Category Archives: Life with a Dog and a Chicken

Sweeping is not for dog owners.

Luke hasn’t met my eye-line in hours.  While making dinner, I shook a container of Parmesan cheese and the lid came loose.  It probably amounted to all of an eighth of a cup, but boy how that Parmesan must have glistened off the tile.  Like a little boy seeing his first snow fall, he was absolutely mesmerized.

One of the adjectives I often use to describe Luke is aloof.  The house could be full of people, and he puts himself to bed.  Strangers offer him treats, and he won’t take them.  He’ll run to fetch a ball, and then randomly drop it to take a pee.  He’s just not your typical dog…until Parmesan dusts the floor.

He smelled it, licked it, felt it under his paws as he walked in endless circles over top of it, and had there been more, he surely would have rolled around in it to make his best snow angel.

 

{this moment} Man’s Best Friend

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -Soulemama

Luke after Christmas

My mother will not like this post at all, and it would even annoy me if he wasn’t so cute and adorably persistent, but since we got our new afghan for Christmas, Luke will not sleep anywhere else.

I’ve written before about my mother’s, what she would say is indifference, and I say is utter disgust for any animals outside of a zoo, so this is surely the last thing she’ll ever knit for me again.  Glad I have the photos to remember it…thanks, Luke!

Heartbreak Part Two

I keep thinking about the term chicken keeping.  I’ve seen it and heard it over and over again.  Our local pro-chicken movement is called CLUCK – Citizens Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping.  There’s a website, www.chickenkeeping.com.  It’s a common term for having chickens.  You keep them, as if it’s that easy like how we keep photos and sweaters.  The term chicken keeping doesn’t imply how truly difficult a task this actually is.  Keeping chickens happy is easy, but simply keeping them is not.  This was the scene we woke up to this morning:Oreo was snatched by a hawk because for about an hour we forgot about her in the yard.  We thought it was only by our error that she was taken.  We were obviously wrong.  We had also thought that if we put a lock on the door so tricky and tight that Cooper and I both struggled with it, a raccoon or possum would never get into it.  We were wrong again.  We never even considered this form of attack, and now I don’t know what to do.

Even Sammi had won me over…and I’ll admit it, there was a point where I wanted to trade her for another chick.  But we didn’t, and then she started flying up to sit with me in my patio chair.  It was way too cute to not warm up to her.  And Snookie was a lovey from the beginning.  She was so mild that I could pet her, and she’d just stand there.  So what now?  Do I risk more heartbreak in the name of free-range organic eggs, or do I just take a hammer and bust that coop to the ground?  I’m torn.

I’m not a farmer with hundreds of chickens running around.  These are pets we’re losing.  I just had to call Cooper and tell him the news before he saw it on Facebook via my Lettuce Share feed.  On the other hand, there’s a lot of fun and happiness that comes with keeping chickens.

But our options are limited as far as where we can physically keep them – it is urban chicken keeping we’re talking about here.  They start to smell in the house.  They fly around and land on your furniture.  It’s not really an option to keep two chickens in our house for extended periods of time.

Although the guy around the corner lets his chicken sleep in his house.  At the end of each day, Noodle hops up onto the handlebars of his bike and goes to bed.  He lays newspaper underneath the bike to catch her poop.  But let me add this, that guy is single.  Right.

A chicken or chickens simply don’t fit into the dynamic of our family when we’re under our roof, but we do love to have them otherwise.  So what to do now; take a chance; build a steel coop?  I just don’t know this time around.  All I know is that just like Oreo, we’ll all be missing Sammi and Snookie.  This was their last night with us…they took my seat.  And one more thing…as I was feeling sad outside, two rain lilies caught my eye – one open, one about to open. Rain lilies bloom in the beginning of summer after a rain storm.  It’s the end of summer, and we haven’t had so much as a sprinkle.  I’m taking it as an apology/memorial for our girls courtesy of Mother Nature.

