Welcome to the World Knuckles! See her hatch below…

Spring has brought an unplanned addition to the Mind Your Dirt farms. Last month, I borrowed my neighbors rooster to see if I could breed some of my more productive egg layers. I gave him two weeks with my harem of special ladies to work his magic.

With such a handsome boy, I thought it would be a simple task. But try as he might, and try he did, none of the hens were having his macho bullshit and posturing. All except for one. His sister Violet!

This unnatural coupling was very troubling for me and my rigid morals and world view. I did my best to sway them away from such sin, but to no avail. I finally had to remove him as he was really torturing all the other hens for not putting out and things got bloody with one of my girls! I had enough of the violence and was feeling like I was running some sort of a terrible sex slave trade. I ran into the run and he and I battled. All the girls, save Violet were hiding behind me while he and I sized each other up.

After some bites and cuts, I was able to get a hold of this brute. Back to the neighbors with you sir! While you’re there, I suggest you learn how a gentleman should behave amongst such high caliber ladies. #henstoo

I then set out to incubate all the eggs that followed. Out of the 30+ I tried incubating, the only ones that were fertile were Violet’s eggs. Just my luck, the one breed I didn’t want to hatch was the only one that would. English game hens are cool and all, but not much on the egg laying tip. So it goes.

Below is the incubator I’m testing out. It works great for a little hobby setup and turns the eggs automatically. It also has an “eggy” design that I kinda dig. Very groovy and far out. man.

After so many infertile eggs, I decided to allow one of Violet’s eggs to fully incubate. She was growing broody and motherly so I felt bad for her. Well, last Saturday, that egg has hatched! The process took most of the day so I set up my little viewing station and waited.

Hatching viewing station alpha

I’ve never hatched my own eggs before so I was curious if there would be any imprinting happening if I’m the first thing she sees. Imagine your very first sight being a drooling giggling idiot ape! Poor girl.

Gah!! Take it away!

The moment of truth, and the reason for this post, was when she finally struggled to break free of her tiny eggy prison. I was able to get a really lovely little video of it and I wanted to share with you good and noble folk. So without further adieu I present to you, the birth of Knuckles the English Game Hen…

Knuckles big debut!

Sorry about my stupid and sappy commentary. I was admittedly overly-moved by the whole experience as I have a rather mooshy core. But I was right about the imprinting! Knuckles and I are like peas and carrots already. I have her in my home made brooder now and she is all poofy and clumsy and adorable and perfect.

It seems like she won’t sleep until I put my hand inside the brooder. The she floops on over and nuzzles into my fingers before totally blacking out. Then I sit there for far too long afraid to move an inch and disturb her little nap. It’s all rather ridiculous. She even comes running up to the edge when Sasha comes in for a visit. This little poofball is all love.

Home made brooder with a view
Learning to walk

She had a hard time learning to walk. She kept on falling back on her bottom in the most adorable way. Her right foot had some issues with all her toes curling in an unnatural manner. I found this on Pinterest and am giving it a go. Toes crossed it works.

Baby chick shoes!

Now it looks like she has one flipper on as she pads around the brooder.

Learning to drink

There will undoubtedly be many many videos and photos coming up on the social medias, so be sure to check in on the regular! She’s also beginning the habit of trying to wiggle her way into my beard for safety and comfort. I’m trying to capture that on video but it’s not easy juggling so much clumsy cuteness. It’ll happen though. Until then, take it all in!

Putting the baby down for the night
Bedtime for Knuckles
My eventual future…

Piper is a Cover Girl!


If you’re local to the San Diego area, you may have seen this week’s reader with a rather odd cover photo. A beautiful and majestic fuzzy-butted silkie hen that my regular readers have come to love and admire. Alongside some random mustachioed schlubb that as no business being on the front of anything.

Photo by Matthew Suárez

as to the former, you are quite welcome. For the latter, my humble apologies, it will all be over in a week’s time so hang in there. If you plan on using it as a liner to your birdcage, or are getting creative with a Sharpie, I’d love to see photos! If you are not one of my local readers, you can see the story on The San Diego Reader’s website.I won’t attempt to re-writing the article here as it is already done by a far better writer than I, but it talks about the neighborhood community garden that I helped set up and all the amazing work they’re doing for the community. Something I’m so proud to have been a part of.

Although I am historically hell-bent on being a giant goofball, there are a few things that I’m serious about. Quality of food is one of them. In this article I talk a lot about this “fast food” society we’re living in and how destructive food deserts are to communities and the health of its populace.

This attention from The San Diego Reader is such a welcome shot in the arm for communities like mine that are surrounded by so many awful food choices. I truly hope that this resonates with everyone so that together we can fight these patterns and continue to find ways to keep our family happy and healthy no matter your income. That’s been my driving force in the last five years of writing Mind Your Dirt. To show that you don’t need to spend money to bring back a natural balance to your surroundings and the food on your table. Mostly because I’m broke as hell and necessity is the mother of invention.

Our community garden not only provides fresh and healthy free produce, it also teaches anyone who visits how to bring these techniques into your home gardens. Between Mind Your Dirt and the Ocean View Growing Grounds (as well as all community gardens), we will always be here to help you keep your family healthy and loaded with nutrients.

So a huge big Thank You to The San Diego Reader, Barbarella Fokos (writer), and Matthew Suárez (photographer) for taking the time to help this noble cause! To everyone else, get busy with that Sharpie! 

Scenes from a Winter Garden


Part One: Violet and the Ghost of the Great Pepper Tree

Violet doesn’t belong here. She wasn’t invited. And neither was her brother, Squats for that matter. These were random chickens that were squeezing their tiny fluffy butts into my garden through a gap in the fence.

Just big enough to fit little peeping babies that would peck and scratch the shit out of all my garden beds and make a hell of a mess on my manicured pathways. My precious, precious pathways.

This I could not abide for long. An action plan began forming in my head and I decided to set up some chicken traps and capture these usurpers of my calm. I set up a net at the end of my long cement makeshift patio. A tunnel of many confusing obstacles leading to a hidden circular lobster net. I then went inside and waited. Maniacally so.

After a few hours, I went out to find them in my veggie garden picking, scratching and eating all my vittles. Our eyes locked and all three of us were frozen in the timeless dance of predator v. prey. I pounced, barefoot and snarling. As planned, they leaped out of the raised bed and began sprinting down the long cement pad with me slapping bare toes behind them.

They hit the hidden net like so many drunkenly applied darts into pub dartboards. *thunk, thunk*. With wings flapping uselessly, they could do no more than submit to my gentle yet firm grasp.

After some moments of gentle cooing, I placed them in my little elevated chicken coop for newbies. And there they remained. The day was won!

Continue reading “Scenes from a Winter Garden”