wee chicks! (and a giveaway!)

Wow so this whole urban chicken thing is supa popular in Missoula. I wanted to add two more hens to our flock and couldn't because the chicks would chirp right on out the door of Quality Supply every Thursday morning before you could say cluck.

So, I got in touch with Kathy in Stevensville who is quite passionate about her chicks and thought that just maybe she might have a few extras and she just might hold them for me. I lept out of bed (well, more like roared and rolled--this second pregnancy is waaaay more tiring than the first) Saturday morning, grabbed coffee and my bug and hoped in the auto on a chick mission.

We scored two adorable, puffy cheepers: one golden sex link, like Clementine, and one buff orpington. Even though my husband holds his breath and says really? when I talk about again converting our guest bathroom into the brooder, I did it. The space is the perfect little pullet playpen.

And, oh, Margot just swooned over the itty girls. I think I'll name one Wow because that is what she says when she sees them. That and quack quack quack quack.

So, my perfect playpen nearly killed the chicks on day one. I happened to be downstairs on Saturday night and heard extraordinary cheep cheep cheeping. I peaked in and the shower stall was full of water and the tiny girls were wet, shivering and awkwardly perched on the tiny rim of their food dish. Something is fuhcockta with our pipes and the water came up from the drain. All the chicken books say chicks can drown in like 1/2 inch of water and here were my survivors in a lake. My hens have some mean instincts.

So, after a not-fun clean up, they are in a recycling bin. It'll work for a few weeks until they are too big and then I need to figure something else out.

I am taking name ideas. The lighter one is the buff and the oranger one is the golden. Pretty please don't suggest buffy and goldie. Perhaps strong names of survival and badassness both because they made it through a flood and they'll need some ego (or, eggo! ha!) when they are introduced to the already-existing flock as the minority duo. And one might be Wow. If I pick a name you suggest, you win a set of dig postcards! Hope you aren't tired of that as a giveaway. I think you'll like them. (And, the sale is still on too.) I am into giveaways as I just won my first ever! So, get creative and leave a comment.

In other hennery chat, the girls are loving this spring weather. And they are so friendly. And as much as they love to strut around our backyard and dig and scratch and peck and cluck and get their butts scratched, I fully realize the torture caged, de-beaked hens endure. It is so worth the extra $1 or two to purchase eggs from a reputable farmer. Do it.


rain barrels, yo

We received our rain barrels months ago and I have been anxious to get those puppies installed. The big ole once-pepper barrels had already been retro-fitted by Clean Air Gardening and as this chick's sponsor, they sent them to me in trade for my product review. Thankfully, it won't be awkward because the system gets two green thumbs up.

Why collect rain water? It is free, better for plants and the environment. Cities treat water using minerals and chemicals to protect humans who consume it. Rain water is softer than city water making it easier on plants.

I have wanted barrels for years and have been hunting for some sort of giant container that didn't hold anything toxic which, as it turns out, is hard to find in Missoula. One time I called the Pickle Barrel because, duh, I imagined all those huge, wooden containers that once held brine and cucs just waiting for my rainwater but the snot that answered the phone laughed at me. There are no barrels at the Pickle Barrel.

SO it was all a snap. I got to pick which barrels I wanted and I chose these because they are repurposed and cute. I also chose simple rain water diverters to move the water into my barrels.

It all came with easy-as-pie instructions and pre-drilled holes and a spigot. My handy man sawed a chunk out of our downspout and inserted the diverter. It took a bit of banging and coaxing because we have ancient gutters and downspouts that are cylindrical and the diverter is intended for the normal rectangular ones. But, it works like a charm.

Then we placed the barrel, screwed in the stopper thingies, the spigot (you can barely see it at the bottom) and the screen to avoid crud in the barrel and curious furry creatures from falling in. Voila.

The redirector is simple: flip the dealio up when the barrel is full to avoid a flooded basement and swears.

The back barrel installation required thinking outside the box and a husband who loves me and tolerates rain barrel problem solving when he'd rather be painting in his studio. Here he is thinking boy, this is a blast. I sure adore my wife.

See, there isn't a downspout on the back. Water just niagras off the roof. So, Andy installed a cap on the end of the gutter, drilled a hole, attached a chain, cut a hole in the screen and look!

And, it rained the next morning so I peeled outside in my jammies to capture the water beautifully cascading down the chain into the barrel.

And, yay! It all works and after about 15 minutes of rain, they are both nearly half full. I could easily add on because these barrels have two pre-drilled holes at the top of the barrel where, eventually, I could attach a length of hose to connect another cute, red barrel.


here and there

79 degrees this afternoon as I huffed home from work on my bike with trailer carrying toddler behind. It's here! The weather that keeps me outside and away from other obligations and needs like laundry, errand running and writing.

We had a busy weekend full of seeds and rain barrels, friends and shared food on patios. I am quite behind with seed planting but, eh. It'll produce. My seeds arrived from High Mowing while I was away so the little nuggets of promise have been yearning for my tidy placement in the soil. I planted eleventy hundred peas and spinach. And, turnips, which apparently are not parsnips.

