Thursday, March 2, 2023

Chicks, Finally

Finally got my chicks, yesterday. I say finally because it took me multiple attempts. 

Chick days officially started last Wednesday, at Tractor Supply. Unfortunately our local hadn't gotten their shipment in. "Maybe Friday, maybe Monday" 

Ok, would be going through on Monday, no biggie. I could check then. 

Stopped on Monday morning on the way to the torture roo... I mean... Eye doctor. No chicks, but signs up. Maybe they knew which ones they're getting and they're getting ready for them.. but no one handy to ask who didn't look really busy. 

No biggie. I could check the one where we're going. 

No chicks there either. 

At this point I began to seriously consider ways to just... order ten chicks and find somewhere to offload the extra four. 

So I called on the way back to check if the fluffy little buggers had been delivered during the day. 

"Thank you for calling Tractor Supply how can I help you?" "I was just calling to see if your chicks had been delivered today?" " .... *huge sigh* not until Wednesday." "Ok, that's all I needed, thank you!"

Somehow I think he had been answering that question a lot. 

So yesterday I put together my curbside orders (can I just say that, not having the benefit of being able to work from home, curbside pickup is my absolute favorite thing to have come out of the insanity that was the Covid panic? You mean I can get all of my groceries without having to come within three feet of more than one person??? Yes, please!) and after I got off work at noon hied myself north through the hazards of tumbleweeds and insane drivers. Managed to dodge both of those. 

First stop: Tractor Supply.

Walked through the door and heard peeping! Yes! 

Seriously, this errand had begun to take on the appearance of a mythical quest, in my mind. I wondered if I was going to have to answer a riddle or defeat an evil witch when I got to the chick enclosure. 

But no, I just had to decide whether I wanted the two sex-linked hybrids they had, or the "premium" olive eggers. I'll pass on paying six bucks a chick. So I got three each of the Golden Sex Links and the Amberlinks. 

Not ones I had dealt with before, but sex-linked chicks means no chance someone paid *just* a little to little attention and a rooster chick snuck in. I can't have roosters in town, so that part was fairly important to me. I'm also not supposed to have more than three chickens, but no one is actually counting the chickens people have as long as the neighbors aren't complaining. People do actually care if there's a rooster. 

So I got my chicks, and then moved to a curbside pickup spot for my order there (I get my dog food and cat food from TS as well) and did a quick google of the ones I had gotten. Both are Rhode Island Red crosses, and we get along well with those, so I'm not unhappy. The info said they're both docile and friendly. Uh... yeah. 


Anyway, chicks are here, introductions to the dogs have begun. The chicks give zero fucks, the dogs are *super* excited. 

I'm not sure yet if Wubba is having an "omg it squeaks and it flaps and I want to nom on it" reaction or if he's having a "it's a BAYBEE" reaction... it could go either way at this point. I'm not sure *he* knows either. What I do know is that I had to get on to him for growling at Scaredy Pup when I was calling SP in for his initial introduction. Being protective of the little floofs is fine. Trying to keep SP from doing something I've told him to do is not. 

Pretty sure at this point SP's mind is on "small, floofy, makes noise... want to chase"... he's that type. If he sees a laser dot he will snap into focus and go after it like it insulted his mother or owes him money. 

My grand plan of brooding the chicks in the coop also did not work. A couple of nights of super cold temperatures showed me that the setup was only giving me about twenty degrees above ambient. That's not good enough with the teensy chicks. So I set things up in the middle bedroom (which is otherwise known as "that room I stack things in to get them out of the way) and they're happily peeping away in there... driving the dogs and cats nuts through the closed door. Everyone should settle down eventually.

Based on wing feather development these are a little over a week old, so I should start seeing eggs around mid June... and then I can stop paying stupid prices for them.

Sunday, February 19, 2023


 I haven’t told anyone that I’m blogging again. I wanted to get a few posts on the hook before I did and then my nature kicked in and I thought… how long will it take for someone to notice? Specifically how long will it take for those who have been nagging me to notice?

