Category Archives: Poultry

The Great, Great Speckled Bird

The Great Speckled Bird: Respecting our Betters

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

A few years ago when I had a lot larger flock of chickens a pair of fox-critters killed over half of them in the space of two days.  The second day I heard another chicken-drama taking place, grabbed the nearest long-gun and ran out to investigate.

Confusion out there.  The hens were all huddled underneath cedars pointing at one another, hoping someone else would be selected by whatever had them scared.  But The Great Speckled Bird was out in the open, craning his neck, looking for the problem.  As I ran by, he joined me, then hopped out front.  He ran straight for a cedar tree about 30 yards from me.

A fox was under that cedar, saw the rooster approaching, probably saw me, as well, and turned to scurry away.  I quickly dispatched him a few yards into the escape.  At that point TGSB joined me as I examined the carcass, dancing, clucking excitedly.

I’d never heard of a rooster behaving hunting-dog, thought it was an anomaly.

But yesterday he strutted his stuff again, and he’s still got it.  Hens were acting about as before, one out in the open making a lot of fuss, though.  I looked out and saw TGSB running across the meadow for the henhouse.  I snagged the long-gun and headed out to find out what was happening.  Arrived about the same time as TGSB.

A glance inside the henhouse showed black feathers lying around inside.  Probably came from the Australorp raising the dickens initially.  But TGSB was clucking, rubbed my leg and I looked down.  He was dancing around the rear-end of a coon, hind legs and tail sticking out from under Battlestar Gallinica. 

I’m sure the coon didn’t realize any of it wasn’t hidden, and I’d never have seen it if TGSB hadn’t pointed it out.

Battlestar Gallinica, the US Space Program, and Fluid Reality

Having resolved the coon issue, I just paused, drew a deep breath and admired him for the ten-thousanth time.

Some of you have wondered why I keep an old, crippled, useless rooster around.  I’ll confess, TGSB is the reason I keep the hens around.

Old Jules

Cunning, Intelligence and Free Ranging Chickens

I don’t think this applies to caged chickens, but my experience with caged birds is limited.  All I can actually tell you is that free ranging chickens are some of the most cunning, cagy, calculating, communist creatures on the planet.

A free ranging hen can calculate to the second how long it takes my eyes to narrow, my jaw to clamp, pause listening, and spring out of my chair when I’m trying to do something on the comp and I hear a chicken on the porch.

A free ranging hen can judge almost to the inch how far and hard a person can throw a rock with any accuracy.  A free ranging hen can predict almost exactly how far and how fast a 70 year old man can run swinging a stick before he gives out.

A free ranging hen is able to predict within a few seconds how long and how loud it can cackle and raise hell just outside the window before it needs to start dodging rocks or running into the bushes.

A free ranging chicken recognizes a slingshot and knows the difference between a slingshot stretched as an empty threat, and a slingshot with just about a bellyfull of chicken games.

A free ranging chicken usually won’t eat ants unless it thinks a person would rather it didn’t, in which case it will.  The whole flock will stand on a red ant bed pecking, so long as the ants aren’t carrying off their feed to the ant bed.

A free ranging chicken will ignore hard cat food scattered around on the ground away from the porch, but it will sneak around trying to find some on the porch everytime it thinks a person’s in the middle of something needs concentration.

I subscribe to the philosophy the reason the chicken crossed the road was for practice.  Training dodging cars.  And motivated by some human being not wanting it to cross the road.  Try to get a chicken to cross the road and it’s going to stay home cackling under the window or crapping on the porch.

Old Jules

Dancing With Roosters

Good morning readers.  I’m obliged you made a swing by here.  I’m going to do my best to give you something to have read by the time you leave if the Coincidence Coordinators and the commie phone line will sit still for it.

I’ve about decided I’m going to have peace and harmony around here, and I don’t care who I have to kill to do it.  The roosters are driving me nuts with their sneaky non-harmonizing ways.

