Ugly Chicken Update

As readers will know, I wrote a while back about my slightly deformed and unfeathered chick, Quasi the Second. At the time, I showed the pictures to expert chicken keepers, among whom the general consensus was that this bird would not be long for this world.

But she kept bopping along despite being ostracized and banned from the henhouse. Despite almost drowning in the duck pond. Despite the massive second wave of red fowl mites that had the husband cleaning out the henhouse in a Hazmat suit wielding a blowtorch.

Take a look at her now:

Okay, so not exactly a beautiful swan, but also no longer the world’s ugliest chicken. And more importantly, still hanging in there.

Speaking of loners and survivors, check out the latest “New infections in the past 14 days” map of Austria.

See the little green speck in the bottom right corner of the country? The only district in the entire country with no new infections? That’s where we are.

Our ears are filled with the crashing sounds of second waves all around us, but, apparently, we’re still hanging in there.

Quasimodo Returns (and Just in Time!)

Have you ever wondered at what point a pizza simply becomes too big? I thought that last night while out for dinner in a nice Italian restaurant in Graz. Honestly, the diameter of this thing was about 6 inches longer than that of the plate below it. Needless to say, doggie bags were required.

The reason the hubby and I were in Graz was that my elder daughter was throwing a 20th birthday bash in our house. Once she had received permission to have the party, she proceeded to tell us that we weren’t actually invited, but no worries, we could stay in her apartment that night. That was nice of her, I thought. Well played. Or maybe, not. Everything was spotlessly clean when we arrived there. We trashed the place and drank her vodka.

That was my third trip to Graz this week. On the second one, I finally met up with the sisters-in-law again and handed over the penguin. Based on the reaction, I think he has found a good home.

 

On my first trip to Graz this week, I took my daughter along with one of her friends (a former student of mine!) out for lunch. We negotiated a sort of mini-management deal as this friend has a lot of connections to the art and music scenes, knows a lot about the business side, and wants to help Mitzi promote herself better. Two days later, Mitzi had a one-hour gig at an open stage bar and raked in $80 in pay and another $180 (!) in tips. After hearing this, the husband decided to show up next week with his accordion and see if he can do the same (and then quit his job to be a street musician). As far as I know, he only knows how to play 5 songs and four of them are not suitable for polite company, so I am not sure if this is a good plan.

 

Anyway, back to today. The husband and I returned home again this morning to survey the post-party carnage. What we found was a house looking pretty much the same as when we left it. In fact, the only evidence that a party took place at all was the overflowing glass recycling bin and some half-empties on the kitchen counter. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. This was just further evidence that my children aren’t children anymore. In fact, one of them is no longer even a teenager! Why didn’t anyone warn me that this was going to happen?

Thank goodness I still have one problem child left to worry about.

Remember my four new chicks from spring? Well, there is something seriously wrong with one of them. He is only half the size of his siblings, he seems kind of deformed, and he is not growing feathers. We keep consulting the Backyard Chicken Bible and it tells us not to worry as long as he is running around and eating – which he is. But, still, he is the ugliest piece of poultry I have ever seen. You be the judge:

 

The Anarchy of the Chicken

 

I brought my morning coffee out onto the screen porch today only to look down and see the door to the chicken yard wide open. About half the flock had gone through it and were milling around and looting the vegetable and flower patches – places they had no business being. Still in my bathrobe, I quickly donned my rubber boots and left the house to quell the insurrection. As I came down the garden steps, all the chickens, including the ones who had stayed inside all came running toward me with their sharp beaks and superior numbers. It freaked me out a bit, but I told myself “All they want is their equal rights to food and water.” I had been slow to wake up and was the source of their current hunger. And I could fix it.

They milled around me as I filled a pitcher full of corn kernels and then scattered it inside their yard. Half of the chickens had the sense to run back inside through the open door. I corralled the rest of them in with some careful blocking and quiet shoo-shooing. Once order had been re-established, I surveyed the flock to make sure they were all present and accounted for and that none had been harmed. I was especially happy to see all four chicks doing well.

Of course, I had other options. I could have sicced the cats on them. I could have furiously nabbed the wayward chickens one by one and tossed them back inside. I could have decided to build a bigger, nastier fence to keep them penned in (or out, as the case may be). I could have cowered in the basement in case they made it all the way to the front door of the house while hysterically phoning friends and telling them to reassert my dominance. I could have tweeted angrily, calling them “thugs”. I could have had someone else clear them out brutally and then walked to the henhouse with a copy of “The Backyard Chicken Bible” held upside-down and posed for a picture. I could have proclaimed myself the Law-and-Order Chicken Queen.