See, I ordered turnips and was all miffed when package arrived because they don't look like parsnips because they are their own vegetable with their own identity and such and well it is embarrassing but we'll enjoy them I'm sure.

My man and I cooked all day on Saturday, in between seeds and weeds and watching bug in her new bonnet, an epic Italian gravy for our supper club meal to be held in our backyard, the first outdoor dining of the 2009. yay.

The evening was splendid even though I couldn't comsume the oooohhh aaahhhh yummmm wine because, it turns out, bug's going to be a big sister. Yep.

This pregnancy is slightly more planned than the last and I am very excited but also freaking out about how I will stretch my attention and love even more...est ce que c'est possible? Is my hug big enough? Hard to imagine loving anyone as much as my sweet bug. But those mind-blowing essays will be written on the other blog because this blog is about the stuff that isn't kid although I am realizing that it is all me--a great big swirl of a kid and chickens and gardens and dog and cats and running and sewing and eating and creating and perhaps bug and dig need to unite into one blog so I can stop having conversations in my head about whether a post is appropriate for one or the other...anyway. I am pregnant! Turns out I am rather fertile. Holy shit!

Sunday we took a lazy morning walk after washing at least a million dishes (I gotta get my hands on one of them dishwashers).

I cleaned out the garage (I swear I slept better that night what with all of my sharpie labeled boxes and whatnot. Plus I found things like my cabbage patch dolls, Tara Nicole and Chelsea Leigh) and made two cobblers in the afternoon, one with berries for Andy and Margot and one with apples for my ladyfriends to share over dinner and non-alcoholic beer. Well, they actually drank white wine and IPA. The apple cobbler needed more sugar in the filling and I actually think the cakey topping is just better with dark fruit. The original recipe calls for plums and ooh daddy is it delish with plums.

cornmealy batter for fruit cobbler:

2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold butter, cubed
3/4 cup milk

Mix together the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter until crumbly. Slowly add milk and stir. Form little patties in your hands and place on top of sugary fruit. Cook on 375 degrees for an hourish.

I am not nauseous or anything but avocado completely freaked me out tonight. Andy had to scrape it off of my salad and leave no trace or I was afraid I would hurl. Also, I do look about how I did with bug at four or five months which is totally weird because I am like six weeks pregnant. The bean will emerge on or near bug's second birthday. Oh the wild ride. Bug is just so fun so a little sibling for her will be grand. As long as the sibling is less twitchy than the chickens. She's not so sure about the chickens.

How was your weekend? Do you have some news to share, big or small? Do tell.


well hi there

I think that is my longest blogging siesta ever. And, boy is it hard to get back on that horse with hundreds of epic photos and even more stories. So, I'll just start and stumble around between my garden, Portland and Point Reyes.

So, I managed to toss my arugula and lettuce seeds in a bed before leaving on our adventures. I had to do it on the sly, while Andy was in the basement or shower, because if he saw me digging in the dirt when I was supposed to be cleaning the chicken coop or packing for bug and me or calling to stop the diaper service or other boring stuff, then he would have said babe, come on. So, like a good wife, I frantically dug weeds, tilled soil, added compost and sprinkled seeds all without him knowing and then stayed up too late doing my chores.

And then we landed in the car for a very long car ride through a blizzard to Portland.

Eventually we arrived in sunny, buzzing-with-life San Francisco on April Fools Day. Really, I am not joking. And, on that day, I had my first blind blog date. Finny (scroll down on her blog to see a picture of us all happy together and her story is hilarious, as always) and I had fun over afternoon cocktails and gardening and running gab. It was normal and she isn't scary. It was a relief that she wasn't actually a nutty serial killer representing herself online as a cute knitter, runner, gardener, dog-lover.

Then, Lindsay's car was towed and things like that are way way more expensive in California (a parking ticket in Missoula is $2), drove over the Golden Gate Bridge to San Rafael, gabbed and stared at each other, ate, drank cold beer and swooned over bug.

Then we drove up the whole reason we were there: the wedding of our best friends. The pulsing green of Petaluma. Holy shit. All the food freshly plucked or killed like eight feet from the table. We hiked in the hills through thick trees, grooved to the groom's music, hung an art show, strung lights in a hay barn, arranged flowers (plucked eight feet away), danced (bug got a blister from tearing it up on that floor), gabbed and stared at each other, ate, drank cold beer and swooned over bug.

The trip was entirely too short and I miss my girls.

photo by Paige Green

But wait! Then we went back to Portland. Oh, that city tugs at my heart. A big ole Missoula is what it feels like to me. Portland rivaled Petaluma for green. We even caught some sunshine on our first day although I actually love the gray of Portland. It is crisp and clean and with all that fluorescent green everywhere...the palette was edible. We did eat a lot there too.

And took it easy with bug's aunt and uncle over neighborhood strolls and thick coffee in the days and guitar strums and martinis in the evenings. The city parks blow my mind. We saw some great art. We found an easter egg hunt. Lots of laughter, talking about our cute dogs and, of course, swooning over bug.

And then the drive back was really long with many stops.

But we returned to tiny arugulas and lettuces and tall, skinny garlics!

And, today, the chickens discovered new green under old leaves and I sowed peas. It's good to be home.

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