29 July 2011

backyard chickens

Ameraucana chicks found here

Need I say more?

In my last post I mentioned wanting to someday get some backyard chickens to get closer to my self-sufficiency goal.  A few of our neighbors have them and I hear a lot about how they actually make great pets as well.  Now if only I could persuade the dog.

Last year I was convinced that he would tolerate a backyard hen, but I thought maybe I should test this hypothesis before purchasing any livestock.  I went to a local farm market, and asked if I could "borrow" one of their chickens for a couple of hours.  She gave me a puzzled look and took a $10 deposit in exchange for a chicken in a potato box.  I carted this chicken home with me and set her down in the backyard.  I gave Billie-Ray (aka Siris) some time to take in this new critter, and he had a good look through the window checking out this strange scene.

Maybe that was the first problem; allowing him to prepare for attack mode for a good few minutes like a bull in bucking chute.  He didn't bark or drool or anything, so we figured it would be okay to let him outside on a leash to see his reaction to Henny Penny.  At first I held him very close and he seemed to be somewhat calm.  But then the hen starting clucking and moving about bobbing her head.  This got Siris excited. His tail starting going like a helicopter; he couldn't contain himself any longer.  All of a sudden he bolted so fast that I didn't even have time to get a proper hold on the leash.  He chased the hen around the yard in circles for a good minute or so, with us furiously on his heels trying to keep up and get ahold of him.  Eventually I had to stop because I was laughing so hard. The neighbors must have thought we were insane.   Thanks goodness the poor chicken found a hole in the fence and escaped just in time. 

Needless to say, Billie Ray and Henny Penny were not a good match.  I put her in the box, drove her right on back to the farm and got my $10 deposit back.  So we will have to wait a few more years to get some backyard chickens!  I've also thought about getting a couple of chicks to see if it would make any difference to his chasing instinct.  Maybe if he got used to them from such a tiny size, they wouldn't bother him as much?

I'd like to get two Ameraucana hens.

Photos here
They are so neat looking with their colorings and fluffy beards.  Not to mention their beautiful blue eggs.

Photo here

There are over a hundred breeds of chickens, and there is so much information online about each of them it's a bit overwhelming.  These ones are neat too, they're called "Silkies"

Each breed has different temperaments, egg production, brooding habits, and personalities.  Ideally I'd like a breed that is easily handled, quiet, friendly, docile, and with medium egg production.  Both the Ameraucana and Silkie meet all of these traits.  Maybe one of each?!

And there's some really neat coop design ideas out there too. 

Photo: Design Milk

Photo: Dwell

Photo: Nogg

OK this one's not pretty but it's funny nonetheless.

Photo here

This is why my next dog will be a Newfie:

Photo here

27 July 2011

geeky groceries

Nerd alert; don't say I didn't warn you...

I think I must still have statistics on my mind from my class last night, and I've been wanting to do an analysis on this topic anyways so why not share it with the world?

With all this talk about the cost of food on the rise, everyone must be noticing it on their grocery bills.  I know I am.  A prof of mine recently told me that he guarantees that in my own lifetime, a loaf of bread will reach $100.  It will become a luxury, and no longer a necessity.   It's a scary thought and makes me long to become more self-sufficient and produce more of my own food.  My raised vegetable beds and apple trees are a start but I'd also like to eventually get a few laying hens and get back into the habit of baking all my own breads.

Anyways.  Back to my grocery bill.  Often I wonder how much money I'm really saving by packing our own lunches every day.  When I can get a fresh sandwich, a drink, and a snack around the corner for $9, it really makes me think hard about my $150/week food expenditures.

So I'm going to do an analysis, right here right now and save you the effort in trying to figure it out for yourself.  Not that you would be ridiculous enough to do it on your own anyways.

An average lunch for my other half consists of:
  • a turkey and swiss sandwich on a sub bun with cucumber, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard
  • a piece of fruit
  • a granola bar
  • a yogurt cup
  • half a bottle of juice
  • a chicken samosa or other deli-made concoction
  • some trail mix

This might sound like more than the average person, but not if you're a carpenter burning approx 2200 calories just at work alone.

