Saturday, December 31, 2011

Expanding our flock of chickens!

We have come to the conclusion that two chickens are not enough.

For two reasons....chickens are social birds.  If something were to happen to one of them, the other would be left alone.

And more importantly, we can't get enough of their eggs.  Now that is is winter, the days are short and cold, and the chicks are laying a bit less.  Dear, hormonally-challenged Mirabelle tends to get broody, and then went through a molting phase, so she's not laying as consistently as Chloe.  Chloe, meanwhile, continues to pop out 6 eggs a week.

I digress.

We hatched a plan (ha!  pun intended) to take on two more chicks, and then decided on three because three breeds that we wanted were available.  And again, with two chicks, you risk losing one and having one left stranded.

So without further ado, I present our three newbies:

Chicken Tikka Masala is an Ameraucana, Omelet is a Buff Orpington, and Drumstick is a Plymouth Barred Rock.

They are all ridiculously cute, fluffy and healthy.  Chicken Tikka Masala will lay blue eggs, while the others are brown-egg layers.  All are hardy in the winter and friendly birds.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Breaking News---Monkey from SF Zoo on the loose!

Oh no.

A monkey from the SF Zoo has been stolen.

His name---Banana Sam.  Hope this little guy is found soon, and they catch the bastards who stole him.

And here's the monkey's twitter page, if you are so inclined.


Here are some bittersweet photos from some old animal friends.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Leaving a mark in the mud.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Golden Gate Park windmill

It was actually working last month.  Beautiful.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

chicks in the sun


This is the life.  Mirabelle takes a dustbath, while Chloe digs.

I was sitting next to them, and had a lovely rain of dirt fall on me every time Mirabelle ruffled her feathers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Here are the chicks, enjoying a dustbath together.

They get really zoned out when they do this.  They are easy to pick up, but heavy with dirt until they shake it out.  They seem to like to get closer to me and shake it out all over me, just like a dog.  Ugh.

Monday, September 19, 2011

purple corn

I got purple corn at Whole Foods.  It's supposed to be sweeter than yellow corn.  I found it had about the same level of sweetness, but with a stronger corn taste.

Fall is here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


We've been battling gophers in our garden ever since we started growing in the backyard, as I blogged about here and here.  We've pretty much given up on growing veggies, except for garlic, which repels gophers.

Surprisingly, we've had success with strawberries.  Either the gopher hasn't found them, or they don't like the prickly leaves?

Friday, July 22, 2011

chicks in action: 7 months old


Digging and scratching.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

organic, free-range eggs

The eggs are getting bigger.

By breed, Chloe is expected to lay 5 eggs per week, Mirabelle 4. So we usually get two eggs per day, or at least one.

Monday, May 30, 2011

our first egg!

It felt like a tiny miracle to go out to the coop and check on the chicks, and find this.

Here are some fun egg facts for ya:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

black phoebe

The other day I was relaxing in the hot tub and bird watching.  The usual birds I spot are hummingbirds and scrub jays, a hawk flying high, and of course...Chloe and Mirabelle.  The chickens are by far the least graceful, most neurotic and most amusing.  I love when they are on their perch, walking the length of it like a gymnast, standing on one foot, and then they lose their balance, let out a loud squawk and feathers go flying.  They usually manage to catch themselves though.

I digress.  The other day a tiny dark brown bird with a little crested head and white stomach sat on the fence for a bit.  What was this?!  He was adorable, and definitely a newcomer.

I hit the internet, and I'm pretty sure he is a black phoebe.

You can read all about him here, maybe he was just passing through?

I got this photo from a blog I found, Cleveland Circle and Beyond.  Check it out, he takes amazing photos of birds and nature.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

llama font

I thought this website was ridiculously cute.

Writing in llama!

Just click on the llama font.

sidewalk graffiti

In the tenderloin:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

one more month and we get eggs!

The girls will be 20 weeks old this weekend, and at 24 weeks they should start laying eggs. Very exciting!

