WHOOPS… HOLIDAYS!

In my haste to finally get my Roosty post up, I forgot to mention the holidays! I hope everyone reading has enjoyed a wonderful holiday season!

I’ve been on a little bit of a tear in the kitchen lately, here are some of the holiday goodies I’ve been busy at work over. Cheers!

Marshmallows

VictoriaSponge.jpg

PomCake.jpg

PearCranPie.jpg{photos by Seven Public}

CLOSING THE CIRCLE

This post should have gone up a couple months ago, but here it is:

Once we came to terms with the fact that we had a rooster on our hands the primary question that loomed over our heads was what do we DO with him?

We didn’t want to be the yuppie urban farmers who were excited about keeping working animals until business got serious, then made the animals someone else’s problem. There are too many stories about urban chickens being abandoned or re-homed once owners discover that these animals take more work than they bargained for. Part of the responsibility of keeping chickens not just as pets but as animals who work for us is to also deal with closing the circle once the time comes.

The time for us came in mid-October. In September we participated in a local edible garden tour and several people who came by offered advice for how to deal with him, they either knew someone who would like a rooster, or alternatively knew someone who would kill and process him for us. We spent a great deal of time thinking about it, we thought about keeping him, we thought about killing him, we thought about all of the possibilities of what could come of the rooster. The longer we took to think about it the harder the decision became, and we came close to deciding on keeping him because hey, the neighbors didn’t mind his crowing (plus, they even had their own name for him: Caruso), and in theory he would protect the flock (though, I questioned whether his anatomy would prevent him from moving quickly enough to fend off any predators).

Ultimately we decided we didn’t want him to become someone else’s responsibility, we’re Iowans now, after all (whether true or not I think we both have this idea that Iowans who’ve grown up on farms and around animals of this nature don’t have the fear we urbanites have of seeing the full circle of livestock life and death). We knew what Roosty’s fate would be, we would seek the most humane way to slaughter him and he would become a meal on our dinner table.

It took a few weeks to actually convince ourselves to do it. It was easy to come up with excuses; we were too busy, or it was too hot, etc. My husband was particularly resistant, but with enough prodding from me we finally picked a cool Sunday morning to do it. We used a technique we’d read about and watched done on YouTube. It seemed humane and the author of the video said something that stuck with me and went something like “…people often think that killing a chicken is an act of brutality, but it’s actually a very gentle action…”

So, in the early morning confines of our back yard we roused the rooster from the coop, I held him as we prepped, we said a few words to thank him for his gift to us, and I shed a few tears as we closed the circle.

August 2013

August 2013

{photo by Seven Public}

SCIATICA DIARIES

My left leg = OUCH

The past month+ has been sort of a bummer. Never having experienced sciatica I didn’t really know what was going on when I started to feel a weird twinge in my left leg. I have a history of low back problems and was already in physical therapy to help with a back issue that started in late September. PT helped a bunch and I probably had two wonderful days without any pain when suddenly I began feeling a strange pain in my left leg while I was working one day. I mostly ignored it and powered through (I was managing a workshop all day), half expecting it to go away. The next day it only got worse, and worse again the day after that.

So, 2 weeks of sick leave from work, 3 doctor’s appointments with 2 different physicians, 2 sets of X-rays, 1 MRI, 33 days, and lots of tears later I’m still in pain. But, at least now we know why (silver lining?).

Turns out the sciatica causing culprit is a pesky herniated disc I have. Who knew? Luckily it’s not serious enough to warrant surgery, so my first option is to get an epidural cortisone injection to help reduce inflammation in the sciatic nerve (which will then hopefully reduce the pain). I know a few people who’ve had the procedure done for similar issues and all said it worked and they were able to go on their (mostly) merry way. Assuming all goes well, I should stay healthy long term with the help of a no-impact conditioning regimen to strengthen my core and back.

OK, so sounds great, I’ll have one of those dear Doctor. Oh, pardon? There aren’t openings in the pain clinic for another three weeks? Hmm, that sounds like a long time for someone who’s already been in pain for 4 weeks. A waitlist, you say? Well, alright then, schedule me three weeks out and put me on the waitlist. [Harumph]

So, in summary: Excruciating pain, walking with a limp, herniated disc, just under three more weeks of pain.

Good vibes will be appreciated :)

ON ACCIDENTAL ROOSTERS

To continue my story about our backyard chickens I need to talk about our accidental rooster.

Most hatcheries will say there is about 90ish% accuracy when sexing chicks. I’m not very good at statistics, but I’d say our odds of having any of our four chicks turn out to be male was pretty slim considering they were all apparently sexed and determined to be pullets (that’s fancy chicken speak for a female chicken < 1 year old).

Our chicks grew quickly, and every day they looked more like chickens instead of the little puff balls they came to us as. Somewhere around week 6 we were noticing how the fourth chick, Solange, was a good bit bigger than her counterparts. But, not just bigger, she also looked… strange? There was something about her. Her legs and feet were thick and huge, she had a breast that was ever expanding, and she seemed to be growing so fast that her feathers couldn’t seem to fill in quick enough. We had friends over and upon seeing her they exclaimed she must be a GMO chicken, once destined for Foster Farms. So we left it at that. We’d happened to come upon a chick who’d been bred to be eaten and we’d saved her from what could have been a sad existence.