The Great Speckled Bird surprised me by surviving the winter, feeling better most ways than he has in a longish time.  But more crippled up than ever.  Not much use of the one leg anymore, one wing weak or useless.  So when he falls, the usual ritual is to lie on his back waving his legs around.  Struggling for a shift in reality to get into a position where the one foot can get a hold on something.

But even so, he’s out there ranging with the hens, doing what roosters are supposed to do as often as he can see his way clear to do it and he can find a willing hen.

But meanwhile I keep my bachelor roosters penned most of the day.  Mainly because they’re of a mind that if I’m not looking it’s okay to open up a can of whoopass on TGSB.  They can knock him down and peck the bejesus out of him in less time than it takes to tell it.

But I’ve digressed.  I was going to tell you about dancing with roosters, which is the only way a person can establish harmonious society with them.  A rooster isn’t long on understanding the ways of a human being, but he does understand who’s the cock of the walk.  And if he doesn’t understand, or he forgets, he’s forever trying to reassure himself about whether he’s boss, or someone else is.

A rooster has two main dances.  One he does for the hens, which I’ll describe some other time, though it’s important to know how to do it so’s to keep him and the hens on their toes.  But the one used to communicate “I’m a contender,” and “You want some of this?  Come get it!” is an absolute necessity.

The last couple of days when the bachelor roosters and TGSB were out concurrently I’ve had to do a lot of dancing around stiff-legged, acting like I was pecking the ground watching them out of the corner of my eye and flapping my arms threateningly.  Reminding them if they want to mess with TGSB they’ve got to go through the bull-goose-looney to get there.

I think where I slipped up was when the warm weather started I quit wearing my red stocking cap they considered a comb, and forgot I’m a rooster too.  Got thinking they could each be a contender.

Old Jules

The Great Speckled Bird: Respecting our Betters

The Liar: The Great Speckled Bird, Part 2

News from the Middle of Nowhere

October Quietude, Dead Bugs and Old Roosters

Sunday Morning Newsiness January 22, 2012

Sometimes you can’t help being a little embarrassed for Old Sol, showing off just because he has a captive audience.

But you have to admit, even the Chinese can’t do fireworks to compete.  Some things just can’t be pulled off with the combination of cheap labor and US politicians dancing for multi-national corporations and banks.

Old Sol’s got his own cheap labor, I’m guessing.

And if he does they’re not forever counting themselves up to calculate whether they could march four abreast into the sea without wearing thin on the patience of everyone else.

I’m in the doghouse with all the cats this morning, but especially with Hydrox.  The invadercat came in just at dark last night while I was feeding the can of cat food to the four belongers.  Sat there 20-30 feet off the porch just watching.

Irked the bejesus out of Hydrox, especially, because I was taking its picture and talking to it instead of running it the hell off.  This morning Hydrox is being standoffish and treating me with a disdain I rarely see in him.

But you’ve got to admit that looks like a pretty good cat, though I’m not going to let it stay around here.  I don’t need any more cats and it’s well enough groomed to argue it has a home somewhere, anyway.

Hydrox and the other can relax, once they’ve punished me a while for causing them a momentary doubt about feline population projections for 2012.

I’ve mentioned guineas a number of times here, but I suspect some of you folks might never have seen one.  They’re difficult to photograph because they’re constantly moving faster than you can realize until you try snapping a pic of them.

They look a bit like a cross between a turkey vulture and a pheasant.  Most biologists believe the species leaked over here from a parallel universe and they’ve never quite managed to get a grip on this reality.

The biologists might be correct, but my personal theory is that they escaped from a Larry Niven novel, one of the Tales of Known Space from the 1970s and 1980s.  Likely as not they were developed by the race that created the Bandersnatchi.

But what the hell do I know?

Old Jules

Sculpting Realistic ‘We’ From the Ideal Universe

Hydrox jumped off my lap and stalked over to the bed.

“Sometimes you human beings disgust me with your pretense.”

