2.04.2016

AN UPDATE FROM THE IDAHO STATE





Holla atcha from Holbrook Hibernation Station!

Okay, I exaggerate. We've had sunshine three times in the last three weeks!! It's not all that bad! Unless you're a chicken and your water's frozen and the heated water thinger isn't working right for some reason. That sucks.

(Might suck even more to be the one who has to replace said water. Knock it off, winter!)





We're just over here plugging along merrily. Professor TheBeebs is well, quite spritely, and in rather good health for his rather advanced age. :) He has one of those stadium style classes this semester with more than 100 students staring at him blankly and he reports he has zero stage fright whatsoever! What a stud!

Huck is thiiiiiis close to reading but don't tell him that. He professes an undying love of McDonald's pancakes and isn't this starting to sound like an annual Christmas letter?

The chickens continue to be naughy bodies, as you'd expect.



Look at those brats.

We've been having in-coop days more often than normal, thanks in large part to Sir Ice Cream the Cocky Rooster Jerk. Once that turkey went into puberty and fully unleashed himself in all his manly dudeliness and things, The Ladies + The Babies started going totally bonkers.  All frisky and opinionated. Just the other day I found the pack of them all walking east on the sidewalk in front of our neighbor's house going who even knows where? Chicken field trip! Ice Cream was such a bad influence. So, we sent him to the farm! No but actually we did send him to a farm.

Okay wait. The whole story! I know you want it!!



(Obvious Disclaimage: This gets long, meandering, and pointless pretty quickly. Your risk, etc.)

ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a moronic lady named Natalie. 

Natalie brought Ice Cream The Chicken into the Holbrook family one Saturday in September when the Latah County Fair was in town and we sort of accidentally happened to be there in the Poultry barn right at opening. And did you know, those cute baby chicks and ducks they have, YOU CAN BUY THEM? For, like, three bucks. The value of a chicken life! So long as you get there early. 

Well. I bought six. Dumb. I told the chicken dude I wanted Araucanas or Americaunas. They lay blue eggs. Sometimes pink or green! Already we had two Rhode Island Reds going on (Linda and Tootsie, who are THE NAUGHTIEST) plus two Buff Orpingtons (Tiny Tim and Tiny Cuddles, who are the sweetest little babies and always do as they're told), so we wanted not-brown eggs this time. You really have to think about balancing the aesthetics of these things, you know, so, that was my request. The chicken guy was all, Sure thing I'll do my best! But, you know, it's hard to know their gender sometimes, let alone their breeds.

So wait now, you are wondering: Did this give me slight pause? I'll admit it, it TOTALLY DID, but I ignored it because that's how I like to live. Fast and loose.

Anyway, by the time they were ready for pick-up at the end of the fair weekend, two of my designated six had passed on to chickie heaven (common, apparently), and so we went home with four plus a six dolla refund.

They all fit in one kid's shoebox! Size 7. One of them escaped in the poultry ring when we were collecting them and it was all panic! panic! Hens clucking in their cages in alarm as all these huge adults ran around trying to catch this tiny little fluff ball. But we caught her! It was most likely Mars. Dang you, Mars. Mars is always busting out of places. She's kind of a brat, actually.

ANYWAY.

Huck and I went home with our four chickies--three Araucanas, one Rhode Island Red, as far as we could tell--and off we went to set them up in a homemade brooder in the basement but more on that later because all these chicken how-to requests I keep getting seem like fun and if I don't save all that for later THIS WILL NEVER END.

Ice Cream, Venus, and Mars: the three Araucanas. Huck named them. They were his babies. Hillary Clinton was my baby. She's a mystery, that one. I just feel like Rhode Island Reds deserve the kind of names you'd find in a secretary from the 1970s or something. One of Huck's three Araucanas, the one designated Ice Cream, pretty quickly became distinctly larger than the others + seemed to be growing much faster. Also, Ice Cream had green feet, not yellow, which is a detail that probably only interests me, but it's worth noting anyway. 

Ice Cream was also the bravest of the bunch and put up the least fuss at being held. Gender related? Probably not? I feel like I am wading in the wrong end of chicken feminism here and I don't want to say the wrong thing!

Whatever this is getting boring. I'll skip to the end. Something was up but we didn't know what, until last week. I woke up to some crowing. At first I thought it might be Linda. Leave it to Linda to be so obnoxiously vocal that she learned how to crow, but! Then I saw it happen in the flesh! Er, in the feather! 

Speaking of feathers, Ice Cream had some real fancy plumage going on all of the sudden, like, gleaming emerald tail feathers that came up out of NOWHERE. 

And then Ice Cream hopped on the back of Tootsie and Tootsie squawked in alarm and it was pretty clear from there what we were dealing with.

THERE WAS A ROOSTER AMONG US.

Other interesting things to note about this is how it completely changed the dynamic within the flock, especially with The Babies (not as much as with The Ladies). I'd been replaced as alpha chicken by that stinker and NOBODY was listening to me anymore. So he had to go. (Also he is illegal in this part of town, so, he really had to go.)

Can you believe I'm still talking about this?