 

But it turned out the way of understanding, kindness, and sharing was the better one. I gathered four eggs today and there are surely a lot more to come.

 

 

 

A Motherful Day

 

While on our daily dog walk, Nice Neighbor Lady told me that her son refuses to celebrate Mother’s Day, saying first that every day should be Mother’s Day and second, that it was a Nazi creation. It’s not, but after that, I didn’t have the heart to tell her how wonderful mine was.

It started early with two new flowers for my garden and then a trip to my sister-in-law to pick up a washing machine (along with a whole bunch of other furnishings) for my daughters’ new apartment. From there we went to a (socially distanced) family gathering where I got to see my mother-in-law for the first time in two months. Since the golf courses have reopened, her life is back in order again. We couldn’t stay long, because my daughter had to get back home for a performance. It was a Mother’s Day Concert being livestreamed from the nearby spa featuring local musicians. I don’t want to brag too much, so I won’t say that she stole the show. Instead, I’ll quote a few of the WhatsApp reactions from friends and my sisters in the States:

“Amazing!”

“Wow. wow wow wow. She’s killing it!”

“Oh. My. God. So beautiful.”

 

Right before leaving for the concert, my husband called out to me that my favorite chicken just hatched a new chick. (She actually let the other hens do all the brooding work for 19 days, and then took over for just the last two. Crafty girl!) Right after the concert, my Skype started chiming and I got to spend the next hour with my own mom. And finally, shortly before going to bed, my daughters posted on my Facebook page, including two of my very favorite photos. Here it is – or at least a doctored version with names changed to protect the perps:

What a wonderful day full of momstuff, sisterstuff, daughterstuff, and grandchickendaughterstuff!  To spread the joy, here are two songs from my favorite singer:

 

 

 

Patchwork Hatchlings

 

The chicks have arrived!!

Just yesterday, the husband and I concluded that our brooding hens would probably be unsuccessful. It had been too long with too much shifting around of eggs and hens. The day before we had discovered two of them squished together over one pile of eggs, while the other nest sat exposed and abandoned. But this morning we were proved wrong.

We are fairly sure that these four chicks all have the same rooster papa, but from the looks of them, there may be up to four different biological mamas. The coolest thing about the new additions to the flock is that they are being collectively co-parented by two cooperating adopter hens.

Modern times!  Even in Chicken World!

 

Passing for Poultry

 

I had to make funeral arrangements today. For a chicken. It took me about 15 seconds. I texted my husband, “The Swedish Flower Chicken is lying on the floor of the henhouse. I think she is dead.” We have an unspoken agreement that he is responsible for all bird corpse removals.

This particular hen was one of our original eight, of which there are now only two left, so it WAS slightly sad. It was also poignant that the newest member of our flock – given to the husband at his birthday party on Friday – laid her first egg. And it was green! Cool!

If I am sounding a little cold-hearted to you at the moment, you can blame it on the five or six roosters we have had to get rid of over the past three years. And we seem to be having bad luck again – of the seven chicks we have raised since winter, it looks like 5 are turning out to be roosters. (In the end, there can be only one.) Despite all this, I do love my chickens. And I can prove it.

 

Of all the presents my husband got, this book was my favorite by far.  I have spent hours paging through it.

 

Here’s a small sampling of the contents:

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Now that I think of it, though, I wouldn’t allow a single one of these primadonnas to infiltrate my flock. My hearty Orpingtons and Wyandottes would probably take one look and then beat the crap out of them. With one exception, maybe. This guy might have a chance:

 

 

Plan C

 

Way back in my first year of blogging, I explored the theme of dystopian fiction and how I would be absolutely useless in any end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario. (“Eating Bambi”) Not much as changed since then. I still can’t make candles.

But all around me, perfectly sane people I have known for years are quietly acquiring survivalist skills. They are baking their own bread, smoking and curing meats, increasing the numbers of chickens they keep, enlarging their gardens, learning how to can things, learning how to make their own cheese and butter, becoming beekeepers, turning to herbal remedies, setting up ad hoc, non-monetary trading partnerships with neighbors (eggs for salad greens, chicken meat for apples, strawberries for wine . . .), but otherwise prepping for self-sufficiency.

