Saturday, April 30, 2011

More stuff...

Sometimes I feel lonely as I don't have any friends with the same sorts of interests as me.  I can talk to my family and of course my blogging friends about livestock and gardening, but I miss having any face-to-face meetings.  Throught the Alberta Chickens Etc site, I have been emailing with a lady who lives in our community and I'll be visiting her farm this Wednesday.  I'm so excited as she has chickens, ducks, geese and goats.  I love goats, but Husband is totally set against ever having one on our acreage.  I'm hoping to establish a friendship with her... so far so good via email!

She is in the process of hatching out some African Goose eggs and I will be purchasing three goslings from her should the hatch work out.  I may be coming home with some new friends on Wednesday afternoon!

We've had two chicks hatch this afternoon/evening!  They are so adorable.  Daughter actually managed to catch the first chick hatching on film and I hope to post it soon once she has a chance to download it.

The neighbourhood fox was around yesterday and I managed to sit about 1.5 meters away from him and take some photos.  Hopefully once our geese are grown they will be keeping him away from our property.

This is the last post of the April blog challenge - 30 posts in 30 days!  Yeah!  I have to say I'm actually surprised that I was able to accomplish it.   As you can see I have four posts today as I was so busy with work I didn't have time the last few days - but it doesn't matter- I did it!


As you will know from earlier posts our rooster Cockzilla has been residing in our garage for the past three weeks so that his half naked body had a chance to recover.

In the past weeks his feathers have grown back in and we decided today that perhaps he could rejoin the rest of the flock.  I had the hens and Lucky our other rooster outside to range, and Husband brought out Cockzilla.

We suspected that a cockfight would happen, and it did, within just a few minutes of 'Zilla rejoining, he and Lucky squared off.

Unfortunately Cockzilla was not the winner which is too bad as he is certainly the better rooster.  He is the one who always looks out for the hens and is gentle with them, while Lucky is rather a brute.  After the fight Lucky kept between Cockzilla and the hens; he wouldn't let 'Zilla near them.  Husband took a screaming Lucky and put him in the brooder box, to give Cockzilla a chance to reacquinted with the hens.  I'm not sure what our next course of action may be....

Lucky in brown in the left corner

Cockzilla in the grey approaching

Cockzilla pounces

I am happy to report the fight was over quickly with noone injured, though Cockzilla did lose a couple of feathers.

Tree Repair

Today was the day to repair my broken fruit trees before the sap begins running.  All three apple, the cherry as well as the Mountain Ash had branches snap off due to the heavy snowfall this winter.  I went to our local Art Knapps Plantland and picked up some 'artificial bark' which is meant to repair tree wounds (first aid for trees)  I applied the formula to the areas where the small branches broke off and to any parts where the bark was damaged.

While I was out I also stopped by the local hardware store to purchase white hockey tape which is used to wrap/bind branches about the thickness of your thumb back to the tree trunk.  The hockey tape is fabric and has some stretch to it so that as the tree grows there is a bit of give.  The hockey tape should stay on for about 2 years to give the branch time to adhere back onto the trunk.
One apple tree before repair

Apple tree after repair

As we were out with the trees Husband took a look at the lilac that we planted last year and was rather surprised to see the during the winter the mice had burrowed to it under the snow and had chewed away all the bark around the base of the plant.  Hopefully it will survive.

Post added to Homestead Barn Hop #11

We have created Life!

Husaband woke me up this morning to say three of the eggs in the incubator are hatching!  I had a look and can see little cracks where the chicks are pushing out.  He said he can hear cheaping coming from the incubator every once in a while too.

Three out of seventeen so far.  We really were not expecting any to hatch as we had no idea if any of the eggs were fertilized.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Acreage Happenings

Not too much to report....

We had some beautiful weather over the weekend.  Husband has been cutting down some trees and brush  around our property lines, so that he can eventually build a fence.

Cockzilla is still living in our garage and in the last 2.5 weeks he has grown his feathers back in.  We figure he can be released back to the 'girls' next week.  He's living in the brooding box and Husband put wheels underneath so that on sunny days we can roll him outside to soak up the sun.  He is actually very calm and seems to like it when we go out and talk to him.

The snow is FINALLY melting!  We still have about a foot in the yard, but it feels like spring is upon us.  The flowerbed in front of the house (south facing and against the house) has the daffodils up and ready to bloom soon, and the tulips are on their way up.  I've been debating whether or not I should get out the hummingbird feeder as they should be arriving soon.

