Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kitties!!! And other cuteness...

It's late.  I'm tired.  My kitchen is sweltering, but I have 7 pints of diced tomatoes and 4 pints of tomato sauce cooling on the counter.  It was worth it.  These will be added to my growing collection of canned goods in the basement.

Things have been busy around here.  There is the harvest to deal with of course and all the animal-related chores, but we're also in the midst of a kitchen remodel (I know, poor timing to remodel at the height of canning season, but we needed to sand and refinish the floor while the weather was nice).  Add that on top of all the back-to-school activity and you have a recipe for one tired family.  I actually find myself dreaming about winter and hibernation...

There are a million blog post ideas running around in my head, but by the time I get a chance to sit down at the computer each night, my brain is fried and I can barely form coherent thoughts.  Sooooooo... I'm going to entertain you with cute pictures of kids and kittens, and hope it distracts you from realizing that this post is about, well.... nothing.

Here is my daughter helping me fill the water troughs for the animals.  Yes, she wears those boots around all day.  And yes, it's adorable.

Big Helper

Our barn cat Harriet had 6 kittens in May.  When they were about 3-4 weeks old, three of them disappeared one day, even though they still could not crawl.  We're not sure what happened to them... perhaps Harriet knew she could not feed 6 babies and removed them from the nest.  We now have Harriet and her three remaining kittens as our barn cats.  Judging from the dead mice and voles they leave on the barn floor, I would say they are doing a good job. 

Lucy 2, Grayson, Harriet and Tiger

My daughter adores the barn kitties.  I do believe she would spend the whole day out there with them if she could.  For some reason, the kittens don't mind being held by her.  They run away from most other people, but she seems to have the touch.  I call her "The Kitten Whisperer".

"The Kitten Whisperer"

Snuggling with Grayson (who used to be named "Gracie" until we discovered "she" was a "he")

My sweet boy turned six years old in August.  SIX!!!  How did this happen?!?  We had a small birthday party outdoors and I was once again reminded that we should really lock up the chickens for the day when we are hosting a party.  Silly Phylis. At least she drank out of my water, and not one our guest's. 

Guess I won't be drinking out of that cup anymore...

As summer comes to end, school begins.  My dear son started kindergarten yesterday.  I made him pose in front of the tree for his annual "first-day-of-school" photo.  The kid has been losing teeth left and right, and I can't get enough of his toothy (lack of toothy?) grin.  It makes me smile every time!

"Jack-O-Lantern" grin

In other news, Bruce the rooster is no more.  He attacked my daughter one morning while we were doing chores and I decided that was the final straw.  We butchered him that same evening.  That's what he gets for not playing nice.  Once he was gone, there was a collective sigh of relief on the farm.  No more crowing at all hours day and night (he woke me up crowing at 3am once).  No more harassed chickens.  The poor ladies were getting desperate.  I watched a few of them even play dead so Bruce would leave them alone (he would only chase a moving target).  Maybe we'll try having a rooster at another time, but for now, I say good riddance.  He will make excellent chicken soup (rooster soup?). 

Thanks to all of you who have been over to visit.  It's been a delightful distraction!  I don't get out much, with all the work to be done around here, so I really appreciate people coming to visit me.  And of course, if you visit, be sure to bring a bag, because I WILL be sending you home with tomatoes.  Good night, all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"I got worms."

"I beg your pardon?" 
"That's what we're gonna call it.  I got worms!   We're gonna specialize in selling worm farms. You know, like ant farms."

Little did I know that Lloyd (from the movie "Dumb and Dumber") was actually onto something.  Worm farms.  Huh. 

The day we moved into our new home was a cold, miserable day.  Our good friends Maribeth and Eric were kind enough to help us move our belonging on that drizzly March day.  After everything had been unloaded, they presented us with our first housewarming gift.  It was a gift like no other! 

Our dear friends, who know us so well, gifted us with a huge bin full of worms and rotten produce.  I was so excited I could hardly stand it! Seriously.  A worm farm!!!   Best housewarming gift EVER (but I would recommend that you know your audience before you present this a gift.  Ha!).   I had done a wee bit of research on "vermicomposting" (the fancy name for worm farming/composting), but didn't have the time or resources to follow through. 

