Time Warp!

It’s been three years since the past diary post. Yee-gods! So much has happened since the ill-fate of Tuppence. We’ve lost hens and gained some.

We lost Aurora to a predator. We then lost our two Buff Orpingtons. Daisy died by illness, and Golda was killed by a predator. That left us again with Edie and her sister, the meek Henny, the last remaining two of our original flock. Once again, a predator struck, morally wounding the Hen Superior, Edie. Little Henny found herself alone.

That was the saddest day for our birds. Henny was always at the bottom of the pecking order, but, somehow, she managed to outlast them all. But it was apparent that it just wouldn’t do for her to be alone. By some chance, Margaret found a woman who had an Ameraucana hen who was ostracized by her flock to the point of having her eggs cannibalized. We decided to adopt her as a companion for Henny.

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I can’t quite recall how this white and pale yellow hen was introduced to Henny, but the transition period didn’t take long. By the way, we decided to name her Petunia, after this ridiculous stuffed-animal toy chicken I had as a child. Anyway, it all went with minimal trauma. All that Henny did was jump on Petunia’s back, as a straightforward gesture of domination–and that was it. No issues, no problems after that. In no time, the two bonded as sisters. The best part was that we noticed that Petunia was soon making this strange “trilling” sound. It wasn’t until much later that we learned that this is the sound that a chicken makes when feeling contented. Now how awesome is that!

So now we have only a two-bird flock around the house. But, boy, are they happy! Henny gets to be the new Hen Superior, and Petunia has a life free of abuse (as well as Henny!). They both are even laying eggs again. Not a lot–especially given Henny’s age–but we are getting at least a few each week.

Next post will be of our trip to Italy! I figure this blog is probably the easiest way to post the pictures for everyone to see of our stay in Rome, Assisi, and Florence. So much Art! So many churches! And the trains! And the wine!

Stay in touch!

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New Trellis & The Fate of Tuppence

20120830-190018.jpgGood news first.  I just finished this trellis for Margaret.  It’s a nice, simple design derived from lots of other trellis shapes that pretty much sucked.  Umm…  Why did I say that?

Well, just about all the rest looked clunky or stubby or lacking in some kind of combination of elegance and strength.  Additionally, the way the tip-ends of the lumber pieces were filigreed were just lacking in imagination.  45 or 90 degree cuts suggest nothing other than the artificial geometric convenience of mitre or pull saws.  Why go there?  To remedy that, I turned to a wonderful design tool that most folks these days either never encountered or simply forgot about.  We’re talking about that sweet device called the French Curve.

As Wikipedia states, it is a template for drawing “smooth curves of varying radii.”  Now how awesome is that?  You get this steady change of curvature that can hardly be accomplished free-hand or by any other way.  Moreover, that curve keeps changing as it goes along (duh!).  And it feel very organic in a very uncanny way.  And, fortunately for Margaret and myself, she had two of different sizes.  Perfect!  Just mark the start and stop points and use the template to connect them.  Just decide what part of the curve appeals to you the most and mark it, so you don’t forget where that part is.  For the small top pieces, I marked down 1/3 distance and went across 3 inches.  Imagine a capitol “L” that fell over to the right onto its face.  The top of the “L” is 1/3 down the edge of the board and the lower limb ends 3″ along the length.  I then used a piece of tape to mark my start point and aligned that with that 1/3 down starting point.  The tail end of the curve naturally lined up with that 3″ end-point.  Once that’s done, the jig saw comes out and a lot of cutting gets done.

The thing is, my original motivation for avoiding too many straight lines was that I felt this need for making something that both suggested something of Nature and something Super-Natural.  One such form is the Japanese Torii.  While Wikipedia says that “The function of a torii is to mark the entrance to a sacred space…”–and that is very accurate–it also can designate the resident of a spirit force and a sacred space.

While the shape I created is far from a strict torii, what I desired was the element of “wings.”  That is the essential shape that is understood in the torii.  This character:  鳥 means “bird” and is part of the word, “torii.”  So what I wanted was a trellis that suggested the wings of a bird while also paying homage to both my maternal heritage and the chickens that wander the backyard.  Why not, eh?

