Green Rascal Design

 
 
Clover and Pumpkin discover water
Introducing Clover and Pumpkin. This picture was taken the day we got them - last Tuesday. I decided on monofloral honey names. Clover honey is lighter than pumpkin flower honey, that's all.
Pumpkin and Clover over and over
This was taken  on Wednesday or Thursday. They liked to snuggle up under my shirt collar as if I was really their momma hen. They've kinda outgrown it since.
cuteness defined
Clover is the pinnacle of adorableness.
our little brown bruiser
Pumpkin is more curious and assertive. You can also see little wing feathers developing quite nicely.

They are easily twice as big now as when we got them, although you can't tell from these pics. The little princesses don't like to stay put very long and taking pictures of them is a small challenge.

Anyway, that is all the news that isn't. Happy Monday.
 

Eggies

02/23/2011

 
Picture
On Sunday we finally got 4 eggs in one day. I was pretty happy to see them. Now they are accumulating quickly again, and I have to find people to sell them to fast.

I have fed hard-boiled, chopped up, eggs to the chickens and the cat, and I have had egg salad for lunch a few days in a row now, haha.

Most people I talk to are totally confused about the fresh eggs. They think green eggs are somehow bad. I put all the blame on Dr. Seuss! The shells are the only part that is green. All the eggs are the same except for the shell colors.

The shells are different colors according to the breed and genes of the individual chickens. The little off-white egg is a product of a half-Leghorn and half-Rhode Island Red chicken. The leghorns lay big white eggs, and the reds lay light brown eggs, I believe. So Sugar's eggs are off-white. The dark brown egg is from Pepper. She is mostly Cuckoo Marans, and that breed lays extremely dark brown eggs. The green "easter eggs" are from the Araucanas, Cinnamon and Nutmeg. They could have laid any number of colored eggs but their genes make them lay green.

Sometimes the green eggs are brighter than these ones, and that is due to the amount of vegetation in their diet. Right now the birds aren't eating grass every day. When spring gets going we will put the girls out in the mobile fluff unit where they can mow the lawn for part of the day.

Also, people are often unaware that eggs from chickens with lots of space, and lots of vegetation in their diets have lower levels of cholesterol than standard white store-bought eggs from chickens that are kept in tiny cages and fed nothing but corn-feed. Generally speaking, free range eggs are much healthier. Since the birds get lots of exercise and vitamins they are healthier. Our birds have a great life compared to commercial chickens.

Anyway, lesson over for the day. It is time to get back to design! We have lots to draw. There are lots of errands to run. And I have a networking lunch later! Have a good day!
 

Makin' a Splash

02/18/2011

 
The other night I went to Princeton Leeep's first social event: "Take a Leeep, Make a Splash." It was at the Class of 1956 lounge at Princeton Stadium, and at some point they switched speakers for the event, but in the end it was a great choice because we all had fun. Also, the lounge is a cool place. I'd been there once before for a football game when Princeton played Penn. It is definitely hard to find, unique and relaxed. The view is nice too.

(I'm wondering what all the leather is about on their website... anyway...)

I enjoyed the lightning networking game because it forced us to meet just about everybody there. Not that I can remember the one word that everybody I met used to describe themselves (which was my question to ask my networking partners), but at least I'll remember their faces and be able to say hi next time I see them. And for the few members I already knew, it was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better.

The University Ombudsman, D.A. Graham, was a lot of fun as a speaker. We all learned something about basic human needs and conflict resolution while also getting to know a bit more about everyone around the table!

Lastly, the Leeep social committee asked us to spread the word. (so here I am - spreadin' the word.) If you're in the Princeton area, and eligible to join Leeep, come and see what's up. They'll thank you 8 times for every event you attend. Well maybe that was just me because I'm Happenin' Hollie.

See ya!!
 
 
We are up to 2 hens laying eggs now. Sugar never stopped laying over the winter, but the other three have had a long break. Then, for an early Valentine's Day present on Saturday, I received a nice little green egg from Cinnamon. Now she is up to laying every other day! Hopefully Pepper will lay an egg soon. She stopped before all the others, and lately has been extra needy so I think the chances are good.

It's really nice to have the fluffs want attention again. When there was snow on the ground they were crabby and didn't want anything to do with us. Now it seems like all they want to do is get picked up and held. Hopefully I can get a picture sometime because it's pretty funny looking when I have 4 chickens all trying to take a nap on my lap.

I took half of the plastic down from their cage because it was falling off in the wind anyway. It's nice to be able to see the other side of the yard now!

Oh, and this is big news for me: I have a short article about our first year and a half of chicken-keeping published in the March issue of Grid magazine! It is under Dispatch, on page 30. I'm really excited about it! The article is titled "Living With the Birds," and they created a cute piece of clip art to go with it.

We even got to go to the release party the magazine had last week. (Which reminds me that I could write about the food at the restaurant we were at because it was awesome.) It was crowded there, so we didn't really meet a lot of people. But we did get to talk to one lovely young lady from a restaurant which I have yet to try. (Which also reminds me to get in touch with her about applying to PennDesign's landscape program) And we also talked to Iris Bloom, from the cover story about protecting our water from fracking. I have yet to read the whole magazine, but it's good to be this busy I guess.

