Next Chapter in Life: Chicken Farming

So we are getting chickens today! We have been thinking about raising chickens for a little while now. Our house came with a chicken coop/goat shed which we have been using as a garden shed these last four years.

About three weeks ago a good friend of ours, Dennis told us he was getting 12 chickens and wanted to know if we’d want four of them. “Absolutely!“ came out of my mouth quicker than my brain registered what I was saying. “Great, I have to go pick them up sometime mid-May.” Two days ago we ALL found out mid-May actually meant Mother’s Day weekend, including Dennis who is still has to build his entire coop for the 8 chickens he’s holding on to!

When Mark told me the chickens were coming this weekend, my mind instantly flashed to the I Love Lucy episode when Lucy and Ricky had moved out to Connecticut and became chicken farmers. I remember Lucy and Ethel running around with all those hundreds of baby chicks. Luckily, I’m only starting off with four chickens.

Luckily, three days ago we started to clean our garden shed out. I needed to get the Tower Gardens (aeroponic systems) set up anyway and the shed needed to be completely emptied out. Mark is ‘spatial man’ so the goat shed is now the garden shed and the Tower Gardens will have to find a new home for winter. Right this second, they are being snowed on as we are having an unseasonal snowstorm that has dumped about three inches so far.

Mark working on the outside run for the chickens

Thankfully yesterday was a beautiful day to work outside. The temperatures were cool at first but once you got working, vests and jackets were shed. I was so impressed with my daughter, Samantha yesterday. She’s such a good worker and since she’s been recovering from a concussion she sustained three months ago now, it was even better that she had no symptoms reappear. Fingers crossed, since it’s been a rollercoaster.

Mark and Sam working on the frame for the run

Sam helped Mark with constructing the outdoor chicken run. We have dogs so I wanted to make sure that the chickens have their own area to hangout during the day where they will be safe from our dogs and other predators like hawks. The chicken coop was already positioned inside our already chain link fenced area which should help keep them safer as well. Eventually, I’ll gate off the side yard so they can free-range a little more but be safe from the dogs.

Sam attaching the chicken wire to the frame

Since Dennis first mentioned the chickens, I have been all over Pinterest, joined every chicken raising group on Facebook and Instagram so that I can educate myself on what exactly is needed to raise chickens. A poop board was something I quickly saw was highly recommended to have. Chickens shit a lot and that poop is awesome to add to our garden compost. I knew I would have to deal with this, so I built a poop board for the roost. I’m learning all sorts of new vocabulary in this endeavor. Roost, poop board, layers… Thankfully I found a guide to help me get up to speed.

Everything we used to build the coop with the exception of the two post holders and the chicken wire was lumber we had here at Marleywood. That’s what we named our little piece of paradise here on the mountain four years ago when we move up here. It’s also the name of our company that we named after our dog, Marley.

I’m excited and nervous at the same time about getting the chickens. We’ll be receiving four Rhode Island Reds which from my limited reading I understand to be a good breed of layers and should expect 150-250 eggs per year each hen! Plus we aren’t getting chicks, Dennis said they’d be laying eggs in a couple of weeks, so they’re not babies. But from what I understand their not hens yet, since hens officially are over a year old. So I’m not really sure what their called – pullets I think, since that’s the term for a chicken under 1 years old.

I know I have a lot to learn and I’m excited about it! Who thought at the age of 55 years old I’d be entering this new world?! I know my 3 siblings are all probably shaking their heads. Our Nana grew up on a chicken farm in Georgia; her spirit is probably laughing right now. I just hope my ancestors passed a little of their chicken farming blood down to me. And if anybody reading this has any advice, I’m open to hearing about your experiences and what you’ve learned about the do’s and don’ts of raising chickens. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

In the Blink of an Eye

[Note to the reader: This is a post which I update from time to time. The original post was in 2013]

In the blink of a eye…it’s 2019…We have been living in New Hampshire on the side of a mountain 1500 feet up with a spectacular view for a little over two years.  A simpler life, yet we work all the time, trying to build our two businesses. Our puppy Marley is now 5 years old and all our beautiful Brittanys have passed away – God bless their souls. They all lived long and wonderful lives, Winston and Artemis being able to come and enjoy our new home in the mountains. Now our two mini-goldendoodle brothers, Boomer and Gunner are going to be turning 2 in May! Where did the time go?!  


Left to right:
Gunner, Boomer, Kona and Marley


Yesterday I hugged my 25 year old son and his 3 year old goldendoodle before they left to head down to the Connecticut house. He has been living there for the last 15 months after leaving college in Vermont. It wasn’t working out for him – he is still struggling to get on the right track.

