TT - irrational anger at a droid voice
Last night I drove up to Lake Casitas to pick up the chicks the Craigslist guy hatched out for me. Lately, I have to rely on Siri on my iPhone4 to get me from Point A to Point B. There’s a diagonal route that keeps me from driving out to the ocean then heading back inland for 30 miles. However, Siri is fond of the freeways, so I end up trying to find the shortcut myself while she directs me to turn left, then turn left…* The roads between here and the guy’s house are dark, narrow and twisty. While I should just suck it up and go out to the ocean, I never want to drive the extra distance.
I always get lost.
Last night, I ended up yelling at Siri when she repeatedly couldn’t find an address that she’s taken to to before, then I lost signal for a good 15 minutes and panicked. I’m learning that these chicken people really live in remote areas — I wonder why that is? :)
I need help, I’m not familiar with the area. Most of the time Siri trips up on the Spanish names that abound in So. Cal, but last night it turned out that I was repeatedly giving her the wrong street name Casitas View, rather than Casitas Vista. When I realized it, my anger dissipated and I laughed for a good 5 minutes.
*I do realize that I could map the route before I leave.*I do realize that I could stop the car to confirm the route / address.
Buttery Worms Here!
The place I buy bulk meal worms from claims to have “the butteriest worms” — normally skeptical, I’m going to take this claim at face value. Now when I call the birds, I just yell - Buttery Worms, come and get em’…they still come a runnin’!
Bella’s coming up on a year old. She’s unlike any dog I’ve ever had. Vaca has a sunny and joyful heart, Maggie was deadly serious, and Raj is a big goofball, but Bella, well, she’s intuitive. She has a beautifully calm and gentle spirit. And while she’s a mixed breed, true to the Pyr part of her heritage, she prefers to be outside with the chickens or patrolling the yard. All. Night. Long. She comes by to check on me but from time to time, but from day one she’s been an independent animal.
BEST CHICKEN COOP, EVER!
Only $3,000 on Cragslist in Belchertown, MA. Christmas is coming…anyone? I’m sure they’d throw in free shipping to California, right?!
Of course it’s nicer than my house, so there is that. Still…
The Bearded Lady
This Ameracauna hen just molted and now she has an enormous beard. I dig it. She’s in a pen currently, I’ll be moving her in with some young birds soon. She’s bottom of the pecking order with the older hens and they tend to bully her. Putting her in with young birds can give her a fresh start.
SLEEPING BARNEVELDER HEN
Talk about drama queens…this is one that when you pick it up it screams like it’s being killed, and then if you don’t drop it immediately, it goes completely limp in your hands.
Also gorgeous plumage in iridescent black, brown and dark tan…
I always like when I can find someone to adopt roosters. It’s a tough life being a rooster — hens don’t need you around to lay eggs, and only a few are needed to cover even a big flock if you want to raise chicks. The younger set is always challenging your authority and the hens aren’t always cooperative.
This weekend a friend of mine took four of my boys pictured to cover his hens.
- a flighty Brown Leghorn
- weird Urkle rooster he’s all leg. Leghorn/Cornish cross
- a HUGE Brahma/BSL cross
- a pretty Barred Plymouth Rock/BSL cross
(though he looks weird in the pix)
Ironically, he liked the Urkel rooster best, lol. Urkel does have lovely coloring.
OCD Egg Cartons
My friend Dana and her Dad have been saving egg cartons for me for years now. Unlike most people who place a few closed cartons in a bag and hang them on my door, Dana and her Dad create tidy egg carton towers often 50-60 cartons tall. They deliver them to me seated in a tray, so they are never dirty. You can’t see here but the cartons are also arranged by expiration date.
Side note: I think I’ve figured out where Dana gets her OCD from.
Last night I drove out to see a man about an incubator he’d listed on Craig’s List. You never know what you are going to find in these situations. Rubik, as it turns out lives in the middle of nowhere, on the stretch between Ventura and Ojai. What an area! When I parked the car, I was at the end of the road, and I was glad that I’d called him from work to get his address, just in case this was the end of the line for me.
It was dark and there was a long driveway, up to a house with a light shining weakly out front. Goats were milling around in what little light spilled out of the house. Rubik was almost upon me when I finally saw him running toward me in the dark. He raced past me wanting to make sure the snaffle lock on the gate was closed so the goats didn’t push open the door and go exploring.
He was a short man with a Persian accent. He had Beethoven’s hair, in a wooly silver.
He led me past the house along the side and then around the back to the door to a dark room. He reached past me to open the door and flip on the lights. The room was empty except for the incubator and a few miscellaneous odds and ends.
The incubator was a feat of engineering - he’d converted a dorm fridge to a heat box that could hold up to 500 eggs - 500 eggs, wow? It is manually rolled back and forth on a pool noodle to turn the eggs. There is a state-of-the-art digital heat gauge attached, but it looked like something that my grandfather would have cobbled together out of spare parts. And while it might have worked great, if anything went wrong I’d be left with a pile of junk with no idea how to fix it.
