Tuesday, 19 February 2008

The Day Today

Well what an interesting day it has been today. In the news we have heard nothing of Britney's battle with sanity or Amy's anguish with love because today was not a "no news day" here in the UK. Well OK, despite the Spice Girls, grabbing some attention by saying that they would sing at Nelson Mandela's 90th in South Africa, even though they haven't actually been invited, and also even though they have cancelled 4 shows due to "family commitments" (didn't they, like the rest of us, remember to book a nanny and buy the school uniforms before they planned a multi-million pound world tour?) - some audiences are more important than others I guess - there has been alot of serious stuff in the news today. On this side of the world, our capitalist government has decided, much to the confusion of many and the joy of some, to nationalise a bank in trouble, and on the other side of the world, to the joy of many and the confusion of some, one of the last communist governments, has lost it's leader of 49 years, Fidel Castro, ensuring that every radio station, every newspage, every political comentator, every journalist, DJ and taxi driver has plenty to cojutate, consternate and procrastinate about for at least another week, or until they book their next holiday.

However, none of this is as exciting as MY news today! No! It's not that I have climbed 20 places in the crafty blog charts since this time yesterday, although that is exciting enough! Oh no. My news of the day is that, along with the coming of spring, my chickens have laid eggs! Yes it seems that they have decided to come out of retirement after all! Here are the mama's in question, they are called Flossie and Floozie. There was a third, Fanny, but unfortunately, she passed away last spring. I am planning some companions for the two F's because there is nothing, I tell you nothing, which can take you back to the childhood excitement of christmas, birthdays and easter all rolled into one, faster than finding a fresh egg in your coop. And each time is just as exciting as the previous. The wonder of it just never seems to wear off!

To celebrate this treasure of nature, my Skaterboy (age 12, going on 18) decided to take up his ancestral mantle and bake some cakes. However, unlike his cullinary forebears' full fat French and fancy creations, these cakes, as light and fluffy as they are, do not contain dairy or wheat. So they are gluten free and almost vegan - depending on your view of what a vegan is. I personally know a number of vegans who will eat home produced eggs from happy hens.

My inspiration to keep these lovely ladies came from an essay called "Lily's Chickens" which I read a few years ago and which comes from a book called "Small Wonder" by Barbara Kingsolver. You can read that very entertaining, and thought provoking essay here. In the same vein, and in support of my darling feathered girls and all of their kin, I urge everyone to support the current Chicken Out Campaign led by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. I personally don't eat meat, but one of the things which annoys me intensely about the food market - specifically the supermarkets which I have made a resolution to avoid from now on - is the unfair way in which food is priced, creating as elitist an attitude to food labels as there is towards clothes labels. Think of this ... a cheap broiler chicken can be bought for as little as £2.00 at Tesco. A free range chicken is anywhere between £5-10, usually around £8.00. It's not a question of telling people to eat less meat - they simply will not as long as there are cheap options which they can afford - but if the supermarket raised the price of the broiler chicken, in order to subsidise the price of the free range chicken, would more people but the free range chicken as a matter of concience over affordability? And then would the horrific practice of keeping battery chickens stop? Or in the name of capitalism and greed, will the people who can change this imbalance, continue to turn a blind eye?

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