Baby Blue on his way to his new home


In the blink of an eye…it’s 2018…yesterday I watched my daughter receive her college diploma and make the Dean’s list. It seems like yesterday I dropped her off for her first day of school and drove her to endless hours of tutoring.  Now she’s living with her one-year old puppy in Portland, Maine and trying to find that first foothold in her graphic design career.

There is no waving the Mommy magic wand and making things all better for them – they are in the big, bad, world now and I can’t protect the from everything like I once was able to. I tried my hardest to give them the skills to fly on their own – I pray I did enough. I probably did too much – coddling to make up for the divorce. I hope I didn’t do too much. That would be a disservice to them ultimately. It’s a fine line we have to walk as parents.


Baby Kona



In the blink of an eye…it’s 2016…yesterday I hugged my son and his new puppy goodbye after setting the up their new apartment in Burlington. I pray he is able to move forward from the tragedy and get his life back on track in this new environment. 

In the blink of an eye …it ‘s 2015…I hugged my son’s 21 year old girlfriend good-bye after seeing Dead & Company with them on Halloween night. She wasn’t feeling well and was coming down with an ear infection. A perfect storm of a bacterial and viral infection in her inner ear would cause sepsis.  In a blink of an eye – 11 days later – she was dead. 

In the blink of an eye…it was 2013….Yesterday was my son’s 20th birthday. It amazes me how certain things seem like they were yesterday but at the same time it was a lifetime ago.  Twenty years ago I lived in Rochester Hills, Michigan; I was married and a brand new parent to baby boy. I had a Shetland sheepdog and I was approaching 30.  Today, I live in Connecticut, I am divorced almost for 10 years, have two grown adults for children. I have four dogs, all Brittanys and I am approaching 50. I also live my boyfriend of three years. Yet it seems like yesterday I was in Michigan having my first born. 

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” Winnie the Pooh Peace – Xine S.

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

Post I wrote but never published from June 2012:
Welcome and forgive my absence, as usual a lot has been happening around here. Life is constantly throwing things at you just when you think you’re at the finish line – an obstacle gets thrown up in front of you.  It’s June and graduation season is here and in ten days my son will be graduating from high school.  It’s been a long, hard road at times.  The finish line was clearly in sight, he had just a few weeks and he would be done.  All it took was an unfortunate push from behind during a lacrosse game while he was coming out from the goal resulting in a torn ACL needing surgery to make the sprint to the finish line more of a hurtle.
The surgery was 9 days ago but it feels like its been a month.  The first week, twenty four hours a day his knee has been on ice requiring me to fill up the ice machine multiple times a day and once during the overnight.  He had to be given medication as well on top of having to use a CPM (continuous Passive Motion) machine for 6 hours a day. 
It’s been hard to do anything around here to say the least.  Since the surgery I have only been out once and that was with him to go to the physical therapist.  He still has to finish his senior project, a photography portfolio of his work in order to graduate which is due next week. His prom is next week too. 
He did the same thing to his leg last year but earlier in the season. This kid has been injured every single year of high school playing lacrosse. The first two years it was concussions. The second concussion was so severe he was out of school for 24 days and had headaches for months before finally disappearing altogether. 

I reread the post above which I never published at the time for reasons I don’t remember and I get knot in my stomach.  Eight days ago I received a phone call from Nick, my son who is now a freshman at Ithaca College. I had just finished a long relaxing bath after my metal sculpting class (washing is required afterwards since I look like I’ve been down in the coal mines). My cell phone went off around 2pm but I didn’t recognize the number and almost didn’t pick up. It was Nick, he sounded upset and scared. He said he had been in an accident snowboarding.  My first thought – his knees and did he hit his head.  It was difficult to understand him a little – his breathing was labored which I figured was from him being so emotional.  He tells me he thinks he dislocated his shoulder or something – I relax. Dislocated shoulder, not problem we’ve dealt with much worse.  I tell him everything will be okay and that he should keep me posted and that I’d call his Dad who was also in Vermont at the time. He said okay and hung up.

It was long before he called again and said that the EMTs at the base lodge told him he didn’t have a dislocated shoulder and recommended that he get x-rays at the hospital. Since I was no where near Nick and I was getting the information via text message and poor-cell connected short calls, my concern level wasn’t tremendously high at this point. Nick has complained in a text about waiting with all the other morons in the emergency room and how he just wanted to go an hang with his friends. I was afraid he’d leave if the wait was too long.  I was in bed watching TV when he finally called me again. He put the doctor on the phone who proceeded to tell me that Nicholas punctured his lung, bruised his kidney and could have a hairline fracture in one of his lower lumbar vertebrae. He recommended that Nick stay the night in the hospital although he said that Nick wanted to go back the condo and stay with his friends and just rest.  It was at the time I had my boyfriend who is training to be an EMT who told me that the doctor couldn’t force Nick to stay their legally – all he could do was urge Nick to stay.  “Put Nick back on” were my next words.  He was scared and didn’t want to be alone in the hospital. I told him had to stay  – it had become clear he had suffered a traumatic impact –  that I’d get his father to get down there as quickly as possible – but he had to stay with the doctors. I was relieved when he finally agreed.

