Monday, October 12, 2009

Forecast: 100% Chance Of Freezing Bunny Water


Brrrr! 5 degrees F this morning when I woke up. Its not been above freezing once since the snow came in. I've made trips out to the rabbit hutches 4 times a day to replace frozen waterers. I am SO happy that on October 8th, before I knew all this cold was coming, I had purchased 4 extra rabbit waterers to use in the winter. I just bring the frozen ones in, and replace them with the thawed ones. Its been working great.
     The chicken water was another thing entirely. I had recently purchased a 5 gallon galvanized waterer. When 5 gallons freezes in a few hours, you know its cold! I didn't have the funds to spend the $50.00 on a heater base for the waterer, nor did I want to buy one of the plastic ones that  you plug in. I have not had much luck with the plastic waterers holding up over time, so I wanted to go with the galvanized. On the Backyard Chickens Forum , we found the tutorial for constructing our own heated base. It was extremely easy!

Ingredients:   Metal Tin w/ a lid. (we used a cookie tin)
                    Corded Socket Set like the one shown here. We picked it up at the hardware store for $8.
                    Drill and tin snips to make the 1" inch hole in the tin to insert the socket.
                    Silicone to hold the Socket in place if you do not get a snap in model.
                    40 watt bulb (the ones shaped like a candle)

Directions:
                     1. Drill a hole in the side of the tin (midway between top and bottom), just to give your tinsnips a place to start.
                          
                     2. Cut a one inch hole where you will insert your socket and bulb.

                     3. Mount the socket, either with the clips that come on the corded set, or with silicone if yours doesn't have clips.
                    
                      4. Screw the bulb into the inside of your tin and replace the lid.

Thats it! It has kept my 5 gallon waterer from freezing in near 0 degree temps!
                   

Friday, October 9, 2009

Good Morning Hens!


I love how when I talk to them, they talk back to me. Sweet chatty girls!

We Wish You a Merry. . . October?

We usually get our first little skiff of snow by Halloween here in North West Montana. Last night we received several inches! You can see in the photo how the leaves are still green on many of the trees.

While the first snow most assuredly heralds the coming of winter, and October 8th is too soon for such a thing, I cannot deny the beauty of quietly falling snow.

I am blessed to have a streetlight watching over my intersection each night. Besides the obvious saftey of having him around, he provides spectacular light for watching snow fall.

Very late last night, in the middle of this kiss of a snowstorm, I went out to my backyard and tucked the chickens in. I was moved to tears by the peaceful beauty that surrounded me. The glow of the lamp in my kitchen as I stood at the coop looked warm, inviting and safe.

I am so very blessed with my backyard farm. With my hundred year old quarter of a house, and with the family that all lay sleeping safe and warm inside. I am blessed to love and care for my many animals. Chickens, bunnies, dogs and cats, what an amazing gift God has given me.

So to all of my lovely friends, Merry October! I'm not sure wether to carve the pumpkin or bring out the twinkle lights!
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Paper Hearts


She would be 21 today. Who would she have been? Who is she now in heaven? Instead of blogging today I thought I would post the paper I wrote for my College Writing class. Whitney Nicole, your mama misses you.

                     Paper Hearts



    It is strange, the details that one's mind takes hold of in the midst of great crisis. I can see the room as if I am not in it, as if I am watching from the doorway. I can see the weak florescent light from the room as it tries to hold back the darkness outside of the hospital window. I can see the tears brimming in our physician's eyes, my little boy kneeling at my lap, and my husband standing silent behind my chair, his hand resting on my shoulder. I see me, sitting in the sterile confines of a hospital room, holding the whole of the human condition in my arms. I watch as we whisper our last goodbyes to our daughter, Whitney.


   I had lived in terror of this moment. My dreams had been haunted with chaotic versions of this very thing. The physicians had warned me of its coming, cautioned me on its inevitability. I knew. My mind knew. It was my heart that had refused to believe. As I held her now, her last breath long ago mingled into the air of the room, my heart struggled to learn its new beat in the presence of this great letting go. The old sheltered beat it had kept up for so many years, could never survive in this place.


    We are all born dying. Some are just moving that way at a much greater pace. Whitney was on the accelerated track. When first I held her newborn form in my arms, there were a few blissful moments when she was the child that I had carried for nine months. Thinking back, I am sure that the nurses allowed me that grace. Flowers bloomed, sunshine spilled from the windows, and butterflies danced on the Morning-Glory vines. The possibilities before us were painted with whimsy and light as I held new life in my arms. It was only a few moments though, before the child I held had nothing in common with the one I had grown so familiar with. The words of the medical professionals created a stranger, a changeling. I resented the graveyard images they brought to my world, bare trees and howling winds heralding a long and icy winter. Extra physicians were brought in to bear the load of confirmation. So many words came from their mouths in a great whirlwind of destruction: Severe heart murmur, Down's Syndrome, weak reflexes, genetics, mental retardation, tube-feeding, and early death. The words swirled about in the icy wind, coating the bare trees like leaves.


    It took just a few hours for my heart to adjust its beat this time. It took her opening her dark eyes and looking directly into mine. Worlds of knowledge seemed to be just beneath their surface. Instead of mental deficit, I saw beauty and truth. She belonged to me, and I to her. We were bound to weather this hostile landscape together. I would forever champion her cause, and she would teach me the truth about being human. There were so many mountains to climb in this new place. Each surgery, test, and infection threatened to throw us bodily down the jagged slopes. Through one of the many tests, the physicians were able to tell me that by a genetic fluke, Whitney would have less than a year to live. So it was, with Death perched on our doorstep, that we began to see the splendor in the sparse and colorless winter.


    As it always does, life bends to accommodate so that the uncomfortable becomes the comfort. We had routine, we had laughter, and we had love. I was her nurse, my son her jester, and my husband her devoted knight. We decorated the bleak winter landscape with paper hearts and gumdrop trees. We made colorful paper chains and draped them playfully over the shoulders of Death, who had become a constant in our world. We grew used to his waiting presence outside our door, but we never invited him inside. It was with horror that I watched him walk in from the cold in the lonely hours of that December night. Like so many times before, we raced our girl to the hospital. This time was different. Our physicians response was not the same. He examined her and then looked up at me and simply stated, "It's her time." My sad heart beat protest at the inevitable.


