Your Dreams -a fictional or a non-fiction reality?

(fiction = imaginary/stories and non-fiction = fact/history, just saying)

The point is, nothing will ever be accomplished if you don’t start somewhere -and keep going....
Roo is now REAL in my life, because I didn't give up!
(Previous posts will explain the long drawn-out ordeal to this point)

I’m going to treat you to a confession. I’m a writing nut and have been creating stories since I was 12. Back then it was an exercise in the exploration into the life of others- mostly what I thought it might be like to be part of the ‘popular’ group of kids that I was on the edge of (but never quite part of). Like it might be comparable now to write about what it’s like to live the life of someone in the upper 1% compared to what it’s like to live on the edge of what I once thought of as ‘middle class’, (now sinking fast). I’ve no idea what it’s like to live on the upper 1% crust of society– but it’s kinda fun to explore the possibilities (you know, camping vs what it’s really like to vacation in  the Caribbean – or on Qatar's future resort?
(Qatar-- talk about a fantasy concept - with extreme goals!)

But I’m not a fantasy writer, just an explorer. It’s not only fun to explore a dream or a lifestyle, it’s enlightening.

And it could be a first step on a new path for yourself. A dream that then becomes a goal.

This is something that Larry Brooks from his site has been addressing, re: NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month challenge).  He as put up a post each day to help anyone with a writers’ dream to navigate the fast pace of a writing goal featured each November.

He shows how to overcome obstacles and not waste your time without a plan for what you will write.
I think a lot of what he says really parallels what is necessary thinking for any dream or goal. Here’s part of the last post – an encouragement:
*my words in brackets to show the parallels I’m alluding to:

“To a great extent, your fate as a writer [successful dreamer] will be determined by how you think.  By who you are, at your core.

By that I mean… how do you take coaching?  How stuck are you in your own world, how strongly do you cling to limiting beliefs?  Are you in your own way, or are you willing to stretch, to risk, to commit?  Do you remain childlike in your wonder and blank page possibilities, or do you know it all already?  What’s your comfort zone, and is it serving you?

Have you planned your story [your life]?  If the answer is less than an enthusiastic yes – at least the major arc and milestones [changes and goals]— then take a look at these questions and be honest with yourself.  Because the folks in the bookstores[successful in living their dream]… they have answered them.  And, by virtue of a beat sheet [outline of goal steps], some sticky notes or a series of drafts created in context to certain principles and expectations, they all have planned their stories [goal outcomes].

Writing is life [moving forward is life].  A mirror and a microcosm.  We author our stories [lives], but as we write them we are living one. It’s an adventure, one that takes you deep within yourself.

What’s your ending?

The story you are about to write is part of your [life] story.  Will you be different?  Be better?  Be the best you that’s inside you at this moment in time?  Or will you be… stuck… or frightened… or stubborn… or closed off?

Write [forge ahead] with courage.  Write something important [take an important step toward your goals].  Change yourself this month.  Go for it.  Reach high.... I wish you great success.  May the blood that pours from your forehead be the blood of your invested self and not that of frustration.  All greatness is paid for in blood, if not literally, then metaphorically.”

Blood –or at least calluses... yep. And maybe you’ll need to factor in the need for $ funds. Which means that any goal often creates the need for several “PRE-steps”. They all matter.

This is the 1st step of how I approach goals (after I decide they are goals):
pinecone targets (practical):
 *    Home – de-clutter, re-arrange storage spaces, so I can set up garden room, art room, pantry and animal husbandry supply areas all in the same room, but somehow make it aesthetically pleasing and useful (now called my *Farmgirl Office*)
*    Environmental -(landscaping) propagate flowering plants for bees
*    Practice indoor gardening (start peach trees, basil & tomatoes from seed, etc.)
 acorn targets  (creative):
*    Blogging - My goal will be to post weekly, create a blog signature (DONE), create a custom email signature which contains my blog’s URL (decided against that one)
*    Paint on Canvas - for next year’s art events (see “painting agenda”)
*    Handmade-  quilting, embroidery (embroider something accented with gold thread), beading,  salt-flour clay work, make mittens from thrift-store sweaters
*    Collage work- a tool to define my outlook, to catalogue my favorite things, to help motivate thru illustration– collect images and create digital collages’ and labels for my Binders
*    Photography: progress journaling (tracking with pictures) –
 1) do a month in photos (take a picture of each project being worked on every day/day of the week it’s scheduled to be worked on)
2) do a year in photos (from that progression of projects) to describe what life was like that year
3) make my own calendar for next year (using my own pictures)
*    Writing - finish the outlines/beat sheets and rough drafts of novels in the works
 juniper targets (personal):
*    Fitness – start on a regimen (bootycamp, getting fit to ride)
*    Nutrition – a better dietary practice (all natural & from scratch [NO mysterious GMO foods], better menu planning, etc.)
*    Image – start sewing my own clothes
*I don't know what's going on w/ Blogger- the spaces are weird and I've corrected them several times in the editing room...anyway, you can see it normally here:  PDF of my Overal Agenda Using Targets (contains really cute plaid bullets)

