Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saving Chickadee

This is a picture of a non-injured Chickadee—our little friend was too sad to take pictures of.

In between Crossfit and our ill-fated bike ride this morning, Marc discovered a badly injured Chickadee beneath our plum tree. There is a large hole in the trunk of the tree where some of the chickadees have their nest. They love to sit in the tree and talk to each other and to the chickens, whose house is just below it. Our sad wounded friend was not quite a grown-up bird yet, still between babyhood and adult with soft downy feathers. At first, we thought the only problem was her foot was caught in a mass of string and hair which was stuck to a bit of a plant—likely nest making material. But once we carefully cut her free from the tangle we saw the situation was far worse. Her neck or spine was broken so that she could not hold her head upright, and if perched on a branch was looking at the world upside down. Every time she would try and straighten out, she would just end up spinning upside down and struggling to right herself, all the while cheeping pitifully. We initially took turns carrying her around the yard, which helped because she was more secure with something to perch on than just spinning around. Eventually we put her in a box under her nest to see if the other birds would come for her. They did come to visit and talk to her, but there was nothing they, or we, could do for her. I went online and looked up the closest wildlife rescue and called PAWS in Lynnwood (which also does wildlife rescue), who told me they would be happy to take her. The woman at the desk said it was likely she had crashed into a window or something similar. This seems improbable to me since she was at the far end of our yard, well away from any houses, and she was not at all able to fly or walk. I don’t know if they will be able to help her (the woman told me sometimes they can help this kind of injury, but I was skeptical), but if they can’t at least they will be able to put her out of her misery in a humane way. Sad little birdy!

Crossfit Fundamentals: Day 3-- how to over do it

This morning was my third and final fundamentals session with Jesse. Next week I start the Crossfit group classes. Every time I go there I am nervous beforehand, which is actually helpful because it helps propel me out of bed at 6am. This morning we were learning about deadlifts (after the requisite 30 squats, push ups, pull-ups and situps and 500m on the rower to "warm up"). I started with a PVC pipe again and quickly graduated to a 20? pound medicine ball. Naturally, I had to repeat these deadlift to a shrug and clean series over and over for abut a half hour. Once my legs were jelly-- then the workout began! I did seven of those, followed by seven "burpees" (possibly the most evil exercise ever) and then repeated. I was sweating, my face was purple, and I was barely functioning by the end. At the end of the second set of burpees I turned to Jesse and said, "who knew that push-ups would be the easiest part of my day?"

When I got home and I spent some time out in the yard with the chickens, had some breakfast and was feeling pretty good-- not as exhausted as earlier this week post-crossfit.

Marc and I had been planning all week to go on my favorite bike ride-- about 12 miles along the Burke Gilman Trail, along the Sammamish River. It's very flat, incredibly beautiful and just fun. However, when we got to the start of our ride, within 5 minutes I knew I was in trouble. Turns out this morning's workout already exhausted the muscles used for propelling a bike forward. By the end of the first mile I was dying. My legs just had no force left-- I kept trying to ride at a lower gear, but that just meant I had to pedal faster, so the pain stayed the same. I was riding so slowly I was passed by elderly people on tandem bicycles, a little girl on a pink bike with shiny streamers, and a couple joggers. We had to stop every mile until we got to about three miles and we finally had to turn around. There was no way I was going to make it twelve miles! By mile four I was stopping to rest or stretch every half mile. (Marc joked we had to stop every other blade of grass). I practically crawled up the stairs when we got home. Overdid it? yes.

I did pack a pretty awesome lunch for our bike ride. The picture above is of my kale-turkey roll ups. I bought multi-color kale last weekend, which I never have seen before. It is very flat, though you could make this work with lacinato kale as well. To each leaf I added a slice of deli turkey (nitrate free please), a little mayonnaise and mustard and an olive, which I wrapped the turkey and kale around. I secured each roll on a wooden skewer. It was quite delicious!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Seasonality vs. Sugar-free

I admit I'm breaking my own rule about buying things in season. Eating fruit really helps with sugar cravings and this time of year there isn't much in the way of local seasonal fruit. The apples are kind of mushy and everything else comes from California. So I've been buying grapes, strawberries and raspberries from California (that is the one thing I miss about living down there-- there is local produce available so much more of the year!)