We've already built a nest extension onto their coop. Right now they don't go in there much, but supposedly when they start to lay, they will look for a dark and quiet place. And--get this---it also helps to have a fake egg in their nest, to motivate them to keep laying. They can get frustrated if we keep taking their eggs, but with the decoy they will think--what a great idea! So on Easter Sunday, we went to Walgreens and bought some plastic eggs for our chickens.

We also need to get some oyster shells for them to eat, they will need extra calcium to make their eggshells strong.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken Sense

Some fun facts on chickens here!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

chickens, 19 weeks

We let the girls out to run around the yard today, it's Easter. I think they are glad they are not Easter dinner.

Chloe is now the dominant bird, they switched again. I saw them chest-bumping a few weeks ago, and Chloe will sometimes chase Mirabelle around a bit. They don't peck at one another though. Both girls are also more comfortable around us. Chloe is especially docile, will let me pet her and pick her up easily. Mirabelle I can pet but she will move away, and she will run away if we try to pick her up. The other day the husband was feeding them, the coop door was open and they both flew out! He had to chase them around the yard to catch them and get them back inside.

Once outside, they like to scratch and dig underneath their favorite tree, I think they feel sheltered there. They don't like to be in the open, and will often freeze up if they hear another bird. They especially freak out if a hawk flies overhead, and we have a lot of hawks in our neighborhood. When the chicks were smaller, I used to get nervous that they would look like tasty hawk food.

The girls are so fat now I can barely hold them with two hands. I put Chloe in the crook of my arm and she was very content to hang out.

Chloe, with her comb almost fully grown in!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

chickens, 4 months old

I caught the girls taking a break from digging massive holes in the dirt, relaxing on their roost. Ran back inside to get my camera, and they were still there when I got back. As soon as they saw me with treats, they jumped down and came flapping towards me, but I did manage to get this one photo.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Escapee Snake, tweeting.

I love this article on the escaped snake from the Bronx Zoo. He's on twitter!

And this update just came in. Good news.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

baby dolphin news

Ah. Some much-needed good news from our friends in Japan here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Some minor renovations to the coop

We wanted to give the gals more room to run around in their coop, and switch their outside roost to a place that they could get to easier.  So we moved their ramp and roost, and the poor chickies were very confused.

Here's Chloe on the new roost.  She was the first one to notice the change (a good 20 minutes later).  She walked around the new roost a couple of times, looking at it and gauging the distance.  Finally she took a leap.

Mirabelle was a bit slower. Chloe was inside the coop, chirping away, and Mirabelle was trying to figure out how to get to her. Mirabelle circled the roost and ramp suspiciously a bunch of times. Lots of chirping back and forth. Finally Mirabelle took the leap to the new roost, and got inside the coop to Chloe.

Once inside the coop, the girls spent time eating pine chips. Even though they have a container full of food, and tons of weeds in their coop. This worried me at first, but I googled it and found out not to worry, the pine chips are non-toxic to them. Just not nutritious. Oh well.

Monday, March 21, 2011

chickens, 14 weeks, a short video

Here's a quick clip of the girls foraging for bugs and weeds in the backyard. 

They are in chickenheaven.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

R.I.P. Knut

Sad sad news in the polar bear community. Knut has passed on.

chicks, home alone for the weekend

Last weekend was a big one for the chicks. We went away to Napa for the weekend to drink wine and ride a tandem bike, and the chicks were left alone for the first time.

They had plenty of food and water. We have big containers that we fill up, and they will eat and drink as needed. We timed their heat lamp to go on before it got dark, which is their cue to head into their coop for the night. Now that they are bigger and fatter, their bodies have adjusted to the weather and they would actually be fine without the heat. But like I've said before, we spoil them...

The day we left, when I checked on them I could see their latest project---hole digging. Big holes. They had dug around the stump that their water was on top of, so that the water container had tilted and almost had spilled out. Bad chicks!

