• in which I thought T'Pol was a goner

    So spring has sprung and it's a lovely time to be a chicken with all the spiders sneaking around, baby grasshoppers showing up, snails lurking around the rocks, and piles of little earthworms under the old leaves, besides all the fresh salad spread out for the grazing. (Imagine walking around in your food because there is just so much of it...) Sometimes you get lucky and find a little patch of wild strawberries or tiny little baby snakes as skinny and fun to slurp down as spaghetti! But we live in a scary neighborhood full of big dogs, plus being on the edge of Mirkwood is actually quite dangerous. We've lost several chickens and two ducks in broad daylight within feet of us in the backyard to foxes and hawks (what I'd give for a slo-mo recording from a webcam!), so we don't dare stay out more than 20 minutes at a time. Especially when the woods suddenly get really quiet...

    I've got mine trained to come in for special treats. Today it was a can of corn and a piece of bread, yummy!

    Still, it's really hard to stop stuffing your face and move along when you're surrounded by paradise after such a long dull boring winter.

    Oopsie, T'Pol doesn't seem to be around anywhere. Well, when one goes missing, you get the others put up and then go looking. I went back to where I saw them last before I came in the house and looked for feathers. Nothing.

    She could just be out there in a happy bubble gobbling up a motherlode of worms, right? Not the first time I've had to trench into the deeper woods and brave the chiggers, ticks, copperheads, tree spiders (big webs you walk into face first- yeah, Mirkwood), and poison ivy and poison oak. I'd almost rather sacrifice a chicken back to nature than go round another tick disease (I'm a Lymie) or wind up on prednisone and extra benadryl. I can handle snakes, but I really hate spiders, and we have some as big as your hand around here.

    In woods like these, you keep your eyes peeled for color changes and movement (especially as T'Pol has excellent camo!), and listen for someone kicking leaves around. Chickens have a distinctive kick pattern. Usually you also hear squirrels or rabbits making a racket bounding through the old leaves embedding the forest floor, but at the moment it was so very quiet, I could only imagine a hawk must have stealth bombed my poor chicken and all the critters and birds froze till the coast was clear. That's happened before without the other chickens even noticing. The crunchy sounds you hear are me walking, and I didn't call out because I was listening. Halfway through you can see the other chickens really watching me from the pen.

    I finally gave up and went back to the pen, where all the other chickens were still gathered at the pen door wondering what in the world I was doing. I told them it was too bad they couldn't tell me where they saw her last, and suddenly I was all face palm going OH, she's on a nest! (This is where I have to wonder sometimes if animals are much more aware than we think and could probably communicate in visuals telepathically if we just knew how to shut up our minds and let them, because the timing was incredible.) T'Pol isn't the most reliable layer in the world, being a heritage breed (Speckled Sussex), and since it had been so long since we'd gotten an egg from her (she lays the smallest ones, easy to spot), I assumed she'd stopped laying altogether like a Sussex we'd had previously that laid only one month and stopped forever. And sure enough, there she was.

    The only experience I have with Speckled Sussex are Bean (former flock) and T'Pol (I've otherwise been around chickens all my life), and they both seem to be the most intelligent I've had as far as interspecies interaction goes. Kinda dumb for chicken survival because they're so laid back and the opposite of my flightier hens that you sometimes wish something would pounce on and carry off because they're so aggravating when their nerves go off. But they literally walk around our feet like cats to the point where we nearly stumble over them, and you can see T'Pol was fine with eating out of my hand. She is also my talker, the first one to come get me and complain that she's bored or to tell on someone or ask me what I'm doing or look all around me for snacks. If you are thinking about getting chickens and don't have any experience, toss a Speckled Sussex into the mix and make a pet of it. Other people claim their Sussex are pretty good layers, but their average ranges from 180-240 eggs a year, depending on environment, health, and stress levels. I think Bean suffered a shock from jumping right on top of a 6 foot black snake when she flew up to a nest one day, because she stopped laying cold turkey, laid one egg inside out a week later, and then literally went hermaphrodite on us. Her comb suddenly poofed up bigger, her tail feathers got longer and curved more, and then she started trying to crow, so she became truly transgendered. This isn't terribly uncommon in the chicken world, so we found it pretty amusing. Here is the snake.

