My Renovation Blog

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Backyard Chickens- Literally

We've been taking the chickens outside for a few minutes, two at a time, but tonight, we decided to take them all out together and let the roam for the first time in the backyard.

It was all good because they had their regular bodyguard...

But apparently, they still don't love grass because Pepper jumped up on my toes, and eventually, this happened....

Oh, and have I mentioned that my children, you know, the ones that OWN chickens and are supposed to help me, won't hold the chickens?  Every other child that has come over has held them.  But mine won't.  They won't even let them be on their laps unless they put paper towels over their legs.  Awesome.  This is how close Everett got to them while outside...


I made my first juice yesterday.  I'm not going to lie, it's not the best thing I've ever tasted!  It's not disgusting, but it's not great.  I still think I can do it for only 3 days...I just need 3 consecutive days where I'm not in trial and don't have big weekend plans.  That's the biggest challenge!

The kids were dying to try the new juice.  Ella was NOT a fan.  Everett LOVED it.  Seriously- he's crazy!  He couldn't get enough.  Enough of kale, cucumber, celery, ginger and apple- I barely liked it, and I love vegetables, so I'm shocked that he loved it.  This is definitely my new sneaky way of getting random vegetables in him.

Since I haven't started the cleanse yet and can still eat solid food, we made these delicious organic hamburgers tonight- I highly recommend sauteing red onions in olive oil with salt and pepper until they are almost caramelized and putting them on your burger.  O M G.  They tasted just like onion strings without the breading and deep fry.  I was eating them plain.
Just feta, onion, and meat wrapped in lettuce.  YUM.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Juice Cleanse

I'm doing a juice cleanse!  And that's all the crap I had to buy just for my pre-cleanse (I want to try some of the juices out before I do the real thing).  Oh yeah, and I had to order this juicer.  Who wants to do it with me???  Anyone?  Anyone?  Hello?  Bueller?  No one seems to be very interested in drinking only vegetable juice with me for 3 days!

We all know how dangerous it is when I watch movies (Food, Inc. = raising chickens), but we re-instituted our Netflix account so I spent the weekend nights watching a bunch of those Food, Inc. type movies, which in turn inspired me to cleanse out my toxins and attempt to start cutting some of the processed foods out of my (and the kids') diets.

I watched Forks over Knives; Hungry for Change; Food Matters; Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead; and Vegucated.  By the way, if you're interested in cutting out all meat, watch Vegucated- it seriously made me want to become a vegan- disturbing.  Except that Gary informed that he will NEVER stop eating meat.  I could NEVER stop eating dairy.  And I can't give up leather!

So anyway, my goals are:
  • To do Joe Cross' 3-day juice cleanse;
  • To get the kids to like these veggie packed juices (which I don't think will be hard since I don't allow juice at home so they will likely love anything that's not water or milk!);
  • To have 1-2 juices a day after the cleanse (hopefully as a meal replacement sometimes);
  • To start eating a mostly (or much more) plant-based diet and cut out as much processed foods, gluten and sugar as possible;
  • To get healthy!!

We'll see if I can even last though the 3-day cleanse.  I'm not very good at sticking to anything that involves not eating McDonalds (I kid!  Sort of).  Plus, it's super expensive!  You are supposed to only use organic fruits/veggies, and I only bought maybe 1/3 organic at Trader Joes (which has pretty good prices), and it was really pricey.  I can't imagine what it's going to cost when I go to Whole Foods to get organic everything.  I really want to buy non-organic, but how can I cleanse out all my toxins if I'm putting toxic pesticides in?! 

This whole trying to be a better, healthier, more environmentally caring person is really a lot of work...especially when you love McDonalds. :)

Oh Pepper...

Guess who learned how to fly up on to the side of the crate?

And guess who thinks it's extremely entertaining?

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Ella grew her first zucchini!

And we promptly made two batches of zucchini bread. :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bring on the Eggs!

I'm really excited for my organic, cage-free, fresh eggs...too bad I probably won't get any for at least 5 more months.  Most people still think I'm crazy, but here is a little tidbit that summarizes some of the reasons I decided to raise chickens. :)

Compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
The conventional egg industry wants very much to deny that free-range/pastured eggs are better than eggs from birds kept in crowded, inhumane indoor conditions.  Factory farm birds never even see the outdoors, let alone get to forage for their natural diet. Instead they are fed the cheapest possible mixture of corn, soy and/or cottonseed meals, with all kinds of additives.  The USDA isn’t helping consumers learn the truth, either: “Allowed access to the outside” is how the USDA defines “free-range.” This inadequate definition means that producers can, and do, label their eggs as “free-range” even if all they do is leave little doors open on their giant sheds, regardless of whether the birds ever learn to go outside, and regardless of whether there is good pasture or just bare dirt or concrete outside those doors!

