BRK-BRK-sneaky-BRK, plus an announcement

SMART-CHICKNZ with SEKRIT EGG CLUTCH

 

(Yes, those are our birds: the stealth-hen is Peeperton, I think)

So tonight we have a trip up to Seattle, there and back, and I’m just making fart noises with my mouth, but it’s the right thing to do, support my mom on a trip, and get some time with her and Ralph too.

In other news: tomorrow we are doing Conch as originally scheduled (here’s the menu for tomorrow: [click for pdf]). The policies are the same as the last time we served. Please read carefully and follow the contact information, to wit: text the number 360 500 3287, leave a comment here, or email kelly AT hogaboom DOT org. I will get back to you to let you know if you have a reservation!

R.I.P. fair, white, fluffy one

Today our lovely white hen Stryker was found dead. We don’t know how or why; when Ralph put the birds in their coop last night everyone was fine.

This might sound callous, but after I absorbed the loss the next feeling I felt was gladness she she did not die from neglect on our part or predation (which feels like neglect on our part no matter how much it might not be; so far we’ve only lost one this way). It is so important to Ralph and I we do not let our animals (or young children) down on the safety front. Now, we do not know what felled this wisest of all birds (OK, she was not wise, perhaps I should have said, “This bird who loved sweet soft fruit with a deep abiding love”) – there was no trauma or sign of distress. Ralph worries she ate a piece of plastic. Chickens are not especially intelligent but even I have a hard time believing she would have accidentally murdered herself. So far: a mystery. Ralph and I are researching but I’m not sure we’ll ever know what happened.

R.I.P. Stryker. You were kind of one of my favorites. You would run SO FAST with your leggy hips bobbing up and down if I brought out strawberry tops or part of a muffin or a very, very ripe banana. I don’t know how you knew when I had something sweet just from when I slid open the back door, but you always did. It was the only time you ascended the pecking order and intimidated the other birds.

Stryker’s nestmate Peepterton is very sad and lonely and shook up.

In other pet/death news last night we deflea’d the cats (newcomer Josie brought a strapping colony with her). We had to put the little ones in the bathroom for the night so the dying parasites could jump to die of poison on towels, not our bed (ask me how I know this). The older cats got to stay outside with their street smarts and impressive fat reserves. Late last night Ralph brought me in the kids’ room to use the new microscope to look at one of the kitten’s dying fleas. Don’t do this. Ever.

Now, I wasn’t particularly grossed out or scared of fleas.

Before.

r.i.p. & pbbbth

We had a milestone today – a really crappy one. Early, early this AM one of our pullets was killed by an opossum. This was Felix Jr. – or “Rattlesnake” as the neighborhood kids called her for her speed. She wasn’t fast enough apparently. The other birds were shaken up but today with a few strawberry tops and sunshine they seem to be back to normal.

Ralph buried the bird last night and trapped the possum, bent on murdering it. I tried to talk him down. He is not a vicious man but he was heartbroken and angry. I told him What about the possibility of baby possums? etc. I went to sleep hoping I’d convinced him.

This morning while he was at work we IM’d:

me: Did you kill that opossum?

Ralph: No.
I won’t, either.
I read about them a lot this AM, and had a change of heart.

me: Good

Ralph: They’re not very intelligent, they’re migrant, and they eat whatever they can find. They’re opportunists, and generally beneficial to various areas by cleaning up organic matter – carcasses, often – when available.

They’re kind of like zen animals, doing largely good things.

Besides, that piece of shit dug out from where I’d trapped it.

Ha! But: yeah.

We’ve kept our hens pretty damn safe considering we’ve been in four different homes with them in neighborhoods with people who let their dogs loose. This is a good track record considering we’ve owned chickens for a couple years now (at least I think it’s about that long, and I canna be fucked to look it up on this blog) and besides loose canines the raccoons and possums can be quite determined (they have all night to get to it as hens at night won’t raise an alarm nor defend themselves). Our good track record and our loving TLC is comfort right now when, like any pet owner, he and I both feel guilty, sad, and suppressed that something went wrong.

We are sad at Felix, Jr.’s passing.

In other awesome pet news we’re dogsitting my mom’s poodle/terrier mix Tuck, who loves me very much, likely because I treat him very well and take him everywhere I go. Today he’s had a stomachache from eating something wrong and he’s alternated between keeping his tail clamped over his ass and his back humped up in pan, vs. shitting into the clamped tail, the latter of which led to the most vile shit-cleaning experience I’ve ever had (reader, please ponder on my breadth of experience). While I was at it I gave him a Dr. Bronner’s bath. Ralph dried him off and put him out on the deck to dry in the warm sunshine, where he currently sits and I where I decidedly hope he is not brewing another Fecalstorm.

Ralph and I just made the below video while cooking lunch for ourselves and an extra kiddo (lunch concluded with strawberry shortcake made from home-baked poundcake and lovely local berries, ripe and red all the way through). It cheered us up. (Soundtrack by my husband):

EPIC NAP:

The Sad Life of Kittens from ralph hogaboom on Vimeo.

