“Just Take That Darned Shower!”: Essential Steps to Activating Energy to Get Moving

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I have always been a procrastinator. As a new mom, though, I took procrastination to a whole new level. Had I not procrastinated that too? I could have coined my own term for it. It’s in our nature to procrastinate, sure, but the solution may just lie in finding your particular spark.

As a new mom, I found myself often swimming in a sea of laundry and dishes, unable to keep a schedule because I was so sleepy most of the time. The flexibility required of motherhood had overrun my sense of structure and accomplishment. It felt hard to plan or complete anything. My husband would come home from work and ask me how my day was and I would stare blankly at the blur before me, grasping for something intelligible to say.

My sense of failure was magnified by the fact that I was never able to make those 8:00 a.m. mommy-and-me classes with friends. I would arrive late and disheveled at the 11:15 a.m. pool or music class and still, miss all the pre-class chatter and much needed social life. Invariably on the drive home, with first born loudly protesting in the back seat, I would find myself driving past that mom with the cute bright smile and the jogger- jogging of course, with snoozing baby in tow.

While the other moms seemed relaxed and put together, I felt a complete mess. It seemed my former punctual and organized self-was left behind in labor and delivery. My key problem? Overwhelm.

My 90+ lb pregnancy weight gain literally weighed me down even with half of it gone. Everything just felt harder. I just could not believe my loss of control and felt helpless to get out. I found my solution in an at-home workout program I had purchased for my husband – sitting on a shelf, unopened. Instead of finding time to go somewhere to workout I only needed to pop in a DVD. Yet, that too was hard.

When it came to workouts my best excuse was the shower; by the time I COULD workout, I felt too sticky and icky with baby spit up and cooking smells (and too sleepy!) to actually take that time for myself. My conundrum? The shower. Save it for AFTER the workout and I felt miserable instead of engaged. Take a shower BEFORE, well THAT’s silly – or, is it?

All I wanted to do was regain some measure of control, and of course, my body. My weight gain and fatigue were interfering with everything I had wanted parenting to be. Sure I was delighted to be a mom. It wasn’t something that came easily for me, having lost 2 babies before my first – I was grateful. I am grateful. I just didn’t feel good. And when you don’t feel good it’s hard to change things – especially since change often necessitates more discomfort. But that shower? That feels good. Aaaaaah! But was I just procrastinating again?

Change is painful, it’s not a new discovery. Neither is the fact that we are hardwired to want to avoid discomfort. It’s a survival tool.

So how do we combat that resistance to taking action? For me, it began with writing down a few things. I made a list of how I was feeling. Then I made a list of what I wanted. The last list was the hardest. I had to identify my obstacles: both real and imagined. My big one was not feeling good in my own skin.

I wanted to lose weight. I feared I had squandered my opportunity to be fit before motherhood because I was never previously into fitness. I feared failure. I wanted to be healthy for me and for that desire that burns a parent: to be around forever, for their kids.

I wanted to regain a sense of control and direction yet wanted to maintain the flexibility to meet my infant’s needs at home.

I NEEDED A SHOWER. But the sink was full of dishes, the baby was sleeping and the floor, oh the floors! I needed to get a nap or a workout or eat but felt stinky and unmotivated. Would my exercise wake the baby? What if I didn’t finish the workout in time? What if I didn’t get the shower OR a completed workout? Would that constitute failure?

For me, the shower was at the core of sparking any action. A shower can wake me or get me sleepy. The feeling I get from a shower is like no other. I truly L O V E my showers.

So I made my shower a MUST. It’s what I knew was missing the most. I self-negotiated out my hair for after workout showers only and resolved to have more ponytails. This helped me keep any pre-workout shower super brief AND enjoy myself more. It also became more of a game that involved self-nurturing. As time went by I was able to complete more workouts and stay caught up with my beloved shower. I started feeling successful. It became a game to find ways to get the workout in. I remember doing 90-minute yoga at 10:30 pm because that’s when it worked yet I enjoyed every minute of it. Soon, the shower stopped being such an obstacle. I needed fewer and fewer pre-workout showers because I was filling that need!