    Gently, he disconnected her from the heart monitors. He took the oxygen from her nose, and the tiny cuff from her arm. He then wrapped her in a cocoon of blankets and handed her to me with tears in his eyes. I watched, powerless, as her breath came slower and slower. I kissed her face and whispered my devotion in her ears. I smelled her hair and cried tears that washed down her cheeks as I lay my lips against hers, willing her to breathe just once more. I felt as if I were drowning. As if, by extension, my lungs were being deprived of oxygen were hers. My chest felt heavy and hungry, and I wondered if Death was claiming me as well. Then, nothing. Her next breath did not come. I looked about the room as if I could find the air that had left her lungs and put it in a box to keep forever. The room was still. The hour late. A life was lost from the world, and our sad little party was the only one that had noticed. Reality unhinged, and time unfastened. I do not know if I held her for one hour, or five. I could not leave. I could not walk away. For fourteen months I had been her greatest defender. I had been on the front lines fighting each and every battle that she could not win herself. I was her champion! How could I leave her alone? I looked up at the nurse who had known Whitney all of her life, and she knew. She offered to stay with her, holding her, until "they" came for her. I placed Whitney's little form into her open arms, every instinct inside of my soul screaming in protest. I gave her one last kiss and turned to walk from the room.


    I am always amazed at the resilience of the human race. I am stunned when life moves forward after all seems lost. I had expected to need straight-jackets and tranquilizers, but instead I felt an overwhelming peace. I took the hand of my son, and the arm of my husband, and put one foot in front of the other until at last I was outside. It has been twenty-one years, and I am still putting one foot in front of the other. Whitney's life taught me compassion and empathy. Through her, I was gifted with the ability to decorate the bleak landscape of change and loss. I feel her presence whenever I am overcome with compassion at the plight of another. When I see someone now, lost in the vast, wild storms of tragedy, I can teach them how to plant a gumdrop tree, and hang a paper heart.

 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Homework Ate My Blog!


   Looking at Lucy in the photo to the left, I have to smile just a little, because she looks just like I felt today.
I have recently picked up my books and headed back into the big world of academe in an attempt to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree. When I started this journey back in June of this year, I was excited! Crisp new text books, number 2 pencils and sturdy new notebooks, the possiblities and excitement of finally embarking on a journey I feel God has led me to, had me nearly floating to and from class and delving into my homework with educational hunger.
   Fast forward to September. My second semester. Things are getting sticky. I actually cried real tears today as I tried to grasp the concepts in my college algebra class. Today was exam day and I felt anything but prepared. I looked outside into the early fall paradise that is my backyard. The chickens were clucking about eggs they had layed, the rabbits were anxious to be let out into the yard. Seeds were ready to harvest and fruit needed to be picked, and the morning sun lay itself so gracefully across the sunflowers. It is my absolute favorite time of year and I feel just like Lucy looks at the thought of missing it in favor of homework that tangles my brain like fishing line.
   It is now, when school is no longer a thing of joy, that I must dig my heels in and stand firm in the knowledge that this is where God wants me to be right now. It would be so easy just to quit. To go back to my world of knitting and crafting, letter writing and farming in my backyard.  Oh I still knit and craft and farm, its just that its relegated to the spaces between classes and weekends.
   I have kept busy in my backyard throughout the summer and I've photo's to prove it! I'll post some of them in the coming days to show you the chokecherry syrup canning day, the new rabbits, and my little chicken girls first eggs!
   For now though, its back to the books!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where Eleanore Acquires Botulisim from the Compost Pile

Her name is Eleanore. Eleanore A. Chicken. The A. stands for amazing. One Friday, on a trip around the yard, dear Eleanore decided to make a quick stop off at the compost pile. Now the compost pile is usually well fortified against chicken entry, chickens not being old enough to discern the good from the bad within it. On this particular Friday however, Eleanore noticed a small opening that one of the dogs had made. Delighted with her find, Eleanore wasted no time. In she went, eating delicious bugs and fruit.
Later while lying paralyzed on the chicken run floor, Eleanore wondered whether it was the barely recognizable half of orange that gave her the botulism, or the aged broccoli remnants. "No matter," she thought, "whatever it was, it accomplished its job very well. Not a muscle would obey her command. Limp as a, well . . . as a dead chicken, Eleanore lay on the gritty run floor, waiting for the nasty bacteria to finish her off.
What Eleanore didn't count on was Food Lady coming out to check for eggs early Saturday morning. Food Lady usually came out later in the morning, today however, she was up early to attend the Farmers Market. Crossing the lawn from the house to the coop, Food Lady took one look at Eleanore, let out a small shriek, opened the run and grabbed her up with no regard for her freshly washed clothes. Not knowing where she was going to put her, Food Lady brought her into the food barn. The food barn, being the dark and quiet place that it was, seemed a much better place to Eleanore than the run floor. Being trampled and pecked by high and mighty snobbish chickens was no way to "fly the coop". Food lady laid Eleanore in a largish cage, with fresh clean bedding. Being paralyzed as she was, Eleanore decided not to even try and protest. She just looked up at Food Lady with the only outwardly working part she had, her eye. Food lady was horrified. Never had she seen such a sick chicken, and she hardly knew what to do! Google, being the wanna-be farm girl's best friend, quickly told Food Lady that it was botulism that she was dealing with. It also told her that dear Eleanore was already a dead duck. Not prone to believing everything she reads, Food Lady rifled through her cupboards and brought out some highly digestible fish protein capsules, some strong pro-biotics, some vitamin E capsules, and some trace mineral drops. She then cracked a fresh egg, and mixed the yolk with the other ingredients and added a splash of Glacier Ice Gatorade to thin it down. Armed with the concoction and an eye dropper, she set out for the Food Barn, whispering prayers all the way.
Upon her return, Eleanore could see that Food Lady's faith had wavered. She noticed that Food Lady continually looked toward the axe that leaned against the wall. Her eye being all she could command, Eleanore looked up pleadingly at Food Lady. It must have done the trick, for once again Food Lady seemed in command of herself, and got to the business of being a chicken doctor.
Poor Food Lady, her heart broke to bits as she held the limp neck of Eleanore. She noticed that Eleanore's comb was blood red and that she burned with fever. Squeezing the bulb of the dropper, Food Lady filled it up with the fishy yellow concoction and filled dear Eleanore's crop. After each dropper full, Food Lady would hold up Eleanore's noodle neck and let it drain down to what was hopefully the proper area. After gently laying the dying Eleanore's head down and encouraging her with soft soothing get well words, Food Lady closed the barn door and whispered another prayer as she went in for the night.
Food Lady woke with the sun the next morning, and still clothed in her jammies, she sprinted to the barn. Slowly she opened the door, fully expecting to find a dead hen. Eleanore jumped in fright at the intrusion, only her jump was a barely noticeable wiggle of her head. Food Lady took the wiggle with great hope and ran inside to make another batch of Chicken-Get-Well-Goo. Even at this hopeful stage however, Eleanore noticed Food Lady eyeing the axe. What she didn't know was that Food Lady felt awful for keeping Eleanore alive in such an awful state.
Every two hours Food Lady mixed and stirred, squeezed and droppered. By nightfall, dear Eleanore had regained enough of her faculties to protest with a squawk and a slight wave of the feathers. By Sunday evening, Food Lady required assistance in getting the goo down the not so floppy neck of Eleanore.
Monday morning found Food Lady jumping for joy as she peered inside the barn. Eleanore stood on her own, preening her feathers. It seemed to Food Lady that Eleanore was saying "I am a mess, please do not let anyone see me this way. Food Lady remembered being very ill once herself, and recalled that when the time came that she could worry about how awful looking the ordeal had left her, she was well on her way to being mended.
After one more day in convalescence, Eleanore returned to chicken society, missing only a few feathers from the botulism incident. In the heat of the day, all of the hens gather under the plum tree and listen to Eleanore tell her harrowing tale. Food Lady cannot help but smile as she sees Eleanore standing tall upon the tree stump inside the run, just a few short feet from where she came upon her limp body days before. God, is good.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Morning Bliss

