Monday, April 30, 2012

15 things to do with something you got for free

i went scouring the internet this evening looking for some ideas of what to do with all the PALLETs i see for free on craigslist.  i was blown away by all the creativity that oozed from fellow crafters in the virtual world.  of course i pinned several.  but then i thought i'd sum up my top 15 ways to use free PALLETs for you, so you don't have to do all the leg work that i did.  hopefully it gets your creative juices flowing.  note:  do not attempt all of these for your home.   too many of these freebies repurposed throughout your house could be overkill.   design is done best when it's something unexpected.

1}  anything.  and i mean just about anything with a meaningful word or phrase catches my eye.  write out your favorite Bible verse, something cute your child said or house rules on each slat of the PALLET.

2}  purchase 4 large industrial casters and attach them to the bottom of the PALLET.  spice it up even more with a splash of color to go with your decor.  i'm so going to make one for out on our deck.

3}  this was the original inspiration for this blog post.  i was desperately searching for something unique as wall art on the patio.  a living sculpture was just the ticket.  transform this flat shipping PALLET into a vertical piece of living art.  and as long as it wasn't soaked in chemicals, you could even plant edibles in there as well.  you'll see one of these at hilfarm too.

4}  slice up the PALLET into smaller pieces and use it on the wall as a book or magazine rack.  simple.

5}  of course a PALLET always works good to prop up a washer and dryer in a wet basement.

6}  PALLETs make great shoe racks.  how cute is that?

7}  memorial day is right around the corner.  why not pick up a PALLET and paint the stars and stripes for an outdoor symbol of our freedom?

9}  smoosh two PALLETs side-by-side for a junk-o-rific headboard.  you could even white wash it for a super shabby chic / cottage look.

10}  ok.  this one would take some extra knowledge of physics and the structural integrity of the building it would be attached to, but a relaxing porch swing made from a PALLET... who knew?

11}  seriously.  i think i died and went to heaven.  theater seating for a media room out of PALLETs.  sweet.

12}  add some vintage spindles {four to be exact} and create a craft table from the PALLET.  when it's this cheap, you can let your kids paint on it without a cloth and enjoy the gorgeous patina that emerges over time.

13}  another for the power tool savvy person.  my advice would be to find cushions first and then create this beauty of a lounger out of a few PALLETs.  makes me want to bust out the kindle for an afternoon in the sun.

14}  another way to use it as a planter.  use old mason jars, or any old glassware, or clay pots.  attach with metal pipe clamps to the PALLET.  the more patina, age and texture to the containers the better, but keep them neutral if you want your plants to be on showcase.

15}  and finally, my fifteenth way to creatively use a PALLET {s}.  get your mattress off the floor and up a bit with this urban chic way of showcasing your bed.

besides craigslist, you can most likely find pallets by dumpsters behind buildings, or contact an appliance store about getting some.  but never.  i repeat never.  ever ever.  never... buy them.  they are free almost everywhere so to spend a dime would be money not well spent.

now that i've shared all these nuggets with you, i suppose i will find it difficult to find them for my own projects.  hmmm.  didn't think that one through very well.

send me pics of your PALLET project when it's through and i'll feature you in my blog!
Are you ever completely and overwhelmingly inundated with projects?  While I love refurbishing and getting my hands dirty, there are times when I feel like I'm drowning in a sea of "to-do's".  I cannot imagine how I would stay afloat if it weren't for this somewhat organized and list-minded brain of mine.

 As my husband and I finished the coop this past weekend we came to the realization that, although we make decent progress on our own, having a deadline {or reason} to get it done definitely helps!  Our reason for finishing this?  It's going to be on T.V. this Friday!  {more to come on that later}

Here's what I have to get done asap:

-Fence my garden in.  No sense in planting, only to have my chickens scratch the living daylights out of the seedlings and devour the crop. DEADLINE: May 6th!