Once I started regaining control of the things that were important to me, and consistently activating my spark, the rest began to follow. I dropped a lot of weight and had an amazing transformation and also reached a never-before-imagined-for-me fitness level.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned is to take that darn shower. Don’t mope around with your obstacles- real or imagined. Identify them and creatively mitigate or get rid of them. That alone is action that sets you in motion towards your goal.

My other favorite tool was borrowing the Nike slogan JustDoIt. It provides me with an instant spark. If you are running circles around your goal and avoiding your target, stop yourself and “just do it”. We must not only be the nurturing parent for ourselves but also the disciplinarian.

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Some other helpful techniques:                

Recognize that you want change. If you consider your “problem” unchangeable, you are less likely to take action to change it. If I accepted my weight gain as something that happens to mothers my age – I almost did by the way- you are less likely to change it.

Once you’ve identified your outcome, break it down into little steps necessary to accomplish it. Set monthly, weekly and daily goals. Make those tasks on your calendar and follow through. Checking them off provides instant feedback and propels you forward.

Recognize hesitation. If you are putting off what you intended to do, be that parent for yourself. You wouldn’t dream of allowing your child to go to bed without brushing their teeth. Same. Keep yourself accountable.

Reflect: Did you get “XYZ” done today? Was it a good day? Can you do better tomorrow? Are you on track? Yay! Celebrate your own victory! You are doing it!

Tell someone about your goal. Doing this allows you to actually hear it, own it and in a way set yourself accountable.

Seek out situations that will help further your goal. This could be meetings with friends, a lecture, an app, a group of like-minded people, or a book. This also reinforces your intention and further propels you forward.

Focus on what you want instead of negative feelings. Get rid of distractions and DO things you know from your moment of clarity that you need to do. For me, my daily excuses seemed to revolve around my beloved shower. If you are like me, I say, just take that darned shower, enjoy that nice smelling soap, even if you work out right after. You will feel great and be one more step closer to accomplishing your goal. Go ahead, take that darned shower and get to the real business at hand.

I’m off to take mine.

Theresa

CoachTheresaWV is a Health Advocate and Fitness Coach whose goal is to help people harness their inner voice through self care. She believes in lifestyle habits that include fitness and clean living and are sustainable for long-term health results. As a coach she helps individuals reach their specific goals by adapting health principles to their everyday life. A mom of 2, Coach Theresa does this for her children as well as a growing online and community following, helping people reach health and fitness goals one day at a time. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/trainandtransformyourlife/ or email her at CoachTheresaWV@gmail.com for a free consultation.

 

New Online Store

Farm-to-Bath-Logo-FINAL_1200pxHi Everyone!

Thompson Street Farm LLC has spun off its soap / bath and gift products to a new website and store.  We now have a new look, and store.

I will be doing business as Farm to Bath and the new website is www.farmtobath.com.  There will be new products added going forward, so make sure you comeback and check out the site.  With this new site I can now offer reasonable shipping fees, special promotions and best of all SALES! I am very excited.

Please check out my new store and let me know what you think!

Sincerely

Brenda

Thompson Street Farm

dba Farm to Bath

www.farmtobath.com

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

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Over the last few weeks I’ve seen many postings using natural dyes for Easter Eggs.  The pictures are beautiful and I wondered if I could get my eggs to turn out as nice as the pictures.  Over all I had mixed results.  Some colors were the same as the pictures – other colors I didn’t come close.

If you want to try naturally dyeing eggs here are two important things to know before you start:

  1. Natural dyes are not going to be as vibrant as commercial dyes.
  2. The process will take hours – at least a 1/2 a day or more.

But first I recommend you read these two blog postings on natural dyes and decorating techniques from the Herbal Academy of New England. I thought they had some great suggestions for natural dyes.

The Day Before Cook your Eggs:

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Cook your eggs gently by starting with a pot of cold water on low heat.  Don’t bring your eggs to a full boil but just to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Cover and remove from heat and let stand until completely cool.  I recommend you do this the night before.  By morning you will have perfectly cooked un-cracked hardboiled eggs.

Select your Dyes:

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What I liked about natural dyes is that you can use what you have on hand. In my freezer I found a bag of frozen blueberries (blue) and cranberries (red).  In my spices I found turmeric which I thought would make a great yellow dye. I wanted a green color and I decided to try using green tea.

