Making Memories and Sexing Chickens

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My oldest son wrote about us in class today. So stinkin’ cute!

It’s little things like this make me glad we moved out here. He loves those chickens. He loves to chase them and catch them and hug them and squeeze them and call them George…er Lacey, DeeDee, Buffy, and the rest. (We can’t tell the Rhode Island Reds apart!)

He loves those girls!

He loves those girls!

They definitely have their own personalities. One is always the last to leave the coop in the morning. She lingers in the doorway, checking things out. Another hen won’t let me push her around. When I try to herd her in a certain direction, she does that chest-bumping move against my hand or foot.  She even pecked at me once.

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They were so little then!

Several of them think I’m a pirate and they are my parrots. If I stand still, one or two will fly up to my shoulder. They stay there while I walk around and take the occasional selfie.

I acted like I was going to eat her, so she turned around and pooped on me. Well played, Lacey.

I pretended I was going to eat her, so she turned around and pooped on me. Well played, Lacey.

They are fun to watch in the morning. I open the door and they dash into the yard. They fluff up their feathers and fight. If one finds a cicada, she picks it up and runs. Several chase her until she chokes it down. It’s hilarious. So I throw them in the chicken run whenever I find them.

Lacey loves corn.

Lacey loves corn.

Besides cicadas, tomatoes are their favorite breakfast. They also love the corn we left on the stalk too long, tolerate bell peppers, but don’t touch hot peppers. I snuck some in for entertainment value. No takers.

Recently, I noticed one chicken has a more-pronounced comb and wattle than the others. It hasn’t crowed but might be a rooster!

Rooster or butch hen?

Rooster or butch hen?

Are there any chicken farmers out there that can tell? Should I perform a crazy, chicken-sexing, voodoo experiment to find out? Supposedly, if I attach a needle to the end of a string and hold it over the bird, the direction of the circle should tell the sex. If it goes clockwise it’s male; counterclockwise for female. Or is that only with chicks?

I can just imagine trying this. I’ll have to catch it first!

They routinely make me look foolish. Last week, I tried to herd them into their house before it got dark, and they didn’t want to go. They dodged me, ran around me, mocked me with their little chicken laughs. So I lost my temper and chased them. Cussing. I realized how ridiculous it must have looked, but no one was around. Half of them got chased in, the other half had to be caught individually and tossed in the door. By the last one, I was feeling pretty smug. I probably looked like Rocky when he caught his chicken.

I hope you seriously didn’t watch that whole video. It’s the most obnoxious one I could find!

Check out my post on September 16th about my upcoming children’s book.

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Settings and Scorpions

I grew up on a 5-acre plot on the edge of town. Behind were wheat fields, in front was town. I had the best of both worlds. Vegetable garden, horses, rabbits, the occasional bottle-fed calf and soon-to-be-supper steer. (Stanley burgers were the best! Yes, I’m a carnivore!)

After getting married, we lived inside city limits in a nearby town. Blech. I wanted out. I wanted our kids out. We finally found the perfect place outside our very small hometown. Like 50 kids in my graduating class small…one stoplight small…one good place for dinner small–and it’s only open 3 days a week! And it’s barbecue. (Best BBQ anywhere!) Behind our property is the Corps of Engineers wildlife refuge. A hike through a forest of poison everything (ivy, oak, sumac) leads to a wide creek then the river.

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Little did I know, we had moved into the wild kingdom. Our first discovery was a scorpion colony. My eight-year-old found it when moving some bricks.

Striped Bark Scorpion - Centruroides vittatus

Striped Bark Scorpion – Centruroides vittatus

Who did he yell for? Mom. That’s right. Mom to the rescue, work gloves and long tweezers in hand. While Dad and the boys watched, I picked up each brick, plucked a scorpion from it, and put it in the jar. There were 10! Right outside my back door!

We relocated them far from the house on corps land. In a nice, shady, rocky place. We dumped them and ran!

Live long and prosper, creeps.

Then I found a dead scorpion in the laundry room. I hoped and prayed that it came in on the bottom of my boot. For weeks, I opened that door like I was special ops surveying the room for hostiles. That must have scared any others away. Never saw one again.