Craig Wisner

Archive for January, 2011

One More…

Joy Division, Transmission


The Velvet Underground- Sister Ray

Oh my, I think it’ll make me go bananas.

The Family Circus!

No More Years! Cthulhu for President, 2012!

More Chickens!

The last of the ladies are here now, also purchased from Wes.

First up, we have Poppy, a Barred Rock hen.  Poppy is almost two weeks old.  They’re brown egg layers.  She looked a lot like a small penguin when she was born.

Poppy, Barred Rock hen.

Next is Chuck, an Araucana.  Araucanas are known as the “Easter Egg Chicken”, famous for laying colored eggs ranging from turquoise, to olive, to brown.  Chuck is exactly one week old today.  Nice eyeliner.

Chuck, Araucana.

Finally we have LaLa, the sweetest and most docile of the bunch.  She’s a Buff Orpington and will turn a golden-yellow.  Also a brown egg layer and one week old today.

LaLa, Buff Orpington.

It looks like we’ll be calling it quits with five, though we’re tempted to get one more.  They’ve all bonded with each other well, no pecking or dominance issues.  Surprising, considering Pip and Chum are now three times the size of the new ones.

Pip is in a very awkward stage; not quite grown, feet too big, feathers growing in weird places.  She starting to get her comb (ridges between eyes above beak) and ear lobes.  Her wing feathers are almost allowing flight.  She’s by far the largest and reminds me quite a bit of a small dinosaur.  She’s definitely the most inquisitive of the bunch, constantly striving to see what’s going outside of her box.  She’s ready to eat human food now, as is Chum.

Pip, Rhode Island Red, just over 3 weeks old.

Chum is a bit smaller than Pip, thought the same age.  She’s not quite as strange looking right now.  She reminds me of a hawk.

Chum, Brown Leghorn, just over 3 weeks old.

Everyone’s healthy so far, it looks like we have a good batch.  They’re pretty tame now as well, very comfortable perching on a finger, thought they don’t like being separated from one another.

Los Padres, Father and Son, 1/22-1/23.

Setting forth into a sea of golden grasses, the sun getting low, extending shadows, a breeze beginning to stir. We pass a few quail hunters and wish them well, talking quarry and who’s seen what, where, when. My son stands on the periphery, a boy amongst men in conversation; he has nothing to contribute, yet looking up to us, he’s obviously interested in the tone his father strikes with the two other men. He’s learning without knowing he’s learning, soaking in life. I will likely have a more profound effect on him than he or I will ever know. Nearly 20 years after I lost my father, I’m still discovering the subtle ways in which he helped shape me.



This trip is for the two of us, to talk, to walk together, to share a sunset and a fire, coffee and tea in the morning. I can still hold his hand, though I’m sensing it’s not for much longer; he pulls away a little faster than he used to. It’s not that he doesn’t want to hold my hand, it’s that he no longer needs to, at least not as often. And the sadness dawns on me once again that our time spent holding hands is limited, that there will be fewer and fewer fires at which he curls up in my lap and starts to nod off. He doesn’t know this yet, he feels no sadness for the inevitable shift that will come in our relationship as we age.




So I have to take this time we have, make time for us to have, to make it count, to make it something we will not forget. I’ll bear the discomfort of a 70 pound boy on my lap at dinner beside a fire for the fleeting opportunity to feel him there a little longer; soon it will be another man sitting across from me. It will not be bad, but it will certainly be different.



We stay up late into the night, winds picking up in the pines, temperature dropping sharply. It still makes him a little nervous when I leave into the dark for firewood but he does a good job of playing it off. Eventually retreating to the tent, we couple our bags as best as we can and he uses my arm for a pillow. A long, black, restless night for the both of us, the wind flapping the tent too loudly to let us settle in. My thermometer reads 27 degrees, by 4 AM I’m thankful for his warmth. Tired of waiting, we agree get up in the dark to get an early start. I slither from my bag to boil the water; we share our drinks while looking out the door at the sunrise.




And we’re back home before we know it, back to chores and video games and the various distractions of daily life. But we’ve managed to carve out just a little time for each other again, good time, slow time, time spent purely together. The type of time that we’ll remember when it counts.




Beautiful Boy.


Los Padres National Forest, 1/22-1/23. Trekking for an easy overnight out of Lockwood Valley to Pine Springs Campground.


Seagulls circling overhead

I circle below

Running a track into the sunrise

Lungs full, the clock slows

Circles; magnifying distance, stretching time…

18 laps, 19 laps, 20 laps…

Sheet Mulching

My friend Ben first told me about this technique.  To prepare a bed that’s overgrown with weeds, first sheet mulch it with cardboard or paper.  I’ve tried both and have had great success, cardboard being able to successfully kill off bermuda grass and dandelions prior to planting.  The process is simple:  hoe the bed and lay down cardboard or paper in a thick layer.  Cardboard takes longer to decompose but works better at killing weeds.  It also attracts far more worms.  My current preference is brown builder’s paper as our beds are now in good shape and I want to plant right away.  After laying the paper or cardboard, soak it thoroughly.

Soaked brown paper in bed.

After soaking, cover in topsoil/compost and water it again.

If weed activity was bad, cardboard is better.  I found it takes a good month for the cardboard to break down.  When it does, however, the soil beneath has a ton of worm activity and really good moisture.  If the bed was in good shape and weeds/grass were barely sprouting, paper is enough.  When using paper, I plant right away, cutting holes through the paper when the plants go in.  In this bed I’ve also buried two watering jugs for watering (see post on watering jugs).

This bed is planted with white kohlrabi and iceberg lettuce.

So far this technique has yielded really good results for a couple seasons.