Sunday, March 31, 2013

April Fools...

We were pranked early when we went to pick up our chicks early Tuesday morning. My husband ran inside the post office to get the chicks and came out several minutes later with two large boxes. I was a little surprised the hatchery would send such a large box, but it was way too early in the morning to think much beyond that. After he handed me the box, I peeked into the breathing holes and saw a duck bill! I told Bronson the hatchery had put a duck in by mistake,  which we were pretty excited about at first because we had already talked about picking up a duckling or two from the farm and fleet store. Then I noticed ALL of the "chickens" had duck bills. Confused, I looked at the recipient address on the box and found that the post office had given us the shipment of 80 ducklings the farm and fleet store had ordered! After jokingly discussing taking them home and a good laugh, Bronson ran back inside and exchanged them for our much more appropriately sized box of baby chicks.

The chicks all made it alive, which was a nice surprise. I had been preparing myself for the worst, but they seemed fairly comfortable. The packaging was nice and secure with plenty of fluffy paper stuff inside. After introducing them to the brooder and showing them the food and water, they settled in nicely. Then we went back to town and bought two of the ducks from the store. They're all adorable and I love the ducks!

We decided to buy a new tank for the chicks, our first batch of chicks are growing very fast and I don't think the babies would be safe with them. Whether they'd have to worry more about bullying or simply being trampled, I'm fairly sure they wouldn't make it. I'm a little nervous about integrating the two ages together when we move them out to the coop, but I'll have a better idea about that after a little google research.

We used the feeders we bought for the first batch of chicks, after washing them thoroughly, of course. I ordered nipple waterers online and Bronson built a waterer out of pvc pipe and an apple juice jug. We haven't put it in the tank yet, the glue needed to dry overnight, so I'm excited to see how it works. Keeping the water clean has been a pain and the chickens don't make any effort to avoid stepping in it, so it'll be nice to keep it off the ground.

The baby chicks have been pasty for the past couple of days, but I was expecting that. Things are slowly clearing up as they get more comfortable to the new environment. The ducks and chicks are doing fine together. The chicks were very confused and curious at first, but the ducks are bigger and avoided confrontation. They all seem to be living comfortably after getting used to each other.

As for the older chicks, as soon as they were big enough, they started jumping onto the waterers and feeders and trying to fly out. We solved that issue by taking out the feeders and putting in the large hanging feeder, we're exchanging the waterers with the pvc pipe, and then we threw a lid on the whole thing. Bronson and my dad made the lid out of some scrap wood we had lying around, 4 hinges, and some hardware cloth.
Those Easter Eggers on the right aren't dead. Their in a state of Euphoria over the sand we put in the brooder!

They continue to grow at a ridiculous pace. These first pictures were taken when we transferred them to the bigger tank last week.

These pictures were taken yesterday, March 30th. Within one week, they've somehow become awkward teens.

It's been a very busy two weeks for us, I spent all of last week testing DIY cleaning products, including: glass cleaner, laundry detergent, stain remover, and more. So check back soon to see what I found.

Monday, March 18, 2013

No poo!

I know the title may have you a little nervous, at the moment, but I promised to never write about poop, and I won't. I'm writing about using shampoo, or not using shampoo, actually.

This has been a fad for all the DIYer's and "green" families in Internetland for quite a while now, so I decided to give it a try. I know what you're thinking, "Ew, she doesn't wash her hair?" My hair is very clean, I promise. It is a little unconventional, but it didn't take long for me to feel like a dummy for spending so much money on hair products in the past.

The first time I used the "No Poo" method, I did it totally wrong, technically. The recipe I that I meant to use is from, which I found using my standard search engine. The link is on the bottom of the page if you'd like to check it out. This recipe suggests using one moistened tablespoon of baking soda thoroughly massaged into the only onto the scalp, rinse after a minute or two. Follow with a rinse of diluted vinegar all over your hair, one tablespoon to one cup of warm water, allow to sit for a minute and then rinse.

The article I looked at explained there would be a breaking-in period which your hair would need to adjust to the lack of chemicals and while the pH balance of your scalp returned to normal, so you need to give it at least a week or two before giving up. Well, this didn't happen for me. Maybe it was because I used to wash my hair every other day, or the fact that I dumped probably about two handfuls of baking soda on my head, followed with a straight vinegar bath the first time I tried the "No Poo" method, or maybe I just have super hair, I certainly can't tell you why. I can tell you that my hair is strong, soft, shiny, and it smells great.

