One young Catholic family on a Journey towards Intentional and Communal Sustainability. One Artist, one full time Mama and two babies, we'll tell you about all our successes, and failures, as we try to make it in our overly Consumeristic society on just the bare necessities.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Homestead Envy part 1- Garrett's Chickens

Joey, the girls and I went to visit my family in Virginia for the Thanksgiving Holiday. This was a post I wrote while we were out there that didn't get posted because of a lack of internet access.  Not to the house, just to me.  It was wonderful to have a break from our daily use of technology, but I must admit that my parent's are blessed with wonderful internet access through Virginia Broadband because that's where my little brother works.  He's a certified tower climber, which scares the daylights out of both me and my mom, but it gets them free internet.   We just didn't take advantage of it, and chose instead a more technology free vacation.  By the way, VABB is a great alternative for rural families in their area because it doesn't require a cable, and is way cheaper than satellite.  ALSO, they don't support the porn industry like most internet providers like Comcast.

As I visit my parents, who live on a 30 some acre homestead in rural Virginia, complete with a centuries old family cemetery in their front yard, I have to tell you that I have a serious case of Envy.  Today, I am going to tell you about how I am stricken by one of the most virulent strains: Chicken Envy.

My parents have kept chickens since my little brother's 7th grade science class hatched them and they needed homes.  My brother, Garrett, (incidentally, the same brother who climbs tall internet towers as mentioned above) has been hooked ever since, and there have only been a few short periods of ChickenLessNess for them when foxes or racoons or bobcats or other predators would enjoy a feast and we'd have to wait for the next batch to arrive via air mail, or be picked up from the local chicken auction.  If you've never been to a Chicken Auction, I recommend it highly.  Especially the one Garrett took Joey too last winter.  It was evidently hilarious!

watching the chickens through they're bobcat proof fence
But in any case, I have to admit, as a teen, I found our chickens not only disgusting, but embarrassing.  I didn't tell my friends about the chicken coop in the backyard, and when the roosters chased my cool friend's cars out of the drive way, I turned bright red, and usually let me brother have it.  I never checked for eggs, and very seldom fed the critters.  I often PRAYED that Garrett would slaughter them, even though I was a vegetarian at the time!  Garrett, by the way, has never slaughtered his chickens- they've always been more like pets who lay delicious eggs.  In fact, as a teen, he was often seen carrying them around under his arms, and would let my niece and nephew pet them to their hearts content.  I am embarrassed now by my lack of Chicken-Liking-Ness of my childhood, and blame my vegetarianism.  But I have to admit, I always DID enjoy the eggs- I just never wanted to go get them!

But now, Joey and I are stuck in a city that doesn't allow chickens, and as much as I would have told you I hated them growing up, I miss them terribly now.  And visiting my parents' made me miss them even more!  Of course, we would be happy to slaughter the roosters, in part because living in a city that doesn't allow them means that roosters would make our illegal roost quite noticeable, also because they're delicious, and finally so they don't chase our cars.  Being chased in your car by a rooster is not a fun experience!

For almost my entire life, Garrett's Chickens were seriously free-range.  The chasing of cars was a daily event not because they'd gotten loose, but because they were loose.  I remember my father chastising Garrett about his lack of Coop-ablity, but then I also remember Dad scattering feed over the entire backyard for them.  They were free to go where they wanted, and had a safe, comfortable place to roost at night (often including a nightlight and heater to keep them laying all winter).  BUT, when my parents moved to their current location, and my brother joined them, it became obvious that these loosey goosey Chickens were not a possibility.  They lost chicken after chicken after chicken to the various wild animals, and one time even to human thieves who drove up the driveway during the middle of the day and took all 10 chickens of roasting age!  So, my father helped Garrett build a more secure coop and yard, and it is just amazing the difference!  Honestly, I don't think my teenage vegetarian girly girl would even object to this!  It's quite pristine and adorable!  And they even have a Calico Rooster!

In short, I miss chickens.   I miss fresh eggs.  I miss the crazy chases through the yard before storms to round up the missing young'uns.  (did I really just say that?!)  Also, I miss my brother, terribly, and he should come live here and help us raise illegal chickens.  Ahh, Good ol' Virginia!  I miss you!

Friday, November 25, 2011


I've been meaning to write post after post while visiting my family in rural Virginia, but 2 things have gotten in the way.  Stomachs and Stomachs.

