Ranch life update: the dirty birds.

Hello. It is day 37 of our captivity ….with the birds. At this point, they have lived in a cardboard box, a large tote, two large totes, and now they are living inside a pen with a tarp under it.

It won’t be too much longer until they can move out to their cute little coop full time, but until they get all their feathers, they can’t stay out overnight.

But, while inside, the ducks make bubbles in the water, flinging it everywhere. The chickens fly out of the pen. I’ve found two plops of poop on the floor, one of which had been ground into the rug, which I thought was in the “safe zone”.

It’s white. of course it is. There is no safe zone. The guest room’s gone to the birds.

Speaking of poop, they do it a lot.

Probably my biggest complaint is what I’ve been referring to as, “the chicken dust”. It is a layer of dander, feathers, fuzz and just…what seems like dust. But from the birds. It is grossing me out. And no, it’s not just “regular dust”, I’m not an animal. THEY are. It is covering everything in that room, which is filled with my great grandparent’s (as in: family heirloom/antique) master bedroom set. But, without a garage, that’s where they had to go and that’s where they’ll stay for a bit longer.

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The “chicken dust”. You can see where I set my phone down to draw that smily face. Blech.

The coop is looking good, and they do spend a lot of the day in there. Brian planned out, and perfectly executed his plan for a little chicken door.

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We set up an electric fence so that they can roam in the yard and be safe from predators. Obviously, we’de love for them to roam completely freely, but that’s just not possible out here.

We let them out into their fence shortly after setting it up, and the naughtiest of the chickens, who B and I call, “StacyTracy” (because we can’t tell Stacy and Tracy apart) just hopped her little self right through the fence. Last week, wicked little StacyTracy scratched the dickens out of my finger. Think like a papercut , but x10.

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So, the fence does shock you if you touch it, and will keep predators away, we hope. But for now, they’re still too small/too naughty and can’t be left out there alone. You can see the nesting boxes well in this picture. We made five, one box for 2-3 chickens, so we have room to grow our flock.

Here they are watching, while we were finishing up the coop.

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The fence is easily moveable, so once those chicas start laying eggs, we’ll rearrange it so that we can get into the nests. We built the nesting boxes so we can open up and grab the eggs from the outside.

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While I do complain about living with chickens and ducks (Joey and Chandler would never have actually enjoyed living with two full grown birds in an apartment. I know this now.) I do also realize the sweet memories we’re making for the kids, and ourselves.

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A sweet boy and his duck, Dumpling. (Every.pair. of his pants looks like that.)

Getting chickens and ducks, building a coop, living with birds, and one day collecting and eating fresh eggs are another adventure for us and part of our big plan to embrace the “country life”.

While I am a clean person, living with dirty birdies, even I can see the value of this phase. I am looking forward to those eggs ….and the hella deep cleaning I’m going to give that room in a few weeks.

Always, thanks for reading! I love that you’re here for another adventure! -Steph

Ranch life update: the garden

Good morning! While winter was a time of planning, and resting, spring however, has been off to a busy start! We are finishing up our chicken coop and run, planting our garden and building a shop/garage. In this post, I’de love to share with you all that’s going in the garden.

Before spring began, we planted seeds to grow inside until warmer days came. They lined our kitchen windows and got lots of spritzing and encouraging words from us until last weekend where they got their place in our garden.

While the seedlings grew their roots indoors, Brian set up some irrigation for the gardens and he, and C planted potatoes and onions outside.

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While I was away on a girl’s trip, Brian and the kids pulled up A LOT of weeds and built up some rows behind the raised beds. We are planting some of the same things both in the ground rows, and in the raised beds. We’re interested in seeing where the plants thrive most. All our soil has some of our homemade compost added (read about how we made our compost bins, and some other projects here), with homemade cedar mulch (read about how we made our mulch here) on top.

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Here are the seedling babies, all grown up and ready to go outside. Most of them are tomatoes-cherry, 4th of July, and roma- and some are jalapenos. The seeds we have going directly in the ground are: okra, squash, cucumbers, green beans and melons.

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In another bed, we tilled up the soil, added compost, manure and some fresh dirt. We planted: basil, cilantro, strawberries, catnip, rosemary, dill and garlic chives. The strawberries were sampled, and the cilantro was sampled/eaten to the ground by the cows. Ugh. Our fence is easily compromised. But, the strawberry plants have recovered, and now they’re just being sampled by us. We have plans for a permanant fence -coming soon. (Read about how the cows convinced us to put up a fence)

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This is in the backyard, right below the porch.

Something we keep learning, like death and taxes, your plans WILL change. The weather will force you to delay, your tools will be broken, you don’t have that one thing you need, you measured twice but still didn’t get it quite right. It’s difficult sometimes (especially for two type A people …ahem) to roll with these punches. As a parent, it’s been important to model that that’s. just. life. (I am not always a great model for this, or for many of my other faults for that matter.) We are thankful to have these opportunities to improve this place for our family and hopefully instill the values we hold dear.

I recently found a list of “ranch goals” in a large binder of my grandma’s things. She passed away almost 14 years ago, and here we are on this ranch, trying to be good stewards and leave it better than we found it, and here are her words inspiring me, from maybe 20 years ago? 25? It’s typed on a typewriter for goodness’ sake. There were several, but here’s one that really got me:

“Quality of life…Our Earth, ranch and community to be better for our having been here.”

