Monday, December 29, 2008


In the winter, the hens don't lay eggs every day. In fact, after their Fall moult which was a few months ago, they have not really laid at all. But just as the winter solstice passed, Meg started laying again. She hasn't been having an egg every day but so far we have 4. Gertie isn't laying again yet, as far as I can tell.

One of the questions we a lot, now that we are vegan/vegetarian, is what do we do with the eggs from our girls.

Well... the simple answer is, we eat them.

Or, mainly the hubby does. I don't eat eggs a lot ever anyways. I mainly used them in my baking. But since I made the switch to a fully vegan diet right around the time they paused in their laying, I've been looking at substitutions for when I'm baking. So it hasn't been a big deal.

There are many reasons why people choose to become vegetarian or vegan. One of my main reasons is to avoid participating and supporting an industry that subjects animals to cruelty and torture. I don't need eggs (or meat or dairy) and I don't want it enough to make the animals pay that kind of a price. I just can't justify it any longer and I can't continue with it now that I'm aware of it.

As I mentioned before, our 3 chickens were rescued. We keep them because we like them and we like taking care of them. We aren't going to eat them and we didn't get them for the eggs. We aren't going to kill them or get rid of them when they stop laying - which could be tomorrow or years from now. The girls are going to lay eggs as a part of their natural cycle. We are not raising them for breeding chicks either. So, because we know where the eggs came from, how the hens are treated and what their future is, we feel comfortable eating the eggs. Outside of know that about any food, I try not to risk it.

Of course, we are lucky in that we are able to do this. If we were living in Florida still, or even another location here, this would be difficult to impossible. If that were the case, I do not forsee us eating eggs at all.

But we don't.

We live here. We have the girls (and Napoleon, of course). We do our best to take care of them and to avoid causing harm.

We also eat the eggs.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Line Between What We Believe And How We Behave

I thought this was a very interesting article and one that I find personally intriguing, so I'm reposting it here. I'd love to know your thoughts too.

The Line Between What We Believe And How We Behave by By Eccentric Vegan on December 18th, 2008 via Vegan Soapbox

“People are complicated, irrational creatures when it comes to how they view animals. [...] I’ve come to the conclusion that all people are basically good, and that goodness rebels against cruelty to animals. Therefore, people convince themselves that anything they do is not cruel to animals. I don’t think they even really completely buy their rationales, but they cling to them anyway. Believing something false to clear your conscious is easier than changing your lifestyle to do so.” —Mindy Quittem (source)

Boy, you can say that again.

I’m intrigued by human behavior. In fact, I think I should have studied sociology or marketing in college rather than philosophy. Logic and critical thinking are great. I’m so glad I developed some critical thinking skills. But how good are they when most of the people around me are more motivated by “50% off” or “everyone else does it, you should too” than by logic? How helpful is it to be able to analyze complex ideas like “obscurantism” when the entire notion is obscure to most people?

Mindy Quittem’s comment above illustrates the divide between what we know and what we do. We all know animal cruelty is wrong. We all know killing animals needlessly is wrong. We all know veganism is right. But there’s a gap between what we know and what we do. There is a line between what we believe and how we behave.

Gallup polls have shown:

“A quarter of Americans say animals deserve the same rights as humans, while almost all of the rest agree that animals should be given some protection from harm and exploitation.”
The majority of Americans believe one thing, yet behave in a manner contradictory to what they believe.

There are plenty of valid reasons for this: lack of choices, lack of education, social pressure to conform. Most of us vegans have experienced at least a little delay in our own transition. Personally, I believed veganism was right for over a decade before I made the switch. I was just so comfortable eating milk and eggs. It was so easy not to think about where they came from or who got hurt in the process.

It wasn’t cognitive dissonance. I didn’t lie to myself. I just chose not to think about it. In fact, when asked why I wasn’t vegan I responded:

We all draw our lines somewhere. For me, that line is currently between flesh and other products. For most meat-eaters, their line is between pets and farm animals. Or, their line is between horses and cows, or humans and animals.

I draw my line as a practical matter. For me it’s extremely easy to abstain from animal flesh.[...] But it’s harder to give up eggs and milk.

I won’t argue that I shouldn’t give up milk and eggs. I certainly agree. I just haven’t done it yet. I suppose I’m a little like a smoker who talks about quitting but never does. They *know* what’s right, they just don’t act on it yet.

It’s hypocritical for a doctor, who cares about health, to tell someone else not to smoke and then to light up themselves. It doesn’t mean the doctor is wrong to tell someone to quit smoking. It just means they are addicted.

I believe much of what we do is defined by habit and not by actual conscious choice. [...] most people don’t have a rational reason behind the majority of their daily habits. They often just act without thought.

So how do we change this?I think we change it by making veganism more socially acceptable. We do vegan education and vegan outreach.

Here are some options for you to get active:

- Vegan mentoring
- Join or start a vegan meetup
- Do vegan leafletting at college campuses
- Start a vegan blog
- Virtual leafletting
- Make a vegan video

As Dhrumil said via Twitter:

"I don't know what to do" is often a sign that you do know what to do, but that you might be afraid of the consequences of taking action. "

Let's all take action... even if it's a small one. Everything counts and so do your actions.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One Trick... Chicken?

This is my rooster. He is smart.

Not only does my rooster love me and like to jump up onto my hand and (usually) come when he is called but is now on his way to being an entertainer.

Okay, he already entertains me for hours, as do the girls, but now we have fun playing together too. We already play a sort of "tag" where I run around the yard and he runs after me but now I've taught him to jump from one hand to the other.

I'll have to get a video of this but he jumps up on my hand and then I hold up my other arm/hand a fair distance apart and he half-flies/half-jumps to it. We'll do this several times in a row or until one of us gets bored or tired.

