Change happens.

I can’t even begin to tell all of you how much has changed in my life over the last few months. The people I have met, the food I eat, the way my days unfold and endd, how I push myself, how much Shasta loves the country…..there has been a LOT of change.

I stopped by last weekend to check on my Layers (who used to be Littles but are now Layers) where they have been staying. Thelma and Louise look a bit small up next to some Americauna’s and Lavandar Orphingtons. Yet they are holding there own. Unfortunately Miss Diana met an undetermined demise. She was found dead one morning in the coop. These things happen. She will be missed for her regal presence among the other lovely ladies.

Thelma and Louise

 

My friend at Applegate Valley Lavender Farms https://www.facebook.com/ApplegateValleyLavenderFarm?fref=ts is the one who has been caring for my girls since late winter when I couldn’t provide for them due to my circumstances. Fortunately, plans for a coop have been chosen, the area for the run has been cleared, the wood has been delivered and building should begin this next week for our own coop here on the property where I am living. I can’t wait to wake up to gathering eggs in the morning again.

While I was at my friends farm we enjoyed a visit with the sheep who had given birth to a beautiful black lamb the week before. I also enjoyed the antics of the baby Sebastapol Geese and the three ducklings on site. And of course, there was the Lavender. Some of it is in bloom and the rest is just about ready to unfold it’s lovely fragrance and color for all the world to see.


My newest and dear friends Jess and Gil who were here for about 5 weeks. You can follow them at http://adventuringsouls.com/. I have no doubt in my mind that our friendship has just begun and we will be sharing some adventures of some type in the future. Love these two folks…they are good people.

We welcomed a new comer that was found using the site https://www.helpx.net/ . This newest helper has come to us from Seattle, WA. She has only been here a few days and I am looking forward to getting more acquainted as time goes by. It has become customary for us to take a dinner photo when we welcome someone new or say goodbye, and that is what the last photo is. Goodbyes and Welcomes all in one night!

folks coming and going

I also had my SSDI appeal consultative examination on Tuesday.  It only lasted 30 minutes and I left feeling frustrated that the MD whom I was seen by didn’t really seem interested in anything I said, but rather found delight in probing all my tender spots even after I told her where I hurt the worst. I am doing my best to remain hopeful that with the input from my NP (nurse pratitioner) as well as my counselor that maybe I will be granted my disability and not have to endure any more prodding and probing. God knows I need a break.

I am enjoying the things I am doing for the most part, although I have had to push myself to a much greater degree on a constant basis than I have in a number of years now. How the toll will be weathered over time is yet to be seen. I am trying to keep my faith, do my best and trust that God has me covered no matter what happens.

There is much more to write, but today was my first day off in quite some time and I make a cake, made jelly and dehydrated bananas and I am a bit tired. So….for now that is all. I will be trying to be more consistent in my postings again. It’s just taken me awhile to get settled and get a routine where I have a few extra moments to spare and the energy to walk to the community cabin to make a posting. The next posting will be a compilation of spring photos I’ve shot of nature and flowers and wildlife and the country. I hope you’ll check back for it.

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I need some stability and security, I need a motor home!!!

I just wanted to get well enough to go back to work. I have always worked. I’ve always earned my way. But I can’t work anymore and I am scared. And tired. And overwhelmed. I need help.

I was picking up hazelnuts with my grandpa to earn Christmas money when I was 8 and 9 years old. I was cleaning ovens or babysitting by the age of 11. Then it was to picking strawberries or beans. I got my first “real” job opening up a brand new McDonald’s right after my 16th birthday. I worked in restaurants for years as a waitress. I cleaned houses and did lawn mowing for a few years and then started up my own landscape maintenance business and was the owner/operator and took care of about 40 lawns through the summer and did whatever I could during the winter months. One year I went door to door after Christmas hauling Christmas trees to the compost yard with all three of my kids all day for 3 days in a row to make rent. I worked for the brown truck company as a pre-loader until I got injured. 28 weeks of casts/walking boots and I wasn’t able to ever go back to that job.

