Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Identity Crisis

As you know, after losing our precious Ruby chicken we got another chicken, Pearl, to keep Opal company.  We just didn't realize that Opal didn't want company, and poor Pearl has been relegated to living in the chicken tractor for her own protection.  Other than that, Pearl has been doing well and especially loves being out in the yard.  She stays close to a human at all times (I think she realizes that we will try our best to protect her from Opal) and she has become my ultimate cuddle chicken.  As much as Ruby and Opal both loved to cuddle, Pearl loves it even more, and we have established an evening routine that involves a lot of snuggling and nuzzling before I put her away for the night.  Yes, everything has been humming along...that is until a couple of mornings ago...just as the sun was beginning to come up...

"Er er er er errrrr...."

"Is that what I think it is?" I asked.

"Er er er er errrrr..." came the reply.

"I think Opal did that a couple of times when she was young," I told myself.  "Just a fluke."

Well, if you define "fluke" as something that now happens each and every morning, I guess then it is just a fluke.  However, I am beginning to grow suspicious that "Pearl" may really be a "Paul", and this makes me very sad.  You see, we live in the city and are just very lucky that they allow chickens at all; however, in our city you can only have two chickens without a permit, and roosters are not allowed at all.

I hope that my beautiful Pearl chicken figures out that she is really a hen and stops all of this crowing nonsense soon.  If not, I will never be able to convince the city that she is actually hen and Pearl/Paul will have to return to the family from which she/he came.  I would hate to lose the best cuddle chicken I have ever had!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back…And Try to Go Forward Again…

Once again reality got in the way of cyber reality and I have just now found the time and the desire to blog.  Things are finally getting back to normal a little so I am stealing a little time to do some blog reading (I have missed so many of them!) and get caught up on my own.
Things started off okay…We have been slowly working on trying to undo the devastation in the back yard.  One of my very favorite days was a recent Saturday when Robert, Alan, and I spent most of the day in the backyard working on various projects.  Toward the end of the day we were even able to work together on the first of several flagstone paths we are going to put in back there.  We were really glad that Alan had not left for Yellowstone yet, as he was a big help:

Robert had previously put in a little concrete bed along the back of the house and filled it with river rock that he had gathered from his friend’s ranch during their last hunting trip.  The really cool thing is that the little log that you see is actually a piece of petrified wood from that same ranch (he has several):

Well, things were looking up and I was getting quite excited.  Then, stuff just started happening.  One Sunday, after getting back from church, I trotted out to the chicken coop to check on the girls.  Ruby was in the process of dying!  She had been absolutely fine the day before, and now she was dying!  The only thing we can think of is that she had been out for a good part of the previous day and we think she may have eaten something she should not have.  Our area has a lot of a weed called “hen bit”(?) and being a little green in the chicken area, we  have been left wondering if that could have poisoned her.  Robert also saw her eat a very weird, ugly, knobby caterpillar that we have never seen before, so we were wondering about that.  As far as we could tell, she was not egg-bound, and her death has not only left us immensely sad, but we also are feeling a little inadequate at being chicken owners since we have been reminded how little we really know.  I will really miss my sweet Ruby chicken:

As much as I miss Ruby, I must say that an even more worrisome situation has arisen.  Paisley has been sick for what seems like months now, and her parents seem to live in the doctor’s office.  Within a one-week period she went from having strep-throat, to having an asthma attack, then ending up with early pneumonia.  Even when you think she is feeling okay, she can suddenly slip into an “episode”.  Here she is -- after suddenly not feeling well -- sleeping on her Grump-Pa at the end of a visit:

One morning the phone rang and it was The Most Beautiful Child’s mother telling me, “Now, don’t freak out, but we’re on our way to the ER.  I was eating some bread with peanut butter on it and Paisley grabbed the corner of the bread and ate it.  Even though that part didn’t have peanut butter on it, she is swelling up and breaking out.”  Okay, I won’t freak out….right…
Well, sure enough, she ended up getting popped with an epi-pen because she was having anaphylactic shock:

After follow-up testing, it has been determined that she is severely allergic to peanuts and dogs.  Mandy and Jeromy have made the hard choice to find new homes for their two basset hounds after being informed that as long as the dogs remain, Paisley will never be symptom free and they can pretty much just have their mail forwarded to the pediatrician’s office.  Our dogs are booted outside if we even think she is coming over to visit now and I find myself reading labels on everything.  Even with the bad news, everyone involved is at least glad that we now have answers and her parents finally have some hope that she can get better soon.
Slowly things are starting to get a little better, with mixed results.  After losing Ruby, I really didn’t know if I wanted another chicken, but we thought it might be good for Opal to have another chicken around.  Let me introduce you to our newest critter in the yard, Pearl:

She’s another Ameracauna and we got her from the same family who sold us Ruby and Opal.  She’s about the same age now as Opal and Ruby were when we got them.  It didn’t take her long to discover a good spot for a sand bath:

And the new raised garden bed that Robert put together for me:

As the sun starts to go down, she starts really wanting to come in the house with us:

There’s only one little catch:  We decided to get Pearl so that Opal would not be alone; however, Opal absolutely hates Pearl!  She chases and pecks at her every chance she gets!  I’ve heard this is not uncommon in chickens, and I can only imagine that this is where the phrase “pecking order” came from.  I really don’t have the stomach to wait for them to duke it out, so for Pearl’s protection she is living in the tractor and Queen Opal still rules the coop.  We do let them out in the yard together when we can keep an eye on them and things have gotten a little better (plus Pearl has gotten a little bigger).  Pearl generally stays close to one of us when Opal is out.  This is as close as they seem to be able to get to one another without incident:

Beautiful Child was feeling well enough to spend the night with us so that her parents could celebrate their anniversary by actually getting to eat at a child-prohibitive restaurant , and shop at child-prohibitive shops, and sleep in on Saturday morning.  Uncle Vinnie handled indoor play activities; Dee Dee handled the singing of songs and such; Lolee handled feeding, changing diapers, and the administration of all medications and breathing treatments.  Even with all of this, it was her Grump-Pa who gave Paisley what she really wanted:  time in the yard chasing chickens!  She is absolutely delighted by getting to herd the chickens!
Here she is chasing Opal out of the enclosed garden area:

“Whew!  She’s out!”

She took a little time to get to know Pearl:

But we are amazed at how close she can get to Opal.  Opal will run away if one of us tries to “ruffle” her tail feathers:

Hopefully the rest of this month will be as good as this last weekend was.  One little step at a time…

Family Trait?

I've always thought that Paisley looks nothing like our side of the family at all...until I noticed The Most Beautiful Child in the World playing with her Uncle Vinnie...

It was kind of like seeing two very beautiful tumbleweeds dancing in the wind...