You may not know this, but chickens are inquisitive, interesting animals who are as intelligent as mammals like cats, dogs, and even primates. Dr. Chris Evans, administrator of the animal behavior lab at Australia’s Macquarie University, says, “As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list [chickens’] attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I’m talking about monkeys.”

My goal is to teach him to remain calm enough that we can bring him other places so that more people can get to meet and actual live chicken and learn more about these sweet animals outside of a dinner plate.

Friday, December 5, 2008

City Living with a Farm Feel

Just found a cute article in the LA Times about "urban chickens." Thought I would share it with you:

Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne started keeping chickens in their Echo Park backyard a little more than a year ago. The two are co-authors of "The Urban Homestead," a handbook for city dwellers who want to live off the land as much as possible, and the couple were interested in taking their urban farming experiments a step beyond harvesting artichokes, blueberries and zucchinis. So last summer they purchased four chicks, and now they are obsessed."I used to think it would be so great to bring the laptop outside and just watch the chickens and work," Knutzen said. "But I can't get anything done when I'm out here because I can't take my eyes off the chickens. They are hypnotic."

Any urban dweller interested in living green has good reason to keep chickens. They reduce garbage by eating your leftovers mixed in with their feed, and they will pick off those irritating caterpillars destroying the vegetable garden. Their poop is an excellent composting aid, and they will even trim your grass and weed for you, if you let them. Added benefits: farm-fresh eggs right from the backyard and the amusement of impressing friends with an interesting new pet -- and for many it is a pet, not a future entree.

"Bottom line, chickens are a lot of fun," said Dave Belanger, publisher of Backyard Poultry magazine, who has seen subscriptions more than triple since he launched in 2006.

Because neither Knutzen nor Coyne had kept chickens before, their venture began with lots of research on message boards and websites. They learned it's best not to name the chickens and get emotionally attached (they did anyway), and that chickens are social animals, so it's better to have more than one (they have four). Then there was the whole question of constructing a coop to ensure maximum chicken comfort and safety.

"I was talking to a friend of mine who used to be an architect who keeps a lot of chickens, and we think that architecture students should have to design chicken coops," Knutzen said. "It's the perfect way to practice how to meet a client's specific needs."

An infinite number of chicken coop plans are available in books and online, but most share the same concept of four zones: a run for the chickens to scratch and peck in the dirt, a place to eat and drink, a covered and secure roost in which to sleep at night, and, of course, the nesting box to lay their eggs.

In Mount Washington, furniture designer and artist Dakota Witzenburg built a chicken coop for his wife, Audrey Diehl, for Christmas last year as part of their ongoing effort to live green. When designing his coop, his priorities were keeping it easy to clean and making sure his chickens were safe by sinking corrugated metal at least 6 inches below ground so that burrowing predators couldn't get in. But he also considered aesthetics.

His innovations included a green roof planted with succulents, and he's considering a pulley system to make raising the roof easier. He chose yellow cedar and redwood planks not just for their sturdiness, but for the patina. "I didn't want it to be something I had to maintain," he said. "This will gray out nicely."

Diehl has been keeping an elaborate blog on her chickens' development and socialization at greenfrieda.blogspot.com.

"I'm kind of obsessed with them," she said. "Chicken people always talk about how chickens are better than TV. You could watch them all day and never get tired of it."

Oriana Bielawsky had her boyfriend, carpenter and doghouse designer Billy Peshel, build a midcentury modern coop to match their midcentury modern house (and their midcentury modern doghouse) in Laurel Canyon in fall 2004. Bielawsky didn't even want a chicken, but Peshel found one wandering on Mulholland Drive one night as he was driving home, and nobody responded to their "Chicken Lost" signs, so they decided to keep her.

Even though Cecilia passed away this summer, her coop still stands, an olive green structure built on stilts to blend with the slope of the backyard. Bielawsky, who works in film production and considers herself more of an animal lover than a backyard farmer, said Cecilia became part of an extended family that included dogs, doves and cats. Plus, there were the eggs.

"Everyone loved them," Bielawsky said, "and they were the most gorgeous sunset orange color."

Netburn is a Times staff writer.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More than Thankful... Hopeful

This has been a year of great changes for us.

But the biggest change has been adopting a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. We are still figuring out what all that means to us, since it varies from person to person, but as I've said before, it has been great.

And when I talk about this "change" I don't mean just the way that we cook or the foods we choose, but really a whole mentality. We've learned a lot about the health benefits of cutting out animal-based food, the disgusting facts of factory farming and really just made a lot more connections that should have been obvious to us before.

Even though I've worked with and cared for animals all my life, it took the traumatic incident of the attack on Napoleon to really open our eyes and spur us to action. Thank goodness he has had a 100% recovery but how could we care so much for this one and then contribute to the torture and slaughter of thousands of others? Oh, and by the way, since so many people have asked... I didn't pressure the hubby into this change. He actually was the main driving force, for which I will be forever glad and thankful.

So yes, we had trauma and, yes, we have learned some sad things that reinforce our feelings but this holiday should be about joy and Thanksgiving. And this year we, I feel, finally celebrated in a way that supported that. While a few turkey's are "pardoned" (like other innocents who are spared from execution in the nick of time), 72 million for this day alone are not.

We got a few questions, which we were happy to answer, including "But what will you eat on Thanksgiving if you aren't having a turkey?" Well, I never really liked to eat turkey or ham. And I got an upset stomach from all the butter and fat every year, so I wasn't going to miss that. What we were having were all of the other amazing traditional foods with only a few ingredient changes and one substitution.

We had a Celebration Roast from Field Roast for our main. These (and their sausages) are so delicious I wish we had started eating them in general years ago. We also had an Apple Sage Mushroom stuffing, asparagus, a fresh field green salad with pecans, sweet potato biscuits, gravy and the hubby's famous roasted root vegetable mash.

This is one of the best things he makes. You chop up and roast any mix of veggies but we used: butternut squash, turnips, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, russet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and rutabagas.

Prep the veggies by seeding and peeling as needed.

