Crunchy living is a term given to hippies back in the day, and refers to healthy, purist consumption and living.
I like the term chewy, because I don't fit 100% into the crunchy ideals.
I do however, like to live with consciousness.
One of the ways I'm living consciously is by doing our best to do the three R's.
ReDuce, ReUse, ReCycle.
I've had a WORM BIN for some time now.
I also have CHICKENS.
Between the two, I am able to get rid of our food waste without a lot left over. Still, there are a few things that neither of them should have. Raw potato and peels are one. Too much citrus and onion aren't good for either... egg shells CAN be fed to chickens, but there are some who say they believe this encourages their chickens to eat their eggs and damage shells.
I've been toying with the idea of starting an outdoor compost for those things that don't fit the chicken or worms recycling system. Thing is, we live in the country now. There are rodents, raccoons, skunks and other pests to keep out, so simply having a pile out in the back wasn't really a great option. Plus, the chickens LOVE to scratch, and I knew that they would tear up a free standing pile in no time. So I checked Lowe's, and found an inexpensive bin that will help keep my compost pile IN a pile!! Still need to nail it down to the ground.
Everyone knows about using their own bags at the grocery store. I just found out that the store I shop at gives you $0.05 off of your total purchase for using your own bags! (just found out, because I ALWAYS forget to bring my bags IN with me! see? only chewy.) I shop Sherm's Thunderbird, for any of you in the Roseburg area. I wonder how many other stores do this?
One thing I saw recently, was REUSABLE PRODUCE BAGS. I found some similar ones at the Dollar Tree, in packs of four. They work GREAT so far!
Back to Composting and Recycling...
I made some compost buckets for sorting and holding food waste. I used the buckets that our Ice Cream comes in, and spray painted them.
Below the counter, I have three laundry hampers for sorting out the recyclables.
Here's the whole thing.
So far so good! I spent about an hour yesterday working on this new system, and setting up the compost bin.
So what tricks do YOU have for chewy living!?
I have a ton to share, and a ton of photos!
I'll be sharing in two posts. Here's the first!! lol
I've linked to my flickr account so that I don't overload with photos.
Macs and Josh started school.
I didn't want to embarrass Josh with photos, but I love this one of Macs.
Josh actually spent like, TWO DAYS licking on his giant jaw breaker. It was HUGE. like, three inches across!! It was really cool to see all the layers when he got to the middle. How he avoided a bloody tongue with all that licking, I'll never know.
I got my studio unpacked!! I have about three boxes of books I need to find a home for, but the main part it's done. Here it is, from left to right.
The studio sits on one end of the kitchen dining area. It's a long skinny room, and I divided the dining area into two, so I could have a studio space. The dining table is behind the wall of gym locker in this photo. I think the space is about 6X8 I think.
MORE STUDIO HERE
I've gotten all sorts of honey do things done, and I'm looking forward to being able to concentrate on art and classes etc... soon to come!!
I have a lot of things I personally like and dislike about school.
I was homeschooled as a child until 9th grade, and I loved it. I loved the freedom and enjoyed flexibility. My sister was homeschooled as well, and by the same woman (our mom) and insisted that her homeschool experience be very structured. My mom always worked very hard to meet us where we were in our needs.
This has been the approach I've taken with my boys.
I seriously put about as little pressure a parent can PUT on their kids when it comes to learning. I only ask that they give their best. If that means they bring home C grades, that's alright. IF they did their best and still just didn't "get" it. Interestingly enough, when it comes to all the boys, as little pressure as I DON'T place on them, they place the same amount ON THEM SELVES.
So when Josh was in 3rd grade, he was struggling with all the THINGS that he wasn't getting. He took it personally when HE got in trouble for talking, but he had been talking to tell the kid talking to HIM not to talk. Yeah. It was great. He need a break, and so I took him out of school for fourth grade. Near the middle of the year, his best friend moved to Kentucky. Shortly after, we moved as well. Now we live out in the country, and meeting kids and making friends isn't so easy out here...
On top of that, his birthday is coming up, and I think (even tho he hasn't said it) that he's been thinking about birthday parties, and the fact that he doesn't have anyone he can invite to one. So it's been coming up with him that he's missing friends.
So I asked him. Did he WANT to go back to school? We've been unschooling this year, and I know that he's been keeping up well with reading and writing on his own, but we had planned to work on math this summer... He said he wanted to go talk to the school about it.
