Thursday, May 26, 2011

happiness dwells here

she wakes to the sound of a motor purring softly at her side. radiating warmth and yawning widely the "motor" stretches out and then softly nudges to be petted. she stretches as well and gently scratches between the cat's ears. she hears the birds twittering madly in the trees and a lawn mower at work down the street. opening her eyes she senses the sunshine peeking thru the blinds. yay, she thinks, i can work outside but just a few more minutes of this blissful wakening. this quiet moment of gratitude for this much-dreamed of life that has come true.

with coffee on her mind, she arises and heads for the kitchen. cat meows and dances her between the legs sashay which translates to feed me, feed me now. a can of fancy feast turkey in gravy spoons its way into the red cat bowl. a few sprinkles of cat chow and she heads to the living room to open the mini blinds. satisfied with the luminous light filling the room and her life, she leisurely makes coffee.

she grabs her current read "and i shall find some peace there" by margaret roach and settles into her fave porch chair for caffeine and inspiration. this book is one of many that she has read recently about women leaving their corporate jobs to find happiness and fulfillment by simplifying their lives. she finds solace in their stories and affirmation that her quest is not completely insane.

a passing car diverts her attention to the bed of iris at the front of her house. planted by a long-gone previous tenant, she is delighted by the quantity and variety of irises that greeted her this spring. on a whim she grabs her nikon and heads out for an ab-lib photo session, her favorite kind. her heart soars as she sees the remains of last night's rain shower. millions of sparkling rain drops bling the flower bed. these are my diamonds, she thinks, my much-cherished gems. and she gathers them one by one, capturing each shiny droplet in eternal images of delight. and she knows that happiness dwells here just like she always knew it would.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

vintage upcycle

 yard sales, garage sales, flea markets -- here i come!! i've been piddling around in my art room with some vintage items i've purchased in the past. i'm upcycling them by adding some art, painting and giving them a new, happy life. above is an old frame i bought at goodwill for .25. i added my original art and hope to sell it at the antique mall where i'm working now. i have 2 more of these frames and hope to get the art created tomorrow on my day off.

 this is also a goodwill find that i painted white (it was black) and embellished with my harmony original.

i created an indesign art file, printed it out on several different colors of card stock and then cut out to make these little tags. love this "typewriter" font so much!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

chicken farmer

my life as a chicken farmer is sooo much fun!! this week i moved the chickens from mom's laundry room to the coop. the meat chicks went first as they had gotten huge and had outgrown the large plastic tub they were living in. i rigged a pen in the corner of the barn for them to live in since we don't want them to get a ton of exercise. calm, quiet chicks = tender meat!! the hens were moved a few days later into a large metal horse trough in the barn. still under the heat lamp for the cool evenings, the hens had so much more room to move around in the trough.

today we gathered at mom's to build the chicken run attached to the barn. my brother brian and my son matt helped me construct a 12' by 6' welded wire pen. brian cut a hole in the barn door and rigged it with a weight and rope so we can open the door into the run from outside. we still need to add a roof and will be working on it one evening this week. then we'll construct a fence wall in the barn so that the hens can be moved out of the trough and be able to go in and out of the barn all day.

we couldn't resist letting the hens out to play in the run once the fence was up. we had to hand gather them and then set them thru the door until they get the hang of it. they seemed stunned at first and huddled together in a tight circle. but within 5 minutes they started to peck in the dirt and were able to pull up a few worms. there was a flurry of running and short distance flying when a worm was discovered.

my SIL candy selected our hens for us and gave us a nice variety; i have 2 each of aracuanas, barred rock, buff orpington, golden comet, new hampshire and rhode island reds. all of the  hens will lay brown eggs except for the aracuanas who will lay a greenish blue egg.the goal for now is to keep them happy and well-fed and watered as they grown and mature. when they get a little bigger we will let them free-range on mom's 3+ acres. it will be september before they start to lay eggs.

all 12 of the meat chicks are cornish rocks. we visited a local amish farm this week to set up an appointment to have them slaughtered on june 22nd -- 7 weeks after they were born. mom and i plan to have a little celebration feast of the first chicken and then we'll freeze the rest.