Then we chop them up into equal size, sprinkle with some olive oil, salt and pepper and any herbs you may want. Then they pop in the oven to roast at 400 for about an hour or 1.5 hours until they are crispy yet tender. You then can food process them or hand mash them. We add some broth and EarthBalance and you are done!

I also made a (vegan) pumpkin pie with a pecan crust which may have been the best pumpkin pie I've ever made. I could not stop eating it.

We added a bunch more photos onto Flickr, so check them out.

Unlike previous years, I came away from our dinner with a feeling of actual thanksgiving and a lot of hope. It really confirmed that you could eat amazingly (which we kind of already knew) and traditionally but still in line with our goals. We could have people over for a holiday meal and know that no one would leave missing anything from a taste or emotional level. I think food speaks to us on both planes so knowing that we could still fulfill that meant a lot to me.

Many people may have seen this video of Palin and thought it was pretty bad but I'm not sure it really opened any eyes. The whole "pardon a turkey" thing is sort of a joke.

But the true cruelty of what happens to the turkeys before they come to your table is far far worse.

There are so many people out there who care about animals and the environment. The Prop 2 victory is evidence of that and a great start to what I hope is a wave of change. In this new world, this paradigm shift, I hope that awareness will continue to grow and an openness will find new paths.

I hope our experience will inspire you to think beyond what has been taught to you in the past and to seek new information and try new things. I'd love to help answer any questions or talk through your thoughts.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Invisible Kindnesses

Photo by landre via flickr

I wrote about the peacefulness of our little microcosm here in my backyard and today I had one more of those moments.

When I go to let the chickens out in the morning it is usually just after dawn. The sun is up but it's still early and quiet. Except for the birds and the squirrels. They've been running around, chasing each other in the trees, looking for food and water and ready to warm up in the sun after a long cold night.

Before my guys come out I rake out the coop, put down the "fresh" and their feed. I get fresh water for their bowl and dump out the old. When we had the early snow this past week, we've made sure to fill up the bird feeders and put out a pan of water for the songbirds too. Lately it's been so cold at night that both water pans have a thick layer of ice on top in the morning.

Having fresh water is so important to the local birds and wildlife, especially in the cold. And it's such an easy thing to provide. All you need is a basic container, any shape, but about 6 inches deep is good. Then fill it up and set it out. Simple. Even if you don't have seed or food, water will be appreciated by the locals. And a good bush or shrub to hide in, so let those grow out a bit too if you can.

But back to today.

Once I let the chickens out of the coop the girls usually walk around the yard, check out the fresh food, scratch in the feed and flap their wings a bit (these are such basic things I'm happy to provide for my chickens when so many others don't even get that minimum). Napoleon, however, chooses to follow me around while I clean up the inside of the coop. I shake out his bucket and the hay the girls snuggle down into at night and he watches me while alternating between the inside with me and outside with the girls. His favorite thing lately, though, is to jump up on my knee while I'm in the doorway of the coop. He snuggles there for a bit while I watch the girls walk around and usually get their morning drink.

Today we had a little visitor during this routine.

While I was standing there a little bird, I'm not even sure what kind, came and landed on the coop yard fence. He/she saw me in the doorway and peered at me with curiosity rather than fear. He jumped from the branch to the fence and wasn't sure if it was safe but really wasn't sure it wasn't either. After a few minutes, and because I was standing still and quiet, he decided all was well and landed on the rim of the water pan. For several minutes he dipped his beak and drank his fill of the fresh water. The chickens were still roaming around and I was about 4 feet from him but we all were calm and in harmony.

It was a brief interlude but a nice one. Our little friend flew away, probably to get some seed. I let Napoleon jump down and headed into the house. It was a nice reminder of all the other animals who depend on us and our kindness even if we don't think about it intentionally or even see the recipients. How much more good could we do if we intentionally thought about sharing with them and bringing more of this peace into our hearts, minds and lives?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chickens Immortalized

I think it's safe to say that I am a huge Paraphernalia fan. I mean, I think I have a good 10 pieces now and I just love each one of them. In fact, I'm wearing my Anatomica skull necklace today!

I have a love of vintage illustrations and now I get to wear them. Miss Vanda has done a great job of sourcing and working with such unique images that I want almost everything.

But I have to say some of my particular favorites are, not surprisingly, chicken related.

In my original purchase, I bought the Fauna Claw necklace. I often look at my birds' feet and admire them for how perfectly designed they are.

And now, Vanda has just launched a new shopping site and continues to tempt me further!

Of course I had to have this Fauna Chickens bracelet. Doesn't it look just made for me! It even looks like my girls.

And I can't wait for this (because of course I placed an order right away) - the Menagerie Cpt. Poulet, Cultural AttachĂȘ Necklace. I mean, it is Napoleon! Right down to his military-inspired coat. And, even better, it's a locket! I may never take this off.

As always, I continue to be amazed and awed by Vanda's work. To celebrate her new site she is providing a 10% discount with the promotional code: YAYNEWSHOP.

So go! Shop!!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chicken Fun

I just love when some of my favorite sites give me even more opportunities to show them some love. Here's some fun adorable and funny wallpapers and icons for ya!

You do know Savage Chickens, right? You have to read this everyday, it's hilarious. There is also a mind-bending, eye-crossing wallpaper to download - get it here!

And where would we be without Cute Overload! ??? A fan designed a bunch of chick icons inpired by everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to Batman.

But my favorites are the Cute Overload! mosaic wallpapers. This one includes a fuzzy little chick as well as some classic like that bunny next to bottom row.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Morning Meditations

I was recently asked in an interview to describe my ideal Saturday. I think I said something like: "Waking up early, going to the farmer's market for local produce and then letting my chickens out to free range in the yard."

When a friend read it, he said, "But that is what you do pretty much every Saturday!" I replied, "Well, yeah, it is. I guess I'm living the dream."

