Weeks of anticipation are over and the big day has come: this morning I find the first two eggs in the chicken coop. They are small and have two wonderful shades of brown. I expect them to get larger as my three hens get used to “make me breakfast” … (-;
Which of all birds is more humble and more hard working than a chicken? They lay an egg every day, make everyone smile, and demand nothing but water and food scraps in return. They – literally – “poop it forward”. No bird is more deserving to be called an “angel” than the humble hen who cannot even fly properly. The proof is in the angel food cake.
Penguina died last week. It was sad. We realize that farm happiness comes hand in hand with occasional farm sadness. Penguina was our favorite – she was so tame and sweet. But she did have a severely bent spine and “behind her back” we called her the “cricked” chicken. I was planning to have a nearby chiropractor adjust her as a promotional event on the farm … we’ll miss her.
Traditionally Livermore has been a farm town. But currently the downtown shows few signs of its rich agricultural past. Soon downtownfarm will move to 2410 Second Street and bring happy farm-life back to Livermore. Local students will help us to create the most beautiful urban farm in America. We will also develop cutting-edge LIDAR technology behind the Bay window of the farm house and show-case it with chickens, goats, and organic vegetable beds. This will be so irresistibly beautiful & educational … you will copy us (or so we hope).
Adding the run to the tractor gives the chickens much more room … and much more visibility. Chickens seem to make people happy. They are like puppy dogs. Whenever people notice them they start to smile. Obviously they are popular with the kids in the neighborhood. I already got to meet some parents (dragged to my fence by their kids) whom I would have probably not talked to otherwise. I also had some neighbors who walked over to my place just so that the children of their visitors could look at the chickens.
Great news! The downtownfarm is expanding into the core of downtown Livermore. This evening I went into contract on another downtown property – an amazing 1894 Queen Anne Victorian. That means that there will be opportunities for like-minded folks to join this urban farm adventure and move into either location.
Dan my Realtor is busy preparing all the paperwork right now. He—a long-term Livermore downtown resident—shares my excitement to create an advocating example of green living.
Tom (a fellow “urban farmer” from Pleasanton) gave us a bee tour and some hands-on experience on what beekeeping is all about: we got to open one of his hives and inspect several frames. I was amazed how friendly and calm the bees were. Sure … being in the protective suit was reassuring but it did not really seem necessary. The bees were busy doing their thing and showed no aggressive behavior whatsoever. There was something truly magical about handling those bee-loaden frames. I am so looking forward to get my own hive.
I got to know Tom who maintains a website on bee-lining (a neat GIS & bees mash-up) through Linda Schneider who is running a visionary non-profit to create self-sustaining communities in El Cerrito.
Right after returning from Culebra I moved the chickens into the new coop. Here are some pictures of the coop on tour through my frontyard.
Today I also attached the (finally finished) chicken-run to the coop.
Tired of hand-picking buckets of stones and rocks out of my lousy top-soil I put together a soil sieve with materials that were left over from building the coop. This simple tool is a gigantic help as I plant six lavenders plants along the street. Lavender is drought-resistant, no? In any case … it should be popular with the bees …
In July and again in October I have had two plentiful fig harvests. Now the leaves are gone and I prune the many shoots growing near the base of the tree. Those cuttings can apparently be used to start small fig trees. After reading up on fig tree propagation I try various ways suggested on the Interwebs.
The girls go through their teens quickly: the 25 lb bag of chick feed slowly disappears while the real “chicken-look” slowly appears. They are a lot less scared: they don’t mind hanging out with the bunny and they enjoy their first hours in the garden. Today I planted an Italian plum tree and three different blackberry bushes (all of them thorn-less varieties) that I got at alden lane nursery.