  • early monthly update April

    First of all, let's just see where my head's at.

    Easter weekend was cool because the weather actually got kind of nice. I can't get over the camera quality in my droid. I might never go back to a regular camera. Spent some time outside with the chickens. We were all relieved to get out.

    This was my first video upload onto youtube from my droid. happy 

    The groundcover is popping out.

    I was able to open windows and my house was filled with the scent of hyacinths blooming. They grow wild around here.

    March was a pretty rough month after a really rough winter. I tend not to talk about my stuff while I'm in it, prefer to curl up in solitude, so anyone who actually knows me is probably surprised I managed to stay kinda public through a lupus flare up affecting my nervous system, and even now nearing the end of some pretty rigorous physical therapy. I built my first Lexx fan site in full blown illness and no one ever knew I crawled through my nights practically wearing sunglasses while I worked on my coding. I confess I have a little more trouble nowadays staying that dedicated, so my Lexx film study went on hold. Didn't help that photobucket's new beta flipped my way of mass posting pix upside down.
    My chickens had it rough, too!  In all the years we've lived here, we've never had a parasite problem with our chickens. Not sure what the crap, but they got a big bad mite infestation in their nests this winter and were eaten alive while the mites chewed their feathers to the nubs around the oil glands above their tails and the vent area where their skin is moister. It looked like we took an electric razor to them and buzzed their bottoms bald. This happened so quickly that it was mind blowing and very surprising. So we got the chicken house and pen all cleaned out and dusted real good, and their poor feathers are trying to grow back. Feathers don't grow continuously like hair does, so we may have to wait till they molt to see if the damage is repairable. Some of them are getting some fluff back, but the pin feathers were just destroyed. How To Protect Your Chickens From Mites - BackYard Chicken This isn't the best video for assessing mites, but you can see what I mean, and this is after treatment and some recovery, so you didn't see how bad it got.

    We didn't have a big to do for Easter, but I went ahead and made yummy food. This is glazed ham and candied butternut squash.

    Kinda needing to assess where I'm at now since I started this blog back up, kind of surreal being so detached during my not feeling well stuff. My widget box on the left side of the main page (you can't see it on individual post pages) says I've gotten over 7000 clicks just inside the box since I installed it. My sitemeter says I've had 6900 extra views on top of initial main page hits, but it doesn't count redundancy, like people visiting more than once in one day or even week. My Xanga tracker shows me that stuff, though, some of you are pretty dedicated. heart Actually, Xanga says I've already got over 2000 hits just this week so far, so my site meter numbers must be extremely conservative.