I didn't occur to me until later that they were probably looking for a response that was something along the lines of: Waking up in a 5 star hotel to breakfast in bed, then strolling the streets of Paris while shopping for designer clothes, etc. Or something equally grand. But, while that would be totally great and I wouldn't turn it down, I feel happy and at peace and joyful when I am sitting quietly in my yard, watching the sun come up. The birds are chirping, the squirrels are running around finding pecans and chasing each other in the trees and the chickens are scratching up the ground and eating some fresh greens.

It's so lovely to just sit still and silent for an hour or two. The other animals in the yard forget you are there and run near you or peer at you with curiosity rather than fear. We don't live in a very rural (or urban) area but we do get a bunch of different animals. We get all manner of birds, including songbirds, woodpeckers, crow, hawks and geese. We have bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks and groundhogs. In the evening we get deer who come up and nibble on the spilled birdseed.

This time is so addicting. Even though I know there are chores to begin and work to do, when I see the excitement of Napoleon, Meg and Gertie as they watch me open the door from their coop, I can't help but smile and feel happy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote with Your Heart

Don't forget to vote. And when you do, vote with your head and your heart.

If you are in California - Vote YES on Prop 2

Monday, October 27, 2008

In CA? Vote Yes on Prop 2

Are you in California? This election day Vote Yes on Prop 2 and help control animal cruelty.

Not convinced by the website... or me? How about this cutie -

The 25th - 31st also happen to be World Go Vegan Days. What better time to really make an impact than now.


You don't have to do everything. Just do something.

Keep up with the Coop

If you just love all these chicken stories...

Follow my blog with bloglovin´

Hope we see you there!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Okay, I know everyone on the planet has probably seen this already, but I just love the sweetness and compassionate and playful interaction of this pup, kitty and baby chicks.

Thanks to CuteOverload for posting these. I'll do my part to pass this along without cluttering up a million Inboxes!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Against the odds

I'm a very lucky person. I have had the opportunity to have animals in my life for my entire life. I think the only time I have not had an animal friend around me was during my first three years of college. And only then because I felt it would not be fair to them, given my crazy school schedule.

But growing up, my parents had a dog before I was born. A Benji-looking dog that went from being a skittish pound-pup who would cringe and hide from strangers to my fierce protector who guarded me from everyone but my parents. I've had dogs, cats, hamsters, mice and gerbils. I've worked at stables, vet's offices and the Miami MetroZoo.

And now, moving to North Carolina, I've been able to meet some new friends... our three chickens.

I've been around all types of animals. Parrots, snakes, deer, possums, ferrets, snakes, elephants, pot belly pigs, hedgehogs, horses, lizards, etc. You name it. And I have to tell you, our chickens have one of the best personalities of any of them. They're social. They're inquisitive. They're caring. They're funny as all hell.

That is why it pains me so greatly to think of what we do do them just to eat their flesh and eggs. They can't move, they can't extend their wings (think of living your life with your arms bound to your sides), they cut off their beaks without anesthesia, they grind the male chicks up alive right after birth. They have no "use" for them... why keep them?

Colleen from CompassionateCooks.com does a great podcast (found on iTunes too) and she did this episode with a short story reading about a rescued hen. It was sad but sweet and worth listening too. Click here to hear it - it will take a minute or two to load. And if you like it, check it out on iTunes or on her site here. I'm still working my way through them all.

This is my Meg -

She's not a factory farm rescue but she is a rescued chicken. When we first got her and Gertie and Napoleon we thought it would be fun. We do eat their eggs. But we don't keep them for their eggs. And when they stop laying we will not kill them or eat them. We would have done that even before we became vegetarian/vegan. I would no more kill and eat our pups and kitties.

I just don't eat my friends.

And they are my friends. We do have a symbiotic relationship. They are fun to be around. They've educated us. They eat our veggie scraps like melon rinds and extra rice and bread (although they do get veggies and fruit just for them every day) and take care of a lot of bugs.

That's the kind of partnership I feel comfortable with. Not I use you then kill and eat you.


Thursday, October 9, 2008



Not only do have we stopped eating meat but we've always actively boycotted fur and fur products.

If you can watch this video and still think it's okay to wear fur, a product that is not commonly worn and is based on mere spoiled vanity, then I don't want to know you.

You can't just bury your head in the sand when it comes to issues like this. You can't NOT watch. If your going to wear fur, you should be OBLIGATED to watch and know the suffering that you cause.

And by buying fur, you DO cause it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

They Way It Should Be

Today is absolutely gorgeous out, here in North Carolina. My favorite weather of all - cool, clear and sunny. It was so nice that I couldn't resist staying out with the chickens this morning and letting them run around the yard a bit before I went in to make breakfast.

This is the life that chickens deserve. Being able to spread their wings, scratch on the ground, interact with one another, eat some fresh greens and hunt for bugs and worms.

I have extremely crappy video capabilities on my little digital camera. This was low-res on the original video and even worse now that it is uploaded to YouTube. So, I know, you can't really get a good view of them.

What you can hear (and sort of make out) is Napoleon and the girls walking around and Napoleon finding stuff then making his little coo-ing sound to call the girls over, letting them know he found something good for them to eat.

It also shows him running over to me as soon as I got closer to the ground because he wants to jump up on my lap. He loves me.

I haven't really discussed this much on any of the blogs but we have changed to being vegetarians. I have actually wanted this for a very long time but it can be hard when you live with someone who is not totally ready for the change, especially if they do most of the cooking.

But Napoleon's attack really brought the issue and the disconnect home and we were both ready for this. And I have to say, no diet change has ever been easier. Or made more sense.

We are not completely vegan. We still each cheeses and butter and, rarely, milk, as well as the eggs we get from our girls. The hubby still eats fish. I'm a bit of a seafood snob in general so I didn't eat much in the past unless I was within an hour of the ocean. In terms of the cheeses, most of what we get comes from a local goat dairy, so we are very familiar with how the animals are treated.

