Monday, June 11, 2012

On Recent Foods

i strongly recommend that folks
should eat a lot of artichokes.
steamed or sauteed, stuffed or dipped,
i am fully arti-whipped.
these were from a local farm,
pricey? yes! but what's the harm
in steaming up a few to see
'bout total veggie luxury.
pull a leaf off, scrape with teeth:
discard, repeat, 'til a wreath
of cast-off leaves rings 'round your plate,
and leaves a heart you're glad you ate.
grass-fed, local, gently raised--
one tastes the plants on which s/he grazed.
within the parthenon of meat,
little lamb chops reign elite.

garlic shards and fresh green beans,
lightly butter-sauced and steamed
lend the taste of summertime
to any plate they touch of mine.
early corn! the sun's warm rays
are captured, into sugar made
and packaged into rows and rows
of tasty kernels. tall it grows,
'til harvested and grilled in foil.
corn demands such little toil--
touched with salt and kissed by butter,
it makes gastronomics flutter.
seek the holy leafy grail?
look no further than sweet kale.
green of leaf, oft veined in red
kale is cabbage, finely bred.
chopped, sauteed and garlic-blessed,
this queen of greens outshines the rest.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

RIP Twitter :(

she was a pretty, blue-gray soft girl. she passed on to the great free-range in the sky today, not sure why.  she was a fine chicken. 
this is the most recent picture of her i have, from about a week ago.
she was an odd girl, always separate from all the other ladies. i saw tumblr take her on dates a few times, but she kept to herself most of the time. 
the flock did not dictate her actions!

she was always just a little off, somehow. it's weird, she was almost exactly a year old, 
practically to the day. a full-fledged hen. (she was about 6 months in this pic.)

she hadn't even gotten her comb yet here!

this one is from about a week ago as well. she was normal most of the time, and then sometimes acted really strangely. i half expected her to die at any moment.  but she never seemed to be in pain or depressed...

she took our bout with fowl pox hard, worse than any of the other ladies. but she got through it.

she was a cute and fuzzy baby. also very suspicious.

she laid beautiful chocolate brown eggs, for which her breed (french marans) is known. she will be missed.

thanks for all the eggs, Twitter! you were a very good chicken.  i hope you had a good life with us, and have gone on to something even better!

dan buried her in our place for honored pets passed on. we then spent the day improving the back yard and filling one of the garden boxes with cameroneil compost. her memory will be honored with continued dedication to enthusiastic chicken keeping and garden having.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Compost Kerfuffle

now that the nasty business of the total bummer is over, i will blog-bury it with a happy photo essay of funny chickens being cute! i give you:

The Compost Kerfuffle

sammo has completely buried herself in the compost pile.
intrigued, bolo checks out her literal new digs.

unimpressed, bolo scales the heap to its peak.
sammo emerges...

...and attempts to usurp bolo's position.
some awkward moments ensue.

finally they learn to share!
the end!

Total Bummer

it was my idea to go back and get the snake pole, which was a dumb idea.  i kinda wanted to go back and see...what? that the snake really got away?  if we could recoup our highly effective snake capturing device? i don't know, but going back was a dumb idea. anyway, as we came back from running some normal summer monday errands, we happened to stop at the intersection where we had pulled off to release the snake the night before. there it was:  the pvc pipe, with the snake next to it, tangled in the rope. i had thought that his head was free inside the pipe and he was backing out, and therefore would be okay, but it looked like he tried to slide out forward and got trapped.  total relocation fail. the snake died.

i feel really bad about this.  i love snakes. we have two pet snakes for goodness' s(n)ake, a ball python and a corn snake.  i was so thrilled that we had managed to deal with the egg-stealing snake problem humanely, but turns out, not so much.  not for lack of trying! mostly for lack of experience. i guess it's good that we saw what really happened, instead of assuming super success. i am glad we tried to do the right thing, and i definitely feel like i learned something.  i can't quite say what the something is, exactly, but it has to do with nature/domestication, ancient struggles, good intentions, fear, and decisiveness.

anyway, sorry about that, texas rat snake.  we really tried to do good by you. and i trust and hope you had a pretty easy snake life up until that last bit.  if there's reincarnation, i hope you come back as something awesome.

