Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome to the World of Hendom!

by Kimberly Furry

This has been a constant and long-standing request: "Mama, I want baby chicks!"

Each time my daughter Ara asks for them, I cannot help but roll my eyes, thinking, "Fools rush in ...” The excitement at the idea of chicks crashes over her 5-and-a-half-year-old mind like an ocean wave. Her face lights up, she claps her hands excitedly and jumps up and down, imagining what it would be like to have the chicks.

Both she and her sister, Nora (2 1/2 years old), know it's chick time when we enter the post office in the spring: You can hear the young birds peeping in the mail room, waiting to be delivered to their homes. We've visited the baby chicks at the local Agway for a couple of years now. It's the only thing the girls want to see when we enter the store. They run quickly to the back of the store and beg for me to pick the peeping chicks up so they can take a look. I’ve stood strong and waited for more than a year, and Ara’s still pining for backyard chickens. Nora is pleased no matter what, but she is starting to want whatever her sister wants. Nora’s unconditionally willing to support her big sister's cause.

We took a field trip to our neighbor’s farm last summer and all Ara wanted to do was hold the poults (baby turkeys), as pictured above.

She intently checked out all the chicken coops as Derek and I inspected, too. Both of us were trying to get an idea for a coop that would work in our backyard. Our neighbors kindly offered to loan us an incubator so we could show the girls the entire process of raising chicks when spring rolls around.

It's obvious this is not just a momentary wish, but something Ara honestly wants. I'm hoping this will be an opportunity for her and her sister to learn more about responsibility and caring for another animal besides our cats, who couldn't care less about the girls most of the time. I'm a teacher at heart and love the idea of opening another awesome part of the world up to my girls. This indeed is a wonderful opportunity full of teachable moments. As well, we'll all enjoy the fresh eggs in the fridge. I'll also enjoy the chicken manure which, once aged, is wonderful for the garden. I'm an avid gardener and love growing veggies, perennial flowers, fruit-bearing trees and bushes with the entire family. It will be pretty neat having the hens around!

We've decided we want no more than four hens and two would even be fine for us. I've purchased some books on building coops, so our next step is to pick one that's right for us.

So for our next blog entry, the reading and planning begins for the coop! It is my intent to blog about our journey into "hendom" at least twice a month as we prepare for chickens in our backyard. I'll share the books we use and do my best to explain the highs and lows of raising backyard chickens. We live in rural Pennsylvania on almost four acres of land. So, join us on our journey into hendom!

The chicken came first, and the egg 5 months later

by Rachel Hurd Anger

After weeks of expecting our chickens to lay eggs any moment, and day after day of walking out to the coop and walking back to the house feeling disappointed, Tuesday afternoon I plodded out there thinking it'd be just another eggless day. I'd been taking it a little personally. Only our Polish hen is a snuggler, and just like our cats, our birds all seem to favor my husband. Perhaps I don't have enough going on in my life, wondering if our girls were holding out because they don't like me.

But, possible neurosis aside, Tuesday was the day! Exactly five months from the day they were brought to the door in a chirping box, one of the girls laid her first egg on a soft pile of straw.

At the time, my son was down for a nap, and I sneaked up to my daughter to surprise her with the egg. I immediately washed the egg, took photos, and slathered them proudly on Facebook, sending e-mails to family announcing our good news.

But, who laid the egg? My hunch is our Silver Laced Wyandotte, Pauline. I've been spending more time with the girls than usual, because of the eggs and the improving weather, and have noticed that she sneaks back to the coop while the others free range, and she digs in the straw where the egg rested and cooled. We haven't collected enough eggs yet to determine if more than just one chicken is laying. Until I'm up to my own ovaries in chicken eggs, I may not be able to identify any differences between them.

Regardless of whose eggs we're collecting, they've all been acting wacky since the day of the first egg. Are they confused? (Who was more surprised, the hen or the flock, could be debated for all time.) Or are they just hormonally-charged teenage chickens?

All of a sudden, they seem to know what they want, and like teenagers, seem to know it all. When they're let out to free range, each chicken has her favorite place to go. And, gone are the days of pleasant foraging. When each nestles into her favorite place, like Mabel under the bushes, they commence rebellious destruction, en masse. The search for Spring's emerging bugs, slugs and creepy-crawlies is on with fervency. They're digging holes in my yard under the run, and even though it's moved almost daily, the grass isn't growing enough yet to recover.

The grass that has turned green with chlorophyll seems to be providing nutrition the chickens have been waiting for; at least, that's only what I can assume: They're devouring the yard. In turn, they are producing the most amazing eggs I've ever seen. Imagine a yolk suspended perfectly in the white. A yolk so yellow that a splash of milk doesn't change the color of a scrambled egg. They're rich, firm and absolutely perfect. If they had little toes, I'd count them. If they consisted of more than one cell, I'd name them. Each egg I find is like discovering a sweet love note stuck to the bathroom mirror.

No supermarket egg is treasured like a homegrown egg. They're inherently special. A wonder of the cycle of life, with a face and a coulda-been mom in the yard.

Incredible and edible is only the beginning: It's the chicken who makes it happen, and it's the chicken herself, and her usefulness, I'll be writing about soon.

Contact the writer at, or visit her website at

Photos: Rachel Hurd Anger

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Reader's Inquiry: Introducing New Hens To A Flock

by Meredith Chilson

Q: After enjoying eggs from our three hens for the past several months, we decided to increase our small flock by two. After reading up on introducing new hens, we decided to put the two in after dusk, when all had settled down for the night.

For the first several hours the next day, things were going well. I checked on the hens periodically and noticed a few peckings, but nothing serious. When I went out to check on them during the afternoon, it was obvious that one of the pullets was seriously injured, having lost feathers and skin. After administering first aid for several days, she is healing well and doing fine.

I am now very apprehensive about trying to introduce them again. Do you have any suggestions?

The chickens have been separated and are in side-by-side coops since the attack. Thanks for any suggestions. – Rebecca

A: Rebecca, it sounds like you are doing exactly what I would do in the same situation! You’ve read up on introducing new hens, you put them in at night, and when things didn’t work out, you separated them and put them in side-by-side coops. These sound like the right things to be doing.

When I introduce new chickens, I put them in a wire cage right next to the other hens. They can get used to each other without harming each other. At first, they’ll usually spend time checking out the neighbors, but eventually they’ll get back to pecking and scratching and doing regular chicken things. After a few days of this side-by-side foraging, I put the new hens in with the others at night and hope for the best. So far, it’s worked, and I’ve done this several times over the past three years of chicken-keeping.

