Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Moving the Coop, 40 Chickens, 40 Miles West

by Jennifer Sartell

My husband, Zach, and I recently moved from my parents' house in the woods to a 14-acre farm. Some people move in a weekend, some over a week or so. Our move was a 2-month undertaking, where we hauled four goats, three rabbits, 40 chickens, a small barn, two chicken coops and all our stuff 40 miles west.

When we found our new farm it already had an existing barn built in 1917. It's a big classic red barn with a black roof and an upper floor. It has almost a hundred years of aging, and while it has been fixed up here and there, it's not what I would call "air tight."

The Red Barn is secure enough to keep out large prey animals like coyotes or dogs, but not secure enough to keep out animals that can climb, like raccoons or stray cats. For the goats, there is a nice solid corner that we re-enforced with plywood, laid cement pads and built strong pens with heavy-gauge wire fencing and metal gates, but for the chickens, I just didn't feel secure keeping them in there, especially at night.

At my parents', our chickens and goats were kept in a small two-story barn. My family built the barn from scratch 15 years ago with my dad, an amazing artist and carpenter, leading the way. Zach and I were newly dating at the time and he was lovestruck into manual labor to help his sweetheart fulfill a Laura Ingalls-ish romantic escapade with chickens. Thinking back now, it's amazing how long Zach and I have known each other, and how all of this was somehow meant to be. Some years later, Zach and I attached the coop wing off the left side.

With the move at hand, and the Red Barn being what it was, we talked it over and decided we would attempt to move the barn at my mom's. My dad passed away in the midst of all this moving, so it even meant more to me to have it on our new land.

I put a message on Facebook that we were having an "Old-Fashioned Barn-Raising Party. Trucks and trailers welcome, you will be fed!" With little hope I clicked the "enter" button and watched as the message appeared for the social networking site to do its magic. Doubt filled my heart. Who was I fooling? Who was going to give up their entire Saturday (and maybe Sunday) to come do manual labor in exchange for a pot of Sloppy Joe's, some lunch meat, and a few side dishes? What if it couldn't be moved? Or what if it would take so long that we would have to give away our chickens?

Well, as it turned out, our friends and family are an incredibly generous lot, and we had so much help that we took the barn down in one day, moved it to the new land and began re-raising it that evening. Those who couldn't help the day of brought over dog crates, rabbit cages and other portable carriers to put the chickens in while we moved their home.

People I hadn't talked to in years came with willing hands and a smile. Each board, each trim piece was labeled and stacked onto trailers, then we hauled it all over and it was stacked again in corresponding piles.

Zach and I had prepared the site the weekend before and leveled it with Alice, our tractor. The cement forms that act as the foundation were in place and ready.

Once again, our friends and family came to help re-erect the barn. Board by board the structure took shape, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. This little white barn became more than just a chicken coop; it was a symbol of friendship and love.

First, the love of a father to a persistent teenage daughter that brought Murray McMurray catalogs to the dinner table each night.

Then there was young love, and what a teenage boy will do to impress a young girl who loves animals. Mainly, trading his summer weekends of dirt bike riding for a hammer and nails, and a box full of chicks that delicately peeped ironically in his large mechanic-like hands.

Then there was the love that grew over the years, as we were married and the little white barn was kissed with the weather of a dozen Michigan winters. It housed our goats and rabbits too, and gave us a small taste of farming life, so addicting that we haven't looked back since.

And finally the love of friends. The old ones that are always there, no matter how long it's been. The new ones who create fresh bonds with similar interests and things in common. Even our new neighbor who brought us a section of aluminum egg boxes, as our old system didn't make the move.

Often I've wondered what people thought of Zach and me. Many times we get a few raised eyebrows, and a chuckle or two when we share the fact that we breed rare chickens.

But the support for our ventures was without compromise. It was serious and genuine, and gave me a new respect for not only the people who were helping, but for the nature of the human spirit.

With the world in its crazy state, a whirling, dizzy society of hurried strangers, it's easy to become cynical. But it is still in us, it's in all of us, the love for a neighbor, generosity, the gift of time and effort. It's still out there, and it's not all that hard to find. All it took for me to see was a few dozen chickens and a little white barn.

Enter the Coop Story Giveaway! 

Do you have a chicken coop? I'd love to feature it in a Community Chickens post! Fill out the 10 question form by clicking here and submit at least 5 photos of your coop to my e-mail at jenniferannmurphy@yahoo.com. The photos can include, the building process, a visual tour of the different elements, or anything else you'd like to share! If I choose your coop story, you will be featured on the Community Chickens website, and you will receive one of Iron Oak Farm's handmade Oak Leaf Key Chains valued at $23.00! Feel free to elaborate on any of the questions. I will feature 1 coop per month. The more information you provide, the better your chances of winning! For more information read my post A Coop Story Giveaway. 

To see more of what Iron Oak Farm is doing please visit our website at www.ironoakfarm.blogspot.com, or our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/IronOakFarm2?ref=tn_tnmn.

Transfer Deadline Day Link:


Monday, January 30, 2012

FA Cup 4th Round Results, 5th Round Draw and Midweek EPL Fixtures:

FA Cup 4th Round Results:


QPR 0 Chelsea 1
Liverpool 2 Manchester United 1
Bolton 2 Swansea City 1
West Brom 2 Norwich City 1
Derby 0 Stoke City 2
Brighton 1 Newcastle United 0


Sunderland 1 Middlesborough 1
Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2
2 Robin Van Persie penalties and an Theo Walcott goal saved Arsenal after they went 2-0 down at half-time due to defender Richard Dunne and striker Darren Bent giving the away side the lead at half-time.

5th Round Draw:

Liverpool vs Brighton
Everton vs
Blackpool or Sheffield Wednesday
Chelsea vs Birmingham
Crawley vs Stoke
Stevenage vs Tottenham
Norwich vs Leicester
Sunderland or Middlesbrough vs Arsenal
Millwall or Southampton vs Bolton

Ties to be played on the 18th and 19th of February.
You would expect all EPL teams to waltz through to the 6th Round.

