Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Chickens!

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For some reason I never blogged it but back in April I'd gotten 5 new chicks to add to my flock of aging hens. I've only been getting 3-4 eggs a day so thought it was time to add in some new ones. In the past three months I've also lost some from the old flock, Boots the rooster was killed by some critter or maybe Chip (the original rooster) back in March. Then in July, the friendliest hen of the bunch, Waffle, died suddenly. In mid-August another hen died. All the others have been fairly healthy as far as I can tell. I sure hate to see them die.

Today, I decided to go ahead and let the new chicks mingle in with the older flock and so far it's been smooth sailing. I expect a bit of conflict but at 5 months the new girls are every bit as big as the older hens and should be able to take care of themselves. They'll figure out their new pecking order before too long.

Oh, they are Columbian Wyandotte, a very pretty breed, mostly white feathers but with a bit of black around the neck and tail that date back to 1893. Here's a shot from May with my niece Emma holding one in my cabin. I'd raised the Guineas back in the summer of 2009 but this is my first batch of chickens to raise. All the others had been raised by Kerry, Greg and the kids.

Based on my experience thus far it looks like I'll be adding 3-5 new hens each year to replace hens that have stopped laying and/or hens that have died. I think though that I'm pretty happy with this sized flock, which is 15 chickens and 2 guineas. Seems about perfect.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Being a one man shop

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This was actually written for the blog on my freelance Mac consulting/web design gig, MacProductive but I thought I'd cross post it here as I'd guess some of the folks that read a site about homesteading might also be interested in making a living doing freelance type work as they seem to mesh together pretty well. I suppose it's meant to just provide a bit of a taste of what the workflow is like for anyone who's not taken the leap but is thinking of it. I may do a few more similar posts, filling in a few details on the things a freelancer has to think about and do.

MacProductive is not a multi-person business. I do it all. Track invoices, meet clients, code css, set-up tables in FileMaker, set appointments, design graphics in Photoshop, write some content, track project status, remind clients when they've not gotten me something I need, slop the hogs and more. Just kidding about the hogs but I do have a small flock of chickens! Going it alone requires organization and a willingness to develop a large skill set. No doubt it is a challenge but it also keeps things interesting.

Oh, and I should offer a bit of context, in this small town setting most of my work is with small business owners, many of which are not all that tech savy. More than a few of them do little more than check email and browse the web. Several of them only have Facebook accounts because a family member insisted and set it up. They are usually middle aged or older and so busy with their businesses that they've not taken the time to really learn what computers and web technologies have to offer.

Here's an example workflow for one of my recent web projects. First, of course, meeting the client. In this particular case I heard from a friend that they were interested in having me do a site so I stopped into their shop when I was in town. Just as often contact is via email or a phone call. Luckily I dropped in at a time when they could actually spend some time meeting so I didn't have to reschedule a return trip for the initial consult.

We spent time discussing the content and design of the site they wanted as well as the domain name. I set a time to return for some photos. We discussed fees and payment and I was on my way.  A two days later I emailed them an initial design with some basic content written up and in place. A day later I returned for a follow-up meeting/progress report and to take pictures. We refined the text, filled a few gaps, settled on a domain name and I was on my way.

By the following day I'd set-up the domain name and hosting (which I will manage for them, remind them of payments due... another responsibility for me), refined the text and processed images. At this point I fine tuned the design of the site, photoshopped a few images and then uploaded the site. Over the weekend I made a few more refinements and submitted to Google. The following week stopped in again. At that point the site is, essentially, finished. Time to drop off an invoice. Over the next month or so I'll monitor Google and if the business owner can coordinate with his daughter who manages his personal facebook account, we'll get a business page set-up and linked to. Total time on project: about 7 hours and another hour at the shop talking, over the course of about a week.

Apps used to get it all done: Coda, Transmit, iPhoto, TextEdit and Photoshop to put the site together.  iCal for setting meetings/reminders and FileMaker Pro for invoicing.

 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011