Farewell to Dickhead Joe

Despite his name, he was the best rooster we’ve ever had, and we’ve had a few. He was the last of the original flock we inherited when we moved here. He deserved a longer life.

We think it was some dogs “owned” by these shit-heads who live around here who let their dogs roam wherever they please 24/7. I didn’t catch them in the act, though. I was too late even though he wasn’t even 100 feet from my front door, just into the woodline. People suck. I don’t blame the dogs – I blame their people.

We’re having a hard time at Seraphin Station right now. It’s been a hard year on the chicken front all around, and this one especially sucks.

RIP, Joe Joe. You were such a good boy and I miss you fiercely. I’m sorry you died this way.

quick update: photos, ads, hawks, packaging

After two days of trying, I only just now have been able to get my new phone to talk to my computer so I can do anything with photos. (Next I have to manage taking some photos that aren’t blurry.)

But I *have* managed to get random ads turned off on this blog. So now both Big Lucky Hoodoo and the Seraphin Station blog are slightly less annoying than they once were 🙂

Been fighting with hawks for the better part of two weeks now, rushing outside hollering at the top of my lungs at every sign of any disturbance and festooning the yard with all manner of things that glint, gleam, flap in the breeze, provide some swoop-proof cover for chickens, etc. Roo’s been a big help, and she flushed a hawk out of the overgrown firebreak just to the north of our house last week. I hadn’t even seen him. But we lost Gretel, one of our home-hatched girls who’s been with us for years now, earlier this week. Really tired of dead chickens these last few months 😦

I have finally been able to buy some of my raw materials for spiritual oils in sufficient bulk to reduce the cost-per-bottle just a tad, which I’ve been working towards for quite a while now. Rather than lowering the retail price of the oils or throwing a party or anything just yet, though, I’m going to use the savings to invest in improved labeling that should still be attached to the bottle and legible even if you spill some oil down the side. So I’ll be gradually phasing that in on condition oil packaging over the next few weeks as I hunt for The Perfect Labels from The Perfect Supplier.

(It’s exciting, this rootworker-on-the-internet life, I tell ya! I have no idea what folks picture when they think of doing this for a living, but I’m willing to bet reality is a lot more boring and involves a lot more paperwork and comparison shopping 🙂 )

Slobbery kisses after hawk chasing

The queen of the coop is gone

Hi Top was just getting worse. We couldn’t afford it, but we took her back to the vet anyway just to grasp at straws/see if they had any other ideas. I had privately decided they were wrong about the infection and this must be some kind of intestinal blockage or something. And you don’t do surgery on chickens for things like that. Hell, most people wouldn’t shell out $200+ to take a chicken to the vet in the first place. But most chickens aren’t Hi Top.

Anyway, Mike just called to confirm what I feared. She’s not gonna make it. I had taken her out into the backyard in my arms for a few minutes earlier this afternoon so she could feel the sun on her face again. She actually opened her eyes a couple of times, even. But she was barely hanging on even then.

Out of all the damned chickens we have, it just had to be her, huh. This freakin’ sucks so bad. I have a coop full of feathered assholes who don’t pull their weight around here, but it just has to be Hi Top.

Rest in peace, goofy butt. I’m sorry we couldn’t save you. It is never going to be the same without you here and we’re going to miss you every day.

Hi Top and Glenn, the chihuahua of roosters

I sat up all night with Hi Top. I was afraid if I didn’t, she’d die when I wasn’t looking. I can’t think of any metric by which she could be said to be doing well. She’s not doing well.

I force fed her some homemade electrolyte solution a few times. Wasn’t prescribed by the vet but I think she’s probably only swallowing half her meds, if that, and I won’t repeat the smelly details on what’s going on with her – it’s in the last post if you’re interested – but there’s no way she’s not dehydrated.

I’ve also never seen a chicken look at someone with actual hate before, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I got when I maneuvered the medicine dropper into her mouth and pushed the plunger. That or the most iconic “I am so done with you” chicken face ever.

I really need her to be ok, esp. after losing Raven earlier this year. Raven and Hi Top are (were) my two special girls.

Hi Top and partial view of Raven’s butt last year

So I didn’t get caught up on communication last night yet again, y’all, despite pulling an all-nighter. I’m really sorry. I’m just getting pulled in so many directions this week – well, for the last month, I guess. It’s kicking my butt, but I’m still among the healthy and living, unlike plenty of folks who started out 2020 that way but got interrupted, so I complain only sheepishly. But I’m starting to feel a little punch-drunk with the nonstop action lately.

