Adventures With Chickens

I’ve wanted chickens for a long time. But to be honest, I was a little scared of them. I never really dealt with livestock before outside the occasional visit to a local farm. We had ducks when I was a kid, but they seemed a lot less intimidating. But for the the past few years I still longed for chickens, and the eggs they gift on a regular basis.

It finally happened for me bout a month ago. After getting over my fears by house sitting for a friend with chickens, I learned that it really wasn’t that hard to do. So I read multiple internet sites, checked out books from the library, did a skill trade with a friend to build the coop, and got my first two girls. I couldn’t have been prouder of our first egg if I’d laid it myself.

And the whole thing continues to be an adventure. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Yes, You Can Pet A Chicken

Chickens can be trained to come when called, and if handled correctly (hands over those wings to prevent flapping) they can be petted and rather tamed, depending on the breed. I started by just spending time in the coop so they would get use to me. I try to handle them at least once a day, holding them close, speaking in soothing tones and petting them gently. But remember chickens can have a lot of germs. No kissing, seriously, and always wash your hands after handling your girls.

Pecking Order Is Real

If you think politics are harsh, check out what’s going on in your coop. I started with two hens that came from the same flock. Although this was a new dynamic for them, they quickly figured out who was in charge. Dumpling is my dominant Sussex. She’s the largest of my hens and the most vocal. She hems and haws a lot when she’s not happy with one thing or another, but overall she’s a good egg (layer). Her flock mate is Teriyaki who kind of just goes with the flow. After a couple of weeks we introduced two new girls to the mix, Noodle who’s barely 6 months old, and only just laying, and Paul,who is likely a few weeks ahead of Noodle and laying daily. ¬†When we introduced the new girls to the flock, Dumpling went full on Heather. Almost immediately her personality changed, and it became very clear that Dumpling is the HCIC. Paul it seems has more moxi than is good for her, and thus gets pecked from time to time to remind her who is in charge, but she is more or less accepted into the group. Poor Noodle, the youngest, still timid and not at all assertive is not in the clique yet. Paul is accepting of Noodle, and I’ve seen Teriyaki being tolerant of Noodle on the sly, but sadly Noodle is not a Heather yet.


Chickens Are Smart

When you see their dinosaur legs and relatively small craniums, it’s easy to write chickens off as stupid animals. They’re not. The first few nights we had our girls it stormed. The wind howled, it rained sideways and the shelter we had was not nearly sufficient. So, we put the girls into the dog kennel, set them up with food and water and shavings, put a blanket over the kennel and called it a night. No problem. After the second night of this, I slept in a little later than I should have. The girls were not amused. I was awoken by a clatter. When I got up, I found that the girls had somehow figured out how to open the crate, and were perusing the kitchen for crumbs and food from the dog’s dish. Now Dumpling believes this is her right. If the sliding door is open enough for her to get her head in, she will shimmy until the door slides to let the rest of her in. While we don’t mind her detailing the kitchen floor, I’m not sure how long the dogs will be tolerant of her poaching. And sadly, any service Dumpling performs as a floor detailer is negated when she shits on her way out. Meanwhile, Noodle has figured out how to scurry under the chicken wire around the raised garden beds.

Chickens Talk

I never knew chickens had so many vocalizations. They coo and purr when they are content. They cackle when they are annoyed and want to be free of the coop in the morning. They scream when alarmed or startled. And they sing a song of self congratulations when they’ve laid an egg. Some hens talk more than others. If learned that Teriyaki is most likely to sing after laying. dumpling complains the most. Paul is my drama queen and most likely to scream over the slightest thing, and Noodle, we don’t hear much out of her beyond quiet timid clucks.

Overall, I find Operation Chicken Keeper to be a great success. We love the rich, flavorful eggs, but oddly, love our chickens even more for providing us the eggs and for enriching our lives. We spend a lot more time outdoors now that we have chickens, and enjoy their daily adventures as though they were our own.

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The Truth About Materialism

This blog has taken a turn over the years. And yes, I’ve been focused on living a frugal and simple life. But, a recent influx of cash has changed my tune. Money it seems really does make me a better, happier person! 

