Monthly Archives: January 2010

Adventures of the Struggling Writer — Day 8

Before I begin discussion on various breeds of chickens suitable for backyard raising, allow me to present Mr. Neil Patrick Harris, doing what he does best—singing, dancing, and looking all kinds of hawt!

You know that saying, “I would go gay for you?”  Well, I guess it works in this case for NPH as well.  Except in my case, I need an additional caveat, e.g. “I would become a man and go gay for you!”

I digress.  Let me return to the focus of this post, Tina Fey & NPH—I mean, chickens.  Now that I’ve done sufficient research into the type of chicken coop the hubby and I will build (it’s going to be the Rolls Royce of chicken coops, I tell you . . . ok, maybe more like a Toyota), I now need to dive headfirst into the world of chicken breeds.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I was mighty ignorant before engaging in this research.  I didn’t realize there were multiple breeds of chicken.  In retrospect, of course, that makes perfect sense.  Indeed, I believe that many people shared my belief—there is but one breed of chicken that lays eggs, and it is the chicken that is on the cover of the Foster Farms bag.  You know, this one:

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But in all seriousness, I didn’t think that all chickens looked like this cartoonish chicken with a massively engorged, bright red, waddle.  I wasn’t born yesterday, people.  Rather, I figured most egg-laying chickens looked more like this:

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Now, imagine my shock and awe when I discovered that there are literally hundreds of breeds of chickens.  Chickens are kind of like other domesticated animals—they come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes.  To narrow down the field to the most qualified contestants, I consulted My Pet Chicken and its handy-dandy “Which Breed is for You?” tool to create the finalists for Ms. Backyard Fowl USA.  Drum roll please.

Contestant Number 1 is named Australorp.  A chick hailing from the badlands of Australia, Ms. Australorp loves to have a good time.  She does well in all climates, takes fondling quite well, but yet is also shy and docile.  Considered “sweet and shy” by My Pet Chicken, Ms. Australorp’s best feature appears to be her ability to lay ginormous brown eggs—about 5 a week.

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Contestant Number 2 is named Delaware.  As you probably guessed, Ms. Delaware hails from that little state you barely go through from DC to NY where meth addicts walk around the rest stop, asking you for money for gas, because they lost their “college credit card,” and you end up giving them a $10 because that was the smallest bill you had and you were frightened of pregnant meth-face and her methy boyfriend.  I digress.  Ms. Delaware is a plus-sized beauty, who is quiet, friendly, and calm.  Not quite as adept as her Australian competitor, Ms. Delaware only pops out about 4 eggs a week.  Her white feathers make her look much like Ms. Foster Farms, whose wings go very well with Frank’s Hot Sauce and butter.

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Contestant Number 3 is named Ms. Easter Egger.  I’m not kidding, folks—Ms. Easter Egger must have quite the sense of humor.  Boasting a much slender frame than her plus-sized competitors, Ms. Easter Egger is a fun chick, who isn’t afraid to be dominated, as she bears confinement and handling quite well.  Ms. Easter Eggers produces about 4 beautiful greenish/bluish eggs a week.

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Contestant Number 4 hails from France, and is named Ms. Faverolles.  While her competitors have only 4 toes, the feisty Frenchie has 5 slender toes to stomp out her competition.  Her competition may spend much of the year brooding at home, but Frenchie would rather be out on solo excursions.  Frenchie lays about 4 eggs a week, of medium size.  Perhaps what is most striking about Frenchie is her neck.  I’m growling just thinking about it.

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Finally, and bringing up the rear, Contestant Number 5 is a Star.  No, really.  Ms. Star is considered an “excellent layer.”  Cue the jokes.  Consistent with her excellent laying abilities, Ms. Star is quite the friendly chick, docile to handlers, and loves to lay big brown eggs (5 a week, in fact).  Covered in beautiful black feathers, Ms. Star is one hot chick.

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So now that the competition is set, time to pick our birds.  What hot chicks will win the grand prize of living in my parents’ backyard?

This has inspired yet another genius idea for scriptwriting.  NPH and Tina Fey, email me.  I’ve got your WGA/Golden Globe/Emmy in my brain.  And I’ll let you have it for free.

Discover me, Tina Fey & NPH!!!


