Tuesday, July 29, 2008

still going.....

been a long time folks - my apologies - deep into the development of the new musical - takes a whole lot of hours - every second of the hours you give - leaving little to no time for outside pleasure - the opposite of the life i lead when home. i must admit for all the sleepless moments - for all the aching back muscles - for the hairs falling out - for the moments in searching for the next creative solution - the ride is quite thrilling. there is both good and bad in the process - i'm tired as heck but still i must steam forward right up until friday night's opening - i miss mr. t, opera and the ladies - they live fresh on the brain and i talk of them as a mother talks of her children - my eyes light up when doing so.

several city bad habits have challenged me - one night off - a few too many beers - efforts to cram it in to one night prove less than profitable - passed a shop with some yummy looking baddy bad foods - guess who stopped in and partook - finding some recycling efforts a challenge - keeping my own recycling business going in the back of the car until i find a suitable station for drop off - yup decided with the hours we're keeping that a rental car proves much safer than a walk in the dark at wee hours tired and tired - don't know how i'll afford the thing but i'll find a way - guess the paycheck keeps me alive and safe for another project forward and a safe return home.

opening night comes soon - will not be done - development continues and will continue still - never know if one will be invited back to continue - this business unpredictable - do what you do is all you can do - betting my body falls heavy a few days out - hard to motivate for the morning run - resting the little i can taking precedence - grateful for the good people on the team.

coffee oh coffee oh coffee
sleepy sleepy sleepy
up and away we goooooooooO!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

here but not here

still here folks. life is good.

working hard. not much time to write.

floating forward while the sun shines brightly.

wishing all well...
may you each enjoy many happy adventures - hippychick

Saturday, July 19, 2008

rainy day farmers market

boy it's wet out there and i'm loving it. no i'm not back home and happy for rain, i'm on the road. the experience of rain has become a great pleasure for me. i am happy for it and wish it not to stop. the calming of the drops falling is nice for the day.

this morning started with a slow walk through and active talk through the farmers market. i have been counting the days to the market, waiting to get my hands on some local (out of town) booty. little did i know i'd run into a long lost friend! joy joy joy - what a way to the start of what will be a very long, very intense working day. perfect.

i was so excited for the market that i woke several times through the night, looking out of my window to see when they might arrive. then once up i walked out the door without my key - silly rabbit! i believe the ladies at the front desk were surprised to see a person so excited for their local goods that it took very little to obtain a new key. the truthful story was enough. that and the look of happiness on my face. or maybe they just wanted to get rid of the crazy can't wait to get to the farmer's market lady. ha ha ha

oh yes, the good news is that i am blessed with a window that gives view to the market. lucky me. and now my little room is filled with goodies and the eating on the road
  • peaches
  • apples
  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • greens
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • bread
  • cucumbers
  • cherries
  • peas in the pod
oh to travel across country to hit each zone's fruit heavy weeks. now there is an idea for a road trip. fresh tomatoes traveling north north north. fresh fruits of varied kinds in the same way. hmmm, now there is a thought.

today's tough day will be all the better for these fine goods. thank you local illinois farmers, thank you. now, to coffee!!!!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

why i run run run

here we go... the long hours
all night
enough time to eat
or eat on the job
a quick step outside
to remember the daylight
the walk home
where you feel the tired
the compounding tired
the compounding tired
putting on the bright face
the compounding tired
the endurance kicking in
the desire to drive it home to go home
the heavy sleep
the early morning
the working working working
and every second counts
every second filled

but the run is mine
that little bit of time i own
and the world is mine
and mind slows down
and the rush one feels
and i wonder how i go
when i know no rest
but i go and i go
and i'm thankful for the time
and the miles that i gain
on my own two feet

Thursday, July 17, 2008

in the thick

here we are - in the thick - prepping for the telling of a story. the lights are hung, most are focused and we wait now for the completion of the scenic elements in order to locate and focus the remaining units. things are feeling rough but they always do at this point in the game. i am not nervous, i have planned well. the nerves will kick in though, i predict saturday.

i build cues in the mind, refine ideas, seek clarity in image. i must keep my eyes open scanning the shifting changes, seek the elements that tie, recognize the moment when plan a becomes plan b becomes plan c. i must flex when necessary, natural part of the job. tensions run high for some. my focus is cool clarity.

the better to move forward with my dear.

wonder how the kiddos at home are doing...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

backwards forwards

back in chicago
running by the lake
paths soft and familiar to foot
smelling the old smells
sweet fragrance summer bloom
light is different here
day runs longer

early morning the lake front is mine
late evening the lake front is mine
lapping water slows the pulse
stars invite the wonder

quiet very quiet
eyes closed
breathing in breathing out
deep sigh in the hush of night
picking up in a city as if never away

Sunday, July 13, 2008

wandering wondering

woke up 4am. just woke - no particular reason. figured since i was woke that i would listen for a while. i ventured out to the porch, sat a bit, decided i'd rather listen out of doors, sat in one of the lean back look at the sky chairs and closed my eyes.

the morning's activity had begun. frogs and toads led, birds were perking and the squirrels took no notice of me in the chair as they buried and unburied their booty near by. a skunk passed quickly by the road as if late for an appointment. i waited for the white rabbit but he never did pass. the color was not yet decipherable, the temperature was warm and still, the sky stood solid few stars to see must be there are clouds up above.

