Crunchies in the Fridge

Or Tales of the Crazy Cat Lady – The Turkey Trap

I made a mistake.

Mookie my oldest cat who will turn 15 in two months has always shared food with me.  She mostly eats cat food, but she likes to have a few bites of whatever I am eating at meals.  This has never been a problem so we went with it.  One of her favorite foods is roasted turkey.  Turkey, as long as it is not salty and over processed is good for cats, better than most of the grainy cat foods.  For Thanksgiving I always make a big turkey and the cats eat as much as they want and then have little snacks everyday as long as the turkey lasts.

This year after Thanksgiving dinner I took all the meat and put it in a zip lock bag, then into the fridge (the bones became stock).  Problem was the fridge was as stuffed as the turkey had been, so the bags of turkey got put in the bottom drawer.  Mookie, follows me around most days, so every time when I went to the fridge, even for a glass of water, she was near by.   She could smell the turkey, and the bottom drawer is not very tight, so she would reach out and pull it open.

Once she saw the turkey, she would turn her beautiful big sad eyes to me, pleading “May I haz some more plez?”.  I could not deny her food once she had seen it, so I would open the bag and give her a few bites, which of course chummed the water so all the other sharks would come running. Mookie in Fridge

Soon she realized the best food is in the fridge.  The turkey is of course long gone.  But there is always something in there she wants to eat. Soon I realized she was getting a snack every time I went to the fridge.  Then she started meowing and standing on her hind legs against the fridge every time I went to the kitchen.  She has special crunches upstairs for old ladies, before now when I went upstairs she would follow me and eat some of her crunchies.  At night she would sleep up there with me and eat her crunches during the night.

For the last few nights after I carry her to bed she runs back downstairs and sit in front of the fridge.  Then I have to bring her upstairs and give her guilt until she eats some of the crunchies.  Yes, guilt is a two way street with my cats.  Crazy cat lady remember.  I can also make that face ————>

A few days ago when I was cleaning the fridge she even jumped inside of it.  Cats don’t go in the fridge!!!  They are not nom!

That is why there is now a bowl of crunchies for mature cats in my fridge.  I will start handing her the bowl every time she says “Give me foodz!”.

Don’t judge me!  At least I don’t have children I am going to fuck up and then release onto the world.  My cats stays in my house and in the front yard during walkies.

Losing Livestock

Dealing with the death of something you care about is always hard. When something dies of old age or illiness, it hurts. There is still sadness and anger. When you can honestly say the death was not your fault then there is no shame. But when the death is your fault, the healing process is really hard.
I lost two chickens about two weeks ago. Not old chickens or sick chickens, but healthy eight-month old hens. And their death was my fault.
When you get pets or livestock you make a commitment to take care of them, protect them, and treat them with compassion. I loved these chickens and took good care of them, except I did not keep them safe.
At night they sleep in a henhouse, up on a roost. A ramp from the hen house goes out into a run that they can’t get out of. I thought the run was secure, so I stopped locking them into the hen house all the way each night. I locked up the run, but I left the door into the run open. Over the time they have lived outside this happened several times. A few times we forgot, but they were OK. So after a while we stopped closing it all together. And it was always OK.
Until it wasn’t. Some animal climbed a tree down on to the top of the hen house and found a way in.
When the first chicken went missing, I did not realize what had happened. There was no body, no feathers. She was just gone. I figured she might have gotten locked out when I let them free range the night before. She was a very broody hen and it was possible she made a nest under a bush. So I spent two days searching for her. I looked under everything, and went into neighbors’ yards. I even wandered around calling her name. She was my favorite chicken, Speckles. She was the sweetest when she was a baby. I would hold her in my hand and she would fall asleep. She was the most beautiful, most friendly, and had the most trusting nature.
I could not deal with the idea that she was dead. She must just be lost and I would find her. So it never dawned on me that something was able to get in the hen house. Two days after Speckles disappeared I went outside to find feathers everywhere.
I can’t describe what that felt like. In one moment I realized Speckles was dead, another chicken was dead, and that both deaths were my fault. I cried, I screamed. I wanted to find the animal who did it and kill it. I want to punch something. But what I wanted more than anything else was to go back in time and fulfill the commitment I had made to these animals.
Goldie was the second one dead. She was the warrior princess of our chickens. She scared my two twenty-pound cats when they came out with me for a visit. She once ate a snake. She took on a rooster role with the other chickens, looking after them. I think she did that the night she died.

