Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Manufactured Demand (The Story of Bottled Water)

What's bottled water got to do with chickens? This blog began out of my desire to take closer look at how our food comes to market. Better to become informed rather than buy into what BIG Corps. are feeding us- both literally and figuratively.  Please start speaking with your pocket books and wallets; our dollars do matter, MONEY talks!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy Spring!

The girls are happy to be out of the coop! They perched upon this rustic fence I built to secure them. Jay and I have installed a three foot high fence around the coop. The large open space should be enough for them to free-range about. We now are on bird alert as they easily fly over the short fence and wind up in the yard and gardens and sometimes walking down the road! Yikes! We decided to limit their free ranging on the property (they used to range on ~ 1.4 acres). They nearly destroyed the small vegetable garden we put in last year. When the girls forage and scratch for food they really make a mess. They are ardent lovers of Digging!! These older girls are much more independent and willing to take risks- they still do a good job staying together as a flock; which is a blessing as it is getting more challenging to get them inside when they DON'T want to. We are getting back into the routine of letting them out late morning~ 9am and then letting then range until late afternoon ~4-5pm.Then they are lured into the aviary with cracked corn (which is given as a treat-not a stapple!). Once in the aviary the girls are safe from predators; namely fox and hawks.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Surviving Winter

The girls are managing winter well. Only on the coldest days are they confined to the coop. Yesterday we had a record seven (7) eggs- trying to figure out which hen did NOT contribute. I have started supplementing the hens' diet with flaxseed, as their days to free range are limited. Our household does not generate enough compost material to share with the flock and due to the lack of access to foragable foods such as bugs, slugs, seeds and grass- the girls simple are not getting enough wholesome nutrients. Sound familar?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mabeline's Aura



This aura, created from the camera flash, was comforting. Jay and I decided this was the best way to honor or give thanks to the gift God gave us.
I realize some readers may be offended; however, our birds are treated better than most birds on the commercial market. Many of you know this. Many become vegan when the learn the truth about where their food actually comes from and how it is processed. The hawk did the "dirty" work for us; Jay and I carried out the rest of the process- which included plucking feathers by hand, cleaning the cavity (which, surprisingly, was really not nearly as bad as I imagined) and singeing stubborn feathers off.
It was a laborious and time consuming  task.
Now we both really can appreciate the five dollar rotisserie chickens we pick up at Wegman's from time to time. It is a deal, but lately I wonder what price we are really paying- what are the hidden costs to society? How safe is our food? It may be delicious but is it really nutritious? Too many unanswered questions- but they are worth asking and investigating--don't we owe that to ourselves and our children?

 A dual purpose chicken is a good layer, producing ~an egg per day. "Duals" can also provide meat. This chicken was raised to lay eggs and thus not fattened up (called finishing in the business). Factory massed birds do not free range- many have no room to turn around and are so obese they cannot hold their own weight; their bones are brittle- think osteoporosis. This was NOT the case with our free range chicken. While breast meat was fair-wing and leg meat is tough and leg bones were very strong and difficult to break. Provided nourishment for three adults; two meals: roast and chicken and rice soup.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hawk Attack!



Real farmers know you don't name your live stock; hippy chick-farmer wannabes don't listen. On Thursday, January 7, I shoveled out a swath of grass on the path to the coop. My intention was to let the girls feast on some fresh grass in this winter wonderland. Every instinct in my body told me this was a BAD idea. Ever since the girls were just a few months old they avoided the open areas in our yard, preferring to navigate through this part of the yard quickly in order to find a safer area to roam. The pines offer a perfect retreat and the girls know this. Knowing that this open area could place the girls in danger, I strategically placed a few stakes over the path to deter hawks from swooping down on my girls as they grazed. Returning to the house I had an uneasy feeling and I continued to look out the window onto the backyard every few minutes.
Eventually, I convinced myself that the girls would be fine and I stopped looking out the window.

That afternoon, around 3:30, my son looked out the window and asked what all the feathers were doing in the path. I completely panicked and searched in vain for my winter coat- which was hanging on the back of a chair in plain sight. Jay heard my screams and came out from the studio to see what all the commotion was about. I spotted the hawk on the ground near the coop, sitting up straight in the garden near the “wishing well” (a project in progress). The hawk was large and it was guarding his victim. Jay moved in and retrieved our girl- but it was too late.

Only three chickens were in the coop. Frantic and sobbing uncontrollably, I ran off to try and locate the rest of the flock. Jay located Ditzy and Jenny under the deck and made two seperate trips carrying each bird from under the deck to the coop. I was in the neighbor’s yard tracking foot prints in the snow. I spotted the hawk sailing effortlessly in the sky above, which provoked me to scream furiously at it as I shook my fist in the air. I was just climbing out of a snowbank near the roadway when I realized I must have looked like a complete lunitic to the people passing by in their cars.

We identified Mabeline as the unfortunate one and Jay placed her gently near the aviary and the search for the last two missing girls continued. The path was covered in black feathers- which did not belong to Mabeline. Martha and Eleanore were accounted for; they were in the coop. I feared Elizabeth (Lizzy) may have been taken too, as she was still missing and a Black Australorp. Thankfully, Jay found her and Susan B. Anthony under the pines near the coop. We lost one…it could have been much worse.

Dear Friends,

I implore you: Trust your instincts; listen to your intuition.


A close call for Lizzy, but she is just missing feathers- not a scratch on her. The girls puff up their feathers when they sense danger...now we understand why they do this. They freely give up their feathers this way when attacked- making it harder for their prey to latch onto their flesh.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Turf Wars; Green Grass VS. Artificial Turf

http://www.njea.org/pdfs/HS_GrassTurf_May08.pdf  Currently, the Webster School District, like many schools across America, are encouraging citizens to consider picking up the cost of artificial turf. The hippy chick in me, which was recently reawakened, largely due to reacquainting myself with the "green movement" (which first arose back in the seventies) is shouting loudly..."Heck NO! We' d rather mow!"
  Artificial turf does not "sanitize" itself like natural grass. The process to clean artificial turf is high maintenance. At best, artificial turf lasts ten years. While turf salesmen and saleswomen state that the materials used in artificial turf can be recycled (speculation- based on the belief that someone might find a use for the spent material) the cost to remove this artificial playing surface, once spent, is expensive. Costs to remove such waste will only continue to rise as landfills around the Nation continue to fill up to capacity with our garbage. No one welcomes a garbage dump with open arms. The message from citizens is always the same, "Not in my backyard!"  Seems to me that most urban and suburban dwellers don't mind dumps located in far away communities-often very rural, as long as they don't have to see or smell it...and be sure the waste- our waste- does not leach into our water supplies. Out of sight....are we out of our minds?
Please follow the link to njea (artificial turf) and post your comment.
http://www.njea.org/pdfs/HS_GrassTurf_May08.pdfppwPpppww.njea.org/pdfs/HS_GrassTuorf_May08.pdf