“Can’t” isn’t a Four-Letter-Word

“Can I ask you about your accident?”, I asked diffidently. She had referred to “my accident” a couple of times, but I didn’t want to pry.

She nodded, wordlessly.

You might think now that I’m about to tell a sad story, but actually Susanne Whited’s story elicits more awe than tears.

The incident was a car accident, nothing you haven’t heard before. Susanne, an active young person with a physically demanding job, found herself permanently in a wheelchair, with limited use of her hands.

Don’t we all wonder what we would do if something like that happened to us? How would we manage?

Susanne managed by getting a job as an appointment setter with the Better Business Bureau. She couldn’t do her old job anymore, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t do any job.

“I’ve always been a very self-motivated person,” she explained.

She could still type, albeit slowly. She prefers to type to this day, rather than use dictation technology, and when her employer needed someone to work on flyers and other marketing materials, she volunteered.

She learned how to make effective marketing materials and then, when her employer needed someone to handle social media, she volunteered to do that too.

In time, she left that job and started a social media management business, My Business Tweets. My Business Tweets offers social media management for ‘solopreneurs’, people who run their own businesses with no staff and often don’t have time to manage their own social media and newsletters.

How does she do it (while also raising a child, incidentally)?  The answer is in the title of this post.

“I don’t look at my injury as adversity. I see it as an inconvenience,” she told me. “‘Can’t’ isn’t a four letter word. If there’s a will, there’s a way for almost everything, but don’t waste your time on your garbage.”

In other words, pick your battles and let people help you with other things. It’s good advice for all of us. We don’t have to do everything ourselves to accomplish our goals.

It’s a good life lesson, but also relates back to business. Maybe you’d like to use social media for your business, but don’t have time to set it up. Susanne can build the framework for you and let you do the connecting with consumers.

You can contact Susanne through the My Business Tweets website or by telephone at (920) 320-9608.


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Who does Junk Removal in Colorado Springs?

“Why on earth would anyone get into the junk removal business?”, I gracelessly asked Holger Jacks of Big Red Recycles & Hauls. (Big Red doesn’t have a website yet, but here is their Better Business Bureau page with contact information.)

“I’ve always scrapped junk & stuff. I figured I could replace my job,” Holger answered. He told me how he had worked for an insurance company that had moved to another state and  proposed allowing everyone in the closing Colorado Springs office to work from home … with active webcams allowing managers to watch them.

I don’t know about you, but that would drive me to reinvent my career too.

Holger bought a big red truck and registered Big Red Recycles & Hauls as a business. “If it had been a blue truck, it would have been ‘Big Blue Recycles & Hauls,” he says confidently.

“He gave himself that nickname years ago!”,  exclaims Ann, Holger’s charming wife, laughing.

Big Red started out doing a lot of recycling. Holger would pick up whatever trash customers gave him. Then he would break down the electronics, appliances and other manufactured items to reclaim their recyclable parts, like copper. He could sell those commodities for enough money to make it a significant part of his business.

Big Red sells scrap metal to bigger recyclers

Today, commodity prices are too low to make a significant income from from this kind of work, but junk removal is always in fashion. If you’ll think back to the last time you tried to move, you’ll know that is a true statement.

Holger, an Army veteran with a physical science degree, still recycles things, mainly by reselling parts and fixing items that can be re-sold. I figure he is a good contact for any homesteader. Many of us, myself included, like to collect parts for future use and often prefer to buy something used or refurbished from someone in the community rather than an expensive new one from a big box store.

He also collects compostables, like tree branches and Christmas trees, and composts them!

Honestly, I think the Jacks family are homesteaders themselves, though they don’t know it. They told me stories about carefully collecting the water from the shower to use in another system on the other side of the house. We do that kind of thing here on the Homestead. I bet you do too!

Holger reinforced this impression later in the interview. “It gives me a sense of accomplishment. I cleaned up a mess,” he explains about why he likes running this business. “I was able to take stuff that didn’t need to be dumped and turned it into something else.”

Big Red Recycles & Hauls can pick up junk or compostables you’ve already collected or you can rent a dumpster from them for a project. Call them at (719) 299-1733.