EPL Midweek Fixtures:
(19:45pm unless stated)


Swansea City vs Chelsea
Draw but Swansea could pull off a surprise...
Tottenham Hotspur vs Wigan Athletic
Home win.
Wolves vs Liverpool
Away win.
Everton vs Manchester City: LIVE at 20:00pm
City prevail.
Stoke City vs Manchester United: LIVE at 20:00pm
United comfortable win.

(20:00pm unless stated)

Aston Villa vs QPR: LIVE at 19:45pm
I have to back Villa here....
Blackburn vs Newcastle
Bolton vs Arsenal
Away win.
Fulham vs West Brom
Home win.
Sunderland vs Norwich City

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I’m joining Jen & Kellee (and many other bloggers) in discussing what we are reading this week. Join us! Go to their site and link up your own blog.

Ugh. Ugh, Ugh, Ugh. I just didn’t read a lot this week. I mean, I read some but not my normal amount. Which, by looking at my bookshelves, I really need to step up my reading, not decrease! I have so many books I haven’t brought to school yet it is insane.

So what happened? Well, I can tell you – I met John and HankGreen. Not really, I mean I met them through the Internet. See, I’m a bit compulsive. When I “meet” a new author and love their writing, I am then driven to learn all I can:

What else have they written? Do they have a blog? What are they like?

So, after reading (and obsessing) The Fault In Our Starslast weekend, I looked John Green up. Holy Moses – what the heck is Brotherhood 2.0? Vlogbrothers? And then my free time went down the tube, YouTube that is. Hours of hilarity ensued but my husband began to wonder if I was going to jump on I-74, drive two hours east, and begin stalking John Green.

Not necessary. Chris and his brother, Andrew, are eerily similar to John and his brother, Hank.

At any rate, if you have spare hours on your hands, I highly recommend their videos – but only if you don’t have a lot of reading to do.

So, what did I read this week?

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate *
999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura
Tony Baloney by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Nothing Like a Puffin by Sue Soltis
Owly  Wormy, Friends All Aflutter by Andy Runton

* indicates my favorite reading of the week

I’m currently ½ way done with 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson (great so far!) and since my boys and husband are watching WWE pay-per-view, I figure I still have an hour of reading time to go. (Unless I am drawn back to the evil awesomeness that is Vlogbrothers).

And, you might have noticed what I DIDN’T read. That’s right; The Dark Frigate is still sitting on my dining room table. I’m having a hard time wanting to pick that up. But, what would you do?

Or ANY of these which are all sitting by my bed right now to begin after 100 Cupboards.


Really, it is becoming increasingly difficult to pick up. Well, I’ll let you know next Monday how that plays out, but it isn’t looking good. Have a great reading week everyone! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I don't even know how to properly write about this book, much less talk about it. That being said, I decided to create a vlog. Not sure what I was thinking - maybe it kind-of fits considering John and his brother Hank vlog weekly? After trying many takes I can safely say I won't be doing this often. Much easier to just teach. But had to share my love of this book. Check it out. (And WOW am I looking good there. Love the way you freeze.)

FA Cup 4th Round LIVE Coverage:

FA Cup 4th Round Special:

Recap on last night's action:

Tottenham Hotspur vs Watford:
Midifelder Rafael Van Der Vaart score the only goal of the game for Spurs in the 42nd minute from 22 yards out when his shot deflected of a Watford defender and went over the keeper's head into the net. Watford pressed for the equaliser and hit the post twice and the bar but it was not enough as Spurs become the 1st team progress to the 5th Round.

Van Der Vaart: Saves Harry Redknapp and Spurs again.

Everton vs Fulham:
This match was played at Goodison Park as Everton hosted Fulham in an interesting all EPL team match. Danny Murphy put the away side in-front from a penalty in the 14th minute after defender John Heitinga handballed inside the box. Striker Denis Stracqualursi scored his first goal in an Everton shirt from a leaping header in the 27th minute to equalise for Everton. Midfielder Marouane Fellani put Everton ahead to the home side in the 73rd minute and that is how it finished as Everton came from a goal behind to beat favourites Fulham 2-1.

Fellani celebrates scoring his winner for Everton against Fulham at Goodison Park.

Today's FA Cup Matches (EPL teams only):

QPR vs Chelsea: LIVE at 12:00pm
QPR: Kenny, Hill, Hall, Ferdinand, Young; Mackie, Buzsaky, Barton, Wright-Phillips, Smith, Helguson. Subs: Cerny, Orr, Derry, Hulse, Ephraim, Macheda, Onuoha.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Meireles, Malouda, Sturridge, Torres, Mata. Subs: Turnbull, Bosingwa, Bertrand, Cahill, Essien, Romeu, Lukaku.

Half-time here at Loftus Road. Goaless so far. The rivalry between Anton Ferdinand and John Terry is still there despite the handshake ritual being called off due to mutual consent from both teams. The Blues will hope to brush past QPR but they hoped to do that in October and looked what happened.

Liverpool vs Manchester United: LIVE at 12:45pm
The tasty derby match between Liverpool and Manchester United starts again today. Liverpool have only beaten United in the FA Cup 3 times out of 16 to United's 9 but the away side's teams in weaker than usual so anything can happen after Liverpool overcame the odds against City on Wednesday to reach the Carling Cup Final. The fixture has pride, passion, talent, controversy and late drama but only one can win here.

Bolton Wanderers vs Swansea City: LIVE at 15:00pm
The home side will hope to win but they have a tough test against the 6th best passing team in the world who are flying in the league.

Derby County vs Stoke City: LIVE at 15:00pm
A bit of a mismatch at Pride Park between Derby and Stoke. It was not long ago that Stoke were in the same league as Derby but they have moved on to bigger and better things. The home side will be praying for an upset but do not be surprised if Stoke prevail.

West Bromwich Albion vs Norwich City: LIVE at 15:00pm
An interesting match between 2 of the EPL teams is an understatement. West Brom's defence is dodgy and so is Norwich's attack. So expect a draw or a slender win from either team.

