Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's all about chickens..

Chickens, chicks, chickens... If you talk to me in person, about 70% of our conversation would be about my chickens.  I'm a little obsessed with my new pets, I suppose I was the same when I first got my rabbits 14 years ago.  Currently I have 9 chickens... Yup, if you read that correctly, 9! I did bring home 6 chicks in August, so you're not going crazy, but I am!
The Coop and Run were made with scrap and extra materials we had laying about: door from the laundry room, window from my Dad's old trailer, plywood and walls from neighbours basement, roofing was leftovers from City Hall roof job Mike worked, and wood from various projects. We splurged and bought a can of discounted paint (not a colour I'd normally pick) a few 2x4s, insulation and of course wire for run.
These first 3 pictures are from late August
The Coop!
The Run! See the 6 little chicks....
Inside the Coop looking out.
In mid September, I was perusing the local online buy & sell and saw a listing for 4 free older hens. Being slightly naive and anxious for eggs I jumped on it and that evening I had the hens! But by next morning I was regretting the decision, the hens were mean to the chicks and they were huge and ugly(molting)! Luckily someone else was inquiring after the hens as well and the next day 3 hens were off to a new home. We decided to keep one hen and Ivy named her Clarissa, but I call her "Old Hen" (I know, so original).  She was still mean  to the chicks (hen pecking/pecking order) But at least 1 vs 6 was easier on my stress levels. Old Hen was laying an egg twice a week, not bad for a 4 year old, molting hen. She is a New Hampshire cross... at least that is what I was told. My chicks are ISA Browns.
The next 4 pictures are from Old Hen's first week. 

Old Hen liked to guard the door...
... definitely boss chicken!

7 week old chicks, nervously hiding from the Hen.

Still in that awkward teenage chicken stage,

After a few weeks the chicks and Old Hen became accustomed to each other and everything was hunky dorry. Mike and girls made some A-frame perches outside in the run and all the neighbourhood kids would come over and catch grasshoppers to feed through the wire for the chicks.
For my Birthday, I got a surprise from my friend Drisana! She brought me 2 of her special chicks: Silver Phoenix Bantam crosses! My flock did not appreciate the new members as much as I did. They didn't mind the brown one(Doris) but the white(Phoenix aka Fuzzycheeks) they despised! Mike joked that my chickens are racist (he's so mean) But after 3 weeks all the hens are getting along. The two new chicks are just a week older than the original, so everyone should start laying soon!
New chicks trying to stay away from others.

Close up of Doris and Phoenix.

This past weekend, we got the biggest snowfall of the season (so far) and the chickens refuse to leave their warm cozy Coop. I think they were scared of all that white stuff! The Chicks are all 3 1/2 months old, 15/16 weeks. They should start laying this month... I was told around 20 weeks. I hope they start soon as Old Hen has slowed down, 1 egg every 9ish days, which I knew she would but was hope she wouldn't.

Relaxing and playing with the little door.

Treats and seeds will not lure them out.

Phoenix and Doris love to be up high,

Chickens are so funny, check out their little combs!
And don't worry I haven't forgotten about my first crazy pet obsession! We had a batch of bunnies is June and plan to have maybe 2 batches next spring.  Before I get into another pet obsession I better buy some property so I can have my dream hobby farm! Yay to pets that produce!!
Big Grey, my new favorite buck.
I suppose that's it for now, 3 months of crazy chicken-ness all crammed into one post... Now I shall go check on my chickies and shoo them out into the run for some fresh air!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

What a busy day! Lots of fun at school today: Hot lunch, costume parade, games, haunted house, prizes and treats! And then a few hours at home before the girls went Trick-or-treating, I maned the door while Mike, Klara and Ben's G-Friend took the 4 girls around the neighbourhood, then we filled up on candy and chips for a bit and then (Lots of "and then"... lol) and then we loaded up the van and off to the ball park for bonfire, hotdogs, and Fireworks!! And then we came home and scrubbed off the makeup and the girls crashed in bed! The end! Whew, what a day!

Anna "The spooky old witch"

The pumpkins we grew! Anna carved the top one at school.

Anna's pumpkin she carved at home, Klara grew it.

