Thursday, December 22, 2011

Trying to keep my chickens happy in the winter.

So far my son is convinced that global warming is the main concern in upstate NY. It's December 22 and it's about 40 degrees outside. They are hoping for snow for Christmas Eve and it may happen. While my children aren't pleased about this wonderfully warm winter my hens are very happy. I've been able to have them out in the tractor a few days. It has been easier to keep water in its liquid state for them with this warm spell. I would like my winter days to be no colder than 40...actually 50 degrees. I'm not a winter person. There is nothing I like about being cold...but here and I and I'm really trying to make the best of it. I bought myself a treadmill to keep me from going crazy. It's the best money I've ever spent on "recreation".

I have my coop full of wood chips and hay. I have been keeping the water in the run area but I do need to find a better solution. They tip it in the coop and I can't have it getting wet in there. I did have a small waterer in a pan, but they wanted to roost on it. When I had it in there we did have a very cold spell.... 10-20 degrees! The water actually didn't freeze, so that tells me the coop will work for them.

I've been bringing them into the garage for the past 2 years. It got so messy in there last year when they kept breaking out of the make-shift coop that we decided not to do that this year. The lawn mower will never be the same... I'm a bit nervous about keeping them outside, but all the breeds I got are selected because they are very cold hardy. There are 6 of them to keep each other warm and the coop is pretty good. I tried to insulate the walls with that foam insulation... STUPID mistake. They ATE it!

I've read a lot about the deep liter method, so that is what I'm doing. I've caulked around the outside for any drafts on the northern side of the coop. I did leave some slits around the southern facing windows for air though. I just can't be sure if I'm letting in too much cold or if it's the right thing to do for air circulation. I've read many warnings about the need for circulation in the coop, but it does get COLD up here. I think I'll put some kind of cover on the slits to keep direct wind from blowing in.

I don't have a heated waterer, but I'm home all day and I'm neurotic about them and like the idea of checking on them a few times a day. They are so happy to see me come out with warm water and oatmeal. I don't provide them with any heat except an occasional milk jug of super hot water. I place it in the corner of the coop to dissipate some heat when it's super cold. I don't supplement light for them either. I did when they were in the garage last year and they kept on laying. I haven't had more than 1 egg a day lately. They need a break. 2 of them are in the first year, 3 are going on their 3rd year and 1 I'm not sure of because I adopted her. I'm guessing she's about 2. They all seem very happy and healthy. So I must be doing OK for a city girl.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My sons new blog:)

My beautiful, talented, crazy smart, awesome son is starting  his own blog...if your kid like gaming they might like to read his reviews...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Upstate NY Snow...

Tears on my keyboard for the next 6 - 7 months...that's all I have to say today:(

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Fox won't leave!

I have really had enough of this fox! The gray fox that was here the other night hasn't been seen since. However, this red fox has been here every day! The movie I took of her (I say her because I also now have a picture of her going to the bathroom across the street) was at about 11 AM. The pictures I just took today were at 1 P.M.. This fox is running for the whole day it seems. I wonder if it's too late in the year to be feeding babies? I do know that she isn't shy and she has NO fear of me. She will just stand and look at me. Yes, it kind of freaks me out.....

Move on Mrs. Fox... my chickens are not for dinner!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fox in the window

Wow, I just had a stare down with a red fox and even with calling my family so they could see him he didn't move. I heard my Easter Egger "Jumper's" sounding the alarm and I know to listen to her by now. She is amazing! All those hens owe her their lives on more than one occasion. I ran out to the run and couldn't see why she didn't want to go into the coop. It was about dusk and they are usually like clock work. She was standing in the run on the Lilac tree limb I put in there and just squawked and squawked with her head up like a newly crowned beauty contest winner.  I knew there was danger close by. She's the only one who will sound the alarm like that. Perhaps it's because she has spent time in the mouth of a coyote??

When I ran out of the basement door I must have run right past our visitor without knowing. I ushered Jumpers in once I saw the coop was safe and counted to 6. 6 lovely hens sitting on the perch. They just make me happy to watch:) I can't imagine why anyone with a yard wouldn't want a couple of hens in it. I love my girls and no one can convince me that they don't love me....except for one of them, but she's coming along.

Once everyone was in and calmed down I started walking back into the house.  There is a very small cement patio with a retaining wall at the basement entrance about 12'x12'. Right in front of the window standing on the retaining wall between me and the door was a rather large (the biggest I've seen around here) red fox with a black tip on it's fluffy tail and a dark black mask on his eyes. Just gorgeous! He stood there and starred at me and acted like he wasn't planning on getting out of my way. I started screaming for my family to come out to the deck and look down at him. My sons came out and watched him as he jumped off the 18" wall and ran a bit into the yard and stopped again to look at me.

