Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

In clearing off my desk to prepare for the New Year, I found this attractive reproduction of a painting of chicks, signed A.O. Schilling, 1944. What a fabulous year 2008 was! For me, it was a year of challenges and accomplishments. Writing my second book, How to Raise Poultry, occupied me for most of the year. Is there a better way to spend my time?

SPPA was the recipient of a collection of over 150 antique poultry books. I have made a list of them and plan to make them available to SPPA members by copying excerpts and creating image files of the pages for members to use as they research their breeds. The illustrations and descriptions these old works contain provide original sources for the traditional breeds.

A new Dorking Breeders Club has formed,, under the leadership of Jim Parker of Cridersville, Ohio. Dorkings haven't gotten the attention they deserve in recent years -- I haven't seen a single one at any of the shows I have attended here in California. Perhaps 2009 will see an increase in interest in this historic breed.

These Prize Dark Dorkings are from Harrison Weir's Our Poultry, published around 1902. A copy was included in the collection donated to SPPA.

2008 was a wonderful year for me and the SPPA and traditional breed poultry. Awareness is growing about our food systems and the importance of thoughtfully grown food and the role poultry play in our lives. I anticipate more progress in 2009. I'm eager to be part of it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Barred Hollands

Barred Hollands, such as the hen at right, are a modern composite that would make a good general purpose chicken for an integrated farm. They are good layers of white eggs and grow into a large, meaty table bird. Roosters ideally weigh 8 1/2 pounds, hens 6 1/2 pounds.

This hen belongs to Heirloom Heritage Farms in Spanaway, Washington,

They are also recognized in the Standard for exhibition. A White variety is also recognized.

The Standard gives their history as beginning with chickens imported from Holland. They were crossed with White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires and Lamonas and selectively bred for their productive qualities. They were accepted into the Standard in 1949.

Not many people are raising these useful, calm attractive birds. If you are considering starting a small flock for your own use or to produce meat and eggs for the market, Barred Hollands would be a good choice.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eight Maids a Milking

In the 16th and 17th centuries, cattle breeds were as different from modern cattle as poultry breeds are. Devon cattle were among the breeds that the maids may well have been milking.

The American Milking Devon was developed from the breed named for the county Devon in England. It retains good production in milk as well as meat. This Devon heifer, "Fashion 5th," is an illustration from Livestock and Complete Stock Doctor: A Cyclopedia, by Jonathan Periam and A. H. Baker, published in 1910. The breed is known for its fast walking, which allows it to cover fields efficiently. It is a desirable breed for oxen as well as food production.

The Milking Shorthorn, which traces its history back at least to the estates of the nobility of Northumberland in England of those days, would also be a candidate for the hands of those maids.
Significant points for good dairy cows, according to the Stock Doctor, are: "... a small neck, sharp shoulders, small brisket and small bone. Moreover, small bone usually accompanies thrift, and is universally found in improved breeds."
Milkmaids are associated with good skin at this period of time. Because of their close association with cows, they often acquired cowpox, a much less serious disease that conferred immunity to small pox on them. Thus their skin was not marked by the scars of this terrible disease. The term 'vaccine' comes from the Latin word for cow. Edward Jenner relied on this observation to develop the first vaccine,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seven Swans A Swimming

Swans are one of the most charismatic of birds. Their graceful flight and peaceful beauty as they glide across the water have inspired humans to find spiritual meaning in them. Iron Age Britons considered them supernatural.

Mute swans are the traditional birds of folklore. Although migratory, they became semi-domesticated in Britain by the 10th century. Although Richard the Lionhearted is often credited with bringing swans to England on his return from the Crusades in the 12th century, documents exist dating swan keeping as far back as 966, during the reign of King Edgar.

It was in the 12th century that the Crown claimed ownership of all swans, In the 15th century, swan ownership was shared with the Vintners’ and Dyers’ Companies. That continues today, with an annual ceremony called Swan Upping, in which cygnets, baby swans, are captured, weighed, checked for health problems, banded and released.

So Seven Swans A Swimming would have had royal as well as spiritual connotations.

Today in the U.S., migratory waterfowl are protected by state and federal laws. Permits are required to keep wild birds legally. If you are in any doubt about birds you are considering acquiring, check with the state department of fish and game, parks and wildlife or Natural Resources. This beautiful pen, a female swan, belongs to Craig Hopkins of Hopkins Alternative Livestock near Richmond, Indiana,

Mute swans are controversial residents along the East Coast, where they have displaced local Trumpeter swans,, Mute swans have been acquired as decorative waterfowl for parks and estates, but easily leave and become feral. To avoid those problems, the state of New Hampshire requires by law that Mute swans be pinioned, an operation done on young cygnets to remove the distal joint of the wing, making flight impossible.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Six Geese A Laying

Geese certainly were part of English and French life in the 16th century and long before. Geese have been hunted and tamed and domesticated since the early days of settled agricultural life.

Most modern domestic geese are descended from the European Greylag Goose, which still ranges across most of Europe and Asia. They have lived closely with humans for centuries. Even as little as a century ago, they were maintained as semi-wild livestock in England. Villagers let their geese forage and live on the River Cam. The geese spent the spring and summer on the village green, then migrated to the river for the winter. In February, the owners would call their geese, which responded to their voices and returned home to nest and rear their young. Those offspring were a significant contribution to the villagers’ income. Those Geese A-Laying were valued not for the eggs in themselves, but for the prospective birds into which the eggs would hatch. Eggs can also be eaten. Some modern breeds such as the China goose have been selected for laying, bringing their production of eggs up to 70 or more annually. The eggs are reputed to be superior for baking. The albumen is thicker than that of chicken eggs, making it unsuitable for whipping into meringue.

Geese typically choose their own mates and mate for life, although a gander may be willing to mate with more than one goose. They are good at brooding their own eggs and both parents enjoy raising the goslings. They will also adopt other chicks. They love having a family. This pair of Cotton Patch geese belonging to Dr. Tom Walker of Texas protect their goslings. One is out from under the mother and the father watches over it.

