Saturday, November 12, 2011

Isderf's New Do

**Just a warning: there is a bit of bad language in the last paragraph. If you don't like, then you should probably skip it.**

For those of you who work with Isderf, you'll notice that he's sporting a new hair-do lately. Now, you're all probably wondering why I haven't blogged about this new do. First of all, it only happened on Thursday night and second, his sense of humor was absent shortly after the need for that new haircut. Even as the love-of-his-life and the bearer-of-his-children, I'm only allowed so much leeway around that sense of humor. So to keep the peace, I did not get a before and after picture and I kept my mouth shut - mainly to keep the giggles from escaping.

As he's mentioned that a few of you thought his story dubious and thought he'd come up with it as an excuse for shaving his head, I'm here to tell you how it went.

First, Isderf has a new-to-him 1977 Chevy pickup that needs a little fixing up. Now he's a computer geek, not a mechanic, so he's learning as he goes. He had to fix the fuel switch so that we'd have the use of both tanks (a must when it only gets 6 miles to the gallon) and shortly after, it stopped working. Through some fiddling and playing around, he believes it's bad gas and so he has the air filter off playing with the fuel input to rev it and burn off those impurities. Problem is, it keeps backfiring, which causes a little flare of fire to erupt from the carburetor area. Up to this point, they'd been small and just enough to stall the truck. Until he gets his face down there to watch how everything is working, then Murphy's Law kicks in and he got a new hair-do.

He was lucky, he flinched and his eyes closed right before the flare up, but it was close and the neighbor and I both grabbed him to survey the damage. It didn't appear that he'd burned any skin, but his eyebrows, eyelashes and the hair down the center of his head were curled up and singed pretty good. The smell of fuel and burning hair was enough for me to make him go and douse his head in the sink to stop the smoldering.

So shortly after the incident, and after he'd gotten the truck running again, he decided he'd smell better if he just shaved it all off. So the clippers came out and the hair went. As his eyebrows were mostly gone too, they got clipped also. Then the shears came out and his eyelashes got trimmed.

The kids and I had a great evening occasionally rubbing his bald head and trying to decide what he looked like. It goes back and forth, sometimes he looks like a thug and a skin head, others he looks like he's just gotten through chemo - especially after a night of drinking!

Incidentally, after an evening of drinking, his conversational skills drop completely although the quantity of words increase. He decided he looked "stupid" with his new hair-do and that his feet are tiny - or maybe that's because they're so far away. He then proceeded to list all the types of scotch that he's had and give an opinion on them all. As I know he only had 4 glasses, I'm not sure where all the names came from and I'm pretty sure that 'Glen-Fuckit and Shit' isn't a real type, or at least not a type I'd try. Oh and Paul, for future reference, I was told that Booker fucking sucks - a good dozen times.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Life

I know there are many of you that enjoying seeing Isderf's various projects and how he gets into trouble, but very few realize how it is to LIVE with his stunts day in and day out. I love him lots, but sometimes it is very tiring. Whenever he starts something new and I roll my eyes at him and comment on other people lives, he usually says something along the line of "Other people WISH they were half as cool as me." Sometimes, I wish he was only HALF as cool as HE is.

Then the kids get into the mix and they're JUST like him. In the words of TriPod's Scod, "It's like being trapped in an elevator with Fonzie and Gollum," except we have the three stooges.

So we were driving home the other day and my daughter was making plans to ride her bike up and down the sidewalk before bedtime, and she was trying to convince my son to join her.

"N, do you want to ride your bike up and down the hill with me?"

"No." He continues to play his leapster and then Isderf gets involved

"How about riding J's scooter."

"No," with a sigh that indicates he'd rather they leave him alone.

And in true Isderf fashion, he ups the stakes. "How about chasing her up and down the hill....with a bat?"

That has his attention, he starts giggling, "Yah!"

Any normal family would have kids yelling 'no' and for their mom... not ours. J thinks about this for a moment and replies, "Okay, but I get a head start." Then she pauses again and clarifies, "And as long as it isn't a metal bat." Good thing she has her standards.

And I pipe up, "Officer, I promise that she was okay with it when it started."

