Adventures in Nannying…

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The children in my care tell me I am required to feed them 2 snacks and one mid-day meal every day they are with me.  I feel this is extravagant as they rarely eat what is placed in front of them and never want the same thing at the same time.

Today they have been offered a banquet of apple slices, cheese-flavored square crackers, filtered water, a cheese pizza facsimile and one caramel candy.  The dogs and the chickens are pleased that the children are not fond of eating as they receive the leftovers and table scraps from my unacceptable offerings of food.

In addition to feeding the children, they have expectations that the electronic screen will be on 24/7/365.  I have attempted to disabuse them of this fallacious belief by simply not turning on the screen.  This non-action inspires them to run around in circles, stomp loudly, scream and play hide-and-seek.  Strangely I believe these are behaviors that should be exhibited outside.

Although the children disagree with my fantasy, I have forced them to play outside.  Their idea of ‘outside’ is to hang around the French Doors and jump over the threshold repeatedly until I give up and let them come inside.  Today  I had to evict them from the deck because they were distracting the painter.  They have spent the last 45 minutes sitting on the stairs or the patio whispering things – probably about me.  I hope they remember to put all the atrocities I’ve forced upon them in their memoirs, because someone is going to need to pay for all the therapy and only book sales will cover the costs.

There were 3 children ejected from the indoors on this beautiful sunny day.  I attempt to acquiesce to their demands for food and take popcorn downstairs for afternoon snack.   I only see 1 of 3 when I come down the steps.

The first child, called “Reporter” tells me that child #2 is sad.  I turn to see this child under the deck.

Child #2 will be called “Contrition” and is sitting on the ground; sniffling, looking downcast and will not look at me.

I ask Contrition what’s going on. Contrition responds with a pitiful “I couldn’t control myself”.  More sniffling, tears fill the eyes.  Downcast looking.  More sniffling.  There’s even a chin quiver.  Assuming this means that there will be a plastic bag with wet clothing and additional laundry for the child’s parents, I tell Contrition to go upstairs to change clothing.  Contrition tells me this is unnecessary as that is not what the problem is.

Momentarily confused, I ask Contrition what the problem is and receive a shoulder shrug in reply.  I repeat my question in the hopeful, but fruitless quest for truth. Contrition repeats the shoulder movement.  More sniffling.

Reporter pleads with Contrition through repetitive eye signals and hand motions; however Contrition is exercising their Fifth Amendment rights and remains silent. Reporter is removed from the scene and questioned as to the whereabouts of Child #3.

According to the eagle-eyed and well-informed Reporter, Child #3 is hiding under the pool (tipped over upside down leaning on the kid’s ladder).

We’ll call child #3 “Hider”.

Speaking in the direction of the reported sighting, I ask Hider to show themselves.  Crickets.  I repeat my question 2 more times with no answer.  As there has also been no movement from the documented hiding place, I warn Hider that I will begin counting.  Upon reaching “3” in “The Count” (*), I move the pool and find the suspect under a hat, under the pool (under the ladder).  Hider is moved to the stairs to begin interrogation; Hider immediately cracks under the pressure and plaintively wails “I scratched (Contrition)”.

Hint: a good interrogator already knows the answers to many of the questions used in an interrogation. This is the secret, as it means that the alleged perpetrator(s) believe that they are smarter than the interrogator.  The perpetrator(s) then feel obliged to tell the interrogator a series of small omissions, also known as “untruths”.

Being an experienced interrogator, I continue to press Hider for details about the alleged criminal activity. Hider continues to sob, admitting only to scratching and being angry.  Well aware of the history of the culprits I interrupt and ask what started the attack. Hider admits to scratching Contrition first, in anger; but only after Contrition ‘kept hitting me’.

Note: This line of questioning was a rookie mistake because there is never just one incident; rather a string of unfortunate events that explode into life-threatening tantrums and emotional outbursts.

Contrition begins sniffling again.  (It’s usually wise to separate offenders as emotions run high, sometimes this is geographically difficult).

Hider continues to sob as both perpetrators are tried and sentenced to time-out.  Upstairs, separately, for.a.very.long.time.

Reporter must follow the prison bus upstairs in order to view time served from a front-row seat at the dining table. Reporter requisitions snacks and beverages to accompany the entertainment.

Hider is placed on the floor, facing the toy drawers.

Contrition is placed on the floor, across the room, facing the cabinets.

The Prison Warden (formerly played by the Interrogator, formerly known as the Nanny) sits down to enter the case information into the court record.

Reporter feasts on snacks and beverages.

Contrition sits quietly.

Hider falls asleep in the cell.

