Friday, October 7, 2011

KSCC: Holiday Kids Crafts

First School and Dltk-Kids are my favourite place for kids crafts. They have tons of amazing print-out pre-school activities (secular and non). All free to download, print & keep your kids occupied on a rainy day! The dinosaurs are a favourite in this house. I have the entire site scrap-booked*, so I can still visit it if our over-the-air internet goes down in a wind-storm.

(*See KSCC: Saving Patterns, for information on how to save entire websites)

Doing something special, even for silly holidays (like Inernational Cookie Day) is really fun with the kids.

Of course we've got the major holidays too, and being Canadian, Thanksgiving is this weekend. We've made a classic hand-print turkey for the table, and I found these neat Waxed Leaf and Turkey Napkin Holder.

Waxed Leafs
(link above - use your own best judgment whether your kids are ready for this craft)

This is a good craft for kids if you do it with them, and takes steps to make sure you keep the wax safe.

Heat up the wax in a double boiler, then pour into a small can nestled in a larger can full of hot water. This will keep the wax warm and liquid but your little ones away from the heat (unless they knock it over).

Going outside to collect leaves is the best part for littlest guys to participate in. Once you've got some nice fall leaves, bring them in, you're dipping them in the hot wax then laying them out on a piece of wax paper. We collected some really nice colourful leaves, as well as some brown ones to make a really varied pile of leaves.

I used about 8 tea lights instead of buying paraffin, paraffin would have given me a clear wax coat (we have a few opaque blobby bits) but I don't usually keep it in the house. I also added a few drops of pumpkin smells from one of those oil/tea light scent diffusers.

I really like this craft, added a lot of colour to the table with out buying a bag of plastic leaves, and much cleaner then just leaves off the ground from outside. Melting wax is also a great way to re-make stubby crayons and make candles.

Where do Adventurous Chickens Go?

Both the new Polish & Buff Orpington were missing Thursday night at lock-up time. 30 Hours later Buffy showed up in the coop again, so where is Sonya?
(I should mention I've looked all over the place for the both of them before she turned up in the coop again).

Where do Adventurous Chickens go when wanderlust strikes them?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Indoor gardening

The garden is still growing, my broccoli and cauliflower will come in soon (if I can keep the birds away from it) I could have planted some late-season beans, carrots, or lettuce. I'm trying to find the time for some fall garlic to go in. But that's all outside where it's getting chilly!

Indoors I'm staring a whole new garden. I am building something for lettuce over the winter,  I'm hoping to adapt something like this "shelf ponics" growing system with our existing fish tank.

I've already discovered I need to get the plants up & away from the little ones, as my 18 m/o ripped half the leaves off my mature pepper plants & destroyed by little seedlings (I'm sure he thought he was helping). So I've got to find some warm, sunny space somewhere in the house, away from the kids... haven't quite figured that one out yet!

I'm hoping to grow peppers, lettuce, and some herbs for the winter. If things are going well a Tomato plants or two (that my turkeys can't get too!) would be great as well.

Sometime in the future we'll be building a greenhouse of the the recycled windows stored in the barn but that's pretty far away.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Winter Bale Grazing

I was watching FarmGate the other day (don't laugh at me! nothing was on ...) and they started talking about winter bale grazing.
The fields in June before the animals got here

To summarize, feeding cows in an intense area and then spreading the nutrients out on your fields in the spring only re-captures about 1% of the nitrogen in the grass for the following season. Also you've got a hard-pack of manure that takes a lot of labour/heavy equipment to clean out. Versus feeding the cattle out on the pasture during the winter disperses the nutrients from their waste around the field (so you don't have to use gas/labour to move it) and the field recaptures about 34% of the nitrogen. Making a huge difference in the quality of the grass available to the cattle in the next year.

The suggestion is that you could leave the bales out in the field right where the baler spits them out (provided you had a lot of acreage to work with!) and feed the cattle that way, greatly reducing fuel & labour costs.

So... I'm going to have to adjust my plans a little bit! I was really thinking more about big hooves stomping on the ground, but as I learned it's really only going to be an issue in the spring when it's really wet (plus our fields are really well drained, so it may not be a big issue at all). If we fed the cattle by placing their bales all around the field instead of in just one location we wouldn't have anything to clean up in the spring and the whole field would be fertilized.

There are other issues, such as, that the area under the bales can become snow-packed from high traffic and warm up more slowly in the spring. Also if there is a lot of hay left over it can make it very difficult for the grass to grow; and you can be spreading lots of weed seeds into your field.

Also if we wanted to place all out bales out at the beginning of winter and use electric to keep the animals confined to a few bales at a time, the horses couldn't go out in the field at all from the time we placed them (since cow hay is generally not suitable for horses). Buying and placing the hay now would save us by having the bales delivered all at one time, (that also means paying for an entire season of hay at once) and make it easier to get them out in the field.

Last, but not least, my hay guy has dropped off the face of the earth, so I also have to find more hay first.

Either way I've got some more thinking/planning to do before the snow!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Buck, Buck, BuurrrACK! New Chickens!

