Bastrop’s Historic Chickens: Are They REALLY Feral?

English: Feral chicken. One of several 'wild' ...

English: Feral chicken. One of several ‘wild’ chickens living in and around Diss Co-op car park. Should that be coop! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bastrop, Texas protects its chickens. Homeless chickens–and, I presume, chickens who have a place to hang their hats–are allowed to cross Farm Street with impunity, and to hang about in yards there.

In February 2015, the Bastrop City Council proclaimed Farm Street a Historic Chicken Sanctuary.

The proclamation covers only part of town, however. Outside the protected area, chickens depend on the kindness of strangers.

One citizen, and perhaps more, think the Council’s action should be reconsidered.

The resulting controversy has put Bastrop chickens on the national map.

The Wall Street Journal calls them “feral chickens,” but that’s such a negative term. All chickens are feral. They’re just either inside the fence or outside it.

Feral hogs are feral. Chickens are just chickens.

In 2009, after a complaint against a chicken was filed, a group of residents addressed the City Council about protecting chickens that congregated in streets and yards. That request initiated the movement to preserve chickens.

English: Free roaming chicken family in Bahama...

English: Free roaming chicken family in Bahama Village in downtown Key West, Florida on 2/10/2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But some residents still aren’t happy about the roving fowl. One says it’s a health issue because they leave waste on people’s property. The mayor said they leave poo on the sidewalks. He might have said poop, but I think it was poo.

On the other hand, some say the poo helps their yards and gardens.

My parents raised chickens when I was a small child, so I know what’s possible/probable, and I don’t doubt either of the claims.

Others–or maybe the same ones concerned about the poo–complain that roosters crow all night and wake their children.

I say a rooster that crows all night needs a house. Build them some nice little houses–one for each rooster; don’t put them all in together–and shoo them inside every evening. Provide adequate ventilation, but don’t let in any light. Properly constructed little houses lower the chances of nocturnal crowing. Don’t forget to let them out in the morning.

With all those streetlights shining in their faces, roosters can’t be blamed for crowing all night.

Residents outside the protected area would have to build their own houses, but that’s a small price to keep children sleeping. As my mother used to say, “Never wake a sleeping baby.” By baby, I think she meant anyone under the age of, say, six.

I should mention that shooing roosters requires several shooers, heavy gloves, and possibly a net. No matter the temptation, rooster-catchers, even outside the Sanctuary, must be careful not to harm the roosters. Harm a rooster and it will harm you back, big time.

I’ll also mention that children who wander into a rooster’s territory could be at risk. Geese will snap and bite, toothlessly, but roosters will spur, and the result might not be pretty.

[Correction: Geese have teeth, and so do ducks, and they use them for biting. For more information, see Kaye George’s comment, below. Kaye has scars from an encounter with a duck.]

By the way, if “all night” means 5:00 a.m., get over it. That’s daytime. Roosters can’t be held responsible for following the dictates of their circadian rhythms.

English: At left is a bidding box used in Cont...

English: At left is a bidding box used in Contract bridge. At right, a player’s hand of cards (French deck). Behind, the bid of 1♥ (French standard System). Français : Les enchères au bridge. Dans le sens des aiguilles d’une montre : une boîte d’enchères, l’enchère du joueur (dans le cadre de la majeure cinquième), sa main (avec un jeu de cartes français). Nederlands: Links een biedbox gebruikt bij het spel Bridge_(kaartspel). rechts een aantal kaarten (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To be fair, I have to say that all roosters are not created equal. For example, my fourth-grade friend, Sarita Morgan, had a citified pet rooster living peaceably in the back yard. One day when I was visiting, she let the rooster hop onto her forearm and carried it into the living room to show her mother’s bridge ladies, of whom my mother was one. A surprised Mrs. Morgan said, “Sarita, get that rooster out of here before he spurs somebody.” The other ladies smiled. My mother, even knowing about the spurs, thought it all very cute.

