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Monday, February 25, 2008

The City Chicken, The Country Chicken














If the idea of getting a few chickens has been on your mind, now is a good time for making preparations and starting on your back yard poultry project. Keeping chickens is fun and easy, and it is not against the law in many urban areas. To see a partial list of US cities and towns and their respective laws on keeping farm animals within the city limits, visit http://home.centurytel.net/thecitychicken/chickenlaws.html

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Spring Dreams

Despite continuing cold weather, there is something in the air spelling spring and another magical bountiful season. Of course between now and then in NM there is allergy season, an event that dampens my enthusiasm and seriously diminishes my ability to do much work outdoors. However, this time around I will (I hope!) be better prepared to handle the pollen storm by eating local honey to build my tolerance; by taking some local herbal tinctures to assist my body in keeping up with the assault; and by sticking with simple foods to nurture me. So with this recognition of the junipers’ right to procreate out of the way, what else is there in the air, spelling spring?

The buds on the trees are still small, but more prominent. The great horned owl that lives in the 60-year old spruce near our house has won the war with a pair of crows over their nest and is now busily nesting, announcing her presence with hooting day and night. The days are clearly longer. Our backyard chickens started laying their delectable eggs, with bright orange yolks, so flavorful that no store-bought egg can compete with it in taste or looks. In fact the ones in the store always look bleached to me, stripped of their taste, color and essence, and they are! I feel lucky that we only have to buy eggs two-three times per year, when our hens are resting. The difference is so striking!

Guineas are chasing each other around, feathers flying - amorous Spring frenzy. They also talk to each other all night long when roosting on the old apricot tree. I wonder how their vocal cords can sustain this endless conversation? What is it about? Does it go like this: "Is all well?" - "All is well!" - "Are you sure?" - "I am sure!" repeated until sunrise?

My lettuce patch in the cold frame is in the full swing, having waited out the coldest and darkest days of the year. Longer days are encouraging for lettuce and other cold-weather plants (chard, kale, cabbage, spinach). Mine are growing happily. Now is a good time to plant some seeds in a cold frame if you have not done so earlier in the season – they will reward you with a crop in about 40 days. Onion sets can go in the ground any day now (if the soil is workable, which it is).