“What’s your plan today Brain?” “To Try and Take Over the World… With Chickens!”

Tim’s been talking about chickens for a couple of years now, convincing the kids, family, friends… everyone except for me it seems, and a few others who know that I need support in my corner. He’s been doing research on the types of chickens to get, what eggs they produce, how to take care of them, the costs, etc. He even has an entire inspiration folder on chicken coops. It’s pretty impressive actually. Some of them are quite lovely.

It’s not just him though. Chickens seem to be taking over the world like they have some sort of evil plan. I listen to the radio, they’re talking about chickens, I hear a nearby conversation, they’re talking about chickens, I stumble upon random blogs, they’re writing about chickens, I go to Chapters, I see books on chickens, we meet up with friends, they all of a sudden own chickens. Chickens are everywhere! Ha.. that reminds me of a song we used to listen to as kids, about Elvis. “…Elvis is in your jeans, he’s in your cheeseburgers… Elvis is in your Mom, He’s in everybody…” You should really take a moment to listen to this song, it’s pretty funny. But I digress.

The point is, everyone is loving chickens, and loving the idea of owning chickens. Am I the only one who is reluctant (by reluctant, I mean against the idea)? Or is it because for me, it’s not a hypothetical situation. If I back down for even just a second, I’m sure to have chickens show up on my door step tomorrow morning. Tim’s like that, he’s just waiting for me to waiver and then BAM! Chickens! (Don’t think I don’t know you Hun.)

Here’s the thing. I actually love the idea of owning chickens. The biggest reason being that I think it would be such a wonderful learning opportunity for the kids on so many levels. Imagine having chickens in your own backyard. Then there’s the whole sustainable living aspect of it. Of course I’m on board with that. We’d have our own organic free range eggs, and probably have enough to share with family and friends. The chickens would produce fertilizer. And I know there are a bunch of other pros, but sometimes my mind wanders when Tim starts talking about chickens and now I can’t remember them (you can’t blame me, he’s always sneaking chickens in to our conversations!). I especially like the idea of not supporting places who raise chickens in confined spaces and in horrible conditions. We’ve all heard the horror stories. I try to do my best at the grocery store to get grain fed and free range eggs, but lets face it, how do you really know what you’re getting. On that point alone, I almost convince myself.

And yet, here I am still not wanting them. Crushing any hope that Tim might have at pure happiness. But before you make me out to be the bad guy, here’s the other side of the coin.

  1. Tim doesn’t eat eggs. Neither does Emma. In fact, they both don’t eat eggs or chicken.
  2. Yes, there’s the obvious and not so good reason of: what will the neighbours think. I admit, not a good reason not to have chickens, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t on my list.
  3. We had fish once. What do fish have to do with chickens? Well, I didn’t want them in the first place because I knew that I wouldn’t want to clean the tank, and that I’d probably forget to feed them. So the kids promised they  would feed them, and Tim took on the job of cleaning the tank. So I said fine. Lets just say that Emma is the only one that kept up her part of the bargain. So in the end, we returned the The Three Amigos and Pleco to the store. (Did you know that they buy them back from you? We actually made a 50 cents profit I think.)
  4. Chicken poo and bird feathers. I’m not sure if this is a valid point yet. I have to look into it. But truth be told, I don’t want chicken poo (even if it IS good for your lawn) and bird feathers everywhere. There’s a baby crawling around, and two tweens running around. I don’t know, maybe it’s not that bad. Feel free to comment, all you chicken owners.
  5. The constant clucking sound of the chickens might drive me nuts. Again, not sure about this one. I’d have to go to a chicken farm and see how loud they actually are. But a bad mood tends to creep up on me when there is constant background noise like the low hum of a radio. Perhaps since it’s a natural sound though, it would be fine, and even peaceful.
  6. Travel. I want to travel. What do you do with a bunch of chickens if you want to leave for a few weeks?
  7. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, Tim’s job requires him to be away months at a time. What does that mean apart from the fact that I will be tending to the kids, the cooking, the cleaning, the shoveling/mowing and other maintenance, and our soon to be large organic garden on my own? It means I’ll be looking after these chickens and all that it entails.