First, we brought a horrible stomach bug to Virginia accidentally, and we've been working it through the whole family.  LUCKILY nobody had it ON Thanksigiving.  Just before and after.

And secondly, of course, we've been working in the kitchen constantly for the last 3 days to make up for the lack of time in the kitchen before that.  Don't tell Mom, but I have a post on Stomach Bug Cookin' coming up after we get home and she can't give me the eye in person!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm a Winner! - Update

So we received our wonderful drawing from Reading (and chickens) the other day and its, well... awesome.

(note, just so you aren't confused, the drawing is the second image)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Birthday, Birthday, Birthday!

I've been a little out of touch the last week.  Sorry about that, but we've had quite a busy time!  Let's re-cap.

re-cap.  Here's one of the caps I've been working on to sell on our etsy store.  Beatrice is such a pretty model!

Friday, November 4th was Charlotte's 2nd birthday.

pancakes for breakfast at IHOP
We went out for pancakes with her grandparents and aunts and she had a blast!
Birthday Breakfast Balloon

Then, later that night, we went downtown for the opening of Joey's art show.  Again, another blast!

Joey's art on display- see more at our etsy shop

We helped run the show for the weekend, and then Joey started a new Co-op class.  We're also working on getting ready to drive out to visit my family in Virginia for Thanksgiving, so all that started.

some of the feast.
Then today, we had Charlotte's birthday party!  We had so much fun!  It was a Tea-Party theme and   Dyno-mom made fresh rye sourdough bread and we made cucumber sandwiches, tea cakes, veggies and fruit trays and some other delectables, along with tea, of course.  Charlotte had many of her good friends over, and she really had so much fun.  It was a lot of work, and maybe when I have a few more kids I'll look back and think I was crazy for putting something like this together, but it was worth it to see that smile on my beautiful little girl's face. 

Happy Birthday little one!
As I said earlier, we are planning to drive across the country to visit Grammie and Grampie in Virginia for Thanksgiving.  It will be so much fun!  We will be updating throughout the trip, but may be a little hard to get a hold of since my parents don't live

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm a winner!

So I was over at Reading (and Chickens) the other day and noticed an awesome little contest that she was putting together in which there was a drawing for some goodies inspired by nothing more than the goodness of her heart. The goodies were sweet, but I was much more interested in getting one of her trademark drawings, so I do what any sensible person would do: pretend like the drawing included a custom drawing and put my name in the proverbial hat. (its like a situational red herring) Since she's a nice lady, and since I was the only person who was in that particular part of the drawing that I made up, I won!

After many attempts to get me to email her I finally sat down and composed the following. It was so absurd that I figured I'd share it with you all (and posting here fulfills my part of the contractual obligation at the end of the email) So without further ado: my email to Reading (and Chickens):


Thanks for graciously accepting my entry into the drawing drawing that weren't even aware you were having. And to boot I won!?!?! woohoo!

My wife seems to think a portrait of me would be fun because I'm kind of the personification of a cartoon character as it is. (fat beardo who is often holding either a baby, a dachshund or both)

However, a fun project that I sometimes subject my family and friends to is the aesthetic version of mad libs (don't have a name for it yet, maybe you can assist in that avenue). Essentially you ask 3 separate people for 3 separate words which you them must incorporate into an image (or object for that matter, but the internet hasn't come so far as to be able to deliver things of the 3rd dimension through fiber optics...yet)

To give some semblance of sense to the would be image it is permissible (read:recommended) that you give the prospective word giver a category to refine their seemingly random word choices.

To further complicate things, other individuals can supply the categories as well.

Since that is highly convoluted, lets set a scenario:

(cast of characters: Artist: a woman who percievably loves reading and chickens, Person 1: her husband a man who loves women who love reading and chickens, Person 2: her son, lover of reading sentences which include exclamation marks, Person 3: Joey, [as noted above] a fat beardo who is often holding either a baby, a dachshund or both)

Artist (to person 1): Give me a category of nouns.
Person 1: Things you'd find in the back of the fridge.
Artist (to person 2): Tell me something you'd find in the back of the fridge.
Person 2: That sticker that explains how the fridge works.
Artist: Hm...very accurate, thank you.
Artist: now give me a category of verbs
Person 2: things you'd do to a penguin
Artist (to person 3): Tell me something you'd do to a penguin.
Person 3: um.. cuddle it, I'm not sure there are any other possible answers to such a question.
Artist: touche', now give me a category of places
Person 3: places you'd never want to work
Artist (to person 1): Tell me a place that you'd never want to work
Person 1: hog rendering plant
Artist: *begins diligently working on a drawing of Joey cuddling a fridge sticker at a hog rendering plant*

See? Isn't that ingenious? It has all the esoteric class of fine art, but all of the shenanigans of blog art.

