Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Whoooos That In My Tree?

The kid heard our local grows yelling like crazy, and discovered our resident Great Horned Owl snoozing in one of the elm trees that separate our yard from the neighbors.

This is the guy who likes to sit out there 'Who-Who'-ing his brains out all the time, so he's pretty chill with us standing under his tree and commiserating what it's like to have two crows and a hummingbird harassing your ass.

Because owls just aren't safe from the tiny fury that IS a hummingbird when you are too close to his feeder.

Poor guy. Sorry dude, nothin' I can do.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Chicken Bomb

 Oh...terrific. Pele, one of two hens in the house right now due to all the wildfire smoke, has decided that now, yes--NOW is the perfect time to molt. Pele has a congenital respiratory issue that causes her to wheeze very badly when it gets smoky like this, so for the time being she's in the house, occupying one of our bathrooms. The other hen is 9 year old, mostly blind Wiggles--the rooboys have decided that she is a GILF and have been after her too much, so she's keeping Pele company. This super-heavy smoke is expected to last at least another week, lucky us.

So here's what we woke up to this morning, which prompted a loud, involuntary 'Oh, God!' from me...feathers creeping out into the hallway.

Pele has chosen her spot (as humans we have -zero- say in this, the chicken will simply return to the chosen spot again and again like some sort of weirdo farmer's perpetual motion thing the minute your back is turned), up on the counter so she can admire herself in the mirror--chickens love gazing at themselves. So more feathers adorn the countertop.

The rest of the bathroom is beginning to swim in feathers, all we can do is clean them up and wait for the inevitable Pele-bomb to come...because Pele is one of those chickens who only indulges in a HARD molt--we're talking uber-creepy, naked chicken here.

Going by what she's done in the past, this is what we'll have to look forward to in a week or so:

YEAH--can't wait.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Smoke Gets In Your...Well, Everything

So right on the heels of the Tamarack fire, which burned to within 4 1/2 miles of us, comes the Caldor fire!

We had lots of smokey nastiness from the Tamarack fire, then the Dixie fire...but Caldor seems to want to up the ante and show what it can do.

Just for reference, normally our backyard, coop & skies look like this: 

Today, our air quality went to shit and by 2PM it looked like this:

It only got worse from there.

At 4PM the air quality climbed into the dark purple 'Hazardous' range (the worst it can get) at 488.

And at that point things took a turn for the surreal. Our normal time for full dark this time of year is 8-9PM. Today it got full dark at 4PM--all due to the Caldor fire smoke. Bear in mind that this fire is 35 miles away from us. The light flecks in the photos are raining bits of ash. The same view as above, out my back door towards the chicken coop at 4PM.

You can almost see the chicken coop, below. The chickens were so addled at this point they didn't go to roost in the coop as they normally do when it gets dark, they just sat down wherever they were in the yard. The kid and my husband went out and picked them up one by one and stuck them in the coop.

The view from my front porch, looking across the street at 4:45PM. Full dark at this point, the flash fired. Fairly heavy ashfall.

It stayed like this, only lightening a bit at 6PM. This is the same shot as the one above. My daughter said it looked like the sun went down and then came back up...except it was rising in the southwest.

All of this is absolutely unreal, never in my life have I seen anything like this, and hope I never do again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Chickam Chicks, Eight Weeks Old!

After much (no--MUCH) drama and chasing about, we got pictures of the kids. Eight weeks old, they are getting tossed out into the big, bad world with the adult chickens.

So in order of hatch, oldest first, here they are! All were hatched from eggs laid by our backyard flock, unless otherwise noted. Pardon the crummy pictures, I did my best with very uncooperative subjects.

Jonesy--We didn't hatch Jonesy, we got her at the feed store, and she is two weeks older than the rest of the chicks. A buff Orpington, Jones is a very sweet hen.

The Leaning Tower of Chicken.

