Category Archives: Chickens

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

Guard Cats – In the Interest of Harmony

In the pic they’re patrolling in Placitas, New Mexico.  But it’s the same here.

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

There’s a rich-people kind of house up the hill, a quarter-mile south of me.  It sits on 90-odd acres of land, has a barn worthy of the name, and it’s been sitting vacant during all the years I’ve been here.  Vacant, but for sale.

But a couple of weeks ago a couple of strangers pulled up in front of the cabin on a four-wheeler with side-by-side seats.  It’s the first time I’ve ever had an unexpected visitor here except Gale or Gale and Kay.  Naturally I scrambled out to find out what they wanted.

Turned out he’d just bought the place and wanted to introduce himself to his nearest neighbor.  That done, he left saying they’d be moving in soon.  Friendly exchange.

Then yesterday I went up to Gale’s and he was there.  They’d just done their moving into their new home.  He and Gale were discussing things and I sat down for a quick cup of coffee before going on about my business.

I’m hoping you won’t shoot my dog.”

Is it a chicken killer?”  Thinking whatever danger there was to his dog probably came in the form of dead chickens.

“It’s never been around chickens.  It’s a mutt, a rescued dog, part lab, part herder, part pit-bull.  What killing it’s done was cats.  I had a lot of feral cats on the last place I lived.”  He paused.  “I know you have cats down there.”

That gave me pause for thought.  While I was thinking, he added, “If you see him, he’s gun shy.  Just fire into the air and he’ll run away.”

I’m a man who has a huge respect for how badly neighbor problems can intrude and make life a hell for both neighbors.  But I’m also aware that animals can cause neighbor problems lightning-fast.  Quicker than almost anything else.  For instance, there’s almost nothing that will piss a man off worse than killing his dog, no matter what the dog was doing at the time of demise.

“Tell you what.  I’ll make sure my cats don’t come up here killing your dog if you’ll make sure your dog doesn’t come down here killing my cats.”  Seemed a fair enough proposition to me.  I pretty much figure if my cats go up there attacking his dog, anything on his place, he’s welcome to shoot them, but it would be more fitting if he came down here and put a bullet between my eyes.

He expressed a concern that his dog might mistake me for a cat, saying that since I’m around them I’d have their scent on me, but I assured him that wasn’t a concern.  I’ve never met a dog I couldn’t stand off.  And I shouldn’t have any reason to be around this one.  During my years here I’ve only set foot on that place a couple of times.  Once because of cows, and once challenging some people who were up there loading things into a truck.  I just politely asked if they had permission, and noted the license number of the vehicle.

The man’s 74 years old, seems a nice guy.  Ex-pilot.  And if we need to talk we  probably will enjoy most things we might discuss.

I surely hope my cats don’t go up there attacking his dog, though, because I’d expect him to shoot them. 

Old Jules

 

CME Impact Sound and Fury

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

A nice little coronal mass ejection hit the earth magnetic field last night.  I might have heard it hit the roof, but it was probably just a big tree limb, or one of the sheet-metal roof panels blowing off.  The high wind during the night had more going on around here than I could keep track of and I decided to wait for daybreak to go out and make sense of it.

CME IMPACT: A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth’s magnetic field on March 7th at approximately 0400 UT. The impact was not a strong one, but it could stir up polar geomagnetic storms anyway

http://spaceweather.com/

I let my curiosity carry away my good sense just now and went out there with a flashlight.  Turns out it was nothing amiss.  Just a big tree limb.  No big chunks of shattered magnetism lying around messing up my waning-anyway-and-somewhat-neglected magnetic field experiments.  Most of that’s located out east of the cabin where there are no trees to fall on it, but one piece of it’s strung out across the meadow.  I was needing to guy up the post over there and hadn’t.  That might be on the ground.

But it’s time I was winding down on all that anyway because I’m figuring it’s part of what I won’t be following through.

Lots of noise from the Rooster Containment Center, though, when I went out.  They’re probably remembering and regretting what a nuisance they made of themselves last night when I was trying to get them and the Commie Americauna penned up before dark.