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Event Planner in Colorado Springs: Parties By Design

I like planning parties, but you need a real event planner to get something like this….

Photo Credit: About The Shot Photography

Photo Credit: About The Shot Photography (ATS is a local group that does sports photography, senior portraits and something adorable called “fairy photography”).

Where does one get a prince, princess, working carriage and real horses these days anyway?

I couldn’t tell you, but Debbie Simmons, owner of Parties By Design can. Debbie plans memorable parties; parties with fairy tale characters and horses, parties with mud races and mud pools for kids, even parties with another country as the theme.

Event Planner Colorado Springs

Debbie used to be a pastry chef for the Cheyenne Mountain Resort and she got started planning parties when someone asked her to make a cake for a sick child. She planned a whole party and got started on a new path.

“I love the reward when children walk in and see their party!”, she exclaims.

Her next event was a wedding and since then she has branched out. Visit her Facebook page to see pictures of baby showers, weddings, corporate parties and my personal favorite, a dance party for children.

Event Planner Colorado Springs-2

I’ve never hired a party planner and wondered how all of this works. It turns out that hiring an event planner is a little like hiring a general contractor. Debbie works with you to “design” the party.

“I like to design the parties based on the client,” she explains. She wants to know what you envision and what makes you happy.

At that point, Debbie plans the party. She does the invitations, makes party favors, gets a cake and hires anybody who needs to be hired, like a DJ or a Prince Charming. She manages the whole thing and then makes sure everyone gets paid. You get one invoice and only have to deal with one person.

She even makes sure all the toy horses show up on time.

She even makes sure all the toy (or real) horses show up on time.

Even though Debbie has some impressive parties on her resume, like Daddy-Daughter Date night at the local Chick-Fil-A and the kids area at the last Big Dog Brag Mud Run, you can hire her for smaller parties.

Contact her through by calling 719-510-3518 or via email at partiesbydesignco@gmail.com.


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How one local mobile auto repair guy saves you money

“This is an awesome way to serve people,” Lee Miller of Mobile Auto Works told me.

Mobile Auto Works Auto Repair

I’m always a little surprised when I meet people at how they are seldom what I expect. I expected Lee to be a guy who is primarily motivated by love of the work and by money.

I got it half right. Lee does love the work.

He told me how he went to school to get past the frustration of not knowing how cars worked. He had been working on them with his dad and wanted to know more.

“I’ve always been a car nut, a gearhead,” Lee explained. “My dad always fixed cars and I always got to help him. I think the most fun was when I got to turn the starter for him…” This memory led to a story about repeatedly testing the horn button until his dad sent him off to do something else.

Today Lee is satisfied he knows how horn buttons work and has turned his attention something else.


I don’t exactly mean customer service, though that’s a big part of the success of Lee’s business. I mean he set out to serve other people in the form of solving an industry problem.

Lee had various jobs with dealerships and independent shops, but he didn’t like working for someone else. He also didn’t like the way he saw women being treated in some of those places.

“A lot of women don’t know anything about cars and can easily be taken to the cleaners,” he said.

Lee started Mobile Auto Works with the mission of treating his customers as people deserving of honest treatment. “I give them a fair price and make it convenient by going to them instead of them coming to me,” he explained.

He told me story after story of being able to give people better rates, not because he charges less, but because he works directly with the customer and enjoys educating people about what is wrong with the car. Educated customers can make better choices about what they want.

“Interaction from customers is the greatest thing I get. When you work in a shop, you don’t get that. And education is another thing. I have the fun of coming up with explanations that the least automotively educated person can understand. It’s a lot of fun coming up with ideas of how to explain what’s wrong with their car.”

Lee doesn’t advertise much since most of his business comes from referrals, but you can reach him by phone at (719)578-5286. He doesn’t do roadside repair, so don’t call in an emergency.

But if you want to make an appointment to have your car fixed while saving time and money, give Mobile Auto Works a call!