I then went back to school. I was a single mom and tired of not making ends meet and not being able to provide for my kids. I wanted to work in the medical field. I started working as a receptionist in a lab. Then I became a CNA. Then I became a LPN. All through this time of working I was going to school. Sometimes I was working two part time jobs in addition to school and providing for my children’s needs as a single parent. Then I took a break and I  worked as a LPN for 6 years. I finally went back in 2007 and got my degree in Nursing and became an RN in June of 2008. Life was now going to be so much better. Easier. Finally barely making ends meet was done. My kids were grown and gone from home. This was going to be my time to work on creating the life I had dreamed of. A little place in the country with some animals and a big garden and places to play with my grandson.

I had battled an addiction to gambling for 15 years and finally about 18 months after getting my degree I admitted myself to inpatient treatment for 74 days. I finally got some help for PTSD and an anxiety disorder which had never been diagnosed before, but which I’d had symptoms of for years. I also have underlying chronic depression that had not been treated for a number of years. Going for treatment for my addiction helped me finally get to some of the issues that were the real problems. Another major leaf of my life was turning over. God had shown me a way to have the life I had hoped and prayed for.

After treatment I got myself a new apartment and went back to work full-time on a busy surgical unit. My daughter and my 6 month old grandson came to live with me. I was paying a large amount each month towards my old debt and was also able to provide a home for them too. I was actually putting some money in saving every month. I had a plan to be completely debt free in approximately 28 months with hopes of being able to have a down payment on a house in another 24 months.

Then just a couple of months after returning to work I was injured. It was my back. I already had a bad back from some injuries from a motor vehicle accident in 2004 as well as a couple of patient care related injuries. I had bulging discs in my lumbar region. This time I slipped, but I didn’t fall. Yet the rotation of swinging my arms and torquing my body to stay upright caused a severe muscle strain. I was put on light duty and was getting physical therapy, but it wouldn’t get better.

The fibromyalgia kicked in about 6 months into the treatment for my back injury. I had been diagnosed with it in 1998 and had worked with it in spite of being urged at that time to go on disability at that time. In fact I had worked hard and lost 40 lbs and worked out every day and got off all the medications I had used to take for it over the course of 2 years. But this injury kicked the fibromyaglia into high gear. I kept trying to do the light duty but some days I just simply could not get out of bed. I was in pain with my back and all my fibromyalgia symptoms were worse than they had ever been. And nothing we tried was working other than making me nearly comatose with medications. To me, that isn’t living. As well, I couldn’t work that way, let alone do anything else.

During that time I also got diagnosed with bursitis in both hips. I had thought it was the fibromyalgia, but it responded well to treatment with injections. Although the back pain and fibromyalgia symptoms finally got to a point that my doctor said I could not work at all anymore. That was in Feb. 2011. Other than when I had been injured with my leg or taking time off after having babies, I had not been without working or taking care of a household with children or going to school in as long as I could remember. I always worked!!!

I filed for Short term disability and long-term disability through my employer and was denied both. I appealed and lost. I got an attorney. I had no money coming in with the paycheck stopping. I used up what savings I had within 6 months. I was homeless. Since then I have moved 3 times trying to stay off the streets. I did finally get a small settlement which amounted to about 5 months of wages. I payed a bunch of bills and kept myself going until this last summer.

I kept trying different therapies to get better. Walking, exercising, gluten-free diets and Paleo diets and Pilates Physical Therapy. Over 15 years since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia I have tried so many treatments and I kept thinking if I could just get it to a daily low ache again I could go back to work. But it didn’t get better this time like it did back when I was first diagnosed in 1998. It didn’t respond the same way as it did before.

So last winter I broke down and filed for Social Security Disability. It was killing me to admit defeat. All I had wanted to do was be a nurse and help others and finally be able to meet some of my financial goals as well.

With the stressors of lost dreams, moving,giving up so much, the strain on relationships, and the chronic pain and other symptoms associated with my various conditions I am just worn out. My doctor says it’s not likely I will be able to do work enough to be self sustaining again. She said I did my work hard and fast over the first half of my life and now I have the body of an 80-year-old. My counselor feels that I shouldn’t even consider trying to work until I am more stable mentally as my anxiety and PTSD has made even going to the market a challenge. The pain from the fibro and the back problems and the bursitis in my hips combined with the anxiety and PTSD symptoms have sent my depression spiraling out of control.