If you already compost your kitchen scraps and are interested in producing wonderful *free* fertilizer for your house plants and garden, then perhaps vermicomposting is for you!  Anyone can vermicompost.  Doesn't matter if you live in a tiny apartment or have acres to roam.  You can be as serious about it or relaxed as you want to be (I know from personal experience that you can completely neglect your worms for over 6 months... and they will still be [mostly] fine.  Sorry little buddies.).  Vermicomposting is especially fun to try with kids - they delight in seeing those wiggling worms.  Last week, at the library, we actually stumbled across this book in the children's section, called "Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer" by Carol Brendler.  What a fun book to introduce children to the concepts of worm farming!  I may or may not have enjoyed the book more than my kids :)

A fun book about vermicomposting to read with the kids! 
"Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer" by Carol Brendler

Here is the quick lowdown on vermicomposting:

1. You create a container to hold the worms.
2. You feed the worms a combination of kitchen scraps, newspaper, yard waste, etc.
3. The worms will digest the scraps and create two by-products: Worm Tea (liquid fertilizer) and Worm Castings (a.k.a. Worm Poop).
4. Add Tea or Castings to your plants and watch them thrive!

Let me show you how my worn bin/container works.  First, you need two Rubbermaid type storage containers, one lid, two bricks or pieces of lumber, and a power drill with a bit smaller than 1/8 inch.  You can decide how large or small you want the container to be.  Once you have chosen your bin size, place the two bricks in the bottom of the first bin. These bricks will allow liquid worm tea to drain from the top bin into the lower bin.   Next, use the drill to make holes in the sides and bottom of the second bin.  Also make holes in the lid.  The holes will provide ventilation (from sides and top) and drainage (from the bottom).  The bin with the holes nests inside the first/lower bin, raised up by the bricks.  The lid goes on top of the bin with the holes.   

The worm bin - two containers, the one with air/drainage holes nested inside the solid bin.

Air holes in the worm bin - drill them in the lid, the sides and the bottom.

Now you are ready to get your hands on some worms!  Red Wiggler worms are the most desired worms for vermicomposting.  In a pinch, I believe you could go purchase some red wigglers from a bait shop, but most folks order their worms on-line.  Uncle Jim's Worm Farm is a popular site (Bonus!  They have worms on summer sale right now!).  They will ship your package of wiggly worms right to your door.

Once you have your worms, you need to create a "bed" for them, using shredded newspaper, cardboard, wood shavings, etc.  Keep this bedding moist.  Now it's time to feed them!   There are LOTS of different opinions on exactly what you can feed your worms.  Good candidates for the worm box are fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, leaves or house plant trimmings, and the like .  Make sure you give them a good mix of carbon (brown, dead stuff such as newspaper, cardboard, leaves, etc) and nitrogen (green, live stuff such as kitchen and garden scraps). 

Worms and scraps inside my worm bin.  All the black stuff is worm castings (poo).  My bin is a little too wet right now.  I should add more carbon (newspaper, cardboard, leaves, etc.) and  remove some of the castings.

After a while, pull the bins apart and see if your worms have produced any worm tea.  This stuff is liquid gold!  Pour it into a container and add some to your watering can when it's time to water plants.  You can also harvest the worm castings, but I have not embarked on that adventure yet, so I have no advice.  I believe it involves moving all the castings to one side of the box and putting all the new bedding and food on the other side.  The worms will eventually migrate to the food, leaving the pile of castings behind for you to harvest.  These castings are incredible to add to your potting soil mix or sprinkle in your garden.

 Pull the top bin out and check to see how much worm tea is in the bottom bin

This is a just a quick peek into how we do it over here. I am no expert on worm farming, so make sure you do some research on your own.  There are several great on-line resources, including this site here.  I found it to be enormously helpful!

So how much produce/scraps can your worms eat?  Well, that depends on several factors, but I've read that a pound of worms can eat about a pound of food a day.  How does one measure how many worms they have, you ask?  I don't know.  I simply keep adding feed until they can't keep up and then let them work uninterrupted for a week or two. Since we have chickens, hogs and a cow, most of our scraps go to them.   However, during the winter months, I often find it easier to carry the scraps downstairs, instead of trudging out to the barn in the snow.  Our worm bin certainly can't consume all of our scraps, but they can handle a good amount, especially things like jalapeno pepper scraps, which the animals don't care to eat. 

