Saturday, July 25, 2009

Uh Oh.....

We are back from our little vacation to Santa Barbara and I must say, this is an overlooked enclave of our world. I often whine like a baby and bang my fists and feet on the floor, while face down on the ground, that I "need" to go to Hawaii. I am "in love" with Hawaii and would move there in a New York Minute if given some form of income and a surf board. However, I am now thinking twice. Santa Barbara is along an area of the California coast which is as Hawaii-esque as one can find. The weather is insane... ranging from 65-78. Coffee is served piping hot to your bedside by little Santa Barbara Leprechauns (actually, that would be creepy - well trained Golden Retreivers then) who sprinkle pixie-dust in your face making you believe life floats by like cotton candy clouds of sweetness where no matter the problem, it is easy to deal with. They call Santa Barbara the American Riviera... and well it should is. I will say it again. Go visit Santa Barbara! I am not being paid for this endorsement. Although SB should kick down a Channel Island Surfboard or similar.

Anyway, we are home and my nephew has decided NOT to get chickens when he is older. I think he is too squeamish over doodie - hmmmm? You know some people see the droppings and nearly pass out from them, while others are just fine with it. My nephew is not one of them. Although he did a great job. He did call me as we were driving home last night telling me my Aussie escaped like The Bird Man from Alcatraz, however, and serendipitously so, happened to be driving by our street when our Aussie was trying to make a break for it. Thank goodness, Fudge (his name and I am not going to explain his name, it only brings up thoughts I can't control) did not meet any people, because they would surely be missing a limb. Fudge is a mercenary and should be sent to Iraq to clean the place up. He is safely back in the yard and happy we are home.

So, I go out to the coop to check the chickens and notice they are now the size of Condors, but notice something far more disconcerting. Kapalua - a hen, was trying to make like a down pillow with Millie - a hen!!!! OK, is this possible at this age? OK, OK.. that is the second question... The first question is; Is Kapalua a hen? My "GUT" tells me "No"!!! Which then begs the next question, at what age does this happen with Chickens? And, third - What am I going to do? I cannot have a rooster in my town. It is against ordinances and I like to play by the rules for the most part. So, where do I take Kapalua? Argh!!!! Fourth, why do grocery stores sell fertilized eggs? Are they better eating? Also, chicks are "sexed". Meaning checked whether they are male or female and then sold "as such". Someone made a boo-boo! Also, I loathe this term "sexed" it is like some potty mouth rapper got a hold of this activity and ruined it.

So, As The Coop Turns is getting interesting. So interesting I think I could move the coop to Santa Barbara and begin a Chicken Soap Opera. Did you know Soap Opera got its name because soap advertisers were known for their advertising on these programs? I would be a multi-millionaire in short order and be a huge star, then I would get coo-koo and end up thinking I was the leader of all chickens on earth, begin a cult and die in a high speed Ferrari wreck.
I will be back with answer to these interesting questions tomorrow. In the meantime, I am looking into which Ferrari I want.

Working My Way Home...

In my way to the chickens.... stopped in Carmel!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Santa Barbara....

What a rich chicken history here in Santa Barbara. Firstly, off the coast of SB are the Channel Islands. These are five islands which are visible from SB, but with a haze in the distance you typically see the silhouette of the islands. The five islands are called; Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Santa Barbara.

These islands are beautiful and are apart of the National Park Service. I found this out while trying to annex some of the land for myself. Actually where this picture was taken, was to be my living room view. Too bad... the government simply didn't see it my way, kind a like not paying your taxes. I swam home.

So, here is the dealio on chickens and these incredible islands.

In 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese sailor, set sail from Navidad, Mexico with the purpose of exploring the west coast of New Spain. He was the first European visitor to the Channel Islands. He made no mention of the island.

In 1602 Sebastian Vizcaino, a Spaniard, sailed the west coast of California. He bestowed the name Santa Barbara on the channel after the martyred Roman virgin whose feast day was December 4th, a day which found him anchored off the mainland coast. Vizcaino also gave the name to the easternmost of the Anacapa Islands but it was not until 1793 that George Vancouver, an english explorer, finalized the names of the eight Channel Islands. The other three, namely - Catalina... are not National Parks...