So… I’m not saying anything for at least a month. As an experiment. Also because when I got accepted into Cedar’s anthology the local newspaper found out and I had a minor burnt out gifted kid meltdown. (My brain went “SKREEEEEE NOOO PEOPLE WILL BE *EXPECTING THINGS*” and I hyperventilated a bit at work… I had been accusing my mother of talking to locals about it for a couple of weeks and she swore that she hadn’t… and then one of our land renters told her “OH! I saved the newspaper for you, I thought you’d want it!”) 

And a little bit the fact that I now get to discuss my writing while I’m observing people peeing into cups at work… that’s super fun. 

Bright side on that last bit the person who did that made a huge deal out of how proud everyone was of me, yadda yadda… and then demonstrated that not only did she not read the book she also didn’t read the article, because she asked me how long it took me to write the book.

So… mostly for science. A little because I still kinda want to just pull my hole in after me. But mostly for science. 


 Memory is an odd thing. I was reading back through some old posts to see what I might want to write about, and came across the last time I was dealing with chicks. 

In that post I talked about the brooder house and a repair that I claimed was the most expensive just fix it with what we have fix I'd been responsible for starting. 

I don't even remember what that repair was. 

What I do remember is Farmdad hitting the top of his head on the lintel of the door, hard. I remember him saying he had a headache for a few days, and then finally admitting that maybe he should see someone, because he couldn't see anything out of one of his eyes. 

Acute angle trauma induced glaucoma. A sudden increase in inter-ocular pressure to the point of permanent damage. 

He didn't go blind. He did have to get holes lasered into his irises to reduce the pressure, and put up with a lot of eye drops. He did have a pupil that did not want to contract after they dilated him for an exam... it took almost a year for it to close up, and he refused to be dilated after that at all. He got through it, and got most of his vision back, and we moved on. My dreams of finding him the perfect eye patch were dashed, but I got giggles out of his reactions to some of the more outlandish ones I found. Oddly enough, there doesn’t seem to be much in between utilitarian black and utterly ridiculous in the realm of eye patches, at least for adults. 

But I don't remember what that repair was. 

Now it's gonna bug me.

Saturday, February 11, 2023


 With the price of eggs skyrocketing, I have decided that we need chickens again. However, Farmmom was completely over the whole chicken thing when we stopped replacing last time, so this time we shall have chickens at my house. 

But I have dogs, and town is full of feral cats. With that in mind, we invested in a solid coop with a small run built in. At a later date I'll get a larger run that's designed with a knock-out panel to connect to the setup so that they have more room. 

There's only going to be a few of them, and they're only going to be outside the coop for cleaning it, for a significant period, because chicks. So for now, the small pen is fine. 

We found a coop that has a metal frame, which Farmmom and I both really liked, and it said it could accommodate six chickens. I knew it was an overestimation, but it really is fairly tiny. If you're looking to raise quail it'd be a great one for them, but they can also be raised in 50 gal fish tanks inside your house if you're desperate. Also, don't try to ship quail... we tried it years ago and couldn't get them to survive two weeks after arrival.

Anyway, chicks. We got the coop a while back, and I wasn't in a hurry to put it together because it was cold and I had time. Then I realized chick days at the farm stores usually starts in late February. So last week I put it together.

Folks, let me tell you this: If you ever try to build a 4-6 chicken coop from a box, just know, the directions are worse than Ikea directions and everything is in the three feet above the ground. So you're going to be kneeling or squatting, a lot. 

Leg day from hell. And if you're like me, you'll spend more time doing it because if it is possible to put something on backwards, you will. 

I wanted to take up therapeutic drinking. But I got it put together, all except the last two bolts on the last fence panel. Somewhere, I used long bolts where I should have used short bolts, and I wasn't taking the damn thing apart again to find them, so the bottom of the end panel will be held by wire or zip ties, whichever I lay my hands on first. 