In peripherally related news, when I went out to do dawn chores, Glenn, the black frizzled rooster, was giving the other boys a worse time than usual and generally being a bully. When I catch him doing this, I call this Glenn Needing a Hug; he gets picked up and toted around under my arm as I finish morning chores while I talk to him very calmly like he’s a small animal and make sure all the other chickens can see this happening.

Glenn: 14″ tall and definitely not bulletproof.

I want him to not panic around me or the prospect of being handled, but I also want him to know who’s in charge, what side his bread is buttered on, and that he isn’t actually 10 feet tall like he thinks he is. (He’s also not the head rooster, though he occasionally acts like he is, and Joe, who is the head rooster, is generally too busy doing his job to even take the bait when Glenn runs at him. He just dodges slightly out of Glenn’s way and goes about his business.)

This is Dickhead Joe, who’s the head rooster and who is not a dickhead at all. He’s a very good rooster. That was just kinda where my daughter was going with the chicken-naming at the time.

Well, the little shit took a run at me when I was going to pick him up for his “hug.” This is basically rooster fight mode – they kind of square themselves up and do this sort of flapping little run towards their opponent, chest out, almost leaning back a little as they move forward to make their chest protrude. It might seem kind of cute if you haven’t had to deal with the bloody aftermath of a rooster dustup before – they will eff each other up – and it *does* seem kind of cute when Glenn does it, ’cause he’s like a teacup rooster – at least at first.

We call this one Pretty Boy ’cause I guess we ran out of creative juice that day and, well, he is pretty. He’s Glenn’s favorite target for bullying.

But even teacup frizzled bantams have spurs unless you do something about them, and spurs suck no matter the size. While he kind of seems like a chihuahua – they tend to be forgiven more easily for bad behavior that could get a larger dog in a lot of trouble – the fact remains that bad behavior is bad behavior. Now, he didn’t actually “complete” the forward movement part and run at me – perhaps because I wasn’t responding in kind, ’cause I’m not a freakin’ rooster – but he sure did square up, and he was not cornered, which might have made it explicable.

This is simply unacceptable behavior towards a human being. We have an excellent rooster who is great with people and is vigilant, protecting and warning the rest of the flock from danger and treating the hens decently. We have zero reason to tolerate asshole roosters, and we have a zero-tolerance policy for roosters that are aggressive towards people. There are too many good ones to put up with a shitty one.

But I wanted a black frizzled bantam rooster, and I got a black frizzled bantam rooster, and it’s this little asshole I ended up with. And you can’t just pop down to the pet store in November and go pick up a new one. But I need a black frizzled bantam rooster. He might be a little shit, but unlike most roosters, he earns his keep merely by existing and being a chicken. I use his feathers to create charms, art, and implements for customers; they are ingredients in several of my formulas; and I use them in uncrossing and spiritual cleansing work for clients. I *need* Glenn (at least until I can replace his narrow little ass, if that ends up being necessary).

Now, I will give them a shot at redeeming themselves, and the first step is Rooster Needs a Hug. After a round of that, we see if they try that crap again or if they’re suitably chastened. Actually, that’s the only step, because I’ve never given a rooster a second chance if he ran at a person again after a first round of Rooster Needs a Hug. The one and only time I’ve had to do this before, we rehomed him before we had a chance to really assess a behavioral adaptation. (We just had too many roosters and it wasn’t fair to the roosters or the hens.)

So I’m not sure if Rooster Needs a Hug did any good or not. I kind of doubt it. Glenn is very, very full of himself and he seems to think he’s bulletproof. We’ve been very lucky; our roosters have been extraordinarily well-behaved. They’ve nearly all been home-hatched barnyard mutts, too. Glenn is the only storebought one we have :/ I understand there’s a widowed black bantam hen in Forestville, California, who would probably appreciate Glenn’s company lol… but in addition to that being on the opposite coast from me, practically, I don’t know if the humans involved would be so keen once they learned of Glenn’s appalling manners.

But I’m gonna threaten to put him on a train with a steamer trunk and send him to California every time he pisses me off now, I’m sure – at least until spring when I can shop for a new one and find him a new home if need be. I hope it’s not necessary. But I just had to get the one with “personality.” :/

Ok, time to go get the death glare from a very weak Hi Top 😦

Thea Summer Deer and Wisdom of the Plant Devas, chicken poop, Ghost Pipe, Emily Dickinson

I don’t really have time for a real blog post, never mind a book review [*], but I wanted to make a quick recommendation for Thea Summer Deer’s blog and book, Wisdom of the Plant Devas. This is going to sound like some woo-woo stuff to some folks, and I freely admit to being one of those who was extremely skeptical about flower essences and homeopathy and such for a very long time. And despite my work with and interest in herbs, I don’t write about herbal medicine much because I’m not qualified to and I don’t want anybody taking my advice on anything when it comes to *consuming* herbs. You need to get that information from someone with formal qualifications whom you have vetted. Herbs can heal but they can also kill.

