Have Chicken – Will Travel

Some hens need a home. So the first construction project at the chicken coop plan by Allan Anger
house? A chicken coop. It’s just big enough for five or six chickens and their furnishings and for us to go in to tend to them. They need one or two roosts to sleep on, nest boxes to lay their eggs in and a feeder and waterer. Bins to store their food, and that’s pretty much it.

And it’s mobile. A problem with an outdoor pen attached to your coop is that the chickens peck the grass right down and soon they’re base with coop frame on topscratching and pecking in just dirt. They like dirt. There’s still stuff to peck at and they like having dust baths. But when rain turns it to mud, they end up a mess. That’s if they’ll go out in it at all, they’re not fond of mud.

So, with wheels and a tongue for towing, this coop and run can be moved around to different patches of grass. I’ve never had one like that before, never even thought about a mobile chicken coop if truth be told.

Chicken RV

Googling chicken coop design and my brother’s fertile mind produced our one-of-a-kind chicken RV. He salvaged wood and a rod for an axle from behind the garage. He had wheels that our father had given wheels at end of coophim, saying “you don’t know when you might need a set of wheels.” True enough. Years later, they turned out to be perfect for a hen house. Then he and a carpenter friend began construction. It’s a well-built hen house.

The chickens won’t be limited to just this attached 8-foot run. The pen can open into a larger fenced area or just the great outdoors. But this small run, enclosed with sturdy hardware cloth, provides both indoor and outdoor space where you can be sure they’re safe. And, in case you have an emergency that requires traveling with your chickens, well, with this you can do it with ease.

coop with plywood sidingThe hens plan to move in next week. Their new home will be ready for them by them. I looked at coop equipment today. Some feeder designs and ready-made nest boxes that I hadn’t seen before. I haven’t bought anything yet. I need to talk to chicken people about what works best and see the final interior layout to see what best fits.

Although I hadn’t planned to get chickens so soon, these are Phoenix hens. And, well, I did say I liked them. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to the girls seeing their new quarters.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Aug. 26/12)

Employee of the Year

So many good storylines and powerful scenes this week! Sunita’s delusions about Karl and Dev’s heartbreak as she tells him the “truth” as she wants to believe it. Izzy’s miscarriage, her heartbreak over telling Gary that she’s afraid to try again and her anger at her father for, basically, his fears being proven right.

Kirsty attacking Tyrone with vacuum hoseKirsty, the (thanks for small mercies) ex-cop, beating Tyrone with a plastic vacuum nozzle. Sylvia being back, and thanking Roy with an awkward hug for, well, everything. All good storylines and moving scenes.

Kylie, Dispatch Operator

Kylie with feet up in cab officeBut despite the drama and trauma, the shining moment of the week was Kylie, Dispatch Operator. Like Darryl the Rat recently, Kylie needed only a few seconds of airtime Tuesday to totally upstage everything and everybody else.

The sight of Kylie actually being in control of whether or not people got a cab when and to where they wanted to go was scary but wonderful. If I were Steve, I’d hire her full time. I don’t know if she’d ever get a paying customer in a cab but I bet people would call just to hear what she said to them.

dispatch Kylie telling caller to wait“Listen you impatient old bat, I told you he was on his way. So why don’t you make a brew and stop fussing.

“Hello.  Streetcars. How can I help? What number? Is that the one with all the gnomes? You want to get rid, people laugh you know. I’m just telling you the truth —  on its way.”

Ryan, not on dispatch

Lloyd, Ryan and Kylie in cab officeI am not enjoying Ryan, the reason she was on the switch at the cab office. The only improvement I see over the previous Ryan is that his hair is off his face.

Ryan played by Ben ThompsonI couldn’t bear looking at No. 1 Ryan, thinking about the pimples breeding under that wall of hair over his forehead. But in terms of personality, while No. 1 Ryan didn’t have many winning ways, at least he could be excused for being in the awkward stage of adolescence.

No. 2 Ryan has outgrown that phase. Even his mother is finding it Ryan preparing cocaine in bathroom stallhard to find excuses for him although she certainly is doing her best to rationalize his despicable behaviour to everyone. He got marginally more interesting with the cocaine thing, if only to see how Michelle can so quickly accept his excuses, believe his lies, blame anyone else and time after time say ‘ok, he’s learned his lesson now, he won’t do it again.’ Sure he won’t.

