...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


all in a day's work

As if we needed one more reason that chickens are amazing, here it is:
Once you have chickens, you no longer need to rototill!

Just let them do what they do best,
and you'll be ready for a garden in no time.

(I love that the chickens help support my lazy gardening inclinations.)
Thanks, girls!

Check it out -- this is after just one afternoon. 
Look at them go!

Buffy's taking a water break.
You've got to stay hydrated to do good work, after all. 

Specky started clearing this in no time flat.  
Look at the great job she can do!

She quietly goes about her business, with impressive focus and stamina. 
They all have excellent attention to detail. 
No bug, worm or tick goes unnoticed...

But after a hard day's work in the gardens, a girl needs a good rest and a good bath. 

And if you're a chicken, you need a dust bath.

The girls create these little hollowed out places to roll about in.
They take their wings and fluff as much dirt up into all of their feathers as they can manage.
They literally get as dirty as they possibly can. 
What fun!

You can get an idea of how gross Buffy gets here:

It might look like it's all just chicken fun and games, but it's really good for other reasons, too.

As the old hens say to the young hens:
A dust bath a day keeps those mites away!
(and other parasites, too!)

When they've lounged enough in their little dust nooks, they get up and shake it all off.
 It creates a big poofy cloud of dust for a moment (reminiscent of "Pig-Pen" from Charlie Brown).

It's a real hoot to watch. 


a social story about coping with budging, chicken-style

Life is good in my favorite spot. 
Just chillin', waiting for that egg to come on out. 

Except some days my sisters come in squawking at me.
They want my spot.
They want to lay their egg, too.

I say no. 
This is my spot.

Sometimes they try to bribe me. 

Not even for some extra mealworms, I say. 
This is my spot.

Not even for a better place on the perch.
This is my spot.

Even when they try to walk all over me...
when they step on me, and try to nudge and budge me aside. 

Oh NO.

Not this girl.

This is my spot, I say, in my important voice.

I use my I-statements: 

I don't like it when you try to budge and take my spot.
I want you to please stop.   

Nothing's going to ruffle my feathers.

I will stay in control. 
I will take deep breaths.  
I will count to 10.

If nothing else works, I will get help if I need it.

This is my spot.


Some elementary school humor - I just couldn't resist...!

All silliness aside, in the end, our Brahma stood her ground! 
Jersey ended up choosing one of the other five (apparently less desirable) nesting boxes
(sort of like some kids really want to be in the very front of the line and hate anything else).
No matter how many times Jersey stepped on Brahma and tried to squeeze in there,
NO WAY, NO HOW was she going to give up her spot!  

Great job, girl!
You get a sticker and your sister gets a sad face!



I like mezuzahs.

First of all, there's the word itself.
Anything with two z's is fun to say (!)


I had never seen a mezuzah before I met my partner.
At first I thought it was just some funky decorative thing she had on all of the doors. 
Then I began to wonder why they were all crooked, but not randomly crooked -
they all lean in the same direction. 

Some quick internet research says that the crooked slant is because
different groups of Jewish people couldn't agree on which way it should be hung. 
Some thought vertical, some thought horizontal... 
So they compromised and it's in the middle, with the top pointing in towards the house. 

Mezuzah means 'doorpost'
and putting one on your door is supposedly a mitzvah (i.e. good religious deed).
The scroll inside has a Hebrew prayer called the Shema on it.
For the Shema prayer scroll to be the real deal it needs to be hand-written
by a specially trained scribe with a special quill with special ink on parchment.

That's a whole lot of special.

Some people have a ritual in which they touch the mezuzah
and then kiss their fingers as they leave or enter their home.

Many mezuzahs often have specific symbols on them.
There's the shin and the chamsa, both visible on this one above.

The shin is the top symbol + may have multiple meanings from what I've gathered.
The shin resembles the two lower ventricles of the heart,
and the Jewish people are to love God with all of their heart. 
The lines of the shin also resemble the 3 valleys in Jerusalem.

The chamsa (or hamsa) is the upside-down hand, 'The hand of Miriam' or Moses' sister.
It's a sign of protection against evil (note the evil eye in the center of the hand). 
Other religions and cultures use a similar hand symbol, as well.

In the end, I interpret the mezuzah in my own way...
very liberally and simply, to mean that the home is blessed.   

I like the idea of blessing each space, so we have some on our interior doors, as well.
Now I'm thinking about an art project:
I think it would be fun to write one's own doorpost blessing
(whether religious, spiritual, or not!)
and then encapsulate whatever that may be
into a beautiful object that you'll see as you come and go each day.


lazy gardening

So maybe there's no such thing as a lazy gardener.
All gardening is a good amount of work and a labor of love,
or at the very least, a labor of wanting to eat.

But if there is such a thing as a lazy gardener, I am it. 

But I forget about that every year when I go crazy going through seed catalogs,
 planning what amazing things I could do.

The problem (besides my lack of stamina for back-breaking labor!)
is that we just don't have any really prepared areas in which to grow anything.
We're working on that this year. 
Maybe next year we'll have created "room to grow." 

