Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

Especially if the hand is Heath’s and the biter is a rooster named Ruby.

Ruby was the chicken that turned out to be a rooster. The discovery of Ruby’s manliness was at first a little exciting; it meant the possibility of hatching eggs and having a beautiful bird patrolling the perimeter of our yard. But overtime the excitement turned to frustration and worry. Ruby (or Ruben as we began to call him) was both loud and aggressive. We woke every morning to a rooster’s call and feared every trip into the back yard as Ruben started attacking visitors with his developing spurs. Before refilling the chicken feed in the coop, we had to be armed with a stick to keep young Ruben at bay. Fingers were crossed that perhaps this newfound aggression was a teenage phase, but book after book on the subject urged only one solution for such a circumstance. We had to make jerk chicken out of our jerk chicken.

On Friday Heath approached the coop, Star War’s Imperial March playing in his head. With the wack of a stick and slit of the throat, Ruby was no longer of this world. On Saturday we ate fresh, organic,  fried chicken.

We are not hoping to make a habit out of eating our pets, but this one sure was good–tasted like chicken. Rest in peace, Rubster. It was fun while it lasted.

You see me eat your children, you know what I am capable of.

This is my threat to Rueben (Ruby) the rooster after he attacked me this week. Mark my words, pretty soon there will be a BBQ at the doodle house featuring fresh chicken.

Doodles + Chickens = Love

Doodles + Chickens = Love

When the coop first came to being, the dogs did their fair share of circling the new habitat, intently trying to get a taste of baby birds. And we’d been pretty religious about keeping the dogs separate from the chickens at all times, especially since the great squirrel catastrophe of 2010 where I came home to find a dead squirrel on the couch like a prized hunting trophy. It still brings back nightmares.

So this weekend when the dogs some how got outside while we were letting the chickens roam, Heath and I were a bit panicked to say the least.

“NO!” I heard Heath yell from the back yard. The screen door slammed against the house a second after, so I knew that meant the doodles had hurled themselves clumsily into the backyard, likely in pursuit of fresh chicken. Visions of feathers flying through the air like a middle school pillow fight consumed my brain as I ran outside to try and and pull vicious labradoodles from penetrating the flesh of our beloved Ruby and Marion.

You can imagine our surprise when we saw dogs and chickens cohabitating in peace.

All this time we had assumed a meeting between beast and bird would conclude in a squirrel-like tragedy, but here they were, blissfully ignoring one another. There was some sniffing by both parties, but for the most part, the chicks and the children live in peace.


Garden Fun

Fortunately the three day weekend has offered us cooler temperatures (think a cool 93 degrees instead of the usual 105). So we decided to spend our Sunday gardening and admiring houses we hope to one day live in.

Of course, before we began this epic task, we had to fuel up. Enter Top Notch Burgers.

Top Notch is an old school, drive-thru burger joint on Burnet Road (a street Heath and I find ourselves visiting more and more frequently). The place probably hasn’t been updated since the 70s, but that is part of its charm. The out of towners might know it from its appearance in Dazed and Confused where it provided the drive-thru backdrop for a few scenes in the movie. Going there is like taking a trip back in time, but it’s also extremely delicious. The food is good, the price is right and the service is excellent. Done and done. Filled to the brim with the timeless flavors of a BLT and french fries, we headed out to continue our day.

We drove through the delightful Allandale neighborhood on our way to Lowe’s. It’s full of ranch-style homes, wide streets and huge trees. On our Sunday driveby we saw dozens of cyclists, friendly joggers with their pups and two kids operating a lemonade stand. Home ownership is not quite in our sites yet, but it’s always nice to dream.

Inspired by the well-manicured lawns and perky gardens of Allandale, Heath and I opted to take advantage of the coolish weather and do some yard maintenance of our own. This included trimming back some out-of-control plants, replanting a bed in our backyard, and adding a few new pops of color to our amateur garden. Behold our meager efforts…

Before, caladiums we planted earlier in the summer had seen better days. They fell victim to dogs(not ours) trampling the garden. So we replaced them with something a big sturdier.

While pruning, I came across this little guy who made a home in one of my pots.

The chicks got to eat any grubs we found in the garden (there were lots). Here they are recooping after a pretty intense meal.

The dogs don’t so much help as they watch from cooler areas.


Observations on chickens

We’ve been the proud parents of these two…

…for a few months now. We’ve cried together, laughed together and loved together (well, not really). And we feel like we might be close to being chicken experts. Again, not really. Though I did compose a piece about chickens for the paper that can be read here. Nevertheless, we have made some keen observations on their species. Please note the following:

  • Chickens are chicken. Why is any scared, bashful and/or cowardly person immediately referred to as a chicken? Because chickens are scared, bashful and cowardly creatures. While these chicks have endured the occasional labradoodle taunting, for the most part they have it pretty good. They get lots of food, fresh water and ample yard roaming time. Still, at any sign of danger (or let’s face it, anything temporarily unpleasant) the chickens go running. No mode of attack, no submission, no “let’s wait this thing out.” A chicken’s immediate reaction to loud noises, fast movements and mostly anything else, is to act like a chicken.
  • Chickens sometimes sound like roosters. For a few days Heath and I were in a panic that we might be the proud owners of a dandy rooster. In the mornings, when we let the dogs out, (and they scamper by the chicken coop to say “good morning”) one of the fowl reacts with a howl/cluck/crow hybrid noise. Hearing “CRROOOUUUAARRRWWW” first thing in the morning was definitely an unexpected wake up call. I was immediately convinced we had a rooster on our hands. Turns out, chickens can make funny, loud noises too (thanks Google). And even though there are still no eggs to show from this little adventure, we remain convinced that our chickens are ladies.
  • Chickens don’t lay eggs. Argue this one if you want. But I’m not buying that chickens lay eggs. I’ve yet to see an egg out of either of these two girls, and they have a pretty cushy life. Maybe a critter is getting to the eggs. Maybe they are barren. Maybe I’m being too impatient. Sure, any of these suggestions are possible. But I’m going with my first instinct. Chickens don’t lay eggs.
  • Chickens are pretty. Perhaps it’s not how the average person would describe a chicken (delicious might come to mind first), but watching these chicks grow into beautiful feathered fowl is a treat. They are both so different from each other in both look and personality. I have thoroughly enjoyed examining their changing feathers and fluffy chicken butts over these months.