Baby Chicks and a PVC Chicken Wire Garden House

On Saturday we purchased three new chicks.

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Aren’t they adorbs?!  We picked two Australorp hens and a blond rooster (center) who might be a Buff Orpington but we don’t know for sure. The hens were sexed and banded so we know, without a doubt, they are hens. We had to remove their bands Saturday night, and man, it just kills me to listen to their screaming as I poke the metal tag back through their wing. The rooster was not banded because we picked him from a straight run. So he might not even be a rooster. However,

we checked his feathers for pointedness 
and held him upside down to see if he would flail 
so all signs indicate that he is a rooster. 🙂

We also bought 5 lengths of pvc, some t-posts, and another roll of chicken wire to make a garden house.

greenhouseWe’re building a garden house for many reasons:

  • to put the big chickens to work tilling the soil and eating June Beetle larvae of which we have already seen three adult specimens. (AND IT IS ONLY FEBRUARY!)
  • to protect the plants from bunnies,
  • to protect the plants from hail,
  • and to protect the plants from the hottest summer sun (with a shade cloth).

All of this effort will hopefully stretch the planting season and let us humans enjoy the fruits of our labors. We hope…

I’m calling it a garden house because the structure is not insulated against the weather yet. We may decide to put up partial walls. Later we will cover it with contractor plastic. Which bothered my eco-minimalist sensibilities until I learned that plastic sheeting is as environmentally (un?)sound and lasts just as long as the pvc plastic panels in our area because of severe storms and hail damage we get every spring (and sometimes in the fall). 😦  It would be easy to enclose the garden house and we probably will – but we’re not there yet!

Either way – we’ll let you know how it turns out!

Minimized Wardrobe and Why KonMari Doesn’t Work For Me

The definition of “Minimalist Wardrobe” varies from person to person. Each minimalist has a different list of necessities. My capsule wardrobe is on its way toward minimal but I’m not there yet. Some minimalists have assigned 36 items as the ‘official’ number of items in a minimalist capsule wardrobe, however that number is perfectly arbitrary. The number pickers might also have picked 35 or 37. My capsule is a little larger: I have about 50 items now – excluding my three problem areas (scarves, bags, and jackets).

One very slow and easy way you can shrink your closet is by turning all the hangers backwards on the bar. After a year goes by, any hangers that remain backwards are items you have not worn so you can confidently donate them, knowing you won’t miss them.

You can adopt a similar year-long method for your dresser. Pretend you are packing a suitcase in one of your dresser drawers. Pick your favorite things and put them in the suitcase-drawer. As time goes by you may miss things in the other drawers and tire of things in your suitcase. When that happens donate the tired pieces and pull the new favorites from your other dresser drawers minding the mantra “one out, one in”. At the end of a year, any items that remain untouched in your dresser have got to go.

If minimizing your wardrobe is exciting and you just need a little motivation try the KonMari method. Pick a Saturday and inspect every clothing item in your house. If it brings you joy keep it – if not, let it go. My only peeve with the KonMari method is that all my jackets and scarves and bags bring me joy, but they are also sitting around collecting dust. The dust does not bring me joy but the KonMari method enables me, and I keep them.

Additionally, every packrat I’ve met has an emotional attachment to each of their items. Emotional fulfillment from items is part of why hoarding happens in the first place. The KonMari system calls for action based on emotional decisions. Unfortunately, the primary emotional decisions that led to hoarding behavior are justified by the KonMari method, so those who really struggle with letting things go will not benefit from the practice. They get joy from every item they own. That’s the main reason I’m not on the KonMari bandwagon (and why I have so many scarves, bags, and jackets).

Since October I’ve been paring down my wardrobe using the minimalist approach. If I don’t wear it and love it – out it goes. It’s taken some Saturday trips through the collection but now… I finally moved out of my dresser! Yay! This is my current closet sans jackets and bags, but all the scarves are there.

 

 

closetI don’t feel finished with this project quite yet. I’ve started drawing every ootd in my bullet journal and after a month – whatever I haven’t worn I’ll let go (at least that’s the plan).

The dresser is now the linen closet instead of the master bedroom closet. We’re almost to the point where we can put a bookshelf in there. On the bookshelf we’ll store our smaller and more meaningful Yule and Christmas storage instead of the mountain-of-brimming-gift-bags-piled-to-the-ceiling system we’re currently using.

Until we started this minimalist journey I really didn’t know how much stuff we had. Luckily, our house is growing and our piles of stuff are shrinking. However, Yule and Christmas decorations are one thing the kids will not let me toss. They have some kind of ornament radar and magically appear whenever the baubles come out of the closet. Our Halloween decorations (which live in a single over-sized plastic cauldron, covered with a gold and purple witch’s hat) have the same magical summoning effect. It’s the weirdest side-effect of our seasonal decorations.

Until next time – Keep it Simple!

Seed Starting Soon!

We’ve had another unseasonably warm winter. If this keeps up warm will be the norm and cold – a thing of the past. I visited one of my oldest friends recently, and it turns out we are both contemplating moving north to escape the heat. Neither of us knew that the other was even thinking about moving, but great minds think alike…

Until we move though – I’m going to garden here. So that means it’s time to plan and start seeds! Since I’m into the bullet journaling thing – I wrote it all down in there…

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We use the square foot gardening method. It is intensive so we have to keep the soil nutrient balance carefully managed. It needs composts now, but no manure (at least not yet). The rectangular plot is 16×4 feet. It’s the box on the left hand side of the spread. The adjacent list shows what’s planted in the plot and where.

Starting on the left you can see a to-buy, to-do, seeds to plant, and when to plant list. In the seeds column I wrote (4×4) behind peas and radish because they get their own little plots. Radish greens make the best salads. Last year the radish roots were woody and underdeveloped because the nitrogen level was elevated in the soil. It turned out fine though because the greens were plentiful and delicious.

This year we’re starting the seeds in 100% biodegradable paper cups. We’ll tear off the bottoms and move them directly into the garden, preventing most of the transplant shock.

We’re really excited to see the way this garden grows. Through successes and failures – we’ll keep you posted!

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We’re glutton for punishment: Spring Chicks at a Farm Store near you.

This time last year we were contemplating chickens. Now, we’re doing it again. We have nine ladies at this time, and too many eggs for our family.  That we’re contemplating more is a sure sign of chicken fever.

If (and that’s a big if) we get any chicks this year we’ll only get three; a rooster and two hens.  It would be nice to let the flock clutch on their own and sell the pullets throughout the year. We can’t do that without a rooster. Our beloved Lanchester gave his life to protect the ladies. We might be lucky and get a good rooster again! Maybe we could name him Valentine.

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Photo by Elena Blokhina via Shutterstock

We still have the brooder. The tractor is already built (although it needs some improvement), and the winter run is in use. We’ve finished the heavy lifting of chicken-care on the homestead. Three babies would be a nice addition, and after four weeks they wouldn’t be babies any more.

Keeping chickens is stinky work. The kind you can’t really get out of your nose. The kind that comes back whenever you hear the word pullet. Oh, but it is worth it. The glamorous side of raising chicks is the soft sound of peeping, the warmth of the brooder light, the nuzzle of downy feathers, and the smell of fresh woodchips.

We have a v[egg]an in-house now, too. Our 16yo daughter is on the vegan train and her two main sources of protein are lentils and her homegrown chicken eggs. Plus, the mail lady volunteered to take 18 eggs a week. That keeps the pile of eggs down to a manageable mountain. Three more chicks, only two of whom can produce eggs? Seems like a fine idea.

After all, a dozen is a perfect number; especially for chickens.