     I woke this morning at five am to the gentle soft light of early dawn. Robed and slippered, I made my way to the kitchen and brewed delicious fresh roasted coffee. By the time the coffee was finished brewing and the house smelled like a coffee shop, it was time for my son Garrett to get up. My daughter M'Kayla woke early too, and we all took our coffee and sat out on the back porch. (that is my kids in the photo to the left) It was thirty minutes of bliss. It was a morning that I will treasure and cherish forever, and the best part was, I was present enough to realize it at the time. What made it so special? There was nothing but my kids, my coffee, and my life. That is special.
     If we look, there are incredible moments just begging to be noticed, but that are hidden inside the mundane tasks of our everyday exsistance. The sad thing is, as humans, we just do not take notice often enough, or if we do, it is usually too late.
     One day, in the not too distant future, my kids will have set sail into the world. They will pack their belongings, leaving only a few bits and pieces for me to cherish, and begin the amazing exploration that is life. They are already on the deck, waving their good-byes to their childhood. I am on shore, blowing kisses with tear stained cheeks, and reminding them to write.  I am so excited for all that God has planned for my kids. They are incredible human beings full of compassion for others, and a desire to be about God's work. But even in the midst of my excitement at what is to come, the mama inside of me aches to have them small and safe once again, tucked under my wings. It is this transition most likely that causes me to take notice of a morning like today. I am so thankful that I was given the presence of mind to notice it.

    

Monday, July 6, 2009

See Me Run.

Hmmm, May 12th, 2009. That is the last time that I made a new post, over 6 weeks ago! Summer is officially here in Montana, but I haven't been able to see much of it. I finally (and I say finally because it is something I have wanted to do for a very long time) went back to school and am working on my RN degree. I have only just begun, as the song goes...(my english professor would be mortified at my awful misuse and over-indulgence in elipses!) but am having a wonderful time.
I have been close to panic a few times, feeling overwhelmed and conflicted between home and school, but all in all, it is working out very well. (If you can call stacks of dishes, hair in the sink and piles of neglected laundry well) I am able to catch up on Friday's as I am only at school Monday through Thursday.

The chickens are growing, and as soon as I replace my dearly departed camera with one that doesn't take purple pictures with lines through them, I will post some photos. The baby girls are now as big as the big girls. The time I had, trying to integrate the two flocks was maddening. Maggie, my big girl bantam, was wicked to the little ones when they were introduced. I had to seperate her from the rest of them until the size factor evened out a bit.
On a sad note, as I sat outside yesterday drinking my morning cup of coffee, I heard a distinct crow coming from the henhouse. I am not sure yet who is masquerading as a girl, but I am attempting to discover who it is...he does not crow when I am looking, that much is sure.
The garden is growing, although not as well as last year. Its as if the plants have noticed my absense and shrugged in apathy, if I don't bother to show up, why should they grow? My planting choices were rather chaotic this year as well, all last minute as having surgery right before planting season put a damper on my planning.
I promise to update more...I really am more motivated when I am taking photographs!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ripples of Memories (with link to Ripple Afghan Pattern)


I have been crocheting and crocheting and crocheting some more. I was completely and mindlessly addicted to making this easy ripple blanket. You can see my sweet Boston Terrier Opus posing on the ripples. I have only made one other blanket in my crochet history, a pretty flowered granny afghan for my moms birthday two years ago. I can usually be found working on projects that can be completed in one or two sittings, its a patience thing. :-SS
I had such a great time making this because my daughter M'Kayla was right along side me knitting a baby blanket for her friend. We would take any empty time slot, throw a movie in and "yarn" away. Such good memories all stitched together. I had originally planned to give this blanket away. I wasn't sure to whom, but I usually don't hang on to the things that I make. But as I thought about it, I came to the realization that M'Kayla being 18, will not have so much time in the future to knit and crochet with her mama.
I think that this will be a mothers day present to myself. A weaving of memories.
I used up so much of my yarn stash, which is what I had intended to do. Some of the yarn was probably 7 years old and left over from projects that I had made for my family. Again, so many memories and woven together. We watched some great movies including Penelope, Twilight, Blast From The Past, Lord of the RIngs, Becoming Jane, Emma, Love Comes Softly, I Am Legend, I Robot, Hancock, Transformers, Kate and Leopold and more that I can't remember right now.
I used this great simple pattern here if anyone wants to give it a go. Its easy, mindless, and great relaxation :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Note to self...

From My Pictures

When you pour bleach into a tub of water....look away! Ask my eye how it knows this. Today as I was adding a few drops of bleach to a tub of water, the bleach hit the water just right (or wrong depending on how you LOOK at it) and splashed directly into my eye.

Yes, there was squealing and running in circles and throwing huge splashes of water into my eye to clean it out. After a while my eye realized it was going to live and stopped shutting without my permission, and then the bleach decided it wasn't a great place to hang out and the burning eventually subsided.

The "bleach incident", as I will heretofore refer to it, really made me think though, about accidents and how fast they happen, and how a small bit of "slow it down girl you don't have to clean the kitchen in 6.2 seconds flat" goes a long way in being able to think before you act.