Brighton vs Newcastle United: LIVE at 17:15pm
Well, well, well... Newcastle were happy to draw Brighton in the 4th round. After sliding past Blackburn Rovers in the 3rd round, they will hope that they can dominate against the underdogs away from home. Brighton did well to get this far but you can only feel that they are finished surely.

Liverpool vs Manchester United: LIVE

Liverpool: Reina, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger, Kelly, Henderson, Gerrard, Enrique, Downing, Carroll, Maxi. Subs: Adam, Kuyt, Bellamy, Doni, Johnson, Coates, Shelvey.
Man Utd: De Gea, Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Valencia, Welbeck, Park. Subs: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Berbatov, Hernandez, Fabio, Keane, Pogba.

0: This match has kicked off here at Anfield.
I think Liverpool will score first here.....
20: Corner whipped into the box for defender Daniel Agger who heads the ball towards goal... the ball goes over De Gea's head.... GOAL!!! Agger puts Liverpool ahead in the 20th minute.
31: United looking dangerous here with precise passes.
39: Partice Evra with a cross into the box... Park is there, hits the ball fiercely past Reina... GOAL!!! United equalise from the tightest of angles. 
45: The 4th official at the far side signals just 1 minute of stoppage time to be added on here at Anfield.
45+1: The referee blows the whistle at half-time. Liverpool 1 Manchester United 1
88: Dirk Kuyt with the ball at his feet... he volleys the ball past De Gea into the net... GOAL!!!! Kuyt puts Liverpool ahead!!! 2-1 late on!!! United are out. Liverpool progress in the last minutes of the match.
89: Andy Carroll heads the ball against the post... Kuyt on the rebound.... he hits the ball but it trickles wide.
Should have been game over.
90: The 4th official signals 3 minutes of stoppage time to be added on here.
United have 3 minutes to salvage a replay here... I doubt this.
90+3: The referee blows the whistle for full-time here at Anfield. The Liverpool crowd go wild, while the Manchester United fans are silent. 
United have to concentrate on the Premier League now along with rivals City who were knocked out in the 3rd Round (by United)
Liverpool will think that the sky is the limit for them as they are in the final of the Carling Cup against Cardiff and beat Manchester United today to move to the 5th Round.
FACT: Liverpool beat both Manchester clubs in less than a week.

QPR 0 Chelsea 1: FT
Juan Mata scored the only goal of the match in the 62nd minute from a penalty as Chelsea go through to the 5th Round.

Juan Mata fires Chelsea ahead against QPR after 62 minutes at Loftus Road.

Liverpool 2 Manchester United 1 FT
Daniel Agger opened the scoring for Liverpool from a header in the 20th minute. J-Sung Park hit United's equaliser in the 39th minute. Striker Dirk Kuyt scored late on for Liverpool to win the match in the 88th minute.

Forward Dirk Kuyt fires Liverpool ahead in the 88th minute against Manchester United at Anfield.

Team News for 15:00pm kick-offs:

West Brom v Norwich City:

West Brom: Foster, Jara Reyes, Dawson, Tamas, Mattock, Morrison, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Thomas, Fortune, Cox. Subs: Fulop, Olsson, Tchoyi, Long, McAuley, Odemwingie, Thorne.

Norwich: Steer, Martin, Whitbread, Ayala, Drury, Bennett, Crofts, Fox, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Holt. Subs: Ruddy, Johnson, Jackson, Lappin, Barnett, Wilbraham, Tierney.
Bolton vs Swansea City:

Bolton: Bogdan, Riley, Wheater, Boyata, Ricketts, Eagles, Reo-Coker, Pratley, Petrov, Mark Davies, Ngog. Subs: Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Muamba, Sanli, Kevin Davies, Mears, O'Halloran.

Swansea: Tremmel, Richards, Williams, Monk, Bessone, Routledge, McEachran, Agustien, Gower, Moore, Lita. Subs: Moreira, Tate, Graham, Dyer, Rangel, Allen, Sigurdsson.

Derby County vs Stoke City:

Derby: Fielding, Brayford, Barker, Shackell, Roberts, Green, Bailey, Hendrick, Ward, Bryson, Ball. Subs: Legzdins, Tyson, Maguire, Doyle, Buxton, Ben Davies, Naylor.

Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Walters, Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington, Crouch, Jerome. Subs: Nash, Jones, Fuller, Pennant, Delap, Shotton, Woodgate.

15:00: The matches have all kicked off in the FA Cup 4th Round.

Derby County vs Stoke City: LIVE
5: Midfielder Glenn Whelan with a cross into the Derby box... striker Cameron Jerome moves into the box and taps the ball towards goal.... GOAL!!! Jerome sends Stoke in-front after just 5 minutes!!!
Stoke City celebrating Cameron Jerome's early goal to give them the lead against Derby.

West Bromwich Albion vs Norwich City: LIVE
39: Elliott Bennett is played through on the flank by Wes Hoolahan, crosses the ball into the box for striker Grant Holt who shoots from 6 yards out past Ben Foster..... GOAL!!!! Norwich are ahead here at The Hawthrons.
FACT: Grant Holt has now scored 9 goals in all competitions this season.
Grant Holt scoring for the away side after 39 minutes to give Norwich the lead at The Hawthorns.
Bolton Wanderers vs Swansea City: LIVE
45: Lovely pass and move by The Swans here... striker Luke Moore with the ball at his feet... defender David Wheater is close by.... he shakes him off before taking a shot..... GOAL!!! Swansea are in-front after scoring their first chance of the match.
45+3: Bolton free-kick taken by midfielder Martin Petrov. Whipped in to the box for defender Darren Pratley who heads towards the goalmouth.... GOAL!!! Bolton level just before half-time!!!
FACT: Darren Pratley has now scored against Swansea who he played for, for 5 years!
West Bromwich Albion 0 Norwich City 1 
Striker Grant Holt puts Norwich in-front at half-time.
Bolton Wanderers 1 Swansea City 1
Darren Pratley equalised for the home side after Luke Moore put Swansea ahead.
Derby County 0 Stoke City 1
Stoke lead due to Jerome's tap in after 5 minutes.

The 2nd halves are now underway in all of today's 15:00pm FA Cup 4th Round kick-offs.