But I’ve taken the long way round to giving some of the more woo-woo-sounding stuff a second, slower look over recent years, and I’ve backed way, way up on my tendency to scoff and think “can’t be bothered” when I encounter it. And I recently stumbled across her blog, and from there her book, when looking for information on the very rare and very weird Ghost Pipe,[**] which my mother recently called to tell me she found growing on her property.

I also don’t have time to quote or really review the book right now, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it. While I regularly bristle at Westerners co-opting concepts like karma and devas and using them shallowly and irresponsibly, what emerges from her work as she’s talking about the spirits of the plants is authenticity, a hell of a lot of knowledge and experience, and a deep, deep respect. She talks about and works with these plants like an old-school rootworker who happens to be conversant in Chinese medicine. Don’t be turned off by the occasional New-Age-seeming imagery or mentions of contemporary Wicca-esque stuff. This book is a lot deeper than its cover. She cites her sources even on the blog like an actual scholar instead of a typical lazy blogger, though both are very readable and never stuffy or dry; the blog has lots of thought-provoking and free info; and the book itself is surprisingly affordable.

Definitely worth a look if you’re into this kind of thing at all.


[*] Still scrambling to deal with twingey back, hurricane recovery, communication backlog, order backlog, injured rooster (who hates people), sick hen (whose most visible symptom is extraordinarily stinky and runny poop, and the chicken hospital is inside our house, so I’m scrubbing in there multiple times a day), a partner who’s thrown *his* back out now, the usual everyday garden/land/home maintenance, my own trainwrecks of grief (please, loved ones, stop dying), and supplier issues (when pandemics, hurricanes and such happen, the stuff I need to make the things folks order doesn’t always show up when it’s supposed to, or at all in rare cases, and this is an aspect of my shipping/handling times, too).

Sorry there’s poop in the picture, but she did that after I stabilized the camera but before the photograph was actually saved on my phone. And it startled me, and I unstabilized the camera, hence the lousy photo quality. But Hi Top the Usually Genial, Now the Seriously Grumpy Mascot of Seraphin Station lives. Not exactly in splendor at the moment, but God willing, in gradually improving health. Really, really smelly gradually improving health.

[**] Also known as ghost plant, corpse plant, or Indian pipe, it seems like kind of a wildflower and kind of a fungus. In fact it’s technically a mycotrophic wildflower, which exists only in a three-way symbiotic relationship. It has no chlorophyll but gets nutrients from tree roots, but it does so indirectly via myccorhizal fungi growing near the roots. It’s ghost white, but if you pick it, it will turn black. Basically, it’s weird as hell and extremely cool. Read more about its medicinal uses at American Herbalists Guild. Emily Dickinson even wrote about it in an unpublished poem you can see at the Morgan Library and Museum’s website. Read a bit more at the blog Emily Dickinson’s Garden. For a scientific but very readable explanation of how the nutrient situation shapes up, see Tom Volk’s Fungus of the Month for October 2002.

glimmer? thud.

Hi Top was not eggbound, thank God, but she’s got some weird infection and some sort of fluid retention thing going on. The vet did not say the words “vent gleet” or “prolapse” so that’s good, but she has two meds, is in isolation, and is not any better (or any happier) and there’s still plenty of worry mixed in with my relief that she wasn’t eggbound. I got to kind of enjoy that mingled relief/anxiety thing (mixed with a little nausea over what we had to pay for this diagnosis) for about 20 minutes.

Then I got the news that two family members just died this morning from COVID, within an hour of each other.

I have one grandparent left, and she has no idea what’s going on. I don’t know if it hurts her feelings that none of us come in and hold her hand anymore or not, but it seems like it would have to. And it’s hard to explain why we can’t from the other side of a thick sheet of plexiglass. I don’t know what’s going through her head, but I know what this pandemic is doing to our elders is just especially cruel and it breaks my heart.

But as much anguish as it gives me to think of all the people dying without any family gathered around them, I’m grateful for the caregivers and medical professionals who are doing their best and risking so much to do it. This has to be horribly difficult for them as well. They have my thanks and my prayers.

Everything about this sucks.

(deep breath)

I am in the middle of two consultations that I should have delivered last night, along with posting a custom listing, finally getting the incredibly patient E. her light setting report, and making a big dent in the emails.