And I have to say, taking care of chicks is EASY.  Like, really easy.  I'm sure it will get a lot more challenging (and messier!) when they are full grown, but for now, you get cute little cuddly (ok, they aren't so much cuddly) chicks that are super easy to care for.

And who could resist seeing Pepper stretch out her neck to sleep on Buffy?

I've already told Gary that I want to move again to have an even bigger yard.  With a bigger coop.  And more chickens. ;)  Here's a piece of advice for you- if you live in a house with a fairly smallish yard- stay there because you don't know what you're missing.  I was perfectly happy with the size of the yard at our tract home.  Now that we've gotten the taste for a big yard, and playing with the kids back there, I want an even bigger yard!! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Weekend...More Birthdays!

We had a bunch of birthday parties this weekend again, including Jaxon's bowling party, which was the first time the kids have bowled- they loved it!

We had some fun dinners with friends...

And Gary and the kids worked on the chicken coop and run.  Well, Gary worked on the coop, and the kids locked themselves inside- brilliant!

More Chickens?!

Our three new additions arrived this morning from Ohio!  Introducing, Buffy II, Buttercup and Oreo...

I took Oreo's picture next to the other Barred Plymouth Rock, Pepper, to show the size difference.  These chicks are born only FIVE days apart, and I'm shocked at how much our original batch grew in just 5 days!!!  I read that chicks grow at an alarming rate, but geez, this is crazy!  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chickens- Our Motley Crew

Although I found it near impossible to get good photos of these little Mexican jumping beans, I tried!

Elsa (Easter Egger)

Anna (Easter Egger)

Goldie (Red Star/Golden Buff)

Lacey (Silver Laced Wyandotte)

Pepper (Barred Plymouth Rock)

Their new best friend, who is a little overly obsessed with them...

Their new larger brooder...

And my photo assistant. :)

The local feed stores did not have any baby Buff Orpingtons so in order to replace Buffy, I had to order THREE more chicks because they cannot ship less than 3 at a time or they will die.  Oy Vey.  So I ordered two more orpingtons so in case another one dies, I have a back up!  And another Barred Plymouth Rock because they are my favorite looking bird.  In case anyone talks to Ella, the story is that Buffy had a tummy ache and had to go the doctor, but she is feeling better and will be able to come home on Tuesday.  Ella asks about her EVERY day.  Now I just need an explanation as to why we have two additional chicks!

Friday, July 11, 2014

New Chicks and RIP Buffy

Our chicks were born and shipped on Wednesday so we had to get their brooder all ready.  Ella made a sign that said, "Welcome Home Chickens"...

They took less than 24 hours to get here, and since I'm trial, Gary had to take the day off to pick them up and care for them (which is funny since he is not into the whole chicken thing!)...

So it should be a happy day, but the buff orpington (named Buffy) seemed weak since she arrived and wouldn't eat or drink.  I was forcing her to drink from a dropper but couldn't get her to eat.  We assumed she was stressed from the travel, but all the other chicks were great, eating a ton, drinking walking all around.  She kept to herself like in this photo...

So I put her in her own box so the others wouldn't pick on her...

But this morning, she was gasping for air.  I just held her and she kind of jumped out of my hands so I put her back in her box, and she stretched her legs out and stopped breathing.  I cried!  I'm SO sad.  Of course, she was Ella's favorite so the first thing Ella asked was, "where is Buffy?"  We told her that she is at the doctor's office because her tummy hurts, and we're going to try and replace her today because I think the feed stores carry that breed.  Even Rylee loved her!

I knew that it's not uncommon for a chick or two to die upon shipping, but I didn't think I'd be so sad!  Maybe because I was taking so much care of her, holding her, feeding her, etc.  RIP Buffy!

Now on the other hand, one of our Easter Eggers, who Ella named Elsa, is a total b*tch!  She picks on everyone, won't let anyone sleep if she's not sleeping- definitely the alpha.  I put her in timeout sometimes. ;)

Their names are Elsa, Anna, Goldie, Lacey and Pepper.  And hopefully another Buffy will surface today before Ella gets home from school.  I'll post a photo with which is which later.  Once I'm out of mourning!