Berries Smashed or Cooked:

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The blueberries I smashed and added enough boiling water to the bowl to submerge the eggs. The cranberries needed to be cooked until the berries popped open and I could mash them into a pulp.  For the turmeric and green tea (4 tea bags) I just added boiling water to the bowl and let them steep and cool. Do not add your cool eggs to the hot dye mixture – this will result in cracked eggs.

Don’t forget the Vinegar:

March 28, 2015 005I added a tablespoon of white vinegar to the all the bowls so the dye would set.

Hurry Up and Wait:

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When the waters were cool I set my eggs into the cups. I first started with bowls but the eggs weren’t submerged enough to be completely covered. I didn’t want to add more water because I felt it would dilute the dye so I switched to using cups and glasses.  And I waited and waited…and waited…

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After 4 hours of waiting the other colors were ready and I pulled them out.  However, the red egg in the cranberry pulp wasn’t doing a thing. So I found some Red Zinger Tea and frozen raspberries in the freezer. I made up a new bowl of red dye and dropped my egg into it and waited another hour to see what happened.

5 Hours of dyeing:

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After working on this for 5 hours I decided to throw in the towel! I wasn’t going to get a red Easter egg. Oh well…

Final Results:

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Left to right: Red (cranberry, raspberry and Red Zinger Tea) Yellow (turmeric) Purple (blueberries)

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Left to right: Blue (blueberries) Yellow / Green (if you look close…) (green tea – however, I think some turmeric accidently got in my bowl of tea resulting in more yellow than green color).

Final thoughts: If you decide to do this I don’t recommend this for really young children – the process takes a long time and unless you have patient children the waiting will be difficult.  On the other hand, this process allows for some really cool creative thinking about the natural dye world and playing with other ingredients would be fun.  Some of the suggestions from HANE on dyes are:

  • Turmeric
  • Coffee
  • Nettle
  • Spirulina
  • Hibiscus
  • Onion skins
  • Black tea
  • Elderberries

If you decide to try using natural dyes and you have success with red or green – please let me know!

Happy Easter!

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Anatomy of TSF Soap

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 I’m always humbled and grateful when asked to speak about what I do here on Thompson Street Farm.  This week I was the speaker at a local garden club here in town and I have to say what a wonderful group of ladies! I understand there are 5 garden clubs in town, and this particular club has been together for over 30 years.  Can you imagine how much knowledge and experience there was sitting in that room! How cool!

After my presentation on growing micro-greens, a sweet woman asked about how I made my soaps. She identifies handmade soap to her childhood elderly neighbor, Mrs. Jones, peddling her soap door to door.  Apparently her soap was extremely harsh that one lost a few layers of skin when using it. I’m guessing from the age of my new friend, “Mrs. Jones” learned how to make soap between World War I and the Depression. In those days, there weren’t a lot of choices for oils other than animal fats and other moisturizing ingredients – which explains the harshness of her soap.

Commercial Soap

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Today there is a world of difference between commercial soaps and handmade. Technically commercial soap is not real soap but a detergent that is created from petroleum based products .  Yes, the base ingredient in commercial soap is petroleum oil!

My Decision to make Handmade Soap

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(Lavender Soap made with lavender grown on our property)

When I began researching how to make soap it was out of necessity.  I had been purchasing a goat’s milk soap from an independently owned health food store for my daughter.  My daughter had a stroke before she was born and as a result she is missing 80% of her right brain, so we had many health issues to deal with.  She is also a beautiful redhead with extremely sensitive skin.  It didn’t matter which commercial soap I used, her skin was as red as her hair and irritated – similar to the reaction to Mrs. Jones soap!

Perfumes were also a huge problem for my daughter.  It is not uncommon for children that have severe brain damage to have an over-reactive sensory system. I can only explain it as standing in front of a speaker at rock concert 24 /7.  The brain’s sensory system is on overload it can’t filter out and dial down what’s going on around them. If you stop and think about it, our world is pretty noisy. For Katie as a baby, sound, smell and textures was magnified a billion times over.

Its an understatement that the early days for Katie were painful – everything bothered her. For example, my husband loved Irish Spring Soap, but when he came near her she would become overwhelmed and started to scream and cry.  We went through a period of time when I dumped every commercially made product including the toothpaste and toilet paper and we went O-Natural!  Thankfully, Katie is much better thanks to years of therapy.