I've got a home for the used bedding from the coop, so I don't have to deal with the dogs rolling in it if I tried to compost it myself, have it take up space in the trash can, or otherwise figure out where to go with it... because I know someone who is starting composting this year, and wood shavings and chicken poop are both great for that. 

I also invested in a panel heater. Given proximity to the house, and the number of times I've sent fire departments to structure fires that started because of heat lamps, and the tight quarters, I decided that a heat lamp was a bad idea. So, panel heater, which doubles as a brooder while they're bitty. 

It took entirely too long to find one of the chick waterers... I found four feeders before I found a waterer, and I'm pretty sure it might be the last one we have. I only need one, though, since it's not like when we were hatching, brooding, and selling chicks. I don't have four tubs set up for varying ages and splitting up broods when they get too crowded.

Today's task was to put the brooder in, and pressure test it overnight with a thermometer. We'll see how well it maintains with the temps in the teens that we're supposed to get. 

Also to clean the feeder and waterer, and the jars for them, those are now drying on a towel. Once they're completely dry I'll put the feeder base back together and go ahead and fill it and put it in the coop. That way whenever I get the chicks whether it's next week or the end of the month, all I'll have to do is fill the waterer and turn on the brooder, and they're set. 

I actually did the math (if you know me, you know that me mathing is an occasion in and of itself, I hate math) and buying a new coop, chickens, and feed for a year, the chickens will more than pay for themselves in us not having to buy eggs, at current prices.  

Another task for when I have the chicks, I will have to convince the dogs that they're our friends to be protected and supported, not entertaining squeaky toys. It can be done with controlled introductions, and I want to handle the things extensively anyway. It's just going to be interesting to train the prey response out of two very prey driven dogs. Wubba may not be interested in fetch, but chase is his favorite thing. I don't know how Scaredy Pup will do with them. He was intensely protective of Wubba when we brought him home, so I guess we'll see if the concept of "baby" crosses species boundaries for him, or if we'll be settling for him just not actively seeking to murder them because they make fun noises. 

Soon: Chicks. In a few months: Eggs. Enough for me and Farmmom, anyway. And Farmmom doesn't have to deal with chickens again, so it's a win all around.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Meditations on Dogs

 I have come to the conclusion that neither my own temperament or the universe will allow me to be without a dog, and given the last nearly two decades, probably two. 

I've realized about myself that when I suffer a sudden, unexpected loss, I want to get a dog. If I already have a couple I can generally control myself. This kicked me in the ass in 2019, when FarmDog crossed the rainbow bridge. 

She was ancient of days, and the bestest of girls, but her seizures had become untenable, and I had to let her go. I knew it was coming in a general sense, she was 16 years old, but the specific timing was... entirely unplanned.

Fuzzy Pup was entirely lost... he had never been an only dog. He didn't know how to be without the leadership FarmDog had provided. I had to sit with him to get him to eat, because he had always eaten second... and he was fourteen himself, he couldn't afford to miss too many meals. 

So I had resigned myself to intensive care of the geriatric Fuzzy Pup for a while. Then one day as I was doom scrolling on Facebook at work, I saw a picture of a puppy, and thought "I should get a puppy."

And all of a sudden it felt like someone had drop kicked me right in the chest. I struggled with it for a couple of months, but Fuzzy Pup wasn't coming around to being the only dog and I was legitimately worried he would pine himself to death. I couldn't have handled that. 

So I looked, and found a young pup at a municipal pound about an hour from me. I set up an appointment and loaded up the Fuzz Bucket to go meet him. 

It was love at first sight. He came barreling out of the kennel and bouncing up to sniff at my hands, and gamboled around Fuzzy Pup like he had known him forever. Five minutes in the yard, half of which was Fuzzy Pup making sure the puppy knew he was older and in charge in a very gentle way, and the other half of which was the pup trying to climb into my lap, and I knew he was coming home with us. 