I usually wash my hair every other day. I have a small travel bottle with maybe two or three tablespoons of baking soda mixed with water and a couple drops of essential oil that I leave in my shower. I don't know how long it takes to go bad, but it only takes 4 or 5 uses before I have to make a new batch anyway. I keep the vinegar in a small spray bottle and I'd say it's about half vinegar and half water. The point is, I don't bother measuring anything; if I did, it'd probably be different for you anyway. Everyone's makeup is a little different when you get right to it and it's not rocket science anyway, it's hair!

I want to warn you that washing your hair this way feels totally different than using shampoo. The wash doesn't foam, it feels gritty and dirty while you're washing it, basically like you took a handful of sand and rubbed it around on your head like a dirty monkey... Also, after using the vinegar, my hair tends to feel a little greasy, but it dries perfect, so I'm not sure why this is.

I was really impressed that this method works so well. I was a little skeptical at first, but it gets even greasy hair clean. Plus, it's so nice knowing exactly what I'm putting on my skin and hair, some of the chemicals and random ingredients companies use should be illegal, and so should the prices!! I hope you give it a try, please let me know how it works for you.

03/03/13 ~ Before first baking soda wash.

03/09/13 ~ No shampoo for 6 days.
03/12/13 ~ Taken after brushing my hair.

 These last two were taken about 10 minutes ago, 03/18/13. Honestly, I haven't even brushed my hair today, I threw it up in a bun after my shower.  It still looks so clean and shiny, if I don't say so myself. Here's the article I looked at when I first started.

Chicken Update

It's been a full week since we first got our two little chickens. They've grown considerably, although you can't tell unless you compare it to a baby picture, or a baby chick, which we now have examples of both.
My parents went to town on Saturday and called me from the local country store. Well, apparently I inherited my impatience from my parents, they were calling to see how I would feel about buying some more chickens. My mom, T.Burnett, told me they had Americanas at the store and asked how many I wanted, so I said all of them. She also got two Rainbow chickens and four Gold Star, with our first two that makes thirteen chickens! The five Americanas are not Ameraucanas, the rare breed. These are Easter Eggers with a tricky name. I had to do a little research yesterday to figure out what the difference was, but Easter Eggers or fancy chicken, I'm excited!

These chickens were more stressed out than our first two. One had a pasty bum and that was dried and caked on, it was terrible. After cleaning her, she relieved herself and has been acting normal since. I put some Apple Cider Vinegar in their water, one tablespoon, I read that it helps keep their rear ends clean, so far so good. 

One of our Easter Eggers wasn't doing so well, however. She had an infection, evidenced by thick, bloody feces and a hydrogen peroxide swab. We quarantined her and dropper fed her some mashed up chicken food, honey and water and I bought one of those pedialyte for chickens things to put in her water. She didn't make it through the night, unfortunately, but we got the medicine for that problem, tetracycline hydroxide, today so we'd have it on hand next time. I was a little distraught over it this morning, but it's a good reminder that no matter how hard  you try to help, sometimes these things happen.

On a happier note, the other twelve chicks are healthy and my parents surprised me with a new chicken tank to put them in, it's a big solid, metal affair. It's 2'x4'x2', which is more than enough space for 13 chicks. We may have to keep the other chicks separate for a while when they get here, so we may still need to put them somewhere, but we'll just play it by ear for now.

Gold Star Chicken
We replaced the bedding with sand and hay, like my friend, Jesse, suggested. They didn't have regular hay at the store, so we just bought what they had, which was alfalfa hay. The chickens went nuts for it, so we may throw some alfalfa in once a week or something like that.

Aren't they cute?!

Monday, March 11, 2013


About a week ago, I placed an order for 15 chickens. Five Buff Orpingtons, four Rhode Island Reds, three Barred Rocks, two White Rocks, and one Black Australorp male. I picked those breeds for specific reasons. One, they're all good layers; we want chickens for eggs, not for slaughter. Two, they're supposedly all relaxed and friendly breeds. Three, they are all cold weather tolerant. I do want at least a couple of other breeds. The Easter Eggers, and I do want a few actual Ameraucanas as well. I was looking at the ornamental breeds of chickens available and I'd probably want one or two, but I haven't decided which. I think I need to put that up to a vote with the family.