Two Chickens Is Better Than One

It’s been two weeks since our feathered Guido friends moved in, and the experience has been a complete breeze in comparison to the first go around with Oreo.  Life has a way of working out, and we were definitely meant to have two chickens.

Oreo was needy in retrospect, constantly seeking us out inside the house and always following outside close under foot.  These two take care of each other.  They squawk only when separated or scooped.  The easiest way to pick them up is to scoop them up with the palm of your hand so their feet hang between your fingers, and Sammi is really the only one who squawks.  Snookie’s the real sweetheart.

She wasn’t the healthiest chick at first, and she still doesn’t fly quite as much as Sammi, but oh, is she sweet!  She’s reminded me how much I loved birds as a little girl.  We had two birds – a yellow parakeet named Sunny and a macaw named Mr. Magoo.  The latter was a talker, “Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello…,” got the idea?  I didn’t mind though.  I could put a peanut between my teeth, and Magoo would grab it with his beak.  It was a solid stupid pet trick for a 10 year-old and nice to have in my back pocket.Snookie doesn’t peck the way Oreo did, and here’s the real deal on that…the feeling that you’re about to be pecked is as bad if not worse than actually being pecked.  Sammi’s a pecker and a skittish one at that.  The slightest movement in her direction incites ducking, flapping, squawking, and just general dramatics.  I’m not a huge fan, but Snookie likes her him???  TBD…If she does turn out to be a he, we have a deal with the breeder that we can keep trading roosters in for chicks until we have two hens.  But as far as I can tell, two of any gender is still better than one.  It’s apparent now what the breeder meant when she said, “I pick the chickens up in clumps.”  They’re never more than an inch apart.

New Arrivals

We’ve all really missed having a chicken, so last night we welcomed…um, I’m a little embarrassed by the names.  So you know, I had all sorts of female duos picked out – Laverne and Shirley, Thelma and Louise, Lucy and Ethel – but I live with a 13 year-old and when John thought of it, Cooper couldn’t resist.  Welcome Sammi and Snookie.

We decided on two this time around, so they won’t be lonely.  Luke didn’t grow into the happy companion we hoped he would, but in fairness to him, it may be because Oreo was a rooster.  John says he heard her him? crow the morning she disappeared.  Apparently, roosters of different breeds tend to fight.  Luke is quite the chicken, so it’s very possible Oreo was picking a fight with his male rival.

Snookie is much more docile.  If you have her positioned in your hand a certain way, she’ll rest her chin on your finger.  It’s pretty cute, and she’s not much of a pecker either.  Sammi already pecked at my diamond ring, not that I can blame her.  It would be great if she stayed so calm; unfortunately we think she might be sick.  Oreo was a fast little runner, and Snookie walks like an old lady watching almost every step.  I have a call out to the breeder.

Both are cochin chickens, but Sammi is a mille fleur.  She has four or five different colored feathers coming in on her chest, and she has the cutest little tail.

And then there’s Lukey D…

He’s feeling particularly needy, but the rest of us are very happy. :)

Mourning Oreo

I’ve put off this post for one week now – partly because I just didn’t want to write it and partly because I couldn’t.  Every time I got started, I ended up too sad to finish.  We lost our little Oreo, and it’s been a total heartbreak.  I would have never thought I’d be so upset over the loss of a chicken, but I am.

John and I were having breakfast last Saturday.  We lost track of time, and he had to race out to pick up Cooper.  He forgot to put her back in her coop, and I forgot about her too.  It’s terrible.  Before breakfast, I had been laughing and taking pictures of her perched on the windowsill, then I was even outside on the patio petting her.  But I cleaned up the dishes and went about my morning without thinking twice.  Not much more than an hour could have passed before I noticed that the door to her coop was still open, but she was already gone.