You mentioned that one of your pullets had been injured. You’ll know, of course, to make sure she is completely healed before you put her back with the others. At the first spot of blood, chickens can become cannibalistic.

You did not mention, however, how old your new chickens are or what breed. I’ve read that it’s important to wait until young chickens are completely feathered and big enough to fend for themselves before introducing them to the rest of the flock. If the new ones are appreciably smaller than the others, it’s possible that they may be perceived as younger, too.

I have only once put a single “new” chicken in with the flock, and that time really doesn’t count, as the new one had her mother with her to look out for her. In fact, the mother had also been separated during brooding and chick-raising time, so it was as if she were new to the flock as well. I think it’s best to put in at least two, even four or five, new chickens with an established flock. They tend to gang together; just one chick receives all the attention, and it’s often not good!

Finally, I like to introduce chickens to each other when they have lots of room to maneuver. If they have lots of room to scoot around, and to keep out of each other’s way, they’ll also have more room to gradually become used to each other.

Good luck with your newest additions!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Grateful Dead Live FM Broadcasts 1968-1969 (FM Broadcasts I)

(the poster for the Grateful Dead/Country Joe And The Fish concert at the Carousel Ballroom on February 14, 1968, the first live remote FM broadcast of a Grateful Dead show)

An intriguing tangent on a recent Comment thread brought up the subject of FM broadcasts of live Grateful Dead concerts. While Deadhead scholars have identified FM sources with their usual thoroughness, I realized that there has been little discussion anywhere about the practice of broadcasting rock concerts on FM radio, whether taped or live. Like many other aspects of Late 20th Century rock music, this practice started in San Francisco and the Grateful Dead were the leading practitioners. Nonetheless, even the most musically connected scholars take this practice for granted, and the Dead get no credit for having helped create and define the idea.

Another researcher has published an exceptional list of known Grateful Dead FM broadcasts. Rather than duplicate this excellent work, I am beginning a series of posts not on the actual FM tapes of live Grateful Dead, but of the history of live FM broadcasts as I know them, and the business background to each of the broadcasts as best as I can discern them.

KMPX-fm And The Rise Of Rock Radio
Former Autumn Records producer and KYA-am dj Tom Donahue took over programming for KMPX fm in San Francisco in February, 1967. DJ Larry Miller had the midnight-to-six am shift to start with, and by April 7, Donahue was playing rock music 24/7, featuring himself in the primetime evening shift. The FM dial up until then was hardly used, much less listened to, but the superior fidelity of the medium was ideal for stereo 60s rock music. Local rock fans had been stuck listening to the local Top 40 stations (KFRC-610 and KYA-1260 in San Francisco, and KLIV-1590 in San Jose).

AM  radio formats were more liberal than they would become later, and the local stations often played singles by the likes of The Grateful Dead or Country Joe and The Fish. KLIV in San Jose was particularly invested in making hits out of records by South Bay bands like The Syndicate Of Sound or The Chocolate Watch Band. However, occasionally playing "Cream Puff War" still gave rock fans little idea of what the Grateful Dead or a Fillmore concert was really like.

KMPX changed rock radio for the better, and it did it within two months. Suddenly a radio station was playing album cuts of whatever he happened to find cool or interesting, and there was a lot of cool and interesting music coming from America and England in 1967. If a band had a demo tape, KMPX djs would broadcast it, and if the band wanted to come by and hang out, even better. A tape circulates from late April 67, featuring Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia sitting in the dj booth with Tom Donahue, playing records they liked. This was in the first month that KMPX was on the air all day, and having one of Haight Ashbury's hippest bands playing records was a clear indicator of what was to come.

Its easy now to make fun of the mellow, stoned sounding late night fm rock dj, but he talked like his listeners, and he was a welcome relief from the frantic patter of the typical AM dj. KMPX-fm was the soundtrack to the Summer Of Love for many people, because if you found yourself staring at the ceiling for several hours (for some reason or another) you could just turn on the radio and it would play all the cool stuff you would want to hear, some of which you didn't even know about yet. KMPX had suddenly made the FM radio dial a viable option.

Make no mistake: KMPX was a commercial proposition, and a very successful one at that. The station had ad salesmen, but they mostly had long hair and wore jeans. The market for KMPX ads wasn't car dealers and banks, but head shops, clothing stores and record companies. Lots of kids in and near San Francisco who weren't able or allowed to go the Fillmore could still listen to the station and absorb the coolness, and they all bought jeans, records and posters. KMPX rapidly became very profitable, and the rest of the industry took notice. The national spread of rock music can be directly correlated to the spread of FM rock radio. When you are looking for when a city "got hip" in the 1960s, it almost always conforms to when the first FM rock station started broadcasting.

May 30, 1967-HALO Concert
Tom Donahue and KMPX were making up the rules of FM rock radio as they went along, since no one had ever done it before. To my knowledge, the first major rock concert broadcast on FM radio was the HALO Concert at Winterland on May 30, 1967. It was a benefit for the Haight Ashbury Legal Organization, lawyers who focused on representing hippies who were busted by the cops for pot and other things. The show featured many of the biggest San Francisco bands, and the poster advertised Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Big Brother and The Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Charlatans.

FM radio had been conceived of as a medium for audiophiles, and much of what was broadcast came from college campuses. Most of the music broadcast was classical or jazz. The technology of live remote FM broadcasts was known, but it was oriented towards providing a clear signal from microphones in an acoustically exceptional room. There was no history of FM broadcasts of electrically amplified instruments in an environment where "distortion," forbidden in other contexts, was an essential part of the musical soundscape. I believe that the HALO Concert at Winterland was planned as the first FM remote live rock concert broadcast, but I do not know if it was ever in fact put on the air.

A board tape of the Quicksilver Messenger Service performance circulates. Tom Donahue is the announcer and he emcees the show in a manner that suggests that the concert was being broadcast. He also talks as if the concert is being broadcast live, since he encourages listeners to "come on down." Was this the first live concert broadcast? Was it actually broadcast? No one seems to know. One issue that compounds these questions is the fact that home tape recorders were not widely available, and even fewer (if any) had the capacity to record "line in" like we all have done with a cassette or digital deck. Thus, even if the entire concert was broadcast in real time, no one may have recorded it. I don't know the lineage of the Quicksilver tape, but I suspect it is actually a preserved copy of the "pre-FM" tape.

