Help stop GMO corn!!!

Here’s the email I’ve shared with my family and friends from CREDO. Please follow the link, and sign the petition if you want to tell Monsanto you don’t want to eat their crappy, unnatural food!

“Subject: Tell Walmart: Don’t sell Monsanto’s potentially toxic GMO sweet corn

Dear Friend,

This spring, Monsanto’s GMO sweet corn — their first product for direct human consumption — will be getting planted for the first time.

Then it will be sold, unlabeled, in a grocery store near you.

To stop it, we’ll need significant opposition from food sellers to this untested, potentially toxic product. Walmart is the largest food retailer in the country, but they have no plans to reject Monsanto’s GMO sweet corn.

I just signed a petition urging Walmart to take a stand for consumer safety, and reject Monsanto’s GMO sweet corn before it’s planted. You can add your name here:

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/walmart_gmo_corn/?r_by=35134-4444997-Rnbuuyx&rc=confemail

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones Updated.

I’ve been taking some classes through our local extension office, and was surprised to find out that the USDA has updated the plant hardiness zones in recent weeks. It looks like global warming has taken most of us up about a half zone. I was in Zone 5b, but now I’m 6a. Not much of a different, but good to know. Because there are a lot of  gardeners out there, I wanted to help spread the word.

From the USDA website

 

Get the full info from their website here.

 

I was going to post about this tonight, but Soulsby Farm beat me! And since they did it wonderfully, I’ll just reblog! Enjoy!

Two Barn Farm

I’m not one to post back-to-back entries, I’m usually good for one a week but if you didn’t see the new ad for Chiptotle, take a couple of minutes and watch it. This is Chipotle’s first tv ad and wow! They nailed it, amazing. Smart campaign to target a “Back to Basics” farming approach in this short animated commercial featuring Willie Nelson covering Coldplay…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMfSGt6rHos

It reminds me of Pixar’s “Up” when they were able to convey so much emotion in the first ten minutes (when she was unable to have children) completely through nonverbal means. I’m not saying go to Chipotle’s (owned by McDonald’s) but I am saying what they made here is gold and will hopefully force change in the industrial agricultural factory farming community.

Baby steps, right?

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Chicken Catastrophe—>divided?

Nettie on the left. Birdie on the right.

You may remember, when I first introduced “the girls,” I said that Nettie was brooding when we got her, but was starting to peck the other two at feeding time.  Well, I noticed this morning, she was a little more aggressive. Then, this evening she was being really mean. Like, making the other two squeal, and not letting them eat. I took a close look, and saw both Birdie and Dolly were bleeding from their combs. Now, I don’t know much about chickens, but I do know if you see blood, it’s not a good thing.  So a quick google search, and an after hours phone call to “our chicken guy” confirmed, Nettie had to be isolated. Thus, the picture above. We did some fancy footwork, and divided the pen part of our coop into 2, with the old Net-ster on the left, and Birdie and Dolly on the right. ( Birdie is pecking around like nothing happened and Dolly is hiding the in coop growling at me.)

I made sure all the bleeding was done, applied some vaseline, gave both sides water and shut off the lights. Hopefully in a few days Nettie will be calm enough that we can let her back in with the other girls. I think she’s starting to molt, though, so we may have to come up with other arrangements for her.

Any of my more experienced chicken-owning friends out there have any suggestions?

Things I’ve Learned from My Chickens, Week 1

Lesson 1: Jersey giants are big. REALLY big. They have beady eyes, huge claws, and beaks, reeeally big beaks.

Lesson 2: They move fast. And, oh yeah, they fly.

We got our chickens on Sunday. Henrietta (aka Nettie), Dolly and Birdie, also called “The Girls.”  I haven’t blogged about the girls yet, because mostly we’re all still adjusting. Day one started off…interesting. We had to transfer the girls from the cardboard box we picked them up in, into the coop. Now, I read that chickens need time to adapt to their new homes, or they’ll attempt to fly home. So, I was extremely focused on keeping them contained. That is, until we took the box lid off. Within the first 10 minutes of arriving home, the girls had me screaming and laughing hysterically, all while flapping my arms and jumping around like I was doing a really bad dance. My husband saved the day by running after them down the driveway.  I was still flapping, and laughing even harder.

Lesson 3: Chickens have distinct personalities.