I believe these girls (there are two
very similar)are
Bantam Araucana/Ameraucana/
Easter Eggers
(those are all the same thing)

Long story short (and especially because it's not mine to tell) I picked up some lovely free chickens. We got really lucky because they are all just beautiful!
Since we still don't have any place to segregate new comers (that happens when we re-design & re-build the coop in the near-ish future), and I wasn't worried about health (these birds are gorgeous and healthy!) and I had to introduce them at night. I grabbed Lenny and stuck him in the barn, that way the new Roo was left with his girls to protect them, with the young marrans, the turkeys and the ducks. The new Roo is a wonderful male, very protective and exhibits all the best qualities of a good rooster. So he kept everyone from fighting the first night (a few scraps with Huey, the duck, got them to back off) and everything went very well.
I think the new Roo is a standard

White Capped Polish!
I've been looking at buying one of this gals for a
bit, but right now we're just working on getting
the farm going before investing in any fancies.
This gal is as fancy as they come!
A real beauty! I'll have to buy her a boy now...

During the day I let the turkeys, ducks, marrans out of the coop of their normal foraging around the farm; and left all the new guys in the coop with the run door open so they could go out there. Lenny came in with his girls tonight, everyone is sleeping peacefully (new boy in the rafters with his girls) but I'll be up really early tomorrow to break up the boys before they wake up too much.
I am probably most excited by the
camera-shy black cochin.
Our cochin chicks were my
favourite of the first chicks we bought
as we lost both of them.
I love my little fuzzy already!

Eventually they should get along alright. We don't have enough mature hens to split up, but we do have a lot of fowl in general (ducks and turkeys included). Lenny & Teddy had their scraps at first, but they get a long just fine now & I'm hoping things will be the same with the new boy.
A lovely Barred Plymouth Rock, I think.

All roosters (and hens too!) have their own personalities. If these guys are incompatible we will have to separate them. But roosters, if given adequate room to stay away from each other, can get along just fine! We've got a nice big coop, plus the chickens normally have the run of the farm, so having 3 mature roosters shouldn't be any problem as long as they don't make it a problem.

Little gal in front is Momma
Little baby Araucana/Ameraucana
I'm pretty sure this the BPR's egg, but Momma
is taking great care of her baby.

That being said, I think Teddy is on his way out with the meat birds. We actually don't need 3 roosters and I have no intention of breeding him. Now that his buddies Hen & Pen are gone, he's got no flock. He's a good Roo, and has adopted all the meat birds, but he's really a barnyard boy and just nothing special to be passing on his genes.

Plus we've got lots of chickens now! In the coop we've got:
- 3 Muscovy ducks & 2 drakes
- 4 Narragansett turkeys
- 4 Cuckoo Marran hens
- 1 Dominque Rooster
- 2 Easter Egger bantam hens & 1 standard rooster
- 2 chicks
- 1 BPR hen
- 1 Buff Orp. hen
- 1 polish hen
- 1 bantam cochin

We don't have a pear tree, but there is an apple in the yard, and we may get partridge next year...

(Update: after getting out first little green eggs, so cute!, the hens are easter eggs, the Rooster is a barnyard mix and I've named him Jester b/c of all the colours) 

12 hours and look what they've already given me!
I had 2 by this evening.
SO excited to have home-laid eggs again.

I think they're happy here
Our chickens have been out of the run for a few
weeks so everything has grown back
nicely and the new guys have lots to
munch on!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Scrambled Eggs

In honour of the new chickies, scrambled eggs. Scrambled eggs are one of the simplest meals you can make. Half-dozen eggs, a little milk, maybe some cheese, seasoning your done; but can I offer a family-secret spin on this classic?


If you've never dug through the fridge to throw ingredients into you eggs you're really missing something special. One of my favourite all time meals was scrambled eggs with leftover Chinese food. Yeah, doesn't sound like something you'd maybe immediately put together, but just delicious!

Steak is one of the best things to throw into scrambled eggs! With a little cheese, and a little tabasco.  Mmmmmmmm. Pot roast works too, left over roast chicken, mashed potatoes, pretty much anything you can think of goes well with eggs.

We've found although my 3 year old does not "like" eggs, home-laid eggs, he'll gobble them down & ask for more. I feel the same way!

When you're done cooking you've got to break the golden rule and add water to the pan before it cools down, or you'll be scrubbing for days. The trick is adding hot water, it's still not great for the pan, but at least you can get it clean.

I give all credit to my father, the Sunday morning scramble master.

Love my new chickens!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chickens are Fighting

Never a dull moment...

This happened a few nights ago, I was putting the chickens in, luckily this one decided to roost on top of the tractor (instead of going in) so I saw him.

I'm thinking it was a little love-tap from one of his brothers, a peril of keeping the meaties around too long, they've starting sparring. They are all in the barn now, fattening up for a week or so then they've finally need a date with the processor.

This little guy got some spray on Iodine (which he didn't appreciate) and healed just fine. Because it was night time and they were all sleeping I didn't separate them, if it had been firs thing in the morning I would have kept him away for the day.