Sunday, July 26, 2009

Progress

We made progress on the coop this week, but in the meantime the girls have graduated up to the big girls brooder. It is a 2' x 3' cage with high sides and roosts. It sits on a table and we layered the bottom with paper and then shavings. It is very amusing to watch the girls dust bathe in the fresh shavings each time we change them.

It is amazing how much they have grown. They will be three weeks old on Tuesday and they are getting huge. It was hard to gauge how huge, until we transported them down to the tractor in the box we originally brought them home in. The day we brought them home they fit in this tiny 8" x 10" box with lots of room to spare. Now we can barely get four of them to fit in the same box, and they can look over the sides of the box with ease.

The chicks are very treat orientated. If we walk to the door of their cage they all cluster over to see what we brought them. They will peck at anything that pokes through the wire, even if it is a fingertip or a cat's nose. The cats aren't impressed but I find it incredibly amusing to watch the chicks do that. Hopefully, this will teach the cats that these are not treats with feathers, should one of the curious girls manage to make it out of the cage during feedings, water changes, or shaving changes.

On the garden front we tested something we had heard and found it to be very true. We have read on several gardening forums that stale urine, mixed 1:10, with water is a great source of nitrogen and makes a good fertilizer for gardens. We tested this out in patches, using the mixture on one row or pot of each of our plants. The results were amazing. One week later, the plants watered with the water/ urine mix are double and in some cases triple the size of the plants not watered with the mix. This is great news and will make fertilizing the garden that much more organic because contrary to what you might think, urine is sterile unless you are ill and is in a form the plants use naturally.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another Award - Honest Scrap


Well, Penny over at http://backtobasicliving.com/blog/ decided I needed another award. As with the last one it requires me forwarding this award to 10 other blogs, which I can't do. I don't read 10 other blogs. I read Penny's blog and I read forums. However, I am more than willing to send as many readers over to Penny's really cool blog as often as I can.

Here are the instructions that came with it:

  • “The Honest Scrap” award is not one to hold all to your self but it must be shared!
  • First, the recipient has to tell 10 true things about themselves in their blog that no one else knows.
  • Second, the recipient has to pass along this prestigious award to 10 more bloggers.
  • Third, Those 10 bloggers all have to be notified they have been given with this award.
  • Those 10 bloggers that receive this award should link back to the blog that awarded them “The Honest Scrap’ award.
So, 10 things no-one knows about me. I'm not sure I have 10 things no one knows about me that I am actually willing to share, but I'll try.
  1. I didn't go to college until I was in my 30's and only because I was able to get student loans from the Canadian government. PeterC also encouraged me a great deal and was my tutor for the math and physics courses. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering Technology.
  2. I chew my fingernails, right down to the meat. I'm trying to stop that but haven't had a lot of success. According to my mom I've chewed my fingernails since I was 6 months old. She tried everything in the book including hot sauce and tape but nothing worked. Still doesn't work.
  3. Every summer I let PeterC shave my head to stubble because I can't stand long hair in the heat. My hair grows so slowly that it takes a year for my hair to get long enough to be pulled back with a hair band, but not long enough to make a pony tail.
  4. I declared at the age of 10 that I was going to move to Canada to live in a cave with a bunch of cats. I made it to Canada, and I have the cats, but I haven't found a cave that I can afford that comes with Internet.
  5. I can't sleep unless I have a fan blowing on me. I tend to be very hot natured and can't sleep if I am hot. But, there is also the drone factor. Even in the middle of winter when it is 14ÂșC in the house I have to have a fan on or I can't sleep.
  6. I believe in reincarnation and really hope I come back as a cat lover's pet. Not the traditional reincarnation of progression from animal to animal until I am good enough to be human, but the transmutation form of reincarnation. I believe that I will come back each and every lifetime as something different be it animate or inanimate.
  7. I have a weird obsession with doing things the old way instead of the new way, thus tablet weaving, nalbinding, and woodcarving as hobbies. I have been called a Luddite but that fact that I have no problems with technology just prefer doing some things the old fashioned way kind of counters that label.
  8. I'm feeling jealous of PeterC right now. The new chicks seem to have imprinted on him and come to his hand when he makes kissy face noises at them. I try the kissy face noises and they look at me like I am a snake planning on swallowing them whole. I guess I know who is putting them to bed every night.
  9. I feel very lost and lonely when I look at the stars at night. When I was a kid I thought I was an alien child who had been dropped off by my real parents to "learn" about Earth. I guess some part of that little child still lives in me.
  10. My favourite foods are oranges, a perfectly cooked steak, and a garlic Alfredo pasta.

Statute Cap

I completed another nalbinding project quite some time ago and finally got around to taking pictures of the finished hat.

This was done with the York stitch, as learned from a video on Youtube. I based the pattern off a knit hat shown on the BBC show "Tales from the Green Valley". Unfortunately, I made to many additions to the brim and ended up with something that looks more like a maids cap. The hat is done with 100% cotton and has taken on a partially felted look after it was washed.

Now the really cool thing is the way I did the stitch created a very solid looking material on the outside but these really neat looking ribs on the inside. I was afraid it would make the hat uncomfortable to wear but it is really comfortable. It is also very warm. I think the extra thickness of the ribs allows the solid outside layer to trap heat.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vacation Winding Down

We are coming to the end of our vacation and I thought I'd share some pictures of the coop and the chicks at 1 week old. It's mazing how fast these little girls are growing. One of them has discovered the she can fly up to the upper lip of the brooder, which makes changing shavings, feeding, and playing a little exciting. The last thing we want is to lose a chick because a cat or dog decided she was a tasty morsel when she touched the floor.