Sarita and I took the rooster back to his normal habitat. He behaved like a gentleman throughout and looked like he’d have enjoyed staying longer at the bridge game. He’d never seen one.

That was a Del Rio rooster. One Bastrop rooster, Mr. McGillicuddy, who lived outside the Sanctuary, proved such a problem that the major and his neighbors formed a posse. They caught Mr. McGillicuddy with a net and gave him a ride out to a rural area and let him go.

Relocation seems a little extreme. I hope Mr. McGillicuddy wandered into the yard of a farmer or a non-agrarian chicken lover and now has a home where his talents are appreciated.

People on Farm Street, most of them anyway, like the chickens and defend their right to live there and do what they want. They say chickens are a historic part of the town, which, let’s face it, was rural until the recent mass migration to Texas from everywhere else.

One Bastropite said, “I don’t know anyone who lives here that considers them a problem. When I heard about the historical status and protection, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s great.'”

Another said, “The chickens roost right here in this tree next to my house. I welcome them.”

Chickens roosting in trees add ambiance.

City Council member Kay McAnally, who has “coordinated the efforts with residents to protect the chickens,” said, “Our tradition of wild chickens on Farm Street is a quaint and charming facet of Bastrop culture and part of what makes Bastrop the unique community it is.”

So there it is. As a pseudo-journalist, I shouldn’t take sides. But this post has l lot of opinion woven in, so it could be considered an op-ed.

In that case, I’m for the chickens.

Even though chickens can wreak havoc on a lawn, my parents allowed my pet chicken the run of the back yard, and the grass stayed lush and green.

Her name was Dickie. My mother liked her more than I did, really. They visited through the screen door every morning while Mother worked in the kitchen, and when Dickie left poo on the porch, which was always, Mother just hosed it off.

Some charcoal briquettes

Some charcoal briquettes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dickie had a certain measure of notoriety in the neighborhood for trying to hatch a cardboard box of charcoal briquettes she found in the garage. When she refused to stop setting, Mother bought a half-dozen chicks, but, when introduced, Dickie let it be known it was the briquettes or nothing.

So we ended up with six baby chicks living in the kitchen closet beside the water heater. My father had to throw out the briquettes so the would-be mother wouldn’t set herself to death. He didn’t like to barbecue anyway.

Just one of the myriad dramas that have dotted  my life.

But back to the Bastrop chickens. The national media may forget about them, but the story of the city’s Historic Chicken Sanctuary isn’t over till it’s over.

The City Council has agreed to put up Slow Chicken Crossing banners on one section of Farm Street. Chickens aren’t necessarily slow–some run fast–but they’re incredibly indecisive.

In April the mayor asked the Council Member/Chicken Coordinator to be part of discussions between complainant and chickens.

I think having the Chicken Coordinator involved is a wise move. On the other hand, some people might think the mayor is being chicken.


In writing this story, I relied heavily on the interview with Bastrop’s mayor I heard on NPR this morning, and I used an article about the chickens carried by the online Statesman to check facts and add detail not aired in the radio interview. Any errors are either mine, NPR’s, or The Bastrop Advertiser’s. Anything that looks like plagiarism isn’t, and if it’s pointed out, I’ll change it. I’m sensitive about that.

I made up Slow Chicken Crossing myself. I don’t know what the real banners will say.


The articles listed below are suggested by an online app (extension? I don’t know about those things). It’s supposed to read what I wrote and bring up related material. Today’s results surprise me, because there’s nothing about chickens. There’s something about the Pope, about Volkswagen, about Scott Walker, and about the Apple Car.

There’s also something headed “Donald Trump: Enough With Nice!'” Now I’m wondering how Donald Trump and nice made it into the same sentence. It looks like he said nice, and that prospect makes me wonder who in his milieu is allegedly being nice. Donald himself is behaving like a boy bimbo. That’s not nice.


Photograph of feral chicken courtesy of John Went under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


I didn’t plan that last line. It appeared out of nowhere. In my defense, I didn’t ask why the chicken, etc.


