Monthly Archives: July 2010

Pecking Profiles

We’ve had our flock for less than a week, and the pecking order is already quite clear. Here’s the rundown…

Scout

Scout, Top Hen

From the moment she left the cardboard box, it was clear who was in charge. Scout is always on the alert, not to protect the flock as much as to take away the other hens’ food. She pecks, and she pecks hard. You don’t want to mess with her.

Scooter

Scooter, Second in Command and Contender for Top Hen

Scooter zips around and likes to confront the other hens. If anyone will dethrone Scout, it will be Scooter. She doesn’t back down, and even pecks back at Scout to protect the other hens. Don’t turn your back on her because she will take advantage of the situation.

June Wayne

June Wayne, Small and Fast

Tough, tiny, and always a blur, June Wayne lives up to her namesake, the artist who founded the Tamarind Institute. She might be smaller and younger, but that won’t stop her.

Agnes

Sweet Agnes, Bottom Hen

Agnes is meek and mellow, the sweetest hen in the flock. And Scout makes sure Agnes knows her place is at the bottom. It’s heartbreaking.

Let’s Roost HERE

The chickens thought this was a great roosting spot, but I tend to disagree.

Roosting on the potato plants, always a good idea.

Keetah Pays Little Mind

Keetah doesn’t get all that excited about the chickens, unlike I had predicted. She doesn’t make her special bird noise, which is kind of disappointing. Sometimes when she is outside, she assumes a weird crouched posture, like she’s waiting for the perfect opportunity to attack.

But mainly she doesn’t seem to care.

Hens, schmens.

Chicken Reality

Last week I mentioned us buying plywood and other stuff for a soon-to-be-announced project. Well, Porkchop worked super-hard for the past week and a half so that we could pick up new pets over the weekend! Four of them! And not just pets, but soon-to-be contributing members of our household!

Hens!

Exploring the yard as a flock.

The two on the left are Silver Laced Wyandottes, and the other two are Barred Rocks.

Porkchop did a ton of work to finish the coop structure on Saturday. I’ll post pictures of the chicken palace once it is painted and shingled. Trust me when I say that it is a sight to behold!

Our flock came from a woman out in Warrenton, who runs what might be considered a chicken mill. There were a lot of chicks and ducks in concrete pens outside. Our ladies love all the weeds in our yard, as well as the garden beds shaded with tomato and basil plants.

After we picked them up on Saturday, they chilled out in the yard, and we had to chase them down to put them in the coop. Fortunately, their roosting instincts kicked in and they settled onto the roosting bars. On Sunday morning, they didn’t even want to leave the coop. Porkchop had to force them out so she could work on it some more.

Good morning, chickens!

Mark and Ale came over Sunday afternoon to meet the flock. We chased the hens around some, and Mark caught one! The little chicken even hung out when Mark let go of her. This gives us hope for making friends with the ladies.

Mark has secret chicken powers.

Sunday evening, Porkchop and I went to see a movie. We left rather reluctantly because we were only able to catch and put one chicken in the coop before we left. We thought the other chickens would end up roosting in the tomato plants because they had never used the ladder for the coop. And after hanging out in the garden beds, the chickens showed little interest in the coop.

The moment of truth came when we returned and slowly raised the door to the coop…

And all of them were perfectly perched on the roosting bar!

Nature! Magic! Elation!

I Want to be a Pi Driver

Yesterday evening we stopped at the new Downtown Farmers’ Market, which is run by the folks behind the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market. A lot of the vendors are the same, and it’s awesome to have two days to buy things from them.

However, while the Tower Grove market has the Big Cheese, a crepe stand, and a breakfast taco stand, the Downtown market has…the Pi truck!

One can never have enough Pi pizza.

Pizzas are cooked in the truck, so they are fresh and hot. Pi generally serves two varieties (one meat, one vegetarian), small only at $12 a pie. The pepperoni we had was deep dish, which is enough for two people to dine upon and then argue about who gets the leftovers for lunch.

If you haven’t been to the Downtown market yet, check it out!

This is the second time I had Pi pizza this week…and I don’t think I could ever tire of it.

WHAT is THIS?

Earlier this week, Porkchop and I stopped at the Schnuck’s on Clayton Road to pick up a couple of dressed fish for some visiting artists who are demonstrating a traditional Japanese style of printmaking to Porkchop’s class. Neither fish nor printmaking is the point of the post.

The point is that we entered the grocery store through a side door. A door that leads through a Kaldi’s coffee shop located inside Schnuck’s.

“WHAT is this??!!” is what I exclaimed upon being caught off guard by animal-print and fake leather sofas and laminate wood flooring.

It isn’t that I’m blown away by the coffee-shop-inside-a-grocery-store concept, it’s that I’m always aghast at the differences between the Schnuck’s on Clayton and the Schnuck’s on South Grand.

The two could not be more different. One has a fancy cooking demonstration area, one has….well, not a fancy cooking demonstration. The store on South Grand is dirty and gross and makes me feel like a criminal.

