Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shelldon (fka Shelly)

Since the days have been getting shorter and the weather has been rainy, I haven't had a chance to spend much quality time with the "ladies" in the backyard.  Cam does a wonderful job of tucking them in at night and making sure they are safe and sound from any backyard critters.  After 2 or 3 days of not really seeing them I made it a point to go out and sit with them until they called it a night...and that's when I realized, Shelly is a Rooster!

Since I'm not a chicken expert (YET!) I was hoping that my feeling was wrong and started referring to good old GOOGLE but was so impatient that I just called the Urban Farm Store where we got her..him.  Pete told me to look for pointed 'saddle' feathers at the base of her body near her tail so I ran out and looked and sure enough, Shelly was a Shelldon.  It explained a lot about her/his personality and also just how BEAUTIFUL (handsome!) she is!  The first thing I did was cry.  I love that little chick that EggBerta raised from 3 days old and since roosters aren't allowed within city limits we technically have to get rid of her...him.  Another reason for my tears was a bit selfish, or maybe just the farmer in me coming out ~ he's not going to lay eggs!  He's an Ameracauna and the hens lay variations of blue, pink, and green eggs or so I hear.  Eggberta was supposed to be an Ameracauna but she turned into a Wyandotte, so when she went broody I tried for the Ameracauna again :( 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Time of the Season

Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch 2012

Summer is officially over! I've always loved season changes and fall has always been my favorite. I love the change in temperature, the occasional drizzle, and of course my favorite is the beautiful colors on the trees! That being said I am definitely going to miss being out in the garden and hanging with the chicks! It's sad buying tomatoes in the store, and our egg carton is running a little empty. Baby Bird (Shelly) is almost full grown and she is gorgeous, and the shorter days and chilly weather has started Martini's first "molt". It was alarming to go in the yard afer a few days and see her featherless neck and missing tail feathers. She is supposed to be even more beautiful when her new feathers come in but right now she looks sick! Egg production stops and all of her energy is put into making new feathers so only Layla is laying currently. Eggberta never started back up since she became a mom, and Shelly has 2 more months until her first egg.
We have a couple fall crops in the works ~ brussel sprouts, peas, broccoli, lettuce, arugula, turnips, spinach but they aren't looking too promising. I actually didn't realize we had the much left until I just wrote it! The garden looks so empty compared to how it looked just a month ago. I'd say the cherry tomatoes were the biggest hit. They grew so big and produced so much! Cam's never been a tomato fan but he is now after eating them off the vine. 

Last week we planted some orange and yellow mums in the front yard, along with ornamental kale in purple and white to celebrate renewing our lease. Yup, that's right we're in PDX for another year! We love it here but who knows what's on the agenda for 2014. Hopefully our credit will be back on track so we can look into buying a home again. I'd love to live on a farm with chickens and goats and cows! Maybe even a pot-bellied pig?

Martini's first MOLT!
The bright side to the chillier weather ~ seasonal brews!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

I love Portland.

I really really do. 

Sometimes it's the little things that make me being bummed that the gas light came on in the car only to realize I can't pump my own gas anyway so it's not so bad to pull into the station and have someone do it for me!  Driving with the windows down is fun to me since it seems like I always had them up in Vegas to keep the a/c in, or was driving on a highway and it was too windy to keep them down. 
The pedestrians and bikers FRIGHTEN (I'm afraid I'm going to clip one) but I really enjoy seeing them out and about ~ they look so natural & happy.  Mount Hood's silhouette in the distance, driving over a bridge and looking out at the water and seeing more bridges in the distance; these things make me smile both inside and out.  Flowers, grass, outdoor markets, apple trees, and pear trees on the side of the rode that you can just pull up to and pick a fruit off and eat in your car - even going to the stores seems different here.  It's laid back and carefree and seems as if everyone knows each other, or would like to.  A woman checking out in front of me today was talking about her black and white dog named "Gravy".  The clerk was surprised Gravy wasn't a brown dog and was curious how the name came about. "It just seemed right" was her reply.  Tiny moments like that make me appreciate my new home. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Days full of doing nothing!

