Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I haven't fallen off the bandwagon {for all of you who are following my weight loss success story courtesy of Weight Watchers and my ability to choose healthier foods}.  I've simply been in "maintenance" mode.  I'm not at goal, but life for me has been absolute craziness as the school year winds down.  Add to that the fabulous post-baby shower I threw my littlest sister this past week and the temptations looked like this.
 And like this.
But let's go back a few days...  I started my re commitment knowing this was in my future, and with a weight gain 1 pound since April 17th.  That's when I started my steady trend upward, albeit slow, it was not the direction I wanted to be headed.  So I took our meeting's "traveling tracker" and got back to writing down what I was eating.  And it paid off.  I lost that 1 # I'd gained in the last month plus another pound.  That's right. 
 I'm down another 2#'s 
 for a total loss of 27.4#'s!

Hopefully the lack of weight loss talk from all you followers doesn't indicate an upward spiral for you as well.  Let me know how you've been doing!  I'm so encouraged by all your successes as well.
This is what I look like this week... by my garden.

DIY Pallet Planter

So remember my blog post about all the free things you can do with pallets?  Well, unlike many of my projects, this one got done rather quickly.  I found a stack of pallets outside our local grocery store and then put my outgoing personality to work and asked if I could have one.  Guess what?  It pays to ask!  I scored a nice pallet for FRA-FRA-FREE!

Here's a quick look at what I did to turn mine into a planter.

My free pallet.
Materials needed:
landscape fabric
staple gun (not a desk stapler)

 I easily cut a long strip the size of my pallet and stapled it in a pocket by each front opening.

This is what it looks like from the front.

 Here it is all done.  Each opening has a pocket of landscape fabric behind it.

 I added a variety of plants that will do well in sun and shade.  Some coleus, moss rose, this gorgeous chartreuse vine, and some other plants I that I don't remember what they are... they were just pretty!

Originally I wanted to hang it on the side of the house but it is HEA-VY.  Especially after it's watered.  So I propped mine on a wooden crate and it looks great.

A few things to note:
-Water carefully until the plants take root or you'll loose a lot of soil.
-I put moss between the plants to help hold things together.
-Remember to use untreated pallets if you plant to put edibles inside.
-Have fun playing with color and texture.  The more you add, the better it will look.  So take chances on plants you wouldn't normally put together.  You'll surprise yourself!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The coop - a detailed look

Wow!  The outpouring of interest in backyard chickening is blowing me away!  Ever since my debut on T.V. a few days ago, I've had scads of people asking me about my coop.  And I know why.  My husband is amazing!  Sometimes {I'll admit.} His detail-orientedness drives me bananas, but the end result is always fabulous.

Originally it was my dream to spend less than $100 on the coop - using primarily reclaimed and free materials.  But, according to my builder husband, that cannot be accomplished easily if you want a sturdy, well-insulated, properly built building.

Fortunately, we happened upon a "neighbor" {We country folk use that term loosely, as in our situation he was about 5 miles away.} who was tearing down his barn and allowed us free reign to take whatever we could safely harvest.  We took beams and boards and other miscellaneous items we thought we could use.  Then we had the good fortune of having another neighbor offer us some corrugated tin roofing for free.  The windows I had acquired for little cost through Craigslist {love} and the incredible door was a freebie from a job site.  {We get lots of "That's nicer than my front door!" comments.}

My stud-muffin of a husband pouring concrete.
So, what did we buy?  Well, we had to pour concrete for the slab.  Not necessary if you want a raised coop, but we did not since we knew the structure would be massively heavy using all these old beams.

The beams and reclaimed wood going up.
We bought some lumber for the interior structure, insulation, electrical, drywall {moisture resistant}, and a thermostat and timer for the heat lamps and lights.  We also opted to put milk board {this plastic type of paneling that can be found at home

improvement stores} on the lower portion of the walls to make scrubbing and cleaning easier.  The lumber for the next boxes was stuff we had in storage, as were the hinges, latches, etc.  We had the chicken wire already, and the interior screen door was another job site freebie.


You can see the construction process started in the early spring/late winter.  Of course, like any project started at our house, it took way way way longer than it should have. 

The snow melted and the coop continued to take shape.  I kicked things into high gear by ordering chickens prior to the coop's completion.  {we work best under pressure}
 The inside boasts exposed beams, a creamy honey tone picked out as a coop-exclusive, and easily accessible nest boxes.  Each row has a door that opens to access three boxes each.  This allows us to collect eggs, and check on birds without getting our feet full of.... um.   Fertilizer.  The design is all my husband's once again!  We really wanted this coop to be functional as well as adorable, so most everything is poo-free.  Meaning, daily tasks can be done with minimal soiling of shoes.  Refilling the food and water however cannot.  But that is done every few days as needed.

