Pets

The day I called our chickens A-Holes

Last Tuesday I called two of our four chickens A-Holes.  I’m certain I said the real word, but I’m keeping this family friendly.

A-Hole #1, Goldilocks

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A-Hole #2, Blackjack

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Now, this isn’t normal behavior, me calling my chickens names, so let me explain…

The prior Sunday, I went to let the chickens out of their Taj Mahal chicken coop, and my white one, Foggy (Full name Foghorn, because she’s a Leghorn type chicken.  How could we not name her that?)

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Anyhow, when I opened up the coop door, Foghorn, who is white, had blood covering her head and parts of her body.  Scared me to death.  When I tried to clean her up, the only thing I could determine is that I had thought the blood was coming from her comb (the red thing on top of her head.)  I left her in the coop alone because it’s possible that she was picked on by the others and they did the damage.  About an hour later, she was not doing well.  I picked her up and brought her inside of the office and put her in the sink and gave her a cool bath.  I have never given a chicken a bath.  I have no chicken medical experience, but it was over 100 degrees out, and she didn’t seem good.

My husband came home to a pretty much non responsive chicken inside a cat carrier, in our office with the A/C on.  He’s usually pretty grossed out by animals inside, but I think he knew, this being our most friendly and sweet chicken, who “talks” to us each time we talk to her, she needed to be taken care of the best way possible.  I wasn’t sure if she was going to make it.  The only way we described her was to say she was “beak down.”  Couldn’t lift her head, and couldn’t stand.  I gave her water out of my hand repeatedly through that evening.  The next morning, as I was apprehensive to check on her, she was standing, and then eating, and talking to us.  Crazy!  I put her in with our goats so that she wasn’t with the other chickens in case they were the culprits in this whole injury to start with.

There’s the backstory, on to the A-Holes…

On Tuesday, I was rushing to get all animals situated so I could leave for 2 nights to go away with my husband, with no kids.  (Sidenote:  it’s been 8 years since we have been gone without kids for 2 nights.)

As I was rounding up the chickens to put them inside their coop so I could leave, A-Hole #1 began hanging around the goat pen checking out Foggy through the fence posts with WAY too much interest.  So, as I picked her up and carried her to the coop, I told her (out loud) “Stop being an A-Hole, leave Foggy alone.”

When I went to close the chicken coop door, I realized only 2 of the 3 that should be in there were standing there looking at me.

The 3rd?

Over this fence in a neighbors yard.

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Did I mention I was trying to get on the road to get away for 2 nights?  I was already 1/2 hour later than I had wanted to leave, with no leaving in quick sight.

So, there I was, trying to call this chicken, entice it with treats, everything I could think of, and I reluctantly realized, there was no other option than to hop that damn fence.

When one of the chickens has gotten into this neighbors yard in the past, I have gotten one of the kids to climb the ladder, get over the fence, pick up the chicken, and climb back up the cross boards up and over the fence to put this chicken back on the right side of the fence.  We have no idea how these chickens pull their Houdini moves to get to the other side of the fence, so we don’t know any other way of getting them back.

No kids were here last Tuesday though.  My 45 year old self had to hop the fence, get in the other people’s yard, pick up the chicken, and climb the fence back over.  As I was straddling the top of the fence with the chicken in my arms, one leg on each side of the fence, I told Blackjack (out loud), “You’re an A-Hole.”  Then brought her to the safety of her coop.

This below is the reason why the chickens are no longer free to roam the yard whenever they want and have to be put in the coop sometimes:

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This guy.  Cooper.  Our 4 month old pup.  He’s fond of chasing the chickens and then giving their feathers “kisses,” for lack of a better description.

These two savage beasts that we have could care less about the chickens:

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Mara and Zoe, looking as fierce as ever.  You can read more about them here:  For the love of dogs.

Anyhow, happy ending, Foggy is doing great.  Still hanging out with the goats for a while longer while she completely heals.  And the others aren’t acting like A-Holes for now.

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And that, my friends, is definitely an example of “other tidbits of my life,” as explained in my blog’s title:

You can’t argue with crazy

Migraines suck, and other tidbits of my life!

Paper towel companies should keep it real.

