Joe Cocker vs Gregory Peck

I came up with a plan for the roosters. I finished the bigger chicken tractor!

Well, it’s almost finished. It’s about 12 feet long and a little less than 4 feet tall. It’s still heavy, but much easier to move than the smaller tractor. It was especially easy to move on the ice. It slid rather easily.

I took two sides of the goat tractor and leaned them together to make an A-frame. The panels are made of 2x8s and 2″x4″ heavy gauge metal fencing. It’s pretty sturdy. The ends are covered with the same fencing and reinforced with wooden pallets for strength.

There is a temporary shelter in it made from some recycled plastic storage container. I also put a pet carrier in it. The pet carrier is situated toward the top of the A-frame. In theory, the carrier can be used to hide from any predator that makes it into the tractor.

The roosters were named today. We’ve had them for 6 months or so. I resisted naming them because I really thought something would kill them all. But it looks like they are going to make it, so they got names. The less aggressive rooster is now Joe Cocker and the more aggressive one is Gregory Peck. Donna Henley is our one chicken hen. The two ducks still don’t have proper names.

I hope Joe Cocker likes his new home. He really doesn’t have a choice. In the battle royale that was Joe Cocker vs Gregory Peck, Joe Cocker got the worst of it. I really don’t mind him being in the cabin. He’s a lot less trouble than the dogs and cats.

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H.R. Williams: The Whiskey Killing

The Whiskey Killing, by H.R. Williams, is the fictional account of an Eastern Arkansas liquor store owner and the police captain who pursues the killer. Captain Walker and his team have very little evidence with which to launch the investigation into the murder. After a couple of false starts, the clues eventually lead them to the killer.

The Whiskey Killing is bursting at the spine with characters. Each character has a distinct personality, and Williams does a very good job of developing that many characters in so short of a story.

The plot was well thought out. I’m pretty good at punching holes in a plot, but this one didn’t seem to have any. The only problem I could find was a minor one which involved the type of weapon used to kill the liquor store owner. If you read it and see a problem with the weapon, please send me an email. I’d like to know that I’m not alone here.

Here’s a link to The Whiskey Killing at goHastings, if you are interested in purchasing a copy. Just click on the picture below.

The Whiskey Killing Williams; H. R. Medical Biostatistics Business & E

Top 10 of Winter

As I sit here in the middle of the woods, literally miles from anywhere, in our little section of our little valley, I can’t help but think how nice it would be to live right smack dab in the middle of a large city right about now. No need to feed a wood stove. No four legged predators to worry about. No livestock to worry about. No 45 degree road to try to climb just to get on the highway.

Of course, as soon as I think it, I also think about all of the bad things about living in the city: Two legged predators just looking for an opportunity; homeowner’s associations; neighbors; traffic; tens of thousands of people.

That makes me think that the reason I’m missing the city right now is the weather. Well, more particularly, this winter weather. I’ve been surrounded by snow for days.

I made a little trip in to town yesterday to get a TB test, but other than that, I’ve spent a lot of time up here this winter. Snow has covered the ground for larger than usual part of that time. And where is the sun? Has the sun gone on strike? Does it only come up every other day now? I’m jonesing for some sunlight here.

So I decided I would take this time to write down 10 things to like about the winter. Maybe that will make me feel better. I wonder if I can find 10 things to like about winter.

  1. No rattlesnakes
  2. No ticks
  3. Easier to find water
  4. It’s easier to heat my cabin than to cool it
  5. No fleas on the dogs
  6. A hot wood stove means coffee and tea are always available
  7. It’s easy to put a pot of beans on the wood stove
  8. Longer nights mean more sleep.
  9. No spiders. Well, not as many, anyway.
  10. More time for reading.
  11. And as a bonus, none of those annoying gnats that cloud around my face in the afternoons during the warmer seasons.

Wow! That took less than 10 minutes. But, I think it was futile endeavor. I don’t feel much better.

I will probably feel a little better tomorrow. I have to get my TB test read. Jennifer and I have some hard decisions to make. Nothing life and death, but we have some business that needs to be taken care of. We’ll have to set course on those things tomorrow.

Firewood Cooperative?

I’m serious about starting a firewood cooperative. There has to be a better way to get firewood.

I think I have devised a better way. A friend of ours recently posted a link to this video. This has to be the most awesome tool ever. Unfortunately, the attachment alone costs $36,000. I found one for sale at http://www.hahnmachinery.com/firewood-processor/.

That puts it out of my reach, but I have a plan.

I could start a crowd funding campaign. It would be set at the cost of the attachment + tax. Then we would take donations of that price divided by 121, which would mean that 121 people would donate. That would work out to about $371 per donor. That would give each donor 3 days with the equipment. The first year sounds a little steep, but from then on, the donors would only have to donate a small amount to maintain the equipment.