So, the French Curve.  To avoid hard lines and to give a sense of something in as constant flux, as in the movement of a bird’s wings, the paisley weirdness of the French curve came to mind.  Since Margaret has always enjoyed puttering with art and drawing, I tasked her with the job of tracing the ends of the 2 x 6 planks.  BTW, I chose 2 x 6 planks over the 2 x 4’s shown in nearly all other trellis plans, because I wanted greater long-term strength for that 8ft span between the uprights and because, proportionately, 2 x 4’s didn’t appear to possess the adequate potential for suggesting the wing-tip swoop that I desired after shaping the ends.

When it came to the top stringer pieces, it was obvious that they also needed the French Curve treatment, as well as additional length, to both echo the 2 x 6’s shape and sweep.  In the end, it appears that all went better than hoped for.  Margaret will be planting wisteria at the north end and grapes at the south end of the trellis.  If things go as planned, the wisteria will do its thing in the early half of the year, while the grapes will fill in in the latter part.  Fingers crossed!


That difficult rooster, Tuppence, met his end on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.  Margaret and I had planned on visiting some friends in Alsea, Oregon over those days, so it struck me as an imperative to deal with Tups.

Most of the hens looked like refugees from a battered women’s shelter.  Golda, Daisy, and Aurora were missing lots of saddle feathers.  Henny, the most traumatized one (having not grown with a rooster through her life), was missing feathers from the top of her head and was bleeding.  Only Edie was without damage, as she possessed the fierceness to establish herself as the real Alpha bird.  The situation needed to change.

Looking at the three-day weekend, it struck me that both the hens and the neighbors needed reprieve.  Yeah, Tuppence was a noisy boy.  No sense making folks suffer while the owners were out of town, right?  It was time for me to do the deed.

Having been familiar with “killing cones,” I spent some time looking for something convenient and inexpensive to do the job.  In the end, I bailed on the idea of a metal one and drove to Home Depot to get one of those medium-sized orange traffic cones.  All that was needed was to cut off the tip enough to allow a chicken’s head to stick out the skinny end.

And so it was.

Unless someone asks me about the particulars, I will leave it to say that it was not a smooth operation.  If you think your knife is sharp, chances are it isn’t enough.  If you think the sight of blood might be an issue for you–or that you think you can handle the sight of it–then you might consider that blood does have a distinctive smell.  I never made that one-to-one connection, as I associated it before only with fish.  Now, how about that?  I’m still puzzled that I don’t have the same memory from when I helped slaughter the swine I raised back when in high school.  Perhaps it’s that pigs can scream at a higher decibel that the Concorde Super Sonic Transport at takeoff.

Well, before I ever entertained the thought of having to kill one of my chickens, I did have it in mind that it would be wrong if one died by my hand without my eating it.  And, of course, nothing is ever as easy as first imagined.  Now, were talking about kitchen work and not just the matter of killing.  This is a rooster we’re talking about and not some young pullet fattened and raised to be a fryer.  Nope, this is probably the meat equivalent of some old hen well past her laying years–and then some–and then suitable only for stewing.

Thinking about stewing, I turned to an old classic book of French cooking, I Know How To Cook.  In there, I found a recipe for “Coq Au Vin.”  Cognac and Burgundy wine!  Nothing like booze to soften an ill-temperament like Tuppence’s.

How did it turn out?  Well, while I think the recipe created a incredible sauce, Tuppence got the upper hand on antagonizing me.  I think, at some point, I neglected or otherwise lost control of the temperature, and the bird meat turned tough.  Miserable!  But, fortunately, there was Margaret.  It was her admonishment that cooking “slow and low” is the only insurance to breaking down the collagen in tough meat towards a palatable meal.

After that night of failure, Margaret suggested we put the remaining pieces into a Dutch Oven, add carrots, sweet potatoes, wild rice, and chicken stock, and insert into a 300 degree oven for 2 or 3 more hours.

The end result?  Something bordering on the most amazing chicken dish I ever had in the whole of my life.  Salvation!


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Let’s Build a Worm Farm!

I’d like to send a shout-out for the Soulsby Farm blog, for their latest post on building a worm farm.  I think that anyone with chickens and/or a garden ought to get on this train.  The instructions posted at Soulsby are straightforward and easy to follow.  Between having worms and chickens, composting should now be a snap.  Link below:

Let’s Build a Worm Farm!.