Ivy carved this pumpkin, then it was modified by my Samuel... Another pumpkin from our patch.

Devilish Ivy!  Between trick-or-treating and Bonfire, half the make-up is wore off.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Who are you?
Guess who is raising backyard chickens?... ME!!  I've wanted chickens for as many years we've had rabbits but Mike always said no, mainly because of the smell, but somehow I finally convinced him to say yes!  I think my friend D had a lot to do with changing Mike's mind as she has a flock of 40+ and her place isn't stinky unless it's raining, and since I only want a small flock, there really was no contest! Long story short my Friend D and I bought some day old chicks from a hatchery and she raised them till they big enough for my to bring home my 6. The chicks are ISA Browns, (a good layer hen) and are currently one month old. They are in the awkward teen stage, growing their feathers but still have some fuzzy down and funny as heck! Anna really likes them and will disappear for an hour at time playing and feeding them.

Yum chick grower crumbles
Peep! bright light!
I'll try to keep this blog more up to date but you know life is, busy, busy, busy!
PS Don't tell anyone in my town that I have chickens, Currently there is no law saying yea or nay for keeping these marvelous birds and I really don't want to call attention to them in case council votes no.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Squash Mountain

Last year when we cleared the back lot, we put all the sod, grass, and clippings into a pile to compost down.  The girls had a blast playing on it and it was dubbed  Grass Mountain. This past Halloween I got the girls and boys, whom I babysit, to dump the pumpkin guts onto the hill in hope some would seed themselves for spring.

March and April, I searched the hill every 4 days in hope to see pumpkin seedlings sprouting all over but, alas, nothing.  Then in early May I found two little oval, dark green leaves, it's what I was looking and waiting for! I searched for more, waited another 2 weeks but no new plants were to be seen. 4 pumpkins worth of seeds but only one, measly little, seed took hold.  I was a little disappointed. I had grand dreams of the hill being covered by  big pumpkin leaves, twisty, curly vines, and beautiful big orange globes for this fall.

Not one to be kept down, I dug around in my seed stash and found an old package of zucchini seeds.  They were at least 4 years old and I knew it was a long shot but I planted them in the hill anyway. 2 weeks later and not a one sprouted.

It's now the second week on June, I am still determined to grow some vines on that pile of composting grass and sod.  A few days ago, while shopping, I bought a 6 pack of butternut squash seedlings. Today, with the help of Ivy, I planted four of those plants onto (into?) the pile and while doing so I found two (TWO!!) zucchini seedlings!  Yaaa!! 

So it is official, Grass Mountain will now be known as Squash Mountain! One pumpkin, 2 zucchini and 4 butternut squash! 
(2 butternuts were planted into the garden, just in case you were wondering what happened to them)

... now, how to keep the children and dog off the hill....

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cutting back

Last week a Facebook friend posted a Body by Vi ad: "Where else can you buy 30 meals for $49" and that got me to thinking... $49 divided by 30 = $1.63 per meal.  Times that by 4 people, 3 meals a day for 30 days and it equals: $588.... To me that seems expensive and I thought some more.
(I know this meal shake is not to be used for 3 meals/day nor for everyone in the family and NO I am not thinking of using this product, just the math intrigued me.)

I thought about how much I spend on groceries for my family. I didn't sit down with the month statement and checkbook, I just roughly estimated... once a week I go to 2 stores in GF, usually spend $100 (+/-) at each one .. $800!! Are you kidding me that's TOO much! Now I felt deflated... But that is $2.22 per person/meal, never mind the snacks, desserts and cat food (dog/rabbit food separate) and now I felt better but still.... a nagging little feeling deep inside was screaming at me to cut that budget, lower the $800 to at least $600...

I used to be so good at shopping, spending $300(+/-) each month, at least I used to be good at shopping before I started taking my nieghbours shopping every week,  before veggies, dairy and grains became so ridiculously priced, before Anna's galactose/dairy free diet, before both girls, before I cut out prefabbed meals.... before I learned how to make good food from scratch.... before.... Wow lots of things have changed in the last 7 years!

Ok, maybe $800 per month for my family of 4 isn't so bad. But I do need to re-think what goes into my shopping cart and cutting down on the shopping trips will help a lot.  I went a week and a half between my latest trips and I only spent $65 on the last! Mostly Almond milk, PB, veggies and wild rice.