We would need someone to donate the use of a Bobcat, or multiple donors, of course. Or maybe some people would rent the Bobcat.

Anyway, with 3 days to use the equipment, the donor could cut all of the wood he needs, plus enough to sell to help recoup some of his investment.

This is all just a thought. Let me know if you would be interested in such a deal.

Crestfallen

Downcast, dejected, disappointed, delflated, sad – I have never really thought about the origins of the word “crestfallen.”

Today, with the happening of one small event, I immediately realized not only the origin of the word, but also the true meaning.

The event was small only to me. In fact, I found it predictable. Not so to the rooster who has called our homestead home for most of his life. For him, the event was life changing, sudden, and far from predicted.

It started this morning. Everything was quiet. The snow seems to muffle and amplify sound at the same time, if that is possible. Even the slightest sounds seem to carry for miles. However, there is no sound from the rustling of leaves on the ground; no sound from birds hunting through the underbrush looking for little nuggets of nutrition.

Soon after I woke, I realized that I had not heard the roosters crowing. I found that odd. Moments later, another oddity – something was wrong in the chicken tractor. The noise made me think that something had gotten inside it and was attempting to have chicken or duck – egg or meat – for breakfast. I jumped up and ran out to the porch. The squawking stopped. From the porch, I could see no tracks in the snow leading to the tractor. There were no obvious holes in the “armor”. I fed the ever hunger stove. I went back to the warmness of my hastily vacated bed while the stove went back to warming up the cabin.

A short time later there was another ruckus from the chicken tractor. I once again climbed out of bed. I donned my boots and heavy jacket. The heavy jacket was even heavier than usual as I slipped the Smith and Wesson .380 into it. I figured if something was in with the chickens, the .380 would dispatch the problem if it came to that.

I also picked up a bucket of chicken feed and a half gallon of water. I figured I might as well feed them during my investigation.

The birds were much quieter than usual as I approached. The ducks wouldn’t quack back at me when I goaded them. No clucking from Donna Henley. No crowing from the roosters. I dumped the food in. One of the roosters came running and barely beat Henley to the food. I squatted and could see the two ducks. The other rooster was in the corner with the water, and under the door to the tractor.

When I lifted the door, I could see that the rooster wasn’t himself. Instead of its usual bright red, the rooster’s crest and the skin around his face was black. The feathers around his neck were ruffled, some partially pulled out. I realized at that point, the noise I had heard was the roosters fighting. The black coloring was blood. I tried to rationalize that it was just a squabble, and that everything would be ok.

But the rooster didn’t seem to think so. Neither of the roosters have ever been friendly, but this guy was suddenly my best friend. His other friends were eating and drinking, but he was keeping an eye on me and the other rooster. I gathered up some eggs, shut the door, and headed up the hill. My intention was to get a crate to put the rooster in so that I could assess his injuries.

Crate in hand, I headed back down the hill. I could hear the roosters fighting again. When I opened the door, my newest friend was there waiting on me. There were also a few fresh splashes of blood thrown around the tractor. It looked like someone had hit something with a meat cleaver. I scooped the battered rooster up and put him in the crate. He didn’t put up much of a struggle. I had expected some. We haven’t handled these birds in months.

He resigned himself to the crate rather quickly. He was exhausted and scared. And probably hurting. He looked deflated. I’m not sure if he understood the implications or not. I can’t help but think that if he didn’t understand, then he would have been much more agitated.

I took the rooster, and therefore his crate, inside. I hooked up a waterer and gave him fresh bedding and some food. I contacted Jennifer and my sister – she’s been raising chickens for almost 2 decades – to find out what I needed to do. The consensus was to put him back in the tractor and let the two male birds work it out. I was a little apprehensive, but I eventually trudged on back down the hill. I put the rooster back in the tractor.

The other rooster went after him immediately. The less aggressive of the two stuck his head in a corner. The aggressive one was beating him up but good. I pushed it off of the timid rooster, but he went back immediately. It was one sided fight. The aggressive rooster didn’t have a scratch on him. I pulled the timid bird out, all the time fighting the other rooster off.

So, the rooster is in the cabin with us, temporarily at least. He’s a good houseguest, for the most part. He pecks around in his crate. Every now and then, he crows. Then the other rooster starts in. Long distance communication, bird style. The time in between crows seems variable and random to me, but I’m sure it makes sense to the birds. It doesn’t make sense to Helo either. Helo was just blasted from a deep sleep by a rather loud and high pitched crow. He jumped up and looked at me. He ended up putting his head, ears, and tail down as he slinked as far away from the rooster as he could get.

Now, I have to figure out what to do with the roosters. I’m thinking that I should finish the coop and put it in the bigger “tractor”, which is really a movable pen with a top on it. Maybe with more space they wouldn’t feel the need to fight. Maybe they still would and it would just be harder for me to get to them.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I feel a little crestfallen myself.