Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recent Work-Adventure Kayak Photo Annual

Adventure Kayak magazine features some of my work in their annual photo issue that just came out. Adventure Kayak is one of those smart little publications that I love to work with. A hardworking, dedicated team of creative professionals finding a niche. 
Now, nobody is going to get rich (or even pay the bills) on a few images like these published in a small, niche magazine a few times a year. But for me, work like this is an enjoyable part of a larger puzzle that involves advertising shoots, print sales, writing and additional stock image sales. 
While the pay is not huge, I enjoy working with publications like Adventure Kayak and its sister publications (Canoeroots, Rapid, etc.) where you can still get to know editors, there's still time to chat about the activities and outdoor opportunities we love, which after all is the reason we're in this business. I like to think that this builds mutual respect and understanding, which means contributors get paid on time (usually :-) and know someone is actually going to read your emails and listen to your messages when you have an idea or a concern.
Here's to small publications, and little guys like me who appreciate them. Give 'em a read!
Oh yea, they are also kind of cutting edge with a couple digital versions of the magazine in addition to the gorgeous print version (still my preferred read).
You can check out the issue online at:

Or even download it and read it on your iPhone or iPad at:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Girl of Summer

Welcome to our daughter, born over the weekend.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Life with Chickens: Part 2

Last week I picked up some young chicks. In Trenary, Michigan. Eighty of them. At the feedmill. That's where they hang out. Now I'm not saying Trenary chicks are easy to pick up, but if a guy like me can do it, well, then I'm guessing you can too. It helps if you have a cute toddler like J.

Known fact: Chicks dig toddlers; toddler dig chicks.

Okay enough silly stuff. For the third year we're raising a bunch of Cornish X (stands for "cross") broiler chickens. Also called "meat" chickens, as that's what they're raised for, not eggs. Obtaining eggs would be hard, since these chicks are dudes.

Dudes that grow really big breasts and shapely thighs. Fast. Like 400 pounds of frozen chicken in 8 weeks fast.

In 8 short weeks these little peepy cute fluff balls turn into enormous, voracious, look-at-me-funny-and-I-will-eat-you-too metabolism machines. This is the same breed of bird cranked out of factories for the likes of Tyson and the Colonel.

But we do it different. Same bird, WAY different process. We raise them in mobile coops on pasture. They spend about three weeks in the brooder in the garage where we can keep them safe and warm until their feathers come out (the awkward teenage years; even the word "awkward" looks awkward). Then they move out onto our hayfield into the coops. Coops are moved once, sometimes twice a day so the birds can get fresh grass and get away from their poo.

A couple things happen when you raise birds this way. They fertilize your hay field with an INCREDIBLE amount of manure. They eat a bit less feed (which is mainly GMO corn and soybean unless you go for the organic stuff which we can't really get up here). They eat less feed because they are eating pasture and the critters that lurk on pasture, like hoppers, beetles, frogs, mice and snakes. Yes, frogs, mice and snakes--I've seen it. Nothing left but a red smear in the grass.

They also get exercise to keep their legs and lungs in good shape (broken legs are a common problem in birds that grow this fast). And the best part is they supposedly are better for you since they are partially grass fed, so have higher good fats, lower bad fats, etc. You can look that stuff up and get a better explanation than I can give here.

Or just crack a grass fed hen's egg next to a store bought egg. One is the sun (grass fed) the other is the moon (sad store egg). Try it if you haven't already. The taste difference is there too.

Oh, if you're wondering what in the heck we do with 80 chickens for a family of three (soon to be 4). The answer is that we only keep about 30 for ourselves, and that lasts us the year. Friends come out for one day in September to help process and package the mature birds and we sell the birds to them at cost for helping with the harvest. A good time is had by all (humans anyway). We call it Slaughter Fest. It's not so bad. Really.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Life with Chickens: Part 1

So, we have chickens. Not really a big deal anymore, seems like everybody does these days. But life with chickens (and toddlers) is just so darn fun I had to share. Who needs TV?

For those that care about these sorts of things, we have a flock of five Barred Rock hens that give us plenty of eggs. Plenty of exercise too if you're in the "try and whack things with a stick" phase of your life (I just outgrew this, but J is picking up the slack). They are sweet, old-fashioned birds that know how to find their own food and keep out of harm's way. Unless of course, by finding food they end up in the veggies, flowers or sandbox in which case they are also in harm's way.

J is a helper. He likes to help with the eggs. He likes to help with the camera. Which unfortunately means he ends up helping with the compost too. Take a look!