December 30, 2011

Top Ten in 2011

The statistics function in Blogger is a lot of fun (and I probably waste too much time looking at it). Here's a list of my ten most viewed blog posts of 2011 (with #1 being the all-time most-viewed post):

10. Chickens Out And About - the chickens at Green Zebra Market Garden have their first adventure in the vegetable garden.

9. Introducing: The Lansing Urban Goat Movement! - let's legalize dairy goats in the city of Lansing, MI.

8. Garlic Planting Time - garlic is planted in the fall for harvest the next summer.

7. Do You Feel A Draft? - Checkers the chicken goes through her first major molt.

6. Chickens As Time Keepers - did you know that egg-laying in chickens is influenced by photoperiod?

5. My Take on Wilder Quarterly - my review of the new periodical Wilder Quarterly.

4. Found Object Garden Art - how an abandoned crib became a decorative garden fence.

3. Mangy Chicken - Checkers the chicken starts to molt her feathers.

2. Homemade Beef Jerky - how to make jerky using a food dehydrator.

1. Make Your Own Sturdy Tomato Cages - how to make strong tomato cages using welded wire   fencing.

December 23, 2011

More Garden Mapping

I found another satellite view of my garden on Bing Maps. Compared to the one I posted two days ago from Google Maps, this one looks like it was taken in very early spring. Some of the trees overhanging my house haven't leafed out yet in this photo. Plus, I clearly haven't installed the straw mulch in between my raised beds yet (which happened in early May). You can also tell this photo was taken earlier in the day than the last one, because the shadows show the sun rising from the South-East (casting shadows to the North-West).

Kind of neat getting a bird's-eye view of the garden, isn't it?

December 21, 2011

Google Map Your Garden!

I happened to type in my own address while poking around town on the Satellite view of Google Maps. I was really excited to see that my vegetable garden is clearly visible! When I was house hunting almost three years ago, I used the Satellite view of Google Maps constantly. Since I didn't care as much about the actual house, I used Google Maps to check out the amount of full-sun area on each property before asking my realtor to show me the house. 

The satellite images must have been updated around June 2011 (I'm guessing) because I didn't put down the straw mulch between my raised beds until May and the grass is still pretty green (prior to the terrible drought we had later in the summer). Also, you can clearly see my boyfriend's white car in the driveway (and he's only had that car for a year). You can also see the chicken run alongside the garage (to the left of the garden). Looks like the chickens had already de-nuded the run because it shows up as a big brown rectangle.

I can even tell what time of day the satellite image was taken. The huge shadow over the car and the bottom left corner of the garden only occurs late in the afternoon. 

I didn't think about it at the time, but wish I had saved the previous image so I could compare.

See if you can find your garden on the map!

December 19, 2011

Broccoli, Chicken, and Feta Cheese Pizza

I've been making a homemade pizza a few times each month during the last year (see my earlier posts on pizza with garlic scapes and cooked greens and pizza with bacon, greens, and tomato). We almost always use chicken instead of pepperoni and I always try to include some it can't be that unhealthy, right?

My most recent pie included chicken, broccoli sauteed in garlic, and feta cheese. Feta cheese has to be one of my favorite pizza toppings ever! It's a little too strong for me to eat "raw" in a salad or in a pita sandwich, but when you bake it on top of a pizza it gets mellower and gains a nice golden brown crust.
This pizza was a big hit with my boyfriend, who loves garlic. I wasn't sure if he would go for the broccoli pizza-concept, but we were both pretty happy with it.

December 16, 2011

My Take on Wilder Quarterly

I've been putting off reviewing the new Wilder Quarterly periodical, but I finally had time to sit down and read through the copy that was sent to me.

First off, here's a quote from the Wilder Quarterly website explaining what the periodical is about: "Wilder Quarterly is a publication for people enthralled by the natural world. In our pages you’ll find green thumbs, rooftop gardeners, foodies and chefs, seed savers, architects, hobby farmers, horticulturalists, innovators, amateurs, and experts. Just your everyday mix of growing enthusiasts. Wilder is ‘life through the lens of the growing world’— indoors and out, culture, travel, food and design. Published seasonally for this generation of growers and the next."

