Full of Care

So.  We are renovating the chicken coop.

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We are effectively doubling the size of the fully insulated, winter cozy, multi windowed coop. This, at a time of year when we simply do have a spare moment to take on an extra project.  All because we have broken our cardinal rule: do not become too attached to chickens!  Or, in this case, hen.  That sweet little Phoenix hen was my gardening companion all summer. And I grew to love her. I like to think she feels the same, but who knows?

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If you recall, we introduced a new flock of babes to our one remaining hen last Spring.  (Click here to read that sad tale: Garden Share – July)   That flock grew to produce four roosters, and everyone knows that’s at least 3 too many. We were especially disappointed to realize that both of the Silkies are fellas.  But it is the two Australorp guys that are bothering that sweet little hen – driving her to distraction, and causing us some real concern for her health.  Those guys could really hurt her in their enthusiasm.  For the past couple of weeks I have been keeping her in a dog kennel in the barn and only allowing her to free range when the other crowd stays in.  But that is far from an ideal situation.  With the weather turning cold, I worried she was cold at night, all alone like that.  And I feared she was getting lonesome.  We knew we had to make some decisions.

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The solution is two of the roosters will have to go: one Ausralorp Roos and a Silkie.  We’d need two separate coops: one for the Australorp family and one for the Phoenix, Silkie, Houdan crowd.   Oh my, what a racket!

My carpenter (and mate) was home just for the weekend (between business trips) – and the rush was on!  Once started, it was important to get it done quickly and have every bird secure by mid-day Monday.  By early Monday morning, conversation went a little like this: Him: “Janet, I don’t think we can do it!  I don’t this we can make it!”  Me: “just focus on one task at a time…… focus! What do you want me to do?”

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Which is how I got the exciting job of removing nails from boards.  I learned, the hard way, to take care not to kneel on this upturned nails.  And I tried not to comment (too often) about poses such as this which include too many blades and limbs.

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In spite of all that, or maybe because of it – it’s amazing what can be accomplished with a firm deadline, we managed to finish to the point in which all birds are secure for the week.  This weekend we will insulate and finish the interior.  They will be snug and ready for winter … And no one will be sleeping in the dog house.

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So, that’s how we came to be renovating the chicken coop.

weekly photo challenge: careful

Happy Place

“Now and then it is good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy”  – Guillaume Apollinare

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Hirtle’s Beach

If you challenge me to state my “happy place” I won’t do it.  It’s not because I’m being difficult, or because I am unhappy.  But rather because I have found happiness in so many “places” I couldn’t possibly pin down just one.  I am happy in all the usual places like in my home especially (like this weekend) when my kids are around or in my garden, or touring on my bicycle.  I have found great happiness in the most unlikely places such as stuck in traffic with a good friend, or in a hospital (specifically in a delivery room when my sons were born).  So, I think happiness has little to do with place.

This weekend our boys (plus one girlfriend) and a group of our friends gathered here at our place to help us harvest our grapes.  That generosity made me happy.  Seeing those grapes off to the winery, taking all the fretting and worrying with them, made me very happy indeed.

Today, with all that work behind us, and weather feeling more like summer than mid autumn, Son #1 and I drove to his favourite beach, just to look at the water.  It’s only 10 minutes from home. This boy has just graduated from university and is in the process of sorting out the next steps in his journey – trying so hard to get it just right.

We are lucky to live in a place that is literally surrounded by beaches. But this one.  This beautiful place with more than three kilometres of sand facing the North Atlantic is a pretty special spot.

For a moment this afternoon, standing there together, with our feet in the sand and the sun on our faces, drinking in the gentle surf and the breeze …… well, that was a lovely moment of happiness.

Happy Place – weekly photo challenge

Bearing Gifts

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Change always comes bearing gifts – Price Pritchett

Perserving season is here.  The time for hovering over bubbling pots.  Here, some lovely local peaches and pears change into a delicious (and favourite) chutney. If I don’t preserve anything else this season, this chutney is a must.  We reach for it in the deepest of winter to accompany any warming curry we are having for dinner.  But today, with the sharpness of the vinegar and the sweetness of the fruit rising from the pot, this house smells absolutely glorious!  Here the recipe – a gift for you…..

Peach & Pear Chutney

4 each, peach, pear & onion and 12 tomatoes (all peeled and chopped) into the pot.  Cover with 1 pint of vinegar, 4 cups of dark brown sugar and 3 tbsp of pickling spice (tied in cheesecloth). Bring to rolling boil, then reduce heat to simmer until reduced by half (may take a few hours). Pour into sterilized jars.

weekly photo challenge