Godless in the garden

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Godless in the garden

Welcome to gardeners, growers of veggies, fruits, flowers, and trees!  

 

Welcome  backyard hen enthusiasts, worm farmers, beekeepers & composters!

Location: Planet Earth
Members: 165
Latest Activity: 11 hours ago

Welcome to Eden!

If you like to dig in the dirt, plant & prune, grow food & flowers, or sit and watch as someone else does your landscaping, you'll find something here to discuss!

Selected topics, in no particular order:
Moon Phase Widget here. Moon phase topic here.
What's your gardening style?
Frugal gardening.
Backyard Chickens here. here. here. here.
Growing Fruits
Wild Parsnip - It can burn skin.
Why buy locally-grown plants?
Squirrels.
bees.
Cheap gardening.
Buy locally grown plants to prevent blight transmission here.
Grow lots of fruits in a small space, by backyard orchard culture.

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Comment by A Former Member on May 9, 2012 at 10:13pm

When you say they're egg laying breeds, do you mean people don't eat them, but the reds are mixed-use, so people do eat them?

Comment by A Former Member on May 9, 2012 at 10:11pm

SB, can I come live with you?

I always heard not to put egg shells in compost. How many hens do you have? No cocks allowed? Hmmm...I'm not sure about liking that.....

 

Joan, the ending to Animals in Translation? Or that bit about the roosters? Either way I don't remember. It's been too many years.

Comment by Sentient Biped on May 9, 2012 at 9:35pm

Unintended diversity-

Young fig tree with violas.  I've never planted violas in the yard, but they, and violets, come up all over.  Where they grow, weeds don't.  The fig was only partially intended - it was a cutting that was mailed to me and I thought died, so I used it as a garden marker.  It grew, so here we are. 

 


More unplanned diversity. Here, in about 3 square feet, are irises (planted), multiplier onion (how did that get there?), wild geranium (no idea where that came from), blue fescue (planted a few years ago) scilla (hated weed, but uneradicable), miniature bamboo (planted and continue pulling out).


Planned diversity - The purpose of the barrel is tomatoes.  The mesclun was planted a month ago and will be pulled and eaten in a few days.  The cuttings are mulberries - I don't know yet if they will grow.  The radishes will be pulled and eaten in a few days.  Then it will be the tomatoes and mulberries.  I'll add some alyssum seeds to encourage beneficial insects then.

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 9, 2012 at 9:08pm

Fascinating! "Pathological rooster behavior" and breeding practices ... I have not been really tempted to be vegetarian until this read. Sentient, your hens look contented and it sounds as though you are too. Dallas, I don't suppose you would give away the ending. 

Comment by Sentient Biped on May 9, 2012 at 6:48pm

Dallas, my hens are egg laying breeds.  Except those rhode island reds are mixed purpose.  I've learned my lesson.  The Leghorns are quite happy now, walking around clucking and cooing.  They share their dandelion treats and take turns in the egg nest.  They are part of the cycle of life of my yard - they get fed lots and lots of organic greens (also known as weeds) and in return supply us with richly flavored eggs with dark orange yolks, and lots of chicken poop for compost.  The shells get dried and crushed and either go into the compost, or get used for plants that require extra calcium, like the tomatoes and figs.  Roosters are not allowed in my city, so it's just the ladies. 

Comment by A Former Member on May 8, 2012 at 11:31pm

Also, a chapter of Temple Grandin's book Animals in Translation, has a section call Rapist Roosters which you may want to read. This review gives a synopsis, but disagrees with the conclusions:

In the section called “Rapist Roosters,” Grandin describes the abnormal violence that has begun to appear in roosters used for breeding “meat-type” offspring (the 6-week old baby birds consumers know as “chicken”). These so-called broiler breeder roosters often destroy the hens they’re locked up with in the breeder houses. Noting that “If roosters killed hens in nature, there wouldn’t be any chickens,” Grandin cites a poultry researcher’s claim that these types of roosters attack the hens because an unexpected consequence of breeding them for abnormally fast growth and overgrown muscles for human consumption is that they don’t do the courtship dance that tells the hen to crouch into a sexually receptive position. When the hen tries to escape, the rooster attacks her with his spurs or toes and slashes her to death (p. 70). Grandin lulls the lay reader, who may not get her little joke about companies “solving” the problem by “culling” the worst offenders from the flock, into thinking it’s been fixed. “I saw some of these chickens just a few months ago,” she says, “and they all behaved just as nicely as can be” (p. 77).