Those geese, through domestication and selective breeding, became the hardy Gray Goose. In France, pate de foie gras is a traditional food. Breeds in which the sexes have different plumage from each other are called auto-sexing. The males are solid color and the females saddlebacked, with contrasting color across their backs. Very ancient lines of geese include this trait, often tracing it back to locations where Vikings landed.

This gaggle of Saddleback Cotton Patch geese belonged to Jess Owens of Union County, Arkansas in the 1950s. Dr. Walker, who has championed the recovery of Cotton Patch geese, shared this photo with me. These geese were used regularly to clean cotton fields of grass and weeds. The Cotton Patch is a traditional American breed, very similar to the geese in this carol.

A group of geese on the ground is a gaggle. In flight, they are a flock.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Five Gold Rings

This verse probably referred to Ring-Necked Pheasants, or perhaps alludes to Golden Pheasants. Both of them are natives of Asia but have long had successful populations in Europe and the British Isles. The Romans probably introduced them to Europe during their Empire. Pheasant were accepted residents of Britain by the 10th century.

Pheasant has a long culinary history, probably since Neolithic times. It is a popular game bird, today perhaps the most hunted bird on the planet.

Ring-necked pheasants were introduced in the late 19th century first in Oregon, where they succeeded on the second attempt. After that, they were introduced in other states and are now the state bird of South Dakota. This photo comes from that state’s department of tourism.

Golden pheasants are successful feral residents in England, but they probably were not introduced there until later than the carol, perhaps as late as the mid-19th century. Their astonishingly beautiful plumage could certainly have inspired songs about golden birds!

The bird second from the top in this painting by J.C. Harrison is a golden pheasant. The other pheasants are a Reeves Pheasant, at the bottom, an Elliots Pheasant at the top, and an Amherst Pheasant in the center. The black bird at lower right is a Mikado Pheasant. The bird at top right is not identified at Gamebird, but appears to be a Copper Pheasant. Prints can be purchased from Gamebird magazine at

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Four Calling Birds

As noted in the first post on the subject of the Twelve Days of Christmas, ‘calling’ is a corruption of ‘colley,’ meaning black as coal, birds. Whether this means actual blackbirds or black fowl is a separate question.

Blackbirds were and are destructive to crops in Europe. Like other small birds, they have been trapped and shot for food. Italian workers in the 19th century took ‘pot shots’ at small birds on their way home from work, Ann Vileisis reports in Kitchen Literacy. The nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence, refers to baking blackbirds in a pie. Mark Cocker in Birds Britannica documents the practice of placing live birds under a pie crust just before serving as a medieval custom.

Or it could have referred to domestic fowls, such as the old French breeds, all of which were often black, or black Spanish chickens., such as these reproduced in 1983 by Dr. J. Batty from Lewis Wright's Poultry. Black turkeys were popular in the 18th century in Europe.

Black birds lost favor because the dark feathers show up in the skin of the bird prepared for the table, unlike white feathers. In the 19th century, white birds went through a period of unpopularity, because they were thought to be constitutionally weak. Food fads.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Three French Hens

Three French hens could be selected from the three old French breeds recognized by the APA for exhibition. Houdan, LaFleche and Crevecoeur were all in the original APA Standard published in 1874. They have long histories, as far as the 15th century in the case of the La Fleche, the 17th century for the others. All are large birds, topping out at 8 lbs. for roosters and 7 lbs. for hens. All are white egg layers.

Houdans have been known as Normandy fowl. They are a crested breed, recognized in mottled black and solid white varieties. Solid black, blue mottled and red mottled varieties have existed in the past and may be raised by fanciers yet.

In the U.S., Houdans were a popular dual purpose production breed in the 19th and early 20th century. They have five toes, like the Dorkings. This illustration is a reproduction of Lewis Wright's Poultry, published in 1983 by Dr. J. Batty.

The La Fleche, which may be the oldest of the three, was selected and managed for egg production in Britain and North America. They take their name from the town of La Fleche, around which production was centered in the early 19th century. They probably resulted from crossing Polish, Crevecoeur and Spanish birds, which gave them their white ear lobes.

Their unusual horned V-shaped comb is remarkable, in the past causing these birds to be called the Horned Fowl. Although now clean-headed, some breeders report occasional offspring with small crests or tassels. The French standard requires a crest.

Although recognized now only in black, they were bred in other colors in the past. In 1580, Prudens Choiselat wrote that blacks, reds, and fawns were the best. Blue and white strains have existed in the more recent past.

The Crevecoeur is sometimes compared to the Dorking, which has history on both English and French sides of the Channel. They also have V combs, although earlier in history they also had leaf combs. Currently recognized only in black plumage, white and blue were raised in the past.

The Crevecoeur was also used as a production fowl in the late 19th and early 20th century. These Crevecoeurs and the La Fleche are Robert Gibson's, from Yellow House Farm in New Hampshire.

Other French breeds would also be welcome on the Third Day of Christmas: Faverolles are a modern composite that would not have been contemporaneous with the carol. The unusual Salmon color pattern, unique to this breed, is distinguished by its remarkable difference between the sexes. Roosters are brightly marked with varied colors, while hens are more demurely light and salmon pink. They have both beards and muffs.

Marans are not yet recognized by the Standard, but their advocates are working toward that goal. They are an attractive sturdy bird, known for their dark chocolate brown eggs.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two Turtle Doves

Turtle Doves are a wild breed of European doves, similar to North American Mourning Doves. They would have been common in England and France during the spring, summer and fall in the 18th century when this carol was published. It is a migratory species that winters in southern Africa.
Doves have symbolized peace and love for centuries. To the ancient Greeks, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was associated with doves and was sometimes depicted in a chariot drawn by doves. A dove brought Noah the olive branch, symbol of the renewal of life. The dove descended on Christ at his baptism, symbolizing the Holy Spirit.

Many fanciers keep domestic pigeons and doves. The terms ‘pigeon’ and ‘dove’ are often used interchangeably. Both pigeons and doves are in the same scientific family, but there are hundreds of species. Divisions are not clearly delineated, but generally pigeons are larger than doves

They are small enough that they can be kept as cage birds, although most keepers allow them some liberty. Trap and bob entries allow pigeons to enter, but not leave again.