Him being second-in-command around here, I try to keep him up-to-date on my thinkings and directions.  Seems prudent to me because he’ll have to take over if I kick.  I’d just been asking him if he thought we could get along okay living in a travel trailer.

“Just what ‘we’ are we talking about here?  You and me?  You and all the cats?”  He glared at me.  “You, the cats and the chickens?”

I shrugged, wondering where he was going with this.  I felt a tirade in the making.  “Just you cats and me.  The chickens can’t be part of it.”

“Well, that’s a relief, anyway.  But I think you need to think through this second-in-command crap and all the what-if-you-ain’t-around side of it.”  He gestured with his nose toward the porch.  “The only ‘we’ worth talking about involves mutual resolve.  Creatures willing to allow the well-being of others within the ‘we’ to influence what they do.  No creature unconcerned for the well-being of the others, no creature the others don’t have a commitment to, can be part of a meaningful ‘we’.”

I thought about it a moment.  “That makes sense.  It’s why I was trying to keep you up-to-snuff on things.”

  His frustration was obvious.  “Yeah, and that’s where you’re proving how stupid you are.  For me,” He tweaked a claw under his chin, “the only ‘we’ around here is you and me.  And maybe Niaid, just a whisker.”

This rattled me, but he went on before I could say anything.  “When that coon on the porch ran at you and I jumped in, that’s ‘we’.  When you go to town and buy food for us, that’s ‘we’.  But do you see Tabby or Shiva the Cow Cat lifting a paw for me if I was starving?  Do you see either of them jumping in if a coon attacked me?”

He waited while I considered it.   “I suppose I don’t.”

Then they’re not a part of any ‘we’ I belong to.”

The more I pondered it the more it seemed to me he’d come upon an important thread in the fabric of reality I’d been overlooking.  Not just with cats and chickens, but with every piece of human intercourse around me most of my life. 

When a person goes down to City Hall, or the County Courthouse to perform some necessary business, for instance, and the clerk begins the ritual of obstruction, a ‘we’ is in the process of being defined.  The clerk is the spear-point for a huge ‘we’ of contradictory demands on the ‘we’ you occupy. 

“Do you have proof of residence?”

“There’s my driver’s license.”

That’s not enough.  I need a utility bill or tax return.”

“I didn’t bring that.”

“Then I can’t help you.”

The ‘we’ that clerk represents just defined a boundary excluding you from that ‘we’ and placing you inside another ‘we’ it considers an enemy.  And in a real world, that definition would be mutually recognized, rather than singularly by the human spear-point drawing the boundary.

Which is probably why representative democracy was doomed to eventual failure.  In a fantasy of wishful thinking a population created ‘we’ with a set of unrealistic boundaries.  When new ‘we’ entities developed around government centers those included in the ‘we’ tribes were those they associated with, lived near, shared a commonality with.  In Washington, D.C.  In Austin, Texas. 

And inevitably those outside that ‘we’ became an obstruction, a product, an enemy to their ‘we’.

“The only ‘we’ worth talking about involves mutual resolve.  Creatures willing to allow the well-being of others within the ‘we’ to influence what they do.  No creature unconcerned for the well-being of the others within the ‘we’, no creature the others don’t have a commitment to, can be part of a meaningful ‘we’.”

Sometimes it takes an outsider to the human ‘we’ constructions, a feline with a firm hold on reality, to recognize the obvious.

Old Jules

“Electing pet skunks to guard the henhouse might work for a while.  But the skunk-instincts and  chickens behind the walls they’re guarding metamorphoses the ‘we’ they live in.  The skunks become a we with a priority of digging under chicken-house walls and the we of being pet skunks fades until it no longer can call itself a we.”  Josephus Minimus


The Consequence of Premature Whatchallit

Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a visit.

The Toothless Soothsayer was going to be my post for today, but as I was working on it yesterday I accidently hit the ‘PUBLISH’ button and it became history.

