chickens (46)

Harmony Farm Supply and National Heirloom Expo

We had a great day yesterday. North into farmland, to Sebastapol and the Harmony Farm Supply, what a great place. Good tools, good additives, seeds, irrigation, etc. No foul chemical smells. Knowledgeable staff.

   Then to the National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa. Unique event. Yesterday was the last of 3 days (Tues-Wed-Thurs). Tons of different heirloom fruits, vegetables, cheeses, on and on… goats, sheep, cows, turkeys and a huge display of bantam chickens. Food booths (and samples) up the kazoo. It’s a very together farming, gardening, food preparation and preservation show. Real food and respect-for-earth concepts and practices have come a long way in the last 25 years — progress. I’m going to this for sure next year, and we’ll probably get a booth and sell building books. Our kinda people.

   Back through Petaluma and Heritage Salvage, huge amount of recycled lumber, including some stunning old barn timbers.

  Got a lot of good pics yesterday, no time to do anything other than this with 3 of them:

This was on back road between Petaluma and Sebastapol.

Real tomatoes

Bantam Silver Spangled Hamburg

raised by Janelle Thope

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The National Heirloom Exposition, Santa Rosa, Calif., Sept. 11,12,13

“The National Heirloom Exposition is a not-for-profit event centered around the pure food movement, heirloom vegetables, and anti-GMO activism. Our first annual event held mid-September, 2011, in Santa Rosa, California, drew more than 10,000 people from around the country and beyond. With more than 70 speakers and 250 natural food vendors, the event was the largest gathering in pure food history! The Heirloom Expo has gained incredible interest among home growers, farmers, school groups and the general public–so much so that it is being called the “World’s Fair” of the heirloom industry!

We are happy to announce that the dates for next year’s event have already been set for September 11, 12, and 13th, 2012 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California.…”

1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa.

Drawing above shows 2 Golden Seabright bantams, the main birds of our current flock.

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51 Baby Chicks Arrive Today

Got a call from the post office at 8AM this morning that they had arrived, airmail from the Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa. All bantams: 30 Golden Seabrights, 10 Auracanas, 2 Partridge Rocks, 4 Rhode Island Reds. 4 Japanese Bantams, 1 “free rare exotic chick.”

  I picked them up and we put them in a box under a warm infrared light and dipped their beaks into water for their first drink. The Seabrights are quite tiny, quite beautiful, and fragile. 6 have died so far — par for the course. They can’t sex bantams, so we order twice as many as we want in in order to get the right # of hens. We’ll keep one Seabright rooster to eventually hatch more of them. Excess roosters will be offed for barbecue. We’ll use the Rhode Islands as setters (the full-size Rhode Islands never set, but the bantams retain the setting instinct).

   I spent the weekend building a separate yard for the babies; otherwise they would be attacked by the grown-ups when small.

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Chickens Just Ordered

Above: five Silver Seabrights and one Golden Seabright bantam hens (pic shot yesterday).

We just ordered about 50 bantam baby chicks from Murray McMurray (10 Auracanas, 30 Golden Seabrights, and a few each of Rhode Island Reds, Partridge Rocks, and Black Tailed White Japanese). Bantams can’t be sexed as can regular birds, so you figure half of these will be male, and will become tasty barbecue.

   We’ve been ordering birds by mail from McMurray for over 30 years. Their breeding seems to be top notch, and service is excellent.You go down to the post office and pick up a box of peeping chicks. It’s amazing how it all works.I couldn’t conceive of being without chickens these days. We feed them all our food scraps, along with scratch and mash, and they produce these small eggs that taste like nothing you will ever get in a store.

   Here is a chicken starter kit McMurray offers for first-time chicken owners:

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Thinking of Keeping Chickens in Your Yard?

“For newly hatched chicken enthusiasts, the first egg from your own hens is a small miracle. ‘You want to dip it in gold,’ said the writer Susan Orlean, who keeps nine hens at her home in Columbia County, N.Y.

   Then comes the second egg: enough for a triumphant breakfast.…”

Long article in today’s NY Times by Julia Moskin:

Photo by Mark Wallheiser: “A basket of eggs at Greenfire Farms in Havana, Fla.”

Those chocolate eggs are probably from Maran hens.

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Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools

This is the single most useful site/blog on the web for me. I can’t say how many useful things this blog has turned me on to. It’s like the electronic Whole Earth Catalog, but what’s better is that it uses no paper, and it’s daily.

Kevin Kelly, ex-Whole Earth Review editor, founding editor at Wired mag, author, photographer, explorer, runs this operation, with daily reviews of useful stuff.

“Cool tools really work. A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on this site are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. We only post things we like and ignore the rest. Suggestions for tools much better than what is recommended here are always wanted. Tell us what you love.”

Easiest way to get there is to go to, then click on “Cool Tools” at the left.

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Chickens by Mail, Rain By Midweek

For over 30 years we’ve been getting our chickens from Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa. They ship day-old chicks in a ventilated flat box and you pick up this peeping package at your post office. McMurray has been in business for 95 years and their breeds are excellent.

   We get excited looking at the new catalog each year. They also have ducks, turkeys, pheasants, and quail. (Oh how I wish we had more than a half-acre!) We’ve gone through many breeds over the years and have now settled on bantams.


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Chickens Got New Feathers

They looked really ratty a month ago after they’d shed feathers. Now they’re all newly feathered out, our little bantam Silver Seabrights, one Golden Seabright, and about 3 bantam Auracanas. Lookin good. We got these because of their beauty, the black band around each white (or golden) feather. This coming summer, we’re going to get a new flock of Golden Seabrights and Auracanas. Pix shot an hour ago.

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