A quick remedy of filling the holes with dirt and throwing a bunch of weeds in the cage to keep them busy, and we were off for the weekend.

When we returned home Sunday afternoon, all was well. Happy chicks, looking to us for more treats.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Just found this old picture of Mirabelle. She had been sitting on my hand, and took flight, a very short distance to the windshield wiper of the car, which she used as a roost. And of course, she left a treat on the car.

Poor baby, I think she was just scared!

Monday, March 7, 2011

fat chickens

Oh my, how they've grown.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

3 months old, chicken-anigans

The chicks were up to their usual shenanigans today. I brought them out some grapes and they went bonkers. Mirabelle can gulp them down whole, but Chloe has trouble picking them up and swallowing them, they are too big for her. She'll eventually get a hold of one and take it into the corner, and Mirabelle will chase after her and try to get it. Even though I have a whole plate full of grapes, right in front of them.

Today Mirabelle was pushing Chloe out of the way, so I was trying to put the grapes right in front of Chloe so she would get some. Mirabelle tried to jump over Chloe and ended up knocking over the whole plate of grapes. A crash, loud squawking, feathers flying ensued. They freaked themselves out, and then were all cautious about approaching me and the picked-up grapes, as if I was the one that caused all the commotion.

Here they are approaching the grapes for Round 2.

And at the feeder.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

whatcha looking at?

Mirabelle, always curious about the camera.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


The girls love clover, and some other weeds that grow in our yard. They also go completely bonkers for grapes. They equate us with tasty treats, and will come running over to us whenever we go outside.

Mirabelle is turning into quite the butterball. They seem to be growing fatter, not taller anymore. They also shed a lot of feathers. Their wings are still clipped, but we found one of their clipped feathers that had fallen out. We'll have to clip them again at some point, as these feathers will be growing back in, and the chicks could try to take flight. They are pretty fat though, so I'm guessing this is what makes them bad at flying.

Monday, February 28, 2011

chicks, 11 weeks old

Chicks on their roost inside the coop:

Chloe, roosting and checking me out:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

a coop-addition

Yes, we spoil our chickens.   The husband has agreed that it would, indeed, be a good thing to get two more chicks this summer.   But we would need a bigger coop.

So, back to work the husband goes.  Check out the new wing. Pun intended.

The girls were very happy to scratch around in some new territory.

The next day, there was a big indentation on the top of the chicken wire. Looks like the neighborhood cat tried to get in on some action? The coop and cage is predator-proof, so the chicks are safe. The last time I saw the n.c. lurking around the cage, the chicks were clueless, happily sitting on their perch and seemingly unaware. Dumb chickens.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

honking chickens

Here is the husband, holding Mirabelle.

We used to pick up the chicks when they were tiny and easy to catch. Now they are bigger and more independent. When the husband picked up Chloe, she let out a loud honking noise. Hadn't heard that noise before. Once we catch them and hold onto them, they quiet down and look at us, wondering what we are up to. They are happy once we feed them treats.

Friday, February 25, 2011

chicks, in action.

A day in the life. Scratching, pecking and chirping ensues.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

birdie boots

I can't wear just any shoes when I'm outside, tending to my flock.

I must wear my birdie boots.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

chicks in the wild

The girls wore themselves out today, scratching away in the dirt.  Here they are taking a break.  Mirabelle tucked her head under her neck and took a little chickennap, and soon Chloe closed her eyes as well.  The first time I've seen them sleep!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mirabelle and the strawberry

I found some tiny green strawberries from our sad little strawberry patch. I let the girls have a bite, and Mirabelle went apeshit over it. She pecked away it it until only the stem was left. It was like chicken-crack for her.

Chloe didn't seem interested, or maybe she is too submissive to eat it while Mirabelle got to it first? Their dynamics have definitely shifted. When they were chicks, Chloe was more dominant, more curious, and always the first one to run over to us. Mirabelle was shy, and would often try to hide between Chloe's legs. Chloe used to be a tiny bit bigger. Now that they are older, they are about the same size but Mirabelle is the one in charge. She is the more curious, dominant one, while Chloe sits back.

