Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hatching Your Own Chicks

We bought our fertilized eggs on ebay. Yes, ebay! They arrived well packed and we placed them in an incubator in our laundry room with an "egg turner" that turns a row of eggs periodically so all sides can get equal warmth. It goes through a complete "turn" in 2 hours so it doesn't move at a speed the eye can pick up.

After several weeks of watching and monitoring temperatures, we started hearing peeping coming from the incubator. Nothing had hatched yet, but the chicks were in there, ready to start pecking their way out!

A few hours the first chick had pecked a little hole and we got to see how hour after hour it struggled to free itself from it's shell. Egg after egg, we got to see this amazing life cycle in our laundry room, amidst the hassle and bustle of daily life.

This was our last egg, and we could not resist filming it!

Kevin will tell you what you need to hatch your own batch at home.

-Kevin here, evidently we've been going about this the wrong way, turns out theres a real easy way to hatch your own chick...heres a video how to (go to 40 seconds into the video)-  


OK-heres a link to a post on the basics (and a few secrets) when using a Styrofoam type incubator.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Samoan Pig BBQ Mmmmmmm!

Ok, heres the basic process as witnessed by me watching (and trying to help) a couple Samoan friends:

1) The fire is boxed out in newly cut green logs.

2)  Then we put a sheet of galvanized tin (it had been set on the fire earlier to burn the zinc off) in the box and put a layer or two of smaller rocks on the tin.

3) A fire built high with logs (maybe 24" tall-alot of wood!) is started and allowed to burn. As it burns the larger rocks (dry round river rocks are best) are put on top of the fire, they are being heated and are creating a surface between the ash/coals and where your going to set the pig (on top of the rocks).

4) At the right time the green perimeter logs are removed.

5) The pig is set on the rocks and then covered with a mound of soaked newspapers (banana leaves are better if you got em!). Its important that it is air tight, everywhere smoke comes out of the newspaper more wet newspaper must be added otherwise you will have charbroiled pig!

Joe adding some rock salt. You can see Greg busy soaking newspaper (why you ask?....scroll to the bottom and see the pics)

Look at that rock glow! Joe shows how hot the rocks need to be...and yes, they can be too hot. We put about 5 rocks in the cavity of each pig-careful to get an extra big one or two up by the most dense part of the pig-its head and rump.

Stuffed with hot rocks, sweet potatoes, cabbage (from our garden) the pig is then wrapped up with chicken wire-legs close to the body.

Here we see the fire burned to coals and the rocks sufficiently heated by being set on top of the fire early on. The box of green wood is being pulled away in preparation for receiving the pigs and building the wet newspaper mound.

Putting the pigs on. Cabbage adds would be better with banana or mango leaves!

The pigs being set on the rocks and coals.

Sealing the pig, rock, coals, and tin underneath a mountain of soaked newspaper.

Looking for any spots smoke is finding its way out and sealing with more wet newspaper.

About 3-4 hours after burying the pig in newspaper they are done, and might I add...DELICIOUS!

“After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die.”
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Finished Barn---Part 2

OK, now that its been lived in a bit I thought Id post some finished (its never really finished) pics....enjoy!

This is the chicken coop-the netting is more to keep hawks and owls out than to keep chickens in.

Front Door-Earlier in spring the barn the Daffodils were all in bloom all along the front of the barn.

You can see the other barn/shed in the distance. Its a little more utilitarian. Notice no windows. The roof has a section of opaque material going down the middle for light. Im using it for hay storage, raising poults and chicks, and a night roost for free range guineas, turkeys, and chickens.

For the goats, chicken wire to keep guineas out of center part of barn.

 The ladder going to what is now the kids play area...My daughter asked if I could put the play house on the ground for her...maybe next time :/

Kids play area

The backside is useful to hang some of the otherwise difficult to store items.

The inside of the chicken coop. Those are leghorns-great white egg layer. There are also a few Golden Lace Wyandottes. You cant really tell but the handle was made by my son and me out of some native Bodark wood-TOUGH STUFF!

How to build a barn with landscape timbers-PART 1

Not really step 1 since I already dug the the rubble pit foundation, dry stacked the cinder blocks, and filled the cores with concrete and rebar. But we will call it step 1. Pressure treated sill plates bolted with foundation bolts to the concrete foundation. Every landscape timber is nailed with a 6 inch ribbed spike in about 4 spots roughly equal distance from each other.

