Moving to WordPress

I'm moving to a WordPress blog. Continue to follow my blog here:

I will probably leave this site up for a while until I've decided what to do with the content.


Having a Royal Time

Delight in the simple joys of pumpkin carving:
  • Pick out an ugly pumpkin for a little natural inspiration.

  • Fear an errant knife gash into hand meat when your oversized blade slips erratically.

  • Scoop out fistfuls of goopy guts.

  • Carve a silly grin on that smug squash.

Truly, their gaze, it pierces straight to the soul.

Our crude pagan idols were successful at repelling nearly all neighborhood children. The audacious few who made it to the front door were rewarded with off-brand Dollar Tree candies.

Later, Eliz and I were invited by one of her classmates to a traditional Halloween costume party. We intentionally arrived late, of course, but somehow found ourselves at the party before our host. The first few minutes--when half the guests thought we were two strangers crashing the party--were priceless. A sixer of PBR tall boys smoothed things out, and soon enough we were mingling with what turned out to be a great group of people.

I met a very thoughtful budding eco-terrorist dressed as The Mahatma. I think we're going to get beers sometime this week.

Meet my girls

While I'd like to think of myself as The Professor, lately I've felt like a mix between Gilligan and The Skipper. Marooned in Portland, The Professor would have an answer for any problem that might arise. Overwhelmed by inclement weather? Drowning in a sea of hipsters, but unable to make a friend? Restless from working at home? Suffering from micro brew fatigue? Were I The Professor, I could make a friend, settle on a beer, and beat the weather with nothing more than a few coconuts and a little brow sweat.

Lately, however, I tend to bungle the new things I try or I do little and fall back on my old, reliable ways. I either try to meet people only to have things not work out, or I stay home and nerd out by reading or spending time on the computer. I'm doing things and gaining experiences, but I don't feel any closer to achieving my goals.

The comforting truth is that Gilligan's Island would have been a terrible show if The Professor's first plan rescued the castaways. I don't need to have a brilliant rescue plan for any of my problems. What's important is that I earnestly try new things and enjoy all the inevitable hi-jinks.

Since I'll be marooned here in Portland for a while, permanently I hope, I think it's time that I give my ladies a proper introduction.

Ginger, a.k.a. Big Red

Ginger is a Rhode Island Red. She is highest on the pecking order and tends to dominate the other birds by stealing their worms, taking the best spot on the roost, and dry humping them into submission.


Mrs. Thurston Howell III is a Plymouth Barred Rock hen. She is fairly docile and tends to be the easiest bird to catch.

Mary Ann

Mary Ann is also a Plymouth Barred Rock. She is by far the sassiest chicken in our flock. She is always the last in the coop, and she wiggles so much I haven't yet been able to clip her wings.

I feel like chicken tonight

One advantage of living in Portland is that the city allows residents to keep three chickens. I've decided to take full advantage of the northwestern hospitality. It also helps that our CSA farm, Artisan Organics, is selling laying hens right now. Usually chickens remind me of poop, chores, and the creepy farmers from Napoleon Dynamite, but I think that they'll provide me with a nice structure to my day, incentive to wake up at dawn, and of course, eggs.

Before getting the chickens, I needed to construct a coop. Starting out, I had a very limited understanding of what chickens require. I educated myself by getting a book on chickens and coop design at Livingscape, a nursery near my house. Yes, a book. While the internet has many, blogs, posts, and videos related to urban chicken farming, I wasn't able to find anything coherent and complete. I also wanted to look at designs for backyard chicken tractors, and I couldn't find any complete plans for free online. For now, my chicken Bible is Chicken Coops: 45 Building Plans for Housing Your Flock. It contains both coop plans and instructions for caring for chickens. While the plans were very helpful, I thought it would be more fun to make my own design.

I built the coop using as much reclaimed wood as possible. The Rebuilding Center in Mississippi sells reclaimed lumber and pretty much everything else you'd need to build a house. It's pretty awesome not just because it saves the planet, the entire planet, but also because the lumber is cheap. Really cheap. I wasn't able to scrounge up any reusable chicken wire or plastic roofing material, so I had to pick them up at Lowe's.

Here's some of the features of the coop:
  • The bottom of the coop is open to the grass so that the chickens can find worms.

  • The roof is detachable, allowing for easy poop scooping.

  • The nest box, floor, and roost in the upper area are all removable for easy cleaning.

  • There is a window on one side of the coop and an egg fetching hatch on the other.

  • A pulley and rope are attached to the chicken ladder, making it easy to pull up the ladder at night.

The chickens seem to like it!

The Beer Bjorn visits Noe Valley

Eliz and I took the Beer Bjorn for a stroll in Noe Valley. The farmer's market was a great place to watch the baby parade. How long do you think some of these parents spend readying themselves and their kiddos before taking a walk? Before checking out the farmer's market, we had lunch with Hugh, Jess, and her husband Jason at Joe's 24th Street Cafe.

See more pics here.