Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Retire. Live quietly. Raise chickens ...

It's a big deal here to watch the chickens. They love being out in the yard and looking up into the window, watching me watch them.

A friend commented on how much I am spending each month to feed them. Less than she spends on her dog's food and then on the vet bills. And there will be eggs. I am counting the days to when the hens should start laying. Five hens at one fifty-pound sack of organic crumbles per month at $23. And I don't have to use a can opener; no cans to recycle, just an empty paper bag when I reach the bottom.

To make it more efficient and easier on my back, my friends put a metal garbage can inside the run. There is a bungee cord on top to ensure the wind does not blow off the cover. The hanging feeder is suspended from a heavy duty hook screwed into a rafter. All I have to do is lean on my walker and swing the feeder toward the can, lift the plastic cone off the feeder, shovel the crumbles into the feeder, replace the cone, replace the metal cover.

Voltaire apparently never discovered the art and joy of raising chickens. He advised us all to live quietly and to garden. He didn't have a TV but he was missing out on the entertainment of chickens. I don't have a TV. These days there's lots of complaining about political ads. I think they are immoral, asking for financial donations. None of the political parties are charitable foundations. They don't do research to find cures for childhood cancers, for example. Nor do they feed people.

Why spend time and money on people fighting with each other? No need. All one has to do is make a few observations of the real life around you.

An egg is a real thing. There are three Wellsummer hens and two Rhode Island Red hens. They are even-tempered, calm, clean. One of the Wellsummer hens is a little bit larger than the others; she has the role of leader. She is out of the coop door first and is last in the coop at night. In fact, they will all go inside except for her. Then she will go in, but she comes out again. She dashes around the entire run, pauses, hops into the coop. In a moment she comes out again and repeats the sequence. If I come into the yard before they have all fallen asleep, she will pop out again.

It should all be worth it when I start gathering in all the chocolate-colored eggs.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Sky was Falling

The new run is finished. Thus, the coop is wrapped in a hardware-cloth frame.

I opened one of the side doors so the chicks could come out. We have been so eager to see them flying around.

But the chicks would not come out. They peered around the door. They balanced on the threshold. They flapped their wings. But they would not come out.

There is a ramp and all they have to do is hop down on it.

So, after all this anticipation and hard work, we had to settle for catching one of the Wellsummer pullets and putting her down on the ground.

She hid under the coop. Eventually she did go back inside the coop.

And she stayed there.

They have agoraphobia.

It was blustery and cold. Fat drops of rain began to fall. So, tomorrow is another day.  Maybe the chicks, eight weeks old, will feel like having an adventure. Maybe they will be a bit more daring.

I closed everything up.  I fed Bummer.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Urban Sheep

It was time to leave the isolation , as much as I loved the area. Bummer and I were fortunate to find a spot zoned as county though it is well-connected to incorporated city amenities, like food shopping, a hospital, restaurants.

Bummer took some time to adjust. He must miss all the trees, ferns, and poison oak to eat down. Maybe he misses the deer. I doubt he misses the mountain lions. I know he misses Moses, who passed away in his sleep June 3.

The new place is fully fenced. Bummer has the shelter of a spreading cedar, though right now it is taken over by nesting birds and the constant chatter and activity has driven him to lie down on the grass and stare at the tree from a safe distance.

The backyard was overgrown when we moved here in December. Bummer has chomped down and cleared out the wildness. We discovered a French lilac, now blooming, in a corner, and that has to be surrounded with something to save it from destruction.

He is curious ... and took his teeth to a wire on the house wall. The result was that I was out of landline phone service for about two months because the constant storms kept the phone company busy. Meanwhile the fence was routed in a small section to protect the wire. Lesson learned.

I am able to clean off the paving stones around his manger and friends help cart the spoiled hay and droppings to the garden area. The yard is riddled with gopher holes. I put up a couple of wind chimes, which they are supposed to hate. I wanted to encourage hawks and barn owls that love to eat gophers and more large birds do seem to hang out on the telephone wires. But their focus seems to hover on the chicken coop in the front yard so I am afraid to let the small hens out until they have a run that is fenced over with hardware cloth. The run that I ordered from is inadequate. It is way too small. The entire coop need a bit of adapting to my disabilities. I can't bend so a contractor is raising it onto a platform. Hopefully I will be able to care for the hens myself, without bending.

Do what you can still do. That's what I think. With help from friends, you can do a lot.