Monday, February 28, 2011

Kindred Spirits

I recently read a post by Kathleen from “Eggs In My Pocket” that made me laugh so hard that I immediately ran to Mom’s room to show it to her.  “What could be so funny?” you might wonder.  Kathleen had taken pictures of her cookbook collection for her post entitled, “I Love Cook Books---" , and you will see why I found it so amusing in just a minute.
When we remodeled our kitchen, Robert decided it would be nice to have a breakfast bar along the outer wall.  I asked that he not use plain legs at each end of the bar; instead, I thought it would be a good idea to have cubes holding up the countertop.  Why cubes?  Well, here’s the support for the left side of the breakfast bar:

And here’s the support for the right side of the breakfast bar:

Do you see the humor now?
Kathleen’s blog is just one of many blogs that I have discovered and enjoyed.  I not only enjoy these blogs, but I also have found that they have helped my self-esteem like nothing else.  You see, when it comes to loving squirrels, chickens, cook books, compost, and wanting to live in the country, I am the oddball in my family.  This has led me at times to question the wisdom and validity of my own desires and dreams.  I lived over 40 years as a city girl, and I was perfectly content.  Why, all of the sudden was I morphing into an animal-loving, learning-to-quilt-and-sew, earth mother? Was I losing my mind?  Was this one of those horrid side effects of pre-menopause?  Was I just a nit-wit?
The blogs which I have discovered and enjoyed have let me know that I am not alone.  As I read the experiences of others, those experiences are always good for a chuckle and a lot of inspiration as well!  The ties that I feel toward people whom I have never met constantly amaze me.
I initially was not into reading blogs, nor was I interested in writing blogs.  I am a practical girl with lots to do, and therefore everything that I do has to have a purpose.  Then I became the “Emergency Preparedness Specialist” for my congregation at church.  There wasn’t enough paper in the world to give out all of the neat information that I was finding, so I began my blog, “The Gan-Green Thumb”.  In addition to articles about food storage, flood insurance, 72-hour kits, etc., “The Gan-Green Thumb” is also a chronicle of my misadventures in gardening (an essential part of self-reliance).  I try and fail and try again, and then I report on my experiences.  This blog was a worthwhile venture for me because it was a tool to help others find resources to help them in their quest for self-reliance.  It had a purpose.
I had no desire to have a personal/family blog.  However, two people changed my idea about that.  My friend, Kim, and I had just reconnected via Facebook after losing touch for several years.  I absolutely LOVED being able to check in on her and her house full of rescue dogs via her blog, “Life at Golden Pines”.  Talk about connecting!  Also, my daughter has a blog, “Lackey Antics”, and through her blog (as well as Kim’s) I began to see the possibilities.
Thus, “Woodbury World” was born, and it wasn’t long before I was blog surfing to see what else was out there, as well as reading the blogs that many of my new friends had listed on their reading lists.  I have found treasure beyond belief!
Maura at "Lilac Lane Cottage" was kind enough to make a comment on my chicken post and let me know that she also kept some baby chickens in her house for awhile.  Her love for her chickens lets me know that I am not a looney tune.  Oh, and her blog is absolutely beautiful.  I would so move in to Lilac Lane Cottage if she would let me!
I recently found a new smile or two over at “Life on Sassy Cat Hill”.  The picture of the three baby squirrels (click here) brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye as I thought of my sweet  Chewka Marie.  Also, seeing rabbits and cats hanging out together brightens my day!
As a practical girl, I am often at war with myself when it comes to taking out time to do crafts.  There’s always a little voice in my ear whispering, “You know, if you have all this time to cross stitch, you could use that same time to clean the bathroom or rake those leaves.”  Many thanks to Kathleen and her blog, “Yesteryear Embroideries”, for helping me to give myself permission to take time to create.  Also, “Crazy Mom Quilts” and the lady over at “Muddling Through” make me want to lock myself in a room with my sewing machine for at least a couple of days.
One of the first blogs that I found was “Lallee’s Cottage”.  I think that it was when reading her blog that I realized that there are some kindred spirits out there.  Her love for her animals really shows, and I enjoyed reading about her remodeling her guest room awhile back (we are always remodeling something in our house, so knowing that other people are busy, too, kind of helps).  I have often laughed and told my mom that Lallee is who I would be if I had a nicer house!  In fact, my “grandma” name is “Lolee”, and although it was not planned nor patterned after Lallee’s name, I kind of like being in such good company.
I could go on forever:  pretty much every blog that is listed on my reading list is there because I found either inspiration or kinship, or both (and all of the recipe blogs are good for a couple of pounds or so!).  I am so grateful that I have the chance to find “kindred spirits”.  Thanks to ALL who share of themselves so that others may have a smile or two!  You often make my day!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chicken Update!

