Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Autumn Revolt: The Molt

Zazouse's chicken on Backyard Chickens.com Wins the Worst Chicken Molt Picture

Oh. Oh. It's like the Hans Christen Andersen's children's story, The Emperor's New Clothes. Is anyone going to tell this chicken that she's naked?

It's that time of year when some of our chickens (none of mine, yet, because it's been warm here) are starting to lose their feathers. This picture by Zazouse on Backyard Chickens won the prize for the worst molt.  

Cuba: Where Chickens Run Wild in the Streets

Copyright Mallory on Travel

Photographer, adventure traveler, and blogger Iain Mallory wrote blog article, Cuba in Black-and-White: A Portrait, about his travels to Cuba. His photographs and accompanying text tell a compelling story of Cuba. Mallory also mentions that chickens run wild in the streets of Cuba. He says that "Women purchase their shopping from small roadside counters, carrying live chickens home, grasped tightly in small but work roughened hands, the birds hanging by their feet." 

Friday, October 19, 2012

inmod Egg Chair

I'm not exactly a modern girl. I like my furnishings to have the patina of love and time. When someone walks into my house, I like nothing more than if they flip off their shoes and sink onto the sofa, plop onto a floor pillow, or twirl contentedly around in the stool at my kitchen bar. Absolutely everyone who walks into my home has license to open up the refrigerator door, pull out a snack or two, and cook up a quick dinner. Perhaps it's my Midwestern roots, but mi casa es su casa hangs intangibly above my every door.

Antique stores, thrift stores, grandma's garages, and friend's attics--I love them all for ferreting out furnishings for my home. The seeking out of great things can be almost addictive in nature. I've found that there's always another great knick-knack to be found behind the next door.

But, as much as I love the old, I also love the new. And, perhaps that's where my "other style" comes in. I can't stand clutter. I love clean lines. Symmetry? Well, how I could not love that? It's so darn easy on the eye.

Which leads me, in my inner interior designer desires, to crave having a home furnished with modern decor. There's something so refreshingly new, sterile, and untouched about it. The lines are simplistic and clean. And, it makes you feel young and contemporary.

I'm torn that way. It must the Libra in me. I love old-fashioned rural living with a wrap-around porch and the sound of an owl hooting me to sleep at night. But, I also believe I could live in the city, in an urban highrise, a  loft with sky-high ceilings and furnishings that are simple and clean and like...well, like the inmod's Egg Chair. Just check it out. Can't you just imagine kicking off your shoes after a long day's work and slipping into this egg? And, best yet, you can load up some tunes on iTunes and relax to the sounds of your fav band. Van Morrison, The Animals, or Snow Patrol in the egg? Nothing greets you better after a long day.

If you've ever been to The Standard in downtown Los Angeles and imbibed in a drink on its rooftop, you know what I mean. (And, if you haven't, I highly recommend it.) The Standard's decor is very modern, very clean, so L.A. If you can pull yourself away from the bar and The Standard's mighty drinks,  walk poolside and grab one of the giant shell pods that are filled with water cushions (up to four can fit inside). Just be careful, because after a drink or two, a decidely unlady-like position ensues in order to extricate yourself from the undulating water pod.

Besides the awkward position, you don't quite know whether to lie down or sit, there's something about its style that works perfectly with the egg chair.  The Standard's pod is a whole egg and the inmod's chair is a half egg. Whether whole or half, they both evoke urban chic.

Or, maybe that's urban chick.

And, if I'm honest, that is the only way I would migrate to the city--if zoning laws allowed me to bring my flock along.  After all, "home" for me doesn't require ruby slippers. It only needs my hens, a backyard coop and a house filled with family, friends, and good food. . .

and maybe an inmod chair. Now where would I put it?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chickens Offer Support to Children with Autism and Aspergers

Peg's Buff Orpington                    c Shobe Biz Communications

For us chicken owners, we already know how chickens affect our lives. We can be in the lousiest of moods and all we need to do is head to the coop or walk to where the chickens are free ranging, and we will soon erupt in smiles and giggles. Chickens really do some of the zaniest things. They light up our lives with their antics.

It wasn't until recently that I heard of therapy chickens. Oh, sure. I've met therapy dogs and even a rabbit or two, but therapy chickens? I first heard about them while I was interviewing Ruth Haldeman, the creator of chicken diapers, who sells her product via chickendiapers.com.  Ruth said that she receives orders for chicken diapers for therapy chickens so that the hens may be brought into institutions and homes without any mishaps.

Are therapy chickens becoming a trend? Perhaps so. The Missoulian posted a video clip on their website about Jana Clairmont who takes her two chickens, Alex and Carlita, to seniors at the Poison Health and Rehabilitative Center. The chickens let the seniors pet them, talk with them and receive comfort from them.

The Chicken Whisperer has a Therapy Chicken Facebook page that supports comments about therapy chickens. One woman wrote in that a bipolar woman used to rely on her chickens for comfort, that was until they were taken away. Another woman says that her seven-year old autistic daughter has a hen as her best friend.

In fact, chickens helping children with autism and Aspergers seems to be growing. In a report in the Examiner, a two-year old autistic boy in Florida was learning socialization and eye contact through his hens, that was until the city cited the family for having chickens in their backyard. The family fought the restriction by noting that the chickens were helping their autistic child as well as providing an organic food source for their child. The city was reviewing their ordinance when the chickens were brutally slaughtered. Now, the community is flocking together to bring the family new chickens.

According to PetChicken.com, chickens serve a very real purpose for autistic children or children with Aspergers. "An autistic or Aspergers individual inherently needs to be assisted away from over fixation on the inner self. This encouragement to outward awareness and not to fear it can be found in the antics and curious jerky head motions that catch the eye made by all chickens. It is so captivating and funny. They will insatiable draw the autistic into attention to and care for the chickens in a way that will be a mutual bond that will last...Chickens, as with most pets, will coax a special needs child to innately accept that there is fascinating 'chaos' in life and that unpredictable things will occur with fun result."

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released that 1 in every 88 American children has an autism spectrum disorder. This number is a ten-fold increase over the last 40 years with improving diagnosis being only one of the reasons that this statistic has increased so much. With these staggering autism numbers, it seems that therapy chickens may have to be on the rise.

How do you raise a therapy chicken? There isn't much information on this but Hope Farm Projects Therapeutic Farm  (Elizabeth, CO), a 105-acre farm owned by Teri Allen, is doing what it can to support the raising and training of therapeutic chickens. It also has a therapeutic riding program; a job skills training program for people with disabilities; an animal rescue; therapy horses; and other small therapy animals like pigs, goats, llamas and ducks.

If you have more information about therapy chickens, I'd love to hear about it!