Friday, October 31, 2008

Goodbye Gimpy, goodbye rototiller

My alpha rooster, Gimpy, disappeared yesterday. Don't know what happened to him. No doubt, something ate him. Last remember seeing him just before noon as I was leaving for a house cleaning gig. He failed to show up when I locked the chickens up around 4:30. Searches yesterday afternoon and this morning turned up no sign of him or his demise.

We may have had our differences, but Gimpy was a good rooster who was very protective of his hens. He ruled the roost with an iron claw.

This leaves three roosters in Frankencoop (as well as C
aleb, who lives under my porch). One of the Frankencoop roosters will now get a reprieve from the stew pot. Until now, I had planned on eating my two youngest roosters, Sanchez and Babyman. In the interest of genetic diversity, one of them will now live to see next spring (barring further intervention by Mother Nature).

Both Caleb and Cornelius are "chicken house" roosters - refugees from factory farms. I don't know what breed they are - people around here just call these large white birds "chicken house chickens." Gimpy was a game
rooster from my very first batch of chickens, hatched in the spring of 2007 (of which four hens remain). He is the father of Sanchez, a young cockerel who bears a strong resemblance to Gimpy (minus the bum leg). Babyman looks more like Barabajagal, my all-time favorite rooster who fell victim to a fox six months ago.



Another casualty here at Spenardo del Sur was my rototiller. Recent high winds toppled a 60-foot dead pine tree. It snapped at the base and landed squarely on the rototiller, squashing it like a bug.

That's my tiller underneath the blue tarp.

The tree missed the storage shed by less than three feet. That would've been a horrible mess. I've got hundreds of glass jars and bottles in there that I've found on the property.

The only damage to the shed was a few small dents from a branch that hit the roof. They were small enough that I was able to push them out with my thumb.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sorry 'bout the wait - let me make it up to you with a freak of nature

As you probably already know, I've been neglecting this blog lately. That's what happens when I have no alcohol. It's so much easier to write with a buzz on. I am still without beer but decided it was time for an update anyway.

I've picked up some new work since I've last written. I'm sorting eggs at a nearby factory farm. This is the same farm where I've gotten
most of my refugee chickens. Right now, the work is pretty sporadic but will pick up when their 20,000 chickens hit their peak.

I sit at a little counter and grab eggs as they come down a l
ong conveyor belt. At times, it has a real Lucy-and-Ethel-at-the-candy-factory feel. I sort them by size and clean the poop off when necessary.

Whether you have 20 or 20,000 chickens, some of them are bound to die. Today at the chicken farm, I saw a dead chicken th
at had been taken outside until it could be thrown in the incinerator. But this was no ordinary chicken. It was a three-legged chicken!

That's right - THREE drumsticks!

The third leg was fully formed but smaller and the foot only had three toes.

Nobody had known there was a three-legged chicken until it was found dead. I sure wish it had been spotted earlier. I would've loved to add her to Spenardo del Sur's menagerie. Hell, I would've put a sign up by the road "SEE THE THREE-LEGGED CHICKEN FOR FIFTY CENTS!" Oh well, at least I got pictures.

Back on the home front: My rooster, Caleb, attacked me for the first time this morning. If he keeps it up, he's headed for the stew pot. He lives under my porch - or the poop deck as it's now called since he moved up here to the house.

I can deal with cleaning his shit off the poop deck when goes up there to steal the cats' food. I can deal with him waking me before sunrise with his incessant crowing. I cannot - and will not - tolerate him running full speed at me and hurling himself at my legs. It's almost cute when Gimpy does it but he probably doesn't even weigh four pounds. Caleb weighs in at a hefty fifteen pounds. It's like being hit with a bowling ball.

If you look closely, you can see blood on his feet and feathers. This photo was taken shortly after I had just killed another troublesome rooster, Mr. Ping. I had gone behind the house to do the deed because I don't like to kill chickens in front of the other chickens. I was unaware that Caleb had followed me.

Once I chopped off his head, Mr. Ping hit the ground running. There is much truth to the saying "running around like a chicken with its head cut off." When Caleb saw Mr. Ping's decapitated body flapping around, something inside of him snapped. His first instinct was that the fight was on and he started assaulting the not-quite-dead-yet rooster. It was a bloodbath - with me doing most of the bathing as I tried to pull Caleb off of Mr. Ping.

Now I will close this update with something completely unrelated to chickens. I bought one of those digital converter boxes for my television last week. Even with the government coupon, it cost me 25 bucks - a large sum of money for my broke ass. That's my food budget for almost two weeks. So imagine my disappointment when I hooked it up and realized that digital TV sucks when you live in Bumfuck, Alabama.

Even though I live on a hill with an almost 180-degree unobstructed view to the west and can pick up numerous channels from Birmingham to Atlanta with my rabbit ears, I get only a small number of channels with this fancy-schmancy converter box - four of them being public television.

Most of the digital channels I receive have poor signals. Instead of the snowy static of poor-but-watchable analog reception, weak digital signals tend to either go to a black screen or break up into little boxy pixels with no audio. This is going to suck come February when analog broadcasts stop.

I don't watch a lot of television but I am shamefully hooked on General Hospital and will be so bummed if I have to go cold turkey in February (which is a sweeps month!). At least I'll still get PBS and won't have to give up The McLaughlin Group.

Poor people who don't live on top of a hill and can't afford satellite TV will probably have to give up the boob tube altogether. It sucks being poor. And judging by the news as of late, it looks like a lot more people will be joining our ranks soon.

The current economic crises does not frighten me. I have already been living like it's the Great Depression. The only stock I own is a gallon of chicken stock in the freezer made out of Mr. Ping. I am so ready for the big meltdown.