January 30, 2006

This weekend, in a fit of impulsiveness, we attended the Pacific Poultry Breeder’s Association show in Stockton. Imagine something like 3,000 chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys, each one in their own cage, lined up on long rows of tables in buildings the size of warehouses, and you get the idea. Pretty much every breed of chicken ever developed sits on display to be seen and judged. Some chickens look as large as turkeys, others more like apples with legs. All of them seem colorful, and the variety of feathers, combs, colors and styles is truly astounding. A gentleman to whom we sold one of our turkeys had invited us to come, and we saw what used to be our young tom on display. I have mixed feelings about these shows. On one hand, the work of poultry hobbyists is why many of these breeds still exist–the enthusiasts have kept them going through the years when no one else had interest in them. They promote involvement by young and old, giving everyone a chance to participate in the world of livestock without needing to spend thousands of dollars. And they are interesting and educational. However, I also worry about the potential to spread diseases infectious to birds, since so many types of poultry are all placed together in proximity to each other. I also don’t like the idea of birds spending their lives indoors in cages, as some of these show poultry do. I met many people I knew, and had a good time in the hours we stayed.

Attending the show left us further behind on the “to do” list than ever. Sunday, we met with the farmer who will convert our land, and gained a clearer picture of how the irrigation supply for the property will change. He will remove several old, diseased almond trees and stumps that currently occupy needed space. After all, more fruit trees are a good thing! We finally figured out the schizophrenic edges of our property line. Fortunately I had one wind-free day on Sunday, so I applied Roundup to the masses of sprouting noxious weeds. It’s a delicate job, to try to get as many weeds as possible while preserving all the sprouting desirable flowers in among them. I also applied more copper spray to the stone fruit trees, we  to cut down on some mystery problems that appear to be non-insect related. Ken has begun the installation of the woodstove for our shop, with the generous help of one of our friends in Zamora. The shop is an utter disaster right now. We have to tidy up out there. Too many items of equipment are not working at the moment, and need repair. One or two unfinished projects occupy too much floor space. Junk needs to go…. my contribution to this effort consists of finally painting our dinosaur, which will be moved to the yard. This is the biggest one, a four foot high velociraptor wooden-puzzle. It’s done in five bright colors, and as soon as I put on a good clear coat, I plan to mount it near the road as the latest piece of yard art. Well, the work list is expansive, but this is the fun time of year, when everything starts out. Oh, and the almonds have begun blooming. We saw the first blossom on the 29th, that’s a full week earlier than last year. Winter hasn’t been very cold here, and many plants never fully went into dormancy.

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