Sunday, February 28, 2010

Field Trip: Dog Show in Chicago

I took a trip to Chicago today for the final day of the International Kennel Club show.  Watched the Briards in the ring, then hung around on "Briard Boulevard" for a while, meeting dogs and people.  You can see some of the photos in this slideshow, or go to my Flickr page to see them all.  I apologize -- they got jumbled when I transferred them from the camera, so they are not in chronological order!  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Aargh, Nikon says my camera shows "impact damage", i.e. it's not covered by warranty.  They want $105 to repair it and ship it back to me in a week to ten days.  Am I unreasonably believing that I should just get a new camera at this point?  Feedback, please!

(I barely posted this before I found the same camera on sale for about $150 and just went and bought it.  A bird in hand... well, I am an immediate-gratification kind of girl! --JH)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Duct Cluck!

Blondie did not care for the red felt saddle.  She wanted something flashier.  So now she's wearing duct tape!

At first she fussed with it, hid her head so the other girls wouldn't know it was her in that Outrageous Saddle!

But gradually she came around.

Some chicken crack was all it took to lure her back in with her girlfriends.
It's a flashy coat, to be sure, but it's stayed on all day and she does seem happier being with the rest of the flock.
And isn't she stylish?

Note:  Wednesday the 24th, still stuck!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Saddle up!

This is Blondie, the hen who was pecked on my bad day.  That was about nine days ago.  She's been in an isolation cage within the coop while her wound worked on healing.  Yesterday when I went to fill her water I was thinking "I wonder when I should let her back in with the others" and she just pushed her way right past me into the open coop!  So that answered the question.

Luckily it was my day off, because a few hours later I checked her and her wound had been reopened.  No one was pecking her when I checked, I expect one of the young cockerels was too enthusiastic in mating her.  In any case I popped her back into the isolation cage and came inside to do some research.

Which is how we ended up with a chicken saddle.

The goal is to keep the back and sides covered either when she's being mated, or when she or others choose to peck at the wounded area.  I saw an elaborate machine sewn model with decorative embroidery on it.  Uh, I'm sure their chickens really appreciated the folksy heart motif.  And I saw one made of duct tape.  Apparently it is eventually sloughed off with the old feathers.  I haven't entirely written that one off, but hoped not to have to have something actually adhered to her.  So I modeled ours after a pattern I found online.

I used a red felt fabric leftover from Christmas.  Just cut out a square about 8" x 8", then cut slits in the wing spaces (where the pattern has "holes" showing) and ran a wide red ribbon through them.  Out to the barn to try it out.
I brought her to the smaller side of the coop and blocked the others out.  Only took a moment to put it on.  She fussed a bit at first.
But it only took a moment before she was showing it off.  In the photo above you can sort of see how it wraps around her breast.  I'm a little concerned that it might not stay on well, but I'll check her regularly today.
Once I knew she was leaving it alone, I let the others in.  They did not seem very interested in her.  So I left to allow them to visit.  I'll check back in an hour.

And that's the end of the story.  Really.
Addendum 11:54 am.  The saddle slipped under her.  I had to take it off.  Then the hens started pecking her so she's back in isolation.  Might have to try the duct tape after all.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

When does it end?

Earlier this week, in the midst of the blizzard conditions, I e-mailed my college roommates to say I was "snow down".  Blue due to the white.  Ailing while it's hailing.  Suffering.  I knew people who'd gone to Bermuda, and Mexico, and South Carolina, and the Florida Keys.  Me, I was stuck in the muck with the duck.

You get the picture.

For a while, a resounding silence.  But then my girls came through with encouraging words to help sustain me.  Today I got home from work to a box of flowers.  Secret admirer?  No secret, my friend Cheryl sending some floral sunshine to brighten my dark time.

Aren't friends great?  It's a good thing they are, because it went downhill from there.

I let the dogs out and went to check in on the hens.  Scooped up a container of scratch to toss for them.  They all gather at my feet when I first go into the barn, I toss scratch to make them move.  Then I can peek in the nest boxes for eggs.  All this went fine, but as I turned to go I realized one of my gold hens was being pecked as she scratched.  She has a big sore on her back (for the uninitiated, this is not unusual when young roosters are around taking enthusiastic liberties with their favorite hens).  And she was limping.  And the other hens were pecking at her sore.  (You may remember that my chickens are cannibals.)

Egglebert needed to be sequestered behind a door before I could pick up the blond.  As she nestled in my arms, Ari Duckass ran into the dog kennel I planned to use as the hospital ward, so I had to kneel down with Blondie and shoo Ari out, quite a trick with sixteen other birds racing around screaming bloody murder, and one majorly p-o'd rooster crowing behind the door.  Finally I got the kennel closed and came back to the house for supplies.

