Tuesday, August 2, 2016

some mighty fine laying hens and about the birds

We had some glad shouts happening in the kitchen when there were two double yolkers in a row.
The glad shouts became more amplified with three double yolkers in a row.
And then...four double yolkers in a row! The hooting and hollering and mayhem could be heard down the road.

We started off with 65 laying hens early this spring. About half way through June I couldn't handle them escaping the field, wrecking my vegetable garden, turning up the mulch in the flower gardens, and the endless blobs of chicken poop everywhere. I sold half of them but we continue to have problems with chickens laying in the pig pen, goat house, pigs eating eggs in the field, and so we have a very low egg production rate but very healthy animals.

*About double yolkers
~Occurs when 2 egg  yolks are released into a hen's oviduct too close together and end up encased within the same shell.
~Its more common in the beginning of the eggs cycle (meaning younger chickens are more likely to produce the double yolkers).
~Roughly 1 in every thousand eggs is double yolked (but I think it must be more common than this statistic)

After last year's experience of birds flying out over my head, this year I filled the coop with heritage chickens.
We have breeding pairs of silkies, frizzles, and jungle fowl.
In the front of the coop we took out the window and made an outdoor aviary for small birds.
There's a small hole for the birds to fly through and they can get some warmth in the inside of the coop.
Budgies are able to live outdoors during the harshest of climates but for some reason I couldn't keep a budgie alive for more than a few days. The bright flashes of their colouring and their soothing tweets were a highlight but I needed to find another bird. Now we have zebra finches gracing the aviary and they seem to do be doing well.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Life on the Farm - spring & summer 2016 - GOATS

We were thrilled to learn our goat Mabel was expecting, due near the beginning of April. We kept a careful eye on her once again as she nested in the warm comfort of the chicken coop, hoping that this time we would be able to witness the birth of a kid.
Unfortunately it was not to be. We missed the birth of a little buckling and doe by a few minutes. I heard a faint little "bleat" from the coop and went running. There stood a panting mama and two wee little things trying to get on to their feet.

We had two younger girls visiting us that day and they were totally thrilled watching this all take place. When their mom came to pick them up, they were adamant they couldn't go home. Their poor mom didn't know the goat was pregnant so she was trying to sort out what they were saying when they told her they wanted to wait until the placenta came out(!)
This picture won the photo contest and made it to the front page of the newspaper. Caleb was very proud of himself and shows all of our guests his claim to fame.

                                                     The Goat House
The boys' playhouse was in a dangerous state so we decided to take it down, fix it up, and make that into the goat house.

 The new goat-house- to -be was moved across the frozen field and set up near the other animal shelters.


During the spring, trim and paint were added along with a fence for the pen.
With ramps and stools to play on, this goat area has turned out to be fun. We love watching the goats run, leap, and jump.
We needed to get rid of the buckling (they can make their sisters pregnant at a very young age). The plan was to trade Mabel the mama goat, and the buckling for a friendly and calm goat that could walk around on a harness. When I showed the owner a picture of Mabel she totally refused to do the trade. She explained that she had already owned Mabel once upon a time and didn't ever want her back again. I knew exactly what she meant. Mabel is good looking but has a harsh character that shouts out unfriendliness. We ended up giving the buckling and some money for this new goat that we all love.

Caleb playing in the sandbox with two of his friends.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Road Trip #7 - Bryce Canyon and Arches

People have told us that Utah was easily their favourite state to visit and after travelling through southern Utah we whole heartily agree. Beauty after beauty surrounds the landscape. After hiking through Zion National Park we spent the next day hiking through Bryce Canyon. These two national parks are about four hours apart but the temperature difference is huge. Bryce Canyon takes you hiking down into the canyon and you walk through trails surrounded by crimson coloured hoodoos.

Hiking with cousins makes it so much more fun!
And...we really appreciated the extra shoulders and hands when our little boys got tired.

Hiking along the Queen Victoria Trail. Everyone said this was easily the most beautiful national park. If we had to decide between taking the family to the Grand Canyon or Bryce, we would pick Bryce.

On the way out of Bryce we hiked a little ways to see ice formations in an open cave.

Andrew examining with his flash light.

After spending a day in Bryce we headed to the Arches. Along the way had the most beautiful drive. Ever. It was along Hwy. 12, called the All-American Drive. We had read about this in our trip research but there was no way you can describe the beauty. Around every corner there was a stunning display of nature, a feast for the eyes.

The Arches contain the world's largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. There you can see massive balanced rocks and the pinnacles and spires soar into the sky.

Going for a jumping picture under a gigantic arch.

We learned quickly that these two groups of kids loved to climb. They had a blast playing games and talking in the RVs but climbing rocks is what they liked and did the best. Hiking and exploring was the perfect way for our two families to hang out. 

~Adam and Eve heading toward the garden of Eden!~

This brings us to the end of the trip. People continue to ask how Andrew is doing after his accident. Here you can see him skipping along a huge rock as happy as can be. Action is what he likes best so this has been somewhat of a difficult time for him. To give you an idea; we brought three pairs of glasses along on the trip for him and he was on his last pair when we returned home. He needs to stay safe and keep two feet on the ground but this is a real challenge for him. (I don't get it!) I could write some stories about these past few weeks...it isn't only challenging for him but for me too, not knowing what he should or shouldn't do.  Behaviourally he does have his moments as a result of the concussion usually occurring when he cannot express himself. This makes us feel very bad for him and we have to struggle with our own impatience with not knowing how to solve what he cannot express. Andrew also tires easily but has a hard time falling asleep at night making another challenge because he needs to rest to continue healing. His healing has taken longer than what we initially thought but we are slowly getting there. The doctor told us last week that all of his bones in his ear are now healed and for that we are thankful.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Road trip #6 Zion National Park and a joyful reunion with family

Hiking through Zion National Park on a warm, gorgeous day made the park seem even more glorious. High, steep, red earthen cliffs wind their way around streams and rivers. The park itself is well run with shuttles taking hikers and tourists to different stops. This allows you to view the wondrous beauty before you even begin to hike. Each hike is rated for difficulty allowing families to choose which trail is best suited for them.

Leaving Zion in a RV takes a little more planning. We wanted to head North but the only way out was through a long, narrow tunnel that can accommodate an RV going one way. After paying a small fee they shut down the tunnel on either side and we were the only vehicle to sail through it. We felt quite important!

On the way to the next camping spot we took notice of buffalo roaming the fields. The boys jumped out of the RV eager to see one close up. After our trip I heard Tyler,(5), tell someone that he was smarter than the other boys because he took off his red sweater when he saw the buffalo. Tyler got mixed up between buffalo and bulls. I looked at the pictures again and sure enough the red sweater was laying on the ground. Tyler thought he'll let his brothers get charged but not him! 

Outside of Zion we headed to an RV park and there we met up with our brother and sister-in-law and their five children. With their family living more than 30 hours from us, we hardly get to see them so this was a joyful reunion for all of us. Our kids took to their cousins right away even though it had been a long time since we've seen them. We looked forward to the next few days of camping and hiking with them.

Here we found a free camp site with gorgeous scenery all around us. You can see our two RVs in the middle of the picture, side by side.

The group (minus myself and Caleb) started climbing the nearby mountain. We were already 7,000 feet and they climbed another 1,000 feet.

Way down there you can see the two RVs again. That was one exhilarating hike!