31 December, 2008

One of our favorite gifts this year

‘Twas the Night After Christmas
‘Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the pen
Not a creature was stirring, not even a hen
The postcards were hung on the plywood with care
In hopes that Demeter soon would be there
Machu was nestled all snug in her bed
While visions of pigeons danced in her head
Tall She without kerchief and Short She without cap
Had just settled down for a brief winter’s nap
When out on the gravel, there was a loud crunch
And Tall She jumped from the bed, quite ready to punch
She ran past the dog and startled the cat
And gazed out the window to see “What was that?!”
The moon and the stars shone brightly that night
So the flagstone and water feature glowed almost white
Then what to her wondering eyes should appear
Than Demeter and Persephone in the wrong hemisphere
Short She emerged and asked, “Hey gals, are you lost?”
The Goddesses responded, “We’re here for your frost.”
Frost on the patio or frost on the coop?
The mere mortals thought, “We are out of the loop.”
For what could fair Greeks want with hard dew?
They pondered and wondered while the cold wind still blew
Come visit our chickens,” was all they could say
For that was the fall-back position each day
Demmy and Perseph politely obliged
To visit the hens as they roosted inside
Three eggs of three colors had magically appeared
Like the fabled three kings, only smaller, without incense or beards
“Our Boxing Day gift,” the hens chuckled with glee
Only Demeter understood and replied, “I hope one is for me.”
Perseph, on a mission, would not be denied:
“We are here for the frost that is on the inside”
The women, perplexed, welcomed them in
Picholine meowed in delight with a chatty cat grin
As the She’s enjoyed this rare privilege
Persephone bee-lined for the large fridge
She opened the freezer in search of the frost
While Demeter found glasses, and prepared to get sauced
The scent of autumn lemons soon filled the air
Demeter said to the women, “Drink with us if you dare.”
The mortals joined in and the deities laughed:
“We love limoncello, by the bottle or glass”
Soon dawn started to break on a new winter day
Demeter whisked the bottle and Persephone away
Then the goddesses floated off to the west with a loud joyous call:
“Limoncello for everyone, and happy new year to all!”

Story concocted in late December, 2008, by Mary for Cecile and Jesse. Happy Holidays!

29 December, 2008

Thx, Kass!

There was a man who loved a chicken,
and fearful that the bird might sicken,
he kept it in a plastic cube,
and fed the chicken through a tube.

-- Gerda Rovetch

24 December, 2008

Oh Joy!

From us, from our beloved birds, and also from the furrier members of the family ... to the hardy few who read Poultry Guests: Joyous Noel! With more poultry flavor (eeks!) but celebrating a different season, enjoy this too.

23 December, 2008

What was that PPT event J, M, and C went to?

Watch this all the way through the Q&A. Did you ever imagine that poultry would bring you so much joy?

17 December, 2008

An update for Mary

We're finally in the egg business, getting two almost every day. It takes less than a week to make an omelet now. Rahoo!

29 November, 2008


Jesse requires that Cecile explains our title today: have you any eggs? There are many 'jokes' with this way of making words. So we're reporting today that the Bard has begun to lay eggs. They're small and brown with some speckling on the pointy part. This chicken looks and acts like a rooster -- huge wattles and very bossy. But on some days we get two eggs -- one from the productive Silkie-Cochin and one from the just-starting Plymouth Barred Rock.

25 November, 2008

Remember Kingsolver's turkeys?

In case you haven't yet read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, do so! In addition to being a good read, it'll probably change your relation to food. Our friend Jen is turning even more of her yard into an amazing garden because of the book. We got more serious about chickens and gardening after Jen lent us the book (although our garden is nothing like hers). Anyway, the book includes some hilarious descriptions of Kingsolver's turkey-raising efforts. At one point, she's stumped by a hen's behavior. It's hunkering down on the ground and simpering. She thinks it's ill and -- being as no one breeds turkeys in the old-fashioned way anymore -- she can't find help interpreting the situation. It turns out the bird's ready to mate. Of course, all ends well with lots of eggs and eventually a new batch of turkeys.