The Decision to Make My Own Soap:

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(Pine Soap – pine needles are harvested from our own pine trees and now that I’m becoming a herbalist, I’m adding my own pine infused olive oil to this soap!)

When Wholefoods moved to town our small independent health food store went out of business and that ended my source for handcrafted goat’s milk soap. The good news is soap making had become popular and with YouTube at my fingertips, I decided it was time to take control of our soap supply and learn how to make soap.

When I started my research I had a basic list of requirements:

  • The soap had to be moisturizing, have a great lather but be a firm enough that didn’t melt into a pile of goo in the shower.
  • Ingredients had to be mild enough for daughter’s sensitive skin.
  • Oils for the soap had to be found in the grocery store and had to come from the plant world.
  • Scents need to be from the plant world (correction/clarification from original posting: I do use fragrance oils if essential oils are not available, too expensive, or I happen to like the scent!).

I knew I wanted my soap to have at lease 2 oils that were great for skin, olive oil and coconut oil. After weeks of research, my first generation master soap recipe was born and it was a Mediterranean inspired blend using 4 oils and raw goats’ milk.

  •  Olive oil – has been used for centuries as a great skin conditioner and moisturizer.
  • Coconut oil – has been used for centuries as a great skin conditioner and moisturizer.
  • Canola Oil – creates a stable lather and a great skin conditioner.
  • Safflower Oil – creates a wonderful lather and is a great skin conditioner.
  • Herbs, flowers, vegetables and goats milk had to be either grown by me or acquired by a local farmer that shared my socially responsible beliefs.

During my research, I learned there is a minefield related to certain common ingredients in soap making. The biggest one is palm oil, and the atrocities associated to the destruction of rainforests to meet the worlds demand for palm oil.

I admit, my soaps are not for everyone, but I can honestly say I try to be socially conscious and intentional on where my ingredients are sourced. It is important to my daughter’s wellbeing and to me. I want to create a product that is safe; with no chemicals or preservatives.

New Sea Salt and Mineral Clay Inspired Soap with Avocado Oil

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I have to say I have the best customers! They are intelligent, well-traveled and socially conscious and they are challenging me to take my social responsibility even further! Over the summer I heard a few concerns expressed about how canola oil is grown and processed. Canola oil comes from a plant called rapeseed and most of the crop grown in the world is from GMO seed. Since I refuse to use GMO vegetable seeds on my farm it was an easy decision to do the right thing and switch out that oil and substitute it for sunflower oil.

In addition, I did some more research on the benefits of sea salt and mineral clays in soap.  Out of that research I created a new 4 oil sea salt soap using avocado oil. Avocado oil is rich in vitamins A, B, D, and E.  Sea salt is known for its relaxing properties and is a natural detoxifier as well as some of the mineral clays that I use – Dead Sea Clay, French Green Clay, Bentonite Clay and Moroccan Clay.

So  I say to my new” Garden Club Friend” – try my soaps, I think you will be pleasantly surprised just how good you will feel! Please check out my entire line of soap on website online store.

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(Honey, Cinnamon and Carrot Soap – I purchase my honey from a local farmer. Although I might get brave and purchase a hive in the coming year.)

 

Backyard Chickens Part 2 – Roosters and Eggs

 

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In my town there has been some zoning changes regarding keeping chickens. My town is part urban and part rural and keeping backyard chickens has become very popular.  Unfortunately, some chicken owners have not been good to their neighbors by containing the noise from loud roosters and/or containing the flock to their own yards.  On more than one occasion I’ve had to wait for a flock of chickens finish crossing the road to get to the other side.

Because of a few knuckle heads, my town changed its zoning regulations to restrict backyard chicken owners to 11 hens on less than 5 acres and no roosters.  Honestly, I don’t blame the town for banning roosters – they can be noisy all day and night, some are aggressive and in my opinion are not needed if the reason for having chickens is to have fresh eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

A pullet (hen less than 1 year old) will begin to lay eggs around 5 months of age regardless if there is a rooster.  Remember your basic biology, when a male mates with a female the result is a baby.  However, some people think hens need roosters to lay eggs.  If you want baby chicks then yes, you need a rooster.