With all of the great produce out there as well as the huge surge in recipes, menu choices and prepared foods, eating vegetarian is amazingly easy. And once you get past the mindset that a meal needs to include meat it's been simple.

One of my biggest hurdles was the milk issue. I love cereal and eat it a lot, generally. I always have - ask my parents. If I wanted a simple dinner, that was what I ate. So I was I bit leery of the Soy/Rice milk products. But when we decided to make the change we thought we would give them a try. How bad could they be, right? And if we hated them, we'd just dump them down the drain.

Well, we tried the Silk Soy Milk and LOVED IT. Seriously, I couldn't get enough. We have now tried the chai and chocolate flavors too. I like to have a glass of the chocolate when I get home from work for a quick "snack". The hubby uses it in his hot tea in the morning and to make scrambled eggs. If you haven't tried it, you really should. It's a little sweet but yummy.

The two of us have slightly different reasons for doing this but, hey, as long as we're together on the end choices, I'm fine with that. We're just at the beginning (just 3 months or so in) but I've never felt better physically or emotionally. It's kind of exciting.

I'm trying to convince the hubby to do his own blog talking about the recipes he's making and the products we find and try. I hope I can get him to do it because I think it would help to have someone share this change from a very early step. A lot of the vegetarian blogs and writers and podcasters have been on this for a long time, which can be intimidating. We're still learning ourselves but we're enthusiastic. What do you think?

We've been talking it up and, of course there are always questions. Our culture is so ingrained with how meals "should be" but once you get past that, you'd be surprised to realize that it's so easy.

And as I'm saying to everyone who is considering it or who we talk about it to:

You don't have to do everything; just do something.

That means, you don't have to make a 100% vegan lifestyle switch overnight. Ease into it. Give up chicken. Have 3 nights a week be vegetarian meals. Anything is better than nothing. I think you'd be surprised how much you already do and how much you like it.

Plus, if you want to chat or ask question (or follow my daily yummy meals on Twitter) I welcome it!

Hope to hear from you soon with your thoughts!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Respect the Rooster

I'm not one to buy a bunch of Rooster/Chicken themed items for my house just because we have them. I don't like to have a lot of collectibles or kitchy things around. I have enough dust catchers already.

But I am seriously in love with these bowls and plates from Sur La Table.

I don't need any more cute dessert sized plates but I saw the expressions of the Roosters and nearly broke down and bought them.

I had to leave the story immediately because I was too tempted! As it is, the fact that these are available online is making it difficult to keep away.

How cute are they??? Seriously, I love them!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sweet Dreams

If you're visiting from Shoe Daydreams, you may be wondering why we're talking chickens here?

Well, my chickens are quite fashionable, especially my Napoleon. I mean, designers have to be using his colors as inspiration!

Just like many a fashion show, there is a pecking order here and craziness often ensues. This blog doesn't quite live up to it's "daily" designation but we try to keep up. If you want some more frequent hilarity, check out Savage Chickens over there to the left! Or keep up with the photostream on Flickr.



Thursday, August 14, 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

As a part of having the chickens and having their food and the compost pile all be out in the yard, we get a variety of "visitors" who like to come out and snack on some of the bounty that is laid out each day.

We get tons of songbirds for starters, but we also get squirrels, deer, geese and bunnies

And groundhogs.

Yes, these two little stinkers live in our backyard. I think, under our garage. I'm sure one day the garage is going to sink into the earth becasue of them. And no, we haven't tried catching them yet. I don't mind them that much.

They do have a tendency to sneak under the chicken wire which makes up the coop yard fence. Their fat butts have previously pushed up the wire to the point that Napoleon was able to slip out. We put wood posts all along the bottom of the fence but we still need to do this in the new coop yard annex.

This morning I heard Napoleon squawking up a storm and thought something like a hawk or something was in there trying to get him. When we ran down the stairs and out the door we found that it was one of the groundhogs trapped in the coop and trying to get out!

Usually the chickens don't mind them when they get in the coop. Maybe today he was eating too much and they weren't happy about it.

We scared him so he ran into the brush and, I'm assuming, found his way out.

I'm sure he'll be back though!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

You Oughta Be In Pictures

For my B-day my friend, Miss C, painted this amazing portrait of my Napoleon!

Isn't he handsome?

She did a great job and it now has a place of honor in my office.

If you are interested in commissioning a pet portrait, she works from a photo and is amazing!

Drop me an email at princesspoochie@shoedaydreams.com and I'll hook ya up!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Napoleon Recovery - Clean Bill

Just a quick note. I'll update more tonight or tomorrow.

We're taking Napoleon for a final visit with an avian specialis tonight. His feathers are really sprouting now and we hope she gives him a clean bill of health. Our goal is to have him back in the coop in the next day or so. I know he is eager to be out and we hope the girls will not have a problem with him (or should I say them not give him any problems).

If all goes well he'll be out scratching around by the weekend!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hedgehog Butt!

As I mentioned - Mr. Napoleon is on the mend. He's even regrowing most of the feathers on his back! We're going to keep him on the porch until they fully "sprout" but he's looking like he will get most of them back.

As he is right now, he looks like a hedgehog!

He's been very good about being on the porch and in his crate. I know he's bored but he's been wonderful. And I think he and our kitten have a new bond. They love to stare at each other through the windows.

But I'm sure he can't wait to get back out in the coop to see his girls and scratch around.

Free Range Strauss

I'm in a chipper mood so here's a little something to make you smile too... I hope!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Napoleon Recovery - Day 14

It's been a while since we did an update on Napoleon. He is doing amazingly well. The biggest news is that he's started to grow feathers again. His back looks like a hedgehog! I think by next week he'll be ready to go back into the coop. He should be done with the antibiotics today but we'll keep him on the porch until his feathers really sprout and cover his back.

