#73 Raising Chickens

We have raised chickens since before I retired. Now that I am retired I have more time to help care for them. As long as we are living in an area where they are allowed, we will probably continue to raise them. We raise them only for their eggs. We don’t breed them.  We don’t eat them.  We only have hens, no roosters.

For my ladies (we currently have 8 egg-laying hens) I normally fill the water, fill the food, feed them weeds and food scraps, gather the eggs, clean the eggs, make hard boiled eggs, and talk to them (Often I have to tell them to stop pooping in their food. Do they listen to me? No. Chickens are not too smart).

The chickens are a year round activity. Of course they need food and water every day, and they lay eggs all year long. They don’t lay as many during the wintertime. With our 8 chickens we get about 5 to 6 eggs a day.

We have found that there are many misconceptions about chickens. Here are a few facts about chickens that have surprised a few people:

  1. You don’t need a rooster for the hens to lay eggs. You only need a rooster if you want chicks. Hens lay eggs regardless.
  2. A hen can lay only one egg in a day and will have some days when it does not lay an egg at all. The reasons for this laying schedule relate to the hen reproductive system. A hen’s body begins forming an egg shortly after the previous egg is laid, and it takes 26 hours for an egg to form fully. They lay less eggs in the winter than the summer due to less sunlight in the winter. Hens start laying eggs when they are about 4 to 5 months old. They lay the most when they are young and their production decreases with age.
  3. The color of eggs somewhat depends on the color of the hen’s earlobes. White ear lobed hens produces white eggs, red ear lobed hens produce blue, green, or brown eggs. (We normally have brown egg-laying hens, although we did have some blue egg-laying hens in the past).
  4. Brown eggs are not necessarily healthier than white eggs. (They just cost more at the store). The level of healthiness depends on how the chickens are raised.
  5. Yes, chickens do come home to roost. When it gets dark, they will go back to their coop and jump/fly up to their roost. The roost is a pole that we put up horizontally in the coop. The chickens perch on the coop’s roost to sleep. It seems that they do this to get safely off the ground and in a protective building, because, after all, they are chicken.

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#72 Riding in a Pontoon Boat

This is part 1 (hopefully followed by part 2) of the pontoon retirement experience.

While visiting my sister, Karen, and her husband, Bud, at their Bethany Beach house, I had the opportunity to ride in their pontoon boat. Being that this was ‘Spring’ (March 24th), they needed to get the boat out of storage and return it to their house. I offered to ride along to keep Captain Bud company, since I wanted to ride in the boat anyway and I knew it would be too cold for Karen to enjoy the ride. And cold it was. It was freezing – at least it felt that way. The temperature was in the low 40’s and we were motoring north into the 15 mph head winds. By motoring, we were going up to 25 knots. Add that up and it was plain cold. (I guess the wind chill must be around 10 degrees.) But it was a fun ride. At the end of the ride, we were looking forward to that promised hot adult beverage waiting for us. However, we arrived before Mary Ann and Karen could drive back. And when they did return, we found out that they kind of forgot about the hot adult beverage and instead went shopping. Oh, well.

(Part 2, hopefully, is when we can go out on the pontoon boat on a hot summer afternoon, enjoying the cool breeze and a cold one.)

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#71 IPhone Photography, Editing, and Art

In February and March 2018, I took an evening course at Montgomery College – “Artistic Expression through Photography: Phones and Tablets”.  With a combination of free and inexpensive apps, I can take photographs that have better features than the standard camera function, i.e., features that DSLR cameras employ. I can then edit the photographs with features similar to Photoshop. And finally, those photographs can be translated into art using special effects applications. For instance, photographs can modified to look like paintings with simulated brush strokes, then framed and signature added. Some of the photographs can be modified to be quite abstract. While the IPhone generally takes great photographs, those can be improved before sending to other people or uploading to Instagram or Facebook.

I have had a lot of fun working with the special effects, changing plain old photographs into art. I also enjoy simply cropping and adjusting the color to improve other photos.

One cool thing about using the Iphone to edit photos is that I can edit photos that were texted to me to improve the appearance and then I can text them back. So if anyone wants a photo edited, all you need to do is text me. It only takes a few minutes with software like Snapseed (free). It is much simpler than sending emails and using the computer to edit photos.

Here is an example of the raw photo, the edited photo (contrast and brightness adjustments), and the special effects used to make the photograph look more like a painting.

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Tangled in Tangled FX