West Bromwich Albion vs Norwich City:
Marc-Antoine Fortune scores for the home side from close range to make it 1-1 and to level for West Brom.

Bolton Wanderers vs Swansea City:
Chris Eagles makes it 2-1 to Bolton after pouncing on Swansea's defensive mistakes.  
Midfielder Chris Eagles celebrating scoring for Bolton to put them 2-1 ahead against Swansea City.

16:55: Full-time:

Recap of Today's FA Cup 4th Round Matches:

QPR 0 Chelsea 1
Liverpool 2 Manchester United 1
West Brom 2 Norwich 1
Bolton 2 Swansea City 1
Blackpool 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1
A replay will be played.
Derby County 0 Stoke City 2
Hull City 0 Crawley Town 1
A real 'Cupset' as Championship side Hull crash out to League 2 club Crawley Town. Striker Matt Tubbs sent Crawley to the 5th Round.
Leicester City 2 Swindon Town 0
Millwall 1 Southampton 1
A replay will be played...
Sheffield United 0 Birmingham City 4
Stevenage 1 Notts County 0

17:15: The match between Brighton and Newcastle has kicked off.
Brighton: Brezovan, Greer, Dunk, El-Abd, Barnes, Sparrow, Mackail-Smith, Calderon, Bridcutt, Buckley, Forster-Caskey. Subs: Ankergren, Hoskins, Navarro, Harley, Vincelot, Agdestein, Hall. 
Newcastle: Krul, Santon, Simpson, Williamson, Perch, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Guthrie, Best, Ameobi, Ben Arfa. Subs: Elliot, Lovenkrands, Gosling, Taylor, Obertan, Ferguson, Kadar.
A strong (ish) Newcastle squad apart from Demba Ba and Coloccini. They should expect to win, but anything is possible, especially in the FA Cup.

18:00: The referee blows the whistle for half-time between Brighton and Newcastle..... Goalless at the moment. Who will prevail in the last FA Cup match of the day?
18:12: The match has restarted.
18:46: Newcastle defender Mike Williamson has opened the scoring - for Brighton!!! He has scored an own goal in the 76th minute after midfielder Will Buckley's shot was deflected past Ti Krul. Can the home side hold on and provide 1 of the shocks of the FA Cup?
19:02: Full-time here. Brighton 1 Newcastle United 0.
What a result for Brighton! Newcastle will feel disappointed especially as they should have dominated the match and failed to even score. The manner in which they lost was not good, but Brighton will take this and hope for the best team they can get in tomorrow's draw.

Tomorrow's Action:

Sunderland vs Middlesborough: LIVE at 13:30pm
Arsenal vs Aston Villa: LIVE at 16:00pm

And the LIVE draw for the 5th Round of the FA Cup.

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See you later everyone.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

March 12, 1978: Suffolk Forum, Commack, NY: Jerry Garcia Band/NRPS/Robert Hunter and Comfort

An ad from the February 20, 1978 edition of the Village Voice, promoting the March 12, 1978 concert by the Jerry Garcia Band, the New Riders of The Purple Sage and Robert Hunter and Comfort
In about 1962, Jerry Garcia, David Nelson and Robert Hunter formed a bluegrass band. The little trio rehearsed in the Belmont, CA living room of David Nelson's parents, with Garcia on banjo, Nelson on mandolin, and Hunter on guitar or bass. Later, with the addition of Norm Van Maastricht on dobro, the group became the Black Mountain Boys and played around what few bohemian folk clubs there were in the Bay Area. The Black Mountain Boys soon evolved into other bluegrass ensembles, usually without Hunter, since his literary talents were far ahead of his musical ones. Nonetheless the trio of Black Mountain Boys that rehearsed in a living room were the first collective band that would slowly lead to the Grateful Dead and its sprawling madness. The 60s happened, and lots of water passed under the bridge, some of it slowly and some of it great torrents. Yet it came to pass 16 years later, in a concrete block of a hockey arena, that the old Black Mountain Boys had an unexpected reunion of sorts. On March 12, 1978, at the Suffolk Forum in Commack, NY, in Eastern Long Island, the Jerry Garcia Band, the New Riders of The Purple Sage with David Nelson, and Robert Hunter and his band Comfort all shared the bill.

By 1978, All three of the protagonists had certain degrees of rock stardom, but the arcs of their various bands were all in different states. The Jerry Garcia Band trailed the Grateful Dead in popularity, but it was beginning a steady climb to massive success on its own. The once-promising New Riders had already peaked, while Robert Hunter was just stepping forward in an effort to become a national rock star, an effort he would soon put aside. This post will look at the standing of the three bands at the time of the concert, considering the different paths the musical careers of the three Black Mountain Boys had taken up until this time.

The Suffolk Forum, Commack, NY
The Suffolk Forum in Commack, NY was a hockey and basketball arena that had opened in 1959. It was an old concrete block for the most part. Commack was in Suffolk County, about an hour due East of Manhattan, some ways out on Long Island. It mostly housed minor league hockey and basketball franchises, but it had hosted its share of rock concerts in the 1970s. The Grateful Dead never happened to have played there, but it was the sort of aging dump that could be relatively cheaply rented for concerts, since a bunch of rowdy hippies could hardly cause any meaningful damage to such a venue. Country Joe and The Fish had played there in 1970, Hot Tuna were regulars and many similar acts had come through over the years. The venue had had various names over the years. It had been built as the Long Island Arena, then it was called the Commack Arena, and by 1978 it was called The Suffolk Forum.

Long Island was booming from World War 2 onwards, of course, but the Suffolk Forum was largely passed by. In 1972, the huge Nassau Coliseum was built in Uniondale, one county nearer to Manhattan, and Suffolk Forum took a back seat. Suffolk Forum had a capacity of 4000 for hockey and 6500 for basketball, so the concert capacity was probably around 6000. Nassau Coliseum had a capacity of about 16,000, and with its proximity to the city, it became the primary concert venue. The New York Nets of the American Basketball Association and the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League were also housed in the Nassau Colisuem. The Nets had been housed in Commack for the 1968-69 season, but had moved to the Island Gardens prior to Nassau. By 1978, only the Long Island Ducks of the Eastern Basketball Association used Suffolk Forum as a home arena.

