23 February, 2009

Kim Fox

We went to a workshop at Kim Fox's urban farm yesterday. In addition to answering questions from the dozen or so chicken raisers there, she gave us a tour of her 23-hen set-up. Eventually, the chickens also got to tour us. Everyone so inclined held a hen while Kim showed us how to search for mites and feel the gullet and so on. She oiled their wattles and legs with shea butter and vaseline.

During this wonderfully hands-on workshop, we also learned about her composting and worm-growing system. We've been wanting to raise worms for awhile, but Cecile is reluctant to keep them in the house and it's too hot during the summer to keep them outside. Kim's 'worm bin' is dug straight into the ground. Surrounded by a rock wall and covered by blankets under their own ramada, the bin is moistened by greywater. Kim harvests worms every once in awhile to feed her chickens.

When seated under another ramada, we were surrounded by her gardens. Like the worm bin, they were sunken into the ground. This is an interesting solution to gardening in the desert, and the contrast to raised beds has us thinking along new lines. It makes sense if you have any concerns about how much water your garden uses. Cecile just bought a couple of ollas from Mesquite Valley Growers and is on a search for other such desert-gardening solutions.

After checking to see if anyone wanted to leave, Kim killed and then prepared for frying a Wyandotte who had been languishing in Tucson's heat for a couple of years. Although this was not as 'fun' as picking up eggs, we're glad we had the chance to watch and learn. She calmed the chicken, used an ax for a quick death, and bled the chicken into a bucket of water that will go into the compost. While slicing the chicken up, Kim showed us all kinds of interesting innards. For example, we got to see what could have become eggs. They were a clump of yellow balls of different sizes (not organized along two tubes like in people). Opening the gizzard to empty it and peel off its inner cover was fascinating. One of the most interesting things we learned about feeding chickens is how much they like meat (and apparently need the oil in it here in the desert). Every time Kim sliced off a piece of fat, she tossed it into the coop where it was received with great joy.

This was super interesting, and we are hoping to stay plugged in to the various groups represented there. For example, someone from the Food Coop is going to organize a tour of chicken coops, and we'd like to sign up. It probably won't get written up in Tucson Lifestyle, but it'll be fun. Cecile is thinking that the Slow Food movement needs a partner in the Grow Food movement. What better way to address our sad economy, our generally poor food, and our need for exercise and sunlight!? Good for Kim Fox, food activist extraordinaire!

15 February, 2009

On a good day ...

we get four eggs out of these hens, plus of course the same two golf balls.

And here we finally share a photo of a bantam. This is Thing One worrying over a golf ball as she prepares to lay something similar.

10 February, 2009

85 eggs in 2009

Isn't this amazing? We (and some friends) have eaten almost all of these plus a dozen store-bought here and there. There are also odd golf balls around. Yes, she's still broody: going on five weeks.