Pigeons and doves are classified as either seed-eating or fruit-eating. Turtle doves are seed eaters. Most birds kept domestically are seed-eating, but fruit-eating birds can also be kept successfully.

This photo of a turtle dove appeared on the web site of the Times of Malta,, in April 2008. At that time, a reader was complaining about a plague of turtle doves damaging crops and advocating allowing hunters to shoot them. The relationship between humans and wildlife is subject to friction, generally resolved on the side of the humans.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

The traditional English Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, lists many domestic folw, reflecting the significance of domestic birds. It was first printed in the 1780 children’s book, Mirth Without Mischief, but it was much older by that time, according to the fact-based site The fact that three French versions exist suggests that it may have originally been a French carol. The partridge memorialized in the First Day was not introduced into England from France until the late 1770s, shortly before the carol was committed to print and published.

Some of the words have changed over the years: On Day Four, the ‘calling’ birds were originally ‘collie’ or ‘colley’ birds, meaning black as coal. The gold rings of Day Five were ring-necked pheasants. Those original meanings unify the verses around a bird motif.

The gray or English partridge was introduced to North America around the turn of the 20th century from its native Eurasia. It has adapted well and is now fairly common in North America. They are hardy birds, able to survive cold winter conditions in the Midwest and Canada. They aren’t much for flying, with a stocky body and short, round wings. Most flights are low, at eye level and shorter than 100 yards. They are 12-13 inches long with a wingspan of 21-22 inches and weigh about one pound.

The hens may lay as many as 22 eggs in a clutch and hatches of 16-18 are common. They are not usually raised as domestic birds.

This photo was taken by Terry Sohl on June 10, 2008 in Minnehaha County, South Dakota.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Genetic diversity

The issue of genetic diversity is getting more attention from the research community. As the industry pursues its goal of creating the most efficient organism to convert feed into meat and eggs, the genome of the birds being raised is being ever more restricted. Limited genetics means limited ability to respond to environmental conditions, an inherent weakness even as birds meet the industrial goal of growing bigger faster.

"This means most of the world's chickens lack characteristics that evolved when they lived in the wild, and may be useful again to help them face stress and disease as livestock," writes Debora MacKenzie in New Scientist, Chicken Genome Plucked Bare by Inbreeding, November 4, 2008

A study from The Netherlands offers the concept of 'robustness,' individual traits of an animal that are relevant for health and welfare, into selective breeding programs. [Clearly, this applies to industrial programs, as small flock breeders, especially those focusing on traditional breeds, typically value vigor and vitality and wouldn't consider including birds in their breeding pens that are not healthy and robust.]

"In order to be ethically acceptable, selective breeding in animal production should accept robustness as a breeding goal," the authors write in their abstract to A Plea to Implement Robustness into a Breeding Goal: Poultry as an Example, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, L. Star and E. D. Ellen, April, 2008 .
No one would question the robustness of this Russian Orloff, belonging to Michelle Conrad.

Another international research team has come to a similar conclusion,, which attracted the attention of the NYTimes Nov. 3, 2008:

"We suggest interbreeding some experimental commercial poultry lines with native or standard breeds as a backup plan, or ace in the hole, to help the industry meet future challenges, as traits such as disease resistance may be found among the rare alleles of other birds," said Bill Muir, Purdue University animal sciences professor who participated in the research.
Recognition of the importance in the commercial poultry community would help focus attention on preserving them. This attention is welcome and long overdue.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blue color

Backyard Poultry forwarded a question from a reader about Blue Andalusian chickens. She'd heard that the blue color was not desirable for exhibition.

On the contrary, Blue is the only color variety of Andalusian chickens recognized for exhibition. The difficulty is with the inheritance of the blue color. Unlike other color varieties, it does not breed true, which means that when two blue chickens are bred to each other, all the resulting chicks are not blue. They will be a mixture of black, splash (black and white irregular patterned feathers) and blue individuals.

The APA Standard of Perfection describes it this way:

Blue Fowl, actually of a bluish slate color, genetically are black fowl in which the black pigment granules are modified in shape and distribution on the surface of the feather, creating a dilution of black and causing the characteristic bluish slate color. This condition is the hybrid expression of two hereditary color factors, black and a form of white (usually with some splashing), neither of which is dominant over the other, but which are blending in character. Blue to blue will produce offspring one-half blue, the other half evenly divided in black and splashed whites: and blue to black, and blue to splashed will produce the parent types equally, while black to splashed will produce all blues.

This sounds confusing, but if you think of the birds in your flock and how you would breed them, it will come clear.

It's more complex than breeding another color variety and knowing what to expect in terms of color. Breeding programs with the goal of approaching the Standard have more points to trip on. Conformation, comb, skin color and other breeding challenges have to be considered along with the additional complication of getting fewer offspring with the desired color.

They are beautiful, and this reader was especially fond of their large chalk-white eggs. They are worth the effort.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Andrea sent this picture of one of his Polverara chicks.

Andrea advises me not to draw any conclusions about the name 'Polish.' He documents crested hens for "many centuries" in Poland, according to an Italian reporter, Franco Holzer. Andrea considers it "more than possible" that the crested hens originally imported to England came from Poland. Crested birds were diffused in France, where they were likely crossed with the Polverara hen, resulting in the French crested breeds.
The old forms of the Polverara name were Padovana, Padoue and Padouans, a name they share with Polish.

This black Polverara rooster is another of Andrea's flock.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Today I am thankful for the inquiry from Andrea Mangoni who contacted me from his home in Italy. He asked for information on Polverara chickens.

He keeps a flock of this rare and very ancient breed. His birds are the ones pictured on This black hen, Nerina, was hatched in Spring 2008.

The breed is related to Brabanters, which have a similar crest but are associated with the Netherlands. The National Geographic of April 1927, which documented many breeds, cites Polveraras as being an ancestor of Polish chickens.

This nugget of information made the name Polish fall into place for me. There's always some discussion as to why the crested breed acquired the name Polish, since it is not associated with Poland. Having a crest on the poll of the head is sometimes advanced as the origin of the name, but being descended from Polveraras makes more sense to me.

