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.

Friday, October 04, 2013

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Technical Aggravation

Please enjoy this Foo moment, while I try to sort through technical issues with Blogger/Google... I cannot update Bird House Pips, my URL icon disappeared, and in all the chaos and confusion, the committee to award my Pulitzer seems to have been delayed.  Insane, right?

11:04 am
That's it! I quit. (At least for this week.)
I have done everything I can to fix the sidebar issue, and it's only worse.
Goodbye, indifferent, cold, Internet with your technical jargon and heartless code.
Goodbye photo editing, thesaurus, web research, and earnest bolstering of other people's dreams.
If I want humiliation, failure, and profound frustration I can get better, faster rejection doing stand-up, or just going about my usual day.
I cannot take this any more.
So, until next time, I quit!
Don't look at me, I am hideous.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Three For Thirty :: Days 24-29

A photograph.
Some movement... walk, a swim, stretching, playing, yoga.
And sewing.
Every day, for thirty days.

Gnomes, gnomes, gnomes. My kit has run out, so I dashed to the craft store. Their beads are larger than what I started with, but I can cope. And this isn't an obsession... honest. It's more like a compulsion mania strong interest in making enough gnomes for everyone to play with, and to share. Let's just call it soul therapy.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall In Love

Fred Cohen Photography ~ The Artful Eye

Thompson, in the far window. H. Mako, Thomson, and Totoro... all cooperatively posing for the talented and professional photographer, Fred Cohen. He confided to me that he tipped them for their "coop-eration!" I think they sensed a talented photographer was in their midst. Fred's pictures made me fall in love, all over again, with my pretty chicas!

Lilikoi and Pele

Fred and Anna Banana were over for a visit. They brought pie. Doesn't that say it all? I could go on and on about how nice they are, how much I value Anna's friendship, what a blessing it is to enjoy company, and relaxing... but just knowing they arrived with pies kind of says it all. One of the pies was peach. Oh, goodness. Obviously, Anna is absolutely one of my very besties.

Max and I were just discussing beards, and chickens, and chickens with beards. And we laughed about Alaskan whalers, because that is the kind of beard our Henrietta Mako Hen wears, and she looks seaworthy and dashing.

It's not enough to giggle about the name, Alaskan whaler, to feel the pleasure of knowing an odd bit of beard trivia... no, I carry on about it. I'm sitting here, gazing at the picture, and imaging my seafaring hen, she knows the galley from the poop deck, she keeps a journal, and sleeps in a hammock. She plays a wee squeezebox. She probably busks when they pull into a foreign port.

Thank you, Fred. It was so nice to finally meet you. And these pictures are dear. Thank you, Anna Banana, my sweet and bosom friend.