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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Godzilla, Another Chicken of the Past

  Another walk down Memory Lane -- meet Godzilla, another porch chicken. A perfect name for her, as she had a similar temperament to that famous Japanese star of science fiction.

She had a convenient habit. Each morning she left an egg in her nest in this corner of the porch. Want an egg for breakfast? Open the door, lean out, and reach for that freshly laid, glowing brown egg. Some day it was so fresh the bloom (protective coating, applied just before egg is laid) hadn't even dried on it. Perfect eggs, at least AAA Grade, orangey egg yolk standing high and proud in the frying pan. Until one terrible morning....

I reached out and found her on her nest wearing a most curmudgeon-like look on her face. Not moving, she dared me to reach under her. Does she look friendly in the picture above? No, she had gone "broody", and she had plans for this egg and the subsequent ones. Each day she laid a new one, until she had a clutch of  ten. Those eggs were hers, and violence was the preferred method to deal with the kidnapper of her future children. She pecked like a coiled snake striking. Drawing blood made her happy. I could tell by the way she smacked her beak after she connected with my hand or wrist. She never lifted off that nest as long as I was visible.

She developed such an evil mood it was dangerous for the grandbabies to come to the door. The solution was a cage. How to move vicious and violent Godzilla? We waited until she went to sleep; while in chicken sleep-stupor, she and her nest were scooped up and placed into a cage on the porch.

Notice how "Spud" (Grandbaby Matthew) kept his hands out of her reach? Her chicks had hatched and she was Super Mom, able to reach through cage wire in a single strike. Banties are well known for their mothering, and Godzilla was a first-rate example. One very scary chicken. You might see a Coke bottle of water hung on the back of the cage; we couldn't reach in to water her, so she had to drink from a bunny bottle. Food was poured through the top.

This chick is not one of Godzilla's, I wouldn't have tried to take one away from her. It's from a hatchery order we made a year ago. This chick is the same size as Godzilla's hatchlings on day one. The coin is a quarter, to give some scale to the size of the chicks. Some even had the feathered legs like this one, as the rooster back then was feather-footed and feather-legged.

Sadly, free ranging porch chickens have a limited survival rate, even though they have strategies to avoid predators. She hated being caged, and slept high in a tree to avoid capture ever again. Godzilla came down and set on her next nest somewhere on the ground out in the woods or goat pasture. We never found her or the nest. I miss my morning egg from the porch, and I miss her, too.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Debut of Baby Bunnies 2010

Fifteen days old, eyes open wide and leaving the nest. Check the lower left corner for an escapee.

Three color patterns just as we hoped and bred for. The ones with black coats, light ears and light necklaces are silver marten, like their grandpa.

The white ones will resemble their momma, Scaredy Cat, once their adult color develops. ----->
The black ones take after their daddy.

Scaredy Cat is not pleased with our attentions, but allows us to hold the babies. Six kits, evenly divided among the three color patterns.

Look at those cute feet! Look at those pink eyes! And the adorable tiny ears! I'm so excited, you'd think I'd carried and birthed them myself!

Lula's kits are in their nest box, contained for another week perhaps, before they can climb out over the sides.  We pulled back their hay and fur covering to see them better. Usually the covering is moving up and down as the babies explore.
Lula is silver marten.Five kits in all, and three color patterns--a wonderful result for a first time momma.

The goal is to have 100 kits to sell by Easter. We ran out of bunnies last year; we don't want to disappoint anyone this time, especially ourselves!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Homeplace Peaceable Kingdom

 One of my favorite pictures popped up when I was checking my picture files. Cats and chickens can coexist at breakfast time. Especially if the cats have been tutored by the hen on the right (rust chest, black and white neck).

As kittens they thought they'd sneak up on her one balmy summer day. She beat them with her wings and pecked them until she was tired. Anything wearing fur was in danger that day. They developed deep-seated respect for chickens.

Chickens get first chance at the cat food, so extra dishes are must when serving breakfast on the porch. Cats must keep watch for fear a chicken might sneak up on them; you never know when a chicken will go crazy and attack again. Chickens are not concerned about cats or the idea they've got their head in a retired casserole dish used to cook poultry long ago. cat food is more delicious when you take it from cats.

After breakfast, everyone  leaves the porch to bask in the sun.

Through the actions of a single chicken who'd  had enough of silly kittens, peace still reigns at HomePlace. She's gone now, but I swear each generation of kittens has been told the story of the Avenging Chicken by their parents.  All of them keep a respectful distance from anything with wings and a beak. Chickens walk unmolested past our outside cats to this very day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hangman's Cooking! Come to an Event!

Authentic  chuckwagon food looks good, right?

We got the dates for the living history events from Hangman last night.

The picture  is a "sample" of his cooking from the event we held here in October. That man can COOK!

Hangman traveled up here the last time I went to  Katy. 
he  picked up a trailer load of heritage birds (and me) because Art was out of town. The event was held in May, and by noon I had hung my voluminous petticoat on a nearby bush to try to get rid of some of the 1800's period insulation. April sounds much better for outdoor events in Texas. We caused quite a stir at a Humble Sonic when we stopped for drinks on the way home after the event. You'd think folks had never seen a 16' trailer loaded down with chickens! Not to mention the two folks dressed in early Texas garb swilling limeades.

Stop by and see him for a taste if you're in the neighborhood of any of these events :

Feb. 13--Heritage Days at Jessee Jones Park, Humble, TX

April 10--Katy Folklife Festival at Katy (natch), TX

I've attended both these events in the past, and know you'd enjoy them if you're in the area. See early Texas life and learn about the life folks lead back then.