I don't have to tell you how excited I am to get our chickens in two weeks! I just happened to have an idea of what dates the local country store was getting chicks and I thought it would be a great idea to go look at them to get an idea of what to expect.... Well, let's be honest, we all knew it would happen, we came home with two little babies! I had already bought everything we needed for the chickens the day I ordered them, so we set up a little tub for them, and they made themselves at home.

We used a tupperware box for storage and put it in our bathroom. Like I said, it's pretty cold up here, so we have a space heater in there so they don't chill. We set up a reflector lamp with a clamp on the side of the bucket and the first day we used a regular 100 watt bulb, but today we're going to try a red Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL). I read that using a white light might excite them too much and stress them out.

We used pine shavings that we bought at the country store. Make sure that it's not cedar. The store in my town only has pine outside that you have to ask the clerk for like ice, everything else is cedar. I'm not an expert about chickens and since looking into the cedar thing further and finding that even pine is bad for chickens, I may just go get some sand from the river bank. But they seem fine, so I don't think my chickens will mutate or anything from standing on pine for a few days.

I bought two waterers and three feeders, one feeder for grit. I read that the water and food will get dirty and need to be cleaned several times a day, so I bought extra so we could change it out. Handy for the water, it got gross quickly; the food is still alright after 24 hours. I am going to buy the nipple waterers, however. I've read several places and a Backyard Chicken (BYC) user's random piece of advice was that these are a necessity for clean drinking water.

We're trying our hardest not to handle them too much, but they're really cute, so we're failing a little. We don't pick them up unless we have to, but they're usually pretty willing to climb up into our hands for a little nap.

We won't put all 17 of them in here, of course. We have a bigger tupperware storage box that we'll use. I think we may put them together, but we'll see how it goes. We'll keep the smaller box to put the chicks in when we have to clean though. They're messy babies! It needs to be cleaned daily, if not dumped, at least covered. With sand it may be simpler just to use a kitty litter scoop.

The coop remains a mystery at the moment. We're not quite ready to start a big project outside yet. It's still pretty chilly and there is a lot of chopping, clearing, and digging that needs to be done, so more on that later. Check back soon!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chainsaw Carving

One of the main reasons we came up with Twin Bridges Nature Park, or whatever it may end up being, is D.Burnett's artwork. He's always been artistic; we have several paintings around the house that he did in his childhood; but he pursued physical work like roofing and tree repair in his younger days, he even called himself the Tree Doctor at one point. I guess it was spending so much time working with trees and stump grinding in the Washington area that inspired him to start chainsaw carving. After living out of state for several years, some things in the house needed to be fixed before you could even live in it, the pipelines had all burst in the cold and several appliances were not working properly, including the water softener. Then we had to investigate some cracking along the walls and that opened the can of worms that is our foundation. After deciding to update and renovate basically the entire house, we realized the whole place is made of wood and bada-bing! We put two and two together, D.Burnett's artistic skill and construction skills, and we came up with the idea for a completely custom home, with beautiful views and green and organic living and every leisure-activity you can think of.

We envision D.Burnett carvings being a part of the house, on the deck, on the cabinetry, on the walls, etc.; but we haven't gotten that far yet. So for now, I wanted to show you some of the work he's done recently. Unfortunately, we don't have pictures of a lot of his older work (They were lost in one of our many computer crashes...), but he's done some really beautiful custom work in a family's yard, and we've got a few brand new pieces he just completed that I would love for you to see.
He also did the antler carving on the wall.

We're calling this "Dress Up". I asked him what his inspiration was for the Native woman and he said, "I just didn't want to carve a dude."

The base of the carving has inlaid turquoise and carved feathers.

 This bear has a hole in the back that we didn't get very great pictures of, but here's a look at the process!

There is turquoise on the bottom of the bear and the base is redwood.
The bear to the right is holding a fish.
There is a paw carved underneath the bust of the bear.

 This mirror was a gift for my mom back in 2005, but it had broken and had been sitting in the dump pile for 8 years. D.Burnett finally fixed it and this is the new design he came up with. The original mirror is on the right.