Posts tagged ‘pets’

November 13, 2012

Facing Our Fears Part II: Chickens

As you probably already know, I have been contemplating getting chickens for a while.  Then, when I decided that chickens might be a good idea I planted the seed with my son (easy target) and husband (surprisingly easy target).  I expected at least a little resistance, I got nothing.  Then came the chicken class… a success!  I wanted to get started right away.  Then reality set in and I realized that next spring would be better.  That would give us enough time to select a coop design, get the parts and pieces, build it, wire it, critter-proof it.  We could ask for chicken stuff (lights, waterers, heaters, etc.) as gifts for birthdays and Christmas and finally, next spring, we could bring in baby chicks.

Then a curve ball.  A friend-of-a-friend of my Dad’s has chickens needing a home.  He asked if we’d be interested.  Sure, why not?  (I’m a sucker for taking in animals that need a home.)  We went and met the chickens.  They were cool. We saw their current coop and knew that while the coop worked great in their current location, it wouldn’t work so well in our yard.  Backing up to the nature center means everything short of lions, tigers and bears (oh, my!).  So, after going on the Twin Cities Chicken Coop Tour and scouring the web for coop designs we decided on this one, except ours will be blue and a mirror image (so we can see the chickens from the house) and got to building.  That, was a month ago.  We’re still building.  Speaking of which, did you know that you can end a drought by simply building a chicken coop?  It’s true!  We literally were in a drought.  Hadn’t had a drop of rain for months… until the day we started building the coop.  Then the sky opened up and the rain started coming.  And, it hasn’t stopped since.  Okay, actually it has, on the days we are not building the coop.  That aside, we’re getting there.  And hopefully very soon (I don’t want to say when for fear of jinxing us again) we will actually have the chickens.

Back to my fears.   As you may or may not have read in the first installment, Facing Our Fears, my first fear to face was writing.  Now that I’ve worked through that, my fear is chickens.  I outlined a few of my chicken fears in U is for Urban Farm (a.k.a. Contemplating Chickens), but there’s more.  So why on earth would I want to build a chicken coop and get chickens?  Well, okay, it’s not the chickens I fear.  It’s the stuff that goes along with chickens.

I hate winter.  Period.  I love the snow.  I think it’s beautiful.  Beyond that, I avoid going outside on cold days.  I hate cold fingers, cold toes, cold ears, cold noses… Although it is kind of cool when it’s so cold out, that when you sniff, your nostrils stick together.  Oh, that and frosty eyelashes are kind of cool too… but other than that I hate cold bodies, cold cars and cold seats (car and toilet)!  So what better plan to get over hating winter than to get chickens, right?  Yea, I know.  I’m not sure about that either, but I’m hoping it will help.  If I have someone or in this case, chickens, to care for, I’m hoping I will come to ignore the rain, snow, sleet and cold and just enjoy the chickens.  At least I’ll get to hold a warm egg in my hands, right?

Bird poop.  I hate bird poop.  I fear bird poop.  As a kid, while in Seattle visiting my Aunts and Uncles, I was sitting with my feet up, stretched across to another chair and a flock of sea gulls, or was it pigeons, flew overhead and a moment later, I felt the warm splattering gush of goo in-between my toes.  Um, yea, I cried.  And then, one morning at the bus stop,  a couple of years ago, I was chatting with a couple of other Mom’s on the block.  It was a clear morning, not a cloud or a bird in the sky, we were busy chatting when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a huge blast of bird poop hit my arm.  It splattered not only all over my entire forearm, but my clothes and all over my friends too.  Talk about gross!  We all scrambled, checking our pockets for a napkin, Kleenex, anything, to wipe it up.  A friend of mine found a receipt in her pocket.  I’ve never been so grateful for a receipt, ever.  That, and my second shower of the morning.  Anyway, I’ve got this fear of bird poop.  So, you might ask, why would I even consider chickens? After all, they are poop factories, right?  Right!  But their poop is good stuff!  Their poop will be combined with my compost, making my compost cook faster and make my garden soil even richer!  So I’m hoping to get past my fear of bird poop for the good of the garden.