So we went today, and talked to the teacher... it's a small school. All of the classes are blended with at least two grades in them. Josh's teacher will be his teacher until he leaves to go to Jr. High. After talking to his teacher, and being welcomed into the class by the kids, Josh and I talked, and I ended up leaving him at the school today... to ride the bus home.
Macs wants to take a shot at Kindergarten.
It's been a weird thing for me. Coming from the place that I do. Until I thought about it a little more... and realized that there are prices for everything. My kids have a need/want that I cannot fill. If they are willing/able to make the payment for this need, and they are happy, then they are in the place they SHOULD be. If the time comes when the price they are paying (bookwork, time from home, less creative freedom in their learning) isn't outweighed by the things they will be getting, we'll make changes.
I really like the little school. It's just about as close to a one room school as I've seen in a long time, and I think that my boys will do well there. Another reminder that smaller can be a blessing in so many ways.
Keep your finger crossed!! This is the first time the boys have ridden a bus to school. :P
Click the image above to visit the auction!!
Bidding is open, and will stay open until April 24th!! Cross your fingers for me!!
This auction will benefit the Street Children of Oaxaca.
To place your bid, register for the site, and leave a comment with your bid amount on the item you would like to win!
To register, go to THE HOME PAGE and scroll down the right hand sidebar until you see the log in box.
She's listed on Etsy, available only on line.
and if you've missed out on any doll or art piece that you wished you had seen in time, remember that I am happy to create custom orders!! All of my dolls are one of a kind, but I am happy to make similar dolls to those I've made before. GO HERE to request a custom order, and I will give you a quote. If you like what I can offer, THEN we make a deal!!
We were gone for most the day today, but we remembered when we got home after DARK to go out and get the bundle!!
The glass in our frame broke when it was stepped on while underground:
I love all the dirt and rust that happened while nature and our bundle played outdoors...
About a year or so ago, somewhere on the web (probably while blog surfing) I found out about City Chickens. I was immediately interested, but continued to think about them, and not do much about it. I called my local city hall and asked about the law regarding having chickens in the city. Ofcourse the person I talked to said they weren't legal, so I asked for a copy of the city ordinance that said they were illegal. In the end, what I read was that "farm animals, with the exception of household pets" are illegal within city limits. I'm not a judge or a lawyer, but in my opinion, Chickens, when only keeping three or four, and when housed in something like a chicken tractor, are a lot like rabbits. And when you're keeping them in your YARD, they are more like pets than not. They all have their own personalities, and will come to you for food... and if you stick with it, will let you pet them, and come running when you call for them.
So as you probably figured out, I got some. I had good neighbors who didn't mind pets, and if I had been contacted by anyone in the city about my keeping chickens, I would have stated that they were pets, the same as rabbits.
And so I started.
I started out to grow hens to get eggs from.
Then we moved to the country, and because we can have more than three chickens, I'd like to start growing my flock so that I always have young hens laying, and also for butcher. So I'm starting to add this year.
Even if you can't grow your own eggs and meat, there are a lot of reasons you might think about WHERE your chicken (and other food) comes from.
I've learned so much in the last year about this, and I'd like to share...
First, I learned that TRULY Free Range eggs have:
Know What Egg Labeling REALLY Means.
I learned that the conditions that Battery Hens (the chickens that lay the eggs you buy in the store) live in are beyond indecent. Especially if you compare their lives to the lives of farm hens.
I learned that The Way Broiler (meat) chickens are Raised commercially isn't much better.
I have learned that chickens have a language. They bond. They recognize people and things. They are smart, protective, habitual.
They deserve MORE than what industrial food industry give to them in exchange for the nourishment they provide.
Then I watched FOOD INC.
And learned even MORE about how the food we eat today is NOTHING like the food our grandparents ate. Fast Food, Technology, and Business are taking over our food, and in the interest of money and production, our nutrition been compromised. It's not only hurting it's PRODUCT, it's hurting farmers, workers... and US. HERE is more about what Food INC is all about. If you can't get it on DVD or watch in on NetFlix, you can watch it on TV April the 21st.
So what started out as three hens for eggs has changed for me... to include raising chickens for eating as well as for eggs. Because knowing your food means you appreciate it more.
I can't even begin to share all the things I've learned in this post... I hope you take a moment and check out these links. I'm not asking you to stop eating eggs or meat. I'm not asking you to start growing your own eggs and chicken.
I'm asking you to KNOW.
Know your farmer.
Know your food.
Know the terminology that tries to fool.
I'm asking you to LOOK.
Look for locally grown food.
Look at your labels.
I'm asking you to VOTE.
