On the 4th Day


On Japanese news today, the weather reporter pointed out that in the fall, mountains are said to get all dressed up, referring to the forests on the mountains turning brilliant with fall colors. In the winter they are said to go to sleep, when they are covered with snow.


On the fourth day of her chicks hatching, Peach leads them out into the wild blue yonder, at least it must feel like that to the tiny chicks. They’ve traveled 125 feet from their nest. For a chick of just a few inches, it’s a long, long way. In human terms, that is like a half mile, quite a feat for a four day old chick.


The Magic Number is Eight


The magic number is eight. Peach brought her chicks out into the chicken yard today. She has eight, fluffy, healthy, perky, excited chicks. The chicks started hatching on the 27th. Of the ten eggs she was sitting on, nine hatched. One of the eggs was infertile and did not develop. One chick did not make it.

Even though it is a cool time of the year, she will keep them nice and warm.


She senses danger and fluffs up like a turkey. Hens can make themselves appear twice as large by spreading their feathers.


How Many?


Peach and her new chicks are doing fine. How many does she have? At least seven, maybe more. They started hatching yesterday, and she’s keeping them in the nest today. Another day, and they will be itching to explore.


Ruby’s daughter won’t leave her mother. She’s more than two months old now, and her mother is back to laying eggs. Her daughter follows her everywhere, even waiting patiently when Ruby is sitting on a nest to lay an egg.

New Life – Pure Joy


New life! Chicks are hatching today. No matter how many times I see new chicks peaking out from under their mother’s feathers for the first time, it is pure joy.


And in about two weeks, if all goes well, a clutch of tiny chicks will be peaking out from under this hen.

The Last Of …


We picked the last of the apples today. Once these and the other bucket of apples we picked recently are gone, that is the last of the fresh apples. These days, hardly anyone thinks about there being a first and a last picking of a fruit or a vegetable. No one expects to go to a store and see a sign saying, “No more apples until next fall.”

Large growers can store apples in controlled atmosphere (CA) storage, keeping apples edible for many months. By reducing the amount of oxygen the apples have, it is possible to slow down their respiration and keep them relatively fresh.

Still, no matter how they are stored, apples lose firmness over time. That just-off-the-tree crunch just isn’t there. On the other hand, since so few ever experience eating an apple picked off the tree, there are very few customers who demand such freshness. Though, once you enjoy a whole season of eating apples right off the tree, there is less joy biting into an apple that has come out of storage. You look forward to next fall, when you can once again, enjoy that just-off-the-tree crunch.


Backyard Kabuki


KabukiDressed as flamboyantly as Kabuki actors, these young roosters put on a short, but elaborate performance. They are six months old now and turning into young men. Their combat isn’t serious yet, but in a few months it will be time to decide which ones to keep and which ones to eat.

Too many roosters make life difficult for the hens, and at a man and his hoe®, the hens have precedence over the roosters.

The fire in their eyes makes you believe in fire breathing dragons. When movie makers create Medieval tales of such dragons, they should think of giant chickens dashing out of caves and terrorizing the knights and peasants.


Eggs Are Not a Commodity


I love Hazel’s eggs. Hers have speckles and a distinctive point. (See Hazel, Hazel’s Egg, More Hazel, Laying an Egg)

Each hen lays a slightly different egg. And every time they lay an egg, it is never the exact same egg. That eggs are all the same, that each pig is pretty much the same as every other pig, that the wheat Farmer Mack grows is the same as Farmer Joe’s, that foods are pretty much the same and can be treated and sold as commodities, that is the great fantasy underlying modern agriculture. It’s why you see just a handful of apple varieties in your store when there are more than 10,000 varieties. It’s why, when you pick up a carton of eggs and look at them, they look indistinguishable.


Shiunhime’s eggs, above, are dark and lumpy. Nanette’s, below, are pale and small.


Midge’s eggs, above, are simple and light. Coullette’s, below, are fat and brown.


Becky lays a medium, oval egg. Put together, it’s clear that each egg is unique, as unique as each hen.


Celebrating Greens


Picking fresh greens so others can enjoy them is something I look forward to. Today’s picking starts with Ruby Streaks. The dark, red mustard leaves liven any salad. Mustards, like Ruby Streaks, provide benefits besides making exciting salads. Eventually, I’ll till the Ruby Streaks into the ground, and they will become a natural biofumigant, help control weeds, and pests (Mustard as a Cover Crop).


After adding a variety of lettuces, I top the pickings with big, leafy arugula. After a good washing and spinning, all these fresh salad greens are off to Tweets Cafe where they’ll become lovely salads, enjoyed by many this weekend.


While delivering the greens, I spotted this splash of sunshine, blooming in Edison, in front of Slough Food. The world is bursting with beauty and wonderful things happening all the time. Listen to the news for just a few minutes, and you get the impression that we are all doomed and on the verge of an apocalypse. But nature can’t stop bestowing our lives with splendor. All you have to do is stop and enjoy it. Rush around too much, and you’ll miss it.


Rain is for Chard


The Swiss Chard thrives in the cool, fall drizzle. It’s one of those productive vegetables, which keeps sending up luscious leaves, no matter how many times you cut it. A ten foot row of Swiss Chard will feed a family all season.

A few days ago, I read a Washington Post article titled Why quirky Portland is winning the battle for young college grads. The article starts with these paragraphs:

Of all the Very Portland things that exist in Portland, there is a plot of land next to City Hall, right outside the building’s front portico, where the city is growing its own Swiss chard.
“And on a place that used to be a parking lot!” exclaims Mayor Charlie Hales, adding a detail that actually makes this story even more Portland.

Sounds very sane to me. It’s actually sad that it’s considered quirky for a city to grow chard next to city hall. Chard is such a beautiful vegetable, and so easy to grow, so productive, that it would be insane for cities not to grow it on city land. Someday, reporters will visit a city, whose city hall isn’t surrounded by vegetable gardens, and wonder what is wrong with that city.


Stormy Night Ahead


An approaching storm is a good reason to make an apple pie. Chickens come in handy when making an apple pie. I have a bowl of apple peels and cores, and bits of pie crust left over after weaving a top crust. A flock of chickens is like having robotic garbage disposals running around, cleaning up all your scraps. And they turn those scraps into lovely eggs to boot.


Lucky comes running, bringing her chicks. A careful mother hen, she peers up to make sure I mean no harm to her chicks.


Lucky’s chicks check on me too. I wonder what they see and think when they look at me. They’ve been such good garbage cleaners, I should have baked them a pie too, for them to enjoy this stormy night.