I'll save you the detailed calculations on how I found out that a 488mL bottle of mayonnaise lasts approximately 3.2 months or through 128 sandwiches, but here is the summarized data:

1 sub bun                  .50
50g fat-free turkey   1.50
green leaf lettuce       .16
2 roma tomato slices .15
1 slice swiss cheese  .40
5 cucumber slices     .12
mayonnaise              .03
dijonnaise                 .06

1 naval orange        1.12
1 granola bar            .56
1 samosa                  .99
1/2 bottle juice        1.70
1 yogurt                   .50
150g trail mix         1.85

Total $9.64

9.64????!!!!  Plus the opportunity cost involved in dragging myself out of bed every morning and spending a solid 20 minutes constructing it.  Doesn't seem right does it?  Of course there are some costs that could be cut back and variables involved, especially during the times of the season where I can harvest my own lettuce and tomatoes and apples, or if there happens to be a sale on any of the items.  However, at some point a line must be drawn between cheap eating and healthy eating.

Sometimes you get so used to doing the same thing for so many years, you forget to review the basic costs involved.

Maybe brown-baggin it will be a thing of the past?  The world is changing...

25 July 2011

white summer

Hate to admit it, but the best place to catch up on the latest design magazines is on the ferry back from the big city.  Lucky for me, this weekend's sailing wasn't too busy and I spent a good amount of time doing some "browsing" in the overpriced gift shop.  A design trend I am really noticing this summer is the color WHITE.  It seems that almost every article in Elle Decor, Canadian House & Home, Style at Home, Lonny Magazine, and House Beautiful are all featuring homes with stark white walls.  Maybe this tends to happen every summer but I am noticing it way more this year in particular.

Nothing wrong with it, it just has to be done right!  White walls put more of the focus on art and furniture, so it's important to take note of this before you paint over your pale gray walls that we've seen everywhere in the last few years.  And, of course there are hundreds of different shades of white that can evoke a myriad of different feelings in a room.  From calm and clean to warm and inviting, modern to historical, or to draw attention to an interesting accent color, there is no question that whites are here to stay!  

Here are some of my fav white living rooms that I've seen lately.  Some of these seriously make me reconsider the grey-green color in my living room.

Loving this look...crisp white walls with an aged leather piece, a cowhide rug, an industrial style floor lamp, with some mixed accents of natural materials like wood, seashells, flowers, and natural linen.  So airy and fresh yet casual and with personality.  Throw some typography and ikat in there, and I'm right at home.

All photos here from Lonny Magazine

22 July 2011

canon dslr

If I'm going to continue pumping out some quality posts for the foreseeable future, my secondhand Canon PowerShot  is simply not going to suffice for much longer. And an entry-level-beginner-SLR-user's camera just won't do, I want the best of the best obviously.  And right now it seems to be the Canon 5D Mark II, at the steep price of $3600 ($2700 for body only).  I figure if I want to get any good at photographing birds and interiors and landscapes, I will need a good quality camera.  I realize that just having a nice camera isn't even the half of being able to capture the perfect shot, but it's a close start!

I don't want to spend $1000 on a more entry level model only to end up wanting to upgrade the next year.  I'll probably end up with something in the mid-range of professional DSLR's, but she's a beaut above, isn't she?

When I have a new hobby, I tend to obsessively immerse myself in the subject until I'm satisfied.  (Right now it's blogging, before this it was ancestry, before that it was running, etc, etc.)  Meaning it's only a matter of time before I will end up in photography classes and sorting through thousands of wildlife photos on my computer trying to master those perfect shots.  Until then, I will just continue to stalk pro birding photographers on Flickr.

All photos here by Grant Brummet, using Canon 5D Mark II

Ya, I definitely have a thing for hummingbirds.  But right now, I definitely don't have a thing for photographing them well. 

I feel ashamed for not being able to capture these little gems in a more accurate light!  Yup, definitely time for a camera upgrade.