My other chicken fears?  Chicken death.  Chicken death-by-dog, death-by-fox, death-by-raccoon, death-by-hawk, death-by-eagle, death-by-owl and death-by-weasel.  Until recently I wasn’t afraid of death-by-weasel, but my nephew just told me of chickens getting killed by weasels.  I don’t even know if we have weasels here because I’ve never seen one, but I added death-by-weasel to the list because now it’s in the back of my mind.  Thanks, Jeff. 😉  Hopefully our coop design will fend off all of these death-by-critter fears, and I will no longer need to fear chicken death, but time will tell.

Death-by-weather.  Living in Minnesota you can’t help but worry about how the chickens are going to hold up in the cold.  We are going to be getting cold-hardy chickens (I know, I didn’t know there was such a thing as cold hardy chickens either) so hopefully any mistakes we make will be offset by their hardy genes.  Cold weather means making sure their drinking water doesn’t freeze, making sure they don’t freeze and did you know if they roost on too narrow of a board they can get frost bite on their feet!?  I think I’ll make them recycled sweater mittens for their feet.  Recycled sweater chicken booties. 🙂 Oh, and then there’s the heat.  When it’s not too cold, it’s too hot and chickens don’t sweat.  Like dogs, if they get too hot, they pant.  Panting = chicken death.  Not good.  If anyone has a Barbie window a/c unit about 4 inches by 4 inches, let me know.  We’re getting a Thermo Cube too, which is a temperature controlled outlet, so hopefully that will take some of the thinking and worry out of the of the death-by-weather scenarios.

Okay, all my fears aside, I’m hoping for a bond.  The chickens we’ll be getting are over a year old, already producing eggs (bonus!).  They haven’t been handled a lot, so I’m hoping my wanting to hold them won’t be offensive.  I’ve heard that chickens LOVE kids.  I’ve heard that they will follow them around and treat them like their own (which should be humorous).  I’ve heard of them snuggling and watching TV, although we WON’T be having chickens inside the house.  At least not yet. 😉  I’ve heard chickens are guaranteed entertainment.  I’ve heard that you can train them to do tricks and that they like to be petted.  I’ve heard that even on our worst days just watching them can make us laugh and smile.

Long term, I’m hoping to love the chickens.  I love that they’ll be eating our kitchen scraps and converting it to good stuff for the garden.  I’m looking forward to having fresh eggs and making custard pies.  I’m looking forward to the challenges and fun the chickens will bring.

I’m also looking for a pair of rubber boots to wear in the coop.

Kate

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November 27, 2011

Still Thankful

I just wouldn’t feel right letting Thanksgiving go by without writing.

I had actually planned on writing prior to Thanksgiving Day, but that just wasn’t meant to be.  A few days before Thanksgiving I came down with the flu, you know, the full-blown body aches, fever, struggle to get out of bed flu.  Actually though, I was blessed.  It wasn’t the stomach flu.  And for that I was very, very thankful!

Nonetheless, I didn’t want the holiday to go by unacknowledged.  With all the craziness of the Christmas buying season starting as far back as October, pausing just long enough for all of us to take a few bites of turkey and a piece of pumpkin pie and then start right up again, I think it’s really important to stop, take a breath and look around at what really matters. Our health matters, our family and friends matter, having a roof over our head and food on the table matters, being loved matters.

There are so many negative things that we could focus on in the world right now that could be better, but it’s so important to take some time, pause and reflect on what’s going right.  What are we thankful for?

This year my health is something I’m incredibly thankful for.  You know that saying “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”? I’m so grateful to have my health back.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the past couple of years were scary.  What’s weird is that when the fevers ended at the end of May and my fatigue started to fade away I thought things were good.  At the time I had no idea how much had changed over time.  Over the past six months the fever has stayed away and my energy level has continued to increase, so much so that I don’t even recall when the last time was that I felt this good.  Even having the flu last week didn’t bother me. Okay, I mean it wasn’t fun, and it wiped me out at the time, but it was different.  Plus, I knew it would pass in a few days or so.

