus career as a high-window-sill walker and happily whistled while he stole all the sunflower seeds from the pile.  It all seemed under control…probably just a fluke that he ended up on the window sill…so we locked up and went back to the house.  I can see now, what he did. He got on the roost…flew to the window…and then hopped to the top of the fence rail.  I don’t think it was an escape attempt…although he does have a blue print of the coop tattooed on his skin (reference: Prison Break”)…I think he just thought it was something entertaining to do.

vinnie proof

So, now we’re going to take that fencing all the way to the ceiling.  In the meantime, we’ve done some emergency “engineering” and have put up this classy, Vinnie-barricade, because I KNOW he’ll do it again and not only will he do it again, but those other chickens are total lemmings and next thing you know, I’ll go to open the coop in the morning and they’ll all greet me at the big doors instead of being OCD about where the hole in the wall that used to be the run door went.

Apparently, when they were deprived of oxygen at the hatchery, Vinnie must have gotten ahold of a tiny, beak shaped oxygen mask because this was not the action of a dumb chicken.  This actually showed a little thought…and absolutely NO forethought on the part of the stupid humans who thought none of them would ever make it to the top of that four foot wall.

That’s a little scary.  I’m completely denying his request for internet access and a cell phone…I don’t need any international events started by a chicken and I’ve clearly underestimated Vinnie’s abilities.  I’m working on his Yale application right now.

 

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This blog is part of  The Homestead Barn Hop #158

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Free.

I one of those people who spends the whole week thinking about ALLLLLL the things I’m going to get done over the weekend.  While sitting in my deprivation chamber (office) all week, I come up with all kinds of grand ideas about cleaning out cabinets, organizing things and building elaborate ponds with fountains and koi in the backyard in a spot where we currently can’t get grass to grow.  I will promise myself a jillion times that THIS WEEKEND is going to be THE weekend to be productive.  All week I detail my grand schemes to my husband who usually just answers “okay”.  It’s not because he’s really all that agreeable.  It’s because he knows me.

Saturday mornings typically go like this. I’m the first one awake…or…well, maybe “awake” is too generous of a word.  How about, I’m the first one out of bed…that’s a bit more accurate. Yesterday,  I got up, scuffed out to the chicken coop in my pajamas and initiated the chicken stampede…which just means I let them out of their coop.  Remember that scene from “The Lion King” where Simba’s father gets trampled by the water buffalo stampede?  It’s pretty much like that.  How 12 chickens can make their feet hit the ground that many times that they sound like 1200 chickens is completely beyond me.  I just shook my head and scuffed back to the house while they scoured the run for snacks that might have appeared overnight.

I had planned to be REALLY productive this weekend.  Laundry, cooking, a little cleaning, some baking, chicken coop decorating, oh the list was long and impressive.  The weather was PERFECT and Tom had even called an equipment rental place to rent a large tiller to do the garden!!  I just figured I’d get that puppy planted too.  That sounds reasonable, right?  (NO)

When I got back to the house, Tom was still in bed, so I surfed around the internet, visited a favorite chicken site and swooned over cute chick pictures, drank some coffee and oh look!  The Today Show is on!  So I reasoned that since no one else was awake and there was coffee and Lester Holt, that I should just sit on the sofa.

Greg came stumbling in from his apartment behind the house and collapsed in a chair like it was the longest walk he’d ever taken…it’s about 40 feet or so.  At some point, after me making 53 trips to the bed and announcing what time it was, like a brunette version of Big Ben, Tom finally came out of the bedroom and sleep walked down the stairs to walk his mother’s dog (he’s the bane of my existence…the dog…not Tom).  Tom’s mother lives in another part of the house, on the lower level.   I was still drinking coffee, so I was still moderately happy.  As long as I have a cup of coffee in front of me, I’m pretty much stationary and content.

Tom finally finished walking all the dogs…I haven’t told you about the dogs yet….oh, my….that’s another story for another day altogether. He made himself a cup of coffee, sat down on the love seat and promptly fell asleep…or resumed sleeping…because I don’t think he ever woke up while he was walking the herd of dogs that we own that he calls “The Idiots”.

By this time, I was finished with  my coffee and had decided that it was time to do things.  Greg was draped over the overstuffed chair playing some sort of online game where you basically attack other people and steal their stuff…sort of like an animated version of living in Detroit.

