When Things Seem to be Going Well…

In sports, every streak comes to an end.  A slugger strikes out, a quarterback throws an interception, an injury costs a team a win.  I was having a streak of good luck lately and my streak has come to an end.

Last week I was laid off from my architecture job.  The firm is heavy in the retail industry, which has seen a significant slow down with the rise of Amazon and similar companies, so the firm had to do some restructuring.  It’s business.  I will get unemployment, severance and paid for my unused vacation time.  The timing could have been better but I will be alright.  I saw the slow down happening and was planning for my future beyond that company.  Those plans were about 4-6 months away from being realized.  Those plans include me selling The Rural Side property, which I was planning on listing in the late summer/ fall, moving closer to work, and saving for a property that is better suited for my future goals.  Now I am restructuring my plans…

That brings me to today.

…I will warn you that the next part is a little graphic…

Today I was supposed to get ready to go away for a couple days.  I am heading to my parent’s a couple hours north of here for the holiday weekend and some time with friends.  I went out to do my morning chores and get the chickens, ducks and garden ready for me to be gone a couple days.  There were four new ducklings born this week and they were outside the coop when I walked up to the door, not unusual because they can fit under the door.  What I discovered when I went into the coop, however, made me physically ill in a way that nothing I have ever seen has.  Their momma, who diligently sat on the nest and hatched them, had been attacked in the night and was missing her entire beak.  It was the worst sight I have seen in the four years I have been here.  Apparently a raccoon, judging from the tracks outside, had reached through a small hole in the backside of the coop and attacked her.  The worst part was that she was still alive, somehow quacking, and trying to drink water.  It was truly a sad sight to see her suffering and I had no choice but to end that suffering.

I gathered up the ducklings and have put them in a brooder in the garage.  Patching and securing the coop are on my to-do list before leaving.

It is hard to remain optimistic in the face of adversity.  But just as a winning streak has to come to an end, when you are in a slump you have to keep swinging…

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Chickens and Ducks

So it has been a while since I posted here…  Work was extremely busy most of the spring and summer, leaving little free time.  What time I did have I spent trying to keep up with the garden.  I even added a dozen new chicks to my flock this spring.  Eventually this summer I got burned out, though.  I decided to take a break, selling all of the chickens.  I was going to wait until spring and get some chicks and ducklings, but a local family in need led me to getting some adult birds sooner.
A week or two ago a local woman posted on Facebook that she had some chickens, ducks, and coops available.  She had lost her son in the beginning of November.  They were taking care of two young grandsons and the animals on their own.  I offered up some help but didn’t hear back until this weekend.  She offered all of the remaining birds, which I accepted.  My coop is now home to 12 chickens and 16 ducks.  I still need to figure out what breeds of each I have.  She told me some while we were putting them in the crates but in the confusion I forgot most of them.

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Some of the new chickens

 

I am just excited to have a fresh start with some birds that are already laying.  A couple roosters may have to go, something to figure out another day.  With the pond I’m sure that the ducks will love their new home.  The new coop project I started last summer will be finished up as soon as there is time so the ducks can have better accommodations than the old coop, which tends to flood in the spring and has rotting wood siding.  I’m considering a chicken tractor so that I can control where the chickens are allowed and put them to work on the weeds in the garden.

 

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Chickens and ducks

Better pictures will come when there is more light.  Hopefully there will be more posts too.  I’m hoping for a good year on The Rural Side, which will start fairly soon with tapping maple trees for syrup.

Morning Harvest

This morning I went out to the garden with a bowl to harvest my daily onslaught of cherry tomatoes.  Today I had much more ripe than just those, however.

Morning Harvest

Morning Harvest

A half dozen pickling cucumbers, including the behemoth that must have been hiding for several days!  Cayenne peppers- which I am hoping to make into powdered pepper.  A tobasco pepper- which I am hoping to make some hot sauce with.

