Category Archives: Chickens

The Sounds of Mrs. Winchester

Ahh, September, and a better attitude!

The kids call me Mrs. Winchester because of my “punch list”.  I can hire the work done or live comfortably in retirement.  So this month I have been hanging insulation in the attic, framing in part of it, and finishing with drywall.  I need to have the painting and carpet done by the end of the month.

I’ve put the screws to my independent daughter to move back in with me.  I have all this space to myself and not even a cat shares it with me now.  I want to be able to travel when I retire and having the kids there will give me freedom.  My house has two bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs with the master on the first floor.  That gives them a certain degree of privacy and the bonus room in the attic will give them even more space to spread out and two external entrances once the deck is rebuilt.  Plus, there is the added security of having a large 6′ something man hanging around brings as well as fewer hours the house is unoccupied.  They will bring with them two hefty attack cats.

The original deck was causing a major water problem and mold so it had to come down.  I hope to have it rebuilt by the end of October but the City is a bit slow on the permitting process.  It will provide even more privacy and a nice relaxation space overlook the backyard.

I’m a bit frustrated because I can measure, cut and place the boards, but I can’t seem to seat those screws and I have to ask a manly man to come finish them off for me.  So much for equality of the sexes, we are equal, just not the same. Sigh! At least this way the work progresses and I don’t have to wait for someone to donate their free time.  Mr. T or my friend Dahve are happy to finish off those screws since it doesn’t take much time.  Dahve is always ready to give me building advice.  He dropped by this week because I was two inches off and didn’t see how to solve the problem.  He had a quick answer that provided a nice finished look.  There is no substitute for experience!

The chickens are doing fine, enjoying the seeds from the spent cardone.  I didn’t get to cook and eat much this year because of my schedule so I let it go to seed.  The vocal birds encouraged this.  My feathered friends come when I get close to the plants and bock at me to pull the fluffy tufts to get the seeds.  They push each other out of the way to compete for treats.  I’m constantly amazed by these dinosaur relics.  Their fantastic eyesight is demonstrated as they zone in on the little seeds and pluck them with 100% accuracy out of my hand, never hitting my hand once!  Chicken T.V. is still the best show around.

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Mrs. Winchester – Today

People acquainted with me know about “the list”.  We bought an older home that needed a “few” repairs.  The punch list was 100 items long, my beloved completed the first 25 and then was promoted to work full-time for Jesus.  That left me with 75 items and very few skills.  I have drive, determination, an advisor and WiFi.

I watch a lot of fix it shows on Dish and even more You Tube videos on “how to”.  Once I have gained enough knowledge to ask intelligent questions, I ask my advisor Dahve what he thinks.  He thinks I’m funny.  I’m really not trying to be.

So there is always construction going on since it takes me forever to complete even a simple task.  Sustainable construction is the newest catch phrase.  I’m good with that, I need raised garden beds and I have this pile of old wood.  I can do that.  Sigh, it takes me an hour to pull the nails, scrape off the foam and get one long board ready to cut down for a garden bed.  I have two completed and need at least two more.  It was a little disappointing not to have something completed so I installed my rain gutter garden on the shady side of the house and planted my parsley and cilantro seedlings.  It looks a little wavy so I probably should have used more than four washers and screws.  I got a little distracted with the camera and thought you would enjoy my Cardoon (or cardonni) plants in bloom.  They are not artichokes, which are cultivated for the bulb, but are in the same family.  I can’t possibly eat all of this but I did discover the single ladies (chickens) love, love, love the seeds that hide in the dried thistle.  If you look close, you can find more than one or two of my bees nestled down in the purple fluff searching for pollen.  Guaranteed pollination!  Cardoon is an Italian veggie and you eat the celery looking stalks which does taste like artichokes, yum!  Hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

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Filed under Bees, Chickens, Garden, Homeowner, Photography, Projects, Urban Farming

Chicken Surgery – Could You?

