Tag Archives: chickens

The Case of the Disappearing Hen

Keeping with the Sherlock Holmes theme of late and mysteries in general, I address the latest events in my realm of existence. One of the hens disappeared. My sleuthing quickly eliminated alien abduction and canine mischief. Events from a prior day provide circumstantial clues as to the likely fate of the missing hen.

2 Days ago, 6:45 a.m. (dawn…ish)

Miss Diva runs into the house as I’m making coffee. “MOM! One of the chickens almost DIED!” My immediate thought is that Marble has been a bad dog again, but she’s inside with me, and was not outside all that long. Before I can ask, Miss Diva continues, “A huge bird swept down and picked it up, but then it dropped it.”

“Oh dear.” Given that it wasn’t fully light, it was probably an owl instead of the hawk I’ve seen once or twice flying in the vicinity during the day.  “Let’s hope it doesn’t come back.”

Famous last words, I suppose, considering when I went to feed the hens yesterday evening only four of the five showed up. I poked about the yard in the dark with a flashlight and found nothing, but hoped it was simply due to a small flashlight versus a big backyard. I repeated the search quickly this morning and more thoroughly this afternoon. Alas, no little easter egger hen was to be found.

Unless she evolved superior flying skills and took to the skies, which prior observation does not support, I’m afraid I must conclude that our disappearing hen vanished into an owl’s gullet.

Due to the sad conclusion, I suppose I shall not charge the hens a consultation fee.

Vacation: Cats vs. Dogs

There are dog people, cat people, and then people like me who are a bit of both. The two species have a few things in common, but on the whole, felines seem to be much more aloof. To earn a cat’s affection takes more than kibble and a clean litter pan.

I went out of town to visit family over the holidays. I boarded the younger dogs while a friend kept Millie. Another friend popped in every few days to refill the water and feeders for the cats and chickens. I don’t think the chickens even noticed I was gone. They probably rejoiced at not having to dodge Marble for over a week.

When I picked up Marble and Zeke they were predictably beside themselves with joy at my return. Millie, in her golden years, is sometimes hard to read. I wasn’t always certain she actually cared about me or if she merely would go to anyone offering food and scritches. She erased all doubt when she attempted to launch her arthritic self into the air in excitement when I showed up to collect her. She also commenced barking her head off, which I was told she did very little of while with my friend. I guess all the barking she does means she assumes I can understand her since I’m her person?

I pulled into the drive and Midnight and Jack, two of the cats, offered a passing “Meow” (translation: Oh. Hi.) before romping off together in the grass. Diamond tolerated a brief petting, but it was clear I was interfering with her attempts to spy on Midnight out the window. Lovey remained ensconced in Miss Diva’s bed. Only one of all my five kitties proceeded to cuddle as soon as I sat down. Junior let me know he missed me ever so much and would I please give him more noms.

One out of five. Well, you can’t win them all.


Yard Trek: Incursion

These are the exploits of Basement Kitten: her continuing mission to explore strange new grass, to seek out new life and new noms, to boldly go where no kitten has gone before!

Basement Kitten’s Log: Yard Date 5.25.2012

I incurred a reprimand from high command for disobeying orders. I was confined to yard base for the duration of one day for my refusal to abandon the search for ceiling cat. Alas, despite numerous away missions I can only conclude that ceiling cat must be relegated to myth unless evidence to the contrary is discovered. I understand high command’s concerns regarding the dangerous nature of the missions, but sometimes a kitten must pursue adventure at all costs.

The new colonists were likewise confined to beta quadrant as they were intent on harassing neighboring yard systems. Command ordered their warp drives deactivated. No doubt, it is only a matter of time before they manage to replace them. Command will have to send teams in regularly to deal with the nomadic Gallus gallus domesticus.

I have begun accompanying Captains Marble and Millie and ensign Zeke on their perimeter sweeps of the territory. They have given me the honor of acting as scout.  The dangers are many, from careless carships to hostile alien species. Nevertheless, I trust Admiral nom-giver, who always oversees these perimeter sweeps, to keep us safe.

A recent report says her carship experienced a damaged thruster, but repairs are underway and she will return to yard base at the scheduled time.