We had direct eye contact for what seemed like 10 minutes. It was a good bit of time and when you look an animal like that in the eye it makes you feel like you are special. I would have liked it more if I didn't know that he would make a main dish out my beloved hens if he had the chance. I have a tomato plant sitting in the garden that I didn't clean up yet with a few extra ripe tomatoes that the bugs got before I did. I figured that I would allow some to just sit there and see what happens. This is one of the only gardens I'm keeping for next year since we are having grading down. I had tons of tomatoes this year that volunteered from neglected plants last year. I think my plan didn't take into account that other animals besides my girls would like to nibble on the ripe fruit left there. I did realize that my compost pile had fox visitors last year. I put a stop to that and am looking for a tumbling compositor on sale.The welcome mat is gone.

It was nice to meet you Mr. Fox, but you are not welcome in my yard.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Time to slow down

We have had the best week I can imagine up here. It's been 75* and sunny.....perfect! I still have some garden clean up to do but since the carrots and beets stay in the ground longer I'll have to wait to clean out one of my gardens. The rest are still a mess, but done. Now is the time to prepare them. We are having some grading down around the house to prevent more flooding at Hurricane Lee ruined everything in the basement. So, the gardens that I have been using will all have to be moved and I'll start over next year. So far right now I'm taking a break until I can start planning for next year..... maybe I'll start that next week:)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Salsa from the garden

I have my fingers crossed. I've never canned anything before. There are hundreds of tomatoes in my garden that are only there because they wanted to be. I kept some old plants there from last year when I got lazy and depressed that I didn't get any tomatoes out of all those plants I grew from seed. They all got the early blight and I didn't get them all bagged. I know I should have, but it got late and I had two babies under 2 1/2 years old. I pushed them all out of the way and planted broccoli in the box and figured that I just wouldn't grow tomatoes for a few years. To my surprise the seeds from the rotten tomatoes completely took over and I have huge bushes of Roma tomatoes that fill at least the 4'x8' area. HUNDREDS of tomatoes all completely perfect! My other plants over the coop did get the late blight and I bagged the up except for one that was covered in tomatoes. The plant is pretty dead, but the tomatoes are perfect. I'm not kidding, not a spot, sweet and perfect. The plants that seeded them selves....totally healthy...the only plants that did NOT get the late blight the other gardens did.

I'm pretty new at gardening and I never have time to do what I want to out there, but I know this isn't what I expected. It's my best tomato year ever! So, now I need to do something with them and Salsa is one thing my kids will eat every day. I found a great site:

My tomatoes await.... fresh out of the ice water.... so exciting..:)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FAN Travel Trailer...keeping it vintage.

I've been trying to find any information I can about our new trailer. It came without any paperwork so we'll have to go to the DMV and get a number for a homemade trailer. I saw some pictures that showed a FAN like this except gray. That one was a 1965. I did see one that was gold like ours and that one said 1967. That's why I'm guessing it's a 1967 model. The tag just says FAN Lagrange, IN. FAN moved to Lagrange in 1964-65 ish and later sold and the model was ended by 1980. I found that from different web sites. It looks like keeping it vintage is the best thing to do since it is so much older. We'll still paint the back with murals and we can still put what we want to on the sides. We'll keep the original gold though.

update.....It's too much work and we don't know what we are doing.... she's going to be an awesome hen house this Spring! I saw a picture of a coop made out of an old VW Van and we knew what to do. I'll update on my chicken blog once the snow leaves. yellowhenhouse

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Summer of the Camper begins.

For Father's Day we bought ourselves an empty shell of an aluminum trailer. We pick it up today after we get a ball for the truck. I think it's 12'. Really, it's a shell. No door, missing a few windows, missing a back wall, no walls (the metal shell and a wood frame in parts) holes in the floor... we have imagination on this. The kids will be shocked at first and think we are crazy, but they will learn that we are crazy and they need to appreciate that:) Our focus is going to be making it a tiny house. We are using the hard wood floor bits we have left over and other things from the house. We want to focus on being as green as we can, thrifty, and super high quality at the same time. We also have to keep weight in mind since we do want to travel with this. Oh, and it has to house 6 of us. We have tons of house repairs to make, but we also needed to have something to get excited about together. This is the perfect project. My husband is an artist and he stayed up late dreaming of how to paint the outside...he's still thinking about the "Super Pickle". I love him, I'm OK with anything he comes up with, even a family of pickles. I can't believe how exciting this is!! I'm ready to get rid of everything and live in a 12' trailer with 4 kids....well, maybe. I'll have to think more about this perhaps. Regardless, we have tons of family fun ahead of us.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My mean pet chicken

I don't know what to do...well, I do, but I don't want to. I didn't choose my Easter Egger Eastie, my son did. (as well as her name) She isn't very pretty, she gets beat up on all the time, she's neurotic (why she gets beat up on..or because of it...we need a chicken LCSW) This chicken choose me. There's no question. I've held her when she was sick and have protected her to great extremes including getting rid of half my clutch with my favorite girls because they were mean to her.

Eastie thinks that she is a dog and follows me around closely. She tries to get into the house when you open the door and when I pull up in the van she runs up to great me and hops up into the car. The fact the kids drop french fries on the floor might add to that wanting to get into the car. She's even tried to get in through windows. She just wants to be with me. The small group (she's grown up with them except for one) I have now are wonderful and even they peck at her back...she doesn't have any feathers above her tail area. I couldn't see why everyone..EVERYONE was mean to her. I thought maybe because she is my pet and gets extra treats and the others were jealous.