The Jerry Garcia Band, 1978 edition
The Grateful Dead had made their bones on the East Coast thanks to relentless touring. In the 1970-71 period, the Dead had played show after show at tiny college gyms and aging movie theaters, converting the audience to permanent deadhead status one show at a time. They had not played Commack Arena (as it was then known), but they had played the gymnasium at Stony Brook and the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, so there were plenty of fond flashbacks out on the Island. As a result, later in the 1970s, the Grateful Dead were huge on the East Coast, in many ways much more popular than they were out West. In the late 70s, the Dead played big places like Nassau Coliseum, and when they played smaller theaters, they were in Manhattan or Boston, not out in the suburbs, and the shows were instant sellouts.

Jerry Garcia had begun to tour the East Coast in earnest when the Grateful Dead had gone on hiatus in 1974. He had toured with Garcia-Saunders, then the Legion of Mary and then the Jerry Garcia Band. Even though the Grateful Dead had returned to touring in 1976, the Jerry Garcia Band had toured the East Coast again in December 1977. Garcia had just finished the Cats Under The Stars album, although it would not be released until April of 1978. By the end of 1977, the Garcia Band was playing the same types of smaller venues in the suburbs, smaller cities or colleges that the Dead had played in the early 70s. In a few cases, Garcia actually played the same venues, like The Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. For younger Deadheads, or people who lived a long way from Manhattan or Boston, seeing the Garcia Band in a nearby county or college was a way to get a Dead fix in between tours.

The Garcia Band had booked a big Eastern tour in March of 1978. Probably this tour was intended to support Cats Under The Stars, but for whatever reason the album had not been released yet. Whether there was a practical reason for this or not has never been clear to me. However, since Garcia Band tours were profitable on their own terms, the fact that the record had not yet been released was not catastrophic, even if it was poor marketing. The Garcia Band had played a few warmup gigs in February in the Bay Area, a good sampling of which can be heard on the official Garcia release Bay Area 1978. The national tour began on March 9, 1978 at the Cleveland Music Hall in Cleveland, OH. Suffolk Forum was Garcia's fourth date on the tour.

The 1978 edition of the Jerry Garcia Band included regulars John Kahn and Keith and Donna Godchaux, along with new drummer Buzz Buchanan. Maria Muldaur shared harmonies with Donna, and was considered a regular member of the band. However, Maria's presence was not advertised. In the parlance of the time, if her name was in the ads, it would have been expected that she would be singing "Midnight At The Oasis" and the like, and that wasn't the plan (not that it would have been a bad thing, mind you).  Thanks to the newly completed Cats album, the 1978 JGB was the first lineup of the Garcia Band that performed a fair amount of original material along with the traditional cover material that Garcia had always played. Garcia had steadily become a bigger concert attraction each year, just as the Dead had done, and in fact that rise would continue more or less throughout his entire career. Since Suffolk Forum probably had a concert capacity around 6000 it was perhaps the biggest played Garcia had played so far on the East Coast up to that point.

Robert Hunter and Comfort
By 1978, Jerry Garcia's bands were hardly strangers on the East Coast. The real surprise to Easterners would have been the presence of Robert Hunter and his band Comfort. All Deadheads had been surprised when Hunter emerged from the shadows to release two solo albums in 1974 and '75. Bay Area fans had had the opportunity to see Hunter perform with his bands Roadhog (1976) and Comfort (1977), but they had never gone on the road. Hunter had spent the Fall of 1977 working on a studio album with Comfort called Alligator Moon, but for various reasons that project appeared to have been shelved. Nonetheless, taking a band on a true road trip was an expensive proposition, and the ever-loyal Garcia arranged to have Comfort open a number of his East Coast shows, assuring that Hunter and his band could arrive in style. The Suffolk Forum show was the first East Coast show where Hunter and Comfort would open for Garcia.

I have dealt with Comfort's history at length, both in performance and with respect to what little is known about the recording of Alligator Moon, so I will not recap it all here. Unlike on the West Coast, however, where Hunter was, by now at least, an accessible figure to those Deadheads who were curious, conversely, on the East Coast Jerry Garcia's writing partner had never performed in person. In fact, Hunter and Comfort's East Coast debut had been a few days before the Suffolk Forum show, when they headlined a pair of nights at My Father's Place in Roslyn, NY, also in Long Island, on March 9 and 10. So the Deadheads who were most excited to see Hunter in person would have already seen him, but even so, for most of the several thousand attendees at Suffolk Forum, Robert Hunter and Comfort were largely a mystery. Since there had been no pictures of him on his two Round Records solo albums, even Hunter's appearance may have been unknown to most Deadheads.

The ad in the Village Voice (up top) just mentions the Garcia Band and the New Riders, so many patrons may have been quite surprised to find that Robert Hunter himself was opening the show. Indeed, the extant tape of the Comfort show begins with an unknown stage announcer saying (approximately) "we'd like to open with someone who's very dear to us back in San Francisco, Robert Hunter and his band Comfort." This wasn't precisely Hunter's Eastern debut, since that had taken place a few days earlier, but it was certainly Hunter's coming out party in the East.

The New Riders Of The Purple Sage
The New Riders of The Purple Sage had always sold a lot more concert tickets on the East Coast than in the West. The first five New Riders albums had sold a lot of copies and the band had toured up and down the Eastern seaboard. By the mid-70s, however, the New Riders fortunes seemed to have faded. The commercial promise of hippie country rock in the early 70s had been eclipsed by, of all things, actual country music. 'Outlaw Country' of the sort performed by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings was more in the public ear than the New Riders and their ilk, and the Riders status had declined accordingly.

Also, after the departure of Dave Torbert in late 1973, the subsequent New Riders albums (Brujo and Oh What A Might Time) had been letdowns. Torbert's replacement, Skip Battin, was a solid musician, but he lacked Torbert's appeal and songwriting depth. In 1976, Battin had left to join the re-formed Flying Burrito Brothers, and he had been replaced by Stephen Love. Love helped revitalize the New Riders with two pretty good albums (Who Are Those Guys? and Marin County Line), so the band was playing well even if they weren't as successful.

