July 29, 2013

our backyard flock

Allow me to introduce you to our chickens. Most of the breeds we know for sure are correct, a few are good guesses, and a couple are mixed, or we think are mixed.

Look at what I've become. A crazy person introducing her chickens to the internet.
More about the kinds, incase you're pondering a flock of your own. Gathered from various Internet sources and a little observation and while I think most of this is correct, it's also pretty sweeping and general.

White Leghorns are super good egg layers. Their egg to feed ratio is really good and they aren't very broody, so they're quite popular with folks looking for high productivity. Apparently they are supposed to be skittish, but Lulu is quite friendly and inquisitive, and will run right over to you when she sees you.

Black Sex Links are a cross of a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Barred Rock Hen, and when they hatch they are easily sexed because the males have a patch of white feathers on their head while the females are all black. They are also good layers and tend to be fairly hardy. Of our bunch, Cinder is the friendliest and easiest to catch, and likes to be pet.

Barred Rocks are a dual-purpose breed, so they're good layers and are good for eating due to their size/build. They're quite adaptable and do fine in confinement as well as free-ranging, and they bear the cold well, which is nice for our Maine winters. Ghost Rider is at the top of the pecking order and is a tricky one to catch, but she's sweet and non-aggressive.

Australorps are also good at the egg laying, and are also good mothers. They're pretty low key and friendly. MC is very mellow and just kind of just goes about her own business  As chicks they're patchy black and yellow, and they grow up to be solid black with a really pretty green undersheen type of thing. They do well in the heat and the cold and are a solid choice for an easy bird that lays well.

Silkies are an ornamental bantam breed. Apparently they are known for being super sweet and friendly, though ours are pretty standoffish. Penelope and Daisy are also crossed with something, we're not sure what. They're quite pretty, and come in a range of colors. They lay tiny eggs, and they're not the most prolific layers. They also sometimes can't see because their feathers are in their eyes, so you have to keep an eye out and make sure they're not being bullied. Ours also have some trouble getting up on the roost at night, so we made sure to have a ladder.

Crested Black Polishes are another ornamental breed and these days are mostly used for show. They, like the Silkies, are not the best layers and tend to go quite broody. Ariel and Franklin are fearless birds. They'll run right up to you if they think you have a treat for them, and they are super good flyers - ours actually sometimes fly up on top of the coop at night and we have to grab 'em down before we lock up.

Bantam Frizzle Cochins are sweet and fluffy, but again, not great layers when compared to Leghorns or Australorps. The "frizzle" part is reference to the crazy way that their feathers grow up and out, instead of curving against their body. You can also find full-size, non-frizzle Cochins. Kramer is a little skittish, but super cool to look at. We also think he may be a dude, due to some errant crowing we heard the other day...

Ameraucanas are really pretty, and come in a variety of colors. They lay blue eggs, and like some of our others they do well in the cold and are easily kept. They generally tend to be friendly; ours are a little shy but non-aggressive. They have thick necks and a feathery muff type of thing going on. And they're really, really pretty. Really. Cool colors.

July 25, 2013

boothbay harbor

With the prospect of full-time employment looming on the horizon, I've been trying my best to get in as many wanderings as I can. Yesterday mom and I took a drive up to Boothbay Harbor and spent the day exploring the seaside town.

One of my best friends got married here a couple of years ago, so our first stop was to Newagen Inn. I strolled around reminiscing for a few minutes before heading into town to scope things out.

Boothbay is a pretty little town, mixing quaint with touristy. It's quite popular in the summer, though the day we went wasn't too unbearably crowded. There are plenty of places to park and about a million seafood joints to choose from. After popping in and out of the shops downtown we decided we'd take a tour of the harbor with the very cheesy sounding Cap'n Fish's Boat Trips. Our trip (a "Seal Watch Cruise") was $19.00 - a little pricey for an hour long tour, I think, but probably on par with these kind of things. The views were really, really gorgeous and we did indeed see a ton of harbor seals, and spending any time on the water is top notch in my book.

For dinner we tried The Lobster Dock, which is well known locally for having been on that Bobby Flay Throwdown thing. Between us we chowed down on crab cakes (which were featured on the throw down), corn on the cob, onion rings, clam chowder, scallops, and a wedge salad. Too much food for two people, probably, but everything was simple and delicious.

While we were there, the clouds went from nonexistent to fluffy white to dark and ominous and back again. Be prepared.

Boothbay Harbor is an easy trip from Portland, being a little over an hour. It's a little more accessible than Bar Harbor or Camden, though both of those towns are 100% worth the longer trip. Be aware, if you go in the off season almost nothing is open. We went back in March and found one lone restaurant that was serving. I personally kind of enjoy the desolate feeling to the overrun one, but either way, the ocean is there and it's beautiful.

July 24, 2013

a minute at sebago lake

Sebago Lake is one of the largest in Maine, and depending on where you go, about an hour from Portland. We went for a drive last week and ended up on the shores there, where you can hang on the beach and take a dip. It has sort of a local summer invasion feel and was a bit too crowded for my taste, but I can imagine it'd be really pretty in the off season. You can also go camping in the state park and there are trails to hike too.

