Sunday, August 21, 2011

So We Built It!

Well, actually my brother built it. I just spent the morning holding "this," handing him "that," and finding his pencil, which he couldn't ever find when he set it down. But all in all, I'd say he did a very respectable job and this should provide a fine home for a couple of new girls for a month. All we have to do is find a couple of residents.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

If You Build It

... they will come.

We lost our older two red hens, Ruby and Lucy, during this past year. They were wonderful, sweet, hard-working girls. We rather miss their very sweet little chicken personalities, but truthfully, what we miss the most are the eggs. Our three remaining hens are laying and all, but just not as aggressively as those one-egg-each-day red hens.

Seems Betty and LoisandMarge (still can't tell them apart) have been s-l-o-w this summer. And in a way, who can blame them? This summer's long spells of hot, hot, hot weather, horribly humid weather, and rainy weather haven't exactly made it great to be a chicken in Minnesota. So these days we are getting, oh, an egg or so a day. Sometimes even two! More often we get zero.

Betty is 3 years old, and so we don't expect a lot from her (egg-laying slows down considerably after age 2). But LoisandMarge, just over one year old, are in their laying prime and should be giving us at least 4-5 eggs a week each. They're not. All three of them seem to be very happy and healthy, so we are not sure what the deal is. What we are sure of is that we'd like to be getting a few more eggs. And the only way to achieve this is to beef up our flock a bit.

We've started with chicks the last couple of times we added to our flock. Chickies are beyond cute and all, but they are labor-intensive. And the 22-24 weeks you have to wait for them to mature and start laying turn out to be some of the longest weeks of your life. So this time I'm looking for a couple of pullets, at or near point-of-lay.

Step one: Seems there are a few pullets to be had fairly locally on Craigslist. But all chicken owners know that the answer to the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg is neither: it's the coop. We already have a fine, spacious coop and run, but all new chickens must be quarantined for 30 days before assimilation. So adding a couple of hens means providing temporary housing for them for a month. So ...

Step two: Attempt to build one weatherproof chicken tractor. Items needed: scrap wood, chicken wire or hardware cloth, and the building skills of one brother.

If we are successful at step two, we can go back and pursue step one.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

You Gotta Have a Hook

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I don't like church marketing.

Marketing the church (trying to make it into something attractive for those who are not in it) is, as I have noted elsewhere, trying to sell something that's not for sale. And in many (if not most) cases, these marketing strategies direct us to all the things not needful.

Most church bodies market themselves these days,it seems. As east-coast American folk singer Jon Gailmore once sang, "You gotta have a hook to have a hit." And it seems the "hook" is different for different church bodies. Catholics tend to use guilt as their hook to get folks to come to church (hardly effective in this day and age if you ask me). Evangelicals tend to use "relevance" as their hook. Lutherans like the "Word alone" approach - which as far as I've ever been able to tell is not even Scriptural, funny enough. It seems that the Orthodox gravitate toward either sappy emotionalism or bookish fantasy/mysticism hooks (among other things).

But at least the Episcopalians call it what it is: The Church Ad Project. Anyone who has worked for any Christian church for 25 years knows that they make the best use of witty and clever pop-advertising (though who uses posters anymore? I can only hope that these days they've moved from posters to email ads or at least something people actually see). I still look at their catalogs every once in awhile for a good laugh. But in a way, that's precisely the point - and precisely the problem.

I don't do much blog-reading anymore (or blogging, either, for that matter), but having awakened way too early this morning, I thought I'd have a look at a couple of blogs I haven't visited in awhile - including this one. And I must say that I loved his post about kitchy church signs, most notably, this comment:

"If Jesus were to appear before you in all His glory, you would not greet Him in a relaxed manner. You would not call Him your Homeboy. You would not point to Him and say "there's my co-pilot." And you would not try to make him laugh by exercising some terrible pun as His majesty shone around you.

Instead, you would fall on your face and wet your pants. Because our God is a consuming fire."

Exactly. And if the church - any church - were really honest, that's the sort of thing they'd put on their church signs.

But I'm guessing that's not going to happen any time soon.

Thank you, Pastor Feine, for this reflection (and the entertaining little vid!).