Tag Archives: Chicken

Chat–The Chicken Cat

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Meet Chat, the chicken that thinks she’s a cat.

She has repudiated all chicken activities. She doesn’t scratch. She doesn’t roost. She doesn’t cluck. She doesn’t lay eggs.

She comes when I call Kitty, Kitty. She makes herself comfortable at night among the cats on the steps, actually sleeping with them. She marches inside to be fed. She allows herself to be petted. I won’t say that she purrs, but she seems quite happy with the attention.

The cats have accepted her presence and allow her idiosyncrasies as good friends should.

Yesterday, Devil, Licky, Angel, and Tiger went out hunting as all cats do. Being cats, they scaled the wall, slipped through the fence or climbed onto the roof to reach the great beyond. Chat does not have the same abilities and had, up until yesterday that is, stayed within the borders of the Flores mini-ranch.

Yesterday, the front gate was open and Chat made good her escape, probably thinking to follow her friends in a little hunting expedition.

And that was the end of Chat, the chicken that thought she was a cat.

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Reducing the herds

When last I wrote about our animal kingdom, we were bursting at the seams. (See Old MacDonald’s Farm) Since then we’ve whittled away at our herds. For the most part, our animal conglomeration is more manageable. That’s not to say that expansion won’t happen again in the near future. After all, our goats reproduce every 5 months or so, which doubles the population. But, well, that’s in the future yet.

So the first animal to go was the bull, Toro. He was sold for a good profit to the man who owns the carniceria in town. We didn’t have him long enough to get too attached. The money from his sale went towards the purchase of Nanny goat, her little brown son and two borregas (sheep).

nanny goat

Nanny goat is the largest and darkest pictured.

We sold Stinky Chivo, our macho goat. He was related to nearly all our female goats, and we try to avoid a lot of inbreeding. (See Goat Genetics) Then we traded 2 chivitos (boy goats) for a new macho, Jason Boer. He’s a Boer goat, obviously, known for their heavy build. We hope that his genes will buff up the next generation of kids a bit. He started right in on his husbandly duties even though he is only about 7 months old. We can’t wait to see the results in a few months.

Our herd was still too macho heavy, so we sold 3 more chivitos including Nanny goat’s little brown son. That leaves us with Peanut Butter and Jason Boer for male representation right now.

Jason

Jason Boer, our most recent macho.

Then we sold the 5 borregas (sheep) and Vaquita to the man who makes birria in town. I was delighted to see the borregas go. The backyard barnyard is much quieter now. (See Separating the Sheep from the Goats) We sold Vaquita because somehow or other, her leg had been broken. My son’s story was that he had chucked a rock to scare Queenie back into the field, but the rock hit a boulder, ricocheted up and hit Vaquita’s front leg. Even after we used half of a plastic tube in a makeshift cast, her leg just wasn’t healing. I’m sure she’ll make delicious birria.

One of the twin vaquitas (daughters of Vaquita) also turned up one afternoon with a broken leg. We are still not sure what happened. She wasn’t able to use her back leg for 2 or three weeks, then suddenly she was all better. Now we can’t tell her or her sister apart again. And here we were planning a barbecue…

Our rabbits are no more. During a sudden squall, one of our rabbits drowned. We ate two, stewed with potatoes, onions, and celery. Yummy! The last one died of unknown causes. It had a permanent tilt to its head, it’s ear seemed chewed off, and one morning it suddenly didn’t have an eye. Our best guess is that the chickens pecked it to death.

Mr. and Mrs. Turkey are gone too. The goats trampled Mr. Turkey one day while rushing the gate, but after a few days, he was up and around again. Instead, Mrs. Turkey just up and died the next week. It didn’t seem worth the time and effort to keep turkeys if we weren’t getting any eggs. So we sold Mr. Turkey for someone’s Sunday dinner.

As my husband has decided not to plant this year (See Failing at your own business–sharecropping) Fiona the donkey is also gone. For a time, there was quite a competition going between several old men. One offered to trade his old burro for Fiona. Another offered to buy her outright, but only came to the house when my husband was working, so they never came to an agreement on the price. My husband finally sold her back to her original owner. While the owner lacks something in the personal hygiene department, his animals are well cared for. They ought to be, living in the house as they are.

chokis

Chokis, the dog, went with Fiona. He trotted along behind Fiona all the way to her new/old home. They were best buddies after all. He was gone a week, then came back to us. He was overjoyed to be home.  He apparently tried to orchestrate an escape for Fiona as well.  He chewed through her halter before leaving, much to the annoyance of her new/old owner.

kittens

Available for adoption!