The 2nd step of course, is breaking that down into priorities and scheduling it with a calendar. (Each of these targets is something I would add to the itinerary of one of the 12 Folders –a monthly calendar system to keep moving ahead with a targeted purpose the entire year:

These are my focus topics:
1) January –WELLNESS: all Health improvement categories ( muscle conditioning and flexibility exercises, etc. Dietary: add to diet/ remove from diet/ foods and recipes to try, etc.)
2) February – IMAGE & APPEARANCE – self care & improvement (hair/ style/ clothing & make-up/ colors/ etc.)
3) March –WORK-Business: time management, business direction, customer relations improvements: streamlining office paperwork and general efficiency, incorporating policies and protocols, marketing tools and ideas (personal marketing is very effective)
4) April --HOMESTEADING: practical self-sustenance practices and endeavors (canning, sewing, etc.)
5) May-- LEARNING: personal endeavors (not art), like horse training and riding
6) June –MARRIAGE/ RELATIONSHIPS: improvement tactics/problem resolutions, etc. (our anniversary month)
7) July –GETTING OUT: life enrichment and entertainment (expanding quality of life: picnics, camping out/ vacation time/ socializing/town events, etc.)
8) August-- FINANCIAL: deal with bills, budgeting, long-term goals, etc. (it's too hot to do a lot outside)
9) September-- HOME: management & improvement efforts, actual work on the house
10) October –NOTEBOOKS: revamp and reorganize master lists, tune-up household binders, etc. (getting prepared to cocoon for winter)
11) November --ARTS & CREATIVITY: try new techniques and projects, finish up gifts for giving in Dec.
12) December --GIFTING/SOCIAL: be involved, show appreciation and give back

For keeping on top of household maintenance and tasks, insert any areas or rooms into one the 12 Folders - synchronize one room of the house with each month to focus on that room (or area), utilizing the four weeks of the month to finish each area like this:

Week 1 – De-Clutter
Week 2 –Deep Clean
Week 3 –Re-Organize/Repair
Week 4—Decorate

1) Master Bath
2) Art Room now: Farmgirl Office
3) Theater/Game Room   now, Exercise (and dog romp) Room
4) Guest Bedroom
5) Main Living Room
6) Master Bedroom
7) Storage & Utility room, Storage shed (this is now the Hen House) 
8) Back Yard & Hen House 
9) Deck & porch under the deck /Vehicle (we’re down to ONE)
10) Kitchen & Pantry (now the Farmgirl Office houses my pantry items)
11) Closets, Stairs and Hallway/Entry & Front of the house
12) Office (for our service business)

*Each month has a designated folder to hold information and those things pertaining to the goals set. The folders can be decorated with a collage on the cover related to the topic it covers, and inside is a calendar - or the calendar can be on the cover (I like to add a few graphics or a fun font).

This is how you fill up your monthly calendars with goals:

Under the acorn targets, is a list of photographic journaling goals. Each of the numbered items is really part of one goal – simply to take photo evidence of project progress or process. It’s a way of holding myself accountable – a motivation to get to it and not quit. I’ll end up with something to share with others, as well as an inspirational calendar for myself, should I really wish to create one. (Of course I will).

There needs to be a schedule of photo opps created, because I cannot carry the camera around all the time. (That might be a bit too obsessive!) 
Depending upon what my current projects might be to determine the photos I take of the progress or process.
A painting? Well, I usually do about 6 photos, but it’s hard to know exactly what day I’d get to a specific place in the progression, unless I only paint on Wednesdays (or whatever day)- then simply take a shot after each painting session on Wednesdays- right? 
Sometimes I start a painting and don’t paint on it for a week. It doesn’t matter at all, I just keep the photos organized and accessible in one place for this kind of documentation when the painting/paintings is/are done. (I might work on more than one at a time).
(This was my first sighting of Cherihuka, the day before I got him)

I traded a painting for him - although I gave him back to his previous owner, I didn't take back the painting, because it was as much the previous owner's non-disclosure as my own fault- and after almost 2 years, I loved Cherihuka and was grateful for our time together, even if he could never be ridden:
(it's a little light here to see details - click to enlarge)

 (framed with glass and a real feather inserted)
Most people wouldn’t/don't care a whit about the progression of a painting unless it is a how-to tutorial. 
Or it might be fun to do a time-lapse video... fast-motion is a bit comedic. (Well you and I can both just forget that!)