So.. the new me is slower, more cautious, and wearing safety goggles when I clean. Okay so it isn't the new me, but I am going to be more careful!

Breaking News: It is with great sadness that I report to you that my Snug Black T-Shirt was damaged in the bleach incident and will no longer be appearing in my wardrobe. An innocent bystander, Snug Black Tee took a direct hit to the front and will be layed to rest in the rag drawer. Snug was a good tee, full of life and elasticity. I accept full responsibility for her demise. She will be missed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Operation Christmas Child


Yesterday I received in the mail a letter from someone I had never heard of. It came from the Philippines and so I was very curious as I opened it. Inside I was delighted to find a letter and a photo from a little girl named Arabella Angel who received one of the shoe boxes we donated last year at Christmas time to Operation Christmas Child. If you haven't heard of it, OCC is an amazing organization that is part of Samaritans Purse, which is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan's Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God's love through His Son, Jesus Christ. (This was from their mission statement)
At Christmas last year we had so much fun putting together shoe boxes full of toys, candy, clothing items, pencils, paper, stickers, tooth brushes and tooth paste, hair ribbons and books. Our family went shopping together carefully choosing the items that we would place in the boxes. At one point I broke down and could not contain my tears because I knew these precious babies had next to nothing and I wanted to make these boxes perfect for them!
We enclosed Christmas cards in our boxes and a little note to each child that might receive the box. We also enclosed photos of our family and Montana and a return address in case they might want to correspond with us.
To our delight Arabella wrote to us with the help of her aunt! Her letter was decorated with the crayons and pencils we had sent her. When my daughter and I read it, we were both in tears. It is amazing how close we feel to this precious little 6 year old girl!
If I get my scanner working I will scan the cute little letter.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Daughters First Knitted Baby Blanket

This morning, my daughter M'kayla put the finishing stitches on the baby blanket she has been knitting for her friend Kayla who just had her baby.
She chose the colors purple and black because when Kayla first found out she was pregnant (which seems ages ago but was just 9 months) they were both working at Taco Bell.
I think it turned out fabulous! She chose to crochet scalloped edges to make the blanket look more finished.
I am SO proud of her! She loves to knit, finding it much more relaxing and much easier than crochet. I on the other hand, love to crochet. I like knitting okay... but when I have to do more than knit and purl it makes my brain cry.
For the past month, she and I have been partners in fun, she knitting, me crocheting as we watched gobs of movies, some old, some new and some well worn favorites.
She wants to start next on a baby blanket for her hope chest. I love the idea!
I will find the pattern that she used and post it here in a few days.
I am still in work mode on the vintage feel ripple scrap blanket that I am crocheting. When I finish, I'll post it here as well.
Happy May!!
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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thoughts on Wonderful

(This is Peanut, the little life inside my sister Jenna)
When I first began this post, I had initially titled it "Thoughts On Tragedy". My sister Jenna (you can read her blog here) is expecting a baby this August, and until a few weeks ago she thought that everything was perfect. But everything wasn't perfect as her 20 week ultrasound showed. The baby boy growing inside of her is not perfect.

20 years ago I walked into labor and delivery with a perfect daughter inside of my body. A child I had known intimately for 9 months. A child I had named, dreamed about, sang to and loved. Hours later, I lay in a hospital room with my daughter, only I felt as if she were a changeling from an old fairy story. She was not perfect. She was broken. The list of what was wrong with her was so long it threatened to wrap itself around my throat and refuse me another breath. It took a couple of hours before I could even hold her. I felt betrayed and alone. I did hold her though, and God poured his love through her eyes into mine and I saw that she was perfect after all.

I wonder now, as I think back on the life and death of my daughter Whitney, whether I would have wanted to know ahead of time what was going to be. I think about Jen, carrying her baby that for 20 weeks was perfect, was hers. Now he is someone else. She has 4 months left to think and contemplate on what life will bring when he is born. 4 months to worry if he will be okay.

There is good and bad in both I suppose.

Whitney had something entirely different than Nick and Jen's baby. He may have something far gentler, or it could be much more severe. Tests and time will tell.

I absolutely hate that my sister has to endure this. I am angry that she cannot continue to be the Jenna 'before'. But I praise God, because she will never be the Jenna "before" again. She will be so much stronger, be filled with love she never knew existed, and have an empathy born inside of her that she never knew possible "before". If you knew my sister, you would know that this is saying a lot. She is loving, caring, giving and empathetic already. She is a mother, every inch of her a mother.

I ask your prayers for little "peanut". I believe in the promises of God and the miracles that he can and does cause to be because of prayer. I know that if it is His good will, that He will heal that precious life inside of my sister, and make him whole and healthy and strong. But I know too, that if His will is something else, that it will be just as beautiful. I look at the ultrasound photo of him and my chest cannot contain the love I feel. I am literally brought to my knees with the enormity of it. I cannot imagine how Nick and Jenna must feel. He is so beautiful and wonderful. His disease is a tragedy, but he is a miracle.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:1-5 ff. (NIV)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Art Of Letter Writing

DUE TO A PRISONER TAKING MY ADDRESS FROM THE PHOTO AND WRITING ME, I TOOK THIS PHOTO DOWN.
Today I opened my front door to check my mail and found this beautiful letter from my friend Shana in New York. I haven't even opened the letter yet, because the entire presentation is so artfully done and just plain beautiful that I need to just be in its presence for a while, soaking in the peace and vintage feel of the envelope.

Letter writing is a lost art. In the age of electronic communication, we have almost forgotton how to put pen to paper and write with our hands, the feelings of our hearts. I have friends that I write to all over the world. The UK, Germany, France, Sweden and India are all countries I am blessed to visit through the eyes and hearts of the women I have come to know and love. Here in the states, I receive mail from dear friends in Colorado and as the letter above shows, New York.

I also receive letters from Florida, where my friend Vonda lives. Vonda and I have been friends for over 20 years and raised our babies together in the same town before she moved away. In the last several months we have rekindled our relationship through hand written words. It is such an amazing thing to open up the envelope and feel her presence.

Words and paper are not the only thing we exchange. Often little gifts are tucked neatly into the envelopes. Tea bags, books of stamps, post cards and cute stickers find themselves nestled between the pages of the letter as a sweet little suprise for the receiver. Packages are exchanged as well filled with heart felt and well thought out gifts. It is such a pleasure to find special things that you know another woman is going to appreciate.