I might as well get my negative comments out of the way, and then I can focus on all the great aspects of this periodical. First off, my copy of Wilder Quarterly stinks! And by "stinks" I mean that it literally smells awful! Perhaps I got a bad egg, but as soon as I took the plastic wrapping off, I was totally offended by the rancid inky aroma. I've cracked the book open many times in the last couple weeks and the smell isn't going away any time soon. I suppose that if I were into huffing fumes, I would actually list this under the positive qualities of this periodical rather than the negative.

Now that I've shared my whiny complaint about stinky inky printing (maybe my sniffer is more sensitive than it should be), let's move on to my second (and hopefully more justified) negative comment.  Wilder Quarterly is fairly expensive for a periodical. A one-year subscription is $60 and that only gets you four issues (or you can pay ~$19 per single issue). However, you have to take into account that each issue is actually more like a small book (~160 pages) rather than a thin, floppy magazine. In addition, there are no advertisements, so you're getting lots of content instead of pages of ads. For someone like me (i.e. a poor graduate student), this periodical (despite all of it's great points, which I'll get to in a minute) is a little too pricey for me to get excited about. However, if you've got the cash and/or you like collecting gardening texts, Wilder might be a great addition to your collection.

Okay, I'm done complaining, so let's move on the to good stuff. The photography is great. I love that Wilder is printed on matte paper rather than glossy. For some reason, it just seems more legit that way.  I liked how Wilder seems kind of "Indy" and yet very professional at the same time. I hate seeing magazine photography of perfectly manicured gardens because it is unrealistic and sets us normal people up for failure. Wilder instead highlights real gardens made by real people. I think that's one of the huge differences between Wilder and other periodicals out there.

There's a nice variety of articles in the issue I received. Unlike some other periodical on this topic area (I'm thinking Mother Earth News, Grit, etc), I actually wanted to read every single article in Wilder.  There wasn't a single article in Wilder that I dismissed as "boring" or "not for me" upon reading the title.

The writing was good, and not overly pretentious. Wilder is such a good-looking periodical that I was worried that it wouldn't be very approachable for the reader (but no worries on that). There were a few cases were I found myself wanting more from an article (I was surprised to turn the page and find out that the article had already finished).  But I guess the fact that these articles grabbed my attention enough to be "page-turners" is a good thing! I also like the variety of article types. There were interviews, how-to's, and biography-type articles.

Overall, I'm really excited that this periodical exists and I hope they are successful and long-lived. If I can't handle the price-tag maybe I can get my local library to get a subscription!

December 14, 2011

Do You Feel A Draft?

Despite the freezing temperatures, my poor little molting hen seems to be feeling and looking better. The cold doesn't seem to bother her!

Her rump is completely featherless, but you can now see new feathers starting to poke through the skin.

I've been trying to keep an eye on her to make sure she isn't getting bullied by the other hens. I also want to prevent her from getting an infection. She does seem to spend a lot of time picking at herself, but I imagine that the new feathers coming in are itchy. It looks like the bloody spots she used to have are healing up just fine, so I'm not worried.

It's amazing how small a chicken looks when all its tail feathers fall out. Checkers currently looks tiny compared to the other hens, even though she's normally in the middle of the pack in terms of size.

December 12, 2011

What's In My Compost Bin

I'm really proud that I keep adding to my compost bins all winter long. I realize that my bins are probably frozen solid and not doing much (I've never been able to achieve a hot compost pile), but at least I'll have all kinds of tasty layers built up over the winter. Oh, the potential!

Snow (lame), banana peel, lime peel, healthy sprinkling of chicken poop

More chicken poop (and feathers) in the foreground, grapefruit peels, carrot and grapefruit pulp from my new juicer.

Carrot shavings from last nights stir-fray, lime peel, banana peel, and yet more chicken "sprinkles"

December 5, 2011

Mangy Chicken

My USB memory card reader finally arrived in the mail, so I can now share some photos of my mangy molting hen. As you can see, her feathers were very sparse.

And the back of her head and neck was completely denuded (see below). I don't have any photos of her rump, but her rear-end and tail were also completely naked.

Amazingly enough, between the time I took these photos, discovered that my camera cord was broken, and ordered and received my new USB card reader, most of the feathers on her head and neck are already coming back in. Her rump is still naked though!

Her mood during the molt has changed pretty dramatically too. She's very spastic and runs around "like a chicken with their head cut off" to put it bluntly. I realize this is probably pretty stressful for her, so hopefully she'll be back to her old self one all her new shiny feathers grow in.

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