Monday, March 19, 2012

The Coop, Part 2

With the basement beginning to develop a faint odor of a poultry pen, it was time to do something about that elephant in the room coop, which, though solidly and heavily built, was poorly placed on the property.  Pooh.

There were tears, some yelling, some retching in the woods wringing of hands, and apology heaped upon apology, some rationalizations and justifications....but for the most part Andy just patiently ignored me and got right down to the business.

Ok, so the first plan was to take those three [differently size and tapered] found telephone poles you see sticking out on the right there and give the coop a ride, Fred Flintstone-style, stopping to switch poles out and pegging them into the ground with crowbars and stakes after each shove.

I think this method only works in cartoons.  Not only was this method potentially deadly, as the coop teetered and tottered on the mismatched poles, it was SLOW and HOT.

And I did a lot of screaming and hollering as I was convinced the coop was either going to fall backwards and flatten Andy into the hard ground or topple the other way and leave me dangling up in the air with a crushed pickup bed:  Andy said that only happened in cartoons, which was not very reassuring as it just made me think that he had gotten that whole pole-rolling idea therefrom....but I pointed out that this was just the kind of thing to get us on the funny video show, except I was not laughing (and we weren't filming).

It is relevant for me to pause here and note something that might at first seem to be off topic:  
I am going to share with you one of my "grammar pet peeves," and you will see why it is indeed relevant in this situation, and if you don't believe me, just ask Andy.  

I [we try not to say 'hate' in front of the girls, so let me just say ~] very strongly dislike it
when someone uses the word, "literally" if they do not mean it as did Webster.
As in:
THEY: "I literally died..."
ME:  "Really?  Then how can you be hereliterally making my ears hurt with your incorrect grammar??"

So, now you can know that when I say I literally had a conniption fit, you can picture -accurately- that I was alternately hysterical and panic-stricken.  See that blue rope?  It was tied around the base of the coop and to the ball hitch on the Dodge pickup, and I was in charge of moving the behemoth up the hill at a rate of 6-8 inches at a time, all the while watching it rock precariously on its unstable locomoticants.

We moved the coop a 'footprint'-length IN TWO HOURS.

Andy finally had enough of my hysterics, so he very generously consented to a switch in strategy:  skids swiped from the sweet Little's yet-to-be-reassembled swingset.

We've come a long way, baby!  Look where we are NOW compared to THEN! worked.  Rockin, but not rollin' ~

See that strong man?  He is lifting the coop into its final resting place with some sort of long iron pokey-rod.  Look at that nice flat land.  And it only took us about an hour because, with skids, we moved 6 feet at a time.

And, isn't that MUCH better?
Picture it stained the color of the house and with different-colored morning glories going up the side....
Looking like a home.  The tree in the foreground is a cherry ~ think pink blossoms and rich green leaves come summer.

And there they are.  The girls, safe inside their new home in its new location.  They're under a shelf that will (in theory, anyways) be where we'll store square hay bales, shavings and 5-gallon buckets of feed.  Above will be the nesting boxes (we're still months away from eggs) or buckets.  Andy designed the shelf to be able to hold either 5-gallon buckets we'll repurpose into nests (with 1/3 of the lid across the bottom to keep egg, straw and hen in).  It all depends which is easier to scavenge:  buckets or 2x4's....this project is decidedly not cost-efficient.

And, poof, its done.  Well, almost.  There's some caulking to block some drafts, and I want to landscape and stain the outside.  But now, the elephant has been moved and we can get to the business of raising chickens.

These girls have a lot of work to do, so I hope they are happy.  We will LITERALLY have to sell these their eggs for a dollar each order to, er, break even.

The Coop, Part 1

There comes a time in families when its just better for everyone if one or the other(s) moves out.  As we faced this milestone this weekend, and because we are not completely heartless, we made arrangements for the girls to have a secure and comfortable home.  Andy built it with the best discount lumber that Lowe's offered, including a rock-bottom-priced door and window ~ negotiated thus by our eldest.

Ah, yes, a new home for the girls, built on site from scratch about two weeks ago:
Well BUILT, Andy!