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Chicken Retirement Homes

I really don’t want to say it–especially after having a lovely two nights there–but, only in Portland?


After seeing the abandoned chickens at the Bothell park, at the south end of the bridge that crosses the Sammamish Slough, the retirement farms can’t be all bad.

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Brief Observation

Margaret noted that, given Tuppence was pretty close to landing on the chopping block for his rough handling of the hens and that he’s at least temporarily leaving them alone, perhaps getting hit by a car saved his life. Perhaps so…

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More Misfortune and Lots of Guilt

A couple of days ago, my own tenacious nature showed its dark side.  To say the least, Tuppence ended up getting the stinky end of that stick.  But let me back up a bit and provide some foreground.

As the some might be aware, Tuppence proved himself to be a rooster.  Initially, this was not a big deal:  As he matured, the girls guided him to the understanding that he’s the lookout against predators while they get to eat first.  He even went so far in his learning as to bring food discoveries to the girls’ attention.  Very lovely.  But that’s about the extent of the loveliness.

About a month and a half ago, I posted news on Tuppence’s ill deeds and the need to do something about how he was thrashing the hens.  Amorousness is one thing, but rooster lust to the point of serious hen feather-loss is another.

And then there’s the matter with Henny.  The “Not Enough Will” post documented the level of fear she has had with Tuppence.  And I have been sick with a weird collection of ailments over the past couple of weeks:  Cold/flu symptoms despite being inoculated against the flu, and severe abdominal and back pains–together lasting over a month.  Even now I still don’t feel right, often can barely bend over enough to pick up something off the floor.  But enough about me.

So, to keep Henny happy and Tuppence at bay, I took to leaving him behind in the coop with a piece of plywood to block off the doorway to the hen house.  After two days in a row, it was apparent that Henny was loving the arrangement.  She was even hanging with the rest of the girls and moving as part of a flock again.  That was great, but, after a while, it started seeming a little unfair for Tups to not have access to forage.  So I gave him a day out and left Henny to her own devices inside the hen house.  Bad move.

Henny had quickly took to like being outside that she just had to come out again–despite seeing Tuppence out and about.  Mind you, I thought it important to preserve access for the other hens to come and go as they please–egg laying and all–that I left all the doors and flaps to the hen house open.  So, as soon as Henny jumped out, Tuppence ran full-tilt boogie for her, to get some “action.”  Margaret happened to be outside at the time.

So Henny runs past Margaret with Tuppence in hot pursuit.  On her second pass, Henny goes airborne.  For Margaret.  Who wasn’t prepared.  Arms come up as a shield to fend off the bird, and I’m shouting to not hit Henny and to let her land–contrary to instinct.  I think common parlance calls that a fiasco on everyone’s part.  Human and chicken included.  So back into the hen house goes Henny, and all doors get closed with access limited via the coop.

Half the day goes by, and I get to thinking that maybe Henny should have the rest of the day outside.  Of course, that entails Tuppence going back into the coop.  Margaret had already left for work, so I was on my own.  I poke around and find one of my wide-mouthed, knotless, catch-and-release trout nets.  I’m thinking that this ought to allow me to catch him without hurting him.  If my back had been feeling fine, I would could have just used my hands to grab him.  Since that wasn’t the case, I turned to the net.  Okay!  Can you see where this is going yet?

Now I have net in hand and following Tuppence around the backyard.  At first, the chickens hang behind the bushes, but I eventually manage to flush them out into the open corners of the yard.  That wasn’t so hard:  All I had to do was follow them closely to make them move along.  I’m getting very intent by that point.  Not good.

Down one side of the house is where we keep the garbage and recycling bins.  I almost catch Tuppence in the net there, but one of the Buff Orpingtons flew into it by accident.  He makes good his escape, while I’m letting the hen loose.  Not good, again.

My next chance comes when the chickens collect at another corner of the fence that’s on ground sloped upwards.  I’m thinking this is good, as I won’t have to bend down so far with my nagging back, nor so fast given the corner being backed by a high fence.

So I carefully ease my way closer.  I allow the hens their chance at slipping by.  Tuppence is by himself.  I am so intent.  I make my move.  I miss.  And he flies over the fence.

