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Backyard Chickens Part Two

The trek into having chickens has become more informative. For the City of Portland, a permit for chickens is only required if you have 4 or more chickens. It is suggested that you follow the guidelines for having 4 or more chickens even if you have less, just in case you want to have more later. Plan ahead, in other words!

The City of Portland decides the code and Multnomah County enforces the code. The basic requirements are that the coop’s outer reaches (the chicken’s enclosure) is not less than 15 feet from your neighbors home. Although the requirement is quite flexible, it is suggested that you keep the coop on your property and contact all neighbors within 200 feet of the chicken enclosure. Keep the odors under control, and don’t feed the chickens things that will attract rats.

For more information, check out the following links:

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Recognizing a good deal

Something about where we are, in the land of over priced housing and expensive food, is interesting. People here generally recognize a good deal when they see one. Sure, you say, every place has that. Maybe what makes this place unique is the use of the internet to facilitate meeting with those interested and those offering the good deal.

Pete peruses Craig’s List … hourly sometimes. He looks at tools, free stuff, and cars. If he ventures out of these categories, it’s rare. (When I look at Craig’s List, I look at housing.) Today, in the wee hours of the morning, he saw a 1999 Grand Am going for $500. The ad posted it has transmission problems. If we had $500 we’d have made a call because an interim solution could have been taking the transmission out of our Grand Am and putting it in the newer car with more leg room and storage room and maybe have seats that actually adjust. The 1999 listing was pulled sometime this afternoon. It took less than 12 hours for the car to be sold.

When we purchased our Grand Am, we knew it was a steal. Pete sold me on the fact that his dad is a former GM engineer, and every car he, his brother, and his dad worked on was some mutation of the Grand Am. Not only that, but that’s basically all his brother’s owned, and they’ve pulled three or four engines and replaced them on various Grand Ams. Total rebuilds were old hat for this car. The listing we saw in November 2006 wanted the car gone for $275, they admitted it didn’t run and didn’t know what was making the poor car just sit there. We scooted over to that house, 20 miles away, as quickly as we could. We were fourth in line or so. We knew we had to act fast. Pete was satisfied with the initial checking out of the car, and as soon as we were certain, we called and said yes please we want this car. We bought the car for $270 (they didn’t have proper change). We didn’t get moving on fixing it right away because it wasn’t needed. In February, just after Levi was born, we got the Grand Am running and since then it has been our main care of use. It should be noted that it averages 25 miles per gallon, and when we went to the coast Father’s Day, it got 32mpg. We haven’t seen that good of a deal on Craig’s List since.

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Levi into the second year

It may seem quite vain or maybe that we’re putting Levi at a disadvantage by dedicating so much time to him. But, I will justify it that most of his family is over 2,500 miles away, and making these videos is not only fun for me but a way to communicate how he’s growing. I am justified, right? It’s not like we’re one of those parents who literally idolizes their kiddos, because that’s just wrong.

Anyway, here’s another video of Levi because I like making them.

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Gender Roles

Generally speaking, I do enjoy doing the ‘domestic thing’ to take care of my family. I like vacuuming, I enjoy a clean bathroom, and I can’t ‘breath’ unless my kitchen is clean. I really enjoy preparing food, and folding laundry often appeases my meticulous side. Comforting children, especially our little bug, comes naturally as does offering comfort to others. Given this perspective, it’s easy to understand why women are often the ‘care givers’ and men the so-called ‘providers’. But, I’m also wired such that I need recognition for the work I do, and sometimes thank you isn’t enough. Re-realizing this about myself makes me wonder about all the women out there, the feminist movement, and why some women elect to keep a not so clean house.

Other thoughts that spiral through my mind when seeing what I need or would like to help motivate me to do these sometimes mundane tasks makes me understand why my mother is always so quick to help another woman in the kitchen at group events, like Thanksgiving. Her understanding or perspective of dislike for dish chores motivates her to relieve others from the task. She may not be the best cook, but she will ensure your dishes come out of the wash spotless.

Is this perspective a reason why women congregate in the kitchen? After keeping house for some period of time, one becomes quite familiar with what needs to be done to get the meal on the table. A generous desire for helping people, fraternization, and community are maybe the ingredients to the recipe. I’m sure many of us have visions of the women in children in the kitchen during these family gatherings while the men are around the boob-tube watching the latest NFL game or outside sipping their beers and smoking their cigarettes and cigars. Is it simply knowing what needs to be done that keeps women in the kitchen while ignorance of what needs to be done keeps men out of it?

There are men I know who are more at the ready to help in the kitchen and offer help than other women I know. If it’s simply familiarity with the task that divides who stays where, then that could serve an answer. Is there a deeper role that we play? This is certainly a question that philosophers have pondered in varying forms (gender roles, occupational roles, etc.) and I certainly don’t hope to find all the answers. Although, I am interested to hear differing perspectives.

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Where can I find local fruit (food!)?

Here, in the fertile Willamette Valley, we are spoiled by great harvests. A question that seems to interest people, especially in the summer time is, “Where can I go to get good, local (and organic) fruits and vegetables (food)?” My family, in particular, is in interested in cutting food costs without sacrificing nutrition. So, how can we do that?

