Friday, August 28, 2015

Our chicken coop

We have our pretty little chooks in the side yard. It's about 480 square feet (400' for the chooks to run around in, the other 80' or so has the turtle pond). It's surrounded on 2 sides by a 6' high corrugated steel fence. One of the other sides is the house and the final side is chain link facing the rest of the back yard. We enclosed the entire top of it in deer netting at 7'-8' feet high so nothing can get in from above. The bottom of the steel is buried several inches deep to keep out diggers.
The netting is the only new feature back there because it used to be our garden, then we had to move the turtle pond there and they ate most of the plants. So far the birds have stayed away from the pond, but it should be ok if they want to go in, there's lots of ledges for them to stand on and Freya, Odin, and the others won't hurt them.

Nice and cozy
The chooks house is 6' high, 6' wide, and 5' deep. It started out open on three sides, but we've added shade cloth to the sides for better protection from the sun and rain. The bottoms and tops of the sides are still open though to allow as much air flow as possible. We had a nesting box, but Ms. Fisher was sleeping in it so we now use it to hold the waterer. It works great and she now sleeps with the others.
The paint makes it easy to wipe down in the mornings. We left the perches bare for their comfort, paint would have made it slippery. 
Bed time is so cute, they all peep like baby chicks and try to cuddle under each others wings. That was what Bessie was doing when she was shoving everyone off the perches. They just want to snuggle even though it's hot out.

Clever food holder!

Nice water dispenser!
Alexis figured it out first.
My husband got the idea for these great food and water dispensers from Rob Bob's Backyard Farming. That site is great and I love the way he explains things. My chooks love the feeder, but we're still trying to teach them the waterer. I made the mistake of catching them and tapping their beaks on the nipples to try and show them. They hated that and ran from me for awhile afterward. I've since learned I shouldn't have chased them if I want them to be tamed. Now I make chucking noises as I make the nipples drip water, I hope they get it soon.
They have ice water in pans that they drink and splash in as well so they are doing well. We also have a mister system that they enjoy and I put ice packs in their bedding to help keep them cool.

Nice place to explore.
So far they seem happy. The heat doesn't seem to bother them much. They peck and scratch most of the day, Dot found several grubs today. Alexis stole the first one, The second one was to big so she threw it away and Kate ate it , then she finally got one. It was fun to watch them chase each other for the prize. 
They haven't gone past the small bush next to the tree yet, but they are still getting used to it here. They aren't tame yet, but they let me get closer each time I go out there. They have no problem touching me and hit me with their wings when they scratch around my feet. Alexis even rubbed against my leg yesterday and Kate sat on my shoe for a minute. I can't wait until they let me pet them and maybe hold them! I'm trying to be patient, but they are so cute.  


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

We got dinosaurs!

Ok, technically they're chickens, but they are related to the T-Rex so it counts in my world.
My husband and I had been talking and thinking about getting chooks for a few years now, but it never seemed to be the right time. There was always something going on.
Then we went to the store to get groceries and saw the price of eggs. There was no way I was paying that much for the pack. We got the rest of what we needed and went home where we once again had the chicken talk.
This time everything lined up. My husband had 6 days off in a row so he could build the coop, older chicks/pullets were available instead of the chicks, and the side garden had been fallow for a long time because the turtles ate everything except the pomegranate bush and the mesquite tree. It was perfect.
We did our research and found out we could have up to 24 hens, but we decided on 5. Then we went to various feed/livestock stores to compare prices and see how they kept their chickens. Some where only a couple of dollars and we found some chooks that were $50. The range of prices and living conditions was mind blowing. We decided on OK Feed and Supply for the chickens and their feed. They had the best looking and friendliest bird out of the places we visited. They also gave them lots of room to run around and I liked that. On Monday morning we went and picked out our birds!
Now on to the chooks!:

First photo!

Ms. Fisher
Ms. Fisher is an Easter Egger, heavy on the Ameraucana breed. She was hatched on June 17, 2015. She likes boxes. She's the most mellow of the flock and likes to do her own thing.

Bessie is a Silver Wyandotte. She was hatched on May 28, 2015. She is the largest and likes to get on the roost on one end and push everyone else off the other. When she reaches that end she will go to sleep.

Alexis is a Rhode Island Red. She was hatched on June 17, 2015. She was the first to figure out the feeder. She is also the best at bug catching so far.