Since 8 p.m., I have had three hours of sleep, one unexpected visitor who stayed a while, one rooster with a bloody foot who is very human-averse and hard to catch and who I’ve so far only managed to hit with Blu-Kote from a distance, four (yes, 4) separate hawk sightings necessitating installation of new hawk deterrent measures over three acres, and a hen who is still acting weird on day 3 and who might be egg bound, which means she has to go to the vet *today.* (The condition is fatal if untreated, and this is Hi Top, the ISA Brown whose face greets you when you see a mailing list signup form. She’s not just any old hen.)

Hi Top as a teenager with her sisters Freddie and Starbuck in the background and some random chicken butt I can’t confidently identify from this angle

I’m freaking out a little. Both our vehicles are out of commission and we have access to a borrowed one, but it means only one of us can knock out errands and neither of us can go finish this painting job that the customer wanted finished last week. And my back is still pretty twingey.

And then two adults here need to vote today somewhere in all of this, and meanwhile murder hornets, civil unrest, and mutant crawfish in Europe who can reproduce by essentially cloning themselves. If this were a screenplay, nobody would buy it because it’s too unbelievable.

Meanwhile, I have a case of the ass about some shitty feedback on Etsy for shipping time from buyers who didn’t read the shop policies and/or didn’t think giving me a chance to respond should happen before shitty feedback. Now that kind of thing is going to happen when you do this – I should know, I used to sell on eBay – but my anxiety brain doesn’t care and wants me to go into “sky is falling” mode.

And the housemate we had to evict who turned nasty on us is heading over here right now to get the last of her things.

So a couple of things:

One, if you have a moment and grok how a chicken can be important to somebody, Hi Top could use some prayers.

Two, I pretty much reserve coupons/specials for mailing list subscribers only, but I’m making an exception today. If you’ve purchased from me this year and have NOT been AN ASS and left negative feedback about delivery times recently, esp. considering we’ve had THREE hurricanes and a death in the family in 6 weeks, I’m thanking you with a discount on your next purchase. If you haven’t made a purchase before, you’re welcome to use the code, too — as long as you read the TOS/shipping info and aren’t AN ASS about delivery times 🙂 Coupon code is NOTANASS and it’s good at the Etsy shop and at the main shop through 11/30.

Three, I’m also going to give away at least one email reading/consultation this month. I’ll post details in a separate blog post. Staying busy and helping people is one of the best cures for panic and self-pity that I’ve found, so that’s gonna be my MO. That and breathing.

spiritual bath instructions, possums, farm dogs

Those wanting hardcopy instructions for spiritual baths can now get them by downloading a PDF version at the Spiritual Baths page listed in the Rootwork Topics Index at the Big Lucky Hoodoo blog.

In country living news, we’re currently down a bathroom because it’s housing a shell-shocked chicken. Said chicken was apparently traumatized by a possum in the chicken coop which we fortunately heard the chickens making a ruckus over at about 2 a.m. before it could eat any of those chickens. I don’t think she’s hurt but I want to look her over more closely here in a minute.

Miraculously, Mike was not bitten while getting the damned possum out of the coop.

Roo helped. Her version of helping mostly consists of her getting poised to pounce and us saying “leave it” and her sitting down again, repeat ad infinitum. But it was still quite exciting for her, I think.

I saw her catch a rat once. She didn’t know what to do with it after she made it squeak and she kept looking at me to tell her, I guess, but we don’t have a command for “for the love of God, kill it quickly and put it out of its misery” worked out yet.

So she was a little puzzled/confused about how much fun it apparently wasn’t after you bit it; the rodent was probably in agony; I concluded that Roo is many things but a ratter is not one of them; and I decided that I don’t want her scrapping with rodents and vermin unless it’s truly an emergency. She loves to chase them; she just generally doesn’t catch them. She’s a big, heavy dog. Her mama was definitely not a terrier.

Roo, all 70+ pounds of her, perched on the back of the sofa like she’s a kitten, which…she’s definitely not. Pictured here with Eevee-Bug, who now runs the woods in Louisiana with my cousin and friend Julia, whom I’m dying to interview for this blog one of these days soon.

Believe it or not, this was once a reasonably nice sofa :/

St. Anthony of Padua + quick update

anthony post cover (1)

New page on St. Anthony, how to work with him, and where to find resources up at the Karma Zain blog site, which seems to be holding the “deeper dive,” rootwork-specialty, theory-and-practice type of information while this Seraphin Station one seems to be… mostly about chickens and me screaming at HTML so far (grin). But we are working on some new/different things, too, a couple of which *might* be ready soon…

Anyway, the St. Anthony post is part of what I was calling “FAQ Index by Topic” but was really more of a directory to where to find collected posts that serve as a primer on various common spiritual work concepts. I need to update it with links to the WordPress URLs instead of the old Livejournal URLs, but that’s on my extremely long list of things to do. In any case, it’s on the Karma Zain blog and might be worth a look if you’re new to all this.