Our meals are not lacking from my cutting back, the freezer is a little less full and the fridge has veggies/dairy and not so much junk. I think this cutting back will be more beneficially to my family. Soon we'll be buying veggies from the farmers market and then harvesting from our own garden and greenhouse.  I've also been thinking seriously of raising chickens in the backyard (4-6 layers) just have to wait for city council to approve a by-law, fingers crossed!

So all in all, my shopping habits will be changing, not only to ease our pocketbooks but to help our waistlines too! 
Happy June everyone :)

Monday, April 23, 2012


We seem to be having a bad luck streak with rabbits this week...

Last month we rescued 3 rabbits from bother-in-law's yard. Someone had released their pet rabbits a few years ago and they started to breed and a few had found their way to BiL's, so he and K live trapped them for us before cats/crows/dogs killed them.  We were happy that one of them was a female and not too pleased that the other 2 were males.  We bred the female, Ivy named her "Midnight", and set her up in her own hutch.  The males were put in a hutch together until we could get another stand built. Brown male was named "Fudge" and the Black male got the name "Butch"

All was fine, or so we thought...  We did notice the two males chasing each other in the hutch but didn't think much of it.  Last Monday, Ivy came home from school and went out to feed the rabbits. She came running back in and said somethings wrong with Fudge! She was very upset. Fudge was dead, he had obvious wounds from Butch.  Mike and I felt bad we hadn't separated them sooner, but there wasn't much we could do now. The next day the girls shared the news with their friends... this ended up a huge headache for me.  Three boys wanted to kill Butch in retribution, two girls were scared of all the rabbits, Sean was in tears and asked a LOT of questions about death and the rabbits, Anna kept bringing up the subject at supper and Ivy was extremely emotional.  I think most of the neighbourhood kids have let the subject go but Anna hasn't and I'm not sure about Sean. It's hard to learn "life's lessons" about death. Hopefully none of the kids will be traumatized.

Then yesterday morning, Sunday, Ivy once again went out to feed rabbits and came back shortly saying there was a strange small creature dead on the ground. My first thought was of the cat and his hunting presents. But I was wrong.  It was a dead newborn bunny, it had crawled out of the hutch and died of exposure. I looked more closely and saw more dead bunnies in with Midnight, she hadn't made a nest inside her box, she had the bunnies on the cage floor. I found a total of 5, all dead,  but all fully formed and mature. By my calculation, from the breeding we had set up, she would not have been due until April 30, another week from now. Midnight must have been pregnant before we caught her.  We all were upset, those poor little bunnies didn't have a chance at all. It's not uncommon for young rabbits to lose their first litter due to inexperience, but it's still sad none the less. Today I'm thankful this litter didn't make it as it most likely was from inbreeding and inbred rabbits never seem to do well, which causes heartache later on.  I told the girls that they can talk and ask questions with Mike and I  but they are not to tell their friends nor the boys I babysit. I can not handle another week of weepy kids, their parents are going to start to wonder what kind of house/people they are sending their kids to.

Today, Monday, I went out after the kids left for school and checked on the rabbits. I'm glad I did.  My old little rabbit, Baby Bear, didn't make it through the night.  I have been expecting his death all winter long.  I'm fairly certain yesterday's sudden heat contributed to his passing.  Baby Bear was second generation to be born here, and was one of our best breeder. He was over 9 years old and has been looking rough and old for the past year. He was always my favorite, very friendly and he will be missed...

So that's three bad things/three deaths, so the law of three has passed and we'll now have better luck, right?

Time to start a new generation, all new stock. Yup, it's all good now.

Friday, March 9, 2012

It's March

And Spring is springing!

Everyday there is a little less snow, mud puddles are growing and days are gloriously getting warmer!

So lovely to hang the laundry on the line and have it completely dry by late afternoon.

The birds are in the bare trees, hopping from branch to branch taunting the cat and puppy.

Last weekend +16c, I was outside enjoying the sun in my snow boots and t-shirt. Ahh, Canadian springtime!