Isderf just reaches over and pats my knee, "We'll just tell them that she wanted to be able to go faster and we were providing the incentive to do so."

Conversations like this happen every day around my house. So to those of you that get a kick out my blogs about Isderf, enjoy your quiet lives and thank God you only have to read about it!

Speaking of such, Brent, Isderf was very disappointed that you didn't save the lard from your pigs. He couldn't believe that you didn't want to do all the cool and amazing projects that can be done with it. And if you keep filling his head with more ideas, I might make sure your wife is aware of the fact that soap and candling making can be done in the luxury of your own home!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Egress Windows

According to most residential construction codes, a room must have two exits before it's considered in the room count. If you buy a home with a conventional loan, that really doesn't matter. But if you buy, or sell, a home through any government type loans - VA, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, etc - they have some rules about emergency egress from rooms and insulation, etc. Now, of course, a door counts as an exit, but windows only count if they are a certain size. They have to be big enough for a man to get through from either side and must have so much clearance on both sides. I'm not going to get into the measurements and such, because that can change depending on where you live, but I'm going to talk about our Egress Window Project.

Now, Isderf and I have been saving our money for a while to do this, since it would cost about $6000 to do it. We did look into doing it ourselves, but by the time we payed for the contractors and dealt with them and then spent the extra time to actually do that project - I felt we were safer just paying someone as I wanted it done before Christmas (see the last blog re: patio). Turns out, I should have just hired out the parts separate, as I ended up acting as the general contractor anyways.

First I want to say, I've dealt with this company in the past and they've been great. My grandparents used them, my other grandmother used them, my neighbors across the street used them, and we used them when we replaced some of our front windows. Turns out, having someone install windows is very different from having them act as a general contractor to have construction done before they install more windows. So having said that, I am not going to give the name of this company. Yes, I was really upset with how they dealt with things and yes it stressed me out a lot, but having given myself time to cool down before I wrote this blog I feel that they still did a great job of installing windows, it was before the installation that we had problems.

Isderf met with the manager of this company while I was still popping my meds, the beginning of May, so I played no part in that. I didn't think it would help to have my input as it was a great possibility that it would have nothing to do with windows at all. They told us it would be about six to eight weeks before they could start and that the project would take about three days.

Around the first of July we started getting phone calls to arrange the installation, so we cleaned out the two bedrooms and pulled back our carpets. The Dig Line was called and my front yard was sprayed with colorful marks all over the place.

The first day, the cement cutters arrived. They would do just about everything, but the windows themselves. They started digging and digging - oh did I mention, that week hit the triple digits and stayed there for a few days and we didn't have A/C.

The guys had only been digging for a few hours when they knocked on my door. Turns out, the gas line wasn't out as far as we thought. Good news, they didn't break it. Bad news, it was in the way of our window well. So now, instead of the cement cutters calling the people who hired them, I'm on the phone back and forth trying to figure out how to deal with this. Should we do a different window? Should we just do one window and come back later for the other or reimburse the cost of one and deal with it much later? It's eventually decided that I'll try Intermountain Gas to see if they can just move the pipe and the cement cutters will start digging the other hole. After a few hours, the rep from the gas company shows up and gives me more news; good, it'll only cost $215 to move it, bad, can't move it until Monday next. Our windows are supposed to be installed and done on Friday!

Our whole project went like this. We had a digger go home after hurting his back. Another had to go home to get his sick child. They refused to dig around the exposed pipe line, so Isderf did it instead.

When they started cutting the cement they determined that part of wood was actually attached to the cement they needed to remove, so everything had to stop and wait for the window guys to come back and determine where it could be cut and someone was always bringing me more news so that I had to call the windows guys again.

Three days later, I had one hole in the wall and no windows. It was determined that they'd wait until the gas line was fixed on Monday, come back that day to finish digging the other hole and then install both windows at once. I was confused, it took them almost three days to dig one well, how were they going to do it in one day?

