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June 30, 2008


Finally got some rain yesterday - first I've seen in two weeks. Here on top of the hill, I've seen showers to the south and west. Occasionally, a dark cloud passed close enough to spit on me - nothing but a tease.

But today I do not have to draw water from the well and haul it in buckets to the garden. Today I can spend that time preparing for the arrival of more chickens! A nearby large chicken house has a dozen or more birds that escaped the trip to the slaughterhouse. I'll be picking them up this afternoon.


The garden is finally starting to put out. I've already picked corn, tomatoes and cucumbers. I've gathered a couple handfuls of blueberries and blackberries too.

You have no idea how much I've missed fresh fruit and vegetables! The budget doesn't really allow for such things. If I want a ripe tomato, I have to grow one.



Nature is exploding all over the place. The plants, insects, birds, animals, arachnids and reptiles have all gone into overdrive. Everything is procreating. Grasshoppers and Japanese beetles fuck in the corn. A red-tailed hawk gives her baby flying lessons overhead. Bunny rabbits hop around the old barn, oblivious to a cat eyeing them from the edge of the woods. Wasp nests proliferate beneath every horizontal surface. Wolf spiders drag their egg sacs through the tall grass. A tick latches onto the center of my back where I can't reach it.

This weekend, I caught another possum in the live trap. Up until now, I'd been letting the possums go since I had no real quarrel with them. But I'd been thinking that I'd shoot the next possum and leave it for bait that might attract larger predators like foxes and bobcats.

But when I took a closer look at this trapped possum, I saw that she had three little babies. Tiny, hairless, squirming babies. How the hell could I kill it now? I'm just too much of a softie to be able to kill the baby possums. So, I let her go. With the babies safely nestled in her pouch (remember: possums are marsupials), she scampered off into the woods.


 



Nature is even moving into the house. Spiders spin webs in dark corners. Tiny mice - no bigger than baby possums - boldly scurry through the kitchen. Haven't seen a trace of a mouse in the house for over six months and now they are a constant. Sometimes a grasshopper or cricket must be captured and released back into the wild. A dirty spoon carelessly left on the counter will attract a parade of ants in less than half an hour. Must keep the kitchen spotless.

 

And now, just for the hell of it, photos of little kittens blissed out on fresh eggs:

 

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Well, I'm off to collect my new chickens!

 

 

 

 

June 18, 2008

It's been hot & dry. Consistently sunny. Very little rain. The few times it's rained, it's hardly been enough to keep the dust down. Been bustin' my ass drawing 30 -40 gallons of water from the well every day and hauling it to the second garden next to Frankencoop.

I've been using the faucet & hose to water the other garden next to the house but that will change soon. My house is hooked up to the county water system and if I go over 2,000 gallons per month, I have to pay extra. Since there is no extra, I have a great incentive to keep my water usage to a minimum.

Yesterday, one of my neighbor-cousins gave me an old 55-gallon drum he no longer uses. I will be filling this with well water and using it on the garden by the house. Eventually I will also use it to capture what little rainwater comes my way.

 

Shouldn't be too long before the gardens start producing. And not a minute too soon. The cupboards are frightfully bare. I'm in no danger of starving or anything, it's just getting difficult to come up with new and exciting ways to prepare frybread.

I killed another rooster the other day so at least I have meat. He was a big one - an 11 pounder. By the time I'd butchered and cleaned him, I had 8 pounds of chicken (including bones). That'll make me plenty of curried chicken salad and sweet & sour over rice.

I still have too many roosters. Five roosters to fifteen hens. Not sure of the sex of the single baby chick yet. Two of the roosters are still too small and young to eat. One is ready to eat and will probably meet the hatchet in the next couple weeks. I plan on keeping two - my alpha male, Gimpy, and a giant white rooster I named Cornelius.

Cornelius probably weighs about 11 pounds and isn't even full grown yet. I'm not 100% sure about his future in Frankencoop. As long as he keeps to mating with the large white hens things will be okay. But things may not go so well if he becomes amorous with my older hens. They are small in comparison - perhaps three and a half pounds. Cornelius would probably squash the poor things. Not too mention that Gimpy would try to kick his ass.

