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Homemade Radish Pickles

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Well folks, I have been away from the blogging keyboard for awhile.   I am not sure if I will try to make this a regularly scheduled even again or not, as my goals have shifted a good bit after arriving here in Kentucky.  Those last few weeks in Tucson were just an absolute trial.  I felt like the house was literally sucking the energy out of me, so I let a lot of things go that I really enjoyed, including this blog.

However, going back to that period is not really that much fun.  So instead, I will just do a quick share of something fun.

As I mentioned a bit earlier today on our Facebook page, we had some leftover pickle brine and we tossed some radishes into it, which turned out to be amazing.  It was leftover bread and butter pickle brine, so the sweet brine worked out great with the slightly spicy radishes.  We just took the radishes that were too small for our dinner salad, sliced em in half, and chucked em in.  48 hours later, they were delicious.

Well, today when we went out to the garden, we had an incredible bounty of radishes waiting for us.  They are all coming to the finish at the same time.  So we went through and picked a ton of them while they were a bit smaller, because they are less spicy that way.  I didn’t think to take a picture of the radishes before we cut them, but here are the tops.  It was a bunch.

Radish Tops

Radish Tops

So rather than simply using leftover brine again, we decided to make our own radish brine.  So I can actually expand on my 13skills goal, and work on homemade pickling and lactofermentation, despite forgetting about it for a few months.

So here is the Ayers family pickled radish recipe   We tasted the brine after we were done, and it was absolutely amazing, I will let you know how the radishes taste when they are done.  Anyone else know a good pickled radish recipe  Share it with us, and I will share it with our Facebook page and give you the credit to your blog or site if you have one.

Ayers Pickled Radishes:

Apple Cider Vinegar (splash)

White Vinegar

Honey (1 Tsp)

Dill (Dried or Fresh)

Black Peppercorns

Minced Garlic (1 tsp)

Kosher Salt

The finished products

The finished products

Take all the above ingredients and mix together at the bottom of a canning jar.  I didn’t include a lot of measurements, because we didn’t measure much.  You can taste brine, so season to taste.  If you want sweeter, add more honey.  More sour, more vinegar.  Etc.  Once that’s all in place, stir it up really well.  Then toss in your radishes, fill the empty space with water, put the lid on and pop it in your fridge.  Start tasting after a few days and see how they are turning out.  The longer they sit, the more the flavor will change, so don’t hesitate to taste every so often.

Enjoy!

 

Why ELSE permaculture hasn’t caught on

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As I mentioned yesterday, in the course of writing my post, I was able to think of three more reasons why permaculture hasn’t caught on yet.  So rather than creating one long mega post, I split it up into the two days to make it a little more readable.  The other thing I noticed about how these fell, is that these three can apply to more than just permaculture.  These three are all excellent reasons why many initiatives fail.  So while I am writing this about permaculture, I bet you could apply these to just about every environmental initiative you know.

#1 Hippies aren’t good spokespeople

hippies

Ok, now this one may come off as touchy if you don’t look at it objectively, since many of my readers either were legitimate hippies or at least identify with the movement.  So don’t get defensive.  This is strictly a discussion on the use of hippies as spokespeople, not a commentary on hippies in general.

There are two main problems with identifying as a hippie when trying to promote something.  First, they look different.  When you are selling an idea, you want people to be able to identify with the person selling it.  Either they could be that person, or they could be with that person.  Often people can’t feel either when it comes to hippies.  So while hippies might be a great draw to college children, they aren’t going to make any in roads with the actual movers and shakers in life.

Benfalk

Go for less of the Jerry Garcia look, and more of the Ben Falk.  Ben runs Whole Systems Design in Vermont and is a certified PDC Instructor.  Also looks like a professional.

Second, hippies aren’t very good at actually executing ideas.  Lets take a look at the occupy movement shall we.  A bunch of hippies had the idea that they would block traffic in major cities and change the world.  They got the first part done, but couldn’t even agree on goals.  So in the end, they just ended up hanging out in a park until they got cold and dirty.  So when we have a great system that is PROVEN TO WORK, we lump ourselves in with that when we present it wrong.