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Saving your Family History in Colorado Springs

Today we have a guest post from Kirk Woundy, a local fellow who tells the story of your family history! Time Capsule Memoirs is a personal historian business, which captures the leaves (stories) on your family tree.

As the Hungry Chicken Homestead community knows all too well, we live in a world where the inane statements of politicians and celebrities get treated like important stories. Meanwhile, other stories — of truly meaningful triumphs, tragedies, sacrifices and love, among real people — go unheard, even within their own families.

It’s crazy. And it doesn’t have to be this way.

Among all the reasons why I’ve started a personal history business, that one is at the top of the list. I want to capture life stories for individuals and families before they are lost.

“Life stories” could mean full-length autobiographies, but it encompasses other print and audio projects, too. I help people create memoirs focusing on a given time period, like Grandpa’s service in the Korean War. Some books may be built on a theme, such as lessons Mom wants to pass on from a lifetime of hard work.

Put simply, it’s the stuff that’s important to each individual or family — the stuff that we often mean to learn more about, save and celebrate, only to see life get in the way.

That’s certainly the way it worked in my family. Until I sat down and interviewed my dad for a book, we had never really talked in any depth about his childhood. In just a couple of hours, I learned so much about what my grandfather (who died when I was 7) was like as a parent; why my dad has always been closer to one of his brothers than the other; and exactly how my dad wound up enlisting in the Army. (That story involves an ill-timed drag race, a collision with a police car, and a creative small-town judge.)

Lucky for future generations, the story behind this picture has been recorded.

Lucky for future generations, the story behind this picture has been recorded.

Now, my dad wouldn’t be much interested in writing all of this down. But he was happy to talk about what he remembered. I believe that’s a characteristic shared by many people — whether we voice the desire or not, we want to be heard and understood.

And that’s why casual but thoughtful one-on-one interviews are at the heart of the personal history process. I ask questions designed to draw out the sights, scents and sounds of the past, and guide people in placing those memories into larger context.

I believe this process is just as important as the end product. Studies have shown that nostalgia increases optimism, and that as we get older, our brains savor the act of reminiscence. But science aside, most of us just know how great it feels to be listened to, and to find that our stories matter.

And of course, they do matter. Life stories can help us understand where we came from, bridge gaps between generations, and ensure that those we love are recognized as completely three-dimensional people.

When it comes down to it, there is absolutely no wrong way to save a story. You can encourage others to write their memories in a journal, talk with family members with a voice recorder running, or try the StoryCorps app, among other options. Time Capsule Memoirs can do this for you, but the important thing is that more of us seize the opportunity to learn from those we love, and to pass that knowledge on.

With all due respect to the 24/7 news cycle, these are the important stories, and we will never regret having treated them as such.

Colorado Springs Personal Historian 2

Before starting Time Capsule Memoirs, Kirk Woundy spent 10 years at the Colorado Springs Independent, including six years as managing editor and 2½ years as editor-in-chief. He is also a husband and father, a member of the Association of Personal Historians, and a hospice volunteer. Reach him at 719.649.2401 or at kirk@timecapsulememoirs.com.


©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2016

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Colorado Springs Mineral Spa: Sunwater Spa

I was asked to write an article about Sunwater Spa in Manitou Springs for Women’s Edition Magazine. What was my first thought?

“What am I going to do about a bathing suit?”

We’ll set that aside. That’s another story. My second thought was, “Great! I’ve been wondering what that place is all about!”

Turns out it’s about history, healing and water.

Sunwater Mineral Spa

I met with Kat Tudor, co-owner with Don Goede and she gave me a tour, all the while answering my questions about where the idea for this place started. Apparently, Kat was in Rishikesh, India, a sacred city on the Ganges river, about five years ago and it reminded her of Manitou Springs. Kat realized that just like Rishikesh has the sacred Ganges water, Manitou has sacred water underground too, the springs of Manitou Springs. That realization was also the seed of an idea to make the water available for people to use. Five years later, they opened Sunwater Spa!

Sunwater Mineral Spa Hot tub

The spa offers aesthetic and massage services, but it also offers an opportunity to soak in the spring water, like an old fashioned Victorian spa. People would come to Manitou Springs in those days for the mineral water and dry air as a treatment for tuberculosis. Sunwater even has a wall shower reclaimed from a nineteenth century mineral spa in Manitou.

