Sunday, February 27, 2011

All Grown Up

Way back in September we bought a few day old chicks. One was an Easter Egger rooster.   At the time we weren't planning on keeping any roos but as his colour filled in we couldn't bring ourselves to get rid of him.

Now he's a full grown rooster.  We've put him in a breeding pen with some hens so he can make beautiful babies.

Grey one on the left.

Just starting to get some colour.

He won us over by this point.

In his full technicolour glory.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Boobies; Possibly NSFW

I went out and fed the goats this afternoon and then strolled over to the chicken coop to check for eggs.  When I looked over at the goats, whose heads were buried in their food container, I noticed something different.

Aren't they udderly fantastic?


Well they've always had teats but not this big.  From what I gather, this means that they'll be popping out some kids in the next month.

I guess Limey should get to work on a milk stand and stalls for the babies.  This is so exciting!

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Homes

The quail have been living in a wooden cage built by Limey.  It's heavy and awkward and the males have been fighting so we decided it was time for new ones.

The cages are made from woven wire and j-clips placed on top of a litter box from Dollarama.  He made two cages and there is a male and two females in each one.  If we get babies out of the incubating eggs,  I'll be adding two more females to each cage.  We'll also need a cage of females for eating eggs and a couple of grow out pens for meat birds.

Hopefully we're on our way to having quail eggs (fertile and infertile) and birds for sale.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Future Den; The Aftermath

So the den/guest room is as done as it's going to get at the moment.  The total cost for reno was around $200.

We did the same thing with this floor as we did in the dining room.  Plywood is cut into planks and nailed to the subfloor.  It cost a grand total of $40.  This batch of plywood was really nice and you could just give it a sealing coat and be done.  But I wanted a dark in floor in there so I stained it the same grey as the dining room table.

I apologize for the photo quality. My camera obviously hates the new room. I couldn't even get it to take a shot until I switched to manual focus and then the photos just wouldn't come out nice.

Yes, we touched up the nail holes.

Limey did a decorative plastering thing with the ceiling to cover up the horrible bumpiness of the old plaster.  It turned out pretty good.

I decided to go with red for the accent colour but that might change by the time the room is ready for furniture and decor.  The room as is, is a major improvement.  The air is cleaner and it's not as cold now that the window frame has been sealed up. 

So that's the living room, dining room and den done.  The foyer, mudroom, bathroom, kitchen, pantry and sunroom are still left to do on the main floor.  Three bedrooms and the addition of a new bathroom are left to do upstairs.  I think I'm going to do the pantry next. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Babies and Teenagers

Are you sick of chicken pics yet?

New born chicks are so very cute but they don't stay that way for long.

Case in point.

Chicken on the left is a month old, chicken on the right is a couple of days old.  The little one is already getting feathers.  Soon all it's baby fuzz will be gone and it'll be a rowdy teenager like the one on the left.

I'm really hoping this big chicken is a roo.  I need a blue Australorp roo to replace the dead one.  The comb is a bit bigger than the others and it's got pinkish waddles.

What do you think, roo or hen?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Two of My Favourite Things

These Easter Egger chicks are so freakin adorable.  I really hope they are girls!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hippity Hop into My Belly!

Limey butchered a rabbit yesterday.  He was about 10 weeks old.  Limey did the deed in the barn and then brought it in for me to identify the organs.

I saved the liver, kidneys and heart and cut up the rabbit for supper.  The fur went into the freezer.


I want to try tanning the furs using this method but I need to collect quite a few first.  They'll store well in the freezer until I'm ready for them.

The recipe I used was for rabbit cacciatore. The rabbit was lovely but I think I'd like to try it in a mustard sauce.  The tomatoes didn't really do it for me.

Nom, nom, nom.

Yesterday a friend gifted us with some game.  I'm going to be cooking up some bear tomorrow night. 

Am I a glutton or a gourmand?

What am I Supposed to do With That?

We ended up putting 31 quail eggs into the incubator.   I tossed one of the eggs because it was so small. 

The egg is so small and dark that I almost didn't see it in the cage.  Quail eggs are tiny to begin with but that one is just ridiculous.  Not even Barbie would be able to make a meal out of it.

Quail babies! I can't wait!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Want to Move to the Valley?

Sometime soon, I'm going to make a page on my blog here about moving to the Annapolis Valley.  In the meantime, check out this link to the MLS page for the house across the street from us.  Our neighbour is selling and moving in to town. 

Who wants to be my new neighbour?

Meet the Newbies

I was going to post photos last night but things went sour with the hatch and I didn't feel up to it.

Originally 13 eggs went into the hatch.  10 Easter Egger eggs (green) that I purchased and 3 of my Australorp (brown) eggs.  I wasn't holding out much hope for mine because they were older and was a little concerned about how dirty the green ones were.  You aren't supposed to incubate dirty eggs and you also aren't supposed to wash them.  Anyway in they went.  A week in, one of mine was clearly a dud so into the garbage it went.