He was lively, and bouncy, and full of puppiness... which was exactly what I thought Fuzzy Pup needed to pull him out of his funk and bring him back to the land of the living. Then on the way home, we stopped at the Old Homestead because Farmmom demanded to meet her new Granddog... and I discovered that while he may be very emphatically My Dog, the puppy was not a Farm Dog by any means. He was terrified of Farmmom and Farmdad, and I would eventually figure out, of everyone who was not me. Eventually we found a couple of people that he was ok with, sort of and we discovered that the car is a better introduction place than anywhere else. But that was later. 



For the moment I was working with him and trying to belatedly socialize a three month old pup that had been in the pound since he was a month old. I eventually gave up on any idea of him being a friendly dog... I would settle for him not injuring himself trying to run away from situations and hitting the end of the leash full speed. He got better at trusting me, and I got better at figuring out what was likely to trigger him, and we made progress. Teeny tiny baby steps of progress, but we made progress. 




Then in early 2021, Farmdad died. Another sudden, unexpected loss. Compounded by the fact that even at 36 years old I didn't know how to function in a world that didn't contain my dad. I guess it doesn't matter how old you are when it happens, you never know how to do it until you have to. 

I thought I had dodged the new dog thing, having identified the coping mechanism (not necessarily an unhealthy one, so to speak but uh... not really tenable, long term, if you have more than a couple losses in a decade... and the 2020's have served up entirely too many already) and figured I could satisfy both the urge to get a dog, which hadn't gone away for a few months, and the knowledge that I did not need another dog, by saying "let me know if they don't all find homes" to a litter of pitbull puppies from a dumped momma dog. They were freakin adorable, there was no way they wouldn't all find homes. In the mean time, Scaredy Dog had continued to adjust to the world by dint of not having a choice... he wouldn't accept food from anyone but me, so if I went places, he had to go too.

Then I got a call, "Come get your dog."

The universe, or Farmdad's disembodied spirit, or something, was looking out for me. If I had tried to choose the perfect dog for me out of that litter, I could not have done as well. I did not know how much I needed that last, unclaimed puppy, with the brown spots on his shoulder and tail, and the crooked tail from being born breech and having to be pulled. I did not know how much Scaredy Dog needed him. And I did not know how much I would appreciate the fact that he would have the benefit of Fuzzy Pup's example. 

Even at eight weeks old, that pup was nearly fearless, and he knew already that Scaredy Pup wasn't. He was about three months old when he started meat shielding for Scaredy Pup. Wubba (one of his actual nicknames) would put himself forward when rude people wanted to pet strange dogs, and let Scaredy Pup hang out in "place" between my feet, where he felt safe and I could explain that the brown one is Not Friendly. 

Between Wubba's assistance with interposing himself between Scaredy Pup and the world, and his example of approaching the world with a curious mind instead of a frightened one, we made more progress with Scaredy Pup. More slow, slow progress. 



Let me tell you, I have learned more in the last three years about training dogs than I ever knew before. I had never had a collie type dog before, or a dog that was just fearful of the world. I had had people tell me that they wanted me to train their next dog, before, when they had met FarmDog or Fuzzy Pup... and when Scaredy Pup came into my life I thought I was pretty knowledgeable, in a general sense. I knew I couldn't train a perfect bird dog on the first try, and I didn't even want to try to tackle a herding dog, but I felt like I knew what I was doing with household pet dogs. Early on I thought I might have just forgotten what puppies were like... it had been over a decade, after all. Then I figured out that he was just unique in my experience. I learned to use new tools for his own safety, I researched, I put hours of work into just getting him to Chill. Out.


I couldn't do it. Not to the level that I wasn't still concerned that he was going to have a heart attack in four years. So I asked my vet for medication. And that has helped... the medication with more work, and nothing awful happening, has helped more. 

 After three and a half years, last year Farmmom finally got to see Scaredy Pup play. She finally got him to take food from her hand. She has gone on the majority of trips with us, and in the car he would take treats, and limited affection when I was driving, but if she was facing him, he noped out. 

Last October I nearly cried when Wubba and Scaredy Pup were wrestling on a visit to the Old Homestead with some of the Blogorado attendees there.


