Monday, August 15, 2011


I am moving sorry for the lack of updates.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


After several months of waiting I am getting 2-3 eggs a day right now and I should get more soon. They are tiny except there at this point I am guessing the first layer is laying a medium sized egg. I am really excited because my hubby broke the first two that were in a nice shell and we have two in the fridge. I plan to eat eggs for lunch today. There was a chicken in the nesting box when I went out this morning so I should have at least one more egg I am hoping for two more so the hubby and I can each have two eggs. I am thinking I will either scramble mine or make an omelet. I am really happy now it seems worth all the trouble. 

Well even if it was not worth all the trouble it has been fun to watch friends and family bring their children over to play with the chickens. For whatever reason most of the girls seem to love them but the boys are a bit scared of them. I really need to get some pictures guess I should charge the camera up and get cracking on taking pics.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer is Flying By!

Well my life is crazy again. I have a Premiere Jewelry party next week and I will be talking about my Herbalife products as well. I have so much that needs to be done before people can come over. I also have a garden that is growing like crazy and I work on a farm one day a week. I also have grant research to do for a domestic violence group as well as studying to do. Then there is the trying to get back in shape and go back to church thing. I have to get priorities straight and set a schedule.

Right now the most important things are my Health and my Faith. I found an easy daily devotional to start with, it is quick and I can do it every morning by the date. I can start small and keep a prayer journal as well. Then I am done saying yes to anything that gets in the way of me getting at least 6 days of working out in. Well at least until I hit a healthy BMI. Weight wise that is 132 only ten more pounds to go then I can let up a little if I need to.

Oh I forgot I also have a dog, a husband and six chickens to take care of and lucky for me with my hubby laid off it is not as much work as it was when he was working. My hubby takes pretty good care of the chickens and he can at least feed himself and he walks the dog a ton. That means I only have to feed the dog 2x a day and let the chickens out in the morning. We still have one escape artist chicken and if that keeps up we will be to 5 chickens.

So right now this week I will be spending the next few days working hard to get this house in order and make a bunch of ice cream for the party next week. I can not believe how bad I have let parts of this house get. Not so much dirty but all cluttered up and out of order. I also have to work on my presentation for the Herbalife products and I am also looking at selling Avon since I already know people who would buy from me. I really need to work on a business plan with my hubby off I some one needs to make extra money and if we don't want it to affect my hubby's unemployment it has to be me. He is looking for a job but one that pays more than unemployment.

I am really sorry the updates here have been few and far between but I just have a lot going on. I am going to have to rethink everything I am doing and figure out what needs to go. That includes excess computer time and right now blogging is not a priority. Unless I find a job soon things should slow down a bit the 2nd week of August.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rethinking My Farming Goals

I like going to the farm to work but it is taking a lot of my time. Right now I am going two days a week and that is at least 3 hours of travel time a week. I have also started my own business and volunteered for an agency researching grants. Then there is my house and my yard and the giant garden at my moms and the porch garden. Not to mention my weight loss program and the thoughts of taking some more classes to become a well rounded wellness consultant.

I am starting to think I won't be able to do it all and right now I really need to focus on selling some of my products. It has been over two months since my hubby was laid off and he has no job leads yet. If I can sell enough to take the courses I want to take I can get a good business going and then I can relax a little. My goal is to become a personal trainer but I really have to get myself fit first.

I still want 4 or 5 acres and plenty of chickens and maybe some other animals. I do know that I don't want something large scale. I want a very large garden but not acres of food growing. I want to grow enough food for myself and some friends and family. It is a ton of work and I don't know how the Schooners do it. I would like to get a great portion of my fruits and veggies from my own garden but I am also good with finding other farmers for thing I would like such as raw milk and grass feed beef. Who knows maybe if I have a few extra chickens I can trade for something eventually.

The only thing I am really concerned about at this time is that my hubby and I find a way to make some money before we really strain our savings. If that means I need to focus more time on learning how to sell I am just going to have to do that. I need to do something to generate income as unemployment will not last forever.

If you want to help out by purchasing products here is my website. They offer a lot of products but I am using the weight loss products and I have lost 5.5 pounds in 7 days.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dog, Chickens, Farming and a Shameless Plug

Asuka the Best Dog Ever

After a bit of training our German Shepherd, Asuka, is able to be out with the chickens at any time. Now we don't leave her out long unsupervised but we can let her out to go to the bathroom and come right back. She doesn't even chase the chickens much anymore. She will go find them for me if I don't see them right away but she just casually moves them along.

I love my dog she is doing so well with very minimal training. Plus she is just a great dog and I am so glad to have her.

Stripe the Dominant Chicken

Now we have one chicken we call Stripe because when she was a baby she had a stripe on her back. Now has the most unusual coloring of the bunch and she is also the boss of the chickens. It seems to be the way in the chicken world but Stripe has a strange tendency to challenge the dog. My dog takes it rather well and just barks at the chicken but I wonder what is going through that chickens mind when it stares down another animal at least 10 times larger for a marshmallow or nut. It is really funny to see now that my dog just brushes her off.
Stripe and White Birds

Asuka Guarding Her Chickens
Then There is Farming....

Well working at the farm is great most days. I don't like working in the rain at all. I am finding that I can deal with the heat a lot better than I can the cold. I don't like it when it is raining but I can tolerate rain if it is warm but not if it is cold. I wimped out on the day I brought my hubby with me last week. It was very cold and wet and I stayed like an hour. I was in a very wet sweatshirt and jeans and I just couldn't get warm.

