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Chicken Social Hour

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Every evening, we exile the dogs to the back of the house and bring the chickens into Soren’s room for Chicken Social Hour. We use Soren’s room because it has a door that closes (to keep the cats out) and wood floors (because chickens poop a lot and Chicken Social Hour is always followed by Dedicated Mopping Time).

Sometimes we worry that the girls get bored hanging out in their brooder (I’ll give you the details on our brooder soon) all the time. We also want them to be socialized and to enjoy hanging out with us, so we take this time to try to show them that hanging out with us is awesome and fun. I think we succeed most of the time. As I learned in chicken class, some (but not all) chickens enjoy being held. I’d say 2/3 of ours are into it. Josephine (the Red Star) is my BFF and loves to sit on my hand while I pet her and even sometimes dozes off for a second. Margarita (the Barred Rock) seems to enjoy this, too. Gertrude (the Delaware) will tolerate the holding and petting for a little but mostly wants to walk around and talk shit.

Honestly, it’s super fun for me to hang out with the chickens. Something about chickens is incredibly peaceful and relaxing. They’re just — I don’t know — really nice little animals. Well, birds, but you know what I mean. They wander around the room together, exploring and pecking, talking to each other — doing chicken things. They seem pretty attached to each other. They’re always in a little group and seem to get stressed out if they can’t see each other. Gertrude, especially. If you have her separated from the other chicks, even for a few seconds, she gets all squawky, like hey, where my girls at?!

We have about four or five more weeks until the ladies will move outside to their coop (which we still have to build). It’ll be great to have them situated out there, but I’m going to miss hanging out with them in the house.

chicken social hour

Margarita

chicken social hour

Margarita and a freshly bathed Soren

chicken social hour

Gertrude

chicken social hour

blurry Josephine

 

Written by Tracy

April 10th, 2013 at 9:25 am

Posted in and life,Animals

Tagged with , ,

Nothing Wonderful

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For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.

–Andy Rooney (via simply-quotes)

What I like so much about getting more into hippie-like simple living is that it has allowed me to understand the sentiment expressed in this quote. I’ll be honest. Ben, Soren, and I don’t do a lot of big, exciting stuff. (I know you’re totally shocked by this revelation.) We don’t have many major life events. This might seem boring, but it isn’t, because when your life is kind of quiet, you learn to appreciate the quiet stuff, the every-day things you do. You also learn how to live in the moment, instead of looking forward to future events like vacations or whatever. I’ve done a lot of that in my life, especially when I was younger. I was always in a cycle of looking forward to something, having it happen, feeling a little let down after, and then waiting for something else to look forward to, etc. etc. And it’s not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just that now that I know the difference, I like this better.

We spent our Saturday night in the kitchen, listening to loud music and making stuff. We made pretzels (they were good but the recipe I got from Pinterest was kind of a clusterfuck) with cheese sauce, seitan pepperoni, ice cream, and lotion. And it was like the nicest Saturday night, ever. How the mighty have fallen, I thought, New glasses!while listening to the industrial music that provided the soundtrack for crazy nights out during my early 20s. But then I thought no, the mighty haven’t fallen, they’ve just changed, because that’s what they do. You don’t want to be the exact same way your whole life, because that’s what’s boring.

Today I ran 7 (well, 7.12 because that’s how far I can run in an hour now) miles, we had some friends over for a potluck lunch and playdate, and I restarted organic produce delivery and thought about what we’ll do with all the avocados that will be coming later this week. It was a nice day, too.

In other news, I got these glasses in addition to the Cazals. This dumb picture doesn’t convey their awesomeness.

Written by Tracy

December 9th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Posted in and life

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Chickens!

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As I get deeper into this hippie/homesteading/simple living thing,1 the more convinced I become that we need to get chickens. Chickens don’t seem like a commitment you should enter into lightly, so I’ve been doing research. I want to know all about chickens and I have tons of questions: Where do we get chickens? How many? What kind? What kind of coop do we need?2 What do we feed them? How do we care for them? How much does it cost? What kind of permit is required? Do our neighbors have to approve and can they object because one of our dogs is annoying? Can we give the chickens old-lady names like Gertrude, Ethel, Rosemary, and Josephine? What happens when it’s cold out? How many eggs do they produce? Will our Rottweiler try to eat them? Will they be okay if left alone overnight when we go on one of our hippie camping trips to the mountains? Is it worth it? Chickens? Why?!

