Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Manual Labor & Beauty Treatments

Some of you guys won't understand this.  You ladies will totally understand what I am about to tell you.

Let me preface this post with this little tidbit...It is cold outside.  This leaves me trapped inside doing things that I don't really like to do.  My only defense at this point is to shuck all of those responsibilities and spend time getting you caught up on things.  Thank you for saving me.

We have had some beautiful weather the last couple of weeks, and that means you have to head outside.  I think it is a law or something, but I never hesitate in good weather to run from the house screaming.  I always tell the Man in Charge that when I find the maid, she is Fired!  I don't really know why he hired her.  She is awful at her job.  Secretly I think he must have a thing for her.  It is the only reason I can come up with for him keeping her around.

Some of the outside chores are less than desirable, but still better than anything on the list indoors.  Two things always top the list outside.

1.  Compost.
2.  Cleaning the chicken barn.

Those two things don't need to be done all of the time, but they can be very difficult in less than desirable weather.  For that reason, if it is nice, probably should go ahead and tackle it.  For those of you that have never been around chickens, chickens are foul.  They have no issue with keeping house.  They make huge messes and are happy to just walk on by them.  I keep straw down in the chicken barn.  This does a number of things.  It helps keep them warm.  It gives them something to scratch around in.  It also helps keep their little feet clean.  It only lasts so long, then you have to remove it and start all over again.  You avid gardeners should be familiar with the huge benefits of making your own compost.  It is fairly easy, but can be labor intensive, depending on the scale you are working on.  It has amazing benefits for your crops, and has been called black gold for obvious reasons.  If you don't garden, then it will help to understand it is the basic principle of just letting things rot until they are of value again.

Every week I pick up a few containers of coffee grounds and citrus peels from a local restaurant.  They are mainly in the business of breakfast so there is plenty of coffee made.  Plus, they hand squeeze all their own juices.  They also have a hot tea bar, which adds tea leaves to the bin.  Occasionally there are even spent flowers from their tables and any other thing they feel that I can use.  This has been a huge benefit to my compost production.  Usually I wait until I have 5 or more bins of material from the restaurant, and the straw and other additives from the chickens.  All of this goes into the compost pile in layers.  It takes a lot of my own energy to make this happen.  Then there is time spent turning previous layers.  Not to mention, I use a three bin system, so once one is full, it gets moved to the next and so on.

Note:  These bins are 4 ft. x 6 ft. x 4 ft.

This is a lot of material.

Usually by the third bin, it is ready to be moved out into one garden area or another.  This should give you an idea of the manual labor part of things.  Some days it may take an hour.  Some days it may take four hours, depending on what stage of the game you are in.  One thing you can always count on...the need to recover when it is all over.

Now for the beauty treatment side of things.  I am a firm believer in multitasking.  It is the only way to make various things happen due to the whole 24 hours in a day issue.  I also don't like to spend a lot of time or money on some things.  I am not one of those women that spend hours at a spa, or get my nails done once a week, or spend hours at the mall.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  There is just no time in my world for such things.  So, I have to come up with my own solutions at times.

My biggest problem at this stage in life is my hair.  I abuse it daily.  I color it for one thing.  Partly because I feel like the less gray hair I see, the easier it is to love my children.  Partly because I refuse to grow old gracefully.  I am not going down without a fight.  I have managed to stay away from flat irons, amazing because almost everyone I know has one, but I do abuse my hair daily with a hair dryer.  I also live in the land of wind.  It is almost always windy out here.  There just isn't anything to block it.  If you live in the city and you are enjoying a breezy day, chances are pretty good that we are experiencing gale force winds out here.  To counter-act the havoc being wreaked upon my hair, I have been playing around with developing some different hair treatments.  I have one that is working pretty well at this time, and the other day, I decided to tackle my hair and my chores at the same time.

My hair treatment of choice, at this time, is an oil treatment that goes on dry hair.  Once it is applied and brushed through, the only thing left to do is wait.  Not really wanting to walk around outside with oily looking hair, I rummaged through my closet and found a ball cap that I am not particularly fond of.  It is cute enough, but it has a rhinestone design on the front that is a little too hokey for me personally.  I grabbed all my hair into a hair band and threw the cap on.  I am never going to wear it for anything else, so might as well, right?

Once outside, I went to work.  I spent a lot of time hauling the restaurant material out back, then grabbing a load of bedding from the chicken barn, and shoveling.  I had a bin of compost ready, so that had to be shoveled out and hauled up front.  It seemed to be taking forever.  My Full-Timer showed up at some point and gave me a helping hand.  This was good, due to the fact that my hands were taking a beating.  While we were working, I noticed something a little odd.

My chickens, all being girls, apparently have their own beauty needs.  I kept noticing one little chicken hopping by me now and then.  After tracking her down, it was easy to see her issue.  Her nails had grown to a ridiculous length, and were curling out in all sorts of weird directions.  This was making it a little difficult for her to get around.  My Full-Timer was not really thrilled with this discovery.  Chicken pedicures not really being at the top of her list of things that "Oh!  You know what I have always wanted to do?"

We finished up with the coop cleaning and the compost.  I headed to the house and grabbed a set of dog nail clippers that I keep just for this job.  One by one, we had to catch each girl, giving her the once over and trimming any excessively long nails.  Two girls, being the same breed of hen, had the longest growth.

To my uncle out there...I know you have a whole flock of these girls that are about a year younger than may want to check them out.  Good luck.  It is a lot of fun, and they really appreciate what you are trying to do for them.

If you are a hen owner, and you don't cull out your older birds, check their feet occasionally.  You can cut them too short if you aren't careful.  Always better to take a little off each time.  The hardest part is catching them all.

So, after the heavy lifting that we had done, topped off with the added cardio-workout of chasing 20 birds, I was exhausted.  Do you think the day ended there?  Not a chance.  In all my time spent out around the chicken barn, I realized there were a few sheets of metal on the roof that had worked their way lose in the high winds we had been having.  Not a fan of heights, I sent my help inside to get the Man in Charge, hoping he could manage to fix it without getting on the roof.  When it comes to getting on the roof of the chicken barn, I am always elected.  I am lighter, and I am not the bread winner.  If someone is going crashing through the roof, we all agree it would be best if it were me.  Joy!

He came out and did what he could, but he couldn't reach it all.  I had to make the climb up onto the roof after all.  The bad part wasn't even being on the roof.  The bad part was that I had already been at it manually for several hours and my arms were really worn out.  Swinging a hammer when your arms are tired is not fun.  It is funny, but not fun.  It didn't take long though.  Luckily I didn't fall through the roof.  I knew if that happened, I would be getting zero sympathy from you guys, due to the little trick I played on you a while back.  I am happy to report...nothing exciting happened, just really poor aim with the hammer.  At one point I was only hitting the nail about every third swing.  Ridiculous.

At the end of the exercise, all I wanted was dinner and a shower.  By the time it was all over, my hair felt great!  If you have dry/damaged hair, and you want to give my treatment a try, let me know.  I will hook you up.  As far as chicken pedicures and roof repair, you're on your own.

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