Saturday, October 05, 2013

Combs~Crowing~Cats~Catching Up

Little Debbie, the Silky Bantam. She is tiny, only in stature. But she's one of the queens ruling the roost.

Last week when I shared Fred Cohen's pictures of our hens, Zan noticed they were missing their combs.

Q: "Um, where did their combs disappear to??? I thought all chickens had them. No?"

A: Actually, we are still waiting for their combs to appear, because as big as the hens are, they are only three months old, still growing and developing. Very soon we will see lovely combs on our Ameracaunas and Cuckoo Marans, maybe some like Debbie's curvy flower. The amazing thing about combs is all the variations and styles they come in! Even our own small flock has displayed a lot of different colors, sizes and shapes. Sometimes, I'll hear someone say that a comb is what roosters have, but lovely combs are the honor of roosters and hens, both.

Lucky Penny, the tiniest queen of the coop. I used to tell her apart from Debbie by the turn of her comb. Debbie's comb curved in toward the right, while Penny's curves left.

Now I distinguish Penny by her dove gray feathers, and by her size.

She's recovered from a serious illness, but she seems to have shrunken, and even next to her petite sister, Lucky Penny is diminutive. Imagine a robust pigeon.

Why do I love these stern chicken expressions? And how is it possible that this young hen was a tiny handful, only last July?

Even at the time, I knew it was crazy to try and distinguish four chicks of the same breed, and give them each a name. The smartest choice came from Maria who chose to name two of the Cuckoos Thomson and Thompson, a funny nod to a favorite comic series.

Now, that the Cuckoos have grown, only Liberty can be told apart from her sisters, Thompson, Thomson, and Tamsyn.

By the way, this is Thompson.
Or Thomson.
But it's possibly Tamsyn.

In which case, this is Thompson.
Or Thomson.
But it's possibly Tamsyn.

We just don't know.

This much we do know: This is Kamen, the miracle hen. She survived a bobcat attack. Seriously. She should have been put down, with those awful injuries, but she had an irrepressible will to live. Her attack was almost two years ago... and not only did she overcome, but she's risen to the top. She is the Queen and King of the coop.

This is the hen that crows. Like a rooster. A rooster that lays eggs, so she's really a hen. Kamen started in June, and sounded more like a hen with bronchitis than an actual rooster, but she practiced all summer long, and now (every morning between 6:14 and 6:23) she goes a round of cock-a-doodle-dooing that is sure to convince anyone in a three block radius that a rooster lives at the Bird House.

Last night Maria decided she would like to be a pharmaceutical chemist. She's already researched and written her first therapy. A recipe for the relief of sore throats.

If you think you might have an interest in chemistry, pharmacies, herbs, healing, or life in Victorian England, I highly recommend the BBC program Victorian Pharmacy. We watch it through YouTube, on our television. It's a fascinating series, and, obviously, inspiring, too.

Besides research and chemistry, Maria is enjoying poetry, yoga, math, science, and studying local history. Third grade is a happy success.

Max is a sophomore this year, and seems well settled into his new year. He has two science classes, English, and Algebra-Trig. He loves physics. He's also joined the creative writing club. Now his friend Lucas is in high school, too, and I think this has made it nice, since many of his friends graduated last year.

Max taught Maria how to play Magic: The Gathering. It's not a simple card game, but Maria caught on quick. Last night Geoff learned how to play, but he lost his first match to Maria. I predict a rematch, soon.

Alex is painting, designing, and doing loads of homework for his courses. He's on the path. He met a really helpful school counselor, and they've formulated some clear plans for his education and goals. Alex is motivated, and diligently getting a lot of things done.

Hey, could you do me a favor, please? Check out Alex's submissions to Threadless, and vote for his designs. He's Charles the Cat, and he has some really great T-shirts that could be printed, if he gets enough votes. Since he's new to the game, he doesn't have the huge following other artists do, so his chances of winning are slim. He really needs votes and support. And there's good stuff... March of the Flamenguins? Hello. Hilarious. And for the donut shop contest: Dunkin'. A hot tubin', coffee loving donut. So cute! He also designed a beautiful cup of coffee, with a creamy profile in the joe. His first submission... the whimsical Accordion Cat. This art is good, fun, and totally T-shirt worthy!

Who's in the shop, as much, if not more, than Geoff? William. He has at least three projects on his work bench (i.e. the kitchen table) and even more in the works. I cannot do any of it justice, and he says he will start a blog so he can document what he's doing. The short answer is: William is prop making. You may recall, last year he was making tombstones. Now he's making a Graphophone. It won't play wax cylinders, but he hopes to modify it to play an iPod. He's making pirate sabers, metal and wood. He's making an excruciatingly historically accurate and detailed flintlock pistol. No, it will not fire. He's making a leather baldric, and soon I'll be teaching him how to follow a pattern, so he can sew his first garment... a vest. (Hopefully he'll let me keep all of this posted, because he's reluctant to have me give too much away.)

"Cats and chickens can be friends, that's great!" This was a comment from Mireille, and while Mister Foo was being quite well-behaved, darling, even, I cannot pretend that his heart is pure.

I think his eyes give him away. That is not mere curiosity in his penetrating gaze.

Oh, but he really was being a good kitty. And who could blame him for his unblinking stare? Those chickens, their feathers and ruffles, are mesmerizing, tantalizing, irresistible!

Mister Washburn Foo was a gentlemen, this time. But left to his own devices, he has been seen stalking the chickens, and even chanced to make a deliberate, unsuccessful pounce.

The chickens, in broad daylight, when they are healthy and alert, can make a good go of defending themselves. They are not pushovers, easy pickings. Two of our cats (who were not raised with chickens) never ever made any attempt to corner a chicken. In fact, they stay clear... as much out of fear as respect, I think. But we did have one kitty, who could never resist the stalk and the chase. Our Ferris Kitty had no qualms about going after the chickens, and even forced our bantam rooster to take refuge high above on a phone line! (Q: Can chickens fly? A: If need be.)

And for Missy Rose, who loves Maria's boots: Can you read the tag?! Funny girl still hasn't taken off the tag, or the stretchy elastic holding the pair together! She's gone out in them, like this, three times. Now, that's goofy. In case you cannot read the tag, and you still love them, they are from Target and they are on clearance. Her pair are sevens, which is too big, but the smallest available, and for tromping across wet grass and around a messy coop, they'll be perfect.

Well. That's my catch up. More or less. I still cannot figure out the technical aggravations that drive me to despair, and threaten to make me chuck all this. Grumble, grrrrr, mumble, arghh. But then I think of something new to share, or old to repeat, and we get an epic, long post, like this.


ArtyZen said...

What a beautiful post - it's been such a pleasure to have this catch up and to see how Maria is growing up. What a stunning girl she is - and interested in all the right things! And the boys too - busy, busy, busy! Love what Alex is doing.
Big hugs to you all,

kara said...

I love this update post!! :)

Miriam said...

Oh, Maria is growing up so fast! I just love that she hasn't taken the tag or stretchy elastic off the boots yet - it tickles me pink when people veer off the path of the usual and expected.

What a busy, creative family you have - and what a gift you are giving the world, in the form of your amazing children!