Friday was the due date and they slowly starting pipping.  My two remaining brown eggs were shaking but no pip.  By Saturday afternoon only 3 had hatched but 5 more had pipped.  The two brown ones and one green had stopped moving.  One of the pipped green eggs had a little blood on the shell.  When it finally hatched out there was a long bloody mass attached to it.  This is not normal and the chick died shortly after.  The other pipped eggs hatched overnight but I wasn't holding out much hope for the rest.  We had candled them but there was no movement.

This morning Limey chipped some of the shell off so we could see what was going on.  There was no evidence of breathing and once fully opened, the eggs revealed dead chicks.

So out of the 12 fertile eggs (not including the dud) we only got 8 live chicks which is a crappy 66% hatch rate.

The new Easter Eggers are very cute.  Most are a dark grey but one is lighter grey/yellow and another has a lot of gold on it.

Here are the pics.

So pretty, wonder what it's feathers will look like?

Most look like this one.

Still wet but look at that colour!
We have 29 quail eggs saved up and will be putting them in to hatch today.  So mark your calendars.  Assuming they are actually fertile we will have quail babies in 17 days.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Special Delivery

I got a little pressie in the mail today.  Can you guess what it is?

It's a manual cream separator.  You dump fresh milk in the top, crank the handle and the cream and milk pour out into different jars.  I've been trying to find one locally with no luck.  The only ones I can find in Canada start at a whopping $500.  As that is way out of our price range, I bought this one from the Ukraine for $100 including shipping. 

Now I just need some milk.  We're not sure exactly when the goats are due to give birth.  They were still rolling in the hay around November so I'm guessing April at the latest. 

I can't wait to make butter, cream and cheese.  The separator will make this much easier!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Partial Reno-Future Den

The second floor of this house is not currently suitable for living in.  The lack of insulation, drafty windows and no heating vents makes it a good place to keep your beer cold but not for human occupation.  There's also no bathroom up there.  Until it undergoes a major renovation, we're staying on the main floor.

The room we're sleeping in will eventually be the den/guest room.  I get a little antsy when there's no progression on the interior of my house and this room requires the least amount of work so I started tearing wallpaper.

Here's how it looked the other day.

Ripped up floral wallpaper and a thick green carpet in decent condition.  Ah, but you know how I feel about carpet don't you?  The carpet was laid on top of another carpet which was on top of old vinyl.   Underneath the carpets was a whole lot of mold.  It's just too damp in the Valley to have wall to wall carpeting.  Whenever we pull out a carpet the air quality in the room improves.

Limey is a bit of a perfectionist so after listening to him sigh at my wallpaper removal technique,  I let him take over the demo (wink wink).

Here's how the room looked after the wallpaper came down.

Paint colour: construction grey.
Yeah, not feeling that wall colour.  Once again we're going with blue.
Beauti-Tone "Uptown"

The reno will only consist of new flooring and paint.  I might make some blinds for the window and change the light fixture.  The furniture half of the reno will have to wait until we move upstairs.

Now here's a question for you; what accent colour should I use?

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Breath of Fresh Air

It's -1C right now and the temp is supposed to hit 5C later this afternoon.  Not surprisingly, the animals are all outside getting a break from cabin fever.

No getting in the pig paddock.

They can barely see over the snow.

Sorry girls, no grass yet.

I hope it's pregnancy making them this chunky.  But then what's Barney's excuse?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Temporary Housing and a New Pet

The morning after Limey fixed the rabbit hutch again, we found more bunnies running around the garage. Clearly we need to start from scratch and make some traditional rabbit cages. While we wait for the wire to come in, we've moved Donna and her babies into the sunroom.

Limey divided the brooder in half to use as the rabbit's temporary residence.

It's fun having them so close by.  I can watch them through the window in the kitchen.  When the babies nurse, they snuggle under Donna and then flip over on  their backs.  So cute.

I want to snuggle too!
We still have Martha's two babies.  One is growing nicely and will be put into the freezer in about a month.

The kids are still upset about losing Pippin to the local wildlife back in September and have been asking for an indoor pet.  As much as I love cats, I just can't go there again.  Besides the fact that I'm allergic, there just isn't a way to keep a cat in the house.  We are in and out all the time and a determined cat will get out and get killed.  Martha's other baby is very small in comparison to her gigantic sibling so we're going to keep her as a pet.  For the name, I voted for Hermione or Totoro but the kids wanted to name her Kiki. 

We got the cage from a lady on Kijii.  We just need to buy a new water bottle.  I'm betting that Kiki is enjoying her new digs in the house.  No more smelly barn for her!

*After I posted this, DD1 read it. When she got to the freezer part, her jaw dropped and she said "you'd better undo that, backspace it!".

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Mini Breakfast

I knew it wouldn't be long before we caved and cooked up some of the quail eggs.

The eggs are almost too pretty to eat.

They were surprisingly difficult to crack. The membrane was thick and I had rip it to get the insides out.

Yes I have ring around the element.

That resulted in some broken yolks. Look how tiny they are.

Limey has small fingers.

But they are big enough for one person...