The girls are finally outside (they moved out on Sunday night), and so far things are going well(except that I sometimes miss them being so close – but not their mess!).  While the “mansion” (big coop) is not ready, the “efficiency apartment” (tractor) has finally been completed.  Robert did a pretty nifty job in transforming what was once Molly’s dog crate into a suitable short-term home for my girls.
Here is a picture to give you the overall idea.  He eventually DID put the finer mesh all the way around the coop (even the doors) to keep the possums and other critters from being able to reach in and grab the girls:

He made a hinged lid for easy access for us:

Here’s a look at the inside (before I added the pine shavings):

There’s also a panel in the back that cannot be lifted unless the heavy, hinged door is up:

What was once the bottom liner of the crate is now a removable roof:

As long as there is chow and fresh water, the girls are pretty content:

It took them several hours to discover that the crate had a new addition, but once they did, they seemed to enjoy being in there.  We have a removable panel so that if it is too cold, stormy, etc., we can lock them in:

But their favorite time of the day is when their mother comes outside for awhile and lets them run around.  I do this two or three times a day.  I wish I could just turn them loose on their own for hours on end, but between the dogs and the hawk that hunts in our neighborhood relentlessly, I feel like they need some watching.  It tickles me to see them pecking and scratching and acting so “chickeney”.  Opal found a grub on her first trip out and was so very proud of herself!

They found a spot in the yard where the dirt was somewhat soft and had the best time taking a sand bath.  At one point there was so much flapping and carrying on that Opal looked like she was having a convulsion!  This is one of their favorite things to do:

However, one of my favorite things occurs right before I tuck them in at night.  I let them run around for one last time for the evening as I sit in a chair.  It isn’t long before Ruby flies up to sit in my lap, and Opal soon follows.  They will roost on my shoulder and just cuddle and coo.  Ruby likes to put her cheek right up against mine and rest.  Opal will move down to the crook of my arm and let me pet her until she falls asleep.  They will each just snooze until I tell them, “Girls, we can’t stay here all night.  I have to go in!”  Then I put them back in the tractor and they settle in for the night.  I just love those chickens!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Is there anything sweeter?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Something to Cluck About

My birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and I received a very unique gift. As many people who know me have discovered, I have a real itch to move to the country and once I get there, I want to have a few chickens. I have bought a couple of books (just to be ready when the time comes) and I look forward to fresh eggs and feathered friends. Well, on my birthday, my husband surprised me by bringing the country to me. I received two baby chicks.

They are just as cute as they can be…two little gals…I was told they are Ameraucana by breed…about 6-7 weeks or so old. They have interesting feather coloration and green legs and feet. When they are older they will lay green eggs (I think there’s a book title there somewhere). According to the website they may not be true blue Ameraucana, but instead may be what they refer to as “Easter Eggers”. I don’t care; they are cute and they will lay eggs of some color, and that’s good enough for me.

There’s just one little catch: We got the chickens before Robert finished the chicken coop. He had told me that he was re-doing the greenhouse, which had fallen into a sad state of disrepair. He didn’t tell me that it would be one part greenhouse and one part chicken coop. But the time got away from him and my birthday was here before he knew it. Undeterred from giving me the birthday surprise of my life, he figured we could keep them in a cage outside for a few days while he got the coop livable. What we didn’t count on was the weather system that made history as it moved across the country. We had four continuous days of ice and below freezing temperatures – unheard of for our area.

So into the family room they went. Luckily, we still had the crate in which we had put Molly when she first came here. So: two chickens…in a dog crate…in a family room…in a house. Sounds normal…at least for around here.

(The big bag of feed in the background is a birthday gift from my daughter. I have put it up for when they are older because they are eating a special medicated chick starter feed now. It's good to know we will always have plenty of supplies!)

I will say this: Having them in such close proximity has led to having some pretty tame chickens. By the second day the golden-colored chicken, now named Opal, flew across the cage and sat on my shoulder when I opened the door. She is somewhat shy, so this surprised me quite a bit. However, she has continued to come to me on her own, every time I open the door, and she loves to ride on my shoulder and “peep” in my ear. If I hold her just right, she will snuggle down and doze in my arms. She never strays far from me whenever she is out. She lets me kiss the top of her little scraggly head, and she loves to have her “chin” scratched.

The dark brown chicken, now named Ruby, comes to me every time, also. However, I don’t think she is motivated by “love” for me; I think she mostly wants to make sure that I am not going to hurt Opal. Ruby is very protective of Opal. Ruby is also more adventurous than Opal and is more prone to hop off of my shoulder and look around a bit. However, she doesn’t go too far, and is still very good about coming right back to me. I get tickled at her boldness; she is constantly hopping on top of her feeder and playing “Queen of the Hill”. However, having pine shavings everywhere is not quite as funny, but luckily it is not forever. I have become a champion broom handler.

Robert is working on a smaller habitat, known as a chicken tractor, because he will be able to have it finished long before the coop would be ready. Also, I have always wanted a tractor because it will allow the girls to tromp around our yard and still be protected from the hawk that frequents our neighborhood. (I would croak if something bad happened to my girls -- I’m too attached now!). In the meantime, I will just sweep and sweep as they peep and peep.