Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

They ain't chicks no more

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It's dark again at 5am; Summer Solstice has passed. It's still hottern hell all day, though.

I was just out in the back yard, with my coffee and cigarettes (I'm not allowed to smoke in the house).

The duck, Lucky (who can see in the dark) had come out of the chicken pen. The chicks (who can't see in the dark) were huddled around Lucky, peeping nervously. They follow Lucky because she's the biggest (I'm assuming Lucky is a she; I have no evidence, either way).

Everybody hovered around outside the chicken pen. Finally, the eastern sky muddied with sunlight just enough I could distinguish the grape-and-slate, stepping-stone clouds from the atmosphere. Chickens began moving. They tend to move together in a flock. But each bird has a seperate agenda, so they seperate into a ever-larger organism.

They sat on the long strips of wood I'm using to frame a roof for the back yard compound, to TRY to keep cats in, so they won't go over into The Crank's yard next door.

Some preened. Others scratched the dirt. Some preened others. Most just sank down on their haunches and dozed.

I got them just after Easter, newly hatched. I have several breeds. I guess they're about three or four months old now.

I have five "mops." They're full-sized birds. Based primarily on their appearances, they're named Tina (Turner); Pearl (cuz it looks like he's wearing white earrings); Fink (cuz her mop is lopsided and she reminds me of a friend named Sue Fink, who had punked-out, moused hair, back in the 80s); Goldie, who's primarily black, with a cape/ruff of long, thin, golden feathers, striped in black; and Fido, who's white, whose mop is dotted with black feathers (guess I should have called him "Spot," but I just wanted a chicken named Fido).

Among the bantams: I have a white, Japanese silkie; her name is Suki. I have a long-tailed, brown speckled Asian chicken (can't remember the breed off hand) named Sake. I have two frizzles: white rooster named Harpo and black hen named Oprah.

Their voices are changing from shrill peeps to cracked but distinguishable clucks.

Several roosters try to crow. For the most part, it's pretty pathetic. Suddenly, somebody will stand erect, stick his head out, cock it at a right angle (it really looks like they've broken their necks, when they do this), and let out the most anemic, breathy, half-hearted wheeze.

They can hear the other roosters in the neighborhood, so they know WHAT to do; they just don't know yet HOW to do it.

But Goldie. Goldie truly cockadoodles. It's not loud, but it's perfectly sincopated, has the right tonal qualities, and carries a BIT of a distance. Fortunately, with the bamboo fencing and tarps that face The Crank's house, I don't think the crow carries over to her. Besides, with so many roosters crowing in the neighborhood, she'll never figure it out.

I'll try to photograph my flock for this blog. They're something to see.

The other roosters seem to have pretty much given up on crowing. Some did it earlier than Goldie, but none do it as well. He's the official homing device for my flock.

It's only when I realized chickens can't see at night that I began to understand the purpose of crowing. The rooster stands up high on something, so he's visible and his voice carries. He gathers the scattered flock from hunting and gathering as sthe sun sets and visibility decreases. Everybody follows his voice to evening perches or cover to sleep.

In early morning, he crows again so that any chickens who didn't gather with the flock the night before can find everybody else for the day.

It's not so much about declaring "this is MY territory," as it is with other birds' calls. It's more about keeping the family together in blindness.

The sun's up high enough for everything to be well lighted now. When I go back out, everybody will be foraging around the yard. Lucky will probably be negotiating whether or not she wants to bathe in the pond.

They're not babies anymore.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

back again

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I'm getting LOTS of complaints, from loyal readers, that I've disappeared off the face of the earth.

While it's not entirely true, I have neglected blogging for off line adventures.

First, the crank next door.

She complained to City Zoning about our yards, front and back. A few months ago, a guy with a clip board showed up in my driveway, saying, "we've received complaints that your yards are full of trash." I was watering the garden at the time. I looked at him with total frustration, threw up my arms, and shrugged my shoulders.

He blinked and said, "I don't see any trash...."

I explained about some construction materials in the back yard; I'm building an animal kennel. Parenthetically, I'm DOING this, primarily, to shut UP the crank next door, who threatened me (with very salty language), saying she'd start throwing rocks at my cats. Well, I've since discovered it's the cat BEHIND our house who comes into her yard and leaves doody bombs in her flower beds. But it, as is one of mine, is a black cat. They, of course, for multiple and, I suspect, racist reasons, are considered Bad Luck. The Crank is always on the look out for threats to her mausoleum/garden, so a Black Cat must really freak her out.

The guy from the city actually apologized to me for troubling me. Guys from the city don't DO that.

Well, about two months later, my sissy, prissy landlord sashayed his narrow behind into my yard without announing himself, in order to snoop. Seems The Crank had called him, whining about the Hillbilly Holler I'm building on the property, complaining about my ducks and chickens, and generally trying to get me thrown out on my ass and homeless -- again.

He told me "the livestock" would have to go. He told me only one dog and one cat would be permitted.

When I explained he'd caught me in the middle of chores (Obviously fresh-swept piles of dog poo, sitting right next to a trash can, dust pan and broom; items moved from under the new, tin porch roof Ma and I just finished building, etc., Prissy gave me NO slack and said the back yard was...this is a quote...."scary."

He gave me TWO WEEKS...that's all...to find homes for critters and make changes in the yard's appearance.

I promptly got to a big box store and bought a few hundred feet of six foot, bamboo fencing. I contained a good portion of our back yard, off the house. The par

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Are You A Republican?

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I am:
"You're a complete liberal, utterly without a trace of Republicanism. Your strength is as the strength of ten because your heart is pure. (You hope.)"

Are You A Republican?