And Michelle yelling at Ryan over top of toilet stallthe sight of Michelle leaning over the top of a toilet stall, scaring the wits out of him as he prepared a line. A priceless moment! Ryan is a truly horrible little weasel – he must be if even Kylie has come to dislike him.

Kylie telling caller to get rid of garden gnomesBut I forgive him for everything, for putting Kylie on Streetcars’ switchboard duty. She provided a customer experience that I don’t think even Fat Brenda could match.

Poems by C. H. Burwell

Cover 3rd ed poems Charles H BurwellIt took a year but I have my grandfather’s poetry book in pdf format. If you would like to print it out, click here and download the file links on the page.

I don’t know when he began writing poetry but the 1st edition of his booklet was printed January 1946. The 2nd was printed in June 1958 and the 3rd, nine years after his death, in 1974. It is the 3rd one that I have scanned. There are some different poems in the first two and I will add those later.

He used poetry in two ways: one as a way to witness for his faith and the other to comment on life around him. The subtitle is “Poems photo from 3rd ed poems C H Burwellconcerning the things of today and poems confirming the Heavenward way” and that pretty much sums them up. If he were alive today, maybe he’d make his observations through Twitter. But I’m glad he chose the medium of rhyme. Again, his own words best describe that. In “The Poet’s ‘Must’”, he writes, “Yet must the poet keep his feet – And beat it down the line; – And make his feet the accent keep – Or lose the swing and rhyme.”

Poems were a part of life

What his poetry also did was to make the writing of poetry a part of life. It wasn’t something rarefied, that “ordinary” people couldn’t dream of doing. His children and grandchildren grew up with his poems and poetry books around. My mother said she’d see him at his desk in his cement shop, with a pencil stub and scrap of paper – working Poem by Ada May (Burwell) Scanlonout words and rhyme while they were in his mind.

His children naturally turned to putting their thoughts on paper too. While none of them wrote as prolifically as he did, they too wrote poems of their faith. And they didn’t just stick the final product in the back of a drawer as so many of us do; they had them printed and distributed. They had seen him do it so knew it could be done and there was an audience out there.

Perhaps too it was their church that helped them to know how to print and distribute and that there God's Way by Ruby (Burwell) Angerwas an audience out there. A church that always had a good supply of Gospel tracts, telling real life stories of conversion and discussing points of Scripture.

Whether it was the example of their church or my grandfather’s love of language and human observation, writing from life and belief came naturally to his children. They recognized his ability and treasured it.  I have a notebook in which my Aunt Ada carefully transcribed in longhand her father’s poems and gave to him as a gift.

Christmas Song by Charles H Burwell

My mother spent the evening before her wedding transcribing his Christmas song in words and music in preparation for printing. But maybe the greatest gift his children gave him was in their own writing. They  remembered the grammar their mother had taught them and also kept the “swing and rhyme” that he showed them.

(Click or tap poems for larger view)

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Aug. 19/12)

Solomon’s Judgement

Judgement of SolomonIn the Old Testament story (1 Kings 3:16-28), two women claimed to be the mother of a child and King Solomon had to decide which one was telling the truth. He called their bluff by saying the only resolution was to cut the child in half and give one half to each woman. One said ok and the other said don’t do that, give him to her. The woman who was willing to give up the child so that he would live, Solomon deemed, was the real mother.

On Tuesday at the train station, had King Solomon given that choice to Peter and Leanne, I’m not sure that both of them wouldn’t have said ‘go ahead, we’ll each take half of Simon’. Instead, they asked their child to choose between them and it was excruciating to watch.

Leanne and Peter look at Simon with CarlaWhen Leanne first said let Simon decide, I thought that’s good! But I didn’t realize they were going to act like they were in some extreme version of Family Feud. Each urging and pleading “pick me”, “no, pick me”.