Worm farming is fun and it's always enjoyable to see the looks of disbelief of people's faces when you tell them you have a huge container of worms in your basement.  It's quite the conversation starter.  Apparently Lloyd was not so "dumb" - worm farms really are a good idea!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Be careful what you wish for...

Fresh juicy tomatoes. Intoxicating basil.  Crunchy cucumbers.  Sweet onions.  Delicious snap beans.  Beautiful bell peppers.  Spicy jalapenos.  Melt-in-your-mouth sweet corn.  Crisp carrots. 

THIS is why we garden.  You've heard it a million times, but there really is nothing quite as tasty as veggies you have grown in your own backyard.  Sweet corn goes from "Yummy" to sublime when it's picked just minutes before you eat it.  Tomatoes are irresistible, even for someone like me, who is not a huge fan of them (but I'm quickly changing my mind - heirloom varieties like "Brandywine" and "Cherokee Purple" are out of this world!).  So many tastes and flavors bursting with freshness.... it's a sensory overload.  THIS is what we dream about all winter long.  We are living the dream right now, gardening friends!

Harvesting tomatoes, with Cooper (former art students - yes, I still wear an apron all day.  Ha!).  Look how tall my tomatoes are!  Goat compost is magical stuff, I tell you.

Oh, I know.... it's not all dreamy.  There are tomato hornworms to deal with, blossom end rot, cucumber beetles, birds eating my sweet corn, the crippling drought, and all manner of annoying, icky things.  However, being the optimist that I am, I like to forget about all that stuff and just enjoy the good. 

 The garden is reaching it's apex and I've been busier that ever, scurrying and rushing to harvest and preserve the bounty.  My days consist of harvesting, canning, freezing, dehydrating, dishes, dishes and more dishes.  Food is all consuming. Since I'm new at preserving and don't have any "tried and true" recipes, hours are spent researching preserving methods/recipes.  I spend almost all of my waking hours contemplating food, between cooking all the meals for my family and preserving.  Some days, it gets old, and I wish I could just do things that normal people do, such as, oh you know, sit down (thank you Mom for the rubber chef's floor mat - it's a lifesaver!).  Go to the park and relax .  Go shopping for more things that I don't really need.  Then I remember that what I'm doing is normal - I'm growing my own food and preserving it so I can feed my family over the winter.  In a basic sense, I'm doing what people have been doing for thousands of years.  And no matter how tired or defeated I feel, it never fails to thrill me when I see those beautiful jars lined up in the basement, the freezer packed full of produce.  It's inspiring.

As the year progresses, I have a renewed appreciation for seasonality.  Summer is busy, a flurry of activity.  Winter is for relaxing, for resting and refreshing.  I'm looking forward to that period of rest right now, just as I was looking forward to the flurry of activity last winter.   The rhythms of the year are comforting... when I am bone-weary, I know that summer won't last forever.  Respite is coming.  And just when I can't take any more of winter, spring will arrive in all it's glory, so we can do it all over again.

Half of the day's garden haul

We have produce coming out our ears.  Some days, it's overwhelming.  Why did I plant so much?  What am I going to DO with all of this?  And then I remember, I asked God for this.  When we were searching for Third Day Farms, I kept praying desperately that God would provide a place for us, a place full of bounty so that we could be a blessing to others.  Be careful what you wish for!  We've got bounty all right.  Now, I'm trying to figure out how to bless others with it.  Some days, as I work in my kitchen for hours on end, I wonder how I am blessing others by holing myself up in the kitchen.  Is all this time spent focused on food what God wants me to be doing?  How can I be bringing God's kingdom to earth when I'm stuck in my kitchen all day?

And then the people stop by.  Lately, we've been averaging 1-2 visitors a day (and I LOVE it).   So THIS is how He wants me to bless others!  My visitors seldom go away empty handed.  There is always produce to send home with them, perhaps a jar of pickles, some jam, or a pint of berries.  All those hours toiling in the kitchen and garden?  They now have purpose.  That long afternoon laboring over tomato basil sauce?  Perhaps that will become a gift to someone in need or used to make a dinner for a family with a new baby.  This is my calling right now, and I'm doing my best to follow God's leading, as He teaches me the joy of giving. 

