Wednesday, March 31, 2010

12 teeny chicks came in the mail

Here is how they arrive, the post office calls you and you come and pick them up in this nice sturdy box, the cat is interested.


When you open the box...one dozen assorted chicks! One day old. They are all huddled together (the white pad is a tiny warm pack) and peeping, so you have to quickly scoop them into a nice clean warm box with food and mostly water.




There are 4 white leghorn chicks (the classic easter chick looking chicks) 4 assorted silkies (the teeny fluffy ones with teeny fluffy bits on their feet ooooooooooo I wanted to pop them in my mouth they were soooo cute!), 2 buff orpingtons (larger carmel colored fluff balls) and 2 ameraucnas (one dark and one light, they lay the blueish eggs). The leghorns and the silkies left my care last night for their proper home.

I am left with four teeny ones, which brings my chicken total to 8.



Buff Orpington Chicks







Ameraucna Chicks (Easter-Eggers)





The big girls are so BIG!














Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sprouted!

Baby Plants! Turned on the overhead flourscent light, put it on a 16 hour timer - tomatoes and squash, the problem is the kitty sat all in the squash so I am not sure if these are pumpkin, ornamental or butternut! Maybe I will just start some more squash seeds to be sure, since they are going in three different places!



Found a new thrift store yesterday, and it is right near "The Furniture Lady" which is a sort of thrift sort of furniture store. Got the three metal vases from her, the cloth is really cool - two pieces from New Life Thrift, they are each about 3 yards long and I have no idea what they will turn into, but I love the pattern!

From the the newly discovered thrift store Bryn Athyn Thrift Shop, this is probably the least amount of money I have ever spent in a thrift store, 25 cents each, all Easter decorations were 30% off, two tiny chickens for 35 cents! They are meant to hold an egg.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Busy Weekend, Another Chick Video

The weekend was so beautiful! No clouds, 7o degrees! A really yummy weekend! AND the perfect weekend to start the- - - -
Chicken Coop!

Dave and I had date-night on Saturday night, very exciting it was too, we went to Home Depot! AND he let me push the cart! We spent Saturday afternoon figuring out exactly how to transform the playhouse into the combination Taj Mahal/Fort Knox of chicken dwelling. We spent some time browsing a bunch of great chicken coop sights - Back Yard Chickens has a gazillion coops to look at, and ordered plans from The Garden Coop - this was the coop we thought we would go with, until it occurred to us that we have this great structure already in the backyard.


Playhouse
So we sat and figured it out, with lots of help from the Garden Coop plans, made a list and went to Home Depot. The present plan is to take the playhouse, and add fencing around the bottom, extending 4 feet out in front and to the side (under the tree) of the coop. This will be a bit over 100 sq. feet of chicken run, about half of which will be covered (under the coop, and we will put a fiberglass roof over the part that goes under the tree). The existing ladder/steps will end at a door which is where the humans will go shovel the chicken crap and other inside the coop stuff, the chickens will have a ramp under the coop so they will come up through a hole in the floor. We are planning 4 nestboxes inside the coop, with two doors outside to access the nest boxes for egg retrieval (assuming the chickens actually use the nest boxes!) The open areas on top will be filled in, with windows on either side for air. There is a gap right at the ceiling which will stay open (but covered with hardware cloth) for ventilation.


Step one - replace the roof shingles
We got the roof stripped, the yard cleaned, and fresh tar paper up on Sunday - good thing since it started raining on Sunday night and is not due to stop until Tuesday. Next weekend will hopefully be decent enought to get the outer roof material on. We would have had to do this anyway if we kept the structure as a play house, the roofing material had pretty much crumbled away from the south facing side of the roof.
Also, I cooked alot this weekend, got caught up on bread, granola (Sheherd Susies Terribly Inconvenient Granola - the best - but I use sunflower seeds instead of sesame seeds) and I found this recipe for candied ginger - which I love - from David Lebovitz's blog
(OMG yummy beautiful food) and tried it. It came out great and was pretty easy! I saved the syrup and put a spoonful of it in a glass with seltzer - it was OK, but when I added the juice from half of a lemon - YUM! Very refreshing! I didn't think to save the water from the initial boiling of the ginger, next time I will because it should be great in iced tea (or hot!)

Candied Ginger

(not as nice as David Lebovitz's photo)

Speaking of Shepherd Susie and the Juniper Moon Fiber Farm, she has had 2 of her nannies give birth to twins - the goatlings are named for Muppets so the first set of twins, a boy and a girl are Gonzo and Camilla. They had their first day outside of the nursery pen and the video is so fun - if you have never seen a baby goat, go look at this video, they BOUNCE just like Tigger! Twin boy goatlings, Statler and Waldorf came into the world this weekend. There are great photos on the farm blog, and a live "lambCam" focused on the nursery.

Chicks

"But," you ask, "What about the chicks?" Well here is a video! Watch Mavis NOT escape!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71HkMPKTAEk

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New in the Backyard - Laundry!

The first load of laundry to dry on the line!

Actually, I have been sneaking the sheets onto the line on and off during the winter, mostly off, but I did get a few decent days for sheets, but this is the first regular load, AND I will get to hang more up tomorrow. There is something just so nice about hanging clothes out on the line. They smell great, they feel great, the towels are scratchy at first but they absorb water so well. The only things I don't like on the line are sweatshirts, they take forever and take up alot of space, but I usually hang them out anyway!


