Saturday, February 28, 2009

the coop

Ryan started building the coop on Friday and Tim came to offer a bit more expertise today. The thing is framed out and taking shape. It will sit against the garage and measures 10 feet wide by 4 feet deep by 6 feet tall. The left end will house the chickens in a raised 3 x 4 foot enclosed house with two nesting boxes, a roost rod and a ramp leading down to the floor of the wire enclosed run. Under the raised house we plan to store their feed and whatever supplies might fit there. We joined a local yahoo group for chicken owners which is most enlightening and as a result are really trying to raccoon proof this thing.
I spent the day moving and making room for a few more raised beds and our five new blueberry bushes. I also took down the raised edge beds that sat against the garage as a start to a kind of foundation for the coop. We’re planning to set the whole thing on buried cinder blocks to 1) keep the wood from rotting on the bare ground and 2) to keep those pesky raccoons from digging under the coop’s wire edge.

Friday, February 27, 2009

eleven day old chickens

They’ve got wing feathers and tiny tail feathers coming in but are otherwise covered in that downy hair-like stuff.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

the single most used and useful children's thing we own

 I remember before Naiya was born how Ryan and I went to register for things we needed.  Neither of us had ever been around infants or small children and had absolutely no way to discern what was actually necessary and what some baby-something manufacturer was just trying to sell to us.  In the fragile state of pre-parenthood, we tended toward overcompensation.  We just had no idea.  If you're a parent yourself and ever walked through the double sliding glass doors into a mega baby warehouse, you likely know what I'm talking about.
Of all the kid accoutrements that have littered our house over the years, by far The Single Most Used and Useful Children's Thing We Own is this wooden stand (seen also here) that my dad made for our kitchen out of scraps he had in his garage.  Almost from the time she could stand we have placed Naiya on it to watch over and assist us as we prepare, cook and clean in the room in which we spend probably 70% of our indoor day.  I figure it's going to last us until she's at least five or six.
If ever you're wondering what a new parent or parent of a toddler really needs, I'm telling you, it's one of these.

Monday, February 23, 2009

now i know my abc's

When she sings the song, she consistently leaves out T, U, V, W and X. Perhaps she's eaten them.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

six days old

So we’ve got six weeks before these chicks need to move outside. Today I started wondering what exactly they’re going to look like in six weeks and could find no visual record of growth. Figured I’d keep one here. So here they are. These girls were born on the 16th of February. A six day old chicken looks something like this.

Friday, February 20, 2009

log gnomes

This was originally the idea of a two year old. We had a basket of cut sticks from the hedge out front sitting on our coffee table in the living room, and Naiya played with them as though they were little people. (My intention was, indeed, for her to think up their use.) I believe one stick in particular had a couple of knots in it that looked a bit like a face. Anyhow, one day I pulled back the bark and drew a little face on one. She kept asking me to put faces on all the other chunks and it became a game. After a while I just thought these folks could use some clothes.
That’s the way it goes with most of our crafts. They morph from one thing into something more elaborate but perhaps not as nakedly imaginative as they began.
These are clothed in craft felt glued on with Tacky Glue. The cloaks and hats are trimmed with a simple blanket stitch of embroidery floss.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

they're here

We’ve been talking for a long time about welcoming chickens into our family. Today I got online looking for, you know, chicken stores. Yup, chicken stores. I typed in “Portland Oregon chicken store” as a google search and up popped a place called Urban Farm Store. We thought we’d take a drive over and check it out. They had five or six brooders full of five or six different kinds of chickens all about 3 days old. Chickens is pretty much what they do: chicken food, chicken bedding, chicken lamps, chicken information and, of course, chickens. Turns out they’ve only been open for two weeks. We got to talking to the guy (Robert) and about 20 minutes later we walked out of there with all the supplies for three three day old chickens as well as the chickens themselves. There’s a Rhode Island Red that I’ve named Calliope, the yellow is a Light Brahma that Naiya named Jak (despite the fact that she and the others are, hopefully, all girls) and the black is a Barred Plymouth Rock that Ryan has yet to name (although Naiya keeps wanting to call her Jim). We know nothing about raising chickens obviously but we’re embracing the challenge. Ryan has a splendid plan going for their coop and six weeks to build it before they’re large enough to move outside. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

really easy kids aprons

We use aprons like this at school so this isn’t my idea. It is, however, super simple and fast, so I’d like to pass it on.

Any old tea towel will do but I found two really lovely specimens at Cost Plus World Market today.

Simply turn two corners of the back side of the towel down at a diagonal to make a sheath to run your strap through, then sew them down by machine or hand.  The strap is a single piece that serves as both the neck loop and tie in back.  I used twill tape because a had a fair amount left over from an old apron project.

beet tart

I like beets but I don’t really know what to do with them. I bought a bunch the other day and roasted them in the oven. Actually I began roasting them in the oven (just wrapped up whole in a sheet of aluminum foil) and went upstairs to give Naiya a bath. Two and a half hours later Ryan said, “I think we forgot about the beets.”
They were fine actually. I stuck them in the refrigerator and two days later came up with this idea to use them:

Beet Tart
1 cup flour
6-8 Tblsp. butter
1/2 cup feta cheese
2 Tblsp. heavy cream
3 large cooked whole beets, peeled and sliced thin
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
pepper to taste

Pre-cook beets in the oven by wrapping in foil and baking for about an hour at 375ºF.  (These can be kept refrigerated for a couple of days.)
Preheat oven to 425ºF. For crust cut the butter into the flour until coarse. Mix in cheese. Mix in cream. Press into tart pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool.
Arrange cooked sliced beets onto cooled crust (they may show through so I did them in a lovely overlapping spiral pattern). Mix all other ingredients together in a bowl then pour over the beets. (Try not to stir or touch the mixture once in the pan unless you want your entire tart to be really pink.) Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before serving or serve at room temperature.

When you cut into this dish, the astonishing color is delightful. That’s why I love beets.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

first sight of blood

Naiya cut her thumb on a food processor blade.
Of course the first question that pops into everyone’s mind is, “How’d she get hold of a food processor blade?!”
My brother Slade, when asked what his elusive son is doing, replies, “He’s upstairs playing with his knife collection...or maybe with his plastic bag collection. He likes to play spaceman...”
So, perhaps I should just say she was playing with Hank. Those crazy kids.

Monday, February 9, 2009

the last two

I know it’s not terribly exciting if one is not a mother, but there’s something about the advent of all of these teeth. It’s like she’s solidifying into a real person before my very eyes. Her last two baby teeth are just popping up.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

hearts on the holiday tree

After the Christmas things came off the tree we just had snowflakes left for winter. Today we added hearts that I cut from various odd pink/red/white fabric scraps I had lying around and stitched up with embroidery floss. They’re just a little bit poofy with wool roving inside.
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