There is also the stewardship issue - I want to do my best to care for and use all the gifts that God has blessed me with.  It seems like a shame to let anything go to waste.  He gave me this bounty for a reason - now it's up to me to be a responsible steward of this great gift.  Thankfully, we have 3 pig hungry pigs and a cow in the backyard that are more  than willing to help take care of any extra produce that lays around too long.  I don't feel bad about giving it to them - they're converting that "waste" into delicious meat. 

So what exactly have I been laboring over?  Mostly tomatoes.  Remember those 45 tomato plants I planted in May?  Well, almost all of them have done exceptionally well!  We started getting a steady stream of tomatoes in early July and things have not slowed down since.  I've canned a few batches and made a batch of tomato basil sauce, but mostly I've been freezing them whole (cut out the stem and flash freeze on a cookie sheet before dumping into freezer bags) so I don't have to think about them right now.  I'll dig out those bags come winter and cook down the tomatoes for sauce or tomato soup.  We've given away about half of the tomatoes - no one seems to turn down fresh tomatoes, especially those to-die-for "Brandywines". 


We get this many tomatoes about every other day.

My pickling cucumbers went bonkers and before I knew it, there were 24 quarts and 6 pints of pickles in the basement... not counting all the jars I gave away.  We like pickles around here, but I'm not sure if we can eat that many.  Family members beware:  you may be receiving a jar of pickles for Christmas. 

Snap beans were planted a bit late this year, so we're just starting to get a harvest.  A rather disappointing harvest.  Perhaps it was the drought.  Maybe it was the spider mite infestation.  I'm not sure, but I do know that we're not getting many.  In the garden at my old house, I could fill a big colander every other day from my 1 row of beans.  Here, I'm just getting a handful of beans each day, despite the fact that I have 4 rows of beans.  I have "Blue Lake" pole beans, "Pencil Pod" yellow wax beans, and "Royal Burgundy" snap beans.  The "Blue Lake" pole beans are my favorite (did I mention I hate bending over to pick bush beans?).  My little experiment of growing pole beans on sunflowers seemed to work, but I wonder if the sunflower leaves shade the bean plants too much?  Next year, I'll experiment more. 

A variety of snap beans

The flowers I planted throughout the garden are thriving and seem to be attracting a multitude of pollinators.   When I walk in the garden, I can hear a low buzz of bees and wasps at work.  Several of them are my honey bees, but most of them are insect species I have never seen before.  It's fun to watch!  The sunflowers are especially beautiful and cheer up the whole house when we make cut flower arrangements.  We're going to try saving the seeds and roasting them. 


Yesterday, my son and I pulled up the onions.  Their tops had fallen over, the signal that they are ready.  We left them in the garden to dry and cure.  In a week or so, they will be ready for storage.  I wish I had planted more.  They look great and smell ever better!

"Cortland" and "Rossi di Milano" onions

I made the mistake of ignoring the carrots - they were doing so nicely and didn't need me fussing over them.  By the time I went to pull them, some were over sized and bitter.  Babette the cow was more than willing to take care of them for me!  We still made out with many good carrots.  I dehydrated a bunch of them and plan on throwing them into soups and stews this winter.  I may freeze some as well, but we're going to try storing most of them in our basement.  Our basement is old (1880's) and there are some cool damp corners that would work well for long term storage.  We plan on trying the "carrots in a bucket of damp sand" method.  Hope it works!

My daughter holding a variety of carrots.  Such a good little helper!

Oh, there are more things that we are harvesting right now - sweet corn, celery, sweet peppers, hot peppers, tomatillos, basil, lemon cucumbers, watermelons - but I've bored you enough.  Stop by and see us!  Remember to bring a bag to take home some goodies.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chicken Butchering

* Disclaimer:  This post is not for people who believe that meat animals are magically transformed into neatly wrapped packages that end up in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  If you are a "boneless, skinless chicken breast only" type of person and get grossed out at the thought of your meat having bones and skin, then you don't want to keep reading.  You've been warned!

