Chickens…week 7

Week 7 – I broke down and agreed with my husband to spend the money on a Chicken condo. Yes, I said it. A chicken condo. I know all you real gardeners and farmers are laughing your pants off, but I am desperate and I agreed to the chicken condo. I was completely against spending $1500.00 on a chicken hutch and run. I just kept telling him to build something. ANYTHING!!!  Nope, he wants the condo. So a condo it is. It will take 5 years to obtain ROI.

My husband came home tonight with a chicken coop. At least it is not visual pollution.  He obtained a coop that visually matched the style of our yard. It looks as thought is has been there forever. He was able to get an excellent deal from Tuckers Coops.com

Many of the costly upgrades, like a special flooring, insulation, metal roof  and 1×1 cage covering were standard on Tucker Coups and the cost was under $1000.00. Hopefully this will work out.

6am the day after the chicken coop arrived. I work up to find the children in the yard in their pajamas sitting and watching the chickens. They don’t wake up like that for school. Maybe the chickens can stay.

9am the day after the chicken coop arrived. Who is trespassing in my back yard near my chicken coop?? Is that my husband? Sitting and watching the chickens?? Is he smiling?? What just happened here?

Thank you www.Tuckerscoops.com. Thank you Nielsen Automotive Group for the truck to pick up the chicken coop.  The chickens can stay….for now.

Thank you Nielsen Automotive Group

another pic of coup on truck

children in PJs

6am saturady morning

Husband & chickens

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Chickens…week 5&6

new portable outside run for the chickens and ducks

Week 5 – MY, MY, MY, THAT IS A POWERFUL SMELL!!!  I think the chickens may have to go. That STINK is just too much. They keep getting out of their box and pooping everywhere. This is CRAZY. I am not a farmer. What on Earth was I thinking? 8 chickens and 2 ducks. How am I going to tell my children we have to get rid of these animals. I can’t keep them. I can’t do this. I have a corporate job, a TV show to produce, and a family to care for. I do not have the time to clean up after 8 chickens and 2 ducks every morning and every night. This is adding 1.5 hours of work to my daily routine. I am done with chickens. The children will just have to adjust. Fresh eggs don’t taste that good anyway. I can buy them at the store. Eggs are not expensive. My “growing what you eat” budget will still work. I will start my “Better Way of Life” with vegetables. Chickens were not a good decision for our suburban family lifestyle. Stress levels are escalating. Why do husbands disappear when poop appears and where the heck is that chicken coop book?

Week 6 – Brother to the rescue. The chickens are pullets now and getting bigger everyday. They just keep eating and pooping. It is amazing how much they can process through such a little stomach. I am feeding and watering them 3 times a day. This is not how I envisioned things to be. I severely under estimated the amount of poop and mess. They have ruined my back porch. I will need new carpet and new cushions for the furniture. They are expert escape artists. No matter what I do, they get out of the box first thing in the morning. And that smell!! I just can’t seem to get rid of the smell of wet starter mash. Yuck! It smells like baby vomit. The milk kind. The smell that makes you gag just thinking about it. The chickens are going to have to go.

I don’t hate the chickens. They are actually very soft and snuggley and when the hop on you lap and fluff your clothes and fall asleep on you there is a moment…A brief moment when something comes over you. A gift imparted by the little creature. A peace that comes to your soul…. But only for a few seconds because then she poops on you. I never knew chickens could poop in their sleep!!!

Husband is still resisting the idea of building a chicken coop in the back yard. Moving the chickens to a huge metal cage and on the deck (to get them off of my porch). Deck idea not working out. It is just making the deck a mess and we eat out there. Of course it is raining this week so we have to move the chickens back onto the back porch. I had the talk with the children. It is time we found the chickens a better home, maybe a farm to live on. They sniffled and cried  and called Uncle Harry. “We love these chickens, Uncle Harry don’t let mean mommy take our chickens away.” Uncle Harry came over and built us a run. All of the poop is now on the grass. Still move them to the garage at night because temps are still in the 30′s at night. This is better. The children can open the run on their own. They are much more comfortable handling the chickens on their own. I have no idea where my husband is.