i decided to walk a bit, stepped out of the yard and headed down the road still in my bed clothes. there were movements and rustlings mostly birds and small creatures. the trees picked up a slight bit of breeze. about a 3/4 mile from the house i decided to turn back to return via roads different from those walked upon so far. i met up with a dog and he joined me for a while until i passed beyond the land which he seems to keep. he watched as i rounded a corner and out of his site as i caught site of a small owl above.

back home i peeked in on the coop - still sleeping. inside opera and supercat the same. i mixed a coffee and milk and decided to sit outside some more. i could feel the temperature rise and decided it was best to give the good growing things a good deep drink. so out came the hose and i stepped plant by plant relieving the hearty and thirsty. i know these plants. i have watched closely and i see change for good and for bad. the trees are the same, i pay close mind to make sure their quenching runs deep. several frogs stumble out, did i wake them i wonder or are they unhappy with my presence to near?

i check the time nearing 6am and i place the hose down so that i might mix the second morning coffee and milk. second round almost finished and the sun now on horizon just in time to take a sit and watch. ahhhhh there is the color and the world unfurls.

i hear the girls in the back wake and fly down from the roost and their gentle morning cluck cluckcoo.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

great to be in good hands

you've heard me say it before - i love my neighbors - and i do. and lucky me, i've got many many many good neighbors, i'm surrounded. it may sound odd but it is true. we all enjoy each other's chatter, we watch out for each other constantly, we let each other know when we are coming and going and we are in tune enough to know when something might not be quite right. it's pretty great and i feel blessed. somewhere along the line, the gods dropped me in a darn good space.

so i met with a few of my fabulous neighbors today to discuss the taking care of the creatures and of the growing things in regards to the bit of time i'll be away. away away honestly i'd rather not be away. i've grown accustomed to this little place and feel it very much a home. but chin up lady, the lovely thing to look forward to will be the return and the excellent company of all the sweet babies and friendly folk.

the neighbors know who has been gifted with eggs and who might be asking about future delivery. i thought about asking some folks for dollars but i just can't right now. they do too much for me, it's the least i can do. if times get super hard then maybe but for now, these folks get shares. it does take a village...

so i'm just thanking the universe today for the comfort in knowing my babies will be well cared for and the house will enjoy friendly borders watching over all until my return. i'm not gone yet, they'll be a bit more time here but having the security in knowing all are in good hands will allow for peaceful rest and a whole lot less feeling of guilt.

be good to your neighbors folks - build your village

Friday, July 11, 2008


there are days when the morning news of the radio sounds more like noise rather than news. the topics repetitive, negative and full of thought processes that defies good plain common sense. i wonder about us creatures sometimes and i believe that i may be traveling slowly further and further from mainstream living.

the noise the noise hush hush hshhhhhh
it can turn a brain to a terrible mush if not for the willingness to step away and think for oneself or the willingness to transfer thinking to observational sensation.

i don't know where all this is going. i don't know why but this morning, the radio news overwhelmed me. i could not stand to hear another word much less another story - oh how the news these days violates the conceptual idea of story - all i could think to do was to switch the station off. eventually i returned - this time to tune in the classical station - much better - no words.

i think it's a day to break the training schedule and turn the short run into a long one. the demons are perched on my shoulders and i must rustle them off and leave them far behind.

the bread dough rises on the counter, fresh coffee is just brewed, newly laid eggs lie on the counter, the sun shines a lovely warm glow through the lace curtain and the creatures i love so much are here and happy and healthy - there is much good in the day to be had.

what is it wrestling my soul? i carry something i must let go.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
post run

so much better now.
i truly believe in the idea of exercising your demons. i run, haul big piles of dirt, dig holes and generally move heavy things from one place to the next. my shoulders feel lighter, my head is clear and i now look forward to my evening dinner visitors.

the menu - most everything from the garden and/or gifted from the chicken ladies
  • a cold honey melon peach ginger yogurt soup
    • cow's milk yogurt for this mix
  • salad of sorrel, chard, beet, mint and basil greens
    • w/ carrot slivers, roasted okra, roasted summer squash, fresh avacado and an olive oil / lemon vinegar dressing. a little salt and pepper for flavor
    • shredded roasted chicken on the side
  • home grown potato salad
    • w/chives, crumbled boiled eggs, chopped dill, mustard and a dash of vinegar and oil
  • home baked oatmeal sour dough bread
    • i used a bit of my goat's milk yogurt to push the sour flavor
      • i'll check in later to let you know how it went
  • beverages will consist of wine, beer, iced tea and iced coffee and chilly h20
    • oh yeah g&t or v&t will be available too
should be nice. it's all healthy and not too heavy.
i hope the flavors are rounded out enough to please the senses and compliment one another.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

on a not so perfect gardening season

sometimes you have good gardening years and sometimes you have not so good gardening years or so they say. this gardening year seems to be a bit off.

i believe that many of the veggies are confused. i think they wonder if they should set fruit, go to seed or just give up and rest a while. i'm confused too.

my pole beans are growing like mad. they are near to 8' tall and flowering every day. the bees are out and about each morning and evening doing what they do best but no beans. not a single one. the green towering mass is beautiful but for now, it's not producing.

the tomatoes are flowering again and i was hopeful but it looks like we are heading into triple digit temperatures again at that means the maters are toast. they won't set in the super hot conditions and frankly i don't blame them. i'm going to keep them around to see if maybe i can baby them through the fall.