Simon’s choice

I realize time was of the essence, with the train whistle blowing. So perhaps the reasoned out, cautious discussion I’d expected wasn’t possible. But getting right Leanne and Peter pleading with Simonin the child’s face, wheedling and crying? It was horrible. Within the realm of realism, I guess. That’s how divorce can really mess kids up, I guess.

There’s no way Simon can feel he didn’t let someone down. And there’s no way that feeling is not going to stick with him for a long time. On the upside, I guess he saw that both parents desperately want him. But that upside likely isn’t going to apparent to him until many years and a lot of Simon trying to decidepsychotherapy have passed. And, if he takes after his father, he will not resolve his childhood trauma even by middle-age.

Jane Danson (Leanne) talked (link is gone) about how difficult the custody battle storyline was for the adult actors to do. They all have their own children so they probably can’t help but interpolate their real life feelings into their acting. But they are grownups.

What can it be like for the real Simon looking at Leanne as Peter pleadsSimon, child actor Alex Bain? He has been phenomenal in this entire story. But watching him, tearful and brokenhearted, have to choose between two people he loves – that was truly gutwrenching to watch. I can’t imagine that it also wasn’t difficult for him to portray such emotional distress.

Leanne takes Simon awayIt’s been a cautionary tale about how hideously wrong things can go when one person decides to end a relationship, especially one that involves children. I hope when Peter and Carla return, that one of them has learned enough about themselves and childrearing that none of them will ask something like this of Simon ever again.

Phoenix Eggs

phoenix eggs in cartonThese beautiful little eggs are from my great nephew’s Phoenix hens. They’re maybe half the size of a large supermarket egg. But they’re twice as flavourful. I think that has more to do with the fact that the hens live a normal chicken life instead of being in a small cage in a battery chicken farm. These hens live in an outdoor coop with a run so they can move and peck and do normal chicken things.

boy holding Phoenix henI’ve seen hens like this at chicken shows but never in a backyard coop. That’s because they are considered show birds not laying birds. I asked why they didn’t have a rooster. The answer was that the roosters have enormously long tails and they’d have to build an extension to the coop to accommodate him. And yes, what I read online is that you do need extra tall perches for the roosters.

It’s from Phoenix rooster and henthe length of the tail feathers that the breed was given its name. The roosters look like the Phoenix bird of myth. The hens, at least those with this plumage, to me look like they’re wearing necklaces. That’s what I’ve always called them, the necklace hens.

Phoenix Eggs in Fried Rice

broken eggs in dish photo d stewartGoogling them, I read they’re not prolific layers. But these five hens usually each give an egg almost every day. What more could you ask for? And they’re perfect eggs: good hard shells, deep yellow yolk and lovely taste.

I scrambled three eggs, cooking them until they had just set, then put them aside on a small plate.

eggs, broccoli and riceI stirfried some broccoli, then added leftover cooked rice to heat through. Lastly I put in the cooked eggs and lightly mixed it all together until heated. The eggs turned leftovers into a whole new, and delicious, meal.

egg fried riceWhen I get a chicken coop built, some Phoenix hens will be living in it. I read that they aren’t noted as particularly friendly, but the ones I met were. Came right up to me and let me scratch their heads and pet their feathers. No running away or pecking at me, just inquisitive and friendly little birds. Little birds who lay lovely eggs!

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Aug. 12/12)

In Vino Veritas

Peter telling Carla she is wrong in his life“Sometimes you’ll buy a vase or a picture and you’ll put it on the sideboard or on the wall, and it’s ok. But it’s wrong. And that’s what I feel when I see you in this flat. You’re just wrong.”

Oooh boy, Peter gave lots of great material this week but this one blew me away. Mainly because he absolutely nailed it! I’m Carla listening to Peter say she is wrong in his lifeglad he finally got drunk. At least then he saw the truth. And he said it in such a hurtful way that maybe Carla will actually leave him. I know she won’t. She seems to need unavailable men and this makes him at least psychologically unavailable so she will love him that much more desperately. Sure enough, she was soon crying on Michelle’s shoulder about how much “I love him”.

I wish she would just look at him: what’s important is not that he’s an alcoholic, it’s that Peter at Underworld demanding Carla's timehe’s nasty and immature. He showed his true colours when, cold sober, he burst into Underworld and interrupted a conference call. Although she quickly broke off the call, it wasn’t good enough for Peter who got furious because she hadn’t immediately snapped to attention.

