Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chickens and Gardens :: Giveaway!

Free-Range Chicken Gardens, from Timber Press

I need this book! At first I was simply attracted to the beautiful cover, because when isn't a Buff Orpington, in a garden, beautiful? Then I was intrigued by the title, because I love my chickens and I love to garden, but lately I have struggled to enjoy both my chickens and a thriving garden. I guess I am admitting I am ready to seek professional help, and I think this book, Free-Range Chicken Gardens, may hold the key to practical solutions for our Bird House Farm.

Also, it all looks so pretty! And inspiring! And pretty!

Timber Press, a publisher in Portland, Oregon, is celebrating the release of their book, Free Range Chicken Gardens, by Jessi Bloom, with a fun contest, where a lucky person will win a complete chicken garden start up kit, including:
~ $50 gift card for chicken feed or supplies from McMurray Hatchery
~ One chicken coop plan from The Garden Coop
~ One lb of organic chicken forage blend and seeds for chicken friendly plants from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply
~ A copy of Free-Range Chicken Gardens

It looks like an easy, worthwhile contest to enter, and all you have to do is follow this link, to leave your email address on their contest page.

Uh... maybe a chicken in the garden isn't always beautiful! I really do need this book.

I am happy to share this contest information with all of you, and in the interest of being completely honest... Timber Press is sending me a copy of Free-Range Chicken Gardens as a thank you for sharing about the book and contest. I really am looking forward to reading the book and applying what I learn to our own (neglected and hen-pecked garden)... in fact I got so excited about the prospect of reviving the veggie beds, Maria and I bought carrot and spinach seeds! With any luck, by spring, we'll find more than just feathers in our garden beds.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


In allegiance with Google, and O'Reilly Media of Make Magazine, the free encyclopedia~ Wikipedia, bloggers, and millions of intelligent, expressive, free Americans, Chickenblog is on Blackout mode. Self-censored, to bring light to the rights and freedoms we are at risk of losing if Congress imposes SOPA~PIPPA on us.

No chickens.
No cats.
No embroidery.
No recipes.
No play.
No fun.

Please tell Congress: Don't Censor the Web

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chicken Pics, Duck Lips, and Kid Tips

The good news: Kamen continues to mend. Under her wing, feathers are sprouting like mad. Even the open wound, where we could see right into her chest cavity, has sealed and looks no worse than a kid's healing skinned knee. She is still skinny, and she limps, and gets the shakes. But she can jump high, and flap her wings, and she enjoys her dust baths... and what more could a chicken ask of life than that?

She follows me. In the morning I set her cage in the garden, and give her reign to forage beneath the guava shrubs. Lately though, rather than scratch for worms or spread out in the sun, she follows me back into the garage, down the hall, into the next room, her feet skidding around on the wood floors. I turn around and she halts, looks up at me, and murmurs softly in her clucky-chatty way. Last night she flew up to the back of the chair, looking over Suki's shoulder, inquiring about the paintings, the weather, winter formal. She enjoys sitting with me, while Maria reads. She settles in, ready for a good story, pictures.

Last night, I asked her to make duck lips with me.
But chickens don't have lips, so all we got was this picture of me looking ridiculous. But, she's still my friend. She doesn't let my silliness hamper our friendship.

So. That's it for chicken pictures, and duck lips, and now I need some tips about seven year old children and their friends. I am stumped. And though I am not sure there is a solution to the issues I am going to raise, I am hoping somebody can give me insight, constructive feedback, a miracle, sympathy, something.

Maria does not want to go to school. This started back in November. She is distressed and fretful. She gets anxious. She chants, and rants: "I don't want to go to school." And the thing is, she likes school. She likes homework, and class time, and yoga in the morning, and hot lunch, and science, and bringing home library books, and her teacher... and, and, and. But she doesn't want to go any more.

So. Geoff and I figured that she's simply picked up on the usual, public school rallying cry against school; a cultural-school rite of passage. But one thing that she did elaborate on has us more concerned: she says, "I can't play with friends, because the children don't want to just play. If someone makes a mistake, and says 'sorry' the other kid say, 'you did it on purpose, and you're not my friend.'"

I will spare you the lengthy descriptions of who is not friends with whom, but Maria goes to great lengths to describe these politics, and to explain that she is trying really hard to bring one outsider girl into the friendship circle, but that the repercussions have been more than she can bear. At least once a day, Maria explains that recess is no fun any more, that she wants to play, but spends all of her time trying to deflect all the he said-she said drama and intrigue.

I know. Playgrounds and first grade relations are volatile, and there is no need to jump in and rescue her. She needs to negotiate and navigate some of this for herself. It's life, right?

Maybe. I have strong views on what we consider "natural" in the world and what we create and foster in our culture. But let me get to the issue I am most concerned about...

This morning, after waking uttering the phrase I don't want to go to school and declaring it again, and again, and again, I said, "Maria, you don't want to go to school. I hear you. Maybe you can let your friends know that you want to play. That you do not want to bicker, and pick sides." And she started crying. In the car, walking onto campus, in front of her classroom. She looked defeated and sad, and desperate. She looked resigned to a really uncomfortable day, life. She said, I can't help _______ any more, because it makes everyone say mean things, and ________ is mad at me if I don't play with her, and everyone else is mad if I do play with her... and then she was crying too much to really be intelligible, but I got the message.

I have experience, and I know that this will quite possibly get worse before it gets better get easier, that people get better at hiding their insecurities and pettiness mature. I can leave this issue to time, teachers, and the toughening rites of passages that forge our little tikes into independent troopers, but she does not want to go to school and I think this is a problem. She is distressed, and distracted. She is feeling disengaged from a place that, by the hours, is like her second home, and at this young and impressionable age, I really, really want to preserve her comfort and love of school, of learning.

What can I do?

How do I maintain Maria's healthy interest in being at school and feeling good about her day? Without being an over worried-meddlesome-hover mother, what can I do to redirect some of the stress, because however minor or "normal" this may appear, I know for Maria the suffering is genuine and significant, and she really wants help. Are there skills, affirmations, vitamins, defensive maneuvers we can offer her?

Friendships are important, and feeling comfortable matters. Even Kamen knows this; rejected in friendship by her zombie paranoid chica family, she has found her way into my friendship circle, and it seems to make her very happy. I mean just look at her happy face, cutting-up with me. She's feeling good, and life is better this way.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Starry Night

It was a starry night.
A night to get away, but not faraway.
A night for camping.

And we were not alone.
We had our books and lanterns, the comfiest pillows, the coziest blankets, some courage, some daring. We had the song of the owls, the chill of coyotes bantering and taunting.

Maria, Max, and Natalie, the bravest adventurers, alone together, under the stars. The moon rose and arced across the night, and the clouds moved in. We slept close to one another, peeking out from our blankets. We could not find the tent-fly, so we had a wide view of the sky above.

Which was nice, until dawn, when it began to lightly mist, then drizzle. So in the faint, blue light, we made multiple dashes into the house, bringing all the coziness we could carry. And one owl, the big horned owl, from his perch on the roof, watched us scurry, like mice. And then the night was gone, and he flew home.