Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ps. It's officially freezing cold out. 18 degrees, with wind chill at 9. ouch. very shivery.
pps. more photos on flickr. check em out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another Day, Another Pest

This week has been madness for the chickens. First on Sunday the attack by the three rat terriers, then on Monday another attack by the same dogs! I was semi-empathetic to the whole episode the first time, as I know that the dog's owner didn't mean for them to escape. But Monday. it. happened. again. same thing, same dogs, only this time we were lucky enough to have kept the chickens locked in the interior coop for safety. So they barked and yelped and growled and tried to get at the chickens, but welded wire held them back. I was at work, but Paul was home....good thing too because I probably would have been pretty upset with that lady. She needs to invest in some leashes and keep her dogs on her own property!

The chickens seem a little off still since they were attacked and injured, but Penny laid an egg today and they all seemed alert.

Tonight I had a big opossum problem. I came home from work at 7pm and went to check on the chickens. They were sleeping/roosting fine, but I spotted a gross tail near the chicken was a possum. Yuck. It was a tiny one, just like before. I grabbed two tennis rackets this time and spent 20 minutes trying to get the rascal out of the coop. Finally I was able to push it out. Ten minutes later I went back outside to inspect the coop, trying to figure out where the possum got in. I think that at this point 2" welded wire is not enough. The little bugger can squeeze right through. I'm not sure what I need to do to fix it. Anyways, the last thing I did was the place the chicken feeder back in the right spot. I lifted it up and got a shock. The possum was now inside the coop again snuggled up inside the feeder! Darn thing. 10 inches from my hand. Luckily it didn't bite me. It seemed scared, so I dropped it and ran over to the shed. I found our small wire crate and brought it out in the middle of the yard. I tipped over the feeder and whacked it until the possum scurried out. Trapped. :o) Now I have a big dilemma though. What should I do with it? I'd prefer to kill it but don't have a humane way to do so. For tonight it's going to stay in the cage. Tomorrow I'm hoping Animal Control can help me dispose of it, otherwise we'll be taking it far far away and releasing it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Our chickens were almost killed today. They were attacked, and have now chunks of flesh and feathers ripped out of them. They seem to be doing ok though, and for now they're sleeping in their coop peacefully. I hope they make it through the night. The big concern at this point is probably going to be infections. :o(

We let the chickens out to browse the yard this afternoon, as we do much of the daylight hours when we are home. They were out for about two hours when we heard a horrible commotion outside. Paul ran outside first and came across one of our chickens on the ground, apparently dead, in the yard, with three yippy rat terrior dogs bounding about. There were feathers everywhere. The neighbor-lady from two doors down was frantically yelling and trying to collect her dogs, who apparently had tunneled under two fences to get into our yard. Our buff brahma, St. Helen was ok as she had flown over the fence into a different neighbor's yard and was apparently unscathed. Paul placed her in the coop as well as Sterling, who wasn't dead after all, but was probably in shock and hurting. But Penny, our Rhode Island Red and only laying hen at the moment was missing. We found a chunk of her, with lots of feathers all attached together laying in the yard. Not a good sign at all. And she was nowhere to be found. I spent 40 minutes or so walking the neighborhood with no luck. I really felt that she was dead and that the dogs had dragged her body somewhere to hide it. The only good to come out of the situation was meeting one of the neighbor kids, Madeleine, who walked around with me and was really sweet.

It was starting to get dark and I was getting worried. The last place I thought to look was in our neighbor's yard near their hottub. No luck again. But our neighbor had noticed that the dogs were all focused on one corner of the yard earlier, so I looked near there and I saw Penny...alive! I was so relieved. She had jumped into the corner of our yard (over a fence) into this little pocket where the four backyards come together. She had a chunk taken out of her but other than that seemed ok. Thank God! I was so happy. Paul held her for a while and then Madeleine took a turn. I inspected her and her wound seems bad, but not horrible. I hope she recovers ok. I read online that the best thing to do might be to put saline solution on the wound and then triple antibiotic, so I might do that.

Now we have to keep the chickens locked in the coop from here on out, which makes me sad. They can't even go out in their outside run/pen because those stupid dogs could easily dig under that too. No more free range chickens for us.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

