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!

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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.

coop 11

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”.