Holy Crap!

I hustle around the house to block him off from running out to the street.  I think I have him.  I move in.  And miss.  Off he goes!  Around the corner of the house to the front and gone.  I go to look, but he is way out of sight.  I can’t even guess where he might have gone.

I’m thinking he could be anywhere.  I text Margaret about the events.  I feel like I just crowned myself “Idiot of the Year.”  No, that’s “Fucking Idiot of the Year.”  And I don’t do “Idiot” very well.

Back when I was a kid starting off in high school, my father declared that all us kids had to choose an animal to raise on his little “dream” farm.  Mind you, I’m not trying to be snarky or bitter about that:  It’s strangely common that sailors dream of being farmers and farmers dream of being sailors.  And my father had served his country by devoting 32 years with the Navy.  He was also a child of The Great Depression.  Only farmers didn’t go hungry was what he recalled.  When he made this proposition to his children, he was still on his “Twilight Tour,” finishing off his last two years of duty.  What that meant was that he was still working, while us kids were taking care of “our” chosen critters.

I chose swine, my brother chose beef, and my sister chose dairy.  We all had no idea what we allowed ourselves into.  I actually thought I could profit enough from the pigs to buy a car.  Wow!  I can actually hear the laughter and tears coming from Iowa!  If I mention what kind of car, I think I would be handed the death sentence for committing pig farmer genocide in the Midwest.  Millions would have died from that kind of painful laughter coming from the sorrow of their labor.

In this story, things turned south because of the early hours one has to keep when caring for dairy cows.  Before the school bus arrives at 6:45 AM, the cow needs to be milked.  Yes, the bus ride took 45 minutes between home and school.  As it turned out, my sister managed to be excused from her critter responsibility.  Lucky her, as the dairy cow both demanded the most hours of devotion above the obligations called for by swine or beef cows.  Plus, she liked to kick at whom ever was milking her.  I really have no idea how Karen shirked this one, but it was my father who provided the rationalization.   He informing us boys that, if our grades were as good as our sister’s, then we wouldn’t have to take care of the farm animals.  Needless to say, that wasn’t the case and nor would it be so by the end of any year we attended high school.

Allen and I took turns milking the cow.  Her name was Endora–after the witch mother-in-law in that ’60’s comedy called, Bewitched.  We got her second-hand from a nearby farm that wanted to unload her.  They named her and with good reason.  What an unpleasant animal.  When not delivering a cloven hoof towards your head, while you are hunched over milking, she would swat you with her shit and piss-encrusted tail.  Her third weapon was chemical warfare.  Rumbling out from her multiple demon stomachs–as if issuing from the lower depths of Satan’s Hell–she would deliver foul and vile belches that would both color your vision with the green of nausea and deliver you to the brink of vomit.  Luckily, I never succumbed to spilling my shame.  Later in life, this served me well while moving tons of nine-day-old herring on a processing ship in Alaskan waters.

When you’re trying to get ready for school, that early in the morning, you don’t want to get tainted by a piss and shit encrusted cow tail.  After multiple inflictions, my brother and I figured we could take a small piece of rope and tie Endora’s tail off to one side, to keep her from swatting us.  It worked pretty well.  Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before we forgot to release her tail before freeing her head from the stanchion locking her neck and the rest of her body from moving about.

Sure enough, when she bolted out of the milking parlor, she left the tip of her tail behind.

Of course, we were horrified.  The thing is, I’m still trying to figure out to this day if mine and my brother’s emotions were more tied to what we did or the matter of our father’s likely reaction.  Either way, what we did–our stupid negligence and our angry resentment that pushed us to do what we did–was the work of two immature boys creatively working together.  And I sincerely hope that my horror over what we did was more connected to the realization that we committed a needless cruelty to a hapless critter that knew it needed milking but didn’t like those tasked to relieve her of that discomfort and their clumsy technique.  To this day, I still am unsure.  That was over thirty years ago.

When my father came home, he didn’t beat us.  All I remember was him clinching his fists in rage.  He could have atomized us with his fury.  Maybe he did.

After I texted Margaret, it occurred to me that needed to walk the block in the direction Tuppence ran.  Our house in only one door down from a 30 mph traffic artery.  I walk to that street and look north.  There is Tuppence hunkered down below the height of a dirt mound and in the notch where the neighbor’s house and a fence connect.  I ran back to get the net.

