Category Archives: Chickens

Old Red

Red bought the farm yesterday. I didn’t think it was time for her to go yet, but she had her own thoughts, as she always did.

She’s on the left. It was when she was pretty new.

I wonder if it ever gets easy to say goodbye to your chickens. I was glad that this was quick, unlike when Henny P bit it, but it was still pretty hard for me. At least Henny had the decency to just die and freeze before I found her.

It was easier that way to give her to Roger so he could teach his kid how to trap a marten.

Red kicked the bucket too far ahead of the winter, so she didn’t get to enjoy the part of the circle of life where you become bait. She only gets to be the end and the beginning.

Well, I guess that’s not true. She’s probably baiting blowflies and a plethora of bacteria and other bugs that help with decomposition.

I tried to find a good infographic of the circle of life to support my claims, but all I got from Google images was this.

So, right from the death of Henny P, Red was my favourite chicken. She was the smallest, but she was also the lead chicken. If I would find a bunch of bugs somewhere, I would call the girls, but Red was always the first one there to get her fill. She had no fear of me, that’s for sure. She would peck and scratch my shoes if she thought I was hiding a worm under them.

I called her the ant sniper

The other chickens didn’t bother with ants very much, but Red would get in there and eat tons of them when I’d flip a rock over that was housing the little buggers. The others would stand around and try to eat some of the eggs, but Red would jump in and run them off. If she was going to do the work of getting all the ants, you can bet she’d be the one reaping the eggs. Even chickens know how delicious eggs are.

Another thing I loved about her was that she would jump up in my lap if I was sitting outside. She would get really close and stare at my face. I’m sure she was just hoping some mealworms would fall out of my nostrils or something but I like to think that she just liked the cut of my jib. It would explain why she liked to get all flirty when I would go to pet her.

She was always so envious of Henny’s bra.

In all seriousness though, when I went out to give them the melon guts last night, only three of the girls came running. I looked out to see where Red was but there was no sign of her. I peeked in the window to see if she was laying, but her head was hanging way out and bobbing up and down.

That got me worried

I went in and saw that she was having a hard time breathing and her eyes were closed. I put my hand under her and her crop was empty and her neck was really bony. She could barely open her eyes. I thought I took a bit of video and went in to show Gerri but I guess I didn’t hit the button.

We talked about how she was just out the day before running around the yard and eating lots of grass and bugs. It just seemed like there was no way she could have started failing so soon.

But she was.

By the time I got back out, she was looking even worse. I carried her outside and sat with her on the swing. It was taking all she had to breathe and I sat there crying and debating on the best way to ease her pain.

By this time our cat, Tubs had jumped up beside us and was smelling Red’s face. He started rubbing into my arm and being the sweetest cat you could ever imagine and then I noticed the old butcher knife on the chair. I thought that I would just go over to the fence and cut her head off in one quick motion. It seemed to be better than wheezing to death.

When I lay her head on the fencepost, I moved the knife over her neck and her blue eyelids opened to give me this horrified look and then she jerked her head back.

I, of course, took this as a sign that she wanted to live! Yes, that must be it. She’s letting me know that it’s just something stuck in her throat and if I could just get her to the vet, she would be back eating and drinking in no time.

I went back and sat with her again on the swing. Tubs gave her another sniff and she just laid her head down on my leg. I was back to crying again. She started to convulse like she was having the dry heaves and then she had a shit on my leg.

I had to act fast. I grabbed her neck and snapped it while getting up out of the swing and walking to the fencepost where I lopped her head off to be sure she was dead.

She was.

I put her in an old feed sack and wiped the last of my tears on my sleeve, which as it fell to my side, got smeared in the turd on my leg. Fitting.

I went into the house and solemnly thought about how there was no way I was taking a two and a half year old chicken that hadn’t laid more than two eggs a week for the last three months to the vet but I used that as an excuse to selfishly spend a few more minutes with my friend as she was going into the throes of death. I hope that she was comforted a little.

I’m going to miss my ant sniper and I’m happy the bylaw officer moved away two days earlier and gave her the chance to be a free-range girl again, at least for the last few days of her life.

Red knew that having her own dirt was better than sharing with two others. She would get all the worms.

Fort St. James – Home Of World Class Chicken Racing

Imagine you are going on your vacation and you drive by this. What do you do?

Photo credit – Linda Glover twitter @GloverLindaJ

You immediately get your copilot to Google what the hell that sign means.

Turns out that there is daily chicken racing in Fort St. James, BC. A place that I only knew of because my Mastercard got sent to their bank instead of the Fort St. John branch that I was supposed to pick it up at.

I totally see the mixup. Really.

We found out that we had missed race day and would have to come back by 11:45 AM any other day. We decided that we would stop in on our way home and see what this was all about because we do love us some chickens.

