Saturday was Chick Day in Dallas, Oregon. Old Mill Feed and Grain takes orders for seven or eight varieties of chicks, guarantees females, and distributes them all in one long “Chickens All Day” festival in early April. There is chicken themed music, a large dancing chicken, chicken hats, and chicks, as well as feeders and feed. The line begins at 7:15 AM. We—myself and three other teachers who have chickens—leave Corvallis around 7:30, armed with our carrier boxes, warm chocolate raspberry scones, coffee, and the Chicken Hat and T shirt. This year, we were inside the building by the time the rain began—people outside, natives all, just pulled their hoods over their hats and got wet. It’s a lively line, full of families, women who raise chickens for meet and eggs, and a few backyard pouters. This is not a fancy crowd—sweatshirts and boots, pick-up trucks and cheap coffee dominate the scene. We chat while we wait. When the time comes, we move into the chick room, bend over the bins, and pick out the chicks. It’s not always easy; I have a tendency to go for the loudest animals, seeing that as a sign of health and intelligence, and it has backfired on me, leaving me with several high maintenance pets over the years. This year, I resist the chick running over the backs of everyone else and go for size. We are herded out, pick up our free Chick Day mugs—Karin has five or six now—buy our chick feed and peepers, and head home. The car sounds like a jungle of peeps as we all hold two, balanced over old towels that Karin remembers to bring each year. We are all settled in by 10:30 AM, chicks asleep under the heat lamp, me with a second cup of tea.
|Lucy checks out the peep installation|
Crockpot Beans and Greens
There’s a brief scene in the Grapes of Wrath when Tom, the main character, is walking through the government camp early in the morning and smells the “strong smell” of beans cooking on an open fire. “I wish I had a plate of them,” he says in passing. “You’d be welcome, if they was done,” the woman replies. The scene gets at one of the underlying themes of the novel—poor folks will always help out and feed poor folks—and I think of it when I come home from school to the scent of beans cooking in my crockpot.
Put four cups of beans and one large coarsely chopped onion and maybe some garlic into the crockpot. The Indian Woman beans I bought from Sunbow are really nice, but black beans or some variety of pintos also works well. Cover with about double the amount of water. Cook slowly for six to eight hours. Near the end, when the beans are all soupy and falling apart, add 4-5 cups of chopped greens, salt and pepper, maybe a can of roasted tomatoes from the basement. I like to add collards and mustards, rather than cabbage (which does not do well slow cooked!) or chard, which is soft and gentle. Stir it all in and let the greens cook down. Serve with new bread and salad, maybe some salsa, depending upon the beans.