i pulled a number of cucumber plants today. they were swimming in aphids and beginning to show signs of weakness due to downy mildew. their vines were turning yellow and the flowers were all shriveling up. there is a patch, two actually that seem to be holding on. i'll just hope for the best but i don't see this as a strong pickle year folks. darn it darn it darn it.

the peppers are showing signs of success. i hope they can set before this weeks super hot days arrive. the plants look healthy and strong and the bees are visiting daily so it could go well in pepper land.

the eggplant in the east garden are doing great. lots of flowers, no signs of flea beetle or spider mite stress and fruits a plenty seem to be forming. the eggplants outback are a whole other story. the spider mites are giving them a good run for their money. there's flowers out there but for the size of the plant, the number of flowers is few and i have yet to see a fruit take hold. i'm tempted to pull them but i keep spraying with the seaweed/garlic combo to see if i can carry them through.

the melons front and back are doing great. the squash may have their days numbered. i was out murdering vine borers this afternoon and usually around here, it's a loosing battle. the borers win. fingers crossed though, i'm hoping for the best.

the okra is also doing great. i'm not worried for the okra a bit. my early planting was spare but the later planting will be sure to give me a hearty harvest. this may be the year where the pickling is all about the okra. and friends, that's not a bad thing in my world.

the fall maters are in and i'm hoping that they'll make it through the heat healthy and set once it begins to cool. so far they look good.

the sweet potato vines are so spare. i don't get it. they are a plant that should just be taking off right now but they too seem shy to get going. don't know don't know. maybe they're getting too much water. maybe not enough but i doubt it. maybe i'm just being impatient but i don't think so. this time last year, they were kicking big time.

the worm population all around the garden seems to be thriving. the garden soil feels good, soft and fluffy. each and every bed was gifted with a good healthy dose of compost this year - high quality stuff. so i'm not worried that the soil is not prepped to offer the plants the nutrients that they need. i think ultimately the weather funked the whole cycle a bit.

we are now in the seasonal place where it's better to just let things rest for a while.

i feel like a bad gardener. still local folk stop by several times a week admiring the garden, wishing to talk about the garden, wishing to talk about their own gardens. i don't know what to think. i feel at a loss. i find myself wanting to apologize for the lack of tomatoes and cucumbers. i know they don't see the lack of maters and cukes in the same way that i do so i do my best to stay cheery and to willingly share the lessons learned from this year's garden observations.

i have considered ripping the whole thing apart now and setting up the new bed layout but that's just crazy. there is enough doing well that it would be a shame to knock it out. and even if i did attempt to replant every thing bed by bed i'd be sure to lose a good number of plants due to the harsh challenges i'd be asking them to face. so there's no way i'll be doing that, it's just too cruel. better to wait it out and see. it will be nicer doing all the shift the garden around work in a cooler season anyway.

looking back, last year was the year of rain. we had so much of it and this year so very little. i guess this is a swallow your pride and be happy for that which survives kind of season. i will always wonder though - what could i have done better?

i will not resort to non-organic methods. the plants that make it through this year are tough cookies and i will make sure to save seed from those. if anything, it's a great year to see which of the veggie types can make it through the toughest days.

it's at times like these when you've got to remind yourself of the monty python creed
"always look on the bright side of life"

a bright bit...
we do have eggs in the mix this year where as last year we had none.

thank you rainy rain barrels

amazing amazing - only a day or two from rain and already the heat and steady winds have influenced the health of the plant life. already they are looking in need of a drink.

before i jumped into the watering routine, i did the thumb in the dirt test to see just how dry things were. wow oh wow, the plants indeed were in need. so i grabbed a couple of my flexible garden buckets and tapped into the rain barrel stash. i thought it better to hit the free water before i tapped back to the city source.

i had plenty to go around thanks to our small bit of rain - every bit counts. i mixed in some liquid seaweed and a bit of garlic concentrate to each flexi-bucket. may as well feed, deter bad buggies and h20 all at once.

i must say that i myself am always thankful for the winds out in the heat. at the same time, those winds not only dry me out but they dry out the land as well. it's always going to be some kind of give and take when it comes to minding this bit of cultivated space i keep. i don't mind. i like the work. keeps you young yeah?

lugging bucket after bucket after bucket and so on of h20 is good exercise, it's a strong back, correct your posture, build your sexy arms exercise. well maybe not for all but you get that in your mind and you find the work filled with purpose beyond the need of the plants. although for me, the needs of the plants is motivation enough. no need for anyone to suffer if a solution can be had. ah?

pretty basic day today.
i slow roasted a chicken with a bit of salt, pepper and herbs de provence - covered with heavy foil - cooked at 300˚ for 3 hours. the chicken fell off the bone. i've stripped it and pulled it into smaller bite size pieces. it will be great for any number of things - pasta, salad, sandwiches, chicken with avacado and mango, solo in hand, as part of borrito, you name it - i promise not a sliver will go to waste.

the bill for the recent big shot electrical work i had done on the house came today - ouch!!!!!! i knew it would be painful. looks like i'll be penny pinching for a while. just the same, the work done was necessary and will benefit the home and safety of the home a long while. i do believe it a good investment. still, ouch ouch ouch. just pay the bill and smile. they were good folk and the work is well done. bye, bye cash-o-la bye, bye.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

first melon rounding home and it's a winner!

check out this baby. she weighed in at a whopping 7lbs. i kid you not, huge.

