Saturday, April 26, 2008

Okay, This Is the Last Chicken Post (for now)

I would like to introduce Mavis (on the left) and Pearl. They are five-week-old Rhode Island Red pullets.
Both hens have very sweet dispositions, and I think will adapt very well.

Flora, however, may have other ideas. She is not quite sure of these two beautiful red-heads!
This is their first tentative meeting.

I do not think that Flora was very impressed. Do you?

But, I think she may prefer two new friends than this little kitty. Merideth is much to curious about what is happening in the chicken yard. She insists on trying to fit her head through the fencing. That would explain the frustration on her face.

I think these three chicks will get along just fine. And soon enough, they will be delivering fresh eggs for our breakfast. And the Omelet Hotel will be in business. :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Flora Says.............

Welcome to......

(after much thought and bribing with feed,

and the desire to do things her way!)

~The Omelet Hotel~

Congratulations to you, Bramble!!

You will now have a rather sweet picture of Flora to display in your own coop!

Miss Flora is really thrilled now that she has a name for her new home! And she is especially thankful to all of you who were thoughtful enough to submit names for her chicken house.

Very thankful indeed.

(Bramble, I have your address, so I will be sending the lovely rendition of Flora to you as soon as the final touches have been added!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

If I Draw Your Name, You Get Flora!!

No, not the real Flora! But a reasonable facsimile of my little chicken. She is not quite finished, as I have to wait for her spots to dry before I can move on. I really do not like having to wait for paint to dry, but wait I must if I want this to be perfect for its new owner.
Who knows, maybe they can hang it in their own chicken coop!

Flora in her polka dot dress, waiting in a field of strawberries. Just for you!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Inside Coop

Do you think that the chickens will be happy here?

I Suppose That You Are Wondering

What the prize will be for the giveaway. Well, tune in tomorrow for the reveal. And yes, it will have something to do with chickens. :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This Busy Bee and a Giveaway

Wow! You have come up with some amazing names for the chicken coop! I will be glad to name it any one of them. Thank you so much for your input. I cannot wait 'til Friday. :)
Do you remember the little sketch of my chicken house? You can see it here.
This week has been filled with flying sawdust, the hammering of nails and the buzzing of the circular saw. While I have had help in the guise of The Farmer's Husband and No. 1 son, for the most part, it has been me and my little hands that have been busily building Casa del Pollo, La Maison de Poulet, The Chicken House.
Last Friday we started with a simple platform and elephant feet for the base. By the end of the day, we had.....
Which looks suspiciously like the Phantom Tollbooth.

While it may not look like much progress, we also picked up and shoveled out two truckloads of dirt into the raised beds out front. Phew! My goodness, were we tired at the end of the day. Saturday, my son and I were able to get siding on two sides of the house. It's not as easy as you would think! We had to cut the opening for the window, make sure the sides were flush and level and try not to get hurt with incredibly unwieldy sheets of siding.

Sunday (always a day of rest) and Monday were non-productive days. Cold, blustery weather prevented me from getting out and doing much at all. In fact, all I could do was to look out the window and sigh at the thought of how much I could be doing and wasn't. But yesterday and today were perfect for digging in and getting some work done.

This circular saw is one of my favorite tools. I have learned to respect it and master it over the years. At one time, I was deathly afraid of it. But, there's nothing like wanting to make something and no one being home to help, to make you forget your fears and give you the courage to try. I love my circular saw.

Yesterday we hung the door and window, installed some of the trim and my neighbor graciously made trusses to hold the corrugated metal roofing that will go up tomorrow.

Today, it was up to me. This morning found me scraping off the old paint from the door, and giving it a good coat of primer. I also painted out the trim work and the window, preparing them for their final coat of glossy white paint.

I know they look messy right now, but there is a method to my madness. The window and door are old, found at estate sales, and pretty weather-worn. I painted over the windows to seal the edges where the panes and wood meet, just for a little protection from the elements.

Inside, I cut and installed the bead board paneling, made and installed the nesting boxes (although they are not finished) and trimmed out and made a door for the pop-hole. Yikes! I am tired, dirty, and I do believe that I smell. But it's that smell that comes from a hard day's work, and it doesn't bother me. Not one bit. But you may not want to get close to me.

Here is the almost-finished chicken coop. I am thinking of naming it "La Maison du Quatre Soeurs de Poulet" (The House of Four Chicken Sisters) , or "La Maison de Fraise" (The Strawberry House) , because it will eventually have strawberry wallpaper inside. I don't know. Wait! I think you should name it! I never did get to complete the giveaway for naming the chicks because of their untimely demise. Maybe this is the perfect solution!

