Thursday, July 1, 2010

the Stork arrives

Friday morning we got the call early- Postmaster says the chicks are in.  So I quickly get dressed and Jarrett and I head over to pick up our girls.  As soon as we get inside the post office, we hear "peep peep peep".  Its so adorable.  Everyone on the place is excited about the new little chicks; wanting to know what kind they are, how many, what we are going to do with them, etc.  Its so fun.  I must say that I was suprised to see what a small box they were in.  I expected something better and better to mail chickens I guess.

We get them home, get our "broader" (a.k.a., rubbermaid tote) set up and the chicks get in.  They are adorable, tiny, fluffy, so cute for only a few days old.  The temperature is set just right, we tip each beak in water so they will start drinking, and the mother begins.  So much can go wrong with these little gals.  I've heard horror stories, and the thought of losing even 1 is devistating.  So I'm watching them constantly.  One starts to choke, so I am quickly there to help and keep this one alive.  So glad I was there.  Had I been away, I think we would have lost that one.

That afternoon, I bring a few inside to take some pictures.  Baby chicks pics - gotta love it!

We had to order a larger quantity than we wanted, so little by little the other chicks have gone to their new homes.   And over these two weeks, it is so amazing to me to see the rapid growth and development of these little girls.  Whoever said that "life was short" must have had chickens.  Already they are 3 times their size.  they have feathers on their tails and wings and are starting to get them all over.  The soft dewy down feathers are quickly disappearing.  The girls are becoming ladies right before my eyes.  Lets just hope that they are all ladies - no roosters please!

So, now just to find homes for 3, maybe 4 more. 

Next project:  chicken coop.

Monday, June 14, 2010

the girls are coming...the girls are coming...

This Friday is the big day - the girls are coming!  20 little chicks are in the mail.  Yes, I ordered from a hatchery and now day old chicks will be at my doorstop in just a few days.  I can hardly contain myself.

At first, I wasn't sure about how this would work - mailing chickens.  But I guess it does, they have a system.  And what brought me to this decision?  Seeing a very nasty farm locally that was selling chicks and realizing I just wanted to start fresh - from the egg.

So now I wait - and just like an expectant mother, am nesting.  I have my little "broader" (chick cage) all set up with feed, waterer, heat lamp, thermometer.  I have the coop on order from a nearby wood worker.  I have a plan laid out for The Urban Peep farm in the backyard.  I have notified my neighbors that the chicks are coming.  Now just need the chicks.

So when they arrive, this chick mamma will be posting baby pics.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

which comes first, the chicken or the egg?...or the business plan? or the riding lawn mower????

As each day goes by, I'm constantly thinking of ways to improve and simplify our quality of life.  One of this thoughts is chickens.  Yes, chickens.  I'm not a farmer, have never raised livestock of any kind (assuming dogs, hamsters, bunnies, goldfish do not count) but the thought of chickens seems appealing to me right now.  "Where did you get this thought" you ask?  A few weeks ago, I was at the farmer's market and there were organic eggs, for $7/doz.  Yes, that is expensive.  Yes, I want them.  And yes, I think I could do this.  I want to go as organic as possible plus the idea of having a chicken or 3 is somewhat charming, in an Americana kind of way. 

After careful planning on the most appropriate time to broach the subject, I propose the idea to my husband and got an emphatic "NO".  But we all know that a 'no' today usually doesn't stop me from trying again.  So a few weeks later, at lunch, I bring it up again.  This time I get, "show me a business plan".  Typical.  But I write it.  So now, after research and thought, I have created The Thompson Family Farm - urban farming for a healthy and happy family.

The plan has everything a typical business plan would have.  Breakeven analysis, ROI, Mission/Vision statements, operations planning and even an exit strategy.  I've named the different divisions of our farm, one division for each pet we have in our family.  With most business plans, the idea is to make a profit.  However, the bottom line is I want organic eggs and I don't want to pay $7/doz for them.  And I want to have cute little chicks and someday eggs.  I want my son to go out and find eggs, see them roaming around, care for something outside of himself and overall enjoy something that is fun and different. 
What I didn't know when I was putting all of this together, is just how popular this is right now.  There are articles all over about raising chickens in your backyard.  And I've come to find out that some of our neighbors are doing it.  This just gives me more confidence that I can do it also.  Mommy Tam-Tam is now Farmer Tam-Tam.

So here is a little something from the plan......  maybe someday I'll post the whole thing.  Keep in mind that it was written for my husband, not venture capital and it should be used for only that purpose...convincing a questioning spouse that it just might make sense.
Mission Statement: 
The mission of the Thompson Family Farms is to provide quality, organic foods and fertilizers for personal use while providing an Americana Home Spun quality of life for raising our family.

Organizational Structure:
Chicks and Chickens must be acquired to begin the operation. These are the “staff”. Minimum wage for staff is feed and water, and some excitement every once in a while from an overactive cocker.  Operations for the care of chickens are simple. They must have food and water every day. During the winter, to keep the chickens warm and also “trick” them (thanks Wayne, sales clerk at farmers exchange) into thinking there is more daylight than there really is, we add a heat lamp. This allows egg production to continue all year long, not just in the spring/summer. When it is time to breed them, a rooster needs to be added to the coop. After there is a “cock in the hen house”, the eggs will be incubated until hatched. Hatchlings can be added to the “staff” if it makes sense at the time for expansion of production, and/or they can be sold on craigslist or at the local markets.