I keep turning the eggs in the incubator, but a bad smell is coming up when I remove the lid.  Obviously an egg has gone bad. We candled the eggs again last night but it is difficult to a number of the egg's progress as the shells are too thick for the light to shine through.  We'll find out Sunday or Monday if any successfully hatch.

After months of the ducks barely laying eggs  (only one every day or two) I have finally been presented with two eggs each day, for the past two days.  The ducks are Khaki Campbells and the breed are prolific layers, so I have actually been a little worried.  With the warmer weather they have definately put on a bit of weight and are looking very healthy.  Once they begin laying regularly again, and can get out in the pond so Donald can 'do his thing', we will try incubating some duck eggs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

24/7 Shopping

I brought Daughter to the walk-in medical clinic, which is located in a strip mall, and the only place to get medical attention on an Easter Sunday (other than the emergency room.)  I have to say I was rather surprised to see so many vehicles in the parking lot as I drove up.  In fact, it actually took my small brain a rather long time to figure out that the vehicles were there because all the stores in the mall were open!  On an Easter Sunday!

I am shocked to come to the understanding that going shopping on a holiday appears normal.  Personally I would rather spend time with my family than visit the retail gods - I can go shopping any other day of the week. I also feel bad for the employees who are pulled away from their families on an Easter Sunday... I guess the Easter Bunny comes extra early to their homes and Easter dinner must be a very quick affair.

Is Christmas Day the only day in the year in which stores are closed?

Husband says the stores wouldn't be open if people didn't demand to shop on holidays or just didn't go to the stores on a holiday.  Supply and demand... but I have to wonder if the demand is actually there?  Does the consumer demand the shops to be open, or do the shops being open entice the consumer in?

I remember when shops closed at 5 or 6pm every night other than Friday when they were open until 9pm.  No shopping on Sundays, Mondays, or holidays.  (Some of the smaller independent stores in town are still closed on these days.)  People scheduled and shopped when the stores were open, and that was that.  But... these days consumerism is king.  You just have to look at the advertising, the sales, the 'you must have this' item.  People shop for many other reasons than the actual need for the product; boredom, emotional rewards, whatever. I find it strange that they can't put those needs into a different form.  Purchasing 'stuff' for no real reason is destructive - it wastes resources and energy, wastes people's money, adds to landfills, and takes away from our families.

I shop, everyone shops, but can't we plan it around our family time and make use of of our holidays in a more constructive manner?  Honestly I think the 24/7 shopping mentality (and ability to do so!) is very destructive to our society as a whole.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Was Going To Go for a Walk....

I was going to go for a walk this evening and get some good stress relieving exercise, but have since changed my mind.  Earlier today I walked over the the neighbours house a few doors down for a quick visit.  As I was walking I heard 3 big bangs... like gunshots.

Upon returning home both Husband and Daughter asked "How was your walk home?"

While I was out another neighbour phoned to tell us a cougar was spotted one road over.   I don't know if that was what the big bangs were about, but the timing was about right.

I think I'll stay in this evening.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


It seems we have been baking over the past few days....
Daughter baked cupcakes at school and brought one home for me on Thursday.  Isn't it cute?  She even sculpted the little bunny herself out of marshmallow fondant that she made.  She's obviously much more artistically talented than me (and has more patience!)

Son busied himself baking Churros on Friday.  The only time we have eaten Churros is at the park on Canada Day where we frequent the international food booths.  He has made them before and the tasted BETTER than from the food booth!  This time they were a little doughy in the middle as I think the fry oil was a little too hot baking the outside faster than the inside.  He felt terrible that they didn't turn out proper, but they still tasted yummy and disappeared quickly.

I baked some hamburger buns and forgot them in the oven....  needless to say they were a little browner and a little crispier than usual.

I also made three loaves of Banana Bread using a new recipe which incorporates yogurt into the batter.  They turned out really moist.

To compliment our Easter dinner this evening I had planned to bake a chocolate cake with raspberry filling and whip cream.  I was just about to start when Daughter woke up and complained of not feeling well.  Upon looking at her swollen and speckled tonsils I hurried her to the walk in medical clinic instead.  She has strep throat, is achy and sore and now on antibiotics. 