Other than the crappy days I have learned a lot out there. I have also been able to try some veggies I have never tried before. I have to say kohlrabi is now one of my favorite veggies now and I had never even heard of it before. I am still going out two days a week but somehow I have become extremely busy.

Business and Other Stuff

Well I am starting to sell Herbalife products now. They have a line of weight management products that I wanted to try. In just a little over a week I have lost 3 pounds and I feel great. I am full of energy which makes it easier to work out. I have a website if you would like to order any products. You can contact me at if you have any questions or visit My Herbalife Store.

Other than that I have been fighting with some companies that have ripped me off and worrying about fixing the duplex we own that was broken into and the copper pipes cut out of the basement. I suppose I should be grateful that I am getting some of my money back from the con-artists and that the thief's turned the water off but it just comes at a bad time. It is driving me crazy that I have to sink time and energy into these people when I really want to get my sales business off the ground so I can work to buy that farm of my dreams.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sexy for Life, Fitness to Finances: My Crazy Life

Sexy for Life, Fitness to Finances: My Crazy Life: "This is just going to be a bit of rambling because I have had an almost unbearable week. I have had some victories but it is hard to focus o..."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Great Chicken Escape

We went to my moms on Sunday and came home to just two brown chickens in the yard. One white chicken was two yards away and the other 3 were just one yard away in the opposite direction.

The lone chicken has gotten out once before it realized it could fly over the fence. The problem is when it gets out it freaks out. She gets loud and draws attention to herself but won't let us catch her. So they spent yesterday in their coop because I had to go to work on the farm. This morning my hubby and I clipped their wings.

I though it would be hard but they once we got a hold of each of them they would calm down after a few seconds. It was easy and it didn't hurt them. Hopefully we won't have anymore chickens running around the neighborhood. I am told once they reach full size they won't have an easy time getting over the fence but for now they will be grounded. I really don't want to loose my chickens to dogs who have not been trained to allow chickens in there yard. It took our dog quite some time to get used to them so I would only have myself to blame if they got eaten by a dog.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

All About the Chicken Coop

Me and Asuka staining the chicken coop

Chicken coop with entry door open there is a drop down ladder so they can get to the bottom area
Chicken house built by Grandpa Sheldrick and stained by me 

I am sorry the pictures have taken this long to post. I have had a great couple of weeks aside from the sickness that just won't leave me. The chickens are growing at astronomical rates and they are doing great outside of their coop during the day. Around 8 or 9 at night they usually go into the coop on their own and all I need to do is close it so no predators can get in.

Now that it is warm we leave the drop down ladder down most of the time just in case I don't get up at 6 to let them out. The chickens can go to the bottom to soak up the sunlight if I am late and I don't have to feel guilty about sleeping in on days when I am super tired.

The coop also has a nesting box on the side you can not see and I keep the bedding in there very fluffy because they all gather up together in there at night. They won't lay eggs for quite some time but it looks like I will have to go on egg hunts once they do. They just love being out in the yard so I am not going to leave them in the coop when I don't have too.

For the next post I have a bunch of pictures of my dog with the chickens. She is shaping up to be a good at herding and protecting the chickens now that they don't looks so much like squeak toys.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Update Soon I Promise

Love this old picture of Asuka on the porch soaking up the sun.
I took a lot of pictures yesterday of the chickens, their coop and the dog. We had fun outside and I hope to get some pictures of the plants on the porch and the garden at my moms soon. I have a few posts planned but have not been organized enough to work on them.

I still have a bit of a cough but I have been going to the farm regularly and spending my off days working around here and reading when I feel really bad. I finished two books and have some reviews to work on for my Dark Novels blog. So I suppose being sick for nearly two weeks was not completely unproductive.

Well I must go and finish getting ready to go to the farm today. I found someone to car pool with at least some of the time. I should be able to save about 20 dollars a month in gas this way. Now I just have to clean out my cars so when it is my turn to drive they don't freak out about all the dog hair.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Small Farm Research Off to a Good Start

I have been working my way through quite a few books about farming and eating locally and well anything that brings me closer to the food I eat. With my attentions span I have managed to start about eight books and finish none, not to mention the list of books I want to buy but can't justify the purchase until I finish the ones I have. There is just so much to learn and I just can't seem to focus on one book at a time.

I am learning a lot about farming from working on one too.  I need to finish You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise,The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food RightsMini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 AcreIn Defense of Food: An Eater's ManifestoThe Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, and A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold | Summary & Study Guide. That is just the books about food I also have quite a few books about writing and tons of fiction books to read. Once I finish the books relevant to this blog I will post reviews here.

I can't shake this cold or sinus thing that I have. I feel better and then I go work on the farm for a day and I feel like crap again. If it is not gone by Tuesday I am going to the doctor but I am not all that confident in doctors these days. They just want to give you a pill to make things better and then another pill for the side effects from the first pill and so on and so forth until you don't remember what you went to the doctor for in the first place.

Right now it is in my chest for the most part so I have switched from taking Sudafed to Mucinex and I am hoping that will help. I have today to take it easy then I am back to work on Monday. I would really prefer to find some sort of natural remedy for this but I also want to get back to feeling like a human again.

When I felt good I loved going to the farm and now I still love it for the first hour or two then I start dragging because I don't feel good. It is the same way at home with chores and chickens and the garden at my moms house. All the things I enjoy are being affected by the sickness that has claimed my body for more than a week now.

If you are the praying type please pray for me to get better! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Backyard Chickens and Farm and Garden Work

Veggie Garden In

My last week has been crazy. I am working Mondays and Fridays at the farm and it has been fun except that I have been sick. My sinuses are killing me. Despite that I have only missed one day (yesterday) and I plan on making it up today.

