Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Living in the dark ages...

We are day 3 post Irene and still without electricity.
We didn't sustain any significant damage. Our people and animals are all fine, but our town still has trees and lines down everywhere.
My boys were supposed to start school today.  We were told yesterday that first day of school would be TBA.  Today they announced they will start next Tuesday! Here's hoping we don't have too many snow days or the kids will be in school until July.
Since I work from home, I can't work without power so
I am commuting into my office in Boston.
I am lucky that I have a great sister who lives near the commuter rail so I am crashing at her place(and blogging on her laptop, you know the blog that I didn't want her to read).  Oh the guilt. Anywho, I get a hot shower and a quick commute into the city.  Trying to make the best of a not so great situation. 
My husband is at home with my boys...
no electricity except for a generator to run our fridge and freezer. 
I think I have the better end of the deal but shhh, I'm not saying anything...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pennies from heaven...

Today was a work day for this full time employed chick. 
Yes I work from home, but how can you work when your computer crashes?
I waited and waited...surely someone would be out lickety split to get me back up and running.
I waited and I waited some more...
Everything goes through my computer, even my phone. No computey, no workey.
Our dryer broke, I figured it was as good a time as any to wash and hang out sheets.
Eventually I decided I would clean my scrapbook area while I waited. 
It was a mess.
I am a scrapbook supply hoarder.
The picture below was after the clean up began.

Just a pile of stuff waiting to find it's way on to a page.
and then...all done.
Still no computer man coming to fix my computer...I figured it was time to clean and freshen up the coop.

The girls were very appreciative. I told them they are all ready for Irene.
Who is Irene they asked? Long story girls but you will know her when and if she gets here.
Still no computer...time to cool off, coop cleaning is hot work.

Finished off with a little reading on my Nook...The Help.
I love it! It is such a great read.

This was a day that was like pennies from heaven and I loved every minute of it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

So who invited Irene up for the weekend?

No, Irene is not my mother in law(who might I add has not been here in over a month)
If you haven't heard, Irene is the hurricane churning up the east coast.
I have friends and family up and down the coast, they are all in my thoughts as we brace for this one. Especially my uncle who lives on his boat and has been docked in the Chesapeake Bay for the summer. It has been a long time since Massachusetts has seen the likes of Hurricane Gloria and Bob, that was 20 years ago. I was a carefree kid, I didn't own a house, animals or have kids to worry about. We just worried about getting to the Packey in time to get home before it got too bad out.

Usually when we get hit with a n'oreaster or hurricane it is the Cape and Islands that get hit. Listening to the news this week Rugosa Rose Farm and Tilley's Nest have been in my thoughts. I met them both at the Chicken Workshop I went to.  Rugosa Rose is on the Vineyard, not a great place to be in a storm.  So to my surprise when I turned on the news today the path of the storm has changed and it is heading my way, right up central and western MA.

We will be battening down the hatches, securing lawn and deck furniture. We will be storing water for us and the animals since we have a well.  We just took delivery of our 14 cubic foot freezer.  We will be freezing blocks of ice to ice our food if we are without electricity.  We have a lot of chicken in our freezer we don't want to lose.  We have access to a generator if worse comes to worse.

Just out of principle I will not be buying water or bread.  That makes me crazy.  Around here when a storm is coming and people have to buy bread to last them the next year.  I will fill up my gas tank, gas for the grill, gas for the chain saw and have a little cash on hand. We live in a rural area so we are usually stocked up with anything we may need. 

We plan to put lots of fresh shavings down for the girls on Saturday since they will probably be locked up in the coop all of Sunday.  We will have lots of fresh cut grass for the chickens that we will put in clumps in their coop.  That always makes them happy and will help them pass the time while being shut in.  We have shutters for the windows of the coop that we will screw shut to keep the heavy rain and wind out.

 Now onto other news...

I am happy to announce that the chicken formerly know as Foghorn Leghorn has a new name...

She is the red on the right and her name is Big Bossy and you can also call her Miss Bossy.  She is our top girl and has really taken to her name.
 Big Bossy loves PC, she will watch him to see what he is up to.  In the picture below he was going out to get some kindling for a fire, she just kept watching him to see what he was doing. So cute.

Here's hoping that Irene decides to go out to sea and spares the east coast.
Stay safe and take care!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Fox in the Town...

Not to start off topic, but pictured above is
Pheobe 'Buff'ay our Buff Orpington(formerly known as Buffy)

Now on with the fox...

We have a fox...my brilliant child thought he would fend off fox
attack with a Red Rider BB gun, yes the same kind of bb gun that Ralphie could 
barely shoot his eye out with.

Luckily the fox fled without incident.