Perhaps it only comes via 20-20 hindsight how impulsiveness and tenacity chemically join to produce disaster.  Because that is the only explanation I have for why I didn’t consider the traffic behind me and that I needed to not let Tuppence slip past me in that direction.  I did it all wrong.  As I closed in on him, he recognized me and cut to my left–and ran into the street.  There were cars coming in.  The first one missed him, but the second made him stop and turn.  That was enough for the bumper to connect.  Light brown under-feathers exploded.  He spun and ran back limping past me.  I quickly got the net over him.  I then inverted him, cradling him on his back in the net.  He calmed down.

Lord, I felt bad:  For him and towards me for losing my self in chasing him down.

I eventually sized up the damage.  He seems to be taking it all with lots of stoicism.  Above his knee and below his hip, I think his bones are shattered.  To be honest, I have no real idea.  I ended up making a splint from coat hanger wire and tongue depressors cased in athletic tape.  I wrapped that with an ACE bandage and taped over that to secure the mess.  I thank Margaret for helping me with that–despite her deep anxiety over Tuppence’s suffering.  I’m praying that the splint has immobilized his leg enough to set and heal.  No telling, really.  Have to leave that to time.  I’ve read that two weeks is the norm for a bird’s metabolism.  We shall see.

And doesn’t it suck that Tuppence went from being a pest to being in need of help?  To say the least, Henny and the rest of the hens are faring a lot better for the loss of “attention” they aren’t getting from that rooster.  It’s kind of nice to see them all starting to recover their feathers and foraging without harassment.  Sure, I could have killed him, but I think it more appropriate to give him a dignified death prior to eating his stupid carcass.  Does that make sense?  Some people state that “It’s just a chicken!”  Is it ever that simple?  I know from experience that cows and chickens feel pain.  I’ve seen it, and I’ve inflicted it.  So does the question become:  What’s the right thing to do?”

All I can say is that, I don’t do “Idiot” very well, and I do feel like an idiot once again.

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Raccoon Solution Pt. 2 or Chemical Territorial Pissings

I can’t believe I forgot this simple solution (literally!) for keeping raccoons away.  As readers might recall, a whiles back, I had to cope with a raccoon problem.  What I forgot was that I did figure out a possible solution.  Somewhere I did read about someone who mixed together cayenne oil (pepper spray!) and ammonia to create an anti-raccoon boundary spray.  The writer somehow put 2 & 2 together to make a repellant.  Brilliant!  I had already tried that dehydrated cougar urine crystals, but the persistence of the raccoon calling cards made a mockery of that product.  As if those suburban banditos ever encountered a puma before?

Since I was a little concerned about our cats and a bit lazy about DIY pepper spray, I gave the ammonia spray a shot.  I guess that worked, as the incidents of raccoon poo came to a stop.  How quickly one forgets a cure when it works beyond expectation.

Well, a couple of days ago, I stumble across the spray bottle of ammonia.  Still had some juice in there!  So, after putting the birds away for the night, I walked the fence around the backyard and squirted a good dose along the tops, where I’ve seen raccoons running along it like a viaduct in past years.  All possible access points were covered.  Since that day, I have not seen anymore raccoon poop in the backyard.

It’s entirely possible that the raccoon(s) that left the bank deposits in my backyard might have been only passing through, were on their way to somewhere else, and not to return again.  That is entirely possible.  Then again if my backyard is a secret raccoon highway, then the chemical barricade seems to have worked.  If there are raccoons in the neighborhood–of which it would be foolish to assume otherwise–then they no longer appear to be lingering around enough to leave any poop.  From previous observation, when they are wandering through and leaving behind stools, then they usually will leave it all in one place on a recurring basis.  Since that has ceased to happen, I feel fairly confident that the ammonia spray works.  After all, ammonia is a noticeable component to urine.  And this must appear to the raccoons as one epic territorial pissing.  Huzzah!

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Sign ‘O the Times: Raccoon Poo. And a Heavy Metal Solution?