Kana--Kana's daddy is Bobbie, our buff Brahma roo, mom is either Strychnine, our gray Giant Cochin/Brahma mix hen or Tingle, a mixed breed Easter Egger. Another sweet, pretty hen who refused to stand during picture time, preferring instead to be a chicken puddle. Here she poses like she should be holding a current newspaper with the date displayed, accompanied by a ransom note.

Moosebaby--Moose is a very uppity rooboy, Daddy is likely Bacon, our bantam Belgian d'Anvers rooster, mom is kinda up for grabs but is likely one of our bantam hens, maybe Paprika or Marble.

Taffy--Taffy is a sweet little rooster, Daddy is likely Milton, our tortoishell cochin/d'Uccle mix roo, mom is one of our black bantam Cochin mix hens.

Octavius--Octavius is a very friendly little girl, daddy is likely Bobbie, our buff Brahma roo, mom one of our larger black hens. Octavius is kinda thinking about growing a classic Cochin downward-pointing bun tail, she'll get back to you when she decides.

Ouzo--A white Leghorn (Boombox) mix, daddy possibly Milton. Ouzo, together with his brother Harvey, win the Baby Butthead award. Both rooboys freaked out and ran around the house during picture time, requiring chasing and doing their level best to get behind the couch and refusing to come out for the next 5 years.

Saber--Another roo, Saber's mom is likely Bonesaw, daddy likely Bacon. Saber has interesting feathering like his mom, it looks like feathers from three different chickens just kinda stuck on willy-nilly.

Biscuit--Biscuit's mom is Cheerio (she looks just like her), dad is likely Bobbie.

Sybil Disobediance--Sybil is another roo, daddy probably Bacon, mom one of the brown mixed bantam hens.

Harvey--Ah, the other half of the rooboy Baby Butthead twins. Harvey and Ouzo were both informed of how handy the junior-chick-sized stewpot was after chasing them hither and yon. Harvey's mom is Boombox, our white Leghorn, daddy is Bobbie the buff Brahma roo.

Spork--Spork is a Dominique chick from the feed store, a hen. She was friendly the minute we brought her home, and demands attention and pets. She is also steadfastly resisting growing a tail, but it is coming in nonetheless.

And no, Spork isn't leaning, it must be you...are you sure you feel okay?

When your chicken tries to gaslight you right out of the gate, beware.

Slick Charlie--Another feed store chick, Charlie is a partridge Rock hen. She is very sweet and has finally given up looking scruffy in favor of a proper suit of feathers.

Nyx--Now, Nyx is a bit of a mystery. Very shy but still sweet, she is supposed to be a Midnight Majesty Marans hen. But Nyx is growing undeniable vulture hocks (though soft feathers and not stiff) and has some white primary wing feathers coming in that are not supposed to be there. I suspect she is a bit of a sport, so I call her a Midnight Marauder Marans.

Charlotte-- Charlotte was a late addition, she was the one in baby jail for weeks due to her smaller size. She is a dark Brahma hen, and two weeks younger than the rest of the chicks. Charlotte has been doing the Brahma thing though, and eating...and eating...and eating. Growing all kinds of long legs and chicken meat. Char is pathologically friendly and DEMANDS attention, frequently shoving aside the other chicks if you accidentally pet one of them instead of her, foolish human. In this picture Char has been enjoying corn, apparantly rolling in it so it's all over her chest, the little slobette.

So there we go! As usual, the roos and extra hens we decide not to keep will be rehomed. Yesterday all of the chicks went out into the flock except for Taffy and Charlotte, they go out in two weeks--Charlotte being too young as yet, and Taffy kept with her to keep her company, as it's cruel to keep chickens by themselves--they are flock animals and require company.

Delinquents In The High Sierras

So the other day I looked out my den window and noticed these two, being very pastoral and nibbling on the purple-flowering plant at the base of my mailbox.

