Monday, July 2, 2012

Hay -- Time to Lay A New Foundation

Grass Hay for the Coop's Foundation.                                                              Photo credit: Keith Skelton

I needed some more straw for the floor of the coop so I stopped by the local feed store today.

"I'm looking for a bag of straw for my girls," I said to the woman standing behind the counter, the one whom I'm starting to think of as a friend, even though I don't know her name.

"Straw. Sure you want straw?" she asked while leaning on one elbow and scribbling some figures on a white pad of paper.

I scraped at the wooden floor with the tip of my shoe and thought for a moment.  "Well, I normally use pine shavings . . ."

She looked up at me with surprise.

"They do get a little pricey over time. . ." I confessed.

She nodded her head in agreement.

"I use hay or grass," she offered, matter-of-factly, with a smile that looked like she had known this bit of knowledge for years. "It makes clean-up a whole lot easier. And, the girls like to eat the grass, too."

Eating grass covered with poop? A disgusting visual popped in my mind. I shook my head to release it.  "Ah . . . sounds unique," I said, leery.

"What kind would ya' like?" she asked, not picking up my leeriness.

That's what I like about people in feed stores. They have all the answers for us "newbie" chicken farmers and they know it. She pointed to the white board on the wall behind her. The names of hays, grasses and straws were written on it with their pricing beside them.

"Well, I'll be," I said, "I never realized there were so many types of hay and grass." I perused the list. Barley, alfafa, timothy, orchard grass, red clover, fescue and bermuda-grass. Bermuda grass? I just ripped out my front lawn because that blankety-blank bermuda grass had taken over.

My face must have registered confusion because she said," Grass hay's my favorite."

Gotta trust the professionals, I thought to myself. "Grass hay, it is. Give me a bale."

Trusting the professionals is exactly what I did earlier in the day at the local building materials store. I am about to put in a flagstone path in my front yard. Yesterday, the dated concrete pathway was broken up and taken to the dump. Today, I needed to buy the materials.

"What's the best way to install flagstone?" I asked.

"Three inches or road base topped off with an 1" of sand, and then the flagstone," said a strapping man standing behind the building materials counter.

"What the heck's road base?" I asked.

He looked at me as if I was a little daft. Road base is exactly as it sounds-- a layer of aggregate underneath a road; it helps stabilize it.

"It's the best way to lay flagstone," he said. "The only problem is plants won't root in it."

Whoops. A stabile path or thyme-filled negative space between flagstones? I calculated the design difference in my head.  "But, you can put in decomposed granite or some nice stones, instead," he offered. He pointed to boxes filled with small stones and decomposed granite. "Many of those stones will work."

I deleted the fresh smell of trampled thyme in my mind and said, "Road base it is."  I ordered up a ton of base and topping of sand.

The two were delivered this afternoon,  just as I pulled up into my driveway with my truck's bed filled with grass hay.

Road base, grass hay.

Two new materials to improve foundations at my house.

Now, if I can stay directed on a new foundation for myself. (And, I'm not talking about the Bobbie Brown or Clinique kind).

Changing careers mid-life ain't easy. In fact, changing anything mid-life isn't easy. It seems that as we age we take less risks, get more set in our ways, and are less willing to break out of our boxes.

Flexibility's the key, I learned. Like the bamboo that bows and flexes in the wind, learning to bend has its advantages. So does asking a lot of questions and trusting the people who have done it before.

Journeys of change often stray from the perfect path. We can plan all we want, think through every detail, outline every action. But, it takes following the heart. Read that, again. It takes following the heart. It also requires giving in and having faith that the universe will step in and make it work out the way it's supposed to, even if it's off your well-thought-out path.

Journeys of change require believing in yourself and not second guessing. There's simply no room for fear.

And, journeys of change are often easier to begin outward and then work in. Because if the ground all around you is solid and firm, a new foundation is easier to build.

Grass hay, road base, and a new career.

Looks like it's going to be one heck of a good year.

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