We have been letting our girls free range under our supervision.
With hawks, coyotes and now fox we have been worried
about losing a girl or two.

I went to the coop...the girls were expecting their afternoon romp.
I had to explain, "we have a fox in the town".
It just makes me smile when I say that.  When PC was a little guy he
loved the movie The Fox and the Hound but he would call it 
The Fox in the Town. We would always make up jokes and stories about the 
Fox in the Town. Now... not so funny if that fox in this town is going to eat
my girls. I guess a fox in the town is better than a fox in the hen house at this point.

In other news, I have not been absent from to blog world due to an extended bender 
from Friday night...I have been exhausted though due to the owl living in the woods 
behind my house. Sunday night there was a good hour of non stop hooting.
Then last night again but the hooting was interrupted by the squealing death of some animal the owl caught.

It sounded like a rabbit...yes poor Thumper.  I was telling my husband that it was a 
rabbit.  I recognized the sound of the screaming a rabbit makes.  I grew up around a lot of animals, rabbits included. Rabbits scream or squeal when they mate.  
That's a sound you don't forget.
PC asked how I knew it was a rabbit. I explained that the rabbit made a noise that they usually only make on special occasions, he said, "like Christmas?" I said, 
"something like that..."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friends don't let friends blog buzzed...

OK bloggers...it is Friday night...I am a few cocktails into it and I am amazed how some relationships can totally suck the life out of you. I am very happy I have kept my blog on the DL, I've got some stuff to get off my chest. 

I have had some very dysfunctional friendships.  I love Janie Fox's blogs of what she knows for sure and I love Reality Jayne's bullet style so I am going to try to do it chick style...what I have learned from the whacked out chicks that have come, gone and still remain in my life.

1. My friend married a man who I think kept a secret.  I think he is gay. She had her own secrets of an enormous debt that she didn't tell him about.  I knew about these secrets before they got married less than 2 years ago.  I couldn't find the words to say anything.  They are getting divorced.  What I learned...try to redirect traffic when you see a train wreck about to happen. I have no idea how to do that yet, but I am going to work on it.

2. I had a friend for 22 years.  I saw her once a month for dinner with another friend, for 22 years.  When John McCain named Sara Palin as his running mate I said that I liked the idea of someone in a high office that I can identify with and who can identify with my life more than most of the men who are messing our country up over pride and a refusal to compromise.  That was the last dinner we had together.  She has never spoken to me since, even after I have tried to reach out to her...nothing.  What I learned...she is a very mean person, no but seriously...I learned that people are very effected by the political environment during their early adult years. We are from 2 different generations and she couldn't accept a different view.

3. I got into a fight today with a good friend. It was a big fight.  I think I have only fought with my sister that way and the last time I fought with my sister that way was 20 years ago.  I am not a yeller at friends...kids, yes I will yell at them all day...friends, no that is just not how I roll.  I say it like I see it and have no problem with that.  The problem is that other people who don't have the balls to do the same blame you for their inability to say it like it is.  Because this friend couldn't say things to my face, she did a bunch of undermining passive aggressive stuff to get the result that she wanted, just without having to talk to me about because she says she can't do that.  She says she is a people pleaser, well I can tell you something...I was not pleased getting yelled at!  She doesn't want this fight to effect our relationship...hmmm.  What I learned...she is freaking crazy if she thinks that this won't effect our friendship.  She is selling crazy and I am not in the market.

4.  This brings me to important life lesson that I need to remind myself.  Stop trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole.  This is the crux of my problem.  I have and have had friendships with crazy women.  My issue is I am loyal to a fault.  I will keep on keeping on with these friendships.  I will feel like I failed when it goes bad. What I learned...look at the fact that they were crazy and the failure was inevitable.

5.  Friends should not yell at friends unless they are literally smoking crack or doing other crazy shit!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ain't to proud to beg...(or eat out of a dust pan)

"Oh man I AM hungry..." said the chicken.

"I don't think anyone saw me..."

"What? What's it to ya?" said the chicken to the coop keeper. "I am not just eating from a dustpan, I am a freegan." the chicken tried to explain in her most dignified manner possible(for a bird that is) "Humans all over are diving into dumpsters and eating food that has been thrown out in the name of freeganism.  Don't believe me? Well, I saw it on Oprah. What? Is this chicken too progressive for you? No? Good, I didn't think so.  By the by I've been meaning to talk to you...have you ever thought of making the change to be a vegetarian or vegan? huh, no? I didn't think so."