So began the first stage of grief – denial.  We saw two hawks circling overhead; John knew, but I denied.  I didn’t see any signs of a struggle when searching the yard.  She had sneaked in the house under Luke’s hind legs the day before, and when John scooped her up off the tile, she lost at least five feathers.  Why wouldn’t there be feathers anywhere?  It didn’t add up in my mind – no feathers, no squawking, she’s got to be okay.

It was possible she had wandered off, so we walked the neighborhood yelling and clucking, “Oreo, chick-a-chick-a-chick-a.”  We let Luke run wild in the hopes she would spring out from under a bush at the sight of him, but she didn’t.  The final hope was that she’d find her way back to her coop before nightfall.

When she wasn’t there the next morning, I knew too…except that denial was still lingering.  On Sunday afternoon, John and I were on different ends of the house but both ended up on the back patio shouting Oreo again.  We were sure we had heard her, but we hadn’t.  Denial was replaced with sadness again.

We didn’t even have Oreo two months, but it’s hard to look at her empty coop through the window.  I was sweeping the floor and found a feather; I couldn’t bear to sweep it out the door with the dirt, so I saved it.  Oreo had become part of our family.  She was a regular on Skype with Aunt Tracey, whose little girl’s lead-in had become putting her own butt up to the camera and shouting, “chicken butt!”  Adorable and funny…just like our Oreo.  Here are a few things I never got the chance to post:

A blooper…

And the photos from her last morning with us…

We’ll miss you, Oreo.

The Florida Circle of Life

When there’s no fresh produce in Florida, there’s always fresh seafood.  Tonight’s main course was caught and cooked by Cooper – flounder.

My father forced me to eat a mussel as a child, and I didn’t eat seafood for a good 10-15 years after.  It was slimy and chewy and something I still won’t eat to this day.  But I’ve been living in Florida for the last 16 years, so seafood has naturally become part of my diet.  It doesn’t happen every time, but it is such a treat when John comes home with fresh fish.  Tonight it was flounder, and it was Cooper’s catch, but John has brought home mahi-mahi, snapper, grouper, and snook before.  It’s the equivalent of walking outside to pull a grapefruit from the tree.  The finest restaurant in town can’t serve me anything fresher.  “Fishy” flavors take time to evolve; our flounder didn’t have a hint of it.  The fish was light, flaky and delicious.

Cooper was successful today; he won our dinner.  Luckily, the two hawks that swooped down into our yard yesterday didn’t win theirs.  I was out at a baby shower, but John was inside when he heard the squawking.  Oreo had run into the back corner of her coop, and there were two hawks outside her door.  They were too big to get in, and John scared them away when he opened the door.  Although one was only scared up; he was still lurking on the utility wires.  John got this photo with his camera phone and then got the pellet gun.

The hawk must have felt the scope on him because he flew away before John could fire a shot.  And FYI: the pellet gun wouldn’t have killed the hawk.  The hope was just to scare him enough so he won’t come back.  The hawks scared us enough that we’re back on vigilant Oreo-watch again.  We got a little too comfortable with her getting bigger and always standing in Luke’s shadow.  She’s still at quite the yummy age, and the hawks aren’t her first visitors.  A stray cat was trying to get into her cage a couple weeks ago.  But sleep tight, Oreo’s safely in her coop for the night.

{this moment} Chicken See, Chicken Do

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo [three photos] – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember [because it just makes me laugh]. -Soulemama [& LettuceShare]

Free Range Chicken

“I’m going to put her in her cage.”  Did I say that?  Because that didn’t happen.  There’s quickly becoming a new meaning to free range chicken around here when it comes to Oreo and me.  The bigger she gets, the more uncomfortable I get handling her.  My garden gloves were driving my nerve for a while, but that’s over.  She’s found her voice now, and every time I go to grab her, she squawks at me loudly.  After 15 minutes of chasing her in circles around Luke and his bone, I left her outside.  An hour later she returned to her coop of her own accord, but when I came within three-feet of her, she hopped right back out.  She’s a little bugger and her squawking is quite unnerving, but at least I’m not Luke.