We went to my mom's house Monday and got the fencing up and carrots, radishes and three types of onions planted. Then on Saturday we planted a ton of different peppers and tomatoes and garlic, beans, spinach, brussel sprouts, cucumbers and zucchini. I might be missing a few things but it is really a huge garden. I am so excited that we got it planted with all the rain we have had it was rough finding the time in between rain showers to get things done.

My hubby also planted a few things here. I have a rose bush that nearly died on the side of the house that I used to plant flowers around. Since it probably won't fully recover this year he planted two pablano peppers and a roma tomato plant out there. I have another roma tomato on the porch and as well as a bunch of salad greens.

I am really bad at taking pictures but I must get some for you soon. I will have to charge the camera and take it out next time I go to my moms and take some pictures of all the things I have been missing.

Chicken Update
They are growing up so fast. I am amazed at how big they are. I think they are just over 6 weeks but I lost count. They can't get through the holes in the fence but a few of them can slip through the gaps where the gates open. They are out a lot these days as long as we are home to check on them every half an hour or so.

The best news is the dog has stopped bothering them as long as we go out with her. Well that is my guess anyway we don't leave her outside alone with the chickens. She wants to chase them when they start to fly but she has been very good at listening when we call her. It makes me happy that my chickens and my dog can exist together peacefully.

So with the all this stuff consuming my time plus having to get the house cleaned and yard work completed I just feel like I am running myself down. My hubby has picked up a few chores since being laid off but I might have to start leaving him a list. He has asked me what he can do and he does exactly what I asked him to do so I am not complaining.

I suppose I can't blame him for not knowing what the next logical step is when it comes to house work but it bothers me that he only completes the one task I ask him to do. I don't know if it is just a man thing or just a don't know what to do next thing but either way I have to make a more detailed list of things that could be done around here. I might just make a master list for the week that way he can choose what chores he would like to do I am not picky any help would be great and it isn't like he is refusing to do things but with neither of us working a job that pays in cash there is no excuse for a super messy house or the yard not looking nice.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Farming is Fun

I really wish I could remember to take some pictures when I go out to Schooner Farms. Since I can't remember I will just give you a basic update and share a cute goat picture with you. They don't have goats but I love the picture.

On the Farm

Well I have been out to Schooner Farms three times now. It is a very nice farm as far as I can tell they plant berries and veggies. They also have bees and chickens and I went home on my long day with a dozen eggs and a chicken. I won't always get food but I am considering purchasing a share. It is kind of expensive but well worth it to know where the food I put on the table came from. My mom said she would buy the veggies we don't like and show me how to preserve things we can't eat right away.

I have to say I really enjoyed the work. I dug a lot of trenches for potatoes and was able to learn about the whole potato planting process. I also planted leeks and some type of cabbage and sifted compost and raked freshly tilled walking areas. I am quite the wimp but I have been working through the aches and pains. I take breaks when my hip (the one I broke two years ago) starts to act up. Despite the aches and pains I feel great compared to days of sitting at a desk or on the couch.

I am slow but I get the work done and I hope to speed up as my body gets used to working harder. I am hoping to learn a lot more because the more I read and the more I work the more I am longing for the country life. I find myself thinking about pushing off other responsibilities to go spend some time gardening or out with the chickens.

At Home
I have spent a lot of time on the chicken coop and now that it is finished I am hoping to get it moved to an area that gets sun most of the day not just over half the day. I would also like it in a flatter area but I am not sure how we are going to get that done. I have spend quite a few hours letting the girls roam the yard but I have to keep a close eye on them so for now they can only come out when I am free to watch them.

Remember those dozen eggs I got from the farm? Well I was eating one or two for breakfast most days and can I say YUMMY! Would it be too childish to say Yummy again? I have never liked an egg so much in my life. I can't wait to taste the chicken. So now I can't wait until my chickens start producing.

Other news in my life is that I have a few projects to work on. None of it looks to be paid anytime soon but I am going to have to organize my time better. I have grant stuff to work on and book reviews to do and a few other things. I love to write so as long as some of this leads to paying work in the future I am fine with it but I can't always do this stuff for free. I guess I will have to write some goals and timelines and if things are not working out by a certain date I will have to evaluate and drop some unpaid work.

New Goals

So my new goals look like this:

  • Make a to do list every day
  • Don't sit idle until the list is finished
  • Don't waste time surfing the net
  • Learn how to organize my day so that I get the most done.
  • Write 2 blog posts a week for this blog 
  • Find other writers that want to write for Dark Novels and just write when I can.
  • Write an Examiner article once a week
  • Work on grants after meeting with the ladies I will be writing for
  • Keep the house clean (this one I hate)
There are many more things that will go on my to do list but for now those are some of the things I find important. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Big Dose of the Country Life

My Week in Review

On Monday I spent about 6 hours planting potatoes at Schooner Farms. It was a great learning experience as well as an amazing workout. I slept better than I had in months that evening. I was so sore the next day I was not able to do much in the morning so I watched Food, Inc. It was a great program highlighting big business and government control of our food system.

I have seen the footage before of the chickens that have no room to move but I didn't realize just how bad the supermarket chicken supply was. What was really sad is that to produce for the big companies a farmer must go deeply in debt to build a chicken concentration camp and again each time they decide to upgrade.  Then the farmer is truly, as the Bible says "slave to the lender." They must comply or they face loosing their farms.

