The backyard chicken saga continues locally

As many of you have read, I’ve written about my desire to get backyard chickens on more than a few occasions, like:

There have been quite a few developments since last I wrote on the subject in January and since several of you were interested in following my progress as I and a handful of others pushed for the legalization of backyard hens in our city, I thought an update was in order.

In February 2009, the Longmont city council finally passed an ordinance to allow backyard hens, but only for 50 people who had to register with the city, comply with the set guidelines, pay $30 and obtain a chicken permit. And this would only be for a trial basis. The ordinance would be revisited at the end of 2010 at which time the council would reassess the situation, possibly either allowing more permits to be issued or opening it up citywide, or if it wasn’t working out, shutting down the whole thing all together.

The restriction to 50 permits was upsetting to a lot of us. It seemed like a totally arbitrary number – enough to shut us up, but not enough for a real trial of any kind being that it involved only a tiny fraction of the city’s population. After all of the work we put into it, I was glad they approved something as it was better than nothing.

I had planned on getting one of those 50 permits, but procrastinated a bit because Jody and I weren’t sure if we were going to try to sell our house in the near future and if we were going to, we didn’t really want to have chickens in the backyard during the process (and I didn’t want to snatch up a permit if we weren’t really going to use it). So we hemmed and hawed for over a week and finally decided that we are going to stay put here for a few more years (and make this place more appealing to us and hopefully the next owner too), so I emailed the city planner to make sure permits were still available and he told me they had sold out earlier that week – less than two weeks from when the ordinance went into effect! Ugh.

I later found out that several other people who had been instrumental in getting the ordinance passed in the first place did not get a permit either. πŸ™

The city planner decided to start a waiting list in case anyone who obtained a permit changed their mind and returned it, the city would then reissue it to someone on the waiting list. I am #4 of 22 on the waiting list.

I decided that with all that I’ve had going on lately (health tests, panic/anxiety, putting one of our dogs to sleep, etc.), getting chickens at this time was the least of my worries, and I was OK with waiting another year and a half (provided council approved more permits at that time) before pursuing it. Nonetheless, in the spirit of educating ourselves, Jody, the kids and I attended a chicken ownership class in Lyons in April that was quite informative though we still did not plan on getting chickens any time soon. But then…

One of the women who was very involved in getting the chicken ordinance passed was unable to get a permit due to circumstances beyond her control, and because she already had chickens (now known to be illegally), was at risk of having to get rid of them. She appealed to city council to see if they would consider allowing more permits. While they didn’t want to open up permits to the general public, several council members felt it would be OK to allow residents who already had chickens before the ordinance went into effect and were unable to obtain a permit to get a permit and allow them to be within the law. It was also apparently suggested that the 22 people on the waiting list be allowed to get a permit at this time too!

There has been one vote by city council so far to increase the permit number and they voted in favor of it 5-2. There will be a second vote on June 9, then I will know for sure whether or not I can apply for a chicken permit. Whether or not we decide to get chickens this summer or wait until next spring, I am going to pay my $30 and get my permit – just in case. Especially after going to visit a friend’s chickens tonight with the kiddos, I really want some feathered friends of my own. Brawwwk, brawwwk. πŸ™‚

Great Green Goals for 2009

I was rereading a post I wrote at the start of 2008 – Living Green past and future – where I outlined the things I’d accomplished in 2007 toward living a greener lifestyle and then added more eco-friendly things I hoped to accomplish in 2008. This year I’m going to do the same thing and Great Green Goals for 2009invite you to post about your green goals for the upcoming year too. If you write a post and link back to this one, leave me a comment with the URL and I’ll add you to a list at the bottom of this post.

First, here were my goals for 2008 and my comments on how I did beside them in italics:

Green goals for 2008:

  • Grow a bigger garden – Did it! I grew tomatoes, basil, green beans, carrots, strawberries, zucchini, and yellow squash.
  • Possibly join a CSA to eat more locally and shop at the farmerÒ€ℒs market – Did not join a CSA but I did learn more about them and picked up a friend’s CSA share one week (when she was out of town). And I did some of my shopping at the farmers’ market.
  • Buy some cloth diapers that can stand up to JulianÒ€ℒs nighttime pees and stop using disposables (7th Generation) at night (We cloth diaper during the day.) – Yes and no. We stopped using 7th Generation dipes at night and instead stuff a Fuzzibunz diaper with a prefold and a gDiapers insert (which are biodegradable). Not the perfect solution, but better than where we were at.
  • Learn how to can foods – YES! And here’s proof. I canned three types of jam/jelly, spaghetti sauce and pear sauce in 2008.
  • Learn how to make my own yogurt – YES!
  • Read Ò€œAnimal, Vegetable, MiracleÒ€ – No, and don’t even have it yet.