I have sold almost every thing I have and currently have been living in an abandoned hoarders house which should actually be condemned. There are mice and rats here as well as other critters living in the attic. All around the outside of the house is littered with old debris and garbage. There is raw sewage in the back yard. I came to be living here because a man I was dating said I could come help him clean this old house up that he was living in rent free to try to get on his feet after some financial difficulties. Even tho we cleaned out the main living areas in the house it is still very awful conditions. None of the plumbing works right and there are broken windows and leaking under the sinks and the drains all back up. It’s really deplorable. He has been making money, but we have decided to end our relationship. I now have to move out. I need to get out. It is very unhealthy for me here. Physically from the filth and mentally from the environment. Being here is making me more sick each day. The stress just makes everything worse.

I need some stability in my life. All I want is a little stability until I can get my disability. I have been kicked out of 4 places now from lack of money to keep staying there or from a relationship ending. This move will be my 42nd move in my life. (You can see in this post how many places I’ve moved to https://nobetz.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/moving-day/). I am only going to be 52 in May. I just don’t have it in me to keep packing and deciding what to get rid of and it makes my health so much worse.

I am almost completely out of money now. I have less than $100.00. Currently my SSDI claim is in appeals process.

I would like to buy an older used motor home so I can have a roof over my head and not get kicked out again. I just want to have my dog and cat with me and the bare minimums that I need to have a comfortable place where I can rest and take care of myself. Right now, I am really losing hope and having a hard time finding any purpose of continuing on. I have one or two days where maybe I can get to a support group or my therapy appointment and take my dog to the dog park and then the next day I’m in bed. I know a lot of the depression part is because of my situation. I am grieving giving up the idea of being able to provide for myself. I am grieving the end of so much.

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I have looked on Craigslist and I know I could get myself set up in a comfortable motor home as well as get it set up to be “off grid” so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything but getting water. I want to put solar on it and convert the toilet to a compost toilet. I have a friend who has said I can park it on their property and we will work out some sort of barter for payment to stay. As well, here in Southern Oregon it isn’t too hard to find someone who will let you park your motor home in exchange for some gardening or some type of work around their property.

I am able to do a few things on my good days. In the last 2 years I have bartered for many of my needs. I have cleaned houses (which is hard and I usually am in bed for a day or two after but I can do it on a decent day). I have cooked and baked foods for others. I even cooked for a wedding in exchange for some cash and physical therapy. I have cleaned around this hoarders house as well as I helped completely clean another hoarders property that I lived on for a year. Even tho I can’t work at a regular job I still try to do what I can to be somewhat self-supporting through my own contributions. I also would do photography and made and sold some wildlife photo greeting cards. But right now…I can’t do this by myself. I need help. I typically am only up out of bed 2 to 4 hours a day with maybe one good day every other week. I also have chronic insomnia and rarely get more than 2 or 3 hours sleep a night.

If I can get the motor home, get the conversions done to make is self sustainable, put what belongings I need and want to keep, get all the titles and taxes and insurance on it I could have a year or more to just work on getting mentally healthy again so I can try to get physically healthy again. I can have a garden where I am going to park it so I can have good healthy food out my door. I love to cook and yet with things how they’ve been I have found no joy in any of the things I used to enjoy. I’ve given up all of them. Will you please help me get my joy back? Will you help me feel safe and secure and stable so I can heal? I just wanted to work hard and make all my dreams come true, but it didn’t work that way. Can maybe one little hope be fulfilled if not a dream come true?

I decided to do this at the urging of some friends. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  It is so hard for me to ask for help. Yet,  I really don’t think with my conditions I would manage on the streets or in a shelter. As well, I would have to give up my dog who has become so attached to me after being rescued and she has helped me make it through these last few months. So, anything you give will go towards getting me and Shasta a long-term permanent roof in the form of a motor home.

For those of you who have followed my page, I unfortunately had to rehome the chickens this month because I couldn’t afford food for them. I also have not been posting on my page the last 10 days or so because I am just too overwhelmed with life.