My husband brought her other behavior to my attention and I see her in a new light. Maybe she just loves me for the treats? No, I still think she loves me though. She HAS to be free range. I don't let them unless I can watch them since I've spotted countless foxes and coyotes in our yard. I've never lost one, but they have been saved literally from the jaws of death. She'll pace and jump and just go nuts sometimes when they are in the run and I can only imagine in the coop. (It's 4X8 with a 10x8 run) They have good space for 5 chickens and they spend most of their time in the front yard at the bird feeder or digging up my gardens.

The other chickens just hate her. Momma is nice to her and will cover her at night, but will also peck to keep her in line when she is getting spazzy. Now my daughter and I each have a new baby. They are about ready to join the big girls. The hen I've been babysitting is going home so that's 4 hens and two babies. One would think that would be fine. My other 3, 2 black Astrolorps and my other Easter Egger, are nice to the babies and will peck around the yard with them and hang out together on the bricks. Eastie will charge them and peck at their heads! They could just be sitting there in the sun and she'll attack. We've spent time really getting these chicks to be calm. Luna holds her RIR Reba like a rag doll and plays with her in the sand box. She LOVES that chicken. I hold Bunny all the time and we sit on the bench swing all 4 of us and she cuddles, closes her eyes, and falls asleep. This chicken just sleeps in my arms like a baby. So, to have my 2 year old spazzy hen attacking these babies is NOT acceptable.

Eastie and I have a relationship though. I know I'll have to get rid of all my girls when my husband finds another job, but I actually had secret plans to keep her and just build her a nice indoor coop until we got where we were going. So you see, I'm close to this chicken. Am I so disloyal that I'm choosing the babies over her? Wouldn't life be easier if I didn't have to worry so much about the social issues of my chickens? I have no soap opera any they are my replacement. I'd have a peaceful hen house without her. Would she be happy with strange chickens in someone else's run? I know someone with 1 chicken that free ranges and sleeps in a small coop on her porch. I'm going to ask her if Eastie could live with them. I got her as a 1 day old chick over 2 years ago. She lays a perfect pale green egg for me almost everyday. She looks at me as a mother and here I am sending her off to a place that won't be as safe as the home she has known her whole life. Just to keep babies that I'll have to part with maybe before they even start to lay if  job comes in?

The drama of a chicken keeper......

update: Eastie is still happy and healthy at my friends more than a year later. Sadly she has forgotten me. Yes, I did think she would remember me:(

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gallbladder Update

I know I haven't blogged about this in a long time, but I thought I'd update what I said in case anyone cares:) I was really trying to shrink a 3 cm large stone in my gallbladder for the past year. I tried Apple Cider Vinegar and can't see how people do that! My sister drinks it and I just can't. I switched to Malic Acid pills as well as Dandelion supplements. I watched my diet and did what I thought I could from what I found on the internet. I didn't want to do the full flushes and I'm thankful that I didn't. Getting the stone stuck in a duct scared me out of that as well as the fact that I was still nursing my baby. That's really why I waited so long. I did find out that you can nurse the day of the surgery, but the whole concept of going under scared me to death. I've had a bad experience and didn't want to go through again!

Last Wednesday was the big day and they took that stupid thing out once and for all! The shoulder pain and migraines were making it very hard to be a good mother. You just don't have patience when you are in pain all the time.It's only been a week and I am a bit sore, but I can tell you that I feel better now even with that discomfort of 5 holes in me than I have in years!! WHAT WAS I WAITING FOR??? Thank you Dr. Sullivan.

I'm a neurotic mess when it comes to not trusting hospitals, especially up here where I consider everything old and dirty. Yes, the hospital is very old but the people make up for that ten fold. They were all wonderful and I got there at 7 A.M. and was home by 1 P.M. I was pretty out of it for that day, but I'm so surprised at how fast I felt so much better.

When they looked at the removed gallbladder they found a lot of bad cells on the inside - dysplesia? the Dr. told me that I was very lucky that I had it out when I did and that keeping it in so long was trouble. So that's my cautionary tale to those trying to shrink or pass a large stone. Once I saw on the computer that the cases of gallbladder cancer were related to large stones I figured that was it, I wanted it out. The Dr. confirmed it and said that these bad cells could lead to cancer but that my tests came up with no malignancy. They had to remove a LOT of scar tissue from my c-section 8 years ago. I may need to repeat the scar tissue removal, but it's worth it now that I know you heal quickly and that discomfort can go away.

I learned something else very interesting. When we are forming our diaphragm is up in our throat. As we form it's pushed down. When there is something wrong below the diaphragm the brain thinks it's the upper shoulder because all the nerves are still attached from when we were forming. That's why my upper right shoulder was in so much pain from the gallbladder and all the scar tissue. Interesting.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Carrot Tape

We had some fun with this project. I can't take credit for the idea at all, I read about it in another blog I really enjoy  " ". We got the seed tape that we made in the ground this weekend. It was just a beautiful weekend and I can forget that I hate central NY so much on days like that. I planted the rows in front of the chicken coop where I'm going to put in 5 Roma tomato seedlings that are looking great. I have the tomatos under the light in the basement still and will bring them out around the 20th. I don't want to rush it this year and lose what I've spent so much time nurturing.