Our Plymouth Barred Rock has recently begun to do what seems like the same behavior. At first, we thought she was frightened (although she seems pretty tough most of the time). But we now think she's inviting our attention -- eeks! Jesse says not to hope for eggs from the Committee until December, but Cecile's hoping anyway. Waiting a week to get an omelet out of that one little Silkie is hard for an impatient person.

23 November, 2008

Mother Marianne

Three weeks ago, Cecile's mother visited. She came all the way from Memphis to see our hens. This is Marianne and the Bard communing with each other.

14 November, 2008

A beaker's dozen

Our little Silkie has now given us a dozen eggs. If you can call 'em that. Each one is about a third the size of an egg from a grocery store carton. We can never build up enough for an omelet, so we serve each one on a doily. We keep hoping that the Committee will learn from what's going on. But they've stopped expressing any curiosity about the Silkie's celebratory squawking. Business as usual on our city farm ... except we're thinking a miniature goat would go well with the next service dog (for training of course). Anyone for home-made yoghurt?

25 October, 2008

The barred's iambeak pentameter

We're proud to hear the little rooster crow,
except we know his mister status puts
him in a pot for dinner or a lunch,
unless a country lady hears his fate,
and cannot bear to see him on a plate.

20 October, 2008

A chicken-oriented weekend

Well! Our coop had a couple of big changes. First, the Rhode Island Rhed was indeed a rhooster. We took him to Patagonia over the weekend, where we were going to see Meg in a play at the Tin Shed Theatre. Sasha and Summer, who own the Gathering Grounds in Patagonia, were looking to increase their flock. They already had one rooster though, and he was much much bigger than our beloved Rhett Butler. Sasha, who grew up on a farm, promised that their rooster's pecking would only establish dominance and not result in death. Cecile wasn't so sure. But since the stewpot was an option, we thought this was worth a try. Of course, we'd stopped along the way to catch grasshoppers for our little buddy so he was full and happy entering the new coop. Apparently there will soon be over a dozen hens all for him. That should also ease his pain.

Back at Chicks Rule, our hens begged for company. Really! As we'd already planned to attend a little festival out at Brandi Fenton Park that was to feature local chicken fanciers, we took Rhett's (cat) carrier along. We had to agree before leaving home that we wouldn't buy more than a couple dozen new chicks. We saw the most amazing birds. Cecile's favorite was a breed called Phoenix. But the raiser with those would only sell "a pair" -- implacably meaning only a male and a female. Sigh ... How can she sell "pairs" to people who live within city

limits? Fortunately, we met Janice. She was sharing her high school science class's projects: 7/8s Silkie and 1/8 Cochin. We'll post better pictures soon. We have here the Silkies coming out of the carrier and below that a bit of the welcoming festivities. (Machu thinks they're pigeons!) So, the two we brought home are greyish and very small even though they're a year old. Janice says they're laying pinkish eggs, and they're apparently a very broody type of hen. We have yet to learn what all that means (e.g., how to lift up a pecking hen to steal her eggs). One of them is molting, and she's exceedingly ugly right now. Janice, who teaches genetics, was very generous with advice. She gave us a lot of informaton about her organic flock (Tucson readers: She sells eggs for $5/dozen at St. Philip's Farmer's Market.) and how to check for mites and when to cut the chickens' nails and beaks. Sheesh! We didn't even know that they needed pedicures. In this picture of a Silkie with the Welcoming Committee, you can see that our 5-month-olds are twice as big as these hens twice their age! The Bard appears to be Top Hen now. She's pecked the Silkies several times. We're trying service dog training techniques on her (DON'T timed just right), but it's not yet clear that it's working. Last night, the Silkies' first night with us, we put them in the corner nests with their own private food and water. The Committee appears to have left them alone overnight, but in the morning each one came up the ladder to inspect the new chickens. The Bard gave a reminder peck and then stole some food and then galumphed back down the ladder.

Last, because Cecile knows you'll enjoy this, here is Jesse cutting Buffy the Vampire Layer's nails. Getting the chicken's head under her arm was the easy part. Cecile of course had the far more difficult job of photographer. SQUAWK! SQUAWK! SQUAWK!

