Friday, June 23, 2006

Flying the Coop

Well, I have reached that point in every blogger's life when it is finally time to make the move from Blogger to TypePad. I'm also rolling all three of my blogs (Dirt, Humboldt Hens, and Worms of Endearment) into one, and in addition to writing about the garden, the chickens, and the worms, I'll also be writing about the book tour and lots of other topics related to my new book, Flower Confidential. My new blog home is here:

and I promise there will be plenty of good chicken stuff there, in addition to all the Humboldt Hens archives.

And last, but certainly not least, you'll find me over at GardenRant a few times a week. We're having a lot of fun, so come join us.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Great Moments in Chicken Videos

This is my gift to you on a Monday when we'd all rather be outdoors. Enjoy.

Nike Angry Chicken - Google Video

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Garden Rant Takes Over the World

A few months ago, I started talking with Susan Harris of Takoma Gardener and Michele Owens of Sign of the Shovel about a modest little idea we had to stage a horticultural revolt. We were tired of what the mainstream gardening media has to offer--warmed-over garden tips, repurposed press releases about the ten thousandth new coleus on the market, dull little essays about the wonders of spring--and we were convinced that bloggers could overthrow the gardening establishment in the way that they are transforming coverage of politics and current affairs. (Witness the success of the YearlyKos convention. Not that I want to be the DailyKos of gardening. I'd much rather be the Gawker of gardening. But one thing at a time.)

Like all good revolutionaries, we began by writing a manifesto. You can read the whole thing on our site, but I'll touch on a few of my favorite points here:

--We are convinced that gardening MATTERS. Get us out of the Lifestyle section and as far away from home decorating as possible. We're talking about how we interact with the plant kingdom, not how to choose a throw pillow. This shit is important!

--We are flabbergasted at the idea of "no maintenance" gardens. If I have to read one more magazine article about Easy Container Gardens in 10 Minutes or Less, I may actually go bury MYSELF in the perennial border. Gardening is something you DO. It's not something you buy and arrange around the exterior of your home in between fluffing the aforementioned throw pillows.

--We are delighted by people with a passion for plants. Show some excitement! Have an opinion! Fall in love! Get mad! If you're bored, put your pen down and go outside. Just don't bore us, too.

Are you with me? All right, then. Follow me over to Garden Rant, where I'll be blogging a couple times a week. Some of my favorite new features include:
  • Ask Dr. Bleedingheart--horticultural advice for the lovelorn. Send in your melodramas today.
  • I Don't Have a Garden, But I Watch One On TV--reviews of garden television and Internet garden videos. (We'll cover podcasts and radio too, so if it's good, send it our way.)
  • Taking Your Gardening Dollar--product reviews, rip-offs, and vicarious horticultural shopping experiences.
  • You! We're looking for guest bloggers, so if you have something brilliant to say, we hope you'll consider saying it on Garden Rant first. Come rant with us!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Boo Boo Succumbs

Y'all might remember my earlier post about the chicken who went on Jay Leno. Well, I'm afraid that Boo Boo has died. I'm sorry to be the one to bring you this news. Those close to the chicken say that she had seizures, which may have been the cause of her earlier near-drowning experience.

ABC News: Boo Boo the Chicken Dies

Bess is My Emotional Support Chicken

This just in from the New York Times:

"At French Roast on upper Broadway, however, two women sat down to brunch with dogs in tow: a golden retriever and a Yorkie toted in a bag.

They both said that their animals were emotional service dogs," said Gil Ohana, the manager, explaining why he let them in. "One of them actually carried a doctor's letter."

That's right, folks. People are now getting away with bringing their annoying, yapping little dogs EVERYWHERE with them because they have a doctor's note. The story continues:

"I had never heard of emotional support animals before," said Steve Hanson, an owner of 12 restaurants including Blue Fin and Blue Water Grill in Manhattan. "And now all of a sudden in the last several months, we're hearing this."

Fortunately, a few people see how silly this is, including this guide dog trainer, who said: "I've had teenagers approach me wanting to get their dogs certified. This isn't cute and is a total insult to the disabled community. They are ruining it for people who need it."

and a shrink says:

"If a person can't entertain the idea of going out without an animal, that would suggest an extreme anxiety level," she said, "and he or she should probably be on medication, in psychotherapy or both."

And it's not always dogs.

"These days people rely on a veritable Noah's Ark of support animals. Tami McLallen, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, said that although dogs are the most common service animals taken onto planes, the airline has had to accommodate monkeys, miniature horses, cats and even an emotional support duck. "Its owner dressed it up in clothes," she recalled. "

Miniature horses? On a plane? Are you kidding me? Why don't they choose something small, like an emotional support lizard?