I have discussed at length in another post my theory that the Grateful Dead may not have actually played at the HALO Concert, so I won't recap it all again. We may never know if the concert was actually broadcast, or if all of the concert was actually broadcast. However, Tom Donahue's introduction suggests that it was intended for a live remote broadcast, and may have been, so the idea of live remote FM broadcasts was at least under consideration in May 1967.

February 14, 1968 Carousel Ballroom
On Valentine's Day, 1968, the Grateful Dead and Country Joe and The Fish played the Carousel Ballroom. This was the second show at the Carousel after the various San Francisco bands had agreed to run the Carousel as a sort of collective (the first was January 17 with the Dead and Quicksilver). The late sets of Country Joe and The Fish and the Grateful Dead were broadcast on KMPX and have circulated widely over the years. Conventional practice at the time for San Francisco concerts was that the bill went around twice, so the order of sets would have been CJF/Dead/CJF/Dead, and only the last two sets were broadcast. The Feb 14 '68 broadcast is the first confirmed live broadcast of a major rock show (there may have been a few trivial experiments on college campuses), and may be the first one ever (depending on the HALO Concert and whatever may or may not have happened in obscurity).

I feel confident in saying that Warner Brothers and Vanguard (the bands' labels) had never considered the idea that their groups could be broadcast live on the radio in real time, so they wouldn't have had a "policy" about it. On the other hand, from the point of view of a record label, if their band could receive airplay for 45 minutes straight on the top-rated station in the demographic, they would be very much in favor of it. I also don't know if The Fish and The Dead asked "permission" from their labels--probably not. Nonetheless, while the labels would have been in favor of it, they would have liked to have known in advance so that they could try and make a promotional splash about it. No one has ever asked Joe Smith about this topic, however, nor anything else about Warners attitude towards Dead FM broadcasts, so we will have to wait on that for now, but subsequent events suggest that Smith and Warners were very much in favor of live remote broadcasts.

What remains lost in history is the relationship of KMPX to the broadcast. Although both the Dead and CJF tapes have widely circulated, I have only of the dj comments after the performances, but nothing from before or between sets. Was there a sponsor for the broadcasts? It's important to remember that radio stations sell ads by the minute, and giving up a couple of hours (total) broadcast time equals a significant amount of lost ad revenue. In the 1960s, it was uncool for events to be "sponsored" (even NASCAR was cautious about it), but the subsidizing entity would have been thanked on air. The most likely candidate for a subsidy would have been the record companies, but that remains a mystery as of this writing.

Its also possible that KMPX simply broadcast the bands in order to be cool, foregoing the ad revenue. For one thing, the late sets by CJF and The Dead would have been 11:00 o'clock or later, and late night revenue would have been lighter. For another, in 1968 San Francisco being cool was coin of the realm. If Donahaue agreed to broadcast the show for nothing, however, that would explain why the experiment was rarely repeated for some years. Commercial stations will rarely give up commercial revenue just to be "cool," and they weren't inclined to let hours and hours of music play while there were no ads. Also, whatever technical issues may have been involved, I suspect the electronics of it were still fairly new, and there may not have been a lot of available expertise for other live broadcasts, which is why I do not know of another live remote FM concert broadcast until 1969.

April 6, 1969-Avalon Ballroom
The next live remote FM broadcast of a rock concert that I am aware of was at the Avalon Ballroom on April 6, 1969. All three bands on the bill, The Grateful Dead, The Flying Burrito Brothers and AUM, were broadcast over KPFA-fm radio in Berkeley. KPFA was part of the Pacifica Network, and was a publicly funded station (mostly by donations-it is also the home of the annual KFPA Grateful Dead Marathon). Tapes of all three bands circulate, and from the dj cut-ins, it is clear that the bands are being broadcast live.

I do not know the circumstances of the KPFA broadcast, so I don't know why it wasn't repeated. While KPFA would not have been foregoing ad revenue in order to broadcast the show--it didn't have ads--since the station was run on a shoestring, even the minimal financing required for the broadcast would have been beyond the means of the station. I have always assumed that the Grateful Dead provided a lot of the technical know how for the broadcast (with one Owsley Stanley acting as chief engineer), but I do not know how remote equipment was financed. Its worth noting that if this were solely a Grateful Dead project, neither the Flying Burrito Brothers nor AUM would have been broadcast, so there must have been an organized effort by somebody. Although the tapes circulate widely, I have never heard any pre-, post- or between-set commentary by KPFA djs on any copy, so I don't know if there was anything to be learned.

At various times in 1968 and '68, KPFA had a Sunday night broadcast of rock concerts recorded live at the Fillmore and Avalon. These were usually broadcast within days or weeks of recordings, and were often listed in various underground papers (like Scenedrome in the Berkeley Barb). These mono board tapes were the basis of a lot of San Francisco rock that has circulated over the years, particularly for groups like The Sons Of Champlin or AB Skhy, who didn't have the popularity of the Dead or the Airplane. I know nothing about how the tapes were recorded and/or obtained, and who was responsible for the broadcast. I do not think any of the tapes are "lost," but I don't have any more than random bits of information about these broadcasts. While the KPFA broadcasts were not commercial per se, I think they played an important role in getting Bay Area rock fans acclimated to the idea live rock music was worthy of listening to as it was made, separate from studio recordings.

The Avalon closed after April 6, 1969, so whatever arrangements may have been under consideration for the KPFA broadcast would likely have been voided anyway. In March, 1968, the KMPX staff had gone on strike, a seminal event in rock history (I have discussed Jerry Garcia's historic appearance with Traffic at the strike here and here), and they all moved to KSAN-fm, "The Jive 95," which would dominate San Francisco rock music until the mid-1970s. Tom Donahue and KSAN were pivotal in developing the art form of the live rock concert broadcast, but in 1969 the station was still putting its house in order, even though it was almost instantly the most popular rock station as soon as it began broadcasting in April 1968.

June 13, 1969-Family Dog On The Great Highway
When Chet Helms re-opened his Family Dog out on the Great Highway, at Playland-At-The-Beach, he debuted the room with the Jefferson Airplane on June 13, 1969. It is my understanding that this concert was broadcast on FM radio. I have always assumed that this was a KSAN broadcast. I don't know that for a fact, and I have never actually heard the tape, but KSAN seems the most likely candidate. Jefferson Airplane broadcasts were considerably rarer than Grateful Dead broadcasts, and this may be the first one (notwithstanding HALO).

