The Girls


I wrote about the exciting, heart-pounding adventure it was to transport my chickens to their new home, but haven’t mentioned them again.
They are doing well, mostly.

After I typed that sentenced I glanced over at my unknowing dog who, even in the last slow blinks before sleep, charmingly met my eyes with a question. “Yes?”

Finn is good until he’s not. He runs far from the house, through high grass and in the woods, but as soon as you call his name you can hear the jingling of his collar heading home. Until you are in town. You call his name and silence follows, and your sister finds him happily greeting strangers on the street.

So many times I’d gone in to feed or water my chickens while Finn was outside and a simple “Stay.” kept him out of the chicken run. Until finally, I was wearing Margot in a baby carrier, and opened the door much too wide for a simple “Stay.” to be effective. Finn killed two of my chickens and completely removed the tail feathers from another.
The tail featherless-chicken is fine. The brown hen was old, came to my flock for free, and had never laid. One black astrolorp is the real damage, and after the incident occurred I was so upset by “the waste” of the whole thing, my husband skinned and cleaned the bird and someday, we will eat it for dinner.

Maybe some people will be outraged by my dog’s bad behavior, but I’m not. He’s not a farm dog, he’s a house dog. He’s extremely gentle and patient with my toddler, which is really his most important trait. Dogs can be trained not to kill chickens, I’ve read. But for now, I’m adding one more project to the list of improvements I’d like to make on my coop.
Here they are:

  • Cover the run with hardware cloth and secure the wire mesh “walls”.
  • Bury fencing so other predators can’t dig under the fence to get in.
  • Hang Feeder
  • Install gutter on barn, collect rain water, adapt barrel with a waterer and possibly switch to nipple drippers.
  • Line nests with plastic nest liners
  • Replace chicken run door
  • and Finally, build a small gate in front of the door, to prevent any door dashing.

The last thing I want to say is, I love having chickens. I like adding chicken care into my morning and evening rituals. I love collecting eggs. I love feeding them food scraps, and maybe sometimes give them food that’s not quite old enough to toss, just because it delights me how they come running. I love taking Margot out to visit them.

I don’t have them named but I’m starting to tell them apart. I’d like to get more. Mostly, I’m still learning.

The Quickest Plant Markers

Look, I know how it is, you put the baby down for her nap, pull on your gardening boots, grab a handful of seed packets and rush out the front door. Then you reconsider…will you really make a map of your garden on graph paper and write down exactly where you planted each type of seed when you get back? No, you will not. So you go back inside, paw through junk drawers and closets and come up with a handful of grilling skewer and clothes pins!
The sharpie may fade or run but every minute counts so you scrawl down your veggies (no room to write the fancy variety names) and race to the garden.
Maybe this evening pinterest will help you find something fancier, but isn’t spontaneous gardening the best kind of gardening?


Margot’s Party!


I had so much fun getting ready for Margot’s party! I had to order this gigantic “1” balloon, I obsessed over cake recipes and as I’ve already posted here, even enjoyed planning a few party games.

Josh and I picked all kinds of fancy cheeses, crackers, olives and salami up at Trader Joes, and it was delightful to be able to just set everything out for guests and be able to putz on making dinner.

Dinner was heart shaped biscuits, “Kentucky Legend” smoked ham, with fig butter and bleu cheese, asparagus, and Smitten Kitchen’s broccoli salad. I pureed frozen peaches for bellini’s and we had sweet tea for the kids.


Margot got so many beautiful gifts! I think she really enjoyed opening them too, which I really wasn’t expecting! My talented sisters gave her amazing handmade presents, including this awesome swing my sister Katie made. Laura made beautiful clothes for the bunny she gave Margot last year.



I was going to make a healthy birthday cake but in the end I decided birthdays are a good time to have treats. I finally settled on a recipe for blackberry buttercream icing (isn’t the color so lovely and bright?), from Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook, her basic birthday cake recipe, and a layer of lemon curd in the middle, as a nod to Margot’s recent affinity for sucking on lemons.



It was such a fantastic party and I’m so grateful Margot has so many people in her life who love her!


Kentucky Field Trip: Newport Aquarium

On Margot’s actual birthday, a Thursday, Josh took the day off work and we drove up to the Newport Aquarium. It was extremely crowded but we had a great time. I cannot understand that seahorses are actual creatures and not a made up species. I could watch them all day.

Margot did a lot of pointing remained absolutely photogenic, as always, just look: Image



Afterwards, we stopped by a huge Bass Pro Shops (for Josh) and Ikea (for me). It was a really good day. I’m so thankful for one year with Margot, she’s been the biggest and best blessing.