In 2008, I also:

  • Made my own butter.
  • Started using a clothesline to dry our clothes/diapers (at least some of the time).
  • Started using an eco-friendly dish soap.
  • Bought a dehydrator and dehydrated apples, nectarines, and strawberries.
  • Joined a food co-op.
  • Started using a Moon Cup (like a DivaCup).

As for 2009, my green goals are as follows:

  •  Grow a bigger garden still! Although my yard is small, that is not the problem. The problem is that we have three large trees in our backyard that block out most of the sunlight. I’ve been trying to figure out if there are some places in my front yard that get good sun where I might plant some veggies, but we have a lot of trees there too. The only places in the front yard that I can think of that aren’t shaded are right by the sidewalk. We don’t have a ton of foot traffic on our street, but I’m not sure I want to dig up the yard to plant veggies when we want to sell the house in the next year or two. Hmmm. I think I might have to do some container gardening in addition to the small garden I already have.
  • Join a vegetable seed co-op.
  • Can more than last year.
  • Dehydrate more than last year.
  • Bake my own bread more regularly.
  • Continue to move away from the use of plastic and be mindful of plastic packaging.
  • Learn how to sew using my mom’s old sewing machine.
  • Read The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which I already have) by Michael Pollan
  • Learn more about ownership and care of backyard chickens (as our chicken crusade plods on)
  • And, of course, continue with all of the other things I’m already doing.

Now it’s your turn. This isn’t exactly your typical “Green Challenge,” but it is kind of similar. Write a post telling me your green goals for 2009, leave me your link and I’ll add it to the list below. (If you link back to this one, that’d be great too.) Or just leave me a comment telling me what your goals are. I’d love some more ideas! πŸ™‚

Other bloggers making green goals for 2009…

Ditch the Disposables Challenge : Check-in #1

We are now two weeks into the Ditch the Disposables challenge and at last count there were over 80 people signed up! Woohoo! Not bad if I do say so myself. But that, of course, begs the question – how are you doing with it? Are you finding it harder or easier than you thought? If you are having trouble with it, what is tripping you up? If you are breezing through it, do you have any tips to share?

I never did reveal what I decided to ditch for the challenge, so here it is. I’m done with disposable menstrual products. I’ve been working on making the switch to the Moon Cup for the past few months, but had been dragging my feet. This month however, with the exception of two disposable pads used as back-up at the beginning of my period, I did it! You may recall that I was having some trouble getting the hang of it initially and it took me a few months to fully adjust (I’ll write another post about what finally helped me find my happy place with it), but I’m now a Moon Cup lover! In addition to the Moon Cup, I also am using cloth panty liners on my heavier flow days as back-up because I’m not 100% confident using the cup alone yet (and am unsure if I’ll ever be).

In addition to ditching disposable pads and tampons, I’m also going to try to kick the Kleenex habit. I tend to go through a lot of Kleenex, and although I compost some of it, it’s still generating a lot more waste than is necessary (not to mention all of the trees used to make the Kleenex in the first place). I’ve asked my mom – who is much more skilled on a sewing machine than I – if she would make me a bunch of smallish cloth hankies and she agreed (thanks, Mom!), so once I get those I am going to cut back significantly on the Kleenex.

I had considered getting rid of toilet paper, at least for a week or two, but haven’t convinced myself to give it a try yet. Glad to see some others are though! πŸ˜‰ My hat’s off to ya.

Anyway, I hope you will check in. Let me and everyone else know how you are doing. Don’t worry if you have regressed a bit or if you are still working on making the switch. I think just being aware that you are striving to make a change is important. Also, if you have questions about something particular, let me know. Maybe together we can come up with something that will work for you as we all try to reduce the amount of disposable products we consume.

We’ll have another check-in on Sept. 28. Keep up the good work and thanks for being a part of the challenge. πŸ™‚

Best Granola Recipe Ever

So maybe I’m biased and maybe I haven’t really tried all that many granola recipes, but that’s only because I LOVE this one, so why should I bother with others? ;oP

The Best Granola EverI’ve been making this granola recipe for at least a year now, though I’ve taken the summer months off because I didn’t want to heat up the house. Now that it’s cooled off here in Colorado (at least for now), I’ve been craving the granola again, so while Julian napped one day this past week, Ava and I made a big batch.

