Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chicken Fever

I'm a dirty liar. If you follow the blog I'm sure you've figured that out since I keep promising pictures and updates and I keep not delivering. In light of this, I'm going to try to make amends.

First thing's first. Chickens.

I know, I know. I promised the hallway make-over, but really, who's keeping track?

So anyways, chickens.

Long story short, I begged and pleaded with Steven to go pick up three chickens from a really nice lady way out in the middle of nowhere MD and on the day we closed we also picked up the chickens.

Their names: Banjo, Bacon and Grits. (We were going to go with Purdue, Tysons and Food Lion, but we felt Food Lion was too long a name and scrapped the whole thing.)

Banjo is a Nanick bantam (I think. Actually, I don't know. I don't even know if I spelled that right. But she looks like what I think is a Nanick so we'll go with that.)

Bacon is a New Hampshire.

Grits is a Leghorn.

I'm not going to continue with the technical details. I know you guys just came here for the pictures. Voyeurs.

Without further ado...

In sad news, my husband has taken it upon himself to build up Klout in Fried Chicken and post chicken recipes on his blog. We haven't told the girls yet...they'd probably feel betrayed.

Don't know what Klout is? Me neither, but Steven will explain here.

Please note he refers to the chickens as HIS chickens, despite his supposed dislike of them. He also now likes to make a chicken noise and "peck" (kiss) me.

Yup, for real.

Next-up, a post about the hallway. No really.

Ok, maybe.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How hard can putting up a fence be?

Sorry for the delay between posts. We've been going 100 MPHs in attempts to get most of the renovations done by the end of the summer. Expect updates and pictures over the next few days of our progress.


Sometimes, before we undertake a large project, I pray to the house gods for patience, luck and even more patience.

This past week, I prayed the hardest.

Considering our menagerie of animals and our extraordinarily loud and fairly obnoxious neighborhood kids (they like to try to open the garage door to check out the chickens), we decided that we would make our 6' privacy fence a priority.

We budgeted out $300 dollars, had it destroyed by extra necessary tools and supplies and after an hour and a half in Lowes (and a completely out-of-character and kind of epic fight regarding delivery) and $600 later, we walked out the door with our fence supplies.

I really didn't take many pictures, so I'm going to have to rely on old photos to explain what we did.

This is what our backyard looked like when we moved in:

First, we removed the old fence. Or tried to. The top pole and the metal mesh were easy. The base poles? Not so much. After it took an hour to dig out ONE, we decided we'd leave them there. Then that annoyed me so Steven, using our awesome concrete chisel (best $11 we spent) and a sledgehammer broke the base of the poles and we filled in the hole with some Quickcrete.

Then came the digging/sledehammering to get the fence posts in. We first started on the concrete slab that divides our property with our neighbors. Then we realized that it was a foot deep and after an hour of only getting 2-3 inches down I was like "Hey honey, let's shift 2 inches forward and see how that goes". SHAWAM, the slab was only 4 inches deep and after that it was pure post hole diggin' goodness.

We repeated this about 9 times. Honestly, it wasn't that bad, but it was slow going. It was even slower when we realized we didn't space the poles the right distance apart. So then we had to cut into the fence panels. Steven was pretty hesitant with the circular saw. It was his first time using it and I mean hey, SUPER SHARP objects that make loud, scary noises scare the beejesus out of me too. Eventually though, on day three, I got tired of doing the fence and took control and started slicing through panels like a madwoman. I wish I had done that from the beginning, but hey I'm way less tentative around saws now.

Steven wouldn't even admit he was impressed. Men.

We hand-built our gate too. This cost about $10 in lumber/fence panels to build. It would have been $50+ to buy it. I'm fairly positive we went the right route, but man-oh-man was it annoying. Night fell before we were even done building the stupid thing, so we ended up doing half the construction and hanging in the dark. We were using the chicken light in the garage to kind of see.

Somehow it came out ok. We'll eventually cut down a spare fence panel and fill in the gaps so you can't see as well back there. However, it's not a high priority.

On the last day we hung this panel and a quarter. The quarter is sticking up because it rests on a tree trunk that we didn't want to dig up because we're 90% postiive has a hornet's nest underneath it. There are several things I don't f' around with and bees are one of them. I wouldn't mind keeping a hive of bees (they work great with chickens) but that's only because I figure if they're mine they won't sting me. That's how it works, right? Ok, good. So we cut down as far as we could without causing a swarm and attached the last panel. I'll admit to hoping around like a girl and yelling things like "watch out for the bees!" and "JESUS CHRIST THERE'S A HORNET" (note: I saw two bees in total). Steven was completely non-plussed. This man also pulls out poison ivy by his bare hands. Meanwhile, I look at it and I'm a flaring red mess of itchiness. I think it's safe to say that Steven sucks.

After we completed the fence, turning our shabby patio to a sweet ass courtyard, it was time to buy patio furniture. As much as I generally dislike Ikea furniture, I will give them the nod for their awesome(ly cheap) patio furniture. This baby was only $150 and exactly what we needed in terms of price, scale and usability.

Because our courtyard is NOT big, we decided to make the table primarily a two-seater and use the bench as, well, a bench.

Sidenote: I love my garden. Those are all vegetable plants that are actually producing vegetables.

Back to the courtyard:

It was still looking a little underwhelming. Secretely we're New Orleanians (which is why we keep calling it a courtyard. I think it officially qualifies though) and that means we need green, lush courtyards. I convinced myself it was worth another $100 to get this effect. So off to Lowes we went!

Well, our plant discounts were AMAZING. I picked up a Crepe Mrytle, a couple of perennials, two hanging ferns, three large irises, three tomatoe plants dripping with tomatoes, and a large geranium.

Our total? $35

How you ask?

Lowes is awesome. First, almost everything we bought was on sale in the "where plants go to die" section. I love that section. It's my jam. I'm good at nursing back plants to life, so if they look a little gross at first, whatever. For $1.67 (the price of the overloaded tomatoe plants) I can be down with about anything. The irises were only $8, down from the $20 they were originally and the ferns were $3.33 a piece. Apparently this was a flub because we went back on Sunday and the sale price was gone. Whatever, cheap ferns are the shiz.

On top of the super discounts, the cashier forgot to ring up our crepe mrytle tree. How she missed a tree, I'm not too sure, but I'm all about integrity (and it's literally a requirement in my job -- that helps keep me honest) so we took it back in and told the manager what happened and he rewarded us with a 40% discount! Go Lowes!

Now the patio looks like this:

Can you say serene? Can you say lush? We ate Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner outside on Sunday and we'll probably do that from now on. It's just so relaxing. We just need to get some better outdoor lighting (or some at all) and maybe install some speakers for some tunes, but otherwise it's perfect. The chickens certainly love it.

And so does Klaus.

Ahhhhh serenity.

Note: I'll be putting up a post about our epic hallway make-over as soon as I rewrite the damn thing. SOMEONE deleted it. And assuming we get it all done this weekend, I'll be posting up a picture of the guest bedroom. It's so exciting having three bedrooms!