Under the juniper targets is "Image- start sewing my own clothes". Well that’s a huge year-long endeavor just to get up to speed you know? First I have to redefine what my style is. It’s not as easy as one might think! I discussed this before (HERE).
That definitely could use a calendar though. First make time to define what style I want to try sewing. Then schedule a day to find patterns, then a day dedicated to finding materials, and a day to purchase needed items (buttons?), then a day to cut material, and a day to start sewing, etc... 

Under acorn targets, after a bit of consideration, I now intend to COMBINE both the “embroidery (embroider something accented with gold thread)”,and “make mittens from thrift-store sweaters”. That way I know I will actually have time to do it. Those mittens will come with either embroidery already done, or some kind of 3-D appliqué’ work that I can easily add some gold thread embellishment to.
*If I get any of these done during cold months, another goal might be to include them in a filled-shoebox charity drive (where you fill the shoebox with things that would be gifted to a needy child). THAT would have a deadline and need to be scheduled too.

With most projects, when you have a routine down, you know the days you’ll have time to work on them- just pencil in a reminder on your calendar and take a picture at the end of that day on that project. You might never use that picture, but it’s always a motivational tool for your personal use- just in case you are or might, share it with others. It’s proof that you’re being productive and following thru, right?

Nothing will ever be accomplished if you don’t start somewhere -and keep going.

Please share! How do you keep yourself motivated toward your goals? Does the motivation change with each type of goal or not?

A Dream or a Goal? Where is the Transition?

My reality is that I'm kindling Hopes and Dreams, just as you would blow upon coals to rekindle a flame.
Although I may seem to take an inordinate amount of pleasure in my little dreams, my outlook is not light-hearted. They seem such simple, almost silly 'dreams', but these aren't really dreams, in my reality, they are survival goals.

I won't launch into the bigger economic picture, but I will say that the flame that kindles the ashes of hope is not at all strong enough to re-stoke the fire... we will continue to live on the edge as long as this picture remains so bleak. 
I label my goals "Dreams", because it allows me to see a longterm picture to work toward. I NEED something to work toward, and surrounding myself with things that produce food security for a time of possible scarcity, is really about all I can do. But that in itself is NOT motivating, nor do I want to live my life from a place of fear.

It’s a way of distracting myself from the potential losses that are looming straight ahead of us, like a train barreling down the tracks, and you can see that the train tracks go thru your living room. 

These dreams are a mask over the reality, that my longterm goals are something  built up from an experience in adversity. I have strong reasons for the insecurity.

My projects are simply a way to stay busy and not give in to the fear. I tell myself to keep moving, keep working at it - it may be my last chance, and I get only one shot.

If I have many pans on the fire, then I’ve got a chance that one of them will produce something. And then I'll be ok. (There's no real reason to think that- only that it’s all I can come up with, and I'd know I've given the rest of them my best shot).

These aren't exciting or fun things to do as far as ‘dreams’ go, they are backup plans should all else fail.

The train is coming and no man (or Gov't.) can stop it, it will soon be each man for himself. THAT is the image of the future that I have. I am simply trying to do more than hope, for some form of security.

The coals of our life here in this house remain, but little heat remains in them. I will keep blowing my hopes upon them, but they do not spark up the coals to warm the room. And even if they did, I know that this room, (this house), will/could one day soon be gone - and I'll be out in the cold, holding my coals in a bucket (blowing my hopes upon them- just so they don't go completely out.)

My biggest hope is that we hold onto the house until the end of this 5-year BK plan. It's a tenuous hope, and it has been so, since we entered into the plan, but it was that, or give up and take our losses, completely without any hope at all.
The security of our lives now hinges on this economy - and you know there is no security there.

For now, I turn my back on the coming train and keep picking the flowers on the sides of the tracks (making plans & goals toward the dream of security). I can hear the train and feel the rails shiver under my feet as it barrels down the tracks. 

