Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Garden and Coop Scrounging

Today it was a balmy 52 degrees here in Southern New Hampshire.  I for one took a long deep breath and prayed for spring to stay...though it's not to be as we're predicted to get 6+ inches of snow of, I was focusing on the moment at hand.  I have posted an ad on Craigslist to ask if anyone had a construction dumpster or such with scraps that might otherwise be going to the landfill.  We got one response from an older couple with a farm in Salem, NH.  They had some odds and ends in the barn they were wanting to part with.  Music Man took a drive over and loaded up the roof rack with a few goodies like some 2x4's, a couple sheets of plywood, and something that looks like they were supports with big hardware on them.  We'll take those apart and use them for supports in the coop.  So awesome! 

I also discovered that this box was sitting in the back of our property.  At first, we thought it was a cabinet that was left, there is junk all over the woods here, so we didn't give it much thought.  Until, I saw it with new eyes today.

It is not pretty, and one end of it is all rotted and was infested with carpenter ants, but the rest is actually useful.  I dismantled it and found some of the wood will be usable in the coop.  Score!

Music Man and I tried several places on the property to place the garden.  We mulled over our options and decided to put it up the hill from the back of the house. See, I'm one of those weird garden people that find the garden beautiful.  Trellises full of peas and beans, tomato cages bursting with red orbs, pepper plants in full fruit and flowers planted to ward off bugs are all works of art for me.  I like to have the garden viewable from the main living spaces of our home.  So, we chose the location we thought would be not only great for the sun exposure, but the aesthetic beauty of the flora and fauna and food for us to soak in daily.  After two years without a garden, I'm very ready for that loveliness to grace my light of sight again.

Music Man pounded in some markers to determine the best place for the gate (the first picture is the gate just waiting for some fence posts to hold it up!).

Yep, that's a maul, nothing works to pound into rocky ground then a heavy wood splitting maul. Nothing whimpy about my guy!  After getting the markers in, he rounded up the fence we had rolled up in the shed left from the previous owners.  Just about enough to do 3/4 of the garden, and it even has the posts attached!  How convenient!  We're going to do something a little more decorative with the front that faces the house, not sure what yet...I've got my eye on a picket fence that's in front of a restaurant that's being torn down in Derry to make way for a road expansion...if I can only find out who to ask if we can have it, it'll be the front of our little garden of Eden.  I'm nothing if not resourceful!

Wishing you all some spring plans for your mental health, ~Peacemom

Saturday, March 26, 2011

They're HERE!!

I am not sure that much more could be cuter then these little beings...okay, except perhaps my own adorable spawn...  Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, there are 6 little peeping balls of fuzz occupying a little corner of our dining room in their toasty warm brooder box.  My friend talked me into taking 6 in case any of them don't make it.  We have already named 4 of them, Music Man has not weighed in with his suggestions yet (though Betty and Wilma were bandied about, which I thought was cute).  So far, Maestro chose Victoria for his Americauna, Little Red chose Rose for his Anacona, I have chosen Tulip for my Red Star Sex Link and Magnolia for my Egyptian Fayoumis...Music Man will need to name another Red Star and Fayoumis himself. 

When I went to my friend's home yesterday, there were 25 little peeping loud mouths, it was quite a ruckus in there.  I had a cup of tea with her and picked her brain for lots of little chicken name the three most important things you think are necessary to know when building a coop, how soon can we start giving them organic table scraps, how do we keep them around if we let them free range without fencing, how big should their nesting boxes be?  The list went on and on. Now, I've helped others with their chickens, but never from mearly 2 days old and though I've read lots, it's really great to have a friend that's been down this road to help mentor me.  She's a wonderful friend indeed in so many ways, we share a lot of the same interests, and she's knows A LOT about so many things I want to learn. And, she's incredibly patient with all my questions and shares her knowledge without reservation...a true friend indeed.

I was driving home with them peeping in a box in the back of the van and it was a little surreal to me.  I have started the dream, and it felt like it to me.  I have gardened, a very valuable and fulfilling skill, but I've always wanted to be able to have chickens for eggs and basically farmyard entertainment.  Watching chickens is better then any show on TV, I guarantee it.  When I finally transferred them to their brooder box and watched them toddle in curiosity checking out every nook and cranny, well, it was a heady feeling for me. 