Thank you all for any help you can give. I will be wise and frugal with what is bestowed upon me and when I finally get past this time in life and am able, I will pay it forward and help another. God bless your days and dreams.

This posting is going to be linked to my GOFUNDME campaign so I can keep from being on the streets. Thank you for reading.

Winter blues got ya down? My cure…fresh air and pets!

Dec. 6 is a snowy day.  The only thing blue is my neighbors house! I love the snow.

Dec. 6 is a snowy day. The only thing blue is my neighbors house! I love the snow.

December.  Bah-humbug. Okay, not really, but it could have been if I had allowed my attitude to venture that way.  I am not a lover of winter.  I am a sun worshiper.  When the days get shorter and the skies are more gray than blue and they have a tendency to leak tears over the lands, I get a bit of the blahs.

I decided in the early part of the month that I needed to let things that were bothering me slide off my back.  What was bothering me you ask?  Well, lots of things actually.  The biggest was not being able to spend time with my grandson for his birthday or any time over the holidays.  I also have a few issues with this house we live in.  It’s not easy living in a house of disrepair, and the thought of trying to bake and cook and decorate and bring it to holiday life was a bit daunting.  And of course, as always, there is the issue of living with chronic pain and the limitations that places on me and the various ways low energy and high pain levels have impacted my life.  No job, no money, no freedom to do all that I would want to do.   That’s just a few of the things…get the drift?

It started snowing here around the 5th of the month.  And it got cold.  Frigid cold for this part of the country.  We were in the teens and even some single digits for the first half of December.  Guess what???  My body had not felt so good since early June!  The dry cold air made my hot tight joints and tissues feel so much better.  So I started my baking.   We were nearly snowed in for a couple of days, because the combination of 6 inches of snow and then the freezing temps made the streets impassable.  There just weren’t enough plows and other equipment for the city to keep things clear.

Anyhow, we got a tree, and the decorations came out, and the baking continued and before I knew it Christmas had arrived.  My guys two youngest were with us and we had a nice, yet quiet and low-key holiday.  I let the messes roll off my back.  I didn’t look at the parts of the house that are still broken.  I ignored the untended leaves all over outdoors.  I just enjoyed my pain levels being down, being able to bake and cook and interact with friends.

And then it was the day after Christmas.  My boyfriend wanted me to travel with him to take his daughter to the airport.  It was a 10 hour round trip drive.  I don’t do riding in the car well.  I typically break up any trips I take into 2-3 hour driving segments each day!  I warned him that I could well end up in bed for a couple of days.  The weather also had taken a turn.  It was foggy and the humidity was up.

I got home and went to bed and stayed there for a little over 2 days.  And guess what?  The blues came over me with a vengeance.  Each time I would hobble out of the bedroom to get a glass of water or use the bathroom or just say hi to everyone, I noticed everything that is still needing fixing in the house.  And of course the post holiday messes, with all the extra food and new appliances taking up space and the decorations looking not quite as festive but instead a little more cluttering.  It just would hit me in waves.  Then the limitations of energy and the pain being bad really knocked those negative thoughts into full speed.   I was not liking where my thoughts were going.  Not at all.

Yesterday I got out of bed and went to my regular support group meeting.  I shared how I was concerned about my thinking and how I needed to probably get a little help with it.  I promised to make an appointment with my doctor and to talk to her about maybe doing a little counseling.  I realized, I’ve had quite a bit on my plate in the last 3 years and having a professional to talk to and give some perspective might help.  I told my group of friends to hold me accountable, because I have been here before, in a dark depression and I know how to put my smiley face on for everyone else to see, and that will get me no where in a hurry.