In addition to my health, I’m so thankful for my family and my friends.  My family and friends are my world.  They shape my life and are there for me to lean on when I’m not feeling strong. I have an incredible support system all of whom I’m very thankful for.

I know it may sound corny to some, but I’m thankful for my pets too.  To me, pets are a little piece of God.  They make me laugh, they snuggle when I’m down or need a hug.  They have definitely challenged me to make me a stronger person.  And at the end of the day, no matter what I’ve said or done, no matter how the rest of the day has gone, they are there for me, giving their unconditional love.

And my dear friends, I’m thankful for all of you, who take a couple of minutes out of your busy days to stop and read my blog.  I appreciate you.  I appreciate your comments.  I read them all and appreciate the feedback.

I hope everyone had a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

Kate

October 13, 2011

You’ve got an hour

When I originally started Walnuts and Pears the focus was going to be somewhat broad as far as the subject matter, but the common thread is that all things tie back into living today not just for ourselves, but for future generations, living mindfully .

During the spring and summer much of my focus has been on gardening and caring for our injured dog because that’s what was right in front of me. Reflecting back, it’s kind of funny how things work out.  Shortly before Darby got hurt, my full-time job changed to a part-time job.  My original plan was to use the 2nd half of the day to blog (daily) and combine my landscape, garden and marketing background into something new.  While I have picked-up a handful of design jobs, its honestly been tough.  Things haven’t been exactly going according to that plan and frankly, I’ve been struggling.

Recently someone reminded me that life is what happens when you’re busy planning.  The funny part about that is that I’m really not that great of a planner.  I’m more of a big picture kind of person.  I like to keep things loose so I can do something fun, take a class, or follow a whim.  What that also means though, is that when I do actually plan something, I get kind of H-E-double hockey sticks bent on sticking to that plan.  So the fact that things aren’t following my plan has been frustrating to say the least.

Instead of simply flipping a switch at the end of my 1st job and switching over to the 2nd as originally intended, I now switch into “Dog Mom” mode.  Caring for Darby has been much like caring for an infant.  She’s getting stronger every day, but she’s still dependent on us to walk.  And walk she does.  She gets 3 short walks a day as well as stretches and exercises 2 times a day.  Jake is still a puppy in a full size body, so he has a lot of energy that needs to be released each day through play and walks.  Since the two of them still need to be separated, all of this happens independently.  By the time this is done I usually have about half an hour to get anything else done that I have in my “plan”.

Yesterday, on my walk with Jake, it dawned on me (sometimes I need a 2×4 to hit me over the head to make this happen), but I realized, this is the plan.  It might not be my plan, but it is what I’m supposed to be doing.  Caring for the dogs has actually done a lot for me.  Having been sick for a couple of years, my body got weak.  Supporting Darby and staying active with Jake has strengthened me both physically and spiritually.  While I’m being leaned on, I need to lean on someone else for strength to get me through it all.

So while things aren’t going according to my plan, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’m trying my best to help Darby recover as fully as possible, watching the baby steps of success everyday while at the same time trying to make sure Jake gets what he needs as well. In the interim, I’m trying to stick to my commitment to myself to blog and do landscaping and other creative “stuff”.   Right now I don’t have the time to do it all, so I’m learning to allow myself to simply do what I can and ask for help when I need it.  (The asking for help thing doesn’t come easy for me. Call it pride, stubbornness, heritage or upbringing it is one of my “quirks”.)

So today, I had an hour before the kiddo gets home.  My choice was this… post for 1/2 and take Jake for a walk for the other 1/2.  That’s my plan… and with 29 minutes left, I’m kind of sticking to it.

This…..  is where I’m headed.

A walk in the park

Kate