The Adventure Archive

A blog about the life of a Creative Anarchist's adventures in navigating the seas of geekdom, parenting, living sustainably, and making art. 

Chickens Want To Die and other Frustrations of Backyard Farming

Warning: This is a sad post. 

 

I got home from work on Thursday, and as is my habit, headed straight to the backyard to take care of The Farm. I stepped onto the back porch, and sang my little chicken song: BOK! Bokbokbok BOK! and instead of a flurry of feathers running from all corners of the yard to come get their pets and fresh compost, I was greeted with...silence. Eventually, I heard a weak squak? from under the rose bush, and my favorite lady cautiously approached me. Upon exploring the yard, I found the torn up and partially buried remains of 4 members of my flock, and a whole lot of feathers, and a whole lot of, what happened?!? 

As near as I (and Google) can deduce, this was the work of enthusiastic dogs or malicious humans. There was no obvious point of entry into the yard, and no sign of what attacked my flock. My verdict on backyard chicken keeping is nearing "it's a whole lotta work for a whole lot of nothing". This is the second time in as many years that my flock has been decimated by predators, and I cannot in good conscious continue to keep free ranging birds in the backyard.  I will fortify the coop for the survivors, and reassess next year. 

 RIP pretty chickens...

RIP pretty chickens...

In other news, a miscommunication with my neighbor led to my blackberry bushes and a rose bush being ripped up. Something ate 6 tomato plants down to the ground, but left the other dozen or so plants unscathed. The onions were dug up by the chickens. The bees are constantly buzzing in the thyme, borage, and lavender plants, the grapes are reaching for the sky, the little transplanted apple tree is recovering nicely, and I continue to enjoy a constant supply of fresh herbs for my culinary adventures.  Check in for a future post on my backyard farm crafts: lavender flower wreaths and teasal plant mason bee homes.  

On Prisms and People

I'm not sure how Prisms Gallery got the name, but I imagine it might go something like this: People are like prisms, rather ordinary and unremarkable until somebody shines a light on them, and then, you see the rainbow.  

I volunteer a lot of time at the non-profit Prisms Gallery, run by Partnerships in Community Living. PCL provides support to people with disabilities, and the gallery provides a safe supportive space for all members of the community to come make art. In the year or so since fate led me into that creative space, I have seen it expand and grow and bring together artists of all ages and abilities and become the nexus of art making in downtown Salem.  In my time there, I have found motivation to make my own art, to reach out and teach others, to include my kids in my community endeavors; I have become more patient and educated and understanding of a group in my community that, to my shame, has previously made me feel uncomfortable. 

On the first Wednesday of the month, Prisms hosts a movie with descriptive audio for the visually impaired. Every Wednesday from 4-6 we have a guided art making workshop, free and open to the community. Prisms is volunteer run and donation supported, so, really, Prisms needs the community as much as the community needs Prisms. The gallery is open to the public during the week, as a space to just come and make whatever you want with the abundance of crafting supplies available. If art collecting is your thing, not art making, then visit the gallery half of the space, where you will find art as exceptionally unique as the artists who make it, and you know your money is going to a good place. 

Prisms Gallery is located in the Reed Underground, next door to Parallel Worlds and under the Little Canolli Place, that makes the best macaroons...whoops, getting off target. Website is: https://www.facebook.com/prismsgallery/ To learn more about PCL and support their mission, visit http://www.pclpartnership.org/ 

The Reading Pile July Wk 3

Skim by Mariko Tamaki

So, I picked up this graphic novel specifically for my almost 13 year old daughter. She's been going thru a rough patch this year: middle school seems to be a very stressful and dramatic environment.  I struggle to understand what she is going thru: I was a late-blooming tomboy who was homeschooled thru those years. My daughter on the other hand, has dated boys, girls, and gender-neutral individuals,she's had her heart broken, she's started anti-bullying clubs, she's had friends commit suicide or engage in self-harm, she's gotten in trouble at home and at school, and thru it all has remained a kind, helpful sibling, a loving and bright soul, a champion of the downtrodden and weak.  