Tom was snoring.  Which always makes me mad.  So I told him what time it was again.

“I wasn’t sleeping”

“You are SNORING.  You’re either sleeping or you’ve got something REALLY BIG caught in your nose”

“I’m going to get up in just a minute”

Okay…take that conversation and just repeat it 94 times.  Because that’s what always happens.  Tom used to tour with rock bands when he was younger.  Motley Crue, Aerosmith…you know…all those little quiet bands.  He learned to sleep through mayhem on tour buses or while leaning against a running air compressor in the middle of a crowded concert venue.  The guy can sleep through a box of C4 going off next to his head, I swear.  I finally got him semi conscious and drinking some coffee annnnnnnnd then he fell asleep several times holding his coffee.  I ranted and carried on…Greg kept playing his game…Tom kept snoring.  I kept getting more annoying.  It was pretty much a typical Saturday.

FINALLY, Tom got up off the sofa (read as: I griped until he got up off the sofa) at about 11:00.  I’d already decided that there was no way we could possibly get ANYTHING done because the day was half over.  Then Tom said those magic words that had started this whole chicken journey.

“We need to go to Rural King today.”

Suddenly, he’d redeemed himself.  If we were going to Rural King, that means we were getting more chicken and garden stuff because honestly, there isn’t much else there that I’d walk across the street for in the store.  Greg, on the other hand, got very excited because, remember, Rural King has free popcorn…and he apparently doesn’t mind that it’s made by a woman with a mustache.

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So we all piled into the truck and Rural King isn’t that far away so we were there pretty quickly.  I hadn’t even bothered to look at what I was wearing, until we were walking into the store and that’s when I noticed I had on my t-shirt that proclaims “CRAZY BUT FUN” across the front.

Fifty years old, people.  I am wearing a “CRAZY BUT FUN” t-shirt, in public, at 50 years old.

Greg and I always enjoy the parking lot at Rural King because there is a wide variety of things to be sarcastic about…which is our main gig.  One day, at the Rural King on the other side of town (there are two…who needs two? ), we were in the parking lot where a very nice church group had set up a grill and were selling the following:  Grilled Boneless Chicken, Grilled Boneless Pork Chops, and at the bottom of the sign, and I’m not making this up, Grilled Boneless Hotdogs.   I’m also not kidding when I say that this provided us with comedy material for the next several weeks.

Greg bypassed the popcorn area when we first arrived because there were a few too many people in line that were wearing camouflage and looked a bit surly.  I made my usual beeline to the CHICK NIRVANA waiting in the back of the store.  Tom was pulling a loud, rickety red flat cart behind him because we needed shavings for the coop.  I’m sure you could hear this cart in SPACE.

The chick area was kind of a drag.  You can tell that the people who work at the store are OVER IT.  At the beginning of chick season, everything was sparkly and clean and the chicks were tiny and healthy.  Now the stock tanks of chicks smelled badly of chick poop, they were terribly over crowed and the chicks were older and already sprouting their wing feathers.  Sort of sad.  I wished I could save them all and finally sadly walked away.  Poor things.

We got what we needed, including a bag of “Mother Clucker” chicken treats…pretty much because I think the name is hysterical. Next time I’m buying “CLUCK YEAH!”.  I also, thanks to my chicken decor radar, found an adorable metal welcome sign with a chicken on the top of it, that you stick in the ground.  SCORE.  It has a bell on it too…because I always look for opportunities to provide the neighborhood with noise, apparently.  Greg walked up happily eating a bag of popcorn and we paid and were on our way.

We ran a few other errands and now the day was REALLY trashed in my opinion and all I would be able to get done was possibly bake a batch of cookies.  Once I decide that I can’t get anything done…I’m done.  In other words, don’t look for any spectacular movement because I’ll probably be drinking a soda and writing blog post or staring vacantly at Pinterest for ideas about things that I should actually be doing.

I finally decided that I would check the chickens who were out in their run bemoaning the lack of edible weeds, which they mowed down completely in about two days and which refuse to grow back.  Greg showed up a few minutes later as I was trying to placate the chickens with handfuls of clover and chickweed.  Greg said, “We should free range today!”