I am a big Dave Ramsey fan and I don't really like the concept of debt. I am not as intense as Dave but I don't ever plan to finance anything other than a home again. I learned a few things from this video about bucking the system. I am a little worried about the location of the small farm we eventually buy. I don't want to be at war with neighboring farmers that work for the bigger businesses. I want a peaceful place where I can sell to a select few and produce much of my own food.

Chickens, Chickens and More Chickens

On Wednesday I tried to stain the chicken coop. I took the chickens out and stuck them in the poorly constructed temporary pen. I made it out of stakes and garden netting but it works well for short periods. Sadly the stain was not working on the rough surface so we had to sand it and get more stain. It took half the day and I still need to get out there and touch it up today.

After a long day I put the dog in the house and let the chickens roam free for about a half an hour in the yard. I would love to do this more but I need to supervise. So this morning I let them out for about an hour and a half mostly supervised. I did come in and grab a snack and cook breakfast for my hubby. They stayed where I could see them out the back window.

Once they can't get through the holes in the fence I think I will let them out more, I just have to train the dog not to chase them. I did find out yesterday that now that they are outside the dogs only real interest in them is to make them run. She found her way under the pens fencing and chased them out and around for a few seconds before I caught her.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chicken Coop Done

Before Enclosed

 Building A Coop

Wednesday we went out to the grandparents house to work on the chicken coop. Grandpa had been working on it all morning and my hubby helped him finish it. I tried but I with my limited knowledge of how things work I ended up being the hold this, hand me that girl.

By the end of the day it was finished and we were happy with it. Grandpa was not so he made some changes before bringing it over on Thursday. I need to get a few shots of the completed coop can't seem to motivate myself to do so today because it is rainy and gloomy looking out there. 

I spent seven hours at a grant writing seminar yesterday and then came home and mowed the grass and cleaned the kitchen and moved the birds outside to a temporary pen that I also created after the seminar.  I needed to clean their tub because they had knocked their water over multiple times and adding bedding just was not working. Considering that was becoming common place and I was having to completely change the bedding once a day we decided to leave them outside.

The Finished Product

The finished coop is completely enclosed on the upper half with one large door and a small side door. It also has a drop down ladder so the chickens can get down to the area on the bottom. All 4 sides and the bottom of the lower half have chicken wire to keep out predators. The only thing bad about the thing is it is super heavy and hard to move. 

Last night we put a heavy layer of wood chippings down and put all six chickens in the nesting area where I put heaping piles of bedding. I was very worried they would be dead this morning but they are fine.  They actually seem happier to have a place to move around in. They were all huddled together at 7 am and by 9 they were walking around the upper half. They were in the basement before and considering we don't have any heat on in this house it probably isn't much colder in an enclosed wooden house. 

All in all the coop is awesome! It looks great and it is functional it will just take some muscle to move it around. Once the chickens get bigger we might try clipping some wings and let them run around the yard a bit but for now I think they will be happy out there. When I put them in the temporary pen they seemed to be much happier they were getting very crowded in there tub and they were making a huge water mess every few hours.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Urban Farming Goals

Schooner Farms
I am officially a farm volunteer now! I visited Schooner Farms yesterday and I probably talked way too much and asked way too many questions. It was raining so a physical tour was out but Mr. Schooner showed me an aerial view on the computer. They have bees, chickens and fish as well as a huge variety of edible plants. They can teach me to compost and to plant things at the right time. I learned a lot in just an hour and a half.

I go back on Monday for my first day of volunteering. I am hoping to remember my camera so I can take some pictures and write about my adventures. I am so glad I made the 45 minute drive it was worth it to learn that I have been doing some things horribly wrong in my own urban garden, like planting broccoli at the same time I plant my cucumbers.  

Garden at Mom's House
I have a dining room table full of plants that need protected from the cold nights but there are a lot of started plants. I have a grant seminar tomorrow and after that my hubby and I will head over to till the ground and prepare it for planting. I have a lot of planning and preparing to do with that and having my hubby off will help a great deal. He can help me with the hard stuff and the planting and then I should be able to take it from there.

I also have a few things for the porch garden started but I have no soil to use at the moment to expand. I have a bunch of containers to use but no dirt to put in them. I don’t think I should just dig a hole in the yard. I have salad greens and herbs planted for the porch and I would like to get some green onions planted out there and keep a tomato and pepper plant for the big pots that I have. I am not sure what else I can grow on the porch but I will start researching that as soon as I get done with the big garden and the chicken coop.

Chicken Coop
Today we go to my husband’s grandparent’s house to build a chicken tractor. It will be easy to move and it will have a nice area for them to run around in. Ryan’s grandpa can build anything so I am going to have to take the camera and snap some shots as things come together. I am so ready for the chickens to go outside but I don’t want to rush things.

I have had a bunch of busy days and I miscalculated there age in the last post they were not 4 weeks old yet. If I calculated right this time they should have been 4 weeks on Monday. The days of vomiting made me feel like an eternity had passed I guess.

As I have read they can go out at 5 weeks so if they seem ready and we have the coop done they will go out sometime next week. I am going to set up a temporary fence and give them some outdoor time to get adjusted to their new environment. We took them out last week on the 70 degree days just to see what they would do and they just stood there huddled together. We were only out there with them about 10 minutes but they were probably cold and a little scared of the new environment. So the next nice day I will have to take them out for a bit. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Life Is Good


This rainy Sunday morning is a first in my commitment to go back to the church I used to attend. I have just a few moments to type an update here and then I need to get ready. I have been making way too many excuses not to go back.