Wubba showed me that I wasn't as big of a failure as I sometimes felt, when Scaredy Pup would have a meltdown in a place that I couldn't stop and work him through it... when I had to just choke up on the leash and march him out of the area, or stick him in a corner and finish what I was doing at arm's length. Wubba reminded me why I love pibbles. Wubba and Scaredy Pup together helped patch my heart when Fuzzy Pup left me too.

Wubba and Scaredy Pup have come on every trip I've gone on since I got them. They are quite familiar with riding in the car, and hotels. As a matter of fact, they have their own suitcase, a nifty little travel bag that came with food bags and wheels, and lots of pockets. However, given that they are now 70+ and 80+ pounds I'm considering upgrading their bag to a carry on size and investing in one of the larger dog food transport bags intended for week long camping trips.... The current bag is limited when it comes to trips any longer than three days. 

They also have a cooling solution for the car, when I have to take them but can't kennel them in a hotel room on warm days. That one was spendy, but well worth it.

Wubba has had some solo adventures too, to keep him from picking up Scaredy Pup's attitudes. He had a grand time playing with children at little league baseball, even if he was sad that I wouldn't let him chase the ball. (Unlike FarmDog, Wubba has zero interest in fetch. Chasing the thrown thing is fun. Knocking the thrown thing around is fun. Picking it up and bringing it back? Not so much. Scaredy Pup is my fetch dog, and he's not nearly as fanatic about it as FarmDog was.)

 I don't think I can live without a dog. I'm pretty sure the universe won't let me, not for long, but hopefully I have a long, long time before I have to face the prospect again.  Before I have to live without these faces in my life.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Oy Vey.

 Well. Today I was yelled at for not blogging much anymore, and just as I was thinking to myself "but I don't have anything to write about!" someone piped up with a couple of things that I could be writing about. That I kind of do write about, but in blurbs on Facebook instead of here. So, fine, here I am.

A lot has happened since I last sat down at an empty page on this blog... Losses, gains, pain and joy. 

I might tell you all about all of it someday. Not today. Today, I am just making the blank page no longer blank. 

Today I am hoping that whatever creative spark existed in me once upon a time, it hasn't withered and died under the weight of life and the world. 

Today, I am making another track in the world in the hopes that someday, it will matter to someone, as the tracks left on my heart and in my life by those I care about have mattered so much to me. 

Today, for today, I am back. We shall see if the muse has abandoned me for greener pastures, or if she's just been testing her check liver light in the back of my mind for all of these years.

Friday, August 11, 2017


*Blows dust off of keys* hmm. Appears to be working.

So. Alas, I haven't had any new stories to share that didn't involve work and incidents which were either under investigation or identifiable if someone local happened to stumble here, so I haven't been blogging. Most recently my spare time has been taken up with rebuilding a fence, putting together a honking big round pen, moving horses, and simultaneously thanking the weather gods for moisture and cursing the rain that makes said round pen an unusable muddy mess.

However, as most of my readers still dedicated enough to check on this blog probably already know, LawDog has published a couple of books containing the blog stories, with the second one going live as of yesterday, and waving the best-seller flag whilst still in pre-order. (Told ya so.)

Now, I'm notoriously bad about remembering to do things like go back and do reviews of books even when they're authored by dear friends and I thoroughly enjoy them. But, when the first book went live I duly hit up the Amazon website to post a review after I read it.

Because LD is a beloved friend, kin, family that I chose, blogdaddy, and other adjectives expressing love and admiration, I watched the reviews roll in with a certain sense of pride, and frankly curiosity.

And then I noticed something odd.

Mine was gone.

I looked. I went to my Amazon profile which apparently forgot that I ever posted a review on anything, ever... which could be understandable as to the best of my recollection I probably haven't posted a review to anything else, ever.

So I sent a message to Amazon support, along the lines of "um... wha happened?" thinking it was some sort of website error. The matter is escalated to a special team. I finally get an email back informing me that my review was deleted, advising me thusly:


I hope this e-mail finds you well. This is Mervin from the Communities Team.