All right, if she gets to have an emotional support duck, I am totally making Bess my emotional support chicken. I need this for my mental health. Just think, fresh eggs everywhere I go.

"Waiter, a martini for me, and some cracked corn for the hen, please."

Chicken blogging!

I was taking a picture for a post about garden blogging over on Dirt, when the chickens wandered over to see what I'd brought them. Perhaps we should set up an old computer out there in the coop and see what the girls come up with. (Do you suppose they touch type or hunt and peck? Sorry, couldn't resist.) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Women! What do they want?

Scott comes outside and finds himself surrounded by a flock of very demanding girls. Bess, as always, flies right up to his face, just assuming that he'll hold out an arm as a landing perch about the time she arrives.

In other news...Dolley laid one of those strange shellless eggs the other day. It was just like what happened with Bess. She looked really uncomfortable, would hardly move, and then (not in her nesting box, just out in the garden, which is very unusual) out came this weird thing. It broke on the way out, so first came egg white, then yolk, then this rubbery membrane which Eleanor grabbed in her beak and ran around with in the garden in a sort of victory lap. Scott watched the whole thing and was quite horrified. (we took the rubbery thing away from Eleanor--you do not want chickens to develop a taste for eggs. In fact, they tried to gobble up the bits of white and yolk still on the ground. What were they thinking? "Hey, look what came out of Dolley's butt. Let's eat it.")

Fortunately, Dolley felt better immediately (wouldn't you?) and went back to laying eggs with shells a day or two later. The only real health risk here would have been if she seemed to still have egg bits inside of her, but fortunately we didn't have to go exploring--seems like it all came out on its own.

Ah, farm life! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sunday New York Times

Check out my op-ed piece in today's New York Times. You'll be hearing more from me in the months to come about my new book, Flower Confidential, but this will give you a preview.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Every Day is Respect for Chickens Day Around Here

United Poultry Concerns has declared May 4 International Respect for Chickens Day. I know that their name sounds like the name of some industry puppet group, but in fact, this is a group that advocates for better treatment of chickens even as they are being raised for slaughter. Good people. And here are some random highlights from their press release:

For International Respect for Chickens Day, educators, students, office workers and activists are encouraged to do an ACTION for chickens – everything from showing the movie Chicken Run to setting up a school library display to leafleting on a busy street corner.

A Minneapolis group is holding a Most Beautiful Chicken Photo contest. (No, I could not find it online. Dang.) (Update: Thanks to Molly for this link.)

"Chickens are lively birds who have been torn from the leafy world in which they evolved. We want chickens to be restored to their green world and not be eaten."

The idea for International Respect for Chickens Day traces to famed Le Show host and star of The Simpsons, Harry Shearer, who proclaimed Sunday, May 14, 2000 - Mother's Day - National Respect the Chicken Day because hens are justly praised as exemplars of devoted motherhood.

In Letters from an American Farmer, a study of American colonial society published in 1782, St. John de Crevecoeur wrote about chickens, "I never see an egg brought to my table but I feel penetrated with the wonderful change it would have undergone but for my gluttony; it might have been a gentle, useful hen leading her chickens with a care and vigilance which speaks shame to many women. A cock perhaps, arrayed with the most majestic plumes, tender to his mate, bold, courageous, endowed with an astonishing instinct, with thoughts, with memory, and every distinguishing characteristic of the reason of man."

Chickens are sentient creatures and have feelings of their own.

You're damn right. Go kiss a chicken, people.

U.S. Newswire : Releases : "International Respect for Chickens Day Celebrates Chickens"

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sign of the Shovel: Peeping Mad

There's a good discussion going on over at Sign of the Shovel about the noise backyard hens make. I have often wondered if our neighbors were going to get fed up and come knocking on the door. Our girls can get quite riled up just after, and sometimes just before, they lay an egg (wouldn't you?), and with four of them laying almost every day, it can be noisy.

But I sit still and listen to the sounds of our neighborhood. Sometimes, when I hear the chickens calling at 7 or 8 a.m. (a sign that I need to get up and go let them run around outside), I can hear them for a minute, but then the sound is drowned out by a passing car, a barking dog, or even the cry of a seagull flying overhead. And it is certainly drowned out by a lawn mower, a power tool, a scooter, or any other little motorized gizmo revving up nearby.

And we won't even mention the loud parties on weekends, especially in the summer, that degenerate into drunken shouting in the streets at 2 a.m. We tolerate it quite gamely, secretly wishing we were invited to the parties, not that we'd really go, and god knows we'd have to bring our own booze--and feeling glad that we are, at the very least, the sort of people who like living in a diverse, interesting, not-too-fancy neighborhood where people can have rowdy parties or, god forbid, lawn mowers.

Sign of the Shovel: Peeping Mad