Reduce, Reuse, Reprettify!

REDUCE, REUSE, REPRETTIFY! Since we got married at such a beautiful location (South Circle Farm), we kept our decorations really simple: some fun banners, beautiful flowers, big white paper globes, floral buntings, and strands of origami birds.

Koester-112-2769817604-O

20130907. Our wedding!

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I had a wild hair to re-use them somehow in the nursery, so after the wedding, I saved them. I kind of love our nursery “mobile.”

20131214. Nursery "mobile."

20131214. Nursery "mobile."

And a couple of prints I made:

20131214. Nursery art.

ON WINTERIZING THE CHICKENS: Earlier this week, it got frigidly cold here in the Midwest.  We’re talking low single digit temperatures with wind chills in the negatives. What with this pregnant/giving birth in the middle of winter thing, I decided we needed a reliable way to keep the chicken’s water completely unfrozen, even if we have to step out to the hospital for a day or two. So, although the DIY warmer was doing okay, I broke down and bought a legit chicken waterer warmer (this one, to be exact) – and just in time.

I also rigged up a light bulb clamped into the rafters of the coop for the two nights where it got really frigid. I feared I would awaken to a Little Red popsicle on Wednesday morning, but it’s amazing the heat that one 60-watt light bulb, some cracked corn before bed time, and five chickens can produce in a small space.

Safety Note: All you have to do is Google search “chicken coop fire,” and you’ll see that heating coops is no joke. Pine shavings and dried chicken poops make a pretty good incendiary device, so be smart about any electrical or lighting device you put in those coops! Our neighbors had a heat lamp going the other night, which would scare the bejeezus out of me with how hot they get.

In short, the girls are currently happily scratching away in their snowy run, searching for treats in the hay. I also realized one of my greatest chicken-related fears last week: went to pull a glove out of my parka pocket and found it covered in goo from a forgotten, smashed egg. This is why you shouldn’t really carry eggs in your coat pockets.

AND OTHER GENERAL CUTENESS/AWESOMENESS LATELY IN OUR LIVES:
My loves:
Friday night faves.

Birdie hugs:
20131207. Birdie hugs.

Me and my beautiful madre:
20131130. Our baby shower.

Chris’ new mistress – taking things to the next level at the Space-Farm Continuum!
Taking things to the next level at the Space-Farm, y'all!

Sneak preview – Christmas knitting:
20131214. Beard!

20131214. Grumpasaurus.

Birdie and Chris’ snowman from this morning:
20131214. Chris made a snowman.

And, as of today, we are in the single digit countdown: 31 weeks down, 9 (+/-) to go!
20131213. Almost 31 weeks.

A Year Later: Checking in on That Whole “Life Plan” Thing

I’ve never really been one to have what you might call a “plan” for my life. I cringe at the “where do you want to be in five years” question, so popular among motivational speakers and prospective employers. The only grand vision I have ever had of my life is to have it be a happy and fulfilling one. What does that actually look like? Well, that’s a moving target, always shifting, which I like to think keeps things interesting.

20131020. Our fall garden, half deconstructed.

Our fall garden – beginning to harvest and prune and clean up.

With that in mind, though, I realized recently that I did set a new “life plan” for myself, just a smidge over a year ago. It is amazing to me to see what has come of that one simple proclamation in such a short amount of time.

20131020. Little Red amongst the leaves.

Little Red amongst the leaves in the chicken run.

From September 22, 2012:

However, a new life plan has manifested itself as of late, and I think it’s a damn good one. My new plan is to offer whatever services I can (aka whore myself out) to all the people I think are doing super-fantastic things in this town until one of them either hires me or adopts me… OR I learn enough that I decide I can move forward with my own thing. At the very least, I will meet people who I think are doing awesome things, learn a ton from them, and maybe, just maybe, make something out of it. At the worst? Well, I don’t really think there’s a downside, to be honest.

So yeah – new life plan: surround myself with awesome people, doing awesome things that I want to be doing, too. Seems simple, right? How did it take me so long to get here?

20131020. Birdie, totally tuckered.

Our exceedingly cuddly animals continue being exceedingly sweet.

So where am I today? Things are different and wonderful and surprising and awesome. I’m getting to create and make and grow for myself, my friends, and organizations I believe in and want to be a part of. I have a husband and a dog and a baby on the way. I am really excited for the future and to see where me and my little family are a year from now.

20131020. Prolific peppers.

The year of the prolific pepper.

In short, exciting things are happening, and they all stem back to that simple decision to just reach out and do something. I love it when positive actions receive smashingly positive results. It doesn’t always happen – at least, not to this extent – but man, is it ever cool when it does.

