There’s just something about winter…

There’s something about winter.

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It’s not the cold weather. It’s not the lack of daylight. Ok… it is totally both of those things…

Winter just screams, “HIBERNATE! BE LAZY!!” … and in the interests of full disclosure – man oh man, have I listened to that voice around this house the past few months. School started in September, and it’s been a constant sprint ever since. If you’ve ever run full tilt down a hill, you know sometimes once you’re going, that coming to a stop just isn’t going to happen… that if you even try to slow down, you’re going to end up on your face – that it’s just better to run through the end and naturally slow down on the level ground…

That’s what this school year has felt like to me. It’s been a full tilt sprint downhill, but with a slight pause in the run at winter break – it feels as though we’ve leveled out and I can stop and breathe, and at least post a quick update.

Around the house – very little has gone on. It’s been so unbelievably cold and undeniably winter that we have put many of our outdoor projects on the back burner until early spring. The chickens are self-sustaining for the most part at this stage, we go outside in the morning, open the door and they do their thing. The house is still falling down around us – we have got to remodel and update the exterior soon – but I don’t know where we’re going to find the funds to do that… so until we do, it waits and we pray that it continues to stand…

The one project I’ve undertaken is me. I’ve been working on myself a bit this fall/winter – so I embarked on a bit of temple maintenance this past birthday. October 26th I turned 33. I decided that this was the last year that I am going to spend unhealthy. Period. So I started eating cleaner – a lot lower on the food chain, cut the sodas, cut the junk food – and started working out regularly. On the day after Thanksgiving – my friend and I started a juice fast. We are nearing the end of that now (I’m on day 29 of 40) and am down 45 pounds total since October 26th, but more importantly – I feel really good. Looking forward to eating again, planning for how to deal with this when we’re done with the fast – and planning on growing a lot of what we will eat fresh this coming summer as seed starting season is just around the corner. There’s always a twinge of excitement at seed start time…

The chicks are currently our only real “homesteady” project. We’re down to 3 now – I had to put one down. (which btw was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do). Something happened – and the chick got stuck to Arugula’s belly, and as Arugula freaked out and ran all over dragging the baby with her… Shannon and I couldn’t get the baby free. We actually had to cut the feathers off of Arugula to do it, and by the time we got them seperated and the baby free – the chick’s left wing was destroyed (broken in several places), bleeding, and we just knew it wasn’t good. So… we wanted the farm life… and with the farm life comes doing hard things… Like taking care of issues just like this. So I dispatched it, and then there were 3. Those three are growing like weeds, and I have a bad feeling consist of 2 roosters and a hen – We have friends who want them when they’re ready, we won’t be keeping them – but the mission was accomplished: Arugula got to be a mommy – and hopefully she’ll be free of her broodiness for a while.

We need to get lights installed in the coop – the chickens are currently not laying, (likely due to the lack of daylight) and we’re going to have to trick them into starting up again – so over break I have that on my to-do list. I’m also planning on doing some plastic hoops over the beds in the front as well as the back to allow for a better winter growing season.

I know we’ve done a pretty terrible job of updating this regularly – but I’ll try to do a bit better job of getting on here periodically – I started another blog (to document the process of the personal reboot) which will allow me to discuss topics I come across that pertain to health, spirituality, wellness, etc.. I don’t know when I plan to update it given my lack of updates on here, but a guy can dream right? The blog address is tawhare.wordpress.com

I hope this update finds you well,

Cheers,
Ben

Thanks to those who have stuck with us despite the lack of updates – we really appreciate it!

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“Arugula”–It’s What’s For Dinner. . .

So I knew it was time to lay off the “let’s eat Arugula” jokes when Thing 1 wandered into the kitchen while I was prepping a whole chicken (from the store, not one of ours) for the crockpot and gasped, “Mom!  Is that Arugula?!?”

“it’s not Arugula,” I assured him.  “She’s still parked in the nest box–NOT laying. . .But if it was Arugula for dinner, would you still eat it?”

He thought it over, then shrugged.  “Yeah, sure.”

Arugula is our consistently broody chicken.  She’s the squinty one mentioned in the “Pale Clucker” post.  She’s grouchy, pecks at the kids, and looks mangy and half-starved because she’s prepped herself for hatching eggs that don’t exist.  Thus the beginnings of a few “maybe we should just eat her” conversations.  This is supposed to be an urban homestead–where do we draw the line between “pet” and “potentially on your plate”? Granted we want our kids to realize where our food comes from, but we also don’t want to traumatize them by eating a beloved “pet”.  So I started throwing the idea out there just to see what response I might get.  Sorry Arugula.  Once the kids realized we could get another chicken to replace her, AND have chicken dinner, let’s just say they were not entirely opposed to the idea.

While we were contemplating the lot of our broody hen, we ended up spending the weekend with good friends of ours in Medford, who also keep a “few” chickens.  Hearing us complain about Arugula always trying to brood, Les brought in four fertilized eggs for us to take home for her to try to hatch.  Since we got home after dark, we tried to sneak the eggs under her while she was “asleep,” but all we managed to do was spook her back to her perch.  We brought the eggs back inside until the following day when I was able to gently roll them under her.

She spent the next 20-some days parked on those eggs, getting up only briefly to run out the house to forage and get a drink.  We started getting a little worried as the winter temps started dropping (I don’t care how much you “real winter” people laugh at us, 16 degrees F in the Willamette Valley is COLD!!).  Our coop is not heated in the least bit–it is protection from wind and rain and predators, but it will not keep their water from freezing if it gets cold enough outside.  The Girls seem to be doing just fine with it.  Arugula fluffed up in her nest box, the rest lined up on their roost.

Not that we really had much of a plan or set up in place for baby chicks, but checking on them this last weekend, we noticed Arugula behaving differently on the nest, and hadn’t got down to feed like normal.  Ben pushed her aside enough to get a good peck and hear a few little peeps.  Well, what do you know. . . Arugula’s a mommy!  Ummm. . . Now what. . .

We filled the bottom of a Rubbermaid tote with bedding shavings and pulled Arugula off the nest to find three chicks and one remaining egg.  They went in the box and not having a good way to keep everything warm, we put Arugula in there with her babies and brought the whole tote inside our unheated garage.  We did find a heat lamp to place over the top and the chicks seemed pretty happy nestled under “mama”.

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The following day I was able to get a waterer and feeder and chick food all set up in the tote and find that the fourth egg had also hatched.  It’s really neat to see the traits that made Arugula such an ornery “pet” being used in her favor as an excellent mother.  The phrase “mother hen” has all new meaning.  She completely covers her babies in her wings, she talks to them, coaxes them to water, cracks bits of food for them with her beak, then drops it for them to eat. . . Needless to say, Arugula will not be what’s for dinner any time soon.  We’re hatching new plans for her if this little experiment continues to go well 🙂