For my birthday I got 2 years of Flickr pro. I've finally uploaded most of my recent photos (although some will need to be re-uploaded as high resolution since I did them wrong). I've added a flickr badge on the right which shows my newest three photos. Head to my flickr site to see lots more of the chickens, family and friends. I hope to start taking lots more.
We just had an invader at 1am! A possum in the coop. Paul and I were laying in bed reading when I heard loud squawking outside our window. I thought it might be the chickens (even though they are around on the other side of the house about 100 feet away), although it did sound potentially like a crow or something else, so Paul went outside to check. He came back in after a few minutes explaining that there was a possum in our coop and he wasn't sure what to do. I bundled up and went outside. The first thing I noticed were the three girls all huddled in the corner outside the coop near the door (but still inside the coop enclosure). Their water had been completely overturned and they seemed scared. Paul was standing outside the nest box door and told me to take a look. I peeked in the nest box and a small to medium size possum was curled up inside. Luckily (as far as we could tell in the dark) s/he hadn't hurt the hens; maybe it was just looking for some warmth? Maybe it was just too small to do any damage yet. In any case, we were a little unsure as to how we should get this fellow out. I suggested grabbing it by the tail and flinging it away, but neither of us were brave enough to attempt it. Instead, we opened the back cleaning-access door, first trying to pick the possum up with a set of racquetball raquets, but that didn't work. Then we just completely opened the coop and kinda shoved it out. It seemed lazy and wasn't really scared, it just walked off and hid in the yard about 10 feet away. We inspected the coop and found a potential opening with a board where the screws had come loose.....the next 20 minutes were spent attempting to fix the coop using powertools and probably waking up our neighbors; I think we were successful on both accounts. I hope nothing else tries to bother the girls! I comforted them, refilled their water, and placed them back in the coop (they were too scared to go in on their own). Now they're quietly roosting again and hopefully asleep like they should be. I wonder if this will affect egg production tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This past week has been a good one. Friday night Paul and I went over to Cynthia's for a game night with some of her friends and got to see her new fabulous house. Unfortunately her partner Paul was in Korea because his father recently passed away, but I hope we can see him next time. Game night was really fun. Cynthia had invited many of her past and present coworkers (all cooks) so we had some great appetizers, and wine, and played taboo as a group. I did come to the crazy realization though, that I am finally an "adult". It was the kid in the next room watching her kid movie while the parents/adults did their own secret thing in the next room that got to me. I remember when that was me! But no more. I'm the one hanging out with the 30 and 40 year olds and no longer playing hide and seek in the back room.

Saturday Paul's parents flew in from Connecticut and drove directly up to Madison from Ohare with Paul's grandparents. His gparents saw our house for the first time, and everyone admired the chickens and the coop.

Saturday evening we drove down to Chicago and arrived in Hyde Park just in time for a feast prepared by Ruthie: quiche, wine, salad, and chocolate chip cookies! mmmmm. Then scrabble before bed. It was Paul's first time back in Chicago since graduation. A bit surreal, even though we didn't spent much time at all in HP. Sunday morning we had brunch at Lula Cafe in Logan Square. After lots of samosas we headed to Wheaton and played card games with paul's aunts, uncles, parents and cousins until late in the evening. I've been in such a gaming mood's fun.

Monday morning we verified that our monster egg was indeed a double-yolker when we cracked it open to fry it (and: we got another monster egg over the weekend!). It's fun to have fresh brown eggs to share now. It'll be much better once the other two gals start laying.

This evening was one of the best dinners I've had in a long while. Oriol came over and we used our fine china/wedding place settings for the first time. It was lovely. Paul went all out making dinner, with acorn-squash-stuff-with wild rice, spices, carrots and cranberries, along with a roast chicken (quorn for him). And for desssert....baklavah. Oh my goodness, on Monday evening Paul's parents bought baklavah* as a surprise for us and it is probably the best I've ever tasted. We had some still, so we split two huge pieces.

Since Paul and I are generally cake-adverse, we exchanged bites of baklavah at our Portland wedding reception. One thing I forgot to mention, because I had forgot myself, was that Monday was our two year anniversary! I took off Monday because Paul's parents were in town, not realizing that it was the 12th. So it was a double celebration and a good day off.

2 years of marriage. Has it really been that long? It certainly doesn't feel like it. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful husband. Life would be so different without him.

Halfway through writing this post I made a super impulse buy. I ordered this absolutely neat calendar. I was going to recommend it to others, but at this point it's already almost out of stock. Only one left, better act fast.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I'm heading to Chicago for the weekend again. And this time it's another long weekend because I just found out that I have "personal vacation days" that I need to use up by the end of the year. I love finally having benefits at work!

Paul's parents are flying in from Connecticut, and they'll be coming up to Madison on Saturday along with his grandparents. Then we'll head back to Chicago Sat late afternoon/evening and spending the night at Ruthie's fantastic HP apartment. Sunday will be all day with Ruthie. Then Monday out to Wheaton for more time with Paul's parents. Yay for days off!
Happy Birthday Kate!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I have proof that Penny loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Back a couple of days ago, before it became winter outside, I was sitting in the hammock with a plate and a PBJ sandwich. The three gals came over to say hi and ask for some treats. Eventually St. Helen and Sterling bobbled away, over to their favorite spot, the side of the composter where lots of bugs can be found. But Penny stayed right by my side. She looked like she was going to tackle me, first weaving to the right and then the left, then coming up through my legs, then circling around. Suddenly, she jumped. Into the air. And in midair took a bit of my sandwich as I was holding it up to put into my mouth. I was in shock and she landed back down, took a gulp, and then clucked at me. Sneaky.

Yesterday it snowed. It's suddenly windy and cold outside and the forecast calls for below-freezing temps tonight. Which means it's time for me to get moving and insulate, or at least wind-proof the coop. I haven't done it yet. I got home tonight and saw the girls with their feather puffed up all snuggling on their roost. I hope they don't freeze. I did plug in an extension cord and ran it out to their coop, hooking up a heated pet bowl so that their water won't freeze. I may or may not add a heat lamp as winter gets more harsh. So far we're still getting an egg a day. Yesterday was a monster! I think it might be a double-yolker.

I'm finally getting over my cold/flu. It sucks to be sick. I also gave into the bus yesterday. When it's freezing out and I'm sick and tired, I just couldn't bike to work. I broke out the monthly bus pass, so I probably won't be biking regularly until spring. I'm a wuss in cold weather. And in the dark (now that it gets dark at 5pm!).