Nettie was broody when we got her. So she didn’t do much besides sit in the coop. She still hides when we come out to see them. She’s not broody anymore, and yesterday she started pecking at her sisters during dinner. She’s letting them know she’s back in action, I think.

Dolly was mild, and sweet the first few days. Now all she does is growl at me and runaway. If first impressions stick with chickens, after my shrieking and dancing on the first day, I don’t believe she’ll ever stop growling. I’m attempting to overcome my intimidation of these huge girls, so I tried to pet Birdie today. Dolly tried to peck me. Yikes!

Birdie. Oh, Birdie.  She is my favorite.  She never missed a beat. She’s inquisitive, outgoing, and doesn’t growl, runaway or peck at me. She let me pet her, twice. She just started making this sweet clucking sound when she sees me. It warms a chicken mothers heart. ❤

The inquisitive Birdie in the forefront, and timid Nellie in the coop. Dolly is too busy growling at me to get in the picture.

Lesson 4: Whoever said chickens don’t lay for awhile after their environment has changed has never met my chickens.

We really didn’t expect to get any eggs for awhile since the girls were uprooted from their home. They had a heat lamp and 16 hours of light there, and Nettie was broody anyway. We put them in their coop at 2pm on Sunday. By Monday at 7am, we had an egg. Now its Friday, and I have 7 eggs in my fridge. I’d call them pretty good numbers! And the eggs are biggin’s!

Lesson 5: You can tell who laid the egg by shape, color, and place, most of the time.

Birdie was the first to lay. It was obvious for a few reasons. One, she was oblivious to any change, and was happy from the start. Two, the egg was huge. HUGE! She’s the biggest of all 3, so I just assume it was her. She made a little nest in the straw, not in the nesting box, and laid the first day. Her eggs tend to be darker , and they’re all extra large.

Dolly laid the first day too, in the same spot as Birdie. Hers were slightly smaller, and lighter in color. I know it was her, because Nettie was still broody, and because I saw her lay one.

Nettie lays in the nesting box. She’s the only one. We’ve gotten two light brown, large sized eggs from her so far.

Dolly's on the left, and birdie's on the right.

Lesson 5: They tend to lay their eggs at the same time of day.

So far all the eggs seem to be found between noon and 2pm.

Lesson 6: They’ll eat mostly anything, but if it’s sweet, they’ll inhale it.

The previous owners told us that they had a sweet tooth. The first few days, I gave them apples. Then the left over kettle corn. They devoured it! Yesterday, I gave them a half a head of cabbage. It’s still sitting there.

Lesson 7: They are funny and really entertaining.

I catch myself standing in the cold watching them. They peck. They scratch. They Flap. It sounds ridiculous. But unless you have them in your backyard and get a chance to watch them, you won’t understand. They’re just comic relief at it’s finest.

Lesson 8: I’m scared of chickens.

Probably not the best lesson to learn after I’ve committed to caring for them, but it’s true. They are intimidating. They’re skiddish around me, probably because I’m skiddish around them. I haven’t picked one up yet (OH DEAR GOD!)  But I’ve attempted to pet them. Unsuccessfully. Dolly wants to kill me. But, everyday we warm up to each other a little more, so it’ll be fine. I’m confident of that.

Lesson 9: I love my chickens.

These ladies don’t require much. And although we aren’t particularly fond of each other yet, I still feed them, give them shelter, and worry about them, and they still give me eggs, fertilizer, compost and entertainment.  I think I got the better end of the bargain in this one.

City Girl Farming Blog

After seeing photos of horribly abused chickens missing beaks and feathers crammed in tiny little cages laying eggs, I decided I’d never buy another factory-farmed egg. The next time I was in the store, I was relieved to find “cage-free” eggs just slightly more expensive than the standard battery-caged eggs. With a sigh of relief, I decided if I needed to supplement the eggs my chickens lay, I could buy those eggs with a good conscience. It felt great to ‘do my part’ to end animal suffering.

But looking around I realized there were a lot of labels being boldly stamped on egg cartons these days— cage-free, free-range, organic, vegetarian, pastured-raised, and those boasting high levels of omega-3. It all seemed pretty confusing. What do all those labels mean?

Just last week, I went to a chicken lecture by a Ph.D. who consults with people who have chicken questions. This…

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Common Courtesy, a true lost art.

