Decoupage baskets and a celebration of eggs

We had a gooey time last week putting together these adorable cloth baskets.  We followed these instructions, only altering them to make the baskets a bit deeper, and using Modge Podge as the final coat of glue.

Leif tired of the messy, gluey hands very quickly, but continues to pick out fabric pieces for me as I glued them on to his balloon.

After we covered the balloons thoroughly with cloth and glue, we hung them to dry by the wood fire.

When it was completely dry, the kids popped the balloons and removed them from the bowl.  I WISH I had gotten a video of this.  The sound that the balloon made as it slowly released itself from the bowl was like a build up to an implosion.  This sucking sound that made you think the bowl would collapse down to nothing. It was so crazy we all went wild when it happened!

We punched holes in the sides and strung on the ribbon handles… and wore them as hats!

It just so happened that the day after we made these, we headed to a fabulous party, hosted by the also fabulous Ashley English, in celebration of eggs.  (She is working on her sixth book due out in 2014.  This one is going to be about handmade gatherings and celebrations, and from the fun our family has had at these parties, this book is definitely going to be a keeper.)

There were, of course, egg hunts!  Egg hunts in the bamboo forest…

Egg hunts in the gardens…

Egg toss and egg rolling competitions.

Silk egg dying (Yes!  You are looking at a hard boiled egg silk dyed with an old neck tie that had elephants on it!!)

And a table spread fit for a king!  Everything was either made with eggs or had eggs in the title :-)  We brought a pumpkin flan (yes!  It was paleo)!!

And, to top it all off, a magnificent, melt-in-your-mouth Pavlova!  (Ashley, this recipe had better be published, because it alone is reason to get the book!!)

(Folks, there were actually two decadent desserts at the party, one made by Ashley and the other by Dan and Jael of the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, and neither of them had wheat!!!  What a treat!!)

“Just one more chocolate, mom??!!”

And when we got home, it was time to organize the booty.  (There are three more silk dyed eggs here, too.)

And, in celebration of the egg, my ladies wanted to let you know how hard they are working now that it is spring.

 

Hope you had a lovely weekend!

Rainbow of eggs!

A picture just doesn’t do justice.  The eggs we are getting every day are so full of color.  I go out to check the nesting boxes at least 3 times a day, just in case a new egg has been laid!  I think we still have 4 or 5 that aren’t laying.  So, we will soon have even more colors to add to the bunch!  No more eggs from the grocery store!!!

Our newest member

A beautiful Lavender Orpington Rooster!  (Thank you so much, Sadie!)  Kaia and I went through a list of names.  We wanted something that sounded powerful and regal… Albus (as in Dumbledore), Arthur Pendragon…. but we ultimately settled on Zeus.  I think it fits him very well!

I know, we already have a rooster.  But, he’s so little!  We love Millhouse, but I really wanted a full sized rooster to protect the chickens when they are free ranging, as well as to hear that full sized crow.  (He’s still working on his crow.  He’s going through his adolescent voice-cracking phase right now.)  So far, the two of them are getting along pretty well.  They’ve pecked at each other a little bit, but mostly leave each other alone.

I have to say, I was a little offended that Zeus got right down to work.  He didn’t even have time for proper introductions or margaritas before he was up on the ladies doing his duties!  He’s going to be a great roo, though.  He’s almost like a border collie, the way he herds the other chickens to keep them in line!

Happy Chickens!

Meet the Flock

It’s a rainy day here in crazy chicken land.  So, I thought I’d head out to the coop and take some photos of the crew while they were all hanging out inside.  The big girls are all between 15 and 21 weeks old.

