Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Might as well make my beauty work for me!

I have signed up to help raise money for St. Baldrick's, a charity that raises funds to help fight childhood cancer.  I hope to raise $500 pretty quickly.  And the team I am on has a goal to raise over $2000.  The catch?  On April 14 I will get my head shaved at the finale of the fund raising.

You guys may have already seen my beautiful, bald melon.  There are several good pictures and stories about the different times I have decided to shave my head.  But this time I get to collect more than a story and a snapshot.  I am going to collect some cash to help out lots of great kids.

Want to donate?  Here is a link to my St. Baldrick's fundraising page.  Donate a lot.  And often.

Or this guy might haunt your dreams.

 A preview from a few years ago, when I "fixed" my hair real good.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A whole new level of backyard chicken keeping

Fair warning.

This post and the accompanying links may not be for the squeamish...  It is all about our family taking a new step into keeping a backyard flock of chickens.

Chickens lay eggs and they are food too.  That is your last hint...

In the last few weeks I have become more convinced that one of our newest chicks was not a potential egg laying hen (which are really called pullets), but a potential noise maker and hen hassling roo (which are actually called cockerels).  In a backyard flock of 10 (now 9) birds, roosters aren't really desirable especially by the neighbors.

A few days ago The Boss Lady bought a magazine about different chicken breeds.  The suspected rooster was an Australorp and he had huge, long tail feathers.  The magazine all but confirmed my suspicions.  But conventional wisdom says that you don't know for sure until the bird gives you either a crow or an egg.

That noise I heard this morning when I was walking to the car?  Yeah, that was NOT an egg!

I posted an ad on our local chicken message board, but I knew that this guy needed a new home quickly if we were not going to make the neighbors mad. Yeah, their four barking chihuahuas?  That is another story...   No nibbles on the ad, AND Wednesday is trash day which would make it a lot easier to get the "leftovers" taken care of quickly.  It was looking like the rooster's fate was sealed.

This evening The Boss Lady and I decided to butcher the bird ourselves. So, like all good urban farmers, I hit up Google and found this link:

How to butcher a chicken in 20 minutes or less... 

After a few hours of reading up on how to best process and butcher chickens, I decided that this was the best method for us to try for our first time. We would skin the bird, instead of scalding and plucking all of the feathers and there was not even a small chance I would eat the livers and gizzards...

Cut to the chase.  We did the deed and it took less than an hour, including the times that we stopped to read the instructions I printed out.  Now the bird is in the freezer and we will cook up some chicken and dumplings later this week. 

When we started with backyard chickens, I promised the kids we would not be eating their pets.  But this seems like we are kind of coming full cycle with having chickens and growing our own food in the garden. The Boss and I decided that we will tell the kids about the roo and give them a choice when it come time to eat the chicken and dumplings.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Front yard re-do, Part 2

A follow up to my last post, Front yard re-do, part 1

I'll come back and write up a little more about the specifics of our yard makeover, but I think that the results are worth more than the $500 we dropped on this project.

 After two and a half days of work, we are almost done.

 The focal point pieces of our new flower beds.  Two horse water troughs.

Loving the new look!  No Asian Jasmine and a lot more water conscious!

We will get the planters filled next weekend (or during Spring Break). 

What we started with.  That is a big difference!

One of my goals for this project was to re-use as many plants as possible.  Everything that we had growing is water conscious and either native or adapted to Austin's climate.  Plus, the neighborhood deer leave all of this stuff alone!

Lots of the big shrubs were growing out near the street,  so they moved to a better spot in the new  beds, swapping places with much smaller plants.  Of course, that meant that I am now re-doing the flower beds  out by the street, but that project will not be photographed for a while.  

In the end, we only spent money on the planters, some mulch and a roll of weed block fabric.   I am thrilled with the results.  My yard  chairs are no longer facing the street.  We repositioned them, too, so that we  can admire all of our hard work.