Saturday, June 6, 2009

The cost of backyard chickens

Behold!  Our chickens live outside.  The coop and run are complete.  The poop and feathers have been vacuumed from the garage.  The dryer has been scraped and cleaned of hardened flecks of chicken shit.  This is the moment I've been waiting for.
And just how much has this whole thing cost us so far?  A breakdown:
Chicks ($4.50 each), feed, lamp, cage, the whole starter shebang: $101
Salvaged wood and window for coop: $40
Straw, more feed, chicken feeder and water dispenser: $90
Plastic roofing material, chicken wire, and hardware cloth: $102
TOTAL: $ 333

We pay almost $4 per dozen for organic eggs.  If my math is correct, we will break even on our 999th egg.  Who feels like a sucker? Not me.  I'm still glad we did it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thing I learned in Santa Barbara

I had to fly down to Santa Barbara and back again today for work.  I was checking out the amazing Dr. Seuss-meets-Gaudi work of architect Jeff Shelton for an upcoming story.  If you don’t believe good design makes people happy, you should spend a day interviewing the residents of the Cota Street Studios.  It’s like they’re all on ecstasy.  Flowers and rainbows shoot from their eyes.

10 things Santa Barbara taught me:

Never trust the car rental girl to tell you where to eat, even if she is the manager.

If you are gadgetly-challenged to begin with, don’t fork over the extra $11 for the GPS.

Don’t eat at places where every single employee has white-man dreadlocks.

Ortega Street smells really strongly of pee.

Pretty people live in pretty towns.

If you happen to arrive on high school graduation day, you will find the streets of Santa Barbara clogged with teenagers dressed inappropriately.

In a pinch, the egg salad sandwich at Starbucks is pretty good (and definitely better than teriyaki chicken made by people with white-man dreadlocks).

Jacaranda trees bloom like purple pom-poms of joy in June.

You will feel uncharacteristically compelled by a self-proclaimed clairvoyant's declaration that you should move to Fairfax, CA.

Even after being burned in wildfires, the Santa Ynez mountains glow like gold at sunset.



A Thing I like

Four words: Self. Serve. Frozen. Yogurt.   This, my friends, is my idea of a good time.  I had Dutch chocolate and toasted coconut with mochi and chocolate syrup.  And I’m a better person for it. Thank you, Yogurtland.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

All 86,400 seconds in the day

Image available here.

I realized yesterday morning, as I was microwaving my oatmeal, that every second of my day is accounted for.  Ninety seconds before the oatmeal dings?  Time enough to wipe down lunch boxes, pack two yogurts, and put carrot sticks in plastic baggie. Need to pee? What a good opportunity to carry this basket of laundry back up the stairs. Kids eating grapes?  Check email.
I miss the days when staring off into space was a perfectly good way to spend and extra 30 seconds.  And, honestly, we Schoechs are built for it.  As my brother has said, "Never interrupt a Schoech in the middle of a good stare."

A thing I like

Elizabeth with Ruby.  Photo by E. Spencer Toy
The way our Sunset researcher Elizabeth Jardina smacks down Slate's Jack Shafer bogus article on the fake chicken trend.  All I can say is, "You're in over your head, Jack.  Elizabeth knows chickens and she knows her shit." 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chicken Update

We now have four big old chickens on top of our dryer. What were once adorable little balls of fuzz are now scowling fowl with scaly legs who poop actual turds that stink. It's like having teenagers.
Cleaning the cage has become a nasty job, sort of like dealing with those trucker poops that start appearing in the Pampers once your little darling starts in on the real food. It's time to get them out of garage and into their own coop. Today, after five days away, I heard my first actual cluck.
Now we just have to finish the chicken run. And let me tell you, the coop was cake compared to the run (basically a big wood-framed box with chicken wire walls that must be impervious to all urban vermin). It's a good thing I'm around though, because just between you and me, the Mister, great as he is, sucks at figuring out how to build a chicken run. Handy with a circular saw, though.
We're hoping they'll be out in their own house by Friday. And then it's just more scratching and perching and eating until they get big enough to start earning their keep with some eggs (stay tuned for a name-the-date-of-the-first-egg contest with cool prizes). Unless, of course, Tilly is a rooster, which we suspect she is. Then, I don't know. Anyone handy with an ax?

A thing I like

This story by Lisa Belkin in New York Times Magazine about the demise of helicopter parenting. Thwap, thwap, crash.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin