Friday, May 30, 2014

Chicks in Tha' House!

Well, the garage, really.

I have two broody hens--Buttercup, a Buff Brahma, and Portia, a Silver-Laced Brahma (I think).  Buttercup is in the garage; Portia is still in the coop. I didn't have any problems moving Buttercup, but Portia raised a ruckus when I tried to move her to a broody pen in the garage.  So this will be an experiment of sorts to see if leaving a hen in the coop to hatch eggs works. To be careful, I only let Portia have two eggs.  Buttercup ended up with 16--usually, a hen sits on 12-15 eggs, but Buttercup kept stealing eggs.

Buttercups chicks began hatching on May 28.  Only two hatched that day, so I'm letting her sit for a couple more days to see if any other eggs hatch. If she gets off the nest or kicks the eggs out, I'll remove them, but I don't think I'm going to let her sit on them past Sunday.  Those unhatched eggs are going to be ripe!

Here's a fuzzy pic of the first two chicks:

I think they might be Bantams, which makes sense since the only "working" roosters I have are Bantams--two Cochins and two Japanese Bantams.  The Cochins have feathered feet, as does Buttercup.

Here's Buttercup with one of the chicks:

I don't know who laid these eggs, either! Buttercup stole so many eggs that I'm not sure many of these are hers.  No telling what I'll get, so this is something of an adventure.

I usually buy my chicks.  In fact, I had just bought six chicks--four Golden Sex Links (Comets), one Red Sex Link, and a Barred Rock Rooster (regular size, not Bantam).

I'm running out of room. I have five coops. I need to consolidate these and make one big chicken yard! They mostly get along, so a large coop would make more sense and certainly save me time in the morning.

That's a project for later!

One thing--hatching chicks is wonderful.  I love seeing them interact with their mother, and I love hearing her "talk" to them.  It's an amazing experience.

Ah, adventures in chicken keeping.  I think everyone should do this.  Not only do you get fresh eggs, but you get hours and hours of free, funny entertainment.  You should try it!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Spring Break Off the Rails...

My spring break has not begun well.

Saturday, March 30, I went to Toledo Bend to visit with my family.  They rent cabins there, and, until last year, I used to stay for the weekend.  Now that I have chickens, I can't do that, so I spend the day visiting and going to the junk shops.  It's a tradition!

Somewhere, somehow, something managed to bite me on the right index finger--probably a spider, but I can't say for sure.  My finger and part of my right hand are swollen and hurt just a bit, but I refuse to go to the emergency room (last trip there cost me $700) or to a doctor.  What did people in the 1800s do?  Probably died, if the spider was major poisonous, but I don't think this one was.  I'll watch it.  If I need to, I'll go to the doctor tomorrow, but I'm not one to run to the doctor for every little thing.

On top of that, a fever blister has popped out.  Stress much?

Then, of course, that storm hit on Easter Sunday.  My yard looks as though a bomb went off, and I haven't made a dent in the debris pick-up.  I did a bunch yesterday, but, with each new breeze, down comes more stuff.  And the forecast says two more days of rain (that I know of).

Along with the storm came a power outage that left me without electricity for six hours on Sunday.  That, in turn, slowed the water pressure (don't ask me why), so that the shower was a trickle.

Oy!  Such small disasters add up to major annoyance.

Maybe I can still salvage some relaxation from all of this.  I'm going to try.

Oh, and it's National Poetry Month, and I'm writing a poem a day for NaPoWriMo.  This is my fifth year--so far, so good.  Poem posted for the day!

I hope your spring break is enjoyable!

Friday, March 08, 2013


I cannot watch that "Hoarders" show on TV--mostly because I'm afraid I'd recognize myself in some ways.  When it comes to books, at least.  But, I think if someone wants to understand hoarding, s/he should have a squirrel--flying or otherwise; a squirrel can show anyone how to hoard!

This is a picture of my flying squirrel, Rocky.  He's such a sweetie, except when he bites me, but I can cut him some slack on that.  He is nocturnal, and, in the evenings, he sends out pleasant noises; I hear him pinging around his cage when I go to bed.

Squirrels "squirrel away" food.  If you watch ground squirrels during the fall, you will see them burying acorns for later.  Then, in the spring, you'll find them digging throughout the yard to find what they buried.  Rocky doesn't have a "yard," so he "buries" things under the wire at the bottom of his cage.  He might go rooting around for something later.  I hear him scratching the paper that lines the tray.

I cleaned out his cage this morning. Oy! Talk about hoarding!  He had enough stuff "buried" under the cage wire to feed him for a month or two.  Whole nuts, wilted lettuce, sunflower seeds--he wouldn't starve if I forgot to feed him!

I try to clean out his cage once a month, but I might have to shorten the cleaning cycle to every two weeks. Cleaning took about 30 minutes this morning, and I had trouble finding a tool to push out all of the junk.

I won't release Rocky into the wild because his tail is broken; I think that would cause him some problems.  He needs his tail to glide from tree to tree, and I think the other squirrels would give him a hard time.  As long as I have him, I need to take care of him, even if he is a hoarder.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Look for Spring

Yes, I feel that spring is coming soon--thanks Puxatawny Phil!  With spring comes rain, and we've had our fair share of that the past few days, but, with rain, comes a new garden.  I need to start on that today, so, while I'm out with the chickens today, I'm going to plant some eggshells and sprout some seeds.

