Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rachel Maddow on ACORN

You may have read it here first but Rachel Maddow has put together the same argument I did several days ago but with a lot more details.  I am glad to know I am not a lone nut.  Take a look.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I really love okra but I have never quite had success with it. I know it can be grown here, especially if you provide a hoop house or something to keep it warm earlier in the season. This year my okra plants were kind of stunted, as they have been in previous years, but this year they also got attacked by chickens and then colonized by aphid farming ants. At a certain point, one row of plants took off and outpaced the aphids.  I helped them along by blasting the aphids with water. They also got a boost from the late September summer temperatures in the 90's. They are finally three feet tall and putting out flowers.  Okra is related to hibiscus, hence the lovely flowers.  I have gotten a few good pods from these plants and I hope to have more soon.  Next year, they are getting a hoop house to get an early start.  I think I will get the hang of it one of these years.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chicken Theater Episode 3 Bed Time

Chickens go to bed when it starts getting dark.

Guess what?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nuts Are For The Birds

OK, this is  about nuts.  This neighborhood used to be a walnut orchard.  There is a walnut tree on each parcel.  Recently, I have been finding walnuts and shells of walnuts in places where there are no trees, like the sidewalk or my front lawn.  At first I thought it must be those damned kids (get off of my lawn!) but then I heard a knocking sound.  I looked up and saw this crow repeatedly dropping a walnut onto the street.  I grabbed my camera, but did not get a good shot of the action, so you will have to take my word for it.

Chicken Theater Episode 2

Even chickens need to take a break on the park bench.

Friday, September 18, 2009


This post is not about nuts in the literal sense. It is not about food or homesteading at all. I am deeply troubled by the controversy surrounding the organization known as ACORN.

I find it very hard to believe that anyone would be "fooled" by this James O'Keefe character.

According to ACORN's chief executive Bertha Lewis, these people were kicked out of numerous ACORN locations and the people in these tapes have been fired.  The right wing likes to crow about other ACORN employees being arrested and prosecuted for so-called voter fraud. In all of those cases, these people were turned in by ACORN to the authorities because the employees had fraudulently filled out voter registration forms. In many states it is illegal to discard the forms once they are filled out, so ACORN flagged the forms and turned them in. Blaming ACORN for "voter fraud" is like blaming Safeway when an employee is prosecuted for shoplifting. 

The videos of the ACORN employees giving advice about prostitution and taxes seem kind of damning but I just don't buy this story.  Something does not smell right.  I would like to see the un-edited tapes.  I would like to see real investigations. 

The House and Senate just voted to strip ACORN of all Federal funding.  Given the nature of these tapes and the organized right wing effort to smear ACORN and anyone who supports them, I can see why these resolutions passed so quickly and overwhelmingly.

Gee, I wonder if we can get a resolution to defund DynCorp whose employees were allegedly having sex with children in BosniaEmployees who came forward were fired.  What about Blackwater, now known as Xe?  They have been accused of murder and other serious crimes.  How about ArmorGroup, who recently had a video scandal of their own and required employees to engage in sexually deviant behavior, according to a whistleblower? Or Kellogg Brown and Root, which has employees who engaged in gang rape that the Defense Department refused to investigate?!?!?!? Or And I am sure the list goes on and on.  Given the number of times these companies have overcharged the government for services, maybe we could pay for health care with the windfall we would reap.

So, in short, I understand how terrible it was, what ACORN employees seem to have done, but I did not realize how quickly Congress could act when they want to.  And they didn't even wait for an investigation.  How unusual.

How much money do you suppose ACORN gets from the government vs. DynCorp, Blackwater, KBR, etc.?  How many people are killed or raped by ACORN?  For ACORN's part, they need to get their employees on message and on the alert, but by this time it could be too late.  The right wing is vicious.

I understand that various law enforcement agencies are investigating these allegations.  I hope they uncover the entirety of these tapes and that they  can shed more light on this controversy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chicken Theater

Welcome to Chicken Theater.  Please do not expect high drama, exceptional moments of cuteness or comedy.  Chicken Theater is a meditation, a chance to relaxo and pretend you are at the rancho.  Come and get away from it all with Flo, Shortcake, Cupcake, Butterball, Halley and Simon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Another Community Garden Planning Meeting

This Thursday September 10th, there will be a planning meeting for the community garden at the Living Word Church in Petaluma being organized by Petaluma Bounty.  The last meeting had a small crowd of interested people turn up.  This time this group of neighbors passed out fliers in their neighborhood and we hope to get a bigger crowd this time.  If you live in Petaluma and you want to help plan this community garden or learn more, go to 901 Ely Blvd South at 7 pm this Thursday.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Hungry Hungry Caterpillars

It is so heartwarming to go outside and see these Small White Butterflies aka Cabbage Butterflies. They fly around, sometimes in pairs. They mate and lay tiny little eggs and cute tiny little green caterpillars come out and eat the leaves of my tiny fall starts of brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, bok choy and collard greens.

They get on bigger plants, too. I don't like getting upset at butterflies, but they are cramping the style of the garden. I am trying to control them by seeking out their eggs and larve and squashing them with my fingers (digitally, as a farmer once described it to me). If they are big enough, they go to the chickens. They are really easy to miss because they are usually on the bottom of the leaf, so you have to turn every leaf. I read that parasitic wasps are a good biological pest control for cabbage butterflies and aphids. You can attract these wasps and other predatory insects by growing plants with lots of tiny flowers like yarrow, fennel, corriander, etc. I have some in other parts of the garden already. I will get some more of those plants going today.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Freedom isn't free, Cupcake!

This is Cupcake, sister of Shortcake. Together they are the Babycakes. The babycakes, along with Simon, are Ameraucana chickens, who are smart, lay cool bluish-green eggs and are fairly lightweight. Of all of the chickens we have had over the past several years, the best escape artists have been Ameraucanas. They are magic chickens. One minute they are inside the fenced area, the next minute they are out. They don't even know what happened sometimes. We spent all this time creating a fence to keep the chickens away from the back garden and the more potentially toxic perimeter of the house. Cupcake flew up to the top of the fence and jumped over. I put another section of floppy chicken wire on top of the fence. A couple of days later, Cupcake got out again. Finally we clipped her wing, which really is like a haircut. She still gets out. I am not sure what to do. She is still enclosed by the taller wooden fence around the back yard, so she won't get out to the street, but I would prefer she stay in the chicken run. At least she is the only one who can do it.