Well, I wanted to eat him, it felt like the responsible thing to do. I don't even eat chicken ever is the weird part. But the town butcher only handles non-poultry (goat, lamb, cow, people), so it was on me. I looked up humane ways to slaughter him, reviewed the plucking process online (boiling water? dunked by the feet? uuuuhhhhh), and then ultimately decided I wasn't the one to do that kind of thing,the value of a chicken life is way more than three bucks OR dinner if you ask me). So we found him a caring home down the highway a bit, where the cocks are legal and an Ice Cream like he can be free to roam and harass whichever hen hotties he fancied.  

The babies are reeling with all this change, but the team seems happier to stay put on our side of the fence now that the testosterone level has diminished. Hillary Clinton has been a little bit heartbroken. They were going steady, see. They shared a nesting box at night. She still sleeps on her side of the box, all by her lonesome. It's awfully sad. 

But at least I no longer have to worry about cracking a fetus into my omelette?

Guys this world is a pretty brutal place when you eat things. Yeesh. 

17 comments :

  1. So,

    We live on a big farm. In a little country.
    (17,000 acres + New Zealand)

    I thought I knew chickens, mine are all red, all delightfully cheeky and friendly.
    My favourite although we ahve so many I cant tell them apart but I am sure it is the same one. Well, she likes to come inside and lay an egg on my bed. Its awfully cute. (She doesnt even poop! - inside that is)

    Then we had some babies and a few roosters appeared. The rape! really I would run out screaming going oh my gosh stop it!!!! my poor hens did not like it. Well one did. Anyhow.

    Roosters should be mainly eaten, and perhaps only carefully let out around certain hens.

    Cruel world aint it?

    Although I could tell you about the dog tucker sheep. but that might make you cry.

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  2. This post is a true blog post (omg I've missed them). You've made me want chickens even more, but we have a miniature dachshund (who is even naughtier than your girls - believe me) who would make their lives hell so we can't. At least I can live through your posts!

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  3. We also had a surprise beauty of am Australorp rooster in our first batch of chicks! We hung on to him for a few weeks until I just could NOT take the constant crowing (literally--every 3 seconds) and constant attacking of the hens. I felt like I was a party to poultry rape when I didn't want fertilized eggs and I was just putting those poor hens through it because of my own inability to decide what to do with that darn beautiful rooster. So he went off to live in someone else's deep-freeze. :-) (Also--my Orpingtons are sooo boring, but so docile, you know? Like they will sit in my kids' laps while they're on the swing, whereas the Rhode Island Reds and Aracaunas are busy trying to peck a hole through the window glass to investigate the kitchen.)

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  4. I'm so intrigued by your chickens! I love hearing stories about them! How do you know so much about chickens? You seem like an expert! And how do you know who is who?

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  5. But the town butcher only handles non-poultry (goat, lamb, cow, people), so it was on me. >>> this made me laugh out loud at my desk. well done.

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  6. Araucanas are rare rumpless chickens. There are only a handful of people in US dedicated to breeding them. You can find out more about Araucanas here: http://www.araucana.net/, Ameraucanas here: http://www.ameraucana.org/

    As for the Araucana / Ameraucana: Totally different breeds, each recognized by the APA. If you're buying either from a hatchery, feed store, or fair, there's a 99.9% chance that you're actually buying a mutt, and "easter egger." You'll NEVER find someone selling Araucanas or Ameraucaunas chicks for cheap. These are premium breeds.

    EEs are not a recognized breed and, unfortuntely, many people are not aware of the difference between Araucanas/Ameraucana/EEs and think they're buying something awesome when in fact they're just buying a mislabeled barnyard mix.

    Anyway.. the more you know /rainbow :)

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    Replies
    1. you're right, I've been using the terms interchangeably! duh. they're definitely ameraucanas, Venus and Mars especially! thanks for pointing that out!

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    2. I'm really enjoying the change in pace on the blog since the move, but I'm also a crazy chicken lady. D:

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  7. Haha - classic Natalie. Chickens are so funny. Loved your story - I laughed out loud!

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  8. Your hibernation station looks so lovely and cozy.

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  9. Brilliant post! Had me laughing so hard I snorted tea out my nose. Can't wait to hear more about your chicken shenanigans!

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  10. Freakin' loove your stylish red and white look ;)

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  11. Ewww yuk, this post brought back some memories. I grew up on a small farm and we would occasionally crack an egg into the frypan only to find a fetus. I never liked the roosters, they would always attack me with their spurs when I collected the eggs. Hmmmm now I know why I tried to suppress these memories :)

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  12. Love the photo with the chicken walking with proud stride! Enjoyed the post :)

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  13. Speaking of chicken rape. We have a pack of wild chickens in our backyard... (a story for another time), anyways, they were hopping on the back deck ledge to get up into the tree they roost in at night. The hen was on the ledge when out of nowhere, a rooster flies up and starts humping on her.. but as fate, karma, and gravity would have it.. the force of the humping knocked them both off the ledge squawking. And me and my husband had the opportunity to see the whole thing happen from the dinner table. It was hilarious!

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  14. Where are the boots from in your Cusack channeling photo?! I am dying to find them and to buy them.

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