In regards to the new inhabitants of our quadrant, Gallus gallus domesticus, I was correct in assuming they have plans to invade yard base. Admiral nom-giver was forced to employ shields this morning to prevent an incursion.

This is not the first attempt at invasion. More than once ensign Zeke sounded the alarm and drove them from yard base.

We shall have to instruct all residents of yard base to engage shields after entering or exiting the premises.

That is all for now.

Basement Kitten, signing off.

Yard Trek: The Search for Ceiling Cat

These are the exploits of Basement Kitten: her continuing mission to explore strange new grass, to seek out new life and new noms, to boldly go where no kitten has gone before!

Basement Kitten’s Log: Yard Date 5.9.2012

I’ve continued my forays into new and unexplored territories. A worm hole just beyond the borders of alpha quadrant leads to as yet unexplored territory. This wormhole sucks in all liquid matter and some occasional solid debris, but so far seems safe for living creatures. One of the new colonists followed me on my exploration of the wormhole. As it passed safely, I took a closer look.

The new colonists are called Gallus domesticus. One has taken to dropping suspicious oval objects in close proximity to the entrance of Yard Base. I fear this may be an attempt to breech our security measures. The leader of the Federation of Yard Creatures, the Grand nom Giver, sends out search parties to collect these suspicious objects and stores them for further scientific studies.

Of special note, our allies in the next quadrant have expressed thanks for evicting Sciurus carolinensis from their Yard Base. Our patrols have deterred them from their nefarious salvage activities.

Throughout the galaxy, tales are told of Ceiling Cat. In an effort to seek out proof of Ceiling Cat’s existence, I conducted an away mission into the bowels of Yard Base’s Ceiling Zone. The dangers were many. The dust threatened to overwhelm life support systems. Communications with Yard Base were cut off for hours.

All reports indicate that no Ceiling Cat is present in the Federation’s Yard Base. The Grand Nom Giver declares that further explorations are not advisable due to the dangers of the mission.

Basement Kitten, Signing Off



Yard Trek

These are the exploits of Basement Kitten: her continuing mission to explore strange new grass, to seek out new life and new noms, to boldly go where no kitten has gone before!

Basement Kitten’s Log: Yard date 2012

It’s been several days since I started venturing out beyond yard base.  My fellow feline explorers are not as bold, with the exception of Junior. He too enjoys the thrill of exploration, but his obsession with the nom box forces him to keep his missions short. Perhaps this is best. I possess superior cloaking skills.

Today I discovered a neighboring Canis lupus familiaris. He snuck across the neutral zone, thinking I wouldn’t notice. I warped to his location and he fled from our quadrant.

General Millie oversaw the mission and approved of my skills in ousting the invader.

Of major concern is the new colony within leaping distance of our yard base. It is populated by an odd looking species.

Captain Marble initiated first contact and deemed them harmless and possibly edible. However, Grand Nom Giver demanded they not be eaten. Ensign Zeke initiates defensive maneuvers whenever the newcomers wander into the beta quadrant.

I conducted a stealth reconnaissance mission. Much like Morale officer Jack, they seem preoccupied with noms collecting. This could become a problem if they wish to seek noms within yardbase. Under General Millie’s orders, I  am maintaining a patrol and will report any suspicious activities.





Basement Kitten, Signing Off.



Who needs Lassie?

My followers may have noted that my blogging frequency has diminished over the past week or so. I don’t expect to return to my usual two or three times a week until probably May. April is crunch time for the end of the semester. Even though I’m not enrolled in classes there are presentations, committee meetings, seminars, and all manner of time sucking, mind numbingly boring academic activities. That’s just my schedule.

The kid’s school seems to think it a great idea to pack all sorts of field trips and performances into the end of the year as well. Mr. Smarty-pants had two field trips and a performance for this week. He missed the first one due to his gravity testing experiment. Yes, gravity still works, and combined with the forward momentum of a bicycle, results in an impressive collection of road rash and scrapes. Today’s field trip necessitated me getting up before 5a.m. to drop him off at the meeting site for the chartered buses, I’m not one to voluntarily get up before the sun. Even the animals noticed and thought it odd. I often have to drag Zeke out of Mr. Smarty-pants’ bed, but this morning he hopped up and followed me into the kitchen.