The name you choose does not have to be in French. In fact, I'm not quite sure why I chose French names. But then, I've been known for my weirdness.

So, leave your name for the chicken house in your comment. On Friday, April 25th, I will draw a name from my big, yellow bowl and announce the winner.

Giving things away makes me deliriously happy. So does making chicken houses.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Farmgirl Heart

Week 2 of the Farmgirl Blog-a-thon centers on the theme "Farmgirl Heart....What Being a Farmgirl Means to You." Allow me to tell you about mine.

Flora. My how you've grown!

I am not a native Georgian. I grew up on the coast of Massachusetts, in Marshfield, about an hour south of Boston.
Marshfield is a town steeped in history. Just about thirty minutes north of Plymouth, the early settlers found its location near the North River to be quite useful. The marshes, woods and ocean provided ample supplies for a burgeoning new community. Farms were quickly established and farmers went about the business of feeding families.
The house I grew up in was built in 1668. This house was moved to its present location in the 1700's and additions were made to it up until the mid-1800's. With those additions, it became a classic Colonial, stately and beautiful.
Surrounded by seven or so acres, it was perfect for providing the Hatch family, that built and resided in it, with a place to keep their horses, grow a vegetable garden, an asparagus patch, raspberry patch, a potato field, a rhubarb patch, and a flower garden. Large spruce trees grew tall to shade the house. A crab apple planted just outside the kitchen window provided shade, beauty and fruits for making jelly.
There is no wonder, given the history of the house, that my father would take up a shovel and a hoe and begin to farm.
For the first three months we lived in the house, the Brown family lived with us. Charlotte and Stuart Brown were the couple from whom my parents bought the farm. Gram Milner, Charlotte's mother, lived with us as well. When their own little house was completed, they moved away, although they were still close by. Their house was built just behind ours, at the end of the Right Field, as it was called. The dirt road to their house became one I would travel frequently, taking me to visit my new friend, Gram Milner.
Charlotte and Stuart were gracious and giving, teaching my parents the things they knew about the history of the house, and the lay of the land.
In no time, my parents discovered the areas that had provided food for generations of families. We all waited expectantly for the little heads of asparagus to crown the earth near the barn, for the blossoms on the raspberry canes to drop their petals and begin forming fruit, for the tiny shoots of rhubarb to begin rising with all of their sourness, and Concord grapes to change from green to blue.
It was a magical place for me, especially. Connecting to the things that were growing around me, I quickly developed the farmgirl heart that beats inside me still. I can still smell the peonies and lupines that grew along the edge of the field; taste the freshness of the Concord grape jelly that my mother would make; see the irises that grew over the old potato field and feel the small, round potatoes that would occasionally be dug up by my little hands. I remember gathering armloads of crab apple blossoms, lilacs and fists full of dandelions, breathing in the scent of my childhood.
Soon, animals were added to the mix. Two horses, Mergatroyd and Fiddle Sticks, galloped in the fields. A goat named Alfie, who came to eat the poison ivy I was so allergic to, along with my mother's dining room curtains, moved in. Chickens filled the coop in the back of the barn and ducks swam in a little pond made by my father. Eggs were plentiful, vegetables and fruits were abundant and fun was found at every turn.
My dad spent a year renovating an old surrey. In the summer, he would hitch up Mergatroyd and give rides around the neighborhood. Clip-clop down Union Street, up Pine Street past Stuart Brown's woodworking shop, and back again.
Who wouldn't love growing up like that? All in all, it is this kind of childhood I wish my own children could have experienced. But, I married a City Boy, and we settled in Suburbia. That hasn't stopped me from trying though!
I have felt a stronger desire as of late, to bring my family back to a more self-sustaining life style. I think it is that place in me, that formed in a little girl living on a small farm, wanting to expand and develop into something greater, to have my own chickens, grow my own vegetables, compost my own nutritious dirt for the garden.
A chance encounter with a MaryJane's Farm magazine a few years ago was all of the fuel I needed to restart that little flame in me and in the process, I discovered that there are many many women in the world who desire the very same things for their families. Women who either grew up on a farm, or have just felt that pull back to a simpler life, gather together and champion each other along, encouraging, comforting and sharing the knowledge that they have garnered through their experiences.
If gathering your own eggs, warm from a nesting box, picking your own vegetables from a garden that you tended, making something new and useful from something old and worn sounds appealing to you, then you are a farmgirl! It's already in your heart.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Losing Battle