This is Dandelion.  She is a sweet heart who likes to hang out with you and occasionally jump on your shoulder!  She is supposed to be a Lemon Cuckoo Orpington, but she is definitely not that.  So, I’m not really sure what breed she is. (We had a problem with mites a few years back and I got a little slap happy with the Diatomaceous Earth powder.  That’s what is all over the walls :-) )

Dandelion

This is Daffodil, Dandelion’s sister, and Poppy.  They are both super sweet, too.  Poppy likes to be pet and is one of the few chickens that will let Leif hold her.  Poppy is supposed to be a French Black Copper Marans, but that she is not.  She looks more like a mix of Cuckoo Marans and Faverolle (she has 5 toes).  (Yeah, I got my birds from a sweet woman who seemed to know a lot about chickens, but as you can see, she was not such a reputable source.  Still, my chickens are awesome!)

Daffodil (L) and Poppy (R)

This is Zinnea (do you see a theme to the names?  All the big girls are named for flowers.)  She is a French Black Copper Marans and should lay chocolate brown colored eggs!

Zinnea

This is Snow White Orchid (Leif wanted to call her Snow White).  She and her sister, Honeysuckle, come from two full Ameraucana chickens, but neither of them look like it. I suspect there was some mixed blood in the parents.  I’m excited to see what color eggs they will lay.

Snow White Orchid

Here is Honeysuckle.

Honeysuckle

This is Thistle Mouse and Clover.  Thistle is a Lavender Orpington and Clover is a Blue Wheaten Ameraucana.

Thistle Mouse (front) and Clover (middle)

This is Violet Mouse.  He is supposed to be a roo, but I’m not sure yet.  He seems to be growing at the same pace as his sister, but he is developing his wattles a little faster than she is.  We’ll see.  He is also a Lavender Orpington.

Violet (in the back)

This pretty lady is Stander Rose (I have no idea why but Leif insisted on calling her Stander).  I love her color.  She and her sister, Tiger Lily, are fairly new to the flock and still figuring out where they stand in the pecking order.  She and her sister are Easter Eggers.

Stander Rose

Here is Tiger Lily.  I really love her coloring, too.

Tiger Lily

Then we have our newest additions: the silkie ladies and their man.

I wasn’t planning on getting small breeds this time around.  But, someone found this guy and brought him to the animal shelter.  I fell in love with his amazing feathers (he’s called a Sizzle silkie) and had to have him.  I have no idea how old he is, but he is the best rooster ever!  He’s so sweet and he does a fabulous job showing the girl where the food is and gathering them up when it’s time to go in at night.  He’s only been with us for 3 days but he made himself right at home!

Millhouse

Millhouse

Yes, his name is Millhouse.  Toby has been on a 6 year campaign to name a chicken Millhouse.  I finally gave in and we decided to go with the Simpsons theme for all the little chickens.

And with a little rooster, I needed little ladies to keep him happy.  Here are Marge, Lisa, and Maggie:

Maggie (L), Marge (middle), Lisa (R)

Maggie is the little black one and she is about 6 months old.  Marge, the white one, is about a year and a half.  Lisa’s coloring is called ‘porcelain’ and she is 10 months old.  These three came just 2 days ago and are still getting adjusted.  They like to hang with Stander Rose and Tiger Lily, which is nice because they have a couple of big girls on their side while the pecking order is established.

We haven’t had any eggs yet, but I’m hoping that the silkies will get back into laying once they’ve settled in.  And hopefully, the big girls will start laying in the next month or two!  Yay!! Fresh eggs again!!!

 

 

 

Smooth Sailing

Don’t you love those days when it feels like things just flow smoothly?  Today was such a lovely day!  Leif let me sleep in a bit and Kaia woke up early, so we were all up by 8am.  We had a nice breakfast and then we just seemed to move from one thing to another.  There were lots of giggles, nice quiet contemplation, and enjoyment in just being together.  What a lovely start to the weekend!

Have a beautiful weekend!

 

This week

This sweet cat will put up with anything…

I know! I swore I was done chickening.  But, I missed them!

Learning to have gentle hands with the baby chicks.

watching the world.

best friends

This is a picture that Kaia took of our tulips.  I didn’t know it was on the camera!  Doesn’t it look like a Georgia O’Keefe painting?

