Farms in Montclair?

FARMS IN MONTCLAIR? You might be surprised at the number of folks who have chickens, goats and all manner of livestock in the hills. Take the Hawkey family, for instance. They’ve got a pair of goats, two rabbits and, count ’em — nine chickens.

You might say it’s a zoo at their house, but well worth it when you consider they don’t need a weed wacker and rarely buy eggs. And they aren’t the only ones.

Hills resident Liz Taylor says, “Your readers might be interested to know what a pleasant addition a few pet hens can be. Not only will they consume your kitchen scraps, they are also death on snails, flies, ticks and other pests.”

She says the steady supply of fresh eggs will put any store bought eggs to shame, not to mention the fertilizer the chickens provide, quite naturally. It’s no wonder Montclair has a thriving 4H chapter with the pet project of … raising chickens.

Speaking of animals

Knowing my penchant for cats, at least two readers have sent me clippings on how to keep tabby from turning your garden into a personal litter box. The best idea calls for spreading red pepper flakes liberally around your plants. Pussy soon learns that these spicy flakes are not fun on the tongue — thus they avoid padding through the peppered plant mixture.

E-mail bag

Thanks to Barbara Harrison for the kind words on my April 2 tribute to Crogan’s owner Bob Gattis. “We have just come off a long week of good-byes to our dearest friend of 30-plus years, and continue to be moved by the number of people who were affected by Bob’s spirit and largess,” she writes. “Though you didn’t know him, I think you got his essence. His wife, Anne, will be very pleased by your kind words.”

Snail mail

Business is reportedly picking up at the new drive-by mailbox at Mountain and Colton. Reader Nancy, aka “the slipper lady,” says she was mailing a check to the Waste Management Co. and had to wait for two cars that were ahead of her in the drop-off line. “Then as I started to drive away, another car pulled up to the box behind me. That was four drops within about 1 minute! Fantastic!!!” she adds (with triple exclamation points).

Innkeeper update

After a nationwide search, two new innkeepers are running the bed and breakfast at the East Bay’s own East Brother Light Station. The Spelmans bring an interesting blend of talents to this unique job.

Lucien Spelman is a first officer for Hornblower Cruises and has taught sailing on Lake Merritt. (He’s licensed to take guests by boat to and from the island). Isabella Spellman has been managing the Emeryville Marina and loves horticulture and interior design. Moving to the island (off the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge) means more room for both of them. They’ll be living in a house, now, instead of on a boat.

Flower power

Thanks to reader Kathy Castaldi for telling me about an East Bay woman who’s painting the town orange. Kathy says a co-worker gave her poppy seeds to plant and told her they were from a San Leandro woman with an organization called Native Daughters of the Golden West.

“One of their “missions” is planting poppy seeds all over California — so if you send a self-addressed stamped envelope to her, she’ll send you back poppy seeds to plant,” says Castaldi.

Indeed, the flower gal’s name is Carolyn Barber, writer her care of El Cereso Parlor #207, 2470 Washington Avenue #19, San Leandro, CA 94577. Native Daughters of the Golden West has been a fraternal organization for over a century, working to save the environment.

Speaking French

The Town Crier gets some interesting phone messages, but rarely in a foreign language. Reader Michelle DeRobertis had me pulling out my French/English dictionary the other day, when she told me her daughter, Nicola DeRobertis, a senior at St. Mary’s College High School, had tied for first place in a French speaking contest. Congratulations, Nicola, and merci, Michelle.


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