Chickens are now pullets

Chickens are now pullets

april2015 010

Chicks on the deck

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Chickens…weeks 3&4

Week 3- The chicks are starting to get real feathers. What interesting colors and patterns they have. I am glad I selected a mix of different chickens. Of course now the names we picked no longer make sense because their markings are changing. The mess is getting a bit too much for the house. Time to move the chicks a larger area on the back porch. Need to buy more bedding, bigger water and food containers. Ordered “How to Build a Chicken Coop” from AMAZON. The weather was in the 60′s this week so we had our first venture outside. We used the old baby gates and created a pen for them. It was warmest in the front yard so many of the neighbors came by to see them and visit. Nice to visit with everyone after such a long miserable winter. Where is that husband of mine?

Week 4 – Get those animals out of my house! The chickens can now fly short distances and they are starting to jump an hop. We need to put a cover on their home.  The children are taking the chickens outside every afternoon after school. What a production. The children are a little hesitant to handle the chickens now that they jump and peck. Definitely more work this week. This morning the chickens jumped out of the box before I woke up and pooped all over the back porch. A little crazy trying to clean everything up and get everyone ready for school and work. Hopefully we can prevent this from happening again. My husband is refusing to build a chicken coop and demanding the end of my “Better Way” experiment.

Chickens and ducks

Babies have grown in just a few short weeks

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The chickens have arrived…week 1&2

It has been a few weeks since the chickens have arrived. What a roller coaster of emotions.

Week 1 – These chicks are adorable. Just look at my children interact with them. The children are learning about babies and how to care for them. This is valuable life learning. I am happy. Getting these chickens was a good idea. What was I so worried about? I even found myself getting up in the night to check on them. My husband even slept in a chair next to them the first few night to make sure they would be okay thru the night.

Week 2 – Still cute. Look how these little chicks have grown. The chicks are a great motivation for the family. Let’s clean up from dinner quickly so we can play with the chicks. Let’s finish our homework quickly so we can tend to the chicks. We finalized the names for the chickens. Of course the ducks are Mr. & Mrs. Quack. The chickens are Sunshine, Tap, Speedy, Tweety, Spot, Hugsley, Chickoletta & Rainbow. Starting to think this was a really good idea. Maybe I am a genius after all.

Baby Chicks Just arrived

Cute baby chicks and ducks

Too Cute.

Too Cute. What a great way to start spring.

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There has to be a better way…

Some of you may know 18 months ago I sold out and went back to Corporate America. 10 months into the job, I found myself caught in the Never Good Enough corporate culture. I find myself feeling like there is not enough time to do my job, not enough energy to take care of my family, not enough relaxation on weekends to get me thru the next week. Let alone take care of my garden. And for what? A little extra money to improve the quality of our lives??!

I keep telling myself THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY.

6 months ago, at the start of fall, I was reading an article in Mother Earth News. 5 families cut their household expenses by making self sufficient lifestyle choices like growing their own food. We are a typical suburbanite family of 4. I would love to be able to cut our expense so there is a little money for the extras. I decided I was going to give this self sustaining lifestyle a try. I was full of enthusiasm. I made lists of ideas and plans, lots of plans. I need to determine if having a few chickens and growing a few tomatoes could REALLY make that much of a difference?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not packing up and moving to Montana to live off the grid. I want to determine if there is some hybrid sustainable life that would allow me to live in civilization with electric, television and grocery stores a few miles from my house. Could there be a combination of modern suburban life and sustainable independence that strikes that perfect work life balance and frees me from the corporate hamster wheel.

It has been a long, cold snow filled winter. I am about to start my journey. Each week I will try to post an entry into this blog along with pictures testing my theory that there truly is a better way.

It is the beginning of April, we are still having snow and frost. I estimate our growing season is already 30 days shorter and I am starting out behind schedule. I have not been able to plant the potatoes because the ground is frozen solid. But a commitment is a commitment. Frozen ground or not the chickens have arrived…

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Snow is good for our garden, believe it or not.

First day of spring and we have 4 inches of snow. What a bummer for most gardeners. My friend Kathy B. reminded me nature has a plan.
That got me thinking…what are the benefits of snow. Here is some of what I found:

1. Snow protects perennials, bulbs and bushes from damage due to the cycle of freeze and thaw.
2. Snow conserves ground moisture and reduces the risk of drought.
3. It is beautiful to look at (my daughter said Elsa came to visit last night)
4. Snow reduces pest insect populations such as ticks, fleas and beetles.
5. Snow Day. Snowball fight & snow man building contests.
6. Snow cleans the air of particulates, so we can breathe deeper and easier.
7. Spring snow provides slow release nitrogen fertilizer for emerging plants.

So sit back and relax. Enjoy this last snow day before the rush of spring arrives. Nature has got your back. Thanks Kathy!