Here's the thing: it's not as good. And I knew it when I bought them. My parents grew up in rural Oregon where in the summers they had jobs picking strawberries from the fields. As a result my dad is a total strawberry snob-- as long as I can remember he has waited patiently for the local strawberries to be available and turned his nose up at the giant, usually under-ripe California variety that are available much of the year. He is right of course-- but it's either fruit or cookies at this point so for now I choose fruit-- local or otherwise. In another month I will get to eat "real" strawberries, grown locally and twice as tasty. For now, I'm eating the not so great California version. Try not to judge me :)

Crossfit Fundamentals: Day 2

If last time was a squat (and run) apalooza, today was all about turning my arms and shoulders into jello. Today we warmed up by doing a repeat of my intro session, doing two? three? I forget, rounds of 10 each squats, situps, pushups and pullups (since I can't do a pull-up I get to jump up to it each time so it's cardio too).

After all of that we moved onto learning some powerlifting skills. I practiced military presses (pressing barbell straight overhead), squat presses (I forget what they are actually called but it's where you do a baby squat and then use the force of coming out of the squat to get the barbell over your head) and jerks (where you do the same as in the squat thrust but you do a little hop into a squat for more power) over and over and over (probably for half an hour) with a PVC pipe instead of a weight until I got my form right. Then I did three of each with a 30 pound barbell. THEN the workout began! It went like this:

7 military presses
7 squat presses
7 jerks
(all with a 20 pound barbell)
21 pull-ups

THEN I did that all again twice more, except the second time I did 5 of the weighted things and 15 pull-ups, then the third time it was 3 of all of those and 9 pull-ups.

Needless to say my arms and shoulders burned! I'm wondering if I'm going to be able to brush my teeth tonight!

After Monday's workout I had sore quadriceps, but mainly I was just exhausted. I slept 10 hours that night and 8 last night and both days really wanted a nap!

As for food: I've noticed since upping my protein and eating lots more fruit I don't really get sugar cravings-- at least not the physical kind.

Inside Chickens

Since the chickens moved outside a couple of weeks ago, they mostly were in their house at night. They spent all day digging in the dirt in their fenced run, or around the yard when we let them out to play. On Sunday afternoon Marc installed windows on either side of their house and they LOVE it. In the evening we go to the window in the back of the house and they are all lined up with their beaks an inch from the glass looking. They are so mellow then that I can open the back door and pet them without protest. Since the windows were installed they come outside to eat and then go right back into their house. Yesterday we finally opened up the front of their house (the whole wall comes off for easy cleaning) and coaxed them into the yard to play. They never cease to amuse me!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sad Energy

I was at a Naturopathic appointment at the Bastyr Center today and one of the student clinicians told me I have a “sad energy” about me and wondered what that was about. I told her I wasn’t sure, but the truth is that I just didn’t feel like talking about it. I am a little sad—I’m sad that my internship is going to force me to only see my husband on weekends for 9 months. I’m sad that so many of my very good friends from school are leaving Seattle in the next couple of months. I’m also exhausted from doing graduate school full-tilt while working several jobs for two straight years. And to some degree I’m still sad I didn’t get into the Bastyr internship. Are any of these horrific traumas in my life? No, and for the most part I go into each day with gratitude and have many happy moments. I don’t spend a lot of time sitting around wallowing in it, but there is in fact, a low level of “sad energy” that seems to follow me around lately. I would imagine some summer sun and finally getting an academic break would help a great deal.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Crossfit Fundamentals: Day 1

This morning I headed back to Crossfit for my first fundamentals training-- three sessions of one on one work with Jesse, my trainer, to both teach me proper form for the basics and to show Jesse where my weak spots are (there are many!)

First: after a little warm up on the rowing machine, I did countless squats while Jesse tweaked my form. I have a real tendency to turn my knees in and to favor my right leg, so we worked on trying to correct this before adding a dowel (basically a broom handle with no broom) for me to hold and attempt to hold properly without choking myself and still maintaining good form in my legs. By the time we finished that part my legs and hips were tired and we hadn't even started working out yet!

Second: Today's workout consisted of 15 of those perfect form squats with the dowel over my head followed by a quarter-mile run, which we repeated four times. Many of my friends are runners and probably could have sprint all of that easily and been bored out of their minds. NOT ME. I haven't run in at least four years due to ongoing knee issues and even before that I was never much of a runner. So today's cumulative mile was killer and I did end up having to walk some of it (not to mention those fun squats every quarter mile!)

