Monday, March 31, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm...

...sitting in the pre-dawn dark figuring out the week, making our shopping list, and planning the menu for Hen's third birthday party (every morning he asks if his tractor party is here yet, love).
...keeping my ears open for the loud panicked-chick peep that we've been hearing as the feathering chicks figure out they can fly out of the bathtub (where they've been for a few days now that half of them are too big and feisty for my little brooder box), then freak out because they are suddenly loose in the bathroom (me freak out or them? um, both).
...getting 'FINISH HEN HOUSE' on the to-do list for this week so they can get out to their permanent, safe home and be completely contained.
...wondering if I could make it out to the local plant nursery amid all the other things on the to-do list this week to buy my fig tree and tomato plants (and potentially return one of my blackberry canes, as it is just not doing well at all).
...loving a weekend that saw two special dinner outings, some family and some friends, and in general a break from the norm that has left me feeling refreshed and ready to get this week started!

Oh, and by the way- it's the last day of March, too! Holy cow.


Happy Monday!

Friday, March 28, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just Relax...

It seems like I get a little sappy and sentimental around this time of year, and then again in the fall, specifically around October 17th. I'm pretty sure it has to do with the tacking on of another year to one of my babies.

Last year at this time, I was prepping for a car-and-truck themed 2-year-old birthday party.

We were in our old house, it had been on the market for one month (one month of the second go-around), and because we were going at it By Owner, my phone was ringing regularly... all. day. long.

Our garage was full of boxes still packed from the first attempt at selling the house, and much of what I wanted to use for the upcoming party was somewhere in that jungle.

It was a stressful time for all of us, but somewhere within it all there was this...

The phrase "bloom where you are planted" comes to mind when I think back to last year at this time. I remember trying to picture the following spring in a new place, maybe with some chicks somewhere around the house, a new garden, our boxes unpacked... it would almost bring me to tears because it felt like it would never happen.

The funny thing to me is the realization that all that worrying and stress didn't influence the outcome one bit. The blips here and there when I shoved it all out of my mind and focused on the present are what linger with me now, and by far they were more influential within the day than the time I spent fretting.

Photo credit

So now, one year later and kicking off the first spring in our new place, I take this lesson with me and I try to remember to just relax... because truly, nothing is under control.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Outside, it's rainy (yay!), chilly, dim and gray. The birds are all huddled... somewhere... as the birdbath is abandoned and all the fields are quiet. The wee garden sprouts are reaching out to absorb every little sprinkle, and all the sidewalk chalk that's built up for weeks is blurring into muddy rainbow-ish streams.

Inside, the heater has been cycling, the vests are back on and zipped all the way up, and the quilts were so inviting both kids took a nap this afternoon. The cat has remained in Mama's bed all day long with no desire to pester us into opening the back door, and the heat lamp over the peeps has been lowered a bit.

We're having white beans in a hot, steaming broth as part of our dinner tonight, and we'll fill the bathtub extra full at bath time. They say this light precip we're getting right now is due to two fronts fighting it out overhead, and tomorrow the warm front will win and give us temps past 80. It's just good to see the rain again, even if it's almost nothing.

It won't be long before these chilly afternoons are a thing of the past and I'll be pining for the comfort of throws on the couch and bubbling soups, so today I'll choose to relish this lapse back into the chill. After all, it looks like I'll get my chance to sweat it out back in the garden as soon as tomorrow!

Crazy Texas weather.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Walk Through the Garden, March 25th

I "finished" my garden this week.

By finished, I mean the beds are all bordered by rocks, the soil is all amended, the paths are all mulched, and everything that's weather-appropriate has been planted.

It has left me feeling a bit finished, too. My back aches, my wrist hurts, I have a huge splinter in my finger from the mulch that I can't get out at the moment (OK, it's not huge... but that's part of the problem), and I have garden glove tan lines.

BUT I wouldn't have it any other way.

They're such a good ache, these garden pains.

This evening I took a walk around my garden space as the sun was sinking low, whispering to the Universe that some rain would be appreciated, and capturing a bit of the still, a bit of the brown-ness that is the first week of my early spring garden.

Yes, that is a "sleeping" doll in the coop. Creepy, right?

Well, not everything was brown...

I revised my garden plan a bit after we brainstormed and built the fence...

...but even after thinking it all out on paper, I always end up having to reign myself in a bit when I start putting seeds in the ground... those tiny seeds don't take up much room now, but they'll get bigger (hopefully)! Stick to the plan, tweak things next year- that always seems to be my first-week-of-spring gardening mantra.

Besides, I won't have to wait long for all that brown space to fill up; already we have sprouts, already we are finding new wisps of green pushing through the soil. We are all rediscovering the quiet call to the haven we've missed for too long, and I can't wait until our next walk through the garden!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm loving...

...peeeeeeps! We finally got our chickies!

I debated long and hard between ordering chicks from a catalog vs. picking up pullets at the local feed store. I ended up going with the instant gratification of the local feed store (also, I didn't want to place the minimum order of 12-15 that most catalogs wanted... I was looking for 8-10 max).