In store/stock/the future news:

I’m about ready to place an essential oils order and start making and stocking some oils again. So now I just need some money to fall out of the sky somehow so I can do that. That’s what hot honey jars and St. Expedite are here for, though.

So if you have a preference for formulas you’d like to see first, speak up!

  •  

I found a lot of the 2015 records for customers/clients whose stuff got caught in the cracks. I believe I found the last chunk of physical product ones a couple of hours ago. It’s pretty bad, and in a few cases it’s especially godawful. I’m really sorry, y’all. I’m gonna start with the smaller amounts, get in touch to confirm address, and refund as soon as I’m able to manage the amount. Yeah, this means that people who placed larger orders get repaid last. It’s not fair and I’m sorry.

We were able to rehome one of the white roosters (Carl Jr.), which was messy, loud, complex, and slightly traumatic but ultimately a relief. No more roosters fighting – well, not much/badly anyway, and now Joe will be king of the coop again (for teh most part – Glenn has a run at him every once in a while but overall seems uninterested in doing all the work a rooster has to do to be king of the coop.) 

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Dickhead Joe, who is actually not a dickhead at all. We like him very much.

This means once we rehome Pretty Boy, though, white feathers will be harder to come by around here. I have not had anyone express special interest in them, just black ones, but on the off chance you do have a use for white feathers, now would be a good time to say something so I can be setting them aside! 

Oh, and if you are interested in black feathers, I have plenty of those – let me know how you want them (one or two or a bag full? small ones or large ones?) and I can get them listed for you.

Remember, if your stuff got caught in the cracks in 2015 but you do still want any of that stuff, or if you don’t want the old stuff but you think you might want something in the future, we can apply any of the previous order amount to store credit and you can get first dibs on whatever new creations hit the shelves.

Or I can make you something custom/bespoke. I’m working on a rosary for that kind of situation now. I’m also making some customized protection door rosaries with certain patron saints to suit a given family’s particular situation. I love to do this kind of work and I’ve really missed it, so I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do it again.

Hope all you moms had a happy Mother’s Day.

Meet the Chickens

I was reminded earlier that some people have never actually been around a real, live chicken before. So I thought I’d introduce y’all to our chickens in case you haven’t ever seen one up close and personal.

This pretty boy, whom we call Pretty Boy for lack of anything better, needs a new home, stat. He’s pretty but we have too many roosters.

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Bad things happen when you have too many roosters. This is one of them:

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See that bald spot? Mating basically involves a rooster jumping on the hen’s back and treading on her for a minute while holding tight to a beak full of her feathers and doing his thing. It looks remarkably unpleasant, and roosters that are too rough — or fight with each other while one of them is mounting or trying to mount a hen (sigh) — can actually kill the hen. Fortunately that doesn’t happen too often, but once is too much, so if you have no more than 10-12 hens, you are risking infighting and overbreeding with more than one rooster.

(We had been letting our broody hens hatch chicks, but we aren’t doing that anymore, because we can’t have any more roosters, and your chances of roosters are 50/50 when those eggs hatch.)

And even though we have two fewer roosters now than we did two months ago, the hens’ backs are looking worse than ever this week. Springtime – the boys are getting frisky.

This is one of them. His name is Glenn and he’s a frizzle bantam.

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He’s named after Glenn Danzig, and if you don’t know who that is, all you really need to know is one, he looks like this:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B9DtrkSjuHI/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Two, he takes himself Very Seriously.

Three, he’s like 5’1″, but he doesn’t appear to know that.

I don’t know how well the schtick is working out for Danzig these days, but Glenn here is on top of the world. If he’d been hatched just a little earlier or was just a little bigger, I suspect he’d be head rooster.

He has his pick of the ladies. It takes him a while and he falls off sometimes, but he never lets that deter him.

This is our black bantam hen, Raven, and when all the feathers are done flying, they’re pretty sweet on each other, I think.

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I took a little video so you could see them scratching around and having a dirt bath and making noise, but WordPress wants money to let me upload a video. I’ll see if Facebook will let me upload it.

ETA: It did. You can see it here at Facebook.


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Meanwhile, here are some of the others scratching around the perimeter of one of the garden beds:

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