Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
I’d forgotten how beautiful these cheery yellow weeds are to the eyes of a child. It all came flooding back as he rounded the bushes and barreled at me clutching two, their green stems in widely varying lengths squashed skinny by his enthusiastic grip. “Dandelion!” he shouted. “One for Vera. One for Mommy.” I set one on her leg for her to admire, as best a three-month-old can.
Thrill over this newfound activity propelled him across the lawn, where there were plenty more to collect, despite Clint’s recent efforts with his new full-sized weed digger. In the end, there were enough flowers to form the very first hand-picked bouquet from my son. I’d take it over a dozen store-bought roses any day.
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Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
I clearly remember lying on the living room couch, heavily pregnant, looking at the expanse of white carpet and all the clear, clean surfaces, thinking, very soon, this space will be filled with crap.
Back then, it was hard to imagine an actual child, with actual child things, existing in the home Clint and I had shared for a handful of years. Now, the toy box and book basket and truck bin are all as part of the living room landscape as the couch and the coffee table—childproofed, of course.
Though my amazing psychic abilities gave me a heads-up on the living room situation, I had no such clear vision about the yard. It took me off guard last week, when it seemed an entire munchkin-sized plastic play world had sprouted in our shady backyard. It was almost as if we’d planted it on purpose.
In truth, everything was accumulated, somewhat accidentally, over the past few months. The house, sandbox and slide migrated from the yard of a dear friend, whose children had outgrown them. I scooped up the pool and chair at garage sales. Roy and Clint scored both the picnic table and the gardening bench streetside.
Scrub ‘em up and stick ‘em together, and our yard, much like our living room, is now a clear reflection of our life: thrifty, toddler-centric and somewhat cobbled together, but earnestly geared toward fun. It snuck up on me, as things tend to do. But what’s to do except embrace it? Hooray for this new phase of toddler entertainment! Hooray for my backyard full of plastic crap!
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Monday, June 13th, 2011
I’m extremely happy to report that Roy is on the mend. After five days of breath-monitoring, medicine-administering, Calamine-slathering and the like, I’m in dire need of a new and brighter topic. And so: Chickens!
We’ve been tossing about the idea of a chicken coop for awhile. We were originally inspired about five years back, after visiting our friend Randy, an artist who lives in the Iowa countryside. He’d built a gorgeous chalet-like coop, complete with salvaged stained-glass windows, and really seemed to enjoy taking care of his “ladies.” The morning’s omelets sold me.
Flash forward to this year, with the urban coop trend in full swing. My fairly new eater is an egg-lover, which makes them a menu constant. A steady supply of “free” organic eggs sounds fabulous, as does the homegrown lesson in where food comes from. Lately, we have chicken ownership on the brain.
So I’m ready to take it as a sign that a few weeks back, we spotted a chicken pecking about a neighbor’s front yard. We rang the nearest two doorbells. No answer. We were trying to decide what to do when she found her way into the nearest open gate. We shut it, figuring that if she wasn’t theirs, they might know where she belonged.
A few nights later, we spied someone puttering around in that very yard, so we stopped and asked: “Do you have chickens?” He answered “yes,” so we kept going: “How many? Is it hard? Are they noisy? How often do they lay?”
Mid-inquisition, his wife showed up, and the two of them were kind enough to not only field our questions, but invite us back to see their setup. Within seconds, Clint was inspecting the coop and getting the 411 on space requirements and city regulations, as Roy poked about, ultimately deciding that their dog was the cooler attraction. We left with an open invitation to swing by and talk all things chicken, plus plenty of food for thought.
When it comes down to it, the decision is up to Clint. He’s the professional hammerer in the family, so clearly he would build the coop. We have somewhere in the ballpark of a zillion projects in the works around the house and yard, so I didn’t think the odds were good that I might somehow sneak “build chicken coop” up toward the top.
But the day after our impromptu neighbor-chicken meet-and-greet, Clint tells me he called the aforementioned Randy, who gave him the scoop on which chickens are the friendliest and which lay the prettiest eggs, as well as his hatchery recommendation. Would I please order a catalog? Done.
And then: He picked up DIY magazine solely because I mentioned that the latest issue had an article featuring a chicken coop project. Later, we had a serious discussion on how we might adapt that coop to our needs.
Finally, there was the moment when Clint looked me square in the eyes and said, “If we get chickens, will you take care of them? Really?”
I could tell he was serious, so I took a little time to picture the reality of a coop—or, more accurately, the reality of poop. Would I be comfortable with adding “clean up chicken poop” to my standing to-do list? This would be the price to pay for those eggs. Those fresh, warm, perfect little eggs, waiting mere feet from our door each morning.
My final answer: Yes. You guys, I think we’re on our way to an urban chicken coop.
Are we crazy? And if you happen to be a chicken owner: Any drawbacks I need to know about?
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