Nudist Barbie, available at thrift shops everywhere.
The rest of the eggs are in the fridge ready for incubating next week.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oh. My. God.

This is what happens when I leave the kids with the computer for 5 minutes.

Um okay.

That's not horrible.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Homeschool Roundup

I love checking out what other people are doing when it comes to educating their children.  It keeps the creativity going.  So I figured I'd do a post on what we've been doing this year with dd1. She turned 5 in December so I guess this is her kindergarten year.

Dd1 has been reading for a couple of years now but here's two sources that I highly recommend if you're looking for a reading program.

Starfall: We used this for teaching letter sounds.  You can sit there with them and do it or if they are computer savvy they can do it themselves.  Reading Eggs is another fun web site for beginning readers and has a free trial.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons:  We didn't follow the book exactly. We skipped the writing part altogether because she just wasn't ready for that when we started and I didn't follow the script.  Lessons are very short for short attention spans!  In the beginning we did about 3 lessons each day for 10 minutes.   I think we did about two months worth (65-70 lessons) before she got bored with it and we stopped doing it.  A couple months later we noticed she was reading the weekly fliers.  Once they've figured out how to mesh the letter sounds together, it goes pretty quickly.

This year our curriculum consisted of;

RightStart Math Alpha:  I went back and forth between RightStart and Math U See for ages before finally choosing Rightstart.  You have to do the lessons with them for RightStart whereas MUS comes with video instructions.

History Odyssey Ancients:  I didn't actually buy this program.  They have free samples on their site and I used them along with the lesson index and lesson ideas from Satori Smiles (awesome blog) and Google to write my own version of the curriculum.  The program uses Story of the World and The Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History as it's spines.  It's a secular program.  Story of the World has it's own program which is very similar but it's written from a Christian perspective. 

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding:  This book is written for a classroom setting so it does require some editing.  My only other issue with it is that the lessons are not in order. Other than that, it's a great book.  It's K-2 so can be used over several grades.

Creativity Express: My kids love the computer and are allowed to use it with limits.  Creativity Express is a computer based art program that goes over techniques, artists, art history etc in a cartoony way that appeals to kids.  MAC compatible. 

The Usborne Art Treasury:  The book covers several artists and their works and has instructions for replicating the techniques involved.  The projects can be repeated over several grades.

BrainQuest Grade 1:  This is just a book full of worksheets meant to loosely cover what they learn in Grade 1.  Dd1 did the kindergarten book over the summer.  The grade 1 book requires a lot of handwriting which is why we use it.

For health we haven't really done anything specific.  There are a couple of books laying around the house that we read like;  Smart Lab Explore It Human BodyDK First Encyclopedia Human Body, Me and My Amazing Body and It's So Amazing.

For sporty stuff, dd1 is in bowling and obviously she plays outside. We'll do soccer in the spring.  For reading, well she just reads.  She'll read anything, including my blog (no more posting about presents).

The great thing about homeschooling is that you can tailor it to your child's pace and learning style.  So far we're loving it!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Great Bunny Rescue

Wonder pets, wonder pets we're on our way, to help a baby bunny and save the day.


A day after Limey found a bunnysicle in the rabbit hutch, our negligent rabbit mom, Donna, let another one of her helpless babies get into the cage where it sat shivering until I found it.  He seemed okay when I picked him up but when added back to the nest with his siblings he keeled over, dead.

I raced him back to the house where Limey performed bunny cpr and mouth to mouth.  Soon his lower lip started twitching to indicate that he was back in the land of the living.  I sat down next to the fire and rubbed him to warm his cold little body back to a decent temperature.  It didn't take long before he came out of his bunny coma and was snuggling up to my neck. 

I gave Donna a stern talking to and put her baby back in the hutch. Limey added a second baby buffer to keep them out of the run.  Two days later, all the babies have opened their eyes and are jumping around on their own, so hopefully no more rescues will be required.

Go Wonder Pets yay!

Look What I Found

Just when I was wondering if the quail would ever start laying, I found this in their cage.  When should I start incubating them?  I have chicken eggs in the incubator right now and they are due to hatch on the 18th.  I also have a dozen lavender orpington eggs being shipped out to me on the 14th.  Sooo the question is, can I incubate these with the next batch of chicken eggs?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The White Stuff

Contrary to popular belief, lard is a good fat not a bad one. With that in mind I wanted to render some of the pig fat so that I can stop using vegetable shortening/oil (bad fat).

Rendering lard is super easy. If you don't have a pig of your own, you can guarantee that your local butcher has some to sell.

First off, chop the lard into smaller pieces.  The smaller the lard the faster it will render.

Put it in a large pot and turn heat to medium low.

Stir the lard periodically as it melts down.

At some point most of the fat will be melted and you'll be left with cracklings floating on top.

Drain the fat and store the cracklings for snacks or for topping casseroles.

I overcooked this just a wee bit.  My second batch was lighter.

Pour the fat into mason jars and let cool.  The fat will turn white once it's solid.

That's it. Store in the fridge or freezer.