The water comes from Seven Minute Spring. That spring was actually drilled in 1909 and was leaking when the Spa applied to use the water. They re-drilled the well and repaired the leak, and today, even though they fill pools with its water for soaking, they are using less water per day than was leaking.

Sunwater Mineral Spa Salt pool

Let’s talk about those pools for a moment. They have several mineral water pools, inside and outside, that visitors can soak in. The water usually hovers around 102° or so, making it very comfortable on cool afternoons or evenings. They also have a saltwater pool and a hot tub with a cold splash pool.

Local residents can use the pools for a very reasonable price. Check the website for current rates or call them to ask about specials for local people. You can also make an appointment for a spa service in the adjacent Tava building or for a Vichy Shower treatment in the pool building. I went for a facial and it was wonderful! The aesthetician did a great job and I think the cheerful room makes the experience that much better.

Sunwater Spa Mineral Treatment

Sunwater also offers classes and events in rooms with big rolling doors that open up to the outside. It’s like being inside and outside at the same time. They have yoga, aqua-yoga, meditation, M.E.L.T.  and other offerings on the schedule.

Sunwater Spa 1

It’s a beautiful place, but what really sticks with you is the water.

“We’ve studied many traditions,” explains Kat. “The native traditions for healing with water, massage in the water, movement in the water. We’re always investigating ways to heal with water. I believe even the sound of water is healing.”

Sunwater Mineral Spa creek

If you’re wondering, I did find a bathing suit and I’m glad I did. Nothing eases bathing suit related discomfort like soaking in a mineral pool while looking at the stars.


©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2016

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Managing Money on the Homestead

Homesteading is a lot of things. It’s gardening, raising animals, cooking, fixing things and lots of other activities, but there is one we never seem to talk about.

Money management.

Now I admit, this topic doesn’t have the potential for belly laughs like raising animals and it’s not as immediately useful as a recipe for the kale growing in the backyard, but if you really want to beat a path to a peaceful, self-reliant homesteading lifestyle then learning how to make the most of your money can’t be neglected.

Glory says she wants expensive cat food and I had better come up with the cash to pay for it!

Glory says she wants expensive cat food. I had better manage my money, that stuff isn’t cheap!

It seems to me that besides the obvious enjoyment of making things for ourselves, homesteading  helps us feel more secure and grounded in a world full of mysterious black boxes. We rely on many things that we don’t understand and can’t control, things like the process that brings food to the grocery stores, the energy that runs our furnaces and stoves, and even the technology that makes so much communication possible. Homesteading brings some of this back into our control and makes the world a little simpler again by making us more self-reliant.

Whether we like it or not, money is part of that equation. Managing money in a way that makes it available in an emergency isn’t all that different than putting in solar panels or raising chickens for eggs. All of these activities bring your ability to meet your family’s needs back into your control.

Don’t worry if you have no idea how to do this. Most people don’t. The only reason I know anything about it is because I had to learn when my late husband died and I had the good luck to get a referral to a money manager I could trust. That person taught me how to manage our small nest egg in a way that gave me the opportunity to quit my corporate job and start my business … a business where I work from home, sometimes with a house chicken in my lap! That’s what I really want from life, house chicken and all, and money management was the key to making that happen.

Randi Chicken prefers to spend her time in the big, fancy coop with me.

Randi Chicken appreciates that I can work from home.

With all that in mind, let me introduce you to Bill Stanley, the Money Coach, if you haven’t already seen him on television or heard him on the radio. Bill kind of reminds me of my dad. He has had a long, successful career as a financial advisor and while he still takes a few clients, what he really wants to do now is help people like us. He has a website with hundreds of free articles and has given me permission to link to them here and in my newsletter. Incidentally, Bill also wrote an article about the Chicken Coop Tour in 2013.

