Friday, March 6, 2009

RIP Albion

You know how your brain will sometimes play tricks on you? Well it had snowed Monday and there was still ice in the shaded patches, so when I went out to feed last night, I wondered to myself "Wow, where did those little patches of snow/ice come from?" Then as I got closer I realized the white I was seeing was neither snow nor ice--it was feathers. I glanced off to the side and saw the source: a white chicken lay in a crumpled heap just outside the tack room door. As I got closer I could tell it was a rooster. It couldn't be! Could it?

I know I wished you dead many times, but I didn't really mean it, even if you did have a habit of stalking me and drawing blood from my ankles in your stealth attacks. And I know I'm always saying that I wish the hawks would take off the roosters and not the hens, and I really do sort of mean that, but your passing is the end of an era at Willow's Rest.

As soon as I saw that the dead bird had one thick leg, I knew it was he. He didn't have a mark on his body save for that scattering of missing feathers that I first mistook for snow. Was it a hawk? Or had he finally just jumped the wrong critter (i.e., one of the dogs)? I'll never know. But I do know that this farm's chicken flock will have a very large hole left by one very tough, small rooster. RIP Albion.

This is Albion nearly three years ago. He had been stalking Laura and me while we were out playing with Twist's new pups (hard to believe they'll be three this summer). The empty water bottle in the background was the first missile I lobbed at him. When that failed to have any effect I threw my flip flop at him, which he promptly attacked. Such a sweet fellow he was....

What ever will I do with Albion no longer here to terrorize me and any others he thought he could sucker into complacency? Oh well, there are more little evil roosters strutting around this place. I'm sure one or more of them will gladly step up to fill Albions spurs....

Spring Must Be On Its Way
As I'm typing this blog I'm looking out the window at the ram pasture. For the past several days the two rams and their wether buddy have been butting heads, chasing each other, and generally acting as if the "sap is rising," so to speak.

I posted beautiful snow pictures on Monday, and today it's a balmy 70 degrees or so. I heard spring peepers when I was out walking the dogs. And I saw that the purple martins have returned to their nesting gourds. I didn't breed much of my flock this year, and I suspect that poor Inigo wasn't terribly successful at wooing his much larger girls, so lambing will be light this year. Crazy Red had her lamb a week or so ago, and I got my hopes up when I jugged them and Crazy Red acted pretty normal around me. That lasted about a day, and then she went right back to being her crazy old self. I call her spotted red and white ewe lamb "Little Red," and I have no doubt she's learning how to be a nut from her crazy mama. Back behind the barn with Crazy Red and Little Red is Rosie, who is the daugher of Old Girl. She looks like she could lamb any day now, but she just won't go on and do it. This weekend would be perfect weather Rosie (hint, hint)!

On the Veterinary Front
I took Boy in on Wednesday to have his shoulder injected with hyaluronic acid/cortisone. So far he's still limping, but the weather was so nice when I took everyone walking earlier that I attached the flexi to him and dragged him along. I got tired of his clear reluctance about the time we got to the fork in the path and unhooked the leash, fully expecting that he would turn for home. But when the rest of us made our own turn, I saw that he had come a good way along behind us. When we turned, he turned and went back the way we came, but we all met up at the fork again, and he joined the pack for the last part of the trip. The fact that he continued on after I let him go is a good sign. Now if only that limp would disappear....

I examined Willow's thigh today, and it seems to me that the growth (for lack of a better word) might well be shrinking. Of course that could just be wishful thinking on my part. I'll check it again in a few days and see if I can detect any more changes for the better. She's due to get rechecked by Dr. Redding in another week and a half, and maybe we'll know for sure by then that the prednisone is working. I'm keeping my fingers crossed! I do want to ask him, though, how we know that it hasn't also spread internally. I'm assuming the high doses of pred would also work on anything internal, but I'd still like to know if there's a way we can tell if the recurrence is anywhere else other than her inner thigh.

