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The Earth turned, the weather changed. We will have more hard storms and cold times, I'm sure, but spring has come here even if things haven't started growing yet. Have some pictures.


azillion photos. One is of a spider. )


Apr. 14th, 2010 07:45 pm
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Dover the rooster became the best chicken dinner I think I've ever had. He was delicious, nice and flavorful, a bit richer and darker than store bought meat, even Rocky (local semi-freerange chicken). I don't usually like dark meat, either.

So, if you want really delicious gourmet chicken, it is apparently best to raise it yourself. I may get some meat birds now; I was already thinking of it.

Thanks, little guy.
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Little rooster who crowed this morning
before I stroked you until you calmed
and slit your throat.
Plucked, dressed, iced
I will anoint you in oil and rosemary
this afternoon, and eat you
for a late lunch.
You will be part of me
in a very literal and non-poetic way.

And I will miss you.
Your pride and beauty, your clean feathers and shining eye.
For all the chickens I have eaten and never knew,
the memory of your morning call proclaims:
Love what you must kill;
kill only what you love.
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This morning
Three distinct crows
at 6:45.
you can live.
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It's less a cock-a-doodle than a two-note yelp.
He's young, still figuring it out.
None yesterday. Too many this morning, always at six.

He's a proud, tall thing the hatchery missed.
Scarred by the winter's raccoons,
one-winged, deep-voiced, lovely. Lucky so far.
I'm fond, and will enjoy him while I can.
Keep it brief, my friend,
and we might forego the barbeque.
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Last night I locked the shelties and Jez out of the house, and set the trap in the chicken yard (chickens cooped). I heard the shelties go into full bay once, at around 2 am; otherwise, everyone was silent.

This morning, I have an empty trap, live chickens, content dogs and no sign of a raccoon. I will continue setting the trap for a few nights, but I think my best course of action is to keep doing this for a few weeks, until he learns that my yard is full of wolves and it isn't worth it, and moves on.

So, result is a tentative positive.
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Mr. Raccoon has, it seems, realized that there is food to be had at my place and has returned the last two nights, as they will. The first, I saw him getting into the dog food can (now removed) and last night he was in the kennel once---and then tried to get the chickens again, although he has not succeeded. I have two new hens; a little black bantam something I named Requiem and a red frosted white I-have-no-idea-as-to-breed pullet who I'm calling Prelude. It turns out that Prelude is a screamer, and yells bloody murder when the coon approaches the coop. (The others go silent). Good girl!

So the coon got a few tailfeathers, but no chicken. Last night, I set a cat trap in hopes of bagging my transgressive procynid neighbor, but no luck. I was up to chase off the coon about six times, starting at about 1 in the morning and ending at about 5. Of course the dogs and cats had to be locked in the house, or I would just catch them with the trap, and Tiger was completely enraged about having his outdoor privileges revoked. He let me know it, too, with loud and increasingly irritated caterwauling as the night progressed. I'm telling you, it's a good thing there was no English-feline translator present. He would start in anew every time I got up to chase off the coon.

The upshot of this is that I didn't get much sleep last night. My trespasser is certainly a handsome devil, though. Nice soft fluffy guy, far from the biggest one I've ever seen, but not a youngster like the last coon to attack my flock. That one was tasty.

Tonight, Jez and the shelties are sleeping in the back yard (collie inside, though, because he's still not trustworthy with my landscaping if he gets bored). There exists the possibility of Jez going after the chickens, of course, but the small coop they are in is fairly secure, and I trust that Prelude the alert hen will sound off no matter who is trying to eat her. I'm setting the trap in the chicken yard where the dogs can't get it, and hopefully Tiger won't notice the bait (wet cat food). He won that argument.

We will see if I am actually awake enough to dance this evening; I am now taking bets. Our current score is coon 1, Jackel nothing. Rematch tonight.

Flock Loss

Oct. 12th, 2009 12:12 pm
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So, something---probably a raccoon---got into my coop last night and killed everyone but Arcata, the lovely little phoenix hen Allison gave me a couple months ago. I went out this morning, and there were just a couple of bodies, mostly eaten, and a lot of feathers.