The coffee shop with sofas is just another blow.

Here’s a concept for you, Schnuck’s, give the people on South Grand a nicer store and maybe you’ll be surprised. If you treat people like dirt, you can only expect them to treat you like shit. You don’t have to install a coffee shop…just make things cleaner and not institution-like.

Dear Schnuck’s: Another reason I despise your stores.

Right Place, Right Time

On a more positive note, yesterday Porkchop and  I were at Home Depot loading some plywood and shingles into a borrowed van (for a project to be revealed soon). We noticed a professionally dressed woman striding towards us, asking if we needed help loading things.

Porkchop and I both thought: Why is Home Depot sending out a supervisor to help us load our stuff? It’s nice, but weird. Are they watching us on a video camera and think we’re screwing up?

Then we realized the woman is a friend of ours and just happened to be at the store too. She helped us load up stuff, despite her professional trappings.

It’s good to have friends, even if you don’t recognize them at first.

Pounds with Patrick

This weekend has been one of indulgence and excess, as Porkchop’s friend Patrick rolled into town Thursday evening. Ever the gracious guest, he bore sweet Wisconsin gifts of New Glarus Spotted Cow, an outstanding assortment of Gail Ambrosius truffles, three sensational cheeses from Fromagination, scones from Lazy Jane’s, and squash and cucumbers from his garden.

We primed the visit with dinner at Pappy’s Smokehouse. Porkchop and I stuck with pulled pork sandwiches, but Patrick’s order of ribs convinced me to go that route next time. The ribs don’t need any sauce at all; they are spiced and smoked to perfection and have that mythical “falling off the bone” tenderness. Yum.

Ribs at Pappy's!

The rest of the evening was spent at the Cardinals-Dodgers game with faculty and staff from my center. It was hot as heck, but we caught some nice breezes as the Cardinals clinched a victory.

Friday morning started with me emailing in a notice that I was taking the day off. Why I didn’t do that earlier, I have no idea! After doing some work for our neighborhood art fair coming up, we packed the rest of the day with FUN FUN FUN.

The first stop was lunch at Stellina Pasta Cafe. This stop was an inspired impromptu decision. Stellina is awesomely delicious no matter what you order. Porkchop and I stuck with favorites again: whole wheat tagliatelle for her, and herb cheese agnolotti (or little pillows of heaven as I call them) for me. Patrick couldn’t decide between the lasagna (zucchini and goat cheese) or the South Side Smoke sandwich, so he went with both. The lasagna was perfect as ever, and the sandwich lived up to the “smoke” in its name (maybe a tad too smoky – our only complaint).

After lunch, we stopped by Suzi and Dale’s, and then headed to Schlafly Bottleworks for the free brewery tour. The tour culminated with a tasting of three beers: Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, and American IPA. The American IPA is deliciously citrusy and is quite high in alcohol content. After the three good-sized tastings and a pint of Summer Lager, I was quite gone. That’s more beer than I’ve had in the past few months combined!

Beer tasting at Schlafly's.

Porkchop and Patrick enjoy more beer at Schlafly's.

When we returned home, I had to have a second cup of tea in order to clear my head. Whew.

Patrick’s former girlfriend happens to be wrapping up a summer art job here in St. Louis, so she stopped by for a visit. After that, it was off to a friend’s birthday party which featured The Princess Bride projected on their backyard garage. Fun!

We left the movie early for a late dinner and more drinks at the Royale. After finishing up around 11:00 (usually my bedtime on Friday nights), we capped the night with a visit to the City Museum. The name doesn’t really explain what it is. As our server at the Royale stated, in most places, the City Museum would be illegal. While it has some museum aspects to it (like salvaged architectural elements, circus posters, and some insect displays), it’s primarily a giant playground built in an old shoe factory. There are tunnels (many of which only small children can fit through, which makes going with kids extra fun), a 10-story slide, an aquarium, an indoor skateless skate park, a circus school, model railroads, a huge art activity area, old pipe organs, a play area outside featuring two abandoned planes suspended high above the ground and connected by wire tunnels (scary!!), giant ball pits, a Ferris Wheel on the roof, and a school bus half suspended off the roof (which I’ll never set foot in).

Patrick in a pit in the skateless skate park.

We only stayed at the City Museum for about an hour and a half, but it was enough time for me to regret having the fish taco at the Royale, to strain my left quad, to scrape my left elbow, to get a nice little bruise on my right knee, to be terrified while climbing on things outside, and to laugh myself silly at Porkchop’s hesitance to go down a particular near-vertical slide.

After sleeping in a little bit on Saturday, we hit the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market. We loaded up on peaches, tomatoes, pasta, ground beef, and grilled cheese and then came back home where we rested for a while.

And then it was time for more food! La Vallesana was on the list for lunch, and it delivered big time. The food was terrific as always, and the watermelon agua fresca was the perfect drink for the hot weather. Afterwards we stopped at Foam for a beer (it’s hard to resist Patrick’s peer pressure). And then we hung out at home a bit more, burned some David Sedaris CDs for Patrick’s drive to Milwaukee, and then we had to say goodbye. Sadness!