    And believe it or not, Lexx fans, this isn't my highest traffic blog. winky If I combined all my blogs hits it would be pretty impressive.
    Does this matter? Not really, but I use it as incentive to keep going and to assess what sorts of things I maybe should be concentrating on. Remember, I'm the one who deleted all the old Lexx stuff in the first place, never told anyone how sick I was, and I assumed when I came back that no one cared and that was all in the past. Apparently a lot of you do care, and the past is swirling all around us into the future. It helps to see those numbers when my days get rough, because it's easy to assume 'no one' reads something if numbers are low (and easier to forget that these things can be read in the future, it doesn't all have to be immediate). Believe it or not, I actually considered shutting down again last week, or at the very least just walking away (it was a fleeting hour in the dark of a very bad night). It's hard work keeping up 5+ blogs and writing for other people on top of it, plus other stuff I'm doing, but you know what? I think that is the key to getting through hard stuff, staying busy. That I have people supporting me with traffic is icing on the cake, and it does help a person feel better. But if I weren't a puny person, I'd be doing all this anyway just because I love blogging, and the numbers wouldn't mean a thing to me. I have 8 years of blogs tucked away in private.
    I want to make a couple comments on stuff I've seen recently on twitter regarding numbers.
    One woman decided to shut down her paid for blog because readers (apparently to her mind) didn't appreciate that they didn't have to put up with ads, and she wasn't getting the feedback and traffic she was expecting to get in return for what she was paying out. You know what? Blog for YOU. Pay to remove the ads for YOU. I'm talking to all you bloggers. If you don't get traffic and that's what you want to see, dang, pay for the traffic to get it started, start networking. There is no magic. Sometimes you have to work to be seen in the crowd. You might be a boring person, but there are way more boring people than me on twitter and blogs that have more followers than me because they dedicate the time to networking, and I don't think boring has as much to do with it as simply just taking people on your journey with you. Share your world because you want to. It's ridiculous to fuss at your readers for not being better cheerleaders. They have lives and stuff, too.
    Then I read a story about a guy who had been on twitter for four years, made over 10,000 tweets, and had less than 20 followers the whole time. He finally decided to shut his twitter account down, had tried everything, like retweeting funny or interesting stuff, couldn't ever seem to get more followers. I think the guy's mistake may have been that he wasn't original. YOU are the only person on the planet that can say the stuff from the point of view that is your head. What do YOU think about things? What makes you laugh and cry? What do you think is cool? And again, share because you want to. If it's only about numbers while you repaste other people's stuff, you lose the game. You have to care about your readers caring about you, not just pull their strings to get reactions. If you don't enjoy entertaining people off the top of your head with your stuff and you think it's too much work, maybe tweeting and blogging isn't your thing. Kind of like people on American Idol who can't carry a tune, sometimes you just have to realize that no matter how much you love something, not everyone else has to appreciate that you love it. Doesn't mean you can't walk around singing at the top of your lungs or tweeting your eyeballs out, just don't take nonresponse as a signal to quit.
    Another guy I follow on twitter gets those little weekly or monthly activity reports that show up in his feed for everyone to see. This last week he had 22 retweets, 6 new followers, and 15 mentions. What most of his followers may not realize is that he cross tweets over at least 3 accounts that he owns while pretending to be other people. Then he live tweets a tv show that he rewatches that has been over for a couple of years, but his tweets are random action alerts, rarely snarky, rarely emotionally involved. You know what? People must love it because he has a LOT of followers compared to me. Why? Because he also contributes real content to movie review sites, interacts well with people all over the world, and gets excited about other people's stuff. He's interesting in probably a very different way than he thinks he's interesting. His personna amuses me, I like him, nerd to the max. If something doesn't go right, he just creates another account and keeps working away. You have to admire and respect that kind of dedication.
    And still another guy I follow on twitter does almost nothing but build legos. Every day he shares a pic of a new lego thing he constructs with his young son, and dang if he's not talking to people all over the world about legos. I'm not a legos person, but because of the ocassional interesting picture or little story about his kid, I've begun noticing all kinds of really cool lego stuff from conventions and lego obsessed builders. There are some really talented people out there.
    Stay busy. Keep blogging or tweeting or whatever it is you do. Do it because you want to. Numbers are nice, and it's a fun game trying to bump them up, but never let numbers tell you what you are doing is dumb or unwanted. It may be that you just aren't being seen by the right audience, or that you haven't figured out how to network yet. Don't limit yourself to one media and reject the rest. This world is too big for that. Also, use your numbers wisely. Stat reports like this one are a great way for me to gauge how well I'm still managing during a sick spell. It's not about traffic as much as it is about my weaker productivity.
    Watch your trending, compare it to same time year before, assess yourself and your content, do experiments to see where you can tweak your traffic. NEVER use traffic stats as a one-time only assessment tool to shut down your stuff. Time and traffic are fluid, numbers go up and down, and it might have a lot more to do with weather and the time of year than you think. I've noticed for years that my worst traffic is usually between spring break and Memorial Day.
    Ok, back to real life. My commissioned Lexx art t-shirt is supposed to get finished up pretty soon. It's a huge job, two artists are working on it, it's pricey, and I can't wait to be a show off in it. cool 
    Also got a nice gift for my coming soon grandbabies from a really sweet actress-entrepreneur in England after I got silly and told her she'd be rewarded for talking to me on twitter with a promo on my silly survey blog. Click this pic if you want to see where they came from.
    I'm hoping that my energy level is picking back up for real and that I'll be getting busier on my blogs again soon. If it hadn't been for twitter I think I would have just croaked off in a corner, so thanx to everyone on twitter who tolerated my weird facebook crossposting at one in the morning kind of stuff. Honestly, droid has changed the way I handle life, certainly makes it easier to get through tough nights now. I never want to bother people with middle of the night phone calls, and blogging about stuff only makes it more depressing, but get me rocking twitter on a droid and the night just flies by. There are so many awesome funny and creative people out there, and it's nice to find I'm not alone in the wee hours. And sometimes I get lucky and a someone famous retweets me or follows me back. It's a fun twitter game. laughing 
    Ok, guys, I'm off to make some cookies. I haven't had a cookie in a long time.
  • monthy update February 2013