It’s going to be a busy day here.  It’s been almost a month since I’ve been to town for provisions and I’ve got a list two-pages long of things I’ve runned out of already, or that I’m down to bare bones on.  The cats have been threatening to go on strike if I don’t get some other flavors of canned food, the chickens are fighting the cats for dry cat food, and the deer are complaining about what’s available to steal from the felines and chickens.

I thought I’d stocked up enough on the old kind of cheap lightbulbs, but the cheapo ones burn out a lot faster than a person might expect.  I’m hoping I can find a few more on the shelves to snag before lightbulb-Y2K happens. 

Most of you probably haven’t noticed what’s happened to the price of feed grains, but I expect you’ll be seeing it on the grocery shelves in the form of pricetags before long.  The price of chicken scratch is up about 25 percent from sometime a while back, and layer pellets up almost that. 

The flock is free ranging a lot further than they used to because I’ve cut down of how much I put out for them.  It’s a tightrope, making sure they have enough to supplement their forage, but keeping it down to a level so’s they don’t waste it, which they’ll do.  They’ve always been spoiled, profligate, ungrateful birds.  But now they’re being driven by necessity to range out a quarter-mile, which is the idea behind free-rangers but too good for them to allow them to appreciate it.

A while back my laser mouse with a cord went out, and digging around I found a cordless one I’d never been satisfied with from several years ago.  Out of hunger I put a couple of triple-A batteries in it and found it worked okay.  Couldn’t recall why I’d abandoned it.

Then I discovered it goes through batteries something ugly.  It’s a gas hog and I don’t think my need to have a cordless mouse is worth the price of keeping it on the road.  Probably it’s going to be me tied to the comp at the end of a fiber-optic cord again.

If you’re travelling out in the vicinity of Grants, New Mexico, and you see the cat at the top of the page, tell her Hydrox, Niaid and I said hello.  I doubt you’ll see her because she vanished in 2003 and we figured she’d joined Mehitabels #1 and #2 on permanent mouse patrol.

But you never know.

Old Jules

Suspending Habeus Corpus Here

This cold and moisture is taking a toll on The Great Speckled Bird:

The Great Speckled Bird: Respecting our Betters

The Liar: The Great Speckled Bird, Part 2

News from the Middle of Nowhere

October Quietude, Dead Bugs and Old Roosters

Every night someone, coons, deer, hogs, break into Fortress #1 where I keep the two younger roosters and the Communist Americauna, the Commie because it’s the only where she’ll sleep, roosters because daytimes they want to beat hell out of TGSB.

Every morning I go out and repair it before releasing the roosters into the pen and the Commie hen to free range.  And by mid-day the two roosters have usually found a way out, by which time TGSB is usually in the other henhouse anyway, stove up and just wanting to rest.

If they don’t find a way out, I usually let them out mid-afternoon because I don’t care for the idea of anything being penned up all time.  It allows them to run free for a few hours before bedtime. 

But they’re still a potential threat to TGSB, and they’re a nuisance to get back into the pen, will never go in until the Commie hen re-enters to roost.

Today I’m pulling a page from the immediate, current activities of the US Congress and Whitehouse.  As of today I’m going to fix that pen so they can’t get out.  Period.  Until I take it into my head they’ve been there long enough so’s I feel good.

Suspending Habeus  Corpus, I am.   Indefinite detention for anyone strikes my fancy.  Maybe if I decide I don’t like one of the cats I’ll put him/her in there, too.

Remember where you heard it first.