I can tell I'm going to be sore tomorrow-- I'm already walking a bit gingerly.

As for food, I decided to clean up my act a bit. The national cross-fit org promotes a zone diet/paleo-diet type thing which is mainly a lot of fruits and veggies, good fats and lean, organic meat. I'm doing my own spin on that (true paleo shuns beans for some reason, and doesn't use starchy veggies which I'm not buying into). Above is my lunch today: Salmon salad with a little mayo, mustard and dill, olives, olive oil and vinegar and carrots with a side of berries. It was very filling-- I couldn't eat it all.

One day down-- who knows how many to go until I find my abs again. I took "before" pictures yesterday too , but I will not be sharing those until there is an "after" to compare it to!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Goodbye to sugar

Dear Sugar,

I'm sorry to have to say this, but we can no longer be lovers. We have been off and on for a number of years now, and every time I think you are out of my life you slowly creep back in. At best, it has been a tumultuous relationship. You have certainly been there for me during hard times, comforting me at my lowest points, but each time you turned around and kicked me when I was down. I don't like the person I am when I am with you-- you make me moody, emotional, cranky and bloated. Each time I tell you I need some space, you find your way back, telling me you can be more natural this time-- you are less processed, have more nutrients, are made by bees. You say, it's mostly chocolate I am hanging out with-- that I will barely notice you there. But each time you slide back into my life you are not content to stay a rare acquaintance-- each time you get me in bed with you and you have your way with me. I admit it's fun while it lasts, but the next day I hate myself for giving in to your charms and at the same time I crave more and more of your presence. So this time I'm saying goodbye for good. I have a feeling you won't even miss me-- I certainly will be better off without you in my life.



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A chicken update

Picture 1: the big kids hanging out on top of their house like Snoopy. Front is Olive, middle is Miss Kitty, left is Muffin, right is Liz Lemon, back is Skittles
Picture 2: Roxie, Flea & Marc

If you had asked me a few months ago if I thought chickens had wildly unique personalities I would not have thought so-- however my seven do.

The "big kids"
Liz Lemon: the leader of the pack, the biggest and the bossiest. She also has recently developed very large dark "eyebrows" that bear a strong resemblance to groucho marx's making her look rather menacing. She is definitely the top of the pecking order.

Muffin: definitely the noisiest. She makes this funny sound to announce everything she does, kind of like a little kazoo. She talks constantly and was the reason the chickens had to be moved to the back bedroom when they were inside because she is so loud! She is also my favorite as she talks to me and doesn't mind being held (once she gets over the trauma of being picked up). Muffin also seems to eat twice as much as the others and is a very enthusiastic digger, wiggling her chicken hips to get deep into the earth in search of bugs and worms. We also call her the bulldozer because she will barrel through whatever the other chickens are doing in an attempt to participate, including sometimes jumping on their heads or into my lap.

Miss Kitty: Is Muffin's sister but really has much less personality. She is often the last one eating after everyone else is asleep. Her adult feathers are half grown-in on her head making her look a bit like she has a mullet.

Olive: is the phoenix and the dainty girly-girl. She doesn't make much progress when she digs in the dirt and daintily wipes her mouth on the grass after she eats a worm. She is like the little girl on the playground in the party dress that doesn't want to get dirty and sits primly on the sidelines while the other kids play in the mud.

Skittles: is the baby of the big kids-- by far the smallest but she makes up for it by being the smartest and the best hunter. She is the only one that doesn't run away when I refill the food dish and she finds more worms than any of the other chickens. She will sit nicely beside me and let me pet her and is the easiest to catch.

The little kids:

Flea: is into everything. She has no fear and is constantly looking for ways to escape her box. The few times we have let the little chickens out with the big ones she immediately goes flying up to (or into) Liz Lemon which results in her getting pecked on and everyone getting yelled at. I'm not sure if she thinks she is challenging Lizzie, or just wants to make friends, but Liz does not appreciate it! She is also lightning fast which makes me nervous when she is outside because she's hard to catch.