I would love more information on the FDGH Airplane broadcast, but I don't have any. As to who financed the broadcast--the question of most interest to me--it very well may have been Chet Helms and his backers (whoever they may have been). It is worth noting that other San Francisco bands seem to have had a similar nascent involvement to live concert broadcasts, but only the Dead took it up in a serious way.

By the end of 1969, the Grateful Dead had participated in the first confirmed live remote FM broadcast of a rock concert, and probably the second one as well. KSAN was one of, if not the, most important outlets for rock radio in the country, and they would shortly expand the tool of live FM rock concert broadcasts beyond what had ever been seen before (or, I'm sad to say, what would be seen again). The Grateful Dead were far and away the principal exponents and beneficiaries of KSAN's pioneering efforts. In 1970, live FM broadcasts with the Grateful Dead started to happen with regularity, but not in the form we subsequently came to know them, which is the subject of my next post.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings

by Jennifer Sartell

For as long as I can remember, there has been an ongoing battle over the meal Chicken and Dumplings in our household. There is my mom and my brother who like the biscuit-shaped ones that are plopped over the top of an oven-baked meal and which soak up the gooey gravy and drippings. And then there was my dad, who enjoyed the noodle-type ones that are cooked in a pot of broth with shredded chicken. This debate is also paired with our Johnny Cake vs. Cornbread battle, but that's another story ...

I have been told that there is some national heritage paired with each preference. The noodle-type dumplings (along with cornbread) seem to be more of a Southern tradition. My brother married a girl from Tennessee and that was her family's staple. My mother, whose family is from Canada and the Upper Peninsula, makes the biscuit type (along with Johnny Cake for that matter). To be honest, I love them both! I really don't think you can go wrong with a lovely pile of tender chicken and gravy-soaked carbs, no matter the shape. I started making this recipe a couple of years ago in an effort to create a peace treaty between the dumpling enthusiasts in my family. The dumplings in this dish are rolled out like the noodle-type ones, but the batter has a good amount of oil, so dough separates into layers and the gravy nestles in and puffs the dumplings open, like a saturated sponge of chicken-flavored goodness ... mmm, mmm, mmm.

To start, I rough chop a couple stalks of celery. Don't throw away the leaves. The leaves have a ton of delicate celery flavor. Keep them to throw in the pot with all the other ingredients at the end of this recipe. Once it's all cooked down, they'll just blend into the juice.

One large sweet onion. Rough chopped.

And 1 or 2 garlic cloves. Essentially you're making a rich broth. You could also add carrots or peas. (I would add the peas at the end, so they don't boil down to mush.)

In a large pot, drop a few pats of butter and place the veggies inside.

Place the whole chicken on top and season. (See how I clean a chicken in my post The Process After They're Processed.)

Here, going clockwise, I have a dash of cracked black pepper, smoked paprika, sea salt, celery seed and poultry seasoning. You could also use your favorite all-purpose seasoning, like Lawry's or Old Bay.

Fill the pot with a couple of cups of chicken stock and finish with water until the chicken is covered with liquid about 80 percent. I make homemade chicken stock whenever we have chicken bones, and I freeze it in 2-cup portions. Then I thaw it and use it in recipes. It's much cheaper and healthier, because I can control the amount of salt and skim off the fat.

Let the pot simmer for at least an hour with the lid on. Usually somewhere along the line I cock the lid to let out steam, so it doesn't boil over.

When the chicken has boiled, carefully remove it from the pot and set it on a platter to cool slightly. It should be falling off the bone at this point. Keep the liquid in the pot.

While the chicken is cooling, I make the dumplings. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup vegetable oil.

Stir just until combined. Don't overwork the dough or it will get gummy.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

... and cut into 1-inch squares.

Reheat the broth in the pot and plop the dumplings back in. Cook 10 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.

While the dumplings are cooking, shred the chicken. I use a large fork and twist it away from the bone and discard the skin. (I'd be a liar if I didn't tell you that I usually nibble a little bit of skin; it's delicious!) In the last couple of minutes of boiling, add the chicken back to the pot to heat. Stir together and enjoy!

To see more of what's cooking on our farm visit my website at

  • Few pats butter
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 whole chicken
  • Seasoning, a dash of each: cracked pepper, smoked paprika, sea salt, celery seed, poultry seasoning (or your favorite all-purpose seasoning)
  • 2 cups (or more) chicken broth
  • Water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Printable Recipe:
Add butter to large pot. Chop celery, onion and add to pot with a couple garlic cloves. Place chicken on top of vegetables and add seasoning. Cover with chicken stock and water until chicken is almost submerged. Simmer for at least one hour with the lid cocked on the pot to let out steam. After one hour, remove the chicken and set aside. Leave juices in pot.

To make dumplings, combine flour, baking soda, milk and oil. Stir until just combined. Roll out on a lightly floured surface 1/4 inch thick and slice into 1-inch squares. Reheat the chicken juices and plop dumplings in. Simmer 10 minutes covered, 10 minutes uncovered. In the meantime, shred the chicken. In the last few minutes of cooking, add the chicken back to the dumplings to heat.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Betfred update

'Oh no, not more betting shop stuff' I hear you groan.'Haven't you flogged that particular horse to death with no hope of success in the light of the current licensing laws?'

Well you're right on one count - the licensing laws are of little use to communities trying to protect the viability and diversity of local shopping streets.

Despite vocal opposition, a massive petition and a dozen individual letters of objection, Betfred's application for a gambling licence for the former Halifax building was passed by Lewisham Council's licensing committee. Objectors are offered the right to appeal but in truth there is little point.

'So why are you harping on about it?' I hear you say. 'Put it behind you and get back to moaning about the architectural quality of local developments!'

All in good time my friends. Meanwhile, gather round and listen carefully.

Back in 1974 when the Halifax first moved into 93-95 Deptford High Street, planning permission was granted for the premises to be classified as A2 (bank/building society) use. However this was conditional upon the unit being occupied by a building society. In order for Betfred to be able to occupy the premises, Lewisham's planning department must grant a variation to the classification.

In considering whether to grant this application, the planning department must take note of national and local planning policy. In particular this means Lewisham Council's Unitary Development Plan as well as various national planning policies relating to sustainable development, for one thing.