16 October, 2008

The bard's iambic pentameter in Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May.
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.

15 October, 2008

Poultry in Motion

Although our fan base is minute, it includes some fine artists. This photo comes to us from Steve The Photoshop Instructor, via Terri and Maria. Thank you, chicken fans!

13 October, 2008

A Very Small Chicken

OK ... we're tired of watching Rhett Butler to see if s/he's going to crow. The hummers must be migrating now. They're lively.

07 October, 2008

Something like 7th grade graduation

This past weekend, our chickens graduated from chick mash to layer crumble. This is a big step in their progress towards egg laying. The Rhode Island Rhooster appears to be falling into line. Maybe he changed his mind and decided to stay female so as to get that yummy layer crumble. And for your reading pleasure: Chicken Feed.

02 October, 2008

Chicken hawks

By which we do not mean the political or the gay. We're more concerned about Cooper's Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and Western Red-tailed Hawks (in that order above). While Cecile was in Spain, Jesse saw what looked like a huge and hawkish dove over the coop. Our neighbor Karla, who can see the coop from her house, had warned her about it. There are several hawks in the neighborhood. Cecile always roots for them when it looks like they're taking on the pigeons. Anyway, we've seen Coopers and Red-tails, but we don't think we've seen Sharp-shins here. Judging from this drawing though, it might be hard to distinguish one from a Cooper's Hawk.

15 September, 2008

Does this look like a rooster to you?

This is our Rhode Island Rhett. S/he is in the vegetable garden helping to clean it out and spread the llama manure around. But we do keep wondering about her. Gender ambiguity and all that.

09 September, 2008

Puns du jour

We've told our friends they're welcome to contribute puns to the project. We'll post a photo of one of Jesse's best soon. Over the entrance between the foyer (yes, our chickens have a foyer) and the boudoir, Jesse painted a sign that says "micro-chick processors." Our friends Terri and Maria have sent in the latest. While discussing the amazing contributions these chickens have made to the blog, we got onto the question of how they type. Of course, they hunt and peck.

07 September, 2008

Platonic Interests

Lovely pussycat chose to sit upon the garden wall to watch the chickens throw dirt around. Though she appeared pure of thought, we considered the consequences of, perhaps, a sudden change of heart and carried pussycat into the house; and added canine companionship for the cat.

Cleaning the garden

After harvesting our last cantaloupes and green peppers and Armenian cucumbers, we let the chickens eat some bugs in the garden. We'll soon rework the soil and plant for the winter.

After some wild bug chases, les tres chiques (Thx, Maria) made one teeny bed and all got in together. They took dirt baths and pecked at specks in each other's feathers. Then they settled down, and La Chilena went to sleep. Is this normal, Kathy?

03 September, 2008


Our eggs are probably still months away. But we're shamelessly begging bugs from every visitor. We're studying up on eggs and nutrition, and it turns out that bugs matter to the microchick processor. Check out these links:

29 August, 2008

Teaching and learning

The first bird to be comfortable with us was Buffy the Vampire Layer, shown here taking olives off Jesse's hand. Although the Araucana (that'll be another post) that OK Feed netted clearly had a feather problem, we decided to bring her home anyway. She'd been pecked in the big pen and had a bare spot. This photo's taken only a few days after these poultry guests arrived, and you can see that new feathers are already coming in.

Many weeks ago ...

we decided to grow eggs. This required a coop. What we found on Craig's List had to be cut in half before we could bring it home. It took weeks to get ready: friends and neighbors to muscle the beast to the ground, Jesse's bright paints and puns, marigold blessings from Jen and Kathy. We had to be sure that Betty liked the colors and that there would be enough nests and a place to store the accoutrements des poules. On 14-Aug-08, four chickens came to live in our backyard. They are a Buff Orpington, a Barred Plymouth Rock, a faux Araucana, and a Rhode Island Rhed. We hope they're all hens, but the RIR seems 'different' somehow. This blog will share our adventures with these poultry guests. Tally ho!