Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hot Day and Pecking Away...

By now you know I am in California and in most cases, the weather here is moderate to hot. Rarely is it cold. I think I remember a morning when it was 11 degrees in 1993 and last summer I was driving home from work and it was 117. On these hotter days, it is simply hot, not humid. Recently, however the weather forecasters have predicted El Nino, which is a warming of the waters off our coast, which ultimately drives warmer weather storms up here. This means we might get out of our drought this winter, since in past El Nino winters it has rained non-stop. However, I have noticed something lately - humidity. This morning it was 45% and 80 degrees at 9:00am. This is incredibly odd, but showing up more and more. I checked the weather station about 30 minutes ago (2:00pm) and it was 95 with 25% humidity and tons of stratus clouds in the sky. I let the chickens out for a while and they ran straight for the garden, scratched, dirt bathed it and have parked themselves there like a family on a picnic. I think I am going to leave them there and let my nephew round them up tonight and tuck them in with the blankies.

A couple new purchases -

I bought a 12lb feeder and hung it in the coop - genius... it is perfect.

I graduated the birds to Layena.... which is suppose to support calcium in the shell and Vitamin E in the yolk. We'll see since I am having my eggs tested for nutritional content. The were suspicious of the new feeder - in fact - they looked liked they were being held up in the coop.. all lined up against a wall waiting for the their pictures to be snapped.

Here is the recent picture of them grazing and the Layena...

Off to Santa Barbara....

Friday, July 17, 2009

Santa Barbara -

Hey all -

I am heading to Santa Barbara for some vacation (July 19-24). I will try to find some chicken farmers there and report on them. I should be able to keep up with the blog. Just a warning in event there is a little radio silence over a day or so.

Surf Camp for the Chickenman!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Giant Zucchini

Yipee... I think I let this one go a little long and it might have gone heavily to seed, but WHO CARES! Perfect for zucchini bread or shredded with some Padano cheese.

So, I started waxing poetic tonight, because I went out and cut two more of these zucchini's an Italian squash, plus giant parsley, sweet basil and some cilantro. How much cooler can this be. Growing your own food? It is awesome. Typically we take these and slice them, dredge in egg (anybody need a chicken?) and then bread it, fry it, then bake with cheese, tomato sauce and some parsley. Man I am hungry... gotta go

And The Fight Rages On.........

A buddy of mine, we'll call him, "Timmy 2 Puff" sent me this article...

So, if you've read this, I still want to reiterate something. I think people who use arguments, like Terri Frohnmeyer, who says, "what's next llamas, goats.... get a farm!". This is the ultimate in fallacious arguments and ultimately makes her look ignorant, which is just desserts, but painful nonetheless. Why? because people like this get air-time. Terri is probably the loudest person at the party, the one who sits on every committee in town, the one who claims she can bake, cook, win Wimbledon, parent better, run faster, grow better vegetables and designed the space shuttle. It kills me, they are not thinking about the truth, they are xenophobes who know nothing about the bird, the value and the real symbiosis with nature chickens have.

Next are government officials and you know how I feel about this. I loathe the official that gets sucked into group think. One official says "chickens are evil!" and the rest echo the mantra. OK, I confess, I am generalizing, but I have to say, when one says.... "Hey neighbor who ratted out your neighbor for chicken keeping.... beat it, go do something positive for the world and get happy, don't waste our time!" Oh my how refreshing this would be. The counter to this is: What is the chicken-keeper doing? Growing weed? Running a meth lab? Breeding cocks for fighting? No, they are raising chickens!

People really need to get a life....

So the positive... raising chickens is incredible. I watched, with wonder, before shooting off to San Francisco to the InterSolar Show, as the chickens ate spiders and clipped my weeds!

Watching the Tour de France... what beautiful country. I need to go there and do the chicken blog from there on my bike while eating brie and sipping a nice Bordeaux!

Sorry been traveling

I have been hung up doing my day job.

I have a bunch of posts coming later tonight!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I am unsure about certain things; eating pizza or steak and sipping wine for breakfast, Karaoke, riding a bike without a helmet, going into debt (sans house/car), eating the stuff Andrew Zimmern eats on the Travel Channel... and TWITTER.