i know some folks who have delivered babies smaller than this va va va voom hot mama melon.

i could wait no longer. she was just too beautiful to leave on the vine any longer. thank the gods i've got gobs more growing along. truly, there must be at least 7 or 8 more cooking between the two vines on plot. i'll be sure to save some seeds from this round, i've never had a melon perform so well.

i'm now drinking a small part of her in a smoothie. tre' tre' super yumme.' the flavor is mellow and warm - not too sweet. i'll make effort to leave the others on the vine longer. that may not prove too difficult, these babies are clearly worth the wait. and besides, i won't be polishing this one off in one day- 7 freakin' pounds woh!

i may not have hit a home run with tomatoes this year but it looks like the melons may come in to save the day. what a gift - thank you garden gods.

now the wait for the h20 melons. patience, patience, patience hippychick.

peeling down the motherload - mucky muk muk

ophfff it's humid out there!

boy i was a full blown dripping wet mess by 1oam. i was out loading up and distributing barrows full of compost around the place in an effort to peel down the motherload compost pile and make it a little less appealing to the local raccoon population. i left that which was loaded in the bins as is, i loaded up all that was out of the bins in to the barrow and got to moving it about.

i can safely say that there's not a single growing plant in the yard wanting for a bit of the good old browny-blackish-cushiony-water holding happiness. maybe the distributing of the stuff will draw the raccoons to those newer locals rather than the old local directly across from the chickenchica universe. i'm talking in circles. blah blah anyway, there remains very little compost outside of the bins now so hopefully their (the raccoon's) interest will shift just a little.

the nite guard lights should arrive today. i'll get those up and see how we fare.

i'm now clean and squeaky. boy the sweat was really dripping into my eyes and my hands were a mess so it was either dirt in the eye or tolerate a bit of salty sting. i of course went for the combo platter. why is it so humid you ask?

well folks - we got some rain!
a mere .05 of an inch but better than zero and i'll deal with a day of heavy humidity for the exchange. the lawn, if i'm not too crazy (and i am crazy - i'm talking levels here) is looking more vibrant green today. could it perk up so quickly? maybe.

i did manage to get the lawn trimmed and detailed yesterday before the drops began falling. once it did begin to rain, i set up a lawn chair just inside the garage and watched the rain bits fall with my pal opera kitty.

i stopped inside a few times to check on mr. t supercat. he took the overcast sky as a sign for deep snuggling and curled up nappy naps. he was happy. the girls chose to hang out in the run as the rain fell. they are no wimpy wimps. i wonder if they enjoyed watching it come down as much as i did? maybe so. i think actually this is the first bigger rain that they've ever experienced. but these girls are not phased by much. they don't even bat and eye when i get the mower out now. they know they are safe so it means nothing when i pass by with that all too noisy machine.

i pulled out the weed wacker yesterday too to clean up the fence line. i was wacking wild onion after wild onion after wild onion. i knew they were prevalent in my former living place, chicago but i had no idea they did well here too. learn something new everyday. they were all along the fence that lines the garden area. i imagine the moisture from the garden might help them along. good to know if i'm ever short on onions.

the place looks mighty spiffy now and the rain just cleaned the whole place up even further. of course i did spend some time in the rain sweeping the drives. the water helps to push things along and i don't seem to show any signs of melting. besides, the rain felt good. opera kitty on the other hand chose to remain in the dry of the garage, though i did find him sacked out later on the two bails of stored hay in the coop cover. i imagine that would be a pretty comfy place to nap. i had the bails covered with plastic and a heavy canvas tarp - must have been soft.

i made sure i turned off all outdoor water faucets now that all plants had had themselves a good rainy drink. no use running the soaker hoses when everybody is already doing well. it is suppose to dry up and heat up in the next few days so i'll get the timers back in sync once necessary. it's good to have had the two additional rain barrels set up. now i've got four barrels nearly full to draw from and every bit helps.

i enjoyed a great garden dinner salad last night. here's the mix.
  • 3 small pickling cucumbers
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 small eggplant roasted
  • 6 okra pods roasted
  • olive oil - a glug
  • juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • two big handfuls of roughly chopped basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
roast the eggplant and okra while prepping everything else. chop the cukes, tomatoes and basil to happy chomping size. whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. chop the roasted eggplant and okra. throw everything in a bowl. toss and enjoy!

i had enough basil to serve as my salad greens. it's too hot around here to grow a proper head of lettuce so this is the compromise. let me tell you - this was good! substituting basil for greens is no compromise it's a great variation.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

seeking protection from celestial stars and the ancient eye of providence

the chicken alarm (thanks so much to freckles) was sounded near on the dot of 2am this morning and it was surely no celebration of a newly laid egg or a faulty cry for wolf.

the cause? a too close for comfort visit from our local mama raccoon and her solo kit. by the time i was about, they were not at the coop's fencing but they did look to be checking the place out. freckles calmed as soon as she heard my voice. and the raccoons were up and over the northwest fence post haste. we were all lucky this time.

i talked to the girls for a short 2 or 3 minutes until i saw them calm and settle back down on roost. i turned off the outback light for the night now aware of the fact that is does not deter the raccoons from visiting that particular area.