I actually got my recipe from USA Weekend, but I’ve experimented with ingredients and tweaked it here and there, doubled the recipe (since my family always eats it up in no time flat) and made it my own.

Here’s what I now call the…
Best Granola Ever.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup + 1 Tbs. oil, vegetable or canola
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 Tbs. molasses
4 Tbs. maple syrup
(Or you can just use 1/2 cup of maple syrup and omit the molasses)

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup wheat germ
4 Tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. ground flaxseed
2/3 cup coconut
2/3 cup pumpkin seeds (sunflower seeds can be substituted)
2/3 cup almonds (chopped or whole)

Adjust oven racks to middle positions. Preheat to 275 degrees. Coat two metal cookie sheets with cooking spray or oil and set aside.

Bring oil, syrup, molasses, cinnamon, water to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat.

Mix oats through almonds in a large bowl. Pour oil/maple syrup mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine.

Pour mixture onto two prepared cookie sheets. Working a handful at a time, squeeze granola to form small clumps.

Bake for 30 minutes. Stir and continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer.

Let cool. Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Enjoy!

Makes (roughly) 2 quarts.

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And if you’re looking for a great granola BAR recipe, try this one I wrote about a couple years ago. πŸ˜‰

Ditch the Disposables Challenge – Sept. thru Oct. 2008

Ditch the Disposables ChallengeIt’s time for another green challenge here at Crunchy Domestic Goddess. I was thrilled with the participation in the 5-minute “Quickie” shower challenge over the summer and I hope we can do even better this time around!

For two months, September and October, I’m challenging you to Ditch the Disposables! We live in a society of convenience, where throw-away products are the norm rather than the exception. But all of the disposable products take resources and energy to produce and then, of course, get thrown away, filling up our landfills. All of this is bad news for the environment.

If you’d like to participate in this challenge, please select one or two (or more! – this can be as challenging as you want it to be) of your disposable products to ditch*, then leave a comment saying which disposable product(s) you will leave behind for two months in favor of an environmentally-friendly reusable product. Like in the last challenge, I will create a list in the sidebar linking to everyone’s blog. Of course, you don’t have to have a blog to participate. I realize that many of you probably are already living without some (many?) of these disposable products, but certainly nearly all of us can find at least one NEW thing we can give up in favor of something better for the earth. I’ll let ya know what I’m giving up in the comments soon.

Here are some ideas to get you started…

You can make the switch from:

  • Paper napkins to cloth napkins
  • Paper towels to cloth towels
  • Tissues to handkerchiefs
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
  • Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Sigg or Camelbak bottles or the Kleen Kanteen
  • Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Sigg or Camelbak
  • Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
  • Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
  • Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
  • Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
  • Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
  • Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables like DivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others
  • Grocery store bags to reusable bags

Or, for the really adventurous:

  • Toilet paper to cloth wipes/washcloths (for #1 or #2 too if you are really, really adventurous)

Please feel free to spread the word about the challenge on your blog by adding the button linking back to this post. If you have other ideas for disposable products people can ditch, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Thanks and good luck!

I’ll host a few check in posts (every other Sunday if I can remember) throughout the two months so everyone can stop by and say how they are doing, and offer support and/or tips to others as well. Together we can Ditch the Disposables!

*When I say “ditch,” please know that I don’t mean throw them away. I want you to try making a lifestyle change from a disposable product you use regularly. If you want to save your disposables until the challenge is over, that’s your prerogative. You might also consider Freecycling them or donating them to a local charitable organization. I do suggest that whichever product(s) you choose to give up, you pack away until the challenge is over, lest you be tempted to use it/them.

Edited to add: For help kicking the paper towels habit, check out my post on SKOY cloths (with a giveaway).

Making menstruation a little greener

Since I’m still trying to get my vacation summary post put together (hundreds of pictures from two different cameras take a long time to sift through let me tell you), I thought I’d talk about something else that has been on my mind lately. It may be TMI for some, but I’m not letting that stop me, so consider yourself warned. The topic is menstruation and reusable menstrual products.