The other major change in my life is that my hubby is now out of work. He is laid off from his job and he will be home with me at least for a few weeks. I am actually glad for the time I get to spend with him and really glad we didn't buy a house.

This opens doors for a different future one where we are both happy. He is good at anything he puts his mind to doing  and I am sure there is something else out there he would be excited to do. So my goal over the next few weeks is to encourage him to look for a job he would enjoy or think of a business he wants to start.

I also think this is a really good time to consider leaving Toledo. It is sad but the job marked and housing market in this area is seriously depressing. My only requirements are we don't move somewhere colder and we stay in the USA. That could mean moving a 50 miles south to moving across the country.

Well off to church have a blessed Sunday!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

3 Week Old Chicks

Looks like they are getting to big for the brooder
Well today I finally got the camera out to take pictures. I can't believe it has been three weeks already. We did have to put a make shift top on the brooder and now I am thinking of getting a giant box for the last few weeks. They are getting to big for the space.

One of the white birds flew up on the the edge of the tub today about 5 times. It flew right up in my dogs face and just stood there. Asuka, my German shepherd, was stunned for a second so she didn't bite it. She has been doing well as long as they stay in the tub but I think she might feel like they are toys so she is always supervised. Enjoy the pics! Oh and by the way I cleaned out the water when we were done taking pictures.

You can see the darker colored ones getting brown feathers

Please Look at the Camera

No I don't want to!

Thanks to my hubby's patience we got a front shot

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sorry I Have Been Sick

This is just a quick update because I have been stuck in the house where I can quickly reach a toilet for the past two days. I had a stomach bug of some sort and it was not pretty. The only thing left is sore muscles in my stomach a massive headache and a bit of a sore throat. Thank God the worst is over.

Farm and Garden
I had to postpone my trip to a farm that I am hoping to volunteer on. I did make it to the urban garden at the church on Sunday and I offered to help out. They are only about 5 minutes from my house so if they show me some things they would like me to do I would be able to go help most days that I don't have other projects.

My own starter plants are starting to grow. I will have to get some pictures of them to let you all see what I have going on. The cucumbers and tomatoes are doing well already but not the peppers and I am not sure why yet.

Well I am kind of surprised at how well they are doing after two days of a lot less attention. They are getting much bigger and they didn't die with only having their water changed 3 times a day. I have not changed there bedding either as I had planned I just added more to it. My husband checked on them a few times each day too but they didn't get as much attention as they had been getting. They look good but they are rapidly outgrowing the tub I have them in. I need some sort of huge box or something.

Well off to get the things done that I have to do and then maybe a nap before I start sanitizing the house. I don't know what made me sick but it would be best if I make sure those germs are gone.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Baking Budgeting Gardening and Chickens

Baking For Easter
Today I have a bunch of baking to do. I am in charge of dessert for my mom’s Easter meal. I am trying some homemade cookies, brownies and a toffee cheesecake recipe that I just love. I can’t bake the cheesecake today but I can prepare the rest. I work 12.5 hours Saturday so I will have to bake the cheesecake after my shift. Then my Sunday morning looks like this:
  1. Get up while it is still dark and get ready
  2. Pack up the desserts and take them to moms
  3. Go to a church with an urban garden and some chickens for breakfast, service and a tour.
  4. Come home and check on chickens change food and water if necessary
  5. Make sure hubby is up and moving so we can rush to his grandparents for an hour or so
  6. Go to my moms who will be expecting me at 2pm

It wouldn’t be so bad if it was not all crammed into a few hours but then again it is just one day and I can make it work. I have been meaning to go back to church and this is a start. I love going to church once I don’t have to drive in the snow but I have been putting it off until I am done with the long Saturday shifts.

Garden Update
Well right now my urban farm idea is up in smoke but I am looking at finding places to volunteer that have it together and know what to do when the weather is not cooperating. I have seeds planted in a tray indoors but I can only have so many plants in the house at a time. I have been thinking about getting a raised bed going here and working on raised bed plans at my mom’s house. I don’t know how they will feel about that but I can always ask on Sunday.

As I said above I am visiting a church that is making some strides in urban gardening here in the Toledo Ohio area. Monroe Street United Methodist church is also has many other great services that help the community. I look forward to learning more about this project and to the service and fellowship.

Budgeting Mania
Okay so I kind of fell of my queen of cheap wagon this month. I bought way too much chicken stuff! Now the chickens only cost fifteen dollars so they were cheap. The tub to put them in was about 13 dollars and their food was about the same. Then dishes, bedding and warming light and a little grit about 40 dollars. The main expense was a bunch of magazines and books about chickens and gardening. I really can’t believe how much I spent on that stuff by not paying attention to price. So now it is crack down time. I have lowered our Netflix plan for next month and I am selling a bunch of my older books on eBay. Next month the grocery bill will need to be much lower and no going out to eat unless we have a coupon or go to one of the places where we have a gift card.

I will have to come up with more creative ways to earn money. I just have to say a quick thanks to the people visiting this blog. I have had enough visits and clicks on my ads to earn a few dollars and this is a baby blog. I would really love it if this blog would help me earn a bit but I am really just glad people are enjoying it.
I am finished with my Saturday shifts after May 14th so I will have to work to replace that income in some way. Now that can mean saving money by working for food somewhere or getting another part time job. I am not too worried about it we can make it without my income but it is nice for saving for that future farm. So I either have to find a way to save that money or make it.

I have some fun unpaid work lined up and I am really excited about it as it is good for building a resume that will get me closer to my goals and dreams. You know, the dream of living on a farm and running some sort of program for children or needy people or something that would change lives. It may not seem like it is related now but it will be as it seems to be where God is leading me.

