The last few months of this school year we are focusing on longer term projects. They are more complicated and involve many different areas of study. Math, engineering, culture, history, language, materials and research.
Here was our first of this kind. It was a World Village. We’ll share the assignment as we were presented it in case you’d like to use it for your own, modified or not.
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!
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.
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!!
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!
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)
It started last spring at the end of school and it all began with a simple question we asked our Mom and Dad…”Could we get chickens?” It made sense because we already hatched many birds before, and we wanted some of our own. So we went to city hall to see if it was okay, we assumed it would be because a few people already had chickens in their own backyard, but it turned out, we couldn’t. There was an ordinance against it, so we decided to begin a Civics Project and began ‘hatching’ a plan for action – we were hoping to change that ordinance!
Month 1 and 2. First we did a whole lot of research on other ordinances in towns near us and across the State of Michigan. We took a closer look at chicken behavior and population density in the cities that allowed backyard chickens to create a suggested ordinance. We learned that most towns have renewable 1 year permits with restrictions on roosters, locations and how many hens you could keep. We wrote a suggested ordinance to bring to our fair city of Douglas for consideration in addition to a petition we had residence who were in support of it sign. That took us to about June.
Month 3. I think it was July when it was presented to the City Council. They moved it on for input and a vote from the Planning Commission. Now, there’s something worth noting about these meetings. They start at 7:00 at night. The room has 56 chairs in total, and the process and people are very formal during their chats about life in the city of Douglas. An interesting fact: The City of Douglas is legally called “The City of the Village of Douglas”. Hmmm. Not super catchy, but it gives us advantages of a city but can still call ourselves a village.
Month 4, 5, 6 & 7. By now, we’ve gone to every Planning Commission meeting and we’ve observed a lot! Each month we went, we thought – “this is IT – a final draft will be voted on”! But then there were more changes. More discussion. More questions. How many feet from a neighbors house should they be allowed? How many hens are too many? What about disease? Maybe neighbors should be allowed to reject someone next to them getting the little feathered ladies. What about predators? The questions went on and on. Lisa, the zoning administrator rewrote the ordinance each month adding and subtracting restrictions as the meetings came and went. Respect Lisa, respect!
Month 8. III’m dreaming of a… brown christmas. Still not approved but at least this idea was still moving along. More details worked out, more restrictions added. The problem was, at this point, we no longer qualified to have chickens on our property!! With a deep sigh and a feeling of defeat, Mom went to that meeting alone to say thank you for all the hard work, but that there were so many restrictions, (even though we live on over an acre and a half of land!), there was nowhere to put a coop without violating the rules the Planning Commission put in place. I guess it was then that members of the Commission decided that it was too restrictive and amended the restriction of ‘backyard’ to allowing them in the ‘side yard’ in certain conditions. One more change for Lisa, and we were back in the chicken game! We’re beginning to learn just how long it can take to change a law, and now we’ve gotten glimpse into an average adult’s life. Also, respect.
Months 9 & 10. Welcome to January 2018! Well, they did it! After the Planning Commission’s final vote to recommend passed 4 in favor, 3 not, it was sent straight back to City Council where they made a few minor changes and then was voted on, (drum roll please!) they all said yes and no objections! YEESSS!!!!!!! We were so excited we danced right out the door, laid in the freezing snow in the middle of the sidewalk crying and laughing! Now it’s February and we will be able to get the very first permit as soon as it is drafted!!! We decided on hatching Bantams, mini versions of regular chickens and our friend Eddie has gifted us his old chicken coop. AAAAAH!! SOOOO HAPPY!!!!
Okay, so here’s the review. It took a total of 11 months and still counting, Olive and I are each one year older, the ordinance is FOUR pages long and it’s a one year trial, with a maximum of 5 permits granted. The planning commission gained a new person, we got a new Mayor (with cool hair and an upbeat personality!). But as an experience, we thought it was certinly our longest ongoing project but one of the best for sure! We promise to give y’all an update when we got the whole set up rolling but in the meantime, a Mt. Everest sized thank you to Lisa, the Planning Commission and the City Council for all their effort in making it possible for new feathered friends to be part of our family!!
We’ll take you on our many adventures to come. Stay tuned!
Maybe you read our post from last March about the Mobility Cart manufacturing tour we took. If not you can read it here. Maybe you thought to yourself – WOW! I had no idea that so many people suffer from not being able to get around in other countries, just like we did after we saw the incredible videos of disabled people in Africa. This New Years, we came together as a family to create a custom, African design inspired cart for a child in need thousands of miles away! If you read this and think you’d like to do the same or as a fundraising activity or even just donate money toward to cost of a mobility cart, you can check out Mobility Worldwide’s website here.
Once our cart is fully assembled at the plant, we will update this post with a photo…Can hardly wait! Happy New Year!!!
Here is a video of the people who are helped by these incredible carts!
Inspired by Olive’s pot-making, I decided to try a little something new, the lathe! Some of my first projects included: pens and small japanese-like kokeshi dolls… But my new favorite are these mini vases, all of which are less than 4 inches tall! So far I’ve turned many different woods like: cherry, pine, teak, black walnut, redwood and my personal favorite which is made of many types of wood glued together. I’m trying new kinds of wood, both hard and soft, to get an understanding of how each turns and finishes differently. So far, I loved the teak and pine – they cut easily and finish cleanly. Black walnut has had an unexpected ‘flicker’ in the wood once it is polished. That is COOL! I have been using beeswax as my final coat which makes them smooth and incredible to the touch. Wood has never felt so GOOD!
They are tiny enough to put small bunches of dried flowers, twigs or other natural bits of joy in them. I’m thinking a bowl might be my next project – stay tuned!!
As an aside, for one of my assignments, I researched soft and hard wood. I’ve included the overview of the soft woods on this post. I’ll never look at trees the same again!