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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pecking Order

The pecking order has been established. That didn't take long. I am assuming by the length/presence of tail feathers I know who is on top and who is on bottom.

The lady in the top right corner - pretty sure she is in control. I didn't notice the tail feather feature right away. However, yesterday after work I saw the pecking order in action. I was tossing feed pellets around the yard and if one of the other two hens got in the way, Miss Thang would just yank out a feather with her beak. This made me very upset. I wanted to yell and shoo her away, but I refrained. I guess that is just how some things work. Of course, I will be keeping an eye on the situation. According to some sources the pecking order can get brutal and may require an intervention.

No eggs yet, but for now I am happy to report I still have all 3 hens.
(Even though one of them is a *****).

I hope she knows this kind of behavior will be taken into consideration when getting a name.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 1

I met Todd this morning in the parking lot of the Small Animal Hospital. I watched him walk in with two dogs and come back out with one. I guess the other was there for moral support. I asked about the dog undergoing chemo. She is doing very well. She is in remission and has a great outlook on life. He was very thankful to the staff at UT Vet Hospital. Sang their praises.

That said - have you ever seen a person carry a chicken? Todd grabs one leg of the bird so that the other leg and wings are moving frantically, practically flying in a circle about the restrained leg. I saw some people at the fair take this approach. I broke out in a nervous sweat thinking about it. Then, another customer, Julie carefully wraps her hands around a bird as if she is giving it a hug with her hands. The bird is calm, doesn't resist a bit. This is the approach I took removing them from the cardboard box. No sweat. No really, I wasn't nervous. I just did it and I didn't panic.
 This is the first picture of the chickens in the new place. One of the Queens, I am not sure which one, is especially adventurous. She hopped right on out of the coop and began exploring. I have a feeling that she is the same one I found on the outside of the fence when I finally got home from work.

This is an embarrassing picture but I have to show it. Do you see the rotten plywood leaning up against the coop? (there are a couple different pieces, take your pick.) Those weren't in place this morning. They weren't in place this evening until I tried to catch the Queen of Adventure and put her back in the fence. Thankfully, being chased by a giant, overprotective, first-time chicken farmer, she ran back in on her own.

Aaron and I were outsmarted by a chicken. We put up a fence and reinforced the bottom of the fence to the ground with landscaping staples. Yet, we left the underneath of the coop wide open.

{Alternate post title: Mother Clucker}

In this picture I can tell them all apart - kind of. This evening, chasing them in the rain, trying to convince them that they should go inside the coop - they all looked pretty much the same with all of the running and flapping. (Aaron enjoyed this part telling me "Yeah... and they are chickens..." Meaning: They are animals and it is just rain.) With all of the coaxing they eventually made their way into the coop and I think they said "Huh. Its not raining in here. How nice."

After dinner I was alarmed by a peculiar noise. I grabbed a flashlight and my rain coat and headed up to the coop.  A little panic set in when I didn't see them outside. I opened the door slowly and found all three of them sleeping close to each other. A sigh of relief and then "Plunk." I tip toed through the coop out into the yard and stood the rotten plywood up - again.

{Aaron suggested another alternate title: Chicken Paranoia.}

So, a few lessons learned today and some more for that "Things to do" list.

They're Here!

I got my CHICKENS this a.m!

Did you know that they can travel speeds up to 60 mph? Probably faster, but I was obeying the speed limit.

More later. Much much more.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pre-Chicken and Misc. Thoughts

Feature equipment architecture..................Integrated probability.........................Data fusion.....................It is cruel, cruel management practice to reschedule the Thursday morning meeting on Friday morning, for Friday morning.

Why is it when I finally have a task after longing for something to do I don't want to do it?  Don't you realize how this will affect my daily routine of whatever it is I do everyday when I am bored crazy? Routines are hard to break. Especially lazy ones void of deadlines.

It is amazing how not staying relatively productive affects me. I was going pretty strong with consistent exercise. I was managing to keep some kind of order inside the house. Now, I am a seemingly out of shape hoarder. What cable TV show should I go on first?

Ok. It isn't that bad. Still... feeling useless at work doesn't give me a lot of get up and go for anything else.

As you can imagine, at this point on a Friday afternoon I am having trouble getting back in the saddle, wagon, office chair. But, I will. I came in early (earlier than the boss don't ya know) and plan to leave early. How early?  Well, not as early as I would have before I got a task.

Monday? Monday will be a different story. Oh, I already have my list of stuff to do when I get in. However, I will be in late. I have an appointment to meet the Queen(s).

Thursday, September 23, 2010


In high school physics I learned that on both the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox you can get an egg to balance on its tip. Fat end or skinny. Something about the gravitational pull being equal... blah blah  blah. I bought it. So every first day of spring and first day of fall since my senior year of high school I will grab an egg from the fridge and watch the phenomena.

This is one of my favorite tricks and I like to tell people about it in the spring and in the fall and whenever I can bring it up in conversation.

