a geeky aside: new camera for the holidays

I previously asked Spouse for a Canon Digital Rebel Xsi DSLR camera for a combined holiday/birthday gift. Recent research on lenses, however, almost made me choke: I hadn't realized how pricey they were! I've rescinded my original request, and asked for a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28S instead.

All I really wanted in a camera was the ability to take some decent long-distance photos and action shots (more than one frame per second). This camera will do that and more, all for less than the cost of a single DSLR lense. Although this Panasonic model has fewer extras than the comparable Canon Powershot SX10, enthusiasts report that the Panasonic's controls are more intuitive*. Sold! I'll write up a review after the holidays, but hopefully whatever photos I take will say much more.

* Just because I'm a geek doesn't mean I'm interested or competent in all things technical. In the past, I've been known to cover the flashing "12:00" with electrical tape if it started to bug me. And don't even get me started on the abomination that are blue LED's...


hug therapy, reconsidered

Wondering if there's something to that hug therapy mentioned on Back Yard Chickens...

While I was sitting down and distracting the geese from Spouse's car repair efforts yesterday, the two ganders - for whatever crotchety reason - decided to charge me.

[Mind you, Billy-Bob and Godzilla are about as scary as a down pillow being tossed about. Perhaps because I've raised them by hand I know they're mostly bluster and bluff.]

From their individual charges, each almost ended up in my lap. I would then scoop the gander up, snuggle securely and gently pet him until he calmed down. Miraculously, they were both much less cranky towards me afterward. Then again, perhaps they were too busy to be cranky, both preening themselves furiously after their hugs as if to rid themselves of the stench of "that @#$!! human!"

[pic: I think that's actually Dr. Girlfriend and Duchess. Oh, and geese smell SOOO good, like sunlight and warm grass. "Mama loves her goozuls, yes she does!"]

pic: so much for the wash and wax

As "thanks" in advance for Spouse working on my car, I took in his to be washed, waxed and detailed. The geese found the shiny side-panels fascinating, and gnawed on their respective reflections as best they could...

[See? This is why I need an 18x zoom camera.]


request for assistance

"I'm sorry, I know you need to sleep for your shift tonight" Spouse said, "but could you do me a huge favor and distract the geese for a bit?"

Spouse was trying to work on my brakes. The geese were chewing on the shiny little sockets, dragging off brake pads, and poking their beaks into whatever Spouse was doing.

"I swear, they're like toddlers underfoot!"

Hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving!


hug therapy

Spouse alerted me to a conversation on Backyardchickens.com, regarding aggressive geese:
"I always thought of geese as egos, with feathers [...]
When I got my tufted romans, the gander was an adult and one evil bugger!
If he came after me in attack mode [...] I would just grab him and give him a big HUG, until he quit squirming! [...] Now, if I think he is getting a little cocky, I just squat down open my arms and ask him if he needs a hug! Seems he don't want hugs anymore!"

[pic: Billy-Bob getting some of that "hug therapy". I loves my rotten goose!]


pic: dog relationships

"I know who you SAY you are, but I'm going to have to sniff your butt anyway...."

[wish I could find a link to the original comic]

p.s. ankle is healing fine, just tons to get caught up on today!


Ankle Beaters

In the afternoons, I do a bit of auto-hypnosis before napping that I'll wake up if the animals need my presence. On Thursday, I woke up with a start, and heard the geese having a fit. Ran out to the pen, and see that the pups are having a bad case of the stoopids, with one of them on her back, tail a-waggin', while the geese are attacking the holy crap out of her.

As I go in to break up the party, Godzilla accidentally smacks me on the ankle bone - hard - with his wing. Ka-waaaaang.... I could feel the impact's vibration all the way up my leg. I grab both dogs by the collar and throw them into their kennel. On the way back up the hill to check on the geese, could feel that something was wrong in my ankle. Since I was still walking, however, didn't think much of it.

I went ahead and got the afternoon chores done early, and laid back down. At 9:00PM, was awakened by eye-watering, amazing pain. Tried to get up, but any pressure on the foot with the injured ankle almost made me pass out. Thankfully, Spouse was home, and he rushed me into emergency, thinking I had a hairline fracture. As it turns out, no fracture, but have been ordered to keep the ankle wrapped and elevated through next week, and given a hefty prescription of pain-killers.

When I said that I was hoping to get some solid rest, I didn't think it would come about in this manner. Ah well!


pic: maggie and chickens

I think Maggie's finally got it through her thick puppy skull that if she doesn't chase the chickens, she won't get put into the kennel during the day.

On the other hand, it seems the chickens may be viewing this as a weakness on Maggie's part, and evil plotting is commencing forthwith...

[Oh, how I envied Maggie her slumber. Hope to get a large chunk of that precious commodity after tonight's shift.]


