The fortress was cracked open.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

As I am sure our readers are well aware that the Winter's are about to pack up the Winter Stead and hit the road. We hope to find ourselves in some type of mobile something or other (RV). We know it might be a pain to travel with two cats but they are coming with us. Our chickens though are not so lucky, we can not travel with them. 

So today I am going to share the recipe we used to fry them up... Just kidding!!

We found them a home. They are with Kayla’s cousin who has a large piece of land and plenty of other chickens for them to play with. I know that sounds like something you tell the kids when their pet dies but really we did not eat the chickens. 

At first I thought I would be just fine, they are after all just chickens. But when the time came we were all a little sad to see them go. And though I know that they are just chickens I think they were sad to go too. 

I had the hardest time getting them out of their coop. You see when they were just little yellow bitties we handled them a lot. Little Lou had a wonky foot so we had to wrap her foot every day to try and turn it the right way around. I do not know if it helped but after a while it looked better and she was able to get around all right, so I am glad we tried. 

In the beginning we kept them inside the basement and would let them outside on nice days. But we lived surrounded by woods with all types of animals that would eat our chickens and a fortress needed to be built. 

Once we put them up in their fortress it was their home. They did not come out after that and they were not accustom to being handled any more. It was not all bad that they were stuck in their home. It was a nice home. I have never built a chicken coop before but I know how to cut a board and swing a hammer so we got to building. 

Well we tried to. It was hard as we had no money. 

Luckily we had friends and family. Kayla’s aunt and uncle had a lot of used wood in their yard so we went hunting. It was all a bit old some from an old restaurant some from an old house and some leftovers from when the sawmill was up and running. Though no two pieces were the same we had all we needed to build our chicken fortress. So for the next few days I pieced together my reclaimed parts and made my chickens a home. 

It was small, not too small for our four chickens but small. It was solid, I had climbed all over that thing before I had finished it. It was not pretty but we had some old, barn red paint left over from a job we had done not long ago. Nothing was getting in there, not even the dog next door who would try any time she got lose. 

It was a good home and they did not want to leave it. So I had to tear it down. The outside pen that was attached to the coop that I had wrapped in hardware mesh had to be ripped open. As I undid the seam I had sewn in the mesh I thought of the blood I had spilled when had I first sewn it. When I went for them though they ran from me in to the safety of their fortress. 

We thought we had a good idea, we would wait 'till after dark when they went to roost and pull them out then. So we waited for the night and when it came we went to grab the birds. Normally they are heavy sleepers not tonight though, they heard me coming and they ran. As small as the coop was I could not just reach inside and grab them. The thing was made to keep things out and that meant me as well. So the only thing I could do was rip the roof off. 

I remembered how heavy the shingles were when I had to carry them around the house the first time, and that was not just a plywood roof either... that would have been too easy. All I had left after the walls and floor was some heavy old 2x6. I mean old like when a 2x6 was really 2x6. 

So I squatted low next to the overhang and with a grunt I shot up. It creaked and popped in protest but it gave. I stood over the chicken coop like some kind of giant. The birds hid in the corner like frightened, well.. chickens. One by one I plucked them up from the once safe coop and placed them in their cages for transport. 

Then they were gone. The birds we had raised from little yellow tufts of fur. Who gave me fresh eggs for breakfast even through the cold winter months. Who I feed and watered every day. The birds I had cursed with every crowing come the dawn. The coop, their once impenetrable fortress, sat cracked open like one of the many eggs we collected from the comfortable nesting boxes.

It was part madness part inexperience and it looked like it. When I built it I stood as proud as a new father standing above his new born babe. Now my triumph looks like the day after the storm. The sunrise came today without pomp and fanfare. I slept till noon and when I jumped from bed and thought I had slept through my alarm I ran to the box were the chicken feed once was. Then I remembered that I had not slept through my alarm... but that my alarm was gone.

Change can be beautiful.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

This weekend was a good solid reminder that we are getting ready to embark on an awesome adventure. We had a huge yard sale, met some awesome people, and discovered a sunflower growing out of our now abandoned chicken coop!

After reading an article by Technomadia about shedding your stuff and releasing the anchors, we decided to hold a huge yard sale. It was weird to see all of our hand picked, once loved items placed across my mother's front yard but we knew that we wont have room for these belongings on our RV.

We sold most of our stuff and are planning to have a second yard sale to get rid of the rest of it.

Do you remember our post about giving away our chickens? When we gave away our chickens and decided against planting our garden (because we would be gone before we got to harvest) we didn't think we would cultivate anything from our homestead this year.

To my surprise I glanced into the backyard and saw a beautiful sunflower growing up out of the abandoned chicken coop. We supplemented their feed with sunflowers, flax seed, corn, and other various goodies. The natural compost that was left from their waste was obviously enough to support the growth of this beautiful flower and I have to say it really made my day to find this!

Overall, what I thought would be a sad weekend turned out to be pretty beautiful! Change is hard, but sometimes it is needed for growth... just like the sunflower. If the chickens had been in their coop they would have eaten the seed.

In less than one week we will be gone from our "homestead" and we will be getting ready for the final steps before our departure in our RV. We have been through many emotions, and have learned so much already. As I type this I sit looking out of the large picture window in our living room, listening to the soft pitter-patter of the rain and I can only imagine the wonderful new places I will get to type our blog posts from in the near future!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for all of our new adventures that come from this beautiful change.

P.S.We feel that this journey has been better because we are together and I created a image to share on Facebook from a photo I took of us holding hands. (It's the image below) Just wanted to share that here!