Chapter 8 of Lewisham's Unitary Development Plan, which basically sets out the guidelines for planning officers to follow when deciding planning applications, classifies Deptford High Street as a 'district town centre' - just one step down from the importance of Catford and Lewisham as major town centres. The south end of it, including the former Halifax building, numbers 93-95, forms the 'core shopping area'.

According to the UDP "The Council will seek to maintain, and where necessary improve, the function, character, vitality and viability of the established shopping hierarchy .... by sustaining and encouraging through a balance of development, regeneration and conservation a diversity of uses appropriate to their function and location and retaining and enhancing each Centre as a focus for retail activity."

The UDP explains the council's reasoning for wanting to restrict non-retail use; "The Major and District Shopping Centres are the largest established concentrations of retail activity in the Borough. Although a wide range of town centre uses are located in them shopping is considered to be their primary function. Hence a change of use to another function, even another service use, must be carefully monitored and controlled. The preservation of the primary retail function within Core Areas is a major planning objective as this is considered the best way to protect the character and role of the Centres."

The national planning guidelines, which Betfred's planning supporting statement helpfully refers to in great detail, are similarly clear on the question of sustainable development, but also require 'that the impact of development on the social fabric of communities is considered and taken into account'; and direct planning authorities to remember that 'a diversity of uses in centres makes an important contribution to their vitality and viability' and to 'take measures to conserve, and where appropriate, enhance, the established character and diversity of their town centres'.

Betfred's argument in favour of its application is almost entirely based on the fact that it will create employment, and 'contribute to the local economy' which is questionnable. It's not unreasonable to surmise that what it contributes to the local economy in salaries will be far less than what it takes back out in the course of its business.

Almost laughably, Betfred also suggests that its application meets the requirement for a diversity of uses. Being rather lost for words here, I'm not even going to attempt to rebuff that one.

Anyway, that's where you lot come in.

Assuming you agree that maintaining diversity (of uses, not just a range of betting shops) and a strong retail function is vital to the continuation of Deptford as a shopping centre, please consider objecting to this application.

The deadline for objections is Wednesday 2 March.

If you do not want to write your own objection letter, there are new petitions being passed around and held at local shops that you can sign. But it's worth remembering that however many people sign a petition - whether 2 or 2,000 - it will be counted as a single objection.

If you really want your objection to count, send a letter.

It's best to write it in your own words, or again, if duplicates are received, the committee may count them as a single objection. However, a group of local campaigners have drafted a sample letter which you can use as the basis for your own objection, which notes some of the salient points you should highlight.

1. include your name and address to prove that you are an 'interested party' - you don't have to live or work on the High Street, if you live locally and shop there your views are still relevant. The planning department will need your contact details to advise you of any hearings or committee meetings where decisions will be taken.

2. include the application reference number DC/11/76362/X

3. say that you live on/have a business on/shop on the high street, and you object strongly to this application

4. tell them why;

- it will undermine the retail function of the shopping area and is contrary to the policies of the council's Unitary Development Plan which relate to Deptford, which is classified as a district shopping centre

- another betting shop will not add to the diversity of businesses on the High Street - in fact it will reduce it by duplicating the type of business that already exists at five other premises in the core shopping area

- there is no evidence to suggest that the premises would be left empty for very long, should the variation not be granted

5. if you want to refer to the specific policies, there is further detail below. But it's not necessary to make your objection valid.

Within the UDP, Deptford High Street is classified as a District Town Centre, and the unit in question, 93-95 Deptford High Street, falls within the core area of this classification.

I draw your attention in particular to policies STC1 and STC4 in the UDP:

The council will seek to maintain, and where necessary improve, the function, character, vitality and viability of the established shopping hierarchy … by sustaining and encouraging through a balance of development, regeneration and conservation a diversity of uses appropriate to their function and location and retaining and enhancing each centre as a focus for retail activity.

STC 4 major and district centres - core shopping areas
Within the core shopping areas….the council will strongly resist any change of use involving the loss at ground floor level of Class A1 shops. The following factors will be taken into account when considering exceptions:
(a) whether the proposal harms the overwhelming retail appearance of the shopping frontage, with an over-concentration of non-retail uses (normally 3 non A1 uses together and 70% maintained in A1 use);
(b) whether the proposal will generate a significant number of pedestrian visits; and
(c) whether the proposal uses vacant units (having regard both to their number within the shopping centre as a whole and the core area and the length of time they have been vacant).

The basis for these policies includes the following reasoning:
- The major and district shopping centres are the largest established concentrations of retail activity in the borough. Although a wide range of town centre uses are located in them shopping is considered to be their primary function. Hence a change of use to another function, even another service use, must be carefully monitored and controlled. The preservation of the primary retail function within core areas is a major planning objective as this is considered the best way to protect the character and role of the centres.

The core area of Deptford Town Centre, as defined in the UDP, already has five betting shops – if this application was granted, the total would be six. Moreover, the non-core area of Deptford Town Centre contains a further two betting shops, and the Evelyn Triangle shopping area, which is classified as a local shopping parade and is within half a mile of the core area, contains an additional three betting shops.

Send your objection by email to or by mail to the planning officer Russell Penn, at the Planning Department, Town Hall, Catford, London SE6 4RU. You can also comment online here.

As a footnote, it's worth remembering that Haringey Council recently won a case against Paddy Power on a similar basis - although they were applying for a change of use, rather than a variation. The case went to appeal and was dismissed by the inspector. Paddy Power's application for costs was also rejected.

And if you needed a further word of encouragement, Paddy Power's applications to make changes to the outside of the former Deptford Arms and to put up new signs have also been refused, both by the council's planning officers, and dismissed at appeal. The changes have already been made of course, so we await with interest to see what happens next.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

letter from my lover on valentines

m's scribbles and silly poems on my feet

my beautiful girl,

you are asleep beside me, and despite the deep rumbles and grating gears of the passing vehicles on the highway outside our window, I feel so content, listening to your breathing, and the wind in the tall backyard tree, and now it is silent of all cars and trucks and roadnoise, and now it is nicer than it was before. with you I have learnt the most about myself, and consequently the world, and with you I am calmest, clearest, happiest, realest, warmest, and all other superlatives that could be used to describe just how right things are with you. I have said it a few times but I'm not sure I've ever truly been able to express just how much I appreciate you, your presence in my life, all of the things I have learnt from you both directly and indirectly. the world will change and change often, sometimes dramatically, but I know our love will always remain. we are the strongest of the strong, and I will never leave your side.

thank you for all that you have blessed me with. i am indebted to you.

yours for all time, and timelessness,

my sleeping m

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Game of Chicken

by Jennifer Burcke

During the last few months, I have found myself in a chicken conundrum. After tending to the needs of our seven chicks all week, they force me to do the unthinkable. I shudder to tell you of my poultry-keeping horror. This terrible deed requires me to gather my inner strength and do something almost too horrible to mention here. I reach my hand into the confined, darkened space and force myself to remove something that I find to be truly frightening. Grocery store eggs. It's true: I'm playing a real-life game of chicken with our chickens.

