NASA’s Chickenauts

ImageThis was the latest chicken gossip I overheard in the coop this morning while collecting eggs. The Barred Rock had the whole flock gathered round. Those girls…. they love to chat.

Scientists at NASA built a gun specifically to launch standard 4 pound dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity.  The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.

British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains.  Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to the British engineers.  When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer’s back-rest in two, and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin, like an arrow shot from a bow.

The horrified Brits sent NASA the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the U.S. scientists for suggestions.

NASA responded with a one-line memo, “Defrost the chicken.” 

Then they went back to clucking, scratching for bugs, and laying.

They KNOW they have the good life!

Whoever Said You WEREN’T Raised in the Barn was Wrong!

ImageMy little goat girls stuck their necks through the fence line trying to nibble whatever plant I was weeding around. The chickens, as always,  scratched up any new area I “just” weeded and chipped. In fact, all our animals on the farm remind me of our own exasperating kids, at every age!!!   Goats, chickens, horses, sheep & alpaca are the same as our human kids……   The goats, like human toddlers,  want to snatch away the phone the minute you begin your telephone conversation. Chickens, like our teenagers, want to tear up the living room the same afternoon you wanted to have the women over for tea and chat. Sheep and Alpacas, like our  “Twenty-something kids still at home,”  only get out of bed when they smell the eggs and potatoes frying., or in other words, they do not come when you call them unless you have food in your hand! Don’t even get me started on the horses and geese!

So, every parent is a real FARMER raising your little animals! When they told you, you were raised in the barn, they were RIGHT!

~ Shana

Leggo my Eggos!!

ImageThe egg baskets are loaded to the brim every day now!! Since we get lots of questions of the hens Farmer Shana shared some of her observations based on some questions she received recently from some neighbors and visitors. Shana is rebel chicken anthropologist. Move over Margaret Mead!!!!!

Regarding the timing of eggs during the year: Chickens lay eggs based on the number of hours of light in a 24 hour period.  So, as the day shortens, they start laying less. Once again, as longer days return, and more light, the hens start producing again. (They do not need a rooster to produce eggs, just to fertilize them.  However, the Rooster does protect them from predators.  At least one Rooster to a flock is important.)  

Just before it is officially Spring, the chickens are producing a lot of eggs again, about one egg every 34 hours per hen.  The younger the hen, the more she lays.  A hen that is over 3 years, begins to skip days, and finally, just lays an egg 2X a week or less until she finally stops all together at about 6-8 years.  She can live to 15!  We do have some older birds.  If they are free range, however, the older ones usually get picked off by an eagle.  When the eagle scoops down he picks up the weaker ones.  The older girls can’t run as fast back to the safety of the coop, from far out in the field.    

So,  our hens will lay more and more now as the days get longer and longer through June and July.

Then, once again, I start to see a decline by late July and August, as they tire out from laying and it is very hot, and days begin to shorten again.  It is amazing, how this natural cycle works.  I like to keep them to the natural cycle. Thus, I do not provide artificial light in the coops to force them to lay through the winter months.  I like to let them have a vacation from laying.  Since I do not kill the birds after they turn two as most commercial and “for profit”  small farms do, my birds have the same amount of potential eggs to lay, but they just lay them over a 6 year period instead of forcing all the eggs out of them in their first 2 years, and then culling them out. 

Did you even see the movie Chicken Run??? It is one of the best animated films out there.  Well, I love my girls and I would never dream of making Chicken Pot Pie out of them!!

All animals are connected to the cycle of the seasons.  Humans too of course.  It is also just too hot to get much done.  Same for Southern Californians, especially those who go to UCLA or SC!  Too much time spent in Malibu on the beach, never get enough studying done.  That was me…….


And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird!

And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird!

Looks like we’re a bunch of ugly Americans!! Stealing bibles from Hotels!? San Franciscans THINK they are super cool travelers as usual. And Cleavland has the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame so why on God’s green earth should its residents even contemplate a vacation anywhere else?!I think a trip to the ocean might do some good though. Those lakes, while expansive, just aren’t a substitute for the Pacific.

Yes, we relentlessly harp on the Asian tourists, but we are a strange bunch of travelers ourselves.

Roasted Pear Crostata


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My first blog post for the farm and it’s about food!!


Every now and then as I pass the kitchen windows on the way to the barn for the afternoon feedings, I know I am in for something amazing once the sun sets. Shana is inside over the mixing bowl after her chicken yard rounds with the girls, with the freshest of the fresh eggs. With the girls starting to lay a few more eggs a day, the oven is going almost daily with baked treats. Today’s smell drifting out into the farm was a Roasted Pear Crostata, an open faced rustic tart. The recipe is from Boston’s Flour: Cafe + Bakery. Shana and Sarah stopped in at the Cambridge shop last November during a trip to visit my younger brother who is at Northeastern University in Boston. Needless to say, during their week vacation they averaged 1.4 visits to Flour a day! Now already worn and stained is the chef/owner Joanne Chang’s (an economist and math grad from Harvard!!) book of spectacular recipes.



9 Bosc pears, peeled, halved, cored (we used Orcas pears from the orchard. We’d already eaten all of our Bosc’s)

1 inch knob of fresh ginger thinly sliced

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces

Pate Brisee (shortcrust pastry dough)

Frangipane (almonds, eggs, sugar, flour….. was soooo delicious. Shana made a big batch, that we’ve kept in the fridge. It’s been going on a lot of other pastries)

1 egg lightly beaten

2 tablespoons sugar for dusting

Recipe calls for 1 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries. We have hardy kiwi from the garden that we used instead. AMAZING!

1. Heat up the oven to 400 degrees F. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper

2. 9″ x 13″ baking pan, but use what you got! Toss the pears, ginger, sugar, and butter together. Stick it the oven and roast it for 1 hour or so, until the pears are soft when pierced w/knife and golden. You can give it a stir every now. Let cool completely. You can do this a couple days ahead if you wish. It’ll store just fine!

3. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it about on a well floured surface until its about 12″ circle and 1/4″ thick. Place on the pre-lined baking sheet.

4. Spread the frangipane around the middle of the dough, leaving about 3″ border on the edge of the dough uncovered.

5. Now you can get all arty and pastry chef about the appearance of the pears on the dough. Place the pears cut side down in a circle on top of the frangipane. Sprinkle the cranberries/kiwi/strawberries etc… on top of the pears. Then top the first layer of fruit with another layer of pears and sprinkle a few more cranberries/kiwi/etc… on top of the second layer of pears.

6. Starting at one side of the crostata, fold the 3″ border of dough up and over the fruit. The center of the crostata will remained exposed. (Chef Joanne Chang fanned a pear for decoration here). Refrigerate the assembled corstata for at least 1 hour.

7. Heat the oven to 350 F

8. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and then sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Make sure the dough is not chewy, but golden and bake through evenly. Let it cool and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!!

My mom handles desserts, I handle dinner. Next up….. I think I am going to make a fresh pizza tonight. Maybe some dried figs we have left from the summer? Caramelized onion? And our lovely neighbor’s fresh chevre?? Ok…. to the KITCHENMOBILE!