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My Life with Chickens, or The Eggs & I

September 22nd, 2019

Keep Fucking Going

This life...

This life...

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

I’m tagging this one “advice column,” even though after a year-plus with chickens, I know less than I did before I started keeping them.

It’s true, people.

Chickens will break your heart, but they do provide eggs. I read a blog post, advice from a chicken expert grandma, who said something along the lines of: If they can be eaten by it, drown in it, get trapped under or over it, get electrocuted by it… you get the idea… a chicken will. It’s like constant luck of the Irish, as far as fowl go.

We inherited our first flock of chickens about a year and a half ago, February or March of 2018, from a woman who lived in an apartment complex, kept eight big birds in a too-small coop, and was told by her landlord that they had to go. They were an older flock, with some health issues. Two weren’t laying anymore. They were a combination of Rhode Island Reds, Cuckoo Marans, and Buff Cochins.

We lost one right away to health problems — she had a bad foot and internal problems, as well. She was a Buff Cochin and so lovely.

We lost another two, within weeks, to our blonde Labrador, a female, who was hell-bent on destruction. It was horrible. I saw the whole thing happened, it happened so fast, and she was so much faster than I was. I still have nightmares about it. We secured the gate, which was flimsy, and she hasn’t been able to get in since. We lost one to the neighbor’s dog — she offered to buy us two to replace her (a beautiful Olive Egger who had a friendly, sweet personality) and never did.

We lost Mae, our big, gorgeous, black and gold Cuckoo Maran, to a raptor. And another one, Ackerman, who was a fierce and funny velociraptor of a bird, to a real raptor. Two more to natural causes — old age, peaceful deaths — and now, typing this, I’m getting depressed as fuck. We live in the country, it’s vicious out here — mountain lions, bobcats, skunks and raccoons.

Snakes. Mostly garters, but my son, his friend, and the dog (the lab, who wanted to fight it) saw a rattlesnake down the street a few weeks ago.

Yeah.

We live in the Willamette Valley, in Oregon, on the West Coast. #westcoastbestcoast I have been *told* that rattlers only live in the desert, and high desert, but apparently they like college towns as well.

Jerks.

I’ll go read Lisa’s blog for awhile, Fresh Eggs Daily, she always brightens my day. She’s the go-to girl for tons of stuff, not just chicken, geese and ducks. She has a real farm. I’m just faking it here, aight? Aight.

OK, let’s switch to bullet points:

* Fresh eggs, daily, as Lisa says.

* We don’t wash them — we keep in paper egg cartons in fridge, and let people we sell/gift them to know that they should wash them twice, lightly with soap and warm water, before using.

* They last a long, long, long time, this way. You don’t have to refrigerate them, but we do. Some of our customers don’t though, and that’s fine. (Farm fresh eggs are great for college students — especially if you keep them unrefrigerated in your dorm room, so they don’t get swiped from the communal fridge in the communal dorm kitchen).

* I love my damn chickens. I figured they’d be good company, that they would enjoy the roomy garden and chicken run we provided them with (we’ve repurposed our old garden shed to be a coop, by mounting nesting boxes and two perches, one low and one high). They are. They do. I was hoping that the kids and their friends would enjoy having them around, and they do, more than I ever could have hoped.

* My son has taken the lead on raising the chickens. I bought a small flock of Silkies for him, for Christmas, from a farmer in the country who needed to rehome them. Such a hit, and one of the best (and strangest) Christmas gifts ever. Silkies are fussy — they get broody to the point where they won’t eat, sleep, drink or stop nesting. We have two that we have to gently take out of the nesting boxes two or three times a day. They’re both named Peggy. We name most of our chickens Peggy, or Tiny and Dell, for my late, beloved great-aunts, Luella and Ludell. The rest? Who knows. Zini is the tiny caramel-colored Silkie; Henna is a huge Olive Egger, and along with Dell one of the two remaining birds from the original flock.