Again, this is about presenting an idea, not how you live.  Live however you want.

#2 Free Giveaway = garbage

free

Sign up for this credit card, get a free T-shirt.  That little toy inside the crackerjack box.  Free ski weekend if you sit through this Timeshare presentation.  People automatically associate free with bad.  Free can’t be quality.  It’s going to break.  Worst of all, by accepting this free thing, I am somehow going to get snookered down the road.

So why do we keep trying to give permaculture away for free?

Charity is a wonderful thing, and many people feel called to do better for their neighbours, and those are noble ideals, but people automatically distrust free.  We need less veggie co-ops and more “Eddie’s edible landscapings”.  We need less Permaculture blitzes and more “Bluegrass Food Forestry”.  We are standing on a gold mine of food information that is PROVEN TO WORK.  Stop trying to give it away for free to prove it.  We are living in an era when people are paying $10 a pound for organic Kale.  Get out there and make some money.  People are much more likely to sit up and take notice of a successful business that is creating good in a community than yet another group of idealists looking for donation.  Plus, once a business is successful, others will try to replicate it.  If it is really about making the world better, rather than stoking your ego, the best way to do it is to create a business.

#3 – We can’t afford green initiatives

save

Permaculture is an excellent way to save the planet.  The upsides of this system are nearly endless.  It uses no chemicals, less water and improves the land.  Animals are happier.  People are healthier.  It is the deliverance of all of the green initiatives ideas into one form.  Best of all, it actually makes people freer, unlike many green initiatives relying on government strong arming.

Boy, that sounds really expensive.

It isn’t.  We all know that it isn’t, but we continue to pitch it in a way that sounds expensive.  People are automatically associating us with the $10 kale movement mentioned above.  When you talk about what something can do for the earth, you set off the cash register sound in someone’s head.  Bad for marketing.

What we need to do, is emphasize how much it can save people money.  How much money would you save if you provided 25% of your own food?  Or 50%? What if you didn’t have to pay for medicine anymore because you weren’t sick?  What if you only had to drive to the store once a month?  What if you made some extra money selling veggies or eggs to your neighbours?

Again, these are all concrete benefits that are PROVEN to work.  So lets talk about what they can do for someone.  Marjorie Wildcraft has sold 250,000 of her DVDs because she called it “Growing your groceries” not “Saving the planet in my backyard”.  You need to hit people where it counts.  In their wallets.

So the next time you feel sad that permaculture isn’t the way of the land.  Stop thinking like a zealous true believer, and think about what you can do to correct the situation.  This will spread or fail based on what we do.  So let’s spread the right message.

Why hasn’t permaculture caught on in the US?

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A friend of ours on Facebook last night posted an article, and asked a question with it.  The article was about permaculture blitzes, and can be found here.  You can read it if you like, but it is essentially about the establishment of a permaculture round robin work force.  You volunteer to help others, then they eventually get around to helping you.  None of which I have a problem with, I just didn’t find it fascinating.  Then she asked a question, why hasn’t permaculture caught on here in the United States?

Well, my first thought when I read it was, it has.  Look at me, I am a 28 year old retail manager with a background in technology sales and marketing.  I learned about permaculture, and suddenly I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I want to design, grow and teach.  How many others are there out there like me?  More than we would think I am sure.  Our message is getting out, but of course, all true believers want that message to be 100% of the population right away.  For us, our numbers can doubly yearly and it would still be a fraction of 1% of the population.  So it is growing, but this is the long haul road.

My second thoughts were a list of things that we permaculture people do wrong that are stopping this message from growing faster.  Perhaps these thoughts came to me easier since I am a newbie in this motion.  It is easier for me to take a step back and look at the whole of this because I am not swept up in true believer syndrome.  We cannot be blind to the weaknesses of our message if we ever have hope of spreading it to others.  So here are some of the things that I think we need to address about ourselves if we ever have hope of taking permaculture mainstream.