Anyway, check out Grid Philly! It's a great read when it comes to living sustainably in the city. The March issue is available in print now, and will be on their website soon I think.

So many things to do! And little brown birdies are singing in the trees too. Yes, I think spring is creeping in. It's great! Gotta run. I think I hear the "I laid an egg" song. (sometime I'll try to get a video to post too!)
 

Fracking

02/11/2011

 
I recently met an activist named Iris Bloom. She is on the cover of the March issue of Grid Philadelphia, and she is "leading the charge against environmentally irresponsible drilling." (story by Jacob Lambert)

After talking to Iris for a minute, my hubby explained what he knew of the fracking thing to me. It's some scary stuff. I remember hearing about it on the news, but never really thought much of it until we met Iris. Then it dawned on me that my hubby drinks tons of tap water, and it would be bad if that water were to become so toxic that you could light it on fire.

So I got an email from Iris with a link to a link to a link where we could leave a comment for the committee who will be deciding our water's fate after March 16th. You see, there is a moratorium against fracking (drilling for natural gas) in the Delaware River Basin right now. They will soon vote on possibly lifting that ban. The Delaware Basin provides water to 15 million people in Philly, Trenton, and New York City and surrounding areas. There should be tons of angry people complaining about this.

Here is a link to the page where you can download the [extremely boring] document describing the issue and other things. That same page has a button you can click to leave a comment on it. The more people leave comments asking the committee to keep the moratorium on natural gas drilling, the better. If you live in the Delaware Valley, I hope you go tell them to protect your water.

http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=261&projectID=33467&documentID=37829

Thanks.
 

Updates

02/07/2011

 
I'm working on putting some more things up here which we've been working on lately. There are some really fun blue and red rascal things going on at least. We have a new logo and favicon for our friends at District Web Solutions. Also, a lot of my time is going toward a residential project for Brian Billings.

We are working on shelves inspired by the Brick House in our spare time. Not that there is a lot of spare time.

In the spring we are planning to get 2 more hens. Since we started out with 6 chickens last year, it only seems right to introduce two hens in place of the roosters we lost. So there are discussions about that floating about. I am personally hoping to get an Americauna that lays blue eggs.

Lastly, there are lots of plants started in the basement. Hubs set up the little heat mat and seed starter, and he's got 30 onion plants, 18 basil and five or six peppers going now. In a week or so we will start a bunch of Swiss chard, Amish deer tongue lettuce, arugula and patience dock. Can anyone say SALAD?
 
 
But no, I had to answer the darn phone! Argh! Somebody save me!

Ignoring that... somebody sent me an interesting article on a chicken hotel in England. Perhaps that should be my new line of work. hahaha

Then there was a post on ugly tchotchke fights, which employs a taxidermy chicken, and I just had to laugh. Thank goodness!

The chickens here are all doing well and not stuffed at all. Hopefully today it will warm up enough that they will come out and get the scratch I threw out on the snow for them.

Now back to taking the day off, dangit! I need a break.
Happy Friday.
 

ice ice, baby

02/02/2011

 
Winter is wreaking havoc on us! I've seen countless people loading multiple bags of ice melt/salt/calcium chloride or whatever on their walks and drives, and I wonder how bad is this for the environment.

Without doing any research on this in particular, I can recall previous readings describing the massive problem of ground water and soil salinization. Salt kills things. You can use salt and water to sanitize your cutting board. Salt drives away pigments in watercolor painting. So what does it do in the ground after it melts our ice and washes away?

Lots of people are turning to calcium chloride. It is supposed to be better for your concrete walkways. It works faster, and at lower temperatures. But I wonder what calcium ions do in the ground and to vegetation.

This, plus the giant ice dam above my office, makes me think about proper design to protect against water. First off, if your sidewalk wasn't installed properly it has probably settled unevenly. Flat sidewalks require less ice melt as the precipitation disperses more evenly. My sidewalk is a disaster! Then there are stairs. We have old fashioned brick steps in the front, and they have a slight projection at each tread. I noticed that very little salt is required to make these steps safe. It could also be that they are not hollow. The thermal mass seems to help melt precipitation better than the hollow steps out back. If you're in the market for a new sidewalk or set of stairs in the future, keep these things in mind.

The opposite is true for my ice dam. The roof is a fairly low pitch, and I bet there is no insulation in this ceiling. A lot of buildings in the area seem to be under-insulated. You can tell after a snowfall because well-insulated homes will have more snow on the roof. Uninsulated roofs/attics let the heat from your home up, and that melts the snow, but only over your heated spaces. The two feet of roof overhang is still cold so it refreezes the water, which then starts to build up. In my case it is painfully obvious because the addition was not well designed. The roof is sagging under the weight of the ice dam, and since there is a very short header over the door, the screen door is now hitting the bottom of the gutter. Try getting your groceries in when the door won't open more than half way!

Someday we will have to rebuild this addition properly. Again, if you ever have work done on your home or office, periodically take a minute to think about winter. We don't all keep snow and ice in mind during a spring or summer remodeling project.

Take care, and stay dry.