Which is cool, because that plant is a volunteer that thrives on neglect, tough as nails and comes back on its own after winter. I have no worries and at any rate, I'm willing to give up a little foliage for the sake of our local deer. Up until about a week ago, these two were hanging out with a buck and two does, they'd roam up and down the street. Last time I amused myself giving my husband a play-by-play as they stood at the other end of our fence, very interested in our neighbor's truck--I kept saying they were gonna steal it and go joy riding.

But then...

One of them started eyeing my car! Criminy, those little juvenile deliquents are gonna boost my car!

Luckily, they decided against it--trucks are more butch, I guess--and continued on, no doubt looking for someone who had foolishly left their keys in the ignition.

But if the radio goes missing next week, I know who to blame.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Long Time Ago...

 C'mon, sing along! You know the rest!

So...every year at this time, our little community has a parade & fair that celebrates life here in northern Nevada, called Carson Valley Days. I've posted pictures from the parades in years gone by. I love it, it's always pretty much homemade, hokey fun and VERY small-town. One way they raise money is to sell buttons--the idea being, that if you attend the fair WITHOUT a button, the roaming posse grabs you and you get tossed in fair jail for 15 minutes, on display so everyone can point & laugh. When you get out you have to cough up a buck for one of the buttons. It's all in good fun.

Every year the fair has a different theme, usually relating somehow to how great it is to live here (trying to distract everyone from the single-digit humidity, demonistic three-day windstorms and months of dry, freezing temps). The buttons are designed around that year's theme and carry the slogan.

This year's slogan is supposed to be, 'In A Valley Far, Far Away'.

Today we bought our buttons, and OH. MY. GOD.

I actually sucked in a breath and got lightheaded when I saw the sheer amount of copyright infringement going on here. It is literally a hat trick of infringement, a perfect trifecta: Disney, Lucas/Spielberg AND the Hildebrandt brothers, who created this artwork for the original poster (I'm a big fan of their work, and proudly own an original Star Wars poster with this artwork from 1977). And y'all know how keenly Disney pursues copyright infringement of ANY kind, right?

I'm sure someone thought, 'Meh, no one will care.' Oh, no. They care. This has 'Disaster' written all over it, in expensive ink flowing from the gold-plated pens of pricey lawyers.

I can't wait to see what happens.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Goodbye, Dusty

Sad times tonight--our dog, Dusty, left us to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Dusty was a Schnocker--half Schnauzer, half Cocker Spaniel, that we adopted in September of 2012 as a 13th birthday present for our daughter. Depending on whether she was clipped or in her shaggy winter coat, she could look like a whole different dog. Here she is the day we adopted her:

We never knew her true age, but the vet estimated she was around 14-16 years old at the time of her death. The old lady had gone deaf and mostly blind over the last two years, but got around just fine. 

Over the years, Dusty sometimes didn't use her best judgement...


But she took the kid's toys and the silly things her humans did in stride. 


And she was only a water dog when SHE wanted to be one, thank you; and it was NOT during bath time.

But once bath time was over, was her happy self once more.


 Dusty fiercely defended her yard against all invaders.


...until she lost interest, even though the deer still wanted to play.


But eventually they gave up and left.

But recently Dusty had a vestigal stroke--and we knew her time was coming. She had recovered very well from the stroke, just as our vet thought she would, and was back to her usual self, outside of a slight head tilt.

Then Dusty stopped eating regularly over the last week, so we braced ourselves and made her as comfortable and happy as we could--she loved the canned dog food she ate in small amounts. She wasn't sick, just very, very old. Tonight Dusty took a turn for the worse and we knew it was time. The vet had us bring her over--they have a small, private grassy area behind their building, it has a bench under a tree where you can sit with your friend while they make their exit. The vet brought out a nice blanket for Dusty to rest on, and her departure was quick and quiet.

She was an an excellent dog, very sweet and we loved her. Her companion, our little (also aged) Chihuahua/Dachsund mix, Daphne, is clearly wondering where Dusty is; we'll show her extra attention and give her walks & goodies for the next week or so to help her adjust.

Good girl, Dusty...we'll miss you.