When I got home from my meeting, I was tending to the chickens when my little feral kitty, Muffin, came around the corner.  I decided to go grab my new camera that I had got for Christmas and do a little photo session.  The cool air felt good on my face.  It was a fairly decent day out.  I looked around at the leaves and the remnants of things that had once had life, but were now just brown decaying bits of debris in my flower boxes and decided to do a little work.  I grabbed my gloves and away I went.  I pulled up all the dead and decaying matter and threw it into the corner of the yard.  I raked up all the leaves under the apple tree and hauled them over and dumped them into the chicken run.  I figured that might help keep the mud down for a little while.  I got the shovel and tended to the doggie droppings.  When my guy came out to see what was going on, I got him to clean off the lawn chairs and put them away for the season.  I cleaned up the area where we had spent a few summer evenings having BBQ’s.  Then more photos of the animals that were out enjoying the weather with me.   I love my animals.  They always can bring a smile to my face.  And the fresh air and being outdoors…..that helps too.  Gets me connected to God.  I beat the blues for another winter day.

When I started writing this it was going to be more about just sharing photos of the animals…but then I got carried away.  I started sharing my thoughts and feelings.  I guess that helps with the blues too.  If you are having some wintertime blahs and blues, I encourage you to get outdoors and get some fresh air, pet a dog or cat, and talk to someone about it.  Sharing really is a great way to lessen the burden of blues.   I hope you enjoy the photos!  They are a variety that was taken over the course of the last month!

The year of the chickens.

A year of learning.  About chickens and eggs and what goes with them.

What came first?  For me it was chickens..but for some it's the egg!

What came first? For me it was chickens..but for some it’s the egg!

What came first, the chicken or the egg?  Well, at my house that is an easy question to answer.  The chickens came first. It was a year ago to be exact!  One year ago this week  I went and brought my first flock to live with me on the farm I lived on out in Applegate.

I caught the chicken bug the first month or so of 2012.  I had been told where I had been living that I was going to have to wait at least until spring of 2013 before my desire would come to fruition. Then, the end of the summer of 2012, I moved.  I no longer had any constraints to keep me from getting the object(S) that my heart desired.  My landlord gave me the thumbs up and I went to work cleaning out and renovating an old coop that was next to my barn apartment.

It was my first time doing any construction of any kind.  Fortunately I had a friend who came to help.  He brought his tools and his strength and his knowledge, but the ideas were all mine and I did my fair share of measuring and cutting and hammering and setting screws. Of course I had cleaned the coop out before we started renovations.  There was old straw and chicken poop all over that needed to be shucked out and scrubbed down and disinfected.  That’s right.  I learned you need to disinfect the coop when you are going to be bringing in a new flock.  So…it was sprayed down with Basic G from Shaklee and I let that dry for a couple of days before adding bedding.  I decided to do the deep litter method using straw on the bottom and pine shavings in their nesting boxes.  Every so often I would add more straw and also some shavings to the floor.  I had no smell and didn’t have to clean the coop from October to May.

I had never even held a chicken before the day I went to pick them up.  The gal I bought them from was going through some really rough times and needed to move her kids to California and couldn’t take the girls.  She was so sad about it and I did the best I could to reassure her that they were going to be loved and loved and loved.  And they were.

So, things I had learned before I even retrieved my girls was that they needed to have a place where they were safe from predators, especially at night.  They needed their coop to be dry and not have chilling drafts.  They needed food specific to their age and calling in life (mine were on Layer Pellets) and fresh drinking water.  I had read they needed to have roosts and laying boxes and ladders to get up in the boxes and special treats and lots of other things.  I quickly found out they don’t.  The will find anywhere to roost or sleep if they feel safe and the same can be said with laying eggs.  But I made sure my coop had plenty of laying baskets and they had plenty of roosting space and a locked coop for night-time.

I had decided I wanted my Layers to be free ranged.  That means that they were free to roam as far as they chose to.  Since we lived on a 13 acre piece of property they had quite a wide expanse of territory.  They mostly stayed in the 3 acres close to my barn apartment and the main house.  While letting them free range during the day does increase their risk of being struck by a predator, I felt it was a more natural and kinder life for them.  I did loose one of my hens to a hawk about three months after getting them.  RIP Grace.  I realized that was part of the deal.  Life and death.