Our engorda de gatos (cat fattening farm) underwent a few changes as well. Devil 2 went in a burlap feed sack to the man who bought the borregas, free of charge. She wasn’t too happy about it though. Miss Licorice Whip delivered three more little kitties, Licky 3, Tiger and Angel. In a few weeks, they will be available for adoption if you’re interested. We plan on keeping only Miss Licorice Whip, Licky 2, and Devil 1, although my son is petitioning for Tiger as well.

chickens

Our hens have hatched 6 pollitos (chicks) so far. Any increase in the chicken population is welcomed. More hens mean more eggs. More roosters mean more chicken soup. It’s all good. (See Why did the chicken cross the road?)

barn swallow nest

The barn swallows made their nest on the beam of our recently finished second floor.

We also have barn swallows nesting on our second floor. While we managed to get the roof on, we haven’t been able to afford the windows or doors yet. As a result, the swallow parents swoop in and out with ease. We will enjoy watching their hatchlings grow like we did with Mrs. Macho the pigeon, at least until we get around to claiming the second floor for ourselves.

shadow grazing

Grazing Shadow.

We still have both Joey and Shadow.  With our decreased herd and increased space, each now has his or her own enclosure to shelter overnight and in inclement weather.  Definitely, an improvement there! (See Beauty’s Babies and Joey el potrillo)

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Old MacDonald’s Farm

All of a sudden we have so many animals that I feel more like the Old Woman in the Shoe than Old MacDonald. And the thing is, we made some drastic reduction in December, so theoretically we should have fewer animals, not more.

shadow

Shadow at nearly 2 years

Joey

Joey at 7 months

Old MacDonald had some horses

Although we exchanged Beauty for the wood to put on the roof (See Up On the Roof that Almost Wasn’t), we still have Shadow and Joey, two of Beauty’s babies (See Beauty’s Babies). Shadow will be two years old this summer and has begun her heat cycles. We are not interested in breeding her yet. The thing is that Joey, as young as he is, gets all bothersome during these heat cycles. As both horses are housed together, this is a wee bit of a problem. I keep after my husband to put the wall he has had planned for ever so long up, but it hasn’t happened yet.

plowing with Fiona

Old MacDonald had a donkey

We still have ol’ Fiona, although my husband threatens to sell her every few weeks. I argue against it. For one, she does all the plowing at present as the horses are not yet trained. Secondly, when we go on our family horse trips, I ride Fiona, disregarding the opinions of onlookers. She is a dainty walker, not a roller coaster ride like Beauty was, and so much closer to the ground. I am also campaigning for her to have a stall, at least during the rainy season. She so hates to get wet. That too is on my husband’s list of projects. (See Donkey races in La Yacata)

mischief makers

Mischief makers

Old MacDonald had some goats

We sold several goats in December to finish paying for the roof. But lo and behold in February, our remaining goats multiplied. (See Birth and Death) In a little over a week, our herd went from 8 chivas (nanny goats) and one chivo (macho goat) to 20. Well, it is the Year of the Goat according to the Chinese calendar, so I guess we should have seen it coming. (See Goat Genetics)

Jill and Mary

Jill has the dark face and Mary is the white sheep in front.

Old MacDonald had some sheep

Even though Flaca and Panzas kicked the bucket (See Birth and Death), we still had little Jack. He refused to associate himself with any of the kids, although he had many to choose from. We thought it best to get him a little companion, as sheep are never solitary creatures. So now, Jack and Jill frolic merrily up the feed trough. (See Separating the sheep and the goats)  And Mary, whose fleece is white as snow, is right behind them.

chickens

Multi-racial chickens, Jack and Brownie

Old MacDonald had some chickens

We have had chickens since the beginning, and I’m ok with that as long as they stay out of my garden. There are periods that we have more than one rooster and the morning ode to dawn is a little more than I can bear. Then I start in on how we don’t want a Palenque (a fighting rooster ranch), and it’s time for chicken soup. (See Why did the chicken cross the road) The number of our hens vary, and as my husband is all about bulikos (speckled), he likes to try for genetic variety in our flock. Just this week, we discovered we have a culeca (broody) hen, and that means peeps before too long!

turkey

Meet the Turkeys!