We know have 3 Lemon Cuckoo Orpingtons, 3 French Black Marans, 2 Easter Eggers, and one true Ameraucana.

We are expecting 3 more Lavender Orpingtons in mid-April.  Before they all need to go outside, Toby and I are going to redo their run and coop, and hopefully predator-proof it!

And I promise you, I didn’t give him illegal substances before filming this!  He discovered this game on his own!

 

You can no longer call me a Chicken Tender

Yep, yesterday morning I loaded up all of the chickens and brought them to my friends farm where they will hopefully have a long life munching on lots of bugs and greens.  Though I hemmed and hawed about getting rid of them, the final decision was made for me when the raccoon shimmied his way into the 2″ eaves above the garden shed, across the barrier wall into the chicken coop, and got into their sleeping quarters to attack them while they rested.  I’d now lost 9 chickens (out of 20) to the critter and it was time to cut my losses.  I packed them up in large totes (since they couldn’t safely sleep in the coop) and brought them inside until the morning (it was about 1 am at this point).

They seemed very happy to be on lush green grass in a big open field when I dropped them off.

Maybe, in a few years, I will feel like tending chickens again.  But, I’m coming to realize that trying to live sustainably doesn’t mean doing it all myself.  Especially in a city like Asheville, where there are so many like minded souls, it’s pretty easy to share my goods and knowledge for what others might have.

 

Toby wants to turn the massive coop into a play house…. he’s always looking for his next project.

 

Done with chickens!

Yep, you read that right.  I think I’m done!  We build them their fabulous new predator  proof coop, fenced in a fabulous run, and spend many many hours feeding them, cleaning their space, keeping them disease and pest free, and worrying about them.  Well, two weeks ago the bear was back and tried to break in.  Suki (the ‘farm’ dog), in her old age, has decided to chase and attack the chickens instead of guard them.  So, they can no longer free range.  And last night, a raccoon pushed it’s way past the wood block guarding the gate, moved another wooded block in front of the chicken coop door, and was able to open the door just enough (about 2 1/2 inches) to squeeze through and kill 3 of my pullets, including my absolute favorite little white sizzle.

We got chickens to be able to produce some of our own food, but that production is minimal in the scheme of things.  We got them for companionship, but now that they have to stay in the fenced area, we don’t really ‘hang out’ much.  We got them to teach the kids a little about homesteading with farm animals, but Kaia could care less about them and Leif is really to young to understand.  So now we buy food, scratch, and pine shavings.  We spend time (far too much) worrying about their safety and health.  We go out every morning and every night to feed and care for them.  We spend money each winter heating their water.  We feed the local wild life with them.  And we get maybe a couple of dozen eggs a week.

There is a tremendous amount of pride that I take in showing off the beautiful eggs they lay.  I love to hear their bocking and crowing throughout the day.  And I do love to cook up a ‘home grown’ omelet for visiting friends.  And, yes, I know it’s the ‘in’ thing to have your own chickens right now.  But, I ask you, why should I keep them???

Our week in pictures

We started our week by getting more new chicks … four Easter eggers, to be exact.  I stuck the camera in with them and each one had to have its turn checking the camera out.

This one reminds me of a Skeksis, only cuter

The rock wall began!

And Leif put on his most fashionable rock building clothes.

Kaia and I played Product War. (I’m getting better at using games and play in our school, instead of workbooks!)  You each turn over two cards and multiply.  Who ever has the largest product wins all of the cards in play.

Then she arranged her tiara, sat on her throne and worked in Comic Strip Math and Funny & Fabulous Fraction Stories. We both LOVE these books.  Me, because she does her lesson and enjoys it.  Her, because she thinks it’s more like playing.