After time is served, Contrition immediately gives a statement to Reporter who informs the Warden/Interrogator/Nanny that “Contrition enjoyed the time-out”.

Hider wakes up and leaves the cell quietly.

Both former convicts are sent to see the Parole Officer (see “Prison Warden”) and are asked once more if they understand the reason for their confinement.  The story is confusing, but time-honored.  There was an incident followed by another incident that created a reaction that caused an ensuing reaction.  Feelings were hurt, emotions were involved and original sin reared its ugly head.

Parolees are reminded that future violations of parole may result in corporal punishment; then sent on their way to become self-sufficient members of society.

Reporter was seen leaving the scene with a woman called “Grandma”.  Hider was chauffeured home using the usual driver and Contrition has decided to remain with the Warden until another meal is served and the evening entertainment has begun.

 

(*) For those of you who are not familiar in the skills of parenting, “The Count” has nothing to do with a friendly lavender creature on public television that loves to count things.  It is the death knell to sanity and patience.  If by the count of 3 (from 1), the Count-ee has not followed the instructions of the Count-er, it’s all over but the screamin’ and the shoutin’ folks.  “The Count” is usually followed by a time-out, a swat, loss of privileges or in extreme cases, all of the above.  It is not a pleasant experience.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent; however in this story no one was really innocent.  In keeping with gender-less ideologies; no mention has been made of DNA-specified or recognized stereotypes.

Chicken Girl

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I was going to write a flashy, catchy post about my 2 weeks as a ‘Chicken-sitter’ but time is not playing nicely so I’m just going to throw this out here.

I offered (yes, that means voluntarily said I would) to watch a friends’ chickens while they volunteered out-of-state at Noah’s Ark.  They were pretty nervous given they’d never left their flock before and never in the hands of a relatively inexperienced City Girl with 2 chickens in her backyard.

They provided me the necessary instructions:  keys to the house, names for the flock, directions for feeding warnings about the bears and bobcats and we traded phone numbers for texting, etc.

So, they have 8 roosters and 19 hens.  While that might throw some people for a loop, I purchased myself some ‘muck boots’ and drove out to the country for some chicken-sitting-experience-getting.

For the record, I saw NO BEARS or BOBCATS, but I did see a Doe almost every evening I visited.  I also saw neighbors goats, geese, cattle, horses, dogs and a lot of bunnies.  I started out with 27 fowl and ended up with 27 fowl.  The same ones.  I picked my favorite hens and rooster, learned a lot about farming and psychology and discovered that there are reasons that people use words like “cooped up”, “hen-pecked”, “Puffed up like a Rooster”, etc.

I even provided a few science experience moments from my home-schooling friends, although inadvertently AND learned a bit more about chicken/rooster fertilization than they teach you in biology class in school.

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The names of the roosters are Diamond, Rice, Mr. Orphington, Biter, Seattle, Rubin (and 2 unnamed — at least in my instructions).

The hens are Gravelly, Olivetta, Debbie, Beauty, Lady, Dark Beak, Eclipse, Sparky, Pooshie, Coocoo Marona, Boeing, Jet (and 7 unnamed).

Psychology:  Chickens are territorial; both hens and roosters.  There is also a “pecking order” in chickens; I’ve noticed it with my 2 chickens — it’s even more noticeable with a larger flock of chickens.  Roosters have specific hens they are protective of and don’t want other hens or roosters near their group.  Certain hens are higher on the org. chart than others; and they let them know it too.  Some chickens roam, some stay close to home.  Some have habits and others are spontaneous.

For instance, the first evening I drove out to check on them, I let the 4 roaming roosters out (Biter, Mr. O and Seattle and Rice(?)) and let the other roosters out for 15-20 minute intervals as I cleaned the waterers, fed them or gathered eggs.  5 of the roosters are caged separately as they fight.  I usually let Rubin out first and he stayed out for about 15 minutes or until he (or another rooster) caused too much trouble with the others.  Rubin immediately tried to pick a fight with Biter by ‘flirting’ (it’s a family show, people) with Boeing.  Boeing is DEFINITELY Biter’s girl, and he does not share his girl.  With anyone.

Rubin then attempted to flirt with one of Mr. O’s women and that caused a ruckus so I put Rubin back into his pen and let out another rooster.  This rooster (Rice, I think) lives directly under Rubin and he did not want to leave the coop.  He’d leave his pen, but kept going back into the coop to pick a fight with the rooster who became my favorite over the 2 weeks.  Is it bad that I don’t know the name of my favorite rooster?  Anyway, Rice would strut around the caged rooster and crow at him, then attempt to put his head into the pen.Penned rooster would of course, crow right back and pace wildly around the pen.

