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Showing posts from August, 2012

Monday Harvest -- the Double Yolked Edition

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... At the moment, only one of our four chickens is laying eggs. Harriet stopped when she got sick, and the two Easter Eggers do not seem to have started. Say what you will about Anne Elliot's bossy character traits. That hen is an egg-laying machine. Twice now, she's laid an especially large egg. Which is to say, that those particular eggs were significantly larger than her regular eggs. She's still a young bird, and the eggs she's laying are smaller than what you'd buy at the grocery store. The "big" egg was about "normal" grocery store size. And, unsurprisingly, these gigantic eggs have double-yolks. When I was little, we used to vacation on Maryland's Eastern Shore, and would often stop at farm stands along the drive. I was always delighted by the eggs we bought there, because so many of them were double-yolked. Other than eggs, our backyard harvest consists of kale and chard and a few beans and strawberries. I choppe

No, Really. He Loves This.

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... Now that our hen Harriet is feeling better, our kitty Smog has gotten sick. Before I found Smog on the side of the road, he had suffered a terrible injury where his pelvic bones were smashed and then healed all wrong. Because of the distortion of his skeleton, Smog has chronic digestive problems. And right now, he's in a bit of trouble. He's not eating, and is all backed up. We're treating him with laxatives, and trying to keep him hydrated. Robb has the magic touch. He cradles Smog -- upside down -- in his arms, and Smog gets a crazy toothy grin on his face, and submits to his treatments. I've tried this, and all I get is an armload of cat scratches. Smog has very different relationships with me and Robb. The morning ankle-chomping ritual, for instance. Lucky me. Don't you just love the the detail on Smog's spiny tongue? All the better to bite you with, my dear.

A Small August Harvest

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... Lately, I've been participating in the Monday Harvest blog thingamajigger ( hosted at Daphne's excellent blog ). Most people are documenting massive garden bounty, and as usual I'll be showing stark photos of the austere randomness of our garden. We have a small Murcott mandarin tree, that has been holding onto three not-quite-ripe-looking fruits for an eternity. (Seriously. I think they've been on the tree for over a year.) This past week, I decided that letting the fruit stay on the tree was stupid, and picked one of the fruits. Then minutes later, Robb was watering the tree and the other two remaining fruits jumped off the tree. They must have been so lonely that they committed suicide. Murcott is the same variety marketed by Florida growers under the name Honey. It is thought to have come out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture citrus breeding program in Florida in the early 1900s. The fruit was quite tasty. Nicely acid, and not too sweet. We&#

Chicken Update

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... After taking Harriet to the veterinarian, Robb and I now own the most expensive hen in all of Oakland. It may seem strange to rush a chicken off to the vet, but I knew that once birds show symptoms of illness you have to move quickly. Thankfully, Harriet is not egg-bound. Instead, she seems to have some kind of dire digestive problem. She has lost interest in eating, and it terribly boney. (Don't let those fluffy feather fool you, her keel bone feels like a knife's blade.) We're told that she has a lot of gas in her gut. She has stopped laying eggs, which is probably normal for a sick bird. So, for the next ten days, she's on antibiotics. Robb and I have to administer medicine twice a day. We give it to her with an oral syringe, which is nerve wracking. Harriet hates the whole rigamarole, and is not afraid of biting. The truly scary part is realizing that we could accidentally shoot the medicine into her trachea and kill her. I hold Harriet's be

Sick Chick

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... Tomorrow, I join the ranks of Idiot City Slickers Who Take Their Chickens to the Vet. My beloved hen Harriet is very sick. Please don't die, Harriet. Please don't die.

Harvest

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... This past weekend, I did a bit of garden cleaning. I cut down the crocosmia stems, which had died back to a ratty tangle. And, of course, I had an assistant. Smog is our Perpetual Kitten, and is always looking to turn any activity into a Ferocious Game. He was very helpful in subduing the jungle. I climbed up the ladder and harvested two of our hops plants -- Nugget and Kent Golding (Sterling's cones are still a bit green). For whatever reason, our hops were not as vigorous as they have been in the past. Still, we got a nice harvest of cones for beer making. The plants themselves are fascinating eco-systems, teeming with life. And thank goodness for over-the elbow beekeeping gloves! Had I felt the feet of all the spiders that ran across my arms, I would have surely jumped off the ladder. We let the chickens free-range this weekend. We still need to finish fencing in our back yard, so that I'm not chasing chickens down the street. Speaking of chick

Happy Birthday Robb!

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... Happy Birthday to Robb. You're brilliant, creative, resourceful, caring, witty, and I'm so happy to share my life with you. I'm just sorry that you aren't enjoying the head cold that I gave you for your birthday.

The Truth About Chicken Photoshoots

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... It all started when Lydia escaped. Lydia is either a uniquely independent hen, or else she's one of the most stupid creatures to walk this earth. She was the chick who would wedge her face into the corner of the brooder, in order to avoid the terrors that tormented her tiny chicken self. At least I think that's what she was doing. For all I know, she was plotting world domination. After chasing her around the back yard for a while, I decided that neither Lydia nor I were accomplishing much of anything. I got my camera and my coffee, and let her roam. I hadn't taken chicken pictures in ages. The thing about chicken photography is that once I start, I convince myself that I need to photograph everyone. We had the hens out in the portable pen, and Anne Elliot started to fuss, and make "I need to lay an egg" noises. So I carried her over to the hen house. Anne Elliot was the hen I was most worried would turn into a rooster, and was also our fir