i do not own a gun nor do i think it prudent to use one when the neighbors are in such close proximity. the tactic i choose to use is a big stick or hoe or rake and a loud voice. for the folks we have around here, it works pretty well. snakes are a different story. i have a greater fear of snakes, or rather i should say i am more cautious around the local snakes. there are some dangerous snakes around here - rattlers, cotton mouths and coral snakes. i think it's best to respect their talents to the fullest extent. those babies can leap surprising distances when threatened and the injury could, well let's not go there, suffice it to say that it's not good.

anyway back to the raccoons. i feel a bit bad for having to pester them so but i want my birds safe. why do i feel bad? well presently, the big mama compost pile is directly across from the coop which would be like placing out two tables, one with iced coffees placed upon it and one with chocolate bars on it and then telling me not to touch either. i don't know if i could. in fact, i am sure i would fail the directive. so what am i going to do?

well i think everything will stay in place as it is for now. the coop will definitely stay where it is and the composters are chalk full so they will not be moving in the short term. i'm doing a bit of a compost test actually in the double bins. bin west is dirt, leaves, weeds, chicken poo and old bedding hay - bin east is dirt, leaves, weeds, horse poo and old horsey bedding hay. i've built them up to the same size and i'm watching to see which breaks down sooner. at present, it looks like the horsey poo is ahead but both piles are pretty darn hot so it may also be a matter of the way i had piled in the goods. time, laterally will tell.

i've been looking at the nite guard solar powered night predator control light for several months now and honestly have been a bit sceptical with the whole "effectiveness" idea of this particular tool. on top of that, i wondered if the girls would ever be sought out by any creatures that would justify the investment.

well i think the predator interest is there - that's a check. and i learned that this gadget is already in use by a number of folk i shared conversation with at the farmers market this past weekend and they all seem to swear by the nite guard - check number two. check three was a full money back guarantee if one is not happy with the product.

done then - i bought four as it's recommended you surround the desired area on all sides so as to deter predators from all sides. a nice plus is that the nite guard is fully solar opperated - it turns itself on at dusk and it turns itself off at dawn - no batteries required, just placement to allow proper solar charging.

the theory is based upon the idea of eyespots explained here in a national geographic article. check out the moth at the top and notice it's eyespots located on the wings. now think about fishes that have a similar marking and other such creatures that may deter attack with the use of threatening eyespots or you can read nite guard's take here - eyespots info click me.

well all this eye spot talk got me to thinking about the ancient eye of providence also known as the all seeing eye and the eye of god; a symbol that has been witnessed through many a time period and many a culture. is it protective? is it evil? is it sacred? is it driven by celestial movements? well that depends upon who you ask.

click on the following photos for some interesting information.

and that which i find the most beautiful. though i may not view it's glory and cosmic beauty in the same way that this web author chooses too. i still find it absolutely awe inspiring and wondrous to ponder.

it is no mystery to me that some folk find god in beautiful creations such as this helix nebula ngc 7293. it is indeed just that fantastic.

Monday, July 7, 2008

gotta love this little creature

i smiled today

amazing how these little folks find their way into our hearts
thank the gods they love us back for it brings to the world much happiness. belly rubs bring much happiness to the world too.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

running for rain cover - part two

mission accomplished

the girls, excuse me ahem, ladies are the proud owners of a brand new solar blocking fiberglass paneled roof mounted at an approximate 30˚ angle and sealed at the seams so as to divert all rainy misty wet stuff away from the run rather than into the run.

once i got the roof up, the ladies were kind enough to assist me with several test runs. they placed themselves in the run (voluntarily of course) and i got the hose out. we tested the roof under several conditions; light mist, rain shower and all out pouring down the sky has opened up conditions. the roof held up perfectly through each test.

the ladies loved it!
they were all goofy and get out.
i wonder if they love it in the same way that i enjoy the drive through car wash.

once we had agreed that the roof was in good shape we thought we should try again with the shade cloth up. we learned yesterday that the shade cloth holds a bit of water itself and tends to hang heavy over the roof when wet. it was my job to find a way to hang the shade cloth in a way that would keep the wet roof/wet cloth contact to a minimum. we do not want any extra water hanging around for the mosquitoes to breed in, uh noooooo.

we ran the roof through the three condition test again and success, all factors tested out well and not a drop in the run. the run off water goes for good use. the water is now directed into a garden adjacent to the run. the ladies stay dry the garden gets a good drink, chickenmama is assured that her ladies will not suffer in a soggy environment, all is well.

ah and the gutter was mounted above the run and run roof which helps even further. the rain that comes off the larger coop's roof runs into the gutter before it even has a chance to enter run roof area.

last bit of the mission was to find a blustery day solution for the wall on the north side of the coop. that was easily solved with a $15 roll up outdoor curtain intended for porches and such that i found at the local hardware store. it must have been fate as it was the last one there and had apparently been sitting in the store for a heck of a long time. the original price was $30 but the kind man at the counter gave it to me at half off just because he was happy to be rid of it.

one person's trash is another's treasure.
and the size of the curtain - perfection! it's large enough to roll right down to the ground.
you'll see that tomorrow in photo too!

i'm bushed. it is a hot one today and i was working in full sun the whole while. i waited until the girls had retired inside to escape the mid afternoon hottest of hot hot sun to install the new gutter and work on the new run roof . good for the ladies, hard on me.

i was equipped with my iced tea and i was smart enough to take frequent shade in the garage breaks. i could not help myself on one of the "breaks" - i decided it was a good idea to clean out the garage, give it a good sweep, put the not in their place items in their place and move a few bits around. still i think the heat got to me, feeling a bit wilted.