When I think about doing surgery on a chicken I think chicken breast filet, not sewing one up!  I have butchered (or harvested for you gentler souls) many a chicken growing up.  We raised them for food.  Our eggs did not come out of a Styrofoam container that went to the landfill.  They came fresh from the hen house every day.  I would collect them from the nesting boxes and they would still be warm.

My current brood consists of two White Leghorns, two Great Blacks and one Rhode Island Red.  The chickens were a solution to a lawn mite problem I had.  I do not want to use any harmful pesticides or herbicides that might harm my bee hives.  When my daughter asked for chickens I immediately thought, no more bugs!  My yard is completely fenced and there is plenty of room for the birds to roam and not get bored to destructive behaviors.  The chickens became my Integrated Pest Management System, sans chemicals!

My bedroom is the closest to the hen house and I can tell the difference between happy chickens and a viscous attack.  It was late at night a week ago and I had already gone to bed.  The almost newlyweds were finishing up a movie in the den.  The chickens sounded the alarm and I jumped out of bed and yelled down the hall while I grabbed my robe and flip flops.  We keep a couple of mag lights on hand for emergencies (a must in the prep department) and we grabbed them and ran out to the hen house.  My daughter grabbed a rake on her way.

The hen house is constructed so a lady of a certain age can easily take care of the egg collection and house maintenance.  The nesting boxes are in the front and the roosting bars are in the back.  The front half wall lifts up for easy egg collection.  The right side wall drops down and will slope into a wheelbarrow or 5 gallon bucket for fertilizer collection.  My daughter, who jumps and squeals at the sight of a spider, was leaning into the hen house and beating an opossum when I reached them.  The poor opossum never had a chance.  He was caught in the act of holding Emily Rose by the drumsticks and biting her back with his long teeth!

A word about opossums: they are mean and will attack anything when sick or threatened, they have long teeth and sharp claws, they carry diseases like rabies and they are blind in bright light.  You should stay away from them as they will attack you.  (And yes, I have seen a rabid opossum!)  An aggressive opossum is either threatened or sick.  They don’t normally dine on live chickens.

My timid daughter was beating the opossum off her chicken with the rake handle with all her might.  I left them to go back to the safe and pick up an opossum equalizer.  I encouraged him to meet his maker and turned around to find my daughter holding Emily Rose and crying her eyes out.  Mister disposed of the offending aggressor while I outlined daughter’s options.  Because Emily Rose was attacked by a possibly diseased animal, we can’t eat her.  (loud sobbing)  I could put her out of her pain quickly (louder sobbing).  We could take her to a vet (something I hated to say due to the cost) or, she could use that $50,000 per med education I paid for to try and stitch her up herself. (after my initial examination to determine survivability)

She voted to un-filet the chicken.  Out came the first aid supplies and the Lidocaine that I had left over from my round of strep throat.  Trim the feathers, 15 minutes.  Clean out the debris, 1 hour.  Hands shaking relief, 15 minutes.  Sewing, 1 hour.  Mister held Emily Rose down with his mighty hands and whispered sweet nothings to soothe her.  I was the surgical nurse and threaded silk thread through beading needles, the smallest I had, and made sure the area was sterile.  It was an exhausting two hours, physically and emotionally.  The surgeon had to stop and wipe the tears from her eyes occasionally. What I thought was an above-average amount of medical supplies was sadly depleted in one episode. The injury was severe but certainly not bloody. If this had been a human injury, there would have been much more blood loss.

I am happy to say Emily Rose only spent two days in the CCU (chicken care unit, aka bathtub).  She quickly moved up to a cardboard box and the third day was ready to rejoin her sisters.  Her first day outside was stressful and she needed to spend the night back in the CCU, strictly because she has no feathers on her backside to keep her warm and the hen house was looking way too scary.  The second night she decided the hen house was looking better and she put herself to bed.

Daughter has added much more bio material to the nest boxes so Emily Rose can snuggle down and keep warm.  Chickens give off a lot of heat!

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t let any waste accumulate, it attracts predators.
  2. Don’t get emotionally attached to your food.
  3. I don’t have enough medical supplies.

 

 

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Filed under Bees, Chickens, Garden, Urban Farming