'What I don't see can't hurt me', is how I choose to live thru these days, but still, I KNOW what's coming. So I keep busy, busy making this day seem as good as yesterday- as though the fruits of my labors will actually one day mean something concrete - when all along I know that tomorrow the train could catch up to me and it will be too late.

Maybe it's more pretending, than dreaming, but it allows me to continue to cast a little more breath of Hope onto those coals, to keep them alive. One day I want to know that that Hope is not all I’ve got.

So I 'dream' of making my own clothes.
This is not quite a ‘dream’, but it feels like one, in that it's something completely new to me, a real stretch to reality.
I do often dream of having a real 'wardrobe' to pick and choose from. 
One I like, for once. 
And to do that, since I'm so picky, I'd have to learn to sew to patterns - or something akin to it. 
However, I’m not sure if I want to invest my time in this endeavor yet. For most assuredly it will take time.

I have several thoughts at once:
1) The clothes I like, I can’t really afford unless I learn to make them myself. Maybe not even then. It’s the material. Not something exotic, but something made of cotton- it’s just lacy or knit...and you can never find these things in any kind of department store or fashion store! You have to find them at Tibetian places, or upscale downtown boutiques (you know, with fancy original names).

2) My sewing skills usually only extend to hemming and replacing buttons, though I have successfully put in zippers, made a wrap-around skirt, curtains, and a few pillow case dresses (for toddlers), so I guess I’m farther along that I think I am.
I like the idea of repurposing used shirts or things, but then you end up with a warehouse of odds and ends fabrics. And quilting takes too long. I’d much rather find little things - like this -to make:
Isn't it adorable?!

I have no keen like of things like a bluejeans skirt (made from two pairs of jeans), but the little aprons and purses I’ve seen made from the jeans butt (with pockets) are adorable (I’d never use or wear them though).

I like SOFT and loose fitting, elegant but casual things. I hope that makes sense. I love lace, but not-so-much things with lace trim.
I love layers. And sheers. And flowers.
And plaid (but wearing it is another questionable thing).

Oh, and I hate t-shirts (necklines at my neck and MAN SLEEVES!)  
I HATE turn-down collars and button-up shirts –stiff things you'd wear to an office. 

I’d like to be able to make my own underthings – but loose fitting in that realm means Bloomers – probably the best  'passionkillers' aside from Grannypants. No thanks. At least not yet.

Oh wait, maybe I’ve just changed my mind!

Colette Patterns has a wicked cute FREE pattern for bloomers! 

Do them in a pink plaid, super-soft silk or even a stretch lace with a scalloped edge...Va-va-va-voom & Happy Valentines!

I’ve seen the cutest mittens using thrift-store sweaters (look for those with embroidery or appliqué’). If only I had a GRANDDAUGHTER *hint, hint*, that could wear them. Sometimes I think I’ll have to start keeping dolls around, just to dress them up.
Does anyone else do this?

and 3) My preferred style doesn’t go with my lifestyle.

Nope they just. will. not. mix! I’m not exactly a country belle. I put nail polish on all right. And then go out and pick up 1000 little sticks off the ground... I put on my pretty pink Ked’s. And head out to the Coop (just a quick check for eggs)... that’s me!
Does anyone else have this problem? IS it a problem?

But if I were going to add this skill set and take the time, how would I find patterns? Am I a combination of hippy bohemian, Romantic Boho, Boho Prairie, Prairie Grunge, or Shabby Romantic Prairie Chic - or something else altogether?
(here’s just an example of my taste, although I like long skirts much more  – lace and flowers, even if it’s a bit ‘frumpy’ or rumply: 

casual top  casual skirt  (but think mid-calf in length)

I love the UN-simple Feminine look. But I live a Tomboy life; a simple Farmgirl life.

I wear a farmgirl hat. This is my hat! I live on a dirt road, hardly ever have company, and never pose for pictures, so what’s the point in having the pretty things, just because I love them? I wear my husbands’ worn-out (and soft, comfy, loose) 501 button-fly blue jeans.
No, they are NOT cute or at all sexy. They aren’t even slightly flattering. I’ve embraced my country life with my whole heart, and have even learned to live with shorter nails.

But maybe I shouldn’t.

How do I decide (you know, if I were to decide to decide, whether or not to pursue this as a goal?)

Oh yeah on a brighter note (than winter coming)----------------------------
(unfortunately after this photoshoot, he flew away)
I hope he’ll be back. I’ll mind my manners and only take pictures from the house. Promise.

