Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chickens, Coops, and Farms...Oh My!

Sooo, we got some chicks. 

Problem was, we were totally not prepared. When I say 'not prepared', I mean, we didn't have one thing we needed to take care of these little feeders, no food, no housing, no nothing. 

So, how did we end up getting these little puffballs? Big J's sister was getting 13 chicks in one afternoon and wanted to know if we wanted a few. So, Big J and lil' J made a quick trip to Tractor Supply, picked up some feed, a feeder, a waterer, and some pine shavings. Our 'plan' was to keep a few of them in a rubbermaid container to give us a few weeks to build a coop. Boy am I glad we didn't end up going with that plan! Those little things grow fast! 

After we picked up the chicks, we stopped by Big J's Granny's house to show them to her. As we were leaving, an old dog cage she hasn't used in years caught my eye. So, it came home with us. After some alterations and tweaking, we had a pretty nice temporary coop for the chicks perfect for growing chicks. 

The 2 with the blue marks on their heads are supposed to be Araucana/Americauna chicks and the 2 with the green dots are supposed to be Rhode Island Reds.

The chicks are about 2 weeks old in this picture
We only plan to keep 2 or 3 of the hens and give the rest back to my sister-in-law. Problem is, we have no idea which ones are hens and which ones are roosters. They'll have to get much older to be able to tell    what sex they are though. The kids hold the chicks every day. We are trying to get them used to us and tame them down a bit. The chicks are quite comical to watch...such inquisitive little creatures. One seems to be very intelligent. It is not really scared of us and is ALWAYS looking for ways to escape the cage. 

We put the coop in an old dog pen we no longer use. More recently, it was the kids' home for their turtles, but we set those free shortly before the chickens arrived.

Jason is using as much scrap material as he can that we already have laying around the house. He estimates the coop only costing a little more than $30. 

The coop is still a work in progress. We'll have to do some railing repairs from some past hurricane damage and a few other modifications to the fencing, but it's a start :)

We also took a very informative, eye opening field trip to a little dairy farm. I used to think about getting a dairy cow, but not any more. They are a lot of work! I have no desire to milk a cow twice a day, nor could we drink up that much milk! This lady sells her extra milk. 

She also makes and sells all sorts of cheeses, buttermilks, and butters out of her extra milk. I have no desire to do any of that! Plus, the cheese making process is quite tedious and some cheeses take months till they are ready. Nope, a dairy cow is not for me. 
In a few months, this will be cheddar cheese.


I liked her chicken coop. It was pretty simple...a lot like ours will be. Very little maintenance and work overall. ...And once the hens reach maturity, you get a few eggs every day. I can handle that.

They also had a garden, various fruit trees, and tons of herbs. I can handle this part too, just on a much smaller scale. After seeing her already planted and growing garden, I realized a better get a start on mine before the season gets away from me. So, I planted potatoes, green beans, a few herbs, and some companion plants good for keeping pests away from my veggie plants. I'll have to do the rest soon.

I thoroughly enjoyed this field trip...more so than the kids, I! We even came home with a gallon of fresh raw Jersey cow's milk, italian herb cheese, jalapeno garlic cheese, and butter :) 

MFW-ECC - Weeks 30&31 - Russia and Australia

Our Week in Review

As you can tell by my multi-week post, it has been a little crazy around here. Surprisingly, we did manage to get our school work done. The areas that took hits were art and experiments. However, it was replaced by other somewhat artsy experimental endeavors.

We started the jeweled eggs. The kids blew out the innards and we made scrambled eggs one day for lunch, but that's as far as we got with that. We did go on a field trip to a strawberry farm to do some strawberry picking. We also spent an entire day at the Houston Fair and Livestock Show, so I guess that made up for not finishing the jeweled eggs.  On a side note...did the Kookaburra song bring back Barney (the purple dinosaur) memories for anyone!
Yummy scrambled eggs!
This one makes me laugh!