For me, “Why?” is the easiest question to answer. I want to get chickens because I like eating eggs and I like when animals are treated well. We always buy free-range eggs, but I’ve read too many things about how even free-range eggs aren’t necessarily produced by happy chickens who are treated well. We’d be nice to our chickens and provide them a happy home with enough space, and they’d give us eggs. That seems like a win/win situation.

I’ve also found answers to a few more questions about chickens.

In Denver, you can get chickens at the chicken swap. Of course! It’s run by Denver Urban Homesteading and held at Earthdog on the first Saturday of each month. You can also get chicken feed and take chicken classes there. They also “recycle” chickens, but this is not something I want to think about. One thing I’ve learned about chickens is that when they get older, they produce fewer eggs and eventually may not produce any eggs at all. Duh, but I’d never thought of that before. Sometimes, people don’t want to keep their chickens who no longer produce eggs, so they get rid of them or, well, eat them.3 As vegetarians, this is not how we roll, so any chickens we get would be with us for life. I’m not sure how to go about having old chickens who don’t lay eggs any more and younger chickens who do. Can you just mix everyone together? How does pecking order work? I need to learn about this.

Denver Urban Homesteading’s website provides tons more information about keeping chickens in Denver and in general (scroll down for “Chicken, Goat and Duck FAQ). I’ve also been reading the chapter about chickens in Backyard Homesteading: A Back-to-Basics Guide to Self-Sufficiency.4 I’ve been leaving this book on our coffee table and last night, Soren demanded to see the chickens a billion times. He was so excited about the chickens Ben read him the chickens chapter as a bedtime story. This chapter must be pretty awesome because after reading it, Ben, who has been staunchly anti-chicken, said something like, “Hey, maybe we should get chickens.”

So yeah, maybe in the spring we’ll get chickens. Chickens!
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Notes
1. To me, “homesteading/simple living” refers to producing our own food, living in a more sustainable manner, decreasing our impact on the environment, doing stuff ourselves, and making stuff instead of buying it.
2. I’ve been looking at chicken coops on Pinterest and seriously, some of the chicken coops on Pinterest are nicer than our house.
3. In most homesteading books/on most homesteading websites, there’s what I refer to as “the meat chapter.” At some point, someone who is into homesteading will slaughter/hunt/skin/butcher/whatever an animal. I don’t judge anyone for doing this, but as a vegetarian with an excessive emotional attachment to animals, I really don’t want to hear about it. I’ll skip over the meat stuff in a book (otherwise I wouldn’t be able to read many homesteading-oriented books, it seems), but I won’t read a blog that involves hunting/killing animals. It bothers me and there’s always the risk of photos.
4. I really like this book so far — it provides a nice, general overview of homesteading subjects like producing food, caring for animals, and harvesting/storing what you’ve produced.

Written by Tracy

November 30th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

A Free Hour

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a free hour

After my office closed early today, I did some cat sitting and then got home and had the stunning realization that I had, like, a whole hour to myself and didn’t even have to work out. I don’t want to be one of those mommybloggers who’s all:

SO OMG I am a MOM and as a MOM –

Did I mention? That I am a MOM? Well? I am. A MOM? As a MOM, I am VERY BUSY. I do not have TIME to do THINGS other than BE A MOM.

I do not OFTEN get FREE TIME as in TIME to MYSELF to DO THINGS I ENJOY JUST FOR FUN without CHILDREN bothering me and I haven’t SHAVED MY LEGS since 1987 oh AND ALSO VODKA.

but seriously, it was pretty exciting to have an hour at home to just do whatever. So, I had a bowl of my world-famous (not really) homemade vanilla ice cream (now with fancy organic vanilla extract, which honestly doesn’t taste all that different from the regular, garden variety vanilla extract) and — I shit you not — read a book for a while.

