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Posts Tagged ‘Chicken Stories’

Grounded!

Dad's visit May 09 - 20

Our chickens live a good — if somewhat truncated — life.

Their home-on-the-range lifestyle allows them plenty of room to forage and explore.

SeƱor Coyote, as pictured above in this springtime portrait, knows well the delights of the all-you-can-eat free-range buffet and has cleaned us out to the very last feather more than once.

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At various times we’ve contained and corralled, cornered and coerced our feathered friends attempting to keep them a little closer to home.

Inevitably, they fly the coop.

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And these wild-eyed weirdos are particularly prone to upward mobility, soaring over our standard-issue five-foot-high chicken wire fence.

But no more.

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For today’s lesson, class, we are going to seriously ground these vertical vagabonds. Please prepare a pair of sharp scissors, get a firm grip on your subject, and —

The process sounds more ghastly than it is.

Fowl (and feel free to try this on your cockatiel) have a couple of sets of feathers, one of which is used for flight.

It is those primary feathers that we will be removing today.

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First of all, you will need to take a deep breath.

Second, ensure your assistant has a firm grasp on the customer. Remember, it’s like a haircut.

Spread out the bird’s wing, and — *snip*.

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That first *crunch* is a bit unnerving but you’ll notice, La Poule doesn’t appear to have noticed.

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A little farther along, all appears well.

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A nice clean line, just the way my mother used to cut my bangs.

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Some extra trimming to make the trip worthwhile.

With my schedule it is *such* a bother to make regular trips to the salon.

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Nice clean ends mean a good cut.

If these ends were bloody — not good. That would have meant we’d cut a blood feather, one that is still connected to the bird’s circulatory system.

As feathers grow, they are nourished through the bird’s blood supply via a very thin vein that runs through the shaft. If a blood feather’s shaft becomes broken the whole shaft must be removed to stop the bleeding.

But we’re all fine and dandy here. No blood.

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All your primary flight feathers have been removed, ma’am.

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Yup, reminds me a lot of getting my bangs cut.

By the way, we clipped only one wing. The theory is that with one wing clipped, the bird will be imbalanced and not able to get airborne.

With two wings clipped

maybe

(flap flap)

if I just flap harder

(flap flap-flap flap)

and faster

(flap-flap flap-flap-flap)

I might get over

(flapflapflap)

the fence

(flapflapflap)

after all!

(flapflapflapflap flapflapflap)

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Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

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That reminds me. Need to call to get my hair cut this week.

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We’ve headed to the Mount Forest Fur and Feather Fanciers Show about six times in the last three years — last weekend of April, first weekend of October we’re there — and haul home a motley flock of feathers every time.

As my brother so sagely observed: “You know, if you’d kept them alive, you’d have a flock of a hundred by now.”

Fortunately, we reside in different provinces and I’ll forget he said that when I see him this weekend.

So, yeah, we’ve had our problems with longevity but the point is, we love our chickens.

Take this old gal here. Her origins are Chilean, first bred by the Araucanian Indians and over time crossed with Central and North American breeds so that she can be called either an Araucana or Americana.

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And thus she’s quite different from other birds. For starters, she’s rumpless.

Notice how she lacks an arc of feathers emanating from her tail area? Rumpless.

She also has ear-tufts and lays blue-shelled eggs. Fun!

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I love these birds. They have big messy mops of feathers on their head that don’t appear to impede their vision.

The main breed is called Polish or Poland and these are a variety called gold-laced. They’re relatively mellow birds and lay smallish white eggs.

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We picked up three hens and a rooster. Maybe in the spring we’ll hatch some chicks — baby polish chicks appear to sport a mohawk. Very cute!

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And these vulturine creatures, known as guinea hens or guinea fowl, hail originally from Africa.

They’re wildly weird, have a sharp cackle that devolves to a repetitious shriek which, noted my Polish grandfather, was in fact a Polish profanity which translated to “dog’s blood.”

They’re supposedly quite tasty — shhhhhhhhh — we don’t eat our chickens — and their thick-shelled eggs are dark brown and shaped like tear-drops

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They’re quite wild in that if I let them wander out of the coop they might choose to roost in some trees and not return. Not return in a viable form, I mean.

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And they have a certain je ne sais quoi

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And last into the cart were a half-dozen of these sweet little things. These are buff (the colour) Cochins.

They’re very sweet tempered, with feathered legs and feet and are bushily feathered overall.

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Cochins and the Polish are my favourite breeds but nothing beats the Cochins for personality.

In the summer they’ll wander over for a visit as I weed in the garden.

If they’ve run short of mash (feed with grain and crumbles) they’ll run up as I leave the house and walk along side, beady black eyes looking straight at mine.

“WHERE is our food, oh you with the travel mug?”

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Anthropomorphism aside, they’re sweet little things.

All the chickens have distinct personalities and there’s a bona fide pecking order.

Family dynamics in the chicken yard. Now there’s a scholarly thesis topic!

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