Andrea is writing a book on the breed and has a web site,, and a blog,, devoted to them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Urban Chickens

Newsweek magazine has a feature this week on the phenomenon of City Chickens, the increase in people in urban and suburban communities keeping chickens, The reporter mentions two people who have touched my work, Dennis Harrison-Noonan and Owen Taylor of Just Food in Manhattan.
Dennis designs chicken coops and sells plans for those who are handy to build themselves at home. A picture of one is in my book, along with a picture of this one, illustrating community gardens. Dennis' son built this one as his Eagle Scout project.
Owen Taylor uses How to Raise Chickens in advising urban chicken owners in New York, see the blog entry of October 30, 2007.
The article mentions fears of Bird Flu and takes a much more measured and scientifically based attitude toward it. "But avian flu has not shown up in wild birds, domestic poultry or people in the United States. And, as the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute (an environmental research group) pointed out in a report last month,, experts including the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production have said that if we do see it, it'll be more likely to be found in factory-farmed poultry than backyard chickens. As GRAIN, an international sustainable agriculture group, concluded in a 2006 report: 'When it comes to bird flu, diverse small-scale poultry farming is the solution, not the problem.'"
The U.S. Geological Survey continues to attempt to make something of very little in a recent press release, Their oversight project analysed samples from 1,400 pintail ducks and found that less than half of them contained gene segments more closely related to Asian influenza forms than North American forms. The research identified only segments from low pathologic Avian Influenza.
USGS claims this challenges the claim that intercontinental transfer of AI is rare. However, it documents that thus far, despite intensive oversight and sampling, transfer from Asia to North America via migratory waterfowl is not established at all. Identifying one of eight segments of the virus does not qualify as proving that it is coming. It sounds more like they are coming ever closer to proving the negative.
After all, we know that the birds migrate and bring their innards and germs with them. I'm encouraged that USGS hasn't found any Bird Flu at all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Tiffany is the Buff Orpington who broke her leg a few months back. Her owner found a vet who was willing to splint her leg so that she could heal.

While she was recuperating, her owner put another chicken in her coop with her, to keep her company. They became very good friends and continue to spend time together. She and her friend Buffy and her brother Winston are perching, as Tiffany tries out her healing leg.

She and Buffy like to get on top of the table to peck some snacks.

Chickens can make remarkable recoveries. See Harvey Ussery's report of a chicken with a broken leg in the September 3, 2008 blog entry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Breeders Directory

The 2009-2010 SPPA Breeders Directory is in our hands! It arrived in mailboxes today. SPPA second vice president Mary Ann Harley spearheaded the production of this edition. She did a great job.

The main focus of the directory is the listing of SPPA members, what breeds they have and how to get in touch with them. Because historic breeds are so rare, it's often difficult to find stock. Some breeds are so rare it's difficult even to find stock from unrelated lines. Keeping flocks vigorous and avoiding inbreeding can require careful selection of birds. The Breeders Directory is the most significant document SPPA publishes.

The listing helps prospective small flock owners find birds of different breeds to add to their flocks. It gives novices just getting started the information they need to contact experienced breeders for advice.

This edition includes articles on Saving Our Heritage Poultry; Small Flock Breeding; Grading; Further Breeding Options; Chickens in America; Natural Incubation; Successful Hatches; Shipping Mature Fowl; and Nankin Bantams-- A Success Story. The directory also includes a list of all SPPA members, SPPA Lifetime Members, SPPA's History and its Constitution and By-Laws.

Thanks to Mary Ann and her team for bringing us a great directory. Get your copy by joining SPPA, either online through or by sending a check for $15 for one year to Dr. Charles Everett, 1057 Nick Watts Rd., Lugoff, SC 29078.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Northeastern Poultry Congress

Terry Golson, author of The Farmstead Egg Cookbook and Tillie Lays an Egg, will be at the Northeastern Poultry Congress’ annual Poultry Show on January 17, 2009, From 10 am until 1 pm, she’ll be signing copies of both books. Part of the proceeds from the sale of these books goes to the APA Youth Programs.

“I'll be sitting at table near the ABA and the APA,” she says. “Let your blog readers know that I look forward to meeting them!”

The show is an annual event each January, at the Mallory Complex of the Eastern States Exposition Center in West Springfield, Massachusetts. The show welcomes Large Fowl, Bantams, Waterfowl, Turkeys, Trio Classic and Displays. It offers prizes for Junior Exhibitor and has a Showmanship Competition. For information, contact Cheryl Barnaba,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Muscovy Ducks

At the APA National in Ventura in October, I purchased two National Geographic classics: January 1926, featuring Man's Feathered Friends of Longest Standing and Pigeons of Resplendent Plumage and March 1930, with Fowls of Forest and Stream Tamed by Man and Fowls of Field, Park and Farmyard.
Hashime Murayama painted 12 pigeon scenes for the 1926 issue and 16 ducks, turkeys and others for the 1930 issue. This painting of Muscovy Ducks is one of them.
Most domestic ducks are related to Mallards, but the Muscovy is a separate breed entirely. Muscovies are native to Central and South America and Mexico, where they were first domesticated. They remain wild in their native habitat. Several different strains, some with more wild characteristics, are available, so make sure you know what you are acquiring. In the wild, they roost in trees.

They take to domestication well, as they have since before contact with Europe. Columbus may have introduced them to Europe along with the turkey, or Spanish explorers may have brought them from South America to Africa in the 16th century. From there, they traveled along trade routes to Europe. They were exhibited at the first American poultry show in 1849 and included in the first APA Standard of Excellence in 1874.

They are excellent natural layers, the hens often laying as many as 20 eggs in a clutch and raising two clutches in a season. They are good mothers and often used to incubate eggs of other birds.

Many commercial operations raise Muscovies for the table. They grow quickly to market size, but overfeeding them to increase growth can cause leg and reproduction problems.

The caruncles, the warty growths on the head, are unique to Muscovies and an important show point. For exhibition, the caruncles should be equally distributed on both sides of the head, not so extreme that it interferes with the crest feathers on top of the head and not interfere with the bird’s vision.

