Category Archives: i *heart*

Chicken Crazy.

Colonial Heights City Code says we can have up to three chickens. I also see we have to get a (revocable) permit. Not sure how to go about doing that yet. I would just skip the permit and have illegal chickens, but we have a corner lot, not to mention some really nosey folks around. One in particular does her morning walking picking up trash, which is super cool… until you met her. I’ll just call her “Fancy Pants.” It is a guarantee that the second we had hens in our backyard Fancy Pants would call City Council, the Police, and run us out of Colonial Heights on a rail. I don’t think chickens are in her plans for city beautification. Little Rhode Island Reds running around is exactly my idea of city beautification.

26484_slr_1478I spent some time looking at chicken coops on line and craigslist and discovered those suckers are expensive. I’m talking $650-1,500 expensive. I hate to tell the buyers of those coops that the chickens just don’t care. Mostly, a chicken coop just needs to keep the chickens safe. Growing up we used an old honey house as a chicken coop. Over time a Racoon tunneled in. It wasn’t pretty (it was really, really sad actually). The only one left standing was our ridiculously mean rooster.

There are some cute chicken coops, that I’m sure anyone with a high school wood shop carpentry skill level could make. I mean, it’s a box. Even if it has shingles and looks like a cottage, it’s still a box. Unfortunately, I can barely put prefab Ikea furniture together. Backyardchickens.com has a really inspiring photo gallery. A girl can dream right? My husband told me I was “chicken crazy.”  He’s probably right. This as been going on for about six months.

My Uncle Robin and Aunt Susan had city chickens when they lived in Monrovia, Ca just twenty miles outside of LA. They converted a greenhouse/shed the previous owner had and my grandfather built the run. I wish my grandfather was closer. I wouldn’t be typing this up, I would be posting pictures of a chicken coop. Aunt Susan suggested a booklet that Lehman’s carries. Side Note: Lehman’s is the coolest hardware store on the planet. If you ever find yourself in Dalton, Ohio go there. You’ll thank me.

Anyway, I didn’t see the booklet that she was talking about, but I did find The Chicken Tractor by Sue and Richard Merriam. Sue also has a great website on Organic Gardening and Homesteading if you are interested. You can order the book directly through her website for only $12.95. Her book gives you the plans and building materials list to make the cute little coop on the cover. And if you are a chicken raising novice (I could use a refresher course), she has lots of other information in there as well. DIY projects are not only much cheaper, but way more gratifying. A friends dad built his entire house, attached greenhouse and barn from salvaged and reclaimed wood. I’m hoping he can help me get my hands on the materials this winter.

tractor21A chicken tractor is a bottomless, mobile coop. You can move it around your garden bed or yard and the chickens free range, eating your weed seeds and dropping there magical fertilizer. It will allow our chickens to be free range, which is what gives them those yummy dark yellow yolks (loaded with vitamin A, beta carotene, omega 3 fatty acids, lower in cholesterol and taste like nothing you’ve ever bought at the grocery store), while still protecting them from neighborhood strays.

Why chickens? I think the country girl and city girl in me are in conflict with one another. I like our manageable city plot, walkability, parks, friendly community and neighborhood kids running around our front yard after school. I also want to give Owen a taste of my childhood. While I can’t give him sheep and feeder calves, I can give him homegrown vegetables and chickens (and a rabbit. That’s a another story). That and I really want the manure. I’m obsessed with my compost pile and chicken manure is a much desired ingredient (this is actually where Mr. Rabbit comes into play as well). I actually paid a lady $.10 a pound for manure. Country people think that doing such a thing is ludicrous. Oh the things we take for granted. Eggs are a kind of bonus. A really tasty bonus.

I also recommend The City Chicken sight if you are a city slicker who is interested in have feathered friends of your own. Imagine, fresh eggs right in your own back yard. Not to mention the fact that chickens are more entertaining than television.

To Be Continued…

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Dear Ira Glass,

You’re awesome.
Many Thanks,
Morgan Mark

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If you’ve never listened to This American Life these episodes are a good place to start: The Breakup actually made me appreciate Phil Collins; 20 Acts in 60 Minutes was the first episode I ever listened to and I’ve been a die hard fan ever since; Superpowers, Invisible Man vs. Hawkman is great (and for the record, I would pick invisibility); What is this thing? features a story about “the greatest love story of the 21st century” and will make a Sarah Vowell fan for life. View from the other half is a great story too.; Switched at Birth is unbelievable, but be prepared to cry and/or get more than a little angry.

Happy listening. What’s your favorite episode?

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Composting. My new obsession.

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Hello Beautiful.

I’m totally obsessed with my compost pile. I even took a picture of all of that decomposing organic goodness before I added more grass clippings yesterday. I have a whole new appreciation for my coffee grounds, egg shells, dryer lint, and those little pesky cheerios I find every where. And it makes me a little more sad when I see more yard waste than I can haul being put on the curb on trash day. Folks have a gold mine sitting out their and they are throwing it away. And come this spring they’ll be spending their hard earned money on bags of Miracle Grow topsoil. It makes no sense.

Fall is in the air and I’m charting out all the neighbors with large trees in their yards so I can come and get their leaves this fall. I plan on starting a second pile for leaf mold. Mmmm…. leaf mold.

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My theme song

Speaking of the banjo, I love this song! It’s beautiful. “Walking on Sunshine” was replace by “By Balloons or Sinking Ship” many months ago as my too happy for words theme song. My friend Sean told me about it and I am so grateful. Jordan O’ Jordan’s music is also available on eMusic.