as i type, i sip at my cranberry, flax seed, honey, goat's milk yogurt smoothy. i've been living on the smoothies. they are good in hot weather - not too heavy. i think i need to make more yogurt tonight - running low.

for now
chill time

did you notice?
chickenmama got smart and purchased the feeder cover to help deter any future aqua drips.
heed the lessons people - we each have our own to learn

crazy coop caper - running for rain cover

you pay attention to ma nature and she'll teach you what you need to know.
yesterday's bit of rain taught me that my roofing idea for the run could use some adjustments. it works alright but i found several flaws that i'll make efforts to resolve this afternoon.
  • the roof leaks because i had not used a sealer to connect the two fiberglass panels
    • bad bad bad
      • girls can get wet
      • because seal was above the outdoor feeder, i lost that bit of feed
  • the roof retains water once the rain has stopped
    • great for breeding mosquitoes - oh no!
what to do? well i need to purchase a third piece of the fiberglass roofing to start. then i need to build a simple roof structure that will allow the rain to run down off the run rather than to either side of the run. and of course, i need to caulk and seal the three pieces of roofing together so as not to experience the leaks between. the last piece of this part of the puzzle is a gutter mounted just under the roof and above the run. the gutter should take care of the immediate run off and the slanted roof should take care of the rest.

this may mean getting inside the run and adding a few more vertical supports and possibly one or two more horizontal roof supports. that won't be tough, the girls don't mind my working on the coop. in fact, i have more trouble getting them out of the way these days. i guess if i wanted to, i could get them out in the tractor for a change of scenery. that might be a good idea, then i can leave the coop door open while i work without risking the chance of the curious opera kitty making a sneaky entrance and causing who knows what kind of raucous in the coop.
after i get the roof fixed and the shade cloth back in place i'm thinking of creating some type of roll down rain gear for the coop. you can see the north side here is fairly exposed to the elements. if the wind starts blowing, there is nothing to keep the rain from blowing in the coop proper especially on the north side and chickens like nothing less than a soggy coop i figure by tacking some plastic sheeting or good quality tarp to a piece of one by and rigging it with some rope, eye hooks and a tie off i can create a quick and easy cover for blustery days. i'll rig it to work like a roll up blind or curtain. maybe i can find a cheap blind that is all rigged and tack my waterproofing agent to that. never know?

finally i want to take another look at the chicken wire on top of the roof proper. mr. opera kitty has found his way up there more than once now. he enjoys observing the chickens from above. i was in near panic the first time i saw him up there until i realized who it was. just the same, it might be good to double check my pest deterring system and see if it holds it own now that i know it's not too tricky for kitty like folk to get up there.

so between ma nature and the curious opera kitty, lessons are offered. i feel it best to heed the schooling and act rather than hope for better luck next time.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

a day at the local farmers market

i spent the day sitting in with my friends from shades of green farm today at the bastrop 1832 farmers market. it was a good day. they needed an extra hand, i was available and figured why not. it's a good way to learn how the farmer's market works, meet the folks involved and see for myself if this is something i want to work towards. i know i could, the step would be more about making a choice rather than wondering if i were able. i foresee some big choices ahead and not easy ones. but that's a whole other entry and one that i need more pondering time with.

i arrived around 9:30am with fresh melon honey goat's milk yogurt smoothies for all. i figured a good cool breakfast type treat was in order. this would be my first time on the farm side of the stand. we began with the set up. slowly people began passing through doing much of what i do when i'm at the market. there is the once over check the whole place out then the getting down to business one on one chats with the various farmers at market.

sometimes the conversation leads to a sell and sometimes the conversation is simply about how you might raise or grow your goods and details about the goods - a bit of an educational type conversation.

there are a whole lot that people are beginning to become more knowledgeable about the foods they eat and they are curious about things like "do you cook an organic chicken differently than a conventional chicken?" or wonder "just how does one cook a whole chicken?" admitting that they've only ever cooked the breasts or the thighs but never a whole bird. if this sounds like you, never fear, all of these questions are valid and have been asked by more than one person in a single day.

i found it terribly interesting to see just how many folks want to learn how to do these things like cooking a whole chicken or working with organic meats versus conventionally raised meats. i also enjoyed watching people as they saw actual pictures of the birds offered for sale (pre-processed of course). lot's of folks have no idea what their food looks like before it's food. i understand that. lots of folks do not have access to a farm and so their relationship to food is naturally different. the best part is that i saw true curiosity today by various ages and generations; to me, that is hopeful.

i've got to tell you folks, there are a lot of really good people in the world and if you're ever in wonder about where to possibly find these folk, i suggest you start by checking in with your local farmers market. the hard working farmers and the supportive friendly shoppers are just good folk. there was much good energy at the market today. i was witness to excellent conversation and a general good will shared by all. i saw deals cut between farmer and buyer when maybe one was short a dollar. either the dollar was forgiven or a promise of coming by next week to cover the debt or to return the change was made. it was a simple but important act of trust and faith displayed in everyday life.

it got hot today but there again, the good gods of the universe were kind enough to provide us with a pretty healthy breeze and at several moments gusts of cool-ish wind. i had a good time.