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Adventures of the Struggling Writer — Day 7

I consider myself to be a person of well-rounded capabilities and interests.  So when my folks mentioned that they wanted to raise chickens, I immediately pounced on the idea.

This isn’t my family’s first foray into egg and poultry farming.  When I was younger (the exact time period escapes me, since my innate abilities to block out unpleasantries has clouded my memory), my parents owned chickens.  We all schlepped down to a farm in the South Bay to pick up some fruit trees and some chicks.  I don’t recall the details of the chick acquisition, but I do remember when the chickens invaded our backyard.  Prior to the arrival of the talon-wielding, perpetually-shitting, predators of all that is clean, I loved our backyard.  I would kick soccer balls and throw tennis balls into a net on one side of the yard.  I played basketball as James Naismith originally envisioned–chucking a basketball into a crate doubling as a hoop.  I even had an old skateboard, discovered at the Toys R Us for the creative (aka the dump), which I used to mindlessly roll around in circles on the paved square of the yard.

After invasion, however, I never set foot into that yard.  The thought of these nasty creatures, crapping all over the place, feverishly dipping their heads forward while armed with their pointy beaks, and shedding their feathers inevitably coated with even more crap—well, let’s just say that this kid didn’t want anything to do with these fowl incubators for avian flu.  My parents, however, had much higher aspirations for the birds.  Every day, they would go out into the yard and scour the grounds for treasures left behind by the birds—not the shit, but rather the eggs.

The birds of my childhood were not great egg-layers.  I recall my folks being disappointed with the number of eggs.  The eggs we did obtain were oddly-colored (or so I thought at that age).  Green tinted, with outrageously orangey yolks, I never ate those eggs.  I thought they were nasty.  I much preferred the eggs purchased en masse at the store—you know, the eggs produced by chickens stuffed with antibiotics and corn products, who have never seen the sun, have had their beaks clipped, and spend their short lives popping out eggs in a horrendously confined space?  Yeah, I liked those eggs.  They were white; they were uniform; they were predictable.  My parents, however, loved the eggs produced by our chickens.  They boasted of the amazing flavors of the fresh eggs.  I made wretched faces in response, boldly proclaiming that I would never touch those salmonella-filled harbingers of death.

Then, one day.  The chickens were gone.  Perhaps they disappeared the same day we had roasted chicken for dinner.  I didn’t eat that night.

Fast forward to today, where I am now on a quest to help build the most fantastic chicken coop for my folks.  A chicken coop that will make other chickens cluck in jealousy.  There is quite a bit of information on the ‘Net for people interested in building their own backyard chicken coops.  In fact, local newsman Dan Ashley had this report on the rise of Urban Chickens.  Featured in that report were Paul Canavese and Ann Naffziger, an Alameda couple who raise their own backyard chickens (that yield approx. 1900 eggs a year).  I did a little Web-stalking and found their web site as well.

Based on my research, I will need to first build (or buy) a chicken coop, and then purchase chicks.  As for building a chicken coop, there are quite a few considerations.  I’ve seen blueprints, instructions, and/or basic pictures of sample coops built by others on the popular site, Backyard Chickens.  From what I understand, there are some basic rules to follow in cooping:

  1. Protection:  Your birds need to be protected from the elements and potential predators.  The weather around here is incredibly mild, so we’ll just need something that will keep the birds dry when it rains, and to keep out any unwanted predators (are there raccoons in the Bay?).
  2. Ventilation:  A chicken with fresh air is a happy chicken.  And happy chickens produce a crapload of eggs, rather than just crap.
  3. Light:  For optimum egg-laying, chickens also need sunlight.  The windows of the coop should thus be facing the south, to ensure maximum chicken tanning.  Kind of like Snooki on Jersey Shore.  Can I get a fist pump for fake and bake chickens?
  4. Proper Placement of Food & Water:  Chickens apparently like to scratch at everything, including their food.  So a good coop has food and water placed just high enough that the chicken can eat/drink, yet are unable to get their grimy claws in.
  5. Proper Height of Coop:  You also want the coop to be off the ground to keep puddles from forming when it rains.  Can you imagine what happens if rainwater mixes with chicken shit and ferments over the winter months?  Yikes.
  6. Size:  Chickens are like people.  They need their space from other chickens.  I lived in a 9 ft X 12 ft cell in law school (with cinder block walls–not dissimilar to prison).  Chickens, being significantly smaller than me, only need about 5 sq ft per bird in the coop, and another 8-10 sq ft outside the coop.
  7. Nests:  The coop also needs to contain nests for the birds to lay their eggs in.  Basic straw will do.
  8. Ingenuity:  Finally, the coop needs to be easily cleaned.  Birds crap a lot.  And I mean a lot.  You’ll need to build a coop that can easily be hosed down, e.g. with a removable floor.  Get some rubber gloves.  Because cleaning the shit will be as nasty as it sounds.