So there you have it. My reasons, whether they are good or not.

So I ask you, if they were going to be in your backyard, would you have chickens??? And those of you with chickens, what are the actual pros and cons? Please feel free to comment and explain as much as your heart desires. Perhaps I can be swayed (Tim would love you forever).

The Home We Left Behind

The past few months have been extremely hectic. Buying a house, selling a house, taking care of a baby while surrounded by boxes, plywood and power tools, making sure the other two kids transition well, cooking in a half functional kitchen (you really have to think ahead when your fridge is two levels down from your kitchen), and so much more. Tim and I wanted to start this blog when we first moved in to keep track of our renovations and to show out-of-town family what we’re up to. But really, who has time to blog when they’re renovating?! Well, renovations are at a standstill right now, which is why I’ve been able to start putting up posts.

One thing I really wanted to write about a while back is our old house. In all the madness of the past few months, we sold and moved out of Crystal St. and we hardly had time to say goodbye. Leaving was definitely bitter-sweet for me. I loved that little house. I lived there almost as long as I lived in the home I was raised in.  Just short of twelve years. Twelve years! Hard to believe I’ve been an adult long enough to have owned a house for that long. Sure doesn’t feel like it.

There are many, many, many memories attached to that house. With my family always being in and out of the city/Country, it had become a constant for everyone. Lots of good BBQs were had, Christmases, kids’ birthday parties, family ups and downs, tons of renovations, and lets not forget the most important, 3 pregnancies. The list goes on (and on). I loved that house, it was home.

This being said, we were ready to move. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say, I was ready to move. Although it was cozy, it was a little too cozy when family came over. Unless it was summer and the kids could play outside, it was like being trapped in a small box. It was always dark in the living room even on the brightest of days. This being due to the fact that it was a semi-detached and there were no windows whatsoever facing South. Another big thing is that although I absolutely loved our neighbours, it wasn’t the ideal neighbourhood for the kids. It was like a small (tiny) Oasis surrounded by major streets and questionable areas. Emma and Jeremie are getting older every time I blink, and I really wanted to give them something more. A kid friendly neighbourhood, a larger yard, a safe street where you don’t have to worry about cars racing down. And then there was the renovation aspect of it all. Tim and I put in lots of time, money and effort into that house (which is why we loved it), but we knew that anything else we put into it we would never see again. That and we were restricted by the fact that it was semi-detached. Couldn’t build up or out even if we wanted to. So that’s how we came to move. And now we’re on to new and exciting projects. Making our new house into a home.

Just to say goodbye properly, and for those of you who didn’t get a chance to see it before we moved, here’s the home we left behind. Looking at these pictures, and looking at the state of the house we are living in now, I REALLY miss it! But we’ll get there eventually with this one.

Our home on Crystal Street just before selling

Living/Dining room. As you can see, not much room to entertain a large family.

Living room

Dining room

I loved the amount of privacy we had because of the trees in the front yard. No one could see in.

Had we stayed, the kitchen would have been on our reno wish list.

Oh how I miss my fridge!

Main washroom. Tiny.

The office was never actually this clean I'll admit. Well, not my side anyway (the one with the Mac). This is the only room I preferred before de-cluttering to sell. The walls are too naked for my taste

Jacob's room - I loved that little hole in the wall Tim built. The kids called it "Caste Castle Big Castle" and it stuck. That's how everyone referred to it, and it was never shortened for the sake of convenience. Before it was Jacob's room, there was a ladder and Emma and Jeremie used to play up there.

Master bedroom

Master Bedroom

The downstairs kitchenette. After we decided not to have tenants anymore, we converted it into a craft room for the kids.

Downstairs living area. We put the table there to show potential buyers what it would look like as an apartment, but we used that space as a playroom.