One Reality of What it Means to be a Farmgirl

I'll be making a green (New Mexico Anaheim) chili dish tonight that I haven't made before and Jamey might come over to see how it turns out (it's his recipe).
He'll want to see the chickens, because he's the one that moved the coop, and I've been bragging on my flock-- hoping his g/f might want me to hatch a few out for her next spring-- so cleaning the yard is my priority today.
Thankfully she won't be in town to see this mess...
The yard is FULL of feathers!

(These were taken 2 days ago, so it's even worse now- and you should see INSIDE the coop!)

Unfortunately, I just happened upon a blog, Hippychicks Adventure to Sustainable Happiness (wonderful blog!) that just happened to be explaining this:  THEY ARE MOLTING... apparently

No eggs during molts- because naturally, eggs and feathers both require protein... and so they are shedding their feathers and it's a GODAWFUL MESS! But, it's brought on by stress...(either from sudden weather changes or by yep- MOVING them!)
There's nothing I can do whatever the cause, but wait it out, and it might be as long as 3 months! So I guess all the souffle's will have to wait until the end of January?
Some great info on this phenomenon here: Why Chickens Go Into Moult (British spelling)

I'm raking everything up in piles against one side of the coop in order to help retain heat inside during the snows. 
(beyond the pile- that's a bag I saved from last year when we ran out of firewood and we had to buy it because a cord of firewood is expensive at the end of winter! Not that buying it in bags is cheaper, but it's not a huge one-time cost that way). I have 24 empty bags now, and am filling with kindling. Going on bag 3 now... because the ground -all 10 acres but the driveway, is littered with pieces of wood!)

Damn snow...
I KNOW, you're laughing. 

Horse feathers.......

So many feathers, that not only have I gotten a handful for my collection (for crafts), but have lined their 6 nesting boxes with the fuzziest of them. It looks like a rabbit den. (Rabbits use their fur to line their nests). I don't know if chickens pluck their feathers for that or not, but I am trying everything to entice them to lay!

I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but in order not to be too embarrassed later, I guess I've got to get back out there & finish my job.
This is like cleaning the horse corral.

I guess this is a reality of learning what it is, and how to be a Farmgirl. How the heck do other farmgirls do it & keep it all nice and clean? Am I expecting the impossible? Maybe I'll have to ask around.

*Paula at The Fraker Farm says: chickens are like potato chips, you can't have just one.
Or twenty.

Happy Dreaming!

10 great goal tips - things I’ve learned!

1) Utilize pre-planning methods (lists, general notes) on your basic goals then outline the steps (detailed lists and support material is added and revision left for after the big picture is created), then set up a timeline for reaching key steps.

*draft pictures of the finished result! This works great for 3D type goals: garden planning, landscaping, to furniture arrangements, or planning your Thanksgiving Feast! Set that table, arrange the platters...then color it all in. A fun way to paste the image into your head and have something ‘tangible’ to look at while you’re waiting for it to come to fruition!

2) Do you have a background of failing to follow thru on your New Year’s resolutions?
The only way to get past that is to do something toward your goal(s) EVERY day!
Use a calendar and put some kind of action on each & every day, even if it’s just to look at your plans. Pretend you’re under scrutiny. Put a Silver star on the days that you follow thru. (The teacher is watching and grading your homework). That makes it more fun. Ha, ha, Teacher! I did it, I WIN!

*I like to make my own calendar pages- and attach them to the front of one of the 12 Folders. This is my “tick off” chart for making progress. (*For more on The 12 Folders click HERE and scroll down).

*I also like making collages of pictures and words-  the presentation of a framed collage of what I want – the end goal, motivates me!

*Before I got my chickens, I had a page of pictures (collage) to look at that motivated me to get out and move those $*!% pallets! I made a cover for my chicken-keeping Binder!

3) Longterm goals? Bribe/Trick yourself into moving ahead.  Use Gold stars, use ice cream & candy bars! Whatever rocks your boat!
Create periodic rewards at key steps along the way, or for the completion of every step ( at least in the beginning)

*Sometimes I use this method: I get to eat lunch when I finish this step (whatever it is). No finishing the step means my stomach will be growling at me! Today, I have to finish this before I can get a sandwich.

4) No accountability to help you push yourself? Socialize- use your favorite social media to update and report (after a public declaration of your mission or mandate or manifest), or just share the journey. Both will help create an accountability aspect (too embarrassing not to try –even if you fail).

*I am blogging!
It gets easier over time I hear...

4) Find yourself procrastinating? My #1 most effective trick to real productivity is to remove access to the internet (and in some cases, texting from the phone).
However, use the internet for support. Try typing in Google search: “setting myself up for success”. It’s not the first time someone considered those words!

