Friday, December 8, 2017

Thank you medula!

For most of us, our amazing medula involuntarily manages some critical life sustaining functions...breathing and a beating heart. I am grateful for my medula!

Unfortunately for some of us, breathing can be a scary struggle when impacted by allergies, asthma, and other airway impacting diseases. When my son was little, he was hospitalized twice for reactive airway disease (RAD) - the condition small children have before being officially diagnosed with asthma. For the next three to four years, we went to the pediatric pulmonologist or his pediatrician at least every three months for them to prescribe more steroids and albuterol and sometimes prednisone. Being hooked up to a  nebulizer became a routine part his day. My son didn't mind too much as he took the time to chill out and watch videos - an activity that kept him still while he was connected to the machine. I hated that he was being pumped full of steroids every day. In my mind, it was a short term solution.

Mama Bear kicked in and I did everything I could to peel him off those steroids. Our home has hard wood or resilient flooring - no wall-to-wall carpet. We tried some essential oils. I paid close attention to what we were eating sourcing from the local farmers market and/or organic sources. We drank healing teas. I changed our air filters on schedule. Thankfully, my son has outgrown his asthma and has not been to a doctor for sickness for almost four years.

New filter on left. Three month old filter on right. Ick!
Americans spend 90% of our time indoors. The indoor air quality is critical to our health. Contaminants can come into our homes on our feet, on products we buy that off-gas in our home, on products we spray or burn inside our home, and in the outside air that is pulled in through our home's heating and cooling systems. Every time I change our air filters, I am amazed and disgusted as to how much dirt builds up in three months time. As we all hunker down for the winter months and spend even more time indoors on these short sunlight days, do yourself a favor and change out your air filters this month. Spring for the ones that filter more than sand (1200 filtration level or 1500 level or higher if your heating and cooling system can handle it). Your medula will thank you.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Living in a small rural community somewhere along an outdated, coal burning power source, it is not uncommon for our power to flicker or go out during high winds, snowstorms, or the errant bird/cow/vehicle tweaking a power pole/line. Such was the case yesterday. Friday at 1:30 pm I'm on a work conference call. The call lasts until a half hour before I have to head for the bus stop. Motivation to rig up the computer power was low. I crippled through the rest of the work day on my cell phones and collected water in five-gallon buckets from the yard hydrant fed by a natural spring. When the water source is from a well, one quickly learns the advantage of daylight trekking through the yard to collect water for later use.

Shrimp and sausage had been defrosted in the fridge in preparation for dinner. The power company had texted with an estimate for 10 pm for the power to be back, but it's always best to take that info with a grain of salt. With a gas stove and no need for spoiled meat, the paella for dinner proved to be a perfect power outage one-dish meal.

While I was cooking dinner, hubby connected the inverter to our marine battery and voila! The house was lit with LED rope lights. The wireless and computer were connected and up and running too. After a candlelit dinner, we gathered by the masonry stove. The dude played video games. Hubby surfed the web. I made paper flowers for the school dance. We survived satiated, warm and happy in each other's company until our power came back on just before 8 pm last night.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Warm Sunny February Day, I Love You.

Typically upbeat, there are rare times in my life when joy is fleeting. After a week of feeling glum, the sun's healing radiance on an unseasonable warm February day was welcomed with open arms.
It was a kite flying,
frog leg spinning, 

chocolate chip cookie making, yummy day.
 Thank you, World. I needed that.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Compost Win!

When your neighbor sets out a gold mine of leaves for trash pick up that runs today, you hop in your trusty ol' truck only to find that you left the ignition switch in accessory mode for the last 36 hours. Dang. Never fear, the Mazda 3 was up to the task. In three short round trips most of the leaf bags were moved to our house. Glorious leaf compost is in our future!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Banner Egg Day

Our twelve ladies have proven to be prolific egg layers throughout winter. Without stimulation of artificial light, many chickens stop laying eggs during the short daylight hours of the winter. Our chickens typically provided a collective three to five eggs each day. This being our first winter with chickens, we were delighted.

