Tag Archives: chickens

Work

It’s the Yankee in me.

I put a lot of value on hard work.

When we were little, Mom and Dad made us work in the yard, around the house, every weekend. I hated it, for the most part. I remember one day – I was probably around seven – it was warm and sunny and all the neighbor kids were running around, laughing, playing tag, I don’t know what.

The four of us were weeding the garden alongside my parents, grumbling the whole time.

I remember my Dad saying, “When you’re through with this row, when everything’s weeded, then you can go play.”

I also remember saying something along the lines of “why do we have to do this when all the other kids don’t have to?”

And, the classic reply: “Someday you’ll thank me for this.”

Well, Dad, I guess that day is here.

We spent yesterday morning putting the garden to rest. The sun was bright, the air was cool, and the work loomed ahead of us, daunting. We pulled up all the woodier plants (broccoli and brussells sprouts get huge!) and threw them out back (Dad’s trying to minimize bugs next year, so we’re getting rid of the old plants). We took out the tomato stakes and piled them up, unknotted and threw out the rags we’d used to tie the plants to their stakes.

I harvested the last of the carrots. It’s hard to get them out of the cold ground without snapping them, but some survived.

Dad and I emptied the compost pile that’d been lying low all season, spread it out over the dirt, and my brother tilled it in.

When we were done, the place looked beautiful. Not nearly as sad as you’d think. Like well-deserved rest.

The girls got the last of the cucumbers.

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Now, let me get this straight: I am not a naturally hard worker.

When I was around ten, I remember thinking, I wish I weren’t so lazy. And then, like a lightbulb, I realized, I don’t have to be lazy. I can choose to work hard.

This was a revelation. I had thought up to this point that some people were born workers, and some people were born lazy.

This might be true. But it goes a lot further than that.

Every day I struggle to use my time wisely. To complete what I should complete – to give it my all.

 

Work hard in the garden.

Take care of my chickens.

Sell honey and eggs in a timely manner.

Sing.

Write.

Clean, do dishes, you know.

Write good lesson plans.

Teach engaging lessons, even when I’m exhausted.

Read my Bible.

Pray.

These are the things I must work hard at.

Work, outside of our workaholic culture, is a good and beautiful thing.

Can I survive on bantam eggs?!

I switched my flock out about three weeks ago.

We moved the twenty chicks outside as soon as their soft down gave way to feathers. The four bantams – the adorable, miniature birds who enjoy an almost-weekly (and certainly accidental) rendezvous OUTSIDE the chicken house – were not entirely keen on the new additions.

The chicks were still a little smaller than the bantams, and there’s something about chickens that tells older ones (no matter their size), that it’s their job to put the younger ones in place.

That’s exactly what the bantams have done. I’m not too worried about it, cause the chicks are bigger now and things will even out. There’s no visual evidence of pecking, and I just can’t bring myself to get rid of such cute bantams.

My question was, though, can I eat the bantam eggs if they’ve been eating grower pellets?!?!

I know you couldn’t eat them if they were on chick starter since it’s medicated, but what’s the difference between grower and layer food?

After a little trusty web-surfing, I concluded that, yes, I could indeed eat the bantam eggs. The difference is only that layer food has extra calcium to supplement the hen while she’s putting so much energy into laying. There would be no adverse effects from eating the miniscule eggs.

Now the question is: Can I survive another 3-4 months on the eggs of four bantams?!

Kitchen Gardens and Maintenance

I woke up to the second day of rain and cold. I love cozy days like this – partly because they give me an excuse to be a little lazy.

I thought I’d listen to something while I made my breakfast. Ted Talks is definitely a go-to lately. There are so many interesting things to learn about, and when I hear these eloquent, educated, passionate people talk about what they’ve discovered, I get fired up. There is hope when you know people like that exist.

I listened to this talk, My Subversive Garden Plot, while I boiled water for my french press and made poached eggs on toast.

