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Archive for the ‘House & Home’ Category

Chickens and Letters to Neighbors

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Chickie book, chickie cup

I went to chicken class last night. Chicken class involved three hours of solid information acquisition. I was totally going to live tweet that shit, but chicken class took place in a basement at our local botanic gardens and there was no coverage so I couldn’t. I’ve always wanted to live tweet something (just kidding). So much information was conveyed during chicken class (We even got to see some actual chickens!) that I now feel comfortable actually getting chickens.

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet (If I’m going to become a farmer, I might as well go all the way and start saying things like “bee in my bonnet,” although I say shit like that anyway) about getting chickens for a long time now, but it always seemed kind of overwhelming. There’s so much information out there! I mean, there are several options for even getting chickens in the first place. You can get eggs (bad idea unless you’re cool with roosters). You can get what are typically referred to as “pullets,” which are adult or adult-esque female chickens. This is what I thought I wanted to do, but after attending chicken class, I figured another option was better: itty baby chickies. Itty baby chickies are ridiculously cute, but the important thing is that if you raise chickens from the baby stage, they’re more likely to bond with you and your relationship will be closer. If that sounds totally ridiculous, that’s cool. I’m a weird animal person. I want to have a good relationship with our chickens. The hard part is going to be finding a place for the girls to live in our house for 8 weeks, which is when they can move to their coop, which we’ll be building soon.

Why do I want to get chickens? Because I’m an asshole hipster who wants to be a trendy urban farmer like everyone else. Well, that and honestly, if we’re going to eat eggs, which we probably are, I think having our own chickens is the kindest and most ethical way to go about obtaining them. I’ve heard too many horror stories about how eggs are produced — even the “free range” eggs we always buy. We’re going to treat chickens better than anyone involved in a commercial egg operation will. So that’s good. Plus it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch from stuff we do anyway, like gardening, making as much stuff as we can instead of buying, and being general hippies to the extent we can in our full-time-employment-having/urban-dweller lives.

One of my biggest questions going into chicken class was how to work it out when you have old chickens who don’t lay eggs any more. Obviously, as vegetarians and people who become ridiculously attached to animals, we’re never going to eat our chickens or give them away. The good news is that it’s possible to introduce new chickens to old chickens. In Denver, you can have as many as 8 chickens. So our plan is roughly this: Start with 3 chickens, but build a coop and enclosure that can house 8 chickens. In two years or so (hopefully a little longer), when our original chickens aren’t laying as many eggs, we’ll get two new chickens. In two years or so (again, hopefully a little longer), we’ll get two new chickens. In two years, we’ll see what happens. Chickens have an average lifespan of 8 years.

I won’t go on and on about chickens right now, as much as I’d like to. I’m seriously obsessed. I tell you, the ability of a person with ADHD to hyperfocus is a blessing and a curse.

If you’re interested in backyard chicken keeping, I highly recommend taking a class from someone who knows what’s up (the one I took was called “Backyard Chicken Keeping” and was offered through the Denver Botanic Gardens — you can see upcoming dates here). It’s so much easier (at least it was for me) than trying to assimilate the gobs of information out there on the internet and in books. Before the class, I was totally overwhelmed, and now I’m more like, hey, we can do this. Also, this site is amazing.

I hope to be providing some awesome chicken updates soon!
Today we received a letter from some random dude who lives in our neighborhood. It went something like this:

Hey guys, I saw your property at [address] and I wanted to see if you are interested in selling.

I am willing to offer you [price approximately $100,000 less than our house is worth], and I would be willing to pay all of the commissions and closing costs. I am buying with cash, so we wouldn’t have to deal with appraisals or lender issues.

Please consider my offer and let me know if you are interested in discussing further.


Random Dude

What? My first thought was that our house must have an appearance such that someone looking at it assumes it’s inhabited by crazy people who don’t know anything about anything. Crazy old people who’ve paid off the house and would consider an unsolicited low-ball offer out of nowhere? I have no idea. Ben thinks we should write back and offer him an insulting price for his house. That might be fun.

I’m kind of intrigued by the idea of writing letters to random people in our neighborhood, asking for whatever we want, just to see if anyone takes us up on it. Hey random guy, I’d like to buy your sweet El Camino for $100. Hi Ms. Neighbor Person, this summer, I would like to sit on your porch swing, drinking beer and eating peaches from your tree. If you could provide some Ranger IPA that would be great! Hi Hippies, I won’t complain about your chickens and your ridiculous barking dogs if you give me a dozen fresh eggs every week. Let me know if that works for you!

Written by Tracy

March 28th, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Solar SNAFU?

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We had our solar audit on Monday. This is where site auditors come to your house, explore your attic, crawl around on your roof, and do whatever they need to do to get the information they need to bring back to the structural engineer, who designs your system. Of course we didn’t get the crawl-around-on-your-roof part done because our roof had a big snowdrift on it, but that’s not the important part. The important part is that we might have encountered a solar SNAFU.

Our roof has to be reinforced so it can support the weight of the solar panels. This is pretty common, from what I understand. The issue is that for years Ben and I have thought that eventually, we might finish our unfinished attic and add one or two bedrooms and a bathroom up there. The added space would be good for us when Soren gets older and/or good for resale value, should we ever decide to move (not likely). The problem is that we’re not sure how the structural engineer is going to want to reinforce the roof.

Here are my awesome renditions of how roof reinforcement might happen.

my awesome roof support diagram

The first option (or an option that doesn’t involve beams running from the ceiling to the floor) would be fine, but the second option would not, because support beams placed like that would eliminate the possibility of adding living space to the attic. We’re thinking that if we have to choose solar panels or the potential to finish the attic, we’d probably go with the attic — but we’re not totally sure.

For now, we just have to wait (my favorite) and see what they design. I’ll keep you posted!

Written by Tracy

March 27th, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Posted in hippie adventures,House & Home

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Frank Lloyd Wright Houses & Other Architecture

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Music: Ben is working on a remix of Wheel in the Sky. I’ll post it when he’s done.

Oak Park

I wish I’d saved bigger versions of my old photos.

This is the Nathan G. Moore house, which is probably my favorite Frank Lloyd Wright house. (I’m also partial to the Arthur B. Heurtley house.) It’s in Oak Park, Illinois, just a few blocks from my old condo (which was designed by E. E. Roberts). You can find out more about FLW houses in Oak Park and take a little photo “walking” tour here. (If you’re in Oak Park, you can go on this tour in May, which looks fantastic and, amazingly, isn’t prohibitively expensive. After the tour, you can go to Poor Phil’s and have a beer and sweet potato fries with a side of ranch for me because holy crap, I miss that place.)

I used to clerk for a judge who had lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. He said sometimes he’d find random tourists standing in his living room, looking around. I suppose that’s a small price to pay for living in something so amazing.

It’s easy to take architecture for granted when you’re in Oak Park or Chicago. I think it’s probably time for me to learn more about the architecture of Denver. I know pretty  much nothing about it. Oh wait, I can tell you that the Sculptured House is my absolute favorite, although I’ve never seen it up close in person (just from 70). (There’s a pretty good photo gallery of it here.) Oh man, that house is so awesome.

Speaking of architecture, The Architecture of Happiness is a good book for someone like me, who appreciates it but doesn’t know much. In an effort to improve my knowledge it the area, I’ll work on finding out more about Denver architecture and report back here within the next month or so.

Written by Tracy

March 4th, 2011 at 9:20 pm