Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Holidaze

We call this rooster, bought at a tag sale for a couple of bucks, The Dude.

In summer, the hens sometimes roost on the porch next to him. We're not sure what that means.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rogue chickens in California!

Here's a news story lede we love:
FAIR OAKS, Calif. - San Juan Capistrano has its swallows. Rome has its starlings. Fair Oaks has chickens.
And here's the story, by Eric Bailey of the L.A. Times.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Fall brooder

One of the Araucanas has started sitting on the eggs--something that has only happened in spring around here. I looked up Fall Brooding on the web, and found this great chicken link.

It will be nice to have some chicks around, but not sure it's going to be so easy keeping them going when the weather gets cold.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

In defense of chickens

Okay, now this is just wrong.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Which came first, the chicken or the Peep?

I meant to post this awhile back: It's downright amazing what people can do with a coupla boxes of Peeps (besides eating them.)

Chicken news of the weird

Sometimes when I'm roasting a chicken I wonder whether the hens out in the yard know what's going on in the house. Wonder what was going through this hen's pea-sized brain as she roosted outside a McDonald's.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


As I may have mentioned, many changes coming to the mountain, with the slicing and dicing of the farm down the road (now they've put in a flagpole), and new residents at the house up the road. Yesterday I heard something interesting: another rooster crowing in the distance. Could it be a rogue travelling rooster out in the woods?

Dan heard it, too.

"What did you do to that extra rooster?" I asked--I knew, but--I didn't know. Rooster reduction is the man's job. The rooster left one day in a pillowcase in the backseat of Dan's car and didn't return. Call me Carmela.

"I took him to the 'farmer in Vermont,'" he said. (This is the expression we used to tell our daughter.)

"You sure you didn't just drop him in the woods?"

"No, I'm sure," he said. So the mystery continues.

More on the topic of roosters today from's Celebritologist, Liz Kelly:

Also, my favorite tidbit from today's Morning Mix was the fact that Matthew McConaughey has a brother named "Rooster." I mean, why don't we just go one step further there? Also -- David Sedaris fans might be interested to know that Sedaris also has a brother who goes by "Rooster" and one of his stories about The Rooster's relationship with their dad is one of the funniest things you'll ever read. I'm linking to it now here, but trusting that you'll hold off on reading it until after the discussion: You Can't Kill the Rooster (David Sedaris, 1998)
Check it out. It's one of the funniest things I've read in a long time.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Sold a dozen eggs yesterday to a passerby who'd seen the sign I just put up at the bottom of the road. Three bucks a dozen. Then I get a copy of this week's New York magazine and see that we're at the low end of the pricing cycle!

Here's an interesting take on eggs at the supermarket.

And here's another take from Gourmet on eggs.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Urban cowgirl

Years ago when I wrote a story for the Boston Globe about our foray into farming via a backyard chicken flock, I heard from lots of people, including a woman who had her "backyard" flock in her Jamaica Plain apartment. She must not have had a rooster, or the jig would most certainly have been up.

Since then, I have noticed that the chicken-human link has only grown stronger, as more people start to grow their own food, etc., and it's apparently happening even in urban areas.

We've been on this mountain for 25-plus years, but we're thinking about moving to a more urban spot, given the price of gasoline and the fact that the old farm down the road is being divided up for houselots.

Every day, we pass this place, and the view is different. Oh sure, it's always mountains, but the colors are always changing, depending on the seasons, and the mood changes with the weather--some morning severe-clear, and at other times, it's like a Chinese scroll painting--the clouds nestling in among the mountains.

Now, though, the blood pressure goes up when we pass this place and watch, as the falling-in barns are torn down, the driveways go in, big old trees are hauled out, and the hayfields are tamed and manicured into lawns. (This weekend's development: an "island" plunked into the lawn, which will soon probably host rhododendrons.) Goodbye Winslow Homer, hello Thomas Kinkade.

This fate is the end of a several-year-long story, however. Live in the hills long enough and you know this: for all our romanticizing of the New England family farm, it's an endangered species that faces impossible odds.

The farmers are getting old, the kids may be uninterested or too inept to take over. It takes as marketing skill as agricultural skill to survive now, and a lot of farmers just don't have it.

Sunday's New York Times Business section had an article with the astonishing data that the number of dairy farmers has declined from 99,000 in 1997 to about 59,000 last year, according to the USDA.

"Small dairy farmers east of the Mississippi River and in the UPper Midwest are increasingly being replaced by huge dairy farms in the West, in places like New Mexico and western Texas. Few dairy farms are even left in the Southeast."
Here in New England, we've got what those places don't: water and proximity to lots of consumers. Given the oil crunch, it is only a matter of time before smaller-scale, local farming could be economically viable again.
Meantime, trust funders are slobbering over these big pieces of land (so close to Whole Foods Market!) and the siblings in farm families are feuding over how much they can sell for. Ten-20 years from now, will there be any land to come back to?

This is the stuff you don't read about in those Gourmet magazine local produce articles!

Anyway, one topic when we talk about when we discuss leaving the countryside is whether we could raise chickens in anyplace but here. That, plus, what would we do with the tractor?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stewing about the aging bird

The Times Food Section answers a question we've asked several times in the past: What do you do with an extra rooster (or two)?

The roosters I've got, but where will I find the dandelion greens this time of year?

And here's a story on what to do with an old hen, past her prime.