Saturday, April 5, 2008

Jail Birds and Chrismas in April

I originally started writing this on Thursday...but then Mom came home and needed the computer...and I haven't got back to it 'till now. So this will be kinda interesting!
And just to warn y'all...this is a rather long post, since it's two or three days of thoughts!

I couldn't decide between "Jail Birds" and "Christmas in April," for the title so I thought why not both? Anyway here it goes :-)

The Chicks are somehow getting outside. Not just outside of the brooder--they're supposed to do that. Not just out of the hoop-coop--I don't mind that too much, they're still fairly safe inside of the hoop-house. It is when they leave the hoop-house that I mind. Somehow they're getting out through some crack that I can't find (they can fit though an awfully small hole) and can't find their way back in. I've got to get some chicken wire on the coop!

Tonight I heard loud peeping, "boy those chicks are loud. I can hear them all the way out here." Well I went inside of the hoop-house and the peeping was quieter. Uh-oh! It seemed to be coming from a couple of tires that I have piled up to block holes. (apparently they aren't doing their job--I just might fire them!) I picked up the top tire, and what do you know, there were four chicks in it! Right in there with all those old leaves and water that I can never seem to get out. Did I happen to mention that the dog was with me? (That wouldn't be such a big problem except that we're not sure what he would do to chicks. I'd rather expose him to full size
chickens first. Hopefully, he'll just herd them if they get loose, after all he is mostly border collie. But there is always a chance that he likes chicken dinners (or chick snacks). And that's not a chance I'd like to take right now!) So I grabbed the dog with one hand and the wettest chick in the other. Then I held the dog between my legs, opened the door to the hoop-house, tossed the poor drenched bedraggled chick inside, and carried the dog into the house. Oh, and I should also probably say that this all was happening while the rest of the family was trying to leave to go to AWANA.

Once the dog was safely inside where he couldn't to any damage (to the chicks anyway--not so sure about the house!), I managed to round up the other three chicks. Actually they were pretty cold and didn't put up much of a fight. (Also I've discovered there are great advantages to always wearing a hat: (base
ball cap type) not only dose it keep your head dry when moisture drips on you in the hoop-house, but is also acts as a great chick catching/containment device) Then I rushed to put all four under the heat lamps in the brooder--I'm praying that they won't get pneumonia. I can't imagine that the experience was very good for them.

Here a few pictures of the chicks:
In this photo you can see the eves trough feeders that a gentlemen from church helped me build. He cut out the end pieces and then we screwed them down with plumbers strap. They even have rolling handles, so that chicks (when they're heavier, anyway) won't be able to perch on them.
Here is their hoop-coop all closed up for night:-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Saturday--4/5 addendum: Last night I went out into the hoop-house and found a dozen chicks outside of their coop--and it was pretty chilly in the hoop-house. There were ten in one group on the left side of the coop (in the photo above) and two on the right side caught between the plastic on the coop and the walls of the hoop-house.

Lessons learned:
#1 Don't assume that just because you don't open up the coop, the chick can't get out. (there just like mice--can fit through an impossibly small hole.
#2 Don't wait until after dark to go out to check on the chicks--they're small enough yet to be hard to find with a flashlight!
#3 Chicks are a *lot* easier to catch when they're sleeping!
#4 As convenient as it sounded at the time, it is really best not to leave the chicken wire off of the coop to make it easier to get stuff (like the brooder) in and out--if I can get in easily, the chicks have no trouble at all! And they're trying to get out, not in.
#5 Check on the Chicks more frequently than two or three times a day

I'm beginning to get the impression that chickens aren't necessarily the smartest animals one can own. At least there were ten in the one pile, they should have been able to keep themselves fairly warm. When I threw (gently tossed?) the wretched (I mean the poor little birdies) critters back into the coop, they didn't even have enough sense to get under the brooder and warm up....sigh....
And on to the other exciting thing that happened yesterday...

My Whizbang order arrived!! Just like Christmas, only in April. It was primarily Plucker parts, but I got a couple of books too.

-----------Writing On Saturday------------

Here's what I got:

The famous feather-plate and shaft of course (precisely mounted and disassembled); a plaque telling how to reassemble it; 125 plucker fingers (from Robert); bumper sticker, caution sticker and the Fraternal Order of Whizbang Pluckerbuilders (in the manila envelope with the hand written message); the Whizbang garden cart plan book; the Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian (a gift for a friend--I got a copy for Christmas (in December!) and took me part of that afternoon and a few minutes the next morning to devour it!); and last but not least, the wonderful paper that doubled as packing material. (I have this weird thing about newspaper packing--I always try to save it and see if there is anything interesting. Some times it is the comics, or world news or something, but this time there are some really interesting articles about how much it might cost to own a milk cow, (something I'd like to do, soon if possible, which it probably isn't but one can dream....) and a bunch of other interesting stuff. I believe that this is the first paper I ever seen with one of these: (look on the bottom of the page))Is that, *gasp*, oh no, it couldn't be...could it? YES! It is a Bible verse--on a farming paper?!? What is the world coming to? I think I'll look it up online and see if they have one for our neck of the woods!