Dessert ended up being Rote Gruetze (using the thrawed raspberries that were meant for cake filling) with whipped cream instead.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Vintage Nutrition for Healthy Happy School Children

I have a collection of vintage homemaking and cook books and I find them immensly interesting.  Some of the information and cleaning tips/products are outdated, but then you come across a gem.
I've been perusing my 1947 "Food, Nutrition and Home Management Manual" a Home Economics Circular put out by the Province of British Columbia's Department of Education.  I picked up this book for a mere $7.00 at a used bookstore in Vancouver this past November (well worth the price!)

Here is the gem I came across:

Unit II.  Nutrition.
Rules for Healthy, Happy B.C. School Children.

1. Eat food slowly and at regular intervals.
2. Eat cooked cereal with milk for breakfast frequently.
3. Drink 3 to 4 glasses of milk daily.
4. Drink 4 to 6 glasses of water daily.
5. Drink no tea or coffee until 20 years of age.
6. Eat eggs three or four times a week, and meat not more than once a day.
7. Eat plenty of fruit.
8.  Eat raw vegatables at least twice a week.
9.  Eat daily a vegetable in addition to potatoes.
10. Eat milk desserts rather than pastry.
11.  Eat very little candy. (Only after meals.)
12. Aid the digestion of food by doing the following:-
   (1.) Exercising two hours each day.
   (2.) Bathing a least twice a week.
   (3.) Keeping windows open at night.
   (4.) Sleeping as many hours as the following table indicates: -
        Age.                       Hours of Sleep.
        5-6                                    13
        6-8                                    12
        8-10                                  11 1/2
        10-12                                11
        12-14                                10 1/2
        14-16                                10
        16-18                                  9 1/2

Wow, isn't that common sense and practical knowledge?  But I wonder how many parents/children follow these 'rules' nowadays.  Eat fruits and vegetables, not much candy, milk desserts instead of pastry - we know that, but do we adhere it it?

I especially like the 'exercising two hours each day'.  In 1947 I think this would never have been a problem for kids as they were outside playing everyday.  Now with television, computers and video games exercising (playing outside) is a huge challenge.  My own children have been much better at getting outside since we have moved to the country, but they can easily become absorbed into TV.  There are so many organized sports where kids go a few times a week, but really, how often do they go outside to play on their own or with the neighbourhood kids?  It no longer happens these days, and it is a real shame.  Some of my happiest times as a child were to play make believe or make up our own games with the local kids and we were outside for hours until our mother's called us home (called with their voices and not cell phones ha ha)

Sleep is something that I nag my kids about because they are "so tired" every morning.  I know they're not getting near enough sleep as they drag out bedtime every night.  They are old enough to know when to get to bed on their own, but still manage to stay up late.

It is pretty funny that bathing and sleeping with the window open aid in digestion.... maybe there is something I'm missing?

Anyway I thought I would post the rules as I found it so interesting.

Post shared on Homestead Barn Hop #10

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Heritage Pigs - Part 3 - The End

In the continuing saga of the heritage pig search....

 Berkshire - The Berkshire pig is also known as the "lady's pig" because of its smaller size and is a friendly and curious breed.  This pig is known for its excellent meat which is heavily marbled and flavourful.  The pig is black with white points on its snout, feet and tail.  The Berkshires have good mothering instincts and litter of 8-10 piglets.  Rare Breeds Canada lists eight breeders of Berkshire in Canada.

So, that is it for rare breed pigs in Canada.  Five.  Five rare breeds of pig - Tamworth, Red Wattle, Large Black, Hampshire and the Berkshire.  Oh, and don't forget the two Gloucestershire Old Spot located on Vancouver Island.

I find it very sad that so many breeds are becoming extinct because one or two breeds have become the predominant producers of bacon, pork, and lard, and all others have been thrown by the wayside.

The reason I want heritage pigs (and other animals and plants) is preserve the diversity of livestock which is dwindling worldwide.  They are part of our history - a living history of the farm.  They are what our grandparents, great grandparents and forefathers owned, bred and consumed. 

Genetic diversity is so important to the environment and also to humans as a species.  If the diversity of plants and animals is wiped out - in reality, then so are we. It may take a while, but it will happen.  Eventually.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

I purchased some strawberries while I was grocery shopping on Monday.  I was inspired by 1940's Experiment's Mock Cream recipe 2 which looked sooo good.