By the end of the month I should be planning my garden and asking Michael to rotor-till. I wonder if we will get any pumpkins this year from the jack-o-lantern guts we put in the new lot. I also wonder if we will have any flowers this year, puppy Samuel loves to poop and roll in the flower beds... We shall see...

Aaahhh, yes, we shall see what spring brings!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Apple Pie

I have been baking up a storm this past week, being in the kitchen helps lift my spirits and lets me deal with my emotions. T is still my friend, she (kind of) admitted she was wrong and stated that she didn't want anything to come between our friendship, I'm doing better... not 100% yet but almost. Anyhow...

Out of the blue, Sunday morning, Anna asked why I don't make pie. I reminded her of all the plum/apple tarts we made in the summer and fall but she said they aren't real pies. So I asked her what kind of pie would she like to make and after some silly talk of chocolate moose(animal), peanut butter pumpkin and strawberry bugs we decided on apple. We googled some recipes and Anna chose what she wanted and off to the kitchen we went.  Our apple harvest this fall was healthy and plentiful and we were able to store some apples in the basement. Mike brought up a box for us to use, the little apples were soft and wrinkly but still good and they made the pie very sweet but not overly so. I don't usually post recipes but I'll make concessions with this one, too good not to share! It's a mix of different recipes and from my memory, so hopefully I won't leave anything out.

Anna's Apple Pie
2 1/4 cups  flour, all purpose
1  tsp         salt
1  tbsp       sugar, white
1  cup        Tenderflake (shortening/lard)
6-7 tbsp    cold water

Apples! enough to filling pie plate heaping, I didn't measure/count
3/4 - 1 cup  Brown sugar
2  tbsp     cornstarch
1/2 tsp     pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg/cloves mix
1-2 tsp    cinnamon
2 pinches salt
1-2 tbsp   dairy free margarine (butter, marg)

1-2 tbsp  Almond milk (rice, soy or cow's milk)
1 tbsp     course sugar

Dough: mix dry ingredients. Cut shortening into flour mix with pastry blender or by rubbing hands together, (good job for kids) till shortening is small pea size.  Drizzle water one tbsp at a  time and onto mixture and toss with a knife (prevents overmixing) until mixture forms and holds a ball shape when gripped with hands. cut dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.  Roll out half on floured counter and place in pie shell. Roll out other half and slice into long strips for lattice top or roll out into one sheet for regular top.

Peel and slice apples, small and thin (1"x2"x1/8").  Mix dry ingredients thoroughly and then toss with apples. Dump onto dough in pie shell and dot with marg.

Place top layer of dough on pie filling, lattice or regular (regular will need some vent holes) crimp, press around the edges. Brush top dough with milk and sprinkle course sugar all over evenly.
Bake at 425F for 15mins and then 350F for 50 mins and enjoy!

This has to be the flakiest crust I've ever made! The brown sugar lends the pie a caramel flavour that we all love but you can use white sugar for a more traditional feel. *Mom, notice the glass pie plate you gave me! I still have it and love it!*

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

True Friends?

I'm having a pity party this week. 
I'm feeling used and abused. 
It's hard to get my feelings out, I feel like crying but can't.

My friend T has let me down a few times this week and it's really effecting my emotions.  Usually I can let things slide but this is sticking with me, I thought maybe I was feeling depressed but Mike says he feels the same towards T and my feelings are justified. That only helps a little because then I can't blame these feelings on "feeling blue", there are real reasons behind it all and I'm wondering what kind of friend is T and her husband....

Why can't I keep friends, am I too picky?  Why is it so hard...?

I can't wait for spring.

Monday, February 13, 2012


I'm melting... Melting....

Well, not me really but the snow outside. It's been above freezing for 4-5 days now and all the snow/ice on the side roads have turned into squishy yucky slush!  The tire tracks are still frozen but the dog pulls me off the slim path and into the slush while we are out for our walks... and my boots are not very waterproof any more since he decided they taste better that his raw hide treats.

