Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Great Disappointment


I am calling this post The Great Disappointment simply because The Great Depression was already taken. As everyone knows, I hand selected Cadburry 2.0 from the feed store to "replace" my first little beloved Cadburry.

The original Cadburry was the smallest of the five Light Brahmas we had in Flock 1. Cadburry had survived the two weasel attacks and was a quick chick. Dan and I were both witness to seeing her the morning after the last tragedy, however, later that night as we went to lock the chickens in the coop, she was never to be seen again. I have a feeling she ran away, perhaps to California or Texas.

Fast forward to this past February as I am selecting my replacements in the form of Flock 2. One box at the feed mill housed the classical yellow chicks. I said that I was going to get only one of those so I knew who the new Cadburry would always be. Master Feed Mill had the box labeled "White Plymouth Rocks" from which I plucked the chirping Cadburry 2.0 from. Now, after looking at my Mt. Healthy Hatcheries brochure (yes, I keep all these things) I see Cadburry may be a Babcock White Leghorn (who the cartoon Foghorn was supposed to be). Would the REAL Foghorn please stand up?

Anyway, Cadburry 2.0 grew up fast, much quicker than the rest and she towered over everyone else, even those of Flock 1. I noticed right away how Cadburry wasn't scared to get in on the action when it came to running up after treats, whereas the others in Flock 2 didn't get it quite yet. A person entering Kennel Bar with a clear bag usually means a treat of bread crumbs! I was so proud of her! Plus she was such a beautiful bird!

Don't worry...I know I'm writing in past tense...Cadburry is not dead!

I don't know if Dan was taping into his psychokinesis weeks ago or not, but he would make comments like, "I wonder if Cadburry isn't a rooster," and "I'm going to laugh when Cadburry ends up a rooster."

A few days ago I was letting the chickens into Kennel Bar for the day, when somewhere deep in the coop I heard a pathetic crow. One that didn't come from Chicken Hawk. I swallowed my fear and told myself that maybe R.W. really was a rooster after all. Then, as I was cleaning Jimmy Percheron's stall, I heard the eerie crow again. I looked over to the roosting chickens, and sure enough from my precious Cadburry's throat came the crow!


My Cadburry is a MAN!!!!! WHY!? All I wanted was a white puffy bird to replace my little quirky chick from before! Now I have another free-loader rooster on my hands! It's not fair! If I've said it once, I'll say again, chickens will make you question your sanity. Like why in heck am I doing all this, only to be disappointed down the road!?

I don't think we can call him Cadburry. Dan came up with a good name...Cad-Buddy. I'm still sore over this discovery. This on top bad crops and the price of Frito's going up. What is the world coming to? (I was going to talk about the future of food, but the Cadburry story is depressing enough!)

                                                                                                                  ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Valley of the Eggs...


Finally, after weeks without seeing it, Mother Nature gave us some much needed rain last night. Almost two inches fell here at the Shawhan farm. I have already canned 17 pints of green beans; the beans being hit and miss on the plants. We suspect that the bean boom will now be fully underway after getting rain water.

On vacation I read Valley of the Dolls (written by the talented Jacqueline Susann) for the second time in my life. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. The sequel is good too. The day we got home we realized three chickens had discovered how to fly the coop and were in a daily habit of doing so. It's funny since all three were the same breed: the same as Freckles, the beautiful Silver-Laced Wyandottes. You can imagine how easily I came to name them as Anne Cluckwells, Jennifer Clucknorth and Neely O'Cluck. Three beautiful, young friends with the world at their feather tips! Each of them dabbling in the spotlight of fame.

Anne Cluckwells is a reserved bird with a natural beauty and all around CLASS. She felt horrible when I told her that she had broken the rules by flying the coop. She was very mature and an adult about the situation informing me she would accept any consequences for her behavior. She has a lot of money saved up since she's a working girl (even though she doesn't have to work) so she was able to pay her fine with ease.  She has been dating Chicken Hawk Shawhan for some time now, though I'm not sure the pair will last. Chicken Hawk is a known playboy here on the Shawhan farm and is more worldly than Anne Cluckwells. They are complete opposites: Anne is a homebody, despite her jaunts out of Cooptown and Kennel Bar, and Chicken Hawk Shawhan  is seen out on the town every night. (Even on school nights!) I didn't have the heart to tell her that I saw Chicken Hawk canoodling with Neely O'Cluck on the side...