Forget wiping up Kool-Aid to prove how strong your paper towel is.  Show me side by side paper towels cleaning up cat vomit, then you have a real contest.  The winner will be what I purchase, no question.  Because, sometimes it’s a one paper towel job, other times, like 5 minutes ago, a 6 paper towel job.  Aren’t their stomachs like the size of a golf ball or something?  Good grief.

036b060fbe858d6b92cfb5bf0253c84a2(or cat…)

For the love of dogs…

Since it’s National Dog Day, I thought I’d repost this that I wrote back in January about the love for dogs. Hug your dog today! 🙂

You can't argue with crazy

I’ve had dogs on and off all my life.  But my relationship with dogs didn’t really begin until I was 18 years old.  My good friend/roommate and I lied on the paperwork at the pound to get little black lab mix puppy sisters.  And then became life with my girl Vanessa, and her puppy sister, Jordan.

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Looking back, getting Vanessa was one of the best things that ever happened to me.  She was my best friend.  She was with me always.  She taught me a lot about responsibility.  She joined me on long weekend drives for hours.  Sometimes we ended up at the beach, other times, we just cruised and listened to music.  We went for walks, we watched TV together, we did pretty much everything together, and she went many places, and took many trips with me.

When I was in college, she was part of the family of my…

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No interruptions in my Jetsons/Tomorrowland plan please!

A red blinking light on a control panel is never a good thing.

It’s even more concerning when it is on my magical robotic cat litter box.

If you missed what a magical robotic cat litter box is, and why it is so important in my life now, please take a look!  The magic cat litter box.

Over the last week, when I walk into my bathroom and peer at the spaceship as my daughter coined it, there have been multiple times that a red light has been blinking on the control panel of the magic cat box.  Yes, I look at the cat litter box as I walk into the bathroom each and every time.  Mostly to make sure that there have been no further ‘mishaps’ of my 3 cats only entering the box with their front paws, therefore pooping on the floor.  Yes, my life is so dazzling at times right?

Slightly panicked upon seeing the red lights, and noticing that it hadn’t been cycled and dumped, I began to alternate between the buttons, pressing them at least twice each.  No go.  I picked up the top section which holds the litter and shook it a bit, thinking maybe it’s kind of like when you’re clothes washer gets unbalanced and you have to rearrange the clothes?  It then worked!  This reoccured about 4 times over the last week.

My youngest daughter walked into the bathroom while I was watching the magic cat litter box cycle, and she said ‘you watch this every time it is on don’t you?’  I thought about trying to play it off, and explain that I’m only watching it because I need to make sure it’s working, but the reality is, yes, I watch it just about each time I am in there and it turns on.  I imagine it’s like when a dishwasher first was invented.  How many times did people sit and wait, open the door, and WOW!  There they were, clean!  Magic!  Or a clothes washer, opening the top and peaking in repeatedly to witness the magic.  That’s how I feel about this cat litter box.

As I have jimmied this thing through the week, I think I have come up with an idea of what is wrong.  I think the new litter I bought is super heavy, I need a lighter litter.  And there I am again, securing my coolness factor in the universe by publishing my thoughts on the weight of my cat litter.

I will try a different litter, hoping to fix it once and for all so the red light doesn’t blink any more.  Because, thinking of scooping a litter box again is like the scene I’ve seen in numerous movies where the lead yells “DON’T MAKE ME GO BACK THERE AGAIN!  I CAN’T GO BACK THERE!”

I’m in no danger of going too high tech, I live in a house that was built in 1934, and we don’t even have a doorbell.  But I’ve seen my future Jetsons/Tomorrowland.  It’s my magic cat litter box.  Next up for me may be the Roomba.  That would be cool.  And I’d love it even more if my cat Kiki would ride the Roomba in a costume like the video on YouTube!  That would be epic!

The magic cat litter box.

Disclaimer:  I know my blog was made to be primarily about migraines, but this fits within the ‘and other tidbits of my life’ for sure.  It has been a focus around our house lately!  And maybe my cats and my migraines aren’t that unrelated after all.  They know how to make me a bit calmer and more comfy when a migraine is in full effect.  

And now, on to the cat party:

We have 3 cats.

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Three indoor cats is not what we aimed out to do, but it’s where we’re at!