I baked the biscuits using a recipe from the latest Hobby Farm Home magazine and they turned out perfect!  Light and baked up nice and high, but best of all the dough was done in no time.  I used whipping cream instead of the mock cream.    Yum!

This is diet isn't it?

Classic Shortcake Biscuits

2c flour
1 T sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c butter
1 egg, beaten
2/3 c milk or cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Sift together dry ingredients.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Combine egg and milk; add all at once to flour mixture.  Stir just to moisten.  Lightly flour your hands and form dough into six biscuits.  Bake on ungreased baking sheet for 10 minutes until golden on top and firm to the touch.


I pulled out my knitting the other day to continue working on my latest sock project.  It came to a standstill because of a tangle.  This is not an ordinary little tangle, no it is a monster tangle in a 100gram skien.

This is after two days of  unwinding, weaving, rolling and getting frustrated.

The worst part of this is that I have a ball winder!  My tiny brain just refuses to use it for sock wool because I figure sock wool never tangles.  Why?  Stubborn I guess.  Next time I'll know better.... yeah that is what I said the last time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Happenings

Saturday was our 17th wedding anniversary and we had planned to go out to dinner to celebrate, but I ended up working all day and I just didn't want to have to go back into town. So instead we had a lovely BBQ of babyback ribs, potato salad and roasted peppers.

While I was away over the day, Husband found a tool hanger which he installed on the side of the hen house. I now have my scraper, shovel and pitchfork all in one place right where I need it!

We love our morning coffee and before I rushed off to work Saturday I noticed the electric drip coffee maker wasn't working. AAAaaagggghhh, nothing frustrates me more than our throw away consumer products! This coffee maker actually lasted for about 2.5 years so I guess I can't be too upset, as usually a coffee maker will last me 6 months. The silly thing is the machine works in the mornings only - its not like we have it on all day. So we decided that is it now; no more automatic drip machines, we would look for an old fashioned perculator. Do you know how hard those are to find??? I remember as a kid everyone had a heavy glass perculator that sat on the stove. I went to Northern Hardware, as they have almost anything you could ever possibly need, and they had one flimsy glass perculator and a metal stovetop one. I took the glass one up to the counter and the salesman convinced me it was not worth purchasing. He suggested the old type of electric perculator - I didn't even know they came in an electric variety. He said he has owned his for 6 years(!) and would never go back. All I had to hear was the 6 years and I was SOLD (even with the $60 price tag).

Here is our new electic perculator. It takes the same length of time to brew coffee as the automatic drip, but in comparison the coffee is really hot and actually stays that way.

Yesterday was cold out and Husband's back was bothering him again. He did some puttering around outside. I did laundry and hung some out to dry, then gave the kitchen a good cleaning.

Last night we candled some of the eggs in the incubator and it appears (to our novice eyes) that something is growing! Yeah!

I ran out of chicken feed yesterday, so this morning I'll have to run into town to pick some up. I hadn't planned on going into the office today (saving me a trip to town), but I guess I have to go now anyway. Today's plan is to clean house and take photos as I have been asked by the girls at Home Sweet Home to do a home tour on their blog. I'll let you know when my guest spot appears.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why Our Kids Don't Have Cell Phones

Okay, I can hear the outcry already...

Contrary to public opinion, we are not bad parents for not allowing our teenagers cell phones. Our kids, 16 and almost 15, have never had their own cell phones and we don't plan on allowing it in the near future. For a while they did have my old phone to share for a few months to take when they went out. The phone was on a pre-paid plan and I quickly learned it was a huge waste of money and the experiment ended in short order.

Both Husband and I have cell phones for our jobs as it's essential equipment for both of our lines of work and we are both on call basically 24/7. Believe me sometimes I wish I could smash the things, but for us it's a necessary evil.

Son used to ask quite often for a cell phone, but has given up over the past few years. I think he realizes that should he need to use a phone, he can usually borrow one from a friend.

Daughter on the other hand is still pestering us for one. She sees all her friends have cell phones and thinks she needs one too. Perhaps it is the texting that is so alluring. Though a couple of years ago she had some friends over and she became extremely frustrated because she wanted to do something fun, and instead the girls sat around texting on their phones and pretty well ignored her. A double edged sword; you can't have it both ways.