Leif, Kaia and I did a little pH painting.  We used Goldenrod paper and painted on it with vinegar or a baking soda solution.  Kaia painted pictures with the baking soda solution, which changed the color of the paper to bright red.  Then she decorated the picture with the vinegar.  It changed the color back to yellow and fizzled a bit, too).

We ended our week with some Fork Weaving and perfume crafting (This is basically what we did except we didn’t use an oil base.  We just added the essential oils to the alcohol and topped it off with water).  Kaia was so excited about this.  She loves being crafty and said “Mom, thanks so much for teaching me how to make flowers and perfume.  Is there anything else you can teach me?” :-)

Have a beautiful weekend!  Mine begins with a date night tomorrow night!  Woohoo!

 

 

 

Look who has come to join us…

Kaia is now the proud mama of 5 baby chicks.  Two are white silkies, one is a sizzle (of these three we don’t know if they are boys or girls), one is a Buff Orpington, and one is a Speckled Sussex (these last two are girls).  We will be getting a few more in the coming weeks.  (All of our chickens are between 3 and 5 years old.  They are all laying, but at a lower rate.  So it is time to add to the flock.)  Such cute babies!

Kaia decorated their house with a welcome sign.  They are staying in her room right now.

Silk Eggs

This week, we’ve been doing crafts to decorate our Spring Nature Table.  Today’s craft was simple and fun with such beautiful results.  I picked up a few silk scarves and shirts from Good Will and blew out some duck eggs.  Then we followed The Magic Onion’s directions on silk dying eggs.  So lovely!

We loved the results!  Next time, we will be careful to smooth the silk around the egg as much as possible, with little bunching of the fabric.  If the fabric is flat on the egg, the pattern comes out more clearly.  If there is bunching, it looks more batiked,  which is lovely too.

Snowed in and having a blast!

It was almost exactly this time last year that we had the big snow of ’09 and got snowed in for a week.  Well, we are snowed in again and actually have been since Christmas.  We’ve played in tents, made snow cream, baked, gone sledding, read, and just relaxed.

The duck surprised us on Christmas morn with their first eggs (finally!!)

I didn’t have any other eggs on hand for comparison, but these eggs were Large and Extra-Large!  Can’t wait to see how big they are going to get after they’ve been laying for a while!  Very tasty!

Snow Angels!

Snow Suki!

Snow Leif (He looks unhappy, but he asked Toby to carry him back up the hill like this!)

This is only a small part of our drive way!! It’s easy to get lost in your own world when you are out in the country.  We are only 10 miles from downtown Asheville, yet in times like this, when the rest of the world is going about their usual daily lives and we are still snowed in on our mountain, you forget that things are going on outside of our cove.

Drying Mittens.  Yes those are Leif’s little piggies that I just finished.  Both Leif and Kaia were getting snow up their mittens, so I sewed on soem stretch felt to make long cuffs.  Works like a charm!

Recharging

Learning about electricity with her dad.  She got this Brain Box as a gift and loves it!

Temporary friends.  They agreed to share the rug since it is in front of the fire place.

And these two will gladly share a box.

This crazy little man has discovered that he likes baking.

While I’m in the kitchen, and sometimes when I’m not, he will slide his stool up to the counter top, grab a pot, and get cooking!

Yesterday evening, I found this waiting for me when I went to clean up after dinner:

I think he was starting on a fondue!  Yummy!!

Hope you are all having wonderful holidays!!

Taking time

I’ve been wanting to post about all the things we’ve been up too lately… projects, crafts, homeschooling, the ducks, the land.  There’s always so much to share.  But, I’ve been finding it hard to take the time to sit down at the computer when life has been so full.  With having the kids at home, I’m generally only able to sit down after they are both asleep, and that could be 10 pm.  If we come across a craft or something that seems particularly useful to share, I will do my best to post it.  Until then, there are always pictures.

Warming up by the morning fire.  Don’t you love the ‘bed head’?

Me – Umm, Leif?  What are you putting in your car?