(i had a dream monday night, after all this...i was holding this snake gently, like my pet snakes. i could see his pattern, and he was shiny and healthy.  i put him on the ground and he slithered off.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Serpent Siege: The End of an E(gg)ra?

photo credit: W.v.W
tonight, the war was won.

we had dinner guests this evening, and had reached that genial point when dinner is over but wine is still present and conversations flit from one subject to the next.  remembering that the chicken ramp was still down, i headed outside to put the ladies and gentleman to bed.  in the half-light of the porchlamp across the yard, i counted the birds by giving each a gentle touch.  i reached into ninja's normal corner of the nest box to count her, when i noticed she was sitting on the floor of the coop--not in her normal spot. at the same time i noticed that my fingers met something distinctly unfeathery.

could it be? i looked around at the ladies and gentleman. no one seemed particularly alarmed. bolo even sat in her regular place, which would be next to ninja, except that ninja had politely surrendered her spot to the cool coiling shadow.  was i just half expecting the snake to be there, and so had imagined that i touched it? with my bare hand? in the dark? i secured the ramp, closed the coop, and hurried inside, vowing to test my theory tomorrow in the daylight.  but when i related my experience to my companions inside, dan got up and retrieved the industrial-size flashlight from the garage.

we all marched outside, flashlight and pvc snake lasso close at hand. the chickens blinked at us in sleepy confusion as w. held the light, dan wielded the rake, and i held the lasso at the ready.  the snake was a bit sluggish in the cool of the evening, and sated by his daily egg feast.  after hay-removal and a bit of prodding, he uncoiled and started to make a break toward the back of the coop.

dan pinned his middle with the rake. i slipped the loop of nylon rope over his head and pushed the pipe forward, trapping him.  he coiled and uncoiled his 5 foot long body, very nearly dislodging himself from our double grip.  finally, he stopped thrashing for a moment to assess his situation, giving us a moment to assess ours.  w. took a turn at the rake, dan held the light, and we maneuvered into a siege position. we had left the pillowcase inside.

photo credit: W.v.W
(the chickens watched all this with varying degrees of mild interest to mild alarm. the rooster even seemed vaguely entertained.)

"d," i asked, trying to sound brave, hoping the snake's head didn't slip into the pipe and come flying toward my face, "could you please go find a pillowcase? you can check in the linen closet, the second door in the..."

"just pull one off one of the bed pillows," dan said, ever practical. d. came back with a pillowcase in short order.

at this point, the snake figured the only way out was through, and so he slipped his head up into the pipe (toward my face). dan quickly tied the open end of the pillowcase around the of the pipe, hoping that the creature would slither straight into it. this would have been successful, except the snake reached a point at which his middle was barely too big for the pipe.  thus, he got stuck--two feet of him in the pipe, the other three hanging out the end.  winnie the poo style, sort of, except longer and scalier and less cute.

photo credit: W.v.W
i reached down and grabbed his body where it entered the pipe, keeping him stuck. he writhed healthily, wrapping his tail around my arm and releasing a putrid defensive musk. at this point, we were confident that he could not escape. it was time to relocate the egg thief across the highway.

d. and w. agreed to hold down the fort as dan and i hopped in the car for the final chapter of the snake battle. i held him steady inside the pipe, his tail wrapped firmly around my arm, until we got across 183 and down a convenient side street with an empty lot.  dan untied the pillowcase, and i started to loosen my grip; the snake sensed freedom was imminent, and started thrashing anew. on a count of three we threw the snake, pipe and all, in one direction and retreated in the other.  i think i saw him slither off, freed of his pvc prison.

and so, the texas rat snake war has ended--i hope. could there be others? was that one just one of many? i respect you, texas rat snake, you are strong and nimble and quick and scary. but should you or any of your kind come back, we are now seasoned snake battlers. we shall defend our eggs and our (rather complacent, to the point of snake room-mate welcoming) flock. you will be relocated!

some final thoughts:

1) it took four grown ups to deal with this snake. Four! Grown Ups! (thanks to d. and w. for moral support, pillow case and rake support, documentation, and coming over for dinner)

2) i'm glad we didn't have to kill it. there was a moment there where it seemed like that might be the only option.  i am thankful that we were able to drive it across the highway and let it go be a snake someplace else.  catch some rats or something, rat snake!

3) so much for the big mean rooster defending his hareem. what a..........chicken. oh.

4) snake musk = stinky and sticky, and unlike any other smell i've ever smelled.  noted!  that's a pretty good defense mechanism.

5) the snake fought bravely, and we fought bravely.  we have had TUF success.  now....Five! Egg! Day?