20131020. Fall basil.

Even the basil is ready for fall and new things to come.

 

I’m Molting! MOLTING!

Poor, scraggly Beaker gets the dubious distinction of being our first chicken to molt. I just imagine her lamenting how undignified the whole situation is.

20130915. Poor scraggly Beaker, our first molt.

Compare to our big, majestic girl under normal circumstances. Undignified, indeed!

20121014. Our chickens are the most spoiled chickens in the world.

On Cleaning the Chicken Run This Cool Morning

A Sunday morning haiku:
It was amazing,
The complex, rich, loam-y “dirt”
I scooped in brisk air.

20121214. Cover crops as chicken snacks.

I’m pretty certain the neighbors’ adolescent hens include a rogue rooster. Every morning when he gets going, I think to myself, “That ain’t no egg-layin’ chicken!” And on that note, Chris has decided if we ever get a rooster, we will name him Cock Cousteau.

One other haiku-related thought: I realized the other day that I use the word “amazing” a lot, and I began to think of it as a problem, scanning my mental thesaurus for other options. This morning, though, as I trucked that complex, rich, loam-y dirt/poop/straw from the chicken run to the compost, I decided if I use the word “amazing” too often to describe my life, this is, in fact, a very good thing. Maybe the best thing. “She lived, and it was amazing.”

Little Red, Big World…

Chickens running is definitely up there on the list of simple things that can make me ridiculously happy no matter what the weather, my personal circumstances, or what bad news I might have received.

Thus begins my NEW EPIC VIDEO QUEST – the quest to get what I believe is the epitome of the chicken run, the Little Red run, captured on video. I’m not sure how well I succeeded tonight, but the chickens do come when called more reliably than Birdie does.

Speaking of Little Red, she laid a mutant egg today:

20130507. Little Red's mutant egg.

While I was out playing with the chickens, Birdie, feeling left out and alone in the house, attempted to guess my password so she could have a YouTube chicken video marathon of her own.

20130507. Birdie doesn't know my password, but she's dying to watch cat videos on the internet.

(She didn’t guess it).

Hens are Supposed to be Quiet, Right?

Our hens are pretty quiet overall, but our leghorn makes a tremendous amount of noise after laying an egg. It’s loud enough that we can hear it from inside the house. I’m not sure if this is a breed or individual characteristic. Are any of your hens noisier than others?

I finally managed to capture her on video. So here’s Boo, singing loudly after laying.  Switch to 720p HD for best quality.

Pics or It Didn’t Happen…

The current state of affairs around these parts:

20130504. Garden hands.

I planted some more tomatoes – post-planting garden hands.

20130504. Salads always.

Lettuce cam!

20130504. Roughly 97 garlic cloves.

What 97 growing garlic cloves look like (I know… I counted).

20130504. Strawberries!

Overwintered strawberries.

20130504. Chris finishing up the hop trellis.

Finishing up the hop trellis.

20130504. Birdie and the birds.

Birdie and the birds.

20130504. My Little Red.

My littlest Little Red.

20130504. Garden face.

Glad for overcast skies and cool temperatures: flannel shirt weather.

Free Kindle Book on Amazon Today – Backyard Chickens for Beginners

Amazon is offering a free e-booklet on backyard chickens today. If you don’t have  a Kindle you can read it via the Kindle Cloud Reader.

Backyard Chickens for Beginners: Getting the Best Chickens, Choosing Coops, Feeding and Care, and Beating City Chicken Laws (36-page Booklet) by R. J. Ruppenthal

Backyard Chickens for Beginners: Getting the Best Chickens, Choosing Coops, Feeding and Care, and Beating City Chicken Laws (36-page Booklet)

Backyard Chickens for Beginners: Getting the Best Chickens, Choosing Coops, Feeding and Care, and Beating City Chicken Laws (36-page Booklet)

Rotational Grazing, Space-Farm Style…

Here on our little postage stamp of land, we practice our own version of rotational grazing. It goes something like this:

  • First, you let the chickens loose. They eat lots of weedy grass and worms and hay and, sometimes, the perennials just starting  to come back from a long winter.
  • The chickens poop. Everywhere. Seriously, I keep walking into the backyard barefoot, and I don’t know what my problem is. Landmines, I tell you. LANDMINES.
  • Then, you let Birdie the dog loose. Birdie eats the taller grasses, as well as the poops. We call them “lawn snacks.” Then Birdie poops.
  • And… repeat the above process.

Eat your heart out, Joel Salatin!