The Dynamic Duo

Finally, after almost a year, I have gotten around to uploading some of my photos to a web album and finding an online photo editing program.  I am really excited about it…then again, I get really excited over finding a penny in a parking lot.  Nevertheless, what this means for you, dear readers, is more photos!  I find it a little narcissistic on my part to assume that I can captivate you with only my written words and no photos.  BO-RING.  So here we go!

If you have read my old posts, you’ll remember Wayward Jones, the chicken who was infamous for running circles and otherwise getting herself in all sorts of hijinks.  She also, unfortunately, met her end when a neighborhood dog carried her off.

A few months ago, I got an email about someone wanting to relocate a couple of roosters.  One was a breed called a Showgirl.  Showgirl chickens are a cross between a Silkie and a Naked Neck breed.  The result, after several generations of re-crossing with Silkies, is a bird that looks primarily like a Silkie, but with a naked neck.  Thus, here is the result.  I am happy to introduce Ernie The Wonder Chicken, our new farm mascot:

As with Wayward, I knew from the beginning that Ernie was going to be different.  I’m not sure exactly what it was (besides the fact he looks like a turkey mated with a cotton ball), but something immediately struck me about his personality.  One day I decided to give ol’ Ernie a bath.  Yes, really.  His feathers were stained a little from some red clay at the former owner’s house.  No, he wasn’t sculpting, by the way…we just happen to have some seriously red dirt around here.  Anyway, I took Ernie to the tub and scrubbed him down with baby shampoo.  He seemed to be, well, enjoying it.  Either that, or he was in some serious shock.  The fact is, he didn’t move through the entire process.  Then came the blow dryer (well, I couldn’t very well leave him wet, could I?).  To those people who believe that chickens have no personalities, all I can tell you is that you just haven’t met the right ones yet.  Ernie is the first metrosexual rooster I’ve ever seen.  He clucked and strutted and fluffed himself through the entire drying process like a teenage girl primping for a date.  It became immediately apparent that this was going to be a funny bird.

Now that we’ve had him a while, Ernie’s personality has really come out.  He is not afraid of people, and though he doesn’t always want to be caught, when he is, he will just lay in your arms and crow, if he’s in the mood.  He doesn’t struggle, which is pretty unusual for most roosters.  He has also rode with us to town a few times, even going through the drive through at Chicken Express (and living to tell the tale).   Just recently, he has adopted a baby hen as his own.  Not as his mate, but more as his own chick, which is odd.  He will actually catch bugs for her and lay them at her feet, as a mother hen would.  They sleep together, eat together, and are rarely a few feet apart.  I was so impressed with Ernie’s attitude that I bought 17 baby Silkies, just so that he could have some ‘ladyfriends’…and hopefully make more little Ernies.

Now, on to another new member of the farm.  We were at the local Atwood’s several weeks back, when a baby chick caught my eye.  It was just like Ernie, only in miniature.  Please meet “Poindexter”:

Poindexter is a Transylvanian Naked Neck, also known as a Turken.  It was once believed that they were a cross between a turkey and a chicken.  (not true)  Here’s an interesting article on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of naked necks.  Poindexter exhibited extreme friendliness even from the beginning, when most chicks run away from you.  Now that I know more about the Naked Necks, I am seriously thinking about eventually switching my flock to them. They do better in hot weather (and good in cold, even), they lay about 180 brown eggs a year and are great foragers.  I noticed that as he (or she) grew older, Dexter could snap a gnat out of the air with ease.  Here is another glimpse:

See? Even chickens enjoy springtime flowers. Now for one final shot:


Fighting the System…AKA To Kill A Mockingbird

I’ve told you previously that there is a pest for any fruit/veggie that you wish to grow.  They’re relentlessly trying to eat the plant before you do.  For a gardener, it’s just a case of winning the battle, but never the war.

Last night, I thought it would be a good time to check for tomato hornworms.  If you’ve never heard of them, they grow to an enormously freaky size and can eat half of your tomato plant in about as much time as it would take you to slurp a spaghetti noodle.  I ended up finding 4, which was surprising, since I hadn’t seen ANY earlier that day, but that’s kind of the hornworm’s M.O.: You won’t notice anything amiss one minute, and the next, half of your plant is eaten.  Using my own “CSI: Tomato” methods, I deduced that the eaten parts of the plant had been done extremely recently and located fresh worm ‘frass’ (aka: POOP).  Sure enough, there was a nice, 4.5″ worm clinging to my plant. Actually, 3 of them (one was small).  Grrr….The sentence handed down was ‘Death by Chicken’.

So today, I was looking out into the garden and a family of mockingbirds decided to build another nest in my blackberry bush.  One of the babies from the first nest was picking my berries off,  one by one.  Mind you, I haven’t even had ONE berry myself this year!  I screamed, “Hey, (insert synonym for male donkey)!”, and ran at the bird with a stick in my hand.  He fluttered off, looking at me with disgust and a sly look that said, “I’ll be back as soon as the front door closes”.  Which I’m sure that he was.  So, I got out in the 90+ degree heat and started attempting to put a net over what was left of the berries.  Not a good idea to try by yourself.  I ended up popping off about 5 nice looking berries when the netting stuck to them, then the netting got stuck to every thorn on the berry vine, not to mention every stick, rock and piece of grass in the way.  Sweating profusely and tired of fighting the stupid net, I went back inside.  I’m sure that the mockingbird was back before I had stepped 2 feet into the house.  Sometimes you have to admit a certain level of defeat.  However, they don’t know about my next move, which is plastic snakes.  I put a fake snake in my plum tree to ward off the birds.  SO FAR, it is working.  Hell, I almost peed myself one night when I was walking by the tree, looked up, and thought I was eye to eye with a snake. And I’m not even remotely afraid of snakes!  So, I hope the birds feel the same way.  I just hope that they can’t read the “Made In China” stamp  on the snake.  Then the cat’s way out of the bag.