So, the chicken came before the egg, but once the eggs started….woah Nellie did I have eggs!  It only took a few days from their relocation before I think each Layer had laid at least one egg.  They do not lay an egg EVERY day.  Each breed has an approximate number of eggs they will lay in a lifetime.  Most of them lay an egg about every 24-30 hours during their peak laying years.  So with a Bakers Dozen girls I would get about 5 dozen eggs a week when they were all in prime laying.  I have learned that their laying habits can vary based on many things.  When they molt (lose their old feathers and grow new ones which occurs once a year) they generally don’t lay.  Some chickens have a hard molt and they look pretty rough.  Miss Donna, my Golden Laced Polish hen, hardly looks any different during her molt, but she hasn’t given me any eggs during her molt.  I’ve also learned that stress will decrease egg production. Decreased light will also cause low productions.  Over the hardest part of the winter I was only getting one egg every other day per hen.  Also, this summer when we were having so much smoke from our fire season and the temperatures were soaring above 90 degrees and into the low 100’s for weeks on end, I did not have good production.  Moving them stresses them.  Adding new chickens to the flock is stressful.  Essentially I have learned that hens like things to be constant and the same and not to be upset if you want to have good output.

My girls and their eggs have brought so many new and wonderful things to my life.  I started my community Facebook page and have met so many interesting and knowledgeable people who enjoy chickens and sustainable living and healthy eating and many things I enjoy also.  I started doing this blog and the Layers and Littles, or their eggs, had a star role often.  I sold some of my eggs, which led me to meet others who sold eggs and had chickens.  And of course…with all those eggs…I did a LOT of egg cooking.  I made stuff for myself and for others.  The eggs became the basis for my Barter Basket that was my payment for my physical therapy once a week.

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About 4 months after becoming known as “that crazy chicken lady” by my friends, I bought some day old chicks.  I decided I wanted to start from scratch.  My first batch was 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes (SLW) and a Welsummer.  The following week in February I bought a pair of Speckled Sussex (SS).  My landlord bought 35 babies and let me tell you..that many babies makes a real racket and a stench if you don’t keep up on them. My five Little’s were kept up in my apartment with me until they were 5 weeks old.  I just used a clear plastic tub and had their food and water and a heat lamp hanging above it.  You have to help keep them warm, so a heat lamp is the easiest and least expensive way to do it.  From the first week of having the SS chicks I knew they were different.   From each other that is.  There was just something about them.  Low and behold, about June, the one that had a bit larger comb began to crow!  I had a pair that I could breed and I was excited to think about hatching eggs.  I had a rooster!  And what a handsome cocky boy he was.

I started introducing the Littles to my Layers when they were about 6 weeks old.  I would take them outdoors and have them in a pen where the big girls could get a look, but not get at them.  Then when they were about 12 weeks old I moved them to the coop, but kept them sequestered in an area of the coop to themselves and only let them out when I was in attendance.  I did this for about a week and then one evening after they had all been outdoors for the late afternoon, I let them all go in to find their spots at bedtime and they all just were together after that.

Then life changed and I needed to move.  To town.  I knew I couldn’t bring a rooster to town and so I relocated Pumpkin and 5 of my older Layers with someone out in the country.  I  packed up the 4 Littles and Miss Donna and Sweetie (she’s an Austrolop) and brought them to town and they joined my boyfriends motley crew of 14 hens.  We ended up rehoming 8 of his and were back down to just a dozen.  They haven’t been as happy here and our production as been down.  They have to be in an enclosed chicken yard and I don’t think they like that as much as running free.

I have learned that chickens LOVE treats.  In the winter I would give them warm oats with apples or raisins in them.  Sometimes I would add some scrambled eggs for extra protein.  Some people think you shouldn’t give chickens eggs or chicken meat.  My girls love both!  They have yet to show any signs of cannibalism, but they love having some warm scrambled eggs on a cold morning.  I also started growing and giving them sprouts when they weren’t getting out to free range.  They also like scratch, sunflower seeds and fruit and veggie scraps.  My girls get a wide variety of diet with their base being Organic Layer Pellets from the Grange.  I love using the bags to decorate their coop as well as I used them to line planter boxes this summer!

A few other things I’ve learned this year about raising chickens.  Sometimes you forget that you’ve put an egg in your pocket and it gets squashed.  Sometimes they don’t have “fluffy butts” but rather have nasty butts and need to get a good washing!  I wasn’t sure, but I found out that they will go out in the snow.  And they LOVE to take dust baths.  Those are just a few things I learned just by watching and enjoying my girls.