now the market is all packed up and the farmers are heading home. i was offered a chicken for today's efforts but kindly took a rain check for another day when i was more in need. aside from that, i did not feel that my just sitting and helping set up and break down really deserved such a fine payment. i'll help out more in the future and when i feel more deserved, accept the offer of a fine dinner bird.

my friends sue and jules at shades of green farm raise red freedom ranger birds. they are a slower growing bird, large in size are able to get about quite well on their own when close to full size. they are a strong foraging bird which works well on the shades of green farm since all of the birds are raised free range. they feed them organically from day one which means that their diet consists of the organic feed and whatever bugs and such they forage for themselves out in the fields. sue and jules have their birds processed in with u.s.d.a. standards so you know that the end product is of very high quality and has been thoughtfully prepared. as far as taste goes, i find them mighty mighty fine.

sue and jules don't ship their birds cross country. they believe in the importance of the local movement and so do i. but that should not stop you from finding your own fresh birds and getting to know where your food is coming from.

how can you find fresh goodness near you? well you could type your zip code into the eat local banner i have at the top right hand side of this blog where it says "eat local you can do it" or you can do a search at local harvest and/or eat wild.

check it out, you may be surprised to find out just how close a farmer may be to you.

hey hey hey!
5pm and we got 20 minutes of rain - oh my
not heavy but anything helps
first rain in i can't tell you how long

i was out in the rain desperately setting up the two newest rain barrels. that task was planned for tomorrow but the rain came today so i had to take action right away, did not want to waste a precious drop. i had yet to build the platforms for the barrels but i needed a quick solution. for now, i've got the barrels balanced on a couple of stacked tires. seems to be working ok and it gets the barrels at a pretty good height. who knows, maybe the stacked tires will be the permanent solution. time will tell.

the rain has passed...

sir, could we please have some more?

Friday, July 4, 2008

just clucking around

freckles has asked me to begin with her apology for the antics her two sisters got into this morning.

what's the doing? well usually the girls will jump right and ready for their photo close ups posing and tilting their heads so that i can catch their good side.
this morning all i got was chicken butt.

alfie warned me that
"it might be a full feathered moon tonight!"
crazy girl

saffron says
"if you've got it, flaunt it!"
yeah honey

oh oh oh oh! who did i catch tipping butt a bit later.
i won't tell but i bet you can figure it out for yourself.
her face and color have been altered for purposes of privacy.
hey we all have booty shakin' days, it's good for ya!

happy independence day folks!
we are celebrating today with fresh potato salad, goat milk yogurt fruit smoothies and fresh goat's milk chevre cheese and crackers with just picked sliced cucumbers.
don't feel like we'll be needing much more than that.

maybe an extra good few gulps of cool iced tea and a nap on the porch (or on the couch or on the table or under a tree if you're a kitty) to top off the day.

be safe be safe be safe

Thursday, July 3, 2008

crazy coop caper continues with creature comforts and independence for all

hey hey hey, the crazy coop caper continues. finally finally chickenmama installed the time and/or solar activated coop door, officially known as the vsb electronic doorkeeper made in germany. i bought directly from the axt folks themselves. the price was better, the service great and everything arrived packed so well it could have traveled around the world twice and still been in good shape upon arrival. it's another brilliant piece of engineering.

this little dandy ensures me piece of mind when either my mind goes wacky and i awake middle of the night wondering did i forget to close up the coop and for those times when i am out of town thinking on the girls and their keep by a friendly neighbor. it also allows folks to wake at a decent time and hit the hay at a decent time too if they wish.
i've set the doorkeeper to function on the timer. it currently opens at 6am and closes at 10pm. this gives the girls a good half hour leeway to rise and shine or jump roost. they are usually up nearer to 6:30am and up on roost by 8:45pm. there have recently been a few evenings when they have stayed up later, i imagine to enjoy a bit more scratching in some cooler temperatures, thus the further extension on the evening's closing up of shop.

i of course was up last night and early this morning watching the door close and open. not so much to see if the contraption actually worked but more so to see if my installation was properly completed. check, check and check - all fares well. now if i want to, i can sleep in without guilt though i must admit i treasure my early morning hours with the chickenchicas.

the contraption consists of three primary elements. 1. the hatch and running rails which you can see in the above photos. this is an optional purchase but i opted to buy it figuring it best to trust the engineers.
2. the photo sensor and reel box also known as the vsb. this box contains the reel in/reel out mechanism which raises and lowers the door. the silver strip on the box is photosensitive. if you wish, you can purchase an extra photo sensor for outdoor mounting. the cool thing about the reel/photosensitive mechanism is that you can set it's relative sensitivity to light with a small knob inside the box which means that you can make it super sensitive to light or less so depending on how much extra time on either end of the sunrise sunset you wish to build in.