Vote with your purchases.
Vote with the things you DON'T purchase.
As stated in Food Inc.
Every item that is scanned at the grocery store is a vote. It's a vote for what you are willing to accept in your food. In your family's food.
It's why I choose chickens. Because I'm casting my vote.
I vote HUMANE.
I vote FREEDOM.
I vote LOVED.
I vote CARE.
I vote PERSONAL.
I vote to KNOW.
So I've been thinking.
Do I really WANT a Rooster?
Did you know that in order to get EGGS, you don't HAVE to have a Rooster?
And there are draw backs to Roosters. They can become aggressive.
I found THIS link to "speaking rooster" and helping keep your Rooster "friendly".
One of the advantages to a Rooster is that it's in their blood to protect the hens they live with. They keep watch, and sound the alarm when there is danger near. This is especially handy if you live where there are birds of prey, who enjoy a chicken snack.
So I thought about it.
I thought about taking a Rooster from the gentleman that I'll be getting my hens from this summer. Mike is his name. If you live close, and are interested, and can travel to Myrtle Point, let me know. I'll pass his email address to you. HERE is his craigslist listing. It's an AMAZING find for someone who is limited in how many hens they can have, or whether or not they can have a rooster. This is a guarantee that you'll have hens, and not have to find homes for "extras". (which isn't easy. I know.) Mike has been an amazing person to "talk" with on line, and over the phone. If you live even two hours away, he's worth it, if you need chickens already grown, but not past their productive years.
Back to the story.
I thought about getting a Rooster through Mike, so that NEXT year, I could hatch chicks using one of the hens when they went broody. Then I thought that I may rather have a Rooster that isn't related to any of my hens.
I also watched Food Inc. and learned SO MUCH about the industrialization of our food and how the food industry is under a Monopoly equal to that of Microsoft. That's when I really REALLY started to consider a rooster. Any chickens over the 4 I hoped to grow my flock with every year, I could butcher, and eat. One step closer to unplugging from industrial food. As much as I don't like the idea of having to kill my pets, I also need to know that the meat I'm eating has LIVED. (That's a whole 'nuther post)
So as with most the things I do,
I talked with my chicken gurus.
Then I went to the Post Office.
Where there was a sign.
"6 month old Dominecker Roosters. FREE"
Well. There you had it.
So I called.
The gal I talked to had 6 young roosters that were disrupting farm life because there were too many roosters and not enough hens.
Dominecker Chickens are a heritage chicken. They are one of the first breeds of chicken in America. They are much like a Plymouth Barred Rock chicken.
Because of my research about the differences between a Barred Rock and the Dominique (the true name of the nickname Dominecker) It was clear to see that the Roosters weren't Dominiques.
BUT they were young, and obviously ready to be the leader and protector that I was looking for, so I decided to take one.
Isn't he HANDSOME?
I've since decided (with help from my chicken lover friends on The Backyard Chicken) that he's probably a Black Sex Link Rooster. Mostly because he's got some beautiful red flecking in his neck and body, and iridescent GREEN feathers at the bottom of his wings and in his tail. If he were a "pure blood" (sorry. Harry Potter is part of me. :P) He would only be black and white. Barred Rock OR Dominique.
I brought him home, and changed how the Hens had access to the hen house. I closed the Rooster in the run, and shut the cat door so he couldn't get into the hen house. He'd been living sans chicken house at the farm I took him from just a mile from me, so I knew he'd be OK on the roost in the run with the protection of the roof to keep him dry at night. I gave the girls access to their house by leaving the door I use to check for eggs open. After he had been there for a couple days, I decided it was time to see how he and the girls got a long. They seemed to like him well enough through the wire, and being a Rooster with no competition, I knew he was able to settle in without much worry of hen pecking.
I also followed some of the advice I found on line and fed them together as their first experience. I'd fed them corn "together" by pouring it on both sides of the "fence" so they could eat together from day one. Then I fed them together as soon as I let the Rooster out with the girls, no fence. He was more worried about me than the girls, and they just wanted the table scraps!! lol
It wasn't much later, that he had settled in, and the girls were happily scratching about the yard with their new protector watching over.
He's settles in so beautifully, that today, just three days after I brought him HOME, and ONE day after being allowed without fences with the girls, he nearly gave his life for them.
One of the boys had let the dogs out, and forgotten to let them in. I heard the chickens making noise, and I thought our new Rooster was trying to mount one of them. Then I heard something hit the side of the house. (like one of them scrambling away and hitting the corner) and one of the dogs barked. Hmmmm. Not good. So I went out and asked the boys if they had let the dogs out, which Josh said he had, and that he had forgotten to let back in.