How a tornado saved my life.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Two months before our wedding, on March 28th 2010, an EF3 tornado ripped down our street. Luckily we made it out alright, but I would never know that in the fifteen seconds it took for this storm to condemn our home my life would change forever.

Sunday, March 28th 2010 started out like any normal day. At this time in my life I only checked the weather when we were going to be outside for the day or I would catch it while Robert was getting ready for work. While we were eating dinner that night, a fierce thunderstorm came up. We had employed a new Sunday tradition where we would eat dinner at the table without television, and because I didn't think to look at the weather forecast we had absolutely no warning what-so-ever...

After dinner, while the storm was still raging outside I went upstairs to set up a family card game and the power went out. Immediately I heard what sounded like a train and starting yelling: "TORNADO.. GET IN THE BATHROOM, GET IN THE BATHROOM". My family made it to the bathroom under the stairs just in the nick of time and for at-least 15 seconds while the tornado was coming down our street directly towards our home we heard the loudest noise I've ever heard in my entire life.

The scariest part about the entire tornado was the unexpected. Once the violent noise ceased we didn't know what we would find when we opened the bathroom door. Because the uproar was so loud it literally sounded like part of our house was being ripped off.

We did come out of it alive, and to our surprise the tornado that was headed towards our home like a magnet made a b-line around our home and continued through our backyard. In the video below, which I found online a few months after the tornado, at 1:05 you see transformers blow, those were in our neighborhood.

You cannot tell by looking at the "tornado damage" photo but every single glass pane was broken, the back side of our garage was blown off, my mothers car (sitting in the top photo on the left side with the blue tarp over it) had been picked up by the tornado and spun around. The trees on the roof fell directly into our teenaged sons room and water immediately began seeping into the walls of our home (which eventually led to black mold).
click photo to enlarge

We moved from this home into a hotel room that our home owners insurance paid for and because the contractors moved so slowly we ended up living in that hotel for two months (up until the week before our wedding).

Little did I know the worst was yet to come. While the tornado only lasted for 15 seconds my life would continue to be in turmoil.

I didn't realize that tornadoes could form inside of any super-cell thunderstorm if the conditions were right and I had also never heard of a tornado in North Carolina, I thought tornadoes only happened in tornado alley...

I thought that it was my fault, because I didn't check the weather channel that morning, and every one we spoke to about it said "your area was under a tornado watch all day, didn't you realize"?

So, I found a weather radar app on my phone and quickly became obsessed with checking it everyday. This obsession turned ugly very quickly and to make a long story short within the next year I came to a point where I was checking the radar on my phone every 5
seconds when there was even a tiny speck of precipitation on the map.

This radar image was from the night of 3/28/10
We moved from the big house to a teeny tiny apartment, and when there was a 10% chance of precipitation I began planning my escape route. I would get my things ready and head out to the hospital to sit out the storm in the waiting room in-case I had a panic attack. My psychiatrist diagnosed me with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and started me on several anti-psychotic medications that were going to help me get over my fears.

I should probably back up, and give you a little bit of back-story.

When I was fourteen and after months of trying the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with me (I was having severe attacks in my upper stomach) my doctor said: "she is just depressed, and wants to get out of going to school.. let's get her started on some anti-depressants".

I started the medication, and months later found out that I had gallstones... I continued taking the medication and was still on it when the storm hit.

So.. back to the present, I've now been on anti-depressants for eight years and was displaying signs of bi-polar disorder, and now the doctors are giving me extremely high doses of anti-anxiety medications that made me fall asleep behind the wheel and created a zombie version of myself. They treated me like a guinea pig and tried every possible medication prescribed for PTSD. 

When the medicine didn't help, and my husband was at his wits end with me (because of the PTSD and OCD about any type of precipitation) we had a long talk and decided that I should try living without the medications. My doctor was infuriated at this choice that I made for myself, he said if I quit taking the pills he would refuse to see me.

I was on medication that I had to be weaned off of, I had family members who tried to quit taking the same medication (Effexor) cold turkey and had mini-strokes so I knew if I was going to come off of the meds it would have to be done properly. I told the doctor if he didn't help me wean off of the meds, I would sue him when I had a stroke.. so he helped me.

It took almost a year to completely wean off of the medications and even after I had taken my last pill it took months for the fog to wear off. Today I have been anti-psychotic medication free for over two years and I display no signs of depression, bi-polar, or PTSD. (Yes this is the short version of the story) ;) I can also dance in the rain again without worrying that a tornado would pick me up and carry me to Oz...

This tornado helped me learn that not every problem can be fixed with a pill and I also learned that when we make plans of our own mother nature has a way of putting our plans in perspective.

This tornado saved my life because like a great skin cleanser it brought my true problems to the surface and I had to deal with them. It brought my husband and myself closer together than we ever imagined two people could be because we had to work through our problem, even when his family tried to convince him to divorce me, and we learned that if we could make it through this storm... our relationship could survive anything.

If you have read this far I want to say thanks for bearing with me, this was a really long post but I wanted to share this part of my story.

Thanks for reading & remember to trust yourself. Your intuition is stronger than you think!

**Update 02/18/2018: I have now been anti-psychotic medication free for six years. While the medication did not work for me, because I misdiagnosed with depression, that does not mean you should stop taking your prescriptions. Learn to listen to your body and if you believe that your depression stems from a physical condition seek help.NEVER try to come off of anti-psychotic medications without doctors supervision. This is a personal recounting of my story. This is what worked for me. Period.***


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