Cost Analysis:
The average laying lifecycle of a chicken is 6 to 7 years. At approximately $7 per dozen and the average chicken lays 30 dozen per year, that is a cost savings of $210 per year per chicken or a gross savings of over $5000 in 6 years for the 4 chicken operation. The ongoing costs for the chickens are feed and electricity to maintain the heat lamp during winter months. The net life cycle savings of The Urban Peep is $4000. Additional income could be realized with the retention of a Marketing Director / Business Development Manager.

Exit Strategy
Dinner. Celebrating the harvest. Thanksgiving.

The plan has information on the other divisions "Hop Poop", (organic bunny fertizlier division named by my 2 year old son) and "Abbey Lane Kennels", (dog breeding with our cocker spaniels).  That will come to you another day.  Today, I focus on the chickens.  And there really is a lot to learn. 
  • Building a coop
  • What types of chickens to get
  • How to get chicks this time of year (I only want 3 and you have to buy a min. of 25 at the markets now)
 So much to do and plan, but so fun.  This is the catch for the plan to even begin.  The deal I made with my husband is that he gets a riding mower before I get the chicks.  Chicks cost around $3 each.  Mowers cost around $2000.  Big price difference.  Somehow, I think I can swing it.  So for now, I'm putting the coop designs aside and researching where I can get the best deal on a John Deere.    Soon though, you will be hearing me say, "here, chicky chicky"!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

...take the time....

As if life isn't crazy enough, getting news that you have to do something on your Saturday, right in the middle of the day, your only day off, is not the news you want. Especially if you've had something planned for over a month at the exact same time, especially if that something was getting your hair done. Being a working mommy takes serious coordination to get personal things done. Its been 4 months since I had my hair done for just this very reason. So when I found out I had to cancel, it was like a bubble was burst before my very eyes. I wanted to cry. 3 inches of grow out and frumpiness is beyond frustrating and the thought of having to wait one more day is beyond comprehension.

So I cried. And I vented. And I took a the mailbox. And I discovered beauty and rest in this beautiful spring day. Flowers along my house that I see every time I rush here or there, but somehow forget to stop and enjoy. So now I stop. Now I enjoy.

The tiny bell-shaped lilies that my mom always says reminds her of her grandmothers house, a nostalgic moment for her. A French tulip, that has held onto life beyond the expected, as if to say that she was here just for me to enjoy today, when I needed to enjoy something in life. And the Clematis that graces my kitchen window with a distinguished arch. The same Clematis that I can see from my make-shift office when I want to sit and get more sun than my normal office allows. The same Clematis that I cringe when I see my husband "trimming" with the weed eater to save time.....yes time. Time that is so dear and I have so little of. Time which is more precious than wealth, especially when you look in your 2 year old's eyes and realize that the baby you held just yesterday is now grown into a young man beyond his years.
So although I lose my Saturday, I choose to enjoy my day today. Not to waste a moment of time. Even the walk from the mailbox back into my house.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I think I want to be Nice!

Day 4 of my fast and I have discovered a "niceness" in me that I thought was long gone. I woke up with a different love for my husband. A softer answer lies within me. I think the stress monster is dying! I want to be nice. I want to be gentle. Not only want to but am surprising myself at how I'm reacting.

Then, today at work my mom sends me a text with Jarrett talking. He is practing his words and is saying, "more please Mom". Wonderful! Music to my ears, (considering he is behind on his language). But then to top things off, I get yet another. "I Love Mommy!" Tears. Rivers of tears at my desk and even now as I write this it is blurred by the love I have for my son. Hearing those words are amazing. Especially at work, where I just want to leave and run back to him. I can't wait for the day where I can be full-time mommy. Who knew that would be my greatest goal, but it is. Until then....stress monster gone. Nice working mom here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Daniel Fast, Days 2 & 3

The Daniel Fast, Days 2 & 3. The challenge for me has been not the food, but the time and energy to prepare it. Don't get me wrong, I love cooking, but figuring out what to cook, to have enough left overs for the next days lunch and yet provide a balanced meal for my little guy...the time to do that I could be praying. But I think once I get a system down, things will mellow out. Thank you Stacy for the idea of smoothies. I forgot how much I love them. Its amazing how much a bananna will fill you up when blended together with other fruit. This has been my breakfast savior!

Beside the food, already God is dealing with me on things that need to be stripped down from my life. For one, the way I handle stress and pressure lately is awful. It's hard to believe that the stress monster within me still lives...I hate it. So by Day 2, 1 ugliness revealed....not sure I want to see how much more there is. But the end result will be good. I love what Pastor Ryan said from Prov 3 that the reward will be wisdom, understand and how priceless it is for our life. It will be priceless to have that stress monster good ridenance! Off with the old and on with the new!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Daniel Fast

Fasting. Some people love it and some hate it. I'm not sure what category I'm in yet but after 21 days we will see. Today is Day 1 of our 21 day Daniel Fast and while I'm enthusiastic about what God is going to do, the hunger has just now hit and I have nothing prepared to munch on. Maybe that is why it is called fasting...not so much that I have limited foods to choose from but that I have to sacrifice myself in order to see what God wants.

Pastor gave us some scriptures last night and I am looking forward to being able to sit down after Jarrett is asleep tonight and study a little. I definitely have some very high personal expectations that I want break through in but I want to jot those down and be specific so when I pray it is specific. Myself, my family; every part of me needs breakthrough it seems like. So besides the food, I have also decided to fast stress. I can feel it come on me so quickly and immediately I go to a place that just makes it worse. So, I have to fast stress. That might mean telling people no from time to time. That is ok.

So for now...Day 1, The Daniel Fast...let's get the party started!