Photo courtesy Greencolander
Photo courtesy Greencolander

Thanks to breastfeeding, I had many, many moons free of periods after Julian’s birth, but now my cycles are back I’ve been trying for the last few months to get the hang of using a Moon Cup. I am not a fan of disposable diapers for many reasons including the fact that they fill up the landfills, and don’t feel that disposable menstrual pads are much better ecologically either. So in the name of green living, I decided to try out a Moon Cup from Glad Rags that I received (while I was pregnant with Julian) to review. It’s just taken me a long time to get to doing that review (and I’m still not ready yet).

Truth be told, I’ve never been fond of tampons and have avoided using them except on rare occasions. I’ve just never liked the way they felt and preferred to use pads instead. So I have been a little reticent about trying to make the switch from pads to a cup that must be inserted and I haven’t found my happy place with it yet. I find it often feels like it’s falling out or it actually does slip down and starts to come out. Maybe I’m not inserting it high enough? Maybe my va-jay-jay isn’t right for a Moon Cup?

Any experienced Moon Cup, Diva Cup or Keeper users want to chime in? Has anyone gone from being a pad user to a cup user with success? I need success stories to motivate me to keep at this.

I’ve also considered using mama cloth (reusable cloth pads), but I’m not sure I want to go that route. I already wash cloth diapers on a weekly basis and am not sure I want to add cloth pads to the laundry list too. The Moon Cup would certainly be a whole lot less maintenance if I can get more comfortable with using it.

So what say you? I need advice. And if you don’t use reusable menstrual products, would you consider them? Once I get better with my Moon Cup I plan to have a challenge and a giveaway to help motivate you to give it a try too.

Help me have a happy, green period. ;oP

And while we’re on this subject, have you donated to Goods 4 Girls – a program to help young women in Africa gain access to better menstrual product – yet?

A very, very crunchy weekend

As if throwing my very first zero-waste party tomorrow (Ava’s 4th birthday party which I plan to blog about it in detail another time) wasn’t enough, Golden Showers Garden PartyI’ve also decided to participate in Crunchy Chicken’s latest challenge. You know what one I’m talking about? No? It involves um, ah, errrr, basically watering your garden with diluted urine. Yep, you read that right. Apparently it’s really good for the plants. Something about the nitrogen. Free organic fertilizer. You can’t beat that, right? I figured I couldn’t very well call myself crunchy if I couldn’t participate in this. (The urine has to be diluted – 1 part urine to 10 parts water.)

I joked that I could ask all of the party guests to pee in a bucket and I’d haul it back to my house (gives a whole new meaning to “zero-waste”, huh?), but um, NO. I’m NOT going there. ;oP So if you are coming to the party, don’t worry. I’m NOT going to ask you for your urine. LOL You can keep your pee for your own garden. πŸ˜‰

Are you up for the challenge? You know you want to. πŸ˜‰ (I can picture several of you squirming in your seats right now at the very thought.) Well, if urine you’re in, there’s still time to sign up over at Crunchy Chicken’s place. And let me know urine you’re in too by leaving a comment here. I’d like to know I’ll be in good company. πŸ™‚

Buying Nothing – an update

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008At the beginning of the month I wrote about joining the Buy Nothing challenge sponsored by Crunchy Chicken for the month of April. The rules are simple, buy only necessities to live – basically food and gas – for the month.

It really hasn’t been all that hard for me to keep from spending, since I don’t buy much outside of food as it is. There are a few things I’ve been wanting to buy, like new sun hats for the kids and a jacket for Ava, but I’m holding off for now though I may look at the consignment shops, since buying used items if you really need them is allowed.

The part I’ve found particularly challenging is staying away from takeout food, which we generally have once or twice a week. While Crunchy Chicken says going out to eat is OK, depending on where you go, etc., takeout food, because of the amount of waste produced, is off limits. It’s been a challenge for me to cook dinner every night (and I can often be found complaining about it on Twitter), but with the exception of one meal out at the start of the challenge and one trip to Taco Bell (I know, I know and I confessed it) last week, I’m proud of myself at how well I’ve done.

Not only is this challenge keeping us from producing unnecessary waste, it’s saving us money, which I’m really appreciating.