-----Have to go hang out the next load of laundry, be right back (did you see my post on Laundry?)----

OK, I'm back...where was I....

Oh, yes. The Whizbang order--it was great. Christmas in April. Oh, I've already said that. Let's see...Great service, exceptional products, I absolutely *love* the packing materials...speedy delivery...what more could you want? Autographed books you say--did I forget to mention that all of the books are signed by the author? I can't recommend this Whizbang stuff enough. It's great. It's awesome. It's (dare I say it--the word I hate to use and hear used), it's cool. (Um, perhaps I should clarify and say that's not referring to temperature ;-) )

That is going to be a fun project. Now I just need to find one of those cotton pickin barrels...there seems to be a shortage around here. If all else fails I'll have to wait 'till the *huge* consignment auction coming up here shortly (first weekend in May?) They usually have around 1,000 buyers (give or take a few hundred), plus an extra couple hundred people that just go to watch. We have quite a long list this year: from a pressure canner (or maybe two) to egg baskets and everything in between. (well maybe not everything but we do have a looong list)

Now on to other matters. (if I can think of any!)

Ah, yes....It's spring break 'round here (not for us--we work through snow days and spring break and get done the first part of May. Or at least we used we're doing more interesting things like planning gardens and raising chickens (or working on the computer for Jonathan--he's sorta apprenticed to a lady down it Tn, doing websites and stuff) more than bookwork, although we're still doing some of that (unfortunately?). But what spring break means is that everyone in the neighborhood is going on vacation. And we get to watch all of their animals. Across the road I'm watching three geese (one of which is setting on a nest) one beagle (the lab ran away just before they left), a couple of half-wild cats, and who knows how many chickens (20 or 30?). The good part is we get to keep the eggs--some 8 or 10 a day. The bad news is we have no idea of what to do with all the eggs! (we also got one goose egg--from the other goose that is not near as dedicated to sitting on a nest as the other one. I think there must be one male--he's always hissing at me. I just hiss right back, had lots of practice with my cat and all :-) ) Then the neighbors just to the West of us are leaving some time today--we'll get their dog, Macy, an English Springer Spaniel, she's fun to have around. She's come over a few times to play with Baxter--works good I throw the Frisbee, Macy fetches it (requiring little effort from me) and Baxter chases her all over creation while she's getting the frisbee (you see Baxter won't bring them back, so you have to chase after them yourself). And then up the road a ways some other folks left yesterday--I need to run up once a day to feed and water the dog.

When I was out with the last load of laundry the sun was just coming up over the trees:
That is one of my favorite spot to take pictures. I have quite a collection of shots taken from about that same place.

The other day there was a beautiful earth revolving too [you surely realize that the sun doesn't rise--the earth revolves) so here is the sun rise (I mean "earth revolving ;-) ]:
It was pretty chilly that morning--the ice in one of those ubiquitous gray tubs:was quite thick:

----Time for another laundry break----

Ok, Back again....

I just have one more thing to tell y'all about (I think just one)...I wrote this paper for school (actually we call them "news summaries"--take a story out of the newspaper or off the internet and then rewrite it. The original article was in the Lansing State Journal. It's about the rising corn prices. I wrote it once using the "rules" for school and then rewrote it in "blogger" style--interesting I thought. I think I like the "blogger" style better :-) I blogged about writing for school and the program we use here, it's down a ways so you'll have to hunt for it, but it's there :-) Here are the two versions for y'all to compare; first the strictly rewritten (no opinion--just the facts):

The Prices are Up
by Matthew Potter

[6]Food prices are rising. [1]This is primarily because of the skyrocketing cost of corn. [2]Amid expected shortfalls, corn has reached a record setting six dollars a bushel. [5]While this is roughly a thirty percent increase, the commodity stockpiles are dwindling, and the demand—for animal feed and bio-fuels—is ever increasing. [1]The current price jump is partly due to the U.S. Government’s prediction that American farmers, who are the world’s largest suppliers of corn, will “plant sharply less of the crop in 2008.” [4]Relying on past and present research, the USDA projects that only 86 million acres of corn will be planted—an eight percent drop. [3]Additionally, cold wet weather across much of the Corn Belt is expected to delay planting, once again raising prices. [1]Higher corn prices will mean high food and meat costs, as producers pass on their expenses to the consumer. Prices are going up!