This pathological rooster behavior shows what happens when you breed obsessively for a single trait at the expense of overall wellbeing. You get what Grandin calls “warped evolution,” and humans adjust to “the bad becoming normal” (p. 72) – a good way to describe the entire factory farm system and  “evolved” depravity (not just some tweakable details of it) that Grandin defends.

Her explanation of why “broiler breeder” roosters attack hens isn’t satisfactory anyway, as we have these very kinds of chickens here at our sanctuary, and I can tell you that the hens crouch during the spring and summer mating season if you so much as lay your hand gently on the backs, or they will walk or run a little, then stop and crouch abruptly as you come up behind them, at which point I say to them, “At ease.”

“Broiler” roosters (and hens) suffer from genetic fragility and unfitness. They’re prone to painful lameness, obesity, heart failure, respiratory weakness and infection, heat stress, and juvenile death. Part of what’s wrong with them is that they have been artificially bred to become sexually mature at around three months old instead of the normal six months, so that, halfway out of their infancy, if they are being used for breeding, they have adult sex hormones driving them without the neurobiological maturity of an adult bird.

Comment by A Former Member on May 8, 2012 at 11:30pm

Chickens can be brutal. They have a very heirarchical society.

 

A fascinating read: The Killers, by Daniel P. Mannix.

 

Here's a decent review of it from Goodreads. You should read it. May be a hard find, but my library had a copy, or you can probably get one cheap online.

This one caught my eye because it was written by the author of the Fox and the Hound (which I admit I have never read, but it was a favorite movie of mine when I was little).  While it is technically a work of fiction, this is really more a natural history of the domestic rooster and the Cooper's hawk. It follows the life of a fighting cock and a female hawk over the course of a few years, where their lives intersect on a few occasions.  Anthropomorphizing is kept to a bare minimum. Mannix really is just giving names to two completely natural birds with realistic animal personalities.  This can make it somewhat dry for long stretches, I'm almost tempted to classify it as non-fiction. It was kind of fun recognizing the specific studies he refers to when he describes a moment (such as the rooster not recognizing the hawk inside the coop because it was not the short-necked, long-tailed, forward-moving silhouette birds naturally react to) -- he has done his research on top of clearly having a personal understanding of the animals involved.  I learned a lot of interesting tidbits about the training of fighting cocks which I'd never encountered before.  I also have to give him credit for detailing every single move in every single fight throughout the book -- I think he has outdone any swashbuckling adventure author I've read.   

 

 

And one from Kirkus Reviews:

 

Again Mannix shifts back and forth between natural enemies, dramatizing but not fictionalizing their life experiences in thoroughly entertaining information writing. Whitehackles is a rooster, Ishmael a female Cooper hawk turned chicken thief. Mannix can keep you perched on the crowing edge of suspense in chapters where the ex-game cock, bred and trained to kill but now a Pennsylvania barnyard king, protects his flock from the instinctual, hunger-driven onslaughts of the bird of prey. And, by following each bird from the time it emerged from its shell through the days of their epic encounters, Mannix can set you clucking over the fates of both.

Comment by Sentient Biped on May 8, 2012 at 11:14pm

A hen.  She was a good egg layer but she murdered at least 3 other chickens.  Maybe 4.  It first I thought there was a racoon, but then I caught her in the act of killing an Australorp.

Comment by A Former Member on May 8, 2012 at 11:08pm

Was the red a cock or a hen?

Comment by Sentient Biped on May 8, 2012 at 11:04pm

Dallas, could be!  Leghorn hens are quite placid, clucking and cooing almost like pigeons.  Rhode Island Reds - those can be mean and aggressive.  I had one who was a serial murderer.  But I like the Leghorns. For what it's worth, they are an Tuscan breed, from Livorno Italy.  That I know that shows my endless hunger for useless information.

 

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