This is Kiki:

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I love her to death.  She is my favorite.  I know you aren’t supposed to have favorites, but I do. Everyone knows that.  The other two are my kids’ cats, and I love them very much too, but Kiki takes the cake.  My youngest doesn’t have her own cat, so she has claimed Kiki as her own.  I have said that I don’t know what I’ll do when Kiki dies one day, and that I may want to get her stuffed and still place her around the house in her favorite spots.  Tears from my kids and being yelled at by all after I voiced that will result in that not happening.

More of Kiki:

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She’s spoiled rotten, and she knows it.  We sing to Kiki all the time.  Basically, every song can be made into a song about Kiki.  Try Flo Rida, ‘Kiki got low, low, low, low, low, low, low.’  At one point, we were going to make a video with our phones to the tune of American Authors’ ‘this is going to be the best day of Kiki’s life’ as we shot her running to her food bowl.

She likes her food:

IMG_4489  Sneaking into the food bag.

IMG_2841  Result of liking her food a lot.

 

This is my middle daughter’s cat Shamu:

IMG_3764 IMG_7422 Quite skiddish.

You can quietly walk into a room, and wham, he’s gone, out of there like you just set off a firecracker.  But possibly the most loving, suffocating cats ever to be once he gets wrapped around my middle daughter’s neck.  And, he snores.  Loud.  I hear him from other rooms.  It’s crazy.

 

And, without further ado, here is Shadow, my son’s cat:

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Notice you will not get a clear shot of him.  He’s not one to pose for pictures, ever.  My youngest daughter says that Shadow has a ‘musical meow’.  And he does!  He also has the longest tail I have seen on a cat.  We joke that he lets my son have his room when he goes to bed at night, other than that, the room is Shadow’s.

 

IMG_4100  All 3 on my bed when I wake up in the morning.

So, with three cats in a house (only Kiki goes outside sometimes when she feels like it), the cat litter box is always a lovely topic of conversation.  Over the past year, my son agreed to cleaning out the litter box daily for a month straight in order to earn money towards a video game.  My middle daughter has somehow never really had to deal with it, and my youngest loves the job of cleaning out the cat box (weird?)  I am a bit OCD, and therefore I clean it out daily because I need it done very well so it’s not more disgusting than it has to be.

And I bring you to a phone conversation from a few months ago…

My mother in law called me, and she told me her friend has 5 cats, and has the Litter Robot.  Had I heard of it?  No.  She explained that it’s an automatic cleaning litter box, and that she was going to order me one.  I told her she didn’t have to do that, very nice, but didn’t have to.  I asked her how much they were and then said ‘no way, you can’t buy me that, it’s way too expensive!’  She insisted, and said that she wanted me to try it out first, if it didn’t work for my cats, I could send it back, and if it did work, she would order one for her one cat.

I got off the phone feeling silly that this was coming my way, but also hopeful and excited!  What if…

So I had to check it out on Youtube.  This Litter Robot has a sensor, and 7 minutes after a cat is inside it, it cycles around and empties out any waste into a garbage bag lined drawer, then cycles back the clean litter?  It’s crazy.

(I love how the description says ‘warning: cat poop visible’!)

So, it shows up and I put it together in a few minutes:

IMG_4914  My youngest called it a spaceship.

It’s more like Mork from Ork’s spaceship egg in my opinion.  I initially set it up in a different bathroom than where their litter box was, because it’s the only place with a plug.  A cat or two came by and looked at it, that was all they did.  Ok, time to move this along.  I set it up next to their old litter box as it was suggested:

IMG_4923  Are you kidding me that this is my life?

Problem was, the cats used the old one, hands down over the new one.  Even though I left it dirty, that was the one they wanted.  I finally said ‘no more, we’re going cold turkey.’  The Litter Robot was now at a make it or break it crossroads.

IMG_5039  Lovely.

Extension cord because there’s no outlet, Mork from Ork egg in my bathroom, and cats that were holding it better than a chick in the front row of a Van Halen concert.  I gave it one week, then it was going back.

IMG_4951 IMG_4948 IMG_4946 IMG_4943 IMG_4938 Shadow is not so sure…

Then, amazingly, they began to use it.  Although, not gracefully.  There is a window in the back of the spaceship, and one night when my husband was in the bathroom, he looked over to see Kiki staring at him through the window as she was using the cat box.  Is this really where we are in our life?  Wow.

