Monday, May 5, 2008

Feeding Cure chickens

Once a week my mom and I go and feed the chickens and ducks at Cure Farm. They have three flocks of farm birds, two of them are adults and the other one is comprised of 100 pullets and at least thirty young ducks (pullets are young hens and these ones should start laying eggs in June).
(the chicken's thinking "Let me eat my grass in peace!")

Sometimes the chickens get out of the chicken yard and I have to go catch them.

Mr. Mallard is the alpha duck and pushs around the younger ducks which we think is mean.

First we have to drive to the farm. We bring compost, squashes if we have any and a hammer for breaking the squash. Then we get the feed before we see the chickens and ducks. The seed is in a bin next to a shed near the Giving Garden at Cure farm. We also get water from a pump. Then we go to the pullets and ducks and they are in the chicken coop and yard.

We pour the feed into hanging feeders in the henhouse, and in a tray in the chicken yard. Then we pour water into water containers, if they are low. The ducks drink and go swimming in the water. We also give them extra greens either from the farm or from the grass outside the chicken yard. Next we refill our feed and water buckets, get some egg boxes and go to see the adult chickens. When they see our car, they come running to the fence hoping for a lot of food (you should see how they fight over or for the innards of the squash we give them, it’s a riot).

After we feed them, we go and look for eggs. After that we put the extra egg boxes back, put the egg boxes with eggs in them in a fridge in the garage and return the feed and water buckets. Finally we go home.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bicycle Transportation Report

We’ve been trying to use more energy efficient ways to get around. Bicycles are one form of transportation that doesn’t use energy (other than our own pedaling). With this in mind my mom and I have been going on biking field trips. We have been going further and further the stronger I get. Our goal has been to be able to go places where we can run errands on our bikes and we live in East Boulder, so we have to go several miles to get downtown to run errands on our bikes. First we went to the closest library and market (about a mile from our house) and then we went to Scot Carpenter Park (about two and two thirds miles). After that we got as far as the nearest bike shop, which is on Arapahoe and 28th St.. Later we got as far as Wallgreens, which is four miles. We also got as far as McGuckins Hardware, Whole Foods market: four miles, and Wendy’s. Most recently we went to Hillside school which is two and a half miles, the Farmers market, and the Main Library: about four and a third miles or about eight and two thirds miles round trip. We used a map and a ruler to estimate distances, we would need an odometer to get exact distances.
Last fall when we started taking bike field trips, we had many problems right away. Saddle soreness made it so we couldn’t ride every week. We were out of shape so we couldn’t go very far and couldn’t get to the places we needed to shop. Also later when we were able to go to the stores we were tired (fatigued). The wind chill made my ears and mom’s fingers hurt so much that we didn’t want to go at all. As the season progressed from fall into winter, it got really cold and icy so we had to take a break through December and most of January. We couldn’t carry enough on our bikes to go shopping (even if we could get far enough to shop).
So we came up with some solutions. We got a bike trailer, both of us got or made warm gear to wear, got padded bike shorts, and gradually rode more and more with breaks in between to rest our saddle sore bottoms (after all that we took a long time to get stronger). We got the bike trailer last October but we didn’t use it very much (until we were able to go shopping). This year we’ve only used it five times so far. The bike trailer is useful to us because it can haul much more than both of our bike baskets combined. If we have some relatives come by and visit us and they have a youngster, he can ride in the bike trailer (while we get some exercise). The bike trailer is also useful when you are running many errands on your bike because you can put all of the things you buy in it, especially when you are running a lot of errands. The things you buy won’t fall out because the bike trailer has an enclosed canopy over it and people are less likely to steal things from an enclosed bike trailer, especially when the things in it are hard to see. Fatigue is also important because you can be more easily distracted when you’re tired. When we didn’t have the bike trailer, we had to haul things around. Like when we had to go to Safeway and Blockbuster, we went to Safeway first and then we went to Blockbuster on our bikes because we couldn’t haul the stuff we got at Safeway to Blockbuster. Then we had to haul all of the groceries around in Blockbuster. It was a real pain to do all of that hauling around.