Samuel is such a handsome dog.  He is growing like a weed, already taller and heavier than Rupert ever was, sometimes we forget he is still a puppy not even 6 months old. But this puppy is chewing on my last nerve!  Saturday he stole food (the girls) off the table 3 times in one hour and that's with telling him NO, smacking on the nose and sticking him in the kennel after every theft! Sunday he stole Ivy's lunch when she went to the bathroom!  It's not like he is staving, he gets fed 3 times a day and has lots of pig's ears, raw hides and toys.  We think it was an act of rebellion because Mike was away for the weekend to his friends in Castlegar.  It's frustrating to no end!  When it's just me and Samuel all day during the week, he is very well behaved. We have our routine and know what to expect from each other but when the girls and Mike are home, sheesh! It all goes out the door!

Well, anyhow back to the weather.  I hope spring has sprung, I hope winter isn't hiding around the corner waiting for everything to melt, for plants to green up and then Blam it hits us again with freezing and snow and ruins the trees.... I guess the only thing to do is wait...

Mike was saying the passes have hardly any snow, and if it continues to melt it will be an early break up and without the snow pack it will be a long dry summer which means a long fire season as well. And that scares the heck out of me!!

Anyhow, it'll be a busy week for me, just about every day at the school. Time to get going....

Monday, January 30, 2012

Conversations... with myself...

Maybe it's just me, I hope it's not, hopefully it's quite common...

My mind very rarely shuts off. It is constantly thinking, re-hashing conversations, creating new recipes, new projects, trying to remember, dictating blogs/letters/phone calls, singing, reminding, making lists, and well, talking to me.  I will be staring at the TV or computer but I'm actually not paying attention to it, I'm preoccupied with whatever thoughts are running through my brain.  My husband will ask me something about what I'm doing/watching and I really can't answer him.

I've been asked/told that "it must be so boring at home without the girls" but I'm not. I don't really see my friends that often, 10-20 mins everyday at the school bus stop, a few hours with the neighbour on our shopping trips once a week but other then that I'm busy with *me* till the kids come home. I DO do stuff during the day: some house cleaning/chores, taking care of animals, cooking, shopping, PAC volunteering, computer work/games. But I really don't need someone around me all day, as far as I can remember I have always been fine with just myself.

Never being lonely seems to be the only plus side to living with my brain though. When it's 2am and I'm trying to sleep, it's waaay to noisy! Louder than Micheal's snoring! That is annoying
Or when I'm busy and bustling my little behind, my brain is too quiet and Micheal and the girls can't hear it asking nicely for their help and then my brain sends messages to my mouth to bark out orders at them to hurry up and do it NOW!  Ya, that's not fun nor nice. 
Or when I keep thinking of something, planing on doing it and I've thought of it for so long that I actually think that I have done it and it turns out that I haven't... that sucks!

It is not fun, very annoying and sucks so much that I begin to wonder if I'm going crazy. Is this "talking to ones self"? I'm I going nuts? When/how do I know when it's too much? 

Is my brain taking over... me?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welcome 2012

It's been awhile since I posted, life has been BUSY to say the least!  My dear Mother misses my posts, so Hi Mom!  Here are some pictures from recent months, Enjoy.
Snow arrived in November

And with snow came to lazy sofa days...
...along with silly girls!

I went with the girls on a school outing, Ivy at GF Museum.

Anna waiting outside museum for school bus.

Samuel in early Nov, home for a few weeks.

Sam at home after a month, DOUBLED in size!
Such a silly puppy, sleeps in strange positions.
4 months old and 37 pounds! Vet says he'll be over 100lbs when fully grown... not the medium size like we wanted...
Sammy's outgrown his bed after 2 months of use.

I snuck this shot of Ivy at breakfast one day.

Micheal grew a mustache for "Movember", the girls were fascinated by his new hair and wanted to grow some too. Ivy came up with these fake 'staches instead.

Anna's birthday party, my friend Drisana stayed and helped.

Anna opening gifts

A rare shot of me, taken by Ivy.

Girls are showing off masks from New Orleans, given to them by Aunt Jen.

Ivy took this photo of Anna, Aunt Jen, and Grandma Cindy (hi Mom)

My friend Andrea in Australia sent the girls these cute Koala purses and Joey pencil cases.
Christmas morning, Grandma Rocky gave them new dresses!

My Silly Husband and reindeer Anna.
 And that just about finishes 2011, I haven't downloaded Ivy's birthday pictures yet, so you'll just have to wait with baited breath!
Happy New Year everyone, all the best to you and your family!