They are personable and self-reliant, although some are inclined to fight and may be aggressive. Many small flock owners warm to their sociable personalities. Females may be inclined to fly, although males may be too heavy. Clipping primaries may be necessary, although they are faithful to a good home. They are the quietest duck. Muscovies retain the strengths of their wild past in domestic life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Sebright bantams date back to 1810 in England, when their advocates began holding informal competitions. Sir John Sebright spent 30 years developing them. Their breeders organized the first specialty breed club, the Sebright Bantam Club, in 1815. They are shown in both Silver and Golden varieties.

The difference is in the ground color of the feathers, silvery white or golden bay. Lacing should be lustrous black. They are small but sprightly, at a top weight of 22 ounces for cocks and 20 ounces for hens.
This painting of Silver Sebrights by Hishime Murayama was published in the National Geographic of April 1927, in its article "The Races of Domestic Fowl" by M.A. Jull. The article includes 67 illustrations, both color paintings and black & white photos and drawings. It's a classic.

The males lack sickle feathers, so both sexes are similarly feathered. This is sometimes called henny feathering.

"If the ladies cannot take to the Sebrights, I shall lose all faith in them (the ladies I mean, not the Sebrights)," writes Lewis Wright in The Book of Poultry, 1915 edition.

He cautions against the risks of inbreeding Sebrights to avoid infertility and deterioration in markings. He advises giving them time to mature before breeding, due to their delicacy.

"A pullet has not come to maturity, and hence has not gained her full strength," he writes. though if she be very forward and well grown and in good health generally, there is no reason why such a one should not be tried with the hens."

A reader is looking for Sebright breeders in Ohio. All contacts are welcome.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cream Brabanters

A reader inquired for information on Brabanters, an old Dutch breed. She has a flock of the Cream variety that she has been improving for some years, but is looking for others.

Ideal Poultry Breeding Farms in Cameron, Texas,, sells both Cream and Gold varieties, but is currently sold out until 2009. The cock pictured at right is a Cuckoo variety. The photo is by Stephen Green-Armytage, from his book, Extraordinary Chickens.
Wright's New Illustrated Book of Poultry, revised in 1915 by S. H. Lewer, describes them as popular in Holland and Belgium. "Without being heavy in bone the body is large and roomy, showing considerable posterior development with medium length of neck and legs, and indicative of a good laying quality. The Brabanconne is a crested race, which crest is often more developed in cocks than in hens. the crest, however, is not globular as in other breeds with which we are familiar, but somewhat flat, and the beard or muffs are also small. The comb is small and single."
Brabanters are not recognized by the APA for exhibition. They are known as good layers of large white eggs, but are not setters.
If you know anyone who keeps any Brabanter variety, please contact me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tillie Lays an Egg

Terry Golson's new book for children ages 4-8, Tillie Lays an Egg, is coming out in January. You can order it now, through and through chain and independent booksellers. Copies are expected to be available in mid-December, in time for holiday giving.

Terry got the inspiration for this book from her hen Snowball, a bantam of indeterminate breed but extraordinary personality. Read more on her WEb site,

Terry also wrote The Farmstead Egg Cookbook, a happy compendium of egg recipes and chicken information.

Terry's Webcam in her chicken yard is linked to my home page. Recently I contacted an office in Kansas for permission to reprint some material. The woman I talked with was enthusiastic and interested in the project. As we got talking, I mentioned Terry's Webcam.

By the following day, she had all her colleagues watching Terry's chickens! They were, of course, delighted.

One of the most fun parts of my work is meeting people who add so much to my life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

OE and American Gamefowl Show

For those in the California area, there is another poultry show this coming weekend.



Old English Games are a traditional breed often seen in English artwork. The one at left is photographed by Poultry Press. Games are a foundation breed which are bred into nearly every composite in one way or another. Their influence on modern fowl is substantial and they hold a significant place in poultry history.


Directions: From the 55 FWY - exit North on Fair Dr.

Country Meadows (lawn area next to Millennium Barn)

CLASSES: Black Breasted Red Light Leg, Black Breasted Red Dark Leg, Dark Leg Grey, Light Leg Grey, Golden Duckwing (Giro) Dark Leg, Golden Duckwing (Giro) Light Leg, Oriental, Trio (Hens and Cock must be of the same breed, variety and color), Any Other Variety (AOV), Hens and Bantam Classes.

JUDGE: Kenny Troiano. Judging starts at 10:00am. Birds must be cooped no later than 9:30am.
ENTRY FEES: $10.00 per bird entered. Bring your own drop pens. Please do not bring any sick birds or birds with bugs.

PRIZES: Best of Show - $500.00 GRAND PRIZE – Runner-up Best of Show - $250.00

All categories 1ST place - $100.00 per category including Bantams

Trophies - Ribbons ·

AUCTION – 50/50 RAFFLES – DRAWINGS Sponsored by local businesses ·

Kenny Troiano, author of “The Gamefowl Breeders Manual”· Anthony Saville – President of The American Gamefowl Society

Food and beverages onsite by OCFEC. No Alcohol Permitted! For more information, to offer help and/or donations contact: Frank Torres – (714) 785-2034 Daniel Torres (714) 390-4460

Please call us and let us know you will be attending.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Home Grown Evolution

Eric Knutsen visited the SPPA table at last week's American Poultry Association Bash at the Beach Poultry Show in Ventura. His blog is

His blog is a compendium of self-reliant advice, do-it-yourself technology and philosophical framework. He's a fancier of collectible poultry magazines, displaying covers of two issues of Plymouth Rock Monthly from the 1920s and acquiring a copy of The Poultry Review of June 1908. His technological expertise exceeds mine, and he has posted the entire issue as pdf.s for all to access. He's instructed me in how to do it, so I hope to soon have the magazines donated by Lester Markham similarly available to all.