    Chickens! Today I had the camera out. Winter gets so boring for chickens, stuck in the pen when it's cold and all the greens are withered and sour, bugs are deep in the tree bark, and the only thing left to eat is little worms under big piles of leaves. I supplement their winter feed with fresh veggies, which is easy since I get excited and tend to overbuy produce I think looks beautiful. Today they got some lettuce and tomato with a little bit of bread.


    They heard the back door and burst out of the hen house cackling so loud that the neighborhood dogs started barking, flew exuberantly into the wire, and settled into a crowd by the pen door. Snack time is always such an exciting event. Some day I'm going to catch them on camera coming out of the pen to graze, sometimes a couple of them will fly right across the yard. I used to have a duck that would do that, too, and he just missed plowing my head one day.


    Some days they get leftover squash (the seeds are *yum*) or a little bit of canned corn, maybe a handful of leftover shredded cheese. On really nasty cold days they get a bit of raw burger or canned tuna with the goodies because between laying eggs and staying warm, they burn through calories and nutrients like crazy. We buy top dollar vegetarian chicken feed because I'm allergic to so many foods and can't touch cheaper feed with vague ingredient lists (plant protein...??) that I break out and itch, but chickens are born carnivorous and ready to work hard for their food scratching through forest litter, so when they stand around in a pen they sometimes don't eat as well as they should because, believe it or not, they get bored, and scratch grains like cracked corn, milo, and wheat just don't put up a good chase, even though they are yummy. Chickens move almost continually unless they're sleeping or do a freeze pose on alert, and they'd rather pick through every molecule of dirt in their pen than sit around talking about what's on tv while they munch. They're actually kind of destructive because they like staying so busy. So I try to make it interesting, and they keep churning out big pretty eggs. When all else fails, we toss in a flake of straw for them to kick around, or a bag of delightfully clean new dirt to dust in.

    Since I so rarely post about the chickens, I imagine most of you who have actually followed this blog since last summer have probably forgotten their names and what kind they are. Every new flock gets a theme, this flock was named after television characters and personalities. The golden laced wyandotte right up front is Nadia G. Fancy, huh? I never had 'laced' chickens before this year. 

    The mahogany colored one up front in this next one is a speckled sussex named T'Pol. She doesn't lay as heavily as the others, but makes up for it by being our buddy. She follows us like a cat until we're afraid we'll step on her feet, but she doesn't worry about standing on our feet all the time. She's our biggest critic, too, will always come let us know what we're doing wrong or what we're supposed to fix. The white hen by her is Myka, a cross between Delaware and New Hampshire that is called Indian Rivers. I really like her, she's calm and fluffy and lays super big eggs. She also has such a deep voice that she sounds like a goose honking when she clucks to herself. 


    Mary Margaret (aka Snow White) wound up not being very snow white at all. You can't tell in this one, but she's got a big black spot on her back, like Snoopy, black freckles, and black legs. White chickens generally have yellow legs, but she's an austra-white, a cross between a black australorp and a white leghorn, a super layer. She's petite and a real pig, probably because her body is so busy turning everything she eats into eggs, there isn't a speck of extra anything on her. She especially craves extra protein more than the other hens and will shove them over getting to any meat I take out once in awhile. I think regular layer feed doesn't have enough protein in it for her. Sometimes when she gets mean and picks on the others too much, I think she's just cranky with food cravings, and all I have to do is take out a little bit of raw burger for her to wolf down and she's fine for a few days. I've never had a problem with my chickens picking each other's feathers out, and I think the raw meat helps with that.