5) If you’re stuck in Limbo (and it’s not that you’re preoccupied with browsing or emailing), it may be that you are unsure of the first step to get going, or what to do first. Go back to your goals and study the action options. Is something there an obstacle? Sometimes those steps/actions take either too much courage, or time. Back up and start with something else first – a "pre-step", to test the water, even another set of goals. Maybe you’re just not ready for this one.

6) Afraid of failing? Remember that to fail means that you tried. And there are going to be many tiny successes made on the progression to a failed attempt. Those successes are what is valuable in failure. You learned something on that journey by taking that route. Next time, you may try a different route, but you’ll take those successes with you!

*OK, an example- my first 3 years of gardening attempts here were just sad. In a word: Grasshoppers. They were my downfall. I learned to make soap/garlic/cayenne pepper spray! And, when that failed (worked for deer, but not so much the grasshoppers and too much hassle for ground plants), I practiced 'container-gardening' on the deck. Works great!
However, one caveat is spiders... and though they are beneficial, they often HIDE among the leaves... so you'll learn to wear gloves too.
*It's not scary to admit defeat, or humiliating to share failures. Think of it as a teachable moment. Save someone else the pain & waste of time.

7) Break every goal into bite-size pieces. Bit by bit, like assembling a bookcase that came thru the mail in a flat box. Slot A fits into Slot D sometimes, because Slot B slides into Slot C. Really!

8) No motivation – it’s lonely going, or it’s boring? Start a competition, or a challenge to others – get them on your bandwagon to compare notes and progress.

9) Need direction? Empty for ideas? Visit other blogs- actively LOOK for things others are doing that you like. Take notes of their ideas but fine-tune them for yourself.

*One blogger has a “Hen Cam” and a “Goat Cam”... love it! Now I want one too! (I could share my ‘bad’ non-laying chickens with my grandson!) I’ll take note of the camera placements, how they are set up, and how she ‘advertizes’ this feature of her blog, and how the cam picture is framed...  
Another blogger uses a free ‘slideshow’ to encase her photos – there are LOTS of different frames available to use, for free (I checked it out)!  
Another blogger has an app showing a bookshelf, where she showcases the books she recommends reading. Wow, that could be expanded to showcase your own books! One blogger features her own cookbooks! LOVE it!
One blogger did a photo essay of sorts: “One year in Pictures”! It was inspiring!!
The list goes on... but these are ideas whose time WILL come, if not now. Keep notes and examples (take a screen-shot of the page if you have to)!

10) Diversify! No one should be too obsessed with any one thing for too long, or put all their eggs in one basket (so to speak). Sometimes the steps have to wait for something else to happen first, you have to wait for the mail delivery, or to save up $, or maybe your next steps must be done outside and it’s been raining for 2 days. Make certain that you have other goals to focus on while you’re waiting. NO DAY WASTED!

I hope this was helpful and inspiring. If you have an suggestions, I'm all ears!

Playing Farmgirl

Just one week before my 50th birthday, I became a Farmgirl - a lifelong dream. Of course it's my own opinion that I'm a farmgirl now, I'm only just starting to experience the definition of a farmgirl. I am really just a 'chicken keeper', and have many projects on the burner, and huge "farmdream" plans- but I am getting a little taste of the complexities of farm life with the chickens.

Farmgirl Lesson #1: things never go quite as planned.

I can't say I'm having 'fun' yet; I'm paranoid all day now, taking peeks out my window to check on them. They are all outside in their yard, then all inside the coop where I can't see them. 
My first thought is always: they escaped! 
Then: A dog got them all!
It's kind of nerve-wracking. And then I see them out again. Whew.
I laugh because they are so big they look like turkeys! 
And they could really use some red clown noses.

Tazz gave me a dead mouse for my birthday. He'd been stalking that mouse for 3 weeks, dutifully checking every cabinet (they can't get inside the cabinets but you can hear them behind), listening to the floor and the walls, and under the stove. He's such a good mouser we don't need a cat!  

LOL - I had hoped the chickens will give me at least one egg for my birthday! It was a pipe dream.... Every time we disturb their coop in some way, they punish us with no eggs, and even try to bed down outside of it.
They are so sensitive! 

But the 2 eggs I've gotten were beautiful!

I'm always checking the bushes for a stray egg. They laze in out in their yard and make little dust bowls in the ground around the bushes. No eggs there either. 