In 1821 Santa Barbara Island became a possession of Mexico after a successful revolt from Spain and with California statehood in 1850, unclaimed and uninhabited Santa Barbara Island changed ownership from the Mexican government to the United States. Shortly thereafter, a U.S. Coast Survey team visited Santa Barbara Island, and in 1871 a survey station point was established atop the islands highest point, Signal Peak. For the remainder of the 19th century, this small oceanic outpost was occupied seasonally by fisherman, transient seal hunters and Chinese lobster trappers. In the 1890s, H. Bay Webster, lessee of Anacapa Island, built a cabin on a Santa Barbara Island promontory which today bears his name. In 1909, the island was officially leased by the U.S. government to J.G. Howland for $26 a year for five years. Although his lease forbade subletting, Howland sold fishing rights to Japanese and Chinese fisherman, and rented island space to an abalone pearl propagation business.

In 1914 when the Howland lease expired, Alvin Hyder of San Pedro, California became the second lessee, paying $250 for his five year lease. The subsequent development of Santa Barbara Island became an extended Hyder family affair. Alvin Hyder and his wife and two children were soon joined on the island by Alvin's two brothers, Clarence and Cleve, and their respective families. As many as 17 people lived on this small island which provided no fresh water and little protection from the weather.

To eke out a living on Santa Barbara Island, the Hyders imported horses, mules, rabbits, ducks, geese, turkeys and chickens. Time and again chickens were blown out to sea before they could be cooped at the onset of high winds. The raising of sheep for wool and meat became the mainstay of Hyder operations. Building materials, supplies, water and livestock were hauled to the island by Alvin aboard his boat, Nora, To supplement the family income, he hauled animals and supplies to and from the other islands. During the "dry years" of Prohibition, Alvin Hyder was well known for his prowess and agility in rum-running the length of the Southern California coast.

No way... can you imagine coming out looking for your chickens and realizing they've been blown out to sea? I can hear the conversation taking place in my house....

"Honey what do want for dinner?"

"Uh I dunno!"

"I'm feeling bloated and think a light chicken Caesar might be nice - you can grill the chickens on the BBQ and I will whip up a Caesar dressing"

"Honey it is 1914 and we are living on a remote island, in the early 20th century, this fancy stuff hasn't been invented yet, especially out here"


"OK, but they are gone!"

"Gone? Where are they?"

"Floating in the ocean?"

"Go get them?"

"Really? Can I interest you in a light pork loin marinated in a lime garlic chipotle?"


Anyway, chickens are known for being incredible surfers, I am sure they made it to the mainland and survived!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Chicken Called Wanda.....

Or maybe... Monty Python and His Flying Chickens. I am in the town of Montecito, CA. We are renting a house which is literally 5 mins on foot to a beach called Butterfly beach. Google it... In fact Google Montecito. The town is where all the beautiful people have run to, to rid themselves of Los Angeles. It is south of Santa Barbara and north of nothing anyone recognizes. By the way, I am a poor chicken farmer who rented a house... the lowliest house in the town. It is a 1920's rancher that has the same windows, siding and kitchen cabinets, but it is clean, comfy and in a neighborhood of McMansions. It is 1/4 mile from the Biltmore which is insanely snobilicious. A little further away is the Montecito Inn, which was formerly owned by Charlie Chaplin. He always freaked me out. What's that waddling around and no talking all about. What a gig... no lines to memorize just look spooky, carry a cane and make your skunk eyebrows go up and down...

Montecito still has it's share of celebrities; Oprah, Jeff Bridges, Carol Burnett, Jack Johnson, Rob Lowe, Brad Hall, Julia Louise Dreyfus (Elaine on Seinfeld)... and John Cleese, although it is rumored he has sold his place... but..... He kept chickens!!!!!! Yes he was a chicken keeper, how exciting is this? Not really exciting... just interesting, exciting is much to strong a word. He had a 16 acres spot that was on the market for $20+ million. Really? $20M? Egads... I think if I could put $1M in the bank I would be set, but these people are trading homes for 20x this much. My kids are going nuts right now, because as we surf all day, their favorite artist is Jack Johnson and he being a surfer and gifted artist think we can hop in the car and go for a visit! Not without getting arrested my loves.

So, I am off to bed...waves, sun and 4 kids yelling because the other flicked an unmentionable from their nose, takes its toll.

Nephew's In-Charge

Ahhhh, as I romp around in the surf in Santa Barbara, my nephew is caring for the chickens. I am a distraught Pappy. The poor chickens... or maybe.... poor me. I am really nervous like the first time my kids went to camp. I am taking Imodium. I am sure the chickens are fine, at least that is what he called and told me, but I don't know.

Here is the shot of SB... we are right on the point in the picture... I am waving see?