True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Where's Marky? (December game)

Enjoying the season's long shadows and warm colors with my favorite hiking buddy.

 You won't find Marky in this picture,

or in this one.

He's waiting for me to finish whatever the heck I'm doing, so we can get on with the fun. 

Wait a minute little guy.

Just one more.

Oooh - just a sec.

Okay, last one.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     
Alright let's go......   Where's Marky?

Best little white dog.

(hint: if you cant' find Marky in these pix, click on the image for enlargement.)

Need more fun?  
To play the first "Where's Marky" game, click HERE!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Lucy's toes remind me of this photo by Alfred Stieglitz,
of Georgia O'Keefe's hands.

So much character. 

And since "adversity builds character", 
I guess that's why Lucy is full of it.

Out in the coop, I was photographing Lucy's twisted toes

when Pigeon scampered over to see what all the fuss was about.
She took a good myopic look, 

and then she noticed that Lucy's head was above her own.
This, according to the Official Chicken Rule Book
is an extreme gesture of insubordination.

In defense of her position as Queen of the Coop, Pigeon raised her hackles and placed her beak beside Lucy's. 
Lucy remained calm and still, to assure Pigeon that she had no intention of overthrowing her regime.
Pigeon thought about that for a bit, while Lucy waited politely.
Then Pigeon turned toward me to see if treats might be in order.
Pigeon herself is not without her own adversity... you can see character in her toes, too.  She's not in pain, but these bent toes do tell a story of hardship that she endured before she came to live with us.  
Those days are forgotten -- but they certainly contributed to her character. 

Maybe that's why these two gals share a special bond.

...They're sharing a special dog house, too -- 
I've made some changes in the chicken yard. 
But that's another story!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chicken Milking

Some well-meaning friends talked me into trying a Yoga class. They said it was just what I needed.
Gentle music played and incense wafted as the instructor guided our twists, our stretches, our breathing...while I wrote my grocery list in my head and tried to remember if Sarah's orthodontist appointment was tomorrow or next Tuesday.

After about a half-hour I actually began to get into the groove when, balanced on left knee and right hand, I twisted my head to look up at the clock---

Only nine minutes had passed. 
Nine Minutes?   

Aside from maybe having a molar pulled, this was the longest nine minutes I'd ever endured. 

Panicking silently, I tried to come up with an urgent excuse or a graceful exit, but could think of none.  I would have to endure the eternal yoga class.

Believe it or not, it eventually ended.  With the delightful Corpse pose which I mastered like a master.  I rolled up my yoga mat and skittered out the door never to return.

Wikipedia tells me:
"The goal of yoga, or the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility."

Heck, I don't need no yoga mat for that.

Because I've got a Chicken-milking stool.
No, I don't milk the chickens on this stool.  But if chickens could be milked, this would be the perfect stool for the job.

I got it at Ikea for $7.99.  

It lives out in the yard, and it beckons me.

This stool brings me closer to all things awesome. 

Like Lucy's face.

Late in the day when the girls free-range, Lucy shuffles over to sit by the stool, knowing I'll eventually be planting myself there.   I join the ladies every evening for free-ranging time on account of this:

which has taken up roosting here:
A Red Shouldered hawk.  Actually, we've got a whole family of them, and they'd like nothing better than a chicken dinner.

Since Lucy can't get around too well, (click here for Lucy's story), she sits down and joins me on Hawk-Patrol.  
Marky also keeps an eye out for hawks.  He's a very good little watchdog.

Of course, when he's not scanning the skies, 
he's doing his yoga.

Lucy, too... When she's not watching for hawks, she practices the Bharadvaja's Twist.

They take turns, so somebody's always on watch--

which leaves me free to seek a state of spiritual insight from the comfort of my stool.

At my feet is a telltale sign that Lil'White has begun her molt.  

I find the rest of her beneath the forsythia,
 where she appears to have exploded.

How does she do it?   
While all the other molting gals look miserable and disheveled,   
(poor little Pigeon, here, sports one pathetic tail feather)

Lil'White loses more than half her plumage and still remains the picture of beauty and poise.

Oh, the perspectives I'd miss

were it not for my chicken-milking stool.

And you know, I'm not the only one who seeks to attain a sense of peace and spirituality through chickens.   

Here my friend Sharon Araujo does a modified Standing Half Forward Bend while Terry Golson of attempts an especially complex yoga position to attain the best chicken-butt photo,

and thus, spiritual insight and tranquility.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fern's Amazing Rubber Egg

They say that one nest box is all you need for three or four hens. But when one of your hens is Lil'White, that's another story.

Lil'White hogs the nest box.  Always has.  

Sometimes she pretends to be broody, like this: 

...I swear she's faking it. 

Last year I made a new coop for my five gals, with TWO nest boxes.   
One for Lil'White, and one for everybody else.   

For some reason, everybody preferred Lil'White's nest box, so there was still a line of anxious hens waiting their turn.
Then I had a clever idea. 
I placed a rubber egg in the unused nest box to make that box appear desirable.

Instantly, that second nest box was deemed eggworthy by the flock, and we never had a problem with a long queue again.   

But another problem did creep up:
Her name is Fern.

Right about the time of the rubber egg, Fern stopped laying.
Until that time, she was laying beautifully -- 
Her petite blue eggs were regular treasures... maybe three or four a week.  

The shutdown of little Fern's internal egg factory was a mystery.

There are several reasons a hen might take a break from laying during the summer -- hot weather, a molt, broodiness, poor health...   I didn't see signs of any issues or problems in Fern.  
She was still the little whippersnapper she'd always been. Still getting into trouble.
(Closeup: Fern waits for Lil'White to resume pecking her on the head.)

Fern must have had her reasons for not laying eggs, and I supposed she'd get back to laying pretty soon.

Sure enough, after a few weeks, Fern did start marching into the nest box each morning. 
She preferred the box with the rubber egg. 
Every day, she settled in and hunkered down.

And when she was done, she stepped out onto the upper perch 
to formally announce her accomplishment. 

The problem:   
There WAS no accomplishment.
Fern wasn't laying anything.  
No blue eggs. No eggs at all. 

She still isn't laying, and it's been FOUR MONTHS.

For four months, she has been going through the motions, daily. 
...looks like Daisy's been here already.
Does Fern think she's laying a rubber egg every day?

If that's what's going on in her tiny little head, that's okay with me. But I really am dying to know.

If she never lays a cute blue egg ever again, that's okay too.  She won't end up in the stewpot because I still appreciate all the redeeming qualities that make her...well... Fern.

I guess Fern is just a bit unusual...

But, then, aren't we all?