We inherited two new pullets a month ago.  My boyfriend’s cousin raises Blue-Laced Red Wyandottes and we are hoping when we are able to move back out to the country that we can start breeding them.  They are a beautifully marked bird and I have read about many  people who are trying to fine tune the breed so it can be added to the American Breed Standard.

Our Blue-Laced Red Wyandottes...all the way from Utah!

Our Blue-Laced Red Wyandottes…all the way from Utah!

So, while the chicken did come first for me, the eggs will be coming for quite some time.  And what does that do for me the most???  It makes me smile.  I love my chickens.  They fill so many areas of my life.  They give me food.  They are one of the things I do in my life towards being self-sufficient.  They are a wonderful conversation topic.  They have brought me new friends which has opened doors for many other new things.

My next post will explain why I need them.  You see…production is at an all time low for me.  And I’m not talking about eggs.  Check back soon and see what I mean about low production!  Thanks for reading friends.  Now go pet a chicken or eat an egg!  It will improve your day…trust me…I know it for a fact!

REnew, REuse, Recycle…the birth of a new coop for our girls!

Sweetie peeking through the fence, wondering "what's out there?".

Sweetie peeking through the fence, wondering “what’s out there?”.

I have moved into an abandoned hoarders’ house.  My boyfriend moved here first.  I will post about some of the transformation we have accomplished later.  This post is about the new home for our girls.

Prior to moving here, I had a dozen chickens.  My boyfriend had 14.  He re-homed 8 of his and I re-homed 6 of mine and so we blended an even dozen.  No roosters! We live in the city limits. I had to get rid of my beloved Pumpkin who I had raised since he was days old.

Now, try to imagine a corner city lot with an 1800 square foot home that is completely filled with stuff!!!  The house had paths from the doors to the various rooms.  Two of the three bedrooms were filled with stuff to the doorway with one of the rooms impenetrable.  The outside was similar.  There is an extra long driveway/patio that has debris completely filling it except for a parking area near the roadway.  The backyard, and side yard were full of garbage and debris.

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The makeshift coop in the back of the house under a bunch of overgrown trees and grape vines. Piles of garbage and debris on both sides! It’s only 4 feet tall.

When my guy moved here and brought his chickens he built a makeshift coop/run.  It worked.  It wasn’t easy to access for cleaning.  It was dark because it was in the over run jungle of a yard.  The girls did not seem happy.  I wasn’t happy about where they were.  I wanted a place where I could hang out with them when I wanted to.

After 3 months of working on getting the inside of the house livable, it was time to make a new spot for the girls.

We cleared out an area, shoving all the garbage and debris into a pile on the side yard.  We will get it hauled away later.  I will tell you more about debris and having things hauled away in another blog post.

Now, my guy, he can throw anything together and make it work.  So he starts piecing this 8ftx8ft square together.  He calls me out and asks me to hold a couple of boards up while he screws them in place.  I had no idea he was going to do this over Labor Day weekend until Sunday morning when he stated his intentions.  So while he is sorting through the various piles looking for pieces of lumber, I start thinking about what I want in a coop.  What do we have that can be used that we want to get out of the house?  I am always looking for ways to get rid of things that are still in here.  I remembered an entertainment center that I thought would work as a place for nesting boxes. I emptied it out (it actually had a few salvageable games like Trivia Pursuit and Monopoly in it) and cleaned it up and the guys hauled it out.

Walls were put up.  A window (I have a few from a 1902 house that I have moved with me two times now with hopes of building a greenhouse SOMEday) was installed.  A light was found and installed.  An old door was found and it too was installed so that we can actually walk into the coop to attend to the girls.  That is a real nice change from the makeshift coop I’ve been entering all stooped over because it’s only 4 feet tall.  I can go in and collect eggs fully upright!  I like that.