I miss them where they were chicks. I've started dropping some major hints to the husband that I want to get two more this summer. We'll see. Adding chickens to an existing flock is possible, but could cause some chickendrama.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

chicks, 10 weeks old

Here are the girls, confused as they encounter an obstacle. How do they get back in their coop? Was this door here yesterday?

No, it wasn't. Usually the girls can go in and out as they please, but with the week of torrential downpour we got, I had to clean out the coop and air it out to dry. So it's closed until renovations are complete (by dark, don't worry).

Chickens are finicky birds. Well, at least ours are. They were not happy, or were maybe just confused, with the rain. They chose to stay mainly inside the coop, but would stand at the doorway looking out. Occasionally they would venture out, have a drink, and roost for a bit. Our coop is not completely rainproof (note to husband!). Although they stay dry inside the coop, the nest area where they will lay their eggs got pretty drenched. Interestingly, they do not use the nest area to sleep in. Once they start to lay, they will look for a quiet, dark and enclosed space, and use the nest area only for laying their eggs.

There was a neighborhood cat in the yard when I went outside, he ran away when I opened the door, but it looked like he had been lurking by the coop. The chicks looked unperturbed, or just clueless.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Do chickens sneeze?

Yes, they do.  Mirabelle does especially.  It's really cute, but I quickly did some research on the 'net to make sure it's normal.  It is.

Mirabelle is happy and energetic and doesn't look sick, so she's probably just clearing out her nasal cavities.   Chickens can get sick though.  We spoil our girls, they have a big red heat lamp inside their coop to keep them warm and cozy.   I have to keep reminding myself that my yard is full of much smaller birds that live in the big wild west, with no problems.

We've had some rainy, windy weather this week.  The girls have been cautiously stepping out of their coop to their outside run area that has a covered roof but open-wire siding.  They freeze up when the wind blows and ruffles their feathers, puff up their chests, look around, and will then run back inside the coop if the wind keeps up.  Smart birds, they are.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

snow in San Francisco

No, not at the moment, thankfully.  Only five recorded times of snowfall in the past.  Great photos here.

Monday, February 14, 2011


This is my cute little lithops plant, from South Africa. Also known as "living stones", the spongy leaves do look like stones. This little guy started out as two leaves, but with a lot of plant food it erupted into two more babies. The older leaves at the base will die off eventually--- you can see it starting to fold away a bit on the right. If I'm patient, it will flower at some point.

You can read more about lithops here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

chicks, 9 weeks

The girls are getting big, and getting smart.  As of the last two nights, they actually know when to go inside their coop at night to sleep, and when to go outside in the morning to eat.  This is huge news, as we had to place them inside every night, and then nudge them outside every  morning, patiently wondering when their little birdie brains would learn to do this on their own.  Proud parents we are!

It's difficult to get decent photos of them because they run around so much.  As soon as they see the camera they run over and try to peck at it.  Digging and scratching is their favorite pastime, and to their credit, they've dug some surprisingly deep holes.  Searching for worms and bugs I guess?  I gave Mirabelle a caterpillar that was on my cauliflower plant, and she gobbled it up.

Yesterday we lucked out with the weather, warm and sunny.  I sat outside with a book, while the girls played nearby.  Ah, the life.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

a story about our chicken friends in NY

A lovely chicken tale from the NYTimes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

garden, February 2011

The recent slew of gopher attacks on the garden has left me traumatized. I was thinking that not much was left out there, but there are a few plants that have managed to survive.

These are brussels sprout plants. The brussels sprouts are tiny, the size of a pea, growing underneath all the leaves. Fingers crossed that they get to keep growing.,




Itty bitty lemon tree with itty bitty lemons.


Mint, growing wild in the shade. Last year caterpillars took over the mint.

Italian parsley, for my tomato sauce.