These old magazines are an invaluable resource for the original source documentation not only of husbandry practices of the past, but also of breed conformation, as these diagrams of Java hen and rooster illustrate. Thanks for the advice, Eric.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Safe and Humane

These Pekin, Khaki Campbell and Cayuga ducks look at the cat with curiosity at a friend's home in Maine. They are all good dual purpose utility breeds. They can be managed to produce hundreds of eggs annually, the Campbells as many as chickens. Some people who are allergic to chicken eggs may not be allergic to duck eggs. Duck egg yolks are higher in fat than chicken eggs and the white is higher in protein. They substitute one for one for chicken eggs in cooking and baking. The higher protein content of the whites makes them whip up higher, making cakes lighter.
From Farmed Animal Net, the weekly news digest of Farmed Animal Net,
On Tuesday, October 14th, a panel discussion about Proposition 2 was hosted on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The program is “the highest-rated talk show in American television history,” averaging some 8 to 12.5 million viewers ( Entitled “How We Treat the Animals We Eat,” the show’s guests included Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the U.S., New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Krisof (see:, and opponents of Prop 2. A slideshow of the program, including investigative reporter Lisa Ling’s visits to intensive confinement facilities and free-range farms, is viewable on the Oprah website:
On her blog, Ling states: “When I visited the caged egg and pig farms, I was shocked by how efficient, mechanical and computerized everything was. They were literally churning out product at rapid-fire pace...animal product. I must say that it was hugely eye-opening to see 90 thousand hens under one roof. There were 6 to a tiny cage, all on top of each other, fed antibiotics--covered in feces. It wasn't exactly, the wide-open space farm that I envisioned… Anyone who says that it is anything other than the wholesale factorization of living things is fooling themselves.” Noting that she hasn’t stopped eating eggs or pig meat, Ling writes that she “can't help but wonder what would happen if we just produced less. Would we need to run the animal/meat industry like factorized machines? Might we waste less? Might we be less...fat? Would that be so bad?” See also More Than One Way To Raise A Hog:
Ellen Degeneres had Wayne Pacelle on her popular television show on September 26th to discuss Proposition 2. She has also made a public service announcement in support of the ballot initiative: and promotes Prop 2 on her website:

CONSCIOUS EATING... Lisa Ling, blog, October 11, 2008
I do not endorse everything the Humane Society of the U.S. does, but they have done us all a service in bringing this initiative to the ballot. It's an idea whose time has come, and I hope it is approved by the voters on Election Day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Green Parent

My contribution as a guest blogger on The Green Parent was posted October 16, One kind parent responded "Thanks for the article! My son is 3 and he is already taking care of feeding and holding our chickens, they teach responsibility, cut household waste (eat almost everything!) and give wonderful eggs in return!"

The Green Parent has a lot of useful information -- I sure I'd had resources like this when I was raising my daughter! Thank you, Jenn.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Getting Recognized in the Standard

The American Poultry Association has a detailed process for recognizing a breed. Since publication of the last edition of the Standard in 1998, several species and breeds have been recognized: Appleyard and Saxony Heavy Ducks, Welsh Harlequin Medium Ducks, Guineafowl in Pearl, like this one photographed at Yellow House Farm in New Hampshire by Robert Gibson, Lavender and White.

Birds of the breed applying for recognition must be shown at APA shows at least twice each year for two years. At least two hens, two pullets, two cocks and two cockerels must be shown on each occasion.

Judges then submit their opinions of the breed and a qualifying meet is held. No fewer than 50 birds must be shown at the meet. Judges expect the birds to resemble each other closely, to establish the breed type.

Marans are currently under consideration. The American Marans Club, logo on the left, is organizing efforts to get the breed recognized. Varieties like Cuckoo, one of the most common Marans varieties, tend to be less similar to each other than solid colors like white. Marans are also raised in Black Copper, Black-tailed Buff, Gold Salmon, Silver Black, Splash, Blue, Wheaten and Birchen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

APA National 2008

Derek Fry-Shaw, 12, shows off his Light Brown Leghorn pullet, which was the Champion at the APA National in Ventura October 25-26. She's a beautiful bird and he has every right to be proud.
The show was a huge success, with more than 2,600 birds exhibited. That exceeded APA president Dave Anderson's expectations, leaving him scrambling for additional cages as the show unfolded. What a great problem to have!
Two hundred twenty-five exhibitors brought their birds, from 14 states. Three Marans were on display. Two Marans Club members visited the SPPA table. They are eager to achieve APA recognition for their breed.
We sold quite a few books and signed up some new SPPA members. Terry Reeder won the book I donated to the raffle. He was excited to have it. Seeing old friends such as Duane Urch and Butch Gunderson was a treat. Butch kindly posed for some pictures for How to Raise Chickens, demonstrating what judges look for at shows. He said some young exhibitors have recognized him from the book, and even asked him to autograph it. I'm glad he's enjoying it. I'm grateful for his accommodating my need for photos and his good nature.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Healthy Food Shed Tour

Joel Salatin exceeds his press! He was a delightful host and a charming advocate for integrated farming and food production on our tour. At right, he lectures the group on the deep litter management system he uses for his cattle.

In cold Virginia winters, they stay inside the covered shed, where they can eat their fill of the hay he has mown during the previous growing season. They manure is mixed with straw, building up several feet over the course of the winter. He tosses corn down along the way, so that the pigs will have something to root for after he turns the cattle out in the spring. They turn the litter over and it is soon composted fertilizer for the rest of the farm.

Dan Sullivan, senior editor at The New Farm, Rodale Institute,, Joe Davis, TipSheet and WatchDog TipSheet editor for the Society of Environmental Journalists,, and I organized the Healthy Food Shed tour for the recent annual conference. Since Virginia Tech was the sponsoring institution, visiting Joel's Polyface Farm was a natural. He welcomed us graciously.

We piled onto the hay bales on the trailer and he drove the tractor, pulling us around the farm to show us the sights. Joel had a lot to tell us, and we were an eager audience. We fell behind our time schedule and rushed past the chickens, but there wasn't much to see at this time of year. He had recently butchered the meat birds. The egg birds, apparently Rhode Island Reds, were at liberty but looked somewhat feather-bare. Perhaps they had been confined until recently. He said they were molting.

His pigs have got to be the happiest on earth. They greeted us and rolled in the sandy soil, lying down as they munched on the grass.

Craig Russell, president of the SPPA, accompanied us and addressed the group on the bus. Joel's doing a great job, but hasn't yet turned his attention to traditional poultry breeds. Craig talked on that subject, an idea unfamiliar to the tour participants.