I knew getting into this chicken experiment that we would need to endure a considerable length of time taking care of chickens that were too young to make a contribution to our dinner table. It stood to reason when we started out with tiny, day-old baby chicks. It was a fact of chicken keeping that we were willing to accept because that's what farmers do. They accept Mother Nature's will even if they don't always like it. It simply goes with the territory. But we were freshman farmers. Would we be able to?

Initially, it didn't seem unreasonable to wait a few months for eggs as our baby chicks matured into laying hens. We watched as the chicks grew and began acting more like the chickens they would eventually become. Eventually, we finally finished their coop and moved the whole flock into their new abode. We felt like we were proceeding nicely along the timeline that was our flock's transformation from chick to chicken. Although we were not collecting eggs as our chicken-keeping reward, we were collecting milestones. Each one made us feel victorious. Each one made us feel like real farmers. We started to believe that we might actually survive to see that first egg.

Then this winter hit us full in the face. The snow continued to fall in feet instead of inches. I know that I have already labeled this the winter of my discontent, but it has been. Since moving to New England almost a decade ago, it is my winter tradition to beg for this season's mercy by the time we turn the calendar page and find March staring at us. This year is different. I'm not just counting the minutes until winter ends. I'm also counting my snowy trips to bring fresh water and food to the coop only to return empty-handed to our farmhouse. I'm beginning to take it personally.

I've done all that I can to encourage the egg laying to commence immediately. We've freshened the bedding in the nest boxes. We've transitioned our hens to a laying ration. I've even provided wooden eggs to give them the idea that sitting on an egg just might be something that they want to do. I don't know if any of these steps will get me any closer to finding an edible egg in our coop. At this point, I'm out of ideas. I'm back to simply waiting for the days to pass and reminding myself that a watched pot never boils. Apparently, a watched pullet never starts laying eggs either.

So we're back on our journey to becoming farmers. Along the way we have also become, dare I say, "chicken people." We find it impossible to pass by the coop without peeking inside. We even celebrated a child's birthday with a chicken-themed party. Yes, that's right, I spent at least eight hours making a three-dimensional chicken cake modeled after one of our Golden Laced Wyandottes. On second thought, maybe we aren't chicken people. Maybe we're chicken-obsessed people.

No matter what this winter has brought to our farm, today the chickens at 1840 Farm reached their latest milestone. They turned five months old. To you, that may not seem like a reason to celebrate, but for everyone at my house, it means that we are one month closer to having fresh eggs. Believe me, it is definitely cause for celebration. If I had a party hat, I'd be wearing one.

I'm looking forward to the Sunday morning that we can finally enjoy an egg straight from our chicken coop. Until then, I'll continue playing a real-life game of chicken with our seven hens. In case you're keeping score, so far, the chickens are winning.

Carnival against cuts Saturday 19th

Disturbing scenes were replicated across the country this week as councils ejected or barred the public from council chambers in order to agree massive cuts to services and rises in costs for those being retained.

As well as recommending the closure of five libraries and the Amersham Early Years Centre, with three other EYCs looking set for the chop too, Lewisham's mayor and cabinet meeting agreed to recommend cuts funding to youth projects and other outreach projects for vulnerable groups, increases in council house rents, school dinner charges, parking permits, pest control charges, meals on wheels and so on. The maximum weekly charge for services for adult social care went from £290 to a massive £395.

Mayor Steve can rest easy though; his election pledge to keep council tax at the same level has been protected. His legacy is intact.

It's also notable that the cabinet did not feel itself sufficiently informed to make cuts to senior pay, although it has recommended a review be set up, so presumably we can look forward to some reports from that in due course. And probably a few more reports, or another review.

In light of all this, you may feel inclined to join in with Lewisham's Carnival Against Cuts tomorrow, at various venues around the borough.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grateful Dead Pac-10 Home Court Analysis

(a poster for the Grateful Dead's May 7, 1966 concert at UC Berkeley's Harmon Gym, home court of UC's California Bears)

Some methodological tracks lead down a distant spur to an isolated railhead, but that doesn't mean the view still isn't nice from there. I looked into the history of the Grateful Dead playing the home arenas of various college basketball home courts. This revolutionary and sophisticated interdisciplinary methodological research approach revealed nothing. Oh well. This post features a list of the times that the Grateful Dead played the home basketball courts of the Pac-10 Conference schools. I don't know what purpose this serves, but here it is--maybe if you are stuck on your NCAA brackets in March, this will help you make random selections.

Some Ground Rules
I looked at Grateful Dead appearances at the home basketball courts of schools in the Pacific 10 Conference. Up until 1978, the conference only had 8 teams, and the conference was known as the Pac-8. I am only looking at primary home courts. I realize that many college basketball teams play occasional "home" games at the arenas of nearby big cities (e.g. University of Washington playing a game at Seattle Center), but I was not pursuing that line of research. There are some unique aspects with respect to the University of California, but I address those below.

This line of research, unproductive though it was, was about basketball conferences and not universities per se. I am aware that the Grateful Dead played these campuses many times in non-basketball facilities, but I was not attempting to analyze that information.

(an alternative flyer for the May 7, 1966 Harmon Gym show (h/t Yellow Shark). Note that the Grateful Dead's appearance says "Less Ken," presumably indicating that Ken Kesey would not appear)

University of California at Berkeley-Cal Bears
Harmon Gym (14 Frank Schlessinger Way, Berkeley, CA)
May 7, 1966
UC Berkeley's Harmon Gym was built in 1933, and it felt like it. The facility had a basketball capacity of about 6,000. For the benefit of foreign readers, when rock concerts are held in basketball arenas, the stage is generally at one end of the court. Fans are allowed on the court in front of the stage, but the seats behind the stage are usually blocked off to create a backstage area. Thus the basketball capacity of a facility generally roughly equals the concert capacity, even though the configurations are different.