Issue #1: Our Bible

PDM

If you are a permacultureist you know what this book is.  This is the designers manual, originally written by Bill Mollison when he set out to codify permaculture in writing.  This is the book that we tell all newbies to go and read to gain an understanding of what we are doing.  That’s a problem.

Have any of you ever read this book?  I have tried.  Repeatedly.  To make any progress into this book.  I know for a fact there is a ton of great info buried in this thing, but to get through it, you have to sift through a lot.  What information is there is very dry and dense.  It’s also sandwiched between a bunch of claims that have been proven false, such as all trees disappearing from America by 2000, or all saguaros being lost from the desert.  These claims would have been hard enough to believe in the 70s, but at least the dates hadn’t come and gone yet.

Permaculture is a great, wonderful, fascinating and living science.  People in this movement are doing amazing things in incredible places.  We are turning deserts green, and growing annuals foods in the tundra of Montana.  Stop trying to make this boring for new people.  It would be like telling new converts to Christianity to go read the book of Deuteronomy to get them started.  You picked the absolute worst thing as an introductory vessel.

Issue #2: Stop fighting about what is and isn’t permaculture enough

spiral

This is a picture of an herb spiral.  It’s a way to grow many of the spices you need for your kitchen within easy access to improve your diet.  This is one of the many dozens of fixture types in permaculture.  So yes, if someone builds an herb spiral they are practising at least a part of permaculture.  What if 10 yards from that area, he has a traditional garden that he tills every spring and puts down fertilizer?  Is he still a permacultureist?

Most people in the movement would say no.  He is breaking the rules.  He isn’t doing it like you would.  He is using chemicals.  I would say, shut up.  At least he is doing something right.  Rather than punishing people for not going 100% of the way into the permaculture mindset, we should encourage everyone who puts even a toe into the permaculture waters.  Let us reward the effort, rather than punishing them for lack of purity.  We should be uniting together with every effort and supporting them, rather than look for reasons that they aren’t as pure as you are.  Every person that we get on-board strengthens the movement, so lets bring them all on.

#3 Stop making permaculture sound like socialist garbage.

There are three primary ethics of permaculture.

Care of people

Care of the earth

Return of surplus

This is straight from the mouth of Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton, the founder and crown prince of permaculture.  If you can’t take their word for it, whose can you take?  I think the first two we can all agree on, I haven’t heard them bastardized yet.  The last one though, that’s the one that causes trouble.

The rule is return of surplus.  This can apply to both a physical substance, such as returning chicken poop to the garden, or something more metaphysical, such as charity work.  In permaculture, we are looking to create closed systems, where the waste product from one thing is used to solve an issue with something else.  Again, like chicken poop.

Instead, what some people want to do, is use that as a justification for socialism.  Taking from those that have more than you think they should based on your arbitrary jealousy.  That is not why permaculture was created.  It is merely being used by some of the same people that always try to advance a socialist agenda.  Infiltrating something good and trying to turn it to evil.  That one phrase has done more to damage the permaculture movement in the USA than anything else, as most of our society still knows that it is garbage.  We, as permaculturists need to stand up and stand against this bastardization of our values.  Our message would spread much faster if it wasn’t carrying along needless baggage.

While typing this I actually thought of more, but I will save those for tomorrow.

Hugelkulture Construction Recipe

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So yesterday I went into the basic concepts of hugulkulture, and its main benefits to you as a home grower or gardener.  Now its time to get into exactly how you can construct a relatively painless hugel bed, and you can learn from where I went wrong with some of my design.

Building your beds:

Building a hugel bed is very easy, and as I mentioned yesterday, now is the perfect time to be building them, especially in the wetter climates.  I couldn’t find any graphics to illustrate my beds correctly, so I actually made one for us to use.  Disclaimer: Not an artist.