I planted 2 rows of sweet peas in the back that will be able to climb up the run fence....protected with hard wire. In front of that are the tomatoes that have some lettuce at the base. The lettuce will be harvested before the tomatoes are very big. I stick lettuce everywhere since it grows quickly and we eat it every day. I then have the carrots in front on one side and beets on the other. I have a juicer and the beet juice can be added to red grape juice and none are the wiser:)  You have to love the juicer when you have picky eaters in the house.

Making the seed tape was a lot of fun. I made up a paste with flour and water and let the kids choose the food color to add to it. I couldn't find an empty glue container so we just used a small paint brush. Once we put the paste and seed on the toilet paper we covered it. I had a bit of trouble with the paper breaking. I tried one with a paper towel and I really liked how that worked. I think I won't use the toilet paper next time. I'm sure the paper towel will work fine in the soil. I did one with paper towel on the bottom and toilet paper on the top. Maybe it needs less cover...I don't know. I'm still learning this. I do know that it was super easy to plant the seeds on the paper. They are all in nice rows now instead of spilled in pile like how it's happened in the past.

3 out of my 4 babies... happy with gardening and chickens. If only life was always this simple.....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My pledge to clean green!

I found a blog I just love through a newsletter I get from Dr. Mercola - . I've read through a lot of the posts and enjoy them, but the one that pertains to my search right now is The Morning of a Typical ADD Child. I don't like the assigning a label part, but I think it's just the way she wrote it. I've been reading a LOT about diet and child behavior lately... a LOT. Most of the article colorings we see in US food is not allowed in other parts of the world....what does that tell you??? It's not just diet where we are taking in all these crazy toxins, but at least it is one area I can do my best to control. The other segment of our lives I have some control over is the chemicals I've brought into our home. Thankfully I've never been a clean freak:) When I say that my kids could eat off my floor...I mean that they are bound to find a spare Cheerio to eat:)

Trying to stay with whole foods is really really hard up here. We don't have any Whole Foods stores anywhere around here. The selection of organics is getting a little better and I'm thrilled to see Wal-Mart carry so many. It's just not anywhere as much as any other place I've lived. Farmer's Markets will start soon, but the season is short up here. There is a co-op and the idea is just wonderful. The food seems crazy expensive for what you get though. I've never gotten my whole order so you can't really plan things. I hope it works for them, I was so excited to see them start something up here, but maybe there just aren't enough farms or it's just the area. When we move we are going to make sure there is a Whole Foods near us. Locally owned stores are just way too expensive when you are feeding a family of 6. I just can't pay $17 for an organic chicken when we would need 2 at a time around here for one meal. I know, I should just buck up and take care of things myself. I just can't. I love my chickens and I think if I sent them away to be processed I'd never be able to eat chicken again. Weak...I know. Apologies to those who believe in only shopping locally owned stores...I just don't like feeling like I have to pay more then I should. Especially up here where we pay like 10% sales tax as it is. Sick!

I see a lot of green products that you can buy, but really, vinegar, baking soda, and every day soap (make your own) is cheap and effective. I'm glad to see the green market so big, but it's important that we don't put price tags on the importance of our health and our planet.

My goals for the week: get rid of any food left in my house with article colorings and flavors, find a recipe that really works with the whole family for granola, (I haven't had the best luck with this), and start my Spring Cleaning with only green products I can make from edible sources. That's enough for the week:)

I found Best of Mother Earth

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I found a new family hobby...they just don't know it yet:)

It's hard to find something that we could all enjoy AND would get us out of the house a bit. I heard about Geocaching about a year or so ago and thought "hey, that could be fun". My husband's favorite thing to do is to go hiking and I thought this would be a way to get the kids involved. We can't do that most of the year up here, but I just learned that a lot of the 'caches' are in easy to reach places. I just pictured us hiking up hills and climbing trees to find a little secret box someplace. I was wrong. So this is something we can do year round. My husband bought me the Garmin nuvi 1300 for my birthday and we are signed up all ready to start. I can't wait. There is actually one about a mile away, so we'll go find it this week when the rain stops. This will fit in nicely with our other new hobby of making movies. Maybe we'll do a documentary on it:) 

I can't complain about the rain. My broccoli plants are doing well. It seems that I lost most of the lettuce to hunger birds...the flying kind. I lost a few broccoli plants to the non-flying variety..namely Francine whom I've been boarding for the winter. I got the fence up a bit too late. I love having the "Aunts", as we call them now, out when we are outside. I just can't leave them out alone. I'm also not leaving them out all at once. If there is still someone in the run they won't go far. Eastie will, but she's a loner. I let her out all the time since the other girls are mean to her. I know she's neurotic, but she's also my baby. So the others have to sit and watch her as she chases bugs.It pays to be the favorite:)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I'm starting my escarole seeds:)

This may not seem like a big deal, but it is to my husband. I never ate escarole until we moved up here. When I've had greens (and I've had my share), they have been the southern type. I was stationed in GA for a while and grew to love all things southern. That was a long long time ago...not to show my age. I still feel this huge need to have black-eyed-peas made up like hopin jon and greens every New Years Day. I feel that if I don't I would miss out on all the luck that is meant to come my way. So, greens to me and greens to my husband are very different. To him, it means escarole with potatoes. I like to add white beans instead though and he seemed to adapt to that OK. I add beans to anything I can. We eat only poultry (NOT my chickens!!!) and eggs for animal based protein so I am very aware of adding bean protein to substitute.