I don't know why, but  they always look at me with an eye of distrust! (Enlarge the picture to get the 'look' up close).
Well, maybe that's my imagination.
What do you think?:
They are so comical.
I was in the process of moving their nests to ground level so they might use them.... This hen cracked me up when she took a side-step while eyeing the new nests (now on her level), as she walked by. 
 Then when she got a few more steps farther away...she stopped for a 2nd look, craning her neck:
But then, notice something else!
-in the absolute CORNER....look hard!
I totally didn't see that yesterday!
My 1st egg!  Haha, that joke is on me!

Here's another joke on me: When I loaded the pictures and saw the egg, I went out to get it, and discovered - they had eaten it!

Seriously, I was going to 'bait' one of the nests with that egg, but while I waited for the rain to slow down, they "made it disappear", leaving only a wet spot on the floor to show that I wasn't imagining things.

I've read that you need to 'train' your chickens to use a nest or a roost (the staggered ladders to sleep on).
Gahhhhhh!  I'm definitely not having "the best time" all the time.

That's why I moved the nest boxes OVER THERE... maybe in aiming for the corner, they’d accidentally lay in a nest! Ha!
(6 plastic crates with 3" board across the front is under the shelf)

Then after another 2 days, I found an egg -and a half
Yep, I really mean that. It had a little ‘etch’ mark, as if one and ½ an egg had been fused together- which I’m sure is exactly what happened.
(white egg from the supermarket for comparison)
Love that color! 
But you see it has been cracked on top- she must've been standing up when she laid it! 
Well, the dogs enjoyed the double yolks in it!
Then the next day we put a light in the coop, to encourage laying (and for a little heat as temps dropped to the 20's). I should've KNOWN....
No eggs at all for four days now.
I have tried turning the coop light on from the deck outlet outside our bedroom around 11pm give or take, and unplugging it again when we rise (4am - 6am) or when the sun comes up. I've also tried turning it on only when we rise, which would add another 2-3 hours of light a day. 
I really don't know what's best. Sigh.

Before I discovered this breed, I was looking at the silver Cuckoo Maran. 
They are so similar, but much less feathered- and smaller/lighter in weight.

My second choice after this chicken breed was the blue-copper Maran, another pretty bird. Both lay dark terra-cotta colored eggs:

I like Welsummers too - their eggs look like chocolate!
What could be more appetising than that?

I also looked into silver Barnvelder, and the lavender Orpington.
The Golden Orpingtons are highly popular: fat & feathery, and extremely broody (which means they like to sit on their nest and hatch their eggs).
But from what I can tell, lavender birds are more delicate, like blue vs purple flowers tend to be - especially when trying to breed them - their colors don't easily breed true (it's complicated). But they are beautiful birds.

If you're at all interested in raising chickens- this is the best resource for information: Backyard

As you may know, there really ARE chocolate turkeys....I like the chocolate (and red palm and bronze) turkeys a lot! 
photo credit:
Aren't they appetizing!? 
(Just so you know, color matters more than anything else to me. I know that's weird.) But, I want to raise a few turkeys one day- just to sell. We just don't really like to eat turkey much. 

If you never considered raising your own- take a look at all these yummy looking turkeys and you're bound to change your mind! 

I like my gray and black flock a lot, though it's funny, I tend to go for the black & white animals and birds- spotted goats, pinto/paints, spotted cows and lacey- patterned chickens like the Wyandottes. 
Few breeds are feathery enough to endure winters here without a lot more oversight (and electricity). I think it's not a good idea to start out borrowing trouble like that just for color of feather - or egg.
Though those in our subdivision with chickens all seem to have one blue-egg layer - it gets confusing between Americaunas and Araucanas. Some are TAIL-LESS, but this silver Ameraucana roo is completely & amazingly  beautiful:

And I've looked into the Muscovy duck- a delicious meat bird which needs little to no water, like most other ducks do. Some say they are ugly birds, but I found one I like! The lavender, of course:
and the WILD version (with domestic breeding) looks awesome:

And today I just discovered the Sabastopol goose. All I can say is  WOW. Please delight your own sensibilities and be INSPIRED!
(check them out here!)

LOL, isn't all that interesting?!

I know many bloggers name their 'ladies'. For me, names are hard. They have to mean something so I can remember them, and Stormy is a cute and fitting name for one of these gray hens. But what about all the rest? First I need to be able to tell them apart and see if they have specific traits I can spot over time.
For instance the lightest hen is always the first one out the door in the morning , and always the first one to walk toward me now, looking for scraps. And the smallest hen, the one with the prettiest wing pattern, the darkest, is last in the door all the time when I’m herding them in for the night.
Not exactly 'naming' material though.