Hm.  I wasn’t too sure about that idea.  We’ve got foxes that live in the woods and hawk screams are frequent in the sky above our yard.  Shoot, I won’t even take my three-pound chihuahua outside because I’m afraid she’ll get sucked into some sort of hawk vortex that will instantly form in the sky the moment she sets a paw off the back step.  Greg, started trying to get Vinnie, the Barred Rock, into the coop so that he could snatch him up and take him out into the big yard…the big unprotected yard…with neighboring foxes…and swooping dangerousness.  I reminded him that I’m OLD and that he better be able to catch whoever he decided to bring out.  Pretty soon he emerged from the coop with Vinnie under his arm, who was whistling and chortling because obviously, something very exciting was about to happen.

Tom was out in the “garden” (orange staked square of untilled grass) making final calculations and probably doing long division and figuring some sort of trajectory that involved square roots and quadratic equations.  Greg and I headed that way with Vinnie, where Greg set him unceremoniously down on the ground in a patch of clover.

Vinnie got very tall and I think his neck was about a foot long.  Tallest, skinniest necked chicken, you’ve ever seen.  He tried to take in everything at once, made a weak attempt at flying and crashed into the ground, and finally settled down to explore the huge open yard.  I think he was a little confused about where all the other chickens were, but interest in clover and other green snacks pretty soon caused him to care LESS where the other chickens were.  He explored the grass, insinuated himself into a big pile of branches that were lying at the edge of the woods (this when we started to talk like the crocodile hunter guy describing the natural habitat of the “WILD BUSH CHICKEN”), and then Vinnie seemed to get bored with it all and waddled back up to the area near the run where the rest of the chickens were eyeing him with mild panic.  He pecked at our walkway which is made of composite stone and must have looked like scattered seeds to him and then he looked at us like “well, that was good…now what”.

 

I scooped him up and feeling much relieved, deposited him back in the coop on a roost.  The rest of the chickens rushed into the coop to get the full story from him.  At this point, Greg scooped up Oprah Wingfrey, one of the Black Sex-Link pullets and headed back for the open yard.  As head chicken supervisor, I followed, wondering why he always seemed to pick the NICE chickens to put out as hawk snacks.

Greg set Oprah down.  She looked around and realized this was NOT the chicken run and started to HONK.  It was a cross between a raspy peep and a poorly formed cluck.  To calm her down a little, we sat down on the ground in the grass to show her all of the wonders she could find in the clover.  There was some worm eating (by her…not us), some clover nibbling, some pecking at Greg’s cell phone, more clover nibbling and some picture-taking.  It was a perfect afternoon to sit in the dappled sunlight and play with a chicken.  Honestly, how many times have you heard those words in a sentence?

 

We finally got up and started walking back to the coop and run area with Oprah following like a puppy and grabbing beakfulls of particularly tasty weeds along the way.  I scooped her up, introduced her to our outside cat, Wally…who looked at me like “WHAT is THAT?”…and put her back in the coop where she too was greeted by the entire flock.  We watched them for a bit and returned to the house.  It was time to start dinner.

So, basically, I got nothing done yesterday.  I have to say though…BEST. SATURDAY. EVER.

 

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24.

Yesterday, I ended up taking the entire day off from work because I had an appointment and needed to take care of some other business.  So it really wasn’t that much of a day off.  It’s really just a matter of geography.  I was still working, but just not in my windowless office growing ever more translucent and pale from the lack of sunshine and Vitamin D.

As usual, I shlepped out to the coop first thing to check on the beak faces.  They were all standing at the door to the run when I unlocked the big doors to the coop, peeping sadly.  I’m sure chickens have no sense of time because they looked like they thought that they’d never see the outside of the coop again, which is something that I can totally relate to when I’m sitting in my office at 2 pm in the afternoon and I can’t leave for another two and half hours.

I explained that it was cold outside and that maybe they should stay in for the day and work on their clucking.  They were having NONE of that idea.  So I opened the door to the run and the mass chicken exodus began and ended in about 5.4 seconds, leaving me standing alone in the poof of dust they created as they went screaming out the door.

As I walked out of the coop and locked the door behind me, I turned my head to look at the run and there they all stood.

“Peep.    Peep.”