HugelbedOk, once again, not an artist.  This seemed the easiest way to describe what I was doing for you.  So first, the frame around the outside, I actually made of of pallets.  I will post a picture below.  I basically built either a square or rectangle out of pallets, and then left it open to the ground underneath.  On the very bottom layer I put in cardboard.  This will break down into soil eventually, but in the mean time it does a great job of holding the moisture up in your growing medium, rather than letting it wick out into the soil.

The next section is the bigger branches.  I was fortunate enough to have had a dead orange tree in our backyard when we moved in.  We had our neighbour cut it down into fireplace sized pieces, but we don’t really use our fireplace that much.  So instead I had an easy and readily available source of wood to use.  Now these are the pieces that will start to get consumed by the fungi.  As they decay, they will go from hard wood, to a soft and spongy material.  Think log found in the woods.  I put a decent amount in the bottom, basically enough to loosely cover the bottom of the bed.

Next I piled up leaves, hay, alfalfa and twigs to cover over the branches, and give it a flatter feel for the soil mix.  There isn’t really any wrong items to put in here.  I used whatever we happened to have laying around.  I did use quite a bit of the chicken’s alfalfa litter, as it would both introduce bacteria into the soil to aid decomposition, as well as provide lots of nitrogen.

Lastly, on top I put on the soil mixture.  I used basically a 50/50 mix of organic top soil and denatured manure.  I would say from a nutrient perspective I actually did OK, but I made one tremendous error.  I didn’t mix in any peat moss or other substance to keep it from clumping up.  My soil got very dense and hard, very quickly.  You will want to mix in large quantities of SOMETHING to help keep it loose, or put in lots of worms if you don’t have my kind of climate.  Anything to keep it loose.  If it gets too tight your plant’s roots won’t be able to grow downward, and your water will basically just pool at the top rather than soaking down into the soil.

In terms of ratio, I was looking for about 18 inches total of growing space for the roots.  I used about 6 inches of the material at the bottom, and then about a foot of soil at the top.  This may or may not have been the perfect height, but its what I used.

Raisedbed2

The reason that’s important is because for all of my struggles with gardening this summer, the hugel system was working.  This picture was taken some time in either late August or early September.  It was the driest time of the year, and my squash plants were still growing.  We actually would have had a good harvest, if squash bugs hadn’t killed them all.

Despite the fact that at this point we hadn’t gotten rain in more than a month, I could still poke my finger down about an inch into the soil and feel moisture.  I did have to water every day, but I watered by hand, rather than irrigation.  It was able to take that moisture in and release it slowly to the plants when they needed it.  So I have to say the system does work.

Why build now?

There are two main reasons to be building your hugel beds right now.  First, its cooler outside.  Doing manual labor when its hot is a terrible plan.  Believe me.  I screened in my porch when it was 110 degrees outside.  That sucked.  Second, everything is wet right now in most areas.  Its a great time to get a jump on your hugel beds.

Under normal circumstances, hugel beds don’t do a whole lot for you in the first year.  The wood hasn’t really started to break down yet, and the beds really need to go through a rainy season in order to charge up the moisture.  Which is why now is a good time to build.  Now the wood is already wet.  So you can go out into the woods and bring back some wet wood that’s already starting to break down.  If you bury it now, it will continue to charge up.  This will let you see more benefit this summer.

If it isn’t wet in your area right now, grab a bunch of wood, throw it in a bin, and soak it in water for a week.  It will smell terrible by the end, but it will be a great way to start a bed.  That’ what I ended up doing on the last bed I built, and it was the most effective.  I am convinced soaking that wood ahead of time gave me the jump on it.

So that is a basic recipe for a raised bed hugel system.  This is a great way to both extend your growing season through the summer, and cut down on irrigation costs.  There is really nothing that using this type of strategy won’t help, and now is the perfect time to start.