These people up here eat greens as a main dish, yet it seems that no one grows escarole. I couldn't find seeds anywhere....and I really did look. You have to love the internet. I just don't remember life without it. Oh yea, I do remember having to use the library once when I was in that soap making phase. Still, it makes life more fun to be able to learn so much about so much. It turns out that what I only knew as "escarole" is really endive. I thought of endive as the thin lettuce stuff you decorate salad with. This is "Endive, Broadleaf Batavian" aka Cichorium endivia. I found some seeds on Amazon from Buy Wholesale Cheap, LLC. I have to admit I love the company name since it implies I saved money. I'm going to give the seeds a try in my seed starter this week.

I made greens just two nights ago and really it's just my husband and I that eat them. With 4 kids around here you would think the odds would be that someone else would eat them...nope. We are leftover people and I like to have enough to send some for his lunch and for me for lunch the next day. So lets say 4 good servings...we aren't 100 pound light weights around here:) I use 2 heads and the price is going crazy on food. I know gas is getting stupid again, but still, they are VERY quick to raise prices as soon as the breeze turns. I paid over $7 just for the 2 heads. Romain lettuce (which is doing well under my light thank you) was about $3 a head. How could a person afford to eat well every day?

I'm growing and freezing broccoli for a year, but I sure wish I could do that with our greens. I saw that you could blanch greens just like spinach and freeze them. I'll try that if I get a big enough crop. I need to get my vertical lettuce hydroponic lettuce grower going. I saw a DVD I could buy with all the plans on it. I have to do that for next year if we are still up here. For now I will be happy to grow my organic Broadleaf Batavian Endive and make my greens.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spindly Broccoli...arg

After reading all the garden sites I've found I know that my seedlings are too far away from the light. However, I didn't find much on how to save them. I have them up very close to the lights now but so far they don't seem to be getting stronger. I'm thinking I'll be losing more than I figured. I keep trying this seedling thing. Year after year I go in with a box full of seeds, and more and more that I HAVE to buy. I'm a collector of seeds. I need to admit this to myself. I'm not a great gardener, but I AM a great planner and collector of seeds. Well, it's something.

We had a few nice days up here in frigid central NY, before all the snow and freezing weather came back. I had my broccoli out to get some sun and wind. I read that a fan blowing on the seedlings would help the base get stronger. I think the wind was a bit much for a few of them.  I'll have to get more seeds I think. I want tons of broccoli....broccoli everywhere! I'm starting the Jillian Michaels Master Your Metaboloism diet and you can eat unlimited broccoli,,, so that's what I want to do:) My husband and I could eat it every day. Groceries have gotten crazy expensive. I spent 3X's what I normally do on lettuce. I have two trays going now.

One of my Sussex chicks is sick and all I know how to do is set her up in her own little hospital. They are about 5 weeks old now. Wow they grow fast!! I am going to have to put a few on They go fast on there and they are coming off heat soon, so it will be easier for someone who just wants a few. I'd like to get a few small coops built that I could sell complete with a couple of chicks. They are so expensive and I could sell them cheap and get more of us chicken lovers started. I would like to be able to pay for my own chicken and gardening habit.  Right now I use my online teaching to pay for my supplies, but my student loans are coming due....WHAT DID I DO???? My Master's degree will take me the rest of my life to pay off. I hate to think of my kids being strapped with student loans, but let's be real....4 kids...and they are going to college when we are thinking about retirement...they'll have student loans. That's life.

I'm a bit chatty today.... time for more tea:)  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Snow and tears

It is so difficult for me to try to be positive after a few really nice days followed by snow and a forecast for another cold week. My husband and I talk about getting out of here a lot, and he wants to go so he could hike when he wanted to, so it's not just me. The boys love it here, but I think once they got past the transition they would both be just fine. Where is that perfect place??? The summers are close to perfect up here. They get hot, but the nights are cooler. I really do love that time of year up here even though the area it's self is so depressed. We don't do much outside of our yard anyway...yes, that is problem. The killer is though that nice weather lasts maybe 4 months it seems.