Skim is about a 15 year old high school student who is dealing with a lot of stuff too.  A classmate commits suicide, and in the after-wake of that it comes out that he was gay and unable to reach out for the help he needed.  Kim herself is dealing with first love, teacher crushes, her own sexual identity, depression, weight, bullying, and the ebb and flow of friendships and family. The book is very non-judgmental and not preachy; in fact, this book feels like a wise older girl wrapping her arms around you and saying, "Hey, yeah, this shit is real. And hard. And you are going to figure it out, I promise."  I recommend it for middle- and high-schoolers of all genders.  The art and lovely storytelling are a bonus perk.  

Skim won the NYTimes Book Review Best Illustrated Children's Book award. 

Calexit Issue 1

Whoa, this comic is hardcore.  For anybody who thought that the idea of liberal California seceding from the US would be kinda like a peaceful, roll a joint and watch the show protest march, that is not how the writer Matteo Pizzolo sees things going down.  This comic is brutal and bloody, the words scathing and inflammatory, the politics relevant.  I only hope this comic isn't prophetic. Proceeds from the sale of this comic go to SuperPACs that support progressive political candidates.  I recommend this comic for the left-leaning rebel readers who like their comics dark and gritty. Recommended for all readers, however, are the interviews published in part at the end of the issues with grassroots activists, and in full on the comic books website:  hmmm, the website seems to have been taken down...verrryyyy interesting... stay tuned!

 

Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay

So, with the much anticipated Black Panther movie coming out soon, I've been doing a little reading to get up to speed. This collection was a nice little treasure to stumble across in that quest. Black Panther: World of Wakanda  tells the story of Ayo and Aneka, two members of the Dora Milaje Guard.  The story goes in and around the events of Infinity and Ultimates, focusing on their developing love story, and providing another window into the Black Panther world. I give it 5 for storytelling, and a 10 for LGBTQ representation. This run was cancelled prematurely, and so the ending is rushed and forced.  I do believe this story was cancelled despite its representation, not because of it. Still, I would have enjoyed more. 

CSA and Use Up The Wilting Veggies From The CSA Box Stir Fry

So, I joined a CSA this summer.  For those not in the know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, the idea being that small farms need money at the beginning of the year when things need planting and growing and weeding and whatnot, but that's when farms don't have any money coming in, and then they go thru all the uncertainty of the growing season...rain and bugs and heat and whatnot, and then hope they sell enough produce and the right produce to make back their investment and keep the farm afloat.  With a CSA share, I buy all my produce in advance, and they are guaranteed their income no matter what the uncertainty of farming throws their way, and I get a box of picked just hours ago perfectly in season organic local produce every week for months. I like that it ties the fate of my diet to the local environment...if it's a weird year and collards are all what grows..if blueberries are late but prolific...I feel more connected and aware of how our weather and climate affect things. Secondly, it's a bit like a loot crate for food...never know what weird vegetable is going to be in the box! This week it was kohlrabi, I haven't figure out what to do with it quite yet.  I also have a head of cabbage. The owner of the Irish restaurant next to my comic bookstore recommended a meal with potatoes and ham and garlic and it sounds soooo good. I pick up my box on Wednesday, Tuesday has become Use Up The Wilting Veggies From The CSA Box Stir Fry Night.  Here is my very specific recipe for:

Use Up The Wilting Veggies From The CSA Box Stir Fry

Wilted Chard (if available)

Wilted Bok Choy (if available)

Several Day Old Broccoli (if available)

Wilted Kale (if available)

Garlic Scapes (if available)

Slightly Dry Random Mushrooms (if available)

Floppy Carrots (if available)

Floppy Baby Celery (if available)

Other Random Vegetables that might turn into compost in a few days.. (if available)

Heat oil in a big frying pan or wok. Add chopped veggies in order of hardness (carrots first, mushrooms last). Saute until things are bright colorful and warm.

Tasty brown sauce:  soy or tamari sauce, sugar, chili, garlic (or chili garlic sauce), sesame oil. Mix and match until it tastes pretty darn good.  Turn off the stove and toss in the sauce.