Time to move some more debris out of the way.  We fenced in an area for a run. This isn’t being built with the intention of it being a permanent structure. It is just for the year or so we intend on being here.  The guys didn’t bother to dig holes for posts, they just built the fence with scraps of lumber and added a little picket fence gate because I liked it and wanted an entrance to the yard for hanging with my girls.

I asked for some roosting bars, a ramp for them to access the nests at the top of the entertainment center and of course the pop door for the girls to get out of the coop and into the run.

There are plans of rigging up a pulley system for opening and closing the pop door, but we ran out of steam and time.  The weekend is over and it was time to get some dinner ready and prepare for the work week and the young man of the house has school tomorrow!  It is his senior year.  I’m sure he would have rather spent this last weekend doing something else, but he helped his dad and learned how to build something useable out of what many would have considered junk.  I am proud of them both and grateful for the wonderful new housing our chickens have.

Oh, and we also have 2 new chickens that arrive last week.  They are Blue Laced Red Wyandottes that were brought here from Utah on Monday.  My boyfriend’s cousin raises them and we hope to become Wyandotte breeders eventually.  So these cute girls (Baby Blue and Big Blue) are our beginnings!  And this mess of a house that we are making into a home is my guys’ and my beginnings.  I think we are doing pretty good so far!  We are making a home for us, for the last kid living at home who is soon to fly the coop and for our feathered kids!  It is going to be a heck of a year in what I had called “Hoarder’s Hell”, which is quickly becoming “Our Haven”.

I like feathered creatures!

Donna, my Golden Laced Polish Hen...in the nest!  Love my girls!

Donna, my Golden Laced Polish Hen…in the nest! Love my girls!

I am finding myself drawn to things that fly or things that have feathers.   It started with my chickens.  Wait a minute…back up.  It started with my first parakeet!  When I was ten years old and living at my grandparents house I must have gone through at least three or four birds before I gave up.  I remember my grandfather saying “they must have caught a cold” for each one of them when we found them dead in their cages. Evidently I chose birds with respiratory issues back then.   Anyhow…I really am drawn to being a watcher for things that have feathers.  Obviously chickens, but also ducks and geese, birds of prey and the occasional turkey here and there!  Oh, and I do like bees, butterflies  and ladybugs!  They don’t have feathers…but they fly!  🙂

It was FREE FISHING WEEKEND in Oregon!  My guy likes to fish….a lot!  I am beginning to think he maps out his work week around hitting at least one or two fishing holes on his way here or there!  So, me being the smart woman I am, I asked if he had a spare fishing pole and could we go fishing.  He being the attentive and caring man he is and always trying to make me smile said “fishing, why of course!”.

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I wonder if he realizes yet that I wasn’t really THAT interested in fishing.  It was a ruse!  I mostly wanted to spend time with him!!!  I wanted to be outdoors sharing a nice afternoon in the sun with him.  I do like to fish.  Really I do.  I have been a fishing woman since I was 5 years old and caught my first fish in Horse Creek off the McKenzie River.  Yet, while fishing for him is a MUST do at least somewhat regularly…for me it is simply one other thing I can do while being out in nature.

He took us to Reinhart Volunteer Park http://www.grantspassoregon.gov/Index.aspx?page=158 or otherwise known as the All Sports Park in Grants Pass, OR.  It is a beautiful park.  It hosts a wonderful playground for children, multiple picnic sites, the ponds and park waterways where we fished and of course the lovely Rogue River! I did enjoy being in a new environment where I could capture a few photos of some feathered creatures that were abundant with all that fresh food available.   Either the large influx of fishermen made a haul over the weekend or all the wildlife had eaten up all the fish because we didn’t have a bite except for the poor dead little fella that was attached to some hook and line left from a previous fisherperson.

Thanks honey for taking me fishing with you.  I did throw in a line.  In fact I had two in at once!  Toes have a purpose when one is fishing you know!!!

The last day of May

So much lavender growing around here and I was gifted some so I made lavender sugar!  Easy peezy!

So much lavender growing around here and I was gifted some so I made lavender sugar! Easy peezy!

This last day of May. It was a great day. Time with my chickens, time with my guy, time to socialize, and time to enjoy the gifts of friends and the wonderful life I have here in the Rogue Valley! I am blessed.

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