Tobasco Pepper

Tobasco Pepper

And I got some more tomatoes.  These were a determinate variety (sorry can’t remember the name or find where I had it written down at the moment) that I planted hoping to get a bunch of tomatoes at the same time to make salsa with.  However, half of them have started to rot on the vine before ripening.  It isn’t blossom end rot, but I found some slugs on some of the tomatoes, so it could have just been that the tomatoes were damaged by bugs and started to rot.  I picked all of them, including a couple green ones, which I think I will fry up for breakfast this morning!

Cayennes

Cayennes

Swimming in cherry tomatoes

First Harvest

First Harvest

Second Harvest

Second Harvest

Third Harvest

Third Harvest

As you can see from the pictures my cherry tomatoes have really been producing!  I did get a few other tomatoes and dug some potatoes yesterday.  Now I need to figure out what to do with this big bowl of tomatoes since I don’t think I am going to be able to eat them all right away.  Any suggestions?

INTP/ISTP

Have you ever done a Carl Jung/Isabel Briggs Myers personality test? If so then you understand the letters above. I decided to take an online test after reading part of the book Do What You Are. I placed myself as an INTP from reading the descriptions in the book. Apparently I fall more in the middle on sensing and intuition according to the online test, so I’m either INTP or ISTP. Both are apt descriptions of my personality in my opinion. It basically says I am introverted (I)- This was my highest percentage and I know I am not an extravert at all. Sensing (S)/Intuition (N). Thinking (T) over feeling. And Perceiving (P) over judging.

Being introverted is just who I am. I know that. I occasionally try to be extraverted but never really succeed. I tend to avoid crowds, loud places, and attention.

Sensing and intuition is how we take in information from around us. From the book: “Sensors concentrate on what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled and tasted. … Intuitives naturally read between the lines and look for meaning in all things.” Being someone who “uses my five senses” to gather information is why I put myself more in the “N” category. However the book also says “Intuitives value imagination and trust their inspirations and hunches… are oriented toward the future… and generally try to make things different rather than maintaining them the way they are”. So I could see where I could fall in between.

Thinking was my next highest percentage. This category focuses on how we make decisions. Thinkers make decisions that seem logical whereas feelers make decisions on how much they care or what they feel is right. For me it was only logical that I am a thinker (pun intended).

Perceiving versus judging “concerns whether we prefer to live in a more structural way or in a more spontaneous way”. As a perceiver I fit into the description that I “like to live in a spontaneous way and am happiest when my life is flexible.” I have shown that on here recently in my post “The itch to GO“.  This is a constant battle in my work life as well.  Part of the reason I took my current job was because they made it sound like it was flexible, but it has proven to be rigid for the employees and only flexible for managers.

Do What You Are is meant to help you find a job based on your personality type.  Looking at the jobs for the two types I fall between, I like the ISTP jobs more.  INTP includes architect, which is the field I work in and went to school for.  INTP also includes creative fields (artist, blogger, photographer) which I enjoy.  However it also includes a lot of technology/computer fields which don’t interest me and healthcare which I also have zero interest in.

ISTP fields include geologist, carpenter, mechanic, landscape architect, landscaping, forester, park naturalist/ranger, cabinetmaker and silversmith.  These are several jobs that I could see doing in the list.  Again there are some tech/ healthcare jobs that I have no interest in.  However, the job on the list that I most want to do (at this point in time, remember I like being spontaneous!) is ORGANIC FARMER.

So it has been an interesting evening of reading although I really only skimmed the book to get to the important stuff.

In other news, I had my largest harvest yet today, so I will be sharing some pictures soon.  Hoping to get a lot more stuff coming off and maybe being able to can some stuff!

Water except where I want it

This weekend I have been dealing with water issues around here. I know that a large portion of the midwest has had too much water this year, while California is going dry, so I know I am not alone in having issues with water. I would gladly send half the rainfall I have received this month to Cali in exchange for some wine or some of that San Francisco weather I loved while living out there!