My Back Yard Chickens
They are doing great! They are getting big fast and they can fly either across the tub or straight up to near the top of their brooder. It has me a little worried but I do have a plan to use some netting left over from last year’s garden over the top to keep them inside. I just have to cut it and figure out how to secure it to the container.

 I will be moving them to the basement today because the weather is a bit warmer and they seem to be hot and running away from the warming light even with it raised. I have to admit I can’t wait to put them down there because it is much more convenient for changing bedding and cleaning dishes. I won’t have to use buckets to haul things up and down the stairs and I won’t have to clean out dishes in my bath tub. 

Happy Easter Everyone!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Urban Farming Update

Snow Rain and more Snow

I am seriously wishing I lived in a warmer climate right now. I have been saving plastic containers I can use for my porch garden and working on plans for the garden at my moms house.

I can deal with rain but I am so sick of the cold temperatures and the snow I want to pack up and move right now. I don't have enough room or light to grow a lot in the house. I am going th have to start some of the plants this week and then just hope for better weather soon so I can plant the rest.

It is so cold most days I can't even put the plants on the porch for the day and bring them back in at night. I am itching to get my hands dirty and plant something. I want to grow all or most of my own veggies for the summer and then learn to can, freeze or dry the leftovers.

Sustainable Living Planting Goals
I am working toward a life where I am less reliant on the grocery store and utility companies. I want to start by reducing my grocery bill. I eventually want to be able to make, raise, and grow much of my own food. I am a bit depressed about the slow start at this point.

I am really starting to think we might have to move further south to make a go of this sustainable living thing. If we don't move I am going to have to find a mentor that can help with gardening/farming in this climate. Most of the books I have been reading assume the weather is nicer by this time.

Sustainable Living and Back Yard Chickens
Because planting has taken a back seat for this week and maybe next I am working on learning to cook things that use a lot of eggs. In about 4 months I will be blessed with quite a few eggs from our 6 hens and by next spring I am sure I will have eggs coming out of my ears. People are already offering to pay for my extra eggs so that is good news.

Once the hens are producing I would just like to be able to sell enough eggs to pay for the feed I will need to buy. It won't take long for the chicks and there setup to pay for themselves once they start laying. Thus far they are exceptionally easy to care for and I really enjoy it.

I would really like to start raising some meat birds as well but that will have to wait until we have a place of our own. I am sure to get complaint from neighbors if I were to cram six hens and six meat birds into my backyard. Then if I try to process them myself I know I will get complaints.

Toledo Ohio doesn't have any laws against chickens but they do have quite a few policies that could get your chickens taken away really fast. I will have to keep the coop and the yard very clean once they go outside and I just have to hope they are not too noisy. I should not have any roosters and if I do they will be going back to the Tractor Supply store because I paid extra for pullets (sexed-chicks).

Living off the Grid
I was hoping someday to reach the status of living off the grid, where in my own home I was able to produce all the resources needed to live. I don't see that as a possibility with out a lot of capital to start with at least not in the Toledo area. I also don't want to live in a shack and wash my clothes on a wash board so what I would like to do is live off the land as much as I can without sacrificing all the luxury items.

I am going to try to test that as much as I can in the home I live in now hence the idea of an urban farm update. I hope more will join me and work hard to change the way things are in this country. I am not saying I don't love living in the USA but I would like to see a shift in how we obtain our resources. I really don't like to think of what they do to bring us our eggs, milk, beef and chickens because I still have to rely on that but someday I won't have to. I am starting small with laying hens so I don't have to buy my eggs from the grocery store anymore and then I will move up to meat birds and then up more until I can fill my freezer with meat and sell my extras.

If you have some great recipes that use a lot of eggs I would love to try them. Remember I am learning to cook from scratch and I don't want a recipe that induces a lot of processed foods.  You can comment here or send them to my email with egg recipe in the subject line.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bringing Home Baby Chicks

First Day with the Chicks
This household changed in the instant I brought six baby chicks home. They are not hard to care for and there are plenty of online communities that can help if you have questions. They are however very cute and fun to watch.  I spent some time setting up a brooder and making sure they were warm enough. Then I brought Asuka, my German shepherd, into the mix. The dog is still not sure what to think about the chicks but I am hoping to socialize her with them.

Basic Supplies
I went the weekend before and picked up all the supplies I needed for the chicks except the actual bin to put the chicks in. I purchased the wood chip bedding that my local Tractor Supply suggested, a large bag of starter feed, water and food containers, a warming light and a book about chickens. Just before I picked up the chicks I bought a big plastic tub to serve as a temporary home for my chicks.

I like to be well prepared so I bought supplies beforehand yet the planner in me still wishes that I had set up the brooder before bringing the chicks home. It would be just as easy to pick up all the supplies and the chicks at the same time. If I do this again I will set it up so it is nice and warm and all I have to do is plop the babies down into their new home.

Chickens are Easy
Thus far chickens are much easier than puppies and just as cute. The only thing I have to do constantly is check their food and water. They get their bedding in it and they poop in it so it has to be changed often. Thus far they seem to get the mess in the water more than the food. I have placed a wood block under it where they can still get plenty of water but it is not right on the shavings. Other than that they are no hassle at all.

I have done puppies and they are so much work the first few months but as far as I can tell chickens are easy. I know as they grow I will face some challenges but for now they are just cute little fuzz balls I can’t stay away from.  There is no setting my alarm to take the chickens out and they are not chewing up my bed sheets or trying to eat electrical cords.

