An open letter to Trader Joes

...t what exactly does “cage free” mean? Unfortunately the USDA does not regulate the term cage free so its definition in terms of the actual living conditions of the hens who laid the eggs is uncertain. Perhaps you could redesign your packaging to give us an actual representation of where these eggs came from to clarify a few issues for us. To save your marketing folks some time we’ve done it for you: First off we removed the chic...

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Chicks, Mayonnaise and Personal Responsibility

...ng your dollars away from the factory system which is polluting our land and poisoning our collective soul. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. 4) You may be able to keep your own laying hens, as we do. This is why we keep chickens–to enjoy eggs without guilt. You may even be able to raise meat chickens, depending on where you live. Just be aware when buying chicks from a hatchery or feed store that if you buy sexed females it is possible that...

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Looking for the Union Label

...derwear on the internets recalled a highly catchy ad jingle from the roller disco era, “Look for the Union Label” (youngsters can watch it on youtube here). We looked for the union label and we were surprised to find it via a company called Union House which carries a functional, if unexciting line of apparel. Unless hipsters take to golf shirts in an ironic fashion judo move, these offerings will never be cool like the domestically m...

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Adventures in Gardening Series: Wrap up on the Hippie Heart: Growing lentils and flax

...s, each of which holds a few flax seeds. Of course, we didn’t plant enough flax to really do anything with it. I have a few bunches of harvested flax now, and if I beat the pods, I might harvest a cup of flax. This doesn’t seem worth the effort. The dried stalks are very pretty, and I might bring some of it inside to put in vases. Also, the chickens like them a lot, so the bulk of it will probably end up chicken fodder. The harv...

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Press

...a high-resolution version of this image for print. Basic Biography: Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen grow food, keep chickens, brew, bike, bake, and plot revolution from their 1/12-acre farm in the heart of Los Angeles. They are the keepers of the popular DIY blog, Root Simple, and the authors of The Urban Homestead (2008), which the New York Times calls “…the contemporary bible on the subject” and Making It (2011) a project book for post-consu...

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Harvesting and Drying Calendula

...a previous post I talked about growing Calendula. This post I’m going to talk about harvesting and drying it. The next post I’ll do on the topic will be about making a skin-healing salve from the dried petals, olive oil and beeswax. When to harvest:  Start harvesting your Calendula as soon as the first flush of flowers is in full bloom. Don’t try to “save” the flowers. The more you harvest, the more flowers each pl...

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Lego-Robot Chickens

In response to our Monday post on clicker training chickens, Root Simple pal and fellow Master Food Preserver Diane Trunk posted a video on our Facebook page. Diane explains, Here’s a link to a silly video of our trained chickens. My son trained them to come running in response to a beep. The beep signaled that a lego-robot box (you’ll see) was going to open, and the hens would get their favorite treat: string cheese. Alas, these...

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How Long Do Chickens Live?

...and once she told us that she figured their average lifespan ended up being about 5 years. I’ve read that chickens have a theoretical lifespan of 13 years, but of course, so many die young of mishap or disease. Sue’s estimate always sounded sensible to me. Jane died at 4 years and a few months old. How long have you had your chickens? Do you cull them when they slow down their laying, or do you have some Methuselian hens pecking arou...

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Coffee Chaff Chickens

...ere: Deep litter in the chicken coop is good for chicken health, general aesthetics and good neighbor relations. Chickens need to scratch, so giving them lots of stuff to scratch is kind. It also absorbs odor and protects stray eggs from breakage. Even better, their constant scratching combines their waste with the bedding material, creating useful compost over time. We use straw in our coop and run (the outside parts) and wood shavings (animal...

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Chickens in Chicago

Another gem from City Farmer News. Somehow it’s a lot more fun to listen to someone else talking to city bureaucrats: “Video by Chad Kimball. Raising Chickens In The City – Chicago Police Say NO. “Is it legal to keep chickens in the city of Chicago? Listen to conflicting information I receive from the police, the city clerk, and the legal department.” For more info on the law in your area, City Farmer News suggests checkin...

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