26 April 2011

Miracle Chicks Update

I see it's been a week since my rather unhappy post about the chick shipment.

To update:

The five surviving chicks ("Red Star" production mixes) are hale and hearty. They are living in the brooder section of the greenhouse coop with The Twins. The Twins (named Mary & Martha) are the two Partridge Rock chicks that Miss Bett quit mothering. They were getting stressed from the big chickens bullying them so I brought them inside for a week to chill out.

Mary & Martha aren't amazing "big sisters" to the Miracle Chicks but they aren't aggressive so they get to stay as long as they play nicely. They have their own little coop-ette, also known as an open bird cage, to roost in or on. Mostly they hang out on the floor taking dust baths and cuddling one another. At night they fly to the top of their cage and roost up there utterly undisturbed until they decide to descend in the morning.

The little ones have already learned to fly up to low roosts such as a wire crate or the edge of their brooder box. They look so proud of themselves when they manage it on the first try! Maybe I'll remember to take the camera out tomorrow and get photos for you.

The replacement chicks for both lots will be arriving next week... boy will those 5 week old twins be surprised!

Cross your fingers that all goes well in transit.

21 April 2011

The Silent Box

For those dear readers who are Facebook friends with Mrs. Fuzzy this will not be new news but now it comes with photos. I will warn you, some of them are not pleasant but you get to end with happy photos.

The big order of chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery was shipped on Sunday and arrived on Wednesday, a day later than their absolute maximum transit time. Now, a chick lives its first 3 days on the nutrition is has from absorbed yolk before hatching and the short time between when the PO calls and introducing a chick to sustenance doesn't seem to make a lick of difference but these chicks were five days old when they arrived. Needless to say, I didn't see much reason to rush and collect a silent box of dead animals so I stopped at the coffee shop first. I wanted to pretend that my new coop would soon be filled with dozens of cute chicks:

Amazingly, there were cheeping sounds coming from the box... but not many and not exactly "lusty throated." I put it in the back of the car so I wouldn't be tempted to look before getting into the coop, just in case doing so would cause a chill to the survivors. When I opened the box it was a horror scene:

Yes, that is what 40 dead chicks looks like. Five were still standing and ten more semed viable so I took them out, introduced them to the water fount, and covered the bottom of their tiny brooder box with feed so they wouldn't have to hunt for food. I spent about one and a half hours repeatedly dipping their beaks in the water and food until they seemed to understand what they needed to do.

As I checked in throughout the day ( I had feed to pick up and a flooring installer to meet) more and more chicks died... but clearly not the ones who had been standing when I opened the box. You might imagine our sadness and revulsion each time another few animals went into the compost bin.

That's what you do with them. The USDA actually requires that if they aren't trucked away. At least they will be creating new life in some small way, eh?

My usual word for a day like this is "suckfest." It's a good, clean, word that usually makes things better just by its' utterance but it proved utterly inadequate... so I got angry and called the toll free number for the US Postal Service. The flippant tone that greeted my explanation ("I just received a box of chicks and 80% are dead because the box did not arrive on time.") really ticked me off. He wisely pawned me off on the complaint department who mow mowed me and gave me a case number.

The hatchery folks were much more helpful. They knew why there had been a delay and told me. (The sorting center in TN is now a crime scene.) They also commiserated on my loss and explained it was happening all over the region because of the snafu. On Friday I'll call with a final count and they'll schedule a shipment of replacements to be sent once the USPS has its act together.

What was lovely about the call was when I explained who lived and who died. The lady said, "You mean some arrived alive and seem like they're going to make it???? That doesn't normally happen when they're this late!" She was really excited and happy.

So, now it is after 10:30 in the evening and I have this truly miraculous photo to share with you of our Ressurection Chicks. There are five survivors now and all are avidly eating and drinking, moving about their brooder box, and chirping away. We know they aren't out of the woods yet because their little bodies will need time to recover from the trauma but for now they are doing all the tings a chick is supposed to be doing.

I was even happy when one of them pooped on my hand while holding her. Now to come up with five female names of people who have come back from the dead. Any soap opera fans out there?

20 April 2011

Blooming well bet on it

Of course, due to the restraining order on the topic of seasons, Mr. Fuzzy can no longer speculate regarding the nature of the current or future weather. Nonetheless, you, my brilliant reader, may utilize your own decision making ability based on the following evidence: blooms are breaking out all over Stratheden.

