RIP Catniss…

Catniss passed away today, leaving a soul-sister, Buffy the Buff Orpington.

Buff-and-Cat 

Cause of death is unknown, the family speculates that her heart couldn’t take the stress of her first molt.  She always had a weak constitution and was prone to inexplicable seizures.

Catniss-2

Catniss the Chicken- A freakier chicken there never was…

March 2012-May 20, 2013

Rest in Peace

The Eternal Optimism of Spring

Azalea-bud-header

Spring! Despite the fact that I live in a climate that really has only two discernible seasons, I love Spring! My love overcomes the adversity of the blizzard of pollen that coats every surface including your teeth if you open your mouth at the wrong time. How can you not love the blooms of spring?

Iris-front-pollen

Spring is that golden time in the garden where nothing has really gone wrong yet. You labor, and your labor is rewarded by restored order and new life.

Flowering-bush-front

I am committed-I repeat-committed (!) that this will not be a repeat of last year (or what I like to call “The Year of the Fungus”).

Kentucky-Pole-Bean

We shall overcome! We shall overcome the beetles, slugs, black spot, powdery mildew, blight, fire ants, birds, squirrels, moles, and dogs! We shall overcome and we won’t spend a thousand dollars doing it. We will be thrifty and the garden will be lush and organic.

potatoes-flower

And after we accomplish these things, we’ll actually go outside and enjoy it …instead of retreating to the realm of air conditioning and tv.

Ahhh, the eternal optimism of Spring… ;)

Stuff and Nonsense…

Jen-and-MinThese two make me want to start singing “Sisters” from White Christmas….I’m going to do it, “Sisters! Sisters!  There were never such devoted sisters….”  Minerva on the left is definitely Rosemary Clooney.  I love the was she’s staring down her schnoz at Vera Allen, I mean Jennie Weasley.

Buff-and-CatThese two just want some more grass clippings.  You’ll note Buffy has saved a tiny piece for later.

Ash-climbing-TreeA tree blew down during a storm last week.  It was dead and we were actually pricing having it taken down when thunder storms eliminated the issue for us.  Blessedly, the storm was traveling in a rare southerly direction, thereby preserving the fence you see behind it.

Kids-on-TreeThat’s not the only miracle either-you’ll note that not one, but two of my children are playing outside.  Playing! Outside!

Ashton-Garterstitch-scarfI tried to coax this one to model my Keyhole scarf-he was not pleased.  Looking back with the clarity of hindsight, I’ve had better ideas.

Flowering-weedYou see that?  That’s a weed.  The picture is pretty, but the weed is not.  It has stickers in addition to the little flowers and it is vining through my dwarf azaleas in a way that is not ok.  Weeds, we have lots of them…

Budding-Live-OakWe also have lots of these.  At the moment this picture was taken, this sweet little Live Oak Seed pod was still attached.  I don’t think any of them are attached anymore and they’re covering every square inch of the place with their polleny presence.  I don’t think “polleny” is a word, but I’m going to pretend it is.

And just when you think you can’t stand the pollen any more-not even one more minute…

Purple-Iris-BudYou remember…that pollen, it has a purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Practice Run

Egg-in-HedgeHave you been practicing?  We have…Our Sunday forecast calls for thunderstorms, and we have all these beautiful eggs, so we called it a practice run…We choose to be optimistic.

Egg-on-MailboxSometimes the most obvious are the hardest to find…

Egg-in-Crepe-MyrtleUsually we dye our eggs fantastically bright colors-electric jewel tones. This year, we’re more subtle…a little more covert…

Rock-EggDo you see it?

Closeup-Rock-EggA bit of a chameleon…

Egg-in-Flag-BracketHmmm….good one.  It took a minute or two…

Egg-In-TreeDelightful…don’t you think?   Happy Easter everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

Molting…Not Revolting

Molting-Girl-009I’ve been having to travel quite a bit recently for work, and my sweet, wonderful husband has been taking care of the girls full-time.  So one phone call, he says, I’m worried about one of your Barred Rocks.  I don’t know if the other chickens are pecking her or if she’s sick, but she looks terrible.

Luckily, I had noticed that one of the girls was shedding a lot of feathers the weekend before. So I felt relatively confident when I told him not to worry about it. I was pretty sure one of them had started her molt. As long as she wasn’t acting sick or bleeding, “Don’t sweat it, sugar lips.”  Sure enough, I arrived home to this sweet little victim of nature.