Mindful of the pigs' fate, we enjoyed pork (or beef or vegetarian) burritoes for lunch, courtesy of Chipotle Mexican Grill, The company makes a point of sourcing local foods as much as possible. They have worked with Joel to expand his pork operation to provide enough pork for one restaurant. Joel is emphatic about encouraging other producers to explore such commercial ventures.

We concluded the day at the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia,, where they have carefully acquired historically accurate chickens. They had Silver Gray Dorkings at the Irish Farm, Colored Dorkings at the English Farm and Spitzhaubens and Polish at the German Farm. The Colored Dorking rooster was magnificent, even if his tail lacked a few feathers due to molting. A regal fellow, indeed.

I am off to the APA National in Ventura, and will continue the tour, along with news from the show, on my return on Monday.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Polyface Farm

I'll have the opportunity to visit Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm,, next week, October 16. It's the Healthy Food Shed Tour at the Society of Environmental Journalists' Annual Conference,

Daniel Sullivan, senior editor at Rodale Institute, Joe Davis, SEJ WatchDog and I organized the tour.

In the wake of global warming concerns and food-borne illness outbreaks that could be partly the result of growing and processing methods used in industrialized agriculture, consumers are starting to pay attention to how their food is raised and how far it travels. Farmer, writer, and speaker Joel Salatin is the poster child of the local food and farming movement. We'll visit Salatin's 550-acre diversified Polyface Farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and find out why his spread is, in the words of Michael Pollan, "one of the most productive and sustainable farms in America." And we'll hear from other industrious farmers, policymakers and folks serving up everything from food to fiber to fuel in their communities. Finally, we'll take a trip back in time as we visit the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia (where we'll enjoy lunch on Chipotle, a chain restaurant committed to sourcing food locally) and have the opportunity to explore the diverse food ways and farming techniques of the first European settlers to the region as well as the slaves brought over from Africa by force.

I'll also host a lunch discussion on the National Animal Identification System during the conference. Other journalists will have this opportunity to learn more about it and to meet with reporters and editors who are covering this issue.

SEJ conferences are always terrific and I look forward to having a great time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Getty Villa

We recently visited the Getty Villa in Malibu, It's a remarkable museum of Roman and Greek art, housed in a replica of a Roman villa. The museum was built by J. Paul Getty and is funded by the foundation he established.
I was delighted to find these chickens in a still life on the wall at the top of the Outer Peristyle. The description is specific about the accompanying painting, but doesn't give anything about the chickens. I've contacted the museum to see whether they have additional information.
Dorkings are the breed still living that is most identified with ancient Rome, but certainly there were other chickens. These appear to have some small crest, so they may presage the crested breeds, such as Polish, Houdans and Crevecoeurs.
Admission to the Villa is free. Parking is $10 per car. It's an exceptional place worth a visit when you are in California.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

California Proposition 2

Proposition 2 on the California ballot would add a chapter to Division 20 of California's Health and Safety Code to prohibit the confinement of certain farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. The measure would deal with three types of confinement: veal crates, battery cages for chickens, and sow gestation crates. Wikipedia has a good summary of it and the arguments for and against it,
Egg producing chickens spend their entire lives in cages like this one photographed by the Humane Society of the U.S. I don't agree with the HSUS on every issue, but this one is clear to me. This is not humane.
Industry representatives argue that keeping chickens in small flocks is inhumane, that they are dirty and sick. I can understand the industry arguing that they make more money from chickens so crowded in their cages they cannot even extend their wings, but to argue that chickens living in more natural conditions are not safe and healthy is crazy.
"This outdoor access enhances the likelihood that such poultry will have direct contact with migratory and wild birds as well as other animals, substantially increasing the risk of Avian Influenza, Exotic Newcastle Disease and other diseases," according to the United States Animal Health Organization, quoted at Californiasn for Safe Food, This kind of industry organization masquerading as a grass roots or public interest organization is called astro-turf, because it is misleading as to who its constituents are.
Farm Sanctuary,, says "Prop 2 is a modest proposal, simply asking that these animals receive the most basic considerations, yet it prompts a dramatic shift in the public’s recognition that these animals are sentient, deserving of protection and should not be treated as mere commodities. "
The American Egg Board,, notes that flocks of 100,000 laying hens are not unusual in the major egg producing states and some flocks number more than 1 million. Each of the 235 million laying birds in the U.S. produces between 250 to 300 eggs a year.
The United Egg Producers, recommends 67 to 86 inches per bird, less than the area of a single sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Since that exceeds by so much what the egg industry offers their hens, they recommend phasing in such extreme changes over five years. To ask for more faster would inconvenience their members.
Surely those birds deserve a better quality of life. Prop 2 has given us a chance to hear these absurd arguments and understand the egg industry better.
The more people keep their own chickens and have fresh eggs from their own flocks, the fewer chickens will be needed in the industrial system. That's a good thing. Continuing to allow producers to increase profits by abusing the animals who produce our food is inexcusable.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

CCFF Poultry Show

The Central Coast Feather Fanciers annual show was held this weekend in Paso Robles, California. Everyone there had a great time.

Total 108 exhibitors included 63 juniors, so that's a major focus of the show. The 750 birds exhibited were fewer than 2007's 1,000, but they represented an interesting variety of species and breeds. I was esepcially attracted to the Blue Magpie Duck that was shown. An Egyptian Goose was reserve waterfowl, an unusual choice. Full results will be posted soon.

Conor Keegan recently qualified as a judge, and this was the first official show he judged. He was as excited as a kid at Christmas. He couldn't stop smiling. He and Jim Adkins and Dave Anderson agreed that the reduced number of birds made their judging more enjoyable by allowing them more time with the birds and each other, making decisions.

The SPPA table was well attended and many participants took an interest in my books. I've got an inventory of other fun items, coloring books and stickers and paper napkins. It makes a colorful table with something for everyone.