In February, 1978, however, for reasons unknown, Stephen Love and pedal steel guitarist Buddy Cage had left the New Riders. The Riders had dates to fulfill, but lacked a quorum, with only John Dawson and David Nelson, the two original members, still on board, along with drummer Patrick Shanahan. Emblematic of the status of original country rock bands at the time, the Flying Burrito Brothers were also in a poor state as well, so for about six weeks in Spring 1978, the two bands joined forces. The three members of the New Riders were joined by the three remaining members of the Flying Burrito Brothers, who included a former Rider (Battin), and they played some shows as the New Riders of The Purple Sage. For March of 1978, the New Riders lineup was
John Dawson-vocals, guitar
David Nelson-lead guitar, vocals
Gib Gilbeau-violin, guitar, vocals
Sneeky Pete-pedal steel guitar
Skip Battin-bass, vocals
Patrick Shanahn-drums
Although from one point of view this lineup was a country rock All-Star team, from another point of view it was an indication that two of the pioneer country rock bands of the late 60s did not even have enough members to field full lineups anymore. However, the Suffolk Forum show in March was the first time that the New Riders had opened for the Jerry Garcia Band, and the payday for opening a show at a 6000-capacity arena ($7.50 a ticket) had to be pretty good, so the  the Flying Burritos of The Purple Sage teamed up to make it happen.

The odd interval of the merger of the New Riders and the Burritos in 1978 has left no musical evidence. To my knowledge, not even a setlist has survived, much less a tape. Somebody made a nice audience tape of the Comfort set (thank you, whoever you were), and I think there was a JGB tape as well. I have to assume that the '78 Riders played a few NRPS classics along with some Burrito staples, and presumably some covers that both bands shared, like "Six Days On The Road." I'd love to hear Sneeky Pete let it fly on "Glendale Train," since I'm convinced his steel playing on the Avalon sound system encouraged Garcia to get a pedal steel guitar so he could hear himself. It would be fun to hear Nelson and Dawson picking and singing on some songs like "Devil In Disguise,' as well, just for the variety.

Ironically, presumably one of the end results of the Flying Riders was that some lesser known NRPS songs weren't likely to have been performed. If a setlist does appear, however, I hope that either "Kick In The Head" or "Crooked Judge" made the list, however unlikely that may have been. The appeal to me would be that all three bands would then have played custom written songs, not covers, with lyrics by Robert Hunter, which in itself would have been a first time event (Update; Commenter rb1229 reports that Buddy Cage and Stephen Love were still in the band at this time, so the "Flying Riders" period must have been a bit later. He also reports that the Riders played "Crooked Judge," so all three bands did indeed play custom-written Robert Hunter songs).

March 12, 1978: The Suffolk Forum, Commack, NY
The Suffolk Forum may have been an old dump, but the members of the Grateful Dead always played very well in run-down old ice rinks, and the Suffolk Forum seems to have been no exception. The show seems to have run from 8:00 pm until well after 5 in the morning. Hunter and Comfort played a full set, the New Riders got their licks in, and the Jerry Garcia Band probably came on sometime after midnight and let it all hang down with two full sets and an encore. An eyewitness recalls--somewhat vaguely, of course--
We arrived at 2:30, gates opened at 7:30. The coolest crowd in the parking lot - no line or rush to the door, even though it was general admission with an open floor (no seats) - we got right up front. Robert Hunter Band, New Riders, then JGB with Keith and Donna, Bill drumming and also Maria Muldaur singing with ... See MoreDonna. We left at around 3:30 AM and I think the show went on until about 4:00ish. My first "Dead show", I was a H.S. sopohmore - what were our parents thinking?
Another says
I was a HS freshman, managed to get tickets and went with a good friend and 2 girls...one of the girls older sister took us and got us seated in the press box (I have no idea how). I remember venturing down to the floor and hanging right in front of the stage for a while, then back up to the press box...no trouble at all, an amazing crowd. As I recall, NR's played until around midnight, then Jerry came on....we left the show around 3:30-4:00 am, and I recall hearing it went on until around 5:30 but not sure ... 
To residents in the distant part of Long Island, a trip into Manhattan to see the Grateful Dead, even if they could get tickets, might have been very difficult indeed. But a trip down the road to spend all night with a couple of members of the Grateful Dead, the New Riders and the mysterious Robert Hunter? Yeah baby.  I think precisely because Suffolk Forum was an old venue, there was little concern about letting a bunch of hippies loose until 5:00 in the morning. It wasn't like they were going to be any harder on the place than hockey fans. It was shows like these that put Jerry Garcia in the hearts and minds of the East Coast, making people into Deadheads for life, just as the band itself had done in Port Chester or Stony Brook in the previous decade.

The Wildwood Boys, 16 Years On
In 1962, the three Wildwood Boys were barely in their twenties, with no meaningful employment history and fewer prospects. They had a desire to be musicians or artists, but in choosing bluegrass they would have selected one of the least profitable forms of professional music. As they rehearsed in the Nelson living room, it must have seemed quixotic indeed that the trio would ever make any kind of living from actually playing music.

By the time the Jerry Garcia Band, the New Riders and Comfort convened at the Suffolk Forum in March of 1978, by my count the trio had cumulatively released 31 albums and sold literally millions of records. And the 31 albums doesn't count guest appearances--including on a #1 single--, production credits, Best Of albums and other professional by-products. While Robert Hunter had only released two of those albums, he had written the lyrics for literally dozens of songs, not all of them by the Grateful Dead. Many of those songs had been staples of FM radio for much of the 1970s, and phrases from Hunter's pen, like "what a long strange trip its been" or "driving that train, high on cocaine" were steadily passing into the American vernacular. Nelson was a rock star himself, if not a major one, while Garcia was more and more recognized by a single name, one of the true marks of American celebrity.