Hugelkulture Basic

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Its not yet spring time for most of the country, technically its not spring time here yet either, but with days reaching up into the 80s, its very hard to keep that in mind.  Its feels like spring, it looks like spring, and everyone in the gardening and homesteading community is anxious to get out and get growing.  If I wasn’t moving in the next few months, I would be out amending my beds, and starting my seeds right now.

After all, that is how most of us start our gardening seasons.  Well, there is another, much more beneficial way to get a jump on the gardening season, and you can start right now.  That is to start integrating hugelkulture into your gardening system.  Now is the absolutely perfect time in the wetter climates to get started on building a hugel system.  You can have it built and in place to capture late season snow melt, and the spring rains, so that by the time summer heat rolls around, you have a nice water battery in place to reduce or eliminate your need for watering or irrigation, which should be good news for everyone.

What is Hugelkulture?

Hugelkulture (Hill Culture in german) is a system of permaculture popularized by Sepp Holzer in Germany, and Paul Wheaton here in the United States.  You can get really complicated with the application (Sepp Holzer does) and try to go crazy getting ratios, angles and a whole bunch of other stuff just perfect to optimize your garden.  The other more sensible option is just to worry less about it, and bury some wood in the ground, because that’s really all it comes down to (don’t worry, I will layout a template tomorrow).

A traditional hugulkulture bed.  NOT what you will be doing.

A traditional hugelkulture bed. NOT what you will be doing.

What you want?

There is an old saying, “A forest grows on a fallen forest”.  If you have ever taken a walk through a forest, you have seen fallen logs covered with moss and mushrooms gently being consumed back into the earth.  The leaves underfoot are also being slowly turned back into soil.  That process is all being driven by fungus, and that is both what you want in your soil, and what you encourage to grow by burying wood.  If you were to dig up a little of that forest soil, you would see some white string like things running through the ground.  Those are fungal hyphae, and you need those for healthy soil.  Hugelkulture provides a good environment for these to grow.

Fungal hyphae growing through forest soil

Fungal hyphae growing through forest soil

Why it helps?

Soil works a lot like a sponge, it has a wicking effect that automatically moves moisture from the wet parts to the dry, so that the entire area achieves moisture equilibrium.  Think about taking two sponges, one of them saturated wet just under the point of dripping, and the other one dry.  Set them next to each other so that they are touching.  Come back in a few hours, and they both will be equally moist.  Soil works that way too.

Normally when you water, the moisture is actually pulled away from your plants through the wicking effect, so that you end up needing to use way move water than necessary just for plant survival.  That is actually why rain water is more beneficial to plants.  Its not that rain has magic powers, but when it rains, there is no wicking, since the ground is universally moist, it stays where it needs to be.

Having buried wood in the ground provides wicking element that you control.  When the ground is very moist during the rainy season, the wood and the fungus that it spawns will just suck it all in.  As you move into the summer and the ground dries out, the fungus will start to slowly pay that water back out into the ground system, and greatly reduce your need for watering.  This is how a forest survives and grows.

Why its easy?

If you start to plow into the world of hugelkulture, you will meet fanatics who insist on only doing it a certain way, and if you don’t you are a heretic.  They are wrong, and its easy to prove.  Go walk into a forest, anywhere in the world that it hasn’t been messed with by people.  Look around.  You will see fallen trees slowly being consumed, leaves on the ground, and new plants growing up from the decay.  Nature isn’t out there worrying about angles and ratios, you shouldn’t be either.  Discovery is made by trying something, and seeing how it works.  If we didn’t push the boundaries of knowledge, we would never learn anything new.

How it will help?

Hugelkulture provides three main benefits to your growing beds.  First, it will retain and release moisture for your plants, reducing the need for irrigation in most climates.  Second, as the wood breaks down in your soil, it will begin to transform into nitrogen rich soil for your plants to grow in.  Third, as the hyphae reach down into the ground, they start to transport minerals and nutrients up for your growing plants to consume.  Generally increasing the health of your plants, and you, after you eat them.