Family room downstairs

The kids' washroom

Jeremie's room. The coolest part about this room which, you can't see in this picture, is that we built him a secret space behind a sliding mirror.

Emma's room. The reading nook acted as another bed for guests to sleep.

Back and side yard

Note: These pictures were all taken for the sale of the house. It took SO MUCH WORK to get it ready, especially in the short time frame we had. It’s all the little things that take up so much time. We definitely couldn’t have done it without our families!! Everything from watching Jacob, to packing, cleaning, fixing and everything else that goes into making a house perfect (which is a hell of a lot). Thank you SO MUCH! We have the best  family ever!

Walls of Seed

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Have you ever had a bad dream where the walls are closing in on you and everything stretches out in front of you like a long blurry corridor with no end in sight? I have. Today. Except that it wasn’t a dream, and the walls were made up of thousands of seed packets and at the end of these walls were more seed packets.

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This is just a glimpse of the seeds that can be found at Ritchie Feed and Seed. I was trying to be inconspicuous while taking a picture, as I didn't want to disrupt the other, obviously more knowledgeable and far less overwhelmed, customers.

Holy geez man, where do I start?! There’s a perfect phrase for this in French: l’embarras du choix. Even now, writing about it, I’m not quite sure where to start.

There were billions of seeds. Okay, that’s an obvious exaggeration but that’s how it felt. I came across some familiar terms from the research I’ve been doing the past few days. Heirloom, okay, I know what that is, not necessarily going to try that this year. Organic, I’d like to go that route. But that’s about as far as I got. How many types of each vegetable are there? When I go to the grocery store, there is generally one type of whatever it is I’m looking for. If I need butternut squash, I just take the one that looks good. I need carrots, I’ll go for the organic ones.

There was a man there, buying seeds. He was tall, thin and had a very pensive and calm look about him. I bet he has a beautiful garden at home, full of perfectly grown vegetables which he takes care of impeccably, probably in silence. In hindsight, I should have shadowed him and grabbed whatever he did. The big stroller and not-so-quiet baby might have given me away though.

After going up and down the isles aimlessly for a bit, I picked up a pack of Sweet Basil. That was my first mistake. Sweet Basil as oppose to…..  I should have picked up cilantro. I think there is only one kind, but then again, I could be wrong. Beside it I saw a slightly different looking packet of Sweet Basil. And then another. I turned the corner and found even more. So I put the pack I had in my hand back on top of the rack (there was no way I was going to find its rightful home at that point. Kind of like putting back a card at Hallmark after you’ve been shopping for 15 minutes). So what did I do? I went to the book section. Books sooth me, I love them. I looked them over and found one that looked interesting and useful. I continued on to the counter and decided to ask the guy for help. The thing about Ritchie Feed and Seed (from past experience anyway), is that their staff is extremely helpful and knowledgeable. Except for this guy apparently. He basically just said that there are a few companies I can pick from and… that’s about all he had for me. Thanks for the help bud.

So I left with no seeds, but a very nice book. I think it’s safe to say that my first attempt to buy seeds resulted in a major FAIL! On the bright side of things, I asked the girl at the cash about pear trees and they get them every Spring. I am SO excited for this! I’ll be first in line. As for seeds, I’ll do a bit more research to narrow down my choices and try again. If I get there and the walls start closing in on me again, I’m just going to close my eyes and pick a bunch of packets at random. Who knows, I might end up with a garden full of zucchini and beets.

Vegetables up 8.3% – Time to Start a Garden

I was listening to CBC in the car earlier today, and Statistics Canada just came out with the latest Consumer Price Index. According to the report, food prices have gone up 4.2%. More specifically, meat has gone up 6.5%, bread 9.9%, and vegetables 8.3%.

It’s a good time to start a garden! A bread maker is looking like a good idea too. Wasn’t it not that long ago that bread was $1.99 consistently? Now $3.99 seems to be the norm and that’s for the regular stuff. Now if only I could have some cows… (No Tim, still no chickens!)

