nobody here but us chickens


A shameful confession: all my best intentions of sharing a little of the *constant stream of ideas* buffeting about inside my brain with you, here, were smashed when I could not relocate my camera’s battery charger. This seems like two unrelated things, but, no. In fact, the missing camera battery charger has been such a roadblock, I’m blaming it for my lack of creative kitchen witchery and general sneery faced curmudgeonry of late. Moving to a new blog space and then not updating is like moving to a new house and never having a housewarming (oh wait. . .) and then how can you expect folks to bother to come by later? But the charger! I had it on our trip, when my children and I embarked on the Great Southwestern Trip of Two Thousand Ten. I have telephoned the homes where we stayed to see if it somehow got left behind. It did not. Two days after we returned from our THREE WEEK trip, we zipped off again, camping with friends. There was a fast flurry of unpacking, packing, locating and organizing camp gear, etc. Apparently, the charger became misplaced in the flurry and for all my weeks of tearing through the house since, I have not been able to find it.

And what does this have to do about making time to sit here and write? Just that I like to have one, or more, fresh new pictures to tack onto my words and my camera is as dead as a doornail and has left me in a fresh picture lurch.

Anyway, so we have chickens now. See less than fresh picture above.  Seven minus Two Mysterious Sudden Disappearances in Mid-Daylight equals Five. We started with seven little chicks from the feed store in early spring. Our half bath, the “guest bath” off the laundry room that most guests forget to use (because we forget to tell them to use it!), was transformed into Chick Nursery. Large Rubbermaid Bin + Pine Shavings + Heat Lamp = not your mama’s underside, but almost (maybe?).  So I left for my 3 week adventure to Fuzzy Babies in the bathroom and returned to Half Grown Feathered Chickens in the yard. It was sort of alarming. From peep. peep. to bawk! bawk!, seemingly overnight.

It’s been a long time coming, this chicken endeavor. There were the Very Very Vegan Years, when we did not, in this household, consume any animal products at all. But then, we started softening. A little. With qualifications and caveats and permission to change our minds again at any time. The vegetarianism has remained, a tried and true choice that is not a fad or a passing fancy but is, in fact, a deeply convicted belief. And now, we eat eggs. We’ve been eating eggs for a few years, though I often bake without them (after years of eggless baking practice). Since we started purchasing eggs, we have only purchased the “best” available, but except for the little while I was procuring eggs from friends, I’ve always had to hope that the “best” was really, indeed, good enough.

Our girls (please don’t any one of you young birds turn out to be a boy, okay now?) live in a cozy but adequate section of our backyard. They’ve got about a 17 X 8 foot yard with a safe little house for shelter. We give them organic feed but they prefer the tender weed sprouts, or worms, or, leftover cold porridge (though this last one might be a conspiracy designed by my children and I’m not so sure it was the chickens’ idea at all to get so happily worked up about yesterday’s oatmeal. If you knew how my children could groan at breakfast-time, you, too, would think this suspicious.)

There are plenty of places you can read about arguments for (or against!) backyard chicken keeping. I”m not here to convince you. (but do I think people are too removed from their food? yes. do i think factory farming is abhorrent? you betcha! Am I trying to guide my children to adulthood without consuming *any* factory farmed animal products *ever*?! yes. not on my watch, anyway.) I am just telling you what we’re doing. We’re carving out a corner of our backyard for funny birds who make sweet noises. And we heard they might start laying eggs, which we, in return, can eat. It’s all good.

For the poultry-minded, here’s the breed breakdown: we’ve got 2 Buff Orpingtons (Buttercup, the larger one. and Marvelous, who, post-being-named had a traumatic run-in with one of our exuberant puppies, but recovered and is fine now and might be the most calm of the bunch); 2 Rhode Island Reds (called Vader and Train by my four year old son, but who are we to know which is Vader? or which is Train?); and 1 black Australorp  (Eclipse).

In related linky news, do you listen to James Howard Kunstler’s Kunstlercast podcast? No? You should. I know I’ve written about him before, on the old blogspot blog (I don’t know, you can click links and use a search engine as well as I can), but it bears repeating. First, if you haven’t read The Long Emergency yet, just check it out from the library next time you’re there, ok? Or, if non-fiction isn’t your thing and you prefer a story, do yourself a favor and read his World Made By Hand novel. It’s worth your time. In addition to his frequent podcasts, he also has a blog. The way I figure it is like this: you can find yourself in a handbasket and wonder where you’re going, or you can sort of have an itinerary.

If I bombard you with “status updates” on facebook, then maybe *you* are already listening to my friend Lisa‘s new radio show (I shared the link a few weeks ago). Sometimes I get really discouraged about the built-in obsolescence of our crazy racing more more more modern lifestyles, but other times? I want to stand on my house and yell at passers-by: This is the future! I have a phone that is a camera that is a video recorder that stores and plays music IN MY POCKET! I can listen to a friend in Illinois’ radio show the day before it airs! The future is AMAZING. (except, technical wonders and social networking advancements aside, when it’s not, which is mostly, and you should know I can go on about that.)

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