The coop before the siding went on.
 Here's a look at the side of the coop now that it's all sided.  I landscaped the whole thing to give it a woodsy, cottage garden feel.
I allowed my husband free reign on the design, with only minor consults from me.  Being a designer at heart, this was hard to be hands off.  I think it worked out ok.   We were going for a rustic, Little House on the Prairie, been-here-since-the-1800's look.  I think we achieved that.

Now, the extras!  Remember when I said it was a poo-free environment?  Well, even letting them out in the morning is a clean affair!

Our last addition was this "Maternity Ward" as my husband calls it.  We built it to house the ma hen and her chicks while they were still teeny tiny and could get hen-pecked.  It will also be used in the event that we have a sick bird that needs to be quarantined, a broody hen that needs to be broken of her cycle, or a fresh batch of chicks that cannot be incorporated into the flock yet.

The silkies seem to like it in there, even though they belong in the regular coop.

Inside we built a roost and droppings board that are removable for ease of cleaning/scraping.  We hung the waterer and feeder underneath to keep them clean.  

And finally, some of the little extras we added... just because we could.
Our outdoor roost.

Why, a window box of course.

A closeup of the infamous door.

The porch rafters.

Our heat lamp contraption.

And some little extras!
I hope that piqued your interest and you were able to steal some ideas for your own coop if you raise chickens.  Like most projects around here, things are a work in progress long after they are deemed "complete".  This little coop of mine will be adorned with a cupola at some point, but there's no rush.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Follow me...

on FACEBOOK!  Now you can read my blog, but you can also {more easily} get your chicken, DIY, gardening, etc. questions answered. 

Head over to my Facebook page and "like" me!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

WLUK Fox 11

Welcome!  If you've found this blog because of the story done on WLUK Fox 11, thank you!  As you'll see by looking through my blog posts, I write about a myriad of topics - some of which are my experiences as a chicken farmer.

If you are someone who's interested becoming a chicken farmer, and you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.  I'm passionate about helping others with the knowledge I gleaned over the past year.

Thanks for checking out my blog!  I hope you decide to stay and follow me in all my adventures!

Monday, May 14, 2012

In a word...

Mother's have the opportunity to be that person who can teach their children how to survive at life.  And my mother was no exception.

Teaching me how to prepare meals.  How to work in the garden.  How to keep a clean house.

But I also learned...

How to handle a bad break up.  How to show up for work despite a headache.  How to care for others.

My mom took the time when I was little to ensure that I would be the responsible, honest and creative woman that I am today.  And I thank you for that Mom.  You took your job seriously, and I am a better woman because of it.  

Now that I'm a grown woman, with children of my own, she is still teaching me.  

Just yesterday, I learned a lesson in priorities from a story she relayed about her childhood.

"Every year, when we had that one warm week mid-May, we would beg my Dad to take us to Harper Lake for a swim.  He knew it would be too cold to swim yet, but he would dutifully load us all up and drive us to the lake where he would watch us run in the water.  Shriek. And run back out asking to be taken back home."

Convicted, I shared that I would not have put forth the effort to do that knowing it would be a wasted trip.  

"But he knew that taking the time to let us see for ourselves that the water would be too cold was easier than listening to us continue to ask for the rest of the day." 

I got it.

But one of my favorite things that my mother taught me was this:


It happened quite a few years ago now, but I remember it clearly.  It was a Mom and Daughters shopping day and time for lunch.  She drove into Baker's Square and said "Today I'm going to teach you something I haven't yet.  How to be Decadent."  We went inside, and instead of ordering sandwiches, she asked for the dessert menu and we ate.  French silk pie and cheesecake.  It is a memory I will never forget.  How we giggled like school girls.  Feeling like we were sneaking a treat when no one was looking.  Loving every bite.

I know there will come a day when I will teach my children about decadence.  But until then, I hope I can be the kind of Mom that my Mom was for me.  Always there.  Always loving.  Always willing to teach.  I LOVE YOU MOM

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lessons in motherhood - learned from a chicken.

Be a good role model.  
Children are forever watching.  We will see our actions through our children.

Love those fuzzy bottoms *bliss*

Let them learn.
It's okay to let them "hop the fence" to explore their world.  They know that you are near. 

Far from momma, but she's still watching.

Teach them how.
Never be too busy to stop and show them how to survive in life.  That is our primary goal as a Mom.

Momma bird teaching them how to take a dust bath.

Hold them close.
They only stay little for a brief moment in time.  Wrap your arms around them and snuggle them close as long and as often as you can. 

Encourage them.
When they are in a situation where they are frustrated or scared, lovingly reassure them that they can do it. 

Let them go.
Children are ready to leave the nest far earlier than we think.  Give them room to go and grow.

 Watching what God designed in the wild has been such an amazing way to recapture what my purpose as a Mom should be and where my priorities should lie.  Never underestimate how He will speak to you.  Be listening always for the still, small voice of your Creator.