The week turned out to be a make it not break it week.  Cats were using it, birds were singing, all was good.  Except, when I walked in and found the culprit, Shadow, front feet in the box, back feet on the step, poop dropping on the floor.  SERIOUSLY?  Like, you’re almost there buddy, come on!  Although there were a few of these ‘mishaps’, overall, I felt like the Litter Robot was going to be a success.

Therefore, we did what any other normal cat person would do, and install an electric outlet in our bathroom in order to plug in our cat litter box.  (The amount of times I want to write ‘are you kidding me‘ is overwhelming).

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Ya, didn’t remember that there was a vent pipe the first place that was cut out.  Sigh.

The big test was when we went out of town for 2 days.  I was so hoping that it would be a success, although truly worried that the floor pooper would strike again.  As I ran into the house when we returned from our trip, I slowly peered onto the floor in the bathroom….SERIOUSLY!!!  Poop on the floor.  A let down, but since I saw the event take place in the past, I knew that the cat was at least trying.

It’s been a few weeks since there has been any poop on the floor mishaps, and I think it’s safe to say we are successfully using this.  To this day, when it cycles, I stop and watch it.  It’s a trip!  Sometimes the cats will come and watch it also.  The first couple of times it went off in the middle of the night, I woke up freaked out, like a hair dryer had been turned on, or some power tool in the dark.  But now I hear it and smile that it’s working!

If this keeps on as it has been, it may go down in history as the best present I’ve ever gotten.  Thank you to my mother in law for my cat box!  (And there it is, I just wrote thank you for a cat box.)

Image 2 The magic cat litter box.

 

 

For the love of dogs…

I’ve had dogs on and off all my life.  But my relationship with dogs didn’t really begin until I was 18 years old.  My good friend/roommate and I lied on the paperwork at the pound to get little black lab mix puppy sisters.  And then became life with my girl Vanessa, and her puppy sister, Jordan.

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Looking back, getting Vanessa was one of the best things that ever happened to me.  She was my best friend.  She was with me always.  She taught me a lot about responsibility.  She joined me on long weekend drives for hours.  Sometimes we ended up at the beach, other times, we just cruised and listened to music.  We went for walks, we watched TV together, we did pretty much everything together, and she went many places, and took many trips with me.

When I was in college, she was part of the family of my best friends/roommates.  They took care of her like she was their own when I wasn’t there.

Vanessa was kind of a badass.  She was the most loyal, loving friend I could ever ask for, but she was also my number one protector.  I lived by myself a few times in my life, and she was my roommate.  I was never afraid as long as she was with me.  I think she took on the roll as my protector because she knew that was what was needed at that time in my life.  She could be mean, she nipped at a few people in her life.  Some, deserving.  Others, not.  She was clear when she didn’t like new people that came around.

She was at every party we ever threw in college.  She just kicked back.  When it was time to go to sleep, she’d follow me up to my room.

My friend and I got Vanessa and her sister Jordan together many times through the years.  They always picked up where they left off, playing for hours.  Such a cool sight.

If you knew Vanessa, you knew that one thing about her was, you were never able to sit back and relax and take in a waterside setting.  If there was water, she was sure to find a ball or stick, and then bark relentlessly for the entire time you were there for you to throw it into the water for her to fetch.  It didn’t matter if it was 10 minutes or two hours, you were going to throw the ball for her the entire time you were by the water.  She was also not a good helper in the sport of fishing, as soon as you casted out your line, Vanessa was in the water to retrieve it.

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When my now husband entered my life, he and Vanessa hit it off immediately.  It was clear to him though, Vanessa was part of the package.  No question.  He fully accepted Vanessa and enjoyed her.  Vanessa joined he and I on many weekend get aways.  They were best buds.  Still to this day he or I will break into singing a song that we had made up about and for Vanessa.

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She was with us the day we found our house that we live in today.  I remember her running through the then tall weeds of our acre, just smiling.  She approved.  Soon after we moved into our new house, Vanessa had to learn how to share.  She didn’t like it at first I am sure, but she got good at it.

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Vanessa had slept on my bed since the first night she came into my life.  To my kids amazement when we tell this story, Vanessa slept at the foot of my husband and my bed when we moved to our house.  She was known for growling at one of us if we moved her with our feet on many occasions.  There came a day that Vanessa did not want to come into the house at night anymore.  She made the choice to make the garage her room.  Each morning I’d wake up, look outside, and there she was, jogging the perimeter of our yard, making sure everything was in order.

