Bzzzz December 17th, 2008

There is dissension in our happy home and it has come to this. We must hold a vote to decide the new name for The Chicken Formerly Known as Minnie Ruth.

In case you haven’t been following the chicken drama Chez Bumblebee, let me catch you up.

Back in August I purchased three baby chicks for $2 each from the Amish market in Hughesville, about 45 minutes from our home. The fellow who sold me the chickens—who was not Amish, I should add—assured me that the baby chicks had been sexed and that all of them would grow up to be fine laying hens. He explained that the chicks were a white Plymouth Rock, an Arucauna and a Polish chicken. I named these baby chicks after my grandmothers and great aunt: Olive (Olivia), Minnie Ruth and Maxine.

Sadly, Maxine passed away after a few days. But Olive and Minnie Ruth have thrived.

But they also presented a surprise after a few weeks. They are, in fact, roosters. Unmistakably roosters. In fact, they are now in the full flush or their rooster-ness, although the hens, Myrtle and Maude, still boss them around.

Now, it came to me out of the blue one day that I should rename Olive T. Boone Chickens in honor of T. Boone Pickens, who is generally a good guy and whose wife, Madeleine, is working to rescue all those wild horses. My son, Ben, prefers to call the chicken T. Rex because he is so enormously huge and has an audible footstep.

But Minnie Ruth has presented more of a dilemma. No name immediately came to mind, which is why I need your help.

But I believe that the name should fit the chicken. So first, a little background.

As you may be able to see from the photos, The Chicken Formerly Known as Minnie Ruth is a beautiful black, with blue-green hues to his long, luxurious feathers. He is growing some manly facial hair that is sticking out to the sides and will probably grow into a more prominent chicken beard.

He isn’t as large as T. Boone Chickens, although he is much larger than the hens. He is skittish, even though I raised him by hand and have always been a kind and loving chicken mamma. Oh, and he is apparently in love with Maude. He follows her everywhere and, uhm, adores her, shall we say. They currently sleep together at night on the roost bar near the ceiling in the Palazzo di Pollo. He is quite the romancer, although Maude is playing hard-to-get.

In the Twitterverse, I had several suggestions for a new name. So now I’m asking for your help.

Name that chicken!

The choices are (in alphabetical order, so as not to indicate my preferences):

– Al Harris

– Don King

– Elvis

– Fabio

– James Brown

– Johnny Cash

– The Chicken Formerly Known as Minnie Ruth

For your vote to count, you must participate in the poll. It’s to your right at the top of this page. Vote now!

And if you want the chance to win a special prize, leave me a comment about why you advocate for one name or another. If your name is the winner—and I pick your name out of a hat among others who chose the same name—you can win a copy of the 2009 Extraordinary Chickens Calendar. It’s like a pin-up calendar for gorgeous chickens! I got one for myself!

For practical purposes, voting closes on Sunday, December 28. But vote now! And check in to see how the votes are going.

And happy holidays to all!

Posted In: Chickens

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Bzzzz December 13th, 2008

I know I’m not alone when I say that I detest the winter season. It has only gotten worse in the past few years. In fact, since I have enthusiastically embraced the green living lifestyle, my contempt for winter has become a bit of an obsession. I may have to become one of those silver-haired snowbirds.

The thermostats are turned down and we have resorted to means other than our heat pumps to keep warm. It doesn’t always work, I should add.

I have gotten so cold that I have resorted to wearing those incredibly lightweight but warm Patagonia capilene long underwear most days. While mall shopping a few weeks ago I was tickled to find cashmere fingerless gloves that I can wear while typing. I bought two pair. And Brookstone had Tempurpedic slippers that I tuck my feet into at my desk. They pretty much park there because they are too clumsy to walk around in.

But winter is not without its rewards.

Last month, in the middle of winter on a particularly frigid day, I had the electrician here swapping out one set of programmable thermostats for ones that I can actually understand how to program. As we were chatting, I glanced out the front door and stopped mid-sentence.

A group of six Eastern Bluebirds was exploring the Purple Martin gourds that I have procrastinated moving in for the winter.

I watched, transfixed, as they moved in and out of the gourds and perched on the support poles. Once I regained my senses, I scrambled for my camera and long lens to take photos. Then I grabbed my Sibley guide to see whether it’s that unusual to see bluebirds here in November.

Apparently, it’s not unheard of for groups of bluebirds to stay northward and nest together rather than heading for warmer quarters. Margaret at A Way to Garden said she has even seen them near her New York home in winter.

Sadly, they didn’t stick around, so I’m still going to have to store those Purple Martin gourds.

In the meantime, I’m keeping a keen eye out for the potential return of Evening Grosbeaks. The Winter King Hawthorns that line the driveway near our house are loaded with the fat, red berries that attracted a flock of them last winter.

I only hope I am looking out the windows when they arrive. It’s my small consolation for having to dress like an Eskimo in my own home.

Posted In: Nature and Wildlife

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