I’d pick up the bully and move him out to the garden.  He’d go right back to taunting the penned roosters.  Okay, back in the pen for you!

The 3rd rooster I let out was Diamond, I think.  This guy is crazy but became my 2nd favorite because he has personality!  He kept going back to taunt my favorite rooster, then the other penned roosters, so I put him in the garden and shut the door to the coop.  This made him CRAZY!  He ran around the coop, jumping and trying to get back inside, crowing loudly.  Then he went into Biter’s coop and flew up onto the top of the roost.  He crowed and crowed and crowed.  So, I finally put him back in the pen too.  I think it was Diamond that ended up perching on my knee and eating out of my hand in the photos above.

The other 2 roosters were pretty tame when out, but occasionally they’d attempt to flirt with Boeing or Olivetta.

The next night I came over, I switched the order of the roosters getting out; by the time I’d been there 2 weeks, I discovered that the more time they had out in succession; the less likely to fight they were.  So if I went every other day and let them out for about 2 hours, there was less fighting by the 3rd evening.  But the last week I visited almost every day and they got to where they hardly picked fights at all with each other.  Cabin fever/cooped up was definitely at play here.

Picky Eaters  My 2 suburban chickens have discovered that they get treats about 5:30 every evening.  They’ve become so trained that they will LITERALLY run across the yard when I come to the deck and ‘talk’ to me.  Then they follow me back to the chicken palace to get their treat.  My chickens will eat almost any fruit but not really crazy about vegetables.  They love blueberries, grapes and watermelon; corn on the cob is cluck-worthy and my girls will eat slugs.  Yes, LPC I pick up the slugs and bring them to my girls.  They love them.  They will also eat grubs, worms, bugs and dead mealworms and crickets.

The chickens in the country liked blueberries and melons, but grapes were not something they went crazy for.  I didn’t test the slug theory because I didn’t find any.  But they definitely preferred cracked corn to mixed grain and feed.  They would eat the cracked corn out of any human’s hand and the children loved the feel of the beaks on their hands.

Personality  Each of the chickens had personality but some were standouts — we’ll call them the extroverts of the flock.  Some of the chickens just wanted to dust bathe or walk around the yard; avoiding the entire ‘flirting’ game.  Some of them stayed in groups, others wandered off on their own.  Seattle and his girls (Gravelly, Beauty and Debbie) never ventured far from their shed and I only had to put them to roost one time; they were always the first group to go inside for the evening.  Biter followed Boeing (or vice-versa).

By the way, Hollywood lies to you about chicken habits.  Roosters crow ALL DAY LONG.  NOT just at 4:30/sunrise every morning.  Constantly.  All. Day.  And when there are 9 roosters, it’s non-stop.

And hens don’t just lay eggs in the morning.  Mine for instance lay eggs a different times during the day.   Eggshells come in different colors, sizes and shapes, depending on the breed of chicken.  Different breeds of chickens are more productive layers than others. And while we’re on the subject of eggs, in case you’re interested not all fertilized eggs become baby chickens.  Fertile eggs vs. unfertilized eggs.  And although I can’t tell the difference, apparently even some of the eggs you get from the grocery store *may* have been fertilized but are not, in fact, baby chickens.

Biology lesson over.  All in all, I loved my adventures in chicken-sitting and have even offered to do it again.  Maybe next time I’ll have a photo of a bear or bobcat to share.

Distraction

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This is how I get distracted:
 
I have ONE PURPOSE when I get on the laptop. I need to check how many people are attending a meeting tonight so I decide whether to cancel or not.
 
First mistake, I open my email and get distracted by the Google alert that a suspicious activity occurred and tried to get into my email (on Google that I rarely use but have a business listing).  So I take care of that, then I notice that my business listing is out of date.  Update that.  Then I can add photos.  ooooh!  So I add photos.  Then I update the hours and have to move a couple of things in photo folders so they’re ‘right’.

Then I check my Facebook.  No, I’m supposed to be checking the event page.  Check the event page and then copy and paste the event to the main meeting page as a reminder that there’s a meeting tonight.  

FedEx arrives with the wine shipment for an event in a couple of weeks.  Do I open it?  Do I put it away?  Do I get on the website and answer the survey?  
What about the drapery pole and drapes that need to be hung?  Should I start that now?
Did I look for the hook for the chicken coop?  Do they need food?

Then I check my Facebook page again.  And get into a discussion about a poll response (you know who you are – ha ha).

And I still have only had one cup of coffee.  And I have laundry to finish, dishes to unload, bags to sort through…