...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


$100,000 chicken coop

You, too, can keep backyard chickens.
For only $100,000
you can have the poshest coop ever!

View it here in the 'Fantasybook' catalog from Neiman Marcus.
The fanciest henhouse is the history of domesticated poultry.
It even has a chandelier.

I really thought this was a joke. 
Some sort of spoof ad.
But I kid you not, it is 100% for real.
Maybe this fantasy coop also exists
 in a fantasy land
where hens don't openly do their business
on every surface they come into contact with.
Maybe there are some invisible little chicken fairies
that follow them along all day and night and
like magic, poof their poop away!
and all of the dust...
and mud and muck...
and spiderwebs...
and well, all the things of real life...
In fantasyland, thanks to those chicken cleaning fairies,
 you CAN go out to your 'beau coop'
wearing your favorite silk brocade
and not ever have to worry about
such vile details. 

Keep in mind, if you do decide to take out a 2nd mortgage on your house
so you can have this Versailles-inspired coop, 
don't forget to add the cost of delivery into your budget,
because delivery is not included in the $100,000 price.


Friday night Joni jam

Friday night!!! 
Feeling so right.

Getting happy with some
upbeat Joni.
Come on and sing along...
You know you want to!
Oooh waaaah ooooh waaaah!


hatchling snapper

We found a hatchling snapping turtle
on our walk today!
It's so tiny
 and so much
like a little dinosaur.

We carried it home
because there wasn't a pond nearby to put it in,
and we were afraid it would die
if we just left it there.
We thought about putting it in our pond,
but realized that our wily water snakes
would probably love to lap it up for lunch.
While swooning over it's cuteness,
we tried to remember what it will be like when it's not a baby.
Able to bite our fingers off,
it's jaws faster than our reflexes.
Our dogs might not love
going for a swim in the pond
and having jaws of steel
bite their legs and feet.
Then we started to feel a little crazy
for wanting to save it all. 
Who wants a snapping turtle in their pond?
But every creature has it's place in the web of life.
And besides,
who could resist this face?

 We decided to call Cornell wildlife rescue
and listen to what they had to say.
They told us that our little baby was probably only 1-2 days old
since it has a little white thing on it's nose.
It's called an 'egg tooth'
and it's how he/she managed to get out of it's egg.
Poor turtles. 
They're all abandoned before birth.
Reptiles are cold-blooded like that.
Babies have to fend for themselves from day 1.

We put the little one in a bucket
with some moss from our woods
and water from our pond
and a rock to crawl up on.
We'll keep it for the night
and then Cornell will take care of it for the winter
and release it this spring to a pond
when it has a better chance of surviving...
Hopefully it's a story
that will have a happy ending.


Yo-Yo Ma Bach cello suites - prelude 1 & sarabandes 2-6

I stumbled upon these videos of Yo-Yo Ma
playing pieces of Bach's Cello Suites
at Harvard's Sanders Theatre,
and had to share them.
It's so nice to sit back,
drink my Sunday morning coffee,
and really feel the music
to be moved by it. 
Everything about the way Yo-Yo plays
is mesmerizing, especially watching
 the close-ups of his bowing.
Sometimes I find that watching
detracts from the full feel, though.
Mostly I like to close my eyes
so I can let it sing deep into my bones.
Once I had a dream
that I turned into a cello
that for lack of a better phrase,
could play itself.
It was so extraordinarily delicious
to be an instrument...
To be the strings,
to be the bow,
to be the vessel,
and the music. 
no.1 in g major

no. 2 in d minor
no. 3 in c major
no. 4 in e-flat major
no. 5 in c minor
no. 6 in d major


fall planting garlic + shallots

Time to plant!
 We dipped into our garlic stash,
and took out 55 bulbs.
(Each year, we need to use
about 20% of our stock for planting.)

 I go through and look for anything that is bruised or splitting open.
I take out the bruised cloves for cooking, set those aside in the kitchen,
and start working through the rest.

 I love watching garlic
 shed it's skin
and open.

 Each bulb is like unwrapping a present.

I love to peek and see
how many cloves are inside.

Peeling a bunch of garlic skin off
sounds like wrapping paper
getting tossed aside on Christmas morning...

Woah, baby!!!
  Voluptuous, juicy cloves.
Easy to peel.
 Deeply flavorful without being too spicy or pungent.
Everything I look for in a garlic.

  I lie them all out in rows of 20 on a baking sheet
so I can keep track of how many.

Then I place them gently into a bucket.
 And I take my other bucket
filled with whispy garlic papers and stalks
to the compost. 
Before we got down to the business of planting,
I found this growing.
Sure enough, it's garlic! 
Must be one lonely little garlic
got left behind when we harvested in late July.
We'll leave it and see how it does.
This year I took some tomato stakes
and marked them to help keep the spacing consistent for planting.