Leif – Haven’t you ever heard of a Clown Car, Mommy?

Leif – Well, this is a Bacon Car.

Note the two cherry tomatoes that somehow fit in there too!

Time for a swim

The ducks have been putting themselves to bed for about a week now.  That means that as the sun starts going down, they head up the ramp and into the coop without me having to chase them around.  Yay!!  So, they have officially earned their time free ranging.  And because they are no longer enclosed, they also have access to the pond and the baby pool.  The pond is so surrounded by weeds that they haven’t found it yet.  But, boy are they excited about the pool!  They are so funny to watch… a bit spastic!

I can’t believe the Ancona’s were only hatched 2 months ago!  They grow so much faster than chickens!

And what could be better than a pool, and a rain storm?

Ducky update

The Ancona babies are a little over a month old and doing great!  I am going to move them to the main coop tonight.  I’m sure they will be very happy to have more room to make a mess.

We also got three new ducks yesterday.  The two that are lighter and larger are Saxony ladies and the darker one is a Khaki Campbell boy.  They are ~3-4 months old.  Very beautiful!!

This is Snow, Nibbles, and Splash.  I’m pretty sure they are all girls.

This is Dot.  She is definitely a girl…. nice loud quack.

This is Freckles.  I think he’s the only boy! (YAY)  He should have been named nibbles, though.  He keeps nibbling the feathers off of the other ducks wing tips!

And these are the new ducks.  They haven’t been named yet.  Any thoughts?

Our new babies

Look what’s new around here!

The first baby piping.

Just born.

Kaia reading to the babies so they will come out sooner!

We now are the proud parents of 5 Ancona Ducklings!!!  They couldn’t be any cuter!

Yes, they are snuggling with a stuffed piggy!!  Every baby needs a stuffed piggy!

Field trip!

One thing I really like about homeschooling is going on field trips!  (OK, I know that I could go on field trips even if Kaia was in public school, but it just seems like more fun when we get to design and plan them ourselves!)  She just finished up her solar system and prehistory studies.  So, we headed to the Raleigh/Durham area to visit friends and play!

The first day, we met up with some other homeschooling friends and headed to the NC Museum of Life and Science.  The little ladies enjoyed looking at the butterflies in the butterfly exhibit.

Driving the boats in their wind exploration exhibit.

Climbing on the dinosaurs.

Digging through the rubble for fossils.  (Leif especially enjoyed tasting the fossils!)

On day two, we went to the Morehead Planetarium to see a show!  We all enjoyed relaxing in the reclining chairs and watching the stars above in their huge dome auditorium.  After, we spent hours playing and exploring at the NC Botanical Gardens.  Leif made some great moves on their life size chess set.

Day three took us on a tour of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.  We went specifically for the Megalodon exhibit, but enjoyed walking through the whole thing.  Leif said ‘hi’ to the little turtle swimming back and forth.

Kaia heard the secrets of the dinosaurs.

And, of course, there were lots of smiles along the way!

Kaia, who has always been a very cautious little lady, decided she wanted to take a ride on ‘uncle’ Mark’s bike!  I was really proud of her!  She’s usually one who would prefer to sit back and watch rather than participate.  So for her to take this step was a pretty big thing!

Off she goes!

Leif enjoyed some riding of his own!

And a little exploration of daddy’s face.

And a little more exploration!

Kaia took this picture when she noticed the sun shining through the glass door.  I love it!

By the end of the 4 days, we were all pretty tuckered out!

We’ve got lots more field trips planned this year!  Next stop is in May when we head to my sister’s in Atlanta for some time at the Aquarium and the zoo!

While we were gone, our fantastic neighbors and friends took care of our animals.  Kathie even put up a few videos of the chickens, too.

Eggs for sale!

Our ladies have had a great egg laying month!!  Last month we averaged about a dozen a day (from 22 chickens), and the numbers just keep increasing.  I’ve put a fence around the garden so that I can let the chickens out of their gated area to free range in the afternoons without them getting to the seedlings.  They are loving it!!