* “The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest.” — Henry David Thoreau

* They are sociable, funny and earnest, my birds. We have 16 now — 3 or 4 roosters, plus 12 or 13 hens. (We let the Silkies hatch some eggs, and ended up with mostly boys. Attitude. We need to rehome a few, but they’re getting along OK for now.)

* They help me stick to a routine. They enjoy the smallest things in life — fruit yogurt parfaits (in an egg carton, yogurt, sprinkled with a bit of raw oats and a handful of berries); they love watermelon. Not fond of green beans (unless they’re picking them themselves off the bush I planted?), broccoli, or honeydew melon. They like cantaloupe and leftover macaroni and cheese.

* I feel like a failure every time we lose a bird, but apparently that’s life with chickens.

* They start laying at about four months. If they get egg-bound, I pick them up, carry them around, and rub their tummies.

* Yeah, I know that sounds weird, but it works.

* No, we don’t eat ours, once they stop laying. They’re livestock, but they’re also pets. It’s a situation.

* Especially with these roosters.

All for now,

xo

Wacky Mommy

Sunday book review, movie round-up & anything else i can throw in here. Happy 2015!

January 11th, 2015

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

“We are the night ocean filled
with glints of light. We are the space
between the fish and the moon,
while we sit here together.”

– Rumi

“Bottom line is we’re all flawed in this world. No one’s perfect,” film director Richard Linklater, accepting his Golden Globe award for directing, “I want to dedicate this to parents that are evolving everywhere and families that are just passing through this world and doing their best.”

I’ll see how many categories I can hit here… Ready? Ready-steady-go!

* Pacific Ocean: It’s beautiful. It makes me happy, i love my negative ions i get from the ocean, and the wildlife is so fun to watch. The sea lions in that picture are making what’s called a “raft.” They all hold onto each other and float around. Hippies :)

* Book review? Here’s what on my nightstand (and on the Kindle): Re-read “Wild,” re-reading “Torch,” re-reading Carol Shields magnum opus, “Unless,” reading “Quiet” and learning all kinds of stuff about introverts, extroverts, high reactives and the modern age, just finishing Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy,” genius, and… that’s all I can think of.

* Recipes:

Oven-Fried Spuds (excellent, best potato recipe ever)
Soup! (Steve’s recipe. This one clears up your head, fast)

1 onion, sliced thin
1 bulb garlic
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
6 cups water

Saute onion and garlic (I like whole cloves, but you can chop or press) on low until soft. Add bouillon cubes and squish. Add water and bring to boil. Can be garnished with fresh slices of jalapeno for an extra sinus kick. Wasabi would be good, too.

Reduce water and bouillon by half to thicken.

* Work… is going well. Super well. I love working at a school (computer lab again this year), I’m with the best staff and boss in the universe (no I’m not saying that because they might read this — they really are gifted, funny, smart, wonderful with the students and everything else I was hoping for) and I love that my students are willing to work on my Spanish with me. #yohabloespanolmasomenos

* My own kids… are great. Whoever said, “Eh, you think that when they’re little they really need you, but when they’re teenagers? That’s when they really need you,” that person was so smart. (Seriously, probably 20 people said that to me when the kids were toddlers, and I thought they were joking.)

* Nekkid Neighborsremember them?

* Sex? Not at work, people, keep that in mind, always. Or with the Nekkid Neighbors. Just a bad idea, aight? Lol. We’ve been watching Californication on Netflix, and swear to God, every time I watch it, I feel like I’ve been in an orgy, and it was kind of great, but equally horrible. Yeah.

* Speaking of pop culturemovies. We saw “Wild,” loved it, “Nebraska,” also great, “Boyhood,” one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously.

* Holidays: How can 2015 be a real year? It’s so space-age sounding.

* And in the category of Pets, Stupid… Our sweet, loving, funny Wacky Cat 2 passed away last month. I keep looking for him, thinking I see him, missing him. It just sucks.