Patrick had to leave Saturday evening in order to help with a family picnic on Sunday. I was sad to see him go, but I don’t know if I could have pounded any more beers with him.

Patrick is a young 25-year-old male, and I am a not-as-young 32-year-old female. It is hard to keep up with the beer and food consumption. I am now having to detox my body. Of course, I don’t think the bacon-cheese-tomato sandwich I had for lunch was on the detox menu.

I look forward to September, when we shall see Patrick in Madison! Yay!

Chicken Dreams

The past week has been busy!

To begin with, Porkchop and I celebrated “Six Days of Carrie’s Birthday,” which became kind of exhausting. It started with dinner and a movie (Toy Story 3, which I actually really enjoyed) on July 1 and progressed to a Cardinals game (which we left early because I sincerely detest baseball) and Ted Drewes on Friday.

However, things really got started last Saturday. The day began perfectly with a bike ride to the Botanical Gardens. Saturday mornings before noon, City and County residents have free admission to the gardens; I think it’s one of the best free deals in town. We poked around the Climatron and Henry Shaw’s house, where we gazed upon his mausoleum statue.

Nice digs for a dead man.

Climatron with glass Chihuly sculptures in the foreground.

Yay, Botanical Gardens!

After our visit, we stopped by the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market for grilled cheeses, tomatoes, peaches, pasta, and mocha macaroons. The Big Cheese is soooooo good! We had grilled cheese made with Companion bread, local mozzarella, fig tapenade (figs from Ivan the Fig Farmer), and some sort of meat from Salume Beddu. Two thumbs up.

I could eat these grilled cheeses every day.

It seems like it would be hard to top the morning, but we succeeded by buying a new bike! Yes, I could not not buy a new bike this summer. It’s a Trek 7.3 and is shiny blue.

Me and my new bike (as yet nameless).

We bought it at a shop where it is apparently customary to haggle over the price. This came as a surprise to me, but I aced it by unintentionally lying about a price I thought I had seen elsewhere. This move made the sales guy reveal the shop’s lowest price, which pissed off the owner to no end. But, you know, if you make haggling a standard practice at your shop, then it’s your own fault for letting a bike go at a price lower than what you expected. Also, if I hadn’t accidentally lied, we probably would have paid full price and felt angry.

The Saturday fun continued into the evening, with going to the Arch for fireworks. We returned to the Arch grounds on Day Four of my birthday to watch the air show with Suzi and Dale. Unfortunately, I became overheated and survived only because Suzi bought me cold waters and visited the EMS tent for chemical ice packs. I slept the rest of Sunday and was dehydrated and groggy for the rest of the day. But the Harrier jet was neat.

I don't remember much from the air show, but I remember this jet hovering over the Mississippi.

Birthday celebrations continued on Monday with lunch with Suzi and Dale at Pi in Kirkwood. Porkchop and I wrapped up a lunch of Margherita pizza with a tiramisu milkshake. YUM! After that, we went to a couple of shops, and Suzi and Dale purchased a few presents for me: the green and white jersey I’m wearing in the picture with my bike, a bike tool (technical name – I don’t know? it does 18 things, though), and special air canister thingies for emergency tire airings while out riding.

Tuesday – the last day of my birthday celebration – was a bit of a letdown because Porkchop and I had to work. However, Porkchop surprised me with cupcakes from the Cupcakery.

Finally, my birthday proper. Yay, 32!

Porkshop also gave me terrific presents throughout my celebration: chocolate bars (Askinosie, Patric, and caramel Five Star bars from Lake Champlain chocolates), a gift certificate to Kaldi’s, and a gift certificate to Knitty Couture. Also, part of my bike!

Non-Birthday Things

We’ve hit some rough spots in gardening. Squash vine borers destroyed all of the kabocha squash plants in the community garden. Devastation!! Tomatoes are also slow to ripen. Oh well, maybe we’ll have tomatoes in August. Here’s what’s going in the community garden:

Roasting peppers growing.

Okra flower - pretty!

Lemon cucumber.

After working in the garden a bit, Porkchop and I left for a chicken coop tour! We rode our bikes to Tower Grove park, and then proceeded to see eight coops in the Tower Grove, Fox Park, Gravois Park, Benton Park, Marine Villa, and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods. In all, we rode about 12 miles and saw some great coops and chickens. Here are some of our favorites:

Porkchop's favorite chick.

More pretties! These live in our neighborhood.

The most exciting outcome of the tour is that we might get chicks this week! A guy on the tour ordered 25 from a place in Iowa and was looking to unload about 20 of them. So, we’ll see if the deal goes through. I hope it does, but it also feels kind of sudden!

Lastly, we had a super awesome dinner tonight of marinated steak and roasted potatoes. And I made olive bread, which is my very favorite:

Olive bread goodness!

Have a great week!

Two Words for Two Months

For the next two months, the only words on my mind will be Ojo Caliente.

A trip! Can’t wait!