Category Archives: Hands on Learning

What’s That I Smell?

Happy Summer from Water Street Academy. This year, we’ll try to do a better job posting on our summer learning adventures! Now, on with the show…

Cinnamon, clove, lime, lemon, grapefruit, lavender, thieves blend, vanilla…..coffffeeeee!

Essential Oils. It seems they can be found everywhere. We recently had a workshop with an ultra awesome “Scent Jeanne” (magic in a bottle – get it?) who has her own skin care line and has spent 20 years researching and experimenting with essential oils, teas and natural remedies. After a talk about plants and their properties, possible uses for them and ways essential oils are obtained from the plants, we headed outside blindfolds and essential oils on hand. Jeanne loves the brand Mountain Rose Herbs because of their craft and attention to the growth, care and harvesting of their plants.  Eden’s Garden is also a brand she appreciates the quality of.

One by one, accompanied by a breeze and the sunshine, we teamed up to explore our experiences with different scents. I partnered with the famous Emmy, with one person blindfolded, the other dabbed oils on a q-tip and allowed our brains to figure out what they thought of it. And boy, did mine think! In retrospect, I wonder how great my sense of smell is. I couldn’t tell if it was that I was trying too hard or I simply couldn’t smell as well as I thought I could. Later, we had a scavenger hunt in which we would smell the plants in Jeanne’s garden and pair it by smell with the right oil! That was tricky stuff, but it was super duper fun!

Thank you to Jeanne for just being so cool and teaching us about all of this radical stuff and to Emmy for being my excellent buddy and class partner! We hope this post made a lot of “scents” (get it?).


This is our dearest friend whom we almost stepped on. His name is Theodore!



Flower Tracking

Spring is such a fun time to be outside and see things growing before our eyes. It happens so fast! One day there is snow on the ground, the next tulips are in full bloom. We used this opportunity to track the growth of bulbs we planted last fall. Every other day, for 10 days, we observed the changes, measured the plant and documented the process. We were amazed that on average, the flowers grew in overall height 1/2″ per DAY! That’s a lot of work from a little bulb!



*Featured image found on


Home at Last!

You may have known from our latest posts that were raising chickens, and as you may know, we got a used coop from our dear friend Eddie but what you all DIDN’T know is that we did some updates on it! Partly due to the ordinance requirements of not having a metal roof and also because who doesn’t like a little bit of new paint?! We ended up making a new roof out of cedar shingles, painted the exterior walls blue for a splash of happiness and cleaned the inside for a fresh start.

We’re keeping the coop inside the shop for now or until they can handle the joys of being outside, or the cold for that matter. Young chickens get their underbelly adult feathers last so there isn’t as much insulation from the cold nights, even with a heat lamp. Currently they’re all living happily inside the coop with the occasional visit from us and our pup Milton (who as you might imagine is MOST interested in those little feathered friends!). More updates to come. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by!


Here’s Penelope peek-a-boo entering the gate to heaven.
This is our smallest chick. We named her America’s Sweetheart after Ryan Seacrest, who goes by the same name.
This sweet chick is the calmest of them all. Not a worry in the world. Ever.
Our silver sea bright. Such PRETTY feathers!

The Ways of Money

We use it all the time. Money. But the more things go electronic, the less obvious it is. Credit cards, Apple Pay, gift cards debit cards. When we work our craft booths, rarely do people hand us cold hard cash. Mostly they pop out their credit card and we run it through Square. Their balance goes down, ours goes up (minus the percentage we pay to Square for making the transaction).

But what happens from there? Where did the money come from and how do we get it to buy something we want? That’s what this lesson was all about. Currency. Interest rates. Layaway. Cash – how it is designed to keep people from printing their own. Coins. In a world that seems to (unfortunately) revolve around money, we should know how it works!


The Sound of Sunshine…

You may have noticed from previous posts the we are climbing an uphill battle to get chickens – we’ve unsuccessfully tried hatching (10 of the 13 were infertile and the 3 that were, never hatched) and so we moved on to day old living chicks. We got the first batch of 6 from Tractor Surprise (supplies) and the second batch from Family Farm and Home. In hindsight, we like Farm and Home more because you can touch them and you can choose which ones you like and they’re more relaxed (the birds and the employees!). We researched ways to determine in day old chicks which are female or male based on their wing feathers. Bantam chicks are so super small when they hatch, that they only sell as straight run, meaning you get a mixed bag of both sexes.  That said, there is only so much accuracy with this method, and most online sources say you really can’t be sure until the rooster crows or the ladies lay an egg.

So! We have 12 total birds. They are ADORABLE! Enter Now our next hurtle: Sunshine. He-she originated from Tractor Surprise and is a Silver Seabright Bantam. ‘Sunny’ was pecking at the other’s wings and cheeping continuously – even paced, high pitched, like a baby car alarm. After settling him-her in the brooder the distress mounted.  We put him in an isolation box in the same brooder to give him some space. When he-she was held, silence and sleep were instant. Mom was up 3 hours a night with the poor dear. Day 3, we couldn’t take it. The brooder already had a hot water bottle, covered with soft fabric, along with a stuffed bird and a mirror inside her-his brooder box. I suggested we swaddle him with fabric and incredibly, it worked! Instant quiet and instant sleep. Of course, every free hours he would wake up for water and food and the chirping would begin again.