Our reasoning for denying the kids cell phones - it is unnecessary, and an unnecessary extra expense. Both of our children have good heads on their shoulders, and should they need to get in touch with us they will almost always be able to borrow a phone. I know a lot of people purchase phones for their children citing it as a security measure, but I'm confident that we have taught our children how to handle themselves should trouble arise. I don't always wear rose coloured glasses and I know that issues can arise that children can't handle, but will a cell phone truly help when Mom and Dad are far away? I'd rather have kids that are independant and can think things through themselves, and I'm proud to say it has worked well so far!

We also want our children to be social and be able to communicate with others face-to-face and in a proper manner. Social media and texting is fine to an extent - but it is not fine when kids lose basic communication skills. I can't get over how many people can't even answer a telephone properly, or know how to really speak over the phone anymore (and it is not just children!)

Husband's Projects Around the Acreage

Husband usually has several projects on the go or in his mind that he is planning for the near future.

Yesterday, he worked in the large greenhouse fixing the roof ridge pieces that broke from the heavy snow, but the plastic will have to be replaced at a later time. He did manage to find an entire roll of poly in the storage box, so that saves us from having to buy more. He also wants to build up the boxes on the floor of the greenhouse so that we can add more soil as last year we found it wasn't deep enough.

He is already planning the construction of our third greenhouse which he's been talking about since last year.

The next big project is constructing the pig ark and fencing (once the snow is gone). He wants to build one like this but to hinge one section of the roof so that we can lift it for easier cleaning inside the ark.
The design can be found here.

We have also been talking about building a root cellar. We don't have an adequate space in the house, garage or crawspace, so we are considering going the old timers route and digging into the ground, building a 'box' that can be buried and accessed from one side. It needs to be investigated and planned some more, but should be doable fairly close to the house.

Other then the above he also has the garage full of bedding plants for the flower gardens and has started a lot of the vegetables... now waiting for the third week of May or so for the garden planting

Friday, April 15, 2011

What We're Reading

I currently have a huge stack of books from the library piled in the kitchen in a basket beside the fireplace. The books mainly cover rare farm breeds, pigs, ducks and square foot gardening. Can you tell where my mind is?

SON: Just finished reading Dick Proenneke's "One Man's Wilderness, An Alaskan Odyssey" and really enjoyed it.

If you don't know anything about Dick Proenneke or haven't seen his video journals on PBS, he is a very interesting fellow. He retired at age 50 in 1967 and decided to build his own cabin by hand on the shore of Twin Lakes in Alaska. The first summer he scouted for the best cabin site, and cut and peeled the logs he would need for his cabin. He then returned the next summer to finish the cabin where he lived for over 30 years.

Son is currently reading "Crazy Man's Creek". Here is the book description from the publishers website:
In Crazy Man's Creek, author Jack Boudreau tells of the characters who have "caught the fever" in the rugged McGregor Mountain Range east of Prince George. Long recognized as some of the toughest bush in British Columbia, it was home to many who chose to lose themselves.

Once there, life included confrontations with grizzly bears and raids by wolves. But if men were to snap, it was the long cold winters and the deafening silence that did them in.

DAUGHTER: Has finshed reading the "Hunger Games" series by Suzanne Collins for the second time.

ME: I'm reading "BEEF: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat and Muscle Shaped the World" by Andrew Rimas and Evan D.G. Fraser. I'm only a few pages in, but so far a rather interesting look at how human civilization has been shaped by the cow.

HUSBAND: Husband is not a reader in the sense of sitting down with a novel and enjoying it. He does read rather regularily magazines such as Garden Railway, Mother Earth News, Harrowsmith, Canadian Gardening, Hobby Farm and Hobby Farm Home.

Post shared on Barn Hop #9

Fuer Unsere Deutscher Leser u. Leserin...

Ich sehe das wir jeden Tag mehr und mehr besucher bekommen aus Deutschland (Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Buxtehude, Muenchen usw)

Herzlich willkommen auf den Blog ueber unseren Leben in noedlichen British Kolumbia. Mein Deutsch ist zeimlich gut - bitte sagen Sie "Hallo" oder schreiben Sie ein Kommentar.

Und fuer meine Brieffreundin die jeden Tag besucht "Hallo Ute!" :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011


"Serendipity denotes the property of making fortunate discoveries while looking for something unrelated, or the occurrence of such a discovery during such a search."