So far, Cornelius accepts the fact that Gimpy is in charge and will run away when challenged. But Cornelius is probably about three times Gimpy's size. This could be trouble. But, for now, I'm willing to wait and see what happens.

 

And as if all this raging testosterone wasn't trouble enough, one of my older hens now thinks she's a rooster! She carries herself differently - head held higher, wings held lower. She's got a little more strut to her step. She's also crowing, raising non-existent hackle feathers and picking fights with Cornelius (who is absolutely terrified of her).

She's the same hen that laid the no-shell egg into the palm of my hand a couple weeks ago. I used to call her Biddie, but now I call her Buddy.

Her new persona is a bit camera shy, but I did manage to capture this video of her crowing. Nothing else much happens in this clip, but the crowing occurs around the 42-second mark. You can also see an appearance by Dr. Zaius - the rooster currently residing in my refrigerator. (Sorry about the herky-jerky  camera movement but there was a wasp flying around my head as I shot this. )

 

 

I had read that, in a flock without roosters, sometimes a hen will take on the role of rooster. But with a surplus of roosters, I was very surprised by this change.

I have since learned that if something goes wrong with one of a hen's ovaries, the remaining one will turn into a testes. On rare occasions, such a hen will actually take on the physical characteristics of a rooster - growing long tail feathers, large comb & wattle, spurs... It can happen that a hen will go through a complete sex change and become almost indistinguishable from a natural-born rooster (although unable to fertilize eggs). Only time will tell if this will happen to Buddy.

Needless to say, I could never kill her. If Buddy wants to be a rooster, then she can be a rooster.

 

 

 

June 5, 2008

I didn't have to hurry on Rob's coop after all. Poor little guy died a week ago last Thursday night.

Just before midnight, I woke to the sound of the open screen door banging on the porch rail. I got up to close it and laid back down. As soon as my head hit the pillow, Rob started making a commotion in his cage.

I got back up, turned the light on and saw Rob on his back, flailing about, covered in blood. I knew he was dying. Even though there had been no signs that day that anything was wrong, I knew the rooster was dying and all I could do was hope it was quick. Thankfully, it was over in a minute.

I don't know what killed him. Maybe his heart? The blood had all come from him mouth and nose. I buried him over the weekend in the pet semetary.

 

 

The other day I went down to the coop and let the chickens out to run around for awhile. As soon as I opened the door, they all ran outside except one - an older hen named Biddie A (not to be confused with Biddie B). She remained on a roost in the pen, looking a bit strained.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed an egg starting to emerge from her backside. I cupped my hand beneath the egg to keep it from dropping to the ground three feet below.

The egg plopped right into my palm - all warm and pliable. It had no shell, only the thin membrane. Then she hopped down from her roost and went outside with the rest of the flock.

Freaky!

 

Many thanks to Angela for the recent care package. Because of her, I've been spiking my lemonade with tequila and spiking my chicken salad with curry powder. There was also a pouch of my favorite brand of tobacco, a jar of super hot chili sauce and a pound of dark chocolate fudge frosting (which I'm eating directly from the can with a spoon!).

There were also a bunch of vanilla chai teabags. Combined with evaporated milk from the cupboard, a little freshly grated cinnamon and some ice cubes - it makes a fine iced chai for a sweltering afternoon. I wouldn't say it's the best iced chai I've ever had, but it's definitely the best (and only) I've had in over a year.

Ah...there were many other goodies from home too. This is why I call Angela the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firefoods. If only there was a way for her to stick a Moose's Tooth white pizza in there... or some salmon skin hand rolls from Arigato...

 

It's going to hot today. Not just hot, but muthafuckin' ouchie-mama hot! Supposed to be getting up around mid-to-high nineties.

 

And, last but not least, a new photo of yours truly looking rednecky as all hell:

DDon't worry - it's not poisonous.

 

 

 

 

Comments? Questions? Spare change? 

Send it to Jackie at RanchoSpenardo.com

 

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