Friday, August 9, 2013

who laid that egg?

Back in the spring we had this great idea that it would be fun to raise chickens and have fresh eggs.  So in April we brought home our day old chicks (see earlier post). 

Rod spent the months of May and June building a chicken coop using old pallets, used windows and a lot of farmer ingenuity.  By the end of June it was finished and we got it moved down into the paddock with the goats. 
12x8 chicken coop and feed room
 We were sure happy to get those fast growing chicks out of the basement.

We spent a few days in July adding an outdoor run to the coop so they could get outside for fresh air.  We had to be careful to cover all openings with wire to keep the predators out.  The hawks have been circling looking for a way in.  We didn't bury the wire like they recommend but tried a new method where we bent the wire over 18 inches and laid it on the ground angled away from the pen.  The grass grows up and helps hold it down.  A digging animal would have to figure out they would need to start digging way back from the fence.  Hopefully no one is that smart.
chickens in the run

Everyone keeps asking me when the chickens will start laying and I have been telling them SEPTEMBER.  Well, wouldn't you know it, someone or two decided to make a liar out of me.  I went out to the coop last Saturday to lock them up and when I looked inside I was surprised to find 2 eggs on the coop floor.  WHO LAID THOSE EGGS? 
first two eggs

I have checked every morning and night since then and nothing until tonight.  I was down there after work and low and behold there is another egg in the coop.  What is going on.  You aren't supposed to start laying until 18 weeks and you have just reached 14.  Someone is growing up faster than normal.  Is is one of the brown hens since the eggs are brown?

Is this the culprit?

I guess our next project is to build some nesting boxes so they don't lay their eggs on the floor.

Hope everyone likes eating eggs because 11 hens could mean 11 eggs/day.    Need to start looking for some good egg recipes.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Audrey's dance recital

On Saturday Rod, Zach and I went to Cambridge to see Audrey in her very first dance recital.  She is only 3 1/2 and she loves to dance.  She has been attending dance classes on Saturdays with her mommy.  This was our first opportunity to see what she had learned. 

There were only 4 little girls in the class and being so young they developed stage fright.  Audrey was a real trouper and she went ahead and danced. You wouldn't know it was her first time on stage.  She was an absolute doll!

I was so busy recording the dance that I almost missed the whole presentation.  The audience was enjoying watching the range of participation from the 4 girls - 2 frozen on the spot, one with minor movement and then our Audrey who danced like she was alone in the room. 

After the 2.5 hr show the only thing Audrey could think of was getting out of her dance shoes.

Grandpa rewarded her performance with a trip to Dairy Queen.  Blizzards for everyone!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

from chicks to small birds

Our little chicks are growing fast.  They are now three weeks old.  The grandkids no longer want to pick them up and cuddle them.  Something about them not being cute anymore.  And the fact that they are too big to trap in their hands.
Day old chick

10 days old
Their feathers are coming in quite fast now.  They are actually quite scruffy looking.  Their wing feathers are getting long and they are starting to use them.  We have even had lift off.  I am afraid they might end up flying out of the brooder box (trough) so I took the side rail from an old crib and covered the top.  They won't be able to get between the bars.
3 weeks old
chicken jail

 Rod and I are busy building a chicken coop to hold the ladies.  Our original plan was a simple 4x8 coop. Then Rod figured 8x8 would give them more room and we could have a feed room.  Well,  8x8 soon became 12x8.  Since were are building the coop out of wood pallets we increased the size by 4 ft increments.  I will now have an 8x8 coop with a 4x8 feed room attached.

Stack of pallets for building
We have been collecting pallets from the building supply stores.  My job has been to knock the pallets apart and collect the boards for filling in the spaces between the "building" pallets. Some pallets are much easier to dismantle than others.  I will need over 100 4ft boards.  Once those are nailed on we will use narrower boards to cover the gaps and complete the outside of the coop.  The coop will be 8 ft high at the front and 6 at the back.  There will be windows on both the front and back for air flow. 

First row of pallets

Needs a second row on top

original front door
We found one window at the reuse store.  We are still looking for another suitable (cheap) window.(Found another window tonight)  We also need a secure door.  We found in the basement the original door for the farm house.  It had been removed from the front and used as the door to the walk up but it never fit properly so Rod removed it and replaced it with a door that didn't let bugs and critters in.  Since it is an original door it doesn't seem right to use it on the chicken coop. We have decided to exchange it with the door in the mudroom.  This way I will have light through the window into the feed room.
nice carvings
door for chicken coop
We also plan on building a chicken run.  That is as close to "free range" as we are willing to get.  So far we haven't had any trouble with predators but no point in tempting fate.  The chickens will be in the paddock with the goats so the large animals will have to get through 2 fences to get to them.  We will need to cover the top of the run to keep the hawks and owls from swooping down on them.