Molting-Girl-018

Luna.

Luna lovegood

Totally makes sense.  Jenny, Hermione and Minerva are full-feathered, laying and content.  Luna goes into a winter molt.  Poor dear-she’s weathering it well, though.

Always antisocial, now she seems a little more so.  She’s stopped laying-who can blame her.  This process looks exhausting.

Molting-Girl-020She was, not surprisingly, a little camera-shy.  Especially of her caboose.  Again, completely understandable when one has an uncharacteristic bald spot. She really is a hot mess.

I can’t help but wonder when the others will succumb to this annual ritual of renewal.  They’re all the same age (almost a year old) so I would think, very soon.  They’ve been such rock star chickens!  Their egg production didn’t even really slow across the shortest days of winter.  Superstars!  And although they are a little freaky and stinky, they’re always interesting and sweet.  Molting, not revolting…

 

 

 

 

 

Poultry Parade

My chickens are divas.  Not only do they lay extraordinarily tasty eggs, but they are tremendously amusing to me.  They’re greedy, messy, ridiculous and sweet.  And although it’s been quite a while since I posted about them, they take up quite a bit of my time and energy, and deserve a little press.

I have six chickens in two domiciles.  Four (The Hogwart’s Four) live in a split-level ranch kind of chicken coop with an extension.  The other two live in a chicken tractor-or what I like to call the chicken equivalent of a classic Air Stream travel trailer. Let’s do a roll call with their updated head shots…First, there’s Hermione

Hermione is a Barred Rock and the undisputed Queen of the coop.  She’s a real diva’s diva.  She coexists with the other ladies in peace and harmony, right up until they cross her.

Hermione’s sister, Luna, however, is more reserved.  She’s the first to move out of the spotlight and the last to investigate when there’s activity in the coop.  Luna is cool, quiet and distant.

Then there’s Minerva.  A Black Sex Link, this lady doesn’t suffer fools.  She just doesn’t really have time for nonsense.  I might even call her haughty. Just look at the disdain in her expression…

And then there’s Jenny.  Jenny’s the chicken equivalent to Paris Hilton.  She’s a party girl-always the first to the door when there’s company in the coop.  She seeks out the camera like it’s the paparazzi at an after-party. Diva-licious!

 OK, moving on to the Tractor Team…This is Buffy, the Buff Orpington.  I love this chicken.  She’s just sweet.  She’s kind of isolated with a companion who is the chicken equivalent of paranoid schizophrenic (more on this in a moment).  My goal is to integrate her with the Hogwart’s four.  I tried once and she wound up with her ear ripped in two.  I’m not sure if one of the divas did it, or if she did it to herself fleeing their bullying.  I pulled her immediately, though, and haven’t had the nerve to try it again.  The guilt was terrible.  Even with the slight ear deformity, though, she’s a looker!

Catniss.  I don’t even really know what to say.  She’s like a demented version of Miss Prissy (you know, the chicken on Bugs Bunny).  She tends to go into panicked, self-destructive flight.  She does this frequently for no visible reason.  She just freaks out. And when she freaks out she starts flinging herself against the coop.  This always, always results in bleeding along the top of her nose.  I’m pretty sure she’s brain damaged, and I’m starting to think it’s stunted her growth.  I got her as a chick just after Easter, and she just doesn’t seem to be putting on the growth you’d expect from a Rhode Island Red.

One of the reasons I love Buffy so is because she’s so patient with Catniss.  No matter how many times the freak chicken bloodies herself, Buffy never gets aggressive with her.  In fact, I’ve never seen Buffy peck at Catniss at all.  She’s a saint. As I mentioned before,  I separated them once, and Buffy actually acted distressed that she wasn’t with Catniss.  I find this difficult to understand because, again, Catniss is a freak.  I’m not sure what to do with her.  I don’t get that she’s healthy, and I can’t bring myself to bump her off.  For now, I’m watching her closely, and planning another attempt to integrate Buffy with the more “balanced” crew in the Hogwarts Hacienda.  Then I’ll figure it out….

 

So there you have my Diva roll call – five big beautiful hens and a slightly demented ingenue pullet.