3. the timing mechanism is also optional in the case you are a control freak like myself. the timing mechanism allows you to set exact open and close times of the door. the ladies have proved to act consistently with their routine. the timer ensures that a rainy day or heavy cloud cover won't trick the photo sensor into thinking it is evening and time to close shop. it will also allow adjustments for seasonal sunlight shifts.

the last bit of goodness on with the doorkeeper is that like many garage doors, it will stop and re-open if ever it begins to come down on an object in its path, a.k.a. a chickenchica. it will then wait 40 seconds before attempting to close once again, giving the possibly spooked feathered friend some time to collect herself and get up to roost.

the girls are not the only a.m. alarm clocks around here. opera kitty loves to let loose his singing power in the wee hours. he's a character and knows just how to get what he wants. he's also a smart little bugger, very intelligent and quite crafty.

here he is keeping a good eye on the chickenchicas. he seems to have taken up the role of chicken guard which is more than fine with me and he's adopted a new habit of sharing a bit of morning conversation with the ladies. first thing out he runs to their coop door and give a quick hello meow. seconds later he's off on his own morning adventure. he's got to check out the gardens of which exist around the property, he visits the various birdbaths and takes a drink out of each and if any of the soaker hose systems are running, he'll set himself down on top and cool off.

this guy has pretty much figured the cool off in the hot weather thing. i'm so happy to have this little fellow around.

i figured in the spirit of independence for all creatures i ought to craft a bit of something for the wicked boy. he loves to go in and out and in and out and in and out. now that he knows the back porch/studio is his territory, he tends not to eat from the food dish i leave for him in the garage. i guess he feels that it should be for some other in need as he's covered inside.

whatever the reason i'm not going to always be available to answer to his whimsical wishes for privacy or the great outdoors. so mr. opera kitty is gaining his very own entrance to and from his great domain.

i did not wish to cut through both a screen door and a door door so in talking to neighbors decided a window would prove the best option. here it is.

on the outside of the window i've installed three tiers for climbing using simple cabinet supports. they require an initial jump to the first but as opera kitty displayed for me yesterday, it is a piece of cake. i told you he was smart. i hope the initial jump will deter other such fellows like the two raccoons mr. t - supercat and i had visitation with last night. (more on that later).

the exterior and interior are pretty simple. rather than installing the kitty door in a door, i have installed it on to plywood with a foam core to ensure winter time insulation. at the moment i've got the window screen down. it will be removed once the project is complete and ready for launch.

opera kitty eagerly awaits. he's already figured the whole deal out.

and opera kitty the smartypants that he is has already tested it out. yipeeeeee! success feels good.

i built a little rain box that sits on the top platform to protect from rain and winterly winds coming in from the north. photos of that tomorrow - camera battery needs charging.

our creature comforts include the two sleeping porch cots. each kitty has their own and i the human creature am allowed to share whatever space i can wrangle for myself which is not always an easy task. the above cot lives in opera kitty land while the below is the world of supercat.

mr. t-supercat is very much pleased with the addition of the cot. i caught several glances while setting it up and spreading out the sheets that seemed to communicate "what took you so long to figure this one out?" he was up on the cot before the sheets were tucked. mine! and sure enough it is.
see how pleased we are

well mr. t-supercat and i both spent the night out on the porch. i've turned off the a.c. again now that the temps have dropped into the mid 90's. believe it or not the mid 90's feel quite a relief from the three digit heat we had been experiencing last week. so i run the ceiling fans and one big floor fan during the day and sleep on the porch at night. the late evening temperatures have been falling into the high 7o's low 80's and feel absolutely wonderful.

we had a few visitors around 3am. two raccoons, i believe a mama and a wee one (judging from their size) were snooping about calmly and were bold enough to spend a little time peeking in the porch door. mr. t was first to notice their snooping and was up like a shot to defend his turf through the door. the raccoons were little bothered by mr. t but soon began to move a bit further away when i got up. i wanted a look to see who and how big they were. my mind was on the coop's ability to deter these folk.

darn they were cute. too bad these little fellows are best left alone. the little one was really fluffy and had great markings. it chose to hide between the two rain barrels but soon found it was too big to actually get between them. the mama lead the wee one round the bend and they were off the explore the east garden. they came back around near 3:45 am which alerts me to the possibility that they might have a place out back. and the out back is where the coop is. fortunately for us, they must have simply been snooping as nothing was disturbed upon morning inspection, the coop nor the garden. i'll have to keep an eye out for future testing of the coop. better safe than sorry.

it's good to know though, the nearby population. there are probably more little snoopers if there are two.

this is quite a bit for one post, i'll finish with one final bit of fun. without any prior knowledge of the possibility of the following, i find it karmic in the naming of miss freckles.

miss freckles herself has the talent to lay eggs with her own namesake, little freckles.
each and every egg carries here signature markings. they are most visible when the egg has been whetted a bit with water. the ladies have made it easy for me to identify who's laying which egg.

saffron = warm brown egg
freckles = speckled freckled egg
aflie = supreme white egg

go girls grasp your independence
flaunt your own personal identity

bok chica bok bok!

- - - - - - - - -
on the menu today - home made potatoe salad
home grown yukon gold potatoes
home grown and pickled cucumbers
chickenchica's fresh eggs
fresh grown herbs
powdered mustard
a dash of salt, pepper and honey
a dollop or two of mayo (don't make my own yet, soon!)
a glug of milk
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

next up for the crazy coop caper - music!
many folk i' ve talked to have commented on the love their chickens have for music and these are folk raising a hundred or more feathered friends. one fellow dials in 50's type rockabilly during the day then switches over to a bit of ole' blues eyes for the evening chill down. pretty fancy stuff but he swears his girls lay better and that his roosters behave better when the music is playing. hey why not, i would imagine it would at least combat a bit of boredom if not anything else.

and someday
- a crazy coop caper chickenchica cam -
i'm not quite sure how to even get started with the live feed thing but i'm sure somewhere down the line i'll figure it out. as a friend wrote a bit ago. it will allow you to check in on the ladies when you are out of town. brilliant brilliant i thought. how do those live cam things work?