And that's when I smelled it.  As did Ulani, who raced into my bedroom to clean up the evidence.  As if I wouldn't know that Abe pooped on the bed.  This happens sometimes.  Normally after I feed the cats I close the bedroom door for half an hour so that if he gets an urge, he needs to take it elsewhere.  But I was distracted and forgot.  Now I have laundry to do, not my favorite Saturday night activity.  I threw open the bedroom windows and closed the door to keep the offensive offender out.

Catching my breath, I pulled two gallons of water, grabbed a bowl and a chick waterer, and returned to the barn.  First I gave Blondie water, which she received gladly.  Good sign.  Filled the general waterer, then gave Blondie a bowl of food.  She was glad of that as well.  But when she sat down for a moment to rest, the other hens gathered on the outside of the wire walls and started pecking.  So I found a couple of boards to put on the outside of a corner of the kennel to give her a bit of privacy and healing space.  Just call me Florence Nightenchicken.

I thought I would share a photo of her with you.  Took out my camera, turned it on, and discovered that the display seems to be blown out.  It's a white screen with little lines on it.  Picture doesn't change whether it's in the "take pictures" or "view pictures" mode.  I brought it inside and was able to take a picture of the flowers, just can't see what's going on -- and isn't that kind of the point of a digital camera?  I've only had it since September or so, it's a Nikon Coolpix S570 -- anyone know about cameras?  Is it a lost cause?  Will they replace it?  No funds hanging around for a new camera.  Big fat drag.

The next 24 hours will show if Blondie is going to rally or throw in the towel.  That's how it is with chickens.  I'll give the camera overnight to decide it's going to revive.  Of course that's kind of an empty threat.  I can just see it flapping it's little lens cover:  "Whatcha you gonna do about it, anyway?!"

At least there's a little, albeit vegetative, sunshine to cheer me.

Sunday -- Blondie seems much perkier this morning.  I think a couple more days in isolation and she'll be ready to reintegrate.  And Nikon says "send the camera in."  So we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


My Oskar-Schmoskar-Kielboskar is getting older.  He reached 11 in August, which definitely means Briard twilight years.  His muzzle shows gray now.  His eyes are hazy, and when he sleeps he doesn't always hear me come into the room.

Today I took both dogs for a walk.  Ulani's quick enthusiasm for everything was a stark counterpoint to Oskar's cheery but slower pace.  In fact, by the time we were heading towards home, I had to pull Ulani back to stay closer to Oskar's pace.  To be honest, though, he's been playing the "slow down on the way home" game for months now!

He loves to be outside if the weather is decent.  He keeps track of anything coming or going, and still runs from one corner of the yard to the other if he feels he needs to.  His gait is smooth and flowing, the "quicksilver" of the Briard standard.  Today he spent most of the morning outdoors in the sunshine.  And then to cap it off we had our walk. 

Then he hit the couch for a couple of hours.  Well, you've seen this photo, it wasn't today.  Today all three of us hit the couch.  It's my day off.

Beautiful Oskar.  As long as he's comfortable, I want him to stay around a long time.  He's my best boy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Have you noticed the quotes on chickens and solitude on the right side of the page?  I'd like to add more.  My mother just gave me this one:
Raising children is like being pecked to death by chickens.  -- Anonymous
I don't think my mother is anonymous.  But maybe...?

Do you have any good quotes on the subjects at hand?  Please comment them below.  It's the dead of winter and the cabin fever is heating up!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monsta Noodles!

The hens lay exceptionally well at present.  And the egg market is soft, with weekenders staying in the big city rather than challenging our fickle southwest Michigan climate.  What's a girl to do with all the extras?

I posted my question on the Farm Life Forum.   Calliope responded that she makes egg noodles.  Brilliant!  I love egg noodles!  She shared a dirt simple recipe which I immediately cut down for experimenting purposes.  I took 1/2 cup of flour, added a whole egg plus an egg yolk, and started mixing.  I used my mixer so I could do other things in the kitchen while it worked.  Once the first half cup of flour was in and it had become a sticky dough, I added almost a second half cup until I had a nice, soft, smooth dough.  Let it sit for half an hour or so.

Then roll it out thin, let it dry ten minutes or so, then cut into noodles.  They can be cooked right away or dried a bit longer.  (Or I suppose frozen at that point.)

I rolled and rolled and the dough seemed really thin, so I rolled the dough disk like a jelly roll and sliced nice egg noodles.  So I thought!  Popped them into boiling water and they became:

Monsta Noodles!

They almost crawled out of the pan!  When they went in, there was plenty of boiling water, but they ate it up and begged for more!  Aren't they a glorious color, however?  Yum.

I sauteed some onions and cauliflower with dill and sour cream to put on top of the noodles.  Sorry, I missed the photo of the final product.  I was hungry! 

NOTE 2/4/10:  Seems everyone has extra eggs at the moment!  Suzanne McMinn posted her suggestion today.  It's a good idea!  How to Freeze Eggs