Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chickens, it's all about the chickens...

no golden eggs today
Originally uploaded by frankieleon
I really wish that keeping chickens in Montreal were legal, but then I think about Montrealers' animal rights' record, I think it might be a good thing that we are not allowed to keep the pretty ladies in this fine, yet crazy city. Perhaps someday, we will have more sense, and will be allowed to keep a few hens.

In the mean time, to those of you who live in more advanced cities, I say 'Lucky you! I'm so jealous!' If you have yet to get your chicks, I will add 'What are you waiting for?!?!' And to those of you who are seriously considering keeping a few chickens -urban or not- here is a very useful link on chicken husbandry. I must admit that I did not find the BackYard Chickens all on my own, it was linked to on another useful blog written by Jenna Woginrich. You may have noticed that Coldantler Farm is a blog I frequently read. Jenna's adventure in the rural life are entertaining and heartwarming, but most of all she offers a realistic glimpse into the whole process of building up a farm. You will also find useful tidbits on a chicken's life(style).

By the way, I don't know if any of you noticed the release of the 2009 edition of the Red List? This is the list put out by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. It made blip on the news last week: the numbers are not promising. Over one in five mammals, more than a quarter of known reptiles, and at least 70% of plants are on the endangered list.

It all seems overwhelming when written black on white, and you may feel that there isn't much you can do to save a South American tree frog, but all is not hopeless. Some of the endangered plants and animals on the list are from the agricultural domain: breeds of chickens, pigs and cows unsuited to factory farms; varieties of tomatoes, squashes and lettuces too fragile for shipping around the world. While saving Bengal tigers will require international efforts to halt the illegal poaching and trading of these majestic animals, saving farm animals and vegetables from extinction can be as simple as patronising a farmers' market and supporting small farmers.

Did you know that there over 500 varieties of potatoes grown in the Andes? Each variety is adapted to different soil, atmospheric and climate conditions. Many are unique to Peru, and even more stand to disappear if the climate warms up any more. Perhaps we cannot save all the potatoes in Peru, but we can make the effort of buying outside the big box. Of the thousands of varieties of named tomatoes in the world, less than 5 are regularly found on the shelves of North American supermarkets. So please, next summer, try some locally Black Krim tomatoes, or plant a few heads of Blonde Maraîchère in a window box. And if you do decide to keep chickens in your backyard, I hear that Chantecler -an old Québécoise, saved from the brink of extinction- is a very friendly creature.

Diversity, bio-diversity, is the key to our survival.

(p.s. That pretty chicken was not photographed by me. Click on it to find out more)

2 comments:

  1. This isn't about this post, but I saw a comment of yours on coldantlerfarm and wanted to ask you about it. You mentioned, I think, feeding your cats on sustainable meat, and I was curious about that. I really like cats, and I want to adopt a few when I get out of college, but I really don't like the idea of all the things that go into "cat food." If you're willing, could you elaborate a bit more on how you feed your cats? I searched through the tags, but nothing was immediately apparent.

    Thanks!

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  2. Hi Aydan,
    I'm sorry it's taken me so long to reply to your comment... I only recently figured out how to get email notices when someone leaves a comment on my blog. And your comment seems to have escaped my attention.

    I do -unfortunately- feed my cats regular catfood because it's what they like. However, I try to keep it to a minimum. I supplement their diet with meat or fish that I either boil or roast. It took some time for them to get used to real meat, but they now share the meat I buy for my boyfriend's dinners.
    Buying sustainably produced meat for your cat's consumption may seem like a pricey enterprise, but when you actually calculate the price of a can of catfood, meat and fish actually comes out being cheaper, most of the time.
    If you choose to go this way, you should avoid giving tuna or salmon to your cat: most white-fleshed fish have lower toxin-levels, and many are still sustainably caught or farmed. If ethical meat (beef, pork, or chicken) are too costly, try to buy hormone-free at the very least. Offal meat (liver and heart) from hormone-free animals are also very much appreciated by most cats.

    I hope that helps Aydan!

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