So, with all these eggs, we’ve officially started selling them.  I spent a good part of today designing the cartons :-)

Aren’t they cute?!

Our day in pictures

Let’s start our morning with some daredevil antics!

Don’t see anything wrong with this?

Let’s look again:

Then off to a sweet farm tour where we enjoyed some fabulous home made jellies and ice cream, and I scored an angora fleece from this guy:

Then we spent the rest of our day enjoying the beautiful spring weather:

(You didn’t know chickens can read, did you?  Well, our chickens can!)

What I didn’t get was pictures of the fabulous sand creation that we created!  We got a bucket full of sand from the pile in our back yard and Kaia put all kinds of stuff in there.  Then we all went dinosaur fossil hunting.   Even Leif was getting into it.  At one point, Kaia pulled her hands out of the sand and said, “Hey mom!  Coprolites!”  I was thrilled that she remembered the word for fossilized dinosaur poop.  Then, I looked at what she was holding in her hand and realized that it really was poop!!  Turns out the neighbor cat has been using our sand pile as a littler box!!  Needless to say, we all stopped playing archaeologists and went inside to scrub off!!! :-)

Still, it was a fabulous day!

a break in the weather

Finally, it’s gotten above 35 degrees!!  The snow has been on the ground for a month and it seems like every morning I’ll wake up to a little more!  The past few days it’s gotten up into the 50’s and it’s been wonderful!  The chickens are having a field day taking dirt baths and stretching out in the sun.

Speaking of chickens… have you ever heard of longcrowers?  Check this rooster out!  If you have crappy neighbors, you need to get you one of these babies!!!

Kaia and I had a great week of school!  She always starts with math.  She loves using the abacus.  Most of what we are doing is review as we try to get caught up to her skill level in her new math program.  She’s really enjoying so much hands on and not a lot of workbook pages.  Leif really likes the abacus too… I’m going to need to get him one of his own :-)

She’s also enjoying spelling, and usually does more than one lesson a day.  There is a chart that comes with the program that you mark off each lesson you complete.  She’s on a mission to put stickers on the chart as fast as she can.  It really is amazing how fast she is progressing, though.  She’s soaking it all up.  It’s not that they didn’t teach it at her old school, but the kids had the choice to spend their day how they wanted and she always wanted to color.  Me… I’m a task master.  I think it’s important for her to start learning this stuff, so if I present it to her in a way that she enjoys, then we both win.  All About Spelling has lots of hands on too… she’s all about that!  Her reading skills are really blossoming!  She’s feeling so much more confident and she’s started reading to Leif, writing letters to friends…

spelling

This week we also continued with Prehistory and the Precambrian period.  We’ve started making a time line similar to this one.  It’s fun to see the way her mind works with stuff like this.  As she is filling in the pages, everything she pastes on the page goes in perfect alignment with the last piece.  It’s all square and in order.  Funny how some things must be in their proper place while other things (like her room) can be chaos!  We focused on volcanoes this week and she made one out of model clay.  We were supposed to create an eruption (with baking soda and vinegar) but she wanted to make a volcano just like Mako Island (from the show H2O: Just add Water, the Australian show about kids that are mermaids).  So, she didn’t want to make it erupt.

Here are her little hands hard at work.  You can see the secret entrance to the magic cave where the girls turn into mermaids.

volcano

She pulled the top of the volcano off so that she could paint the magic pool of water inside!

volcano1

And here it is… Mako Island in all it’s glory!  I think she should call it Phallic Island :-)

volcano2

Leif is keeping me on my toes, too.  He finds all kinds of stuff to keep himself busy while I’m occupied with Kaia… like boxes full of shredded paper:

whome

Even with his hands in the box, he can still give you a great “Who Me???  What did I do??”  look!