Roxie: is the tagalong little sister. She goes wherever Flea goes and tries to do whatever Flea does, but she's a lot smaller and more fearful so she is not always sucessful. If Flea gets more than a foot away and Roxie can't see her Roxie freaks out and starts crying and searching for her.

So those are my kids. They are very entertaining.

Crossfit: an adventure in ass-kicking

This chick does Crossfit. You can see her before picture here.

So my experiment with Jillian's book died before it really got started, mainly because I went out of town two weekends in a row, but also because for the last couple of months I've been dealing with serious energy problems (i.e. I have none) which I think my naturopath is on the road to fixing now. Last week my hairdresser was telling me about her one time attempt at doing Crossfit. Crossfit for the uninitiated, is a military/police type workout which combines serious weight lifting with circuit training and some other stuff so hard you want to throw up all in a small class. It is somewhere between personal training, and a big group workout class. I thought I would only find such a thing in Seattle proper which is too far for me to go, but Crossfit is so popular that there is even one in Lynnwood.

This morning I went for a free let's see how it goes session. For the first few sessions you are not in a group. A very nice trainer who reminded me uncannily of my brother, had me doing squats (where I learned I've been doing it wrong for years), push-ups, pull-up type things since I'm not strong enough to pull up, and a lot of rowing on the rowing machine. Once I got the form down the workout went like this: 500 meters as fast as you can on the rowing machine, then 40 squats using perfect form with your arms over your head (my shoulders hurt WAY more than my legs), then 20 pushups (which I might have been able to do without my knees down if I hadn't just held my arms over my head during all those squats), then 30 sit-ups, and finishing off with 10 of those jump-up pull-up deals. Oh, did I mention it is timed? The Crossfit record is 4 min 30 seconds for the above. My time? 11 minutes and 8 seconds. My trainer told me the goal of the first day is not to die. I did not die, though during those squats I thought I might.

I have always liked working out alone. I hate aerobics classes because I am uncoordinated and it's too frustrating. Yoga is ok if the teacher is good, but other than a few months of going with my friend Laura last year, I pretty much do that alone too. I put my headphones in at the gym and zone out. But in doing that I also give myself permission to give up sooner than if I had someone pushing me. I'm also realizing that I am someone who needs people. If I don't have people to talk to all day for a couple days, I start getting depressed. Which is why I'm thinking a workout that has a social aspect as well as someone standing there making sure I do all 40 squats might be a good thing.

Crossfit is not exactly cheap, but it isn't that much more than I was paying for yoga. I'm seriously considering signing up to get my ass kicked all summer long.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Faux Phad Thai

One of the handful of dishes I make that does get Marc excited is what he calls "Phad Thai" though it really only vaguely resembles real Phad Thai. It's a great meal for Friday night if you are like me and scouring the cupboards for something to make for dinner on the day before shopping day because I tend to throw a lot of left overs in it.

Faux Phad Thai
Serves 4-6 (I make lots and we eat it for lunch for a couple days too).


1/2-3/4 cup almond butter
2 T peanut butter
2 T Ume Plum Vinegar*
1/2 cup Wheat-free tamari
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1/4-1/2 red pepper flakes
1 T sesame oil
1/2 cup of either soy, hemp or almond milk OR 1/2 cup of commercial phad thai sauce (gluten free is not easy to find though).

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth-- you may need to adjust amounts according to taste.

Phad Thai:

2 T olive oil
1 package brown rice "spaghetti"
14 oz extra firm tofu, drained and diced into small cubes
3-5 oz cooked chicken breast (optional)
16 oz vegetables (I use whatever I have on hand-- frozen stir fry veggies work well this time I used chard, asparagus, frozen artichoke hearts, corn, carrots and chard (including stems)
1/2 cup chopped almonds for garnish.

Cook noodles according to package instructions.

Saute tofu in olive oil until browned. Add diced vegetables and continue to saute until tender. Drain noodles and add veggies, tofu and top with sauce. Toss well and garnish with chopped almonds.

