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Hip Hop Rap, Chinese Monkey Tatoos, Chiggahs, Hashish In China, and Swirling Cymbals

This is part of an email I just received from John Featherston, a builder and musician in South Carolina, and is a response to my blog of 06/05/06, wherein I mentioned music I was listening to and showed photos of a monkey tattooed on a surfer's arm. There was a photo in the email of the "shop" John refers to. This is great writing!

…You apparently are a music lover. The shop pictured has about 15,000 vinyl LPs upstair but I'm really wanting to tell you that you must see/hear The Waybacks from the Bay Area... closest one to you lives in Larkspur in a house frequented by Timothy Leary, overlooking the house the Grateful Dead wrote Working Man's Dead in, up the street from where Janis and Big Brother practiced. Anyway The Waybacks are as good as any band I've EVER heard. They, with Bob Wier, took MerleFest to new heigths a few weeks ago. mbals, dancers.... then the dancing dragons.... four of 'em. I'm hanging out the window taking pics and next thing I know this mob of performers start into the building and flow into the apt. Boom Boom Boom clang clang..... dancers, drummers, cymbals swirling and dancing..... then enter the dragons. We had four dragons (red, yellow and blue) dance all over us for several minutes.... then they left. Now I've done and seen a lot but I've never ever been danced on by dragons. OK... long enough.....sorry. Hope you enjoyed. John
Oops.... as a scrounger/builder I also ended up with an outdoor music facility in upstate SC. The web site doesn't do it justice but:

Night concert at The Music Camp

Homesteaders Special: Chicken Breeds That Are Setters And Those That Are Not

Organic Free-Range Fresh Eggs Daily

This is a valuable bit of info I just learned about chickens. (This will only be of interest to people who now have — or are comtemplating obtaining — chickens.)
We have had chickens, in varying numbers for over 30 years. They are the one species left over from the '70s and '80s when I put a lot less time into publishing and more time into raising food. In those years we had goats, bees, and chickens. I eventually abandoned goats (SO much work!) and bees (I'll get them again when I'm 90, I love working with them, they are an 85 million year old species) but we've still got chickens, as the time spent is well worth it in fresh eggs daily. This time we have bantams — Rhode Island Reds, and Auracanas, which lay green eggs.
We get day-old baby chicks express mailed by Murray McMurray Hatchery out of Webster, Iowa. This is a great resource, beloved by homesteaders for the quality of their chickens, and their service:
I ran into a problem with too many of the bantam hens setting. (This is when genes — in some breeds — kick in, and a hen will go "broody," fluffing out all her feathers, and sitting on the biggest batch of eggs she can find in the nests. Her intent is to stay on them for 21 days or so until they hatch.) It's a hassle because the other birds have a hard time getting into the nests to lay eggs. Here's some good info for people with chickens:

Rhode Island Red Bantams vs. Auracana Bantams

I wrote McMurray 6/03/06:
We've been getting chicks from you for 30 years. We could always count on Rhode Island Reds not to set. When we got RI bantams a few years back, we found out that they set like crazy. In other words, the non-setting genes didn't get carried over into the bantams. Auracana bantams, on the other hand, are like the full sized birds in that they don't set.

Are you aware of this characteristic in the Rhode Island bantams?

Do you have a list of hens, both bantam and full sized that do not set? (I know white Leghorns don't set.

I ask this because dealing with a half dozen setters is a major hassle. It upsets the other chickens, you have to isolate them, etc.

Thanks for the great birds through the years!

"Good Setters," "Non-Setters"

Pat from Murray McMurray Replied 6/05/06:
As a general rule, bantams do tend to be better setters that their standard
counter parts. I have very little information on bantams as to which birds
are good setters or not.
The hatchery supplies us with some additional notes on birds that are not
included in the catalog. The following standard sized birds are listed as
"good setters":

Buff Orpington
Partridge Rock
Buff Rock
White Orpington
Speckled Sussex
Columbian Wyandotte
Columbian Rock
Light Brahma
Dark Cornish

These birds are listed as "non-setters":
Silver Laced Wyandotte
Black Australorp
Rhode Island Red
Red Star
Black Star
Blue Andalusians
Red Leghorn
Single Comb Brown Leghorn
Rose Comb Brown Leghorn

Breeds that are not listed in either group are listed as "sometimes will set"
or have no notes at all regarding setting.


