Saturday, July 26, 2014

Barrington Living History Farm

On my recent visit to Texas, I visited Barrington Living History Farm in Washington-on-Brazos. It's a lovely spot, rather green despite the hot summer days. Docent Pam Scaggs takes care of the chickens. She's got a small flock in a lovely shaded chicken house, including a Brahma hen.
The chicken house, in a shaded yard.
Pam Scaggs at her fenced yard.

There's a second flock, with a Polish rooster named Kramer presiding over five Dominique hens. They live across the way, in the livestock barn.

There's a Black Spanish turkey hen, too, but she didn't pay much attention to him.

One of the Dominiques likes grasshoppers, so she flies over the fence every day and enjoys hunting them. She's very quick!
No many escape her sharp beak.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sustainable Food

How cool is this -- Tom Philpott in Mother Jones writes about a group of design students who got together to come up with icons that would tell consumers about the food they are buying. Icons are an instant way to communicate how they were grown, the issues that people want to know. Take a look at what they came up with:
They even came up with one for heritage breeds! Featuring, of course, a chicken.
Twenty years ago, or even ten, this wouldn't have been on the radar. Now, it's common knowledge. how fast things can change!

When I first got chickens, that's where I was. I didn't know anything about them until the chicks I bought at the feed store grew up and the Buff Orpington started crowing.

Thanks for giving instant recognition to our heritage.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Growing up

The Cuckoo Marans and Welsummer chicks hatched by my Blue Laced Red Wyandotte are growing fast. I kept them separated from the rest of the flock to avoid having babies scooting under the fence into the neighbor's yard. Now, they're big enough to stay (mostly) inside the run.

We liberated them from their enclosure inside the coop last week. They spent most of the day exploring the coop, but by afternoon they were ready for their appearance in the world. Ms. Wyandotte led them out like a princess leading a parade!

They gained confidence quickly and venture away from mother to scratch around, explore and take dirt baths. They soon discovered the perches.
Ms. Wyandotte is a fierce mother. The pecking order has been disrupted by all these changes. She's now targeting Blondie, the only other hen even close to her in size. The Welsumer and Ancona get along fine with her and the chicks.

Every day is different. Occasionally one or more chicks escape from the run. When they realize they are separated from mother, they set up their distress call, which alerts me to come out and save the lost baby. Last night one got out on the vacant lot side and started wandering, squawking loudly all the way. From a predation point of view, it was the worst thing she could possibly do. I'm delighted that there are still seven chicks.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Heritage Park

I visited Heritage Park in Calgary, Alberta, as part of the Association for Living History and Agricultural Museums annual conference. What a terrific place! The park welcomed us, offering a detailed presentation on its historic costumes -- for over 900 people, both employees and volunteers. They cover the time period from 17th century trappers and missionaries through the 1930s.

The designers create their own patterns.

Bride and groom, for those special occasions.

Seamstresses use both machine and hand sewing to get every detail right.

They also make their own hats. Every person wears a hat.

It's an ALHFAM tradition to have an ox driving competition, but that was replaced by a tractor driving competition this year. Heritage Park has some beautifully restored vehicles. Novice drivers competed on a 1946 John Deere, but anyone who had ever driven a tractor before qualified as Experienced and drove a 1911 Reliance. It was a truly remarkable contraption. My husband Godron drove it well.
The steering wheel makes 44 complete revolutions to turn the wheels.
I didn't get the model of this one. Anyone know what it is?
They also have a lot of livestock. The Muscovy ducks were sweet.
Two females and one male.
Muscovies have these caruncles.
Two separate chicken coops.
One for these hens...
and one for this mother and her chicks.
As always, the live animals are a big attraction for all the visitors. Thanks, Heritage Park, for passing on enthusiasm for livestock!