All of them were scratching around in the dirt but Vinnie and Oprah and they were standing at the fence peeping and looking at me with one eye.  Clearly, I had forgotten to throw the morning ration of scratch.  So, back in the coop, threw some scratch, there was a lot of excited peeping and by this time, my caffeine level was so low, I didn’t know if I could make it to the house.

In case you’re worried…I did make it the house…but BARELY.

So, I got all of the running around and “stuff” done in the morning, and when I got home I checked the chicken mafia and they were all doing fine.  OH…I left something out…while we were out running errands, seeing doctors and doing things of high importance (Greg and Tom were with me), it dawned on us that we needed to stop for dog biscuits otherwise there would be a mass uprising from the canine residents of the family.

They’re serious about their biscuits.

We think there’s crack in this particular brand of biscuit.

Anyway, Greg and I were nosing around in the live animal section of the pet food store we frequent (home of the moldy straw we bought).  The live animal section is your usual mix of fish, ferrets, chinchillas, surly rabbits, hamsters, mice, scaly things, and birds.  For some reason, for the first time, I noticed a large tank of crickets.

Crickets?  CRICKETS.

“GREG….Crickets for the CHICKKKKKKENS!!!!”

“You’ve got to get some!!”

I bought a double serving of crickets, which turns out to cost $2.00.   You can’t do ANYTHING fun for two dollars!

Unless you have chickens….and you buy $2.00 worth of crickets.

We finally headed back home…I balanced the clear, plastic bag of crickets on the console of Tom’s truck because they are CREEPY.  We decided to wait until chicken bedtime to have the cricket rodeo.  I carried the bag around with two fingers, looking for a place to put it and finally settled on the kitchen table, because everyone who knows us, knows the kitchen table is used for setting things on that you don’t know what to do with, but surely you’re going to use soon.

I kind of forgot about the crickets once they were out of my immediate view and thought I might do some baking.

Hell immediately froze solid.  There are trees down, electric went out and Satan keeps calling me asking me to knock it off because he had a soul barbecue planned for the evening and NO ONE was going to have any fun if the whole placed was iced over.

I rarely bake.  Greg has been so helpful and has crawled through a significant amount of chicken poop whenever he has to chase the little rascals back in the coop at night, so I thought I’d bake a new recipe for peanut butter cookies that I’d found online.

I’ve recently bought some cute, old-fashioned aprons to wear when I work in the garden and chicken coop to protect my clothes.  They’re just the half aprons that you tie at the waist and they go down to about the middle of my shins.  Adorable, vintage reproduction fabrics in tiny prints and lots of pockets.  I put one on and started happily to assemble ingredients for the cookies.  Then my daughter walked in…she’s 11…and if she keeps it up, she won’t see 12.

“WHAAAAAAAAT are you WEARING??????  Is that an APRON?”

“Yes. Why?”

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH”

“What’s wrong with wearing an apron?  I’m trying not to wipe my hands on my JEANS which I’m sure a chicken has sat on at one point or another today.”

“HAHAHAHAHAHAH”

“Emma!”

“Well you just aren’t the type of PERSON who wears an APRON”

“What type of person wears an apron then?”

“Well…like an average mom.”

“What am I then?????”

(Silence)

“EMMA?!”

“Better than average mom?”

Good answer.  I stomped around the kitchen putting the recipe together while Emma tried for about 30 seconds to redeem herself, shrugged her shoulders and went back to her room.

About that time, Greg and Tom arrived home from the store with supplies for dinner.

I glared at them as they came in with bags of groceries…and then Tom made a fatal comment…

“IS THAT AN APRON?”

I had a small, but vicious, high-speed-come-apart right there in the kitchen.  I’ll spare you the details but Tom was immediately sorry he’d said it and frankly, Greg looked a little terrified.   And I was BAKING.  So they knew if they didn’t want a spatula where spatulas should NOT be in their bodies and if they wanted any of the cookies, they’d better just go along with everything I was ranting about and back away slowly.

Not only was I baking…but I was making dinner…which is usually Tom’s job because I work all day…in an windowless office…have I mentioned how pale I am?  Tom and Greg sort of scuttled out of the kitchen for a little bit while I ranted.

The whole thing was compounded by my mixer not working correctly and when I turned it on to cream the butter (2 sticks), brown sugar and white sugar together, the mixer jumped into WARP SPEED and butter and sugar exploded out of the bowl and all over me and the floor, much to the delight of the herd of dogs we have.

