Sunday, October 31, 2010

We have eggs!

Lucy, the Barred Rock, laid her first egg on Monday morning at about 10:30am!  It was perfectly formed and weighed 1.5 ounces - putting it into the "small" category.  Lucy announced her egg-laying success in a "loud and proud" fashion!

She has since laid 4 more eggs.  Wednesday and Saturday were her days off.  Here latest eggs weighed 1.75 ounces (or ~49 grams).  I believe that the pullets are 24 weeks old, but there's a little uncertainty since I bought them at the local feed store.

This is the story that leads up to the egg:

Several weeks ago, I filled up the nest box with some wood shavings and placed three golf balls on top.  The idea is to give the pullets time to peck the golf balls (pseudo eggs) and get bored of that.  Then, hopefully, they won't ever become egg eaters.  Also the golf balls denote the "egg-laying spot" for future use. 

Well, last week, I noticed that someone (I mean some chicken :) was rolling the golf balls out of the nesting box and into the coop each day.  I didn't want anybody to start laying under the roosts in the coop, so, I decided to move the golf balls back into the nesting box.  On Sunday night, I forgot to do this.  But on Monday morning when I checked the nest box, Lucy had rolled the golf balls into their proper spot, like a champ.  Then, she proceeded to add her own version of a golf ball!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The "sophistication" of chickens is questioned in Carmel

Most people at the recent Carmel City Council meeting were in favor of changing the current ordinance and allowing a few hens within city limits.  However, resident James Jungroth is still adamantly against chickens and predicts that "in just a few years, an unruly flock led by an abandoned fighting cock will disrupt the city, flummox animal control, spark fights between neighbors, make Carmel a laughingstock and generate a costly lawsuit after an aggressive rooster mauls a child."  Wow...doomsday, anybody?  Nevermind the fact that at least 3-4 people are attacked by a dog on Carmel Beach every year.  Forget about that...dogs are good.  Chickens are bad.

Wake up, Lucy.  You are scary!

Others questioned the "sophistication" of chickens, such as Monta Potter, who said, "I would hope that we are not made fun of.  I think it's important that we continue to promote ourselves as a sophisticated city."  Worry, much?

Marlene Martin, proud chicken owner, who lives outside the city limits says that her chickens are much less trouble that either dogs or cats.  She said, "I'm not sure if I'm sophisticated, or not, but I love chickens.  It actually hurts me to think someone would think they're not sophisticated.  We have sexist, racist, ageist - this is animalist."

The council agreed that a new law should be drafted to allow chickens.  The planning commission will first consider the ordinance and then forward it to the council with recommendations.

I can just hear that crazy, child-mauling rooster pecking at the door.

You can download the full story from the Carmel Pinecone, here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Central Coast Tomato Taste Tests 2010 - Black Zebra

The next tomato up on the chopping block is Black Zebra.

Seed Catalog Description:
A natural and stabilized cross between Green Zebra and a black tomato by Jeff Dawson. This is one of the STARS of my whole tomato showcase. A proven success with markets and friends. Our TomatoFest organic tomato seeds produce vigorous, indeterminate, regular-leaf tomato plants that produce 4 oz., 1 1/2", juicy, round tomatoes with purple/mahogany-colored skin with green stripes (like brush strokes) with exceptionally rich, complex, really delightful tomato flavors that contain hints of smoke and sweetness. Its flavor also carries the rich complexity associated with the best of black tomatoes. This this is one of our favorites for looks and taste. A winner! Once tried, you will keep this black tomato a place in your garden.

Production and Earliness: 
Black Zebra hasn't produced many fruit so far...only a couple of handfuls in the last few weeks.  I imagine that it will only produce a few more fruits this year, judging by the amount that has set on the plant.  Not an early variety...mid- to late-season.
Fruit Size, Color, and Shape:
The fruit size is quite small: from 0.5 to 1.5 ounces.  I have a hunch that these tomatoes would be bigger if they had been grown in a hot summer climate.  The color is beautiful!  The picture above doesn't do them justice.  They are striped a deep red and dark green.  The shape is round with some top- and bottom-flattening.

Plant Growth Habit:
The Black Zebra plant has grown to a medium height.  Unfortunately, it's not very vigorous and has been strongly affected by some type of disease.  I only grew one plant this year, so it's possible that a larger sample size might have produced some healthy plants.

Good texture.  The skin was a little bit thicker than I like.

Delicious!  I tasted Black Zebra, Green Zebra and Paul Robeson together and Black Zebra won for me.  It has a complex punch of flavors.  The citrus flavor of one of parents (Green Zebra) comes through and there's also a nice "black" flavor.  Sweetness is also there to balance the acidity.   Really rich flavor when a bit of salt is added.

Cooking and Serving option:
Perfect for slicing into salads or eating right off the vine! 

Is it a winner?
If I had a garden that was big enough I would definitely grow this plant every year simply because of the outstanding flavor it has.  As it stands, I plan to try it again next year and see if it grows stronger and produces more fruit.  (Oh please let it be so!)