Still Learning
I have been reading books, forum posts, blogs and magazines about chickens and I am still learning new things each day. I have no intentions of becoming a general chicken expert but I do hope to gain a lot of knowledge about the chickens I am raising. They seem happy and healthy and I plan to keep it that way as long as it is within my power. I will leave you with something my new catch phrase “stop dreaming and just make it happen.” Okay it needs work but I am getting there.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baby Chick Pictures

Well here they are I brought them home today. I am hoping to find new homes for 2-3 of them and keep the rest. If not a few will be meat birds. They are super cute and they seem to be getting along fine now that there brooder is nice and warm. Enjoy the pictures!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I am Getting Chickens

After I wrote the post Backyard Chickens 101 quite a few things changed. I follow Toledo Grows a local organization that is teaching young people many things including how to grow your own food. They were on Facebook polling the public to see how many people would want chickens. I asked them what I had to do to have chickens in the city because the page I looked at for local laws was outdated. They said chickens are completely legal in Toledo just ask your neighbors to make sure they don’t have a problem with it.

With all the chicken research I have been doing I was kind of excited to learn they would be able to buy the chickens and divide them up so I wouldn’t have to get the minimum of six  from tractor supply. Not that I wouldn’t like six but I was thinking two or three would be enough for our yard. Then I asked my hubby who wouldn’t answer me even after I told him how I was going to take care of them and keep them from the local predators.  

My hubby’s answer was your mom and Mike (my step-father) will say no. I texted my mom who is on vacation in Florida and expected her to tell me I was crazy and there was no way I could have chickens in her backyard. I had a backup plan for that but it would have been a hard sell because I would be much less likely to get up and drive over to the other house to take care of chickens. We rent this house but two blocks away we own a duplex and the chickens could have stayed in that yard.

So now it was back to asking my hubby what he thought. I asked if we could have two laying hens and he said three would be better. I think he wants them he just does not want to have to take care of them. He works 46-52 hours a week and he does not want to have something else to take care of. I assured him that I would take care of them and if I don’t like caring for them I can stick it out until they are big enough to eat.

I still need to ask my neighbors but I am not so sure I will be asking as much as I am informing them. I don’t think I will have any problems with either of them but if it seems like I do I will just promise them eggs. With all the promised eggs we will have to get 6 chickens to feed us, two neighbors, my mom and Mike, hubby’s mom and my sister. Oh and let’s not forget the dog who loves a raw egg for a snack.

So there you have it once I have cleared the neighbors I will be well on my way to getting some chickens. When the process starts I promise to take some pictures and share my journey with you. I will share it all especially my failures so you can learn from my mistakes. Come along for the ride as I become an Urban Farmer.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Backyard Chickens 101

I really want some backyard chickens and I am really envious of those who can have them. I live in a city that will let you have up to six but as far as I can tell you have to get permission from the health department first. The first thing you need to do if you want backyard chickens is find out about the legal ramifications of having chickens in your city. You don’t want to buy a flock and find out you can’t have any or you have to get rid of more than half of them. Find out how many chickens you can have and what conditions are necessary to keep them.

My next obstacle is my hubby and he doesn’t want chickens here. He is not opposed to having chickens he just doesn’t want them here. I understand his concerns and have decided not to get chickens until we move. Considering that we have a small yard and a dog of our own plus 3 dogs surrounding us that are out most of the time it would be hard to protect the chickens. Then we live in an area that is also full of raccoons, opossums, foxes and coyotes once the spring hits full tilt. Not sure why these animals are in the middle of the city but I have actually seen the foxes when walking the dog and I had baby raccoons terrorizing my strawberries last year.

All that to say if someone one in your family has legitimate concerns about your desire for backyard chickens listen to them. If you still want chickens then you must come up with a plan to combat the concerns. I am hoping to move by next spring so I don’t feel the urgency someone who will be stuck in the city for a few more years might. So if you can address you all the concerns you family brings you can move on to the next concern.

If you rent your home like I do you will need to ask your landlord if you can have chickens. You lease may cover house hold pets but unless it specifically talks about farm animals you will need to talk to your landlord first. I rent from my mom and I am reasonably sure she would say no, but then again I am lucky I can have a dog with her dislike of  animals. Just ask or you and your chickens might be put out on the street.

The last topic I am going to talk about today is neighbors. Roosters are not likely to make neighbors happy but if you just want a few hens you might make some new friends. You should talk to the people closest to you and let them know you are adding chickens to your family. You need to assure them that you will keep your chickens and their living quarters clean and that  roosters won't be waking up the third shifter next door right as he dozes off to sleep. You can also promise them some fresh eggs to help win them over. It is important to know if you are going to have someone calling every local authority they can find to report you and your chickens.

I bet you thought I was going to talk about baby chicks here and now you are disappointed. I will get to that in another post but I think it is very important to bring you chicks home to a welcoming environment. While chickens are relatively easy to take care of compared to most farm animals they do require some work. It would be a shame if you had to fight with everyone around you and learn how to take properly care of a new type of animal.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pinching Pennies

Things are going pretty well for me and the hubby right now. He is a bit worried about layoffs at his job so I am looking for new ways to pinch some of those pennies.

I have been a little lax in my spending habits lately and I need to cut the fat. I have not been the queen of cheap lately nor do I plan to be. However I do need to start looking at some things and say "do I really need that." I need to buy some thing but I can choose to only buy things that I need or things that will be of great benefit for me in the future.

I did buy two books Mini Farming for my Kindle and You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise with my 25 dollar gift card. I ended up spending a little over seven dollars.