Last frost isn't until close to the end of May and with such a short growing season it's very hard to grow enough food for a family of 6. It's not just the gardening, but I need to see sunshine. I've always gotten a bad case of self diagnosed S.A.D. in the winter. That's one reason I swore I'd never live up this way again. What was I thinking????  My husband would like to try out Seattle, and I'd go. I just wonder about the lack of sunshine out there. It won't be as cold though. If I had a magic wand we would be in Colorado or North Carolina again. I loved Colorado and in my heart I feel as though it is home, but he likes to go more with what he knows and if that means N.C. then I'm fine with that too. Hiking wise, I think Colorado offers a heavenly array of opportunities, but in N.C. he used to hike about all year and loved it. I might be able to have a better garden in N.C..

I'm done complaining. I just really need to make some changes in my life and I don't know where to start. Balance...I need balance. I'm going to a job fair today to see if I could be an Adjunct Instructor at the community college. I would love to find something where I could use my mind in the evening hours and still be home with my babies during the day. My husband would have more diaper duty, but he's good at that. Maybe I'd be happier with an outlet out side of my little island.  Wish me luck:)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Barking at a Fox

Well, a fox will just look at you funny if you bark at it. I thought I could scare it away nicely, but it just stood there and I could tell it was mocking me. I don't dislike foxes except for the fact that they would eat all my chickens given a chance. I don't like them walking around my house and facing me down in my own back yard though. I was surprised to see it at 8:00 A.M. I have seen footprints every day, so I'm actually very glad it's a fox that does the perimeter of our house as opposed to those coyotes. Those coyotes really scare me. Still, I am a chicken keeper and there isn't room for a chicken killer in my yard.

A fox has to be one of the most beautiful animals I've seen. I'll get a better picture next time. My youngest son was able to watch it with me; he laughed at the barking thing also. I really would like to keep them out of the yard now that my hens are back in their outdoor coop. I let them winter in the garage too long last year, so I got them out early this year. I feel that the coop is safe and I hadn't opened the run door yet, but I feel sad that I can't let them run any more. For a whole year they had the run of the whole yard and I never lost one. Now I can't let them out unless we are out playing with them.

(this picture was actually from the last time our visitor was here.)
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Can chickens get colds?

A few days ago I went downstairs to my basement barn/garage and my pet Easter Egger, Eastie, wouldn't come to me. She always comes running to me as soon as I open the door. I've had her 2 years and she has never come to me before. She just sat there and fluffed up her feathers.
The day before was a sunny "warm" day. It got up to about 50 degrees so I walked the girls out to the real coop and run. I hate having to keep them penned up, but these coyotes around here are crazy. I walked them out there and left them out for a few hours. It was wet out, but still, I figured that the best thing for them was to get them out as much as possible. The back garage isn't heated at all and it still gets cold enough for the water to freeze if it's really cold, so they aren't being totally pampered. I know that I'll have to get them reaccoustemed to being out, but at 50 degrees I would have never thought they'd get sick. Maybe it's the hay on the ground of the run??
After I went over and got Eastie I saw that her mouth was a bit open and she was "gurgling". She sneezed and snot came out of her nostrils. This seemed like a cold to me. I saw on the boards that chicken don't get colds. Maybe they meant that they don't catch them from us?? I wrapped her in a towel and brought her into the house to find information on the computer. My husband kind of looked at me funny when he noticed I had Easter wrapped up like a baby on my lap. He gets it though:) The man is just glad that I have my chickens to keep me happier living up here. It's the only benefit I see to living up here in the "Arctic Wasteland". I found some posts that mentioned an antibiotic. I needed something now and with 4 kids I can't take her to an expensive vet. We have a shortage of vets up here in the first place.
 I've had parakeets most of my life and when we had one get sick a few years ago with respiratory issues I got her some Ornacycline from Pet Smart for like $7. The package says "safe to use with all species of birds." Chickens are indeed birds, though they don't seem to be sometimes.  I kept her in the heated basement in a dog kennel for 2 days to keep her warm and to keep her away from the other 4 girls. Her breathing got totally better after a few good snot blow outs:P I had to give her the medicated water with a dropper to get it down her throat. 
I went down first thing this morning to bring treats to all of them and now they are all gurgling. I put treatment in the water and just gave a days worth to them so I can keep it fresh and add more in the morning tomorrow. It says to treat for 5 days. I have to look up how long to dispose of the eggs if they lay any. I should have known something was up when I didn't get any eggs at all yesterday. It breaks my heart. I have to get down there and totally clean out all the hay but I can't with 2 feet of snow on the ground. I saw so many people say that hay was good, but now I see more that says not to use it. From now on I will only use the pine shavings. I am really hoping this week will warm up so I can clear out everything and start fresh.
Please Spring....I'm waiting........

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

20 happy chicks...let the coop building begin!

I've decided on a coop design. I'm going with a town house set up so I can take the coops apart and bring them with us when we move. Yes, we WILL move. I know some people like the cold, I am NOT one of them. I love NY in the summer but the winter lasts for 5 months and I can't take it.

I'm going to keep a walk through to the two...maybe 3 coops. I have 20 chicks and my 4 hens. I think the older girls will keep their own coop. I can always separate the coops if there are behavior issues that I have to deal with. I've been looking at all kinds of pictures of coops but I'm going to design this myself to get exactly what I want. I've seen the crazy prices on some of the coops too, so I hope to make some extra of the small size coops to sell on Craigslist. There are some on there, but I can charge a lot less and get more people keeping chickens. I think everyone should have a few chickens in the yard. We'd be a better country if we all took some responsibility for our own food.