Anyway, I passed on the incubator. He shrugged then took me around to show me his birds. They were housed in a number of buildings scattered around his land.
First the pullets - all Rhode Island Reds and Gold Sex Links, all clustered into the corner for the night. He pulled out a flash light and they looked sleepily at us, before closing their eyes again.
Then the laying hens, also Gold Sex Links and his older battered rooster, a wreck of a thing. Typical rooster, holding court at the juncture of the two pens.
After seeing his rooster, I offered Rubik a couple of mine (he’s game), as his is not fertilizing enough eggs and he wants different gene pools if he’s going to be breeding hens. As we left that area, I turned to head back to the house, but he nudged my arm, and nodded this way.
He led me to a building off to the side. This one had a key. He opened the door and the room was full of pigeons. Iranian kaftar sourour*, crested racing pigeons. High fliers. Tumblers. Unbelievably shy and gentle birds. Beautiful. Clearly this was his heart, his true love. He pulled out a flashlight and showed me why certain birds were particularly valuable or special. He handled them carefully and spoke in a quiet voice. I asked how long he’d been raising pigeons and he put his hand at the height of a toddler and sighed. He let me hold a few birds and their feathers were soft and warm and so smooth. They didn’t struggle much and would quickly gentle in my hand.
Before that he was a stranger, after that he was not. Now we had developed an understanding.
People fly pigeons near my house. When I drive home in the afternoon I can see their rising white bodies against the light, their turning on a dime and all but disappearing into a dip before rising again.
*Lol, this is apparently a color, not a breed. My Farsi is clearly poor. I did find this though which is interesting. “Keeping and raising Pigeons is very popular in Iran and is considered by many to be holy. It brings good luck and blessings on the house of the people who take care of them and offer them a good home. It is estimated that 5 percent of Iranian Households keep pigeons”
EASTER EGGERS - 6 weeks
These are the last of this year’s crop of chicks. Mostly EE’s and RI Reds, they are just 6 weeks old. The two pictured are among my favorites. The top is buff and blue - really pretty coloring. No muff, no beard. Interested to see what color eggs she lays. The bottom is just a really sweet girl. More classic Ameracauna coloring.
I spent two hours…
I spent two hours this afternoon moving a custom-built chicken coop. And by helping, I mean I stayed out of the way of the hired help while they did the heavy lifting. I did help when they needed an extra set of hands. I’m filthy.
The guy who owned/built the coop is an architect, so the building is solid. He had it in a wonderful place where the chickens had a million-dollar view and where a Large colony of crickets had been feasting on the grain spill-over. A LOT of crickets. If you haven’t read my posts about how much I hate crickets and grasshoppers, I loathe them. They’re my least favorite insect. And that’s saying a lot given the size of the insect world. They were all over me - in my hair, on my shoulder, on my pants leg. Just. No. Ick.
The coop came with 5 hens, not 5 hens that I need, but then again, why not? These poor birds had never been touched and were not at all excited about being captured and held. Chickens when they want to can be very dramatic and LOUD.
This was a challenging move - getting huge HEAVY 4’x8’ and 4’x4’ wooden structures through a 3.5’ gates (well over it eventually), across a small yard of Astroturf™, then more remarkably over a six-foot fence at a cock-eyed angle so as not to not tear off the rain gutters, catch the wire on the gate latch, hit the water meter, or damage the garbage cans lined up on the street side. What an adventure.
Something to keep in mind: Though you’re gung-ho now, sometimes people get over wanting to keep chickens. No one has a good time when the fence has to be dismantled to take the coop out of your yard — least of all you. This took two hours to do. Two hours. Two. Hours. In 90 degree heat. And crickets. And dust. Always dust.
The move was so taxing that the chicken coop is still sitting in the moving van, and will be moved into my yard tomorrow. The hens are in a pen out front. It was dark so they were less vocal coming out of the box. I’ll meet them tomorrow and see what they actually look like when they aren’t freaking out. 2 Barred Rocks, 3 Ameracaunas.
The only perk is that by the end of the move, the guy was done with chickens - so he loaded up our cart with a 50# bag of lay mash, #50 bag of Scratch, #50 bag of oyster shell, big cube of pine shavings and all the food water dishes he’d bought. A pretty nice score.
Random Thought #4
I’m sitting in the room with the 2 week old chicks. They are losing their down and growing feathers already, boy they grow fast. I filled up their food dish with a new chick starter that is powdery. The chicks rather than eating it, are taking dust baths in it. o_0
The braver birds have discovered my flatbread pizza. it There’s s a little piece left that has thinly sliced grape tomatoes on top, and they try to steal a slice without my noticing. However, as soon as they work it loose, they run off shrieking and the entire flock follows them.
RHODE ISLAND RED CHICKS
I have ‘em. The Rhode Island Red is the state bird of Rhode Island. They were originally bred in Adamsville, a village which is part of Little Compton, Rhode Island — which is where my chicken keeping friend’s husband hails from. They are prolific layers of brown eggs, and are cute as heck as chicks. The can be bossy adults so I have avoided them historically since i have a wussy flock, but recently I’ve thrown caution to the wind.