So Monday dawns and the gas company does their job, which is a harrowing experience in itself. Everyone else in the world is taught to remove themselves from areas that smell like gas and to prevent any type of ignition. Not so with those who actually deal with it. My children were in the basement and it was smelling quite strong there, so I brought them up and ventured outside to tell them about it. Turns out, they don't cut the gas from the main line to the house, they just cut the line and then used a pressure screw of some sort to block it. This releases a lot of gas into the area, which doesn't seem to bother the guy 20 feet away striking his torch to weld some pieces for the move. I decided that the kids and I would just stay outside until they were done.

After about 2 hours our diggers were digging again. And again they come to my door, turns out, we have a gas leak now. You know how you call and get put on hold and wait forever to get answers, doesn't happen when you call with a gas leak. Within one hour, I had three gas company vehicles in the area with workers and the construction manager guys standing around. So now our diggers are, once again, waiting.

We finally got the pipe leak fixed, the windows dug out, and now we had to wait again. This time we waited for hours for the window guys to come back and mark exactly where they wanted the window cut. Then, while knocking out the block of cement, they missed and hit the inside wall.

The one good thing about the installation, once they actually started on the windows, it only took about 3 hours and they only bothered me when they were done, to ask how I liked it - but that wasn't until we'd had workers at our house for seven days and a weekend with boarded up holes.

This project was jinxed and I was never so happy as when the window installation was finished. I was ready to call the whole thing off. Although most of the problems could not be blamed on anyone but bad luck, the lack of communication between the contractors and the installation company sucked, big time. I spent so much time on the phone, that the secretary of the manager at the window company finally just gave me his cell phone number - which I'm sure he was happy about.

Even with it all done, we waited for about a week before we called to ask if they were going to put gravel in the bottom of one of the windows. We also ended up with a bit of sink hole around one of the window wells. On top of all of this, we had to wait 4 weeks to get our window well covers and ladders.

It's now done and I've even gotten the trim painted and the windows nice and clean. I know it's important and will give us peace of mind when the kids move into the basement bedrooms, but geez the whole process sucked and I went through most of a case of Mike's Hard Lemonade in that two week period.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Isderf's Summer Projects

Isderf has been really busy this summer, and it hasn't all been good. For some reason we aren't happy unless we have a dozen projects underway and are working ourselves to the bone to accomplish them.

At the end of April, I had bunion surgery. The surgery entailed having the big toe bone cut in two different places, so not only was I drugged and incoherent for a couple of weeks, I also couldn't walk on it for six weeks.

During this time, Isderf arranged for our basement windows to be replaced and set up for emergency egress (which constitutes a whole blog of its's own). Thankfully it wouldn't get underway until at least June, maybe even July.

A couple of weeks into May, we had a company BBQ at one of Isderf's co-workers. Seems that he'd had a project of his own and was now looking to rid himself of a lot of fire bricks and six terra cotta style chimneys. Well this was very fortuitous, cause Isderf was thinking he didn't have enough projects already and that a BBQ/Smoker/Pizza Oven would look really cool in our backyard. So the next weekend had Isderf hauling bricks. (Thanks Tom)

Then we had a week of school related activities, most of which I could not attend, so Isderf was volunteered - Dutch oven cooking, setting up tents in class rooms, zoo outings and picnics in the park.

The next weekend, I was still carting around, he decided that he would start our new patio. We'd been collecting bricks from craigslist for a couple of years in order to expand our patio space and make use of some land that was difficult to water and use.

Summer's starting, I have to use a knee cart to get around, and Isderf requests that we unhook the A/C for his "two week project". Those of you who know us, and how most of our projects go, are probably laughing their asses off right about now. I did try to reason with him and have him wait until fall when I could help, but he wanted to get it done. So I arranged to have the A/C moved and Isderf somehow convinces a friend, and co-worker, to help dig the hole (I'm still leaning towards blackmail or bribery).

Problem is, there's a lot of dirt. The patio will be 10' x 30' and they have to dig down about 8 inches. So now they have to haul the dirt off and unload it somewhere too. Needless to say, this part took a lot longer than he thought it would (gasp... Really?) and after that first day, he's doing it alone.

But that's not all he did. About two weeks later, I'm just starting to walk on my foot with crutches or a walker, Isderf went to California.

For those of you who know Isderf well, you know that - until recently - he doesn't drink. In fact, if you knew him in college you are probably really surprised that he drinks at all. I can remember him scaring the crap out of some freshmen that thought he'd buy them some alcohol, they're probably still in counseling.