Sorry no pictures of the raccoon poo.  Like, as if there’s much redeemable about a picture of poo.  Right?  So, anyway, it would seem that raccoons are on the move again and are leaving behind poop in the backyard where our birds are foraging.  This was a major problem a few years ago, when a troop of raccoons made home in an adjacent neighbor’s yard, in a tall tree and in a storage shed.  The problem appeared to end when he addressed the mind-numbing destruction he found in his shed.  Prior to that, there was also a huge pile of dung at the base of a cedar tree next to our shared fence line.  It was all bad.

To keep ahead of the program, I canvas the yard before I let the chickens out and dispose of any poop that I find.  This is very important, as raccoon poop often harbors parasites that are harmful to humans and chickens alike.  Please don’t forget that when confronted with raccoon poop.  Parasitic nematode eggs can be found there and inhaled if feces are dry enough.  It is wise to bag and dispose in the garbage as you would your own dog’s poop. 

Presently, my biggest question is how to put an end to the raccoons that like using my backyard as a toilet.  As if I need another bother?  So this becomes the start of a strange story line for me.

Yesterday, I had to get some more chicken feed from the Seattle Urban Farm Co-op (they are a excellent resource if you live near the city and garden or raise poultry).  As I was walking up to the office, the attendant was coming out and talking to a woman with her very young daughter, who happened to be carrying a box of chicks.  The guy was telling the woman about another co-op member who had a raccoon problem.  Apparently, the man with the raccoon issue had built his own trap and ended up capturing in excess of twenty.  I can’t remember if I heard how the guy disposed of them, but I was told I could find a YouTube video.  So off to the Internet I went this morning.

Sadly, I have not been able to find anything fruitful showing  “Seattle, raccoon, trapping, trap” in a video.  Instead, what I did find was what turned out to be a “way off-topic” discussion thread on a musicians’ gear forum–on finding and dealing with raccoons in the attic.  No, not “Toys in The Attic.”  Raccoons in The Attic.  The scene is rather “Heavy Metal,” but the thread itself has some hilarious moments in the back-and-forth surrounding the dude’s pellet gun assault on his “upstairs neighbors.”  I won’t go into detail describing the whole thread.  I’ll just provide the link here: http://www.rig-talk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=45355 I should also warn that the whole thing degenerates at about where the third page starts.  What would you expect from a bunch of Metal-heads?

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Not Enough Will?

A month since the last post on Tuppence, and I still haven’t done much about that troublesome boy.  No grabs from the fly fishing and tying community.  I’m thinking of shoving Tuppence into a cat taxi and seeing if the local fly fishing tackle shop might adopt him.  Feh!  As if I’m going to get off my butt long enough to do anything about anything!  I feel like such a lame-o.

As it sits for the moment, Henny seems content to hang out in the hen house.  I’ve strategically placed a feeder and a waterer at opposite ends of the roost in front of the nests (the roost is basically a 2×4 board, so there’s just enough width for the dispensers we normally use in our chick brooder box), so Henny isn’t starving.  I also bring treats of spinach and cottage cheese for her, when I let the other birds out to forage in the morning.

Despite that seemingly cozy situation for Henny, the end of the day often turns a bit rough for her.  You see, Tuppence is usually the first one into the henhouse before the hens, and he ends up “attacking” Henny.  I had to put up quotes back there, because there are times I’m not sure if he’s trying to “get it on” or if he has come around to viewing her as an outsider to “his” flock.  It’s not uncommon for Henny to appear out of nowhere when I come out to close the doors to the chicken run and the hen house.  It appears Tuppence finds her alone and ends up terrorizing her out into the open.  I’ve seen her appear out from under a wheel barrow, poking her head up over the top of the compost bin, or come running out to me from inside of a nearby rhododendron and holly thicket.  She knows that I provide her both protection and a handy two-legged perch.

There was another time, when I managed to let all the hens out, and kept Tuppence in the area of the run, with the entrance to the hen house blocked.  When I let Henny out from the hen house, the instant she saw him, she freaked and flew up to land on my head.  Now that is some serious adrenaline for a hen to be able to fly that high.  Fortunately, I already planned on taking a shower after securing the birds for the night.