This is really embarrassing, because, like, I was an English major and shit and I’ve loved to read since I was a kid devouring Jack London novels from my yellow-and-orange-animal-wallpapered bedroom (the law of the wild = eat or be eaten). I still love to read. But, aside from the issues of Sports Illustrated stacked next to the bed, I haven’t read jack shit in forever. For a while, I had a little sticky post on the side of this very site wherein I listed books I recently read and enjoyed but took it down when there were like 3 things on it for like 2 years. Honestly, I can’t tell you the last book I read all the way through. That’s terrible.

So today I was thrilled to pick up Farewell My Subaru, which was recommended by a friend, who described it (brilliantly) as “like a homesteading blog but all printed out on paper.” And that’s exactly what it’s like and, as you might guess, I love everything about it.

And this is a blog post about sitting on my ass reading a book. Awesome.

In other news, I’m not making a big deal about this, but today I vowed to buy no clothes or accessories or anything you wear for the next year. I’m not making a big deal about it because I’m always making grand pronouncements like this and I always fail and it’s kind of embarrassing. If you know me or someone like me who has ADHD, you’re probably annoyed by this kind of shit all the time. We get all crazy enthusiastic about some new project, become totally obsessed with it for a while such that it permeates the very essence of our beings and probably makes us pretty tedious to be around, and then completely abandon it and never mention it again. On behalf of all people with ADHD, I apologize for that shit. I think this has a better chance of succeeding than my terribly failed spending fast, because now I’m intimately familiar with the idea that I can’t just stop doing something — I have to replace something with something else. I can’t do a negative (stopping a thing). I have to do a positive (something else). Does that even make sense? I think it does, but it sounds kind of hokey. So my plan isn’t just to stop shopping — it’s to go all hardcore wanna-be urban homesteader hippie, which has absolutely nothing to do with, for example, getting drunk and ordering Free People dresses on the internet. And I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before, but this time I’m really serious, which is more serious than I was the last time I tried, when I was just plain old regular serious.

The one exception is glasses because I have flex $$$ to spend.

Also, the penny in the photo is Soren’s money. He found it when we were busy visiting not one but two Whole Foods (Whole Foodses?) in Denver yesterday buying shit for Thanksgiving. He waved it at the cashier at the terrifying Cherry Creek location, which we braved just to get Hain vegetarian chicken gravy, which is like the best thing in the world, saying, “This is my money!” as if you could buy anything at Whole Foods for a penny.

Written by Tracy

November 21st, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Urban Homesteading

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I know the world needs another asshole hipster who lives in the city and wants to go all hippie and, like, get some chickens, but it looks like I’ve caught the homesteading bug. I’ve been headed in this direction for a while now, but the other day I found a blog that really inspired me: Home Sweet Homestead. It’s about a family with two little kids from Los Angeles who sold all their stuff and drove a camper to Tennessee, where they bought some land and are setting up a homestead, which includes building a tiny cabin themselves. I read and clicked “Older entries” until I got to the beginning (it’s a new blog, so it’s not that long). Then I did it again. I’m in deep, serious love with everything about it.

My thoughts on homesteading and related subjects are wild and disorganized, as my thoughts are wont to be.

First, it’s is so refreshing to read a blog that isn’t plastered with ads and full of sponsored content, product placements, product reviews, giveaways, and any other forms of shilling. I’m so tired of shilling. I’m also tired of consumerism. I don’t need to see another list of things a blogger is obsessed with or yet another post showing off new purchases. This shit bores me and kind of makes me sad. I like reading about people who are doing more than instagramming their things or acquiring more things or trying to persuade you to acquire more things so they can profit.

