Friday, December 4, 2009

my observation skills, or lack thereof


Red, who likes anything shiny:
the reflective part of my tennis shoes, my wedding band, and my shoelaces.
We have a peck/kick relationship going on.


On more than one occasion my husband has quipped, "You're not very observant, are you?" To which I give him the best dirt look I can muster, and go on about my business. Sadly, I proved him right, again, in the worst way possible.

In my defense, the day before Thanksgiving I woke up at 3am with chills and a fever that lasted most of the day. Thanksgiving day found me fever free but totally wiped out. For once I didn't care about ANYTHING at the Bryan's family get together. For the first time it didn't bother me that after everyone else bebops off to be with other family it's just the childless couple and the widow, or the just the two of us heading home to be alone like every other day. I was simply too tired to care. Bobby even took care of all the animals for me on that day.

The next day I did go out to assist, and was shocked to find that Brownie (aka Road Runner) had molted. (Molting is where the feathers fall out while new ones grow in. This usually happens in sections, starting around the wings.) Yet I couldn't see her skin. Her feathers just looked all white, as if they were bleached out. I commented on it to Bobby, saying that's probably why we weren't getting eggs now. He looked at me strangely, then at the bird, looked shocked, then laughed a little.

Since that day, I have not seen all six hens at one time, though I did notice they weren't sleeping in their usual formation and egg production has all but stopped. I attributed the lack of eggs to the decreasing sunlight, which is normal. I've also pondered why I wasn't seeing new feathers come out on Brownie. A bit odd for molting to last this long, and not see the skin. Could our girls have a bug of some sort? Bird flu, perhaps?
Then yesterday morning, I lock the dogs up. I head to the pen, and as I move to the door and they line up in formation to get out, I do a doubletake. Brownie is there, looking perfectly normal. I start counting...1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, SEVEN?!?!?! Can't be. I look and realize that next to Brownie is the ugly bird with her head and white feathers AND IT HAS A HUGE RED COMB ON TOP!!! Can't be. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6....no we don't have seven birds. Or have I forgotten one? Brownie, Blackie, Whitey, Red, Hilda, Matilda, and the ugly one. The ugly one with a larger red comb than any other bird in the pen, who immediately jumps on top of a hen the moment I open the door.

I check for eggs...and of course...none at all, but now I understand why. You introduce anything new to a flock and egg production will temporarily cease for a week or two. I march inside and call my husband, who is dying laughing. For a whole week, we have had a rooster, and I was TOTALLY oblivious. He says every morning when he goes out for the paper the dumb thing is crowing and he keeps waiting for me to hear it. I actually haven't heard it's dumb raspy call until this morning, about time for Bobby to leave, so that's good. But still...a ROOSTER?!?! The day he pecks me; he dies.

And I'm seriously contemplating inviting a certain neighbor and his wife over for supper one night. It'll be easy. I'll pick up a bucket of KFC, put it on a platter, and with it being dark, for all he knows it could be Ugly we're eating. Reckon he'll eat anything?

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