And then there’s me. Still gagging at the thought of eating one of my extraneous roosters. Not a single survival skill in my repertoire, unless there is some dire need for crocheted stuffed animals out there that I am not aware of.

Something must be done about this.

Yesterday, while cleaning out the kitchen cabinets, I made a discovery which then led to an idea and an opportunity to prove my mettle. I bought this sometime in 2017 out of curiosity – what exactly does Mr. Inzersdorfer consider to be corned beef? As a Reuben-loving Milwaukee-an, this was not an idle question. I didn’t follow through on the inquiry, though, and so this can has spent the last three years collecting dust in the far back corner of the cabinet.

 

I looked at the expiration date and told myself, “So what? A true survivor-type wouldn’t be put off by this. I’m a descendant of the Donner Party for chrissake! That should give me some genetic/genealogical advantage when it comes swallowing gross things. I’m going to open this up and eat it!”

 

I took a deep breath and delicately opened up the can. I pondered the color and daintily used a fork to explore the consistency of the meat. I leaned over and smelled it. I raised the fork and allowed a mote-sized portion to make brief contact with my tongue . . .

 

It looked like cat food. It smelled like cat food. It tasted like what I assume cat food tastes like. I fed the rest to the dog.

Apparently, the Donner gene did not get passed on to me. I need a new plan. What tradable commodity could I produce with my particular skill set and resources (consisting of thousands of books and 37 years’ worth of teaching materials) . . . .?

 

Devil Cat is Disrespecting the Stay-in-Basket / Social Distancing Policy

 

Question: Have you noticed a change in your pets since the Stay at Home policy began? I ask because my four-legged cohabitants are displaying unusual behaviors. Dog Four runs much farther away than usual on our daily walks. She has also gotten much more aggressive (and successful) in hunting out moles and voles and other disgusting things to eat and then throw up later somewhere in the house. Conversely, the chickens are running right up to us, in between and around our feet, as if begging “Pick me up! Pick me up!” They have also suddenly gone to war with the ducks. The goats are cool.

And then there is Devil Cat. Whenever I am at the laptop, he usually makes two or three attempts to get in my face before resigning himself to the basket. Now it is ten times or more before we eventually reach a compromise:

When cats and chickens want to be nearer to you and dogs want to be farther away – well then something is upside-down in the world.

I suspect they are all jockeying for a better position in the “Who will be eaten first?” list. Dog Four is feeling pretty safe. The chickens? Not so much. But how does this theory explain the cat’s behavior? Name me one civilization in the history of the world that eats/ate cats?

It’s a mystery.

Hatched!

 

The video is not new – but it WAS the start of something new. Have a look.

 

Poor little thing. Two seconds into the world, he already gets his first whacking.

 

I tried to post this video on my blog almost a year ago and failed. My free WordPress plan wouldn’t allow me to. That was the first time I considered an upgrade. Later, when ads started appearing annoyingly mid-post, the idea took more concrete form. Being a somewhat elderly blogger, it took me yet a while longer – five months or so – to gear myself up to taking the step. Today, finally, I clicked on the “Upgrade” button. What ensued was . . . surprisingly quick and uneventful.

It may not look much different to you, but it feels different to me. Like I am now really out there in the blogosphere for the first time

And now here I am, taking my new-and-improved Trek out for a spin. Checking out what it can do. Different font sizes? (Nope, that doesn’t work.) Can I finally use different colors? (The answer is “Yes!”) Next will come layout changes maybe. Before you know it, I’ll be following those WP tips for increasing readership. Scavenging for views.  Foraging for Likes . . .

“Let the bullying begin!”

My Ghoulish Menagerie

It just occurred to me that I am surrounded by ghoulish pets (and ex-pets).

First there is the black cat in the basket next to my laptop who I have long known to be possessed by the devil. Then there is Dog Four at my feet, who just had a growth removed from her head and now looks a bit like Frankenstein.

 

To my left is my latest crochet project – a recreation of the deformed, quickly deceased chick I hatched in an incubator. His bulging right eye earned him the name Quasimodo. (I made this stuffed animal at the specific request of my sister, who will then give me back the evil bat I made in summer.)

 

And finally, just outside my office door are the three dead and dried out creatures we discovered while cleaning out our basement yesterday.

 

It also just occurred to me that it is October 31st and therefore a good day to share all of this with you.

Happy Halloween, everyone!