Unfortunately, the scientific explanation is total b.s. Regardless, it still makes me happy to balance an egg. What is better is that I don't have to wait for those 2 special days a year. You can do this anytime. If one egg just won't cooperate, grab another. It'll work.

I've found its kind of a good way to calm down and focus. Anxiety and haste aren't really useful here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blog Shmlog

I enjoying writing in this medium.
I follow others who write in this medium.
  • http://designandnonsense.com 
    • This is my friend, Amanda. She comments from time to time. I get really excited when she has a new blog post. Her posts always include photos.
  • http://Thepioneerwoman.com
    • I have never met this lady. In fact, I never would have found her blog if I wasn't reading Amanda's. I would really like to wedge myself into the life of Ree and her family if only for a little while.
  • www.younghouselove.com
    • I think I might have come across this one on my own.
I don't like admitting that I "follow a blog". I think it is something with the word blog. Blog. A log from the web. A web log. A blog. I get it. I just don't like it. I am ok admitting that I get a little upset when Ree, The Pioneer Woman, doesn't have at least one fresh post by the time I get to my desk in the a.m. (Come on Ree. I know how early you get up out there on the Ranch in Oklahoma. Where is my morning entertainment?) But whining that "her blog hasn't been updated"... I just can't do it.

When I sent out the first email to tell some relatives that I had started a blog I struggled with it. 4 words.

I started a blog.

And I looked at it. My head tilted to the side. My nose crinkled. Blog. Backspace backspace backspace backspace backspace (one for the period too). Hmph. Blog. That is what I started. That is where I am posting about poultry. Just do it, Lauren. "b", "l", "o", "g" "."  Send.
That wasn't so bad.

It doesn't bother me to "post". I don't know how I feel about being a "blogger". One who blogs. Yeah, I guess. But, really, I am just typing about chickens and other things. Mostly chickens. I try to keep it associated, otherwise... look out. Once the filter is removed, it is hard to put back in place. You might start seeing things like this:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Got My Farm On

My mom (a new resident of Knoxville) and I went to the TN Valley Fair on Sunday.

We started our adventure in the goat barn.
The prettiest little Nubian goat I ever did see. I need her.
At what point in my life did desperately wanting one of these over-sized, over-priced, ridiculous "prizes" turn into "Who would want one of those? Where would they keep it?"

I don't think I have ever been in the presence of so much ocra.

This kid was asleep when we walked in, and still asleep when we left the poultry barn.
We ended with a caramel apple.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hail to the Queen(s)

The Cinnamon Queens.

I got in touch with the guy (Todd) from Poultry Hollow. On Monday the 27th, I will be meeting Todd and his dog (who is undergoing treatments) at the UT Vet hospital to pick up my chickens!

I have requested three of the gals in the early stages of laying. Word from the Hollow is one of these hens will produce around 320 eggs in a year.

You might be wondering about a few decisions I made.
  • Why 3?
    • The most the city of Knoxville allows is 6. That seemed a little ambitious. Why not 4? I have been in some close quarters for an extended period of time with 3 other ladies... its not pretty. Why not just 2? Well, what if they didn't like each other? There is no buffer zone.
  • Why Cinnamon Queens?
    • Why not? What a name! (and I don't know enough to have any preferences at this point)

With the assistance of Google Image search -  I expect I will be bringing home a few ladies resembling this.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ms. Chernauskus

Thanks for asking, Amanda! I know the rest of you were dying to know too.

When I was 4 years old my mom wanted to go back to work. In able for her to do that she needed me to go to school. School administrators were not sure I was ready since I wasn't 5. My mom insisted that I could handle it. Dr. Lyman, the principal, agreed under the terms that I get tested first.

I must have been born with test anxiety. Or maybe I could feel there was some tension in the situation. Either way, I was taken into a room where I sat directly accross from a lady who asked many questions. Sometimes the questions referred to flashcards, sometimes not.  I remember the distinct feeling that the lady administering the test wanted me to fail. 

This lady was Ms. Chernauskus. She was tall and slender. She wore noisy high heels and head-ache inducing perfume. Her panty hose were always white. They matched the powder on her face and the curly, white-blonde helmet of her hair. Ms. Chernauskus looked like Cauliflower. And I didn't like her.

I started kindergarten that year. Mom was right.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

La lista de Craig

I was perusing through the Farm and Garden section again yesterday on craigslist since the first contact I called hasn't returned my call. It makes me wonder if I left my phone number or if I just assumed he had caller ID technology. Anyway, I think I came accross a winner. Next Monday folks from Poulty Hollow farm are going to be delivering all kinds of birds to the Knoxville area. Their website, http://www.poultyhollow.org/ looks pretty good. If the farm wasn't 2 hours away I would just go there and chase ducks. (I love to watch swimming birds run. Actually, I like to watch all birds run.) Two hours isn't so bad, I just don't know how well chickens travel. 