Some people rely on the groundhog to predict spring – we have Nick’s annual injury which seems to have become our own personal indicator of spring. However, so much has change in our household since Nick’s first injuries in high school.  Nick is in college – struggling to find his way through making the transition from living at home to living at college and being responsible for one’s self.  I have been in a relationship with a wonderful man who I’ve known for 25 years. We will celebrate our second anniversary of being together in May and has lived with us for the last 18 months or so.  We also started a new business together, Homegrown Harvest where we help people grow their own vegetables by installing pre-seeded and planted raised bed and container gardens for them.  My daughter has been on her own journey throughout the years. 17 now, she is a junior in high school who has been on her own journey of self discovery. Another story for another blog entry, I’m sure.

Change happens in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it happens fast and sometimes its gradual.  It can be painful. But overall change is good, it means your life isn’t stagnant.  Life should be like a flowing river – at times there maybe rapids and it gets narrow and rocky. Other times it flows slower, calmer and stretches out comfortably.  Either way the river is in constant motion.  Sometimes in life we don’t always feel like we are making forward progression that we may have taken a few steps backwards from time to time. That’s life on the river – it can sometimes lead you down a false tributary that leads to an end where the waters lay stagnant. It’s your decision to get out and find the right path though. Sure it will take a lot of effort and energy at first as you have to work your way through the marshes and blaze your trail back where you eventually find the waters flowing again and lift you along with them. Just remember you are the one steering the boat. You are the one making the decisions to set a new course – to make that change despite how difficult it may be. 

My brother taught me this lesson when I was 25 years old and engaged to someone I realized was not the right person for me in the long run and I felt trapped and scared and alone. Some of this may have been because I was drunk off my ass when I had this epiphany in the bathroom of my godparents’ house as my future in-laws and my fiance’s two brothers were showing up to meet my parents and family for the first time. I was in there for 3 hours terrified to come out.  I eventually let me best friend in and my sister in law in. After many hours I emerged from the bathroom and hid in my cousin’s room where my brother gave me I have dubbed “The Path Talk”.  He was the one who told me the story of being on a path in life and discovering it wasn’t the path.  He said when that happens you can always change paths but sometimes you may have to get your machete out and blaze a new trail to a new path and that can get messy and take a lot of effort but in the end you will find a clear path for yourself.  I have lived by these words over the years and found them to be some of the greatest words to live by.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

It’s been almost 18 years since I was single and a part of the dating scene. But having dipped my toe back into the sea recently, I am reminded the more things change, the more they stay the same.
When I was younger I didn’t date a whole lot per se. I had a lot of friends who were guys and in college for the most part was “one of the guys” as most of my friends I hung out with were guys. My more intimate experience with men ranges from 4 serious relationships (one of which was a 13 yr marriage with 2 children) mixed in with 5 shorter flings, so to speak. Not a whole lot for a 44 yr old. Since my divorce, without dating I’ve somehow managed to have sex at once a year, except this year I doubled that. Sadly a much better average than during the last 8 years of my marriage. Thank god for friends with benefits – a relationship which for me definitely has its place. Meeting new people is more of a challenge and takes a lot more energy.
What’s changed – Today people have their choice of online dating, 10-minute dating etc…all very different than the methods of the 80’s and 90’s. What’s the same is how people act when they first meet and get to know each other initially which at times can be pretty stupid. What’s changed is the amount of baggage you bring to a relationship at 44 vs. 18-25. What’s the same is the exhilarating feeling it is to have someone show an interest in you despite the baggage.
I struggle with the idea of wanting to find a more permanent companion and rationalize reasons to not look right now. I think about my teenage children who within the next 5 years will be off to college and then I will be completely alone. With that thought in mind, I take the time out to appreciate the moments I have with my kids and try to be more receptive to idea of meeting someone new. After all who wouldn’t want to find someone to be able to share their heart, their love, and their world. I have to remind myself to simply put one foot in front of the other as I re-enter the mystical sea which is said to have plenty of fish in.
I remember the first time I saw the ocean, the waters were so rough and went as far as the eye could see. Growing up amongst the giant skyscapers of NYC with weekends in the country surrounded by NE’s canopy of trees, the sight of the endless horizon view the sea offered was amazing to me. I thought it was magical. The thought of going in frightening. Now as I stare out at the open waters once again before me, the same scared feelings arise from within. But I’m going to try to take a deep breath and try to take one cautious step at a time.