2x4s nailed to front and made level with shims so my wall is level.

Time for window frames and door frames-Make sure they are level and plumb. I used cedar for the window sills.

Same thing, different angles...

My helper

Second floor going up...





Some inside shots. The cross braces are 2x6s and key to stabilizing the second floor.

More close ups...

This is a close up of the Butt and Pass system. It adds strength to the walls, and looks cool too. Notice the spike connecting the perpendicular walls at the pass, I did this every couple feet or so for added strength.

Inside shot. I used 4x6s at the perimeter of the second floor and 2x6s every 2' between the 4x6s.

Eve to the entry door being framed.

For the second floor I wrapped the framework in tar paper before overlaying with cedar boards. Its important to leave at least a 1/16" gap between boards because they swell when they get wet. The tar paper helps keep water and bugs out. You can see the tar paper on the upper right side of second floor in the pic above and 2 below.

I extended the roof on one side of the barn just for added protection from the elements for the animals.

Galvanized roofing except for the entry door eve which has split cedar shake roof.

Ladder made of logs and landscape timbers lead to second floor.

One of 2 windows for ventilation on second floor.

Stained glass windows in second floor. They came from a demolished house in England.

Close up.

You can see the cedar shake roof in this pic and below.

More to come now that its totally done....whew!

Be sure to see the finished barn!

Homeschooling 101

More and more, people are considering taking their kids out of school and teaching them at home. The reasons vary, some don't like the school environment, others see their kids dwindling academically due to large class sizes, or they see that their child's learning needs are not being met the way they should.
Whatever the reason, I see that look a lot--the one I used to have about 6 years ago--when I realized that I was going to pull my son out of school. It's a deer-caught-in-the-headlights/ lost-in-the-woods/ frantic look that I know so well.
Some of the questions that those parents have asked me, are: How? What? When?
First: let me begin by saying that no matter what you do, if you do anything at all, you'll do better than public school. :-)
Studies show that the average active learning time in public school/child is about 1 hour per day. That's it! Out of the 6 or 7 hours that they are there, only one is spent in active learning.
So yeah, you can do better.

Second: Breathe.

Third: Start slow.

Be the tortoise. Adopt Aesop's slogan "Slow and steady wins the race." When you take the plunge and pull your kids out of school, DO NOT by any means start trying to replicate school at home!

This is what I recomend:

1) For the first month or so--especially if you pull them out at the end of the year and have the summer ahead--start with a short devotional (memorizing a scripture, singing a song, saying a prayer, sharing a thought). Then move on to story time.

Story time will trick them into reading later. How? Easy. Weather you read to them out loud or you listen to a CD from the library or from, they will learn to enjoy reading because they will want the story. Reading can be addicting (an addiction that we all want our kids to have) because it transports the mind to places and situations outside our world. Reading out loud or listening together to an unabridged book will hook them.
Start with something short, funny, and a few years above their reading level. Example: If your kids are just starting to read short chapter books, then listen to The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz or Stewart Little or Black Beauty. 

Do story time for one moth or a few weeks, then add 30 min. of personal reading time "Quiet time" at my house. As you move closer to the school year months add 15 min. incrementally, until you reach a whole hour or more!

2) The second month of summer, add 5 math problems or multiplication songs to be memorized or an educational math game. (I love mathseeds from the makers for Jumpstart is another good site). The important thing is to start slow and easy. Do 5 math problems then go read! Add more work incrementally as the summer progresses, so that by the fall they are doing 10 problems and some learning games, and from there you can move into an actual curriculum book.

3)The third month add writing. Journaling, or copy work, or keyboarding, or summarizing. Keep it short and sweet, well below their skill level at first, so that they associate easy with homeschool.

Again, add incrementally more work until by mid fall, say November they are doing 3 hours of school in half hour increments.
So 30 min. of Math, 30 min. of Writing, 30 min. of Science, 30 min. of History, 30 of reading out loud or listening and 30 or more of personal reading!

We can talk about scheduling and curriculum later, but for now, let all this information digest and start making your evil plans for the gradual implementation of school work at home.

Good luck and live providently and prosper!