Pros of riding a bike for errands: It’s a good source of exercise for people who don’t get enough and exercise protects your health. It’s good for the planet because you’re not using energy that could contribute to global warming. You can go places where cars can’t and lots of times the routes are more direct. You’re closer to the natural world. We’ve seen prairie dogs, geese, birds, and squirrels. When we’re on our bikes, usually we go slow enough that we can enjoy them.
Cons of riding a bike for errands: The safety (if we make a mistake in riding we could get in an accident). Not many places to park your bike (especially when you have a bike trailer). Timing (it takes more time to ride your bike than to ride your car and the bus takes even more time than biking because of all the walking and waiting on bus stops). Temperature and wind chill. Can get stuck behind pedestrians on sidewalk. Traffic (pedestrians, other bikes, and cars). Some places dangerous. Fatigue. Hunger. Can take a long time to run errands. Need for bathroom breaks. The weather (rain, snow, strong winds, too hot, and too cold).
Our solutions for these cons are to wear the right clothing, knowing where the bathrooms are, bringing a lunch if your on a especially long errand, only going out in sunny weather, taking breaks (if your tired), bringing extra clothing because the weather changes rapidly here in Colorado, and try to find routes with less traffic and when necessary become a pedestrian and walk your bike.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Making a cheap worm bin

First buy three plastic bins that nest together (we chose Rubbermaid bins). Next you need millions and millions of tiny drain holes in the bottom of the middle sized bin which will be your worm's home. It helps if you have lots and lots of people to help you drill the holes (drilling speach, "I-I-I-I n-n-n-nee-nee-nee-need s-s-so-so-some h-h-he-he-hel-hel-help!")

<>Here's what the bin looked like after they worked days on end to fix it. :P (mom says I exagerated a tiny little bit there:P)

Next we had to make worm bedding (dogs think "Yummy!"). We had cardboard boxes and cut them up in a paper cutter. In the picture below you can see the cardboard strips we made (and the dogs).

Then we had to get the cardboard moist so we put the cardboard strips in a bin with some water in it and let them soak a while.

Then we went hunting for worms in our half frozen compost. We found some balls of worms in the middle of the compost (I think the worms ball because they are cold and want to share their warmth.). After that we put the worms in a bucket and took them into the house.

Oooooh! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

The dogs think "Worms yummy food!"

Is it worm eating time now?" the dogs thought. We actually had drained the water out of the cardboard so you wouldn't drown the worms. Then we put in the worms and the compost and water. We drilled holes in the lid of the box and put it on.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

How to dip beeswax candles

#1. Put on right clothing (pants, t-shirt, socks and shoes), get wax, chisel, hammer or mallet, and box. Sometimes wax comes in big blocks so you have to break it into smaller pieces. Put the block of wax in the box. Put on safety glasses. Put chisel on the wax block, and hit the chisel hard with the hammer (it may take a few hits for the wax block to fracture). If you have a small block it takes fewer hits to break into small enough pieces to fit into the jar. If it’s a large block you have to be patient (the big block of wax takes a long time to break).

Then you have to get the right equipment.

#2. Get a pot and a quart sized canning jar or a can (for the wax).
You have to melt the wax next.
#3. Put about two cups water in the pot and heat it until boiling. Turn the heat down so the water simmers. Remember, wax is very flammable and it's also very hot when it's melted. Be careful!

#4. Put the wax in the jar (canning tongs work well for this) and the jar in the pot with the water so the wax melts.

If you find a stick outside you can use it to stir your melting wax.

#5. While the wax melts you measure the wicking and cut it into lengths for two candles each and some extra wick to hang them by. For instance, we cut pieces of wick that were 14 inches long (6 inches for each candle + 2 inches to
hang them by.)

#6. Once the wax is all melted you can start dipping! But before you do that you have to get two ladder back chairs and a wrapping paper roll or a long cardboard tube. Take the two chairs and put them together facing away from each other then put the tube between the ladders so you can hang the wicks from the tube. Then you get to dip

#7. Mom is rolling out one of the soft candles on a piece of newspaper on the counter. This makes the candles straight if it's done several times.

Then you dip it in the molten wax. Just a little word for safety "Keep your fingers out of the hot wax!" #8. You go get one piece of wick and hold it in the middle so the two ends hang down. Now you take your little skinny wax covered wick and you go hang it from the tube so the ends hang down on either side. Repeat this until you use all your pieces of wick.

#9. To color the beeswax, if you use a block of dye, you have to break it into pieces to put it into your melted wax.

When the candles are about this big, we start cutting off the big drip that forms on the bottom of the candles just before we dip them again.

Here I'm hanging up my last set. I'll go back to the first set (we have eight here) to dip next.

Here the color is just starting to change. Most of the dye is in the bottom of the jar and we haven't stirred it because we enjoyed watching the color change.

When the candles get pretty big we have to continue to add pieces of wax to the jar to keep the level near the top. Sometimes it's a good idea to dip one candle at a time when the jar is really full.

Almost finished. We rolled them and trimmed the bottoms so they would be even and not lumpy.