    Morgana is a silver laced wyandotte and almost never takes a bad picture. I've never seen such a photogenic chicken, maybe it's the black and white contrast. But she's also our dumbest. I don't know if she's just laid back or doesn't care, but she's nearly always the last one in because she gets stuck on the wrong side of the door and can't remember or figure out how to walk around like the others do, a real 'bird brain'. She's also much slower to pounce on goodies or find worms in the leaves, but she lays beautiful big eggs and she's gorgeous, so she's my favorite. I can't help it. I'm usually not that shallow. winky 


    I've also got an easter egger but missed getting her picture because she was inside on a nest, and I was too cold to stay out any longer. Her name is Amy Farrah Fowler, and just as quirky as the one on tv.

    This last month has been a bit busier than I'm used to. I've been writing on other blogs, contributed copy to a couple other websites, and I've been a lot more distracted with 'real life' since both my daughters are manufacturing new humans. Still making it to the fitness center, but complications came up and a doctor has told me to stop all upper body workouts until I see a neurologist. I thought at first that I was working out wrong and triggering fibro flares up my neck and shoulders, but when my face and head started going numb last month (no added pain there), doctors started getting excited. I said maybe it's stress, they said stress doesn't do that. So far they've ruled out a few big scary things I didn't even know existed, and still doing tests, but nothing has gotten worse and I have such a weird history that I'm not going to worry about it. They put me on prednisone just in case, so I've been wound up for days not sleeping and I'm about ready to get off this stuff!

    Still not very good at getting self pix, but I got this one a couple of weeks ago at the fitness center.

    Also found a few pix in my phone, was out on such a pretty winter day, got up to nearly 60, then plunged 40 degrees later that afternoon and snowed. Didn't get snow pix.


  • Prisoner Zero

    I know some people take their chickens in to see the vet. I don't do that. What I need is a chicken psychologist. (For the chicken, not me, whoever in the back made that remark.)

    Spencer, the only chicken left from a previous flock, never got along with other chickens, more inclined to being wild and freaky, and no one would be her friend. After the rest died off in various ways, she settled down and became the best chicken pet ever, following us around the yard right at our feet. Sorry these are so poor, I got them on an old phone. Scott was helping her catch grasshoppers.

    Then we got new chickens and she tried to kill them, so after two days of running the whole flock into ragged nervous exhaustion (I've never seen such commitment in chicken evilness, she is like a machine and never rests), we finally removed her to her own pen. So now she freaks out so much that we HAVE to let her out to go stand by the big pen, but any time we let her really join them she gets so violent that I actually fear she'll kill them, and believe me, I grew up with game chickens fighting, I *know* what chickens can do to each other. She is the craziest chicken I've ever seen. And lately she's taken to trying to roost on top of the Quackerdome (the main chicken house) and gets upset when Scott takes her back to her own roost, which she was perfectly content on when she was the only chicken around for 6 months. I want to just leave her out to be wild, because that is where her heart truly lies, but Scott is a big softie and worries about her getting cold or pounced on by an owl. So we live day after day with her nonstop whining, which is as bad as listening to a dog bark its stupid head off all day. Last summer a visitor dubbed her The Prisoner, and one day when she got out past Scott's feet it turned into "Prisoner Zero has escaped" like from Dr. Who, so now Spencer's alias is Prisoner Zero.

    For the curious, Spencer is a Brown Leghorn and was named after the Spencer's store on the mall. That year our chicken name theme was retailers. We also had Dooney (Dooney and Bourke), a California White,

    Bean (L.L. Bean), a Speckled Sussex,

    and Macy (her full name was actually Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade), a Black Australorp.

    Oh, yeah, and a leftover from the previous flock before them, Jaizzy, a Production Red.

    Bean and Spencer dusting bathing. Silly Bean found my lettuce bowl, makes dusting more ~fun~!

    Thought I had a dead chicken one day, turned out she was taking a nap. She couldn't get comfortable.

    We call the chicken house the Quackerdome because we started out with ducks.

    Steve was Scott's favorite.

    Steve's egg. Yes, Steve was a girl.

    I've got over a thousand photos in my chicken folder, so I guess I need to stop.