And the raffle! Always one of my favorite show events. How is it that everyone seems to win exactly what they most want? My ticket won me this embroidery kit for a 32" square cross stitch tablecloth and the jigsaw puzzle title Animal Awareness, with all these lovely chickens.
Both will make excellent projects. Thank you, CCFF, for such a great show! We are all looking forward to the APA National coming up October 25-26 in Ventura.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Heritage Turkeys in Backyard Poultry

In honor of Thanksgiving, Backyard Poultry magazine,, features traditional turkeys in its October/November issue. It leads off with an excerpt from the turkey chapter in my book, How to Raise Poultry, the next title in the Future Farmers of America Livestock Series from Voyageur Press.
Editor Elaine Belanger did a great job with it, including pictures of Bourbon Red, Beltsville White, Bronze and Royal Palm turkeys provided by readers. Ross Simpson's artwork of turkey feather colors helps explain turkey plumage. It's my hope that Ross will see it and contact me. SPPA lost contact with him a couple of years ago. Ross, call me!
The issue also includes the SPPA's Critical List of Turkey Varieties and an article by Tom T. Walker of Texas on the Harvest Gold turkeys he is raising. It's a new variety which he developed by crossing solid red and solid black turkeys.
A page of turkey recipes concludes the section: two historic recipes dating back to the 18th century, a modern recipe and modern safe food handling advice.
Thanks for another great issue of Backyard Poultry!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


This sweet mother Dominique was sent to me by Bryan Oliver of the Dominique Club of America. This is a September hatch, but Bryan is in South Carolina, where he can expect mild weather.
The ability to hatch eggs is not well appreciated among the general public. I was discussing it with a journalist who was unfamiliar with poultry the other day. She didn't realize that the production Leghorns and Cornish-Rock crosses used in industrial egg and meat production are unsuitable for small flock ownership because they can't reproduce themselves. In sustainable agriculture operations and developing countries, being able to renew the flock without having to buy more chicks is important.
Broodiness has long been bred out of Leghorns. Broody chickens stop laying eggs for the duration, so it's economically undesirable to single-focus operations. Cornish-Rock crosses are bred to eat and grow until they die. They are physically unable to breed because of their large breasts and ungainly legs. They are the first generation cross between two different breeds and as such, will not reliably pass on their characteristics. A second generation would be a mix of characteristics.
A traditional breed such as the Dominique can mate naturally and the hens know how to set on the eggs until they hatch. They retain the instincts to care for their chicks and teach them how to find food and fit into the flock. These invaluable qualities distinguish them from industrial breeds. Traditional breeds are a valuable part of an integrated, sustainable operation and a requirement for productive small flocks in developing areas.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wake Forest Approves Chickens!

Raleigh News & Observer Wednesday September 24, 2008

Wake Forest approves household chickens
By Sarah Lindenfeld Hall, Staff Writer

WAKE FOREST - Emily Cole can have her chickens.

The Wake Forest town Board of Commissioners last week voted 4 to 1 to let Cole and any other town resident keep up to 10 hens.

Cole spoke to the town board last month, asking them to change a rule that required prospective chicken owners to get all neighbors within 500 feet to approve their plans.

Only one family has successfully convinced their neighbors to let them have chickens.

Cole couldn't. Though many neighbors had no problem with her plans, a few disagreed.

So Cole started a petition asking the town to loosen its rules. She eventually gathered several hundred signatures.

In August, town board members said they agreed that the rules needed to be changed.

Earlier this month, they considered a draft ordinance that allowed up to five chickens. Last week, after a public hearing, board members agreed to increase that number to 10. Cole had originally hoped officials would allow as many as 20.

"I'm really happy with the outcome, and I'm really excited that it didn't take six months to do it," Cole said. "I'm also really happy that the Wake Forest commissioners are open-minded. I'm excited that they realize it's a good step forward for the town."

Across the country, more urban and suburban residents are keeping chickens amid fears of the safety of the food supply and a desire to buy local products.

Until now, only the Bissette family in Wake Forest was allowed to have chickens. They were awarded a permit earlier this year after all of their neighbors agreed to their plans.

Neighbors and families at Holding Park across the street often stop by to see their hens.

The new rules mean that the Bissettes no longer have to get their permit renewed each year.

Dave Bissette said he wasn't concerned about getting the permit renewed, but it was a hassle. The family would have had to canvass all their neighbors again.

"I'm glad, quite frankly, I don't have to deal with it anymore," said Bissette.

Nobody came forward to speak out against the new rules at the public hearing. Town commissioner Pete Thibodeau was the lone dissenting vote.

Commissioner Frank Drake said many Wake Forest homeowners who live in neighborhoods where homeowner association rules ban chickens won't be able to keep them, despite the law.

Drake, whose grandparents tended chickens in a neighborhood when he was a child, said most people who contacted him supported the measure.

"I really don't think this is going to be as prevalent as vegetable gardening," he said. "Nobody seemed to have a problem with it once they realized that they lived in a neighborhood that had an HOA that forbade it."

Cole said last week that she wasn't sure when she will get her chickens, but it could be in the next week or so. Her husband has plans to build a miniature barn.

When Cole got home from last week's meeting, her husband and two young children were waiting to congratulate her with chicken drawings taped to the door.

They told her, the "chickens are coming."
I couldn't resist adding this photo of a Raleigh chicken coop, taken by Rick Bennett. This coop was included on the Tour d'Coop.
Great job, Emily, and all those who helped her. Including Commissioner Drake! His name reflects his poultry support.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How to Raise Poultry

How to Raise Poultry has occupied my attention for the past year, absorbing me completely for the past month. The text is now written and the photos selected. Most of my work on it is done. It is on track to be available in April 2009.
The people at Voyageur Press have been wonderful to work with. The experience has been a wonderful journey.
The book is in the Future Farmers of America Livestock Series, along with How to Raise Chickens. The series also has similar books on rabbits, cattle, pigs, goats and horses. How to Raise Poultry includes chapters on ducks, geese, swans, turkeys, guineafowl, game birds and pigeons, ratites (ostriches, emus and rheas) and, of course, chickens.
When I first told a friend the list of birds to be included in this book, he said, "That's going to be a very big book!" It is the same size as the other books in the series, so it does not include as much detail as How to Raise Chickens does. My goal was to write a book that would help beginners decide on what kind of birds suit them and get started. For experienced breeders, it includes interesting historical and cultural information about their birds and advice that will help them as they seek other ideas for managing their birds. It has more than 200 beautiful color pictures.
Keeping and breeding poultry is constantly challenging. I'm grateful to be a part of such interesting work.