i've already named 2 of my hens -- one of the rhode island reds is named hermione and one of the golden comets is named luna. both are tributes to my love of the harry potter books.

in other news, i'm working a part-time job at a local antique mall which i am loooooving! i assist the customers, run the cash register, enter new inventory, do a little cleaning and get first look at all the new antiques that come in. it is low-stress and perfect for me right now.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

flying practice

these pics of my two grands pretty much sum up how all of us are feeling these days . . . carefree and joyously exhilarated to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine! these were taken on easter but earlier this week the kids were practicing flying again and i thought maybe i'd give it a try. so there i was at 58 years old with my arms spread wide zooming around mom's back yard. i made the vrrrrrrrroooom noise (my best imitation of an old bi-wing plane) and made lots of dips and sharp turns as i sped across the yard. and it felt good! the rush of oxygen, the giddy happiness, the looks of delight on the kids' faces all combined to make me feel much younger than my chronological age. it was delightful!

go on, try it! i know you're just dying to get out there and soar!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

a bird in hand

i've often wondered during my almost 6 decades of living what the big deal was about a bird in hand. lol well now i know! when in michigan last weekend we went for a long nature walk in the kensington metropark. my sil had a bag of peanuts because she had heard that chickadees would eat right out of your hand. and eat they did! above is a downy woodpecker eating out of my hand. it was the oddest sensation when he landed on my hand with his little clawed feet wrapped around my pointer finger.  the cheeky little guy ate 2 or 3 nuts before heading back to the trees and then came back two more times for more!

 in this photo my sil candy is holding the nuts while my mom gets a bird's eye view (pun intended!!) of a little chickadee having an afternoon snack. the chickadees were so quick, diving in to sit, grab a nut and then flit off again.

this was mother nature at her best!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

chick day!!

it is official!! our chicks are home safe and sound and i am now a chicken farmer!! mom and i drove to michigan on sunday to my brohter's house in new hudson. he owns grand river feed where on monday they held their annual chick day. they had over 1,000 chicks for sale, many of them reserved for customers who had pre-ordered the number and variety of their choice.  we picked up our chicks yesterday morning and were home by 4:00. we had to keep the heat on high as the chicks need to be at a 90 degree temp for the first week. believe me, it was roasting in my car for the 4.5 hour drive!

ben and jenna were so excited to see the chicks. ben entered my mom's house chanting baby chicks baby chicks baby chicks.  he was tentatively curious but jenna was enthralled with every aspect and helped me feed and water them.

we have 12 broilers which will grow very quickly and need to be slaughtered in 7 weeks. we also have a variety of egg laying breeds which will start producing eggs by early to mid autumn. i tried to explain to jenna in the most basic of words that the light yellow chicks won't be around long and she should not get attached. i am sure that this is going to be a very hard lesson for her to learn. 

the broilers will stay in the house under the heat lamp for about 2-3 weeks, depending on the weather and then be moved to the shed. the hens will need to stay protected under the heat lamp longer, about 3 to 4 weeks if it gets warm and stays warm by late may.

i just came home from mom's and all the chicks are alive and doing well.  they already seemed bigger, more active and voraciously hungry this morning. for some reason they like to congregate in their food bowls which is so funny. they are also curious about their reflections in the water bottle.

zoe and bella were of course very interested with lots of soft whimpering and scampering around the tubs. i want to introduce them to the chicks from a young age so they understand that these are not play things and are off limits.  eventually the hens will free range at mom's and i want to be able to turn the dogs loose without any incidents. bella and zoe are soooo well behaved that i am confident i can train them to leave the hens alone.

this is jenna and me watching the royal wedding news on et. we were both pretty worn out as you can tell. already this morning, mom and i are talking about getting more hens and having eggs to sell. also i'm planning to order meat chickens so we have fresh meat every 7-9 weeks or so.

i've longed to raise chickens and gather my own eggs for so long. i am a happy, happy chicken farmer and i looove it!