Here’s why I'm herding them in about an hour before sundown:
bedding down in the yard at sundown

It's better in here.

I don't know if I really need to name them- might wait until next spring when I hatch some new birds! I just don't know.

On another topic, we’ve had our first snow already (Oct. 8th), but it didn’t stick. Thank God! 
THEY got over 2 feet up in the mountains in the north... I guess that makes some people happy.

A "first snow" is always sort of nice, but mostly not, and I KNOW you're probably thinking I'm just being grumpy.
Sure, I enjoy the flakes falling, and sometimes it's nice to take a stroll down the silent white road... but it points to changes that I HATE - gray for months on end...and the ugly trees, and car doors frozen shut, and high heating costs. (Double what we paid in southern California. If we use propane and wood heat, that's up to $300 a month for each! Which truthfully EQUALS the cost of fuel in southern California, if you average it out over the summer here, when you use neither wood nor propane... it's just hard to come up with the funds in lump sums for 6 months of the year). 
It's already been in the 20's overnight and we are using the wood stove every morning.

The only good thing is that Winter is my season for escaping into stories, music, art. 
Snow insulates from the world at large. You drive and there is no sound of tires on gravel or pavement. It's quiet when you stand outside and listen, like cottonballs in your ears. And when the thick smooth clouds come, they insulate my little world. I focus better. This is a good thing. Everyone needs to both express and internalize, like ying and yang. The seasons provide the opportunity for it.

I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow about turning 50, but right now I'm feeling just 'free', like all doors are open and I have only to walk thru the door(s) of my choice. I could still go back to school even, if I wanted to. (I don't, but I do fantasize about having a business career sometimes, combining counseling as a psychologist & adding nutritional counseling (as a nutritionist) AND run my own daycare center. Not watching the kids full time-  I just want to design the programs and the school settings and supervise the supervisors, lol. I would like to do all 3 at the same time! You know, associate them all together and then have multiple streams of income!)
Funny I don't fantasize about being an artist- author or painter. I guess there's no glamour related to those things because I know how much work they really are. Although the romantic notions I harbor toward the agrarian life makes no sense at all either.
Maybe I'll become more eccentric! Then I'll FEEL like I'm an artist. 
I need a new wardrobe to look like one!
But then, that's not very practical for doing farmy chores...

Of course, I do more fantasizing about being a farmgirl than anything, and how the heck does that even fit in with anything else at all? (A "fiber artist" maybe, but not the other stuff I do). 

Maybe I'm already eccentric and I just don't know it!

I've been planning my winter regimens and routines and getting everything winterized (cleaned up), all under the most glorious azure blue skies this week! I'm propagating about 100 Russian sage plants for future bees)... 
  (I just transplanted this sage bush- it's in shock but should come around)
...since I'm joining the local Buzz Club (bee club) soon & hope to get bees. (There have been mass bee die-offs south of us in New Mexico and the pecan trees didn't produce well). 
We're on the edge of the edge of drought. I can only hope it doesn't last!

Having a little less snow to contend with is fine with me, as long as the rain makes up for it....

Some people have traditions they follow for the first snow day- like making a pot of chili. So do I. I hunker down to watch the whole marathon of "The Lord of the Rings".
Maybe it inspires me that if they can survive all that, then I can survive through winter. (Remember, when we lived in Southern California, and it would start to rain, we would make a run on the store for 'supplies'! And it wasn't just us- it was everyone! LOL)
The first 2 years I lived here, I cried when it snowed. Not sad tears, but tears of dread, fear of being trapped, enclosed by a tomb of snow. Even if only 3" fell... it was just sheer fear of what MIGHT happen.
I don't mind anymore- it doesn't scare me to drive in it anymore, but it's very hard to see when driving thru snow at night. It's like driving through a Star Trek Warp Speed 9- into a starry outer space. The flakes circle around as you go forward- and that's about all you can see.
It helps to have a 4WD vehicle. Which we now don't have:

We had our two broken vehicles towed off (to Rocky Mtn PBS). One needs an engine, one a transmission. It was bittersweet to watch them go, not satisfying like it feels when you clean out your closet.
However, it's for the best. And look at that azure sky!

(goodbye Blazer)

(goodbye old truck!)

Wish you were here! 
Nooooo, not just to help with all the chores!

Share with me- what you're up to & how you're preparing for winter, how you're working on your dream! I would love to hear!