Now, cut to early-summer. The girls were out in the coop, spending their days roaming around the yard, eating bugs, scratching around, being their little chicken selves. But, Solange kept growing. At this point she must have been at least three times the size of the other pullets. She became so top heavy that at times she had trouble staying upright and she would fall on her heels after being on her feet for too long. She’d lay down to eat at the feeder, and generally was less lithe and mobile than the rest of the flock. We’d laugh at her gait when she ran, her build making her look more like a linebacker than a chicken when in motion. I won’t say she was deformed, but every single person who saw her made some sort of remark about our monster chicken. I will say that her quirks were all the more endearing, and Mr. SP and I both felt like it was part of our duty to protect her because of her differences.

By mid-summer we started to get suspicious. We had this huge animal who was weird enough, but now it was growing a comb and wattles? Ok, this bird is clearly a mutant rooster, right? For whatever reason we continued to hang on to denial for longer than was ever necessary, and despite the obvious signs and neighbors telling us “hey, this thing is a dude” we chose to remain ignorant.

Then in late June I woke up to a strange and foreign noise coming from the back yard. It sounded sort of like a squeaky toy, one that had been abused by a child or overzealous dog. It was kind of like a bird, I guessed, and we’d heard weirder things in our neighborhood. The sound was so curious that I even posted to Facebook about it.

Status

The noise continued for a few days before we realized the noise was actually coming from our bird (because, of course it was). Now, at this point you probably think we’re the densest people possible. But it gets worse. My dear husband, still not convinced, takes to the interwebs like any  good academic would and somehow finds information saying that it’s not uncommon for some female chickens to crow. And since this crow didn’t sound like a full on rooster crow it seemed plausible, right? So we continued with the illusion that this animal was still a she.

It wasn’t until maybe a week later that we woke up at 6am to a VERY clear cock-a-doodle-dooooooo! that it was FINALLY confirmed for us.

Solange = Roosty

A monster rooster, with huge feet, who was scared of us, and ran around like a linebacker and made us laugh. We were finally able to see it and admit it to ourselves.

So, we’ve got this rooster, now what? That’s a question which we found the answer to more recently, but will have to wait for yet another post.

photo{photo by Seven Public}

NOT QUITE URBAN FARMERS

I’m guessing that if you were paying even the smallest bit of attention to my previous post, you probably noticed that Mr. SevenPublic and I now have a small flock of backyard chickens. We’ve owned a house for 4 years now and for 4 years Mr. SP had been trying to convince me that we should have chickens. I resisted. He pursued. And eventually, after listening to this episode of Talk of Iowa, I became weak enough that when I learned a co-worker brought home 10 chicks from a hatchery I found myself asking if I could have a few.

So we had three. Then three somehow wasn’t enough. So when Mr. SP got an email from a campus list saying someone had extra chicks they wanted to give away I again found myself driving out into the country to find our fourth chick. I committed the cardinal sin of naming our brood, the first three after the members of Destiny’s Child, and the fourth after Beyoncé’s younger cooler sister Solange (natch). We became fast friends, I held them and gave them special treats from the kitchen and even went digging in the yard to give them worms (the ensuing worm rodeo was hi-larious).

The four peeped (and pooped) happily together in a makeshift brooder I put together, and kept me company in my home office throughout the early spring until they got big enough (and stinky enough) to move to the basement while they waited for their coop to be ready. We got some much needed help from my father-in-law and repurposed a tool shed in our yard into a chicken coop with an attached enclosed run, and when the weather was warm enough and the chicks big enough they went outside to live in the yard.

So, there is a story here beyond me just telling you about how we got chickens. It might take a couple posts, or another long post before the whole story is told, but in the meantime, check out these little peepers.

Image{photo by Seven Public}

CATCHING UP

It’s been just about 9 months since my last post–nothing out of the ordinary. Looking at my dashboard it appears that I started but never finished at least 3 posts since my last. So, instead of making more empty promises to myself about continued posting, I’m just going to leave these things here in brief summary of what’s going on in my world in 2013 so far:

Take11 Sweets
Packaging

New girls
Chicks

And a little bit of this…

{photos by Seven Public}

WHAT WILL BE YOUR SPACE JAM?

I’ve been in need of a pep talk lately, so when I saw this video I thought it was just about the greatest thing in the world.

I feel like I’ve been in a transitional rut for the past year and while I’ve had work to keep my hands busy, I’ve felt stressed and like my creative needs haven’t been satisfied. I start a new job soon which will help (I hope), but I continue to think about all the awesome things I want to make/do.

If there’s one thing I have learned this past year it’s that I’m definitely a maker. I love design, but I love designing more. I’ve also realized I need to get my hands dirty and get brave, so hopefully I’ll get to a point in the future where I can look back and say “that was my Space Jam.”