Then we'll have to see how he and the girls get on at their re-introduction.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Napoleon Recovery - Day 7

On Friday night we took Napoleon for a follow-up visit to the After Hours Vet. The good thing is that they are only open evenings and weekends, so we took Napoleon Friday night around 10pm, which worked out perfectly since he would be sleepy and easy to transport in the crate.

Let me just say the emergency vet late on a Friday night is a very depressing place to be.

All in all they said he was doing well, but the vet said that the green spots might be a bacterial infection. She wasn't sure so we decided to continue giving him the antibiotics. Since the vet admitted she is not an avian expert, she referred us to another vet in the town over. However, that vet is out until Wednesday. So that's where we will be taking him Wednesday night.

There was one big development yesterday. I walked out my door to do some errands. I was wearing a jeans skirt and some sandals and a black top. I looked out into my yard which goes pretty far back. About 50 yards or less out we have a pile of brush for a burn pile. Yeah, well, who was messing around in the brush probably chasing a rabbit or something???

IT WAS THE DAMN DOG! The same dog that hurt Napoleon.

I called out softly, "Hey Puppy." The dog looked up and took off at top speed back behind our property towards the woods which back up to our area. I dropped my bags and took off running down the gravel road which leads back to our neighbor's house which is up there.

Now, after I had come back from the taking Napoleon to the vet last week we had gone back to our neighbor's as he raises hunting dogs. And sometimes these dogs happen to get out. So, suffice it to say, these dogs were prime suspects to me from the start. But I couldn't prove anything and they had said the dogs had not gotten out.

Well, it just so happens they let the dogs out to run around and get exercise in their woods. But this dog happened to be going up onto our property since neither of us have any fences. When I got up to their house I had a little chat with the dog's owner about the whole situation.

Net result, we made it clear that not only do we not want their dogs on our property again, they would be paying for all the vet bill...which will probably end up being in the $700+ range.

It would be an understatement to say that I'm very happy we found and were able to prove whose dog it was.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Napoleon Recovery - Day 5

Hi there!

Napoleon continues to amaze us with his recovery. He's even tried to flap up over his barrier on the porch. He's getting restless and probably bored with being on the porch, away from his girls with nothing to scratch up or play with.

His back seems to be healing and he is walking better. He is getting an odd discoloration on the skin on this back, though. We are going to take him in for a follow-up vet visit tonight. We want them to look at his back and make sure he doesn't need more antibiotics.

We plan on taking him at night, since the vet is an after-hours vet anyways. This way, he'll be in his crate and sleepy. We hope!

More of the saga to follow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


So the pics are a bit graphic but you can see the level of injury Napoleon sustained. It's a bit hard to tell from this angle but his back is scraped raw and the puncture wounds are there. He's lost some of his balance too. Some of that is due to soreness probably but also because his tail feathers are missing.

The less severe puncture wound is the one you see here towards the back. The worse one is just at the edge of the feathers.

Given that he was in the dog's mouth when we saw this happening and that he was completely in shock and limp when we rushed him to the vet, it is amazing that he avoided broken bones or worse. That he is now standing, eating, drinking and crowing is even more of a miracle.

Let's hope he keeps on improving and that the antibiotics do their work!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Napoleon Recovery - Day 2

Just a brief update.

Napoleon is hanging in there. He's being very good on the porch and seems to like sleeping in the cat crate in the dog carrier.

He's even eaten some of his feed and been drinking water. We've been cutting down on the pain shots just to try and help space them out a bit but he's been getting his antibiotics regularly.

He's walking around and crowing although we are keeping an eye on his left leg because it seems a bit wonky. We're not really sure what's up - if it's just sore or if it is hurt more than we can tell.

Last night we zipped him into his crate when he had gone to sleep and left him on the porch. We probably won't do that again because the light wakes him up far too early.

His back is scabbed over, which I think is good. It helps to heel and keeps out any dirt, dust or buggies. Not that we are really getting many since the porch is screened in.

Napoleon is outside my window crowing right now. We did not give him pain meds this morning so we'll see how he does today. I'm going to go into work but may have to come home early if he starts having trouble.

Thank you for all your kind words and thoughts.

- Poochie

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Please Send Good Thoughts

I can't write this all out again. Please read it at Shoe Daydreams.

Please send your good thoughts to Napoleon. He needs them right now. We all do.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Eggs courtesy of Gertie and Meg

A few weeks ago we noticed that the girls laying schedule had significantly reduced. It was especially noticeable in Meg who has, so far, been a very consistent layer. Nothing was happening.

The season was changing and getting warmer but we didn't think that was likely to make her slow down so much. If anything we thought she would be laying regularly every day. She also didn't seem to be getting ready for a moult, but hey, what do we know.

I tend to worry when things happen with the pets and I'm not sure why. So of course, my mind thinks that maybe Meg is egg bound. This is when, essentially, the egg gets stuck inside the hen and can be very serious, even fatal.

I tried to get to pick Meg up so I could examine her and see if I could feel anything but she was not having anything to do with that. I was going to take her to the vet (more chicken vet visits!) but ended up asking our friends who have lots of chickens and have had them for a while.

Their response was that if she was egg bound, she'd be dead by now. Alrighty then.

This has gone on for a few weeks now and she's still out there. She's been eating well and moves around fine, especially when she gets to free range. She hasn't gone back to laying but she has gone through a bit of a moult. It's not as extensive as the Fall moult but I'm assuming that is the cause of the interruption.

We're keeping a close eye on her just in case.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Moveable Feast

I'll admit, earwigs totally skeeze me out. In spite of not being afraid of nearly any bug and also not liking to kill stuff, well... I just can't stand them!

They're harmless, I know, but still!

So this morning before I let the chickens out I was shaking out their old pan of food and putting in fresh. When I lifted the tray there were a million of these fleeing for their lives. Gross!

I immediately let them out and they were on those bugs like white on rice! They snapped them all up.