We are unable to post your Customer Review for "The LawDog Files" to the
Amazon website because our data shows elements of your Amazon account match elements of other Amazon accounts reviewing the same product. In these cases, we remove the reviews to maintain trust in our customer reviews and avoid any perception of bias.

Customer Reviews are meant to give customers unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers. It is our goal to provide Customer Reviews that help customers make informed purchase decisions. Therefore, any reviews that could be viewed as advertising, promotional, or biased will not be posted. This includes reviews by more than one customer in the same household.

To learn more about this policy, please see our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (

We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Best regards,
Mervin V."

Um... what? The only possible other accounts that may have reviewed that product would be dad's, and the only similarity would be saved shipping addresses. So, off I go and click the "No" button under "Did I solve your problem?"

I wrote out a screed on my cell phone, whilst sleep deprived and sitting in a Burger King with Farmmom on a run for... I forget what, but we needed something so we went to get it in the town that has a Burger King, and decided that we wanted some of their breakfast croissants, which top the list currently for fast food breakfast-like objects in reverse order of flavor comparison to cardboard.

I took screen shots on my phone of the itty bitty text window all the way through my screed, but I'm not motivated enough to reproduce it here. Luckily, when I went to copy/paste their response into this post I discovered that they had included the text in their email, so you get it anyway.

" I received an email telling me that a review I posted had been removed because of similarities to another account in my account. The only thing I can think of is similarities in shipping addresses between my account and my father's account, because we buy things for each other and ship them directly.

So, is it
Amazon's policy that anyone who ships gifts to someone else cannot leave a review? I assure you I am a real customer, I bought the book, I read the book, and I left a review of the book. I was not paid to leave a review nor am I a bot or a review farm.

Right now, it looks a lot like my review was removed based on a policy that would basically prohibit family members who may live in the same household, but maintain their own
Amazon accounts, or anyone who may send or receive gifts from anyone with an Amazon account, from posting a review.

And if my review violated this obscure and apparently arbitrary policy, why was it allowed to go live in the first place? I have the email that told me it was live, I saw it on the product page. I wouldn't have even known it had been taken down, that I had violated this policy, if I hadn't been enthusiastic enough about the book to go back and see what other reviews had been left, because I did not receive any notice that it had been removed....

So please tell me if it is
Amazon's policy to remove reviews based on a similarity to another account without discussion with the account holder or any opportunity to address any apparent similarities and verify that the account is, indeed, a legitimate account and not a review farm or other sock puppet enterprise?

Right now, I am severely disappointed in
Amazon's review process as a whole, and wondering how many legitimate reviews have been arbitrarily deleted from your site... undermining the whole review process just as much as anything your policy is apparently intended to prevent.

Please explain to me exactly what made my account "similar" to another account, because I am currently highly unsatisfied with the explanation I have received so far!"

Well, apparently it is, since the next communication I got was over a week later, and went as follows:


We reviewed the information you provided and have determined that your review was removed in accordance with our guidelines. Our data shows elements of your
Amazon account match elements of other Amazon accounts reviewing the same product. In these cases, we remove the review to maintain trust in our customer reviews and avoid any perception of bias.

Once a review is removed because it does not comply with our guidelines, the reviewer may not submit any new reviews on the same product.

To learn more about this policy, please see our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (

We cannot share any further information about our decision and we may not reply to further emails about this issue.

Review Moderator

So. Basically the same message, with no explanation of what elements are causing my review to be deleted, which would render reviewing the guidelines utterly useless, because I don't know which guideline has been violated, so I don't know what area would need adjusting before my opinion on anything for sale at Amazon would be "allowable."

Screw them and their review process. I am entirely thrilled for all of my friends who are enjoying publishing success using Amazon's platforms and I wish them many years of high rankings and lots and lots of money, but given my experience the review system is, as LD would put it, a load of bushwa.

Sorry about the font weirdness, but Blogger doesn't appear to like copy/paste from Gmail and I'm not patient enough at this point to track down the obscure setting that will straighten all that out.