Old MacDonald had some turkeys

One day out in the field that we share-crop, my husband found a turkey–just out of the blue. He snuck up on it and pounced. With a wing clip, Mr. Turkey joined our barnyard critters. He didn’t much like the kids at first and kept pecking at them. We were concerned he might peck out an eye. I think he thought of them as interlopers. He eventually stopped when the sheer number of kids overwhelmed him.

We then found him a Mrs. Turkey and the newly wedded pair couldn’t be happier. Both are a little young for egg production, but we have hopes. The funny thing is the coloring. Mr. Turkey is bluish, and Mrs. Turkey is pinkish–talk about gender coding!

rabbit

Kinda looks like Thumper!

Old MacDonald had some

We’ve kept rabbits before and always found them light maintenance and reasonably profitable. (See Waskely Wabbits) So when my husband was offered four adult females for $100 pesos, he jumped at the offer. They are currently free-range rabbits, which means my backyard garden is on hold. I think I may have to do a container garden on the roof as rabbits just won’t be contained.

kitten

AWW!

Old MacDonald had some cats

We’ve had at least one cat since moving to Mexico. We even brought our cat with us from the U.S. However, our neighbors have caused the premature deaths of many of our cats with a random distribution of rat poison. (See 101 Perritos)

Licorice, aka Lickie, has had 3 litters, but this is the first time any of the kittens have survived.  This time, she presented us with three little kittens, Lickie 2, Devil 2 (who looks like our adopted rescue kitten Devil) and Sancha.  There’s a joke here.  To be “el hijo de Sancho” means the child is the result of someone other than the husband.  Lickie 2 looks like her mom.  Devil 2 looks like Devil.  But Sancha, well, she looked like the neighbor’s tom cat.  We put Sancha up for adoption, so that cut the engorda de gatos (cat fattening business) down to 4.

My husband, who isn’t a big fan of cats generally has changed his opinion. Our cats are excellent mousers. As we have quite a bit of dried food to make it through until the rainy season for all of our grazers, there are mice. The cats have been doing a bang-up job of keeping the rodent population to a minimum. I’m a little concerned about the rabbits, though. Baby bunnies look an awfully lot like baby mice after all.

chokis

Chokis and Fiona

Old MacDonald had a dog, and Chokis was his name-O

We’ve had a number of puppies and dogs in residence during our 9 years in Mexico. (See 101 Perritos) Our current canine pal is Chokis. My husband has moved him outside the gated community of animals, but he is as faithful as…well a dog. He sleeps next to Fiona right in front of the house and is so pleased to see us pull up on the moto that he pees himself. Talk about puppy love! He does a great job of letting us know when someone passes (as does Fiona).

cow

How now brown cow–uh–bull?

Old MacDonald had a cow

My husband has had a bee in his bonnet for about a year wanting a becerro (cow). I have been opposed to this idea just because we honestly don’t have room. The spacing challenge didn’t dismay him in the least. Finally, he broke down and bought his brother’s year old bull for 3 goats and $3000 pesos. He presented it to me as a rescue mission. He bought the bovine because B didn’t take proper care of him. It’s itty bitty living space was knee deep in mud and poop. Well, the deal was already done, whether or not I approved and so now we have a cow, or rather a bull. The plan is to engordar (fatten) him up and sell him full grown for meat. We tend to get extremely attached to our animals so we will see if that happens or not. Let’s call him Toro

E-I-E-I-O

If you think that this doesn’t seem like many animals for a farm, remember our entire property measures 14 meters x 20 meters, with almost half of that being our house. The multitude does provide plenty of home-grown fun, though. Take a look at some of the chivitos (goats) playing ring around the rosy with Jack.  However, I’m not sure that Jack likes it all that much.

See the video here!

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So why did the chicken cross the road?

chicken crossing

Why did the chicken cross the road?

I expect to escape from being eaten.