For doing "nothing" on my days off I sure manage to get a lot done!  But simple stuff, fun stuff.  Last weekend I stayed home all day but when the day was over I couldn't believe how quickly it passed by. "Where did the day go?" I wondered.  And then I realized that I really, truly enjoyed it.  Life is so amazing when you kick it down a notch and take it slow.  I let the chickens out first thing in the morning and instead of running back in the house just sat on the bench and watched them peck around, spread their wings, talk to each other.  It was nice.  Mosied on over and checked on the garden which continually amazes me no matter how many times a day/week I look at it.  Went back in the house and layed on the bed with the hubby and looked out the window and listened to the chickens and birds, and the trains passing by.  It's nice not always rushing around. 
I had cut and hung up a bunch of lavendar a couple weeks back, and since it was now dry I attempted a Lavender Oil recipe I found on Pinterest.  It was a crockpot method and it came out pretty good!  I put some in Epsom Salt for lavender scented bath salt, made some soap balls with dried lavender buds in them, and also made a "Calming Room Spray" for my friend Cami who just had a baby.  For the new mom I made a "Mud Scrub" of coffee grinds, turbinado sugar and a touch of oil.  I made a card from a brown paper bag, cut with pinking shears and decorated it with stickers and stamps.  It was a really cute gift and I wish I would've taken a picture of it.  I enjoy filling the days with simple projects and homemade items.  Today I'm canning tomatoes and making more soaps.  Last week we made our own cucumber and they came out delicious! I like full days of doing nothing :-)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

EggBerta is a Momma Hen!

She's a stressed out I would be!  She's a worry wart!
I couldn't resist, I had to make our broody Wyandotte a mom!  I'd toyed with the idea of getting a half dozen fertilized eggs and putting them under her to hatch, but we're not quite ready for that yet!  We only have room for 1 more full grown hen, and I wouldn't know what to do with the extra chickies...and what if one hatched a rooster?!  One of these days we'll have a house with a big yard and coop and for sure a handsome rooster, but currently we're only allowed 3 hens. The only other option was to get a 3 day old chick from the Urban Farm Store and pull the ole' switch-er-oo!  When we originally got EggBerta she was supposed to be an Americauna so we thought it fitting for her to mother one :)   I did some research and called the Farm Store and the babies were arriving on Friday.  The only problem was that I work until 7pm and the store closes at 6pm, so I put the idea out of my mind and figured we'd just wait until her next period of broodiness ~ it just wasn't meant to be. As luck would have it, right before I went to lunch that very same Friday my supervisor asked me to leave 2 hours early to make up for OT.  It didn't even hit me until the ride home at 5 that we could make it to the store! It was a sign! I called Cam and told him I'd be pulling up shortly and to meet me out front, and off we were to get Shelly!  There were a lot of different breeds at the store but we only looked at the "Easter Eggers" and picked out the newest member of our flock, headed home, and waited just a little bit before we made the move. 

Oddly enough when we went in the yard EggBerta was out and about and I feared that her broody period was over. The chick was cheepin' away and when EggBerta finally went back on her nesting box we got the chick and placed it under her!  Shelly took to her new mom right away but EggBerta wasn't sure what to do!  She was pecking the chick to keep it underneath her and kind of started to purr, or coo.  It was cute.  We stayed outside until dark to make sure everyone was well behaved, and I was up at the crack of dawn next morning anxious to see how the night went.
We weren't too sly about it!

It's fun to watch EggBerta come down the ramp and that little ball of fluff peepin' and cheepin' to keep up!  During the day mom and baby have been staying in the chicken run with their own food and water, but on my lunch break and when I'm home in the am and pm they graze around the yard under our supervision.  Right now I'm gazing out the kitchen window watching them in amazement. Shelly will be able to fend for herself and be on her own in 6 week.  I hope EggBerta looks after her until then!

Shelly grazing on
her own.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Plum Tree Time

made these into Plum Jam
One of my favorite things to do when I come home from work is to go outside and sit under the plum tree.  EggBerta is still broody so I say hello to the hubby and dogs and go right out to the coop and get her off her imaginary eggs.  I usually throw her in the air and she flaps her wings and gently lands on the grass.  Then I pick a couple of plums from the tree and sit on the wooden bench beneath it ~ and we eat.  Two bites for me, the rest for the hens.  One bite for me, the rest for the hens.  The dogs come around and try to see what they're missing out on, but then realize that it's just fruit and opt to clean up the chickens droppings...mmm tasty :-/  The husband usually joins us and picks a fruit off the tree, takes a bite and tosses it to the birds, which are right at his feet!  I like when EggBerta's out and I really want to make her a mom (but I'll save that for another post!).  Then we head over to the garden and just point things out to each other: 
"Look how big that tomato got"  "Did you see the little peppers on here?"  "I can't believe how tall the corn got!" "Look at all those beans!" "I think the head of red cabbage is ready"
Runner Beans we grew from seed.
 And it happens every day.  My husband just got back from a 5 day business trip and it was so fun to see his reaction to things!  Made plum tree time even more fun!  And he's so creative in the kitchen. Tonights dinner was a 5 course meal!  Carrot and Radish tops, Cheese Plate, Sauteed Beans, and amazing salad with lettuce and carrots, onion, red cabbage, radishes and beans from the garden, and a brownie for dessert. We're off tomorrow so who knows, Plum Tree time could be all day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Plant it and it will grow!

