Ready For Winter

The chickens are ready for winter and it’s a beautiful sight. Chicken Coop Ready For Winter

They live in an old hay wagon which was converted to chicken coop that we move every few weeks all spring, summer and fall. It works beautifully. The wire floor means I don’t have to shovel out a chicken coop and the easy mobility means the chickens can roam out away from the house and gardens all summer long.

I love my chicken coop.

But in winter the chickens need a little extra warmth. So every fall, at the last possible second, we pull them up close to the house, plug in a heated water bowl and stop up that drafty underside with a ring of straw bales. Today was the last possible second.  John and I moved the bales around the edge as Clara jumped inside, out of the wind and snow, letting us know where we needed more straw.

Maybe my chicken coop doesn’t fit your definition of beauty but as I stood back, job finished, chickens ready for whatever this winter may throw at them, the sun peeked out through the clouds.  The straw shone golden in the sunshine, it’s clean smell filled the air and it was just my kind of beautiful.

If you’d like to see what the chicken coop looks like without it’s winter wrapping check out:

The Indecisive Chicken or When Chickens Fly

A Cup of Tea

If you wake up a mom, she’s going to want a cup of tea.

While her water is heating, she’ll get herself some yogurt.

But, a kid will see her yogurt and want it. So she’ll give it to them.

Feeding a kid will remind her that she needs to check on the baby ducks. So she’ll leave the dad in charge of breakfast and go outside.

Once she checks on the baby ducks, she’ll decide to do the rest of the chores.

After she does the chores, she’ll run the dogs and water the plants.

Then she’ll come inside and remember her tea. She’ll take the warm water out of the microwave and put in a tea bag.tea

While her tea steeps, she’ll clean up the kitchen.

Cleaning up the kitchen will remind her that she needs to change the laundry.

When she piles the clean laundry on her bed she’ll pass by the bathroom.

That will remind her that she needs to brush her teeth.

Brushing her teeth will remind her that she still hasn’t eaten her breakfast, so she’ll head back to the kitchen.

Her kids will be off playing so she’ll take her yogurt to the computer and check her e-mail.

Checking her e-mail will magically alert the kids to her presence and they will all come crying about the rampant social injustice within her household.

Crying kids will make her grumpy, and when she’s grumpy, (and tired) she’s going to want a cup of tea.

But when she goes in the kitchen to get it…used tea bag

… it’ll be cold.

 

This is not always how it goes. Many days John makes my tea and thrusts it in front of me somewhere in the middle of this progression – he’s a good man!

 

Perfection Pending

They Needed Storm

Yesterday the girls and I cooked a pudgy pie dinner over the fire in the orchard while I continued the after pruning clean up. Things were going swimmingly, (I was the only one who burned herself) and then the marshmallows came out and we discovered a problem.

They couldn’t find a marshmallow stick. Clara and Jane climbing tree

Let me just repeat myself. We were standing amongst 32 fruit trees that had just been pruned.  I was sorting the branches into different piles, ones that were fire wood sized and ones with everything smaller. Small and large piles of brush were everywhere.

And my children, the ones I like to think are above average on all counts, could not find an appropriate sized stick with which to roast a marshmallow.Ivy running in orchard

Their first sticks were short enough to be laughable under any circumstances. But look carefully at the photo below and you can see not only their very short sticks but also the giant pile of branches stacked right behind them.Clara and Ivy eating marshmallows

Ivy attempted to convince me to cut one of my firewood logs a bit shorter for her to use for her next stick – I refused. Though I think my cousin was right when he said I should have. Just so I could have seen her try and smash her marshmallow on the end of a three inch log.

I took pity on them and sent them to a brush pile.

They still couldn’t find a stick.Jane roasting marshmallow

It took bit more wandering in the orchard-turned-brush-maze and another hint or two from me before they came back with sticks even Jane could use.Jane eating marshmallow

It’s a good things spring is here, I think winter may have rotted the girls brains and we’ve got some learning to do.DSCN7832-(sm)

Next lesson: How to find a rock…

 

Goodnight Ladies

“Goodnight ladies.” I say as I come up, shining a quick light through the coop to be sure the rouge possum that’s been about hasn’t found it’s way in for the night. The feathery bundles hardly shift from their toe warming hunker as I close the door. But if the chickens are indifferent to my presence the ducks make up for with their blind panic at my after dark arrival. Years of the same nightly routine and not even my “Hey Ducks.” called out as a warning that it’s just me calms them. So after a quick head count, I scoot the door closed on their frantic quacking.

Evening lock up done, I call the dogs and we circle back to the house taking the long way. The dogs happily bound ahead through the snow, no doubt hunting bunnies. The cold air is sharp on my cheeks but I’m bundled up against the cold and I turn my flashlight off, enjoying the sounds of the dogs, the glow of the snow and stars and relish the fact that I’m doing “chores.”  As in, I’ve got to go out and take care of the birds. Have to haul that water. Have to make sure they have feed. Have to get the eggs.  Have to close them up, safe from predators and the nasty wind that’s building.

Have to.

Twice a day.

I have to go out in the mornings when everything is covered in last night’s blanket of snow. I have to bring the dogs along and watch them tear through the fresh powder. I have to go out through the storms, hearing nothing but wind and snow, cocooned from the rest of the world inside the weather. I have to go out on the crystal clear nights and see the stars hanging low and bright. I have to go out where I can look back at the glow of the warm house through the trees knowing that if I’m a bit chilly, the fire inside will feel extra warm when I get back.

What a “chore.”

I head back into the warm house taking one last look at the bright stars, one last breath of the air that stings my nose and wonder – as much as I love the winter weather, would I leave my warm fire without those indifferent birds awaiting my care? Would I miss all this? I’d like to think not, that when the temperature drops I’d still be out just for the adventure of it all.

But I’ll keep my birds – just in case.

Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

DSCN2846-(2sm)

I write my “to do” list, and everything else, on a window shaped mirror in our kitchen.

It works great.

The mirror has a central location, it’s easy to change and highly visible.

The down side is that sometimes when I feel as though my list of things to do is overwhelming, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror with the chores imposed over my face and see that it might be true.