Hot, sweaty, and tired, but the fresh picked strawberries sure did hit the spot :)

We did not have time for any of the art projects suggested for Week 31, instead, we decorated potatoes for potato night at AWANA, got some baby chicks (YIKES!), and took a field trip to a little dairy farm. 

Puddles doesn't know what to think about her new roommates. 

Potato Cowgirl

Darth Tader

He is one big Great Dane!

Homemade Butter

Award winning race horse *Easy*
They got to try their hands at milking a cow.

Sweet little calf

A was in horse heaven :)
Gathering eggs

We found a really cool website with lots of animals and insects changing colors and/or blending in with their environment. Check it out here.

The tundra activity was fun. Double gloves really made a difference! This activity helped the kids understand how animals can stay warm in the colder climates.

All in all, it was a really great 2 weeks. Hope you had a great week as well :) Check out the next post for more about our chicken and farm adventures :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

MFW-ECC - Week 29 - Russia, Permafrost, & Oral Book Reports

Our Week in Review

This week, we completed a permafrost activity. 

We prepared some lime flavored gelatin. We poured half into the container above (for our experiment) and half into another container (to snack on later). This layer represents the frozen ground, the permafrost layer.
The dirt represents the unfrozen layer of soil above the permafrost layer. 
The crushed ice represents snow.

As the "snow" melted, it created muddy pools/pockets of water.

This demonstrates what happens in areas cold enough to have a permafrost layer.

This week, we flew on over to Russia. We are excited and ready to learn all about this country and the cold arctic.

This week, the boys had to give oral book reports as part of their language lesson. I think they did an awesome job!

Monday, March 5, 2012

MFW-ECC - Week 27/28 - Japan, painting, origami, and kimonos

Our Week in Review
These past 2 weeks have been super busy. This whole month has been super busy :-{  I'm hoping, with basketball ending, things will start to slow back down a bit.

The kids had a lot of fun making origami animals...or should I say mom had a lot of fun. I mean, they helped (at first) with the simple ones, but the more intricate designs they picked out the more I found myself being the one to do all the folding. 
Sorry, no pics. We were at Granny's the day we made these and I forgot my camera. Anyway, we made a tulip w/stem, a penguin, a dog, a cat, a sitting wolf, and a few more I am having trouble remembering.

We ended the Japan study by painting our very own cherry blossoms and plum trees using a technique in which you blow paint around through a straw. It was a very simple, easy, and fun way to paint trees. Here is another blog with some awesome pictures about this technique. 
We used a small cup for our sun outline.

When you paint around the cup, it creates a beautiful backdrop for your tree.

After the blue dried, we used watered down black to "blow paint" our trees

Once that dried, we added in the purple plum blossoms and pink cherry blossoms.

The kids said theirs looked more like coral reef, but they still had a lot of fun :)

Here is my and A's attempts at making kimonos for our Japanese ladies.
Aleeya thought hers needed spicing up a bit, hence the animal print flannel coat to go along with the kimono. And yes, there is a lady underneath. The scarf is wrapped around her head.

This blog has some more great examples. You can print your own free templates for this activity here.
Science was fun. We learned about fish, beaches, shorelines, oceans, and estuaries. Not really anything in the way of experiments though :(  The kids enjoyed looking up some strange creatures on the internet found in the deepest parts of the ocean though. Some of those things are just freaky!

We ended the "trip to Japan" by having dinner at a local Japanese restaurant.
Just checkin' to see if it was too hot ;) 

I'm gonna have to look up the recipe :) The onion soup was quite tasty! 

Jase wanted the cooked shrimp tempura rolls. He liked the 1st one, but had his fill after that.  He helped his sister eat her dinner instead.

A wanted the shrimp hibachi plate. After J and A ate on this, we STILL had leftovers to bring home.


We finished up the Gladys Aylward book. This story was full of action and excitement from cover to cover. We actually (for once) finished a book ahead of schedule. Each time the chapter would end right on a good part and the kids wanted to keep going. She was an amazing woman. Each of the missionaries we have read about this year have amazing testimonies of faith and perseverance. The way God worked in and through their lives was absolutely incredible!