"I think you all now how this story ended..."said the coop keeper.

and that is the way
The Chicken Coop Turns...
Like Grain through a feeder...
These are/were the days of their lives

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You can teach a young chick a new trick...(or my roost, my rules)

I was worried...
my crazy chicks were growing but still insisting on sleeping in a big pig pile on each other.
I tried to explain to them that someone was going to get hurt, even possibly suffocated.
They wanted to hear nothing of it.  See they were at that tween stage. 
Chickens or not, tweens and teens don't want to hear it.
Worst of all, they all seemed to prize the bottom of the big pile!  That was evidently the place to be.
See... there are 13 chickens in that pile...

It was time for Mamma Hen(that's me) to lay down the law.
I was not gonna have any of these girls suffocating on my watch!
They were not super excited about my new resolve on where and how they would be sleeping.
Back and forth, I would put them on the roost and they would jump off.
They would be calling to each other, 'no surrender' I think that was what they were chirping...
PC gave up, my husband gave up. I kept on alone and
finally I started seeing success.
It took a week of getting them every evening into the coop,
shutting their pop door and then the real fun...
putting each one on the roost.
See, it seemed like for every one I got on the roost, two would jump off.
But...after a full week...
Ta da.....

They stay up there all night long.  The only one having a problem is Perry.
She usually needs a reminder to get on her roost.
I think they finally figured out that they would rather pick their spot on the
roost rather than being put there by me.
It was like the Ferber Method only for chickens.

and now they all sleep like babies...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicken...it's what's for dinner.

So this was what all the hard work was for...a yummy roaster like this.
Fresh as can be and weighing at 6lbs 5oz.
We did this chicken right.
We brined it using a Taste of Home recipe.
It was good, not my favorite brine recipe to date.
Still it was so good!

I have also been asked what I think is better, free range chicken or organically feed.
It really depends on what you think.  Even though a chicken is organically feed, they still may have lived a sorry little 8 week life stuck in a cage with 5 other birds, their beak cut off so they don't peck each other.

Free range brings up an entirely different set of questions. There aren't well established standards for what is required to call a chicken a free range chicken.  From what I understand, if there is a door open to the coop they are in(keeping in mind commercial birds are kept in massive coops) they can call that bird a 'free range' chicken.  They just need to have access to the outside.  Because the commercial buildings can be so massive, many chickens don't make it outside but because they had the option, the grower can label them 'free range'.

It is a tough call and they can be really expensive.  I am the first person to admit, if I didn't raise my own chicken I would be buying Perdue from BJ's.  I have a family to feed on a budget.  I consider myself blessed that we have the land and the ability to raise a lot of our own food.  The TV show Modern Marvels did a really interesting show on the egg and it showed all of the different ways chickens are raised and housed for eggs...just some food for thought.

Thank you all for your supportive comments and questions...even from you non-meat eaters.  I am very appreciative of all of your comments and support.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

If only my humans were as organized...

I must confess, I am a little bit of an organization freak(freakish really).
Freakish I say because where some of my life is im'peck'ibly organized,
other areas are just a down right mess.

I got bit by the organization bug beak when I attended the Chicken Workshop at Little Pond Farm. Terry had such a great organized system for her coop and barn that I was inspired.

We put up the shelves. On the floor is a boot tray for coop shoes.  Then a shelf for feed & first aid kit.  The top shelf for calcium, scratch, hand cleaner & buckets to bring the feed out to the coop with.  This makes me so happy! The wood was kicking around our barn & the containers were either repurposed or bought on sale.

I am a label queen.  I love to make labels.  My man just shakes his head.  He knows when I am doing something like this there will be labels.  I use either paper or card stock to print out my labels.  I have a huge roll of clear contact paper that I got free from a local company.  They give tons of stuff away that I use for my cub scouts and kids school projects.  Because it is a commercial grade contact paper, it is super durable, sticks to and protects anything.  That is why I can print up my labels for pennies and they will look good for years.

I also put together our chicken first aid kit, again thanks to Terry Golson and the great info on her web site.  Now if we have a chicken emergency we have everything together.  For a full list you can go to Terry's blog. She has the list and the uses for the items.

Even Foghorn Leghorn stood up an took notice of my fabulous organizational masterpiece(or she was just looking at me wondering why I allowed PC to name her Foghorn Leghorn) hmmm not sure...
I will have to get back to you on that one.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Staycation Bucket List Recap...

1. Have breakfast at Carl's Dinner. (when you see the pictures you will understand why)
We had a massive breakfast at Carl's Dinner.  So good, so old school, love that place. 
PC wanted to eat at the counter.
I could only eat about half of mine and PC filled up pretty quick.  My man had 3 more eggs...
They DO NOT want anyone leaving hungry so they will just keep giving you more food.
2. Clean my scrapbook area and actually scrapbook.(when you see the pictures you will see why it is impossible for me to get any scrapbooking done)
It was too beautiful to be inside, I have tabled this to a fall rainy day.