Inside - look at those studs!  And that floor!  S-O-L-I-D.  Nothing but the best for Our Girls!

Notice the location:  In the side yard of the north side of the house.  Notice that it is on a hill....this detail will be significant soon.  But, again, WELL BUILT!
And, just for perspective, here's the view toward the front yard and the front corner of the can see the slope  a little better here.

Now, you've noticed that this post is entitled, Part 1 of 2, and now I am going to explain why there is a Part 2 and why I took these particular pictures, but most importantly, I am going to share

The Worst Thing I Have Ever Done To My Husband (maybe)

After he got this building erected right where I agreed it "would work," I looked it over, cocked my head, put my chin in my palm and said,

"uh-uh.  nope."

I think he handled it well:

....who has told every lightning bolt where to go....

You see the depths of my heart /
      and you love me the same /
You are amazing, God /

Thursday, March 15, 2012

To Do List

  • put new batteries in alarm clock
  • check email/Facebook/blogs/Pinterest
  • find notebook to keep near computer
  • rearrange living room furniture
  • feed/water chickens
  • clean out chicken pen in basement
  • design compost bin
  • rearrange living room furniture with homeschool stuff all grouped together
  • finish sewing Hannah's bedspread and curtains
  • hang Abbo's curtains on her closet
  • repair Hannah's curtains where she cut them "because she just wanted something to cut"
  • sew tiebacks for Hannah's curtains
  • sew tiebacks for Abbo's curtains so she can "see all her dresses"
  • paint front hall wall (Andy)
  • buy paint (me)
  • repaint hall wall more of a leafy and less of a minty green (Andy)
  • build chicken coop (Andy)
  • move all of LR furniture that is on the left of the room to the right of the room and vice versa
  • teach school
  • make list of curriculum changes for next year
  • look up homeschool convention dates
  • feed/water chickens
  • look at chicken coop for landscaping plans
  • break the news to Andy that I don't like where the chicken coop is
  • organize kitchen cabinets/freezer/downstairs pantry
  • make grocery list
  • plan garden
  • lunch w/Carrie @ 12:15; park with kids afterwards
  • re-read Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel
  • find or buy "I'm So Sorry"/"Whoops"/"kids do the darnedest things", etc. rubber stamps or stickers
  • make card for Carrie
  • feed/water chickens
  • read Bible while kids have quiet/naptime
  • make curtains for MBR
  • look for the plug-in alarm clock
  • feed/water chickens

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More (late) snow pictures from our (late) last snow!

Here's some more snow pictures from our big snow last month ~ I realized I'd readied them but never posted!  Enjoy!

Our new home in the Blue Ridge Highlands!

Snow buddies!

Yes they are on the deck, yes they are underdressed for the weather, and yes, I approved!

Look at those red, cold legs!

"Watch me, mama!"

Sledding with friends....
We finally have a sleddable hill!!  
After living in the mountains for over 5 years, its the first time we've been able to sled downhill in our yard!

Andy, Abigail, Hannah and Kenzi....on the back yard hill...kinda hard to see in that heavy snow coming down!

And, a steep walk back up!

And now, THAT ends our "snow day" pictures!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Eleven girls and a rooster, we hope!  They were all supposed to be pullets (females), but usually there is a rooster or two in the bunch.  We'd like one for ambiance.
 Well, there they are.  A new batch of tich-tens living in our basement.  There are three Barred Rocks (the black ones with white stripes), five Rhode Island Reds and four Araucanas - the brownish black, fuzzy-headed ones.  The links go to descriptions on a hatchery website.  Instead of buying the minimum 25 birds and being faced with the prospect of slaughtering or selling the extras, we bought our birds from Holdren's Country Store over in Vinton.  We're very satisfied!

Andy built them a sturdy crate up to the 2015 IBC Building Codes, I'm sure, and they seemed to tolerate it reasonably well.
Junior chicken wrangler in front of the coop in the basement
But we have to keep feeding them, and so they keep growing, and are thus OUTgrowing their box.  So, Andy and Hannah have been working today building an official outside coop in which they will move - hopefully, sooner rather than later.