"Why?" is a question that I have come to dread lately. "Why did you get chicks?" "Why did you buy a new rug for the family room?" "Why did you dry the clothes outside?" "Why are you making that for dinner?" "Why are you making those and what are you going to do with them?" "Why did you make the garden so big?" "Why is there no food in the house?" "Why, why, why, why, why!?" Ad nauseum.
My goodness, you would think that I don't have a single brain cell capable of making a decision on its own without first garnering permission from the masses (ie- mi familia).
So, dear family, allow me to explain the "Whys" of my actions for you, in plain English. Why? Because I want you to be able to understand, that's why.
Here we go:
1. Why did I get chicks?- Easy answer here folks. I got chicks to fulfill two purposes. Well, maybe three. First, we have an incredible insect population in our yard- ticks, ants, spiders, etc. Chickens eat insects. Lots of them. I am exercising natural pest control. Secondly, I would like to be able to feed you, my family, the freshest eggs possible, from healthy, happy chickens.I would rather that than to contribute to the sad life of a battery hen, who's only hope in life is the possibility of death as an escape from the hell in which they live. Sorry, but that's the way it is.
Thirdly, yes there is a #3, for the experience of connecting to something other than the television( or the iPod, or Guitar Hero, or even this computer), a living thing that requires our care. We are servants of the natural world we live in, with an obligation to ensure that we tend to it well. More than family pets, these chickens will in turn provide us with food as payment for their care. Well, eggs. They will live long lives in our back yard. I don't think I can fully implement the food chain here. They are symbols of responsibility. Sound familiar?
2. Why did I buy a new rug for the family room? Because I wanted to, that's why. Now take care of it. Pick up the trash off of it, wipe up your spills, and if you see dust on it, sweep it up, please.
3. Why do I hang the clothes outside? Why not? There is a perfectly lovely spot in the yard for hanging clothes. The sun shines upon it, the breezes blow about it and I can see it from the kitchen window. Practically, it reduces the amount of electricity that we use (of which we consume copious amounts), it reduces the amount of heat that builds up in the house, it reduces the amount of wear and tear on our clothes, it disinfects and sanitizes our clothing better than bleach, the list goes on. I know, your clothes are crunchy. Toss them in the dryer for a minute or two (NOT 30!) and they'll be fine. That smell you dislike is fresh air and sunshine combining together in the most heavenly of perfumes. No matter how hard they try, the detergent and dryer sheet companies cannot reproduce it. It is a gift from Nature for our efforts. Now get over it.
4. Are you making that for dinner? Yes, I am making that for dinner. If you don't like it, make your own. You know where the refrigerator is. But, you want to know why I am making that for dinner, don't you? Because I care about your health and well-being, that's why. I am not trying to poison you, make you ill, or otherwise cause you harm. They are fruits and vegetables, not ampules of toxins, for pity sake. They work with your body to build your cells, clean your system, give you energy. No matter how many cans of Mountain Dew you drink, you will never be able to get as much energy that a beautiful green salad, loaded with colorful vegetables, will give you. Your health will be better, your mind clearer and your body will thank you. Trust me. Or don't. I'm only your mother, the woman who gave birth to you. But that isn't one of the questions, is it?
5. Why am I making those? Hmmm. Let's see. If you don't know by now, then you don't know me as well as I thought. All of my life, I have been one to create. From the tiny fish made with a Styrofoam ball and bone circles at my grandmother's house, to taking apart my mom's wedding garter and decorating a RingDing box with it for a Mother's Day gift (well, that might have been a mistake), to buying things that no one else wants and creating something of beauty from them, it all results in the tangible expression of who I am. You don't have to like it. In fact, no one does. What counts is that I like it. When you ask me why I made something, it is as though you are telling me that it, and consequently me, is not of worth. And that is very far from the truth. The things I make are extensions of who your mother is on the inside. You might want to get to know her one day.
6. Why did I make the garden so big? Well, it's not big yet, but it will be. I want to be able to grow food for us to eat. To be able to put some up for the winter and not have to rely on the grocery store for everything we consume. I will know where our food came from, how it was grown and who tended to it. We will be able to share with Grammy and Grandpa, and help them reduce their food bill a bit. So I say "The bigger, the better!"
7. Why is there no food in the house? That is ridiculous! There is food in the house, it is just not what you want to eat. I am reducing the amount of processed foods that we have consumed over the years and replacing it with fresh, healthy foods. For further explanation, please see #4.

There you have it, the answers to the most pressing questions being asked in my house lately. I am sure that my family will not like my answers, but they'll get over it. Like I said, asking me why I do things is like asking me why I am here. It tends to lessen my efforts and, in a way, invalidates me as a person. I am not very keen on being invalidated. In fact, it sounds painful. And it is.
I love caring for my family. Being a mom was the one thing I always wanted to be. (Being an unappreciated mom is not, however.) I want to create a safe place for them, a haven if you will, away from the stress of the world and give them the armloads of love that they deserve. All of the things I do, laundry, cooking, cleaning, gardening, creating, etc. is for that purpose.
One day that will be clear to them. But it will be when they are in my place, standing in my shoes, trying to do these very things themselves.
I have my list of "Why?" questions all ready for them.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Up Close

Original photographs uploaded by Karin Smith 2008.

