Monday, November 29, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas

For the past two years, I've posted historical information as to the items listed in the traditional carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Check the December postings from 2008 and 2009. PNC Wealth Management compiles costs for what it would actually cost to purchase everything, from the Partridge in a Pear Tree through the Twelve Drummers Drumming,

They've been doing this for 27 years. This year, the cost is up 9.2 percent, to $23,439. They attribute most of the increase to the rise in gold prices, boosting the price of the Five Gold Rings, and increased costs of entertainment. "The 11 Pipers Piping ($2,356) and 12 Drummers Drumming ($2,552) saw modest increases, both up 3.1 percent, however these higher costs give greater weight to the index. Lords-a-Leaping jumped 8 percent to $4,766 but the biggest dollar increase this year was for the Nine Ladies Dancing, up $820, a 15 percent boost. None of these performers received a wage increase last year, and were playing catch-up in 2010," PNC said in a press release.

They noted that Houdan, Crevecoeur and La Fleche are the French breeds that would be likely candidates fot Three French hens, price up to $150 from $45 in 2009. That's not an outlandish price, although you could get them for less. The Six Geese A-Laying are unchanged, at $150. Sounds like a good deal.
If they'd taken my advice and bought Ring-Necked Pheasants instead of the literal Gold Rings, $649.95, they'd have saved quite a bit. Pheasant chicks are readily available for less than $3 each. Four Calling Birds, unspecified as to breed, are listed at $599.96. Historically, Colley Birds could refer to black fowl, which would also be much less expensive.

The Seven Swans A-Swimming are most changeable in price, going way up some years and down others. They are up 6.2 percent this year, to $5,600. Probably Mute Swans, those are the iconic breed, but controversial. Some states require that they be pinioned, the distal end of the wing surgically removed so that they can't fly. If they escape, they easily become feral and have become an invasive species in some states.

The Eight Maids A-Milking continue as minimum wage employees, one of the least expensive items at $58.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pardoning Turkeys

President Obama 'pardoned' two Broad-Breasted White turkeys, a presidential tradition honoring Thanksgiving, Other turkeys were pardoned as political fun, such as this one in North Dakota, I hope some day that the turkey industry will not have so much influence on Washingotn, DC politics and the president will be able to pardon a traditional breed bird.
Bill Morem, columnist for the local newspaper in San Luis Obispo, The Tribune, dispelled some commonly held myths about turkeys in his column, Thanks, Bill! Turkeys are indeed noble and delightful birds.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkeys

My friend Zulima Palacios prepared a report on industrial turkey production for Voice of America, The USDA scientist is so proud of her work! Perhaps not all of us think of the Wild Turkey as 'scrawny.' I think of them as athletic and the Broad-Breasted White as unnaturally fat and misshapen.

As I was reminded at the recent Society of Environmental Journalists conference, the story can be very different, depending on how it is told.

Tina Tyzzer tells her turkey story very differently in this newspaper account, Her turkeys have graced this blog in the past. Thanks, Tina, for keeping me informed of their adventures! The link will be active for only one week.

Frank Reese is having another banner year raising heritage turkeys at Good Shepherd Ranch in Kansas, Personally, I'll have an heirloom bird from a California grower,

Check with local meat departments in grocery stores and ask around at the farmers' market for a source of heritage birds in your area. This classic Narragansett is from Yellow House Farm in New Hampshire,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New birdwatching book

Identifying and Feeding Birds by Bill Thompson III, ISBN-13/EAN: 9780618904440 ; $14.95, ISBN-10: 0618904441. Trade Paperback ; 256 pages.

If you don't have chickens, you may be enjoying watching wild birds. Bill Thompson packs this book with useful information from his years as a bird watcher and editor of Bird Watchers Digest. Great pictures, too. It's the latest in the Backyard Bird Guides collection of the Peterson Field Guide series.

The first half is devoted to general bird information. The reader gets all the basics of feeding, housing and making birds welcome. He takes on the common myths that circulate about backyard birds – they won’t starve if you’re out of town and can’t feed them, they won’t stop migrating, and more. He advises about the sick and injured birds that are likely to be part of the natural world the reader observes. The details of nesting boxes – how to construct them, where to place them, how to maintain them – encourage the reader to create homes for wild birds.