Ella Minnow Pea Redux or, My keys won’ work

Computer keyboard, view from down

Computer keyboard, view from down (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Computer problems. They happen. They happened to me last week. Bad ones, very bad.

I acted with my usual grace under pressure, but I don’t want to talk about them.

I will, however, repost a story I first shared in 2010, about the first time my keyboard malfunctioned. I was preparing a post when it went wonky, proving a major inconvenience more to my readers than to me, because I put it online anyway.

To assist today’s readers, I’ll start with an introduction:

While I was writing, laptop keys stopped working–one at a time, in no particular order. No matter how hard or in which direction I tapped, they didn’t depress, and nothing appeared on the screen. After muttering for a few minutes, I decided to keep a-goin’. The next I called technical service, was told I could replace the keyboard myself, visited to Radio Shack for tools, used them and nearly stripped a screw, called tech service,received a visit from a tech, got a quick fix and an offer to do whatever else the laptop needed while he was there. He installed several Gbs of memory I hadn’t known what to do with.

An easily replaceable keyboard isn’t usually much to worry about, but in my keyboard’s case, there were extenuating circumstances, and I didn’t look forward to anyone poking around underneath. The tech might think what was under there caused the malfunction. He might give me a look of reproof, even a mild reprimand.

William Davis & Bookworm

William Davis & Bookworm

I would have to stand there and take it, blushing all the while. Love of truth would prevent me from saying my husband did it.

To learn why I’d have blushed, you’ll have to read to the end.

Here’s a bit of help: A single e might mean tech. But it might not. An a might mean a or something else.

More help: It wasn’t cat hair.


Wa do you do wen your keyboard malfunions?

Wen my spae bar sopped working, I aed online wi Dell e suppor.  e e old me I would reeie a new keyboard in e mail. I was supposed o insall i.

“Me?” I said. “Insall a keyboard?”

e e said i would be a snap. If I needed elp, e would walk me roug i.

I go e keyboard and looked up e insruions, wi said I ad o unsrew e bak. I jus knew I would be eleroued.

Bu I boug a se of srewdriers a RadioSak and flipped e lapop oer, remoed e baery, and aaked e srews.

e srews wouldn’ budge. I exanged a srewdrier for anoer srewdrier. I used all six. None of em worked.

I wen online again o a wi Dell. e e lisened, en old me o ry again.

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d...

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I oug abou e definiion aribued o Einsein: Insaniy is doing e same ing oer and oer and expeing a differen resul.

“I wouldn’ urn,” I old e e.

He said e would send a e ou o e ouse o insall e keyboard for me. (I’m no dummy. Wen I boug e lapop, I boug a e o go wi i.)

Anyway, e nex day a e ame. He go ou is se of 3500 srewdriers, remoed e srews, ook off e old keyboard, and insalled e new one. He said I didn’ ave e rig size srewdrier. en e asked wa else I needed.

“I know you don’ ae an order for is, bu ould you wa me insall is exra memory a Dell e said I’m ompenen o insall myself?” He said e’d o i for me. I oug a was ery swee.

Anyway, i’s appened again, exep is ime i’s more an e spaebar. I’s e , , , and  keys.

I’e used anned air. So far all i’s done is make ings worse. Wen I began, only e  key was ou.

How an I wrie wiou a keyboard?

So tomorrow I’ll chat with my Dell tech and–

Well, mercy me. I took a half-hour break and now all the keys are working again. I wonder what that was all about.

Nevertheless, I shall report the anomaly. Call me an alarmist, but I don’t want this to happen a third time when I’m preparing a manuscript for submission. If the keyboard should be replaced, I want it replaced now.

But still–I’m torn. If I do need a new keyboard, I want a tech to make a house call. I don’t have the proper screwdriver, I don’t know the size screwdriver to buy, and I don’t want to tamper with something that is still under warranty.