Last night while driving home from our dance class, Husband and I were talking about cleaning and disinfecting the chicken coop prior to introducing the new chicks (should they hatch! I'm being positive!) We were wondering what to use as a disinfectant, as neither of us really know what to use to disinfect an entire hen house. We were considering the use of Detol, it that would need a lot of cleaner and I am hesitant to put the animals around a cleaner.

Later in the evening during my blog reading I clicked a link on a comment link left on another blog and low and behold(!) there were instructions to disinfect chicken coops the natural way - with vinegar! Now that is serendipity!

Check out The Prairie Homestead's post on Naturally Disinfecting the Chicken Coop

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Heritage Pigs - Part 2

Well in continuation of my heritage pig search this is now post #2.

This year we are getting the mixed breed weaner pigs which will be butchered disposed of in the fall. I still would like to own and later breed a heritage pig, but like all animals need to find the right one in temperament and traits for our circumstances.

Could this by the breed for us?

Large Black Pig - another domestic pig of England and the only one which is wholly black in colour. The Large Black is a docile pig perhaps because their large ears flop over the eyes partially obscuring their vision. They are known to have good mothering instincts with litter of 8-10 piglets. They are good for novice keepers and are a low maintenance grazing pig and is a hardy outdoor breed. I have looked at the Rare Breeds Canada website and there are several breeders around Canada and I know of some in BC as well. Now to find out of there is enough genetic diversity around...

Hampshire - This is another easy to handle breed originally exported from England. Another pig excelling in motherhood with litters of 8-10 piglets. This pig does well in any environmnet and is a good forager. It is predominantly black with a white saddle and is a lean breed. Rare Breeds Canada only has one breeder of Hampshires here.

Red Wattle - I already know this breed is not for us as this is a very active breed. It has ruddy hair and a fleshy wattle attached to each side of the neck. It originates from the United States and typically weigh 600-800 pounds but can reach 1500 pounds. Rare Breeds Canada only lists one breeder in our country.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Little Bits of Stuff

The past couple of days have been cold and windy. The sun is shining (but still windy)this morning and I'm going to go for a walk before heading into town and the office.

Our Boxer, Kaiser, is very puzzled as to why there is a rooster living in our garage. He always walks over to the brooder box, lifts his nose and takes a good long sniff, then has a funny look on his face (yes Boxers can do that!) The garage is attached to the house close to the kitchen. It is definately a different experience to be eating breakfast at the table and hear the rooster crowing 'inside' the house! :)

On Sunday we also put 17 Americauna eggs into the incubator. I really don't know if they are fertilized or not, but I'm giving it a try anyway. I guess in 3 weeks we will either have chicks running around or not.

Of course the incubator is in the garage, along with all the bedding plants Husband started, and the rooster. I guess the garage is an all purpose room which also houses the Bobcat, tractor, freezers, and sundry items. Hmmm, I wonder if I'll ever get my car parked in there...

I see we have had a number of new follower over the past week or so. Thank you for visiting our site and welcome!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Daughter took this video of the fox who happened to visit about an hour or so after we put the chicken and ducks away. We are pretty sure that the fox have a den across the road, but we haven't seen one all winter.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rooster Spurs

Today was spent working on the chicken house. We let the birds free again for most of the day and they enjoyed scratching around in the mud. We had to isolate Cockzilla as both roosters are molting at the moment, but 'zilla barely has any feathers left and the hens are picking at him - poor guy :( He is now in the brooder box located in the garage until he get some feathers back and begins to look at little healthier.

The other day I noticed that both rooster's spurs located on their legs have grown very long. So I did some investigating into how to remove or trim them. So we decided to use our rooster Lucky as the test subject.

It turns out that there are two ways:

1) Using pliers at the base the spur, press down until you hear a crack and then wiggle/twist them off. The drawback in this method is that underneath the outer sheath is still a sharp spur. A few drops of blood will be spilled.

2) Use a hacksaw, dog nail clippers or Dremel to cut of the spur. Careful not to cut it too short or it will bleed. Also the spur is fairly brittle when being trimmed.

Either way, the spur will grow back or continue to grow.

We decided to do the clipping method so that later the hens won't be injured when mounted (it is springtime after all!)