Lyrics to By Balloon Or Sinking Ship :

Take a drive on a day where there’s nothing else to do
I don’t know where I’ll go
I just know I’ll get there with you

I know about you
I know about you
I know about you

Rain won’t stop in my car until the atmosphere has dried
I don’t know about love
But maybe you’ll help me decide

I know about you
I know about you
I know about you

And the vehicle we’re driving’s not important to arrive in
We could get there by balloon or sinking ship
Any final destination, that’s not my real inclination, it’s the trip

Radio blasts a tune about some godforsaken thing
I don’t know all the words
I just know it’s real fun to sing

I know about you
I know about you
I know about you

Legs stuck down to the vinyl in my sweaty Wrangler Jeep
I don’t know if you hear me singing
When you’re fast asleep

I know about you
I know about you
I know about you

And the vehicle we’re driving’s not important to arrive in
We could get there by balloon or sinking ship
Any final destination, that’s not my real inclination, it’s the trip

Skipping class more than twice just because you do insist
I don’t know why I go
You’re just so damn hard to resist

I know about you
I know about you
I know about you

Drinking wine in your car in this makeout afternoon
I don’t know about wine
I just know it’s gone way too soon

I know about you
I know about you
I know about you

And the vehicle we’re driving’s not important to arrive in
We could get there by balloon or sinking ship
Any final destination, that’s not my real inclination, it’s the trip

I said the vehicle we’re driving’s not important to arrive in
We could get there by balloon or sinking ship
Any final destination, that’s not my real inclination, it’s the trip

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I ♥ the banjo.

Really, I just love bluegrass/string bands in general. Ever since I first heard Gillian Welsh sing “Elvis Presley Blues” (it was actually on a Starbucks compilation) I’ve been hooked. The song is actually on her Revelator record.  “Look at Miss Ohio” (Soul Journey) and “By the Mark” (Revival) have been worn out on their respective albums as well. I don’t know squat about writing music reviews, but I don’t know if there are enough words to describe how terrific Gillian Welsh is. All three records are good from beginning to end.

The Be Good Tanyas were discovered years ago  via the the Columbus Public Library. I just liked the cover of Blue Horse. Turns out it’s a great record. This deput album by the all girl Canadian band is still my favorite but Hello Love is another keeper. The cover of the Prince hit “When Doves Cry” alone make the Hello Love worth the purchase price. I apologize in advance if the song “Littlest Bird” is stuck in your head for days.

I can’t say I love everything by The Old Crow Medicine Show but the song “Wagon Wheel” is so freakin catchy. I’m one of those people that can listen to a song 12 times in a row and not get sick of it. This song was on repeat for days. (Is that Gillian Welsh standing by the table that reads “Exotic Ladies”???)

I’ve been itchin to hear some banjo. Luckly my emusic account refreshed itself today and this is what I dowloaded:

Abigail Washburn – Song of the Traveling Daughter.
Listened to excerpts and knew I had to have this. Reading one review I found out Washburn is in the all-female string band collective Uncle Earl. I think I’ll be downloading some of their stuff next month. The banjo on this record is nonother than Mr. Bela Fleck himself.

The Jolly Bankers – Tax Return
Another member of Uncle Earl (Kristin Andreassen) with fiddler Laura Cortese and banjo player Pierce Woodward. Only 5 track longs the album is both originals and traditional folk songs. It’s good, but not my favorite. Listen for yourself and see what you think.

Crooked Still – Shaken by a Low Sound
Buy This Now! The recordings are traditional folk songs and there’s even a Bob Dylan cover (as he was the greatest song writer alive. Period). No guitar. Just banjo, fiddle, cello and the amazing voice of Aoife O’Donovan. This is by far my favorite out of the bunch. I love it!

Chatman County Line – IV
The emusic review says, ” In performance, they remain true to the guitar-banjo-fiddle-mandolin-bass lineup gathered around a single microphone.” Sounds like a great live show! I’ll be keeping my eyes open for that. They are from North Carolina so I they may work their way through Virginia on tour? Let’s hope. This record has some pedal steel and piano. Again, not so hot at writing music reviews so I’ll just say: Good. Good. Good. The leadoff track “Chip of a Star is divine.

Robert Blackstock compiled eMusic Dozen: Young String Bands. When I saw the Be Good Tanyas and Gillian Welsh making the list I knew it would be a good one. Thanks for the great recommendations!

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I Don’t Know.

My baby brother sent this video to me after Lisa Hannigan was on the Colbert Report. It’s great. I’m speechless.

Update: drinking my morning cup o’ joe and discovered ms. hannigan is from ireland. just thought that it was interesting since i posted the weekend of the irish festival… okay. maybe not that interesting.

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Potporri

Don and I watched Juno a couple of weeks ago. This is the video from the beginning credits. I can’t tell you how much I love this song. The movie was good. But this clip was the highlight for me.

  • I’m a little addicted to facebook. I know it’s pathetic.
  • I finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbra Kingsolver and I can’t recommend it enough.
  • Saturday was a rough day all around. Went out with my two favorite RVA girls on Sunday night. Nothing like a little girl talk and a little too much alcohol to make you feel better.
  • Etsy. How I love you. Let me count the ways. Of course there’s lots of cool art that I want. And this. And the stuff for Little O. The toys are too cute! And I just repeat over and over again, “Pinch pennies. Pinch pennies…”
  • I’m obsessed with my cast iron skillet.  I want to use it every day but I need more ideas on what to cook.

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