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Spring is almost here! Yay or Nay?

Spring is only 7 days away. Most years this would be a Yay!! But this year I am feeling a bit dreadful of all the work ahead of me. It got me thinking… How many people love spring and finally getting outside for a little exercise? and How how many people dread spring cleanup and chores? What are your thoughts?

Here is my Garden it has been a long record cold winter. The greenhouse frosted and i have to perform damage control. I still have 8 inches of snow on the ground and i have not ordered a single seed. Even attending the NJ, Philadelphia and Spring fest flower shows did not give me spring fever. I know a few hours of spring clean up and preventative chores will save me days of grief in the summer.

I am going to post weekly blogs and videos of my success climbing out of this slump and of my failures. Be sure to check back and see how things are going.

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Spring is only 7 days away. Most years this would be a Yay!! But this year I am feeling a bit dreadful of all the work ahead of me. It got me thinking… How many people love spring and finally getting outside for a little exercise? and How how many people dread spring cleanup and chores? What are your thoughts?

Here is my Garden it has been a long record cold winter. The greenhouse frosted and i have to perform damage control. I still have 8 inches of snow on the ground and i have not ordered a single seed. Even attending the NJ, Philadelphia and Spring fest flower shows did not give me spring fever. I know a few hours of spring clean up and preventative chores will save me days of grief in the summer.

I am going to post weekly blogs and videos of my success climbing out of this slump and of my failures. Be sure to check back and see how things are going.

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Earth Day 2012

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22, 2012. I thought this week I would share some cool ways to celebrate Earth Day and reconnecting with nature.

The centerpiece of Earth Day in the United States will be a rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 

I like to plant new perennials and divide the established perennials for Earth Day. You would be surprised how over the years the garden has filled out. I divide my perennials and share them with garden club friends.

This year I am also going to volunteer with a local preschool and talk about recycling and reusing. The children will plant flowers in a repurposed container as a Mother’s Day gift for mommy.

The Earth Day Network has a campaign to register A Billion Acts of Green. To register your act of green go to http://act.earthday.org/events. As of the writing of this blog entry the counter is at 920,860,605.

I also found a fun link to calculate your carbon footprint. Go to www.climatepath.org.

There are some great green conservation tips at www.climatepath.org/conservation, www.greenlivingtips.com and of course at www.ANakedGardener.com/greenliving.

We would love to hear your Earth Day thoughts, photos and stories. Until next week… Happpy Gardening!

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The Universal Egg

In my culture, Ruthenian, any new inauguration begins with an egg. It is the source of life – from which all other things evolve. So for this, my first entry into the world of blogging and at this time of seasonal change, the Spring Equinox it is fitting to discuss the life giving forces that are all around us.

   Each culture in the world today has at least one myth associated with the Cosmic Egg. From the Jewish Seder meal & its roasted egg, to the Resurrection symbolism of the Christians, to the Pagans celebrating Athena’s Rabbit bringing eggs for prosperity & fertility and then the Islamic tradition of hanging a large ostrich egg above the doorway of a mosque to welcome sinners back into the community.  This allegory centered upon the belief that like the female ostrich who returned to her nest at the time of her eggs hatching –the sinners would also repent of their sins and return to Allah when their time was right. And so this symbol was hung in the doorway to welcome them home.

   Hanging eggs in the windows and doorways is also an ancient form of protection against evil entering the home. Any opening is a source of unguarded access to the love & power of the family within & so need special protections. Evil cannot enter unless invited. Eggs, especially decorated ones with colors & symbols are a safeguard against evil & bad luck entering the home.

The Eastern European traditional egg decorating method of protection from evil, (sometimes known as “pysanky” really means” to write”) can be dated back to prehistoric times. It is a pictorial language with colors, signs & symbols of goodness & hope, prosperity, fertility, love, wealth & health used as words to tell a story. The designs are not just pretty, they mean something & can be read by those who know the language. And like the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, folkart eggs do not have symbols or colors representing negative forces.

Before 1859, all dyes were manufactured from plant based materials to produce color on fabric, leather etc. So to create these eggs, various plant materials were used to enhance the protective powers of the symbols.

As a result certain floral designs and foods were developed to assist in the power of goodness for the family & community and have become part of our spring time related festivals. That is the true meaning of the Universal Egg, the Bringer of Life.

Let us rejoice & prosper in all forms of Life.

To that end I would like to invite you to share your stories with me, pictures of   your eggs and floral designs & special foods to celebrate this joyous life giving time of year.

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