Intern Lydia Writes about the Lokahi Chickens

Lydia Peterson has been an intern here at Lokahi since January and has been writing about her experiences along the way in a personal blog. You can read a copy of one of her posts about our farm below. Feel free to click on the included link to see the original and read other posts.

(Written on March 16, 2015)   A Fowl Fascination

My great interest in chickens can be dated to one key, pivotal moment in my life. Northern Thailand. Two years ago. I was in a holistic development center designed to make rural life easier for the area’s hill tribes, and the lesson of the day for us American college kids was how to eat off the land. On the menu? Chicken. And I was responsible for butchering it.

The center had an enormous chicken coop filled with very fast roosters. So fast, in fact, that they were impossible to catch. The Thai way to solve this problem is to render the bird unconscious by using a slingshot to slam a rock into the rooster’s skull, and then saunter into the pen to fetch it. Needless to say, I didn’t even bother to attempt this part. However, after the bird was fully knocked out by our Thai guide, it was deposited into my waiting arms and I began to walk it over to the butchering pavilion. This was my first time ever holding an injured, soon-to-die animal, and as I cradled it in my arms I was filled with deep emotion. I imagined I could sense the birds life force ebbing away, and I contemplated the courage I would need to take a knife to its neck in order to finish the job. It was a big moment for this city girl, and I was ready.

The moment had arrived. I began to lower the bird to the chopping block, and as I did so, that injured, droopy bird sprang to life with more force than I ever could have expected and promptly scratched and pecked its way to freedom from my arms. In a flurry of feathers and obnoxious squawks, dinner had run away into the surrounding woods, and I was left empty handed.

My shame in losing exactly half the of the meat our group was going to eat that day didn’t leave quickly, and I spent the rest of my time at the center chasing that stupid rooster through the woods with a slingshot and a bamboo pole. Numerous sighting, but I never came close to catching him. It’s a mournful thing to miss out on a chance to butcher, and I vowed to someday raise my own chickens with the intent of slaughtering them right. One chicken may have gotten away, but next time I would do it right.

It’s been a long, slow process, but I can now proudly say that I can look at a chicken without instantly wanting to wring its neck. Whether this is evidence of forgiving myself or the bird is a moot point, because now I find them endlessly fascinating. Here at Lokahi, Richard raises 30 laying hens, and tending to them is my responsibility. And what a great job it is. A very wise person once told me that my somewhat spastic personality would benefit from some “sit and see” time, or time where one simply sits and observes everything they can about one particular aspect of the landscape, usually a tree. I’m marrying this wise person so I’m willing to take him seriously, but after staring at a tree for about three minutes I knew that they weren’t stimulating enough for me. Instead, I’ve been taking a few minutes out of every day here at Lokahi to sit and watch the chickens.

It’s been freaking mind blowing. Chickens are seriously the best. First, pecking order is a real thing. These birds truly hate some of their fellow flock mates, and these poor suckers have been pecked to neck nakedness. Broodiness is also a real thing. The more family-minded of these ladies get really moody and obsessed with their nests full of eggs, squawking grumpily at me when I move their fluffy rears to get at them. To be honest, they remind me of pms-ing college girls. I can watch those birds for hours, and I swear everyday they make some new shrieking noise or freak out about a new disgusting tidbit in their compost bin.

These gals are my pals, and today intern Sarah caught me bonding with them and captured some photo evidence. I’m posting them here just to prove I’m not ashamed.

But really, it’s a little depressing that I’m already a little sad about eventually saying goodbye. But next time I bond with birds, they will be my own. And I can hardly wait. Though, I’ll have to butcher at least one, just to prove to myself I can. :)


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Since writing this post I have learned that the lack of feathers on some of our chickens’ necks isn’t because of violent behavior, but is actually a breed characteristic of the naked neck variety. Apparently these birds tend to do well in hotter climates and are preferred because of how easy they are to pluck. Who knew?!