On the night of March 12, 1978, the Garcia Band had played the night before in Providence, RI. Hunter and Comfort would have had the previous night off, and had been playing elsewhere in Long Island. I'm not sure exactly where the New Riders were coming from, but they were definitely on the road. The three bands would have convened on the Suffolk Forum in the afternoon sometime, and the crews would have set about their business, leaving time for the musicians to relax and hang out.

The Jerry Garcia Band had never played with the New Riders per se, but since NRPS had opened for the Dead so many times, Garcia and Nelson had shared the backstage many times. Hunter wasn't unknown at Grateful Dead shows, so they had all been in the dressing room before. Nonetheless, the New Riders did not open for the Grateful Dead as often as they had used to.  Garcia, Nelson and Hunter were probably all backstage at New Year's Eve in Winterland on December 31, 1977, but that would have been like a giant office party, where nothing personal probably happened. Prior to Commack, Hunter would have been just a guest, if an honored one: this time, he was on the bill. Other than the crews and the odd visitor, the three Wildwood Boys would have had far fewer distractions than in San Francisco or Manhattan.

The road is a strange place, and musicians and regular folk often think about mundane things like how to get some food rather than historicity. Still, Providence isn't far from Long Island, so Garcia must have got there pretty early in the afternoon. Did Garcia, Nelson and Hunter think about rehearsing bluegrass tunes in a South Bay living room long ago? 16 years earlier, they had been hoping they could actually get paid to do what they were going to do for fun anyway. Here the three were, household names in different ways, as their traveling circuses met up at a hockey arena in Eastern Long Island, a long way from Belmont, CA. It had been a long strange trip indeed, but I wonder if they even noticed.

I can only think of one other instance where Garcia, Nelson and Hunter played on the same bill, and it was a more somber occasion, if a fine concert. On August 28, 1984, at Wolfgang's in San Francisco, all three played at a memorial for Rodney Albin, a close friend of all of them from back in the day, and a member of Comfort. Garcia and John Kahn headlined the show, Nelson played with a one-off bluegrass group and Hunter played his last show with the Dinosaurs. The benefit for Rodney Albin's family made for a fine memorial, but when you see your old friends because somebody passed away, it's not what you think of when you are younger. The Albin event was full of old friends and well wishers, too, making it an oddly less personal event than just hanging out in a hockey arena on the East Coast. I don't know if Hunter and Nelson even remember the Suffolk Forum, but I like to think that at some point each of the Wildwood Boys at least recalled how far they'd managed to get by picking, singing and writing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to a 'bloggers preview' of the new Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum.

There's nothing I like more than the chance to browse through archive books or read old journals so I jumped at the opportunity to spend a couple of hours snooping round the NMM's library.

The visit gave me chance to try out the new entrance to the museum through the Sammy Ofer Wing - past the huge cafe which looks out onto the obligatory (but extremely tasteful) water feature and to the park beyond. It's a much more pleasant route into the museum, and eliminates the need to dodge the traffic on Trafalgar Road, but does rather lack the grandeur of the northern entrance.

The library is due to open fully from next Monday - it opened its doors a couple of weeks ago but for limited hours to enable the staff to get used to the new archive retrieval system and not be totally overwhelmed by requests. Apparently if the item is on the Greenwich site, they can now have it available for study in a maximum of 40 minutes of it being ordered, which sounds pretty efficient to me.

They were kind enough to dig out a few old maps of the King's Yard in Deptford for us to have a look at, as well as some of the other treasures that they keep nicely filed in their new environment-controlled purpose-built stores upstairs from the reading room.

Anyone can use the library - you simply have to register on the Aeon system here and then bring ID into the library to get your readers card, which will be valid for three years. Apparently the National Maritime Museum is the first place in the UK to use the US-developed Aeon system, through which archive requests are also made.

The library holds about a million ship plans in its archive in Woolwich, which are slowly being digitised in exquisite detail - some 4,000 are currently digitised and can be viewed on the ship plan viewer at the library which calls up the plans and allows close examination of the documents by zooming, panning and so on.

If you want to get copies of material to take away for research, I'm delighted to announce that photocopiers are obsolete as far as the Caird Library is concerned. Not only is it difficult to manhandle large bound manuscripts onto a photocopier without causing physical damage to them, the heat and light of the copying process is also very damaging to such fragile items. The library has a special book scanner that can copy the pages you want and either print them or put the files onto your USB stick.

Even without having any specific research to carry out, I'd be quite happy browsing the shelves of books in the reading room for hours at a time. This book that I picked off the shelf was fascinating with its photos of the British coastline in the late 1890s.

Bathing machines on Margate beach:

The Weekend's EPL Results and African Cup Of Nations Coverage:

The Weekend's EPL Results:


Norwich City 0 Chelsea 0

Everton 1 Blackburn Rovers 1
Fulham 5 Newcastle United 2
QPR 3 Wigan Athletic 1
Stoke City 1 West Bromwich Albion 2
Sunderland 2 Swansea City 0
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Aston Villa 3

Bolton Wanderers 3 Liverpool 1


Manchester City 3 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2

African Cup Of Nations:

The 23rd annual African Cup of Nations is being hosted in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea.

Group A:
Equatorial Guinea

Group B:
Ivory Coast
Burkina Faso

Group C:

Group D:

My Winners:

Ivory Coast
Didier Drogba's presence (in the competition) and shots, Yaya Toure's strength, brother Kolo's experience and Kalou and Gervinho's flair and pace will be too much for everyone to handle.

Results so far:

Equatorial Guinea 1 Libya 0
Senegal 1 Zambia 2
Ivory Coast 1 Sudan
Burkina Faso 1 Angola 2
Gabon 2 Niger 0
Morocco 1 Tunisia 2
Ghana 1 Botswana 0
Mali 1 Guinea 0

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gardening with Chickens - Part 2 - The Setup

This spring the Master Gardener chapter that I'm a member of is doing a series of gardening classes and I'm excited that I will be doing a presentation entitled "Gardening with Chickens!" Before I start proclaiming the joys and benefits a gardener can expect from having a few backyard chickens, I thought I would go over the whys and hows of basic chicken keeping.