On the other hand, I have to consider the worst-case scenario: He takes out his screwdriver, loosens the screws, turns the laptop over, removes the keyboard, and sees lurking there beneath the metal and plastic plate the reason for my current technical distress: rumbs.

e same, e earae, e disgrae a being found guily of su a soleism. e prospe is oo illing o spell ou.

Bu for the sake of ar, I sall submi myself o e proud man’s onumely. omorrow I sall a wi Dell.

Eccentric Director’s Films Like a “Living Comic Strip”

Fantastic Fest: Epilogue

David is taking this in stride, but I am simply agog.

As a result of his participation in Fantastic Fest, David has been profiled the September 30th iDigital Times.

fantastic fest day 2 007

According to writer Andrew Whalen, “perhaps the strangest shorts in this very strange collection [Shorts With Legs] were those of David Davis.”

The article includes two of the shorts–“Alike and Different” and “Reverse Effects”–as well as a link to his Vimeo page.

Warning: The links to Vimeo in the article worked the first time I tried them

but failed a few minutes later. So I’ve added a direct link here.

Rummage around on his Vimeo page and see “Invisible Men Invade Earth,” which was screened in 2012 at Cosmic-Con and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, and at the Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont. Ernest the Cat makes an unscripted but serendipitous appearance.

Note: It’s best to use one of the links to access David’s films on Vimeo. I looked for them by googling his name and found several David Davis pages there–and some of the films surprised me. Nothing terrible (I guess; I didn’t exactly watch any of them), but I want to make clear that those surprise collections are not part of the genuine David Davis’ repertoire. The eccentric David Davis.

Another note: David’s short films are short–only two or three minutes. Don’t blink.


The Best of Fantastic Fest: My Husband, His Films, and a Flying Vegetable Steamer

Last week a friend asked what David and I have done for fun lately.

A long silence followed.

Fantastic Fest 2015 tee-shirt

Fantastic Fest 2015 tee-shirt

After a courtship comprising concerts, coffee houses, radio spots, tacos Tapatio on Christmas morning in Ciudad Acuna, and a road trip that David’s brother termed a kamikaze vacation to Maryland, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Georgia between Christmas and New Year’s (if there’s territory to be covered, we cover it), we settled into a quiet married life complete with a washer, a dryer, a microwave, and two four-pawed children. We’re happy, but our definition of fun tends toward the stodgy.

Today, however, we leave our cool sequester’d vale and plunge into the madding crowd at the Alamo Draft House for Fantastic Fest.

Three of David’s short films will be screened today in Shorts with Leg, starting about 2:00 o’clock. They first aired last Friday, so we’re a repeat audience.

According to Fantastic Fest’s website, Shorts with Leg are “the strangest and most compelling eccentric short films we’ve seen all year, from polished excursions into existential surrealism to enthusiastic reveries of outsider art madness.” It also refers to “the most mind-meltingly bizarre short film submission this programmer has ever seen!” We’re not certain, but the way it’s phrased, that seems to apply to one of David’s films. I’d not thought of it, but mind-meltingly bizarre is accurate.

The three films, which will reappear on his Vimeo page after the festival ends, are

Click on Alike and Different and read that “David Davis becomes your new favorite outsider artist in this lo-fi satirical look at a first contact scenario.” You’ll also see a photo of a flying saucer that closely resembles my vegetable steamer.

Madding Crowd at Fantastic Fest 2015

Madding Crowd at Fantastic Fest 2015

Other Shorts with Leg were made by professionals–one said he’d just finished editing Warren Beatty’s latest film–which makes David’s “outsider status” pretty darned special. Even better–in my estimation at least–was audience reaction to his films: They laughed. And laughed. And laughed. What higher praise is there? His films were bright spots in an otherwise strange, dark two hours.

After the screening, directors appeared on stage and answered questions. To wit:

Question: What inspired your film?

David: I wanted to make something simple and cheap.

He accomplished his goal. Actors, singer, arranger, pianist, costume enhancer, and flying saucer donated their time.

