Sunday, March 14, 2010

Armchair Chicken Farming

It's been some time since the UrbanFarmJunkie reviewed a book, but I just finished Bob Sheasley's delightful HOME TO ROOST: CHASING CHICKENS THROUGH THE AGES and had to share. Sheasley works as a journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, but at home he raises chickens--lots of them. The book is hard to classify: part history of chicken domestication, part recap of funny historical beliefs about chickens, part personal anecdotes, and part philosophical exploration. The author's sense of humor keeps the book lively, even when he takes on such subjects as cockfighting or industrial chicken farming, and the bits about chicken sexuality are highly entertaining. (Of course, I may have a soft spot for chicken sexuality because my children's favorite birds-and-the-bees book features paper cut-outs of all kinds of animals going at it, and the chickens are my hands-down favorite. To think--someone had to cut out little humping chickens. Amazing.) If chickens bore you, don't despair: ducks and peacocks make the occasional cameo in Sheasley's book as well. Highly recommended.

If, on the other hand, the only thing that gets you up in the morning is vegetables, Marion Nestle recently blogged on how to retain the most nutrients in the vegetables we eat.  In short, eat both raw and cooked vegetables. Some fresh vegetables benefit nutritionally from cooking, but frozen vegetables suffer. (But yuck--who wants to eat an uncooked frozen vegetable?)

And finally, if you've been putting all your eggs in the omega-3-fatty-acids basket, Forbes notes that all omega-3 sources are not equal. Fish sources beat plant sources, in terms of how effectively our bodies process them. Have pity on the world's overfished critters, however, and get your recommended two-servings-a-week from the BFM's own sustainably-caught Loki Fish, available in the off-season at some Seattle markets and online.

All for now. Less than two months until Opening Day!


  1. How timely, Christina! The idea of fowl sex makes me a bit squeamish, but as humping is not necessary to get the "incredible, edible egg", I am considering attending Seattle Tilth's presentation on "Backyard Poultrykeeping" at KCLS:

    A Brief Overview of Backyard Poultrykeeping

    For people who are weighing the idea of keeping poultry in the backyard, this free presentation will give a general overview of some things to consider. Paul Farley, who teaches a more in-depth series on the topic for Seattle Tilth, provides a quick snapshot of backyard poultrykeeping to help people decide whether they might want to keep chickens.

    Vashon Library, Sunday, March 21, 1:30pm
    Foster Library, Saturday, April 17, 1pm
    Shoreline Library, April 29, 7pm
    Kingsgate Library, Sunday, May 2, 2pm
    Covington, Thursday, May 6, 7pm
    Mercer Island Library, Saturday, May 15, 2pm
    Auburn Library, Tuesday, May 18, 7pm
    Redmond Library, Thursday, May 20, 7pm
    Issaquah Library, Saturday, May 22, 1pm
    Bellevue Library, Tuesday, May 25, 7p

  2. Omega 3 lovers should take a look at a new website for local Salmon at
    An easy way to put salmon on the table at a reasonable price.

  3. @Yamamonkeys (and I know who you are)--thanks for the info. I'm thinking hard about backyard chickens too. Maybe we can go together!

  4. If you like this one, you'll love "Plan Bee", all about honey, honey bees, and the people who love them.

  5. Thanks, Marji. I experimented with Mason Bees one year. I've put the book on hold at the library!


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