There’s still time to join in for the last two weeks of the month. Head on over to Crunchy Chicken and sign up. Or if you are feeling really adventurous, check out her Extreme Eco Throwdown challenge for the month of May. You might notice even I haven’t signed up yet. I’m still procrastinating trying to figure out what I want to commit to. πŸ˜‰

Edited to add: I just remembered that I am going to spend some money this weekend. My friends and I are having a moms’ night out tomorrow (woot!) and Sunday is my anniversary (7 years), so Jody and I will probably take the kids out to eat to celebrate that day. So I’m not perfect, but I’m trying. πŸ˜‰

I ain’t buyin’ it

When I saw Crunchy Chicken’s latest challenge – Buy Nothing (with the exception of food, medications or other essentials) for the month of April – I said heck yeah, I am down with that! I’d actually been considering joining Mamas on The Compact for a two-month stint, but figured this would be a little bit easier and a good trial run for me since it’s just for a month. (And I’m a little chicken nervous about committing to longer than that, especially since summer is coming up and we might be planning a couple trips.)Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008

Of course, wouldn’t you know it, the very first day (April 1st) I ran into a dilemma with the challenge. The kids and I went to pick up Jody from work and decided to go out to eat before heading home. But hmmm, is going out to eat allowed I wondered? It’s food, which is allowed, but the act of going out to eat does seem sort of extravagant. Too bad I didn’t have Crunchy Chicken on my speed dial. Decisions, decisions.

As luck would have it, the first two places we tried to go were closed anyway. The first was Alexander’s, my favorite healthy Mexican food place in Boulder, which has apparently gone out of business. πŸ™ What’s up with that?

Next we tried Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli because we had a coupon. We parked two blocks away, fed the meter, then walked over only to find a note on the door – “Closed at 3 p.m. today for company meeting.” On April Fool’s Day of all days. I thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t.

I decided the fates were conspiring against us and a dinner out was not in the card and was ready to just give up and head home when we passed a health-conscious restaurant called Turley’s that includes some local food and organics on their menu. I commanded Jody, “Just go to Turley’s,” and he did. πŸ™‚

After all of that, I’d like to say that we had a nice, relaxing dinner, but in reality the kids were tired, Julian was not content to sit in a high chair, and the whole meal was very rushed (but tasty).

Feeling a bit guilty about my possible failure on the very first day, I sent Crunchy Chicken an email asking for clarification if going out to dinner counted as food or not. She said she was a little unsure about that herself, but basically concluded that it can be allowed but it depends on where you go, what you are eating and that no disposable packaging is involved. So, McDonald’s (eww anyway) – definitely a no. A restaurant with healthy food and no disposable takeout containers – OK. I can deal with that. I will confess that we brought home a small cardboard container on Tuesday, but I recycled it.

If you feel you are up to the challenge, you can still join. Head on over and sign up to Buy Nothing. If you absolutely need something non-edible or not essential to growing your own food or for your survival, you must acquire it by borrowing, bartering or buying it used. If you buy something new that is non-essential, Crunchy Chicken will have a Sunday Confessional post for everyone to spill the beans.

Good night and good luck. πŸ™‚

20 minutes makes a better butter

I’ve been reading a few more crunchy blogs lately and have been inspired to expand upon my own crunchiness by making my own butter. Crunchy Chicken made it sound easy peasy on her other blog Crunchy Chicken Cooks, and my friend Julie also tried it with much success, so I decided we should have a go at it ourselves.

All you need to make your own butter is:

  1. A pint of heavy whipping cream
  2. A Mason jar with a lid

Then shake, shake, shake your way to delicious fresh butter.

Before:
Cream

The helpers shake it up:
Ava making butter - 2/9/08 Julian making butter 2/9/08

After:
The finished product - butter!

And on some homemade blueberry bread (made with the buttermilk that is leftover from making the butter):
Blueberry bread with fresh butter

I’d never had fresh butter before, but it really is delicious! πŸ™‚

We speculate that the cream we got from our local dairy was not heavy whipping cream because it actually took us longer than 20 minutes to make the butter. The first time I thought it was because we let the kids help, but the second time I did most of the shaking myself and it still took a lot longer than 20 minutes. I think the next time I’m just going to pick up a pint of organic heavy whipping cream at the store.

You can read the full step by step instructions with pictures on Crunchy Chicken’s cooking blog. The last step that is optional (and that she did not include) is to add some salt to it if you prefer salted butter.

Next up for the Crunchy Domestic Goddess is making yogurt! I just need to get myself a candy thermometer and then I’m all over it. πŸ™‚

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Also, just want to add that I’m writing for Blissfully Domestic now as the “Eco Diva.” My first post all about recycling is up today!

And while you are blog hopping, check out AllTop.com, a new project by Guy Kawasaki “that provides ‘all the top’ stories for 40 of the most popular topics on the Web. The headlines and first paragraph of the five most recent stories from 40 to 80 sources for each topic are displayed.”