Friday, January 15, 2010

Hector's still here, and has stabilized. He's slipped into a weak, thin, but interested old age. So far, his water bag IV is set at two units (about an inch) of water per day, he gets Diazepam (Valium) twice a day, and while he usually eats a dry kidney-support diet, we let him have anything he wants. What can it hurt, now? Knowing he has purr-ogatives lets him know he's still top cat. Or, officially, Top Cat Emeritus. Leo is Top Cat, now, sort of. Living with Leo is like living with Denny Crane, but without the penis comments.

Chicken emergency resolved. As the hard rains of the El Nino came in, the chicken cage became unbearable. It was originally built for security, but this made it almost impossible to clean. So for about a week, I threw myself into building an actual mobile cage -- a bit too heavy to be an actual chicken tractor -- to get them out of the filthy, muddy, ammonia-reeking trap their home had become. Red, the hen as tall half-way up my thigh, and the boss chicken, was yelling for help.

Yesterday I ignored the lashing rain, each hammer-blow splashing water as though it were coming down in a puddle, and slammed through the project until the cage was at least sturdy and completely enclosed. The neighbor was so upset at seeing me soaking wet in the rain she brought me a nice red rain jacket. I tried to tell her I had spent much of my childhood in the cold rain. My father was injured and in pain much of my early life, and mom just threw us out in the rain to fend for ourselves. We didn't know we were abandoned; we had woods and beach and fields to play with, ponies and peacocks, seagulls and wandering hounds. But we did spend most of our time soaking wet, sometimes just stringing our tennis shoes (we got one pair a year) around our necks on our shoelaces and running barefoot.

But, back to the present. I ran in the house and changed my sloppy sweatshirt so I wouldn't get the nice red jacket wet on the inside and dashed back outside before I warmed up; it's running in and out of heat and cold that makes a weatherproof person sick. By the time I got the cage finished, it was the hen's bedtime, and no time to move them. Red did lay her first egg, however. A PINK one. White's are yellowish, Black's are light green. Easter eggs!

This morning Dan helped me move the hens. Red was squawling to us to come rescue them, and came to my hands to be handed out of the hutch. While Dan ran with her to the new cage, Black came in to be caught, too. My God, is that a fat hen! She's rather gorgeous -- in the sun, shimmering black/green with black edges on each feather. White was an idiot -- white chickens usually are -- and had to be cornered and caught in the muck.

The moment they were all together in their new hutch and cage, they happily started scratching the grass. This is growing over a concrete-tile path that is nearly covered over. Let THEM clean the damn' weeds off the path. Then we'll roll the cage to the next patch on the path and sow the edges with white Dutch clover. Ha! They can replace the nasty thin grass with nice rich clover while they're at it -- and they lay just enough eggs for us to have scrambled eggs twice a week.

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