World of Peter

When she rightly said everything is always about him, he said no it’s Simon Simon Simon. Oh yes it is when Simon meets the “me me me” and “it’s all your fault” that comprises Peter’s world.

When Peter allowed Simon to live with Leanne, he said he was going to start listening to Simon’s wishes. He also looked at Carla and said it would give them more time together. I thought then, hmm, I do a good deed that just happens to also benefit me. Convenient.

Peter telling Carla you want Simon awaySo at Underworld, when she got mad about him expecting her to drop everything to tend to him, for him to immediately say you’re probably glad Simon’s gone, you didn’t want him anyway – I could only think somebody doth protest too much. I could see why it would occur to him about himself, but why would it even cross his mind about Carla?

Carla has been remarkably good with a child who doesn’t even try to hide his dismissal of her. If anyone is feeling that they might have pushed Simon out, I think it’s Peter. But Ken and Deirdre see Peter in streetadmit to that, even to himself? No! Peter’s way is to blame everybody else. It’s Carla’s fault, his dad’s for sending him to Scotland lo those many years ago, Nick’s fault, Leanne’s. When I saw little Eccles with Ken as a drunken Peter stumbled across the road, I wondered if he’d blame her.

Peter, when drunk, feels sorry for himself – not unusual drunken behaviour. Peter, when sober, feels sorry for himself – and nothing is going to change then. Carla would do well to remember words ascribed to Winston Churchill: when a lady said to him, “Sir, you are drunk!” he replied, “Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.”

Peter interrupting Carla and Michelle's conference callMichelle saw Peter threw his tantrum in Underworld. Michelle saw Carla come back in tears after moving back to her own apartment. If Michelle had half a brain, she could say, “This was Peter sober. This is Peter drunk. No difference. You’re not in love, you’re in a sado-masochistic co-dependency. And you are wrong cooking fish fingers in a flat over a bookie shop, you belong in a luxury flat with hideous velvet wallpaper.” But Michelle doesn’t have half a brain, and Carla is a co-dependent sado-masochist.

Dressage Top Hat

dorothee schneider diva royal ger-dderosaphotoA requirement for safety helmets to be worn by riders in all equestrian shows is a good idea and, by and large, the helmets look ok. But dressage needs something that is as elegant as the sport itself. Something that looks like, well, the traditional top hat.

After watching the Olympics dressage, where some riders wore top hats and some wore crash helmets, I thought can’t technology come top hat helmet by l'Hiverup with a protective helmet with style? I googled it and, yes, others have thought the same thing.

The helmet on the left looks good. I’d like to see it on a human head to see its proportions and if it still looks good when on. The dressage helmet below  does have the shape of a top hat and obviously the protective capabilities of a helmet. But its size, with that protection, makes it also makes it look kinda like The Cat in the Hat.

Megan Rust helmet top hatA serious head injury in 2010 by Olympics dressage rider Courtney King-Dye started the move for helmets for all riders in all disciplines. Yes, it’s a good idea.  A horse cantering, no matter how elegantly in dressage, is still moving at a good speed and a fall can cause the rider a lot of damage.

But dressage, of all the equestrian sports, is also an art form. Looks and beauty of movement on the part of horse and rider is an Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro 2012 Olympic dressageimportant element. Riders wearing a standard shaped crash helmet may as well complete the look by wearing snowmobile pants.

In show jumping and eventing, the crash helmet somehow doesn’t look as bad. These are more clearly “sport” even though there is artistry in what horse and rider are doing.

But in dressage, the athleticism involved is hidden from view so that the beauty of the movement can be seen. Like in figure skating, circus performance and dance. You know these are superb athletes but you don’t want to see the strain of muscles pumping. You want to see the beauty and fluidity of motion.

If dressage riders are going to wear standard issue crash helmets, you might as well reiningdemand ballerinas wear hockey knee and elbow pads. Please, scientists, keep working on a helmet that preserves the elegance of dressage as well as the heads of riders. While you’re at it, a protective cowboy hat for reining and all Western disciplines would be good. The look of that hat is important too.