I thought, as if I really needed another reason to get more involved in the garden…! And then I went on his website to learn more about Kitchen Gardens International. Its title makes it pretty obvious, but it’s an organization that started in Maine, and it’s dedicated to expanding the number of gardens and gardeners around the world. Doiron talked about the fact that in the next fifty years, we will need to produce more food than the world has produced in the last 10,000 years.

When I hear things like that, my initial reaction is fear. But followed quickly after is excitement. I can see my chicken run from the backdoor (granted, it’s raining, so the smart girls are warm in the henhouse), and I can’t wait to collect those first eggs from a new flock. We finished putting the garden in last weekend (Dad and I always have differing opinions – he put a bunch of lima beans in, and I absolutely detest lima beans. Oh well…diversity…). I filled my herb garden with sweet basil, purple basil, parsley, oregano, upright and creeping rosemary, three kinds of thyme, and beautiful white, purple, and orange flowers.

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I love planting season. Not so much weeding season. I have a bad track record for maintenance. I wish I could say it were just with the garden, but my writing, my reading, my knitting, my music, pretty much everything I do is affected by quick boredom and inability to FINISH WHAT I START.

That’s my goal this summer – maintain! Maybe if I start with my garden it’ll spill over into the other aspects of my life.

Maybe this summer I’ll be ready for the Farmers’ Market!

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Things I’m Enjoying

Things I’m Enjoying on [arguably] the Most Beautiful Day:

1. Crunchy apples with old-fashioned peanut butter = instant energy and instant deliciousness

2. Riding with the top down and the sun all around me.

3. Taking two little boys to the town common and watching them run/crawl around.

4. Talking about every single car that drives by 🙂

5. Revising lesson plans to the tunes of 90s pop music (thanks, Pandora).

6. Night-time rehearsals of Hot Mikado – and attempting to sing and dance all at the same time (did I mention I’m about a month behind everyone else? we shall see if I can pick any of this up, let alone memorize it in three weeks!!!)

7. Guilty pleasure: Coke Zero. Trying to be healthy, but sometimes, you just want a good soda.

8. Comfy stretch pants. I’m wearing them with the excuse that I’m dancing at rehearsal, but really, I just want to wear comfy stretch pants.

9. Looking out the window and seeing white, red, black, and gold hens in the coop. Chickens are beautiful creatures.

Unexpected Helpers

Today has been on and off rainy (thunder cracked at lunchtime and sent me and the boys I was watching back into the house – picnic aborted!!).

But after that shower died down, we headed in the truck to my house. I promised I’d show them the chicks in my room (yes, still in my room…don’t ask).

I removed the cover and held the baby over the box. His eyes lit up. I picked up a fuzzy yellow chick and held it up to the baby. He reached out, and I said Gentle, and he was. He was so gentle I couldn’t believe it, his tiny fingers barely grazing the soft down of the chick’s head. He looked at me, questioning, and then did it again.

Sweetness.

J. (he’s nearing 5 and curious) looked and asked questions.

“Where is their food?”

“How do you feed them?”

“Where are the eggs?”

That last one was my favorite.

After trying to explain that no, the chickens don’t eat the eggs, they lay them, we went outside to the henhouse so I could show him. There, four eggs in a box, ready to eat.

Then, with J. fascinated and distracted by feeding the hens grass, I took the baby to my garden, plunked him down on the path, and started clearing away deadness from last year.

He looked around, pulling at dead grass, watching me as I moved around him. I brushed some dirt off the large flat stones, and he copied me, his tiny hand flashing across the ground.

And then he put that hand with a handful of dirt into his baby mouth and smiled.

(P.S. I made THE MOST AMAZING GRANOLA two days ago. Thank you very much.)

Different Adventures

It’s been a slow letting-go of my ideas for the next phase. Slow, but amazingly blessed. I was shocked to hear myself say to God, “Okay, fine. If You really don’t want me to do this, to go there, to change in this way, bless me in other ways. Give me more, here, so I know.”