So we passed the Shovel Lake fire after we left Burns Lake, but the highway was absolutely choked out with smoke. We were afraid that we would miss the races as the fires seemed to be in the direction we were going. We stopped in Endako and called the district office in Fort St. James. We were assured that the skies were blue there and we believed them. This is what it looked like over the lake as we pulled into town.

And this is what it looked like an hour later.

We camped at Paarens Beach Provincial Park and it was lovely, except for the wasps and the smoke. Had a chilly dip and a scrub up and then sat around the fire (camp, not forest) for a beer and to look at the stones we found in the opal beds that morning.

The campsites were spacious and the cost was much less than the cramped site we had a few nights earlier in Port Arthur. We highly recommend staying here when you inevitably come to see this really cool piece of Canadiana.

While out about town, we found out that the chicken races were held at the Fort St. James National Historic Site.

Did you know that they have the largest collection of restored wooden buildings in Canada? Did you also know that those buildings are in danger now from the wildfires?

Well, they weren’t when we were there so this post will be happy in nature because we only thought it was a bit of smoke at the time.

On to the tour!

So after paying and all that good stuff, we went into the museum part where we learned of the Carrier people and how they fit into the fort and the town.

The museum is full of interesting artifacts and stories but the coolest thing about it is how it sort of glosses over how they had to assimilate.

Sure, there was an infographic that told a bit about it…

… but they never delve into what the consequences of the white man’s actions were. It’s a good thing because nobody wants a depressed tourist walking around, bringing everybody down.

In case you couldn’t read that, here is a closer shot.

Well, that’s a bit of an understatement, but also a loaded compliment.

To take our minds off of the injustices, they let us play dress up with a bunch of old looking clothes.

I don’t think it worked, but we need to boost our spirits for the rest of the day. Maybe some deluxe hard candies will do the trick. Happy, happy, happy!

We leave the museum and go outdoors. We are then greeted by the red chairs of last year’s 150th birthday of our great nation. A nation that is founded on the freedom of its authoritarian, Christian people.

Wow, this post is getting too dark.

Okay, well, on with the fun times!

We walked around and took a bunch of photos. One of them was a 360° panorama, but I probably can’t put it in here. I’m going to try it though.

Wow, that worked great. Thanks, Google.

Here are some common people photos. I’m not even going to try anything fancy anymore.

Pretty sure that this is the dock. I’m not an expert or anything, just going on a hunch.

The building on the left is the warehouse, the tall one at the back is the food cache, the short one in the middle is the men’s cabin and the one in the foreground is the market. I guess we were mad at the girl in the warehouse for marking our quiz question wrong, so we didn’t take any photos inside. This was outside though.

Take that, stickler.

Next, we went to the food cache.

Mmmmmm, salmon and hams. Or, if we ship the names it’s halmon.

I just learned about shipping names like Brangelina and Bennifer. I’m a little bit slower on the trends.

 

This house behind the tree is the commander’s, or whatever you call him’s, house. We’ll get to that later.

In the men’s house, we got the question wrong, but the guy was cool so Gerri took a bunch of photos.

And where would we be if we didn’t have an old photo of native peoples dressed in white man’s clothes celebrating Dominion Day by performing an ancient Scottish game?

Sorry, it just spurts out of my brain sometimes.

This one below is the market and the scene for our first video.

I think that was the only one we got right, but to be fair, they used a lot of trick questions. They just didn’t want us to win.

We went to the tanning cabin and met Nicole, who was very engaging and educated on the subject. She was doing some very intricate beadwork when we got there and we were having such a good talk that we forgot to take any photos. Either way, it was one of the better and more informative stops on the tour, so we recommend you going in and talking with her.

After that, we went to the commander’s, or whatever he is, house. It’s the one behind the tree.

It was my favourite place of all because after the boring stuff inside, there were…

Goats and Chickens!

Yep, this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for.

The world-famous, Fort St. James Chicken Races

First, we had to place our bets.

 

They forgot the -ed on the end. Just kidding. It’s just what all the kids say now. Incessantly.

Notice how confident I am? I’m using both of my hands to show you the winner and my favourite way to have chicken prepared.

We really enjoyed the level of interaction there was with the crowd.

And then there was the comedy routine that was probably just to keep us occupied while they fed cocaine to their favourites.

The second race had a bit of a troubled start and we found out who got the cocaine. Luckily for them, they were disqualified and didn’t have to get tested. The third race was my favourite. I just love the hesitation at the end.
Here’s another reason it was my favourite race.
I might have lied when I said I wasn’t spending them. Too bad my phone was getting buggy and needed a restart.
So in the end, we got to look at a lot of history, good and bad, talk to some interesting folks and watch some world-class chicken racing. We won some, we lost some, but we went home with big smiles and a button…

Oh, and a few bucks as a souvenir.

We also did some quests and I almost forgot to tell you that we got to shoot slingshots.

So, in conclusion, go to Fort St. James. We’ll be going back and hopefully for a bit longer and to possibly do a bit of rockhounding. Rumour has it that there is jade around there. Well, not so much rumour as a geological survey.