[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Today, K came over and helped out. This, coupled with the help from Big Event and the random tree removal folks, means that despite my plummeted mood (hello, Depression, who invited you?) things are still toddling along.
cut for pics and such )
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Quick update, then I'm back out into the yard. :)

Yesterday was Big Event. For those not in Aggieland, Big Event happens every March, and those of us who sign up get four hours (ish) of help from a group of volunteer Aggies. I've participated a half a dozen years now, twice as a student, four times as a member of the community, and it has always been a good experience.

This year, I got 8 girls from a Christian Sorority, all of whom were enchanted by my poultry and impressed with our efforts to grow produce. They swept off the gutters, helped me gather about a tree's worth of branches and sticks from around the yard, and took all the wire down from the old chicken pen, salvaging what they could. They also raked up leaves and placed them near the current pen for me, and organized as many bricks etc as they could find so that they are easy for me to re-use. :) I let them go early cuz they had worked so hard I ran out of things to do that weren't obviously adding on things to my job order (which is a no-no).

Later in the afternoon, the rental neighbors had someone over finally taking the big limb off the tree (it cracked during the ice storm and has been laying on their roof since). I went over as they were finishing up and asked if anyone needed cold drinks...fetched water, and as I handed the last one to the one who seemed in charge (he got to drive the heavy equipment) admitted I had an ulterior motive...what would he charge to take this small ugly tree down in my front yard?

He did it for free! :)

sweeeeet

Between that, and finding a pile of old fence boards on the side of the road, I feel pretty darn happy. Karma even gave me a chance to give back when two teens fundraising for a trip to DC came by that evening...I gave them my tip money.

Happy day.
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
er...food.

I just wanted to note here that I attended a four day retreat this weekend, and came home with four 5 gallon buckets of food scraps.

Four big buckets packed full of food that would have ended up in the landfill, wrapped in a plastic bag, that will now be fed to chickens/composted instead.

My point is: don't be afraid to ask.

I find, over and over, that if you show up at a birthday party, at a potluck, whatever, and say: "do you mind if I put this lidded bucket here for food scraps?" people say "sure!" and tend to co-operate really well with it.

I was really pleased with the reception the idea received at the retreat this weekend, and more than 50 people (everyone there) spent the whole weekend dutifully scraping plates into the bins before heading to the kitchen to wash up. Heck, they even dragged the buckets into the kitchen during meal prep so they could put the food scrap results of that activity in there.

I came home with 20 gallons of food.

It turns out some of them were even grateful for the opportunity. Pleased to be able to send the food somewhere that it wouldn't be wasted.

So invest in some lidded paint buckets (we had the handle break on a full one during the process of loading the truck. Those lidded 5 gallon paint buckets seal really well. It hit the ground...and stayed closed) and don't be afraid to take one with you to the next food oriented event you attend. Chances are good, if you check with the event's host, you can set up an easy way for people to be a bit more environmentally friendly, and end up with food for your compost  pile (or chickens). :)
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
We have lots of green tomatoes refusing to ripen on the vine, might be time to pull out the frying pan.

Our chickens, after the recent loss of one, seem to have settled in and are recovering from the overcrowding at the other place, so that now we are getting an egg every couple of days. Not bad for a relatively cold time of year. We even had an egg two mornings in a row recently. This makes me happy.

At this rate, if you calculate the cost of layer feed to the number of eggs we are getting, we are paying about 40 cents per egg...but since we are also getting "happy", and scrap management out of them, I really don't care a whole lot about that. I want to expand their space and then get some more ladies next year, bringing our flock up to the 10 hens we are allowed, but for now: happy happy to watch my ladies clucking and scratching about. Eggs are just a bonus. Eventually we'll need to get more eggs out of the girls to support their upkeep, but for now....

Chickens!!

I'm in love. :P

This is the lady who meets me at the gate each day, "Top chicken". She was a little unsure about this flashy thing I had brought with me, and was letting me know that even as I snapped the picture.

The other girls decided that if Top Chicken was nervous, they were going to the other part of the pen, thank you much....little did they know that I have a sport option,and running from my camera will not keep it from capturing their souls.


And on a "greener living" note: we haven't turned on the a/c or the heat for a month, with the minor exception of a few hours during a recent party. The house could still use some insulation, but I have to say, starting with brick is a lovely thing. Our neighbors down a few blocks got solar panels for their house, which has me completely envious, and we recently attended Go Green First Friday in Downtown. It is so lovely to see all the little corners of environmental consciousness poking up about town. :)
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
It occurred to me, as I was visiting a friends whose permaculture project is further along than mine, that you all might want to read about what other people are doing, if only to see that it isn't just us. Plus, of course, all of us can learn from each other what works and what doesn't, and you never know where the next "oh, of course!" idea will come from.

I have contacted two people directly, email will be sent this week to a third, to ask them to participate. If you are reading this, and I haven't contacted you, but you would be willing to share with us what you are doing with your urban/suburban/rural lot to convert it to permaculture or xeriscape or wildlife habitat, please contact me. I'll send you the interview questions and a personal email address where you can send pictures to be included (no identifying house numbers or street names please--let's be internet safe).

Of course, there are many ways to live greener or more simply that don't involve converting your yard, as I was recently reminded on the [gogreenbcs] yahoo list, and every one of them counts. I'd love to hear what you, our patient readers, have been doing. So if you please, leave a comment here, tell us what you and your household do to help the earth! I'll add that information to my "informal and highly unscientific survey" post (coming soon to a blog near you).

remember 1+1+1+1+1..... and pretty soon we are talking real numbers. What you do counts, even if all you do is something "tiny", it matters.

So what do you do?
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Ok, I've been really bad about posting lately, many of you already know the power supply on my pc blew and I'm having to share computer, but also I've just been lazy, so here's a quick update.

The chicken pen is taking longer than we thought, mostly because life keeps throwing us curve balls, but progress is....progressing. Basically, we have all the posts in for the main section, and the two rows of poultry netting in place that make up the walls, and a kind helper came and installed the privacy fence panels left from our last project to make the walls of the eventual-coop section.

This means what is left is putting the poultry netting over the top (more to keep predators out than to keep chickens in, if our dog was worth anything we wouldn't need this part *grin*), wire the top and bottom panels of netting together (I wish they sold 6' poultry netting here, but they don't), and put paving stones around the inside at the bottom of the wire. We actually didn't know we would need to do that last part, but our chicken-experienced friend came over to check things out (thanks [livejournal.com profile] laughingturtle !) and informed us that if we want to save headache later we should do that now. She informed us that  chickens like to scratch holes in their dirt to give themselves dust baths. I knew that part, what I didn't know was that they have a decided preference for doing so at the EDGE of their pen....and then escaping through the resultant hole.

Suburban chickens + hole in their panel= unhappy neighbors. So we will absolutely want to do the paving stone thing.

So complicated.

On a fun note, we attended the monthly Brazos Progressives potluck and met several other suburban folks with backyard chickens. When they heard we were installing a pen we were regaled with funny stories about their own building surprises and some really hysterical tales of what happens when city folks are faced with their first egg and/or butchering.

It was good to hear others walking this path and know, without doubt,  we aren't the only ones who are finding the practical is often more complex than the theory.

If [livejournal.com profile] gryphynshadow  hasn't told you, she has her first tiny broccolis starting on the now very-much-larger broccoli plants, and we have a few strawberries, they just aren't red yet. She plans to harvest the first crop of (tiny) onions this weekend, and I'll try to get pic updates to you as soon as my pc is back up and running.

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Suburban Permaculture Project

May 2011

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