While we aren’t busy doing fun learny-type stuff, I’ve begun planning this years garden.  My cucumber, peas, greens, and beans did fabulous last year, but the squashes (winter, summer, and pumpkins) got hit hard by borers, and the tomatoes and melons just crapped out.  So, I’m going to fill each bed with a good helping of chicken poop compost to see if that helps the soil.  I’m also rotating what goes into each bed so that the heavy feeders aren’t draining the soil in the same place.  I think the only thing I’m going to drop from my list is melons.  I’ve never had good luck with them… you can’t can them up and save them for the winter, and for the space they take, you get so little return.  I’ll just buy them at the markets when they are in season and use that space for other goodies.  I’ve never had luck with Eggplant either, but it’s supposed to be so easy to grow.  I think I’m going to try the good-old standard eggplant this year instead of trying to grow the skinny kinds.   How do you grow your eggplant?

Worms.. ugh!

Despite all of the garlic and pumpkin seeds that I’ve been feeding the chickens, it seems they have worms.  Maybe that explains why I’ve been getting 2-3 eggs a day from 24 hens!!!  I thought they were just taking a long time recovering from their molt.  So, after dusting the whole hen house, laying boxes, roosts, etc. with Diotomacious Earth (to kill any external mites, parasites, and sundry mean little buggers), I put on my witchy cap and stirred up a brew to knock the worms right out of them.  I got the basic recipe from Valerie at DoubleGRanch.

Mix one cup of Diotomacious Earth (food grade) with 2 cups of Flax Seeds in a food processor.  Add Olive Oil until you have a nice chunky, dry-ish consistency.  I also added ~1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 head of garlic, and 1/4 molasses.  Spread this out in their food trough and watch them go crazy!

I’ll be giving them this mix for a week or so…. hopefully this will bring them back to health!

Finally… the coop!

We finished the coop this weekend, and the chickens are ecstatic!!  It was quite a show trying to chase them down and move them all into the new coop.  Luckily we had help!  They are settling in nicely, but still having a bit of a problem figuring out how to get onto the roosts.  Some are just sleeping in the laying boxes (oh no you don’t!!).  We may have to build a ladder.  Maybe now they will start laying a little more than 2 or 3 eggs a day!!!!  I mean, come on ladies, there are 24 of you!!!

Before finishing up, we decided to have a picnic in the coop.  We figured it would be last time we would ever really want to hang out in there!

coopicnic

The front door... isn't she a beaut!

The front door... isn't she a beaut!

The Roosts

The Roosts

laying boxes and food

laying boxes and food

chicken hatch

chicken hatch

happy chickens!

happy chickens!

Coop continued

The coop continues to be our main project around the homestead (although it would be a really good idea to get to winterizing the house!!)

Toby’s father came up last Friday and gave us a hand siding the coop.  We still have to put up the windows and doors and then put the roosts and boxes in, but hopefully, hopefully, it will be done this weekend!

coop5

coop6

What does Leif do while we are busy around the house?  He plays with his feet, he smiles, he makes crazy monster noises, and…

He eats seaweed!!  Yes, we have another seaweed fanatic in the house!

seaweed

He just turned 8 months old… got his first top tooth… is trying to crawl… and makes me love him more each day!!

Chicken Chalet

We have started on what I hope to be our last project this year… The Chicken Chalet (I was going to call it the chicken palace, but being in the country, it just seems more like a chalet :-)  Toby and I have promised each other that we will have no more big projects until next spring.  We are both very ready for a break!!!  Let me say that again to make sure it sticks: We are both very ready for a break!!  Kaia has already requested family time by the fire, with hot chocolate, marshmallows, and knitting.  Let’s see if we can make that happen!!

Anyhoo, we now have around 30 chickens and desperately need a larger space for them.   Their new coop is 12 x 12 with a 6×6 corner of it walled off to be my garden shed.  So, they have an “L” shaped coop.  It should be ample space for them (and the baby pea chick that we are still hoping to get once the coop is done).