Kate is a Blue Andalusian. She was hatched on June 17, 2015. She is the bossiest of the group and likes to snatch things away. When the sun goes down she starts peeping to tell them to go to bed and even leads the way.

Dot is Golden Campine. She was hatched on June 17, 2015. She is a bit temperamental and likes to peck and run. She is also the tamest so far and will eat the food that falls from my hand. Hopefully soon she'll eat from my hand.

It's a lot of fun watching them and learning about them. They each have distinct personalities and preferences. It'll be awhile before they start laying eggs, but that's fine. We are happy getting to know each other for now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I cut it off!

I decided it was time for a change. I've been growing my hair for the past several years. I wanted to see what I looked like with long hair, but I was getting annoyed by it. It's really fine, but there's a ton of the skinny suckers and they like to tie themselves into knots any chance they get. It had even wrapped itself around my neck and tried to strangle me in my sleep! I rarely let it down and very few people ever got to see it. Here's what it looked like: (Looks so pretty and innocent doesn't it?)

The beginning
Yesterday I decided to chop it off. I soaked it down and pulled it back into the last tail it would ever form. Then I picked up my shears and chopped right through the soggy mass. I didn't care about even, I just wanted it gone.

The first cut
That first cut felt sooooo good. It splatted when it hit the floor and I laughed. Then with a snip snip here and a chop chop there I shaped the remaining hair into a funky chunky pixie.
I was having was much fun that I almost got carried away so I didn't let myself use the clippers (last time I used them I came out with less than an inch all over.). My husband tidied up the back for me.

The outcome.
After the cut was done I went outside and felt the wind in my hair for the first time in years. It was a beautiful feeling. I am now free!

It moves!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A better way to carry my bike locks

I've been looking for a better way to carry my bike locks for a while now. I had been carrying them strapped to the rear rack, but they got in the way and the amount of Velcro I had holding them down was a hassle to take on and off. Plus if I wanted to use my rack I had to either put stuff on the locks and not be able to make any other stops or put the locks in the front basket where they bounce and slide around affecting my steering.
After much web searching and brain wracking I came across this Instructables post. It seemed like the way to go. It's not elegant, but it is efficient and that was what I was looking for.

Inside view.

I was able to mount both my U locks on the inside of my rear rack, one on either side. They no longer get in my way or claim space that I can use to carry things and best of all they don't rattle, clank, or shift at all. So far it's working great!!!
When I get a paycheck coming in I plan to paint the PVC to make it look nicer. (Yep, I'm still waiting.) I added the slant to the cuts to make it easier to engage the lock Now I just have to figure out what to do with my cable, It won't fit with the other locks.
It only took me the weekend and a bit of help from my husband to get it finished, and I only lost a few ounces blood so it's a win. If Sylvia is ever lost we can DNA test her to prove shes mine. Friendly warning, hose clamps are very sharp and will screw the skin off your fingers if your not careful use gloves when holding them steady. Also, if you do this start with the bottom clamps and not the top ones. Then you won't be constantly rubbing against the already placed ones and will have more room to work. I wish I'd thought of that before I'd finished!

The finished look.

On a side note, my husband likes to tease me about how crowded my handlebars are so when I saw this bike while we were out shopping I had to take a picture. I love the little chipmunk! I may have to strap a furry creature to Sylvia now.

So cute!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

And the wait goes on.....

I'm still waiting on State Board for my number and it's driving me crazy. They say I need better fingerprints and they sent the packet on the 3rd. It's the 5th and it should have been here today if they had sent it that day, but it's not. This is after they sat on the unusable prints for a month or so. I really wish I knew what was going on there. I just have to keep being patient though, there's nothing else I can do. I have no power to make it go faster or better. I am at the mercy of the slow bureaucracy. Hopefully it will be in my box tomorrow and I can get it sent back fast.
On the plus side, my school is being really supportive and even tried to get the place I want to work to take me on without my number. It didn't work, but I appreciate the try. It also let me know that they still want me once this is done. It's good to be wanted! I'm also getting a good amount of writing done while I wait. I've been told that what I really want to do is a bad idea, and not very nice, so I'm making do the best I can.
I'm sure this will be over soon and I will once again be a useful member of society. Until then I'm hitting the ice cream!
Have fun!

What my mind feels like.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Some of the food we've made recently!

Since I'm still waiting on my number I've been trying out cooking and I think I'm getting pretty good at it! It's exciting to learn new techniques and make something that doesn't take up space in the house.
Here are a few things I've made that my husband and I really enjoyed.

