Well, it’s been a few days since I’ve gotten my chickens and I think it’s a good point to sit down and see how they have affected our life here at home. You see, what you may not realize is that my husband and I are trying to see if perhaps we can have a third child. Something that has been a constant with both my earlier pregnancies is exhaustion – I have very little energy during the first trimester. So naturally, while planning for that event, I come up with a wall because I am the sort of person who always has 3000 projects going on, and I definitely do tend to overload myself.
One of the things I was especially concerned with was this year. After all, this is the first year I’ve really lived out in the country – I’ve spent the last few years learning how to garden, compost, bake bread, make cheese, and tons of other “homesteady” things and now is when I finally get to put it into full-time practice! It’s a lot of work, though, and takes a lot of time in my day. So naturally I don’t want to end up with tons and tons of things I have to work on, then find myself pregnant and unable to do much besides keep up with the minimum daily chores.
I got chickens because I have concerns about the food supply in general, in addition to the decreasing value of the US Dollar. In trying to become financially independent, I want to reduce our food costs. Having chickens will basically get me free eggs, since the eggs we can sell will pay for the ones we eat. Even just with 5 hens, and I’d like to get 5 more so I can make a little money. Anyway, I noticed something funny this week.
I knew they wouldn’t be a lot of work, but I had no idea how well they worked to structure my day. The responsibility of having the hens that need to be let out in the morning and then locked up at night has actually been a very very positive thing. It gives me a “set time” that my morning starts – and instead of being in my PJs half the day, I make it a point to get fully dressed before I go out there and let them out. Somehow, I am able to be more productive when I am fully dressed rather than when I am in PJs or lounge pants. I know some people who are the opposite (and my feet are opposite… I get LESS accomplished when I wear shoes inside as opposed to going barefoot). I am probably COMPLETELY boring you now! But this is my blog, so there. 😉
Anyway, it’s been really interesting. It really did remind me of when I took the TV away, how I thought the kids would be more clingy but it ended up making them more independent. Once I’m up and fully dressed, the girls get up around that time so I can fix them a breakfast and get started on the chores right away. Before, it’s been a real push to get the morning going, and took me a few hours to really get in a productive mindset.
The other really cool thing is the effect that they have had on the girls. I can’t remember if I’ve posted on this before, but the girls have been having a hard time adjusting to this backyard. The trees are tall, the weather is cool, it’s often rainy and when it’s not rainy, the ground is wet. The fruit trees are bare, there’s not much that’s interesting to them. Our old yard had toys and was in a neighborhood so didn’t feel so lonely, perhaps. In any case, I was getting frustrated because if I wanted to go outside to do yard work, I had to do it during naptime because they would NOT enjoy themselves outside. Try as I might, but I was having a really difficult time teaching them how to just enjoy the outdoors. We’d go outside, and 2 or 3 minutes later, my tough Little Rambo would be whining for me to pick her up and they would just be crying to go back inside.
Enter the chickens! Now there’s something fun! There’s a fun chicken hutch to play in, and just watching them is fun. They make the yard seem friendlier, and even the kittens are enjoying being outside more. The weather has also been nicer the last week, which is great (and blue skies today, I am so excited!), so we’ve really had a great time. What’s more, I am now able to get things done like working on the chicken hutch, or cleanup, or whatever it is I need to do outside, and the girls just do their own thing. The other night, Ballerina Girl even willingly went outside with the chickens by herself! She knew I was watching her from the window, but I was making dinner so I told her I couldn’t go with her… and she still went! I was very proud of her.
So all in all, it seems like once again I did something that I expected to increase my workload but the overall effect was actually a greater efficiency to my day. It’s wonderful.
So with that said, I am ready to move on to my next project. I was going to set up my shelves for my grow rack yesterday… and the hardware has apparently gotten lost in the move. So now I have shop lights, and I have the actual flat shelves, but nothing to put them on. I’ll be doing some jury rigging today because I need to get plants started. Yesterday we stopped at Lowe’s and they had 2 cubic feet bags of vermiculite for $8.50, so I grabbed two with some more bags of finished compost. I still have some coir from my seed blocks, so I can now make potting soil. Which is good because I have tons of grape cuttings that need some love in addition to my seeds!
So if anyone needs to know how to set up a grow rack to start your own plants, stay tuned. I’ll be throwing something together here today or tomorrow. Today is shaping up to be a really nice day… blue sky outside which is a good sign that we’ll get a lot done outside. Dinner is Corned beef in the crockpot, so even that won’t be much prep.
Happy St Patrick’s Day, everyone!