This is "Mr. Peepy," whom we hope is actually a "Miss Peepy," but she was so vocal in the first couple days, we figured she was a rooster, and thus the name.

I know mamas aren't supposed to have favorites, but, Mr. Peepy the Aracauna has won me over with her green feet.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Snow pictures

View from the front porch looking toward the road, just before sunrise.

View to the northwest, just after sunrise, off the back deck.  

Bundled up and ready to go!

View to the west just after sunrise off the deck, that's a hemlock tree draped with snow.

View off the front porch of the 'new' truck in the snow.

Sledding!  In the side yard.  Han's hands are on her hips because she wants me to play and not take pictures!

Also off the front porch looking to the side yard (facing sw)

Titmouse and junco :)

God's Gifts

As I write this post, Andy and Han are at Lowe's picking through their discards bin for chicken coop lumber.  I'm home with the little one, having cleaned up after she emptied her stomach twice - once in the car and once on me and the downstairs couch.  She's now watching an old movie musical on TBN with a trashcan beside.   The situation lends it to an opportunity to update my blog!

So many changes since the move, and I've felt God's presence throughout.  Things have not always gone as we've hoped or expected, but nonetheless, I've been blessed - by truly feeling His presence throughout everything.  One or several of us was sick for most of February, yet we still managed to make it through work, homeschooling, housekeeping and our new engagements.

The girls took swimming lessons at the far-away (20 miles?) Green Ridge Recreation Center, and I am more than satisfied with their progress.  One girl who wouldn't put her face in the water for me is actually swimming under water for significant distances, and the other quickly shot to the top of her class, demonstrating that she is, in reality, actually a water bug.  They've each "graduated" to the next level, and if we decide to re-enroll them, they'll begin again after a weeks' break.  For Abigail, her goal is to be able to swim well enough to "go down the big indoor slide"; check out their website at the link above to see what she means.

Homeschool Co-op through CHEF (Christian Home Educators of Franklin County) has been an abundantly rich experience for both me and the girls.  While I truly enjoyed the Alleghany Highlands, I often felt they isolated in terms of other homeschoolers.  True, we had a small core group (whom I miss, miss, miss, Margie!), but here we've connected with even more.  They go weekly for five week sessions ~ Hannah is studying Alaska and the Iditerod race, Royal Rangers Together, and last session she was in well-organized and presented poetry class.  Abigail is in a preschool class and a gym class.  We've gone on a couple field trips and I've been to - sadly - only one Mom's Night, but the friendships and support I've built through CHEF are priceless.

This is an example of God's timing and grace for our family.  I have a hard time making friends.  I do!  And as far as co-op, I wasn't sure if I'd want to relinqish any of my teaching time or schooling to someone else.  I wasn't sure if it fit into my overall plan for their education.  But my heart has changed at the same time the I saw how much they (especially Hannah) would benefit from it.  And its not even that socialization thing.  But it ends up being that.  And while our children are engaged in their activities, I'm making developing relationships with other moms who have many of the same interests, goals and desires for their kids - all as sisters in the body of Christ.  Its something wonderful, really.

And along the lines of making friends, God has blessed me in other ways, too.  I mentioned our neighbors, right?  I'm so thankful for ours ~ we've been out to dinner a couple times and have enjoyed ourselves together as families - laughing and yukking it up in the yard and in the snow.  I know, I know, PICTURES, right?  They'll come.

But I've also met friends out at random:  Andy sold his truck to buy a 20+ year old Dodge so he wouldn't have a payment.  Chatting with the folks who bought it, they homeschool and have kids the same ages as ours.  We've cahtted by e-mail and have promised one another 'playdates' once the weather stabilizes some.

And of course there's more ~ even at the doctor's office for a physical today, I met a nurse who - um, "coincidentally" (yeah, right)  is also raising chickens, hoping for goats soon and working toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle.  So we exchanged particulars and here I am writing about her.

God is so good!  He takes care of needs I didn't even know I had, overly and more abundantly than I could ever ask for hope for.