Spa Day at Lokahi

Home Spa Treatments – Plant Enhanced Healing Potions

Total Spa Relaxation

Healing, satisfying and fun are the words that come to mind when anointing one’s body with garden fresh scrubs, lotions, masks, oils and mists made from your own garden. At Lokahi Garden Sanctuary recently, I and some of our farm interns put aside weeding and created some spa time to enjoy the plant world in a different and relaxed way.

We gathered, prepared and used some fruits, flowers and medicinal herbs from the land for facial and foot treatments.

Here is how we did it.

  1. We took a leisurely walk around our gardens and gathered the aromatic herbs, flowers and/or flower petals that called to us at the moment to use in our foot bath…spearmint for stimulation, rosemary for skin toning and softening, thyme as an anti-septic, lemon balm for calming and as an anti viral , roses for love , and calendula for skin nourishment. You can chose whatever is available and appeals to you.
  2. From our trees, we collected papaya and avocado and harvested one cucumber.
  3. We included hawaiian salt and coconut palm sugar in our preparations.

Arrange a comfortable place to sit where you can lean your head back.

Float the herbs and flowers in some hot water in a container the right size to soak your feet. Have some Hawaiian salt available to scrub your feet after the soak.

Mush up 1 tablespoon of fresh papaya for a facial exfoliant, 1 tablespoon of avocado for a facial mask, slice two thin rounds of cucumber to cover your eyes

Start with the foot soak for 5 or 7 minutes while drinking some fresh brewed garden tea. Follow the foot soak with a salt scrub. It is fun to scrub each others feet. Rinse and dry your feet.

Then spread the papaya onto your face, lean back with the cucumber rounds over your eyelids and rest while the papaya dries and exfoliates. Rinse the papaya off.

Spread the avocado onto your face, lean back with the cucumber rounds over your eyelids and rest while the avocado dries to detoxify and mosturize. Rinse the avocado off.

Your skin will glow, your feet will tingle and you will feel rejuvenated, relaxed and beautifully connected to yourself and the plants.

Total Spa Relaxation

DRAGON FRUIT–Basking in Abundance: Dragon Fruit, Queen of the Night and the Summer Solstice

lola photo(2) photo(4)What do Dragon Fruit (Pitaya), Queen of the Night (Night Blooming Cereus) and the Summer Solstice have in common? The fruit, the flower and this cycle in seasons are all powerful reminders that we are basking in abundance at this time of year. The ripeness of Summer has arrived. The longest day of the year…the fullness of the Light…is here. The fragrant blossoms die and the sweet fruits form in lusciousness.

This is a short story of the dragon fruit and its blossom which grow on the snake cactus here at Lokahi Garden Sanctuary. When you encounter the fully open blossom of the night blooming cereus, you are likely to gasp in astonishment and delight at the luminous, exotic, and erotic beauty of this flower. This flower opens only at night and wilts by morning. The natural pollinators are a nocturnal large moth or bat which are not present in Hawaii (as far I as know).
We pollinate by hand at night using a paint brush. My husband tells people I put on a fairy costume to go out and pollinate. I do feel magic in the presence of these magnificent flowers. And the look and taste of the dragon fruit is wonderful and unusual too.

Below is some nutritional information:
a good source of vitamin C especially the red skinned dragon fruit
rich in fiber and minerals, notably phosphorus and calcium. Red pitayas seem to be richer in phosphorus, yellow ones in calcium.
seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, and in particular Red pitayas contain very little saturated fats.
antioxidants are present in significant amount.
diabetics use the fruit as a source of dietary fiber and inulin.

The outside of the fruit is a mix of rich pink and greens that resemble dragon scales. The inside of the fruit can be different colors…white, pink or a magnificent rich magenta color…all flecked with tiny black seeds similar to a kiwi fruit. It has a mild refreshing sweetness.

The growing, pollinating, harvesting and eating the dragon fruit is an intense and satisfying experience.