I love being in the garden.  It's just so peaceful.  Having recently moved from the desert and originally being from New York I am just so amazed by it!  It's hard to believe that just 4 months ago we had a 12x6 raised bed of dirt and now pretty much every day we can go out and get something to eat from it!  The tiny little seeds that I planted in the dirt have become towering bean stalks, and broccoli, and radishes and lettuce.  The little 1ft tall corn starts and pea starts that I bought at the Farmers Market have turned into 6 foot tall plants with beautiful veggies on them.  The corn isn't quite there yet but it's getting ready to flower.  We have at least 6 different types of tomatoes that are all starting to come in, as well as different varieties of peppers. 
On a walk to the park a few weeks ago we found a couple of seedlings sitting out by the community garden.  I wasn't sure where we were going to fit them but I couldn't just leave them there!  We thought for sure that they were tomatoes so put one in the topsey turvey and bought a couple of containers for the other guys.  When we checked on them yesterday they are doing SO WELL!  We think one of them might not be a tomatoe though..looks like more of a cucumber or something in the melon family (maybe a pumpkin)!  I love that we don't know what it is right now and can't wait to find out!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th...again!

Funny that there are two "Friday the 13ths" this year...and it's only July!  Lots has changed since last 13th of Friday..well I guess not "lots" but I sit here writing with a broken foot and a new job!  I now work as an Animal Care Technicial at the Oregon Humane Society.  I started on the 2nd and am loving it so far!  I work in the Cattery and have learned how to give medication and vaccinations to kitties as well as draw blood, microchip, and just making sure they are healthy and adoptable.  Unfortunately the day before my first day I broke my FOOT! I have a spiral fracture on the 5th metatarsal of my left foot.  I guess it doesn't help that we went to Vegas for 4 days and I was hobbling all over the place.  Right now I'm on strict doctors orders not to bear any weight at all on the foot for 6 weeks ~ she wanted me not to work at all but I can't stay away from the Humane Society!  Luckily they are working with me and can accomodate my injury.  If I were still in the service industry I'd be in big trouble.  Cam and the pups have been doing an amazing job of keeping me company and taking care of me :)  Here's to a speedy recovery!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I think my birds gone crazy!

UH-Oh!  I've heard of it but thought it was just a myth!  EggBerta's maternal instints have kicked in and she is determined to sit on her (imaginary) eggs and hatch them into babies!  I've tried explaining to her that we don't have a rooster so none of they eggs are fertilized...I've even removed the eggs from the nest but she still sits in her roosting box all by her loneseome ~ and she is ANGRY!  We noticed that she was missing a lot one day (longer than it takes for her to lay an egg) and when we went to the box she squawked at us!  She sounded like a dinosaur so we were calling her the Jurassic Park chicken.  She's stopped laying altogether because in her mind she already has her "clutch" and she's even slowed the others production because they are afraid to go lay next to her!  It's very tempting to buy her some fertilized eggs and let her carry out her motherly roll...stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Eggs. So amazing and fun!

Layla has been producing a lot of double yolkers.  It's fun to see how big they are in comparison to the regular ones.  Since they just started laying recently their eggs are on the smallish side and they'll reach a normal size in a few more weeks.  But the double yolkers that LayLa has been laying are about the size of the ones you find in the store, only we don't have any of them on steroids ;-)

Heeeerrreee Chickie Chickie!!

The ladies are laying pretty consistently now ~ we get at least 2 eggs a day and most days 3.  But they are getting smart those little ladies, especially Martini!  I realized that she wasn't producing recently and had read somewhere that some hens may find different spots to lay because they want to protect their eggs (and wisen up to the fact that every day they lay an egg and it goes missing!  She was acting extra funny one afternoon and was pecking at the sliding glass door to go in the house while we were out in the garden.  She was so persistent that we finally let her in and she layed an egg behind the curtain! So I wasn't surprised to find that there weren't eggs in the nesting box over the next few days.  I went in the yard one day while she was "missing" and took a broom stick and was going through the bushes to see if I could find her...and wouldn't you know she came out from UNDER THE DECK with a broken eggshell in her mouth!!  Then I looked under the deck and saw that she had laid 3 other eggs under there!  I took the broom handle and nudged them out so Cam and I are going to have to work on getting under the deck blocked off.  For the next couple days I made sure to just keep her in the closed run until she was done laying the egg, this way she had no place else to go. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