A good morning protein hit, I'm sure.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chicken Purrs

On a warm sunny day one of the favorite activities of the girls is a nice dust bath. The girls find patch of fine loose dirt and kick it up to their hearts content. Luckily there are a few nice patches in our yard that are ideal for a relaxing "bath". Their favorite spot is at the base of one of the juniper trees which gives them shade and keeps them from having to worry about hawks.

Once they get started rolling around and kick the dirt up and all around, it's pretty hard to get them moving until they are finished. Yesterday I wanted to move Meg into the coop with the other two, who were in their feasting on bird seed, but she was not at all interested.

Typically I let them hang out until they are done. Sometimes Napoleon will get in on the action but most of the time he just stands guard. The best part is when they get tired of kicking the dirt up and they get drowsy and start to purr.

Chickens definitely have a level of communication and there is no mistaking the fact that they are happy and content.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Back in the Pink

So just a brief update to let you know that Gertie is feeling much better. The limp is mostly gone so I guess the sprain is healing. She'll be happy to get out into the yard tomorrow and over the weekend for lots of yummy bugs, worms and grass.

For all of you who thought we were crazy to take a chicken to the vet, just hope I'm not responsible for your health care in the future.

That's all I'm saying.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Trauma Center

We had a bit of trauma here today. I let the gang out to free range yesterday because it was such a lovely day... finally a Saturday without rain! Everyone was happy to get out into the sun and the grass.

But then I noticed Gertie was favoring her right leg. She was limping along, trying her best to compensate for something.

I don't usually pick the girls up because they really don't like it but I had to look at her foot. So I put Meg and Napoleon outside and cornered Gertie so I could get her. Once I picked her up I felt all around her foot and up her leg. I couldn't see anything stuck in her foot anywhere and couldn't feel anything wrong. We decided to wait to see if it cleared up by the next day.

But when I let them out this morning, she was still limping. Even though we are in a semi-rural area there do not seem to be a lot of vets who'll treat farm animals and chickens in particular. I guess chickens don't rate health care generally. Well screw that.

So we found an After Hours vet, wrapped Gertie in a towel and drove her in.

She was actually better in the car than the dogs and cats. She seemed to like looking out the window and had a funny habit of flinching when we went under and overpass. I think the shadow freaked her out a bit.

The good thing is that we got to the vet okay and she got examined by a vet who has chickens herself. She said that Gertie did not appear to have a break or mites or something in her foot. She thought it was just a sprain. She gave her an injection for the pain and we were able to bring her home. We were worried that the other two chickens might hurt her when she came back in but all was well.

I hoping that she will be feeling better in the morning.

The chickens are watching you!

Moving On Out

I did more reading on chicken yards after all of the rain made the coop yard a mess. I found out that you should rotate their yard area 2 to 3 times per year. Well, we've had them in the same yard for about eight months. It was time for some extreme measures!

So our solution to the soggy sloppy coop yard was to create a new annex to the yard. Just next to the current coop yard is a very large maple tree and a bunch of messy brush that I had been meaning to totally clear out. Instead, we decided to make a loop off of the current fence, incorporate the tree into the perimeter and attach it to the side of the other shed we have.

We were hoping that they chickens would really like this because the currently like to scratch around under our other bushes. They would also be protected from hawks and shaded from the sun. We added a door to have access to the area as needed and we just cut a "doorway" into the existing fence panel.

So far its been working out well. They've limited their time in the current yard and seem to like running around under the bushes. We need to block off the old yard area so we can sod or seed it, so it will grow back. We have yet to do that but plan on doing it soon.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Lime Away

It has been raining here for over a week straight. Because the chickens have eaten all of the vegetation within the pen yard, a normal rainfall causes the yard to turn into a muddy mess. This constant rain has created a stinky slop.

These conditions have caused a lot of angst for me. I like to maintain the best possible conditions for my pets. We always make sure they all get great care, high quality food, lots of attention and security. So, the mess of a pen yard goes against everything that I want for them. Plus, it isn't too pleasant for us either.

The rain kept them from going out last weekend, so I made sure to let them out both days this weekend. The rain was still going, but not as bad. I'm sure they were happy to get out. Luckily their coop has been keeping them warm and dry and I can put their food in there. But, by staying inside so much I had to do a full clean out this weekend. Three big contractor bags were filled with their bedding and 3 bags of fresh shavings went down. I also added some hay for them to nest in. At least their coop will be warm and clean.

But the pen yard still sucks! We're going to try sprinkling lime. Other than that I'm not sure what else to do. They'll just ruin any sod that is put down before it gets a chance to root and they'll eat any grass seed put down.

Other than totally moving the pen yard, which would be a major nightmare, I'm not sure what else to do. We'll have to hope that when the sun comes out and the temperature heats up, it dries it out some. Between that and the lime addition, I hope it will be okay.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Supporting the Songbirds

An unintentional side benefit of having the chickens is that we are also supporting, to some degree, the local songbird population.

The way the roof of the coop yard is designed, the local small birds can fly in and out. I have seen lots of these smaller birds come into the chickens' space to drink from their water bowl or snap up a bit of seed or bird feed.

One of our favorites is the cardinal. We love their color and their personalities - both the males and females. We often use cardinals to represent our home.

We're fond of all of the local birds and make sure to keep shrubs for them to hide and nest in, as well as keeping the bird feeders filled all winter long. Because of this we get all kinds of blue jays, robins, doves, chickadees, finches and woodpeckers. Many of them have become used to us and don't fly off when I am sitting outside letting the chickens free range.

Some things you can do to support local birds are to provide cover (shrubs and trees), water and keep your cats indoors. Not only is this better and safer for your kitty, but it will prevent many of these birds from getting killed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Saving Face

One of the things I've noticed with Napoleon is that he is very aware of his surroundings and how in command he is of the area.