Although the idea of homesteading greatly appeals to my hippie sensibilities, several things are true:

  • We’re not going to move. Ben and I are city people and we’re happy in Denver.
  • We’re not going to quit our jobs. They’re pretty cool and we like having the benefits employment provides.1
  • We’re not going to homeschool. I think being around lots of people from different backgrounds in a school situation is important.
  • We’re not going to get bees or chickens (at least not now). Seven animals + one 3-year-old = enough.
  • Ben is just not that into the idea of homesteading and frankly he’s probably tired of hearing me go on and on about it. I bet to him I sound like one of those Charlie Brown adult voices, with random homestead speak thrown in: Blah blah blah chickens blah blah composting toilet blah blah build cabin blah blah wood blah blah Guinea fowl.

What I’d like to do is incorporate more homestead-like activities into our life. When I say “homestead-like” I mean more than growing all your own food and trying to be self-sustaining (and less than, because growing all our own food and trying to be self-sustaining isn’t realistic for us right now). After reading Home Sweet Homestead, I want to — I don’t know — try to capture the essence of what they’re doing and put it into practice as much as I can while living in the city and having a job and doing the things I do.2

So what the hell does that mean? Trying to reduce our impact on the world. Living simply. Doing more DIY projects. Doing more hippie adventure stuff.3 Planning next year’s garden.4 Making more stuff — and focusing on making practical stuff instead of making things like necklaces I really don’t need.5 Not acquiring more stuff. Getting rid of some stuff. Reusing or repurposing some stuff. Going without some stuff. Wanting less. Using less. Being outdoors more. Reading more. Being quiet. Ummm, I know I’m getting really vague here, but do you know what I mean?

I know I talk about this sort of thing from time to time, but then I usually get off track. I think it can be hard to live a sort of homestead-like life when you’re — well, when you’re me and it’s easy to go back to your old behaviors that involve getting consumery and losing touch with what’s really in tune with your hippie sensibilities. Sometimes I get caught up in stuff that gets me off track, you know? Like, we’re at the point in our lives where friends are moving to big, fancy houses and you catch yourself thinking hey, is that what we should be doing. And it isn’t, for any number of reasons. Aside from finances, we’re a 3-person family. Our 950-square-foot house with a little yard is all the room we need. When I get annoyed by precariously stacked things falling on me in my closet, the problem isn’t the lack of space — it’s that I have too much stuff. Anyway, in my experience, more space leads to more stuff, and we don’t need more stuff. Plus it’s more expensive and time-consuming to maintain.

I think small changes can be harder than big changes because they’re not a huge exciting adventure. That’s cool, though. Let’s go on a little exciting adventure.

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Notes
1. Now that I think about it, though, I could do my job anywhere as long as I have access to electricity, internet, and a computer. Editors are pretty self-contained creatures. Maybe I could arrange a work-from-homestead situation. Having a homestead office seems a little weird, but maybe it could work. One day.
2. Of course, the things I do include totally non-homesteady stuff like watching football on tv and running on a treadmill. I almost included “drinking beer” here, but now that I think about it, I believe there is room for beer drinking in homesteading — and in everything, of course.
3. We’re doing pretty well with avoiding GMOs and buying organic stuff when possible. Somebody may have purchased the wrong vegetable oil and cheese can be a pain in the ass — for example, I’m not a big fan of having to make a special trip to Whole Foods to get hormone-free mozzarella cheese. Overall, though, it’s not bad and we’re still making a lot of bread and ice cream.
4. I’m so annoyed by the fact that I’m better at planning a garden than I am at gardening. I don’t think I ever told you about this year’s garden after that time I wrote about my plans for it. One thing I learned is that I’m never starting seeds indoors again. Total waste of time, in my opinion. Planting seeds directly in the garden is easier (especially if you have cats — oh, the cats) and plants grow just as well. Oh also! We’re still composting and it’s super easy! Even Soren knows what goes in the garbage, what goes in the recycling bin, and what gets composted.
5. If you’re wondering about my “30 Days of Making Stuff” project, it went to shit after I made a bunch of stuff for Soren’s birthday party and we had the families in town. Don’t worry (not that you would!), I’ve made a few things since then that I’ll tell you about soon and I’m definitely going to finish the project (which I’m now defining as making 30 things in a somewhat reasonable number of days).

Written by Tracy

November 14th, 2012 at 9:47 pm