My friend Cate in the UK and I have developed such a deep friendship and sharing of our joys and heart aches that we do hope to be able to meet one day, whether it be in Wales or in Montana. Her children are precious to me and her friendship vital to my life and walk with Christ. We even opt for the occasional video chat via ICQ.

Shana in New York has chickens just like I do, and we share a love for simple things, for traditional womanhod and of course... for chickens.

There are some great websites out there for anyone who would like to try finding some pen friends. Here are a few of the ones I like:

Penpal International at http://ppi.searchy.net/

Christian Pen Pals at http://christianpenpals.com/

and Sassociations at http://www.sassociations.net/


So try it! Pick up a pen and some paper and write a letter. You'll be amazed at how theraputic it is!



Thursday, April 16, 2009

FOR TODAY April 16, 2009

Outside my window...Spring begins, filling me with hope.

I am thinking...of so many things that I need to do, paint my kitchen, bedroom and hall for one. Finish the floor trim in the living room and hall. Replace the carpeting in my bedroom. Clean the back porch and the shed...so much to do!

I am thankful for...God bringing me to Fresh Life Church where my soul is fed the spiritual food it craves.

From the kitchen...Last night I made ham and musroom casserole. Tonight for dinner I will make spaghetti using italian sausage and served with soft garlic bread and a green salad.

I am wearing...My comfy clothes of course, Navy Blue pants and a white long sleeved top that is embroidered with colorful flowers. Very hippie looking today.

I am creating...Dishcloths. I have been knitting and crocheting them both lately.

I am going...to the College at 4 pm. I completed High School, but was missing a 1/4 credit in History in 1985. I am getting my GED so I can begin Nursing in the fall.

I am reading...Currently I am not reading anything, but next on my list is Love Comes Softly by Janette Oak.

I am praying...that I can become more patient, more loving, more quiet and that I can be a blessing rather than a burden.

I am hearing...The rumble of the dryer, which will soon be a thing of the past, for the summer at least. Mike is stretching the clothesline today.

Around the house...Life is strange. Our kids are grown and almost always gone and I am unsure what to do with me. I feel strangely useless and unsure of who or what I am supposed to be now.

One of my favorite things... Is finding old hand written recipes and thinking about the women that wrote them and what their lives might have been like.

A few plans for the rest of the week: GED on Friday, Church on Saturday, Financial Aid and registration for Nursing on Monday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Spring Chickens




Here are some photos of the little girls enjoying a sunny spring morning. It took some doing to get them all out of the coop, because they are... well, chicken. But I did it, and two hours later I when I wanted to get them all back in, they weren't having any of it!




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Friday, April 10, 2009

Lasagna Gardening

Here are the beginnings of my lasagna garden. You can see that I have added leaves and greens to my little lasagna pan. This particular pan is going to be for lettuce and other partial shade loving veggies.

Here is my recipe for a 8' X 4' pan of Lasagna! This recipe is based on what I had on hand. You can make your lasagna pan any size, and could do away with the saw if you conformed it to utilize the wood that you had on hand. Lasagna gardening is great because it is a no dig method. You layer compostable material as you would for a compost pile, and it "cooks" creating delicious fluffy light soil that is the perfect medium for growing your veggies! We use the raised bed method, building boxes to contain our lasagna. You can also just layer and build right on the ground, its up to you. You can find lots of information online about lasagna gardening. Some folks are exceptionally technical when it comes to layering their "browns" and "greens". Me? I didn't worry too much about it. I layered what I had and it resulted in the most fabulous amazing flourishing garden. So try not to worry too much, unless your a techy.. and then by all means plan, measure and mark to your hearts content!


Ingredients for building the pan:

2 8 foot 2x8 boards
2 16 foot 2x8 boards
2x4 ends and pieces for holding two levels together. (nailers)
screws or nails
skill saw
tape measure
drill or hammer

Instructions:

1. Cut (4) 8 foot long boards.
2. Cut (4) 3' 7" long boards.
3. Create the bottom frame by making a box using two of the long and two of the short boards.
4. Repeat process to create the top frame.
5. Then take both boxes and stack on top of one another.
6. Take nailer boards and screw them on the inside of the box at the corners and the center of the long end to hold both levels together.

Walla, you have your pan. Place the pan where you would like to have your garden. Filling instructions coming next!

Lasagna Filling Recipe:

Ingredients:


1. Browns : Fall leaves, shredded newspaper, peat, and pine needles
2. Greens: Grass clippings, manure (chicken, rabbit, horse, goat etc. Not dog or cat), kitchen scraps (no meat or protein..fruits and veg, coffee grounds etc.
3. Flattened cardboard boxes or lots and lots of newspaper to lay on the bottom.

Method:

1. Lay the cardboard down inside of your box. Make sure that all surfaces are covered. I have my hubby lift the edges of the box so I can tuck it under, leaving no room for grass or weeds to come up. The purpose of the cardboard is to make sure that nothing underneath your bed is going to come up through your garden. Lasagna gardening is a no dig method. No tilling, no digging, and as a result, very little weeding! Lay the cardboard or thick layers of newspaper down and then water them. Give them a slight soaking.

2. Begin with browns. Throughout your garden you want to keep the ratio of browns to greens, 2 to 1. Many instructions for lasagna gardening say you must begin with several inches of peat moss. Guess what? I didn't have any. I began with leaves left over from fall. Lots and lots of leaves. After each layer, give it a gentle soaking with the hose. You don't want to drown your lasagna, but water aids the composting of all of your goodies.

3. Add greens. You can add your grass clippings, manure, kitchen scraps etc. Remember that your shooting for a 2 to 1 ration of browns to greens. Too many greens can burn your veggies so you want to add those browns to balance things out. Remember to water after each addition.

4. I like to throw in some topsoil every few layers, but its not necessary.

5. Continue layers, 2-3 inches deep (you do NOT have to be technical about this point) until you fill up your beds. The deeper your bed the better.

6. I top with a layer of topsoil, and this also is not a requirement. Some folks add a layer of straw on the top and plant into it. I like dirt : )

Cook at daytime temps for as long as possible before growing season begins. This gives the materials you added time to break down and become a yummy fluffy growing medium for the tons of veggies you are going to grow in your garden!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Chores

Here are the little girls in their new digs. You can see the partition that my husband put in. The bottom half allows the big girls to see the littles, and the top half allows me to go through and gather eggs.