I live in the suburbs, but I grew up in the woods. Literally. Our house was in the mountains, surrounded by trees, few neighbors, and miles from a stoplight, grocery store or gas station. The only other sign of life was hooting owls, and deer munching on the hydrangeas. So, coming to “the big city” after college was exciting! I’d be able to get to the movies within an hour, get groceries without driving 60 miles round trip, and meet cute boys that I wasn’t related to! (I lived in the Appalachians, ok?!)  One of the things I did not anticipate when moving to the big city was the people.

City people are mean.

Get these city people behind the wheel of anything; shopping cart, car, bicycle, and you will get mowed down. Trust me, I have the shin bruises from the carts at Wal-Mart to prove it. I don’t know exactly what it is. I’m sure it has to do with being in close proximity with so many other people all the time, but it definitely comes across as an air of entitlement. Sometimes it feels like that guy in front of me at the bank intentionally let the door slam in my face, and lady, we both know I was at this stop sign first, so don’t bother cutting me off, again.  I actually had a man hold the door for me the other day *gasp* when my hands were full. As I went by and thanked him he actually said, get this, “The days of gentlemen are over, I don’t do this anymore.”  Damn.

After living in the city for 7 years, I’ve kind of become immune. As, a matter of fact, I’ve kind of become one of them. I dread going to the store. Inevitably the sourpuss cashier makes me feel like I’m a nuisance to her for buying my apples, and I am run off the road at least twice on my way to and from the store. But, just like everyone else it seems, I keep my head down, minimize the chit-chat, flip people the bird when necessary, and cuss under my breath frequently. That’s just the way it is. 

But today, I had a blatant reminder that I am different than these city folk.

I was at the dreaded discount grocery store, where the isles are too small for two carts, but the bargains are too valuable to stay away. You go knowing you’re risking your life, but the navel oranges are 7/$1.50!!

Anyway, as usual, I’m swerving through the carts blocking all the major egresses, whose owners refuse to move, even though they see you’re stuck.  “Excuse me” doesn’t work, because it’s so easy to ignore. So, I’ve mastered the “duck and dodge.” (My term for navigating a grocery store with a cart.) I see a checkout line with one customer, and she only has 2 things in her cart. HOLY CRAP!  So I zip over there, in a fashion I’ve learned from the city folk, and take my rightful spot as the next in line. A fraction of a second later, a stooped, cute, but feeble appearing gentleman shows up behind me, looking a little lost. He has a bag of oranges and some pork chops in his cart. I have two weeks worth of food for human, dog and chicken. So, of course, I heave my burdensome cart out of line, and offer him my spot. He looks astonished. Cautiously, he approaches the register to be waited on by the sourpuss cashier. Once he made it in front of me, and saw I wasn’t going to knock him over, or steal his wallet, he thanked me profusely.

Just then, the store manager walks by and says “Thanks for doing that ma’am, that was very nice of you.”  I felt my face flush. I don’t get embarassed, but I was embarassed. All I did was let the little guy in front of me. Isn’t that what everyone would have done? Apparently not. But I honestly didn’t think twice. It’s innate, I guess.

Then it’s my turn to be waited on by the sourpuss cashier that I’ve come to expect. No “hi”, “hello”, or “how are ya?” Just nothing. As she’s ringing things up, I start packing them in bags and loading my cart. The sooner I get out of this cart fortress of death, the better. When she’s done, she doesn’t give me the total (per usual), but she does say “Thanks for bagging that stuff, that was nice.” Then, like a cartoon, the manager appears out of nowhere and says “She’s just plain nice. She packs her own bags, and allowed that elderly gentleman in front of her in line. How nice.” My cheeks are flushed. I’m embarrassed. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally flattered by this ridiculous display of appreciation, but mostly I’m sad.

Am I an outlier? a rarity? an alien? Is common courtesy, like leaving an elderly person in front of you in line, or bagging your own groceries so far from the norm, that when it happens, it’s a big event? Is holding the door for another person really a thing of the past??  I’m so confused!

So here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to lose the apathetic “city folk” attitude, and go back to my roots. This “hick from the sticks”, mountain woman is going to start smiling at people, and saying “hello” to strangers again. (And I won’t allow myself to get discouraged when silence is the only response.) I’m going to let the person behind me in front of me. I’m going to continue to hold the door for people, and thank those that hold it for me. And I’m going to try to stop cussing and flipping the bird while driving on the highway. Maybe I can re-start the trend of being kind to others. Maybe the sourpuss cashiers will even catch on!