Zeke: “What’s wrong, Mama?Why are you up? Are you hungry? I’m hungry.”

Marble yawned and looked at me like I was nuts, but exited her crate when asked. I shooed her outside, but Zeke wanted no part of being outdoors before the sun was up. In fact, he seems to have developed a chronic case of “LET ME IN!!!”

I proceeded with the rest of my normal routine, which involves letting Millie out, putting whatever is in the wash into the dryer, and then letting the chickens out to forage for bugs and whatnot. This morning the chickens decided to assist me with that. Someone must have unlatched the door on the coop, as it was open and all the chickens were roaming in the driveway. Figuring out how that happened required too many neurons for my still sleeping brain. I shrugged, and let Millie back in and proceeded to wake Mr. Smarty-pants. It only took four tries. Despite his claims to the contrary, we share the same lack of morning pep.

I fixed his lunch, tossed on some clothes, and dropped him off without incident. I was about his age when I went to the Huntsville space center and I thought it was pretty cool. I’m sure he’ll have fun.

Once home, I pulled into the drive and was greeted by all four chickens. Instead of moving away from the oncoming vehicle, they approached it in a game you might have heard of: Chicken. They won, since I stopped the car short of my normal parking space and did not squash them.

Marble, concerned over all of this unusual early morning activity, as it was still dark when I returned home, decided she needed to check on me. Our gate no longer latches properly, so I keep a heavy brick in front of it to keep it closed. It’s a sizable brick, so it never occurred to me that Marble might move it, or that she would know to do so. Then again, this is the same dog who figured out how the chicken coop latch works. I heard the brick scrape along the pave stones and out she bounded, frightening the hens, and leaping around me. Shocked by her Houdini act, I failed to duck when a chicken flew straight into my face. Good thing the hen is more feathers than weight.

Marble was torn between ensuring I wasn’t suffering from some strange malady or being kidnapped by alien invaders, and chasing the tempting feathered noms. On the plus side, she was smart enough to obey when I told her to “Leave it.” and called her to me. On the down side, I now knew she’d been humoring me. She only stayed in the back yard because it suited her to do so. It explained the handful of mysterious gate opening incidents. I lodged a long metal pole against the gate [more because I don’t want Zeke wandering than out of worry she’ll go anywhere], but I expect that she’ll figure out how to remove that obstacle. Heck, odds are she probably already knows. I get the feeling she has a higher IQ than some people I’ve known and I bet she’d do far better than Lassie. All Lassie ever seemed to do was go run for help.

  • Timmy fell in the well?

Lassie runs home.

Marble knocks a handy wooden plank in and he climbs out.

  • Alien invaders?

Lassie runs home.

Marble takes them out, as long as they taste better than chicken.



In case you’re wondering…

I mentioned in an earlier post that I purchased hens. It has occurred to me, based on the numerous questions posed by the neighborhood children that a chicken FAQ fact sheet might be in order. I’m basing my FAQ’s on actual inquiries received.

1) Yes, the feathered things running around in my yard are live chickens. Personally I would find zombie chickens rather disturbing.

image courtesy of therealskinnyp.tumblr.com

2) Yes, they are indeed the same thing one buys at the store, batters, and deep fries.

3) In reference to #2, yes this is accomplished by killing, cleaning, plucking and cooking, as I for one have no interest in eating something that is still flapping its wings.

4) If you cut off their head, no they do not continue to lay eggs.

5) No, I do not have to pull the eggs out of the chicken.

6) Similar to #2, yes, the eggs laid by the hens and are the same as the ones bought at the store.

7) We do the same thing with the eggs as one would with store bought eggs….eat them.

8) Yes, chicks hatch from eggs, but this requires a rooster. For further information on reproduction, for children, please ask your parents. If you are an adult, and need information, please use Google or another search engine.

9) Yes, chickens eat bugs and other sundry things. This isn’t really any more gross than us eating them. As tempting as it is for me to say otherwise, no, the chickens will not attempt to eat you.

10) As much as I wish to claim otherwise for the protection of my feathered flock, these particular hens are not very bright. I’d like to claim they are guard chickens which fiercely guard the house, but even the children asking these questions would realize how much of a lie that is.

I do hope I have answered your questions about chickens.