Tuesday, March 23, 2010

That one scream

I have loud kids. The boys could probably be hired by the National Weather Service to replace tornado sirens in at least three states. We function within ridiculous decibels here. But even so, even this Mama knows the difference between I-just-wanna-make-noise...and the scream of serious distress.

A few days ago we finished our coop. Because we finished ahead of schedule, we were able to pick up our hens earlier than we planned. It was an exciting day for MamaTea, Iggy and Ooky. Brownie Ba-Gawk, the rescued rooster, was quite pleased as well. Who wouldn't be among a harem of women like this?

We all worked together to finish up the chickens outdoor fenced yard so they could have a little...shall we say "breathing room" after their introductions to each other.

(FYI - We fully intend to free range these cluckers and allow them to roam the property during the daytime, after which they will obediently return to the coop for a little shut-in shut eye. However, I'm not sure how obedient you can be when you're not even sure where home is, so for now, they play in the coop or the fenced yard.)

Anyhoo, once their outdoor pen was all buttoned up, we let the clucks out to play. And play they did - what a lovely time they had. Those dust baths are a hoot to watch, but not easy to get a picture of. ;)

Hubster and I had a few loose ends to tie up in the barn so we left the boys in the fenced yard with the chickens (at their request) with explicit instructions not to harass the chickens.

Yah, ok mom. We'll be fine.
I believed them.

Into the barn Hubster and I went, only to be brought back out a couple minutes later by the bloodcurdling scream of an Ookster. You know, not the I-wanna-hear-myself-make-noise kind of scream. No, this was that one scream where you know something is wrong.

What I imagined was happening as I hightailed my way back to the chicken yard was that Ooky had got between a love-starved Brownie Ba-gawk and his hen of choice, and was currently getting his eyes pecked out of his head.

I rounded the corner, and three things happened in rapid succession:

1. I sighed in relief. He was not losing his eyeballs to a love-starved rooster.
2. I laughed. Ooky was crying and screaming (and crying! Sobbing uncontrollably!) and pointing because HIS beloved chicken, named just moments before as Isabella, had flown over the fence and was running a hundred thousand miles an hour towards the woods.
3. I said, "Shit", and realized it was my duty as MamaTea to catch this so called Isabella who had proven in the half day we'd owned her that she was a complete and total Sass. (First S in that last word is optional, by the way.)


To make a very long story shorter, we did end up catching Isabella. And then we had to catch her again about ten minutes later when she flew out. Again. And then we had to catch her sister Teacup who flew out as well.

Cripes. This was not what I envisioned in my peaceful chicken daydreams. No, I'm pretty sure there was nothing anywhere in there about not-to-be-contained chickens, and the sobbing school aged boys who were in hysterics over the possibility Mom and Dad could not catch them.

Needless to say, it wasn't long before we hatched a plan to counteract this constant chicken chasing.

The very next day we got ahold of some deer netting and fashioned ourselves a roof for the chickens fenced yard. Because we are so cheap and didn't want to buy one that would fit a 14x14 yard, it required MamaTea and Hubster to roll out a 100' by 7'piece of said deer neeting and cut/sew/weave together into a piece that would suit our purposes.

Did I mention it was windy?
And 30 degrees?

Another thing that generally happened in my peaceful chicken daydreams was that when the chickens did arrive, Iggy and Ooky would be more than willing to help with whatever needed to be done, keeping a fantastic attitude and learning scads of information from this real-life adventure in the process.

Ask me how that's working out for me. ;)

Oh well, at least Hubster and I got some quality alone time together.

That netting is nice an' tight!!

But it was all ok in the end (four hours after we started the netted roof) because when everyone was happy and safe and feeling loved (chickens included), we got rewarded with this:

Life is good. ;)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Best Buddies

A couple weeks ago, if you would have told Iggy that we were going to have a chicken anywhere on our property, he would have busted out in tears. Iggy had a bad experience with a sassy rooster once while we were helping a friend with a garage sale. Buffington the Rooster was about as cocky as they come, and had no qualms about chasing Iggy. I told Iggy to stand his ground, and that running from the rooster would make it worse...but I guess its hard to believe Mama when a giant (GIANT!!) Buff Orphington is coming at you with his beak to "peck your face off."

That day scarred Iggy and now whenever we visit anyone with chickens, he literally cries if they are outside of a coop and ten feet from him.

I cannot believe his mean ol' mom was contemplating getting chickens this spring.

So imagine my surprise when the other day a stray rooster shows up...and one day later we have this:

Iggy has decided that he needs to feed him every morning.