I made sure they all drank and knew where the food was (Rose dug right in and I think is going to be the boss of the girls, she's already making sure they mind their place).  Then, I lost track of time as I kneeled by the box, watching them and learning their personalities.  The fayoumis are skittish and more nervous.  Rose will come right over to your hand when you put it down in the box, she's wanting to know what the action is all about, Victoria is also interested, but will watch from a distance.  The Red Stars will move away, but not fast as lightening like the Fayoumis. 

I had to tear myself away to pick the boys up at school.  The very first thing out of their mouths was not the customary, "Hi Mommy!",  it was "are the chickens at home??".  The boys have never had a pet and Maestro is still saying to me "thank you for getting the chickens"  and "I can't believe you actually got chickens for us". He is particularly fascinated by them and has not left the box much at all.  In fact, this is pretty much the way they've sat since they got up this morning. 

You see that they have books in their hands?  They have both started journals about the chickens.  Maestro has already started a "fascinating facts" section which contains things like chickens bathe in dirt to keep parasites off them, that the color of their legs indicates what color their eggs will be, and baby chicks drink a lot of water when they first come home.  Little Red copies most of what Maestro does these days and so he's putting those things in his journal as well.  Maestro is really amazed by them, has even started pretending he's got a learning talk show and is using one of my chicken books to "teach" his audience all about chicken facts.  I never knew they would take the arrival of chicks and run with it so well.  This is one wonderful homeschooling experience for them.  They are learning so much about chickens just in the course of their lives and that's the farm kids I want to have. 

Our first lesson yesterday was teaching the boys how to properly pick up and put back down the chicks without hurting them.  Maestro is more confident at it then Little Red, but as he's considerably taller, it's easier for him to reach down into the box. 

But, once he's holding her, he's okay with that!  He's really loving his little Rose so far.

I woke up several times during the night to check on the babies.  Their brooder should be about 90 degrees and I wanted to make sure that as the temp in the house dropped at night, their brooder wouldn't cool off too much as well.  They were huddled in a ball, snug and sound asleep.  I watched them with amazement, and like Maestro, sometimes can't believe they are really here.

Wishing you some soft peeps peace of your own, ~Peacemom

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Nursery

This picture will be recognizable to many who read my blog.  You've set that nursery up many times before, readying yourself for the peep-peep-peeps that are sure to follow.  This little box, with it's glowing red light and feeder is something I wasn't sure I'd ever get the chance to ready myself.  It is the beginning of putting into practice a farming way of life I've wanted since I was a child.  I'm at my most comfortable in a barn smelling of shavings and fresh cut hay.  This little wooden box represents so much more then the coming home of our 4 new chicks tomorrow.  It represents many things for me, so many things I was afraid I would never make happen in my life.  It is a first step, one I truly hope can be followed by many more good things to come and a little farmstead of our own someday.
Tomorrow, we welcome new chicks into our lives.  For me-well, I'm beyond excited.

Realizing a little piece of the dream, ~Peacemom

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Some days are better then others

This trio is the light in my lantern.  Some days are tougher then others and this is a bad one, but these three keep me going when my path is lost.  Love is not a sufficient word for my feelings for these three and I'm so lucky to have them on my journey.  That's my focus when I feel particularly cast off by the rest of the universe.  Yes, love is not sufficient, but I don't know another word to put those feelings into perspective.

Wishing you some rays for your lantern, ~Peacemom

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Stills

On of the other blogs I follow does something on every Sunday that I particularly enjoy.  And she calls it Sunday Stills.  So, I thought I'd hijack the idea and give you a few spring stills from our little corner today.

Nothing like the first hanging of the clothes on the line...tomorrow will be washing comforters and pillows!

Yes, that's my foot print in the mud.  It's rather hard to see it, but it's about 8 inches into the ground.  And of course, I did not have my boots on at the time.  I would like to say "live and learn", but you know, I've lived it so many times before, you think I would have learned it by now...

This is what most of our remaining snow piles look like.  Hard to believe that three short weeks ago they were literally over our heads.  Amazing...we love living up high on a hill in the spring time!  It was impossible all winter, but spring's looking mighty sweet...

And along with the advent of spring comes the car repairs that inevitably follow, March being Music Man's birth month and that's when you register and inspect cars in New Hampshire.  Here's my oober handy husband getting busy figuring out what he needs to do the rear brake job on my minivan (you may hear the colorful phrases flying from where you are if he can't get those bolts off)...

And the boy's bikes make their appearance from dusty storage.  They've been enjoying riding them in all the mud we've asked them NOT to ride them in...boys really will be boys sometimes...

