Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where It Began {Or It's All the Book's Fault}

So it all started with some chickens.  No, wait, it started before that, with a book about chickens.  And goats.  And cows and gardens and orchards and sustainable living.  It's the book's fault.

So anyway, we used to have this house in a rural part of southern Buffalo where I put in a pretty decent sized garden (about 200 sqft) and then looked around and, well, wanted more.  I wanted those darn chickens but the county had rules against them.  Poultry tabled.  End of discussion.  Move forward a few years.

I have more books now.  With more advice.  Longer lists of plants and animals.  Helpful diagrams.

It's now a full blown obsession.

However when we arrived in California (from New York) the first and only priority was finding a house with walls and a roof and a generally short drive to work for Josh.  House: found.  Downside?  It had a postage stamp of a backyard.  No, really.  30 ft long and maybe 6 ft wide.  Plus it was shady, with poor soil and no drainage.  It was a suburban swamp yard.  No where for chickens.  No sun for even a lonely tomato.

So, to fill the time I had another baby (that makes 3!) and read.  (Notice a theme yet?)

Fast forward another year and Josh finds an amazing, dated, run down, large house a mile from us on 10 acres.  With a barn.  (A barn people!  Animals live there!)  A chicken coop and lean-to that looked perfect for a ride-on mower or black widows.  Whatever.  It was heaven.  It was also ugly as hell.

Lease signed, paint purchased, we were ready to make this place our own and start living the country life.

Now pause for another pregnancy (if you're keeping count, that's 4) and just about all projects ground to a morning sickness induced halt.  

My mother (wise woman that she is) decided that if I didn't do something -and soon!- I would never get this farm thing going.  How right she was.  Finishing up the house was put on the back burner (where it still remains, which is why only half the trim is painted and most doors are still missing their knobs.  But I digress.)  Mom swooped in with her sister and cleaned out the large chicken coop and run while I chased small people and sipped tea and bemoaned my womanly fate as only the newly pregnant can.

After the coop was cleaned my mother insisted we go get chickens.  Right NOW.  Because, you know, that coop didn't clean it self and she wanted the satisfaction of seeing a fluffy chick calling it home, thank you very much.  

Off we went - the feed store is helpfully just up the block and they had a very generous selection of ridiculously adorable feathered creatures.  Now I had read books, remember.  I knew that I would need a chicken per person plus one to keep my family in eggs.  That makes 6.  (I can count!)  My mother had not read the same books.  She had not seen the helpful diagrams.  She was overcome by cheeping and downy feathers.

I now refer to that day as The Great Chicken Toss.

But that is a story for another day.  Today's story is about how one family, well read but otherwise unprepared, began the great adventure of traditional living.  It started with a book.  And a house found on Craigslist.  Who knows where it will end.

So far, though, the middle part is pretty awesome.

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