(Let me tell you a little secret, it was LOUD and ACTIVE in the kitchen while this was made, also, the kittens followed up filming by a huge, huge long nap on my bed).

forgive any typos, i dictated it and it was typed with a beak

Hoquiam City Council
Hoquiam City Hall
609 8th Street
Hoquiam, WA 98550

Kelly Hogaboom
2323 Sumner Avenue
Hoquiam, WA 98550

May 15, 2009

Council,

I was saddened to read there is an ordinance discussed prohibiting domestic fowl for residences in Hoquiam, apparently based off a small number of residents who are keeping these birds irresponsibly.

Hoquiam has an opportunity to make its mark as a progressive community that promotes environmentally-sound pest control, food self sufficiency and security, a healthier food source, and a tighter-knit community.

In part this is a cultural issue: dogs and cats are allowed inside and outside our homes in this City, and that will never change. We tolerate the occasional (and sometimes upsetting) problems in communities regarding odors, noise, defecation, and disagreements between neighbors. We do not ban dogs and cats. I believe many of those who have an initial reaction against domestic fowl are not seeing the many benefits these birds bring us.

Our laying hens are happy birds who eat our garden scraps, live without pesticides and by-rote antibiotics, de-bug our vegetable beds, and enrich our lives both through eggs and their fascinating behavior. My husband has brought our chicks to my son’s preschool where the students could integrate the knowledge from books they’d been reading regarding eggs and reproduction, with real baby birds of their classmates’. Our birds have entertained many children of the neighborhood, and my children have learned how to help clean up, care for, and take responsibility for their food source in a more self-sustaining lifestyle. Any eggs our hens do not provide we purchase from the Grays Harbor Public Market.

A couple of weeks ago a neighbor of mine allowed her dogs loose and they twice got in my yard, badly savaging our birds (we now have a padlocked coop). I love my birds, just as I imagine my neighbor loves her dogs. After this incident – and after our vet visits – I walked over to my neighbor’s house and invited her and her children to visit our home to meet the birds. We discussed solutions to the problem at hand. The situation was a stressful one for both of us. However, in my view when there is a problem among neighbors this is the way things should be done; talking to one another first and brainstorming solutions before an official broad-brush ordinance or a legalistic solution is invoked. My neighbor has – thus far – kept her dogs from roaming. My birds are healing due to a lot of TLC and the wonderful assistance of Brady Veterinary Hospital.

Broad-stroke ordinances should not be put in place based on the misbehavior of a few irresponsible pet or fowl owners.

My family and I are saving to buy a home in Hoquiam and this proposed ordinance will make a big difference in our decision.

Kelly Hogaboom
Hoquiam, WA

Cc: The Daily World

all’s well that squawks well

I’ve had many friends ask via email, IM and tweet: how are my chickens?

The answer is – doing well! Bluster seems to have made a full recovery, and is growing new and healthy feathers over her scarred, unsightly mauled chicken-ass. She has been laying an egg a day.

Sophie is a different case: injured much worse, she has been slower to recover and is not yet laying. She also acts minorly “stroke”-y – seems to have bad vision on one side, and even looks less groomed on the same side of her head. WTF, girl? She is, however, up and about (sans shirt) and seems cheerful. She and Bluster both look forward to their time with Ralph, who hand-feeds them and gives them love.

We are still keeping the ladies in their indoor coop (garage) at night. Right now they are outside my sewing room door, safe in their chicken tractor making happy chicken sounds and avidly feeding in fresh air and sunlight.

Thank you, so very much, all of you who’ve written and expressed concern. Our birds are a part of our family.

With exceptions. Two of our five chicks seem to be turning into dudes. Bad choice, guys. Any locals want a rooster?

you know, i am realizing my posts are not always that fun to read

I probably shouldn’t have had the two glasses of wine at tonight’s preschool fundraising auction (which was, by all accounts, a resounding success). The drinks’ effects of temporary well-being and laughter were appreciated at the time and made the evening repast all the smoother. Now, a few hours later, I worry about potential depressive effects. I am already sad in that kind of way that can keep you up at night; upset about something that I can’t solve nor, in these few minutes any way, finish working through.

I am speaking of course of the grave injuries to our two laying hens by neighbor dogs – one attack occurring Tuesday, and the other early this morning (by the same dogs)*. Both hens were savaged but intact enough for the veterinarian to advise treatment and rehabilitation (as opposed to euthanasia). The vet bill would be almost comical for me to recount here (and may in fact increase before all is said and done) – suffice to say that should these hens survive, these will be very special eggs we will be enjoying. Currently we have two separate avian hospital cubicles set up in the steady warmth of my sewing room. We are cooking up oatmeal and yogurt, delivering injections (this takes getting used to), and providing fresh water and lots of rest for our girls.

