Monday, January 21, 2013

Chickens!


This weekend we doubled the size of our family and brought home five chickens.  Originally, we had planned on getting only pullets (chickens old enough to be outside but not yet laying), but when we looked on Craigslist Saturday morning the first ad was from someone close by looking for a home for their two chickens.  A fox had gotten one of their chickens on Friday and they knew he would be back for the remaining two.  So we got the Leghorn pictured above and a Buff Orpington.  Unfortunately, the Buff Orpington was sick, so she currently is quarantined in our shed.  Since she seems to be wheezing, Atticus set up a humidifier for her.  She is now eating and moving around and not wheezing constantly, but still seems to be struggling.  We are hoping she will get better in another couple of days.  If not, well... Don't expect an update on that.  The other three chickens are Wyandotte pullets: one silver laced wyandotte and two gold laced.  We are hoping for a group of 6-7 chickens, so over the next couple of months we will keep our eye on Craigslist and add to the flock.

It has only been a couple of days, but so far I love having the chickens.  They are quite amusing to watch and their sweet clucks make pleasant background noise.  You can choose to interact with them or not.  All three boys have also really taken to them.  Finnan and Jude love to hold the chickens and feed them mealworms.  Jude, in particular, just wants to hang out in the coop with them and coddle them.  Rory is very interested in the birds and growls at them, as it is the only animal sound he has mastered.  Only the Leghorn is laying eggs now, but it is such a treat to find those eggs.

I had assumed we would not name the chickens, but so far Atticus has named two of the chickens.  Blanche is the white Leghorn.  The smallest Wyandotte is Cuddles.  Cuddles is the easiest to catch and hold.


"Cuddles"
Atticus (and Finnan) built this coop from almost all leftover materials that had been sitting around in our yard or at other construction sites.  The only things he bought were the chicken wire and some of the hardware.  There is a ramp that goes from the top enclosed part, which is where the chickens go at night, to the bottom.  The top part was built separately from the bottom and can be taken off so we can more easily move the coop in the yard.  When we know we will be outside for a while, we let the chickens out, but they already prefer their coop going in there when they are tired of exploring.









Instead of TV

This is what the boys wanted to do instead of watching TV tonight.  No arguments here!



Monday, January 14, 2013

A taste of Spring

With temperatures in the 70s this weekend, we had a little taste of Spring.  We took advantage of it and completed two backyard projects (the chicken coop and a compost bin).  The weather was so beautiful, I was even inspired to get my camera out for a bit.



The compost bin was perhaps the easiest project we have ever done.  It has been on our to-do list for a while, but we did not have enough pallets.  Luckily, as we were leaving another kindergarten open house this weekend, we spotted a stack of pallets next to the dumpster.  So, we came home with information on kindergarten and three pallets.  Within a few minutes of starting the project, it was finished.




This was a brand new white onesie at the beginning of the day.
I have no doubt that we have another construction lover. 
My homemade balance beam.  We have had to add a few obstacles over the last couple of weeks to keep them challenged.
The workhorse. 

The rain started just as Atticus was putting in the last locks on the chicken coop.  We are hoping to get 4-6 chickens in the next week or two.



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Baby steps


Yes, Rory is cautiously toddling around these days, but this blog is not about Rory.  This blog is about me and my goals.  At some point this summer I started thinking about what my next step in life was going to be.  (I am not even sure I am done having children, but there are days when the number of socks I pick up or the number of snacks I have doled out has me dreaming about "free" time.)  The best I could come up with was going back to a public health office job.  Even though I have kept my resume active over the last five years so that would be possible, I have had a hard time getting excited about it.  As I was formulating plans on how that life would look, I went to work at the garden.  It was summer in Atlanta.  It was over 90 degrees.  There were no doubt mosquitoes.  It was fulfilling.  I made visible progress.  I was by myself.  It was quiet.  I made a new plan.  

While at the garden, I started thinking about the potential of our small community garden.  There is always an excess of vegetables and there is still unused land on the property.  That day, I started dreaming of community partnerships, fresh produce donation, educational opportunities, a children's play area, little libraries, a neighborhood gathering place...the list goes on.  I knew some of these ideas would take years and depend on many factors, but I had a new goal for my next couple of years: to build what we are now calling Good Things Garden.  I have been continuing to add on new ideas to this project, but I had been feeling like I was making little concrete progress.  I did get the blessing from the key stakeholders (although one of them was the landlord...ahem...Atticus, so that was easy), created an corporation, and got some fall seeds into the ground in the hopes that they would have enough time to grow before the weather changed.  But before the holidays, I took a baby step towards my goal.  With the help of a friend and neighbor, I found an organization who would distribute the produce to local refugee families.  I picked 30-40 family-sized bags of greens (mustard greens, turnip greens and kale) and they were delivered to World Relief.  I was unable to go to the drop off as Atticus was out of town, and I had already pushed Rory to the edge by bringing him to the garden with me while I picked and packed, but my friend took them over for me and she got positive feedback.  This year, I am hoping to apply for 501c-3 status, reformulate the layout of the garden, create partnership(s) with an organization or two, and learn a whole lot more about gardening!  

       

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Inspiration


Being with Jude, I am always reminded of the benefits of being positive.  He gets excited by the little things.   I had to share this little tidbit from Jude from our holiday road trip to Florida.  Upon coming out of the bathroom at a crummy, highway rest stop, Jude exclaimed, "Mom!  There is greeeeeen soap!  THAT is my favorite!  I love this soap!"  I only wish I could convey the inflections in his voice.   

Yes, Jude, there is always something to love and more love to give.  I will be sure to keep this in the forefront of my mind this year.  As I was considering our list of "resolutions" (maybe more aptly termed goals or even things we will accomplish) for 2013, I realized that I should deem this the year of pushing the limits of my comfort zone.  On our list this year?  Chickens.  Transforming the community garden into an official 501c-3 with a charitable focus.  A road trip that will probably involve some camping and be preceded by a visit to the Atlanta RV Show. Increasing my canning operation to include pressure canned goods.  Do more yoga.  

We plan to keep things interesting around here in 2013.  But, as we recently learned from a documentary called "happy," variety leads to happiness.  

Happy New Year!