FYI This is not the aforementioned grody bathroom.
-Get the bathroom functioning.  We've lived here for almost 4 years and the current bathroom was the "one thing" that had to go right away.  Well, four years later we still use the grody room as our place to shower and get ready.  And now I'm ready to get in and gut it!  First we need to finish the upstairs bathroom.  DEADLINE: May 19th!

Then it's onto the projects that are just taking up space:

-My mission chair re-do.

-Silhouettes of the kiddos.
The big tree on the right is the designated tree-house tree.

-Start the tree-house.

-Pick out carpet.

Not that these are unimportant, but no deadlines are set here.  Once the first two are hashed off the list, then we'll set deadlines for these other projects.

How about you?  Do you work better under the gun?  Have you set goals or timelines to get your spring projects done?  Is your garden planted?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It is not because his arrival was not special.
It is not because the day went unnoticed.
It is not because he is not loved.

Finally, the story of Myles.

My sweet little nephew, Myles, made his arrival on Friday April 20th - a mere 10 minutes after I arrived at the hospital.  Expecting to be there for the long haul, I sent my family home and found a comfy couch where I anticipated residing for many hours until he made his appearance.  But, within moments of my arrival, the distinct cries of a fresh newborn filled the hallways.  A trip to my little sister's door confirmed that Myles had arrived!

Those next moments were agonizing for me and my Mom as we tried to wait patiently for confirmation from someone in the room that all was well.  What seemed like forever, was only actually a few minutes.  My future brother-in-law emerged with a huge grin, and ushered us inside to meet his new son.

Kelsey looked amazing.  She had brought another child into this world, and had done an amazing job.  And then I saw him.  Round full cheeks.  Peach-soft skin.  Full kissable lips.  I was in love.  And then I held him.  His tiny body, swaddled in the crook of my arm.  Sleeping peacefully as his Auntie caressed his soft skin and peeked under his hat.  Love.  What a little miracle.

Congratulations Kelsey & Jared!
Welcome Myles

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

a day in the life of a chicken farmer

Yesterday.  Well, it started out like any other normal day around here.  Getting kids off to school, then busying myself with household chores while my youngest performed her normal routine of sipping hot chocolate and watching cartoons.  

Looking back, I was a bit discouraged.  Saturday was starred in my planner with "chicks" penciled in.  The 21st.  We had placed the precious cargo under her the first of April, and the books all said "twenty-one days exactly".  {exactly.... exactly.... exactly....}  That word floated in and out of my head throughout the weekend and still plagued me that morning.  The 21st day had come and gone and no sign of their arrival was to be seen. 

Once the routine was out of the way, I made my way out to the coop as I always do and looked under Susan {named after one of my favorite Desperate Housewives characters} as I always do and began inspecting eggs, as I always do.  Immediately I am startled by the vibrations coming from the warm, seemingly lifeless, object in my hand.  And then I see it, and almost immediately hear it.  The convex crack pattern in one tiny spot on the shell and a very audible "peeping" coming from inside.  I quickly place it back under my momma hen and grab for another.  Nothing.  But now there is hope.  For surely I shall get at least one baby amidst the 9 eggs she's sitting upon.
Chick starting to pip.
I close up the nest box and break into a run - a grin plastered to my face.  I run inside and proclaim in Henny Penney fashion "The chicks are hatching!  The chicks are hatching!"  I turn on my heel trying to remember where my cell phone is.  I locate it and dial my husband at work.  He says hello and I begin frantically relaying my find.  He stops me with his panicked tone.  {apparently my excitement came across as "problem"}  Once he was assured that all was well - more than well - he was open to celebrating with me before he had to get back to work.
Another beginning to pip.

I knew I'd be excited, but I had not anticipated being this excited.  Seriously.  I was like those children on the Disney commercials.  Not even exaggerating.