Over the past couple of years he's tried different drinks here and there and hasn't found anything he liked. We've tried Guinness & Jameson's in Ireland, we've tried wines and liquors, but nothing appealed to him at all. Then he went to California and found a meadery. Yes, I think it's odd too that even though he didn't drink, he went looking for a meadery.

So here I am, in Idaho, getting text messages that are weird and don't make a whole lot of sense. Then he tells me that him and his friend are having a drink in a meadery and I realize that HE'S DRUNK! He claims differently, but then tells me that he feels a little lightheaded and it hurts to think - HE'S DRUNK! Now I find this extremely funny and annoying. I've known him for 16+ years and he goes to California to get drunk for the first time.

So then he gets home and within days we're visiting the local brewery store and buying carboys and thieves and bubblers and yeast. We have carriers and specific gravity measurers and lots and lots of honey.

Now in true Isderf fashion, he gets so excited about doing something that he neglects to double check the recipe to see if it all makes sense. So we're cutting up apples and cooking them down when I discover that it's not really a recipe at all - more like guidelines. The guy that owns the meadery in California has put notes online and Isderf thinks he can interpret these and get a recipe. Maybe he could have, if he'd taken some time before to do so. So there we were with 5 gallons of honey trying to decipher how much honey to use. Afterwards, when comparing other recipes, we discovered we might have over done it, by as much as twice the amount.

Then the mead had to ferment and bubble in the basement for a couple of weeks. When it was time to taste and rack it, Isderf called on his friends to help him determine if it was done or not. Sorry guys, but I'm not sure if that was bravery on your part, or stupidity. Maybe they felt coerced; he is their boss after all. They were very nice about it, cause Isderf and I both thought it was gross. It was way too sweet and the specific gravity was where it should have been when we started. So more yeast goes in and it goes back into the basement for more fermenting.

At this point, Isderf turns his thoughts to bottling. This is when I start to question why he'd make 5 gallons of something he's not sure he'll like and that will take a lot of beer bottles to store properly. So Isderf points out that they do make a 1 gallon carboy and that he needs bottles and off he goes to the brewery store to collect beer bottles (the owner keeps used, free ones in front of his business). I probably shouldn't have been surprised when he came home with free bottles and 3 one gallon carboys.

We haven't even gotten this first recipe right and he's talking about making raspberry cysars and such. Then he makes another discovery - he doesn't have a bottle topper.

Once again, my mother adds her encouragement - she has a bottler. An old bottler my great grandmother used to make homemade root beer, who knew? And a while back, someone gave her a box of antique cork tops. We only had to remove them, carefully as it’s an antique, from the box. The crazy part is that, with a little clean up, it worked!

Now we have 5 gallons of fermenting mead and all the stuff to start three more batches, but we still didn't have anything we could, or would, drink.

Throughout this time, Isderf is still working diligently on our patio. We've been without an air conditioner for eight weeks and our food budget is really starting to suffer. The kids and I would spend all day in this hot house, most of it in the basement where it stays cooler, and he'd come home from an air conditioned office and state that it was too hot here, let's go find a restaurant with good A/C - we found quite a few actually. Of course, this might not of had anything to do with how hot HE was, maybe more along the lines that WE were hot and cranky and he knew asking what was for dinner would get him seriously injured.

We also had our egress windows done - three day project, that we hired out, turned into almost two weeks of me being the general contractor. But that's another blog entirely.

So Isderf finishes the patio within days of our children's birthday party, in our backyard. He claims he doesn’t want to see another brick for a long time, so I’m wondering what we’re doing with all those firebricks in our backyard. Maybe I’ll Craigslist them while he’s at work one day.

We finally get the A/C hooked up on the first of August. The technician is a comedian and offers to unhook our furnace and then wait 8 weeks into winter to hook it back up. It takes our house 6 hours to get back down to 76 degrees and the kids and I just spent the afternoon lazing around enjoying it.

And now we're strong arming friends back over to taste the mead again. I promise to let you know how that goes.