*Ume plum vinegar is fantastically delicious (it is kind of sour and tart -- I put it in lots of things). If you don't have it, rice vinegar will do.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Naughty Chickens

Yesterday evening I came home from a few errands after being gone most of the day. I was planning to take the chickens outside and glanced in the spare bedroom where they live on the way to my office to put my things down. Imagine my surprise and horror to see what you see in the above picture. Somehow the chickens had knocked their lid off the box (which was just a screen placed on top of it) and had escaped into the room. They look rather guilty don't you think? At first I thought maybe they had just gotten out right before I came in until I saw the extent of the... ahem... excrement EVERYWHERE in the room. That was the point it stopped being quite so funny. I had a hell of a time catching them again, chasing a couple down the hallway, under the bed, etc. When I finally got them all corralled again I called Marc who was fortunately almost home and said "we are having a chicken-mergency and I need you!" Then the chickens were taken outside for the final time-- they will not be coming indoors again. Good thing their coop was mostly done because it's moving day whether they like it or not! Then we began the very unpleasant task of cleaning up the mess, which we did in cranky silence, save for the occasional sniping at each other about the method of cleaning. I am very grateful that chickens are not all that expeditious-- I don't know what I would have done if I had found them on my couch or in my bed!

Despite my aggravation over their antics yesterday, my subconscious told me via some weird dreams and waking up before my alarm even though I was still tired that I was worried about my chickens on their first night outside. This morning I went out to check on them and found them pecking away on the top floor of their coop-- I could tell they hadn't figured out where their food (on the bottom floor) and water was yet so I had to shoo them down to the bottom floor, where due to a design flaw I also ended up letting Olive escape and had to catch her again. At least it is never boring in chicken land!

My first hate comment....

I was quite stunned to find the following comment left on my post about the WSDA conference:
Anonymous said...

I somehow came across your blog and I am frightened. I have been a practicing dietician for 27 years and you are gravely misinformed, ignorant, and unbelievably narrow minded in your approach to healthy eating. I am not familiar with the Bastyr curriculum, but it terrifies me that you believe your way of life is "normal". I hope someday you will open your eyes and realize this.

I went back and re-read my post wondering what kind of insanely ignorant comments I somehow accidentally posted. If you re-read my post you will see I was complaining about two things:
1. That the breakfast provided by the conference was all white bread, sugar and artificial sweeteners (about which MANY of the dietitians complained-- not just us Bastyr people, and was likely provided by the hotel not the WSDA).

2. That I expected there to be options appropriate for someone with allergies since I checked a box stating my allergies.

Now, granted, my original post was fairly cranky and not very understanding to the people who put on this conference, and for that perhaps I should apologize-- I am certain that it was a lot of hard work and they did the best they could. But that was not what this person was criticizing me for. I DO wish she had left her name so I could find out what about my post was so ignorant and narrow minded. Perhaps she thought I wanted every person in the world not to eat dairy, gluten or sugar? But I did say even in this post that I have severe allergies, and if she had read other parts of my blog she would have seen in detail my symptoms when I eat these foods. Is it closed-minded to want to protect myself from eating foods that cause me anaphylaxis? I have never once on this blog suggested other people should have to eat the way I do-- I certainly would not eat this way if I could help it.

Perhaps it was my rant on the yoplait light yogurt and white bread bagels. For this I am afraid I can not apologize. I know some of the things I am into are a bit alternative, but pretty much every health organization in the country is saying people should eat more whole grains and less refined sugar. How is that ignorant or narrow-minded? Sounds pretty main-stream to me. I would have loved to have seen whole grain bagels and fruit (I still couldn't have eaten the bagels but it would have been better than the pastry they had).

Anonymous, since you asked, Bastyr is a rigorous science-based curriculum, that also happens to teach a whole foods approach. That means eating real food like fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes and meat if you so choose. We believe in local, organic and sustainable living. We are not fans of food full of chemicals made by man. I hope you just mis-read or mis-understood what I was getting at in my post, and that you are not actually suggesting that I scare you because I am allergic to gluten.

So my new friend anonymous, I suppose I will never know what you meant-- but if it is any of the above, then I'm afraid you scare me too. In fact, I would say that the close-mindedness and ignorance you accuse me of seems to, in fact, apply to YOU, since you sought me out and attacked my opinion without identifying yourself or explaining your point of view (and likely, without reading the rest of my blog which would have told you so much more about me). So I'm sorry for you.