3. Clean out my kitchen closet(again the pictures will speak for themselves, it isn't pretty)
It was too beautiful to be inside, I have tabled this to a fall rainy day.

4. We have sworn off movies to save some cash. There is a theater that costs $5 a person.  Who can pass that up? We will be going to Pirates of the Caribbean.
Pirates of the Caribbean it was.  Not my favorite of the series but for 3 of us
to go to a movie for a total $9($3 Tuesdays) who can complain? 

5. Help my youngest pack his footlocker for his first week at away scout camp.
 Here he is packed and ready to set up camp...
He had so much fun!

6. Bring our meat birds to the butcher(their bucket list to follow)
As I blogged earlier here, this mission was complete.
Their bucket list was...
eat, eat and then eat. We obliged them. 

7. Walk my dog everyday, the good long walk, not the short one that I have been doing(total slacker I am)
I was still a little bit of a slacker on this one, I am working on it.

8. Try not to make a fool of myself when I meet Tillie and her owner tomorrow.
I only made a fool of myself once, I referred to my love of children's book as "crack, 
I just can't get enough of them." In retrospect I probably could have found a different analogy.

9. Sit by my pool for a minimum of 1 hour a day to read or relax(no talking on the phone or txting)
I totally had this one covered, it was such a beautiful week.

10. Finish Eat, Pray, Love(I have been so slow with this one)
Not done yet, but I am enjoying it. I spent more time catching up on some magazines I had.
Did I tell you that magazines are like crack for me? I just can't get enough of them.
(see I did it again)

11. Take my youngest to check out archery lessons(I think he might have some talent for it and he has passion for it...worth exploring)
We both decided to table this to the fall/winter.  
We were enjoying the outside too much to spend a day inside.

12. Go somewhere and do something we have never done before.
It was very hot!  We went with  good friends so that was fun.  PC had fun too but,
- It cost $5 for one chance to play a game.
- It cost me an PC $23 for two plates of chicken strips and fries(no drink included)!
- The bathrooms were nasty!
- On top of paying $50 per person to get in, they charge $15 to park!
A very nice employee told me to bring PC to the paintball area rather than waste $5 on one chance to shoot at some targets. She said no one ever wins.  PC was very happy to just shoot at some targets for fun.  Forty paint balls cost $6. I could live with that.
I am glad we went, PC had wanted to go so badly but we won't be going back.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

and then there were 44...

Today was the day. Our first batch of Cornish X Rocks went to the butcher.  It has been an interesting 8 weeks raising these birds.  They were so cute at a day old, but to be completely honest, they didn't get cuter as the got older.

I tossed and turned last night. How was it all going to work out.
I had to get all of them in the transport coops.  
My husband had shoulder surgery and still can't lift much.
How were they going to be in the transport coops? 
Would they start freaking out and peeking each other?
I have read that stressed birds will yield tough meat and if they are flapping around, 
there will be bruising as well.  
We did all of this work, I didn't want it to be a waste.

They were all calm and I just handled them with a calm voice and touch and they were fine.
It was pretty easy and it went very smoothly.  I was down to business so I didn't really think about how this is the end of the line for them. I did just look at it like picking up a roaster from the meat section or one of those yummy rotisserie chickens already cooked and ready to go...isn't really the same thing?

No...it isn't.  They had the opportunity to scratch in the earth, sleep outside in a safe area and were treated with kindness and respect.  No they weren't pretty as they got older and we didn't treat them like pets but we did care for them.  I feel good about that.

Now we have a freezer full of chickens and I was responsible to everything they ate and drank from when I took them out of that little box from the hatchery to when I put them in the transport coops.  They drank our delicious well water, ate bugs, worms, green grass and organic feed as I do believe all animals raised for our consumption should be.

We had chicken for dinner and...it was good and we were thankful.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Girls Gone Wild...(in the garden)

Yesterday was a big day for our 6 week old girls and Perry (8 week old Golden Polish).  Perry is in the picture on the left.  She was our free exotic chick with our first order from McMurray Hatchery.  I have a soft spot for her.  She is so gentle and so much fun to watch.

We have been waiting to give them some time in our garden so they wouldn't kill all of our seedlings.  The plants are established so we figured it was a good time. They just loved it! They ran around like crazy.

Here they found some worms and they were very excited. It was a little frenzy.

It was hard to get pictures, just when they found something, they were zipping on to the next thing.  They stayed out for about 2 hours and for the most part were easy to get back to the coop as they were pretty tired and it was getting to be around 6pm.  We are now teaching them to sleep on their roost, that is an entirely different subject and project.  They still just want to sleep in a clump.  I keep telling them that someone is going to get suffocated...they just look at me like my kids do when I tell them not to do something...then they do it any way (most of the time).