Queenie and the Home Gaggle Update

Received an email from Queenie's new owner, Elaine:
"She seems to be fitting in just fine. [...] Our geese are still shunning her a little but they'll get used to her. In the meantime she has taken a liking to the pot-bellied pig Chester."
Interestingly enough, I've in-laws whose geese also like to hang out with the pigs on their property. Pig-headedness finding connection with real pigs? Has Queenie met her soul-mate? I'm thinking "yes".

On the home front, Godzilla is back into fine form, keeping the girls (and Billy-Bob) calm, safe and secure. The Pool O' Woo has been getting quite a workout as well. As soon as Godzilla hops in, one or more of the girls will hop in with him, then there's much head-bobbing and neck craning going on until The Deed Gets Done. ALL of his, ah, services were missed it seems.

[pic top: Her Majesty]

[pic bottom: The Studmuffin himself]


Mailbox and a Meme

It was only a matter of time. We'd been warned by our neighbors that it would happen sooner or later, and other neighbors were amazed it hadn't happened already. It finally happened this weekend: our mailbox got smacked by a baseball-bat wielding teenager.

Spouse has re-shaped the mailbox to the best of his ability, and it actually looks pretty good. Regardless, the fact the box got smacked doesn't bother me too much. Instead, it feels like we've finally been initiated into to the community.

Now to make the concrete-reinforced version of our roadside mailbox...

It's all El vigilante's fault:
  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on your blog.
  3. Write six random things about yourself.
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
  5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Six Random Things About Me:
  1. I get my hair cut by a barber. #4 on the sides, trim & thin out the top.
  2. I learned to ride a 2-wheel motorbike - a Honda 50 - when I was 6 years old.
  3. I'm proficient in two martial arts.
  4. I've used Macs since OS 6.x.
  5. I prefer red wine in the winter, and (gluten-free) beer in the summer.
  6. Oh yeah, I'm strongly wheat intolerant, and mildly dairy intolerant.
Totally voluntary, tagging Children in the Corn, Chicken Blog, My Home Among the Hills, The Cotton Wife, and... aw, hell, anyone else who wants to join in. Let 'em know Farm Natters sent ya.


Queenie has a new home

Queenie was picked up by a wonderful woman on Sunday. Queenie's new home has geese, ducks, chickens and goats for her to harass. Elaine promised that Queenie would not be eaten (by the humans anyway), and I offered to Elaine that if the relationship with Queenie didn't work out that she was welcome to return her, no questions asked.

In the days before Elaine arrived to pick up Queenie, I would occasionally have pangs of guilt about giving Queenie away. Then I'd watch Queenie driving off Godzilla from the gaggle again and again, and think "B*tch, time for you to GO."

The gaggle quickly returned to a cohesive unit after Queenie's departure. That is, after they shook off the literal goose chase from 15 minutes earlier.

[pic: a happier Godzilla]


Hide and Go Seek

You can't tell me that of all five Ameraucanas, only ONE is laying (Blondie #1). I hear Lady Grey clucking around in that "ugh, I'm uncomfortable, where do I go to get rid of this load?" way that the other laying girls do. Red still gives me that "uh, are you a rooster?" crouch whenever I come near. I'm finding only one blue-green egg, however, in the late mornings.

Cinnamon (she of Zombie Chicken and Mighty Grub Hunter fame) has a few different places she'll lay if the favorite hen box is occupied. There's a place behind the rosemary hedge, another under one of the spikey plants in the front garden bed, and yet another under a second spikey plant up on the hill right across from the kitchen door. I've yet to find any blue-green eggs in these spots, nor any in the usual chicken hangouts.

[ Which leads to a rant: why is it that only ONE box out of the EIGHT we provide ever used? What's so blinkin' special about THAT box? It used to be the box opposite that was the favorite; now it's another, and nobody wants to use the others. The other chickens - besides pragmatic Cinnamon, that is - will WAIT until the box is empty before they'll lay there. ]

I know there's gotta be eggs around here somewhere. More than likely, I'll finally find the clutch, and there'll be over a dozen rotting eggs waiting. Oooh, yeah! Or even better: the dogs will find them, start crunching or walking through them, spreading that special sulphur smell throughout the property. Yeah, that'd be reeeeeal special.

By the way, thanks for all the well wishes about my back! Am 75% recovered. Just in time to work on the property this weekend... wait, what? How's that fair?

Have a great weekend, all!



Did you know: one gallon of water equals 8.33 pounds? If you multiply 8.33 by 5 (which is what a five gallon bucket holds - the logic, it astounds!), you get 41.65 pounds. Move 41.65 pounds quickly AND incorrectly, and it equals a torqued back.


Was cleaning out the goose pools, putting the soiled water into five-gallon buckets to then water the grass, garden and compost piles. Pitched one five-gallon full bucket atop the compost pile in a way that my back did not appreciate. Finished up as best I could, and then crawled into bed, only rising once more to make sure everyone was squared away later that afternoon/evening. Alas and alack, no critter stories today.

So remember: lift with your knees, not your back, and don't pitch 41.65 pounds of unstable weight like a shotput unless you are, indeed, an Olympic shotputter. That is all.