Much like some of our other driving adventures, we were ill-prepared for swimming or hiking, but took a stroll along the water. I think it's so cool how the trees grow right along the edge, roots half in the lake.

July 21, 2013

sunset at the marsh

Last night Kelsey called to see if I wanted to go bird watching at the marsh (this one), so off I went. We didn't see too many birds, but Kelsey's boyfriend Matt taught us a lot about identifying trees, so all in all a nice, nature-filled evening.

Remember for another time: you can rent canoes here and wander around the waterways.

My iPhone caught the sunset, too. This is why I live here. It's this pretty all the time.

July 16, 2013

how to make your chicken coop smell nice

I have too much time on my hands.

Our chicken coop doesn't smell bad. It smells like chickens. But not bad.

Ever the perfectionist, I set out to see if there was some kind of nice smelling, non-harmful stuff I could spray or leave in the coop to keep it smelling ultra-fresh.

I came across this post on the Community Chickens site (yeah) by Jennifer Burcke of 1840 Farm and gave it a shot.

I slightly altered it. Her post calls for Dawn Lavender dish soap, but I didn't have that. I did have some lavender scented Dr. Bronner's, though, and figured that might do the trick.

And now the coop smells lovely! We have a fan in there, so when I let the girls out in the morning I just spray one or two times into the fan. It diffuses it a bit and fills the room with a fresh, lavendery minty fragrance.

(This smells good in general, so you can use it in your house too, if you don't have chickens.)

If you are a crazy chicken person and want to give it a shot, here goes:

In addition to smelling nice, the grapefruit seed extract acts as a disinfectant and the tea tree and peppermint are insect repellents. The lavender just smells nice, and I suppose is calming to humans, but who knows what chickens think about lavender.

If I was a good blogger I probably would have photographed this lovely spray bottle in the grass surrounded by sliced grapefruit and fresh sprigs of lavender, but alas, you'll have to settle for this wood siding of the coop.

Also it's super hot up here these days. This is Khaleesi, hating the heat. Did you know that chickens pant to keep cool, like dogs? There you go.

July 15, 2013

the upside to unemployment

Weekday beach day. The waves were awful for boogie boarding this morning, but the water was perfect for floating and the sun was perfect for reading in.

July 13, 2013


I woke up at 4:30 this morning remembering that I had forgotten to shut the shed door, and couldn't stop thinking about what wild animals might have gotten in, so went outside to take care of it. I was greeted by this. The field belongs to our neighbor, the view belongs to anyone.

I also exchanged a "good morning" with a guy out on his longboard.

July 12, 2013

thoughts on a friday night

I am job hunting again, for the first time in 5 years. It feels a lot longer than 5. I suppose I was quite fortunate that my jobs have sort of naturally transitioned into one another; I haven't really hunted in quite some time. Even my first hunt wasn't very long, which was lucky at the time. I graduated from college in the midst of the economic collapse and took the first job I was offered, which was the first job I interviewed for.

It's a little bit wild that I can do anything. Like, literally, anything. Maybe not literally. But almost. There's a great big world out there and I can decide how I want to fit into it, but I can't decide how I want to fit into it.

I want to tend the land and animals. I want to make things. I want to play in the kitchen. I want a little stability, but not so much that I let myself be complacent and bored. I want time off to travel. I want to make enough money to be able to travel. And live. I want to sing, again. I want to spend the whole day listening to the waves and the whole night watching the sky change.

Until very recently I was touring the country and sometimes world with a rock band. Not as a musician, but as a manager and a planner and a helper and an organizer. It was a fantastic life with wonderful, amazing, talented people, but one that kept me up too late and facilitated a habit of not taking care of myself. 

And now I'm looking for something that leans a little bit more toward wholesome and simple.

July 11, 2013

two lights state park

On a whim, we went for a drive after dinner last weekend and ended up at Two Lights State Park. It's got a nice walking path looking out over the ocean, and it's full of secret and not-so-secret picnic table spots, most of which have little tiny grills. The mosquitos were too bad and we were too ill prepared to go too far into the woods, but we took a stroll up on the cliff along the water and enjoyed the views.

July 9, 2013

mostly grown up chickens

Look who grew up.

These gals!

(Go look at how small they were less than two months ago. Chickens are crazy, y'all.)

July 8, 2013

vita vita

So you guys, I am a serial blogger. From my angsty teenage LiveJournal days onward, I pretty much always kept an online diary of some sort, written in with varying degrees of frequency. This one here that you are currently reading follows a couple years of non-blogging and I must say, I am glad to be back into it. It's nice to have a place to keep thoughts.

I'm pretty bummed that I've deleted most of these. Every couple of years I go through an oh no, there's way too much about me on the internet phase and I delete accounts and remove photos and so on. I kept a pretty awesome tumblr from 2008-2011 that I'm especially sad is gone.

Anyway, the point is, there is one that I did not delete!

These are from my semester abroad in Florence, back in the spring of 2007. It's more writing than photos and I start almost every sentence with "So..." but if you're curious about 21 year old Amy, have a looksee: vita

(Yes, I called the thing vita because I'm very cool and Italian.)