As of right now, here is my lazy half-baked method:

Sugar Daddy Sugar Snap Peas
(after germinating in a wet paper towel in the kitchen for a few days)

I walked out of the house with my little sprouting peas in hand
and this looked like as good a spot as any!
Why not?

Oh FYI: 
Pressure treated lumber contains arsenic and will leach into your soil. 
Last time I checked, no one really wants to eat arsenic. 
 Kind of defeats the purpose of growing your own vegetables.
So, have your soil tested if you want to eat anything that's growing right near pressure-treated lumber. 

Here's some space in the front flower gardens where nothing has come up yet. 
I planted some peas here, too...

I guess we'll have to wait and see if my laziness will work or not!


seeing things

A moment in time on a pussy willow branch
just a few days ago
(now it's bursting green)..

But the day I took this, at first glance,
it reminded me
of our 7 little hens
all in a row
settling down on the branch
the way they roost on their perch at night.

Even the spacing is about right -
5 girls on the left and 2 girls on the right!

Funny how when you love something
or someone
you start to see the rest of the world through a lens
that makes you think of them
and the things you love about them...


spring palette

One of the things I love most about this time of year
is watching how much changes in such a short span of time... 

Here's the morning to afternoon progression of a single crocus, for example:

and helleborus:

Life is changing all the time, but it's so evident in the earliest spring.  
The world gets greener by the minute. 

I visit a spot in the garden, walk away for a little bit, come back to the same spot,
and it's like a different place. 

Such clear evidence of how dynamic and truly alive everything is.  
Always moving.
Ourselves included.

 No matter how much we feel we are stationary or still,
we never are. 

I love the way color is coming back into the world,
in little sweet spots, all over.

If the senses are open,
some colors simply take one's breath away...


thoughts on canning

The process of food preservation has always entranced me.
Especially canning. 
The steam.  The bubbling pots. 
The shiny jars all lined up in rows.

It's a magical alchemy of sorts, invented in the kitchen laboratory. 
(I am a mere assistant, as with all things in the kitchen.)
I pit and peel, hull and husk.  
I gather jars, fetch tools, prepare shelves, write labels. 

The finished jars are like time capsules, full of the relationship
between earth, sun and water.
A given plot of land, and the seed that was tended there.
The hands that did the tending and harvesting. 
The flavor of all of those things,
culminating in that moment. 

I get sentimental when I walk down into the basement in the barren months. 
I look at the jars, all those little moments in time,
wishing I could step back into those moments, just for a little while.  

(I wish I could do that with non-food things, too... 
If it was possible to preserve the best moments from every day,
I'd indeed become a hoarder.  I'd fill every available surface with jars!)

Not that I don't love to be in the present moment. 
But everything is precious.

I may not be able to go back into those summer days, sticky with juice and freedom...
But I can do the next best thing.
Open them, savor them -- eat them!

And while I'm eating, I imagine those days in the hot sweaty kitchen,
and know that they will come again.

And when we're preserving food in the summer, I imagine the days in the winter,
when I will be so grateful. 
And that I am. 

I love most of all how things transform. 
There's something about the process, between point a and b...
it's like there are wings involved, some sort of flying.


turns into this
(the middle row = applesauce)

and this:

turns into this: 
rows and rows of tomatoes, suspended in time. 

This past year was transformed into juice + plain tomatoes +
'Geneva sauce' (tomatoes from the Geneva farmer's market),
+ puttanesca sauce and shiitake marinara.

San Marzanos make the sweetest sauce, we all agree.

See, we have a little bit of a problem.
We love to stock up for the winter. 
We fill up the shelves, like chipmunks hoarding a store in their underground units.

We are nutty about it.
So nutty that I'm embarassed to show you how at the end of the winter season
we have three full freezers,
and more rows than this of still very full shelves.

Clearly we overestimate how much we need.

The kids always joke about coming here to do their grocery shopping and
if there's any disaster involving food shortage and survival, this is the place to be.

I think they think we're crazy and we probably are.
If craziness is measured by how many pickled things you have...

we might be certifiable. 

 But hold onto your horses for the jam:
Quite a situation.
We should plead temporary jamsanity.
Who needs this much jam?!
Probably no one. 
Certainly not us. 
Apricot, blueberry, cherry, elderberry, peach, plum, raspberry, strawberry...
These shelves go 3-4 jars deep and are stuffed with jams, jellies, and chutneys.

But that doesn't seem to stop Bootsy from making it. 
Maybe she is addicted to the magic of preserving, giving food wings. 
All I know is that when fruit ripens this season,
I'm going to have to hide the canner.


our little farmette

Go ahead and laugh.
Sometimes a girl just has to make do... 
And we're making do with this as our little farmette. 

Besides the chickens, this is as close to having farm animals
as we're able to get on our little 1.92 acres. 

Meet our sleepy flock of sheep and the friendly resident horse, Vicki Adaire!

They make us smile...
And the obvious bonus: there aren't any chores or vet bills!


a tulip with a sense of humor

I love how this one looks like it's licking it's chops after a delicious meal...