That’s it for coop-building.  Perhaps tomorrow, I will research the types of chickens to obtain.  How disturbing would it be if we got the chicks and named them Tyson, Purdue, and Foster Farms?  Awesome.

Oh, and if NPH or Tina Fey want some fresh eggs, contact me in about 3 months.  I can ship you some eggs, wrapped in a beautiful script.

Discover me, Tina Fey & NPH!!!

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Adventures of the Struggling Writer — Day 6

I am a sucker for technology.  I grew up hanging out with my older brother, who was one of the first people to ever get a cell phone.  You know, one of those ginormous monstrosities that looked like it was going to engulf the side of your head?  Well, flash forward now to 2010 (pronounced twenty-ten), and my adoration and fascination with technology has continued.  In no particular order, I’m looking forward to acquiring the following:

  • An Apple Tablet computer:  Rumors are that the Tablet will be akin to a super-sized iPod Touch.  Currently, I use my Touch to play Bejeweled, check and update my Twitter (follow me at @alexisnectar), study my Mandarin Chinese flashcards (so that when I finally meet Tina Fey & NPH in person, I can say, “Renshi ni hen gao xing!” and to NPH specifically, “Wo yao sheng ni de xiao hai”), and watch the Robin Sparkles music video, “Sandcastles in the Sand.”  Since the Tablet will simply be a Biggest Loser version of the iPod Touch (I’m talking season premiere episode), I will be able to enjoy my iTouch activities in the American way—go big, or go home!
  • A Parrot AR.Drone remote-controlled quadricopter:  The hubby and I have been wanting to get remote-controlled helicopters after we played around with the heli gifted to our cousin for Chrismakkah.  Hubby thinks that I want one so we can race our helicopters.  Between you and me, however, I have much higher aspirations.  Wink Wink.  Knee Slap!  Imagine what I could do with a device that could carry a small video camera, and fly up high into the skylines of Southern California and Manhattan—high enough to peer into the windows of certain individuals, perhaps named Tina or Neil?  Now imagine if that helicopter had sufficient power to act almost like a homing pigeon (sans shit), thereby allowing it to carry a tightly bound script and dump it into an open window of certain individuals, perhaps named Tina or Neil?  The possibilities are limitless!
  • A 3D Television:  After watching Avatar in IMAX 3D, I now know that 3D is the future of entertainment.  The media conglomerates are indeed jumping on this bandwagon, as significant capital is being invested into the development of 3D television sets and programming for the home viewer.  ESPN will be launching a 3D network this spring, and other channels will soon follow, depending on the inevitable success of the venture.  I too want a 3D television and the accompanying 3D glasses.  Currently, television is not solely a solitary sport—you can watch television with your friends and family and enjoy the brainless entertainment together.  However, with 3D television, the possibilities of seclusion are finally within grasp.  Armed with 3D glasses that blur out everything but the TV, we will finally be empowered to sit alone and isolate ourselves from all non-digital humanity.  I can already imagine watching a 30 Rock episode where Liz trips on an icy Manhattan sidewalk and flings a mustard-topped Nathan’s hot dog into my face, meant not to add anything to the substance of the show, but rather to shamelessly take advantage of 3D technology and includes advertising.  Or an episode of HIMYM where Barney steps out of the screen before me, sticks out his chest, raises his chin, winks, and says, “I.  Am.  Awesome.”

I wonder when I’ll be able to record myself in 3D.  I envision my 3D self taking over the airwaves, pleading to Tina Fey & NPH to hear my cries for help discovery.  Technology will make my delusions of grandeur finally come to fruition.

Discover me, Tina Fey & NPH!!!

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