I am going to go through all the things I need to grow a porch garden and see what I can make from the materials I have. I know that I can plant in some strange containers. I have seen websites dedicated to finding things you don't use anymore to make your garden interesting your garden. I am sure I can use that concept to save money on gardening supplies. I don't want to spend a lot so if I have to cut, clean and poke holes in a milk jug I will. It may not be pretty but it will be functional.

Also I can save money on Netflix by reducing our plan. I don't have cable television so we rely on Netflix to deliver us movies and television shows. The really good thing is that many of the programs are changing to instant streaming. I can save about seven dollars a month if I go down to the next level and even more if i go down to one DVD. I know it is not a lot of money but if I were to find ten areas to save seven dollars a month in it adds up. Since I don't buy a lot of extravagant things what I really need to do is stop splurging on items such as cosmetics and eating out too much.

I used to do a budget every month and I think I am going to have to get back on track with that. I always allow for some fun because we are not broke. My hubby works 46-52 hours a week most of the time and he deserves to have some fun. When I work a lot too we go out to eat more because I budget it in. I know when I work a lot I will not feel much like cooking and I tend to forget to thaw things out for dinner.

Right now I am working 12.5 hours on Saturdays and spending my weeks trying to build a writing portfolio. I also accept work as a freelancer. I have had a few projects on my plate but most of them are not paid but some of them will help me build my writing portfolio. Once I get more paid work it can all go into savings for the farm of our dreams.

The main thing is to stop spending on thing I really don't need. My hubby is not a spender most of the time but he works hard and when he wants something it is usually costly. If I am honest we I don't usually buy big items but I do purchase a lot of little things I don't need. Could I get away with a less expensive face wash or cheaper shampoo. I am sure I can and those are the things I am going to start with.

Happy savings everyone! Please feel free to offer you savings tips in the comments section.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Garden Planning

Since I don't foresee getting any farm animals this year I am laying out some plans for a garden or two. I know that I get to plant a huge veggie garden at my moms. This is something I am really excited about but it is also a 20 minute drive there and another 20 minutes home.

The drive still beats the price for potentially poor tasting supermarket produce. I am extremely grateful that I get to use her land to plant fresh veggies. I do however have a porch that we don't use much. It is really long and completely enclosed. I hope to use this to keep a few extra plants and grow some herbs.

I asked my friends on Facebook to help me with some ideas. If I can grow some herbs and a few tomato and pepper plants I should be able to cut down on the extra trips to the grocery store. My hubby loves a few of the expensive peppers and some strange tomatoes and I really like the roma tomatoes.

By the time I am done I may have the entire porch filled with potted veggies and herbs. I just really want to grow as much of my own food as I can and learn to can, freeze or dry anything that will last. If I can't do that this summer how will I take care of a farm. So this year I will bring a piece of the farm to my city dwelling and see how well I do.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Found a House I Would Love to See.

Well that is if the pictures are not a half a century old or doctored up to look great. There is a huge barn with quite a few stalls, a 3000 sq foot home and 7 acres of property. It is not too far from town but far enough away to be able to raise animals. It is in our price range but just barely.

I talked to my hubby about it last night and he seems interested. He is worried about job security at the moment but thinks he will be okay if he makes it through this month. He is a man of few words most of the time but he had some thoughts on what we could do with the property so he might want to look at it.

It is a long shot because most of the time this stuff is too good to be true. You get there and there is no furnace and scrappers have come out and taken anything they can get off the house. Not to mention we don't want to look at the house and then fall in love with it but not be able to make an offer until May.

So my hopes and prayers are that if it is the house for us that it stays on the market. The last week of April or so we will call our real estate agent and ask to see it. In the mean time I need to work on building a writing portfolio. My dream would be to make a living writing and selling items from our small farm.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Moving from the City to Build a Farm

Today, April 4th 2011, I will start on my journey to my dream of moving to a home in the country where as much as possible I would like to live off the land. On this blog I will chronicle the steps I am taking to move closer to that goal.

I live in the city with my hubby, Ryan, and German shepherd dog, Asuka. I am rather clueless on how to raise farm animals but I have been reading a lot about chickens and my hubby loves to read about goats. When we move those are the first animals on our list.

I can have chickens in the city but I am renting the house I live in right now and I don't see it being okay with my mom/landlord. If consent was granted I would still be weary of getting them without knowing how to care for them in the winter. It gets very cold in the winter and I don't have an out building for them.

My hubby and I really wanted to build a house but that is looking like an either or situation now. Meaning that either we buy a farm with some fencing and a few out buildings or we build a house that we love and forget about the farm. We are not actively looking right now because we want to save a bit more money before we make the leap.

We would also love to sell our duplex before we move. I was impulsive and wanted to move to a bigger house thinking we could sell the duplex but rent it out in the mean time. Not so! Good renters are hard to come buy and selling a house in Toledo, OH is like trying to sell mud pies. I don't want to be impulsive again.

That brings me to the garden I want to grow. I would love to do it at my house but I have failed the last two seasons. I had a very nice small garden at the duplex when we lived there but I can't get anything to grow here. I found out the walnut tree is to blame. Each year I have planted right under a walnut tree which is apparently toxic to most plants.

This year my mom, who lives on over two acres, will let me plant a huge garden in her yard. She only wants me to plant a few things for her and take care of the weeds and any other issues that might arise. It is a bit of a drive but it will be well worth it. I also plan to have a small container garden on my front porch. If I am going to live off the land I need to learn how to do it ahead of time.

I am under no illusion that I can live without bills but I can quite possible cut my grocery bill way down and live a more active and rewarding lifestyle.