Well the photos ended up being in reverse order, but thats okay, why not start with the finished product ? My dear husband was good enough to help me with the spring chicken chores last weekend. I am still not able to lift much weight, and therefore couldn't shovel out the coop. Bless him, he did it for me. I use the deep litter method of chicken coop bedding, which is basically adding and adding the shredded paper and wood shavings mix all through out the year. This allows a deep layer to build up for winter. The smell is almost non existent since the shavings absorb the moisture. It worked so well this winter when the temps were very cold for very long, the girls did great.

But, it does leave a good 8"-12" of shavings to be shoveled out and composted in the spring. So.. shovel he did. He then built a partition in the big girls coop so that the little ones could vacate their over crowded studio in my kitchen, and move into the manse. He put chicken wire on the bottom so that the big girls could see into the area where the littles live. This will allow them to become accustomed to the littles and hopefully not give them too much of a pecking when they finally all live together. Chickens, as sweet as they are, can be like teenage girls in high school.


Here is my husband working on the partition, and Goldie peeking in to see whats going on.



This is my son Garrett, he is stealing the hinges from the old A-Frame coop to use on the door of the partition. We needed a door as I had to get to those eggs somehow! I love how Elsie is watching him here, the curiosity of a chicken is really amazing, especially when you think of the size of their itty bitty brains!



This is inside the coop. Mike is moving the nest box down to make room for the littles. My coop is 4X12 and could accommodate 24 chickens at the 2 square foot per bird rule. Beings that I have long winters here though, I prefer to give them more than that.




And here is my lovely hubby layering the compost in the piles. This is what was left over from the rabbit and chicken poo! The majority went straight into the garden beds to cook for the month or so left before planting! I have lasagna garden beds and will be talking about those in my next post. They are amazing, and you can grow SO much in just a small space!




Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Lazy Chicks Method of Gardening

Its been a lazy Saturday. Its been in the high 40's but for some reason feels cooler than that. Not quite gardening weather just yet. My chickens begged to differ.


I woke up this morning to a horrible screeching/crowing sound coming from Elsie (the lighter colored blond in the video below). I had never heard her make that particular "screech" before and was somewhat concerned. It sounded as if she was attempting to crow, but was not quite up to Rooster quality. While she performed her own little opera, she paced the run. It was odd behavior.

In the past, she has paced the run when she wanted to be out of the enclosure. As in, pooping and pecking in the middle of the yard or fully ripe garden. Pace only though, not shout at the top of her lungs demanding to be let out. M'Kayla was good enough to slip on her shoes and go open the Coop and run door to see if this was the problem. Orabelle jumped up and out of the run as soon as M'Kayla opened the door. Poor Elsie, not being hatched with the escape artist ingenuity of Orabelle began to grow frantic until she realized the Coop door was open as well. In through the little chicken door, through the Coop and OUT! Once out, she flapped her wings and ran to the garden box.She hasn't made so much as a peep all day.

I am pretending that Elsie is concerned that my garden looks hardly ready for spring. The real reason is that said garden is filled with all manner of worms and goodies beneath the lovely leaf mulch that covered it last fall. Newly thawed, moist and delicious...its every chickens dream.

This video was taken at 5 in the evening and as you can see, Elsie and Goldie are still hard at work tilling the garden for their lazy mama. Adding heaping helpings of fertilizer as they toil. Sigh, a chickens work is never done.

video

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Chickens



I am having so much fun with my new chicks. There have been updates in the chicken world of late though and I thought I would post.
After talking with one of the ladies in charge of chickens at Murdoch's, she said I would have no trouble selling my Bantam Roo and several of his ladies. So I did the thing that comes natural to any chicken mama in a feed store filled with troughs of peeping beaks.... I bought three more! To be more accurate, I bought 2 more. Mike bought 1. He bought a White Crested Polish pullet with an adoreable little top knot of fluff. (crazy looking hair do when she grows up though). I bought another Buff Orpington like Elsie. She is pictured above on the right. I also purchased a Speckled Hamburg, which lays porcelain white eggs. She is pictured on the left.
The top photo is of the fab brooder box my husband set up. We went to Sears and picked up a couple of range and freezer boxes. Mike flipped one on its side, cut the side (which is now the top) out, and cut ends from the other box. Some packaging tape and wala! Insta brooder!
You will also notice the window. He had a sheet of plexiglass so he cut a window on one side of the box and duct taped the plexi in. Perfect viewing window for Lulu who pleads with me daily to please please just let her kiss one of the babies. Right.
I also bought vegetable seeds at Murdochs! They were running a sale for 9 packages of seeds for .96 cents! Now I just need a grow light and somewhere to put the baby plants.
You know, when I was younger, I didn't care much for spring. Infact I could easily have said (and probably have said on many occasions) that it was my least favorite season. I would generally complain of mud, and that half in half out of winter bit that brings on a never ending restlessness. Part of it could be that I was in my first few months of pregnancy in the spring with my kids, and had morning sickness 24 hours a day. To this day if I hear Sinead O'Connor sing "Since you been gone I can do whatever I waaaaant"... I could literally almost throw up, that being the artist I was "in to" at the time!
But now? Now I realize how much I need spring. I realize how much I long for the promise of respite from the dark cold place of winter. Here in Montana, the line between winter and spring is much more vivid than it was in Florida. There was Spring in Florida, but you had to pay close attention to the natural world around you not to miss it. This winter, with my illness and, has been especially dark. I long to feel the steady heat of the summer sun on my skin. To close my eyes and let the sunlight fill my body with seretonin and vitamin D. Spring promises summer, bless her heart.
Spring holds more than just the promises of Summer. I am a Christian now. It is in springtime that we set aside a day in remembrance of what our Lord did for us on the cross. Giving my life to Christ has been its very own Spring. In Christ, the bible says, I am a new creation.
Wow, this post was just supposed to be about chickens! : )The snow blows crazily outside, winter doesn't want to let go. The days are longer though, and warmer and I am so grateful for all this season brings.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finally!


Finally :) We have baby chick arrival!!

Things didn't go quite as planned as 22 days ago I ended up in the ER with a gallbladder attack. 4 days later I was in the OR having my gallbladder removed, and recovery has not been fun.
For many people who develop gallstones requiring surgery, recovery is a quick thing. 3-4 days and back to work. I was hopeful!
But, beings that I have an auto-immune disorder (Sjogrens/Lupus type) and Fibromyalgia, I am STILL recovering, and having some post surgical problems that are really trying my patience. I had actually had symptoms that mimicked gallbladder problems LONG before my gallbladder ever went to the dark side. This indicates that something else is going on, and only time is going to get me down this path.
I have been depressed, in pain, angry and generally miserable...yaaaa! I am working on the attitude. I seem to just have no patience for illness. It scares me, I hate being out of control, I hate pain and I would really rather just be back to normal...nnnnnnnnoooow! My mind has turned from its fairy tale world of chickens and knitting, to a deep thirst and longing for more of God's Word, which brings comfort everytime I open it. I have also relied upon the love and prayers of my friends who really keep me going when I feel like all is darkness. I cannot express the gratitude I feel toward those who have held my hand, in thought or in person. And never can I express gratitude enough for the comfort my Lord has blessed me with. In particular having our church services live at www.freshlifechurch.org has been an incredible blessing, and I find I live for Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings.