My husband likes to reminisce sometimes about how when he was young, and there wasn’t enough for his ten brothers and sisters and him to eat.  Being determined not to go hungry, he would do some chicken hunting.  Most of the chickens he hunted were from his Tio Tomas (Uncle Tom) and boy did they sure taste good.  He tells this story at least once a month, mostly to impress upon our son the sinfulness of wasting food, especially chicken.  Of course, the story ends with him being caught by Tio Tomas and receiving the whipping of a lifetime.

chicken corral

Our current enclosure for ducks, chickens, and quails

Chickens were one of the first animals we incorporated into our mini-farm. They don’t need fancy housing, they can forage for their own food, lay eggs, and can be eaten.

Most of the chickens were little red hens, just like the story. But one hen of our hens was brown and white speckled, and that made all the difference. We named her Penny, like in Henny Penny and the sky is falling down. Not one of the red hens liked her. They pecked her. They chased her away from the feed and water. They wouldn’t let her sleep on the roost. Just like a bunch of old biddies. So she became a bit of a loner, doing her own thing.

little red hens

Penny is the light colored hen in the back.

This changed when Rocky the rooster came along. He was a spare rooster, as there was already Blackie the rooster to do the morning wake up call and ruffle the hens and make the egg announcements to the world. So Rocky and Penny were put together to keep each other company. Both being outcasts, they joined forces. Penny started laying eggs again. Rocky did his husbandly duties as any good rooster should.

But the day came when Rocky went into the soup pot. A spare rooster, after all, is redundant. Penny went into a deep depression. No kidding. She wouldn’t eat, she stopped laying eggs again, and she took shelter in a hollow pipe and wouldn’t come out. Within a week she was dead. She died of a broken heart. Chickens do have feelings. Love is not unique to humans.

short legs chicks

Another one of our red hens named Jovencita is our pride and joy. She is the best broody hen we have. Last year she hatched groups of chicks four times, although the last bunch died of groopers, minuscule red bugs that swarmed their little lungs. Anyway, her first batch was doing well, when all of a sudden they developed itchy sores. Would you believe it, chicken pox? The feed was fine, the area and water were clean, so how could these poor little things get sick? After doing some research in my backyard farm animal guidebook, I discovered that this type of disease could be transmitted from turkeys. There weren’t any turkeys in our yard, but the neighbor down the road had some. I suppose a wild bird stopped at the turkey guy’s feed spot and had breakfast, then headed to our feed place for lunch, unwittingly carrying the disease. So 4 out of 5 chicks died within two days, awful painful itching deaths.

chickies

The color of the chicks seems to be dependent on the color of the rooster. These are Jovencita’s chicks to Blackie, the rooster.

One little rooster managed to survive but was horribly scarred. We named him Feo (Ugly), cuz he sure was ugly with bald patches and bumps. Being the only chick left, he had the run of the joint. Jovencita, having lost her brood, went broody again shortly after that, so Feo was left to his own devices.

Feo was fearless. He snatched food from right under the noses of the dogs. He swerved and ran to avoid pecking from the other chickens. He drank from the cat’s own water dish. We came to admire his pluck and courage. Nothing phased him. We could shoo him back into the wired enclosure, and 2 minutes later he was back out, happily strutting about. I guess having survived chicken pox he thought he was invincible.

At the time, all the chickens were kept in our walled backyard and mostly allowed to forage in the garden. But the grass is always greener they say and Feo got it into his head that there would be more succulent eats outside the fence. As he was undersized as well, he was able to slip between the gate bars into the wide blue yonder. One day, quick as a wink, as he was bravely venturing out to explore new worlds, a long, smooth, silver snake came out from under the sidewalk and gobbled him up. The race does not go to the brave, but to the swift.

gringa

Gringa, the hen

Our latest acquisition is a gringa hen, so named because this particular type of chicken does not have feathers on its scrawny neck. It is, therefore, a “redneck” chicken. Get it? Anyway, she isn’t accepted into the established chicken society, being different and all. She waits her turn at the food dish. First, the rooster and his ladies eat. Then the broody hens and her chicks eat. Then Mr. & Mrs. Muscovy eat with their ducklings. Then the codornices (quail) eat. Finally, la gringa gets her chance. Discrimination is not confined to humans.

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