The chicks are entering the manky teen-age stage - this is Mavis, she is pretty scrappy looking!

Manky Mavis!

Mavis

They have changed so much, check out her neck! Mini is definitely a few days behind, she is still pretty tiny, and has slightly different coloring than the other three - They are all still peeping!

Mini

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How Do You Know When it is Spring?

Lilac Buds


Lenten Rose

Snowdrops


Crocus


Big Fat Kitty in the Sun!





Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Having Trouple Keeping Track of the Seeds...

But I know why-





I am working on a fix. Plan A was to make a sort of temporary greenhouse of PVC pipe, but it seems they do not make a corner joint for 3 pipes to come together in the 1/2 inch size. The best I could find was two 1" coming together at right angles with a threaded 1/2 inch sticking up to make a corner, but 1" is total overkill. Plan B is to tape clear vinyl to the light fixture and staple the bottom edge to a piece of wood so it stays put and stays flat and I can roll or un-roll the vinyl as needed when I raise and lower the light. Will keep heat in and help keep kitty out. The other trick is to hook up the kitty-cat HD bazillion-pixel TV in the window next door!

Cat TV


Here is the "greenhouse". All the vinyl is just taped ( I love tape), we will see how it works this year, and will work out a sturdier solution for next year. What are the chicks up to? They are GROWING! They have graduated to a bigger cardboard condo - they are complaining due to lack of view, though the headroom is necessary because, well, they can fly!


Roberta

Chick Video! Greens!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Minnie


Mini


Will soon have to move the girls to larger quarters - caught one on top of the water jar this afternoon!





Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chicks on Film

I figured out how to post a video - so......

Gratuitous Chick Video!

video

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thrift, Chicks and Fiber

Gratuitous Chick Photos for Today





I came home from Monday's morning errands which, to make it fun, included a stop at our local 2nd Ave Value Store. I am pretty sure this is a for-profit "thrift", they grew out of the "Village Thrift" stores. (I see a lot of bags and boxes marked "purple heart" in the back store room.) The prices are great and Sundays and Mondays are "customer appreciation" days and everything in the store is an additional 1/3 off. Today I scored a purple linen shift from Nordstroms for $4.83 - and some more boring stuff - but the best part was coming home to a big box of cormo/kid mohair roving on my doorstep from Juniper Moon Fiber Farm the best fiber farm in all the land! If you need a spring break - check the "Lambcam". You can watch the Nanny Goat Maternity Ward - there are 3 of Susan's nanny goats ready to kid. Tiny prancing goatlings any day now!






Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beautiful Day for Pruning!


Chick Photo of the Day!

It was lovely today! The sky super blue, warm, someone had a fire lit someplace so there was a hint of smokey smell in the air. Just lovely! Perfect for pruning the heck out of our old mis-managed apple trees. I took a pruning workshop at Primex, one of our local nurseries, and got advice on how to prune many things, even old neglected apple trees. Our pruning expert said to have at it, basically cut out anything sticking up, anything sticking back into the hedge, anything dead, dying or broken, choose and cut out one of any crossing branches, and leave the centers open. Do not be afraid. So we went at it!


Before


After





I am heading out to Primex again, armed with a set of my after photos because I have a couple of questions still - some knobby bits, a crossing to choose a branch on, but basically they are cut. Hopefully we will get some apples. I also learned to pick off a significant portion of your apples. A tree will begin with a lot more fruit than it can support. After awhile the fruit will just drop. If you pick before, you can control the amount, location and quality of the fruit.

Chicken update:

The chicks are growing so fast! They are getting chickeny looking, actual necks and all! There are two who are clearly a day or so ahead of the other two. All four are getting wing tip feathers, and the more advanced two are getting noticeable tail feathers. They are still really cute and fluffy!


DS 13 and a chick!







Thursday, March 4, 2010

Started Seeds Today

First of all, a gratuitous chick photo:



Planted seeds today.


This is the first time I have tried to start them this early using flourescent lights. We are using regular flourescent lights, not special grow lights, and I am putting them on a 16 hour timer.

So, I have these big windows in the back which get pretty good light since they face basically south. Dave got a light fixture and we hung it from chains so I can raise it up as the plants grow. The pans are plastic boot pans that are supposed to go by your front door for shovels and snowy boots and the like.

I made the pots from wide strips of newspaper. I found the instructions last year, and there are as many ways of making these as one can imagine! Next time I will use a bigger can instead of the jam jar, but these are pretty good.

Take newspaper (try and not use colored ink but it is getting harder) and cut it in half then half again so you get long strips about 5 - 5.5 inches wide, and the length of the paper, about 22-23 inches.

Roll the jar/can/glass (be sure the sides are straight) up in the paper, leaving about 2 inches hanging over the open end of the jar.


Tuck the paper into the jar in 3-4 big sort of pleats and crease it pretty well using the lip of the jar.

Pull out the jar, flip it and stick it back in using the flat bottom of the jar this time to mash the folded paper flat.


Fill with dirt and plant your seeds!



Last year I made a dozen of these using a full half sheet of the newspaper folded in half and it was overkill - the paper took a very long time to break down in the soil and I ended up cutting it out after a couple of weeks.