The last week has been awful.  One of my chickens died--always a sad event.  But the worst was yet to come.  My beloved Uncle Anthony--Tony--died on February 9, my youngest brother's birthday.  I haven't been to New Orleans since Katrina. Perhaps, one day soon, I will go.  Katrina was, I think, ultimately responsible for my uncle's decline.  Before Katrina, he was a vital, energetic man.  After Katrina, he seemed to give up.  I can understand that, but I am sorry for it.

Sunday morning, a thunderstorm hit here with a fury.  Lightning, thunder, heavy rain.  The chicken runs were all mud, the feed turned mushy; we were all cranky.  As often happens at my house, the electricity went out.  While I was without power, a tree limb fell on the telephone/Internet line.  I spend most of Sunday afternoon and part of Monday morning without the home phone or Internet.  This is just the situation that calls for a cell phone and one of the few times I will use it.  For me, a cell phone is useless.  It's nice to have when I need help on the road, or when the home phone goes down, but, otherwise, it's an expensive annoyance.

AT&T managed to fix the phone line by 9am or so on Monday, and I was back to business as usual.  I'll be honest--I didn't want to work at all during the Mardi Gras Holiday.  I just wanted to sleep and/or watch TV.  Thanks to my hefty work ethic, I powered through the ennui and graded/returned assignments.  That's the true definition of "discipline"--doing what you don't want to do because you must.

Today, more grading--always grading.  But, this afternoon, my heart belongs to the garden.  And that's where it needs to be as I remember my uncle, whose funeral is today.  I'm sorry I'm not there, but I will dedicate my efforts to making the garden a beautiful place, just for him.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Sad and Sadder

In the "bad news" department, one of my Leghorn hens, Eliza, died Sunday.  She probably suffered from bound egg syndrome; this happens when a hen cannot pass an egg.  I hope I didn't stress her more by giving her a warm soak.  That's supposed to help.  But she wasn't used to being handled.

When one of my chickens dies, I generally burn the body in a bonfire.  I either have to bury the chicken deeply to keep the carcass away from predators, or I have to burn it.  Burning is easier for me, and it's less risky.

We're all a bit sad here at Casa Smith.

Things are going fine, otherwise.  The girls are getting through their molts, and the egg production has picked up.

I'm hoping I can get through the year without another chicken death.  I also hope I can get through the spring without buying more chickens!

February 9, 2013

My mother called today to tell me that my Uncle Tony (Anthony Rigaud) died this morning.  His is the second death in two weeks--my mom's oldest brother, my Uncle Christie, died in January.  His wife, my Aunt Agnes, died last year.

Uncle Tony was the most wonderful, funniest man I've ever known.  He was married to my dad's sister, Patricia.  Tony could fix anything, build anything, imagine anything.

Until Katrina.

My uncle opted to stay in his house in St. Bernard Parish with my aunt and my cousin, David.  He had no clue that the levees would break and force them into the attic of their home.  They had weathered many hurricanes, and, though this one seemed serious, he and his wife felt they could survive it.

They did, but not by much.  They spent quite some time in the attic before rescue.  My cousin started having seizures because he didn't have his medicine; he and my aunt went by helicopter to Lafayette.  My uncle spent some time in the high school in St. Bernard before being bused to Texas.  We thought we'd never find him, or my aunt and cousin.

After that, my Uncle Tony just seemed to give up.  According to my mom and my daughter, he just sat in his recliner in the living room.  He developed congestive heart failure--my aunt, also.  I didn't want to see him that way.

I'll always remember him as larger-than-life, a big Italian man who could do anything, who always made me laugh.

I have missed him for a long time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Semester

Here we go again!  The spring semester is nearly a week old, and we've had our first bad weather scare.   Usually, the powers that be overreact and shut everything down, but they didn't this time, probably because the daytime temps were above freezing.  I delayed my start time when I had to drive in to the University, and I didn't have any problems.

A colleague of mine told me that some of the parents of seniors at Byrd High School kept their children home on Wednesday, January 16, because one of the seniors was in a near-fatal car crash on Tuesday.  I haven't read anything about the accident, but the young lady suffered severe head trauma when her car skidded on black ice and flipped. No word yet on her condition.  I'm sorry that happened, and I'm wondering if school could have been delayed by a couple of hours; that might have prevented the accident, but who really knows?  I hope the young woman recovers, but the outlook is not good.

At my house, I had to contend with wet, cold chickens and grumpy cats!  I managed to put up tarps to help break the north wind; those helped enormously. The chickens still weren't happy, but at least they were a bit warmer.

The sun is out today, and the temps are supposed to rise into the 50s.  I can see the hens, already, basking in the sun.  I hope the runs dry out quickly--we're supposed to have more rain soon.

The work at Casa Smith never ends, so I'm off to complete as many tasks as possible.  Enjoy this sunny day!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The chickens, the "stick of death," and Rocky, the flying squirrel

I have had to put my chickens on restriction, because they keep getting in my neighbor's yard.  I don't want a ticket for roaming livestock, so I only let them out when I can be with them, which is usually between three and six pm.  In order to keep them in line, I have "the stick of death," which is actually a garden fork:

All I have to do is swish it, and they move into the back yard.

And here is Rocky.  He's doing quite well!