Jennifer Clucknorth was equally shocked that she had broken the rules and also paid her fine with ease. Jennifer Clucknorth is without a doubt the most gorgeous and striking bird you have ever seen. She even has a small part in the stage coop production of Hit the Coop, which opens on August 21. The show is scheduled to run for two weeks. Jennifer explains that it is only a small role, not as big as Neely's, since she, Jennifer, has no talent at all...unless you want to count her foreign films where all she does is cluck French and strut her striking tail feathers! Jennifer had a short affair with Chuck...yes a Beefy Boy believe it or not!... who left her one night standing out in the cold with tears in her eyes as he boarded a trailer, never to be seen again. I consoled her and told her Chuck had to be taken to an institution...I could break her heart and say Chuck was taken to the meat processors...but I don't think she'd be granted solace by letting her visit our freezer either.

Neely O'Cluck was not sorry in the least that she had broke the rules by flying the coop. She said she had every right to since she was a star and had a huge role in Hit the Coop. She kept making threats that she wouldn't be around much longer here on our farm; Hollywood has her number and has offered her a picture deal. Neely is beautiful in her own small, chickish way, but even I can't deny the girl has talent. Other characters in Hit the Coop say Neely is never on-time and throws temper tantrums when she doesn't get her way. They also warned me to keep an eye on Dan since she's a man stealer and stole Chicken Hawk from her own best friend, Anne. They even said Neely pops grubs that eat the toxic weeds in the field, thus making them have drug-like effects on the grub popper. Neely calls them her dolls.

Well only time will tell if Neely sticks around here or strikes it big. In any case, I wish her the best. In the meantime, for all the girls' safety, we took them all to the Shawhan Clip`N`Curl Beauty Salon, and since then, they have all stayed where they should!

                                                                                                ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Chronicle Mystery: The case of the Deposited Kittens

It was your typical Saturday morning in July. I had just arrived in Cooptown with my partner after a typical morning at Starlite City. We began our routine of taking care of our V.I.P. clientele when my partner exclaims, "We have kittens!"

At first excitement coursed through my veins. I was going to be a mommy again!! A picture of cute blind and deaf fur balls nestled in the hay sprang to my mind. One can only imagine my disappointment when I saw tween starving rag-a-muffins poking flea-infested heads around the corner. One approached with an empty bowl outstretched and begging, "Please Sir, I want some more." I came close to saying, "Well thanks to Bush, you  won't be getting anymore!"

Now when this scenario presents itself you can understand there being a "litter" of kittens. Typically four to five little moppets running around. NONONONONONONONONONONONO!!!! Not here on the Shawhan farm where the motto is "Go BIG or go home!" Heck No! Try a dozen! Yes that's right, the longer we stood in our district the more kittens were discovered running around and causing a muck.

Immediately I put a call into the pied piper...his secretary told me he was on vacation this week. That darn Bush! "Whatdaya mean he's on vacation?" I snarled as twelve tiny mouths begged for a free hand out. (I think they were confused we were the Free Food Bank). "He's taking a vacation...he's out of the country. When he gets back he has appointments in New York, California and New Jersey. In fact, he's booked for the next three months."

I hung up the phone and frantically looked around. These kittens were not welcome in my district. It is V.I.P. clientele only...excluding The Beefy Boys.

AHA!! The light bulb over my head clicked on again. I walked to the very far regions of our district to Beefy Boy turf. I knew I was risking my life since we had taken out two of their men in a matter of a month. The one they call Ernie gave me the evil eye as I approached. I knew I had to be careful.

"Ernie...I need your help."

Ernie looked me up and down and snorted. He then proceeded to pass an insane amount of gas before responding. "Oh yeah? Why should I help you out?"

I ignored his question. He didn't need to help me. He was serving a harsh sentence without parole and his day was coming up fast. So he didn't need to talk. It would not make his sentence any better.

"I need to know who trespassed on our district last night. Did you happen to see anyone?"

Ernie chewed his chew and shook his head. "Nope."

I knew it was a lie. I knew coming down to the district slums was a waste of my time. Maybe a V.I.P. would talk? I shrugged Ernie off and approached Charlie Percheron. He was enjoying his breakfast of oatmeal and was reading the morning paper.

"Morning Charlie."

"Oh good morning! Pleasant morning, don't you say?"