The irony is the feed store ended up not having what they said they had over the phone, and it took almost a week for us to get the chicks we wanted... so the wait time was almost the same as for catalog birds. Then since they didn't have the breed we wanted, but we were already there with the high hopes of taking home peeps, we ended up getting 6 chicks that weren't exactly what I'd been told was in stock but were good enough. My plan was to come back for the last 2-4 when the breed I was originally looking for came in... which I did, only to find out upon our return that we had to buy an additional six birds thanks to their company policy of minimum live bird sales. So I originally planned on driving over to the feed store and bringing home 8-10 chicks all at once, but I ended up with 12 in two batches of 6 that took almost a week to get together. It would have been all the same to just order from a catalog. Cool.

On the upside, I did get to bring home chicks that first day, and since then I've been hearing wee peeps floating down the hallway from the guest bathroom which is the best. sound. ever.

The kids have to say good morning to them, check on them before nap time, check on them after nap time, and say good night to them.

I'm just as obsessed, and I've already noticed little differences in their personalities from my peeks into their warm, red, glowing room. Whenever I can I find myself stealing up the stairs and down the hallway to sit on the potty lid and watch their little antics.

We bought 10 'light' and 'red' pullets and 2 straight-run Araucanas. I'm hoping one of the straight-run chicks will be a rooster, and the rest of the ladies will all make it through their early weeks and be a peaceful, happy flock for years to come.

For now, though, I am loving our fluffy little puffs of cheep, and starting any week with them scurrying around the brooder box makes it a good week for me!

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 21, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Riggin' Chicken Brooder

Just before the very first official day of spring, it seems fitting we'd find ourselves prepping for some little spring peeps, don't you think? We'll be off to pick up our chicks just as soon as we get word that they're in from the post office (still can't believe I'm getting to do this now!), and the kids are so excited they've been doing "chicken shows" and some kind of manic "chicken dance" on and off for the past 24 hours.

The rest of the hours between No Peeps and When We Leave Go Get The Peeps have been filled thus far with activities and projects to make sure we have somewhere warm and safe for the girls to go once they come home.

We have feed. We have a feeder. We have a waterererer. We have a heat lamp and an infrared bulb. We have white wood shavings.

And now we have a brooder.

Not a fancy-pants brooder, but a rigged one that I feel will do the trick- for $13- without a lot of fuss.

Here's what I used:

  • 1 18-gallon tote with latching lid
  • 1 scrap of 1/2" 19-gauge hardware cloth
  • lightweight wire (salvaged from one of the rolls of hardware cloth used in the coop)
  • Duck Tape

Here's what I did:

Wearing safety goggles, I cut just inside the recess of the lid all the way around (the hubs says the "saw" I used
was actually a grinder with the guard removed, so maybe here do as I say and not as I do).
I then removed the flap and tossed it in the recycling.
Next I drilled holes roughly 2" apart all around the remaining recess of the lid.
With tin snips, I cut the scrap of hardware cloth to size,
making sure it was larger than the recessed part of the lid
but smaller than the lid itself.
Using the salvaged wire I "sewed" the hardware cloth onto the lid,
using the holes I drilled (this is a view from the underside of the lid).
I finished the brooder box by putting Duck Tape around the rough edges of the hardware cloth (I chose to put
the hardware cloth on the outside of the lid instead of the underside because we have a house cat that will
inevitably find his way into the bathroom where the chicks will spend the next few weeks, and I didn't want his
weight on the screen to cause gaps he could reach through).

So there you have it, our rigged chick brooder. According to my various go-to chicken how-to resources, chicks need 6 square inches of space per bird in a brooder for the first 2-3 weeks, and a minimum of 1 square foot after that until they go out to the coop. Because they need their small brooder for such a short time and we're just starting out in this whole process, it felt wise to do something that didn't require a huge investment.

It seems there are 100 right ways to get a flock started, and after I have some experience under my belt I may figure out there are 100 better ways to go about it, but for now I'm feeling good about this project, and I'm looking forward to filling it up!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gearing Up for Peeps

Checking in on this windy, warm Tuesday. The sun is up, the babes are waking, and the chicken books are back out on the table! We'll be out and about for one more half-day today, which is maddening since the weather is perfect and there is so much that calls to me here at home... but c'est la vie, no? Errands must be run, appointments kept.

But this afternoon, when we can settle back down in our space, we'll get down to the real gem of the week: deciding on, picking out, and bringing home our chicks! 

There's a bit of excitement around here, to say the least... equally from the kids and me.

So have a great week, all. I think we will!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Right Now

Right now I'm as giddy as a school girl. Lookie what I got this weekend! Methinks me gets chickens this season! I can't believe it. I really thought we'd be putting off this project until next spring... but family came together, decided that was unacceptable, and lo and behold an early birthday present for yours truly in 48 hours.

I still can't believe it.

A chicken fortress with around a 10-bird capacity that will be ready to go after only a few more finishing touches. Holy cow, I can start shopping around for chicks! So this is what it feels like when dreams start coming true.

Side note- notice how everyone's wardrobe changes as the project progresses? We apparently picked the worst weekend of the month to build this thing. It rained half the day on Saturday (I mean Rained with a capital 'R'), then got to the point of almost freezing by the end of the day on Sunday (hence the towels on the beds in the last few pics, tucking in the first little sprouts of spring). 

Among other things today, I'll be researching what types of birds I'll want to start out with, where they'll come from, and what types of supplies I'll need in the beginning.

Did I just type that? I still can't believe it.

Happy, happy Monday.