I asked Bill for some simple tips about where to start and he referred me to an article called 10 Rules for Financial Success. If it seems confusing and overwhelming, as money often does, just start with rule #1, Have Financial Goals. What do you want for your future? Do you want land for goats? To pay off your house? To quit your job? How much money do you need? Everything starts with the goals and choosing goals is fun.

Do you have questions? Bill told me he would be happy to answer our questions, free of charge. You can contact him at MoneyCoachBill@aol.com.

Believe me, I know financial planning can be dull and overwhelming, but I’m also living proof that it’s worth it.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean up after the house chicken.


©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2016

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Colorado Springs Local Business: Greenclean

I spoke with the owner of Greenclean this morning, but I can’t tell you who that is. I wouldn’t have to kill you or anything of great hyperbole like that, but they might not clean my house again.

As you may recall, cleaning is very important here on the homestead. Between the people and the animals, nothing stays clean very long.

Greenclean and the Pigeon

For example, this pigeon escaped her cage today and laid an egg in the bathroom. You see why we think we’re Greenclean’s oddest client.

You see why I protect my relationships with cleaning services.

I chatted with Larisa Janzen, Greenclean’s manager. She and the mysterious owners were part of the same service organization when they decided to hire a manager. Larisa took over and used to do most of the cleaning, but just recently she had a baby. She brought this adorable little person with her to the chaos that ensued at the appointment.

I had been out for the morning and arrived at home to find Larisa, the baby, and her crew of two cleaners waiting for me.

“Oh no!”, I exclaimed as we walked in the door. “I forgot to straighten up!”

They smiled and said this was ok. I learned later that my house, for all its many occupants, is actually neater and less cluttered than some.

I suppose people all over town have chickens laying in the house ... another unlooked for thing that happened this morning.

I suppose people all over town have chickens laying in the house … another unlooked for thing that happened this morning.

I asked again about the products they use to clean. With all these animals, I am very concerned about poisons in my house.

“We learned recently that you could actually eat these products without getting sick,” responded Adea, a member of the crew. “Maybe you wouldn’t want to, but you could.”

It occurs to me that the crew is concerned about poisons too, since they work with this stuff all day. I watched them for a while. They used baking soda or vinegar when they needed to boost the cleaning power of these seemingly edible products and I was satisfied with the result.

At the end of two hours, my house was clean! Even the stove was clean, which I consider nothing short of a miracle!

Adea gave me the stove cleaning recipe, which I’ll share with you. “Mix baking soda and water into a paste that is somewhere between the consistency of toothpaste and pudding”, as Adea colorfully puts it. Put it on the burnt stuff stuck to the stove and leave it for a couple hours. When you come back, spray it with vinegar and then rinse.

I don’t know if I’ll ever use this recipe. I’d rather have Greenclean come back and do it for me. And  I think they will, since I kept their secret.


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Colorado Springs Local Business: Yoga with Christina Thai Bodywork

“I’m not really very open-minded about alternative treatments,” I explained awkwardly. “But Lori says it’s helping her joints, so I figured I’d give it a try.”

“It’s ok,” responded Christina. “Think of it like having yoga done to you.”
Thai Bodywork Colorado Springs 1

I wasn’t sure what to expect and I figure readers might not know either. Here is how it works:

  • First, thai bodywork is done with the client fully clothed (unlike traditional massage). It’s good to wear comfortable clothes, but Christina has plenty of loose one-size-fits-all clothes to lend if you’re coming from work in a suit.
  • You, the client, sit or lie on a futon on the floor. It’s clean. Every client gets a new sheet, just like in traditional massage.
  • Just like traditional massage, you start out by telling Christina what hurts, what’s stiff, etc. She uses this information to help you.
  • When the massage starts, Christina tells you to sit or lie on your side or back or whatever. You will move around during the therapy.
  • It’s helpful to breathe deeply during parts of the work. Christina will coach you on this, but I’ll note that I found it helpful to bring some water. She has water if you forget, I just like my own fancy bottle.
  • Some of the work is pretty ordinary massage, but since Christina is moving you around, she is better able to get at specific muscles. She will also move your arms and legs around (This is the “having yoga done to you” part). I like to pretend I’m Raggedy Anne when she does this. It’s helpful if you can disassociate yourself from your limbs for a while.