But.. back to the topic at hand. My husband in all his wisdom decided that my surly "I'm just not going to get chicks this year....grumble... whine.. grumble..." was not healthy.
Armed with absolutely no knowledge except that I had been going to pick them up from Murdoch's Farm Store, he went chicken shopping.

I had been going to get 5 large chickens, to enable me to sell eggs this fall when they would all start laying. That would be a total of 9 chickens when you factor in the girls I already have.

You must know my husband to appreciate this, or perhaps its men in general? If 5 was gonna be good, 10 would be even better.....

So when I opened up the box he brought home from Murdoch's, inside were 10 peeping little fluff balls. The ensuing conversation went something like this:

Me: ohh!! (with happiness) you brought me chickens, what breeds are they? (peering in the box)
Hubby: Not sure.. (while setting up the brooder cage)

Me: Well, they didn't tell you what kind?

Hubby: Nope, it might be on the receipt.

Me: Well how did you choose them?

Hubby: Just said.. two of these, three of these, two of those and three of those...

Me: Ohhh...

Me: This is so sweet of you! I was only going to get 5 though.

Hubby: These are small.

Me: Small?

Hubby: Yeah, Bantams.

Me: Ohhhhh (wearing slight concern) they lay little eggs. (bantams are mini chickens, sorta like toy poodles : )

Hubby: shrugs (adding chicks to brooder)

Me: I love them! (feeling blessed he thought of me and looking frantically for the receipt)

Me: Mike!!!

Hubby: (looking up) huh?

Me: You got two Guinea Hens!! I don't even know what those are, but I think they are really loud and stupid!

Hubby: (shrugs)

Me: We can't have Guinea Hens in town!

well you get the idea : ) I had 2 guinea hens, 3 Partridge Cochin bantams, 2 Birchen Cochin Bantams, and 2 Barred Rock Bantams.

A quick call to Murdoch's allowed us to take the Guinea Hens back. Thank God.

I love them all, and am so happy that he chose them. I am so blessed with my husband and his concern for my deranged insanity. It is going to be a precious little flock. Sadly, one of the little Barred Rock Bantams is looking like she is a he : ( and I won't be able to keep him either. I am still trying to figure out what we'll do with him. He is so unbelievably cute, thats him in the photo above.

Oh and not to worry that I didn't get any full sized hens... because my dear husband came home today with two Plymouth Barred Rock chicks, which will grow into FULL sized clucking ladies.

Life keeps moving!!
Next is names!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ready and Waiting!

Here is a photo of my chick brooder. This is what I have used previously for the first couple of weeks, and then I switch to a large appliance box. I love the visibility factor, allowing the chicks to see out and us to see in. I think it has made my hens the friendly sweet girls that they are.

I am so excited to bring the babies home. It feels something akin to being 9 months pregnant and waiting.

I use pine shavings in the bottom of the brooder, and if they are not out of stock, I will also pick up a bag of paper shavings which really absorb moisture and work well both in the coop and the brooders.

I am going to try something a little different this year when it comes to watering the chicks. I am going to use a rabbit or hamster water bottle instead of placing the mini chicken waterer inside. Due to the fact that chicks run, jump, flap, scratch and play they tend to get shavings in their water rather quickly. Even when I placed it up on bricks inside the brooder I would still have to rinse it out several times a day. I am hoping that the hamster method will be cleaner, safer and less mess.

The other mess issue is the shavings that inevitably end up on the kitchen floor. The cage that I am using this time has a deeper pan, so I am hoping that it will reduce the mess without adding a bumper cover around the outside.

Well.. I will next be posting when the babies arrive! Poor Murdoch's is probably getting tired of me calling! I definitely have the "nesting" instinct!
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Saturday, February 14, 2009





For Today: February 14, 2009

Outside My Window: My cat upon the window sill is crying to come in.

I am thinking: That the ice and snow can leave now, bring me spring!

From the learning rooms: Warren Weirsbe's "Be Mature" awaits my attention as I am part of a women's bible study group at Fresh Life Church, and this is the book we are using to take us through the bible book of James.

I am thankful for: Renewed mercy, snoring pugs, old movies and a comfortable bed when I feel unwell.

From The Kitchen: Sadly I am too tired to make dinner! I brought Mike home a Rueben Sandwich from Julie's and he ate that. I dined on some leftover potatoes and peas.

I am wearing: My jammies, tired bones need comfy clothes.

I Am Reading: A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken and I LOVE it. What a beautiful book to have been loaned the day before valentines day. This is love!

I Am Hoping: That I will be strong enough for work tomorrow and that it will be a good day.

I Am Creating: Aprons from vintage tablecloths and hankerchiefs.

I Am Hearing: Lulu snoring, the keys of my husbands computer keyboard clicking and Sleepless In Seattle on the Television.
Around The House: It is quiet. Garrett is on his own, M'Kayla is babysitting. My ears still find it strange as just two months ago I could not find a quiet corner to save my sanity. All things change, nothing but God stays the same.

One Of My Favorite Things: Losing myself in time spent with God.


A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I have statements to mail out, taxes to prepare, doctors to speak with, rent and utilities to pay, floors that need cleaning, closets overflowing. If perhaps i could put things in some sort of order...

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you:

The Simple Womans DayBook





Monday, February 9, 2009

I Dreamed Of Chickens and Spring


There is something so blessed about waking from a dream that is not troubling. Most often, my dreams are filled with wavy watercolor images of the problems and stresses of waking life.

This morning I woke at 6 am from a dream so simple and sweet it has left a happy mark on my day.

I simply dreamed of chickens in the spring. They were scratching and clucking and making their contended chicken sounds while a warm spring sun warmed their feathers and the earth.

It is about this time of year that most of us seriously feel the need for winter to be over. Cabin Fever becomes epidemic.

For me, seed catalogs come out, garden plans are sketched, and chick brooders are set up awaiting the arrival of the late February babies. Compost methods are researched, goat pens discussed, and I feed myself off the blogs and books written by other people with the same love of homesteading, both urban and rural.