I nodded and cut right to the point. "Charlie I need to know if you saw anyone suspicious on the property last night. Someone who would have dumped off a dozen kittens."

Charlie looked aghast. "Who would do such a terrible thing?!'m so sorry. No, I didn't see anyone..."

"That's because you're scared of your own shadow!" Jimmy Percheron piped up from next door. Jimmy's head came over the wall and he smiled at me. "Charlie spooked at a field mouse last night. I had to calm him down after he ran to the other side of the pasture. He was laying in a ball, all crying and sucking his hoof by the time I got to him. Yeah, this one didn't see anything. If he did, he just ran from it. Wouldn't have had time to get details like a description or license plate numbers."

"Would you stop fabricating lies about me!" Charlie snapped. In another second he lunged for Jimmy and proceeded to induce a fistacup. Again, I shrugged them off, knowing I had wasted my time.

I felt as if the whole morning had been a waste of time. I didn't have any leads but I had plenty of kittens. That darn was all his fault!

I saw my partner was questioning our clients from Cooptown. There were many protestations to get access to Kennel Bar, but my partner was holding strong and not allowing anyone access until we had some answers.

"Did anyone see anything!" He yelled. "Someone dropped off these cats! That's the only explanation there is this!"

There was a chorus of "Nos." and "I didn't see anything. Did you see anything? No I didn't see anything."

"This is useless." My partner told me. "No is talking."

"It's Bush's fault." I mumbled and opened up Kennel Bar for the day. The tidal wave of feathers crested over the threshold and the great chicken migration began.

Feeling defeated and very disappointed, I told my partner to finish his work in Cooptown, then meet me back in the office. There we discussed possibilities of suspects, motives and possible solutions. Two things we knew for sure: One: The kittens had been deposited on us. Two: They were not welcome to stay. I called the local orphanage, but being a Saturday, of course the boss lady was not there and apparently doesn't have to report to work until Monday at noon. She would be able to say if they had room at their facility or not.

As of now, the status of this case is still open and we will continue to work on it. I am feeling certain someone will crack in Cooptown if more forceful questioning is implied. I believe scare tactics will have to be used.

It is sad that people cannot, or will not, afford to take care of their animals. Due to the current economic situation, these kids were dumped on us...and I cannot guarantee and a happy storybook road ahead of them.

Thanks Mr. Bush. Thanks a lot.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dominican Eggs


Well the Chicken Lady and Dan are back in the dry state of Ohio.... we really miss relaxing on the beach, which is the epitome of every Beach Boys song:

Our state of relaxation was enhanced thanks to our wonderful neighbors, Mike, Pam, Kaleb and Kirsten Harps since we knew good people would be taking care of our animals. The egg boom began, as Dan predicted it would, while we were gone, and I'm convinced it was because Kaleb and Kirsten came over several times a day to check on the chickens. Their record day while we were away was 14. I think the chickens exploded in size too while we were gone. Perhaps I need to pay more attention to them since all we've gotten since we've been home is 8 eggs in a day. But you'd think devoting a whole blog to the chickens would be enough?

Even though we were out of the country and miles away, I still thought about chicken stuff. On our flight from Atlanta to Punta Cana, Dan and I pretended we were rich and updated our tickets to first-class. Flying this way not only got us some more leg room, but also a meal. A part of which was a bLoNdiE sQuarE (yes it is spelled this way..I'm not intoxicated or anything...) I never ate mine and I stuck it in my bag thinking I'd eat it later, which I never did because it got all smashed, but I saw on the ingredients that it's made with "cage-free eggs". I could be really sarcastic and ask if the eggs are cage free or is it the chickens that lay them are cage free? But I think we can assume the chickens that lay them are cage free. I'm not sure what the difference is between cage free and free range chickens and eggs, but if you are an animal rights activist, I suggest flying DELTA and sitting in first-class for your bLoNdiE sQuarE. Dan said it was pretty good.

Another chicken related activity was the egg toss we were conned into doing on the beach. I did take a picture of me holding the egg, but I think it's weird to post a picture of yours truly in a bikini on was just a normal white egg. Which made me wonder if the Dominican Republic has big chickens farms like we do, or if they get their eggs, from maybe a chicken farm in the U.S. (I was too lazy to ask.) Dan and I managed a few tosses of our "baby" as Willy the entertainer guy would say, until I caught the egg with my chin and it broke all over me. Amazing how an egg yolk will stain a white a shirt.