The feathers were everywhere — in the henhouse, in the run, even outside the run. She tried to fight whatever got in, but she could not manage it. And it was not her job. It was my job to keep her safe, and I failed.
The run is secure now. We lock them up tight every night. I have had trouble sleeping every night since then, listening all night long in case they need me. And every morning starts with fear. Will I find five chickens this morning? Or four and a pile of feathers?
I don’t know how to deal with that. Sometimes I still think they might just be lost. But it is a lie my mind tells me when my shame is too much.

An Eggcellent Chicken

Sorry, I had to go with the pun; please forgive me.

Yesterday we got our first egg!   We knew it was going to happen soon because Snow, the leghorn, was starting to show signs of being ready.  She does not like to be petted, but for the last week or so, every time we got near her she would get into the hunched-down chicken mating position instead of running away.

Yesterday we heard lots of noise from the hen house, so we ran out to check on them.  When we got to the hen house we found a tiny white egg.  Snow is the only one of our chickens who will lay white eggs.   Leghorns are prolific layers; at their prime they can lay about an egg a day.   And our Snow is living up to the hype; she laid another egg today about 30% bigger than yesterday.

We got her on February 3 at about 3 days old, so she is just over 4 months old now. It is hard to believe that the little chick that was just the size of an egg then is laying her own eggs now.

Chicken Pictures!

Chicken? What chicken? No chickens here.

You have not heard about or seen my chickens in about a month.  I know that hurts you and I want that hurting to stop.  The doctor recommends chickens pictures.

Let’s see…what should I tell you?

They are still very cute, sweet and fun to play with.  As they get older they don’t like being held as much.  I can still pick them all up but they run from me if they can.  Unless I have treats.

Their personalities are strong.  Snow is flighty and paranoid. Betty is always looking for an adventure.  Goldie is protective.  Peeps is calm and low key about things.  Attila is high energy and plays aggressively.  Speckles is reserved.  Audrey is a little less adventurous then Betty, and the easiest to pet or catch.

They have a run now.  It is about 120 square feet, mostly in shade.  I am not going to post any pictures of all of it right now, because I am still working on making it pretty.   Right now it is safe and functional, but unpleasant looking. I have started painting it and adding things to make it more homey.

I would also like them to have more to forage in there, but I have not figure out how to do that.  If I put down seeds for pasture they will eat the seeds before they are plants.  Maybe a container garden of chicken pasture, that I can bring in and take away as needed? 

Having a run does not mean they are locking in all day.  I am doing a sort of hybrid of penned and free range.  I let them out to run all over the back yard a few hours a day.  They love running around time.  It gives them a chance to forage and play.  The back yard is pretty unmanicured at present so there are tons of interesting things for them. Like plies of leaves to scratch around in, lots of plants to sample, bugs to find and bushes to sleep under.   They love the weed three-seed mercury, which I have in abundance.   They also love food plants, especially artichokes.  Betty does this thing where she tried to stand on the artichoke leaves, then she jumps up and down breaking the leaf.   I don’t know what that is all about.

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Their super growth rate has slowed down.  I no longer look at them and say “Wow, you are 10% bigger today than yesterday”.  They are filling out and their combs are coming in.  They look almost like full grown chickens now.   In a few months they should start laying eggs.

They can’t get enough cheerios. If they can get to the container the cheerios are in they will knock it over and peck at it.  Oh, I can’t forget tomatoes.  They do this weird thing with tomatoes, but no other food.  I call it “tomato chase”.  On of them will pick up the hunk of tomato in her beak and then run around making a high pitched tweeting noise while the other chase her.  Then one of them will catch the first chicken and steal the tomato right out of her beak and then that one runs.  By the time they finally get to eat the tomato it is a mushed dust covered mess.  But they are happy and that is all that matters.  I am actually going to plant a bed of cherry tomatoes in front of their run so they can pick off the fruit to play whenever they want.

They have figured out roosting.  They put themselves up there every night now and mostly don’t sleep on top of each other.

I love my chickens and I am really glad I got them.  Having them has been a bit of work, but the daily chicken theater more than makes up for it. I have a few video of them running around that I should post someplace.  Chickens are so funny, I find myself laughing out loud a them everyday.   If you have never just sat around and watched chicken I highly recommend it.