Monday, April 7, 2008

OK, I Have to Share Some Mail Love.

Please excuse the double posting today, but I have to show you what came in my post box.
Not this. This is a drawing for my new chicken house. I must have hit its file in error. Oh, but it will be cute, no?

The little vine-y things in the bottom right will be a vinyl strawberry wallpaper that I bought at Lowe's on clearance three years ago. You never know when you will need strawberry wallpaper, you know. The bottom is going to be sheathed in bead board. Yep, nothing is too good for Flora, and her soon to be hatched cousins. I even have a cute hanging lantern for the coop. hee hee
But, I digress. This is what I really wanted to show you-

My Country Girl doll kit came from Alicia Paulson !

Everything I need to create five of her charming clothespin dolls is included- paint, fabric, wooden buits, flowers, floss, a dress pattern. I cannot wait to get started.

I do love sweet things in the post.

Tie One On Day!

Tina has coordinated a Farmgirl Blog-a-Thon on her blog. It will last 6 weeks and will focus on all things farmgirl. You know, like chickens and aprons, gardens and self-reliance. Those types of things. Why, you may ask? Well, to give MaryJane Butters a little hoot and a holler of thanks!
She has stirred the hearts of farmgirls everywhere, giving us the courage and inspiration to create our own farms, no matter where we may live.
This week's challenge is to show your aprons. Every farmgirl of any worth has at least one, but probably more like a few dozen!

These are mine. I don't really wear them because they make me look too fluffy, and fluffy is not what I want to look like right now. So, no pics with me in my aprons. :)

Oh, they do look messy, don't they?

These beauties decorate my craft room:

The chevron striped apron is from my friend, Dawn! Can you see a hostess wearing this at a backyard summer barbecue?

Below: The cherry apron in the front is a gift from MaryJane. She gave it to me in South Carolina when I went for a Belk grand opening and she was introducing her new linen line. I never wear it because I do not want it to be ruined. Plus theres's that fluffy thing. The gift of this apron started a friendship that I hope will never end.
The stripey one underneath is a gift from another farmgirl, Kathie, when she came to my house for Craft Day with MJ. I don't wear it for the same reasons. It's just too special to me.

The tomato apron is yet another farmgirl gift, from Bev.

Do you see why I love farmgirls?! They make the best friends.

So, come visit with us, if you so choose. Join in on the fun! You will learn more that you ever thought possible from women all over the world. You'll create sweet friendships as well. And don't forget to say "Hello!" to MaryJane!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Homemade Hummus

This really is not a cooking blog, but I thought you might like to try this tasty, healthy snack. This is my own recipe for hummus, so it may not be perfect. But it is a hit at my house! It will last in the 'frige about 5 days. Well, if it is not eaten by then.

Here goes:

1 can chick peas (garbanzos), drained

1/4 cup sesame tahini

Juice from 1 large lemon

3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (depending on how much you like garlic)

pinch of salt

1/4- 1/2 cup olive oil

Place chick peas, sesame tahini, lemon juice and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add olive oil in a steady stream until mixture comes together and appears to be light and fluffy. Add a pinch of salt, blend together.

Serve with fresh vegetables, homemade pita chips, rice crackers- whatever you like! The lemon rather lifts the flavors and gives it a fresh taste.
Hummus makes a nice light lunch or midday snack when you are flagging a bit. Plus, it is loaded with good things for you, so there is no need to feel guilty about consuming it!!


Here is a link for making tahini sauce!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Who Are You Callin' Yeller?

Ah, springtime in Georgia. Not only are the flowers, trees and grasses being pollinated, everything is being pollinated. In fact, if you stand outside long enough, you will be covered in the yellow plague. It is a necessary evil, but really, don't you think enough is enough?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Snaps of My Garden

Can you tell that I like flowers?

A tiny Oxalis popping up through the leaves.
Headstrong Dianthus growing in an old bucket.

Persian Speedwell

Actually, this is considered a weed, but I think the color is extraordinary.

Quince Blossoms

I grow them just for the birds and squirrels. You don't really want to eat a quince.

Fairy Orbs
(or Dandelion Seed Heads)

If you take a closer look at the dandelions, you can see miniscule droplets of water.
I guess I was feeling a bit like Horton, although I did not hear a Who.