We had a great time! I highly recommend the D.R. for anyone looking to take a nice trip. We had a few COLORFUL surprises when we got home! But that is for another post.

I'll be back to posting my normal Sunday and Thursday posts!!!

                                                                                                        ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Peck the Ground


Well the chickies are HOT but not too hot to get into their usual mischief. I was just outside taking pictures for today's post and feeding the cluckies some frozen peas (you know, to help keep them cool!) and I had an escapee from the kennel. A member of Flock 1 who still remembers the sound of the kennel door opening which signaled freedom to their pea-sized brains.... chickens are not dumb! They remember stuff.

So to honor summer, but not the heat, Chicken Hawk wrote a song to the tune of "I Get Around". He is quite the writer (do pets resemble their owners???) I told him it was appropriate to write to "I Get Around" since The Beach Boys are the boys of summer....but that is not a biased opinion or anything. So here is what he gave me:

"I Peck the Ground"

I peck the ground...
For all the grubs to be found....
I'm a real cool dude....
I crow when I find food....

I'm gettin' bugged running up and down the same old fence,
I got to find some new owners who aren't so dense.
My chickies and me are gettin' real well known,
Yeah, the Beefy Boys know us and they us alone.

I peck the ground...
For all the grubs to be found....
I'm a real cool dude....
I crow when I find food....

I always flap my wings cause they've never been beat,
And I never miss yet with the hens that I meet.
I don't favor one cause it wouldn't be right,
To leave my best girl home now on Saturday night.

I peck the ground...
For all the grubs to be found....
I'm a real cool dude....
I crow when I find food....

Chicken Hawk really is a cool dude (as long as he knows who is boss) and he is "getting around" if you catch my drift. Dan found evidence of that this morning while making breakfast. Nothing like cracking one open to a blood spot!

                                                                                                ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fried Chickens


Holy Heatwave!!!!! I hope every one is keeping cool these past few days. All I can say is "Hello Ohio Summer!" Summer has ALWAYS been my favorite season. Growing up it meant no school, air conditioning, swimming and usually a trip to the ocean. Summer is ALWAYS coupled with The Beach Boys. For me, I can't have one without the other. A lot of people don't like hot humid days. I never minded them before since it meant the water at the pool wouldn't be so cold I would shiver all day...I could actually enjoy it. This year was no different; however, the heat has officially out stayed it's welcome.

Super hot days means extra work for The Chicken Lady and Prissy's Prince Charming. It means filling waterers up several times a day and changing out the ice packs I made for the chickies. (I got that idea, from where else, Chickens Magazine.) Having read an article on keeping chickens cool in hot weather, I re-read the article today and immediately felt like a piece of crap owner. After sharing some information on a chicken's natural way to beat the heat and all the fun stuff a human has to do to keep the girls cool, I'll add in my two-cents worth. (Hey, it's MY blog and I can say what I want!)

OK... so chickies have a regular body temperature of 105 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit, but they lack sweat glands. All their ventilation is done through their air sacs, and when a chicken exhales it releases hot air. In warmer temperatures, such as those we are currently experiencing, a chicken will pant...they say this is quite effective. A chicken will began panting when temperatures reach around 85 degrees Fahrenheit....the temperature a chicken keeper needs to keep the area the chickens are in (whatever).

I said before that I refill the waterers a lot more now and that is because an adult chicken will drink one to two cups of water a day. Dan and I fill water up every morning, every night and a couple of times throughout the day. There is also Chicken Gatorade you can buy... it's a powder you put in their water to replenish'll get my opinion of this later in the post.

Another cooling behaviour a chicken will exhibit on super hot days is spreading their wings out. This allows more air to reach the skin. They also like to dig holes in the dirt and lay in those and as always, take a dirt bath. I tried to take a decent picture of the wing spreading...

Our chickies are definitely panting. Of course I feel bad. Dan and I hung up on old box fan that they seem to enjoy. He tried to hang in the the coop window tonight, but he said they didn't care much for it. Jimmy and Charlie also get a big fan...I tried to hose them off today, but they didn't care much for that; sent them running out of the barn. (I figured they weren't too bad off if they can muster the energy to run.)