Well, I am pleased with the video and it even appears as if we know what we're doing! This is the first time for trimming spurs and it really was pretty easy.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rising Food Prices / Victory Gardens

Lately I have been hearing a lot about rising food prices and it is expected that Canadians will be paying 7 to 8% more for food within the next few months. Surprisingly we have already had an increase of 40% since June 2010 according to economists at the TD Bank. It is a small creeping up in prices that seemed to go unnoticed by me, perhaps it is because we still have a lot of garden produce put away and I don't purchase many pre-made food items.

World food prices are at an all time high this year. It appears that the cause for the increase are emerging markets in some countries placing a higher demand on luxury items including meat extending upward pressure on global food stocks. Commodity ingredients like wheat, corn, sugar and vegetable oil, which have gone up as much as 50 to 100 per cent over the last year.

"With the United Nations blaming higher crude oil prices for pushing global food prices to an all time high, Canadians have been spared so far because of cutthroat grocery store competition and the high loonie making the cost of imported goods cheaper." according to a Globe and Mail report

Tim Hortons (a Canadian coffee and donut franchise) announced this week that it will be increasing prices. A large coffee is going up 7 cents which equates to a 4.5% increase in anticipation of world coffee prices rising over the next few months from $2.90 to $3.05 per pound. Other restaurants will be increasing prices as well, if they haven't done so already.

In my opinion the best way to combat these high prices is to look back into the past:

I think this is an excellent video showing how to start a garden and what is possible. One just has to put in the elbow grease to save money and eat healthier. Anyone can grow some type of produce. Even apartment dwellers can grow a bit of lettuce in planters if need be.

For a lighter touch to this post I came across this film about eggs. It is kind of corny, but also kind of cute.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Favourite Soup Recipe

Oriental Mushroom Soup
5 cups chicken broth
4 t finely chopped ginger root
1/2 lb various sliced mushrooms (about 2 cups)
2 T soy sauce
1 t sesame oil
8ox firm tofu cut into small cubes
1 green onion thinly sliced

In a saucepan combine broth, ginger root and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and sesame oil.

Place tofu and green onion in individual soup bowls. Add soup and serve

From: Cook Great Food by the Dietitions of Canada

My family loves this soup and it is quick and easy to make. It is the only thing Husband will actually eat tofu in (and likes it!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kids and Self Sufficiency

One of the things that I value from moving into the country is that my children have the opportunity to learn skills, learn about gardening and where their food comes from, learn how to cook, and learn about how to look after animals.

These days it is sad that children are in so many activities to keep them busy; from piano lessons to soccer, but they seldom have the chance to learn real skills that can benefit them in their later lives. It isn't their fault - it is society and large corporations which want us to be dependant in all aspects of our lives.

I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to learn and observe my parents gardening and cooking, and when I was a child they had chicken, ducks, rabbits and the occasional pig and goat. I can say I lived a rather spoiled life and hated having to haul wood for the woodstove in the cold winter and deep snow (I know my sisters will attest to the hatred of wood hauling as kids), but in the end I can look back and feel confident that I have the knowledge to at least try to keep myself somewhat self sufficient. That is also what I want for my children - that should they need to do something, they will have the skills or at least have seen how it is done, and will feel confident to try it.

Son is 16 and has always enjoyed bushcraft and making things. I was a very proud mom when he made his own rabbit snares which were successful. He is not afraid to get into the kitchen and bake or cook whatever he wants to - finding recipes on the internet or in our old faithful Amish cookbook. Last week he decided to try making a small woodstove out of tin cans. Below is the result: Daughter doesn't have quite the same drive, but she understands the various garden plants and gets disgusted when her friends can't tell the difference between radish and strawberries. Though sometimes she isn't happy to do things, like when we butchered the roosters, she showed up with rubber gloves on to help "I'll help but that doesn't mean I have to like it". She also bakes the best chocolate muffins.

I'm proud of my children - they are practical and can think things through logically. They have never been afraid to step up and try new things. They will grow up to be self sufficient.

I was a Brownie (Girl Guides) leader for four years and during that time I loved taking the girls to camp. It was a chance to teach them how to light a match, how to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner and then wash up the dishes and sweep the floor. Outhouse cleaning was also on my list of the things for them to try. Okay we did do a lot of fun things to, but it was a chance for them to learn skills that were not being taught at home.