This is something that I saw start to work for me just in one summer here in the absolute driest conditions in the USA.  If it can help here, it will help anywhere.  Tomorrow, I will lay out exactly what I did, and tell you how it worked, and how I could have done it better.  It will give you a great jumping off point for designing and building your own system.

Gardening is in the Air 1

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Well folks, its not spring time yet, but at least where I live it sure as heck feels like it.  We clocked in at a balmy 74 yesterday, and could make it up into the eighties in the next week or so.  Its sunny, and mildly warm.  If there was even a trace of moisture in the air, it would be the perfect time to try growing something here.  Unfortunately, since its the desert, there is no perfect time to grow here.

Every year since we have started living here, we have tried to garden something.  Every year we end up with the financial equivalent of a couple $40 tomatoes, and not a lot else to show for it.  Even my tomatillos died off at the first frost, after having about 100 fruits form on them.  Although I am still able to pluck off the little under-ripe dead ones every once in awhile and chuck them in to the chickens.  They enjoy it.

Since I came into this desire for gardening as an absolute amateur, and a transplanted one at that, I have learned lots of ways to NOT grow things.  Back on the east coast where I come from, you can basically toss down some seeds, then bring a bucket back to haul your stuff home.  Here, you can toss some seeds on the ground and they just look at you like “What now?”.  So since I can’t grow anything this year with the move coming up, I will go ahead and pass along some of the ways I have learned to not do things.  At least then I can save you some hard lessons with your crops.

Learn when to plant your crops, it might not be when you think.

This is a lesson I blame on being a transplant.  We have seasons back home, and spring and summer are when things grow.  Fall is when you harvest.  Winter is when everything dies.  If you try to apply that same logic in the desert, you will frustrate yourself, and waste tons of water.  So the first thing you should do, is locate a planting calender.  Here is one for the Tucson area.  Just Google your area and planting calender, and you will find something.  If you don’t like the layout, try another one.  This will give you at least a rough idea of when to do what.

At the last frost date, hit the ground running

In most places, especially most places with good soil, the growing season tends to be somewhat short.  You don’t want to just toss the seeds in the ground at last frost date unless you have to.  Starting plants inside, or even better in a green house, is a great way to get that ball rolling early.  There is an art to starting seeds early, but shaving that month of your growing time is going to ensure that you see your plants harvest longer.  This won’t work for all types of plants because of how the roots work, but at least it will help some.

A well lit room is not the same as sunlight when sprouting plants

This lesson took us awhile to learn.  Our house is generally very bright in the spring and summer, and we were starting plants on our kitchen counter.  We assumed since the room was so bright that it would nourish the plants.  It didn’t.  After awhile the plants would really just top out.  They would get all long, pale and scraggly.  I learned later that they were lacking sunlight.

So not my proudest moment as a gardener, but a great moment as a tinker, as I was able to create this.

Growstand

The picture is really dark, but that is an old TV stand that we didn’t use anymore, and a little light fixture from Home Depot.  We just used a grow light instead of a fluorescent bulb.  It gave the little guys much better results.  They were forming multiple sets of leaves, and the stems were much strong than we were used to.  Unfortunately, once we put them outside, the heat and lack of water killed them.  In October.  Yet the concept was sound, so I will be recreating that once we move.

Chicken Week 9: Reader’s Favorite Breeds

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I have to say, this post is a lot of fun for me.  Yesterday on Facebook my wife Jenn sent out the call to our Facebook community, asking what your favourite breed of chickens was.  Now, this made me smile for two reasons.  First, the response was huge, with a bunch of people responding.  Second, we got about 20-30 different breeds suggested to us, which was basically each person suggesting a unique breed.  That makes me incredibly happy to see.  We, as a collective homesteading community, are actively involved in preserving and maintaining an important genetic legacy, and that’s something my wife and I are very passionate about.  Each of these birds is a unique message from the past, and it’s important to preserve that.