Seriously? No one wants to know the fascinating reason behind my aversion to Cauliflower?  You are missing out.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Egg Salad - An Exception to the Rule.

This doesn't really have anything to do with chickens. Well, not directly.

Earlier this week I boiled 6 eggs to make for several days worth of lunch. I used an egg cooker out in the sun room to decrease the amount of stank in the house. I employed the few and basic culinary skills I possess and Voila...Egg Salad!

I tend not to eat things that have a certain aroma while being cooked. That certain aroma that smells like the food has already been, ah-hem, "processed".  (I hope my mom is impressed at how clean I kept that sentence.) If you are unsure of just what I mean I will give you a few examples.

1. Broccoli
2. Turkey (thin slices from the Deli - whew.)
3. Cauliflower
4. Cabbage

OK, smell is not the only reason I don't eat Cauliflower. If someone asks me I will tell. That might sound scary, but the reason isn't dirty or gross at all. Promise.

And now for the news most pertinent to this blog...
D'white has lost 7 chickens to coyotes. He likes his flock the size it is now and doesn't want to give any away. I've done a little searching on Craigslist... no luck. The TN Valley Fair is coming up soon - maybe I can find some there.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stuff to get, Things to do - Update

Remember those lists?

Straw and CHICKENS! are all I lack from the Stuff list.

Aaron helped me again this weekend on the Things list. We put up the chicken wire fencing and the new roof.

All that is left on the Things list (after I made the decision that it isn't necessary, nor worthy, of paint or new windows or doors at this point) is to install roosts.  Oh yeah and...
  • Introduce the ladies to their new digs.

When I say "Aaron helped me", it should really be interpreted as "I helped Aaron help me". And sometimes, me helping him, wasn't very helpful. Occasionally when he was hammering in a support stake for the fencing, the hammer would land on his fist instead of the stake. I was amazed that he didn't wince or drop the hammer and grab his fist with the other hand and bend at the knees and make "Ow, ow, ow, OW, owwwwah" noises. 

Hammer Hammer Hammer Doink
Me: "Doesn't that hurt?"
A: "Not really"
Hammer Hammer Hammer Bonk
Me: "Ooh did that one?"
A: "Nope"
Hammer Hammer Hammer BAM!
A: "Sssssssssssssst...agh." (shakes out hand, inspects for damage)
Me: "Whoa! What about that one!?"
A:  "...Really, Lauren?..."

That was the last stake that had to go in.

Thanks, Aaron

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's only Temporary

Last night after work I made some progress on the new roof for the old coop. Before I started though, I went up to the coop and shook the walls. They are by no means hurricane proof, but with a couple of additional supports, I think it will be ok. But just ok. I struggle with this. Both my mom and my dad are strong believers in doing things right the first time. I am also a subscriber. However, I am cheap and have a tendency to enjoy being lazy whenever I can. So, I am telling myself that this is only a temporary solution. If all goes well with the hens I can put some more thought and effort (or $) into a better coop.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I first typed "Dissapointment".  And then I saw apointment was missing a p. And why would there be 2 s's over there? And then I saw a spell checker button. (I will start using that all of the time.) I am usually very confident in my ability to spell words correctly. However, my husband informed me that I spelled neighbor incorrectly. I maintain that even though it was wrong - I fixed it - I spelled it right, I just typed it wrong. Regardless, I would hate for that to happen again. So while looking at disappointment (the word), it became weird. You know how sometimes if you say a word over and over it just doesn't seem right? Well, that happened. Then I broke the word apart. DIS - I get it. It has a negative connotation. Appointment - like a scheduled time to meet? Why does this combination mean what it means?

To fail to satisfy expectation.

Which brings me to what I was really going to tell you about. The Roof.
Last night I decided to go ahead and take the old roof off the coop. I had expected it to be light deconstruction. The removal of the first panel of semi-rotten plywood was. Naturally, I expected the second panel of semi-rotten plywoood to follow suit. It required a little more effort due to some extra nails - bent nails. With this extra effort came the disappointment.

My expectation: The roof would not be a major supporting structure of the coop. It is a roof for Pete's sake. It is to be supported by the things underneath it.  Like the walls. Not so. As soon as I started fidgeting with the second roof panel, the front left wall (which includes a substantial portion of the framed opening) and the left wall started shaking. The top of the doorway left its relationship with the supporting lumber of the left wall, as did the nearest part of the left wall. The supporting lumber in effect, stands alone now. And I saw the ugly truth about why those relationships ended. 3 separate pieces of 4" x 4" stacked on top of each other. No signs of a lasting bond. No screws, no nails, not even wood glue.

I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed that I thought that coop was worth a coat of barn red. I'm disappointed in the Fogels. (They owned the house before we did. Great yard work, beautiful flowers... not anymore, but it has been 4 years, and we're busy!) I don't know that they built it, but I know they used it, and that is the assumption I am going on. Just disappointed... I don't know what else to say right now.