  • chicken herd

    Playing with my new phone.

    These silly girls tried to follow me out to the mailbox today. They hang at my feet like cats. They follow me right back into their pen even if they just got out. Chicken herding has never been easier than with this flock.


  • and, sadly, no rooster around to make this worthwhile

    Mary Margaret has gone broody, rather unusual for a crossbred super layer.

    It's all the gossip. Morgana asked me if I heard.

    Myka can't believe what she's hearing around the water cooler.

  • killing time in between thunderstorms

    Killing a little time before the next crazy thunderstorm hits. The last lightning storm lasted nearly 5 hours. We're under a tornado watch, so I'm watching the weather maps.

    This is the kind of pictures I think would make good 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles. 

    I like how driving through the Ozarks feels like the bones of the earth are showing. Don't drive with a camera in your hand just because I do sometimes.

    This is only one set of towers within 5 miles of my house. You'd think I'd get way better broadband, but I don't, despite having the best. We live in a weird pocket, my street is like the Bermuda Triangle.

    I'm not terribly fond of driving through junky little towns, but this one feels like there is something special about it. I think it's all the trees hiding the town...

    I love the shockingly brilliant red maples standing out before all the others turn orange and yellow. In a few more days half the county will seem like it's bright red.

    I feel like I'm on the top of the world at this point because you can see so much horizon all around. That's one thing about living in woods that I miss, I grew up with lots of horizon in a desert.

    My street feels magical because of all the trees. When the leaves fall it's like driving through a movie, and when it snows you feel like you're way far away in a magical wood, in a different world.

    I love the way the world looks from my yard.

    Looking out the window in between thunderstorms.

    Kinda having a little trouble trying to keep up with a half dozen eggs every day. Those girls are machines.

  • professional yard cleaning service

    Scott has an affinity for rooftops. He's usually on top of ours, way super high off the ground.

    I have a professional yard cleaning service. My pretty girls are saving me from the evil bugs.

  • mmm, rocks

    Here we go, finally starting to turn around here. Won't be long till the really big spiders come out and make their insanely gigantic webs across the yard.


    Hawk watch. I'm not sure bunching up and freezing into place is the right move when a big hawk drops down and soars right over (I'm pretty sure that wing span was nearly as wide as I am tall). Red-Tailed Hawk | Missouri Department of Conservation


    They stayed in that tight little knot all the way up to the house, but did a very thorough bug genocide over a ten foot wide strip between their house and mine.  Chicken herding has never been easier than with this bunch.



  • cackleberry factory

       Morgana has taken over as lead hen since she started laying.  Very bossy!


    All six hens are laying now, bringing in about five eggs a day, just in time to start mixing up cookie doughs and other good stuff to put up into the freezer for holidays.




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My first tracker was installed in 2004 and broke several times before moving to a new server, which lost a few months of stats, and then Xanga moved to new servers and I lost more stats for more months before the page came back up, so I've lost a total of about two years' worth of stats. The second was installed 2-22-14 and is considered very conservative by business owners who use analytics, which itself is very conservative, estimates being that roughly one third to one half of hits by real live people aren't even counted, most likely due to javascript discrepancies. Actual hits on several posts here are in the thousands now, and the Lexx Index in the ten thousands. I've got pingbacks turned off, so spam isn't counted at all within the Xanga internal tracker, and most direct post hits can be correlated to my real time linking activity on twitter and other social media. When I did Google Analytics beta testing I got to see how search engine performance compares to tracking. I believe live feed linking sources to various social medias are key to a future where search engines are more about performance than cataloging, which has been confirmed to me by coders who create bot algorithms as I was beta testing I've fought hard through redundant age-old stacks to make my way to the google front lines again, so my Lexx work shows up faster on Chrome searches now. This has been a really interesting ride. At any rate, my point is, I can still go back 6 years on my original tracker and I can still see that in 2013 just before the last big blog server move, I was getting traffic like this (and since then, the tracker may have been abandoned, we can't tell). Click the thumbnail to see full size.

My original tracker also still lets me see the latest 500 visitors on a map. I once counted over 80 countries among the total visits. You guys are not alone. Click the map to see it better.

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