I have thought about using the account I've established as a mode of communication, but am a little reticent, because it fly's in the face of gentleman farmer! You know? I am really torn, it would be, could be fun, but there is a point of too much - overload.

I am curious as to what you all think....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sunflower Progress...

I am knot speling wehl...

Honestly, this thing is attracting attention. It is like we are bragging about a child.

"Yeah, it's ours...I know, I know, 12 heads, gorgeous yellow hair, it's a superstar!"...

OK maybe an alien child, with the 12 heads, but seriously, I have not seen anything like this before, although we grew a Sunflower a few years ago, that when I ultimately pulled it down, I nearly threw my back out due to it's size. I would guess it was about 17 inches across and was a "freak" of nature. Like me!

We now have pumpkin shoots that appear to move when you walk by them, like a Venus-Flytrap. I keep thinking it is going to grab my ankle and drag me into the garden never to be
seen again. If Stephen King was reading this he'd have himself a new novel. One I would never read, since his stuff is so foul. I don't know, the world is strange enough, why muck up your life by filling your soul with blood and dismemberment. UGH. And speaking of Venus FlyTrap remember him from WKRP in Cincinnati?

Here is the sunflower, it is stunning and a joy to watch explode.

I am thinking a wall of these across the front of my property, why not. Interesting observation though - we are getting very small birds who perch on the branch, just before it leafs and they peck and eat the leaves. They seem to stay away from this one, but are taking my other ones to town!

Today In The Garden

Formating on Blogger is really weird right now! Sorry for the screwy look and formating -

It sure is fun to come out in the morning and let them loose. Like kids lined up to get into a waterpark. I open the door and they crash the garden. This morning, prior to heading off to work, they were picking the bugs our from under the siding on the house. Here they are gathered around a peach tree heading over to the nastiest fence line I have.

Pictured below are Loa (gold neck - Arcauna), Scat (Golden Buff), Kapalua (middle and hard to see), Hoot is to the right and actually Millie is hiding behind the little Peach tree.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rent-A-Chicken - Chook


I was at a soccer game this weekend. Yes, two kids and both play soccer, and both are very good. Only one is playing right now, as she plays on a competitive team. The other is in the recreation league and 4 years younger than her sister, so her season begins in a month or so. Funny how you can have two kids from the same parents and "Bam!" one is an incredibly defensive player - goal preventer; and the other is showing signs of being an offensive goal making machine. Anywho... as we watched the game one of the parents was asking me about our chickens and asked, "Do you rent your chickens?" I replied "Exsqueeze me? - Do I rent my chickens? You mean for birthday parties?" He replied as though I had a third eye in my forehead, "No man for cleaning up a yard"

Huh? The chicken rental business? I can see it now, storefronts across the nation where people come to rent chickens, they drop a credit card down, a drivers license, credit check (why not humiliation at every turn is a part of life), fill out forms like buying a car... then the questions begin;

Do you have pets? What type? Has there ever been a complaint against your pet? Has it ever been in quarantine? (Mine has)
Suspicious neighbors?
Angry neighbors?
Hungry neighbors?
Is your yard fenced?
Are you a weirdo?
Do you believe in aliens?
Santa Claus? (actually OK in my book)
Leprechauns? (hit emergency button under counter and take evasive action)

If they pass this battery, then ask them what they need the chicken for - pest control, weed control, manure production, eggs...dress-up or friendship (push customer out and locks doors)... Then you lead them to Stall Number 49 and they pick up their chicken for rent. HOW COOL is this!? OK it is not cool, but compelling because, I guess people do this, and, in the same breath, the guy who asked me about it, suggested he borrow some for his yard. The spiders are running amuck! My goodness how this universe expands when you bring chickens into your life. I really was leading a humdrum life prior to chickening...not sure if this can be turned into a verb. My world has become clearer, more vivid, I see things in color now and thigns that used to be sad are happy. Well, I am only 10 minutes from Berkeley, CA and it might not be the "chickens".

I decided to check this mystery rental business out and much to my chagrine, there is not much on this in United States, but there is quite a bit going on in Australia. Which begs the question, why not? By the way, I am sure there is someone doing this in the USA... they are just not as web-savvy as the Aussies. Indulge me and check out these sites, the only thing I can say is brilliant! By the way, this first site is incredible, I am jealous. Blogger needs to step up the template design cause the ones to choose from are stinko. This women has done a stellar job at her business and truly developed a well-rounded business model. You will see rates and models for possily doing this in the USA.

this is hilarious on the home page it says "Rentachook is greener than Kermit's Bum"
This is another brilliant website. Again, the Aussie's are pulling this together.