21 July 2011

new border and some jimmy f

I've been meaning to post some photos after the ornamental grasses class last week of a new little garden space I created.  I picked up three Autumn Ferns Dryopteris erythrosora  and a five more Japanese Forest Grasses.  I probably could have gotten away with only three and letting them fill in over a couple years but I just don't have the patience for that type of thing.  Anyhow, I'm happy how this turned out.  It is right beside a little patio area (which we rarely use because of les mosquitos enormes), but it adds a nice pop of colour into an otherwise drab looking shady corner.

Excuse the quality of the closeup of the fern.  I was trying to capture it's interesting texture and show how some of the edges turn into a striking orange colour.  Fail!

Also picked up another hardy fuschia to go next to some recently transplanted hostas.  I was horrified to find that the deer had gotten to the hostas, right after I finished bragging to a friend about what a good garden guard dog I have.

One thing I'm learning as an amateur gardener is that sometimes it is best just to look forward to the next year!  The hostas were small anyways and will be much happier here than where they used to be.  I'll just have to hope that some deterrent spray will keep the deer away next year.

On a totally unrelated topic, here is a clip of Ryan Gosling on Jimmy Fallon last night.  There is something about Ryan's demeanor that makes a story about his Turkish bath experience absolutely hilarious.  That and his dog, George, who sports a mohawk and a red sock.

20 July 2011

7/20 top ten

1.     Madeline Weinrib's chevron carpets
2.     Chuy's blog
3.     $19 haircuts
4.     paintings by Cori Creed
5.     fresh cut calla lillies
6.     Two Against One by Danger Mouse/Daniele Luppi ft. Jack White
7.     my grandfather who will be 90 next week
8.     my new Aspects hummingbird feeder
9.     these Nike kicks
10.    the new issue of Lonny Magazine

19 July 2011

backyard bounty

This is the perfect light dessert to make if you have visiting grandparents and want them to know that you're not completely useless in the garden and kitchen!  Rhubarb and raspberries are easy to grow and produce a huge crop year after year.  And the taste combination is perfect.

Rhubarb Raspberry Coffee Cake

1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. sliced almonds
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In bowl, mix the above ingredients together with a fork until crumbly.  Set aside.

1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk (or just make your own with milk and lemon juice)
1/2 c. chopped rhubarb
1/2 c. raspberries (or whatever other fresh berry tickles your fancy)

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat the eggs in, one at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Then add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Fold in the rhubarb and raspberries and combine gently.  Scrape into a greased 9-inch springform pan, sprinkle on the topping, and bake in the centre of the oven for about 75 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes, remove the outside of the pan, and serve warm. 

I usually enjoy mine with an Earl Gray tea.  To die for I tell ya.


Nothing better than picking ingredients from your own backyard!  Unless you could train your dog to do it for you.

18 July 2011

dee dee dee

I always get excited for July because I know that the chickadees are finished nesting for the season.  Meaning I can peek into the birdhouse and dissect all of their nesting material.  I have to clean out the nest box anyway or else it's very unlikely they will call the same birdhouse "home" next year if any nesting material remains.  I'm not sure if the nest-building is a courtship routine or what, but I have witnessed firsthand their lack of interest if there is any evidence of the previous season's nest!

Each year I am amazed at how clean the nest is.  The females carry out all of the young's waste and eggshell remnants so all that is left is a soft and cozy little moss mattress!

 The females also do all the work in collecting the moss and hair to build the nest.  The males' only responsibility is to bring food to the female while she incubates her 6 eggs for about 12 days.

There are about 4 different sub-species of these birds, but here on the west coast we have Chestnut-backed chickadees.  They are bold little birds which often flock with kinglets, nutchatches, and Downy woodpeckers.

Photo here by cdbtx

15 July 2011

ostrich table

You think I'm joking?   Gosh no; this beautiful little side table summons the word "want" to a completely different level!  No, it's not the ornithological reference, but rather its quirky vibe that would inject some humor and interest into any space.  I have the perfect spot for it in my living room.  At $598, too bad there's not a spot for it in my budget.  

Global Views makes lots of other fabulous side tables, too.

All Photos: Global Views


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