Sounds like things have quieted down? Nope. Over the weekend Isderf got something in the mail. Something he'd ordered... Plans for a cider press. So we're sitting over at my moms while Isderf is discussing how the press won't be expensive but he needs a garbage disposal to make an apple grinder and my mom pipes up, "We have a grinder." Jeez, I lived with these people for 20+ years and I'm just now finding out all this? And I was complaining about Isderf's friends encouraging him too much!

They do have a grinder too. It's an old motor that my grandmother and her neighbor used to make horseradish with when my dad was a child (50+ years ago). It's in great shape and it pulverized apples, there is nothing but mush left and it does it in seconds. If you blink, you'd miss it. Isderf is enjoying pulverizing things a little too much with it and now we don't have to buy a garbage disposal. Maybe one of these days we'll buy something and use it for its intended purpose.

Next up, the window project from hell.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ten Years and Counting

Today, Isderf and I celebrate our tenth year of wedding bliss. Ten years... it's gone by so fast. In actuality, we've been together for 16, cause it took him awhile to finally pop the question!

Isderf and I went to high school together and shared a number of classes throughout our time there. However, it wasn't until our senior year that we really came into contact on a daily basis. Then he almost blew it by telling me I looked like Charlie Chaplin. Yah, that wasn't one of his brightest moments. But like warts, he began to grow on me.

At the end of our senior year, my friends decided we HAD to attend the last dance of the year - MORP. We were too cheap, and could have really cared less, to go to Prom and as MORP was girl ask guy, I had to find a date. Isderf was lucky, by this time he was just calling me Charlie as a nick name and I'd begun to take a little more notice.

And so it began, I asked him to MORP and he said yes. Then he just didn't go away. We had even applied to the same college.

Five years later, he proposed - sort of. I had to verify that it was an actual proposal and his friends were impressed with the simplicity of it, probably a little awed that I said yes too.

We've been through apartment floods, house's with water under them, more diy home projects than I'd like to admit, and job changes. We've been through pregnancies, labor, and surgeries (Isderf's sage advice, "Don't piss off the pregnant woman."). I've learned so many interesting, and some not-so-interesting, things while watching him go from one hobby to the next ("So...THAT's how you render fat....ewwww.").

It's been a great 10 years hon. Thanks for the memories, the children, and all the entertainment you've provided throughout the years. Here's to at least 10 more.

By the way, I looked really hard for our first date picture, but couldn't find it. Once I found a picture that would work in its stead, the scanner wouldn't work... sorry!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Unmentionable Toys in the Garage?

To start it off, everyone who reads my blogs knows that Isderf is a professional hobbiest. He's always trying something new or bringing home something to turn into something else. And now that our families and friends have joined in, he's always taking things apart and dreaming up new uses for them.

When Isderf first developed his interest in old tools (hand planes, hand saws and just about anything else that doesn't plug in) he wasn't happy just using these tools. First of all, we didn't have the money for him t

o get on Lee Valley dot com and outfit his garage, so he was pretty good about picking up cheap items at yard sales and estate sales. The problem with these is that most are in pretty bad shape, so he had to learn to fix them. And sharpen them... oh oh oh... and you know what would be really really cool - if he could make his own!

Thus his interest in building a furnace and a sand box to pour molds in and his treadle lathe so that he could lathe handles for these newly made tools.

For those of you who've done any metal melting and such, I'm sure you know all the cools things you could accumulate for such a hobby. I was unaware that he'd need things like a forge and a blower and a really big anvil. And that forges didn't need to be big brick structures with fiery coals - no a few bricks stacked together and a propane tank will do in a pinch.

Now picture this, you're sitting at home, taking care of the kids and your husband comes home from an estate sale almost giddy. He's just about hopping up and down like our six year old on soda pop and babbling about getting a blower for $50. Okay, I'm not up with a lot of things these days, but that sounded about right. What threw me was that he was actually TELLING me this. And THEN, he wanted to SHOW me.

Come on, I can't be the only one who thought what I did. I wasn't thinking about melting metals or forges or even cool hand tools. I just knew he was way too excited and happy to be telling me this information.