Ahhh, chicken butchering....  Somehow, by performing this act, I feel like I've crossed the line from "organic, eco, green, foodie" person into real-deal "homesteader" territory.  Not too many years ago, you would have not caught me dead even considering  butchering an animal.  No siree, not me.  My meat came for the shiny clean grocery store in nice little packages, requiring me only to heat it up.  Heck, I didn't even have to touch it - just dump the individually frozen piece of meat from the bag into the pan or baking dish.  The thought of cooking a whole chicken, with all the parts intact, left me feeling queasy.  Why on earth would I want to be reminded that I was eating an animal that had at one time been a living, breathing creature? 

I've come a long way since those years. When I pondered my relationship (or lack of) with meat, I never considered going vegetarian, but completely respect those who do, for their various reasons.  However, I did start to examine the implications of eating meat and didn't like what I discovered.  Most of us of are far removed from our food sources these days.  We have no idea where it comes from, how it was raised, how it ended up on our dinner table.  We take meat for granted, rarely stopping to think about how costly it is (financially and emotionally).  I began to realize that there is a certain sacredness and spirituality to eating meat - in order for us to live, something else has to die (sound familiar, those of you that are Christ-followers?). All eating requires sacrifice.  Now this extends to plant life too, as cutting a head of lettuce from the ground is akin to slitting the throat of an animal, but the imagery is more powerful when you are talking about a breathing, moving animal.  I remember hearing my dad, the biology teacher, say more than a few times that "nature is all about sex and violence".  Truer words have never been spoken.  Even the "gentle" plant world is full of sex and violence.  Life (and eating) is violent.  Sorry Alicia Silverstone, there is no such thing as "kind diet".

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to continue consuming meat,  I needed to make sure I was being a responsible and respectful omnivore.  I found this book, "The Compassionate Carnivore" by Catherine Friend to be helpful and entertaining guide. We also came to the decision that we simply could not buy meat from the grocery store anymore.   My husband and I began in earnest to seek out meat from animals that had been raised in a manner that we valued - preferably animals that were grass-fed (in the case of beef) and pastured (in the case of chicken and pork), no antibiotics (except when needed for a sick or injured animal), fed chemical free feed, and no hormones.  And what we discovered was that while it was fairly easy to locate a source for grass-fed beef (we buy ours from Karin and John, owners of Woodbridge Dairy Farm), finding "happy" chickens was a real challenge!  

Up until our big chicken butcher, I had been buying whole chickens at Byron Center Meats, which are labeled under the "local" section.  When we pressed them about how the chickens were raised, all we could find out was that the chickens are raised on an Amish farm near Muskegon, MI.  I wanted to know more, but figured buying the chicken there (supporting a local farm and a local butcher shop) was better than buying at the grocery store.  My quest for happy chickens continued.  I came to the conclusion that my husband and I were simply going to have to raise our own meat birds and butcher them ourselves.  However, the thought of adding another project to this year totally overwhelmed me.  Since May, we have installed a 4,000+ sq ft garden, started a small orchard, fenced in two acres for a cow and 2 goats, bought 3 hogs to raise for meat, raised 12 new chickens to add to our existing flock, bought 2 beehives to maintain.... what else am I forgetting?  Oh yeah, a kitchen remodel.  Anyway, the point is, we're exhausted and over extended.  Adding meat birds to the mix just wasn't going to happen. 

So imagine our excitement when our like-minded, wanna-be farmer friends, Dan and Katie, announced that they were going to be raising meat birds this year!  I eagerly volunteered us to help out on butchering day, figuring it would be a good chance to see how much work butchering is, so we could decide if we wanted to do it ourselves.  Also, we had an adopted laying hen, which the kids named Sweetie, that was getting old ( I think she was at least 5 years old) and not laying well anymore, so it was time to cull her from the flock.  She will be turned into soup/stew meat,as I hear that old hens are quite tough.

Sweetie, our old laying hen, waiting her turn

We started early, meeting at 6am on beautiful summer morning.  45 meat birds, a breed called Freedom Rangers, were milling about in the barn, blissfully unaware of their fate.  We had about 6-9 people working throughout the day (some people had to come late/leave early).  After coffee and chit-chat we started to get down to business.  Now, let me be clear.  Most of us had no idea what we were doing.  Oh, a few of us had butchered animals before and Dan had even butchered a few of the meat birds (one broke a leg and had to be taken care of), but this was mostly uncharted territory for us.  With the aid of a few YouTube videos (what can't you learn on YouTube?!?) and my trusty book "The Small-Scale Poultry Flock" by Harvey Ussery at our side (the book includes very precise step-by-step butchering instructions with clear photos), we plunged right in.