Harmon Gym was used for concert events up until about mid-1967. Bill Graham used it a few times, when he was blocked out of the Fillmore out of consideration of the synagogue next door. The Dead played Harmon on May 7, 1966, along with The Charlatans, The Great Society (with Grace Slick) and The Billy Moses Blues Band. The show was a campus event entitled "Peace Rock 3." After 1967, the campus stopped using Harmon Gym for rock concerts. I actually think that the principal reason for this had to do with the lack of on-campus parking (at UC Berkeley, only Nobel Prize Winners are guaranteed parking--true fact). The campus itself, along with the surrounding neighborhood, was pretty rock and roll friendly, but a large event would create a serious parking issue South and West of campus. The campus community accepted that a certain number of home basketball games would create a parking problem, but I doubt they were anxious to compound the issue with additional events.

Over the years, the Cal Bears periodically played games at Oakland Coliseum Arena, about 5 miles South, as it had over twice the capacity and better parking. In fact, when Harmon Gym was renovated from 1997 to 1999 (it is now called Haas Pavilion), the Bears played their home games at the Coliseum and Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, both long-time Grateful Dead strongholds. However, since the Grateful Dead were emeritus by 1997, I don't consider the band as having played Cal's "home" arenas when they played those venues. Of course, since this post has no point, it wouldn't be hard to assert the opposite.

University of Oregon-Oregon Ducks 
McArthur Court (1801 University St, Eugene, OR)
May 31, 1969
January 22, 1978
August 16, 1981
McArthur Court, built in 1926 with a capacity of nearly 10,000, remained the home of the Oregon Ducks until it was replaced this year by the Matthew Knight Arena.

The Grateful Dead were always immensely popular in Oregon, whether due to mystical connections through Ken Kesey and their road crew (three of whom were from the tiny town of Hermiston, OR) or just because Oregon liked the Dead. In any case, when the Dead headlined McArthur Court on May 31, 1969, it was one of the biggest rooms that they had headlined up until that time. The show appears to have been scheduled for the track stadium (Hayward Field) and moved indoors, but in any case it was a sign of the Dead's status in Oregon.

The January 22, 1978 show at McArthur achieved legendary status due to the "Close Encounters" jam, another in a long line of sensational shows in Oregon. After the 1981 show, the Dead were so big in Eugene that they started playing the football stadium. Given the relative lack of population in Oregon compared to, say, New Jersey, the fact that the Dead were playing the football stadium was a remarkable indicator of Oregon's enthusiasm for the band.

Oregon State University-Oregon State Beavers
Gill Coliseum (660 SW 26th St, Corvallis, OR)

November 15, 1968
January 17, 1970
Gill Coliseum, built in 1949 with a capacity of 10,400, remains the home court for the Oregon State Beavers.

The Dead regularly played in Portland and Eugene, and as a result they only played once in Corvallis. Corvallis was not so far from Eugene or Portland, so Beaver fans were not excluded, but Corvallis was the Engineering and Ag school, and had less of a hippie vibe than Eugene. Both times that the Dead played Gill Coliseum, it was probably too big a room for them to fill, but the fact that they were booked there at all was yet another indicator of their popularity in Oregon.

University of California at Los Angeles-UCLA Bruins
Pauley Pavilion (301 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA)
November 20, 1971
November 17, 1973
December 30, 1978
November 25, 1979
June 29, 1980
February 21, 1982
Pauley Pavilion was completed in Fall 1965, in time for Lew Alcindor's freshman season at UCLA (he played on the JV that year). The building has a basketball capacity of about 12,500, and it was the site of NCAA Basketball's greatest championship run. John Wooden's UCLA team won 7 consecutive titles from 1967-1973, as well as the 1975 title. From 1971-74, the team won an amazing 88 consecutive games (still a record for a men's team, though not for women). Numerous basketball greats played at Pauley for UCLA during this period.

If I had been able to draw a plausible connection to the Grateful Dead's touring history and Pac-8 Basketball, it would have centered around Pauley Pavilion. Both the Dead and Pauley got their starts in the Fall of 1965, and an Acid Test was even scheduled for the Pavilion in March 1966, although it was moved elsewhere at the last minute. Both the Dead and UCLA went from strength to strength in the late 1960s, and in my opinion at least the Dead peaked from 1972 to '74, just like UCLA. The Dead's first show there in November 1971 was still a bit large for the band, but the November 17, 1973 show was one for the ages. I have been told that the band soundchecked "Dark Star" at Pauley on December 30, 1978, as a prelude to the closing of Winterland, but I have never heard the tape.

Bill Walton, one of the biggest Deadheads ever, and certainly the best defensive Deadhead ever, was the anchor of the 1972-74 UCLA team. When I was a freshman at Berkeley in 1975, Southern California Deadheads explained to me that the first thing they did at a general admission show was spot Walton. This wasn't hard, as he was a 7-foot plus redhead (you would never mistake him for Swen Nater). Then, like every player in the Pac-8 or the NBA, they had to decide where they wanted to be in relation to Walton. Believe it or not, a school of thought held that being close to Walton was prudent because you could get behind him for some clear air to breathe (no one could see over him, so there was always empty space behind him).  However, by the time the Dead returned to performing in 1976, Walton was a regular backstage and such strategies were moot.

The anchors of the 72-74 UCLA teams were Bill Walton and Keith (Jamaal) Wilkes. Walton went from Pauley to Portland Memorial Coliseum, another Grateful Dead stronghold, and would lead the Trailblazers to a 1977 title. If I were Thomas Pynchon, I could draw a V from Pauley to Portland to the Oakland Coliseum, where Jamaal Wilkes helped lead the Warriors to their only title in 1975 at the Oakland Coliseum. The Walton connection to the Dead circled back to the Coliseum like a V2 rocket, as Chris Mullin, Sarunas Marciolunis and the Dead supported the Lithuanian Olympic Basketball Team, but I simply lack the analytical or literary skills to do more than allude to the connections.

Stanford University-Stanford Indians
Roscoe Maples Pavilion (655 Campus Drive, Stanford, CA)
February 9, 1973
Roscoe Maples Pavilion was opened in 1968 with a capacity of 7.400. The basketball floor was designed to prevent injury, and had an extremely springy floor, intended to cushion impact.