This is an inevitable part of having poultry, and it will almost certainly happen eventually to everyone who does. It still sucks, and I'm very sad about it. I've gone back and forth over the years about how to deal with this emotionally, and it's hard not to question whether letting myself get attached to the damned chickens is really a good idea. Being emotionally distant from them is worse, though. So, I will continue to tame and name the poultry and just accept that from time to time, the wild requires a sacrifice. Still, it's been a really long time since wildlife took everything.

My mystery squawking the other night was probably the coon coming in and being chased off by the dogs, who were all sleeping in my bedroom last night, with the door closed. So, tonight I will lock Arcata in the small coop and leave the door to the chickenyard open, and Jez loose. That should either chase them off or deliver me grilled raccoon steak for the following night, and the next day I think I can borrow a cat trap. If I catch any coons, I will drop them off in remote woods many miles away from me.

Meanwhile, life goes on. I just picked up some adorable week-old chicks, and a young pullet to keep Arcata company so she isn't alone for a month. Still sucks. Marilyn, Wild Blue, Random, Oddment, Whatnot, Felix, Vivienne and Josephine, I am sorry. I'll miss you.

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Creatures, stop waking me up.

A couple nights ago, Trucker woke me up being very purr-full and affectionate, which I thought was quite sweet, welcome and charming until I looked up at the clock and saw that it was 1 am. Guh, cat, you are very loving, but can we please work on the timing?

This morning it was the sounds of chicken murder at 4 am. I hauled my carcass out from beneath portions of a blearily protesting collie, into a robe and out the door as quickly as I could, but I still didn't get out quickly enough to see what was banging on their metal feed can and making them scream. I've had pretty good luck with the fowl lately; things got bad in 2007, but we haven't suffered any predation since. (A yard full of wolves helps, unless of course it's the wolves getting the chickens). So I'm about due, right? :P It's part of having poultry but it still sucks.

So I get out there, accidentally step in the remains of yesterday's fridge cleaning efforts (ewwwwwwwwwwwww) and look around to see what's wrong. The three pullets are comfortably roosted, the dux are milling around, Marilyn and Arcata are in the nesting boxes, but I can't see Wild Blue anywhere. No sign of predation, nothing wrong. I looked more closely at Marilyn, a lovely Americauna hen whose plumage fires many shades of black, red and gold and who, due to some unknown accident last winter, walks with a limp. In the dim light, she appeared to have blood on her beak and hackles. It was like one of those moments in a horror movie, if it's really well done, when you know something really bad is happening but you just can't see it yet, and the tension comes knowing that the reveal can't be far away. Still, I didn't see major wounds, and Marilyn seemed comfortably settled. No reason to move her now.

I sighed, burrowed my way back under a stray collie paw or two and went back to sleep. In the morning, I go out with no little anxiety to see what carnage the dawn unleashed upon my flock.

Everything was fine. Well, other than the incriminating evidence that I really need to clean my fridge more than once a year. Wild Blue was still missing, but Marilyn had not a feather out of place or a speck of blood on her. I was in the process of feeding, and mourning my little blue hen even as I wondered why the 'coon or whatever had gotten the one bird in the flock who is the very hardest of the lot to catch (Felix the metheuselah duck, for instance, is completely blind and could probably be captured by a four week old kitten who was really trying) when there she was, alive and unscathed.

So there was no chicken murder after all. Everything's great. But I'm still disquieted, remembering the look of the flock in the moonlight, the mysterious crashing, the avian scream that woke me. Marilyn's cool, steady gaze, the blood on her hackles and her sharp beak that I may or may not have seen.

More goes on in the world than we guess at, even in something so silly and simple as a flock of chickens. We miss far more than we notice, I think, no matter how we try to pay attention. If there was a predator, someone would probably have died, or at least had a piece taken off. So what were they doing last night, my chickens of the darkness? Perhaps I should thank them for the wake-up call.
summer_jackel: (Default)
But I do it anyway. Meet Whatnot, Random and Oddment.


Blessed Solstice, all! (yeah, I know I'm a day late. I was busy having fun).

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!

it gets cuter from here on out. )


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July 2017



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