* Houses & Homes: We’re cleaning & rearranging & opposite-of-hoarding like mad right now because we’re moving again.

In five years.

But, as one of my 80-something-year-old neighbors told me after New Year’s, “Every year, I don’t know what it is. The days go slower and the years go faster.” Then he gave me a big smile, I smiled back, and he pedaled off on his bike. I know just what he means.

All for now, xo,

wm

Here, kitty, kitty!

November 12th, 2014

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Wacky Cat 2′s blindness is presenting some challenges. For us more than him.

“You’re working out? Here, I’ll walk under the elliptical.”

“The fan is turned on? I’ll stick my nose into it. And lick it. Now, where’s a wall?”

I love him so much. He had some kind of virus a few weeks ago, we thought he was a goner…

“But the cat came back/
the very next day/
thought he was a goner/
but the cat came back/
no he couldn’t stay away…”

17 years old now, skinny, sack of bones, but happy, eating & drinking OK, loves to sleep on me, interested in life, and there you have it. Also loves to purr in my ear and snuggle in on my shoulder, when I’m kicked back.

Best kitty in the world.

Enjoy your week, y’all.

xo

wm

Dec. 3, 2014: RIP, dear, dear Woogie, 1997-2014. You were a joy and my best friend. love you, cat. xoxoxoxo

my kitty at the beach

February 25th, 2014

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

just sayin’…

September 24th, 2013

here’s a pretty picture for you

March 22nd, 2013

Here’s my cat, waiting for the bird to fly back into his mouth. Steve took it away, mean guy that he is. (We think it lived.) (Dang cat.)

Hello baby

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

best picture of my cat ever

March 3rd, 2013

Rawr.

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

This pic pretty much sums up everything you need to know about our cat, Baby.

my kitty-kitty

January 24th, 2013

Baby loves his dollie

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

best cat ever

December 23rd, 2012

LuLu, aka Wacky Cat 1, we will miss you always. Love you, sweet girl. (Here are my favorite pictures, from when we brought a friend home for her.)

You lookin' at me?

Edited New Year’s Eve to say: Stopped by the post office with Steve this morning to pick up LuLu’s ashes. Why? Because the Pet Remains with Dignity people just had to send the box registered mail. (No, they didn’t. Seriously. If someone had stolen our late, wild kitty’s remains from the porch, then cosmic joke would have been on them.) Well, it’s a little depressing, picking up your cat’s ashes (inside a box, inside a package wrapped in plain brown paper) from the nice postal guy, who made me sign my name, print my name, and write out our address, in addition to all of the same on a slip of paper the other nice postal carrier left at the door, “sorry, cannot leave package as Signature is Required,” etc.)…

Where was I? It’s a little sad, really, taking care of a small piece of business like that, when what I’d really like to be doing instead is having brunch with my husband, and guzzling mimosas.

Only I don’t drink anymore, so much for that plan. Sorry, denial, you just don’t do it for me anymore. I would love to try to find a way to forget that my kitty is gone. We were together for 17 years! She was funny, cuz she quacked instead of meowed! Also, I loved the way she would threaten you by holding up just one, flexed paw, claws extended. “I’ll cut ya.”

Sigh. One mimosa? Nope.

Quiet, sad moment. Then we walked outside and right then…

It started to snow. Gorgeous, beautiful, cold, white snowflakes.

Because my kitty is an angel now, that’s why, and she sent the snow.

The End and Happy New Year, dear readers.

– wm

blogging, day 15: payday

November 15th, 2012

I love payday, that’s right. Especially since I’ve been off work for a year and a damn half. Sweetness of finally getting paid… and buying groceries! and sweets for Diwali!

Diwali sweets

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Here’s a question:

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Tell us about your favourite pet.

I’m pretty fond of the cats. They’re extra snuggly now that the weather has turned.

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