This is fun stuff and it appears renting chickens is a doable business. Here in the USA, you will need to check with city ordinances to make sure you are not violating any rules. 1.) domestic animals - how many and are chickens on this list? 2.) It is a business. Can you run a business from your home, if so, get a permit. The last thing you need is a neighbor horning in on your life and stinking up the plan. Get your ducks in a row - or chickens and make sure you've done it right. Keep in mind, in the Bay Area politicians and local officials are making your neighbors out to be police dogs. If you are burning a fire on a spare the air day, neighbors are encourage to rat out neighbors. Likewise, we are in a drought and people are encourage to rat out neighbors who water their lawns too much. How gestapo is this? I really think most people are good and will do what is reasonable 99/100 of times. We can forgive the one.

Anyway, do your research on the local rules and do it right.

Here's to renting out Chickens or Chooks!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Coop Modifications....

Oh thank goodness for the person who invented "hooks". I guess it wouldn't be that tough, nature shows us hooks in numerous spots...namely - thorns.

Anyway, today we freshened up the coop with some new straw and kept the ABM bedding material. I put a posting up a number of weeks ago and am so impressed with this stuff I am floored. Really, six chickens eating us out of house and home produce truck-loads of manure. This ABM material literally soaks it up, sucks the heat out of it and allows you to rake the doody out semi-attached to the waste, kind of a clumping of sorts. Clumping makes it easy to rake out, scoup up and drop into the compost pile. Here is the M.O. on the ABM and the link... in fact.. I am posting the link on the blog. I am going to put links up here for winner products and processes. ABM has me sold. So, the company is Eagle Valley Animal Bedding.

"Welcome to a better way to keep your animals cleaner, drier and safer. Introducing Eagle Valley Advanced Bedding Management (ABM), an improved bedding material designed to meet the needs of today’s equine, family livestock and small animal breeders and enthusiasts. Eagle Valley ABM is manufactured of 100% whitewood with approximately 4% moisture content. This makes our product more absorbent than traditional wood shavings, crumbled newspaper or corn cob materials. Compared to regular wood shavings, our product will absorb more moisture, greatly suppresses ammonia, and provides a cleaner, safer and more pleasant living environment for your animals. Pine, a natural deodorizer, controls ammonia the natural way. There are NO ADDITIVES or CHEMICALS in our production process. Eagle Valley ABM will keep your stalls, cages or pens drier, brighter and healthier."
"Research studies conducted by many universities have hailed the benefits of wood pelletized bedding for animals of all types. Moreover, the performance qualities far outweigh traditional wood shavings 9 to 1. Waste from the stall is greatly reduced and the material that is removed with the waste is completely bio-degradable.
Safety FirstEagle Valley ABM is a crumbled, densified bedding designed for traction during initial application. It doesn't slip and slide like many wood pellet materials.
Faster Absorption RateThe increased surface area of Eagle Valley ABM versus full pellet bedding means ABM absorbs urine quicker, pulling it into the wood cells and keeping your stalls, stables, cages and pens dryer. (click here- Eagle Valley ABM vs. Shavings- you’ll see for yourself."
Again, a 4 x 8 coop with 6 chickens...(one we think is a rooster...but no crowing yet). In fact, I am thinking of taking a picture of Kapalua and posting it for you all. I will guarantee you will think this is a rooster.
Anyway, seriously look in to using ABM it has become a lifesaver for me. I am not a paid consultant or shill for them either.
I have to go to bed, beauty takes time...and it usually involves a lot of sleep.

A Slight Digression...

I am sorry, but last night we got to see something not normally seen. This author lives in the San Francisco Bay Area... and instead of losing brain cells to TV, we opted to go for a drive. What we got to see was unprecedented for us.

First it was raining - It never rains in the summer - ever.
Second we saw a double rainbow...

This picture is looking southeast which would be overlooking Oakland Hills and the picture below this is looking towards San Francisco and the Bay Bridge.

More chicken fun later today... they are all out in the garden at present and I need to get back there and start digging my pond.