Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hen or Rooster?

Lately our "hen" Ophelia has been exhibiting some suspiciously rooster like qualities.  I noticed the past few weeks that "she" has been becoming more and more aggressive.  She's always been the dominant chicken of the bunch, but it seems that she is now becoming a major bully chicken!  She charges the other chickens, has to be the one in charge, and pecks like there is no tomorrow.  I have noticed for weeks now that her comb is getting larger and darker than our other Buff Orpington, Penelope, but this morning I noticed that her wattles are getting enormous.  Penelope has no wattles and her comb is non existent.  She is super sweet and mellow unlike her "sister."  So I posted this pic on the Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) fb page.  I figured that out of 7500 urban homesteaders I should be able to get a good consensus as to what "it" truly is.  But, I got very mixed opinions, some saying, "That's a hen, no doubt!" to, "I can bet money it's a rooster." Apparently the determining factors for figuring out if a chicken is a rooster in Buff Orpingtons are:  A large comb that shows up early, (even at just a few weeks), large wattle, saddle and hackle feathers, (they're longer and more spear shaped on the rear if it's a rooster), larger sized legs, and the ultimate test - the crow.

If "she" is indeed a he, then he will have to go, sadly.  We don't want a rooster due to the crow, (believe me, the neighbors will complain), and the fact that we want egg layers, period, so no fertilized eggs for this flock.  But I'm not going to worry about that until we know for sure.

So what is your vote:  Hen or Rooster?  I'll keep you posted.  Apparently Buff Orpingtons crow at around 20 weeks old, so we have a while to go.

Ophelia at 12 weeks, (left.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Done Got Published!

Well, I never thought I would see the day I would have an interview in a magazine, but it's happened.  I was interviewed for an article in EcoSalon, a "Conscious Culture and Fashion" magazine about the whole urban homestead trademark controversy.  The article is titled "Bad Blood on the Home(Steading) Front" and also includes an interview from Rebecca Jeschke, Media Relations Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  The Dervaes were contacted via e-mail and phone twice, and haven't responded - big surprise.   I think the writer did an excellent job of articulating the trademark controversy and my favorite part of the interview is this bit, * " On team TBUH, in the meantime, it looks like the damage done to the family’s reputation – generous, neo-hippy and inclusive – is irreparable.
Nevertheless, April adds,  “The urban homesteading community is very giving and I really believe that if they would be willing to mend fences and be more neighborly” all could be forgiven."   After all, the Dervaes  tout being neighborly as one of their main tenants.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

May Homestead Update

Hello Friends!  I've been MIA for about three weeks as life has been keeping me busy.  My two kids have both been sick off and on for about a month, I did my first radio interview ever!, the weather has actually been decent for the first time in months and I've been working in the garden finally, and as usual I've been busy as ever with my urban homesteading activism and Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) facebook page.  Phew!  We completed our greenhouse and chicken coop, so you could say we've been busy bees around here.  To get you up to speed here is a quick re-cap of what's been going on around the Alexander homestead:

The greenhouse is officially DONE!  Ron started construction on it about a year ago so it's been a long process, but we're finally finished.  The greenhouse is constructed of recycled windows, door and lumber.  The only new materials are the roofing material which was given to us by a family member.  The starts and seeds have been planted, and she's ready to rock and roll!  So far we are growing tomatoes and basil and have planted some watermelon seeds...we'll see how those do.  I'm so looking forward to nice beautiful red tomatoes this summer since last summer's tomato crop was pitiful.  Ron is going to install a drip irrigation system soon with the free side of the road irrigation pipe he scavenged some time ago.

Isn't she a beauty?  Ron got the blue tubs free from work and most of the pots were free from Craig's List.  It is possible to make a greenhouse on a budget!  (The yellow house on the right is our 1875 house, back view.)

The chicken coop, (or as one of our friends called it, the "chicken Taj Mahal" is finished!  Be looking for a big ol blog post about the entire construction process coming soon!

The peas are growing like mad as are the lettuce and kale.  We harvested our first salad lettuce last week! 

Here is a shot of the garden from the back to front;  I'm standing in the raised bed area.  The trees in the foreground were planted by us, and the bamboo fence and gate was constructed by Ron.  The entire back yard was bare except for a few ornamental trees.  We've come a long way!  

We put in three new raised beds!  This one below is for our raspberry bushes, and another is going to be for grapes.  Who would have thought you could grow grapes in the North West?  Well, it can be done apparently!

What's growing on your homestead now?  Until next time, Happy Homesteading!