But my excitement soon waned as the process from pip {to create the first opening in the shell} to full hatch took much longer than I had figured.  According to my findings, I calculated it should take just under 2 hours.  Half the day was gone and the hole was only minutely larger than it was in the morning.  It was seriously all I could do not to pick away at the flakes of shell and free the little creature from it's entrapment.  But I resisted.  I tucked myself into bed and tried to forget what might or might not be going on out in the coop. 

This morning, my eyes flew open much earlier than I would normally be able to force them awake.  I tossed and turned hoping to steal a few more minutes.  Curious about what I'd find, but anxious about it as well.  Finally, I decided to face my anxiousness and I slipped on a sweater and pulled on my husbands large muck boots.  I clomped my way across the yard to the coop and carefully opened the door - listening for the tell-tale peeps to tell me the night was a success.  The rest of the flock and their morning chatter did not allow me any preview of what I would find.  Instead, I went inside and carefully lifted Susan.  A smile the size of Texas spread across my face as I saw three still-wet chicks hovering under their momma.   Success.  

Once again, I found myself running to the house to announce the arrival of the babies to my husband, like a midwife coming to the waiting room to tell the family of a child's birth.  Once he was dressed, he came out with me so we could steal a few quick pictures of my new babies.  Success.

We left the chicks to warm and dry and fluff.  Later I would move them into a special suite - a special safe place where they could explore their world free from nosey hens and a bossy rooster.  I found myself thankful that I'd taken so much time with Susan during her broodiness.  She trusted me.  She no longer bristled at my hand.  She knew I would not hurt her or her babies.  That made my soul smile.

I.   Did.   It.

And I managed to get it right the first time.  There was so much negativity in many of the books I read about all the things that could go wrong in the whole intricate process.  But why am I surprised at the success?  I used a rooster and a hen.  Fertile eggs and a hen who was ready to be a momma.  Isn't that how God created it to work?  So why wouldn't it?  
Peeking out from under mom.

Looking back, I was way too anxious about everything.  Like any first-time mom, I worried about problems.  And being someone who likes control, it was hard to surrender that control and let nature take it's course.  Next time I will know to be more patient.  I will know that "exactly" doesn't come into play when God's hand is at work.  I will know that a hatch can take 24-48 hours to complete.  And while I can revel in this confidence I now have, I don't ever want to loose hold of this naive joy that came from the learning process.

And so, if I haven't bored you to tears, this serves as a milestone.  A way for me to capture that joy for all posterity.  And to share it with all of you.

This is one of my favorites.  The little ones were neatly tucked under the momma's wing.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

what's up?

I found that lately I have a lot of inspirational things to write about, but no "text" to accompany it at the moment. So as I mull on the ponderous things floating in my pretty little head, I'll quickly take the time to blog about "what's up?" here on the farm.

Baby Myles {get it... "Miles"... hwy sign... tee hee} My little nephew isn't here yet, but it's been occupying a good amount of my mind lately. If you were to view my phone's text history, you'd see countless texts to my dear sister - checking in on her... offering advice... encouraging as needed. Hopefully in a day or two I'll be able to do a little announcement on his arrival.

This is, of course, how I get my baby fix now that I'm done with that stage.

Only about two more days until I could hear the wonderful "peeps" from my home-grown chicks. Each day I go out and carefully listen for the sounds that prove their arrival, and thus my success at chicken farming!

On another chicken-y note, our local tv station WLUK-Fox 11 has asked to do a story on me, my story, and backyard chicken farming in general. We film next week, so we've been busily getting the coop ready for taping!

{approximately} months till we gear up for our vacation! We'll be hitting sandy beaches and fishing in crystal waters! We are stoked!

Because of our impending trip {and the fact that our family + large dog are requiring more space these days} we're on the hunt for a larger SUV. I know what you're thinking... eek! Who would do that with gas prices on the rise? Well, um, us I guess. We're actually going to test drive one for the first time tonight.