Brown a protein.  I am a fan of browned tofu: press all the water out of the tofu ( i do this by placing the tofu brick between two plates, then setting a heavy object on the top plate and leaving for an hour or two), cube the tofu, and brown on all sides in oil.  Also works well with those fake chicken Quorn fillets. Carnivores, do your thing. 

Serve stir fry on top of brown rice with protein on the side.  Pat yourself on the back for being amazingly healthy and using up a bunch of vegetables before they go to waste. 

The Reading Pile July Wk 2

The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci.  

I have been reading this book slowly, savoring each chapter and letting it settle into my mode of operation like a soft lens filter that makes everything seem prettier and lighter.  The book is broken into chapters that delve into kindness and how it relates to things like honesty, forgiveness, trust, mindfulness, empathy, patience, and more.  While the very nature of kindness and its family of related virtues seem like it must be selfless to even "count", each chapter details how treating others with kindness will do wonders for our own physical and mental health. While much of what he said already aligns with my own approach to the world, I found a strength and reinforcement, almost permission, to live on these terms even more fully.  I have an ongoing struggle to take the "high roads" of forgiveness, turning the other cheek, humility, and view that as a testament to my strength, and not feel like a doormat. It's a fine line, to be sure, and takes work to maintain.  I feel certain that I will re-read this book a few more times in my future. 

Briggs' Land Vol 1

I read the first issue of Briggs Land: Lone Wolves when it appeared in my comic store last week, and was drawn in immediately. That, combined with AMC picked it up as a new TV show to debut...someday?...led me to track down the first graphic novel of the original comic story, State of Grace. Not sure exactly what I was getting into at first, and found myself reeling because this comic is intense.  It doesn't hold any punches, and the main characters seem to endorse domestic abuse, racism, murder, drugs, as they run their family owned compound as a sovereign nation. The family is religious zealot meets big mafia meets off the grid.  The newly in charge family matriarch, Grace, however, seems determined to change some of that, and that is the essence of what makes me look forward to more.  I'm not sure if this falls to the left or right side of the political highway yet, so stay tuned with me for future updates and final verdicts. Calexit Issue 1 arrives in my box tomorrow, I'm hoping it provides a counterpoint and equally thought-provoking read.

LOW Vol. 2 and Vol. 3

Another comic that is not for the faint of heart, or young readers, LOW is a dystopian future set deep beneath the sea.  One family holds out hope for the future of humanity, but to the rest of the survivors, hope is something to be buried beneath drugs and sex until merciful oblivion ends it all, or, for some, hope is even a crime, punishable by death.  The story starts innocently on the first few pages, then goes dark really quick.  The drama is balanced out by stunningly beautiful art, I find myself pausing at the end of each page to deal with all the feels and to just take in the intricate inks and dynamic orange and blue colors.  Volume 4 now please?

Single Issues:

Saga 44: I absolutely will not spoil Saga for anybody.  EVERY DAMN ISSUE makes me cry, laugh, and scream "MORE!". All I gotta say...all I will EVER say...is if you haven't read this comic yet, stop whatever you are doing, come into Parallel Worlds or your LCS at once, start a subscription and pick up the graphic novels, and thank me later.

America 4: I've been recommending this comic like crazy, and not just because the main character America Chavez is a totally hot ass-kicking queer Latinx badass, nor is it because diversity heroes like her tend to have their comics cut short prematurely because nobody buys them because nobody knows about them. I recommend this comic because it is just SO. MUCH. FUN. As a relative newcomer to the comic crew, I get the allure of a simple GOOD GUY (or Gal) kicking the pants off the BAD GUY (or Gal) in the name of country, justice, and all that is RIGHT. Every panel explodes off the pages, with ridiculous villains, super-powered star punches, spandex red white and blue costumes, all the gadgets, convoluted story-lines, and everything I associate with classic Avengers awesomeness. 

Crosswind 1: This new comic from writer Gail Simone promises to be a good one. I'm not sure what is going on right now...Russian sleeper agents? Body swapping spies? Maybe? But the downtrodden housewife undergoes a shocking transformation on the last page and I can't wait to see what happens next. 

Thats all for now...coming next week: Skim by Mariko Tamaki, Sacred Creatures, Claudia & Rex and more!