Since this blog began in September 2011 the focus has shifted several times. We started as an urban garden blog and moved into advocating for a healthy locavore lifestyle. Next it was biking, beer and enthusiasm for Atlanta. Since May it's been all about backyard chickens. At this point I think it's in my best interest to ditch all labels and just say: this is my blog and I'll write about whatever I want! So that's my plan for And Topher Too in 2015 - blog about anything/everything without worrying how it fits into the blogosphere.
After weeks of trying to find Starbuck and Sparrow new homes through Craigslist and Facebook I gave up and looked for other options. More than one person suggested eating them; I considered it but decided it wasn't what I wanted to do. Then a friend mentioned a poultry auction in Barnesville, Georgia (90 minutes south of our home). It was the only option left. The boys had to go. So Friday at noon we packed the two Splash Silkie Roosters into a make shift cage and headed to the country. We arrived a little before 2pm and joined the line of pick-up trucks waiting to register barnyard animals for that evening's auction. At some point a goat escaped; this sent half a dozen people in denim and camouflage running around a field in half hearted attempts to catch it. A teenager in muck boots, with a noticeable ring of dip in his back pocket, finally got close enough to pin the goat to the ground with his knee. I was impressed. After our chickens were checked in and dropped off we headed into Barnesville for lunch. There were two pizza places, two BBQ places and a Chinese Buffet to chose from. After eating we wandered around the three antique shops/flea markets. At dusk we headed back to the auction. All the poultry had been lined up in rows. The make-shift cages were as interesting as their contents. I found Starbuck and Sparrow between a peacock and turkey. I couldn't help but wonder how they were feeling about all this. The auction started with what they call "farm miscellaneous" but could more accurately described as "garage sale crap". Tiki torches, old buckets of house paint, a cat bed, a bag of nails. The auctioneer was genuinely entertaining but as far as I could tell everything eventually sold for "one dollar bill". The poultry bidding was still two hours away. I decided if I didn't know who took Starbuck and Sparrow then I could go on pretending they ended up on a big beautiful farm somewhere out in the country. With that in mind we left the auction and headed home to Atlanta. Maybe we'll be back in a month or two to pick out a few more hens. Flock update: • 2 Gold Laced Wyandotte hens • 2 Ameraucana hens • 1 Black Silkie Rooster - we're going to try and keep him quiet (so we can keep him) but if it doesn't work he'll need to find a new home too.
A summary of our first six months raising urban backyard chickens in Grant Park, Atlanta: • May 29th - bring home 7 chicks. 4 Ameraucanas, 3 Silkies. We hand raise them in a brooder in our dining room. The "chick cam" is born. • June 7th - the chicks pose on the front porch in my favorite vintage milk glass pieces for their official baby pics. • July 11th - the chicks move outside into the coop. • August 23rd - Mary Anne mysteriously dies. We suspect she either ate glass (there is a lot of it buried in the yard) or suffered heat stroke. • Late August - Blackbeard crows: surprise Roo#1. • September 7th - bring home three 5 month old Gold Lace Wyandottes to replace the unexpected rooster and unexpected death. The "new girls" quickly dominate the existing flock. • September 13th - Starbuck crows: surprise Roo#2. • September 24th - Professor dies after battling a parasite for several days. She was the friendliest and my clear favorite; this loss is hard. • October 12th - We find our first eggs in the coop. It seems the Wyandottes are laying but the Ameraucanas are not (those eggs should be mint colored). • October 17th - "New Girl" Wyandotte is eaten by the neighbor's dog. • November 9th - Sparrow crows: surprise Roo#3. This means all of the Silkies are roosters. This news coincides with a neighbor finally complaining. Verdict: my adorable "Muppets" must go... but where? Help, please (seriously - help)!
Halloween weekend was the kind of weekend that highlights how wonderful life is in in-town Atlanta. The more I hear people comment on how "safe" they feel in the suburbs the more I realize they have no idea what they're missing out on. Friday night, after handing out candy to over 100 trick-or-treaters in Grant Park, we headed to a friend's costume party in Reynoldstown (costumes, with hints, below). Bluegrass band and BBQ from DBA? Perhaps I can overlook the sudden freezing temperature!
At noon the next day we hopped on our bikes and braved the frigid headwinds to join friends tailgating the Georgia Tech Homecoming game. After a couple of hours we jumped on the Beltline and cruised over to Cabbagetown for Chomp and Stomp. There we hung out with my brother and a few former co-workers. The transition from engineer friends to artist friends was barely noticeable as both events were so full of lively, happy people (and beer). Next weekend is MothBall - after that I'm hanging up all my costumes until 2015!!
If you're not following And Topher Too on Pinterest and Twitter then you're missing most of the new content! Twitter has up to the minute updates from the Coop Cam* (with photos) and Pinterest has links to both helpful relative articles and images from our daily life on this teeny tiny urban hobby farm.
*After clicking the link to the cam, then click "flash" or "browser".
The backyard chicken cam is back up and better then ever! The camera has been moved from the coop to the run so now you'll be eye to eye with the girls. To watch go to http://chickcam.andtophertoo.me/ and then click Browser.