Our sad little episode has gone out to the world at large and I’ve received a number of loving messages and well-wishes. The vast number of comments have been supportive and sweet; a very few have been rather unhelpful or just plain depressing to recount. Yes, I expected something bad might happen to the animals under my care. No animal lover brings a creature into the home expecting the animal will outlive the owner – exotic parrots and large tortoises notwithstanding. I am reminded of little Peeperton 1, the chick who died only a few days after my father succumbed to cancer. I cried off and on for a full day, feeling as though the loss of this tiny ounce of fluff was more than I could stand. I remember little Baby, the silly black and white kitten we had for only a few short months before she succumbed to a mysterious degenerative nerve disorder (we also spent hundreds on her in attempting to diagnose, treat, and care for her; these dollars neither Ralph nor I regretting in the slightest). After letting this sweet little kitten get the death needle in the vet’s office, and stroking her fur while she stopped breathing, Ralph and I half-stumbled outside with our hands empty. He and I sat in my little red pickup truck and cried together, sagging in our seats next to one another. A week later we received a card from the vet, handwritten and conveying sympathies. I remember how very touched we were this veterinarian – who’d presumably seen a lot of death and loss – would reach out to us.

Our hens are still with us. They may indeed live. It is hard for me to see their injuries and be unsure of their survival. Bluster seems to be out of the woods (although she won’t be winning any prizes at the Fair this year with her bare-plucked ass and scars!). Sophie, injured early this morning, looks far worse. But even this evening she seems more herself. I wonder if chickens, like so many other creatures, have a will to live (or lack thereof) that is far more relevant than the medicines prescribed or the physiology of the wounds. If our birds are affected at all by the love and devotion of others, they are experiencing our concern, our love, and our prayers – and from what I can tell, those of many others.

I appreciate the caring words and the kindhearted thoughts more than I can fully express. I feel so blessed I have so many friends – those close, those not-so-close, some who barely know me – who take the time to read, or respond, or just send compassion my way. I have experienced this kind of care in so many of the losses and difficult times in my life and it is as appreciated as anything else I’ve ever received.

* Yes, I know which dogs, and yes, I have initiated contact with both the neighbors and local Animal Control. Unhelpful comments include what actions I should or shouldn’t take regarding these dogs, and what kinds of people allow dogs to roam, etc. etc.

these eggs have the curious taste of triumph

I find our pets (currently: two cats, two chickens) immensely amusing; I’m aware that I can only do so in part because A. they’re healthy and B. I feel good about the care we’re giving them. Most of my time with them I’m laughing at their sheer joy of living, their ease of life; companions in our world, benefiting from my husband’s income and the TLC the family bestows on them.

So this morning when my daughter came in from egg-gathering and reported that our laying hen had a “block of wood” in her eye my heart sank. I thought, These are Ralph’s chickens! Why am I going to have to deal with this? It was a grievous injury indeed – closer to a “block” then a splinter, the piece of wood had pierced the fowl’s lower eyelid and was barbed like a fish hook, set deep in the flesh (I know – ew!). My daughter and I attempted to remove the item but it was impossible.

An “emergency” call-in and afternoon trip out to the doctor (I hope the chicken likes listening to Abba as much as my kids do) and a half hour later the heroic vet had removed the wood and told us by a small miracle the eye itself had not been damaged. So – that’s great news.

The real amazing part of the story was my daughter, who not only daily takes it upon herself to check on the fowl and bring in eggs, but who this morning discovered the injury and assisted me in our attempts to remedy the situation. She was calm and assertive with the distressed bird; I told her later this is a most important quality for caring for pets. “It’s okay, girl…” she said softly as she carefully but firmly tugged on the wood splinter (a job I did not envy; I was the chickn-holder for this venture). At one point I urged her in a particular operation and she said in a perfectly adult tone, “Mom, I’m not a chicken expert.” (It turned out the “experts” needed two people, ten minutes, and doctors’ tools to complete the job.)

I am just so immensely proud of her. She takes after her dad in the Chickn Care department.

Sophie & Sophie
Sophie. & Sophie.

the pet update, because i know you’re on the edge of your seat.

I’m not sure what was more silly: the decadent sleep-poses I was able to pry my cat into (upside down on my lap, paws in the air) or the fact Ralph, my mother, and my brother would lean forward and watch avidly for each position change.

Our other little cat, Blackie, appears to be sick. She has a cold and seems even smaller and bonier than usual. Well, and more to the point – she’s been out and out asking for affection constantly. We set up a vet appointment for her ASAP. I could stand to see her gain some weight but I don’t mind the lovey-ness.

My mom attempted to get me interested in watching a German Shepherd for a town acquaintance. This is the dog I want in my life, someday. And I would jump at if it weren’t for certain future living arrangements. In our future. Yes, I said future twice. I like to think about the future. I have declined to consider babysitting a dog for fear of succumbing, idiotically, to overwhelming temptation.

Our chicknz are almost four months old. Ralph is a proud papa of fluffy, squawky twins.

He still wants a goat. Nope.

And finally: Sophie is going to do some research and, if she plays her cards right (in fact what should I ask for in exchange? I really have her over the barrell on this one) she will get an anole for the new year.