It's very depressing today as I plan my coop and gardens. The wind is crazy and the snow is coming down's MARCH..stop this!!! A few more years so I can stay home with my girls in this cold. I can do this...I can do this..I can do this.....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mystery Chick

There is one little red chick in the collection... no idea what she is, but they sent a free exotic with the collection...exciting:)

My chicks are here:)!!

I can't think of anything as cute (except my own babies that is) than a box full of peeping chicks. I have 21 chicks on my dinning room table right now. Yes, sadly 21. We lost 4 and there are 2 that I can't allow myself to hold out high hopes for. I've been dipping their beaks about half hour into the Quick Start that I got with them. I did see one eat a bite of food, but Little Gray won't even swallow the water. I'm doing my best. The last time I got a chick shipment we had a few that didn't look well and we were sure we would lose them. It all worked and we have never lost a chicken up to this point. I'm wondering if it is just that I ordered early and the trip was too much for them or if the hatchery wasn't as good as last time. I have my fingers crossed.

I'll move them to a bigger brooder next week. I like to have them up here so I can watch them constantly. My girls are just loving them. Luna wants to hold one all the time and gets upset when I tell her that they have to sleep. She'll have so much fun with them when they are running around. I have to make the tractor big enough so the girls can be in with them. Fun times ahead:)

Monday, February 21, 2011

One more day till the chicks are here!

I'm excited and my normal nervous about my chicks getting here in the morning. It's so much colder this time around. I got my last order in May 2 years ago. It was warmer and I only kept half of them. I'm planning on keeping all 25 this time. Well, we'll see how my coop designs go actually. My plan was 16'x4' to match the one I all ready have. That's good for about 15 with the nice run attached to it. I do let them hang out in the yard with me while I'm out there, but after the past fall and the coyote attacks I doubt they will free range as much as my other girls were used to. They haven't been happy about not getting out, but I think they still have memory of the attacks. Jumpers has been more affectionate since I saved her.

Ok, I'm ready. I hope I'm ready. I've never lost a chick and I don't plan to. I ordered the special Quick Start Gel stuff this time and I'll trust they will all be happy. OK, I'm ready!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Here come the Chicks!

In one week we'll have 25 baby brown egg laying chicks! Yea!!!! I just couldn't make a decision this year so I went with the assortment from McMurry. I was just going to get maybe 5 from Tractor Supply this year, but, well, I just couldn't help myself. I have to build a new coop for any chicks that I get anyway, so I might as well build big. I figure that with more chickens huddled together over the winter I could keep them outside in the coop instead of bringing them into the garage. I do love being able to go down there, but I'm so not looking forward to the clean up. I don't want my husband to even go down there right now.

One more week....I'll get my brooder together today. I use the big storage tubs for the first week, but I'll have a big box for them after that. The first few weeks from 90 degrees to 70 and they don't need the lamp any more is the hardest. I've never lost a chicken though, so luck is with me. My last batch was from Stromberg though, and my Dad recommended them. I've heard good things about McMurry on the boards and I got the extra gel stuff for when they arrive. I'm a bit nervous . Last year I only kept 12 after the first day. I'll need a whole lot more room this year. Fun! My kids can't wait.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The most exciting time of year!

It's here! That time of year where you have nothing but endless possibilities is finally here. It makes the remaining cold and snowy days tolerable. I'm writing out my plans for my gardens and rewriting them. I have spread sheets made up on Excel, books all over the place, my notebooks ready to totally organize me this year, and my box of seeds. I'm set to go.
The last frost date up here is between May 10-20th. I'm always hopeful though and want to have my seedlings as big as I can have them to get a jump on our short growing season.  I have meant to get my indoor lettuce crop going all winter but something always came up. 4 kids do tend to keep you busy:) I'm starting my broccoli seeds and hope to really have more broccoli than we know what to do with. It's my hope to need to buy a small chest freezer this year.
My main focus early in the season is getting my berry plants in the ground for future years. I've never thought about future years before, so it's kind of hard for me to imagine being in the same house. I'm really not happy up here, but my kids are. I may have to bite the bullet on this one at least long enough for my oldest son to finish high school. So, that means I'm getting my Kiwi trees and planting my blueberry bushes and Blackberry's. The county sells berry bushes by 25 - 100 for an unbelievable price for conservation. We have a side yard that seems so wasteful to mow. The amount of fuel wasted on lawn mowing in this country is sick. We do have an electric mower, but it won't work for the side yard. It was great for my smaller yard in NC, but we have a few acres up  here and the best way to deal with it is to plant it. My strawberry box is doing well and this year will be great. Organic berry's for my kids without paying the crazy price. I want berry's everywhere.
Next on my list is building a secondary coop and run for my new batch of chicks. I don't think my husband believes me, but I'm hunting for a donkey now. I saw on TV that you can get a donkey to chase off bear from your yard. Well, if a donkey will protect you from bear, I'm sure it will protect my chickens from coyote. Perfect solution! Surprising I didn't think of this sooner:) My husband will come around. He knew what he was getting into when he married me. A man doesn't marry a crazy women with two kids without being ready for some excitement in his life.
Happy Spring Planning!!!!  