If you haven’t heard of them before, the ALBC, or American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, is doing some great work on preserving these lines.  They are currently working to preserve more than 200 breeds of livestock, and have been since 1977.  I am not a member yet, although I plan on becoming one once we complete our move.  Member or not, they are a great resource for those who are interested in preserving our animal past.

So on the final day of chicken week, I have decided to spotlight 3 more chicken breed that were submitted by our Facebook tribes-people yesterday.  A disclaimer, these are not chicken breeds I own, but they were recommended to me by our readers, so my information is not first hand, but the best way to learn about chickens, is to get some for yourself.

The Barred Rock –

barred rock chicken pic barred rock chicken

 

 

There was simply no way I could not include these little chickens in a list, as not only were they submitted by three different readers, but I have seen them repeatedly at our local feed store.  The barred rock is not actually “in danger” anymore, as according the the ALBC there is a breeding pool of more than 10,000 in the world.  Feedback on these chickens is universally positive, and are something I will look into when we do move to colder climates.  They and the Orpingtons seem to fill similar roles, and both do well in the cold.

The Barred Rock is one of the all time popular favourites in this country. Developed in New England in the early 1800’s by crossing Dominiques and Black Javas, it has spread to every part of the U.S. and is an ideal American chicken. Prolific layers of brown eggs, the hens are not discouraged by cold weather. Their solid plumpness and yellow skin make a beautiful heavy roasting fowl.  These chickens are often called Plymouth Rocks, but this title correctly belongs to the entire breed, not just the Barred variety.

Thank you to @Lisa Haw Manning, @Antoinette-Dennis Collins, @Tracy Tidwell for the suggestion.

Cochin –

black cochins black cochins pic

 

Cochin chickens were suggested by two different readers.  One described them as gentle, the other described them as cute but useless.  So I would say this sounds like a great starter chicken if you aren’t sure if you like chickens, but they might not actually do much for you.  I happen to personally like cochins ever since I saw one in the Phoenix zoo.  Side note, the Phoenix zoo is a sprawling complex of rare animals from around there world.  What was my favourite part?  The barnyard exhibit.  Go figure.

These guys are listed as watch, which means there are less than 5,000 in the US, and less than 10,000 in the world.  I do know they are good for cold weather because their feet feathers protect them.

Cochin chickens are great eaters of food, and indiscriminate in their preferences. This combined with their unmatched profuseness of feathering make them an ideal choice for colder climates and gives them the ability to eat enough to produce both animal heat and eggs during the heart of winter. They feather slowly, but are very hardy and, like the Brahma chicken, will thrive under conditions where other breeds would perish. Cochins are predisposed to becoming too fat. Such fattening can stop egg production and even lead to death by disorder of the liver. Lewis Wright, in his book The Practical Poultry Keeper, circa 1892, recommended that Cochins should receive a daily ration of green food to keep them healthy.

Thank you @Beaver Creek Homestead, @Tracy Tidwell

Polish-

White Crested Black Polish ChickenWhite Crested Black Polish Chicken PIc

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last chicken to spotlight today is the Polish chicken, which is also listed on the watch list.  I had seen them before in hatchery catalogues, but I have to say the best description ever came across our Facebook feed, when one of our tribespeople described them as looking like muppets.  I laughed of course, then after I looked again, damnit they do look like muppets.  I can never un-think that now.

Polish chickens have many interesting characteristics. They are excellent layers of medium-sized white eggs, tending to begin a bit late in the season but persistently laying once they commence. Polish chickens are non-sitters and rarely will go broody. Their crests tend to obscure their vision, which makes them more prone to aerial predators. Polish chickens are easily surprised and a bit nervous, so care should be taken not to startle them. They are similar to Leghorns in both size and type. And Polish chickens come with or without beards on their faces.

Thank you @Rabbits, Chickens and Chihuahuas

So once again, my plea is the same as always.  If you are considering getting chickens, or any livestock, please consider a heritage breed.  Once that legacy is lost, we will never be able to get it back.

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