Turns out a blower is a hand cranked machine that blows air into a forge, who knew? So now Isderf has a nifty hand crank blower for his propane powered forge. You can imagine the remarks and miles we've gotten out of that one. Here's a pic of it when he purchased it, since then he's cleaned it up quite a bit and it's shiny now.

So other than a blower, what else could we possibly have in our garage that makes us all break into giggles... how about a vibrator. Okay, I know Isderf is going to have a fit over that name, technically its a brass tumbler for cleaning ammo.

Have you seen a brass tumbler? It looks innocent enough, but it does do a lot of shaking. Now, a store bought tumbler takes a couple of hours to get the brass nice and shiny.

Now close your eyes and imagine that a family member was nice enough to give you a pressure washer, unfortunately the seals have gone - but the motor is still good. Add some old tupperware, about $1 worth of nuts and screws, and you have your own handy dandy homemade brass tumbler that not only cleans your brass within 30 minutes, but tries making it's way out the door at the same time.

That thing MOVES. It vibrates its way all over the place and is so loud, it has to be done outside and with hearing protection.

So now we have a blower and a vibrator, neither has been used much though. In fact, I don't think the blower ever got a work out. I know that the vibrator has been used a few times to test it out and then it got moved into my dad's workshop to stave off any complaints from the neighbors.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stupid International Criminals

Okay, so maybe there are a lot of gullible people out there just waiting to hand over their account numbers to anyone that calls. I can understand some scams and how confusing they could be for some, but lately I received a call that made me wonder just how smart those criminals could actually be.

First of all, I came home one day to find some garbled message on my voicemail, in a very thick foreign accent, saying something about a prize package and needing an address to send it to. I deleted it, I was not interested in owning any type of time share, my great uncle had never lived in a third world country where he mysteriously accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars, and I was certain I hadn’t entered any type of contest where I hadn’t already given out my address.

So later that afternoon, I received a phone call from above said garbled foreigner who’s name was John. I’m sorry, I know that telemarketers give themselves American names to help “connect” with the costumer, but this guy could barely speak English - there was no way his parents named him John.

According to John, he worked for the IRS and had an unclaimed prize package waiting for me. This prize package contained money and a car! All I had to do was give him some information, starting with my address as to where to send the car.

I decided that maybe he just needed help with his English.

“You work for the IRS? The Int…” I started.

“That’s right ma’am, the Internal Revenue Service.” And he spouts off again how he just needs some basic information to get my package to me.

“The U.S. Government’s IRS?” I interrupt.

“Yes ma’am, the IRS!”

Who in the their right mind would ever believe that the freaking U.S. Government’s Internal Revenue Service would be sending them a car! OH MY GOSH people, you have to fill out horrendous paperwork every year just to prove how much you really owe in taxes so that they’ll give you the extra back! At the grocery store, it’s considered a regular occurrence to just give the customer their change, but the U.S. Government wants their money and for US to prove to THEM that we’ve paid enough, along with many hoops and whistles before we get our refund; there’s no way they’re giving away cars!

Not only that, but I’m guessing that the IRS has more information on the average American that the FBI has, unless you’re doing something really bad! You can’t tell me that they couldn’t figure out where I lived if they had a “unclaimed package” they were just dying to give me!

I’m not sure under what circumstances anyone would EVER believe that scam, especially this time of the year!

At this time, I was rude. I know, my mother taught me better phone matters than that, but I flat out told him, “There’s no way the IRS is giving me a car or that you even work for them.” And I hung up.

The only thing that I got from that phone call, was a laugh. I still can’t think about it without shaking my head and laughing at the stupidity of John.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Year of the Chickens

So we've had our chickens for about a year now and I think it's time to fill everyone in on the process.

Isderf made us a great, raccoon proof (so far), chicken coop out of the same cedar we bought for our gardens. Raccoon proof is very important, as our neighbor has lost almost a dozen pheasants - the local bandit would reach in and grab them through the chain link, breaking their necks. This "one day" project - Isderf's words - turned into approximately two weeks of evenings and weekends, but that's okay because it's sturdy. It weighs a ton and there isn't much getting into this coop. The coop has a flap door that latches. The side opens up completely for cleaning, and the roof over the nesting box is hinged for easy egg retrieval.

