Monthly Archives: June 2007

Duck Herder

The ducklings and gosling are almost imprinted. That is, they think I’m mom. When they see me, they began howling and quacking, which inspires me to feed them grain, check their water, cradle their soft little wiggly bodies, and hand them bits of bok choy while making strange whistling and kissing noises. So I guess I’m imprinted on them just as much as they are to me.
As you can see, they’re outdoors now, but just during the day. It’s still just a bit too chilly for them at night. I lead them outside in the morning, the sound of their feet pattering on my hardwood floors is very endearing. Still, got the Cottage River Meat Book and the author argues that goose is the most meaty–and delicious–of the water fowl. Can’t wait, too, to make confit. I’m terrible.

Leaving the Coop


The chicks are finally big enough to go to their respective homes. Here’s a proud new parent, my friend Raven, and one of her soon-to-be hens. Raven and husband are yoga instructors and live in a cool apartment building with a large backyard garden–and now a fabulous chicken house. Raven confessed they spent $700 building the coop (it looks just like a mini-farmhouse). Whoa, don’t tell my chickens. My neighbor’s taking 4, and a few other people are going to take groups of three. To be honest, I can’t wait to have my living room back. And yes, it’s starting to smell a little barnyard…what’s next–lambs in the kitchen?

Baby Turkeys


Not sure what kind Murray McMurray sent me. There are three white ones and three brownish ones. I’m thinking the white guys are Hollands or Giant Whites or White Midgets and the brown ones just might be Chocolates. It’s exciting to watch them grow. They are fearless, compared to the chicks (or are they just dumb?), who run away at any strange sound. They also make a “peep-peep-peeeeep” call that is somehow the saddest sound in the world, yet comic at the same time. Like John Belushi.
Last time I raised I turkeys, I wrote an essay about it for Salon.com. It made some animal rights activist-type people mad. But can’t they see that I loved my turkey? It’s just that I was also celebrating Thanksgiving–and my heritage. I’m hoping at least one of the six make it to my table this year.

Encyclopedia of Country Living


So how did I get into urban farming?
One book. It’s called the Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery.
I was an editor at Sasquatch Books, a regional publishing company in Seattle when I first encountered the book. It had how-to info for homesteaders mostly, but I realized some of the skills could be applied in the city. That was back in 1999. That’s when William and I first got chickens and bees. Carla and I corresponded every now and again, and then I found out she knew my mom! Carla lived and farmed in Idaho for a long time, and my mom remembered hearing about book binding parties at Carla’s house (the book had a world record for being the longest mimeographed book for awhile). Each section had a different color, so each person would take their colored chunk, walk around the table and pick up the other colors in order, then they would bind the book with tape. That was back in 1969. Anyway, the book is in its 9th edition now, and sadly, Carla has since passed. She was a lovely woman, and an inspiration for a new generation of farmers.

My favorite tool


I wrote about my honey extractor in the Kevin Kelly cool tools website. But the tool I haven’t been able to confess to Mr. Kelly is this: a fly strip. I know, I know, it’s gross to see all those fly corpses in one sticky place. However, when you have two pigs and two chickens out back, and 35 chicks and 6 poults, 6 ducklings, 2 goslings, and 14 rabbits–what’s a girl to do? Some guests came by and told me about an ingenious fly trap that learned about at Full Belly Farm. It’s a container of yeast flakes and water that acts as an attractant to flies. However, when they try to get out, they fly upward, but are stymied by a cone of mesh. For some reason, the flies can’t figure out how to get out the way they came. I guess the farmers at Full Belly then dump the flies out at the end of the day, for the chickens. Genius! Still, I’m sticking by my fly trap.