Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What the Heck Has Been Going On, part 1

I thought it was hard to keep up with the blog when I went from being full-time unemployed to employed part-time! Things certainly slowed down a bit after I got that job back in 2010. But they came to a screeching halt when I got a new job, a full-time job, in September!

Yes, that is why it has been so deadly quiet around here.  I've only got a few hours at night between getting home from work and falling into bed.  It doesn't leave much time for blogging – let alone doing all the projects I'd like to do in order for me to have something to blog about!

I keep wanting to say, “I promise this year to do better,” but I'd rather not make promises I don't think I can keep. Also, I don't want to have a weight of guilt hanging over me that I haven't blogged about this or that, etc.  So, I'll carry on as usual – I'll blog when I feel like, with no excuses or apologies!  =)

And since I feel like it right now, I'll share a bit of an update about what's happened in the four or five months since my last update.

The last post was about renovating our chicken coop.  That project hasn't been finished yet, but we did enough to make this winter with the birds the best yet. In my opinion. I think in Jeremy's opinion and the chickens' too.  The space that used to be the entire original coop, with hen-house and run, is now all hen-house.  We can keep their food and water inside and use a heat lamp as needed when it gets really cold.  This renovation came none too soon as it has been very cold this winter. December and January have been stunningly cold. We had several days in a row where it didn't get above zero and the wind-chill was wicked. The coldest was -20 something with a -50 wind-chill! The chickens didn't get to go outside for days. But instead of being cooped up in a tiny space, they have a much larger area to run around in and I think it has made them much happier and healthier. Not a single sign of frostbite!

The coop gets insulation and sheathing on the inside (and there is even a ceiling now too!)

In October we decided to cull part of the flock.  We took out six Silver Leghorn hens (who were obnoxiously loud and laid tiny eggs), the rooster (who was just obnoxiously loud), and a Rhode Island Red (who had become our yard chicken – separated from the flock due to some illness, but then unable to be reunited with the flock, and also not laying eggs anymore).  This was our best culling yet.  We set a large plastic table up in the center of the garage, up on blocks so we didn't have to bend over, and hung a huge shop light directly overhead so there was plenty of light. We kept a pot of water simmering on a single electric burner for the scalding part. We put the killing stump just outside the door, right in the middle of a garden bed – so all the feathers and...  other stuff could just drop into the garden bed and not have to be cleaned up. It went quite well and we've already managed to eat a couple of the birds.

Here's the garage layout for our chicken culling day. Jeremy was at the right height, but I had to have a platform to stand on!

November and December for me were spent sewing and preparing for the Women's Art Festival and Christmas. Also, lots of baking and making Christmas cookies!  There were so many things I wanted to do during the holidays that I didn't get around to.  It made me start thinking about how things have gone the last several years.  This was my fourth Art Festival. My fourth year of scrambling to get enough stuff made for the sale, working for weeks on end, not having time to spend with friends, barely having time to make cookies and Christmas gifts, etc.  So, I decided to take a break from the Festival next year.  I want to enjoy the holiday season! I want to say yes to every invite to a friend's party without feeling guilty that I should be sewing instead. I want to make loads of cookie recipes, instead of only the two or three kinds I think I have time for. Of course this kind of thing is dangerous as it got me to thinking about other ways of taking a break. Soon enough I had decided not to the Powderhorn Art Fair, which I've also done for four years now. Then I would have lots of time to spend working in the yard and perfecting the garden, getting to projects I've wanted to complete for years! And I won't be feeling guilty that I should be inside sewing instead.

Here's the last big quilt (already gone to a good home!) - but I'm planning to make another one, even bigger, soon!

Don't get me wrong: I LOVE sewing.  I have a ton of stuff in process right now and a quilt I'm dying to make as soon as I can find the right fabrics.  But I'm more inspired and energized by wanting to sew and create, than having to. Constant deadlines can crush creativity after awhile. So it's time to take a bit of a break. I'm really looking forward to it.  At the same time, I'm not planning to quit selling things all together. I'll keep my Etsy shop open and I might do a small, non-stressful (or at least not-as-stressful) neighborhood house sale in December.

To be continued...

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