Friday, December 28, 2007

Which One of You Bitches is My Mother?

I have always loved that line, spoken by the great Phoebe Cates (Mrs. Kevin Kline), in an old Judith Krantz mini-series about three rich girls who go off to a boarding school in Europe, one of whom gets pregnant and they all cover for each other. I can't remember what else happens, except that Phoebe Cates is the baby, and, grown up, tracks down the three now middle-aged women to find out the answer to above question.

Of course, never did I dream that I would be able to use that line, but now, in my daydreaming, I imagine one of the four little chicks going up to the big hens and posing that question--which, of course, would lead us to the first chicken-based mini-series, hopefully in prime-time, which will pay for the feed.

For the first time, we actually had a hen sit on the eggs last spring--she sat for two weeks, and out of ten eggs, four hatched. It was fun checking them out each day, and even more fun watching them gradually break their way out into the world. But it was an Araucana who did all the sitting, and it's now apparent that the babies are Wyndottes,the offspring of a hen who met her unfortunate end (along with the one-eyed Barred Rock) when an animal burrowed into the coop one night last spring.

And so, as our daughter prepares to "fly the coop" (as in: "I'm 18 now so I can do whatever I want!") and we try to manage two different new flocks--the "teenagers," three Araucanas and two barred rocks, which we ordered from Murray McMurray, and four "babies," we try to remain zen.

Like water.

Yeah, right.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's time again for The Gift of Nothing

Wondering what to give and what to receive this year?

Consider The Gift of Nothing!

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Ah, isn't that the eternal question, though?

This was sent along (compliments of the Internet) by Ana Abbasi, a very bright Smith College student taking my class through the Five College Program. She knows we love chickens, and she obviously has our sense of humor.


The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on 'THIS' side of the road before it goes after the problem on the 'OTHER SIDE' of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his 'CURRENT' problems before adding 'NEW' problems.

Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road...

We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

To die in the rain. Alone.

Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth?' That's why they call it the 'other side.' Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media white washes with seemingly harmless phrases like 'the other side. That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.

In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.

Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

I have just released eChicken2007, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken. This new platform is much more stable and will never cra...#@&&^(C% ........ reboot.

Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

I invented the chicken!

Did I miss one?

Where's my gun?

Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A rooster too far

What to do with three extra roosters? That's what we have now, as a result of letting an Araucana hen set on the eggs last spring.

We've been through the reverse-poultry-polygamy, ie the more-than-one rooster thing in the past, and we don't want to repeat that.

The first time around it was okay; the beta rooster was an amiable Jerry Zipkin type (you remember him, the guy who "walked" Nancy Reagan to parties when Ronnie was too addled to leave the house?). He got along nicely with the ladies, and seemed content to play second fiddle to the big buff orphington.

But mostly, it's a hassle. These ones are already fighting. In fact, they were only a few weeks old when they started chest-butting each other. We considered putting them up on Craigslist (category: SUCKERS WANTED)

Then I stumbled on this idea, from the it's-so-crazy-it-just-might-work file of warfare. I'm surprised that the Bushies haven't thought of this.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Even chickens get the blues

We get blue eggs every day, but we haven't heard of blue chickens.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The five mile diet

Not to get too twee about things, but the Saturday hunting and gathering expeditions don't get any better than they are in late summer early fall in western Mass.

What a good food day it was today. I realized that, combined with our own eggs, we are able to eat a lot of locally-generated food.

The corn is, remarkably enough, still really good, and we're talking yellow corn, not just Silver Queen. Tomatoes and eggplant from Deerfield, shiitake mushrooms from Colrain, of all places, and potatoes dug this morning from Hicks's Farm on the Mohawk Trail. Goat cheese spread from Goat Rising in Charlemont, maple syrup from Norman Hicks and Davenport's in Shelburne.

Half the places I bought all this stuff didn't even have cash registers, just a cash box where you left the money.

Not many places you can still do that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Times Hearts Chickens

The New York Times has definitely discovered chickens. What took them so long?

Not long ago there was a piece on the growing popularity of free range chickens, now today comes a piece about
urban coopsters....

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The eggs are back and so am I

We are back in the happy situation of having two dozen eggs in the fridge: Angel Cake! Popovers! Fritattas!

Yes, the gals are laying again--even the blind Barred Rock at the low end of the pecking order. Thank God. You know that book The $64 Tomato? Well, I was about to send out a book proposal for The $18 Egg. Chicken-keeping reconsidered.

This year, we are ordering four Araucanas and two Barred Rocks from Murray McMurray. Our days of going for the puffs and polish and brahmas may be gone--we just want sturdy girls who get along.

Meanwhile, all the world loves a chicken--at a workshop last week at Storey Publishing in North Adams, I got to check out the hundreds of books they publish, including this terrific book on chicken coops.

Also, a book called Keep Chickens looked like a lot of fun.

Google sent me this chicken nugget from the website

Bird Brain’ Is a Compliment
Several recent studies have shown that chickens are bright animals, able to solve complex problems, demonstrate self-control, and worry about the future. Chickens are smarter than cats or dogs and even do some things that have not yet been seen in mammals other than primates. Dr. Chris Evans, who studies animal behavior and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, says, “As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I’m talking about monkeys.” Dr. John Webster of Bristol University found that chickens are capable of understanding cause and effect and that when chickens learn something new, they pass on that knowledge (i.e., they have what scientists call “culture”).
How does your IQ compare to that of a chicken?