Roadkill Raccoon, Driftwood Beach Shack, Surfing at Pleasure Point, The Monkey Tattoo, The Metal Gorilla

All having occurred in the past 20 hours.
I got up at 3 AM this morning. My son Will, a drummer living in Santa Cruz, wanted me to come down and see the gospel choir he's been playing with. I figured I might get a little surfing in, hence the early hour. The Golden Gate Bridge was stunning. There were very few cars, and the rust red color of the bridge was a contrast against the blue black inky sky. I've grown up with the bridge, been under it in a kayak, and all the way to the top one warm night, yet it still takes my breath away each time I see it. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever," or something to that effect.

When I go to Santa Cruz I'm on automatic pilot, down Highway One. Except this morning I get past Pacifica and learn that Hwy One is closed, so backtrack to 280 and take the road to the coast (to Half Moon Bay) from Crystal Lakes . This is kind of a remarkable road in that it has miles of concrete retaining walls, like 60-80' high, all made to look like natural rock. It's a technique road builders have developed in recent years. When you get close to the coast, there are a bunch of metal sculptures by different artists, pretty unique, and a whole bunch of nurseries. You can buy strawberries, cherries, and corn at roadside stands, and the Flying Fish Cafe is a great little funky seafood roadhouse.

Relief to be out on the coast. I've been making the San Francisco-Santa Cruz trek for over 50 years now, and I love the route. It hasn't really changed that much in all this time. So I'm driving along, heading south, the sun coming up, and here's a raccoon lying on the side of the road so of course I turn around and come back. It's a beautiful raccoon, shiny coat, just recently killed, so I pick it up.

El Bandido

I should explain that I have picked up dead animals over the years and skinned them. After skinning, I stretch them out on a piece of plywood and salt the hide, then after a week, send it off to Bucks County Fur Products in Quakertown PA, and 6 weeks later I will get back a clean tanned hide via UPS. I have a beautiful skunk skin, 2 squirrels, an exquisite bobcat, and most recently a beautiful little long-tailed weasel. Now I'll have a coon skin.

Heading on down the coast I spot this little driftwood beach shack:

I come into Santa Cruz around 7:30, get 2 crumb donuts at the donut store on Mission street, then pick up a latte at Coffeetopia a few blocks down and go to check the surf. It looks good. I have a few hours before the gospel choir, so suit up and go out at what we used to call "Inside Pleasure," now known as 38th Avenue. The water's warm, the waves good. It's crowded but there are good vibes. One guy is surfing in just his trunks, no leash, a 50s touch. Fun! As I am getting out of my wet suit I spot surfer Paul Nelson, with this tattoo:

Check the monkey!

Santa Cruz is where Southern California starts. It's warmer. It's looser. There's a hint of the tropics. People are mellower. There's a car culture. Hot rods, vintage cars, huge 4x4s, hot sports cars.

Lots of Harleys. There are also a lot of 50-60-year old retired guys sitting around at coffee shops without much to do. I've got ties to SC. I was a lifeguard there in the mid-50s and, ahem! according to my mom, I was conceived there. When I went to Stanford I got into surfing and ended up spending more time in Santa Cruz than in Palo Alto. Jeez, Santa Cruz in the '50s, it breaks your heart to think of it then. Before wet suits, before foam boards, before the University of California.
On the way down and back, I listen to Jerry Lee Lewis - The (Complete) Session Recorded in London - I was never a Jerry Lee fan, he seemed like such a jerk. But Lordy, is he good! This 2-volume set is a masterpiece. Baby what you want me to do?

Then on to another kind of music. The Inner Light Ministries in Aptos. It turns out to be a huge crowd and the 48-person choir, led by Valerie Joy, who also sings like an angel. It is GOOD! I hadn't expected anything like this. After some preaching, the choir comes back out and a wisp of a girl with strawberry blonde hair comes out and sings in a huge voice, she reminds me a bit of Patti Smith, it's a rockin' number. Reverend Deborah Johnson talks about balance. She leans over to her right and says, "You get really high," and then leans to her left and says "then you're down-down-down." Better to try to stay balanced, she says, than go through this teeter-totter of ups and downs. The choir finishes with a reggae number that has everyone up and dancing. This has turned out to be pretty darned good day! I head back up the coast with my raccoon.

Here's a gorilla in Half Moon Bay. Hey, ain't life rich?