Is it just me or does anyone else go to the grocery store to buy a few items, and come home with $250 worth of stuff?!

Is a Seed, Just a Seed?

I’ve decided that my plant killing days are over. If I can raise kids, I should be able to grow plants right? On second thought, kids are more hearty. Nonetheless, I’m determined. Tim has big dreams of a big garden and sustainable living and I refuse to be the non-gardening spouse and miss out on all the fun. I’m already the non-fun spouse who refuses to have chickens. So I’ll start small(ish).

First project; to revive our existing indoor plants that stare at me accusingly as I type away.

Second project; start seeding in preparation for our outdoor garden. I was reading last night that this needs to happen in February and March. I’ve got to get my butt in gear. This project will take quite a bit more time and effort as I know nothing about gardening. The “Green Thumb” in “Hard Hat Green Thumb” has nothing to do with me. But it will, oh it will! My original plan was to go buy some seeds from Canadian Tire or somewhere of the sort, until I stumbled upon this blog: http://veggiepatchreimagined.blogspot.com/

Apparently, not only should you buy your fruits and vegetables organic, but also your seeds. See post called Sourcing Plants and Seeds Part II – Vocabulary TMI. Even the name of the post is intimidating! There is an overwhelming amount of information about seeds. Who knew?! Probably many of you, but not me! Terms like Hybrid vs. open pollinated, heritage/heirloom vs. traditionally bred, wild collected vs. raised local or otherwise, grex, mix or landrace. Okay, some of those terms are self-explanatory, but I still need to figure out what I need to get and where. Maybe I’m over reaching and a seed should just be a seed at this point in time. Sigh. If anyone has suggestions for good books or sites on gardening for beginners, feel free to send them my way. I’ll take all the help I can get.

On another note, as I was researching last night, I came across this site: http://vegetablepatch.ca/. Pretty interesting concept. You lend these people a portion of your yard, they have a team who comes and plants, takes care and harvests a garden. In exchange, you get a basket of vegetables every week once the crops are ready, and you’re doing something good for the community. This particular company is in Ottawa, I’m not sure if it’s something that is taking off everywhere but urban farming, as they call it, is all the rage right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

Time to get working. It’s already mid-February.

Last year's humble beginnings

Unexpected Gestures

To tell you honestly, I’m undecided about Valentine’s Day. Whenever I hear someone saying, “I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day”, I think to myself, what’s not to believe in? What if it is a Holiday made up by greeting card companies. Then don’t buy a card, hand-made ones are better anyway. Or just do something special for someone. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. A nice hot cup of coffee brought to you in bed so that you don’t have to get up just quite yet has I love you written all over it.

On the other hand, I don’t feel particularly attached to the day. Receiving over-priced flowers bought from the girl outside of the LCBO at the very last minute isn’t really that special to me. When a Valentine’s Day comes and goes without even a card, I don’t find myself feeling angry or bitter or thinking that he loves me any less. I think Tim and I have come to an unspoken agreement. Some years we’ll celebrate it, other years we wont. We don’t want to have any expectations or yearly routines that don’t take much thought, or feel that we have to do something if we’re not feeling it. I think we both feel the same… unexpected gifts or gestures are the best kind. They actually make you feel good because you know the other person did it because they wanted to make you happy. Those types of things are good any day of the year. And they are just as good on Valentine’s Day.

That’s why tonight when I received a call on my cell at 10pm from a young guy who was outside my front door, and who didn’t want to ring the doorbell in case I had kids he would wake up, I was a little confused. My first thought was, Do I open the door to a so-called delivery guy at 10 at night? That thought was quickly replaced by Tim got me flowers!

Unexpected and perfect. He never gets me flowers and that’s just as well. But once in a while, it makes a girl feel good! So this year, I vote for Valentine’s Day.

My first ever flower delivery

 

Gerber daisies for me, and chocolates for Emma and Jeremie

Thanks hun! Happy Valentine’s Day to you too. Love you and miss you. xo