We had some wonderful help with Toby’s mom showing up with all of her tools, Heidi lending a hand, and Heidi’s man (who just happens to be a professional carpenter)… You can’t beat that!

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We put on a couple of panels of clear roofing so that the chickens can have a little natural light.

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And just to prove I was working too… This is what I was looking at all day!

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We probably have another full weekend of work before it’s done.  But, then I get to kick my feet up and just enjoy the fall and winter, right???

The 5 kingdoms

Kaia has been studying the 5 kingdoms of life at school for the past 4 weeks.  So, we thought we’d take a trip out to the Nature Center to see what in the Animal, Plant, and Fungus kingdoms we could find.

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5kingdomsmush

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peacock

peahen

Poor little papa peacock is moulting and has no tail feathers.  But you see behind mama Peahen’s legs there is a little baby???  Once that little one gets big enough, he/she will be coming to live with us!!!!  Do any of you own peafowl??  If so, do they live with chickens?

When we got home, we found this:

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We aren’t really sure what kingdom it belongs to… It seemed to enjoy eating non-living things.

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But, it sure was friendly.

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And it enjoyed hanging around with us

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Oh, and the prize for naming Louise has arrived safely at it’s new home.  Isn’t it cute?

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Traveling Chickens and Contest Time

I headed in the house after picking up Kaia from school today.  She took a while getting her stuff gathered up and then followed me into the house a while later.  When she finally came in she said, “Mom, there is a chicken in the car.  I tried to get her out, but she wanted to stay.”  Suuuure, I thought!  Kaia likes to play joke and it would be just like her to make me go all the way out to the car only to yell after me “just kidding”.  But, she seemed serious, so I headed out there and this is what I found:

carseatchicken

Apparently, my son’s car seat is a very comfortable place for an afternoon nap!
Now every time I open the car, she jumps the chicken fence, runs up to the car and hops in.  Maybe I’ll take her along for the ride the next time I go pick my daughter up at school :-)

This is one of the chickens that I got from a friend last month.  She is an Ameraucana, so I’ve just been calling her “one of those ameraucanas”, but a sweet little bird like this needs a proper name. Contest Time!

Name That Chicken

Here are her details:

Like I said, she is an Ameraucana and lays blue/green eggs.  She is a deep golden brown color.  She is very sweet and lets me pick her up and carry her.  She is smart because she can get out of our 6 foot fencing, somehow.  She is sociable and would come into the house to hang out if we let her.  And she is not a fan of male attention (she runs away from the rooster any time he tries to have his manly way with her).  So what should I name her?  Send me all of your suggestions!  Kaia is the contest judge and will pick the winning name.  The winner will get something I’ve made.  I’m not sure what yet… but it will be great!! :-)  Make sure you leave a way to contact you if you don’t have a blog.  Have your entries in by Sunday, Sept 20th.  I’ll announce the winner on the 21st.  Good Luck!

#*%$%&#& Bear!!

Well, that funny little bear that was knocking over my chicken food bin decided it was hungry.  Wed. night, at about 1:30 Suki started going crazy.  She was inside for the night (dumb me for keeping her in) and was whining and pacing at the door.  Toby went and let her out and heard a commotion at the chicken coop.  By the time he and suki got to the coop, one of the doors to the egg boxes was ripped off of it’s hinges and Sparkle (our little gray silkie) had been stolen off of her nest and all of her eggs were eaten.  I’m very angry… at myself for not leaving the dog outside and at the bear for taking my sweet little hen!

I’m headed to get some electric fencing today and may put some around the bees too.

Last night, Toby saw the bear again, sitting on a trail just off of our property.  It was just waiting there.  Suki was outside barking and making a fuss, but didn’t see the bear.  I think the bear was waiting for the dog to go inside.  Once Toby came out, it got up and walked back up the trail.

Needless to say, none of us slept well last night!