The Grateful Dead only played one show at Maples Pavilion, but what a show it was. It was the debut of certain parts of the future "Wall Of Sound," and while the band complained from the stage about their various sound problems, I was there and it sure sounded good to me. Since it was my second Dead show, I took it for granted that I did not recognize most of the songs. Only much later did I discover that this was the ne'er to be repeated "Night Of Seven Breakouts," when the band debuted 7 new songs on the same night.

With no seats on the basketball court, when the band got to rocking the entire floor would bounce because everyone was jumping up and down. The extra springiness had the surprise effect of bouncing Keith's grand piano up and down. If his playing on "I Know You Rider" sounds a bit basic to you, I can assure you that it was because the entire instrument was moving in front of him, as was his piano bench, and he was just trying to keep his hands on it.

As a footnote, Stanford's mascot was the rather embarrassing "Indians." In the early '70s, the administration took steps to change the name. Rather than take the preferred student choice of "Robber Barons," recalling founder Leland Stanford's history as a railroad magnate--can you imagine how much merch the Stanford Robber Barons would have sold behind Andrew Luck?--the school chose the bland "Cardinal" as a nod to the team colors of red and white.

University of Washington-Washington Huskies
Hec Edmundson Pavilion (3870 Montlake Blvd NE, Seattle, WA)
May 21, 1974
The Hec Edmundson Pavilion was built in 1927, and had a capacity of about 7,900 for basketball. The renovated facility is currently known as the Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

The Grateful Dead were extremely popular in Seattle from the very beginning, but not that many concerts have been held in Edmundson Pavilion over the years. The Dead's 1974 appearance seems to have been one of the few shows at the venue.

University of Southern California-USC Trojans
Sports Arena (3939 S. Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA)
December 8-10, 1993
December 15,16, 18,19, 1994
Built in 1959, with a capacity of around 16,000 for basketball, the Los Angeles Sports Arena was the home of the USC Trojans from 1959-2006. It was also the home of the UCLA Bruins from 1959-65 (before Pauley) and numerous other sports teams.

The Los Angeles Sports Arena was simply too large for the Grateful Dead for most of their career. Also, its location near the USC campus was not hippie central, and was not a likely candidate for the traveling circus of Deadheads. It is thus ironic that of all the Pac-10 arenas, the Grateful Dead ended up playing the Sports Arena more than any other. This realization undermined any vast metaphor I was going to draw about the supposed interaction between the Grateful Dead and college sports. 

Arizona State University-Arizona State Sun Devils
Activity Center (634 E. Veterans Way, Tempe, AZ)
October 6, 1977
It may seem that the Grateful Dead played the home court of a Pac-10 team when they played the Activity Center on October 6, 1977. I was surprised to find out, however, that according to my own criteria, that was not the case. The ASU Sun Devils were in the Western Athletic Conference at this time. ASU and U. of Arizona joined the Pac-8 in 1978, making it the Pac-10.

The Activity Center was constructed in 1974, and has a basketball capacity of 10,700. It is now called the Wells Fargo Arena.

Courts Never Played
University Of Arizona-Arizona Wildcats (McKale Center, Tucson, AZ)
Washington State University-Washington State Cougars (Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, WA)
The Grateful Dead played the Phoenix area many times, but never the basketball arena. Washington State, meanwhile, is the most rural of Pac-10 campuses, so it is the one region where the Dead never played at all (the nearest they got was Spokane, WA, 75 miles to the North).

Special Pac-12 Bonus Data
The University of Colorado and the University of Utah will be joining the Pac-10 for the 2011-12 basketball season.

University of Colorado-Colorado Buffaloes
Events Center (Kittredge Road Loop, Boulder, CO)
December 9, 1981
Since CU will not join the newly-named Pac-12 until next year, the Dead's performance at the Activity Center on December 9, 1981 falls into the same category as the Oct 6 '77 show at ASU. Fortunately, however, this post doesn't really have a point, so I can include the information I found anyway.

The CU Events Center was built in 1979 with a basketball capacity of 11,000. In 1990 it was renamed the Coors Event Center. 

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT-Utah Runnin' Utes
The Grateful Dead did play the student union at the University of Utah in 1969, but they never played the Runnin' Utes home court (which is currently the Jon M. Huntsman Center).

Cooped Up!

My Missouri coop was in the path of the recent winter storm that affected much of Midwest America. With ten inches of snow and temperatures below zero, my chickens were literally cooped up.

They have access to the outside, but like methey chose instead to stay bundled-up inside. So what does a bird whose whole purpose in life is to forage, scratch and peck do when it's too cold? Well, they do nothing.

I've come to the conclusion that chickens are workers. They want jobs to do such as ridding your yard of bugs, turning the compost or cleaning up the remains of the garden. For a chicken that can't hold still normally, being snowed in and roosting all day is for the birds!

My flock is well-behaved and I haven't seen any signs of aggression, such as feather pecking or egg eating, but lack of stimulation and crowded conditions can lead to this destructive behavior. I would prefer to avoid ever having to deal with that problem! I wanted to share a product that I recently tried out that proved to be the perfect solution to combat the boredom.

I had considered giving my hens the homemade suet that I make for the wild birds in the winter. It consists of lard, cornmeal, peanut butter and birdseed. I'm sure in limited quantities it wouldn't cause any harm, but I was a little leery of giving a chicken too much pure animal fat. I saw the advertisement for ForageCakes on this website and after I researched the product, it seemed like a better option.

ForageCakes are designed to: Provide nutritional supplementation, maintenance reduction, behavior stimulation, disease prevention and sustainability, with the added benefit of being specifically designed to yield more solid and manageable droppings, with reduced odor. I like the fact that the product includes natural ingredients such as-dried fruits, nut pieces, seeds and grains ...

The cakes proved to be a big hit with my girls! As they are with anything new, at first they were curious, yet cautious at the presence of something different in their coop. All it took was one peck from the bravest chick and soon the entire flock was trying to retrieve hidden morsels.

As an enticement to venture out of their cozy nest, I hung a cake in the run. It's been a great source of entertainment for them, with the added benefit of a feed supplement and increased activity. I feel good that their new recreation is also specifically designed for poultry and I've enjoyed watching their new sport. But it doesn't take long for me to also want to retreat back into my warm home. I think we're all ready for spring!

For more information on ForageCakes and the other products they provide, visit their website at

Visit my website at ..the garden-roof coop.

Monday, February 14, 2011


a small love story i shot for the sweethearts at the hair salon RAKIS.

hair and make-up - maria gullace

assistant - amy rakis

set design -james razos

stylist - connel chiang 
models @ scene