Old Jules

Blind Chickens, Talking Diamonds and Greedy Galaxies

I’m aware some of you readers keep chickens.  If you’re having problems with blindness among them you might be interested in joining where there’s an interesting discussion going on about the problem.  This was the beginning post for the thread:

Blind Rooster
Posted: Sat Dec 3, 2011 5:47 am (PST)
Just wondering if anyone has had any experience with this. Monday afternoon, I noticed two hens on the wrong side of the fence, so went to retrieve them, and find the rest of their little band. Found all but one rooster. Couldn’t find him in any of the “regular” places, but they do have lots of room to roam. Figured I’d check again before bedtime, as he’s usually the first one in. Didn’t show up. Put everyone else in, and went hunting, for feathers if nothing else:(. Well, I found him by the fence, but inside. Just sitting there. He let me pick him up without protest, but he’s always been laid-back. Still, I knew something was wrong. Put him in a different coop, with shelves instead of bar roosts. The next day he was down on the floor, walking around, but bumping into the screening for the duck section, and sitting in corners/nests. Realized his vision was at least partially gone. Blocked him in, and started antibiotics, since I had no idea what else to do. That night he was back up on the shelf, so he must have some vision, I guess. Wasn’t eating or drinking that I could see, just walked over everything. Brought him into the Hospital Unit (a carrier in my bathrooom :). He began to drink, and finally eat. He crows (oh, swell) but his cue seems to be noise rather than light. Put him outside yesterday (in a big crate) afternoon for some sun, but he just sat there. Some of the other chickens did come scratch around him, but he seemed oblivious.
His eyes look odd, not whiteish, but the center (behind the cornea and inside the iris, where it should be black) looks “solid”, if that makes any sense.

Any thoughts?

Meanwhile, you readers involved in clandestine, extra-marital relationships might be well-advised to remove your diamond jewelry before checking into some seedy motel. 

In the quantum world, diamonds can communicate with each other

December 2, 2011 By Joel N. Shurkin

The vibrational states of two spatially separated, millimeter-sized diamonds are entangled at room temperature by scattering a pair of strong pump pulses (green). The generated motional entanglement is verified by observing nonclassical correlations in the inelastically scattered light. Credit: Dr. Lee and colleagues, Image Copyright Science|AAAS

Elsewhere in the news, the 99% movement has suffered a disturbing setback with the discovery we live in a greedy galaxy, gobbling up smaller galaxies.

Barred Spiral Milky Way. Illustration Credit: R. Hurt (SSC), JPL-Caltech, NASA

The Milky Way galaxy continues to devour its small neighbouring dwarf galaxies and the evidence is spread out across the sky.

Government and Wall Street Cray computers working on the problem tentatively estimate the 99 percenters are actually 0.000000000000001 percenters galaxy-wide.  Political and financial-industry hired-guns are working three shifts to prepare television documentaries and PR campaigns to assist in correcting the error.

In a related story, multi-national corporations and Wall Street banks have hired a team of astrophysicists and astronomers to study black holes in an effort to develop more thorough strategies and techniques to solidify and expand their holdings.  Additionally, the illustration on the right suggests black holes might also provide improved methods in the use of pepper-spray.

“An optical image of the sky showing the location of the black hole, Cygnus X-1. (Right) An artist’s conception of the black hole system, showing the black hole drawing material towards it from a massive, blue companion star. This material forms a disk and jets that emit radiation. Credit: Optical: DSS; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

“Black holes are among the most amazing and bizarre predictions of Einstein’s theory of gravity. A black hole is thought to be point-like in dimension, but it is surrounded by an imaginary surface, or “edge,” of finite size (its “event horizon”) within which anything that ventures becomes lost forever to the rest of the universe.”

The overall optimism derived from these stories was something I wanted to share with you readers to lift whatever waning spirits you might experiencing his crisp, rainy morning.

Old Jules

Old Sol and Songs of Innocence and Experience – William Blake

Old Sol coughed up a pretty good hairball yesterday.  You can see a nice video of it here:  He’s evidently still got some internal issues to deal with, as well.

Astrophysicists speculate one of the planets might have sassed him, but renaissance theologians believe it’s something to do with counting tiny beings dancing on the head of a pin. 

The attempted partial Solar eclipse in Antarctica was evidently successful and went without incident.