Once a hen (pullet) is old enough, she will begin to produce an unfertilized egg every day like clockwork.  She doesn’t need any help from a rooster to do her thing.  I actually prefer to eat unfertilized eggs.  On occasion I’ve had fertilized eggs that have had a bit of blood in them, which I find unappealing.

checkbox425[1]Chicken Facts:

–  Hens (or pullets) begin to lay eggs around 5 months of age.

–  In the first year hen’s lay small eggs at least once every day and the eggs    get gradually bigger as the hen ages.

–  Two-year-old hens (depending on the breed) lay larger eggs, but may not lay every day but every other day.

–  Three years and older, will lay large eggs less frequently and the older the hen is the less eggs she lays. This is why farmers turn over their flocks on the third year and bring in new pullets.

–  A good laying hen in her prime on average can lay 250 – 280 eggs in a year!  That’s 1 hen!

Myths:

–  Do you remember the jingle on TV back in the 1980’s– “Brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh?” Well that was a brilliant ad campaign.  How many people fell for it?  Do you see me raising my hand?

  •  Myth: The color of the eggshell does not determine the freshness of the egg. The color of the shell indicates it’s a breed of chicken that happens to lay a brown, white, or blue egg.  People thought brown eggs were once white and had gone bad.  Which is why egg producers created the commercial – to get people to buy brown eggs since only white eggs had been sold commercially.

To test if an egg is fresh place an egg in a bowl of water.  A fresh egg will sink to the bottom.  An old egg will float up to the surface of the bowl.

–  Another slick marketing campaign used by some health food stores was claiming that fertile eggs are more nutritious than infertile eggs.  The goal was to charge more for these “special” eggs.

  •  Myth: According to “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens” there is no evidence that states that a fertile egg is more nutritious than an infertile egg.

–  How many people do you know that gave up eggs (especially yolks) because they were told they cause high cholesterol?

  •  Myth: Eggs are high in cholesterol however; one would have to eat a lot of eggs to get their own cholesterol to rise. According to an article from the Mayo Clinic:

“Chicken eggs are high in cholesterol, but the effect of egg consumption on blood cholesterol is minimal when compared with the effect of trans fats and saturated fats.

 The risk of heart disease may be more closely tied to the foods that accompany the eggs in a traditional American breakfast — such as the sodium in the bacon, sausages and ham, and the saturated fat or oils with trans fats used to fry the eggs and the hash browns.”

So enjoy your eggs!

Strawberry and Chia Seed Pudding – Recipe Review

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I love pudding but unfortunately puddings made with any kind of mammal milk do not like me.  Over the years I’ve developed an allergy to milk.  If I ignore the allergy I pay dearly for it with a serious sinus infection and fever blisters.  Those who know me well can always tell when I’ve cheated – the signs are always on my face.  Its not pretty…

Not being able to enjoy milk products has been a major bummer for me, as I love artisan cheese, milk, ice-cream, fresh yogurt, puddings and thing else made with milk.  So when I saw this recipe on “Cooking Without Limits” blog for a pudding that:

  1. didn’t require milk
  2. didn’t require cooking
  3. used simple ingredients
  4. interchangeable ingredients
  5. low calorie

I had try the recipe.

In the original recipe she calls for 200 ml of either soya milk or almond milk.  We drink almond milk, but last night we were running low so I dug around in my pantry and found a can of coconut milk.  So here is my version of the recipe. (click here for a link to the original recipe Strawberry Chia Seed Pudding)

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1 can coconut milk (400 ML)

 

 

 

 

 

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   3 Tablespoons chia seed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract

(I make my own extract using the a bunch of vanilla beans split down the middle and stuffed into a bottle of the cheapest vodka I can find. It works like a charm!)

 

 

 

 

 

Mix the milk, chia seeds and vanilla together in a bowl cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for a minimum of an hour to 24 hours.  The chia seeds will develop with gelatin coating which makes the milk become a pudding consistency.

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When pudding is ready spoon into a bowl and add fresh fruit and serve.  Its that easy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you prefer a sweeter pudding add Agave syrup, honey or maple syrup.  I added a drizzle of Agave syrup because it has a lower glycemic index.