(rereads the above email)

Ok, on second thought, just post and illustrate the above email, that would be super entertaining.

I'll post it on my blog if you post it on yours!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Aesthetic Expression: Guy Fawkes Day

Editing error- Post written by Joey on Brittany's account.  We're so "one" we write for each other now!

Today is celebrated throughout Great Britain as "Guy Fawkes Day".  When you think of Guy Fawkes, what do you think of?  As an American the only thing that comes to mind is fireworks (well, that or V for Vendetta)
(photo credit)
But why on earth do those Brits set off explosions on Guy Fawkes?  Cause that's what he did, well...tried to do.

(photo credit)

Guy Fawkes was a convert to Catholicism after his mother married a Catholic when his father died when he was 8 years old.  But he lived in England when being a Catholic was not exactly safe.  So he moved to Spain for awhile and fought for the Catholic Spainards during the 80 years war before returning home to try and "replace" Queen Elizabeth with a Catholic monarch and return England to the Church.  Well, that kind of backfired- with imprisonment, torture and execution.

(photo credit)

Anyway, we're Catholic, and not so fond of all the bad things Queen Elizabeth and her ilk did to British Catholics like Fawkes, St. William of York and countless other untold martyrs for the Faith. Today the protestant Brits celebrate his defeat by burning effigies of the Guy Fawkes and of the Pope, but that's crazy cuz the Pope is great. Queen Elizabeth on the other hand was a bit of a tyrant.

(photo credit)
And you know what they say in ol' Virginny (where Brittany hails from), "Sic Semper Tyrannis" or in other words:"thus always to tyrants" or in other, other words "this is what yer tyrannical ways'll get ya".

I made our effigy of Queen Elizabeth, though before the addition of the portrait of Elizabeth (printed draft quality of course) it was running precariously close to being a little too blair witchy. I dunno, you be the judge.

(photo credit)

In addition to the creation of the effigy, we also decided to rewrite the traditional Guy Fawkes Day children's rhyme:
Remmember remember the fifth of November
revolution and freedom besought.

I see no reason why tyranny's season

Should ever be forgot...

So yea... there is a long tradition of exacting vengence upon those whom you revile or, in the least irritate you, throughout art history. You don't have to know a lot about the interpersonal relationships of Michaelangelo to guess that the fella he painted in hell with the ears of an ass and a snake biting him was probably not "besties" with the famed sistine chapel painter.

(photo credit)

Symbolism is such a great thing. I mean, its way better to paint a guy with a snake biting his "special area" than it is to punch him in the face. Less violent, and a vengence that lasts the ages. That guy is long dead, but everyone is still quite clear of how Michaelangelo felt about him.

 better to burn in these fires than in the eternal ones

Similarly with Queen Elizabeth, I'd much rather burn an effigy of her to abate my personal vengeance and pray for her soul to be spared from God's Justice by His Mercy than the alternative.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Go Vote for Sophia!

Dyno-Mom Melissa's youngest daughter, Sophia, is our goddaughter, and she's in the running for a photo contest on Tillamook cheese's facebook page. If they win, they get a year's supply of cheese!  And cheese is awesome!  According to my husband, it's the Fat Man's Candy, and he would, of course, know.

Go here- sign in through Facebook and "like" her picture on their page.

Thanks in advance!


To Vote Pro-Chicken!

In many urban areas of the country, it is still illegal to raise your own chickens, goats, bees, rabbits or other valuable agricultural assets.  We happen to live in such a place (although bees are allowed).  But it's not such a stretch to look back and remember when our country didn't look down on these beautiful animals, and actually encouraged them in the typical family backyard.  Now, if you don't keep your sprinklers going on a perpetually mowed 1/4 acre of only grass, they look at you weird, and maybe, just maybe, they make you pour bleach all over your food.  

So don't forget to vote today.  And when you do, vote Pro-Chicken!