Congratulations to Team GB for winning gold in team dressage and show jumping. And thanks to all competitors for incredibly exciting and beautiful performances.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Aug. 5/12)


Beth holding up rat DarrylThe visual of the week: Darryl the rat, mistaken for a cell phone. There have been many rats in the Rovers Return over the years, certainly two-legged and probably four-legged. But one getting pulled out of a purse? It’s a first. And his appearance produced other good visuals. Like Eileen, I laughed out loud.

You knew something involving Darryl was going to happen when we saw Beth’s new furry phone cover. Then Darryl went missing after his and Craig’s contribution to the ‘put off potential house buyers’ that Tracy and Beth are doing.

Health inspector wondering what is happening in RoversYou also knew something horrible was going to happen at the Rovers when Eva got word that the health inspector was doing the rounds of pubs.

But I, at least, didn’t see it coming when someone’s cell rang in the Rovers. Of course, everybody started fishing around to see if it was theirs. Then, tada, Beth pulls Darryl out of her handbag. Just too wonderful.Eva screams at sight of the rat

Despite the heartbreak of Marcus and Sean’s breakup and the delight of Lloyd’s return, Darryl stole the show this week for me. I hope he continues to be front and centre in storylines.

Ok, Bluenose Corrie says this was recycled from 20 years ago when then-landlord Alec Gilroy had Boris, a huge spider, roaming in the Rovers when a health inspector came. Similar even to hiding it behind his back and saying he had back problems. In Seven Basic Plots, Christopher Booker said the same stories are retold in different ways. So this is a different telling of creepy critter on the loose.

Olympic Eventing

Trying to watch the Olympics Equestrian Eventing of the past three days, I’ve performed dog coming down stairsin my own Eventing competition. It includes the Stair Dash, Pet Hurdles and Speed Remote Handling.

It’s due to television reception, or lack of. We now have satellite tv and I’m sure when the bugs get worked out, it will be fine. But that hasn’t happened in time for Olympics watching. A new box is on a truck on its way here from somewhere. I don’t watch sports much: World Cup, Triple Crown races, show jumping, equestrian games and the Olympics. But those events alone are reason to have a big screen high definition tv.

“It’s the box”

We have a big television in the living room, with its fancy HD box. Upstairs is a smaller tv with a “standard” box. The Olympics on tv in upstairs denupstairs one has worked fine, but the living room one? Sometimes it’s fine but it often cuts out or there’s no signal at all when you turn it on. We were told weather affects satellite reception so at first thought there must be a storm somewhere. No problem, see how it goes, there’s other things to do anyway. But when it didn’t work more often than it did, I called the company. “It’s the box,” the lady said after taking me through diagnostic unplugging and resetting, “we’ll send out another one – 3 to 5 days.”

But last Friday was the opening ceremony for the Olympics. No life in the big screen box at all. So I watched upstairs. It was impressive but I knew how much more so it would be if I could only watch it downstairs on high def big tv. Dogs’ dinner was late because the commercial breaks weren’t long enough to run downstairs and feed them. Midway through Paul McCartney’s Hey Jude, a cat fight downstairs couldn’t be ignored, so I missed the end of the show.

Eventing to watch Eventing

It was during the equestrian Eventing that I perfected my own eventing. Running up and down the stairs, leaping over animals, simultaneous coordination of remote and tv buttons. I kept Olympic medal presentation on big screenfiddling with the big screen box, unplugging cords I hadn’t unplugged before. Yesterday, it worked. I watched swimming and it was glorious. I left the tv on and went out, came back and there was still a picture. Settled in to watch the show jumping part of Eventing. Even without high definition on OLN, it was fabulous. You could see every detail of the horse and the jumps. I could easily do other things during commercials. Maybe this box is fine, it must have been that last cable I reconnected.

tv with no signal messageZara Phillips and High Kingdom started their ride in the individual competition – and the signal went out. Even surpassing the gold medal standard in simultaneous performance of my personal eventing elements, I didn’t get the upstairs tv on in time to see the end of their ride.

Dressage starts tomorrow. The new box had better be here.