Thursday, December 30, 2010

Moving past the Holidays

The Holidays are a crazy time with senseless shopping, running around delivering gifts, trying to make sure everything is just right for that "big" day. And for what? The opening of presents. That's all that seems to matter. But, here in our house, we wait until after breakfast to calm the frenzy. It wasn't too bad this year...not many unthoughtful gifts. In fact, my second eldest daughter came home and stayed overnight. She helped with dinner and everything was nice. Family time. And then it was over. After dinner, my sweet older girl hightailed it out of here with any ride she could find. She had things to do, man. And I thought, "Thank God Christmas is over!" Another year survived.

We stayed up and watched the eclipse on December 21, the Winter Solstice, and that seemed more real to me than "Christmas." The moon turned red, or more like a faint peach color, glowing in the night sky. It was pretty cool, and although I was more caught up in the color and shape of the moon, seeing it from an artist's perspective, I realized that the short dark days were coming to an end, and that this moon, this solstice, ushered in a new era of more enlightened thinking for our planet, for our culture...I hope.

I have been noticing the lengthening of days already, even by a mere few minutes a week, and it lifts my spirit as another Christmas fades into the past. My darkest hour. It sure feels like it sometimes. I took the tree down this year two days after the big event. Some years it comes down the day after. To my surprise, some of my family members are still giving gifts. What? It's over! Let it be over! I don't want to shop anymore. I have a huge family and feel inclined to give after receiving. I know it's nonsense. The whole thing is nonsensical really. Back to the pagan holiday of Yule- giving a "gift" was supposed to be a moment of joy, of brightness to ward off the oppressiveness of the long, dark nights. We bought the little ones flashlights for Christmas, and they love them more than anything else and they have been warding off the darkness nonstop. Some of the gifts we get at this time of the year make me think of a commercialized society. Token gifts. Why bother? I have to figure out how to turn this thing around so it becomes more about time spent together...good food, good music, good conversation. Let's lesson the hectic pace of Christmas just a bit.

We also closed on our house in the Springs this week, and as I signed the papers and handed over the keys, I tried not to cry as I said goodbye to my old Victorian girl. She's a beautiful house. Wrong place and way too expensive for us, but I loved her dearly while we were enclosed in her warm safe, homey arms. Great memories. But now, we can focus on our little farm here and move in another direction.

Chicken fort
Richard has been moving chickens around. For Christmas, I got the stinky baby chicks out of my "studio" (spare bedroom, storage, office), which is a delightful thing. The babies in the big coop moved up to the chicken fort in the upper garden, and the little babies, including my white silkie moved down to the "brooder" in the big coop. Musical chickens.

chicken house in chicken fort
Reds in new chicken fort

This new chicken yard gives us the ability to separate flocks. The new babies will comprise a new flock of twelve. The older chickens in the big coop are still having issues with plucking each other and a general bad attitude since I had those lavender guineas in with them, and even though the guineas are gone, the weird behavior continues. I don't want any of my new chickens picking up these bad habits. The chicken fort in the upper garden will allow us to use the chickens in that garden for bug control and fertilizer.

We are still working on fencing and hope to get the north east corner of our property done with the pallets to allow the chickens in the lower garden, the aggressive poultry, more room to roam. Maybe if they have more to do, they will stop beating on each other. Maybe they are fighting over Charlie the Roo. Maybe I should take him out of the picture. Who knows.

On a side note, the two little fuzzy chicks are still tiny in comparison to the faster growing standard size layers. I've had them separated by twos in their respective rubbermaids in my office. The little black and white Cochin is the tiniest of all, but carries the biggest attitude. I wonder if it is a rooster. Ever since I've had him, when I change out food and water, he/she attacks my hand, and not just a pecking, but a hold on and tear off the skin kind of attack. He/she is a little pit bull of chickens. I was thinking of allowing him to grow enough to turn into dinner maybe, but when I moved all of my youngest chicks down to the brooder, the little Cochin Napolean seems to be getting his own dose of abuse--getting stepped on and chased by his new/old chicken room mates. And I, being who I am can only feel sorry for the little guy. Is it his fault he's smaller than anyone else on the farm? I suppose that would give anyone an attitude problem. His future remains open as we wait and watch the chicken antics in establishing a pecking order. The little white Silkie is still the cutest thing, her feathers growing over her eyes like some crazy Andy Warhol hairdo. I love her, still.

So, with the hectic holidays, we are trying to play catch up. It might snow tonight, believe it or not, so we are trying to get the animals and the farm ready for the storm and the very cold temperatures that are predicted. We have to hook up some sort of heat for my two remaining guineas, who ideally should be warmer than chickens, so Richard is on his way into town to get some hay for the llamas and extension cord for a heat lamp for my pet fowl. I really don't like cold, or snow, but we sure need the moisture. We had a weird day last week when it rained all evening and never turned to snow. In Colorado? Weird. It felt like some Spring or Fall night when I went out to put the chickens to bed. Warm. Odd weather is a comin' and we better get used to it, I think

Other news? Well, we took the Billy and Lily the goats back to their home. Breeding time is over and hopefully all the girls will have babies in the Spring. We have to order more kid jammies for the little ones that will be coming. Goat pajamas are the cutest. We sent out a flyer on the CSA with Christmas cards but still have no takers, yet. We are still trying to rouse enough interest locally to purchase a dairy cow communally, sharing milk, expenses and chores. If we could afford to buy the cow outright, we would and just sell extra shares, but we don't have the $1300 a local dairy is asking for their bred yearling Jersey. So, we may have to wait on a dairy cow. And we are working on turning the dining area of our kitchen into a more friendly public space to hold classes in the future.

We recycled some dressers and found some cheap plywood that will be stained to make into a desk/counter/workspace area. I'd like to get real cabinets, upper and lower to hold our canning supplies, dairy supplies, soap making supplies, etc.

Also thinking of putting in a three compartment sink. It is so difficult to wash those big cheese and canning pots in a standard kitchen sink. Would it look too weird, I wonder? Planning a greenhouse on our patio, on the south side of our house. If we could turn it into an enclosed space, it would get solar gain to let heat into the house and we could of course grow our plant starts out there. I'd like the south side of our modular to turn into the front face of an Earthship. Wouldn't that be something?

Found some leather scraps to sew on the bottom of my felt slippers. We did finish a tin can man which we gave to my mother for Christmas. It's a big hit, but I forgot to take pictures. Working on another. Always staying busy here on the farm. So much to do with kids, animals, crafts, gardens to plan and remodel projects. The next year will be full of wonderful things!

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