For those that really counting calories – use the 30 calorie Almond Milk instead of the coconut milk.

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“Cooking Without Limits” hit this one out of the park! She gets my highest rating

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Keeping Backyard Chickens – Part 1

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When I decided to convert our backyard into a micro farm, one of the requirements under our state’s agriculture law and USDA Regulations was to be recognized as a “farm” on both the state and federal levels. Qualifying criteria was to sell $2,500 of agriculture product and/or have livestock.  As I was just starting out and didn’t yet have $2,500 of agriculture product sales, I needed to get some kind of livestock, which could include hooved animals, bees, chickens or rabbits.

Local zoning code requiring 2+ acres for hooved animals eliminated that option for me but, since I was in a “rural” zone, rabbits, chickens and bees were fine.  I therefore decided on chickens because I could sell fresh eggs and then butcher the birds for meat when they stopped laying at around 2 years old.  At least that was my reasoning when I presented my idea to my husband.

Fast forward 6 years later and they are still alive and even were given names  “Henrietta 1 – 9” aka “The Girls”. One of them, a poor bird that was being brutally picked on by the brood was named “Sally” by my husband and became his pet. In addition, although I have lost several birds (which I will discuss later), not one of them has been eaten (by a human at least). All in all, the “Girls” truly have lived a charmed life.

If you are thinking about getting chickens, here are a few things I’ve learned over the years.

Spring Chickens

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Spring is usually the time when hatcheries begin to sell chickens. If you are serious about getting chickens, make sure you purchase them from a good hatchery. Chickens carry a lot of diseases and federal law requires that chicks  be vaccinated for a nasty viral disease call Marek’s Disease prior to sale.  This is a virus that can kill off an entire flock and contaminate others.  I was also surprised to learn that the vaccine wears off in 2 years, which is why most birds are butchered within 2 years.

The lesson here is that purchasing chicks from non-registered hatcheries can result in all kinds of flock failures so – “Buyer Beware”.  According to University of Connecticut’s top poultry expert, genetics impact long term health and the Marek Virus is found in the genetic line of a particular bird family.

I recommend that you also check out a website called My Pet Chicken .  I met the owner/creator, Traci Torres, while we were guests on the Colin McEnroe Show on WNPR CT Public Radio a few years ago and she is a wealth of knowledge on chickens.  Her website offers great information and cool products for backyard chicken owners.

A recommended book is “Storey’s Guide to Chickens”.

Equipment

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Once you decide upon a breed of chicken, you’ll need some equipment to get them through the first weeks of life. Be forewarned that  having chickens can be expensive in the beginning. As baby chicks need warmth and protection, a safe warm nursery will need to be created.

I picked my chicks up in early March when there was still snow on the ground and it was bitterly cold. Keeping them in the garage therefore clearly wasn’t an option so they ended up in my backroom where I could keep an eye on them. Then the circus began as EVERY critter in our household wanted to sniff, play or even eat our new babies!

Baby chicks make a lot of poop so be prepared to clean your box frequently. They need a box big enough for them, a warming light, a special size water container and baby chick feeder, all of which I purchased at my local farm supply store.

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Abby's first meeting

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Moving into the Coop

Housing the chickens will depend on where you live. We have very cold snowy winters and thanks to the realities of Climate Change, we also experience extended days of hot/humid days of 90+ degrees. I wanted the coop to be predator proof so I decided to purchase one made by a local farmer, which cost me $600 (without roof shingles and  unpainted). I added the shingles, stained the outside with weatherproof stain and, as we are now going on our 6th year, I’m so glad I did this.

The other consideration is not to overstuff your chicken coop with chickens. I had originally purchased 9 Rhode Island Reds and this coop was built for 6 chickens. It was a tight fit and I had to add another roost for them. Overcrowding a chicken coop is not healthy for the birds and can cause health problems.

Since we live in a wooded area we have all kinds of wildlife (i.e. – hawks, coyote, fox, fisher cat, raccoon, possum, an occasional black bear) plus local dogs and cats.  As all are potential predators, we fenced in a large section of  woods surrounding the coop to given the chickens plenty of room to roam while also protecting them from most of these critters.

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My next blog posting will cover choice of bedding, general care and a few things my chickens taught us.