We originally placed the coop up against the back of the garage, which is a bad place for it. After dealing with chicken poop all over my patio and chickens thinking they should roost on my back step, we lugged that thing out against the back fence. This worked really well during the summer. Once winter, and the cold, hit, those damn chickens were right back on my patio pooping all over the place.

Just a quick note: If you like clean, poop free backyards - don't get chickens. They poop more than a dog and smell worse. A plus is that you can put their feces in the compost bin, as long as you mix it with enough vegetation to break down. The bad part is that you won't ever have the same amount of compost as you've had in the past, as chickens eat through it and fling it everywhere!

The chickens and I would have arguments and I would run them off my patio, just for them to show up again when I left. Our poor dog won't even lay on the back step anymore - it's too gross. And I can just hear the smart asses now, "why don't you clean it." I do! During the summer I clean off the patio almost daily so that the kids don't smear it around and bring it into the house. The winter sees less cleaning, but it still gets done at least weekly.

Okay, enough about the mess. How about how fragile chickens are, especially with kids. We've been the proud owners of seven chickens - even though we only have 3, and we're legally only allowed to have three within the city limits. How do we do this you ask! Well, we have kids, so let's see if you can keep up with how this worked out.

-Purchased chicks 1, 2, 3 for Easter.

-Chick 3 died. I'm not a coroner, but I think it was due to strangulation.

-Replacement chick 4 arrives.

-Chick 4 has an extra leg hanging down its back side and no place to defecate from. How did we miss this you ask, well, we weren't exactly looking there!

-Chick 4 gets replaced with chick 5.

-Chick 1, 2, & 5 live happily together and get to go out into the great outdoors.

-One day, chicken 2 is found dead in the raspberries.

-We've also discovered that chicken 1 is a rooster. Luckily he's a young rooster and although he does crow, it sounds like a teenager dealing with his voice breaking! So rooster 1 gets prepped for the freezer and we're down to one chicken.

-This is when we call up a local chicken farm and buy two approximately the same age as the one we have left, thus arrives chicken 6 & 7.

Surprisingly, our kids took to butchering very well. They even wanted to see it's brain, which we're still not sure we found! I did make them go to the neighbors when we cut its throat and let it drain, after that it was a family affair. The poor rooster was young and gangly and went into our stock pot with our Thanksgiving turkey carcass to make stock.

Our chickens have been great for the kids and they are good with the kids too. One of them lets our kids catch it regularly and haul it around. Although she isn't as good about that since our daughter, J, hauled it up their play set and pushed it down the slide. You haven't seen anything until you see a chicken trying to run/fly down a slide - probably wished we hadn't clipped those wings.

So on to the eggs. Our chickens started laying eggs around August. As long as they get about 12-14 hours of sunlight a day, we get an egg a day from each of them. Now, if your chickens stop laying, there are a few reasons this might be.

1 - Not enough calcium in their diet, supplement with oyster shell.

2 - They're molting.

3 - Not getting enough sunlight, add a light to their coop.


You think I'm being funny. Our chickens are picky. If we keep taking their damn eggs, they'll hide them were we can't find them. It took us about two months of playing 'Find the Eggs' with our chickens before someone recommended putting a golf ball in their nesting boxes and leaving them there. The chickens can't tell the difference and they think the eggs are safe.

We found eggs in bushes and eggs in pine boughs left out after trimming. We went 8 days without finding an egg from one of our chickens, until I was weeding around one of our window wells and found them. The chicken had gotten into the window well and laid her eggs there, all 9 of them. I'm glad I found them before they completely rotted and broke!

We've got Pavlovian trained chickens. Every time I open the back door, they come running, trying to beat the dog to whatever leftovers we're throwing out! They're all pretty competitive and the dog does well with them, he only growls occasionally and the few times he's snapped at them they've moved fast!

They are entertaining to watch. Everything from chasing off squirrels that get too close to their feed to fighting over scraps with the dog. Watching them chasing after me when its time to pick raspberries and they peck at my shoes waiting for a handout to seeing them figuring out that they could jump and catch the raspberries usually out of their reach. Our whole family has enjoyed them and the process involved with raising them and collecting their leavings, all of them.