The dogwood trees are just opening; the apple trees are absolutely splendid this year - they seem to alternate years. The twa cherry trees are modest this year, still resting from the stupendous yields of 2010. And the wildflowers are greater in number than in previous years, the floor of the forest is blanketed in many areas.

We are so fortunate to be able to live here.

18 April 2011

Eastern Woodland Indian Conference

Mrs. Fuzzy graciously allowed Mr. Fuzzy a weekend in Pittsburgh with his friend Joseph. Wait, wait, that sounds ALL wrong - we went there for the newly reconstituted Eastern Woodland Indian Conference, sponsored by Fort Pitt Museum. The museum's director, Alan Gutchess, and his father, Jerry, founded these annual conferences maybe 15 years ago but after Jerry died and Alan got sidetracked, these superbly informative conferences ended. This is, hopefully, the new beginning, with the talented Alan Gutchess at the helm once more.

This was a very well run conference, everything on time, enough time to net work, good pacing, trade room, and fine speakers. Some of the topics didn't sound interesting but I listened to all of them and was drawn into virtually all of them. The paper on smallpox blankets was a complete re-write of what was thought to be known - it was revolutionary and so well buttressed. Galban's paper on moon gorgets was extremely informative. I only cite these two because they are easy to describe; all were most worthwhile.

The "trade room" had more good eye candy than most museums and more serious, scholarly, deep, incisive conversations than most university departments. It was a treat in every way. The quill work was exceptional.

It was comforting to see/visit with old friends: Conde, Lalioff, Crews, etc., and to meet Ward Oles and finally put a face to the name. Of course, I could not resist temptations of this degree and purchased a pipe for myself and a perfect copy of a French bucheron knife for Mrs. Fuzzy's kitchen.

If I am still ambulatory, I'll be there again next year. I cannot recommend this conference enough.

16 April 2011

Falling Branch River

On occasion, I have reason to take notice of something other than my chickens.

This morning I took notice of the howling, gusting, wind and sheets of torrential rain whipping against my dining room windows. Yes, the rain ventured eight feet back from the edge of the porch.

Then I took note of the way our normally firm clay soil had turned into squelching mud and mole-facilitated sink holes under my feet as I checked on the garden. Thankfully, I ventured out without shoes. The wet weather is more comfortable without shoes provided it is not too cold.

Then I took note of the way our drive has been completely wrecked by the 2.5 inches of rain we received. Mr. Fuzzy has a LOT of work on his plate...

Finally, I took note of the way the sweetly pastoral trickle that crosses our road had turned into a river, widening, even, into a small lake or pond (depending on your linguistic preference.)

Then I went and did some chicken business.... and decided to explore a favorite riverside location on my way home.

It would appear that the New River decided to 'explore' the road too. Here's what it looked like about 200 yards back up the road... there used to be a bridge there but now it's just a weir, a suck hole, and some wonderful rapids made of flotsam and chocolate milk.

12 April 2011


Last weekend the Fuzzies made a fast trip to Fort Dobbs (North Carolina) and the year 1760 when it was attacked by the British allied Cherokees. There are always some excellent re-enactors there and this was no exception. In addition to the Cherokee contingent, there was also a representative of both the Creeks and the Delawares. The weather was foggy/overcast and cool, making it a most pleasant day.

11 April 2011

05 April 2011

When the Dead come to Life

Friday night at the Floyd Country store can only mean one thing, The Jamboree - three bands, playing in this order - gospel, country dance and old time/mountain music.

Now the first set is almost always gospel music and singing - it wouldn't be proper to dance then even if the tune would allow it. But then comes the second set which is nearly all dance music, or should we say, flatfooting music. A fair number of Folks drive up from North Carolina to dance there, its that special.

An hour before, it looks like a nursing home has turned out its ambulatory residents; folks walking with limps, others stiff as rails, some hardly able to balance. But I tell you what, when the flatfooting music breaks out, these folks come to life (in varying degrees). In this video, the man to left of center with a black hat and black vest can hardly shuffle - but he's out there on the dance floor. The young lady front & center shows the best possible style. and if your eyes are drawn to the right and bright orange guys, you can hardly be blamed.

Each of the three bands plays for an hour. The admission charge has recently gone up to $5.00. We love it here in Floyd County.