Now that I’m well, rich, and can buy everything and anything my heart desires, I see the world for what it really is: mine for the taking. It started with clothes. I put every single item I owned in the trash. No one could possibly want them, no one in their right mind that is. Then, I hit all the stores, only bought the most recent  styles and now I feel great! Why shouldn’t I? What I wear tells. The world I’m better than everyone!

Next will be my car. Because of my immense wealth I must display my happiness with my mode of transportation. Everyone will know how wonderful my life is because I ride around in a car that costs as much as a house in most states. It’s fabulous! And I can tell that people are so happy for me. This vehicle is like bringing joy to everyone.  

April Fools Day , interior of a gold plated ridiculous car I don’t know what I was thinking before I could have all these things that make me so happy. Did I really think happiness would come from a rich and fullfilling life? And who wants to spend time figuring out more ways to be frugal when I can focus on showing everyone how amazing my new life is. Yes, I had it all wrong. Materialism is wonderful. It’s granted me a life full of the best of everything, exceeding my needs and thus granting me a life of true riches. It’s changed everything, even my credo. You can learn more about how materialism is truly better than anything else here.  I’m sure you’ll agree. I had it all wrong before. 

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5 Tips For Spending Less

  Ok, I admit it. I recently fell off the wagon, the thrifty wagon that is. I can’t really explain it. I just started spending money with reckless abandon, well reckless abandon for me. I ordered things on Amazon, bought shoes, and clothes that I actually needed, and a few big ticket items, like a new roller carry on bag. Most of the clothes were admittedly second hand, and those bought new we’re 75% off, so maybe I didn’t do so bad. But my recent spending spree reminded me that I need to remember not to spend money unless I really have to. So here’s some tips for Not Spending Money that can help us all spend less: 

 Brown Bag It

Eating out for lunch even only a couple times a week can run you between $8-15 dollars a day. Not to mention snacks and coffee. Your total spending for food on the go can quickly exceed $20 a day if you’re not careful. Even if you only do it a couple of times a week, that’s up to $2080 a year. Better option? Brown bag it. Spending a little bit of extra time in the kitchen to prepare food you enjoy will not just save you money, it could make you healthier. Don’t forget the snacks when packing your food for the day. My favorite is baby cut carrots and homemade humus!

Be Prepared

Sometimes we end up spending money on things we already have at home but not with us when we are out for the day. It doesn’t hurt to carry a few essentials to avoid purchasing duplicates in a pinch. I typically carry a small first aid kit that includes nail clippers, a small pair of scissors, needle and thread, cutlery rolled in a clean cloth napkin, pens, a notebook, multi tool and the end part of a roll of duck tape. Don’t forget a couple of heavy duty zip lock bags. Also keep an eye on the weather and carry a compact poncho or umbrella to prevent sudden unplanned purchases. Reusable water bottle? That’ll save both you and the planet.

Cash & Carry

This may seem counterintuitive, but I tend to carry cash for my spending money, and never more than $15 at a time. That is my spending money, and once it’s gone it’s gone. Now, of course I have my ATM card for emergencies, but I generally only use it for planned spending like groceries or gas, not incidentals. One of the benefits of using cash is you get a very real sense of how much money you have and the fact that you’re handing it over for something else.

Ask “Do I Really Need This?”

This is a hard one: need verses want. It’s a difficult  balance to maintain. I’m not in anyway promoting a life of depriviety, but it doesn’t hurt to know what you really need and what you really want. I often ask myself “do I have something at home that will fill this need?” More often than not I do. By taking the time to ask myself this question, I keep myself from spending needlessly, and decrease stress by spending less and having less stuff at home to deal with. 

Plan For Big Spending

Now, who doesn’t plan for big spending? There aren’t many of us who just go ot and impulse buy a refrigerator, although I admit I did impulse buy a piano once. But that’s not the kind of spending I’m talking about. For me, big spending is anything over $40. Planning for Big Spending can help in a number of ways. For example, you can plan on how much you want to spend on a item and maybe do a little inteweb research to figure out who has the best price. It’s also a good idea to do product research to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money. By putting genuine critical thought into large purchases, perhaps you will be less careless and frivolous with your spending. I know I am.

Nobody is perfect. We all have unplanned expenses, maybe indulge in an impulse buy or two and may even purchase things we don’t want or require to fulfill an emotional need. It happens. But, by employing some best practices perhaps we can all fall off the thrift wagon a little less often. 

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