Bring out the crime scene tape…

We lost one of our Silver Laced Wyandotte’s sometime during the night. It’s our first, but probably not last death.   I’d long ago stopped doing a head count when latching our coop as the girls truly put themselves to bed around dusk.  This was after orating on this virtuous trait of the bird yesterday to friends Jay and Anna who are going to be chicken, rabbit and dog sitting so I can leave town and regain some semblance of a sense of humor. A scattering of feathers triggered my peaking over the edge of the planter box and it was a grisly sight.  Naturally I want to share.

Thankfully I’d fortified myself with half a cup of coffee as opposed to fortified coffee before this headless discovery.  And yes, I’m keeping the feet.

The boyfriend experience…

I’m thrilled to report that I have the sort of friends who operate heavy machinery (their car) with a couple of roosters as passengers.  When Cassie stopped by earlier this week we introduced her two guys to my flock thinking we were going to see them make some magic.  Big dreams of a short nature film with a 1070’s porn soundtrack were dashed.  This rooster, the naked neck was far more interested in what edibles might be hidden in the compost pile.  The exploration took up most of his time and focus.

mr naked neck






























Big Beard, the other rooster focused on strutting his stuff for Chaca my Bantum rooster.  While amusing to see Chaca hop up and down or as the kids say “get air” due to his indignation Big Beard proved to be handsome but not all that bright.  The girls did not even get Safeway flowers.

Big Beard


I admit to rarely paying much attention to the alumni magazines that show up in my mailbox semi-annualy.  Just enough time goes by between the arrival of the publication that I’ve lapsed on berating myself for not finding a cure for cancer or sending my flock of pullets to the moon.  This time I was pleased to see a feature on fellow Lewis & Clark alum who’ve stayed in the Portland area.  They are up to some creative things, many are independent business owners.  One, Melanie Nead who originally had plans to be an English professor is the owner and one of two lead artists at Icon Tattoo.  She’s a backyard chicken addict and offers a discount on any chicken related tattoo design.  I did not find any chicken ink on their site but am sharing a few other images.

Dustin Ranck's work at Icon Tattoo

Icon Tattoo’s website is

Melanie Nead's work at Icon Tattoo

Farmer Sparky…

Farmer Sparky

A huge muchas gracias to the thoughtful individual who sold Henry a couple of lighters at the Marin County Fair when he was wandering unchaperoned with friends.  One has a distinctive leaf and skull motif the other burns so strong and bright that “crack pipe” floats through my mind.  He says they are “just for show” and I’m trying to tease out exactly what that means.

Jennifer and one of the curly fur bunnies

Last night there was an impromtu garden party at my friend Cassie’s house.  Henry and I harvested potatoes from her recycled trash can potato towers which we later consumed in a delish potato salad tangy with greek yogurt.  We shared blueberries and apricots from our garden.  As it turns out, thinking ahead Henry had one of his above mentioned purchases in a pocket ready for the fireworks.  He thus earned the nickname “Sparky”  which he will be forevermore known as when at Garden Girl Farm.

our new housemates

We also came home with five (three of them one day old) chicks and I barely escaped a bunny after holding the furry bundle. They are thriving in Henry’s bedroom two of them growing larger overnight.  The one day old chicks are runts and probably would not have survived outdoors.  We are hoping to alter those odds.  The coop gets built on Tuesday so will be ready for the new residents in two to three weeks.

Garden #2 Marin’s Eco-Friendy Garden Tour…

garden overview looking out towards the street

What was magical about this second stop on the tour was stepping off of one of the most traffic burdened streets in Fairfax through a non pretentious gate and into this oasis of calm.  Three years ago this space was all lawn. Before I started up the inner critique of my ten year conversion of salt & pepper rock to my present garden it should be noted that I read the fine print and the owner of this property is a professional landscape designer.

rooftop runoff pond, home to mosquito fish

This garden utilizes both a rainwater diversion system and a greywater system which the owner alternates for watering his plants.  When asking questions about the greywater system I could not help recalling that in the late 1970’s when Marin was experiencing a drought my father rigged up a grey water system that flowed from the garage into a big galvanized tank.  At the time I looked at it like one of his many freak show projects that involved chores for me and was a source of embarrassment when friends came over and made inquiries.  Coming full circle I now want to investigate the possibility for my own home.  Good thing Henry already has a therapist!

the girls

This was the only home on the tour that had a chicken coop. During the day the chickens are free range as the owner’s dog herds them versus eating them. I like that table grapes had been planted against the coop which when more mature will supply some additional shade for the girls.  Some of the hardscape material used were from Urban Ore i.e. reclaimed and on their second life.

veggie beds

Nice veggie beds and plenty of selections for the bees like Bee Balm, Yarrow and Lavender.

The chicken renaissance…

I really should but I’ve yet to return a friend’s June/July issue of  “Organic Gardening” magazine.  In preparation for my own backyard flock I’m doing as much reading as possible on this currently popular topic.  Sadly there is no online link to the article appropriately titled “Coming Home to Roost”  or the amazing chicken portraiture by photography Matthew Benson.  Beg, borrow but can’t really endorse steal yourself a copy.