Put a Bird In It!

Our shed was a hot mess.  While we were working on rehabbing the inside of the shed for the chickens, I thought the outside also needed some cosmetic work.  Before we “put a bird on it” (I’m still getting a kick out of this Portlandia clip) we needed to try to get up to current chicken coop standards:

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Agrarian sells this amazing chicken tractor, and if I had an extra $2,049.90 laying around in my chicken savings account I would own one of these.

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The dreamy coop above belongs to Heather Bullard.  If I were a chicken, this is definitely where I would want to live.  Chickens these days have it made.  Once again, if I had an unlimited chicken budget I would use the plans from Heather’s site to build the ultimate chicken palace.

We had a long way to go before our little shed started looking chicken-ready.

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The bottom of the shed had rotted/been chewed by rodents.  When we were clearing out the inside of the shed, we discovered the remains of the perpetrator under a piece of furniture.  A rat made his nest in there with grass clippings, Rufus hair, and bingo cards (not sure where he found those?).

You can see the damaged parts of the shed in more detail below.

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Jeff helped me cover the rotten wood with HardiePlank and then we added some decorative trim.

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After a coat of white barn paint and a few petunias, this shed is starting to look chicken-ready.  I’d love to add some clematis or climbing roses and fence in a small yard in the front, but so far so good!  I can’t stop staring at it now that it is painted.

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Rufus vs. the Chickens

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Finally!  The “Farm” is finally starting to look like a farm.  About a week ago six lovely ladies showed up to our house.  Some people (Jeff) might say that I just brought the chicks home one day on a whim, but I have been dreaming of their arrival for about three years.  Jeff even gave me this for my birthday:

He obviously secretly wanted chickens, right?  I even caught them watching the Masters together on Sunday.

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Rufus has mixed feelings about the birds.  He licks his lips every time he sees them, which is not the tender, nurturing gesture I was hoping he would offer them.  I thought for sure they would imprint on him and he would assume the mother role like this:

dog with ducklings

Maybe Rufus just needs practice.

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We’re getting there, right?

Over the next few weeks we will be transitioning the ladies into their big girl pen, which we have yet to build.  We also need names for them.  Any ideas?

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Flower Gardens Revisited

We have gotten seven inches of rain during the past three days.  This is big news in West Texas!  Spending an entire rainy Saturday inside felt unnatural, but it gave me time to browse old pictures of the “Farm.”  I came across this picture taken two years ago:

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We had just finished installing this flower garden using transplants from our duplex and various plants from around the house.  There have been a few additions, but minimal change during the past few years.  Here is what two years of growth looks like:

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Deck 3

The stone edging is from a friend’s backyard.  It was originally a crumbling chimney and porch of a nearby house.  Many of the plant additions over the past few years are transplants from friends and family.  I love the idea of trading plants because it gives the plants in our garden sentimental value.  I’m already sentimental about plants, naming them and talking to them, so gifted transplants (hopefully) make me seem a little less crazy.

When the dirt dries out a little bit I will be dividing Cannas, Day Lillies, Salvia, and Mint.  I guess I need to give them away or start a new flower garden!  Maybe I’ll do both.

Front Yard Fix Up

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From February to June the front of our house has undergone some minor plastic surgery.  I say minor, but it sure feels major to me because it is slow design.  Really slow.  The reason it is slow has nothing to do with the complexity of the project, but all to do with the fact that it is hot and I get distracted by gardening and other such projects.

Let’s reflect on where it all started two and a half years ago for a little bit of instant gratification:

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Now, that makes me feel so much better about progress!  Here is a similar angle of an “after” shot:

ImageYes!  Be impressed.  But know that like with every impressive project I did not build the deck alone.  The first logical step, of course, was to paint the front door yellow.  Most people probably do this last, but I wanted it to be the inspiration for finishing the job.  Then, we got a new roof, which looks exactly like our old roof but was all the same a necessary step.  Then Jeff, Melanie, and I painted the house with Sherwin Williams VinylSafe paint in Pavestone Gray.  The next step was to call in my parents to come over and help us build a deck over the old concrete porch.  Thanks parents!

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As you can see in the picture above, Rufus supervised the whole project.

We have been enjoying our new deck, and have plans to finish touching up missing siding.  We actually have to finish painting some parts of the house (maybe in the fall), sorry neighbors.  Also, we want to add a stone step to the front of the deck since the first step is a little bit steep.  Other plans include getting rid of our Texas-T sidewalk (seen in the first picture) in the front and adding a wider flagstone path.

For now our project is finding the least crowded public pool.  I’m sure we will finish the to-do list eventually!  One more shot of the beautiful new porch:

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Nothing Says “Independence” Like a Pumpkin

When life gives you pumpkins, you decorate.  No matter the holiday.  I suggested Jeff carve an inspirational portrait of an outstanding American, such as Toby Keith, for our table centerpiece.  Since we were short on time before our cookout began Jeff decided to keep it simple.  We can always carve Toby later when we scoop out the seeds for roasting.

Our sizable garden pumpkin patch was a spring surprise from our fall composting efforts.  We decided to let it go au naturel and ended up with a pumpkin for the 4th!  We think this is the next big decorating craze, so remember us when you too have a patriotic pumpkin in five years or so.

We celebrated the Fourth at the Farm with friends, food, and Jenga (wish I was kidding about the Jenga).

In honor of our friend Kyle returning to Abilene, we ate cake!

We love having reasons to celebrate.

I set the table outside, but it was so hot we ate inside instead.  Jeff and I led a focus group on where our fictional pool should be installed.  The group decided that the pool should go right next to our fictional outdoor kitchen for the ultimate Independence Day experience.  HGTV’d anyone?

Rufus vs. the Squirrel

Now I know that chasing squirrels is a right of passage for being a dog, but Rufus and his squirrelfriend have taken things to the next level.  Rufus has been staring into the trees and tree houses for weeks now, intently studying his new BFF.  Rufus has discovered his “mini-me.”

Before June, I am not sure that Rufus knew that squirrels existed even though our yard has been the social hot-spot long before the summer hit.  But now, after a month of prolonged romantic gazes, Rufus and Mini-Me have progressed to barking contests and playful chasing.  It’s like staring into a fun-house mirror for the two of them.

Rufus will do anything to get closer to his squirrelfriend, including sitting on top of shrubs to get just a little bit closer:

Our Lantana is less than impressed.

The deal was sealed on this new relationship when Rufus actually caught the squirrel yesterday.  Squirrelfriend jumped out of the pear tree and was dazed long enough for Rufus to put the whole squirrel in his mouth.  No big deal, he just wanted to see if his squirrelfriend would fit.  Rufus loves practical jokes.  So then he let her go and they continued the chase.

I think that is how dogs and squirrels become best friends forever.