After a fair amount of research, it appears that just as ducks imprint on their mother, since that’s the first thing they see, some chicks do the same except they imprint on the first human worker that they see and so when its taken away it begins to cheep. One post we read said every time they cheep its like saying “momma! momma!”. Waaahhh! That’s toooo sad! Long story short, gratefully, the educational Critter Barn was willing to add Sunny to their new group of bantams. Thanks to them, he is in a happy place now and we can finally focus on how adorable these little creatures are! (In fact I think they’re my new favorite animals!)

Up soon: The renovation of our new coop and the magic of fairies!

This is a temporary name but this is America’s Sweetheart (she stole Ryan Seacrest’s title!)


This is dear little Sunny!

Below are the little wings… See how there are alternating short and long feathers? That is supposed to be a hen! We could only look this closely at Farm and Home.

Sunny sleeping in her-his brooder with cozy blankets and a hot water bottle!


This was the swaddling technique.

Project Incubation Update…

First off, I promise not to do any egg related puns because we have some good and bad news about the progress of “Project Incubation”. As you may or may not know, a few times through the incubation of eggs, bright lights (candles a long time ago) are placed up against the shell of the egg and you can usually see shadows and blood vessels, and later in the development, even a baby chick, moving around! Where there is only a yolk, you can see that too. In some cases, you will see only a single blood vessel along the surface inside the eggshell. These are embryos that started to form, but died for some reason in the process of development. We saw a video online and they called their eggs ‘yolkers’, ‘quitters’, and ‘winners’.

So! First the bad news. We candled our eggs on day 10 and found only 3 of them are viable out of the thirteen that were shipped to us. One egg broke during shipping. We had 3 quitters and other 7 were yolkers. Either they got scrambled in shipping or they weren’t fertile. Giant bummer. We have hope that the 3 remaining are going to hatch and be healthy hens, since our ordinance says “no” to ‘roos. Probability is against us, but maybe all the ones that quit were the males?

So we’ve decided instead of waiting another month for a new batch to (possibly) hatch, we are  going to get baby chicks from Tractor Surprise (Supplies) but we might have to compromise on the breeds we originally wanted… hence the name Tractor SURPRISE.

The good news? We’ve still got 3 eggs in the bator and it gives us a little more time to finish the coop which has been hard to work on since the weather here on the Michigan Lakeshore has still been so cold. Soon, the baby fluff balls will be here and we will post how the hatch went. Chick day is right around the corner!!


See the little black dot in the one shell? That was one of the ‘quitters’. The black dot is it’s little eye developing. Most of the yolks came out just as you see them… scrambled. 
Ending on a high note, these are the little Bantam chicks we saw at Tractor Surprise (supplies)! Soon we will have tiny ones of our own :0)

Egg-stra! Egg-stra!

The egg-straviganza has begun on Water Street! Today is day 7 of incubation. We started with 13 eggs with the egg-ception of one that broke in transit from Wisconsin. We purchased the fertile bantam eggs from Purely Poultry (which were strangely egg-spensive). We chose egg-squsite blue laced red wyandottes, egg-septional golden and silver sebrights and of course, egg-strordanairy easter eggers, since Mom loves those egg-straterrestrial blue eggs! It took a while to get the incubator to be consistent in temperature and humidity, but once it was set, we scrambled to get the eggs in place!  Our incubator has an automatic egg turner, which is simply egg-semplary because otherwise, we’d be turning them by hand 3 times a day which would be egg-sausting and quite an egg-sercise! Keeping the humidity constant at around 45% has been egg-cruciating, luckily, we’re home and can keep a close check on it.

This morning, we candled the eggs it was a little unnerving having the eggs egg-sposed to the cold air but we have to because the infertile ones can egg-splode! It was hard because the embryos are so little (see the development chart) and many of the eggs have darker shells. We are egg-specting that 2 are infertile and possibly 3 more that are no longer viable, we’re hoping it won’t get any more egg-treme. Ugh. That will bring us down to 7 possible chicks that we are hoping and hoping and hoping are FEMALE! Day 5, the gender is determined. We visited often, b-egg-ing for healthy baby girls!!!! Why so many girls you ask? We can only have hens according to this ordinance pilot. Four of them. Statistically, we’ll end up with 50% female, but then toss on top of that, we are hoping for a variety of breeds and this could end in trouble. Oh nature! This is such an amazing egg-ucation!

We’ll keep you posted with sunny-side-up developments. I promise not to include this egg-stream amount of puns in the next egg-semplary update! I’m just so egg-cited but I know this can be egg-sausting. I better get crackin’ with the rest of my school work – it’s almost the weekend!


Screen shot 2014-08-21 at 10.00.22 PM400x400px-LL-449df76a_candling

NOTE: The Featured Image at the top of this post was taken from Nantahala Farms. We had a terrible time trying to capture our own candling process so we thank them for the great shot of what we experienced here :0)