Friday night/ Saturday morning we had a storm that got some water into the coop. Only one of four cages got wet but it was the largest, so I had to clean out all of the wet bedding. Then Saturday evening the pump for my cistern died, so I didn’t have any water for the house, besides the water cooler which I use for drinking water. It was too late to get a new pump so Sunday morning I had to go and spend $200 on a new shallow well pump. Of course the new one didn’t fit up exactly like the old one and some fittings wouldn’t come off the old one, so another $50 for fittings and copper pipe and I was able to get the job done. Except that one fitting might be leaking slightly.

While fixing the pump we had another rainstorm. Three cages in the coop got wet. So I had to clean out two more cages plus the fresh bedding I had put down in the large one. Get that done, do some other things around the house, and sure enough it starts to thunder again. I go out to make sure all the chickens are in the coop and it starts to downpour again. I was stuck in the coop but I got to watch how the water was moving. Apparently water flows down the driveway, hits the garage, flows down the walkway that leads to the coop about halfway and then goes towards a low spot on the south side of the coop. When that low spot fills up it fills up around the coop and then comes in. So basically I need to just move the coop to higher ground. I don’t understand why anyone would have even built anything in that spot. As somebody interested in permaculture, I know one of the first things you should do is observe. Observe water flow, observe winds, observe the sun. This is part of the reason I want to start with raw land for my next place. Yes I’m sure I will make mistakes along the way. I am human. But I won’t build my house, garage, and shed on the lowest side of the property.

Anyways. Besides the water issues I did have a good weekend. Friday afternoon I got off work early and went fishing. Caught a couple nice catfish.

Nice Catfish!

Nice Catfish!

Then went and watched a group of singer/ songwriters perform at a local restaurant. Saturday morning I got an apple fritter from a local donut shop and stopped at the lake on my way home to cast a line. Only caught one bluegill before it started to get too hot and humid. Then everything above happened. Sunday morning I also harvested my first tomatoes. Three little cherry tomatoes that didn’t make it back to the house, somehow…

Rain has been good for the garden, though. I keep promising pictures but I assure you I will post some soon! I have a watermelon the size of a football. That has me excited! Many more smaller ones are on the vines but that one is the largest I have had in the three growing seasons here and it is not finished growing yet!

A Good Weekend

How was your weekend? How is the weather where you are?

Myself I had a good weekend. Took some time for myself, got some work done around here, and did some woodworking (something I love that I have not made time to do lately). It was really nice on Saturday. I went on a long hike, went fishing and finished the day mowing the lawn. Per my Fitbit I had almost 22,000 steps on Saturday, which is over 10 miles!

Sunday started off with rain. I went to get a donut at a local shop who usually has awesome apple fritters (another love) but it must not have been fresh because it was a little lacking. Oh well, everybody has an off day. I followed that up by fishing since the rain had cleared. I caught a half dozen bluegill before trying to go after larger fish, where I struck out. When I got home, I worked on some corn hole boards I am making for friends. I have the construction portion almost finished on them, then painting will follow. I also cleaned all of the chicken waterers really well and did all my morning chores this evening, except feed the rabbits their morning feed, so I won’t have to rush around in the morning. Before calling it a day, I cleaned up a hay bale that had fallen on the road yesterday evening. When I arrived home from hiking Saturday afternoon I could see a bale laying in the road a hundred yards from my driveway. At least a dozen cars just drove around it from the time I pulled in the driveway, so I went down and kicked it off of the road. It seemed like good hay so I was going to pick it up, but I forgot about it and it got rained on overnight.  It will still get used as mulch on the garden, instead of rabbit food, which I usually use straw for.  But hey, when luck falls your way and leaves you hay you use it in some way.

Good night all!  More posts about the weekend and garden (with pictures) to come soon!!!

Chuck, From the Rural Side

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A lack of motivation

This week I decided to give up Mt Dew.  Cold turkey.  I had my last twenty ounce bottle on Sunday.  So far it has been a terrible week!  At work I would usually have an afternoon pop.  So come about two o’clock I have been tired, grumpy and unmotivated to continue working this week. Today was better than the previous three so I know I just have to hold out. And get some coffee and creamer for the house before the weekend. While I am trying to cut down on caffeine as well, I get withdrawal headaches if I quit that cold turkey.