Lark got over her injured toe and is solid on all fours again. Chili Pepper is back on another round of Clindamycin. The stuff tastes awful (I can smell it) and it would be nice if it could be formulated into something more palatable for cats, but it works, so she just gets a round periodically and it seems to keep her mouth under control.

Reading Corner
Gee, I don't really remember what I've read since the last time I posted about books. Right now I'm working on my "buy two, get one free" purchase that I made when Mary sent me to the bookstore. The first book of that group was The Book of Air and Shadows, by Michael Gruber (HarperCollins, 2007). Apparently this was a New York Times bestseller, and I can see why. It was an enjoyable read sort of along the lines of the Dan Brown genre: letters written in Jacobean secretary hand, some encrypted, are found behind the leather covers of a collection of antique books that were damaged aas the result of a fire. The nonencrypted letter was written by a dying soldier to his wife and is meant to give the details of his life to their young son, who will never hear these stories from his father. In the letter is mention of spying on Shakespeare as a suspected papist, and a passing reference to the existence of an unknown play, written in Shakespeare's own hand. Thus is the stage set for a mystery involving the encrypted letters, the torture death of a well-known Shakespeare scholar, a lawyer reluctantly dragged into the plot by the fact that the scholar had left papers with him right before his death, and the search the missing play. I found it very entertaining and at times hard to put down, which caused me to miss more than one full night's sleep. I haven't read anything else by this author, but wouldn't hesitate to pick up another of his books.

Right now I'm reading Portrait of an Unknown Woman, by Vanora Bennett (HarperCollins, 2008). The story centers around a woman named Meg Giggs, and adopted daughter of Sir Thomas More. It takes place place between 1527, when Hans Holbein comes to England under commission to paint a family portrait for the Mores, and 1533. This is a period of religious turmoil, when Henry VIII divorces his Spanish queen for Anne Boleyn. I am not quite halfway through, so I don't know the full story, but the author is staying true to the basic historical facts of the time, so I do know what happens to Thomas More in the end. Historical fiction is a genre I enjoy, and so far this book has not disappointed.

Next in line is Paolo Coelho's The Witch of Portobello (HarperPerennial, 2006). The Alchemist and By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept are two of my all-time favorite books, and I expect that Coelho will delight me with this work as much as he has with the other works of his that I've read.

But before I get to that book, I also have a book loaned to me by my neighbor Tony, Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man (Mariner Books, 2000; the original of this book was published in 1971). The books just keep piling up, but sooner or later, I'll get them all read!


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your rooster. Years ago I was tormented by a crazy rooster named Hanibal. Many times he forced me up onto fences, into haylofts, into closed stalls, etc. I even blasted him with a hose and it just made him meaner. I swear he saw me coming and singled me out for abuse.

Is it possible that Albion froze? I once killed a chicken that didn't get locked in the coop one night and I found it the next morning mostly frozen to the ground. I brought it in the house and put in next to the furnace to try to warm it up but it died. Poor chicken.


Laura Carson said...

Awwww, poooooor Albion. May the little beast rest in relative peace. He drew blood on me more than once, and I in turn punted him like a football, but I still hate that he's gone.

Wow, it is hard to believe that our puppehs are going to be THREE soon!

Darci said...

Your yard, (Albion's territory of terror) will now be a far safer place with his passing, but maybe not quite as entertaining.

Julie Poudrier said...

It was a 50-degree day, so no forzen birds--what I originally thought was unmelted snow was actually feathers. It appeared his neck was broken. The most likely scenario is that a Coopers Hawk got him but then got scared away by the dogs.

Laura and Darci,
There's a nasty little black rooster (the one I taught Lark to chase) that will likely become the new yard terror.....

Luisa said...

Oh gosh - my condolences. I must look for the surfing Albion picture, and the one of King Kong Albion dangling a puppy off the Empire State Building [IIRC]. Have to admit, the title of the post gave me a scare ;~)

May the soul of the old rooster rest in peace.