Friday, January 30, 2009

Chicken Count Down: 19 days to go

In order to get chickens here (and probably in many urban areas) you have to get a small animal permit. This involves getting signatures from 80% of your neighbors within 100 feet of your property.

Jeremy and I have been tramping around the last three days and nights knocking on neighbors doors and begging for signatures. Well, it hasn't been that bad: people have been so excited to sign the permit many people interrupted us in the middle of our prepared speech saying yes of course they'd sign! One neighbor offered to come help do anything we needed. One neighbor asked if he could get eggs from us. One neighbor wanted to trade fresh goats milk or beef or whatever they could get through their connections for eggs. We also passed out a flier to everyone telling them about the chickens, the coop, and inviting everyone to an "open coop" in a few weeks to see the babies. We got the 80% we needed and are ready to send the form in.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chicken count down: 26 days!

Well, as I mentioned ages ago, Jeremy and I are planning on getting chickens this spring. We had planned on building the coop last summer but two things stopped us.
One: the root cellar which took forever to build.
Two: we couldn't pin down a site for the coop. Well, Jeremy and I had our ideas, but the family (who owns the house and whom we rent from) kind of like their back yard and decided maybe they weren't so keen on chickens.

We finally worked things out and got a site to build on. Better late than never, I suppose, even though now the ground is frozen solid and covered in a couple feet of snow.

But Jeremy is determined. After all, we've been picking up chicken paraphernalia for a couple months and Jeremy recently built a brooder in the basement to keep the baby chicks warm until they are ready to face the cold outdoors.

(heater for the water, a window for the coop, wire for the coop, feeders, lamps, etc)

(the brooder, not quite finished yet)

Jeremy has also been designing the coop for months now. I think this is going to be the best built, most fortified, best looking, most well thought-out chicken coop of all time. (Jeremy is an architect after all!)

We've been collecting supplies and planning, planning and biding our time. We had a week there of severely freezing whether (double digit negatives) and then this last week we had several days that were in the 20s and 30s.

Jeremy wanted to dig down in the dirt and place some piers that the coop will sit on. How to dig through the frozen ground though? I remembered our neighbor has a fire pit (a big metal half circle thing) that they used to thaw the ground when they needed to dig a hole last year. Jeremy went to borrow it - and discovered that it was frozen to the ground. He thought about starting a fire just to thaw the thing so we could get it out of the ground, but we decided on a different course of action in the end: boiling water.

Pouring boiling water over the frozen ground actually worked quite well and within three days Jeremy was able to dig, hack, and pick out six holes for the piers.

(The location: to the right of the garage, in the back half of the garden space.)


(thinking about digging...)


There is a lot more to do, but only the brooder has to be done before the chicks arrive. They hang out there for a month or so, so we still have time to get the coop done. But we really want to get that done soon because gardening season is approaching!

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Scraping Ice

We've been collecting ice scrapers since we moved here. We got one somewhere (probably before we started the long drive here), then I picked up a freebie at a conference. I realized that one with a brush would be nice for brushing off loose snow - and it has been great.

But three ice scrapers!? Surely no one needs that many!

This last Saturday we were out in the farmlands at a conference and we had freezing sleet or rain or something. Everything was encased in ice when we emerged from the conference. It took three of us (a friend came with us) using all three of our scrapers to get the windows free.

I took a break for a minute to get this video:

We'd better get some more scrapers in case we have more than one friend along next time!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sky Candles

Happy New Year everyone!

Jeremy & I said goodbye to the last of our family yesterday afternoon and we were quite ready to sit around watching movies or reading or napping or doing nothing in particular - but of course we had to work on some project (more on that later) and we couldn't not celebrate New Year's Eve!

Our friend Elise had invited several people to help build and launch sky candles over the lake. So we headed down with Elise and Frank with sky candle gear in hand.

(heading down the slippery stairs to the lake)

(the frozen lake, all lit up)

(heading out on the lake)

We walked over the frozen lake to the island where there was a bit less wind. We were joined by several other neighbors. Elise attached little bits of wool and cardboard (soaked in alcohol) to the big tissue paper lanterns. It took several people holding them until enough heat build up, then they were released into the sky.

The first one took off beautifully and sailed high in the air to cheers and shouts from us, and from the ice skaters nearby. We fell silent, some making wishes for the new year, as the air candle floated higher and higher and drifted away.

Then we all started to realize: it was still burning and it was going to come down eventually. Would it land on a park building? In the dry trees or brush? Would it start a fire? A few people offered to run over and catch the lantern wherever it fell. But in the end, it drifted right to the edge of lake and landed safely.

The second lantern rose up into the air, burst into flames, and came crashing down. The opening was just too small and too close to the flame.

The next two lanterns just wouldn't get up into the air. We're not sure if the wind was bad or if the lanterns were just too big. Oh well: a good time was had by all! Several folks read poetry in between launchings and we ended the old year with a lovely pyromaniac show.