And for everyone else reading-- anonymous comments will no longer be allowed on this blog. If you want to have a conversation about something then you need to own up to your opinions and not hide behind the internet. If anonymous wants to contact me I would be happy to discuss this issue further.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Marriage of different flavors

My husband and I are in some ways very much alike-- we are both type A overachievers. We have the same sense of humor, adore animals, love travel and value family. In most other ways, we are total opposites. I'm messy, he's not, I'm terrible at saving money, he never wants to spend it, I am not even marginally athletic, while sports and coordination come easily to him. None of these matter much-- but the one difference that seems vital in my mind is our approaches to food. Food is my life-- I spend all day every day studying nutrition, cooking, or talking about food. My darling husband would be perfectly happy to eat frozen pizza, oreos and lunch meat every day of his life. He has no interest in cooking or food preparation-- to the point where if there is nothing he can just grab from the fridge he often will just go hungry. He has been known to eat an entire box of cookies in one sitting because it's easier than figuring out what else to eat. To his credit, Marc will eat almost anything I put in front of him (though I get complaints if things have too much oil or garlic-- as if there could be such a thing!) but he does not rejoice in food the way I do. My Dad is worse in some ways because at least Marc will eat most vegetables and is not a picky eater-- my Dad has maybe five vegetables he is willing to put in his mouth, though he'd be happy if he never had to eat another plant in his life. (Although my Dad actually is a pretty good cook-- just as long as vegetables aren't involved). Dad likes to tease Marc about how hard his life must be having to eat my cooking (which is always based on vegetables). It is difficult for me not to try and control the diets of these men I care so much about. I often joke when we are at a party or family function and Marc is on his third serving of trans-fat laden dessert that you'd never know he was married to a nutritionist in training. I am trying to let go of this expectation that one day he will scream in rapture over ginger salmon and quinoa-cranberry pilaf with apple braised chard for dinner and learn to be grateful that at least he eats it without complaint.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In defense of rain

A lot of my friends have been complaining about the rain lately. Spring in Seattle is one of the wetter times of year, but I don't mind it. Rain in the Spring is very different to me than rain in the Winter. The cold, harsh, bleak rain we get in January in conjunction with the darkness that sets in by early afternoon makes me want to crawl back into bed until April. Spring rain is lighter, greener and soothing somehow. It is staying light now until after 8pm, even on overcast days which gives me energy and hope. It is the rain that nourishes the earth, which in turn nourishes us. It is the kind of rain that I don't mind getting caught in. It is romantic rain-- the kind we should be holding hands and kissing in, rather than cursing at. Without the rain we would not have the beautiful asparagus at the farmer's market, or the cherry blossoms blooming on every corner. It is the rain that makes Seattle the "Emerald City" making everything green and lush all year round. Without the rainy days we would not appreciate the beautiful sunny days we also often have. I am certain of this-- I lived in Southern California for five years and after awhile all the sunny days blend together and I lost all sense of time passing-- and everything except the palm trees was dusty brown. The days I really loved? The days it rained-- those days I felt like I was coming home.

Taking Care

I have not been doing a very good job of taking care of myself lately. I have not been eating enough protein, and sugar has slowly come back into my life. Two weekends out of town threw off my gym routine and I have had difficulty finding motivation to get back to it. As an example of how I am not living as I would want my clients to live: yesterday we had an early Mother's Day brunch with my in-laws. Everything they brought had gluten in it. I had brought cut veggies and hummus which is all I ate for lunch. I am also out of smoothie supplies and only had a larabar for breakfast. By the time we got home I was ravenous. I quickly made two scrambled eggs which I put on two not very delicious gluten-free waffles and added some red pepper dip as a spread. The flavors did not go together at all and I did not enjoy it but I ate it anyway because I was hungry. I've been eating in front of the computer and tv and just generally not focusing on eating mindfully or consciously. Worst of all, I have not been very kind to myself and have spent several days saying mean things to myself I would never say to one of my friends. All of this needs to stop. Eating sugar makes me a crazy person, and exercise will help the feeling sorry for myself moping to end. It is time to pull myself together.

I have been spending a lot of time being mommy to my chickens. The coop is almost finished and the chickens have been spending more and more time outside. By next weekend I expect they will move outside for good.