Of course Scouting and Guiding are somewhat focused to skill teaching though the outlook has changed over the years. It saddens me that enrollment in these organizations has dropped such a great deal because kids think it isn't 'cool' enough for them.

Some schools are now planting gardens and letting the children use the produce to cook their own meals. How awesome is that? They get to learn several skills in one shot. Unfortunately I don't think any of the schools in my community do it, but a friend who's a teacher in Nova Scotia does it in her school.

What are we missing? How do we bring other children to self sufficiency? How do we teach them skills that will follow them their entire lives? Unfortunately the recent tragedy in Japan and other disaster areas must bring us to some awareness that at times we can't rely on 'just running out to the store' to get what we need.

PS. I know my parents read my blog, so to them I say "Thank you for the way you raised us and I love you"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Well my weaner pig issues seems to have been resolved! Yesterday someone responded to the ad I had placed on (used more here than Craigslist). They just had 7 piglets born on April 2 and will be selling four of them to us. They will even deliver to the next town on May 19th so it will save us a 3 hour drive (one way)!

Apparently the piggies are a cross of Yorkshire/Landrace and Berkshire. I'm so excited!!!!

Now we'll need to hurry to get a pen and fencing up once the snow leaves the area for the pigs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Homemade Tortillas

Living in northern BC we are not really that '"in to" Mexican food. Though we do like it, there is only one Mexican restaurant (read Taco Shop) in town. We can purchase tortillas in the grocery store which I occasionally do to make wraps or quesadillas.

The other day I was thinking of making chicken quesadillas for dinner and had the light bulb moment of "how hard can it be to make tortillas?" So I found a whole wheat recipe ('cause we're whole wheat kind of people) at Allrecipes. They were very easy to make, even though perhaps the roundness of the tortilla was lacking - I never could roll out anything round! I found that the balls of dough that were moister were easier to roll out. I will definately make these again as they really were easy.

Stop the presses!!! I just remember we have another taco shop in the mall - it is a chain restaurant (if you can call it that) so I'm not sure that counts.

Below is the photo documentation of my tortilla making process...

Sunday, April 3, 2011


After a long winter the birds have been let out of the pens to free range (?). There is still too much snow for anything, but you can see in the top photos that they have managed to find a small patch of ground. I spread out some food for them to scratch at. The ducks are having fun putting their bills into a puddle just outside the outdoor pen. I went to check on their pond, but is it still frozen.

The girls look like their having a 'chat' inside the hen house. With the longer days and sunshine the egg production is finally increasing again. A big difference from 6 eggs a day to 18!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Forums and Websites

This week I joined two really good Canadian Forums for farming/homesteading. The first is Alberta Chickens Etc and the other is The Journey. I'm hoping to learn a lot from these sites as the participants are very knowledgeable. The Journey is currently looking for new members to the forum and is holding a contest this month so you may want to check it out. I also came across Beyond Factory Farming which has some really good information. You will see I have added some of their buttons with links on my sidebar. This site is really in line with what my family believes in regard to farming and food raising methods. For interesting nutrition information have a look at Weighty Matters a blog written by a Canadian physician at a bariatric medical clinic. Well, I'll leave you with these sites to read, and I'm off to the Farmer's Market! I am really having trouble with Blogger lately, and once again I can't get it to format properly. Even when I manually enter the html codes it still just does what it wants to, so I apologize for not having any paragraphs (how Canadian of me :) ) I also decided to pump up my blogging since I have been pretty lax lately, and have joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge which I will write 30 blog posts in April.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Assessing Winter Damage

I walked our around the acreage where I could (as we still have a lot of snow) to have a look at how things fared over the winter. The heavy snowfall has caused some damage expecially to the large greenhouse. We expected that the plastic would not hold up. It has been on the greenhouse for two years and the poly does breakdown eventually with sunlight. The main ridge pole on the roof broke in several places so Husband will have to repair it once the snow is gone and we can actually reach the greenhouse.

I decided to check on the apple trees that are still half buried, just to see if they were perhaps budding. And yes, there are some buds appearing on the ends of the branches.

Unfortunately I also spied two of the lower branches still in the snow had broken at the base. This is only on the tree closest to the shovelled walkway, so I don't know yet how the other apple or the cherry tree have made out.

I'm hoping that I will be able to repair the branches later. Something new to learn... I found some instructions here.

So far I'm not sure if there is any other damage, but as the snow goes down there may be things appearing.