There was another time when all the birds were up in the roosts near sunset and I was checking for eggs.  Tuppence was in front of the right side nest box, so I then opened up the left side nest, to see if there were any eggs there.  Henny was there next to the door, with either Daisy or Golda next to her.  All of a sudden, Tuppence works his way over and pecks Henny hard on her butt!  She almost jumps out onto me.  Tups, like the ass he has become, sticks his beak into the next, so I, in a flash of near-rage, grab him around his neck and push him off the roost.  I ain’t proud to say to admit that, but the boy has been harassing Henny to the point of terror.  By the way, he wasn’t hurt in the least.

So what’s to do?  I presently have been coping with a particularly nasty cold–green phlegm and brutal coughing.  I don’t think I’m up for teaching myself how to butcher a rooster while feeling this crappy.  Maybe I’ll settle with modifying the hen house and installing roosts in the chicken run, so Henny can step outside for some sunlight and fresh air.  Then again, it would be cheaper and quicker to just kill Tuppence.  What a drag!

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Dark Days Have Arrived: The Classified Advertisement I Placed in WashingtonFlyFishing.com

I feel bad for feeling compelled to do this, but I had to place this classified ad.  I figured Tuppence would get at least a year or two of life as a pet before becoming someone’s dinner and a means to catch trout.  It’s just that Edie and, especially, Henny have had enough of Tuppence.  Plus, the other girls are looking kind of beat-up.  Damn!  I had high hopes for this rooster.  Read on…

I’ll bet you jokers have been waiting a long time to see a post like this. So here it is: I have a Rhode Island Red rooster who needs a new home. He arrived as an accidental when we purchased four new chickens to fill-out our original flock, having lost two hens the previous year. The reason “Tuppence” has to go is because he has become a bit “rough” on the girls. Understandable, given that he is a rooster; however, three of our five hens are looking a bit thrashed and minus feathers in certain spots. On top of that, our two older hens don’t like him.

These two sisters (“The Nuns”) never had to deal with roosters before, so the bolder one fights him off while the meek one lives in terror. That’s the literal nut of the problem. Henny spends her days hiding from him as best as she can–either in the roosts of the hen house or under brush where he can’t see her. If he’s after her, Henny will run to her sister for help. Today, she even flew up to my shoulder to escape.

My problem is that Margaret is really bothered by the scene, but is torn between wanting to kill him for dinner and the bloody reality of having to do the deed. Sure, I could do that myself, but the idea of knowing it’s happening is still an issue for her. See how this is winding up? What a bloody mess! And stressed-out hens don’t lay eggs: Production is down!

About Tuppence: He’s barely a year old, so he’s probably not quite “hackle ready” yet. So if you want him for his feathers, you’re going to have to wait at least another year or so. The older a rooster gets, harder his hackles become. Now you understand why capes and saddles cost so much? Still, I suspect that his current crop of feathers are probably good enough for many applications.

Catching him might be another matter all together. If you’ve never tried catching a chicken before, you might want to have someone video your attempt: Great for laughs if you suck. Impressive as all hell if you have the knack. Just be relaxed, don’t look directly at the bird, and move slow and steady towards it. At some point, it will get confused about going left or right, and you can make your move. It’s either that or a long-handled fish net with a large basket. A fine mesh net will minimize injury.

Overhead? It really doesn’t cost that much to keep a chicken in feed. You can either keep him in a large cage, or you let him forage for bugs and grass in your backyard (pooping all the while where ever he goes, though less of an issue than if you had a dog…) if you want to save money on feed.

Is he aggressive? No, not so far towards humans. He did “kick” me once, but the blow was so light to my leg, I thought one of my cats had run up against the back of my calf. Before and since then, nothing. Then again, I’ve kicked him a few times for freaking out Henny. Nothing hard. Just enough to get his attention.

So here’s a picture of Tuppence, taken a several months ago.

Wow! Look at that cape! I’ll bet you can tie a lot of flies with that bird! If you have taxidermy skills, you’ll be set up with quite the selection of feathers. If you wish to eat him, consider stewing. Low temperature over a long period of time will make the meat tender and tasty. Think about it. We’re talking about a two-fer!

I’m thinking of charging $15 to cover some of my own expenses for the past 10 months of raising him. How does that sound to you? Compared to buying a full cape and a saddle, this is cheap.

I live in Shoreline.


(Doesn’t this blow?)

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