 Ask me about the "Dances With Fire" award I won at Jesse Jones in the late 1990's in our encampment. That's another living history story for another time.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jellybean,the Spoiled

Pictured here with his beloved ice bottle, is Jellybean. Jelly has tantrums. Why? It's a function of his perceived status. He's been spoiled bythe Grandkids and believes he must eat first.

If he doesn't get his food first, he seizes his dish and throws it around the cage. The sound grates on the nerves like a metal trashcan kicked down the treet.

Hungry as he might be, food from a second, or worse yet, third turn is inedible. He ignores it, turns his back, and sulks. If he doesn't dump the pellets out, he waits until he is alone to eat it. He's a perpetual two year old. If he could speak, his favorite words would be "Mine" and "NO!" shouted at the top of his lungs.

As much as I'd like to blame the "Grands" for Jelly's spoiling, I can't completely. "Ohhhh, such a cute bunny," I'd say as he tossed around a dish nearly as big as himself. You'd think I'd know better, wouldn't you?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Buy toys for your kids and grandkids with a critical eye. I'd avoid toys from China; last  was lead in the  paint, this year cadmium figures in kiddie jewelry. The safety of our kids is threatened daily, and we watch them closely to protect them from "the Stranger".

 I yearn for the toys of my childhood. Are they really as safe as I remember? Jumpropes, jacks, paddle balls, and board games like "Uncle Wiggly" took up hours of time after chores were done.

Do you remember ranging the great outdoors unsupervised? One of our favorite places was the swamp next to Candy's house. Her folks tied a climbing rope on a tree branch, but we leaped it on to swing out over green smudged sludgy water. What a delicious thrill as we hung on like ticks, swooping out and back to safety. What if we fell in? A few parental words about mud, a swish with the water hose, a bath and change of clothes. We might have had to stay home for the rest of the day, but we were kiddie heroes to our friends.

After sunset we retired to someone's yard after supper. The summer twilight was long in Wisconsin, and perfect for hide-and-seek, kick the can, or Midnight (What time is it Mr. Wolf?). As darkness glided over us, lightning bugs flickered and blinked as we biked our way home. Heat lightning flashed in the distance, and crickets sang as we readied for bed, exhausted from miles of pedaling and playing.

Our children and grandbabies miss out on that most of the time. I'm glad we're here in the boonies where they can run and play. Sure there are dangers here, like poison oak and snakes, but we teach them early, and review often how to avoid trouble. I smile when I see Ali or Spud trotting alone down the right-of-way to the shooting range, Sarah taking her Papa Art for a walk around the far edges of the property just for company, or the kids running as a pack on the trails.

Best of all, no Stranger danger here. There's a big dog in training,  our family's reputation is well known, and that of our friends, too.  The kiddoes are safe to stretch their muscles,exercise their inaginations,and wear themselves out.

Sheer bliss to see them, grubby and weary, trudging to the car, experiencing the freedom I had as a kid, a long time ago.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dirty Secret Exposed!

Thanks to my loving husband's blog, many of you now know my secret shame. I like trash TV. I don't watch it daily, mind you, but I need an occasional dose of Jerry Springer, Tyra, Maury, or Steve Wilcos to keep a certain level of trash culture circulating in my brain.

I have excuses.

Astounding dialog heard on these shows finds it's way into my quotation collection. I never know when a gem might come in useful, like: " I ain't spinnin' around up in the air and all that like some ho!"Who knows what type of story that might trigger!
 Probably a sordid one, but talk about dialog that lives!

The fights are a useful way to study techniques. Maybe some day one of my characters will need to fight, and I'll be prepared with details. Some women use the flailing arm technique, others the push and slap, many simply lower the head and charge. Safety conscious, many remove shoes before battle begins. Other use shoes as weapons. Crying and howling are optional. Bleeped out cussing is mandatory. I've noticed that no-one seems to have any kind of karate belt; the shows might not last long after someone is KO'd.

All sorts of angst are exhibited in these shows. I can write about squirting tears, blubbering, shrieks of anger, and soulful moaning.  Swooning is instructive. Common behavior on the shows would get most folks arrested at the mall.Where else can I see the grime of life at its worst without putting myself in harm's way?

Last, there's pure nostalgia. I lived in a trailer park when I first got to Texas. The behavior there was similar to that shown on trash TV. What an experience it was, living in an on-going soap opera in the armpit of Texas. What fodder for writing brought back courtesy of  an hour with Maury!

I wonder what'll be on tomorrow morning while I'm waiting under the blanket for the house to warm up. You can't expect me to get anything done before my coffee,while the place is freezing cold, but I just might take some notes to add to my writing files!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


 I was six years old on a field trip to the circus. A clown was perched on the top of a swaying pole clutching a bucket loaded with what I thought was water. Terrified, I thought the clown would fall on me, bucket and all. I'd be stuck in my seat, soaking wet, with no change of clothes in my near future. I should have had  a ballooon tank then. Maybe I would be more inclined to enjoy clowns now.

Perhaps that's not totally true. Have you seen some of those horror films starring clowns? Inherent evil in parti-color suits!  Those films just confirmed what I knew at the Ringling Brothers' Circus in 1956.Never cut  clown any slack, pass the balloon nuclear device, please!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Griping Today

GAH! It's raining and cold. The sheets are still spread over the garden and have to be picked up and dried before I put them back on my raised beds. Don't want my fledgling garden to freeze due to wet sheets.

Ali and Spud helped weed a section of garden ground Saturday and the place looks much better. Have to get a new camera this week to show you. Weeds were three feet high.

My New Year's resolution is "No Excuses", so I'll make none.  Projects aplenty for the new year:

* finish Hut insulation
* fill 3 freezers with soil for gardens
* weed more, plant more
* paint more tires
* set up craft area
* sell more bunnies
* write a book
* make more income (garden, bunnies, eggs, writing, subbing)

More things to add I'm sure.