I’m thinking today might be a busy one.  That wind was doing a lot of bragging in the dark.  But you can’t tell about winds, that way.  They’ll stomp around, boast, make little things sound big and big things sound bigger, then you find it was all just a lot of bluster.

Maybe more later if there’s anything worth mentioning.

Old Jules

Shinola, etc.

I’ve been coming across the word disambiguation somewhat frequently on the web lately. It always brings a smile when I see it, gives me a momentary ambition to disambiguate something.

But the problem is that I don’t know anything much.  Even inside the 21st Century where uninformed opinion is respectable, almost universal, and carries the certainty and power of positive speaking, I just don’t know anything much.

Besides, the dialup connection, or WordPress is being a pure D Communist this morning.  It’s taking me forever to even load the site.  I’m rolling on the floor with joy everytime it tells me it can’t find the webpage.

So instead of disambiguating you readers on some uninformed opinion I have, I think I’ll give you a quick and dirty on something I know something about because I’ve discovered it around here and watched it happen.

I’ve told you about the Great Speckled Bird and how he’s in decline because of something he did in his youth to cripple him up something awful.  One side of him just doesn’t work the way it ought to, and it causes him a lot of pain and distress.  I’ve expected him almost every morning to be dead when I go out to turn them out for free ranging.

But  I’ve been making up orange-peel tincture and treating him with it for a longish while, and it always makes him feel better after I’ve done it.  Sometimes when he’s in particular pain he actually volunteers, gimps over and sits around near where I am, hinting.

I don’t have arthritis troubling me, but if I did, the Great Speckled Bird testifies it’s the way to the truth and the light, orange peel tincture.  He says it’s the difference between Chit and Shinola.

Costs almost nothing to make, too.  Just put your orange or grapefruit peels into a jar of vinegar instead of throwing them away.  In a while you’ll have a tincture.

Chit and Shinola disambiguated.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules:  State of Democracy?

El Palenque

El Palenque doesn’t think;
Knows and loves
His only job
And does it;
Perfection without compromise.

Reality
Where owls, hawks
And sly coyotes salivate
Reduced
To lowest common denominator
When the cackling hen
Rises from a fresh-laid egg.

Old Jules
Copyright 2003 NineLives Press

The Backyard Chickens Conspiracy

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

Yesterday I got an email from someone called himself Rob, AKA ‘Nifty Chicken’ of the Backyard Chickens newsletter telling me I need to re-register. 

“This is Rob, AKA “Nifty-Chicken” of www.BackYardChickens.com.   I noticed that you’re registered for our newsletter, but can’t find you in our community membership.  This quick note is to let you know of some important changes and to help you get re-registered so you can continue receiving the BYC Newsletters.”

Naturally, I’m deeply suspicious about this.  Someone’s wanting me to become a part of their ‘we’ over there without me having done anything to deserve it, other than subscribing to their newsletter for several years. 

Then I went over to the site instead of clicking the ‘register’ part of the email and the first thing I saw was:

Welcome To BYC!

Hi Peeps,   Welcome to the new & upgraded version of the BackYardChickens.com website!   There are a ton of exciting new features and areas of the site for you to explore.  To help get started we suggest you… » read more

Can you imagine that?  I go over there with more-or-less neutral intentions, other than a few suspicions about what manner of ‘we’ someone was demanding I include myself in, and the first crack out of the box he calls me a ‘Peep’?   The guy thinks people joining his ‘we’ are peeps.

Whatever the hell a peep is.   Strikes me this might be a group of ‘we’ folk who go around looking through windows trying to see naked women.  Nothing whatever to do with chickens.

Or he’s an agent provacateur for Homeland Security trying to identify all the people who’d be gratified to belong to a ‘we’ that considered itself peeps.

I’ve donealready got plenty of ‘we’ stuff in my life.  I ain’t including myself in any we bunch of peeping toms even if they’re peepers that like chickens.  Heck, maybe it’s chickens they’re sneaking around spying on.  Maybe they’re trying to find out where I am so they can come in here nights spying on the Great Speckled Bird and the hens do and talk about when I shut them up in the fortress nights.