And, spring invariably has meant sump pumps for us the last two springs.  Thanks the goodness that there are such a thing as sump pumps and that they work for our situation.   We would have had a spring similar to our last year's nightmare without them...bless whomever invented such a thing...

And, last but by no means least is the first sprouting of some butterhead lettuce I decided to plant in some boxes in our south facing greenhouse window.  Nothing says spring like the sprouting of future food...

Hope you're enjoying some spring blessings of your own, ~Peacemom

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring is Springing!

Hello Everyone,

Thanks to everyone for the kind and encouraging words for us due to my hubby's yet again unemployed status.  I've finally got things in perspective...we were not hit by a tsunami or earthquake where our entire lives are leveled and family is gone.  Music Man was laid off again, yes, but he's an amazing and talented man and will find something else again.  There's a tremendous amount of age discrimination (though no one admits this) in the job hunting market right now, so it's not on his side, but he'll do it...he always does.  This month he celebrates his 50th birthday (Happy Birthday, Sweets!) and things in the job market become a whole lot harder when that's the case...I read it actually starts at 40 now.  Apparently, employers want "fresh" and "young" ideas.  Experience counts for something, but the college degree counts more (even if it's in something like Elizabethan poetry, as long as you've got that degree, mister).  He's currently working on his degree, but at 50, you can't exactly reinvent your entire career, so it's a struggle sometimes.  We're getting our bearings and reassessing our situation and seeing what the next step is. I'm trying very hard to talk myself out of any freaking out sessions I allow myself to delve into.  It's not helpful or useful to anyone to allow that, so I'm trying.  I'm not always successful, and they will usually pop me into wakefulness when I'm sleeping and then I'll lie awake trying to talk myself out of it, then become more and more tired as this happens night after see the vicious cycle that begins, right?  It's very unproductive and stress inducing, so I'm working on this all the time.  Trying to just be and allow that it is what it is right now.

In the meantime, spring has sprung around our neck of the woods.  It was quite lovely here yesterday with temperatures in the 50's, and we've had so much snow melt in the last two weeks that...yes, I know you're all dying to know this...we did get water in the basement.  But, after one long, awake night of bailing with buckets and shop vac'ing continuously, we managed to discover what the problem areas were and how to solve a good bit of it.  Two sump pumps humming and we're doing fine now.  PHEW!  After last springs horror show of a literal river in the basement for 3 solid months in the old house,  we'll take one night of bailing and two sump pumps that actually solve most of the problem in a heartbeat.  Doable, definitely doable.

Yesterday, Music Man and I sat outside in the Adirondack chairs, feeling the sun warming our skin back to life.  We planned the future sites of the garden and chicken coop. We'll be getting our chickens sometime next month and so need to have the coop up and running soon.  I'm hoping to salvage a lot of the materials for this project at our local "still good" shed at the landfill.  I'm also keeping my eyes open for any construction dumpsters around to get what I can from those as well...waste not, want not.  Certainly my treasure will be someone else's trash, and that's okay by me.  My goal is to have the chickens be a not so costly adventure for us and salvaging is a great way to NOT make a dent in that chicken budget.  And, they'll be paying for themselves once they start laying for us in about 24 weeks or so.

So, spring planning is in full force around here. It's good for the soul.  I know we'll get more snow at some point, but watching Music Man and Maestro playing catch in our back field yesterday did my heart some good.  And hey, the boys are loving having Daddy home with them more again, they don't see the bad in this lay off at all.

Hoping Spring is springing for you, too, ~Peacemom

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Unemployed again

The only news I can focus on today is that my husband was laid off again yesterday.  The solar company he was working for had state funding cut for the projects he was working on and they laid several people off.  Though they did not want to and told him he was the first to be re-hired if things change, they felt they had to make that decision.

That's about all I can say about that other then that we are overwhelmingly sad right now.  He truly loved the job and the workplace, something he's not had in such a long time.  And of course, the stress of needing to find a job is back on us again after a three month delay. Three months of hope and plans dashed in a 5 minute conversation and a "sorry, we just don't have a choice" discussion.  We were so hoping this was the company he could retire with, but for whatever reason, divine or not, it is not to be.  Stress is the ultimate order of our lives, it seems.

I'll be back in touch when I have my bearings back, just can't feel it right now.

Feeling like the punching bag for the universe, ~Peacemom