However, even after work this week has been a drag. Mostly because of rain. A couple naps have kept me from being productive as well. But the weather. Overcast. Rainy. Windy. Rainy. HUMID! I hate humidity. That sticky feeling. And when it feels like you could swim through the air… That is what it has felt like this week. It makes gardening an un-fun chore. Good news is the rain is helping the garden grow! It truly is beautiful. But the WEEDS! They also grow a lot when it rains…

My last couple posts have been pretty pessimistic, especially for myself. I am usually an eternal optimist trying to see the best in everything. Blame the weather!

What do you do when there things to be done, but you lack motivation?

The itch to GO

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During college I had the privilege to travel around the country and get paid to work.  Part of the architecture program was to do four quarters of co-op with a firm.  I was able to work in Philadelphia and San Francisco, along with staying in the state and spending a quarter in Toledo with another working in Cincinnati.  Less than a year after graduating I moved to Boulder after visiting a friend who lives in Denver.  These moves were major steps in my life.  Each time I learned something about myself and the profession I chose when I was a fifth grader.  I experience life from coast to coast with stops in between.  Saw some VERY beautiful parts of the country.

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After coming back from Boulder, I ended up back in Cincinnati, a city I said I would never live in again after graduating college.  The city has come a long way since I started college in 2005.  They have cleaned up and revitalized neighborhoods that were left to rot for half a century.  Businesses, the city and private citizens have invested millions of dollars to build new parks, restore old buildings and bring life back to downtown.  Now, I live about 25 miles from downtown but I manage to make my way down there occasionally.

But I still feel like something is missing.  I feel like I need to get away!  There isn’t a real reason for it.  Just something I have the urge to do.  I know I can’t just up and leave, I have too many responsibilities now.

I have a good job that I enjoy going to (most days).

I have my house and land.  With all its headaches, there are good moments like biting into the first tomato of the season or seeing the baby bunnies every morning.

My family and friends are close by and I get to see them more often than if I were out west.

But west is where I want to go!  Or north.  Or to the northeast.  Or even the northwest.  There are places I have not experienced that I want to visit.  Oregon, Maine, Montana are high up on my list.

Every time I feel tied down by something I begin to push back against it.  It is the same in relationships, as it is in jobs, as it is owning this place.  There always seems to be something missing, even when everything is going well.

I feel like this is a lot of insight into my soul.  More than I open up to most people.  Even my best friends and parents, I don’t really talk about personal issues to, but here I am putting it out here for strangers on the internet to read.  I’m okay with that.  Part of the reason I started blogging was to have an outlet, a place to put my thoughts, share little victories and even the heartaches.  I’m an introvert so writing allows me to say things I normally wouldn’t.

Thank you for allowing me to write and as always thank you for reading.  For now I am going to go…  Go to bed.  It is already 1am and I have a list of things to get down around here since the weather looks good for today.  Maybe I will dream of sitting on the coast or climbing a mountain.  That will have to do for now…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Little things around The Rural Side

Almost three weeks ago now, I welcomed these 3 little ones to the Rural Side! 3 New Zealand/ Californian mix rabbits. This is the first successful litter the rabbits have had, so I have been very happy.

Bunnie!

Bunnies!

Around the same time we had 5 new chicks hatch under two broody hens, 3 of which have survived.  These are d’uccle and wyandotte mixes.

Two of the new baby chicks

Two of the new baby chicks

And a couple months ago a robin made a nest in a grape vine wreath by the door to the house.  She laid three eggs, two of which hatched.  One afternoon I came home to find a baby bird sitting on the edge of the nest.  Before I got back with the camera it had flown off.  I got a picture of its sibling still in the nest.  A little while later, it too had flown the nest.

Baby Robin

Baby Robin

Some of the little things from around here

-Chuck