[Instead, here's a pic of Bandit crashed out by the kitchen door, and the chickens (Pepper and Red) looking like they maybe have a prank up their sleeve... err, wings.]


[pic] Cap'n Frau

"Ahoy, and yarrr! Avast the sails, cabin-boy, and..!" err... well, I never was good at pirate-speak. Here's a pic of Frau with Spouse, hanging out. More likely, she's thinking "Where's the yogurt? Where's the crushed tortilla chips? D@mn you people, remind me again why I keep you around?"


Queenie, meet Craigslist

One Tufted Roman Goose - free to home with established gaggle

Reply to: xxxxx@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-11-09, 5:15PM CST

Queenie is having issues with one of the other geese in the gaggle, and we need to place her in a different established gaggle. It's either place her, or eat her. Since she was our first goose raised by hand, we just can't bring ourselves to do the latter.

She's 9 months old, very healthy. Raised on combination of organic and commercial feed, with additional green fodder (due to drought, we've had to supplement - nothing green growing around here for them to graze on right now). Never been sick, so has not had medicated feed or antibiotics. She's been part of a gaggle that free-ranges during the day, and then placed into a large enclosed pen at night. Tufted Romans are small compared to the majority of commercial geese, and laid back in general.

Since geese are social creatures, they need other geese to be happy. Because of this, we ask that ONLY people with established gaggles respond. Pickup near XXXXX.

She got into a huge fight with Godzilla, battling beak-to-beak. Since then, she constantly chases him away from the rest of the group. We even kept her sequestered away from the gaggle for a day to see if that would change her attitude, but as soon as we let her out, she went tearing after Godzilla again. I don't understand, as we raised Godzilla and Queenie together, and he's a very good gander/mate to the entire gaggle - sweet and protective. I'm sad about having to give her away, but we need Godzilla's protection skills. Hopefully, placing her in a new group will make her happier.

*sniffs/wipes tear*


pics: goose massage

The geese have a special, ah, "affection" for our pups. Actually, they have a special "affection" for anything and anyone outside of their own little group, and sometimes they'll even spread that "affection" amongst themselves. What am I talking about? Goose massage: honking and chomping on your person.

The pups' fur and skin is so thick and tough that when the geese get to chompin', the pups think they're getting some extra-cool lovin'. They'll lean into the gaggle during their ministrations unless one of the geese gets ahold of an upper lip. I'm teaching the dogs that it's okay to "say no to bad touch" and walk away. Mostly they'll just take the abuse... err, "affection" until the geese get bored and walk away. Spouse got some photos of last weekend's lovefest as proof in case the pups decide to obtain a restraining order. Too much affection is just too much sometimes.

Bandit getting some goose massage:

Maggie getting hers:

And just in case I was feeling left out, the geese make sure I get mine:

May you get yours, too ;-). Have a great weekend!


Project - Screen door protectors

The destructo-geese started the problem. They love to tug on anything that looks like a string. Our new (cheap) back screen door - with too many design flaws to mention - had a piece of rubber gasket sticking out of it's channel. Before a week was done, the geese had pulled the rubber gasket completely out of the bottom of the screen panel. Almost every day I'd snug the gasket back into place, and by that afternoon, the geese would have pulled it out again.

Then the pups noticed that the screen was often loose on the back door. Maggie started pushing herself through the loose screen, gingerly exploring the house until Spouse or I would noticed her presence and take her back outside.

Metal screen-door protectors run at least $30.00 a pop, and I couldn't see paying that much for one. So I made two out of metal diamond mesh (used to strengthen concrete structures) and drywall corner beading. One for the kitchen back door (that of the beleagured rubber gasket), and one for the other backdoor (where the geese had somehow managed to chew a hole into the screen). They're not gorgeous, but they're very sturdy, and will do the job well. Cost: about $7.00 each. Would have been less if I had not primed and painted.

Backdoor screen/Kitchen screen


The design is simple: cut the mesh panel to size, and use the drywall metal corners as the border (hammer it flat around the mesh edge). Screw into the door. Done!


Cali passes Prop 2; more humane treatment for farm animals

Many, many thanks and blessings to those working towards more humane treatment of our farm animals, and to those who voted to pass Proposition 2 in California. Read more about the issue here.

And yet more thanks to everyone who voted, regardless of stance on issues or personalities. Our country is in a world of economic and ecological hurt right now. May we begin the work of repair and healing.

[pic: our Ameraucanas. Pasture raised? Hell, they run the whole eight acres!]


I should have paid attention!

I should have paid attention to that Zombie Prep video... aiiieee! Zombie Chicken!

[pic: strange trick of the light? That's what we tell ourselves... *insert ominous music*]

p.s. More fun: see the Food Network champion pumpkin carvings. The "Predator" pumpkin is incredible.

Of Mice and Various Snakes and new Duck Feed Station

As mentioned in the previous post, our region is experiencing a near-Biblical plague of mice. "It's due to all the moisture we had...