She was also known for her catching abilities, even as she got older.  If we barbequed steak, my husband would toss a piece her direction, and there was no way it would ever hit the floor.  We were camping once, and it was our entertainment for a long while to watch my husband back up further and further to throw fastballs at her and she caught every single one without moving much more than her mouth.

When I had our first child, and we took him home from the hospital, Vanessa knew life had changed indefinitely.  After we got settled in the house that day, I looked out into the front yard, and Vanessa was laying down, looking into the house from the grass.  I went out and called her into the backyard, she did not budge.  It went on for such a time that I became annoyed for a moment, then realized, that as my first baby, she must know that something is up.  After much love, she was herself again later that day.  My son and Vanessa became good buds.  My middle daughter loved Vanessa so much.  As Vanessa became older, my daughter would bring handfuls of kibble to her in the yard and hand feed her, just to be sweet.  In Vanessa’s last years, my son came up with the idea of having a birthday party for Vanessa.  He was sad that she never had birthday parties like he did.  We put up streamers and balloons in the backyard, and got Vanessa special bones.  My son was so happy for her that day.

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As the years added up, I often wondered when I would know it was time for Vanessa to leave us.  There were false alarms, but never a clear cut moment.  Until that day.  It was a Friday.  She had really slowed down exponentially in those last couple of weeks, and I had made an appointment for her to go in on that following Monday, that appointment most likely being the one where they would lay her to rest.  I figured I needed one more weekend with her, just to spoil her, love her, and make sure she knew how much she meant to me.  When I went out to see her in the garage later that day, she didn’t raise her head to greet me.  She couldn’t.  I knew it was time.  I called the vet, and let them know I’d be in later that day.  She was able to make it out onto the grass and that is where my family said good bye to her.  I was pregnant with my third child at the time, so unfortunately she never got to meet Vanessa.  My son was 5, he came outside and laid next to her and cried with me.  My daughter who was almost 3, was napping during this time.  When my husband came outside with her after waking her up, my son sobbed ‘Just tell her dad, just tell her about Vanessa!’  The four of us hugged and loved Vanessa, then I carried her into the car and went by myself to the vet.

It’s a horrible experience to go through, but looking back, our vet was so loving and caring in how they handled that type of situation.  Vanessa had been quiet, slow moving and a little weak for the last bit of her life.  So, when the vet injected the shot into her, and Vanessa growled, and moved her teeth towards the vet and the shot as if she may bite, I was secretly proud.  She still had her badass spunk!  Then, she farted.  Those last two actions by her have always made me smile.  We still tell our kids the story of driving to Tahoe in the winter with Vanessa in the backseat, windows rolled up because it was freezing, and Vanessa farting for about a 10 mile stretch.  We had to freeze and roll the windows down, or else we would have suffocated from her farts.  They were potent.  She was known for that.

Vanessa lived to be 16 years old.  She never ate fancy food, she grew up on Dog Chow.  At times during my broke college days, she’d eat rice and eggs (she loved this more than Dog Chow).  On a good payday, I’d buy her Pedigree.  She was a healthy, very strong dog all of her life.

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I like to say that Vanessa’s last gift to me was training our now 10 year old dog Zoe.  I think Vanessa gave Zoe some wisdom and a calm that has been embedded in Zoe all her life.

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And today, we have our two goofy dogs, Zoe and Mara.  They are wonderful, funny, sweet loving dogs that wouldn’t hurt a fly.  At times I wish they had a bit of Vanessa’s badass to them, because I’m pretty sure they would just let a robber in and show them where we keep any valuables we have.  But I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

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 A few years after Vanessa passed away, I was at a 4th of July parade in Truckee with my parents and my family.  A truck in the parade slowly went by, and there was a black lab that was hanging it’s head out looking  at the crowd, and I met it’s eyes.  I choked up.  It was strange, that hadn’t happened to me before.  My mom said ‘that reminded you of Vanessa didn’t it?’

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Vanessa has been gone nine years now.  Yet, my heart still fills with love when I think of her.  I think I’ll always enjoy having dogs in my life, although I don’t know if I’ll ever love another dog like I loved Vanessa.  Such a loyal, true thing, the love of a dog.

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