Muffin and I have bonded. She has discovered that when she really wants something, flying into my lap or onto my arm gets her what she wants. The other night I was sitting with the chickens in their pen outside and talking to my mom on the phone. It was getting late and the chickens were getting cold. They were complaining loudly to me from the ground but when that didn't work, Muffin flew into my lap to tell me all about how she wanted to go inside. Again yesterday when we let the chickens range free, the other four had gone to the other side of the yard and Muffin wasn't paying attention. She came running to me crying because she couldn't find her friends. She jumped onto my arm and I carried her to where her pals had gone. Funny chicken-- it's very endearing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

One of those days...

I suppose it is from being gone two weekends in a row at conferences, but I hit a wall today. I couldn't seem to make it to my first class, and then the rest of the day I was unfocused and couldn't wait for my other classes to end.

I came home and the "big kids" (older chickens) were outside in their pen, as Marc often puts them outside when he gets home. I stuffed my dress pants into my wellington boots and trudged across the soggy lawn to say hello. They were mostly having fun, although it was very windy and I could tell they were starting to get cold-- every time a gust of wind came by they would fluff up their feathers and huddle together, complaining all the while. I promised them I would be back in a half hour or so to take them in for the night, as it is usually a two-man job. I went back inside sans muddy boots to start dinner. A few minutes later I was talking to Marc when for some reason he looked out the window to check on the chickens and said, "uh oh, a cat is trying to do something bad." And off we went running down the stairs, to stuff our feet back into our muddy boots and race across the wet grass where a neighborhood cat was chasing the chickens round, thankfully from the outside of their pen (it does not yet have a ceiling, so it was only a matter of time before kitty discovered she could climb her way to a chicken dinner.) Marc chased the cat into the neighbors' yard, while I climbed in the pen with the traumatized chicks to reassure them. They were so cold and scared that instead of running from me as they normally do, they gathered around at my feet. Skittles, who of all the big kids is the most people friendly, though not a big fan of being held, let me pick her up and pet her for a good ten minutes and respectfully refrained from pooping on my sweater, as I was still in my good clothes. When Marc came back with a box to carry them back into the house there were none of the usual loud objections, or rambunctious chases around the pen. They stood dutifully still as I picked up each chicken, whispering reassuring words in each of their ears before placing them in their cardboard box to be carried back to the house. It seems the chickens are not as afraid of us as we initially presumed.

Back in the house the ladies still were terrified. They objected loudly to us leaving them alone in their box in the spare bedroom, and became inconsolable when we tried to turn off the lights for the evening (chickens are, after all, completely night blind). The lights went back on until they calmed down after their traumatic evening.

Meanwhile I tried to make us each a soothing cup of tea and dropped the jar of licorice root all over the counter, and Marc spilled his entire cup of tea on the carpet. It was a long day for all of us.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chicken Addicts

It all started about two weeks ago when a friend of Marc's remembered he was interested in chickens and asked if he wanted two baby chicks that needed a home. By the time he and I finished negotiating (I wanted them immediately, he wasn't sure we have space in the coop) the two babies had found another home.

Yesterday, my first day back from yet another conference (which is in it self another blog post) we had to go to the feed store to get our quickly growing chickens some more food. I went on the website of the feed store and discovered they had brand-new baby chicks available. Now I love our five, but since we got them at a few weeks old all but one would prefer I left them alone (although they do like to be talked to). I wanted new babies that I could handle daily so they would be used to it and be more friendly (did I mention my chickens are a cat substitute due to Marc's allergies?) So two more baby chicks came home with us, just a few days old. The brown baby is named Roxie-- she loves to be held and all day, and unfortunately all night, cried really loud whenever we put her down in the box. Poor Marc didn't get much sleep. The black and white baby, who to me looks like a Panda, earned the name "Flea" after we went to the grocery store and came back to find her outside of their two foot tall box-- she must be able to jump very high in order for her to have made that leap. We were also calling her Chocolate Muffin, because just like Muffin, she is loud. She also gets into everything-- she's going to be trouble that one.

So two more kids in our family-- the new babies won't be introduced to their big sisters until they are 8 weeks old, but they are all in the same room (in their respective boxes) and the big chicks seem to know they are there and are craning their necks to try and see what is out there. Maybe it's my imagination, but the little ones seem to take comfort in the racket of the older chickens. In two more weeks the big chicks will move outside for good, but for now we have one very smelly, noisy spare bedroom!

So seven is the lucky number-- I swear we are done now as the coop has for sure reached capacity now!