I also made some ice packs out of empty milk cartons. I will take one out in the morning and then replace it with another frozen one in the afternoon. The chickens can gather around them if they want to or peck on the melting water on the sides. One of my nuggets was enjoying this this afternoon.

Like I said, after reading the article I was under the impression I should be out there 24/7 waving huge palm leafs in my chickens' faces. I love my animals and I believe in creature comfort; however, the insinuation of needing to stress out that my chickens are too hot and need convinces such as air conditioning, are just plain stupid. I mean, do you think Laura Ingalls Wilder worried about ice packs for her chickens??? The Amish don't have fans running and they don't hose down the walls and ceilings of their chicken coops. (YES that was a suggestion from this article!) People, once we start babying our animals, we start breeding out their defenses given to them by God Himself. Give the guy a little more credit. Yes, we can refill water throughout they day, yes we can try to give them something cool to lay against, and yes we can supply a fan; but I'm not standing outside with a garden hose or rebuilding my barn to accommodate a bird that has natural tolerance and defenses already built in.

Besides, we are not seeing a drop in egg fact, it's climbing. I'm also not going to change a feeding schedule around and worry about being home during certain times of the day because feeding during the day is a bad thing because if they eat they might get too hot....


                                                                                              ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

P.S. There will a few days here in July where I won't be posting. Me and Prissy's Prince Charming are going to the beach that The Beach Boys sang about!

Weaver, Sue. "When the Mercury Rises." Chickens Magazine. Summer 2011: 38+

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Storm Update: How the Shawhan Farm Fared


I hope everyone made it out OK after Friday night's crazy storm! All of us here on the Shawhan farm made it unscathed, but I can't say the same for my once abundant apple crop...most are on the ground now, but I'll still get some apples! All the animals are fine, thank God, and so were the house and other buildings...we made out OK...I cannot say the same for our neighbor's laundry that ended up in our yard.

We were without power for close to 48 hours, but thanks to a generator, we didn't need to picth any food. When you live in the country and do most of your own meat, a generator is a God send! I know throwing away a week's worth of food/meat would suck pretty bad, for lack of a better word, but a years worth of meat...I don't want to imagine that:

Dan and I agree we can live without power. So can the animals. It got scary yesterday when the water was being turned off, or losing power, or whatever it was that was going on...we heard more than one story and heard different tales of it being out for a fews hours and a also a few days. As we were losing water pressure, I filled every jar and container I could in the house:

Next, we went to the barn and filled every bucket that was clean and didn't have a hole in it. Dan and I cleaned out the old rubber water tank that was once the chickie brooder (not The Palace) and heaved it over into the steer lot and filled it competely full. Normally the horses have an automatic waterer on their side of the fence and the steers have one on their side. But with no county water, if they drink it dry (and that won't take much) it won't refill. I would have had to dip buckets into the water tank and water my horses by hand. That would have been OK, I just would have had to do it several times a day. Horses need lots of water so their food can pass. If it gets too dry the food passing through the digestive tract won't pass through. There is only one exit for a horse, and there is a sharp turn in the GI tract where compaction happens a lot. This of course can cause colic, the horse to be in pain and thus want to roll a lot and then a twisted stomach. The end result is expensive surgerey or death...and since I've dealt with this before (R.I.P. Chief!) I didn't want to possiably deal with it again. Water is beyond important!

Sorry for the equine science lecture there!

Anyway, we didn't lose water competely and this morning when I turned it on, it was back full force. WHEW!

Chicken Hawk found his voice just in time for a power outage and we were woken up at 4:00 A.M. yesterday and about 5:45 A.M. today.  I got up (not that early!) and made scrambled eggs on the burner on the grill:

I figured I'd be posting tonight via the generator but a BIG THANKS to South Central Power here in Highland County for all their hard work. We passed a truck on the way inot the pool this afternoon and talked to the guys, asking how long it would be. That was right before they got the power turned back on. They were so nice and happy; joking around and full of smiles. They weren't grumpy or short with us and I need to write South central commending them on a great job!

We really do take for granted power and easy access to water. I hate being so dependant on should me how unprepared I am for the end of the world and my bug out or bug in plan needs LOTS of work. I guess I'll be wathcing Season Two of Doomsday Preppers!

Thanks to God for keeping us all safe and sound and thoughts and prayrs go out those who are still going without, dealing with damages or even worse.

                                                                                                ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

P.S. I guess spell check isn't working again!