In my last article for Community Chickens I shared the first portion of my presentation: Why Chickens? Now, I'm moving on to the next subject: The Setup

Gardening with Chickens

  • Eggs
  • Self-Sufficiency and Sustainable Living
  • Free fertilizer
  • Entertainment-Easy-Enjoyable-Rewarding
The Setup
  • Coop-Run
  • Chicks
  • Heritage Chickens
  • Ordinance Requirements
Gardening with Chickens
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • Solutions
  • Resources: online, books, local sites
The Setup

Before you purchase chicks or hens, the setup has to be in place (plus a little basic knowledge in chicken keeping)...

Coop-Run: This is probably the biggest initial expense you'll have when you decide to undertake a flock of hens. The coop can be an elaborate and attractive feature to your landscape, but here's the basic requirements a chicken needs in their housing setup:

The coop ... Basically, as far as a chicken is concerned, the coop is a place to find shelter, lay an egg and roost at night. A typical minimal requirement in size is 3 to 5 square feet per bird inside the coop. As for nesting boxes, one per 4-5 birds is all that's required (they seem to like having all their eggs in one box).

The roosting bar needs to allow 12 inches of space per bird. Adequate ventilation is also essential to the health of the birds, either in the way of a ventilation fan system, or an adequate amount of windows that can be opened or closed depending on the outside temperature. I don't heat the coop for two reasons: one is that I specifically chose winter-hardy heritage chickens that can withstand our Missouri winters and secondly, the Ozarks are famous for crazy ice storms that can take out the electric power for long stretches ... If the hens aren't acclimated to the cold, the sudden lack of heat could prove fatal to the flock. The last requirement of the coop is safety. If you allow the chickens to free range during the day, they will need to be enclosed each evening in a secure predator-proof coop to protect them from our sly and cunning raccoon, foxes and such ...

The Run ... Chickens are constantly busy foraging and scratching. If you choose not to let the birds free-range on your property, then they need a secure outside run with a minimal size requirement of 10 square feet per bird. This run also needs to be secure from predators reaching into the run, digging under or attacks from above. I added a 3-foot skirt of chicken wire on the ground around the outside perimeter of the run. The top and sides of my run are covered with 1/2 inch mesh hardware cloth.

Chicks: Expect to devote quite a bit of time caring for your new chicks for the first 4-8 weeks, but after a couple of months they're pretty much care-free! They need a warm environment during these first few weeks, so plan on having them in a heated garage or laundry room. Before you purchase the chicks have on hand a container to house them in (I used a plastic storage box). You will also want to cover the top of their housing to keep them contained and to keep predators (such as curious cats) from getting to the young birds.

For the first week, the air temperature needs to be at a constant 95 degrees, then each week decrease the temperature by 5 degrees. Most sources recommend suspending a 250-watt infrared heat lamp above the container. The correct temperature is achieved by raising or lower the light. What worked for me was purchasing the chicks in the heat of summer. I was able to keep them in the (unheated) mud room and achieve the correct temperature by simply using a 100-watt light bulb. Purchasing the chicks in the summer (when the night temps are above 80 degrees) also meant that I could move them out to the coop/run earlier.

The young chicks are susceptible to a few illnesses at this young age, but keeping their water, food and bedding as clean as possible will prevent most problems. I used a thick layer of pine shavings for their bedding and elevated their waterer and feeder on bricks, but they still managed to knock over the water and poop in their food ... Be prepared to be a mother hen! Fortunately, once they do move out to the coop, checking on them a couple times a day is usually sufficient ...

Heritage Chickens: Once the decision has been made to purchase chicks or chickens, there are a lot of options: breed, color, temperament, size, egg color, dual purpose, winter hardiness ... even fluffiness! I wanted a family-friendly, winter-hardy breed that was also a good egg-layer. There are several online sites that will help you determine the best chicken based on your needs ... there's even a cool app from Mother Earth News, "Pickin' Chicken."

Heritage Chickens by definition are breeds that were recognized by the American Poultry Association before the mid-20th century. They are naturally mating and have a long, productive outdoor lifespan. They are also slower to reach maturity than industrial chickens; 16 weeks vs. 6 weeks. This slow growth rate allows for a stronger skeletal structure as compared to commercialized chickens bred for fast growth and market weight.

This seems like the perfect opportunity to show off my attractive breeds ...

Classified as a heavy (7-8 pounds), dual-purpose bird, Buffs are winter hardy with a calm, docile temperament. They lay large, light-brown eggs. They're a popular breed not only because of their friendly personalities, but also because they are also good brooders and mothers.

Also a large breed (7-8 pounds), "Barred Rocks" are one of the most popular backyard chicken breeds. They have a great disposition, make good mothers, are tolerant of cold climates and lay large brown eggs.

A medium-sized bird (5-6 pounds), tolerant of the cold and an excellent layer of large brown eggs. Cinnamon Queens are a sex-linked cross breed created from a Silver Laced Wyandotte hen and a New Hampshire rooster. This breed has not been given recognition by the American Poultry Association. Cinnamon Queens will start to lay eggs at a younger age than most standard breeds. They are also color sexable as chicks: Cockerels are white, and the pullets are more brownish red in color.

Golden Laced Wyandotte
Wyandottes are large (7-8 pounds) birds that include several varieties (in addition to the Golden Laced): Silver Laced, White, Black, Buff, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Columbian, Blue. They're winter hardy, easy-going (calm and docile) and lay large brown eggs.

Ordinance Requirements: Springfield, Missouri, similar to other cities, recently passed a city ordinance allowing residents living within the city to have backyard chickens, but there are a few rules:
• You can have up to six hens, no rooster.
• You cannot breed the chickens or produce fertilizer for commercial purposes.
• You can slaughter your chickens, but it must be sanitary and not seen or heard by nearby properties.
• Coops must be kept clean, neat, sanitary and odor-free.
• Coops need to have adequate ventilation and light, as well as be a safe place from predators and the elements.
• Up to three cubic feet of manure can be stored at a time in a fully enclosed structure.
    That's the basic "hows" of chicken keeping in a nutshell. In two weeks, I'll cover the next topic in my outline: Gardening with Chickens

    To see what else is happening on our Southwest Missouri property, visit ...the garden-roof coop.