I have chills. In this season of hard work here at the yellow house, and on this ranch, these words from the past have been a beautiful and inspiring reminder of our purpose. It is our great pleasure to be here. To work hard and leave it, “better for our having been here.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I hope your spring is off to a great start! Are y’all planting gardens? What are you growing?

Posts coming soon about the progress on the coop, raising the chicks and ducklings and the building of our shop/garage! See you then, I hope!

Thanks for reading!  -Steph

 

 

 

What I learned from the Spring 10×10 Challenge

I did it! I wore only ten items (including shoes!) for 10 days. (See what I picked and more info about the challenge in this post)

I mixed and matched, added accessories and have 10 awkward photos of myself to prove it. See??

 

I appreciated the experience and it helped me realize some things about the way I should keep my closet year round:

First of all, I need no new clothes. I have enough. With only 8 clothing pieces and 2 pairs of shoes to choose from, getting dressed everyday was a cinch. No pacing my closet and sighing, before finally deciding on something. All my outfits were put together, and honestly, having less pieces to work with made it less pressure. I packed for a weekend trip and it was the easiest packing a bag has ever been. One day, to avoid wearing almost the exact same thing a second time, I added an old belt of my gramdmother’s. I’ve had it for years and never wear it. I got several compliments on it, and it changed up wearing the same shirt and jeans for the second time in 10 days. I was encouraged to get creative with what I already have and if you’ve read any of my posts before, you know the joy I get from using what I already have. (I did that for my Fall Decorating Challenge, and for Carolynn’s Office)

Secondly, keep what realistically works for you. I guess I’m not a skirt person. In theory, yes, I like skirts a lot. I think they’re cute and springy and can keep be versatile enough to be casual or dressy. BUT, I wore mine twice only, one of which was Easter Sunday and the other I MADE myself because I knew I needed to work it in. My day to day life just isn’t too skirt friendly, so it just didn’t seem to make sense most days. It was cute, but not that practical for me.

I’m fine wearing jeans everyday. They fit my lifestyle and darnit, I just like them. For the challenge, I chose a pair of boot cut jeans, but I wished I had picked my skinny jeans. The skinnies would have been more classic and I just like the fit better.

If overalls are wrong, I don’t want to be right. I did choose overalls as one of my pieces, maybe not the most practical choice, but I actually have no regrets. I like them, and they went with more than one top so I got two wears out of them. It’s only been two days since the challenge ended, and I’ve already worn them again.

Birkenstocks are still my favorite shoe of all time. I wore them 9/10 of the challenge days and probably would have anyway. I’m not a “shoe person”, but I LOVE these shoes.

Lastly, go with neutrals. one of the tops I chose had embroirdered shoulders and a tie front. It is less of a neutral, which I chose intentionally, to keep boredom at bay. In hindsight, another neutral top would have been a better choice. I only wore my embroirdered tee (It’s SO cute, you can find the link in this post) once. It didn’t lend itself to the whole idea of the 10×10, which is, creatively mixing and matching. It would have been too obvious if I wore it twice because it just isn’t neutral enough.

Overall, I didn’t find it too difficult to wear the same things for 10 days, and no one ever said, “didn’t you just wear that?” Which was actually something I wondered about. Turns out, no one probably noticed, and much more likely, no one actually cares.

Did anyone else take the 10×10 challenge? What do you think about a minimalist stlye wardrobe? Are you a person who needs lots of options, or do you prefer the simplicity of fewer clothes?

Thanks for reading!! Steph

Chickens….and an accompanying impulse buy

We got the baby chicks! AND, drumstick…errr…drumROLL please, we also got ducks. After lots of researching for the best breed of chickens for our family, we tossed (not literally) two ducks into our cart like an impulse pack of gum.  I’m exaggerating slightly. Think you’ve got us figured out? Think again. Months of research AND a last minute decision. We are so unpredictable.

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Spoiler alert: the ducks are a mess. They are fuzzy, and cute and fun and…so nasty.

They like to wash their food down with water. Translation? They turn their water into a sludge that needs to be changed out several times a day. That’s not even mentioning the duck drool and dribble they drip from food trough to water dish, soaking the whole brooder. Ick. Cute, fuzzy, messy little ducklings.

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We call this one, “Dumpling”

While we are still working on completing the coop, they are living in two boxes under a heat lamp. They can’t move into the coop until they’re about 4-5 weeks and they won’t start laying for about 6 months.

We started them out together, in a large cardboard box, but the ducks grew exponentially that first week and it got crowded. Plus, they were being pretty rude roomates by pooping their giant poops everywhere, amidst their drool and dribble. Let’s be honest, it was only a matter of time until they got evicted.

We now have them in two plastic storage type boxes, with the light between them.

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As for the coop, we’ve completed, and painted the nesting boxes, cut a chicken/duck door, painted the human sized door and started screening everything in.

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We used the same color on the coop door as our yellow house door. (Pittsburgh Paint “Stormy Ridge”)

 

 

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We are using hardware cloth around the bottom and as a skirting to protect against predators. This step has been the most difficult so far, but it’s important to get the hardware cloth secure to ensure your birds will be safe inside the coop.

We’ve heard that chickens are the “gateway” to all things “farm”, or “homestead”….time will tell, I guess. For now, I know some kids who are pretty pleased with their new pets.

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Thanks for reading! -Steph