In short, he done good. I knew I was marrying a writer and a kamikaze, but I had no idea I’d end up as consort of a film producer/director/editor and all the rest.

Having described David’s success, I’ll move on to mine.

Me, at certain times of the year

Me, at certain times of the year

For photo IDs, the Fest wanted shaky faces, meaning we were supposed to shake our faces back and forth and snap a picture at the worst point–when flesh had practically parted from bone and was wobbling all over the place.

I refused. Instead, I sent in an old drawing I’d made to represent how I felt during allergy season. If they refused to issue me a badge, I was going to sit outside on a bench and read.

But I got my badge. The picture is on sideways, but it’s there. I realized last Friday morning that if I didn’t brush my hair, I’d look just like it.

This post should have gone online last night, but I ran out of steam. No matter. I am not used to working in advance of need.

Time to leave. I have to stop this and throw on my tee-shirt. If we happen to meet in the lobby, please look at my photo ID. No one else has.



Oh–Publicity mentions that Elijah Wood will be the DJ at the closing party. The Elijah Wood? I don’t know. David said he’s not interested in going to the parties because it would just be young people behaving boisterously. I concur. We’re going to El Mercado and then to see Mark Pryor at BookPeople instead.

See? I told you our fun tends toward the stodgy. And, thank goodness, toward the literary, which is not stodgy at all.


Mark Pryor's HOLLOW MAN

Mark Pryor’s HOLLOW MAN

PS  Author Mark Pryor will be at BookPeople tonight at 7:00 p.m. His new book, HOLLOW MAN is–I can’t think of an adjective besides amazing, and that’s used so often it’s become meaningless–but just take my word for it that this book is what a mystery/suspense/thriller should be. Plotting reminds me of Ruth Rendell’s books, and she is the best. So–BookPeople tonight for Mark Pryor and HOLLOW MAN.


Brazos Writers’ Women and Crime: The Lost Photos

Photos that should have appeared in yesterday’s post about the September 5th Brazos Writers’ Women and Crime workshop–didn’t. Somewhere in the endless loop of composing, editing, and previewing, they slipped away unnoticed. But they’re back now, the remains of a day well spent.


Brazos Writers’ Women and Crime: Facts, Projected Details, and a Streak of Luck

Just the Facts, Ma’am:

 Gale Albright and Kathy Waller spent a pleasant and productive day at  Brazos Writers’ Women and Crime workshop, held at the Southwood Community Center in College Station, Texas.


Speakers included

  • Mary Ringo, private investigator at Gumshoe Investigative Services, on Life as a PI;
  • Courtney Head, DNA Analyst at the Houston Forensic Science Center, on Life in the Houston Forensic Science Center; and
  • Lesley Hicks, Lieutenant, College Station Police Department, on Life in the PD.

A panel of authors–

discussed How to Create a Strong Female Detective, Professional or Amateur.

Over lunch, Mark Troy, author of The Splintered Paddle, hosted a Jeopardy! Style Game about Women and Crime. Players in the final round received copies of mysteries written by women.

At the end of the day, a reception was held during which guests mingled and authors signed books.

So much for the bare facts.

English: Tall grass growing wild at Lyme Park....

English: Tall grass growing wild at Lyme Park. Category:Plant images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Presentations were excellent–imagine a surveillance operation that involves wading through sewage, hiding in tall grass, and feeding crackers to an enormous, foul-smelling dog who refuses to leave your side, while you’re trying to get pictures of people you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley–and details will appear in the near future.

Some will probably show up at Gale Albright’s Crime Ladies blog.

Gale might also tell how she wiped out the competition in the lunchtime Women and Crime game, and how she managed to snatch a door prize from the hands of the writer sitting next to her, whose ticket was only one digit off.

Said writer will tamp down her resentment and allow Gale to ride back home with her today. If I make her take a bus, she might not critique my story this week.

But I mean, really. Two prizes?


Note: I fibbed. Gale deserved the game prize. She was a powerhouse.


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