Rewritten from Corn prices hit new high; $6-a-bushel mark likely to push rising costs of food, alternate fuel, by Stevenson Jacobs of AP LSJ 4/4/2008 Page 8D

The "[3]" are sentence opener numbers--[1] Is a subject opener; [2] is a prepositional opener; [3] an "-ly" or adverb opener; [4] an "-ing" or "-ed" opener; [5] a adverbial opener; [6] is the ever popular Very Short Sentence a.k.a. VSS. We also have to work in a who/which clause; an adverbial clause, strong or dual verbs; strong or dual adjectives and a "-ly" word (like "absolutely"). And I forget what all else.

Now here is the "blogger" style (with some opinions and extra facts slipped in):

A Corn Driven Economy?
by Matthew Potter

Food prices are rising. And it’s mainly due to corn. Yes, this one little plant is now receiving national attention. Over the past few years corn prices have been going up, but now they have reached the $6-a-bushel mark—that’s a record! While that is roughly a 30% increase, stockpiles are dwindling and the demand (both for animal feed and bio-fuels) just keeps going up. The U.S. government actually helped ignite this fuse leading to higher prices by predicting that American farmers (the folks who produce the largest share of the world’s corn) will plant “sharply less of the crop in 2008.” In fact, the USDA projects that only 86 million acres of corn will be planted—a drastic 8% decrease from last year. Also helping matters immensely, the cold wet weather plaguing the Corn Belt may delay planting, once again driving prices up. And since corn syrup is in practically everything, from pop to ketchup, prices of a lot of things will no doubt rise corn prices. Additionally, most animal feed is corn based, so the price of meat and animal products will skyrocket as well. It seems like corn is driving our economy. Prices just keep going up and up an up….

Rewritten from Corn prices hit new high; $6-a-bushel mark likely to push rising costs of food, alternate fuel, by Stevenson Jacobs of AP LSJ 4/4/2008 Page 8D

So there you have it....Which to you like better?

Well, better get to work....

Take 'er easy (or not, I suppose!), and never forget "no rest for the wicked, and the righteous don't need none!" (from Uncle Billy on Mitford)



Jonathan said...

Just to show the effect this writing program has, even on 'blogger' style, I ran Matthew's paper through the checklist.

Guess what: it follows the opener rules, the dress-up rules, and has a decoration. Since I didn't check grammar, the only things I found missing were: the markings were gone, his title wasn't underlined, and the required 1.5 spacing wasn't there.

Although I'm not sure what the editor (mom) would think of it grammatically, I like the second one better.

While I'm here...There are a few pictures in here that are frame worthy. The one of the two chicks, the third sunrise picture(or earth revolving)and the picture of ice against the sky.

For the chicks, there aren't any bright spots--from being inside the hoop house--and the colors are perfect. the focus could be slightly better, but the expression on the white chick's face is priceless. The fact that the white chick is facing the opposite direction of the black chick is symbolic. And the little sawdust peninsula that the chicks are standing on gives the feeling that they(the chicks) are just about ready to foray into the world.

Again, I like the colors in the sunrise picture. The glare from the sun is a good focal point, and the sky is patterned nicely. The trees on the side, with the fence, frame the picture well. And then the barn, situated under the sky (obviously) is a lovely silhouette. Overall, a nice shot.

Once, I took a picture of a bonfire that was very well received. This one of ice is as good. The pastels in the sky are perfect.

Anyway, though I'm not an expert, I really liked those.

Thanks again for an excellent post,


Matthew said...


I'm not sure if I agree about the 2nd paper following all the rules--and I'm fairly sure that it doesn't follow all of Mr. Pudewa's suggestions.

For the pictures...I'll have to see if I can find someone who knows how to size them properly and print them (hint, hint). I kinda like the one of the ice too.


Goodolboy said...

Hi, Hope ya had a good weekend. Still cold here in Manitoba, Canada. Still have snow on the ground. This is not the norm here. Usually by this time the snow is gone and we have mud. Spent the afternoon cleaning Manure out of the horse corral yesteday. Our egg production is picking up. Another couple of weeks we will be ordering our chicks. We usually order them in batches of 100. We are planing on getting 100 layers, 300 broilers and 25 turkeys. i alos want to get 2 calves this spring. My daughter works at a dairy and bull calves go for $40 each. I built a Wizbang plucker last year. It works great. You won't be disappointed. well, need to get back to work. Talk to ya all soon.


Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Matthew,

You have written another informative post. I like the part about getting your Whizbang Plucker parts. ;-)

Thanks for the great advertising.

The "Country Folks" newspaper is a nice publication that most every farm family in NY State subscribes to. Though it does cater to Big Ag, I really appreciate the Bible verses. They put a different one on the cover of each week's issue. And it is printed, as you found, in a "loud and clear" manner.

By the way, I usually make it a point to look at any newspaper packaging that comes my way too.

Best wishes,

Herrick Kimball