Monday, January 31, 2011

Say No to bottled water..PLEASE

Wow, my husband and I just watched "Tapped" on our Net Flix. All I can say is "WOW". I've always known buying water in a bottle was a waste of money and that not enough people recycle the bottles, but I just never saw how bad it really was. We use a Britta..actually I think I have a Pure filter on the facet right now. (the stupid casing has a crack in it after only changing the filter once..I won't buy one of those again!) We've also been using stainless drink bottles for a couple of years now. We've been doing that because we have made the choice to be as green as we can, but also because I am as thrifty as I can be. With 4 kids you have to be. I was a single mom with my two sons for 7 years, so believe me when I say that I know how to save money.

This film is such a must see for everyone. My family is going to take this on as our cause. Everyone needs something to fight for and honestly we've been looking for something we can sink our teeth in to. We'll start with school. My youngest son in in a good number of sports and if we bring the cooler and recycled paper cups we might be able to save some bottles every week just by supplying water to the teams. We'll keep thinking on this.

If anyone reads me just ranting, please please please join us and swear off bottled water.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Our Fox Friend

We really don't live in the wild. It's actually considered a town here and there is a trailer park next door. There are a lot of fields around us though. We've had a skunk at the front door, a  raccoon in the hen house, at least 3 coyotes I could pick out of a line up, and now we saw the owner of the mystery footprints.  My boys and my husband were out clearing the two feet of snow from the drive way when Brandon yelled "Coyote". When ever we see anything now we think that's what it kids are afraid to be out alone.

I was looking out the window since one of my daughters was out with them and frankly they are all just so damn cute out there together. It wasn't a coyote this time but a beautiful red fox. I didn't get the best look at at, but my husband did. We gather around the computer to find pictures and verify exactly what we see. I don't mind a fox in the yard except for the fact I have 4 chickens and am boarding another one for a friend. They are safe in the winter lodgings, but a fox so small could fit right into the poop door if it wanted to. I need reinforcement for sure.

All the posts I've read said a fox wouldn't go after my dog. My dog is only a 10 pound fluff ball though, so I still want to be careful. Cricket is the most wonderful companion I've ever had in my life. She's a Coton De' Tuleua and Shitz Tzu hybrid. She just wants to be with me and after having her I'd never go back to hunting breeds. She's just the perfect type of dog to have with little girls and to sit with you while you are on the computer. Just wild enough to be exciting but calm enough to be perfect. For now I shake a loud tambourine thing my husband got from Omega before I  let her out. I think it would scare off anything that may be out there.

Monday, January 10, 2011

So far so good

I can't say that I've been diligent with the vinegar, but I have been putting forth a good effort. I have to say that it's the nastiest tasting thing to try to swallow that I've ever tried. My sister seems to like it, but for the life of me I can't see how. My husband and I switched to Balsamic Vinegar on our salads only and I'd rather drink that really. Here's the important thing though, I haven't had a single attack since drinking what I have been drinking of the vinegar. None. I might have over did it the first week, but not so it ever upset my stomach. I tried putting it in my orange juice and did this a couple times a day. I also tried to do shots, but that just doesn't work for me. I don't like any kind of shot and it might as well been tequila it was so nasty.

On top of the vinegar I've been taking dandelion tablets once in a while when I felt the gall bladder getting a bit sore. The bottle says "consult a doctor if you have a blockage of the intestines or bile ducts or inflammation of the gallbladder." I don't know why since that's why you buy the pill to begin with. Anyway, what I feel is what I think some inflammation or at least irritation but the doctors I've gone too have been worthless. This seems to work.

I also found some malic acid pills at the Vitamin Shoppe. I don't take them as often as I should, but I can't see how they could hurt you. It's like eating apples. I was just trying to find acids to work like the vinegar without the nastiness. I've been on a huge vitamin C kick. This year I'm NOT going to sick. My husband gets sick every year and with 4 kids in the house and 2 in public school you know the cold bug is lingering around here all the time. As soon as I get sniffles I start up with the Emergen-C. Honestly, I just love it just as a drink. I have a tall Tupperware class of it on the counter about all day. I'm thinking the asorbic acid is, well, acid.

I can't say exactly what it helping, but I have felt better than I have in a long time. I go back for ultrasounds when I can find a doctor for my yearly. It's hard around here. I have talked with surgeons, but have yet to find a doctor who will monitor me. My insurance pays for one physical a year, so my last time was last February. I'll find someone by next month. A year ago my gallstone was 3 cm and I had a lot of pain and a few attacks where I thought I had food poisoning. Since I've been working on it and visualizing it shrinking I haven't had a single attack where I've been sick. I have had some episodes where the pain in my shoulder blades has been unbearable for days at a time. Since the vinegar and like 3,000 mg of C I haven't had a single episode of pain. Well see when I get a doctor what the ultrasound shows.