Let’s play chicken

The COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders prompted a surge in homesteading popularity, and many Carpinterians whose closest contact with a chicken had been drumsticks off the barbecue found themselves welcoming new feathered friends into their family. Chicken rearing isn’t for everyone (they do poop a lot), but backyard chickens have a lot going for them. They control weeds and bugs without chemicals, fertilize the yard, make great pets, and can produce up to 300 eggs a year. 

Before you get started: 

Due to their recent off-the-charts popularity, chicks are sold out and backordered all over the US right now. Dare 2 Dream Farms in Lompoc hatches chicks for order each week. Other retailers to try are Island Seed and Feed in Goleta and Ojai Valley Feed in Ojai. 

In the City of Carpinteria, you can obtain a permit for one chicken per 1,000 square feet of property (max. 24 chickens). They must be kept in an enclosed coop that is at least 25 feet from residences. And no roosters are allowed (cock-a-doodle-don’t).

Chicks need to start off indoors in a brooder—basically any type of container that will keep them clean, warm and safe. They need to be kept under a heat lamp until their feathers come in at around 5 to 8 weeks old.

When your chicks are ready to move outside to a coop, you can go the DIY route, buy a kit, or purchase a pre-made coop. Important coop components include nesting boxes and roosts that are protected from predators and harsh weather. The coop should also have a run where the chickens can forage and exercise. 

Did you know?

1. Chickens have personalities! If you spend time with your chicks from the start, they will bond with you and become your companions. 

2. Eggs laid by chickens that can run, scratch and play are way more nutritious. They have less cholesterol and saturated fat and more of vitamins A and D, omega-3 fatty acids, and beta carotene. 

3. It takes 25 hours for an egg to be made inside a hen.

4. A chicken’s vocabulary includes more than 30 types of vocalizations.

5. Chicken necks have more bones than giraffe necks. 

6. Complex social structures known as “pecking orders” are formed  by chickens, and every chicken knows his or her place on the social ladder.

7. A chicken will learn to recognize its own name as well as the names of other chickens in its flock.

8. Chickens are among the closest living relatives to the Tyrannosaurus rex.

 

Fostering community

When Rosa Markolf sits in the supersized, 3,000-pound double Adirondack chair installed on Holly Beach to honor her late husband Foster, it’s as if her beloved is beside her again. “I feel peaceful, and sense his presence,” she says.

Foster and Rosa moved from the Bay Area to Carpinteria in 1996 to live by the beach where Foster had camped as a child. Before his sudden death in 2018, Foster spent hundreds of hours in the sand at the end of Holly Avenue. “He would sit there every afternoon, reading, watching the pelicans, listening to the Dodgers game and talking to (lifeguard) Chuck Graham, if he was there,” Rosa remembers. “When we first moved here Foster was still working and flying to San Jose once a week for meetings. He would tease his workmates that he couldn’t hear them because the surf was too loud.”

 Foster leaves a legacy that extends far beyond his special spot on Holly Beach. The tireless community volunteer dedicated himself to local causes that included homelessness, Carpinteria Beautiful, and Friends of the Library.

 After the City of Carpinteria greenlighted the memorial chair last year, Foster’s son Derek Markolf and friend Bryan Mootz helped Rosa with the technical details. Sealed in graffiti-proof acrylic, the 60-inch-wide, 39-inch-tall chair was stained Dodger Blue as a nod to Foster’s favorite baseball team. Foster’s grandson William Parsons installed mosaic tiles designed by Rosa to showcase Foster’s favorite quote. Now the widow’s heart soars when she sees others relaxing in the chair, using it for photos or reading the words that meant so much to Foster: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you will live forever.”

 

A history in six rounds

It’s been nearly a decade since Jill Castro discovered an old, rusted Colt revolver under her stairwell. Wrapped in heavy burlap and mystery, the 4-pound firearm has since been researched, cleaned and donated to the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History. 

Castro’s downtown Carpinteria home was built in 1902 and owned for more than 100 years by her late husband and his relatives, members of the Castro and Shepard families. The home is steeped in Carpinteria history, which fueled Castro’s interest in the revolver’s provenance. 

After she stumbled upon it in 2011, Castro gave the damaged firearm to Coastal View News co-publisher Gary Dobbins to restore. Dobbins, a gun enthusiast with a keen interest in local history, spent years removing rust and gun powder residue and researching the origin of the weapon. Manufactured around 1850, the Colt Dragoon is believed to have been used in the Civil War before being owned by Simeon Shepard, the great-grandfather of Jill’s late husband Gary Castro.  

The firearm’s long life is still full of unknowns, but providing it a forever home in a museum dedicated to preserving local history “makes my heart feel really, really good,” says Jill.

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