Archive | May, 2011

Crazy Chicken Ladies

25 May

I am not alone! In April we saw a flyer at the feed store announcing an Open Coop Tour and an invitation for local poultry fanciers to open their coops to visitors on May 1. So we did…and it was satisfying and fun to share our experiences and enthusiasm for backyard chickens on the Coop d’ Hill tour.

I also met some more of my “peeps” in Morgan Hill. Among them is Kate of Artisan Eggs, who organized the open coop event and stopped by to deliver a poster/sign for our gate. Kate and her husband live just down the road from us and produce beautiful eggs from some very pampered poultry. Kate and I discovered that we had purchased Black Copper Marans from the same batch of chicks, making us related in some peculiar but pleasant way.

Then, less than a week later a friend recommended Alice Walker’s new book The Chicken Chronicles. Oh. My. Goodness! I was instantly captivated and had to force myself to read it slowly and savor her words.

Perhaps you’ve seen her? A photograph of her, maybe? She is an old woman, round, comfy, wearing a dark-colored headscarf – so maybe she’s in Turkey, or Egypt or Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq – sitting under a tree, or maybe she’s on a bench that’s against a wall. Outside anyway and she’s gazing in complete peace at a flock of geese in front of her. But there she is, and peace is with her. How is this? That is the mystery I have fallen into with my chickens. I sit in the corner of the chicken yard on my little green stool, Babe in my lap, Gertrude S. in my lap, and I’m there. Eternity. How long have humans and nonhumans been carrying on this way? – Alice Walker

Every morning I have my first cup of coffee while sitting on my stool in the henyard, watching my little yard birds forage and fuss over who gets what piece of scratch, preening themselves, making a beeline for the nest box to take care of some egg business, chasing off the blue jays or squirrels who come into the yard for a quick snack, or hopping up on the sink beside me to give me a long, curious stare. My hens don’t sit in my lap, like Alice Walkers’ hens do…but just observing them every day centers me and gives me a powerful sense of gratitude for the Earth and its gifts.

When we started this hobby/folly with one coop and a few hens we had NO IDEA what we were getting into! Eddie is such an indulgent and thoughtful husband…and he loves to build things, but we never dreamed we’d become so attached, interested and amused.

These days, when I open the coops and let the 17 hens out of Eggs R Us I look at them and think how amazing it will be to see their numbers doubled in the coming months. We have 25 chicks that we’ve raised from a few days old in the laundry room and then the chicken tractor. We recently moved them all into Coop de Ville and Coopacabana, and here’s a video update on their status.

We are already selling beautiful, fresh, organic and free-range eggs to our neighbors who are both delighted and grateful. We do not profit financially, but their donations help pay for chicken feed and support our hobby.  Now, that’s not so crazy, is it?

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Egg Salad and Green Garlic

18 May

At the Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago I made a palate-pleasing discovery…green garlic! I am a huge fan of the “stinking rose” and love it raw, sautéed, roasted, you name it, but the tender young plants sliced into a stir fry or a salad would tempt even a vampire! And, because the “heat” is not yet developed you can use OODLES of it and not overwhelm other flavors, such as eggs.

A few days ago I served egg salad sandwiches for dinner, made with fresh eggs from our backyard flock, chopped celery and red onion, and green garlic, of course. The green garlic looks like a green onion but the leaves are flat and V-shaped, rather than tubular. When you slice it open you can see the tiny cloves inside. I simply peel the bulb, slice in rings and chop.

I used 4 hard boiled eggs and about ½ cup chopped celery, generous amounts of chopped baby red onion and green garlic, mayo, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to make the egg salad. I don’t like to add any other seasonings because I like to taste the egg…and the garlic, of course.

I also like a rather coarse mixture so I just mix it up and then “smush” it lightly on a plate, adding salt and pepper to taste…which means I usually consume quite a bit of the salad before it hits the sandwich.

Fresh romaine lettuce leaves, and a dense German caraway rye bread and half-sour pickles from our local European deli made this a simple, hearty and tasty dinner.

It is NOT easy to find green garlic…I couldn’t find it in any of our markets except the Farmer’s Market…and it is no doubt a spring season item. Fortunately, we live near Gilroy, the Garlic Capital of the World, so I can begin growing it in my vegetable garden and even in the flower beds for a continuous supply of green garlic… and protection against evil spirits!