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Friday, December 27, 2013



When the chickens molted and fluffy plumage replaced their dirty bedraggled feathers I thought Gladys was finally free of her nasty ‘vent gleet' problem; the one that necessitated daily sitz baths, butt clippings and applications of creams and ointments, but I celebrated too soon.  The problem has recurred, so I recently consulted Dave, a vet with decades of poultry expertise.

"That's a really rare condition that only affects about one in 500 birds.  Most people just cull them, but...," he said, rolling his eyes and knowing I wasn't about to "cull" Gladys.  How could I?  You may recall it was Gladys who proved that in a pinch chickens can swim.  It's Gladys who much to Corky and Andy's dismay rides around on the bad asses asses.  It's Gladys who stands at the back door demanding Cherrios or oatmeal or anything else she might consider tastier than scratch feed.  No, Gladys would not be culled.

I admit that during those disgusting sitz baths and chicken butt scrubs that I secretly wished Mister Hawk would swoop down and have her for lunch, but alas that wasn't likely either.  Gladys stinks and even a hungry hawk has culinary standards.  He says he'll wait for a prettier, less odiferous hen.  So, what to do?

"Let's try her on this," said the vet proffering a bottle of big pills with an unpronounceable name.

"I don't know how to give a chicken a pill!" I protested. 

"Oh, it's easy.  You just pry open her beak and put the pill on the back of her tongue and then massage her neck on either side until she swallows it," he countered as if everyone should know this. 

Back home, Gladys (being the clever girl that she is) immediately suspected something was up and has now taken to going to roost on the loftiest rafter.  Not a chance of just snatching the drowsy bird from her perch and then jamming the pill down her gullet.  Oh no, that would be too simple. 

Now I'm going to have to drag the big ladder out to the coop, climb up there and hope not to be hit with one of her splattering splops before grabbing her legs, up-ending the protester and hauling her to the work bench for this latest vent gleet treatment.  Oh, I neglected to mention that her pills were not free.  She is now possibly one of the country's most valuable hens. 

I'm thinking that keeping chickens is no longer a good idea.

4:35 pm est          Comments

Sunday, December 15, 2013



...And I find the snow so beautiful, but the winds that brought it were cruel and biting.  Even so, after shoveling the driveway in order to get the gate open the dogs and I took a walk through our silent winter wonderland.  Tom Cat joined us, but we seemed to be the only souls around who were enjoying this lovely December day.



4:51 pm est          Comments

Thursday, December 5, 2013



Ah, tis the season....  Here in our usually-tranquil community, this means a time of break-ins and robberies.  There have been several already and the police have warned folks to be extra vigilant, so last night when the canine crew went into guard dog overdrive alerting me to something or someone lurking in the darkness I admit to being just a teensy bit nervous.  Maybe I've watched too many episodes of Law & Order, but I called our Marlboro PD which is conveniently located just up the road. 

"We'll be right down," said the night officer and within minutes his cruiser with every light flashing was parked at the end of my drive.  The young officer armed with a flashlight capable of lighting up half the township walked the property and reported nothing more suspicious than a lot of deer tracks.   I felt a little foolish, but relieved.  "Better safe than sorry," he assured me.  The dogs, however did not buy the all-clear and continued acting skittish and barking sporadically the rest of the evening.

This morning the reason for their uncharacteristic behavior was revealed.  The bad asses had not broken in, but broken out of their stall and had spent the night trashing the barn.  What the dogs were hearing was the sound of eight little hooves dancing around on the wood floor in the feed room--a sound only sharp dog ears could detect from such a distance. 

Upon opening the barn door I was initially too stunned to enter the chaos that lay before me.  Drawers were pulled out and their contents strewn everywhere.  Buckets were up-ended.  The heavy wooden feed bin lay on its side and all remaining grain had been consumed, along with part of the bag.  An entire loaf of wheat bread (including most of the wrapper) that had been intended for the chickens was eaten, as was a large can of oatmeal.  A big cardboard box of winter pears had been mostly consumed along with much of the box (donkeys love cardboard) and when the bad asses just couldn't eat one more pear they stomped the leftovers into the flooring and pooped on them, creating a juicy brown quagmire.

In the big part of the barn halters, fly masks, lead ropes and everything else that had been hanging on hooks lay in the ankle-deep layer of poop that covered every inch of that floor as well.  To complete their ‘redecorating' effort they had chewed off a section of one wall.   No one wants to encounter such a sight at 7:00 am.  It's just not a good way to start the day.

And in the middle of it all, the culprits stood mired in the mess and had the audacity to plead not guilty, but what was I to think?  That a cat had been responsible for the disarray that lay before me?  They were all too happy to rush into their stall when I opened the door that had apparently slammed shut behind them when they broke out.  Needless to say, breakfast was not served and they knew better than to complain.

And so my day began.


4:28 pm est          Comments

Sunday, December 1, 2013



Thanksgiving is one of my dogs' favorite holidays.  Not because there are any tasty tid-bits coming from this vegetarian kitchen, but because neighbor Bill has a compost pile which Tess, Julie and even usually-angelic Ernie regard as their own personal all-we-can-eat buffet.

It should be noted that my neighbor's household consists of just two people, but apparently each had his own turkey!  The dogs have so far come home with two big turkey carcasses which they have consumed with great gusto.  Of course eating turkey bones is verbotene!!!  Poultry bones are dangerous, but the dogs managed to consume a lot before I could intervene.   

Since they have supplemented their regular diet of Healthy Weight kibble with turkey, they have been experiencing some intestinal distress which in turn has necessitated some middle of the night trips outside, much to my dismay!  I have not had a full nights sleep since Thursday and at 4:00 am today I found my pajama-clad self outside in the snow collecting the latest remains from the scavengers. 

The tryptophan in turkey which is said to cause ‘drowsiness' has stupefied them.  Watching them blissfully snoring away as I stumble around bleary-eyed from lack of sleep is maddening.  I can only hope that Bill's compost pile is now depleted of turkey temptations.  The chickens are enjoying the confiscated carcasses.


11:11 am est          Comments

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