Now I was really grouchy.

I finally finished battling the mixer while throwing in swear words that I made up from combining other foul words.  Dinner was simmering on the stove top.  I had the first batch of cookies in the oven and I took them out and they looked like this…(insert choirs of angels singing here)…

984068_10204092493976423_7678072562721785004_n SUCCESS!!!  These are easily the BEST peanut butter cookies I’ve ever made and surely the best I’ve ever tasted.  I should bake when I’m mad more often because apparently a pinch of ranting about aprons being ADORABLE, some intense swearing, and a little violence while loading the dishwasher makes a huge difference.

We had dinner and Greg and Tom feasted on cookies…Emma doesn’t like them because they aren’t Oreos.  We intend to have her committed to a psychiatric facility next week.

After dinner, I actually loaded the dishwasher instead of just stacking the dishes.   I received an email from Hell that it had closed indefinitely due to ice accumulation.

I watered the plants that I still haven’t thinned (oh SHUSH) and rearranged the mail stacked on the breakfast bar (because I’m an Olympic Mail Stacker) and we watched a little TV.  Greg had already locked the chickens in the coop earlier, because it had gotten quite chilly and they finally mustn’t have been able to feel their scaly toes and had gone in on their own.  I received an email from Satan that he was going to Ecuador until things warmed up at his place.

At about 8:30, Tom mentioned the crickets and the chickens in the same sentence.  CRICKETS!!!!  Greg had a friend over and we all shuffled out to the coop while I explained to the crickets that they were going to meet a bunch of new friends.  The chickens were milling about in the pine chip bedding looking for left over weeds from earlier in the evening.  I’ll point out that THEY did not laugh at my 19th century style apron and I might take them all to Olive Garden this week because they were so considerate of my feelings and willing to overlook my craziness.  I waved the bag in front of Vinny, who, as usual was sticking his face through the fencing because being first in line and cute has its benefits is what he’s already learned.

When he saw the crickets I thought he’d come through the fencing.  I should have made popcorn and sold tickets to this.

Greg got into the chicken area and released one cricket.  It barely hit the floor before Vinny slurped it up.  The next five crickets met the same fate.  Greg took them out of the bag one by one and Vinny greedily inhaled them without chewing…do chickens chew?  Huh.  Not sure…anyway…we wanted the others to get a bit of cricket action so Greg finally just unceremoniously dumped the rest of the bag on the floor.

Holy moly.  What followed was like a carnage scene from a cricket horror movie.  I’ve never seen these particular chickens or ANY chicken for that matter move so fast in my life.  THREE minutes…or possibly less…and the crickets were GONE.  Obviously, $2.00 worth of crickets is not nearly enough for a full evening of chicken entertainment.  They continued to frantically look for crickets while making adorable low clucking noises while they darted around and scratched in the bedding.  They got bored with that pretty quickly.  So we moved on to the next phase of our usual evening visit…socializing.  Although I’m sure they consider it “PANIC TIME”.

Greg is bound and determined that he’s going to be friends with Cluck Norris, our rooster…well…one of our roosters…you have to read the whole blog.  He tried to look nonchalant.  Cluck eyed him suspiciously from the other side of the coop.  Greg edged his way over and Cluck took off for the run door…which was locked…MISTAKE.

In a flash of movement, a cloud of dust, a flurry of feathers all accompanied by frantic clucking, Greg scooped Cluck into his arms.  Cluck just gave up.  Greg held him and we petted his Easter Egger beard, admired his feet and told him he should try to be more social and less of a grouch.  Cluck made little noises in his throat and probably was planning how he’d kill us all once his spurs grew in.

Then something interesting happened.  Greg flipped Cluck over on his back while still holding him.  Cluck looked a little surprised, but just laid there.  He was completely relaxed and submissive.  So we checked out his drumsticks and told him he might want to not skip “leg day” at the gym so often.   Then,  Greg carefully turned him back over and set him on the floor.  Cluck just walked away like nothing had happened.  SCORE: Humans 1, Cluck  0.

We watched them for a little while longer while they tried to impress us with roost acrobatics (they seem to like to push each other off of the roosts) and then finally went back to the house.  I was worn out.

Next time I’m buying ten bucks worth of crickets.