Here are the girls checking our their new chicken tractor. It is 4' x 8' x 30". I used 2" x 2" lumber for the frame, attached the 1/2" hardware mesh, and reinforced the top and bottom with 1" x 3" strips. There are two wheels at the back so we can move it around the yard every couple of days. We decided on an enclosed tractor instead of a fenced yard due to the many predators we have here, including hawks and weasels. The girls seem to really love the space and will run from one end to the other 'flying' as hard as they can. They also love to chase the occasional bug that makes the mistake of getting to close.

We've managed to name three of the girls so far. There is Rosy, the smallest ginger, who is very bossy and loves to throw feed everywhere. There is Wag and Tag, the two whites. Wag is named so because she will pick up something like a leaf and wag her head at the others to make them chase her. Tag because, more often than not, is the one chasing Wag with her leaf and it rhymes with Wag. The Barred Rock who has figured out the flying thing hasn't been named yet, we just call her escapee. The others will be named as they grow I'm sure.

Here is the most complete picture I have of the coop so far. We've actually gotten a lot more done but have failed to take any new pictures. As you can see we are using OSB on the outside, 2 inches of insulation, and then finishing plywood on the inside. The outside is also wrapped in wind and water proof paper just to make it that much warmer.

What I don't have a picture of is the siding, OSB cut and painted to look like wood panelling, the white tin roof, and of course the white paint on the inside and out. We have the doors installed, also insulated and painted white inside and out, but the windows and trim have been stalled until the weekend. The underside of the coop will be solid on two sides and screened on the other two sides. There is also going to be a door that will allow us to attach the tractor to the underside area to extend the size of their run. A finally we plan to install a couple of wheels so we can move it around a couple times a year.

So there you have it. Three weeks worth of work. Doesn't look like it should have taken us this long, does it. I know it feels like we should have finished it after a week, but rain and lazy days really slowed us down.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chicks

The chicks arrived safe and sound Wednesday. We ordered 10 but received 11. As best I can tell this is standard practise for hatcheries in case of loss during shipping. They all arrived healthy, though one of the gingers was being picked on by the others. We placed them in a Rubbermaid tub with feed and water. A quick dip of the beak and they were drinking with no problems. They figured out the feed pretty quickly too.

We have 2 Barred Plymouth Rocks, 2 Black Sex-Links, 2 New Hampshire x Barred Rocks, 2 Columbian Rock x Reds (white), and 3 Rhode Island Red x Columbian Rocks (ginger). The ginger chicks and the white chicks are the easiest to identify as to breed but the blacks are harder. We think the small blacks are the Sex-Links, the black and yellow are the Barred Rocks, and the larger blacks are the Barred Rock crosses.

We've only had the chicks for three days but they are already getting bigger, almost double their arrival size, and developing more chicken traits. They love to chase earwigs and mosquitos, when we can catch the bugs and drop them in with the chicks. They have started scratching on the floor of their current box, usually slinging feed all over the place. Their wing feathers are starting to really develop and they love to "fly" from one side of their box to the other, using each other as speed bumps of course.

Yesterday was nice and sunny so we placed them in a temporary chicken tractor to let them get used to being outside. They were a little unsure at first but the first bug to venture to close made them very happy to be outside. They chased bugs, scratched around in the grass, and dozed in the sun. After a couple of hours we returned them to their brooder where they settled in for a nap, which lasted all of about 10 minutes, before they returned to scratching and feeding.

I'm delighted with their personalities and their love of eating bugs. A couple of them seem to have really taken a shine to PeterC as they look at him and run to his hand when he reaches into their brooder. Maybe they are simply looking for treats but I don't think so. They look at him when he makes little clucking noises and seem happy to see him. I'm truly looking forward to watching them grow up.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Vacation Time

I'm late adding a post this week, or early for next week, because we are officially on vacation for three weeks. Unlike most people we don't go away for vacation. Instead we stay home and work on projects that require more than a day or two to complete. We may take the occasional day trip but we are never gone for more than a few hours.

This year is turning out to be even harder to get the jobs done since it has rained every single day except one so far. Sometimes we will get 6 hours of work done before it rains and others, like today it rains on and off all day making it impossible to get anything done outside. On days like today we either clean the house, or more often sit in front of the boob tube and turn into vegetables.

And what is our project this year? A chicken coop. Yep, you read that right. A chicken coop. I have been given the go ahead to get a few laying hens. We ordered 10, one day old chicks from the feed store. They are arriving next week, and will live inside for two to three weeks in a small brooder box. After that they will be moving into the Grand Sparrow Haven Lodge, a two story house of leisure for the ladies complete with fenced in yard, large nest boxes, and a lovely view of the garden.

I spent several weeks over at Backyard Chickens looking at different coop plans before I decided on the coop for us. It is 5' x 4' with double wide barn doors for cleaning out the coop itself. The interior is going to be painted semi-gloss white to make it bright and easier to clean. It will have two high windows that will prop open to allow air flow in the summer. It is insulated and has a 60 watt bulb installed to keep the girls comfy in the winter. And it has an external next box, also insulated, so I can get the eggs every morning and evening by simply popping a hatch off the back. And, finally, the girls will have their own chicken door for descending down into the fenced in yard that includes the space under the coop as well as a movable cage that will let us move them around the yard with ease.

I am both excited and incredibly nervous about this new venture. I was raised around chickens but that was in Florida where they didn't have to worry about freezing to death. In truth, the chickens I was raised with pretty much took care of themselves except for the occasional cast of feed and the fall culling of the older girls and roosters. I really hope we do well by our new pets and they live long and healthy lives.