Yummy curry!
I got the recipe for this curry from the book Supermarket Vegan by Donna Klein. It's a great recipe with coconut lime rice and a really tasty and savory chickpea curry on top. It even reheated well and helped me find a way I will eat beans.

Stuffed acorn squash!

Stuffed globe squash!
My mom in law gave us this adorable globe squash and I wanted to try stuffing it. We got a small acorn squash to go with it because there's two of us. I had trouble finding a vegetarian recipe for stuffed squash that actually sounded good so I made up my own. It was the first time we had had stuffed squash and I was a bit worried. However it came out great! Here's how I did it.

Stuffed Squash Filling:
Cooked rice
Bell pepper, chopped
Mushroom, chopped
Onion, chopped
Garlic, minced
Tomato, small chopped and seeded.
Parmesan cheese
I suck at measuring things, just use the amounts needed to stuff the squash you're using. Saute the vegis in a pan until soft, I used 2 tbsp of water. When soft add rice and mix well. Let stuffing cool. Add in the Parmesan and mix well. Then stuff the heck out of your squash with it! Sprinkle cheese on top and bake as per the type of squash you are using.
Next up I want to try this in tomatoes or peppers!

Kung Pao Tofu!
This one was last nights dinner. My husband did most of this meal and it came out great! The recipe came from the Supermarket Vegan  cookbook again. I really like that book! It's an actual tasty way to eat tofu. It's a nice garlicky sauce that has a bit of spice that sneaks up on you. I added more vegis than the recipe called for, but it still came out great.
I'm really enjoying learning to cook. It's more fun than I thought it would be. If you make the stuffing let me know how it turns out for you!
Have fun! 

Monday, July 13, 2015

I had a great birthday!

My birthday was yesterday and it was great! I really appreciated all the texts and calls with good wishes! It made me feel loved! Thanks!!!!
I got to spend the day home with my husband watching movies. I finally got to see the new "Night at the Museum" film and it was super funny! We rented it from Redbox.  I love comedy action movies! We also watched a really funny movie on Netflix called "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec". It's in French with English subtitles, but it has mummies, a dinosaur, and crazy adventures.
My husband made me a wonderful birthday cake. It's chocolate chocolate chip with dark chocolate cram cheese icing and coconut. It's the best birthday cake ever! Some chocolate chip ice cream went well with it. I really believe there is no such thing as too much chocolate, but this cake almost did it!


A few days before my birthday, while looking for special beads for a worry bead strand for a friend I came across this great little cross in a box of beads and findings I inherited from my mom. It's simple and substantial with a nice curve to it. I immediately wanted to make prayer beads around it.

A gift.

I dug around trying to find the right ones for it and started off with it on a string of rose quartz, but I have never liked stone beads for prayer. They make great accents, but they feel cold to me. I decided to take apart my normal strand and use the wood beads from that. It would be my birthday gift!

Pretty flower bead.
I found this flower bead in a box of them I had collected to make earrings and such for etsy. I remember the day we got it and how excited I was to use it. Then it went into a box and waited for the right project. I finally had the right project for it.

My husband took me to the local bead store to get some wire to string it with. I wanted the fancy 49 strand wire. It acts like thread and is really flexible. He got me a spool and this wonderful stone skull bead for my birthday.  
I was having trouble finding the right final bead to use as marker in my recreated prayer beads. I have tons of different types and styles, but none of them seemed right. All the other beads in the strand had meaning, even the wood ones and their tiger eye end bead meant something to me. I couldn't just throw any bead in there.

The perfect fit.
On Saturday we went to deliver the worry beads. She had an old box of glass beads that she let me look through. I found two that she gave me for my birthday. I now had the final piece! I spent most of the rest of the day figuring out what order to put them in and how to safely and neatly crimp off the wire. It came out great! They will even fit in my pocket thanks to the amazing wires flexibility!

A gift of many sources!
The finished prayer beads came out great and when I worked with them yesterday I couldn't help but smile. I may have put them all together, but it took family to make it happen. It's the best birthday gift I could have ever hoped for, the gift of love.
It was the best birthday ever!

On a side note. If you ever accidentally crush a garnet with your pliers, don't pick it up with the tip of your finger. It's like tiny glass shards  that stick inside and you have to use tape to get them out. Tweezers don't work it just breaks them off shorter. Use a dust pan to pick up the shards instead!