Or more sinister yet, maybe they’re trying to see if I gather the eggs every day.  Or whether they’re doing okay on the milo feeding I’ve been doing lately to save money.   Or somebody over there read the post, Shame and a Confession About Inter-Species Sex and thinks because I have a perverted chicken I’d want to draw my circle of ‘we’ bigger and feel a part of some group of peepers. 

I think it might well be one of those government traps like the one they did in Colorado a few years ago, sending in agents to open up a taxidermy shop, putting out the word they’d buy endangered species carcasses under the table.  After a couple of years they’d bought and paid for hundreds of otherwise healthy endangered birds and animalcules and collected names dates and places of the folks killed them because there was suddenly a market.

Indicted half the community before it was over.

I ain’t joining no government plot to arrest my rooster.  As far as I know he can’t even get out nights to do any peeping.

Old Jules

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.

http://spaceweather.com/

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

Shame and a Confession About Inter-Species Sex

Good morning readers.  I’m obliged you came for a visit this morning.  In case you’re experiencing post-Christmas letdown this morning I’m going to indulge in a couple of guilt-ridden confessions to provide you a measuring stick so’s you’ll realize whatever troubles you have aren’t all that bad.

First I’m going to tell you something dawned on me about the Communist Americauna hen.  All my life I’ve known about clucks.  Everyone who’s ever been around chickens knows about them.  Every flock of any size has a cluck.

Farmers and town folks who’d lived on farms when I grew up had an expression, “Dumber than clucksh*t” as a means of describing me, frequently, and others of my ilk, and everyone knew the exact reference in the comparison.  A cluck is a chicken that’s crosswise with the world, with humanity, out-of-step with the flock. 

I raised these chickens around here except for the Great Speckled Bird, either from hatchery chicks, or from eggs hatched by brooding hens.  I’ve always taken a great deal of pride in the fact I don’t have any clucks.  My flock is comprised of all good chickens.

But over the past few weeks something sinister’s been creeping into my mind.  I’m being forced to acknowledge the Communist Americauna’s a cluck, right here in MY flock.  Always has been.

So if you think you have troubles, if you had a war with your relatives over Christmas, if you bankrupted yourself buying doodads, if your dad didn’t like the gloves or socks you gave him, forget it.  Forgive yourself.  At least you probably haven’t raised up a cluck and had it right there in your life all this time without knowing it.

But as if that weren’t bad enough:

Now the inter-species sex confession.  That silky rooster’s always been a source of amusement to me.  Back when I had silky hens he fathered the other bachelor rooster here and was always good to the hens when he could catch them.

But now the Communist Americauna’s moved in nights with the two bachelor roosters this one’s become odd-man-out.  His filial son got the Commie.  When I turn them out he’s spending his time lying constantly claiming he found something good but the Commie and other hens aren’t paying him any mind. 

The same people who used the word ‘cluck’ to describe me had another in their arsenal they used on me a little later, and it applies to this poor old rooster, too, same as it once did to me.  “Hornier than a three-peckered billy goat” crept into the language as I reached young-adulthood, and here it is again referring to this silky rooster.  I, at least, stuck to my own species and the opposite gender.

The guineas here came from the hatchery with a rooster chick for every four keets, the reason being guineas are braindead stupid and the only way they can learn to survive until they have a chance is having roosters to teach them the basic tricks like breathing, drinking water and eating.  All but two of those guineas got picked off by predators over time, but the two remaining still venerate the Great Speckled Bird and these two bachelors.  They listen to the rooster lies about what they’ve found and come running.  And when the roosters fight the guineas try to be peacemakers, interfering any way they can.

The other day I was outdoors and noticed the silky lying to the two guineas, which he’ll do, but then he started doing his rooster-dance and quicker than I can tell it spang mounted one of them.  And she cooperated.  An unsettling sight.

But then, somewhat later, Shiva the Cow Cat was down in the meadow digging one of her holes to relieve herself in when I saw the silky approach her, dance a couple of steps and he was on her so fast it took her a second to react.  She couldn’t believe what had happened, and neither could I.

Next thing I know he’ll be trying to mount my leg like some poodle dog.

So whatever problems you think you’ve got in your life this morning, console yourself.  It ain’t that bad, most likely.

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