Down here at the Center of the Universe it’s stacking up to be a pretty good day.  I’m thinking I might get the starter replaced on the 4-Runner and finally know whether that’s why it won’t crank. 

I’ve promised the chickens they’ll have some Purina Cat Food soaked in the juice off some Elgin Sausage I’m having for lunch.  The felines are settling for a can of Special Dinner.

All’s well here in the Center of the Universe.

Tipping my hat to the literati and music lovers among you readers I’m offering this today:

I was actually planning to use the Greg Brown version of this, but couldn’t find it.  The cats and chickens are unanimous in thinking the Brown version is better but they agreed this one will do while Brown’s off hiding from the law or whatever he’s doing these days:










Old Jules

The Bullying Homestead Part 2

I want to do a post on human bullying, but yesterday and today I’m leading into it with more important issues, namely the way the creatures I observe every day interact and the shifting bullying behavior among them. 

I’m only going to skid across the surface of it, but I don’t want to digress and find myself up to my neck in human bullying issues without first briefly having laid the groundwork among the kinds of creatures people probably learned bullying from.  In this case, cats and chickens.

This is Tabby, daughter to Shiva, the Cow Cat.  Tabby’s the youngest cat around here, always reckless, always strong-willed and independent, always one to avoid conflict.  She’s always been demanding of attention and affectionate. 

But for the past month she’s suddenly become the bull-goose bully around here, beating the hell out of the older cats including her mother, Shiva.

This is Shiva the Cow Cat.  Mother to Tabby, probably hatched around 2000, wandered into proximity with me around 2002 as a stray.  Jeanne carried her to Kansas with her where she lived a few years and had a litter including Tabby.  Around 2005, she and Tabby drifted back into the mix in my life.

Shiva’s never wanted much attention, only a daily stroke and scratch behind the ears to acknowledge I knew she was around.  But her main joy in life was taking walks with me in the woods, sometimes accompanied by Tabby.  When there were cows on the place Shiva took a lot of pleasure helping me chase them off, sometimes almost getting underfoot of them in the process. 

But she was weakened a couple of years ago from some illness almost killed her and she’s never completely recovered.  Sometimes she’d still like to take woods walks, but Tabby’s put a stop to it, and generally with the walks with cats, by attacking her and driving her back to the cabin.  That ends the strolls for both of them.

This is Niaid, littermate to Hydrox, but without a contract.  The old friend who loaned her to me shortly after she was weaned was murdered a few years ago, so she’s in an awkwardly poor-relations status.  She’s part of a 1997 or 1998 litter, but she’s still the hunter/gatherer of the place.  Even travels through the woods up to Gale’s house as nearly as we can figure, to catch rodents in his chicken pen.  She was never a bully, but she could always take care of herself.  Now Tabby’s beating hell out of her, too.

This is Hydrox, littermate to Niaid, 1997-1998 vintage.  He used to have aspirations for being Top Cat, he and I both figuring he’d take over the boss-man job around here if I die before him.  But he’s sort of lost interest in all that the past year, become satisfied to just lie around and let things happen.  Aside from a daily hissing-swatting-spitting match with Niaid he doesn’t get involved in the social climbing and networking.  He’s the only one Tabby’s not bullying yet. 

As I explained yesterday, the chickens bully all the cats, though Tabby’s become more prone to put it to the test, locking eyes and playing out the last scene to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with them.  But she still backs off when someone has to.

Meanwhile almost all the deer have become a lot more aggressive, challenging both cat and chicken in standoffs they always win.  A cat sleeping out by the garden’s liable to find itself nose-to-nose with a deer, then shoved, then chased back to the cabin.  Or a chicken, deliberately knocked ass-over-appetite by a deer with a sudden urge to scurry off.

This is almost certainly a lot more information than you think you need to know about the animals around here, as well as the social life.  But I think some of it applies to how humans interact in human environments and I might use some of what goes on among these creatures as a platform for discussing human bullying patterns.

Old Jules