Step One:  Retrieve chickens.  Dan would head to the back room in the barn and grab a few birds at a time to bring to the slaughter area, keeping the other birds out of view of the slaughter.  This helped to keep the chickens as stress-free as possible. The birds had been on pasture for much of their lives, but were moved into the barn a few days before slaughter to make retrival easier.   Here are the Freedom Ranger birds waiting their turn. I believe the birds were around 10 weeks old and most dressed out at around 3-5 pounds when we finished with them.

Freedom Ranger chickens

Step Two:  The slaughter.  There are several ways to slaughter a chicken, including the classic "head on the chopping block" method.  And yes, a chicken will run around with it's head cut off.  Since we were not too keen on witnessing that, Dan opted for the "killing cone" method (I wish they could come up with a better name for it).  The chickens are placed head first into an upside down cone.  As soon as they are put in the cone, they become very calm and relaxed.  Their throats are quickly slit and the chicken is allowed to bleed out for a few minutes.  The cone keeps the chicken from flopping about.

Chicken in the killing cone ready to be slaughtered

Step Three:  Loosen feathers.  All those lovely feathers must come off.  Dipping the (dead) chicken in hot, but not boiling, water for about 30-60 seconds makes the feathers pull out easily.  We used a turkey fryer filled with water to dunk the birds. 

Loosening the feathers in hot water

Step 4:  Pluck the feathers.  Some people choose to pluck their chickens by hand, but since we were doing 45 birds at one time, my husband decided to get creative and design his very own chicken plucker (he's a handy one!  I think I'll keep him).  The book "Mini Farming: Self Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre" by Brett L. Markham has a good plucker design, with instructions on how to build it, as well as a parts list.  After studying this design and watching several YouTube videos displaying various plucker styles, John built this plucker featured below.  I won't go into all the details (because I don't know how he built it - I'll make him do a guest post to explain it), but let's just say it worked great!!!!  The white PVC drum spins and has little rubber "fingers" that grab the feathers and fling them to the ground.  We were able to remove most the feathers in this manner.  There was still some hand plucking to do, but the plucker saved us hours of work.

The "Pluck-O-Matic 3000", as we dubbed it

Step 5: Eviscerate.  I won't go into detail about this part.  If you want to know more, then get "The Small Scale Poultry Flock" book and study that.  Basically, it goes like this - cut off head and neck.  Cut off legs at the joint.  Remove oil sac from base of tail.  Lay chicken on it's back and cut slit into abdomen.  Reach into slit with your whole hand and scoop out the entrails.  Done. 

Chicken feet

Step 6:  Wash and package.  After evisceration, the birds were hosed off outside.  Then we whisked them into the house and they were dunked into a sink of cold water with a tiny splash of bleach to kill any bacteria.  After another thorough rinse with plain water, they were bagged, weighed and set in the fridge to chill. 

It took us about 5 hours to butcher 45 birds.  Not bad for a bunch of beginners.  Since it was the first time for most of us, there was a definite learning curve.  Also, I think the process took longer because we didn't have specific stations or duties. Most of us wanted to try each station a few times, so we could master the skills required.  Next time, I suspect we will assign stations to make the whole process run more smoothly. 

Surprisingly, it was a very fun day.  I would never say that killing animals is fun, but being with like-minded people, working towards a common goal, is fun.  At one point, Dan laughed and said something along the lines of, "This is awesome, to see all these other people who are willing to help out and want to be here. It almost makes me feel like I'm normal".   And of course I piped up, "You need to read Joel Salatin's book, "Folks, This ain't normal". According to him, we are normal! We want to know where our food comes from. That's normal!"

John and Nate at the butcher table

As payment for our labor, Dan and Katie gave us with a few chickens to take home for our freezer.  We were thrilled with this arrangement!  I'll work for food any day.  After purchasing a few more from them as well, our freezer is stocked with enough chicken to last us at least half a year. My search for "happy" chickens is complete. 

John and I have decided that we are going to try raising our own meat birds next summer. Let us know if you want to help butcher.  We'll pay you in chicken.