Thompson writes from a viewpoint of environmental consciousness. Habitat is primary in attracting birds. He includes a bird-friendly plant list.

The second half of the book is a guide to 125 Common Backyard Birds. It’s a convenient reference to have at hand.

Thompson shares his own practices. He puts out everything. Freezer-burned meat attracts vultures and hawks, as well as foxes and coyotes. Melon rinds, insect-infested food and the remains of the dead garden all cater to birds on his farm. He admits the meat might offend close neighbors and wouldn’t be for every birdwatcher.

He’s written a folksy but expert guide for novices or experienced backyard birdwatchers. I’ve already given one to a relative as a gift. Think Christmas.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

National Geographic on Domestication

The producer contacted me for help locating resources on poultry domestication. I was able to connect her with Tomas Condon, who is studying Junglefowl. The program will be broadcast Nov. 23.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Supporters Count Their Chickens, Now That Bremerton Law Is Hatched

Bremerton, Washington chicken enthusiasts received what they wanted all along Wednesday night: The ability to legally raise hens in the city, brought about by city council action instead of a citizens’ initiative.

The city council voted 6-3 to allow residents to keep up to four hens per property. That vote came after the council voted 6-3 to make June 30, 2012 the end date for the ordinance.

The sunset clause was designed as a mandate for the city to revisit what is — or is not — working with the ordinance, or to let it go away.

Read more:

Thanks, Steven Gardner, for your coverage of the issue. The headline reflects the imagery that chickens inspire -- such rich material! Everyone wants to have some fun.

The idea of a Sunset Clause is a good one for chicken enthusiasts who are encountering opposition to making chickens legal in their towns. It might be a way to open the door and give chickens a chance.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Breeding flocks

Are you thinking of dispersing your flock? Or reducing it, limiting yourself to fewer breeds? Here’s someone who will take your flock and continue the work you’ve been doing with them.

Wesley Cox of St. Simons Island, Georgia,, 912-634-4543, is looking for a flock of chickens. He’d prefer a flock or flocks that have been bred to type by a caring and knowledgeable breeder. He’s looking for a flock that has breeding records.

“My vision is to carry on a serious breeding project in a significant area of poultry preservation, improvement, and production. A heritage or endangered breed of chicken would be nice but I will consider any breed. I am specifically interested in furthering the work of a passionate breeder who will be willing to mentor me within reason to get me started so as to have the benefit or his or her education. My return to them will be to agree to further their work. Poultry genetics are important and I want to keep their work alive,” he writes.

Contact him directly. I'll continue to post his progress.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Keep Fear Alive!

My friend Sharon Guynup joined the March to Keep Fear Alive/Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, DC last weekend. She's great at capturing events in photos. She had me in mind when she saw this person and took his picture.
"Can you tell I'm having way too much fun?" she says.
Chickens inspire fun. Wearing chicken tee shirts invites people to greet me, share chicken experiences, and generally recognize common ground of good nature. Chicken keepers rate spending time with their chickens as one of the reasons they keep them.
Thanks for sharing the fun with us, Sharon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Radical Homemaking

A BETTER world Lecture Series presents Shannon Hayes speaking on Radical Homemaking: Reclaiming Domesticity From A Consumer Culture, November 5, 7:00pm, Saint Mary's, Hudson, NY. She wrote the book of the same name,

I'll have to get this book and find out how she's analyzing our work in the home. It sounds like she's on to something, re-figuring our work to reflect the new green reality: eating locally, relying on local resources for other needs, local finance, being more self-sufficient, keeping chickens and other poultry. Here's the description:

Mother Nature has shown her hand. Faced with climate change, dwindling resources, and species extinctions, most Americans understand the fundamental steps necessary to solve our global crises - drive less, consume less, increase self-reliance, buy locally, eat locally, rebuild our local communities.

In essence, the great work we face requires rekindling the home fires.

Radical Homemakers is about men and women across the U.S. who focus on home and hearth as a political and ecological act, and who have centered their lives around family and community for personal fulfillment and cultural change. It explores what domesticity looks like in an era that has benefited from feminism, where domination and oppression are cast aside and where the choice to stay home is no longer equated with mind-numbing drudgery, economic insecurity, or relentless servitude.