Thai yoga bodywork colorado springs 2

I was skeptical, but after three treatments, my troublesome shoulder has a lot more mobility and doesn’t hurt as much. I’ll also note that Thai bodywork doesn’t seem to hurt as much as deep tissue massage. I bought a whole package of treatments, despite not really understanding how this works.

I did ask. Christina explained that this is a form of massage, movement and energy therapy. Basically, she is trying to create space for blood and other important fluids to get into and heal whatever is causing the problem. She does this by compressing, warming and stretching the muscles.

Thai yoga bodywork Colorado Springs 3

My sessions usually start with Christina trying to compress the muscles in my neck & shoulders.

It also involves more abstract energy work, which I can’t explain to you. As I mentioned, I’m not very open-minded about those things. Christina didn’t take this personally at all. “I’m a very practical person. I’m not going to be sitting there talking about rainbows and moonbeams.”, she said. “Not everyone needs to understand about the moonbeams to feel better. I meet you where you are at.”

Thai yoga bodywork Colorado Springs 4

And where am I? I am at my Crossfit gym doing pull ups again because my shoulder is so much better. If you’d like to try this for yourself, contact Christina at 719-422-9642 or visit her website, YogaWithChristina.com. She offers 20% off your first treatment. It’s worth a try. What have you got to lose? You can even keep your skepticism.


©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2016

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Colorado Springs Local Business: B&Co Hair Design

I have an interesting quote in my notes from my interview with Brittany Jones, owner of B&Co Hair Design.

“We put so much into beauty here that we kind of lose ourselves in it.”

She was comparing our approach to beauty here in the U.S. to that of her favorite vacation spot, Belize. It’s a common complaint that the beauty industry tells us we aren’t good enough, but Brittany emphatically talks about how we ARE good enough. She reframes the definition of a good stylist as one who simply enhances the client’s natural beauty.

B&Co Salon

I’m not entirely surprised to hear her say that. I met Brittany about a year ago when I was looking for someone to help me get through growing the henna out of my hair. This was harder than it sounds. Brittany did some research and discovered that henna cannot be bleached out without risking turning it green. Not only did she save me from green hair, she worked with me all year to keep my head from looking like a tree losing its bark.

B&Co Colorado Springs

This reality-based view of beauty makes Brittany and her salon a place for clients of all ages. She built her salon on a commission model, which makes it more cohesive and consistent across stylists. She trains them on the latest things going on in New York and B&Co is the place to go if you want opal hair or hand-painted highlights, but it’s solidly rooted in Colorado and the stylists understand the real needs of clients. A new client might want the latest thing or she may want the same cut that has served her needs for years.

B&Co Salon Reflection

Brittany has put all this together before the age of 30. Her journey started in college, where she was going to be an art major, but after a year decided she wanted a change. She moved to Arizona, where her grandparents lived. She and her grandmother, a cosmetologist, would go to salons and beauty supply stores together and Brittany decided to apply her art to humanity instead of paint or clay.

B&Co Salon Sign

She finished her schooling in Durango, Colorado and did an apprenticeship in a commission salon. She explained that a commission salon hires stylists and has a more cohesive, communal feel than a booth rental salon. Stylists at a commission salon work together whereas stylists at booth rental salons are each running an independent business.

B&Co Wash Station

Brittany looked for a job in a commission salon in the Springs. The trouble was that only corporate salons had that feel and she prefers local businesses.

The solution? Start her own!

B&Co hairbrush still life

Brittany is a natural entrepreneur and has built a business to last. The salon has done quite well and continues to grow. You can visit B&Co at 125 E. Costilla St. downtown or call them at 719-228-6000. 

“I enjoy making people feel good and I’ve always wanted to be successful,” she answers when I ask her why she does this. We’re lucky to have her here, putting her energy into our community and recognizing the beauty in every client.


©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2016

Join Chickens on the Mailing List to learn about Colorado Springs locally-owned businesses, keep up with local homestead & garden events and read stories about the hilarious homestead chickens!