Party Games

We celebrated Margot’s 1st (!) birthday last week and I got pretty excited about planning her party. Since we mostly just had family attend and Margot is just one year, I almost didn’t plan any games but at the last minute I changed my mind. Margot has 4 boy cousins and I like when parties have an activity or two to change things up.
So the week before, I took a photo of Finn from the side, against a blank wall, uploaded it to staples, and picked up a 2’x3′ black and white poster of my dog for just over 3 bucks! The perfect poster for “Pin the Tail on the Doggie”:


I hardly got any  good photos of the second “game,” but I loved the execution: I bought 12″ balloons to decorate with, but as I filled them up I slipped a tiny toy inside- temporary tattoos, bouncy balls, glow sticks, stretchy animals… you’d be amazed what you can fit in there!

Then I used clothespins to attach them to the bunting banner I’d hung, and in the middle of the party I let my nephews take down the balloons and pop them to get the toys out. This was a good outdoor activity and the boys even cleaned up all the balloon bits!




Looking forward to many more birthday party celebrations for my girl.

Fowl Language



I won’t bother explaining how I ended up driving home with 6 chickens nestled together in a repurposed rabbit hutch with a safety gate for a roof. I will, however, try to convey the sort of happy, fulfilled state I was in, having had the nicest time picking them up at their former home. The friend I had purchased the chickens from is a natural animal owner, she understands and respects the order her farm animals have established and her property is a veritable playground for fowl. There were huge, enviable eggs on her kitchen table (duck? goose? Emu?) and her expansive pen held a dozen different types of fowl along with some goats who were penned up due to the snow. The scene even looked reminiscent of a playground, down in a corner the bully geese might as well have been cursing and smoking, friendly guinea hens could have just as well been playing hopscotch and an impressive white turkey hovered over everyone’s shoulders, definitely keeping an eye on things.

Maybe I’m getting carried away, but these are the images I was thinking about when I backed my car up to my chicken coop. I left the radio on for Margot so she wouldn’t mind sitting in the car for a minute while I slid the hutch into my chicken run. I locked my own two chickens in their coop, based on the instructions I was given to introduce the new ones at night. The rabbit hutch was just slightly too wide for my car, so it took muscle and shimmying to get the hutch even halfway out of the car, and that alone made the chickens restless. I thought about asking Josh for help, maybe 6 chickens would be too heavy for me, but he was working, and I get sort of a rush out of attempting situations like these that seem improbable and difficult. (If I succeed, I strut around saying, ”I did it!” If I don’t, I mutter to Josh, “I don’t know what I was thinking…”)

I freed the hutch from the back of the car only to truly feel the weight of all six birds who were less calm by the second. I set the hutch down only to find it was also too wide to drag into the run. I had to stop to figure out my next move, but while I was assessing the situation, so were the chickens, and they found their solution more quickly than I found mine. The hutch had been on it’s last legs and the journey from the back of the car to the ground caused the floor to collapse a bit leaving a crack a few inches wide, certainly something to be aware of but surely not something a chicken could fit throu…. oh, there she goes. Those chickens catch on quick, apparently only one needs to have a plan, because before I could move, FOUR CHICKENS had fit through that too small hole. To my credit, I ended it right there and grabbed the two remaining australorps and tossed them into the run. Four chickens were now free ranging yards away from me, one stopped to drink from a puddle while another scratched in some leaves. I remembered they were hungry so I ran off to grab some chicken feed, thinking I’d sneak attack grab them while they were eating. A molting golden bluff ate some feed but was way more concerned with my approaching than her hunger. I foolishly tried chasing them, was it instinct? Of course it was fruitless and honestly kind of humiliating. I thought about the neighbor’s dogs I had seen on my property a few days ago, hoping they were nowhere near at the moment. I thought about the phone call I would have to make to my sister (who is supposed to get two of these) and the shame I would feel when these chickens former owner learned of their fate (sudden death in the woods, I imagine…). I wondered, could my dog help herd? That’s probably not a trait pitbulls are known for. I stood there, weary and defeated, but looked up to see my husband approaching, wearing gloves and work boots. Work boots mean business, I started to rally. We quickly decided on herding since the chasing had failed. Josh smartly grabbed a long thin stick (-I think a leftover from my teepee project!) which helped him usher chickens from far away. I took off after a lone australorp who had strayed pretty far, and borrowing Josh’s technique I picked up a long, thick branch and escorted my prisoner to her cell. By the time I locked her away there was just one chicken left, hiding out under my car, a smart tactic if I was solo, but she was no match for our team. Josh flushed her from his side and I guided her towards the run. All six inside the fence, we locked the door and high fived. I’m grateful for a partner who knows when and how to help, I’m grateful for a baby who likes adventures even when they aren’t hers, and I’m especially grateful that I don’t have to move these chickens ever again.

Two Minute Teepee!


I’ll admit it: I’ve been wanting to make a teepee again since my sisters and brother and I made our own little native American village while on vacation in Canada, roughly 20 years ago.

On a whim I gathered up some bamboo stakes, a zip tie, safety pins, and a canvas dropcloth I’d painted and dyed with turmeric, and Margot had her own little teepee in a matter of minutes!