Our New Digs

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Without fail, the second the mercury reaches 115 degrees here in Phoenix, our air conditioner craps out. This has happened to us the past three years in a row. A/C repair guys are in high demand and the soonest one can get to our house is this upcoming Friday morning. Fortunately for us, we have a separate air conditioner for our living room and dining room so for the past two days, we have been camping out on the other side of the house.

We set up sleeping bags for the boys underneath the dining room table and they are in heaven. Jason and I set up our bed in the adjoining living room. We do not think this little adventure is nearly as fun as they do.

Oliver has been busy entertaining us with his singing. The kid is obsessed with Adele and sings songs from her "21" album all. day. long. We noticed him singing like this (below) in the backseat of the car last week. We thought he was falling asleep so we kept bugging him to stay awake. He finally replied, "this is how Adele sings." True story.

My sweet mom took the kids out to Bass Pro Shops today to get them out of the house and out of our hair. She bought them some goodies which have entertained them for most of the afternoon. Let's just hope they are still entertained by these toys when Friday rolls around.

Crossing our fingers that it is an easy fix and that the repair guy doesn't need to order out some part that will take another few days to get here. Five days of sharing a small space with these guys 24/7 is more than enough for me.

Good thing they're cute.

Enjoying the Fruits

Monday, June 27, 2011
My mom has been a canning machine (never wants to see even a single piece of fruit go to waste) and we have been enjoying the fruits of her labor. She has spent the last two months canning peaches, plums, and now apples. We've got enough jams, butters, and sauces to carry us through to the next fruit season and them some.

The chickens have been enjoying the fruits too...

Keeping the Chickens Cool

Monday, June 20, 2011
One of my readers who raises chickens and also lives in the metro Phoenix area, asked if I could write up a blog post about my chicken coop set up and how we keep our chickens cool. We are well into the triple digit temps here and will be until October or November so the timing of this post is perfect. This is only our second summer with chickens but I have learned a lot about keeping chickens comfortable in the summer heat. You might remember reading that we lost dear Ramona last summer so we're taking even more precautions this time around.

We have three areas of focus in keeping our girls cool: plenty of shade, ventilation, and fresh water at all times. Our coop is set up under three giant shade trees so the coop is never in direct sunlight at any time of the day. Although the chickens free range, their "chicken yard" also has plenty of shade should they choose to hang out there.  If you are thinking of keeping chickens yourself and live in a hot climate, it's a good idea to ensure that the coop area will be well shaded during the warmer months.

Our coop was made out of a shed. When we built it, we left off one side and put up chicken wire (as you can see from the first picture). We also built a screen door out of chicken wire as well so that the coop has plenty of ventilation. Even with the ventilation, it still gets crazy hot and stuffy in there during the summer so my husband ran electrical and installed a fan in the coop. It's set on a timer and will run from about 11am to 3am. This should really get the air moving and keep the girls comfortable when they're laying during the day or coming in to roost at night.

We also make sure that girls have plenty of fresh, cool water at all times. We have three sources available to them - in the coop, in the chicken yard, and on the back porch where they like to hang out (and stare at us through the sliding glass doors - which is totally odd). I was told that when it's hot, chickens won't walk through direct, bright sunlight to get to their water source so it's important to have a few sources available to them.

One of the best chicken investments we ever made was this 8 or so dollars portable mister from the local hardware store. It hooks right up to the hose in the chicken yard next to the coop. Whenever it's 100+ degrees, we turn the mister on in the morning and shut it off at night when they go in to roost. The second I turn it on every morning, the girls run over and sit under it. They spend the majority of their day there. If you live in a hot climate, I highly recommend getting one of these suckers.

A recent email that I received from the Valley Permaculture Alliance suggested setting out shallow dishes (terra cotta pot saucers work great) and filling them with a couple of inches of water for the chickens to stand in on those insanely hot days. I definitely plan to give this a try. If you have any tips or tricks that you all use to keep your chickens cool, please share them with me.  I'm not a big fan of fried chicken and want to keep the girls as comfortable as possible this summer.

ETA 7/18/11: Since I wrote this post I have discovered a couple of other ways to keep the girls cool that are very helpful. We have been trying the frozen water bottle in a plant saucer trick that I mentioned above and it's been great. Occasionally the girls will stand in the water but more often than not, they drink from it and the water is always fresh and cold for them. They love it.

Another thing we've done is to make veggie pops. We have an abundance of veggies in our garden and always have a bit extra to share with the girls. We chop them up (usually cucumbers) and put them in a large tupperware container and then add water. We freeze these overnight and put one out for the girls during the hottest part of the day. They will spend a good chunk of time pecking at the ice block to get the veggies out.

Fowl Friends on Pinterest

Monday, June 13, 2011
I held out from Pinterest for as long as I possibly could. I figured it would either be a total bore or wildly addictive - neither option sounded good. However, I caved and requested an invite from a friend. I.am.hooked. Talk about loads of eye candy and inspiration. Where else could I collect all of my favorite chicken ideas, photos, and finds in one place to share with you all? ;)

Beautiful polish via dailysquee.com

via thefancyfarmgirl.com (check out the rest of the pictures of the coop on her blog - unreal!)

You can see my pin boards here (including Fowl Friends). If you have no clue what I'm talking about and what Pinterest is, check it out. It is definitely worth while (especially for blogging). If you need an invite, leave your email address in the comments and I'll be happy to send you one. You can thank me later.

Summer 2011 Collection

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
We had our highly anticipated photo shoot a week ago with Laura Winslow for my collaboration with Noah and Lilah. Holy smokes! The shoot was amazing. Our little models had the best time and did such a remarkable job. Here's a little sneak peek for you.

A huge thank you to Laura for the amazing photos and to Sherri of Noah and Lilah for working on this collection with me. It has been a blast and her work and craftsmanship are truly impeccable. (Finley and Oliver have been living in their new shorts ever since the shoot.)

To see all of the photos (serious eye candy!), check out Laura's blog post on our little adventure. 

PS - Professional and aspiring photographers....you *must* check out Confessions of a Prop Junkie if you haven't already. It's an amazing new blog jam packed with tips, tricks, props, features, and giveaways including one from yours truly. Hop over to this post for a chance to win a shop credit to Finley and Oliver - you might just score some goodies from the summer line for your little one.