Ok, this image is perfect for this update... As for my weight loss - Easter got the best of me as far as tracking. And then the week after was a bust. {I actually skipped the meeting.} But this week I was determined to face the music and move on! I was happily surprised to only have gained .2 # over the last 2 weeks. Which is basically nothing in my book. So I'm back to tracking like a pro this week and making good choices! {see why this image is so great???}

Spring makes me chick crazy! One year into it and I'm still lovin' my little farmette. These 5 eggs symbolize the
2 silkie chicks + 3 variety chicks
that I'll be adding to the flock this spring. I picked up the silkies the other night, and the others should be ready next week some time.

Those are the highlights! Lots of exciting things to look forward to, but it's still not enough to stop me from taking the time to enjoy TODAY. Because I can't get back today if I spend it being anxious about tomorrow.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I recently decided to add a book to my library. One that'll be a fabulous resource for me as I continue in my journey as a chicken farmer. It's Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens. It's a comprehensive guide to basically all you need to know about starting out and being successful in chicken farming.

One book I contemplated adding to my Amazon order was the Chicken Encyclopedia {also a Storey's book}. I didn't though... I was too frugal to spend the extra money right now. Then, low and behold, New Life on a Homestead decided to do a giveaway where I {or you!!} could be the lucky owner of this incredible book!

Let me know if you enter {and of course, if you win!}

Thursday, April 5, 2012

expect success

Guess what's on my mind today? A clutch of eggs that my broody hen is setting upon.

I've been wanting to have the experience of hatching my own eggs - naturally - for quite some time now. That means, no brooder. No incubator. Simply...


I really must admit that I don't know much about the whole process, and may have disrupted the normal cycle by plucking out the eggs prematurely. Because before I picked up "Living with Chickens" from the library, I figured if the hen allowed the eggs to get cool, they were no longer good. Wrong! For the last few days I've allowed the eggs to sit in the box as she came and went. Since I have buyers for those delicious eggs, it was hard to leave them alone, knowing they could go bad and I wouldn't have chicks. Now that I read it's normal for them to cool during the laying phase, I know the eggs may still be good enough to hatch out little ones later this month.

{notice the single egg outside the warmth of her body? when we collect eggs from the other hens we place them next to one of the hens and she will instinctively and carefully tuck it under her with her beak.}

So why did I title this blog post "expect success" when it sounds like I'm planning to fail? Because now that I know a little more about the process, I'm jumping two feet into this venture expecting to see little fuzzy yellow chicks peck their way into this world in approximately 21 days.

Can you imagine the what an experience this will be for the kids... and me?! I'm giddy with anticipation. Like a midwife awaiting the birth of her patient, I'll be attending to my not just one, but two broody Buff Orpingtons as they become first time mothers. It's hard to believe I fought my husband about moving out into the country 7 years ago!

I wouldn't change this for anything.

Expecting success also played into my weight loss this week. After a wonderful week of reaching a weight loss milestone of 25# gone, I followed it up with another 1.2# loss this week. This week, I'm aiming to exercise {formally or informally} every day this week. Yesterday I did my treadmill-pilates routine. Today, the kids and I parked at a nearby park and walked to the library instead of driving there. A little brisk, but so fun to spend that quality time with them and get the exercise.

Other Hilfarm updates:

-We are wrapping up the rest of the woodwork for the upstairs remodel. We should be able to get the bathroom functioning soon and the carpet ordered.

-My garden will get an overhaul this summer with the removal of the rocky, weedy soil and the addition of good rich garden topsoil. We'll also be adding a fence around the perimeter of the garden that will include a shabby chic gate! I can't wait! We also added a new gate to the pasture area and found the perfect home for the sign my Dad made us when we moved here. Looks great!

-The kiddos are on spring break this week and we are loving the extra time together. We made a plan of walking the entire Wiouwash Trail this summer - one segment at a time! We headed out to do one segment this past Monday and saw a beautiful creek, learned about naturally occuring clay and broke out the bikes for the first trail ride of the season!