A lot of work for fresh farm eggs.  Hope they are as tasty as everyone says they are.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Which came first...

the Chicken or the Egg?

At our house it was the chicken.  Or should I say the chicks.  Eleven of them to be exact!

How on earth did this happen.  Last year when I mentioned chickens Rod said NO WAY.  Then last month he suggested we get chickens.  Not pullets but day old chicks that we can raise and collect the eggs. So off we went to TSC to check out their chicken coops and to order a few chicks.  How do we decided what kind of chicken to get?  We don't now anything about the different breeds.  Luckily TSC had an orderform listing different kinds.  Still unsure we decided to order a mixture.  I would have been happy to get 4 or 5 but Rod reads "no shipping for 10 or more" so he orders 10 day old chicks.

Skip ahead one month.  April 16 to be exact.  The day has arrived to pick up our new chicks.  So after picking up Gracie and Sydney at daycare we head for TSC.  We are handed a box that is smaller than a shoe box.  Inside you can hear peeping sounds.

At home we open the box and this is what we find 3 colours of chicks - 4 yellow, 4 brown and 3 black.  We had ordered 10 chicks but when we got them home we found we had 11.  New born chicks are so soft and cute.  Gracie and Sydney each got a turn to hold a chick or two.
4 yellow chicks

4 brown chicks
3 black chicks

For now the chicks are living in a horse trough with a heat lamp to keep them warm.  We will be able to keep them there for a month or so, until it warms up enough for them to go outside.  That gives a bit of time to build them a coop.  The prefab ones at TSC were too small, and not up to Merrill standards.

Gracie with new chick

Sydney with a chick


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Soap, Soap, and more Soap

On Tuesday night I hosted a Relief Society enrichment night at my house.  The evening was refered to Goat Night.  19 women from church showed up at my house inspite of the snow and wind.  I was able to share with them my limited knowledge on how to make goat cheese, butter, soap and ice cream. 

While I was demonstrating the process of making cheese the sisters were passing around two jars of cream which they were shaking hoping to make butter.  It took most of the night but in the end we had two small pats of butter in our jars.  We had fresh cheese and butter to spread on our crackers.

Next on the program was soap.  We made a large batch of goats milk soap, about 4 lbs. which we then divided into empty juice containers.  The sisters were then able to use essential oils to scent their soap.  They each got soap to take home. 

The final product of the night was ice cream.  This was made using fresh cream and milk from the goat.  We made two batches, one being plain vanilla and the other was strawberry.  YUMMY

I was so busy with the evening that I forgot to take time to snap some pictures.  It would have been great to capture the crowd.

After everyone left, while I still had the soap makings out I took the time to make a second batch of soap.  I divided it between 6 juice cans.  Each was then individually scented.  I made vanilla almond, benzoin, cuccumber melon, pumpkin spice, lavendar, and peppermint swirl. 

After 24 hours I unmolded the soap and sliced it into nice round soaps.  Here are the results!

benzoin, pumpkin spice, cuccumber melon
Honey Almond, peppermint swirl,lavendar

six new scents of soap
These will need to cure for at least three weeks or more before they can be used but then watch out dirt! And with all the wonderful oils in these - coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil - my skin will be soft and smooth.

Then tonight I came home and found my shipment from Saffire Blue with my new molds and more scents.  I feel another soap making night coming on.  Any one want to join me?

Need more supplies!  

Need more soap!  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

walk the walk

Do you walk like you drive?

I was observing the students on campus today as I was doing the mail run.  All the students heading North were walking on the right hand side of the walkway and all the students heading South were walking on the left. Or visa versa if you are watching them from the other side.  What I really mean is they were walking the same way they would drive, keeping to the right hand side and passing each other on the left.  It was almost like there was an invisible line down the centre of the sidewalk.

Is this an unwritten walking rule or is it just a matter of habit.  Try going the other way and you feel like a salmon going up stream.

I wonder in countries where they drive on the other side of the road if they also walk on the other side of the sidewalk?   hmmm?

Observe for yourself the next time you go out for a walk.  Which side of the sidewalk do you walk on, left or right?  What about everyone else?

Is this why we train our dogs to walk on our left side?  So they can be a buffer between us and the other people on the walkway.

Did you ever wonder why we drive on the right while the Englishmen drive on the left?  From what I understand the Englishmen found riding/driving on the left hand side of the road made it easier to draw your sword and fight or protect yourself. Most imperial countries followed suit.  The story goes that the French and Napoleon didn't like to do what the English did so they chose to drive on the right hand. Those countries controlled by France also took to the right.   African countries, as they gained their independence would also change so as to separate themselves from England.

In Canada, the Maritime provinces and British Columbia initially drove on the left, but changed to the right to make border crossings to and from other provinces and the US easier.   So even though we are still part of the Common Wealth, our driving is inspired by the French.