JCI, Chicks and Publishing

For those who don’t know what the JCI is, it’s the Jaffrey Climate Initiative. A group of us began to meet back in December. Here’s the mission statement that we developed:


We are a citizen action group dedicated to creating a resilient future by promoting careful and informed stewardship of our environment in the areas of energy, agriculture & soil health, resource conservation and policy. 


We envision Jaffrey as a community with a thriving and resilient economy, where our residents have access to clear air and water, clean and revewable energy sources, and healthy, locally grown food. 

A young woman drew this at the River Fest this past weekend.


*Plan educational events and activities related to our mission and vision.
*Promote policies which foster energy efficient buildings with advanced, low carbon technologies :

*The goal of using 100% renewable energy
*The pursuit of a zero waste community
*Zoning regulations which encourage safe and affordable housing opportunities and agricultural land conservation
*Ecologically sound land use practices which strengthen and conserve our soils, forests, waterways, and wildlife diversity. 

I’ve added a link at my contact page. If you want to join us, put “JCI” in the comment section and I’ll add your email to the list.

Panda, our first broody hen in 2013.

And now, inevitably, chickens. We have two broody hens: Toey and Squeaky. When a hen goes broody, she determines that now is the time to hatch eggs. She hunkers down into a nest and terrorizes any other hen, or human, that comes near her. She sits and broods. Like the best of zen masters, she picks a point to focus on and that’s it. All day and all night she stares, as if looking deep into her soul, contemplating names for the chicks-to-be.

Far be it from me to point out to Toey and Squeaky that they are not sitting on anything but their feathery bums. Every day, against all their protests, we remove what eggs might have appeared beneath them. And so it all feels rather futile. To break the broodies of their habit, one has to put them in a dog cage with no cozy hay or pine shavings to settle on. Just wire and discomfort until, eventually, they are broken. I did this already, earlier this summer. I broke another hen, Flopsie. When I let her out of the cage, she fluttered out, all excited to play again. Toey stalked out. She supposed she would be broken. For a week or two. Then back to the nest she went. And Squeaky joined the meditation a week or so later. And we’ve been hither and yon and I haven’t gotten around the shoving them into the dog cage and here we are weeks into this broodiness and I am teetering rather sharply toward letting them have their way. Just 4 chicks. Two each. They’d be so happy! 

But where to get the chicks? I won’t order them from the big hatcheries. And the local breeder has none and it would take 21 days to hatch any. And given our last mutt chick hatch, I’m unwilling to risk that again. Ah, what’s a sucker-for-a-broody-hen to do? 

I’ll post pictures when the chicks arrive. . . .

Publishing you ask? Yes! I have a publisher for At Crossroads with Chickens: Bauhan Publishing. (http://www.bauhanpublishing.com)

The book will come out in May of 2020. I’m very excited about the upcoming process of figuring out what photos to put in the book, and the book cover. And then there’s the book tour. I do believe Carl and I will make a cross-country trek in the Tesla. . ..

What’s the book about? Here’s the query letter:

At Crossroads with Chickens is a 63,700 word memoir about my “what-if-it-works?” adventure in off-grid living, and quest for home. 

In 2012, my husband, Carl—a trombonist-wanna-be-a-farmer—and I—a writer-what’s-this-pitchfork-for?—built an off-grid, solar-powered house in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. It was to be a weekend, getaway place. That December, with our two cats and six newly adopted chicks, we drove up to Jaffrey from our home in Providence, Rhode Island. Just for the winter because we didn’t want our new pipes to freeze . . . and because Rhoda Red had turned out to be Big Red, and roosters are outlawed by Providence city regulations. Big Red couldn’t go back. Thus, neither did we. Survival of the fittest. Natural selection. Soul evolution. We named our 193-acre home “Darwin’s View” for a reason. 

From full-time weekenders to organic gardeners, our tale braids with my mother’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Mother and Mother Nature both spiral. Chicken kerfuffles might lighten the mood but this story is born of heartbreak, yearning for the great beauty of the world as it used to be as opposed to what it has become. Add the sun, the wind, a cock-a-doodle-do and you have the recipe for a perfect storm of personal growth rippling out to effect transformation in the bigger picture.

With Gene Logsdon sensibility, At Crossroads with Chickens is about dreams coming splat up against reality. As Kristin Kimball writes of in The Dirty Life, so do I describe the twists, turns, and get down and dirty path of my personal seismic shifts as I move from seeking home to saving it. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas described the book as “impressive” and “unusual”.  “The experiences … described are essentially familiar to most of us, yet […the reader] sees them in an entirely new light … with deeper vision.”

That’s all for now! On Friday, I’m hoping I’ll have caught up with things for the energy part of this blog but it’s not looking hopeful. Might end up just being chick picts. . ..