He also informed me that he can talk to chickens and that the rooster informed Iggy that his name was to be Mr. Brownie Ba-gawk.

I think its quite possible that Iggy now has a case of chicken love!

To see what else is going on at our house in chicken world (we're hatching eggs!), check out my other blog.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wet Feathers

Just about the time I was thinking our routine needed a little shaking, it got shook.

Yesterday (which was one of many in a series of will-it-ever-quit-raining days) the boys and I were holed up in the basement, trying out a science experiment that was failing miserably. Through my frustration, I hear my husband calling down the stairs "Can you come up here?"

He doesn't normally summon me with such gusto while the boys and I are in the middle of such a fascinating (miserably failing) experiment, so I figured there was good reason.

There was. It had wings. And my mom had it in the house.

I don't know where this hunk of roo' came from, but he was sitting in our ditch like a drowned rat. Soppin' wet and shiverin'. My husband saw it, made the mistake of mentioning it, and my mom went out to rescue the poor thing. The rooster never ever tried to get away. Mom says she walked right up to him and picked him up...and then brought him into our house.

Oh readers out in blogland, please raise your hand if you know how badly I want chickens??

It is a good day. :) Yes, this was the routine shaker I'd been hoping for. The boys were ecstatic. And Hubster kept asking why I was so smiley. ;)

Mr. Drowned Rat's beak is clipped, and one of his feet were tied (purposely, it appeared) with a long piece of twine. I cut the twine off, and then my mom handed him to me.

"I'll get the crate ready," she said.

We're like an amateur animal rescue here, prepared for almost any animal we find who needs to be nursed back to health. I distinctly remember a baby raccoon being raised in our dining room when I was in elementary school. So keeping a rooster in an extra large dog crate in one of our bedrooms hardly seems odd at all.

When the crate was ready for him, we set him inside and he seemed to be glad to be out of the rain. He was workin' at his feathers, but he sure wasn't drying off very fast. He needed some help.

Of course, blowdrying him through the door of a dog crate only dries off the top of him, so out he came again.

I'm not sure what people are called who rescue roosters from freezin' to death in a 35 degree F rainstorm.

Or what they call people who bring roosters into their house while their husbands are smirking and rolling their eyes.

I'm not sure what they call children who immediately decide that their entire education now will be based on the rooster who currently lives in the bedroom.

I'm not sure what they call people who let the rooster snuggle in and fall asleep in their laps.

But we are those people.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Winter I-Wish-It-Were-Spring Olympics

Many of you probably caught bits and pieces of the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Perhaps you followed the ice skaters, the bobsledders, or the skiers.

What you probably didn't know was at the same time in a smallish town in Minnesota, there was a less known but equally as exciting sports event taking place: The Winter I-Wish-It-Were-Spring Olympics.

There were only two countries competing. Ooky hailed from the country of Screamtownia, from a little village just north of Tantrum.

He is a model citizen. ;)

Iggy was from PineBranchia. He demonstrated the customs of his country by gathering pine branches (knocked down in a snowstorm) and organizing a parade of Olympic competitors to the bonfire pit.

There were many events at the Winter I-Wish-It-Were-Spring Olympics. Ice Hammering was a big event which Ooky performed well at.

But then everyone expected that, seeing as he's got all that pent up aggression and rage...being from ScreamTownia and all. (Thanks to Falcon's Nest for the ice hammering idea.)

When Iggy joined into Ice Hammering, the event changed to Free The Grass. Competitors tried feverishly to knock enough snow and ice away to see the grass underneath.

And let me tell you, when you haven't seen a blade of grass since before Christmas, this is seriously exciting stuff.

The next event was Bike Down a Snowy Hill But Be Careful for the Ice at the Bottom...

...followed by Jumping Your Bike Over Snowhills Is Not The Same As Dirt Hills. The boys were great competitors in this event. They survived without breaking their tailbones, which in my book means they tied for the gold medal.

The scrapwood pile was attacked and a Combination Balance Beam/Trampoline was constructed.

Ooky from Screamtownia gave and impressive bouncy balancing act and earned much applause.

Because throwing chunks of wood and knocking stuff over is always a good time, a really techincal event called Knock the Cones Off Grandpa's Ladder was played.

Iggy from PineBranchia took the gold.

An Olympic event which seemed to keep coming up was Ice Falling, in which Ooky of Screamtownia got the gold, due to his many extra style points.

And there you have it, folks. A sampling of the Winter I-Wish-It-Were-Spring Olympics. Perhaps next time, you'll catch it on television.

I can hardly imagine what Iggy and Ooky would come up with for the opening and closing ceremonies. ;)