The audacity.

I did feel audacious and I did feel far outside the bounds of prayer and worship. But now I’m wondering if there really is such a thing.

I may not be going far away, but now I have a box filled with chicks in my bedroom (yes, my bedroom!). I fall asleep to their cheeping, and I hold their small, soft bodies in my hands and marvel that in a few weeks they will be completely different. Smell, look, sound, almost nothing will be recognizable as these tiny chicks I now hold.

I may not be working with inner-city high school students, but last night I presented a new music program for local children. Name after name on the sheet until it was full. My throat hoarse from explaining my vision, my goal, my ideas. So many different ages, I’ll have to split it into at least two classes, and I say to the Lord, Thank you.

I may not be moving half-way across the country, getting my own place (who decided that was the mark of adulthood, anyway?), but I am getting certified to teach English as a foreign language in a month. Four glorious weeks where I get to be the instructed instead of the instructor. Train rides and strolling my old haunts, Berkeley and Boylston, Newbury and Arlington. Maybe even a beautiful evening picnic at the Gardens, during which time I will people watch to my heart’s content.

It’s rare for me to be able to move on from things quickly. I hold on to people and things and ideas far too tightly. Maybe it’s out of fear. I’d like to think it’s out of love. Passion. Excitement. And I am not going to say that none of these things matter, because they do. Yes, we are to get fulfillment in Christ. But He enjoyed friendship, good wine, and a vocation that filled Him. We should enjoy these things too.

It’s realizing that they are only good in the Lord. We enjoy them because of Him. Can you imagine creating such beauty and it not being enjoyed? Maybe that is part of our purpose after all.

A Tough Decision

A lot of things get decided on walks.

Maybe it’s being outside, swinging your arms, the fast change of scenery as you process. I think it has a lot to do with the combining of mind and body – thought and motion.

Last night, I decided not to take a job.

I was so excited about it. The email came, siren-calling me to a job that I could actually see myself doing. A job that would use so many of the skills I’d acquired in college, but that I knew would challenge me, too. A job that would require the huge move I’d been longing for.

But this same job paid nothing. Nothing. And on top of that, there is a mysterious surgery looming in my future. I’ve been in denial for a few weeks now, but something is coming. Even in my scared state, I actually considered moving halfway across the country to a place where I know no one. I’ll be fine. It won’t REALLY take me six months to recover. Please. This is the twenty-first century.

Last night, I walked quickly beside a dear friend. We went up steep hills (reminding me of my treacherous experience with Philosopher’s Weg in Heidelberg, Germany…too much huffing and puffing for much philosophizing on my part!). We crossed busy streets and were nearly run over by crazed cyclists. All the while, talking incessantly as I tried to convince her and convince myself that it wasn’t crazy. It wasn’t crazy to pick up my life a few weeks after major surgery and move far, far away. It wasn’t crazy to make less money than I needed to pay back my student loans. It wasn’t crazy to think that running away would make me happy.

I wonder what passers-by thought, seeing two slightly-agitated young women, mouths unable to pause long enough to think.

Before we got back to her cozy apartment, I knew the answer.

No job.

No big move.

No adventure.

At least, not the adventure I’d been sure of. Trusting that God knows what I need. Having the faith to let it go, the thing I was holding on to so dearly that I was willing to overlook some huge obstacles. Praying that He would help me to trust Him more. Who knows? Maybe my recovery time will be like lightning, and I’ll find myself on the shores of some distant land, teaching English and sipping a deliciously strong drink. Or maybe I’ll hit my stride as a tea marketer, getting account after account of bridal favors. Or perhaps I will FINALLY find a way to put into words everything that’s been building building inside me.

I think I’ll start with a new flock of chicks. They’re pretty cute.

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[The triumphant photo after climbing Mount Untersberg. There’s no better feeling in the world.]