I've mentioned that Napoleon does not like men. At all. Especially the hubby but really any men, or strangers. When we are alone out in the yard, he is totally fine. And he can be down-right cute and almost affectionate (at a chicken level). He hops in my lap, hangs out and, sometimes, even falls asleep. And he jumps up onto my hand every chance he gets.

But when a man comes around, forget it. He herds the two girls away from the new person and absolutely will not jump onto my hand for anything. I think it's because he wants to feel and appear more in command. Even though he would be higher up, he is effectively within my control at that point. And I don't think he likes that in front of the others. With the hubby, at least he can charge at him but a male stranger is an big unknown.

I'm not sure if this is all roosters or just my Napoleon. And it's kind of hard to find out from the few other people I know who have chickens. Nobody really has their rooster as interactive as mine is.

I think it's a male thing.

Monday, February 4, 2008

I Can Haz Laughs

I know this is a silly pointless site...

but it still cracks me up and I love it.


Curiouser and Curiouser

We had some very rainy days last week but this weeked was just lovely. I let the chickens out today to have a good run around the yard. They actually didn't play as much in the compost pile like they normally do. I was sitting closer to the house so they decided to kick up the leaves right by the side of the house and dig in the dirt of the garden area.

I'm not sure if it is due to the soil there or all the leaves but it seems like there were a ton of worms in there because the chickens had quite a feast. It was actually good for us because they're feet are so good at turning up the dirt. Its so fun to watch them. They just get so into it. You have to be amused by their purposeful digging and scratching.

I had some fun playing with Napoleon in the yard. I was sitting on the ground and he was snuggled up on my lap falling asleep for a while. And actually Gertie came really close by me. She was standing right next to me looking me over. I think she is intrigued by the fact that Napoleon likes to sit on my lap. She has done this a few times. I'm hoping that she will want to jump up on my lap too. I tend to talk to them all them time and sing to them some. They know my voice and by getting them used to me, it will be easier to get close to them if I need to. And they will sort of come when I call them.

It was a good day. They got some sun, ate some seeds and greens and ran around. There's more rain expected this week, so sogginess to follow.

Today's Feed: Egg Mash, spinach, cukes, zuchinni, clementine
Today's Eggs: Just one, but we had two each day for the last two days
Today's Temperament: Warm and full

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Baby, It's cold outside

I feel that I've been remiss in writing about my chicks. Mainly because this first winter has been a learning experience and I'm just trying to find my way with them and making sure they stay warm and healthy. One of the biggest issues has been the cold. We've had to make sure the water doesn't freeze. We've actually had an egg crack from freezing in the cold.

But overall they've been weathering it really well.

The other thing that I find challenging is the fact that it's dark way before I get home. I'd like to get home and let them out more often to run around and get some exercise. As it is now, I have to wait until the weekend and hope for good weather to let them out. Poor kids only get out for a few hours once a week.

Hopefully as the days progress I can get home to give them some fun time in the evenings.

Today's Feed: Egg Mash, lettuce & tomatoes
Today's Eggs: Two
Today's Temperament: Sleepy and a little cold

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I'm Ready for My Close-up

Here's a picture of my Napoleon doing what he does best!


Scraping the Coop

It seems like it has been forever since I've updated this. I guess I'm not living up to the daily part of our name here. For the most part, things have been going well. The hens came through their molt and are back to laying really well. Most days we get an egg from each of them which is as good, if not better than they were doing in the warmer months. I spoke with a friend who also has chickens and she said hers have not been laying really. I think part of this may be due to the fact that we have a heat lamp on inside the coop. It's been pretty cold so we didn't want them to chill. It's been so cold that their water had frozen most nights, even if it was inside the coop.

We had our coldest day last week. And, of course, a power sub-station blew so around 9,000 people, including us, were without power for over 12 hours. In a 110 house like ours, that means it gets cold very fast. We weren't sure when it was coming back so we went and bought a generator and we plugged in some small heaters, the refrigerator and the chicken's heat lamp.

We've also had a lot of rain so the chicken yard has been a sloppy mess. I know instinctively they want to come outside but I wish they would stay in their coop and stay warm and dry. On top of that, the local Tractor Supply has not had the bedding we like to use to line the coop floor. We've had to buy what they brand as the same thing but it is not nearly as fluffy or soft or containing as much. I've held off on cleaning out the coop for this reason.

We were going to go out of town this weekend since we both have Monday off, but Thursday was a pretty good snow/ice storm and more was predicted for this weekend. Since we were worried about what more severe weather could bring and not wanting to force our girl next door to have to deal with the chickens, we decided to stay home. This morning was pretty mild so, after breakfast, I decided to let the kids out to run around and to clean up inside the coop. I also ended up moving an bunch of tree limb and cutting down a whole bunch of brush which is on one end of the pen fence. I finally got sick of the branches and vines hitting me in the face every time I tried to walk to the other side of the building.

The chickens got to run around the yard, kick up the compost pile and eat some greens and birdseed. Then, right when I was finishing everything up, it started to get some small flakes coming down. I was able to shoo all three of them into the pen right before the flakes started to really fall.

One thing we found out during the storm earlier this week was that our new pen roof screening really holds onto the snow and ice. This is not really a good thing because they are just really large frames with screening staple-gunned to the perimeter. There is no center support on each panel and they could rip or break under the weight. When the snow begins to build up we have to go out there and try and rake off as much as we can. Here's a view of the coop and pen from our upstairs window. You can see where the snow is already sitting on those panels (you can click to enlarge).

And here's the hubby trudging out and trying to rake off the panels so they don't collapse.

The building on the right here is our garage and behind that, between it and the coop, is the big 'ole compost pile the chickens love. Off to the left you can just see a bit of one of our juniper trees. This part of the yard is where the chickens run around the most. The love the bushes to the left of the coop and the bird feeder is in the tree, so they have lots of places to play.

It's cold and snowy here but the coop is filled with lots of new warm bedding. I'm sure the kids are all snuggled in sleeping the night away.