Monique Dupré has created her own system of how to do that by buying locally, making arrangements with local meat, dairy, and fruit/vegetable suppliers all with a mix of some internet shopping. She brags that she only spends $65/month at the grocery store. To learn more about how she does things and to sign up for a workshop, visit her website ‘Sustainable Living on a Budget‘.

Living in Portland for 5 years has taught me the following:

  • Uncle Paul’s (SE 23rd & SE Hawthorne Blvd) offers year round local produce in his open-air tent at great prices.
  • Sauvie Island farmers offer many U-pick fields where you can purchase your fruits and vegetables at a fraction of the grocery cost.
  • We picked 6.25 lbs of blueberries from Sauvie Island Farms Saturday for $10.15. This yielded over 20 cups of blueberries, 18 of which is portioned in 2 & 3 cup bags in the freezer, with the 2 remaining cups divvied into pancakes and snacks.
  • Sheridan Fruit Company is going green, and they are still the best place in town for grains. Visit them for discounts when buying in bulk, especially flours and oats.
  • Cherry Sprout Produce (formerly Big City Produce) on N Albina & N Sumner
  • Co-ops around town including Food Front, People’s, and Alberta
  • Fruit stands around town… keep on the lookout! Two I know of off hand, SE Foster & SE 80th across from Fred Meyer & SE 28th between SE Steele & SE Bybee.
    • Farmer’s markets… not only do farmer’s markets serve as a great place to gather good food in one place, most of the markets give out free literature including recipes and why buying local and hormone free is important. If you can stand the crowds, visit, learn and eat tasty treats.

    When shopping for food, it’s important to remember that buying local is actually better than buying organic. “Why?” you may ask.

    Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s more evident now with rising gas costs, but one reason for buying local is to ensure food security. If something were to happen to our transportation system (such as exorbitant gas prices) and food couldn’t be shipped the 1500 average miles food is currently shipped to get to our plates, what would we eat? We need to ensure demand for local food so that we will have local food to eat.

    Secondly, buying local keeps money local instead of shipping it off to Kroger or the Walton’s. It’s been said that for every dollar spent locally, it puts two dollars back into the local economy supporting jobs and simply people.

    Third, we have more control over local food. Remember what happened to Tribal Sun a few years ago when they didn’t use organic tomatoes but said they did? New Seasons quickly pulled the product from the shelves, and the product wasn’t on the shelves for about 12 months until they seemingly remedied the problem. If Kroger’s brand of organic doesn’t really use organic vegetables, how quickly do you think the items would be pulled from the shelves?

    Eating great local food is often as simple as walking around your neighborhood to see who’s selling what. I would love to hear comments from people who have other ideas on how to save on primary sourced foods. Email me with your suggestions!

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    One Year

    Last year, July 19, 2007, my family was rudely awakened to the horrors of domestic violence.

    Peter and I were barely working between the two of us, he had been laid off and with struggles feeding Levi I was barely pulling 5 hours a week. We were at the DHS office applying for food stamps when Peter got the call that yes indeed TriMet was offering him a job. We had been at the DHS office since 7:20am and we finally got home close to 10:30am. We barely set our things down, relieved that there was more money in our future and we could at least buy food for our small family when the phone rang. It was my mother. It was one of those phone calls where you just know something is wrong, and how wrong it was. She asked if I was sitting down, and I think I sat down. She didn’t wait to tell me and simply said, “Cristi is dead.”

    My sister. Step-sister to be truly accurate, my sister who is the same age as me, only three months younger. My sister who promptly finished college to begin teaching children who have difficulty learning was dead. She had no health problems, so we all knew the story was only going to get worse. Her boyfriend, Joseph Frees, killed her. Their bodies were found in the bedroom that morning after Cristi failed to show up for volleyball practice. Her mother was phoned and prayed the entire way to her house, “God, please don’t let me find what I know I am going to find.” The lights were on and the cars where in the drive, but of course no one answered. Cheri used a cooler to climb through the kitchen window, and she was the one to find her daughter murdered and the boyfriend dead too.

    Joe and Cristi worked together. Joe served as the athletic trainer while Cristi taught and coached. It’s not surprising they found common interests. I hate that I have no good memories of him. Others do, and I suppose that is some comfort. But, for me, it’s one of those situations where I knew he was no good for Cristi.

    A murder-suicide in my family. Such horrid violence that one usually only hears about on T.V. while watching an inflated drama like that of S.V.U. has waded itself into my family. I couldn’t believe that Domestic Violence would be a part of my family. It’s something that only happens to other people right? This time, though, the other people was us. My family splashed on the front cover of the local newspapers in Grand Rapids. My family’s story for all to read. It couldn’t be a private event because Cristi affected so many.

    After we got home, I met with a local shelter group to discuss ideas for planning an event. Soon, though, I realized that with school commitments that I would not have the time to arrange something that I wanted to be on a grand scale to raise awareness about Domestic Violence. But, then I pledged to myself that I would attempt it for another year. So, the new goal became by 2009. The initial idea was to raise money and split the funds between shelters in the Portland area, and then the idea expanded to paying off Cristi’s debts.

    This goal needs to be revisited.