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HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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Monthly Archives: April 2009

Our Fine Feathered Friends

For all of my Asheville readers out there who are considering getting chickens, are harboring “illegal” chickens, or have a neighbor with chickens that you love (and who supplies you with eggs that you want to keep coming), come down to City Council tomorrow, April 28th, for a meeting to revise current animal control ordinances.


Asheville City Chickens has campaigned tirelessly to make urban chicken-keeping easier for city residents. In their own words, they advocate to “teach responsible practices for raising hens in an urban setting, emphasizing positive neighbor and community relations.”

The group has already met with several City Council members and would like to see some, if not all, of the following provisions included in the revised ordinance:
1) Distance requirements: City residents may have a chicken coop as long as it is at least 25′ from any adjacent residence.
2) Confinement: The chickens must be provided with a covered coop and must be kept in the coop or on the owner’s property at all times.
3) Permitting: Residents should be able to apply in person to receive a “chicken permit” without the need for a mandatory inspection by city staff. This will avoid unnecessary cost to the city.
4) Inspections: The City has the right to inspect a property at any time that a reasonable suspicion of a permit violation exists.
5) Public Concerns: To address any perceived concerns related to noise and odor, we recommend that roosters be prohibited, flocks be kept small relative to property size, and that coops be maintained in a sanitary manner consistent with existing city ordinances.

I think their suggestions are all completely reasonable and easily implementable. Although I live just outside city limits and have no issues keeping chickens on my property, I wholeheartedly support the efforts of folks anywhere (and especially my “people”) trying to provide local and nutritious foods for themselves. I’ve volunteered to share a few quotes from urban-dwelling individuals profiled in my “Raising Chickens” book (thanks Erik and Christine!). If you can make it, come cluck with us!

The Low Down:
April 28th, 2009
City Council Building
Asheville, NC
5-’til….

Asheville resident or otherwise, do you keep chickens, or do you know of someone who does? Would you consider keeping chickens in an urban environment if the codes and ordinances in your area were amenable to it? 

Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen

Trouble comes in many different guises, I’m learning. Ever had one of those weeks where everything really seems to just go wrong? Well, this one has been a doosey. Our lawnmower, chainsaw, weed eater, and oven all decided to die. Worst of all, though, was what happened to our German Shepard, Fly, pictured above with her constant compatriot in nefarious deeds, Dexter (aka “Pigasus” and “Pigasorous”-newly acquired nicknames). 
We live on 12 acres, tucked into a forested cove, with 350 acres of protected nature preserve on one side, and 15 vacant acres of forest on the other side. One would think such a setting would be a safe place for a dog to run free. Not so, folks, not so. To make a very long, very nerve-wrecking story short, Fly stepped on something that ripped open her right front paw and she almost bled to death. She severed a major artery and a vein. Fortunately we caught it in time. A whole host of other insane and far-too-grotesque-for-this-blog things occurred on the operating table that I won’t mention here. Lesson learned-dogs in the country are just as at risk of injury or death as dogs in the city are. 
We go back to the vet (BEST VET IN THE WORLD-HEATHER SINCLAIR!!!!) tonight for follow up X-rays and blood work. Fly has to take an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory, and Vitamin K for awhile, but as I’m giving them to her in peanut butter (Dexter gets his own spoonful), she doesn’t seem to mind. Country folks, take my painfully learned advice and don’t let your dogs run free. Leash them or erect invisible fencing to keep them safe from bear traps, fox traps, hunters, eating poisoned animals, cars, and old debris like beer bottles that they can step on. 


*Small Measure: Use biodegradable dog and cat waste bags. These break down over time and won’t choke up the landfill. While the dogs don’t have a need for these bags out here (the forest is pretty accepting), the cats’ waste (we have 5!!!) goes into these bags, and then into a reserved pit in the back of the property to decompose. Good sources include Biobags and Four Paws

Stuffed!

If you’re like most people, you’ve got stuff-lots of it. Big stuff, small stuff, pretty stuff, smelly stuff. Ever wonder where your stuff came from, beyond where you purchased it, that is? Or how it was actually made, distributed, consumed, and disposed of? Well, I did, and do, and think about such things pretty often. In this incredible video, hosted by Annie Leonard, we learn “The Story of Stuff.” Make yourself a cup of tea, sit back in your chair, and be informed about our stuff, its consequences, and our future.  


*Image from storyofstuff blog.

Bombs Away

If you live in an urban area, you no doubt are aware of at least one abandoned lot, 4-way intersection, or overgrown slope that could use a bit of sprucing up. The cheap, easy, and covert solution? Seed bombs. With a minimum expenditure of effort on your part, you can literally plant the seeds to change the landscape of your stomping grounds. 


Building the Bomb
The Materials:
-Biodegradable bags (such as pet waste bags)
-Potting soil (plan on using about 3/4c. per seed bomb)
-Cosmos, California poppy, or black-eyed Susan seeds

The Deal:
-Mix soil and seeds together in a mixing bowl (the soil should be slightly damp); set aside.
-Cut a 1″ wide strip of the bag (lay a bag flat and cut 1″ off of the entire length of one side); set aside.
-Lay the remainder of the bag open and scoop about a golf-ball sized amount of the seed/soil mixture into the center. 
-Pull all 4 corners of the bag up and twist into a pouch. Use the reserved strip of bag as a twist tie and secure at the top. 
-Wait about a week for the seeds to begin growing and then, bomb’s away! 

I am entirely indebted to the current issue of OrganicGardening magazine for this idea. Great publication. And you can find the book at the top here.
 
*Small Measure: Sow the seeds you want to see in the world. I’m borrowing a bit liberally from Ghandi here, but I think he would approve. If you see something that needs to be done, hop to it! 

*Image by Treehugger.com

Just Peachy

In today’s penny-pinching times, ever find yourself wondering if there are some fruits that it might be o-kay to NOT buy organic? Well, look no further. The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of the 12 fruits that are known to contain the highest levels of pesticides. These are the ones you want to purchase organically as often as you are able to. Otherwise, if it’s not on the list, feel safe opting for the conventional counterpart. 

Alternately, if you’re shopping at a local farmer’s market, ask the farmer directly about their pesticide use. Some, unable to foot the bill for organic certification, are pretty much de facto organic growers, using little to no pesticides on their crops. 

So, here’s the wrecking crew (so dubbed on account of the harm incurred to the environment, the farm workers and handlers, and you, the consumer), best consumed without any added pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides:
1) Peaches
2) Apples
3) Nectarines
4) Strawberries
5) Cherries
6) Grapes (Imported)
7) Pears
8) Raspberries
9) Grapes (Domestic)
10) Plums
11) Oranges
12) Nectarines

This list is especially important to children, pregnant and nursing women, the elderly, or anyone with compromised immune systems. Feel free to check out a slideshow with extra commentary here. As for me, I try to buy things in season, grown nearby, or at least within my growing region. That’s why apples get the kibosh after Autumn (otherwise, I’m buying organic apples from New Zealand, which just doesn’t really make sense to me), and you won’t find me chomping on strawberries in the dead of winter. 
It can get tricky, especially when I’m craving peaches and the mercury is registering at 9 degrees. That’s where home canning comes in so handy. If you take a little surplus when a fruit is in season and transform it into applesauce, whole peaches, or strawberry jam, you can enjoy its deliciousness year-round! 

Are there any fruits or vegetables that you only purchase either organically or seasonally? 

*Small Measure: Know when to shop organically. Like I mentioned before, not only does springing for organic produce protect the health or you and your family, it also protects the health of farm workers, an often over-looked yet essential link in the food supply chain. 

*Image from motherearthnews.com.