Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's for the birds!

It's been awhile since I posted.  We went to Big Bend for a week.  In spite of being rained on, we had a lovely time.  April is a nice month to visit the desert.  The ocotillos were blooming, as were the prickly pear.  We just missed the yucca's extravagant display, but did see a few still in full, luscious bloom.

We had a few nights of rain.  I hate getting up in the middle of the night to go pee anyway, but getting up when it's muddy and rainy sort of sucks.  Our tent kept us mostly dry--if we didn't roll too close to the edge of the air mattress, where the bedding was sopping wet.   But  being in this beautiful, unspoiled region of Texas always feels like a gift.  You can drive 50 miles in any direction without seeing a power line or a billboard, or any other evidence of man, except of course the road you're on.   I love the harshness of the desert.  All the plants and animals who live there have to be extra tough.  I admire the tenacity of desert creatures.  

So this week we acquired a truck:

And started making a birdbath:

observing and contemplating birdbath

We still have many more bottle caps to apply.  I think we'll probably finish this little project tomorrow evening.  It may not be beautiful, but if it gives the birds a place to splash around and drink, then it's serving its purpose.  We joke that it's wabi sabi--imperfect, rather odd, and using materials we had at hand.  

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stepping into Spring

I stole that title from Kathleen, who hosted the most wonderful mid-day party today.  We made stepping stones.  Kat had quikcrete, concrete pavers, and everyone brought all kinds of yummy stuff to create beautiful stepping stones.  Some of my favorite things were ceramic pieces that Kat's mom, Pat, brought--just so many lovely things to play with.  Thanks, Pat!  Edmo brought some really cool stuff, too, including some fabulous ceramic angel heads.  Wish I'd had time to incorporate more of the great things everyone contributed. 

Making in the "artport"

Triple threat--Erika, Elena, and Kat

my first stepping stone

Supplies galore!

Some of our handiwork

Elena's feet and her lovely work

Happy Laura

my second stepping stone

It was a great spring day with fine friends,  delicious food, and time well-spent making!  It doesn't get any better than that.  

Now it's time to finish getting ready for our trip to Big Bend.  We leave tomorrow.  I'm sure I'll be posting about it upon my return.  My love for the Southwest just keeps growing.  

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour

Hooray for the folks who sponsor the Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour!   We had a fabulous time this morning and visited 7 different sites.  We saw big operations: House Bar Farm, owned by the folks who run Eastside Cafe (They also supply the cafe with all their eggs.),  is a big chicken ranch with 200 Bovan chickens who are happily roaming acres of land.  Their coop used to be a crack house and now securely houses the happy flock at night;  and Springdale Farms with their flock of 70 or so beautiful hens, and one rooster.  We were particularly interested in the families with 6 to 10 chickens who nest in some wonderfully creative and aesthetically pleasing coops.   What I really loved was getting to visit with the owners of these contented birds, who were very generous in sharing what they've learned about raising happy hens.  The chickens were delightful: curious, attractive, interested creatures so unlike the sad birds who spend their short lives on factory farms.  

The girls in photo just above may look like they're in crowded conditions, but they had acres to roam and these particular hens were just having a chat fest on the shady side of their coop.

This was our favorite small coop (Morgan and Pat liked it a lot!) artfully decorated with tile.  This coop (the owner, who's name I didn't catch is on the far right in the yellow shirt) housed 6 chickens.  We liked this chicken house so much that we're planning on incorporating elements into our own coop design.

We've been collecting materials for our coop for awhile now, so we'll have to figure out exactly what we have and what we'll need.  I'd love to have a rainwater catchment system so the hens can have fresh rainwater.  I'm sure they'd like that!  I'm going to be spending a lot of time Googling free chicken coop designs to download.   There are still a lot of bulky pick-up days coming up, so you can be sure we'll be out there scavenging stuff to build our dream coop.  I'm already planning to make some silk screen designs for it!  Chickens!  Yay!