I said, "You'd better hurry and get them in! I think they're chasing the chickens!"
So Josh went rushing outside, and I followed behind him. Not really that worried... just thinking the dogs were following the chickens, and they weren't happy.
Until I came around the corner and saw Josh crying and yelling, "I think he's DEAD!!"
There were feathers.
There was the poor Rooster, laying on the ground. I thought he was dead too. I touched him and he was still warm. I started to pick him up, and he blinked.
He wasn't dead!?
But was he hurt? I mean, I was TOUCHING him. He wasn't letting me anywhere NEAR him when I brought him home. So I started examining.
No visible broken bones.
Just LOTS of loose feathers.
and dog slobber.
The girls were NO WHERE. No feathers, NOTHING.
I'm still not sure what happened... I think the dogs probably did their normal run at the chickens to say "hey" that they do, and the Rooster thought they were a threat, and ran to protect them.
I'm guessing that the dogs "fought" back, and pinned the Rooster down. I'm not sure what would have happened if we hadn't stopped things at the point we did.
All I do know, is that just THREE days after he came to live with us, our rooster was ready and almost DID give his life for our girls. He's won a special spot in my heart for sure.
For those of you who are dying to know... (heh heh no pun indended) In keeping with our drug named pets, our new HERO is named CHRONIC.
Last year, during Day of the Dead, I mentioned that I would be taking part in Rebecca's 2nd annual shrine auction to raise money for the children of Oaxaca! Well, the auction time is COMING!!
April 17th - April 24th
link to the auction HERE
Here is my contribution and auction piece!
"Let the Little Children Come Unto Me"
Children and Art are two of my passions. When I heard about the opportunity for artists on line to have an impact on these children, I knew I had to be part of this auction. My auction piece was created in a Day of the Dead shrine style, using one of the most notoriously recognizable figures in history, Jesus. "The sugar skull is intended to make the tradition of Dia de los Muertos sweet, sweet memories to honor loved ones and remember sweeter times." ~from Stephanie Hilvitz I created my "sugar" skull using a mold, and pressing paperclay into it. The shrine is made from a cigar box, and measures about 9X5 inches, and is about 2 inches deep.
I think I'll put them into a few posts.
Be on the lookout for :
1. Cute pictures of adorable chicks growing up.
2. New Rooster photos.
3. Why I chose chickens.
In this post:
Things I've learned about Chickens.
I've done a LOT of on line research about chickens. A LOT. Still, there's a lot to be said about learning by trial and error. It's pretty much how I do most things in my life. lol
When I started out, I used a horizontal tool shed and made alterations to it in order for it to serve as the roost area and hen house. It has a run attached to it, and it's worked really well for us.
Still, there are a few things I would change if I were making it over again. Here is the tractor as I originally built it.
FIRST: I would have saved money on the cat door. Because I enclosed my tractor run completely with chicken wire on the top and bottom as well as with hardware cloth on it's sides, I don't even end up putting the door on the house between the run and house at all. I just lock all the outside doors. Doing things differently now, I would just cut a hole, and not have finished it with the door edges. The only thing I did find closing it useful for, was to keep our new Rooster for a couple days. I closed the cat door and kept him in the run, while the girls had access to the nesting area and their roost from the front doors I usually use for accessing eggs.
SECOND: I didn't realize that for only 4 hens, (which ended up to be three) I really only needed one nesting box. On top of that, the hens never really took to the bucket nests I started with. They laid in the hay IN FRONT of them!! lol Eventually, I took out the buckets, but the hens buried their eggs scratching out new nests. So to contain their nesting, I put a super fancy laundry basket in the place they preferred to lay, and lo and behold! No more problems!! Nesting boxes really DON'T have to be much at all. Just a container that will allow the hens to snuggle down, with sides high enough to keep them from tossing eggs around.
I would make the top of my run the door. (a lid so to speak) Having a run that's only three feet tall (as most chicken TRACTOR runs are) means that unless you put a door on the TOP of your run, you have to crawl in the run to clean it, catch chickens, etc. So I would make the run with a "lid" so I could get in and out without crawling in poo. This tip is one I would suggest for both rectangular AND triangular tractors.
Do you have questions about Chickens? Have you been thinking about raising some of your own? If you ask your questions here, I'll be happy to reply to you in an email (and here in the comments) just be sure you include your email in the section allowed for that below in the comments. (your email is not shared)