First Half Marathon! 4/29/12

I did it.  I ran my 1st Half less than 2 hours!  Boy oh boy what a feeling.  As soon as I crossed the finish line I thought "I'm never doing that again!" but later on that day I started having the "post half marathon blues" so will be doing another one for sure!  It's one of those things that you prepare for for so long and then when it's over you feel kind of down.  Good thing I have Rebekka and Lauren though because they keep me motivated!  We actually ran a 5K Fun Run this morning at Columbia Park.  It was Elia's first participation in a run (with Bekka pushing him in his stroller of course) and he even got a ribbon :)
Anyway back to the Half Marathon!  It was in Eugene, OR so Saturday afternoon we all drove down and checked into our hotels and picked up race packets and bibs at the Expo Center.  We went to dinner at a Sushi place and had a couple of beers and lots of yummy food.  Eugene is the home of the Ninkasi brewery and I swear the beer tasted even MORE delicious there!  Lauren went to college in Eugene so is pretty familiar with the area, and after dinner she took us to Max's Tavern in Springfield which is supposed to be what Mo's Tavern on the Simpsons was created after!  No minors were allowed so Rebekka and Damien switched off watching Elias in the parking lot while we all had a quick beer in "Mo's"  Afterwards we headed back to the hotel (Cam and I booked our hotel too late so it was a DUMP!  Rebekka and Damien luckily had a suite and me and Cam slept on the pull out sofa) and "the guys" minus Elias went out for some evening brews while the girls all got some rest. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

We have an EGG!

The circle of life!
Can you guess who laid it?!  The gals are a week shy of 5 months so we weren't really egg-specting any so soon!  I went out to feed the girls some cherry tomatoes and couldn't find my Tweety Martini!  She's the Speckled Sussex and is ALWAYS the first to greet me...and here I was feeding Layla and EggBerta and she was nowhere to be found.  I panicked.  I called in the house to Cameron and told him I couldn't find her.  I asked my neighbor who was in her backyard if she had seen her (her response was that she had and she tasted really good...which wasn't very comforting!) and Cam calmly walked over to the coop, opened the door to the nesting box, and lo and behold! 
Thatta Girl!! You did it!!
There was Martini crouched in her nesting box :)

What an amazingingly great day :)   We celebrated, gave Tweety Martini some milk and chicken scratch, and went in and tested it out!  They yolk was so orange!  I'd heard that it would be since they are allowed free range and can eat bugs and worms, but still it was a nice treat :)
Carton Egg on Left ~ Backyard Egg on Right

The Proudest Hen :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Friday the 13th!!

Had a pretty crappy start to this 13th...I failed my written Oregon drivers license test....DOH!  But nothing a little 5 mile run can't cure, and a deep clean to the house ~ and of course my Hens, Husband and Dogs. 

They will make mostly anything better :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

I love the crazy Portland weather.
 I'm training for a half marathon in Eugene at the end of this month on the 29th.  Went out for a little 5 mile run today and on the way back got nailed with hail and completely drenched with rain ~ while the sun was shining?!  Having recently moved from the desert this totally amazes me and I love it.  I've always been one to enjoy the cloudy rainy days.  That being said I was a litte bummed that it happened while I was 2 miles away from my house lol and then I saw this!  I must've taken 15 pictures of it.  I was cold and wet and tired but I forgot about it all.  What a beautiful city I live in...can't wait to see what Spring has in store!! 
 "Some people feel the rain.  Others just get wet."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Smarty Chicks!

I can't belive how smart my lovely ladies are!  They may be food motivated but they sure do have little personalities.  Sometimes I think it's not only the food that motivates, but the human company :)  Especially my Speckled Sussex named Martini.  She will do anything to be by my side.  LayLa and EggBerta follow me around as well, but they get sidetracked by works and non human things sometimes.  Today all 3 ladies were in their coop but kept sticking their beaks out for the food that they had availably\e all day (since 7am).  I'm pretty sure they just wanted me to hang for a bit so I did :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Time Management!