My little lady friend doesn't like them, but I do.
She just likes to eyeball and guess and these slow her down.
And me oh my, she's definitely not one to be slowed down. 
I thought we'd do 6" for garlic, 7-8" for shallots.
But we had a little disagreement about spacing for garlic,
and I lost.

She ended up spacing them 4" apart which to me seems insanely close
since sometimes a full-grown bulb is 3" in diameter. 
But hey,
she says she planted them like this last year
and it worked out fine.

 Dibbers are really great tools.
They're wonderful for making a bunch of quick small holes.
So simple and fast if you've got nice loose soil. 
I planted a whole bed of French shallots (Gray + Shante)
while my sweetie worked on the garlic.
 Shallots and garlic are planted the same.
Root down, little tip up,
so easy.
 Then I tucked all the little savory babies into bed
for the long winter.

 Good night, garlic!
Good night, shallots!
See you in the spring!


a bad feather day

When I woke up this morning
and hopped down from the perch
something didn't feel right,
but I couldn't quite pin my beak
on what it was.

I chalked it up
to waking up
on the wrong side of the coop.

But I did feel a little off balance, 
like I hadn't had my V8 juice.

And it felt a wee bit drafty.

Then my friend Jersey said to me,
"Girl!  What is up with your feathers?!"

"Well, shoot a double yolker Jerz, I don't know! 
I can't seem to find a mirror anywhere..."

So I asked her to tell me what she saw.

(Good friends tell each other
when they're having a bad feather day.) 

Was I ever a mess.
I still am a mess.

She heard my Moms talking about molting,
so she thinks that must be what's happening to me.

I'm a big molting mess.

Even my tail feathers are falling out.
It's harder to balance.

I must say I'm a little freaked out by this whole ordeal.
I'm having a hard time adjusting to this new phase of my life. 

I hear there's a therapist across the road.
Maybe I'll go talk to her about all of these problems.

My situation is getting worse by the hour.

I'm a little nervous to walk around the chicken yard.
I really don't want some of the other girls
to see me looking like this.

I would be the laughing stock of the flock!

But my Mom told me that true beauty is on the inside,
and that if they say anything mean to me,
to just ignore them and walk away.   

I could also report it to a grown up, and they'll fill out a DACA form
(Dignity for All Chickens Act)  and make sure someone talks to them
about their behavior.

But no matter what, I don't want to give them the power
to ruin my day.

I will just be myself and love myself
no matter how much they cackle
or point their wings at me.

I am okay.

And today can still be a great day!


goldenrod tonic


There are almost 100 different types of goldenrod
and it tends to get a bad rap
because people think it's ragweed,
that very polleny plant
that sends allergy-sufferers into a tailspin.

In folk wisdom stories and herbal circles,
goldenrod, besides being a beautiful wildflower,
 has some positive and healing properties.

Thanks to Susun Weed for this recipe
which she says will help keep the immune system strong in winter.

We're all about that.

So I harvested a bunch of goldenrod flower tops,
chopped them up, leaves and stems and all.

Then I stuffed them into a clean glass jar
and filled it with some of our homemade
apple cider vinegar.

Stuff the jar well,
so that it's spongy when you press down with your fingers... 
like a cushiony mattress.
Susun likes to call it the "fairy mattress."
(i.e. if a fairy were trying to sleep
on your flowers, would she fall through, or would she rest comfortably?)

I learned this after the fact, and did not make a very cushy mattress
for my little fairy.
She definitely would have fallen through.

Hopefully I'll still have a good tonic, though.

definitely a little bit of sunshine
saved for the winter days
helping us get through
those long months 
tilted away
from our favorite star.

Cover it with a plastic lid.
(metal will rust, and sometimes stick shut)

Let it do it's magic for 6 weeks.

Then strain and use it as you would any vinegar
in a salad dressings, on some vegetables,
or even make a spritzer with
some fizzy water and
your favorite sweetener.


Some other bits of information about goldenrod:

- In the Appalachian Mountain region, goldenrod "Blue Mountain Tea" was used to battle fatique.
- Native Americans drank goldenrod for sore throats. 
- Chippewa Indians called it gizisomukiki, meaning sun medicine.
- the flowers of the goldenrod can be made into a wonderful dye for cloth and watercolor paint.   Each species produces a different color. 

Not sure if you have goldenrod or ragweed?
- look to see if insects are buzzing about it.  Insects are needed to pollinate goldenrod.
- it often grows next to blue asters in the fall.
- if you shake it and there's a ton of pollen wafting off, it's not goldenrod!
- consult a wildflower identification book.  Look carefully at the leaves. 
- in general, ragweed is far bushier.  Goldenrod is, well, more rod-like...