But as I busy myself with plans for the future of my backyard farm, and feel a growing urgency for thaw and impatience with the last months of winter, I am reminded by my dream that sometimes the waiting is half the joy. And at times, waiting and dreaming are far better than the real thing ever turns out to be.

These weeks spent in longing and dreaming are part of the whole. Not something to be hurried through. So I will drink them in slowly, savoring the taste of the dream. Without them spring would not be as sweet and welcome as it is.

But still... Just 2 weeks till the baby chicks are here!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Goldie Locks

This is Goldie. Goldie was one of the chicks that my husband brought home last spring. We would feed them meal worms when they were tiny little balls of fluff, and Goldie would always get the worm.

She is the most photogenic of all the girls, always posing for the camera. Turning her head just so and clucking at me to get her good side.

This morning on our little farm, its crisp, cold and bright. The contrast between the bright blue sky, the glittering ice covered branches and the brilliant white snow is magnificent.

When I come out of my back door, I have to open the latch on the gate to enter the backyard. As soon as I touch the latch, the girls hear the sound and begin calling to me. I imagine it goes something like this "We haven't had food for days! We want bananas! Can I have a drink of water? I want to come out of the coop! What do you have? Do you have something? Do you? Because I want something. How about oatmeal? Did you make oatmeal?"

When I walk into the back yard, if they are free ranging, they lift their wings and run to me. I know, I know.. you have to be a chicken mama to understand, but it is possible to love a silly hen.

I open their coop door and reach down to check the water level. As soon as I touch it, all of the girls gather round to drink as if the water hadn't been there before I touched it. I pick up their feeder and swirl it around with turns of my wrist to evenly distribute the food. They then run to the feeder, pecking at the crumbles as if now they are fit to eat.

I gather the eggs and scold them. One of the girls forgot to jump down from the nest box before relieving herself. Naughty girl.

Reaching into their warm pine scented nest is probably the sweetest part of my day. If I'm wearing an apron I will lift the hem and gather the eggs gently in the fold. Once I placed the eggs in my over large coat pockets and then forgot they were in there...well thats not exactly true. I did forget they were in there, but it wasn't my coat pockets, it was my husbands. Imagine his suprise.

There is just something so yesteryear about gathering eggs. I feel as if I am in line behind a long chain of women, lifting eggs from nests and placing them in aprons or skirt folds. I am standing in the present and living the past.

It's a lovely thing.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Late Beginning


I have decided that I would like to keep a journal of sorts, tracking the changes that time and hard work bring to our smallish Urban Homestead.
3 years ago this spring, we moved into this little apartment in town. The building is a 4plex, 2 up and 2 down. It was built over 100 years ago and was once the very first church in Kalispell.
We are blessed to be able to use the backyard in whatever manner we would like, as it is my very own awesome farm mama that owns the building!
We began with a backyard that was covered in a carpet of grass, just like most backyards. In one corner was a giant lilac tree and in the other corner a very fruitful Italian Plum tree.
The urge to cultivate any bit of land I have access too was imprinted upon my by my mom. I hold her fully responsible for my crazy urban homesteading.
The first year we lived with the yard as it was. I was sick with an intense lupus flare, and didn't have the time, energy or inclination to begin. The second year, still sick but beginning to see the light at the end of the lupus tunnel, I convinced my awesome and incredible husband to craft me an A-Frame chicken home. He is amazing when it comes to building anything, and in no time at all he had designed and built a chicken ark. Roosts and nesting boxes up top, little run underneath. I wanted something very unobtrusive and neighbor friendly. I had called the City of Kalispell to check on chicken ordinances, and found to my delight that I could keep as many hens as I liked, but no roosters. I also found (and have stored for future farming) that we could keep two miniature dairy goats and two pot bellied pigs IN OUR BACKYARD!! Living in Montana definitely has its perks. Late August 2007, as soon as my husband had pounded the last nail, I had four delightful young hens moving in to the ark. I named the girls after ladies I had cared for in the nursing home. Elsie, Lucy, Mae and Polly.
7 months later, my husband brought home a box full of peeping cotton balls. He had been at the feed store and decided to surprise me with 4 day old chicks and a promise that by the time they were old enough to live outdoors, he would have a proper coop and run for all the girls. (See, I told you he was awesome).
We raised 4 adorable, crazy, personality filled chicks in a big appliance box in our kitchen. It was so very much fun, and incredibly frustrating at the same time. Oh they were fine when they were too tiny to hop up out of the box! I have some great photos though, and wonderful memories.
As promised, I had a gorgeous red and white 12X4 coop and a 20X20 run just waiting for the girls when they were old enough to live outdoors. Can I even describe the bliss I felt at watching my girls peck and scratch around their new chicken run? I woke up at 5 am the next morning, pulled a stool up to my kitchen window and drank steaming hot coffee while waiting for my hens to come out of their new chicken door and into their run. Pure bliss.
Shortly after, he also built my daughter a rabbit condo, where our mini lop bunnies enjoy life, and a 5X25' raised bed garden area for me to plant. He also fenced in the back yard which gives us more privacy and a place to let the dogs run about.
Sadly, since beginning I have lost 4 chickens. One to cold, one to heat and two to an unknown illness, possibly Marek's disease.
Currently I have Elsie (the only original girlie left) Orabelle, Maggie and Goldie. They are all healthy and happy and laying like crazy. Soon I will be making the trip to Murdochs to pick up some new babies. We are going to get 8 more babies and plan on selling surplus eggs next fall.
We have a compost pile to make use of the wonderful growing elixir the hens and bunnies create just by being alive, and will be adding even more to our raised bed lasagna garden this year.
Neighbors would stop by last summer and tell me that I must be an incredible gardener as rarely had they seen a garden take off like mine did. I told them the secret was in the layers, and I am in high hopes of having an even more successful garden this year.
Mike will be building me another box, this one in a shadier part of the yard to plant the lettuces in as they bolted too quickly in the heat of last summers sun. I am hoping to plant a thick row of peas around the perimeter of the chicken run. This will give the peas something to climb on, the chickens something to nibble on, and something to freeze come harvest time.
I will also post here when I make my batches of soap, sew aprons or other useful items, discover great recipes, can and freeze harvests and knit or crochet something fun.
There is such joy for me in the earth and all of God's glorious creation.
I am reminded of that worship song that says "All creatures of our God and King, lift up your voice and with us sing, Oh Praise Him, Alleluia Alleluia!"