Yesterday was a banner egg day! I collected eleven eggs from our fine feathered friends - the most eggs collected in one day. Each morning I greet our chickens and wish them a good day as they flutter out of the coop and begin their foray around our yard and the neighbor's farm. Each evening I thank them for the eggs that they provide us - rich, nutrient-dense, intense orange yolked, tough shelled eggs in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

This morning I wished the chickens well and made eye contact with each hen wondering which one held out yesterday.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Lurking Predator

Chickens are serious about their sleep and hilariously checked out after nightfall. A big part of having chickens is making sure they are protected, thus why we have an electric net fence and a mobile coop. The chickens are amazingly efficient at loading up in their cozy coop as the sunlight starts to wane. Thus far, we've been successful at keeping all 20 of our chickens alive. With only five months under our belt, winter not too far away, and the adventure of living in a rural setting, we have to be willing to observe, learn, and change up our routines as needed. 

Returning from our walk this morning, my miniature schnauzer picked up the pace and her nose wnet into overdrive as we approached our front porch. Chipmunks are abundant here, so I started scanning for a glimpse of Alvin, Dale or Theodore. To my surprise and confusion, a much bigger animal emerged with a flurry from under our porch. My first thought was our neighbor's cat, but then quickly realized my error.  
Ranger Rick has decided to make sleepy observations from the crotch of our beloved maple tree today. Unfortunately for our fly-out-of the-net-fence, free ranging chickens, the debris and perennials around the base of this tree make it a favorite spot for scratching and finding chicken snacks. According to Wikipedia, "Contrary to popular belief, raccoons eat active or large prey, such as birds and mammal, only occasionally, since they prefer prey that is easier to catch, specifically fish, amphibians, and bird eggs." I'm going to put my faith in that statement, trust in the wild, survivor quality of our chickens, hope the roosters look up, see how things play out today, and order that pressure washer I've been intending to buy for a while. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015


In mid-June we loaded up in Red (our pickup truck) and headed over to my husband's former boss' house. Upon learning that we planned to get chickens, he insisted that he would happily give us some. With some ambiguity in his wording, he mentioned two hens and some chicks...maybe nine. Two hours later we returned home with two hens and eighteen one-week old chicks. They were ADORABLE!
Chick love

Cheeps and the nine designated as hers to mother

Salsa and her brood
Without much time to prepare and unwilling to spend thousands of dollars on a fancy coop, we rigged up a makeshift area that has managed to keep them all alive to date.
Cutting the chicken wire in preparation for our tiny chicks
We have 164 linear feet of 4' tall solar powered electric net fence enclosing a portion of our backyard and a contraption of cattle panels, chicken wire used more in the early days when the chicks were tiny, a tarp, and some big sticks for roosting jammed through the cattle panels.

As the winter and cool spring days found us rocking in our respective rockers in front of our soapstone stove, summer and chickens have us plopped on the back porch, beer in hand, watching chicken TV. It's educational, entertaining, and nutritious! Mothering done, Cheeps and Salsa starting laying eggs about three weeks ago. With a little hunting, we've found all of the eggs that they insist on laying outside of the safety of the net fence and in the cool shade of a kiwi vine, locust tree, or out of commission burn barrel.

The chickens are a mix of colors, shapes, and sizes. When I asked the previous owner what kind of chickens they were, his reply was simply, "Chickens." Our neighbor said, "Those are the kind of chickens that'll fly up in a tree to roost." In a nutshell they're survivors of a mix of breeds over thirty some years. They're a bit skittish around people but we're working on that. Every day I hand feed them some food. Two of the chicks have let me pet them and pick them up. These are proud mama moments.

I'll keep working on taming the chicks. Until then, we'll be entertained by the silliness of chickens. It takes them fifteen to twenty minutes each night to find their spot on top of the tarp or on one of the roosts below the tarp. "Finding" means pecking, nudging, crawling under, hopping on top of, sliding off of, and complying until they settle. I highly recommend Chicken TV over traditional TV.
Settling in for the night on top of the tarp (their choice of place to spend the night)