I want to publish to my blog more frequently but never feel like I have enough time.  I've been unemployed for 6 months and don't have any kids...but I still don't have enough!  I don't necessarily want more in a day (well okay of course I do :) )  but I feel like i'm not sure if I want to live the day or come in here and write about it!  I mean do I come inside from sitting in the backyard with my husband and the dogs and beautiful chickens while I'm watchin the garden to come in and write about how relaxing and rewarding it is?  But if I don't, then how I am supposed to remember all of the joy that it brings when I start losing my marbles :)
Questions questions.  SO how is it that I am writing now?  The chicks are not yet in the coop because the sun hasn't set, the dogs are on the bed, and Cam is in the living room.  I used the bathroom and decided to pop in really quick because although I may be missing a minute or 2 I think it's special to pop in and write about our simpleton lives (at the moment).  We built a cage (took about 2 hours but it FLEW pun intended) to keep the chicks out of our newly planted garden (carrots, beets, red onions, green onions, and radishes), learned how to "blow out" the Duck and Goose Eggs that we bought at the Portland Farmers Market yesterday (we're about to make a spinach goose egg casserole for dinner!) and had some brews while enjoying the sun and wind on our deck little porch...  Really looking forward to the spring when everything is in bloom. 

Shamrock Run ~ My First 15K

I've always wanted to run a marathon or participate in a race but never quite got past the "wanting to" stage.  Luckily for me my best friend Rebekka has been training for a half marathon, so upon moving to Portland I had a built in training buddy :)  Bekka has a full time job and the cutest little 1 1/2 year old son and I admire her devotion to running!  She doesn't have much spare time but always manages to fit in a run - which makes me feel like I can't make any excuses because at the moment I'm unemployed and don't have a little kiddo on my hands!
Running is great.  Like they say, Getting out the door is the hardest part!  Once you're out there all that matters is the run and everything else fades into the background.  I love monitoring my progress and seeing how I've improved each day and week! 
Last Sunday was my first official race - The Shamrock Run!  I signed up for the 15K which is 9.3 miles and from what I'd been hearing it was a pretty aggressive route for my first run.  It began at Waterfront Park and went up through the middle of downtown, near the hospital, and back along the waterfront.  I was nervous for my first race so didn't want anyone at the finish line besides my husband Cameron (and at the time I wasn't even sure if I wanted him there with his big ole' camera!) but next time I'm definitely ready for a big cheering section!  The weather was Portland, so gray and rainy, but before I knew it I was past all of the hills at the 6 mile marker!  I had no idea - it flew by!  I must say that the last 3 miles down were definitely the toughest especially because I had sprained my ankle at the Humane Society a few days prior.  I finished better than I had expected at 1:28:30!  What an accomplishment!  Afterwards a bunch of up met for brunch at Besaws on NW 23rd and it was delicious.  Rebekka and Damien were there with Elias, Lauren (who has been training with Bekka since before I moved here) and her husband Dusty, and Cathy and her daughter Sopia. 
Although I'm still limping I've already signed up to achieve my next goal - the Half Marathon in Eugene on April 29th!  Me, Rebekka, and Lauren are all going to run with our husbands cheering us on on the sidelines. 
Wish me Luck!

We have a Speckled Sussex!

I'm new to Portland and everything that comes along with it...and I'm in LOVE!

Less than a month after we moved in November I got baby chicks, and being that I'm new to chicken keeping I read up and learned as much as I could! I went to the store with 3 birds in mind...a Plymouth Rock, and Americauna, and a Silver Laced Wyandotte. The gal who worked at the store steered me away from the Rhode Island (not sure why I hear they are great birds) and talked me into getting a Barred Plymouth Rock who we named "Lay-la". They had Wyandottes but only Blue Laced Red and we named her "Tweety Martini", and the Americauna we named "Egg-berta" (since my maiden name is Egbert!). The were all so cute such little balls of fluff! I loved so much watching them grow!

A few weeks ago though I was looking at Egg-Berta and she just wasn't turning into what I thought she would look like but she is SO PRETTY! And Martini was confusing me because Wyandottes are supposed to have such a pretty pattern and hers wasn't coming in. I had also read in a few places that people who own Wyandottes consider them great layers and pretty to look at but not very social with humans and Martini is the exact opposite of that! She runs right up to me when she hears my voice and is the only one of the three that will tolerate me picking her up! I went back to the store and showed them pictures and Egg-Berta is the Blue-Laced Red Wyandotte and Martini is..yup, a Speckled Sussex! I was a little disapointed at first because without the Americauna we won't be getting pink, blue, or green eggs - but the description of the SS fit Martini to a T!  So now I call them my "imposter" chickens.  Out of the 3 breeds I wanted I only ended up with one, but I love all my ladies!