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Archive for April, 2010

Well after three weeks of turning our eggs and hopeful anticipation of many fuzzy chicks to play with, we hatched one.  Yes, you read right, 36 eggs and one baby!  So the children and I used the failure as a science project.  We hypothesized that perhaps the thermometer that came with our new incubator was inaccurate.  We gathered five thermometers from around the farm and put them in the incubator and found that the one we used was 5 degrees too cool.  So we believe that we cooked our chicks.  When we thought we had them at 99.5, they were actually at about 105 degrees.  We can’t figure out how we have one live chick that survived this sauna.  He was our biggest egg which led to more theories.  Here is a picture of “Buddy” as my son named him, I think “Miracle” is more fitting.  He shivers quite a bit and seems to like being right under the heat lamp, hmmm.

Buddy the Wonder Chick

We think his Dad is “Officer” and his Mom is “Triple Time Cuteness:”

Dad, our sweetest rooster named "Officer"

Mom, "Triple Time Cuteness," an Araucana who lays olive green eggs

This weekend we will test our hypothesis by putting a batch of fresh eggs in the incubator with a new, tested thermometer.  So back to waiting anxiously for three more weeks!

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It’s our third year incubating eggs.  It is a miracle that I can’t get over.  We put these tiny eggs, which can sit for a week or more after they are laid, into a warm (99.5 degrees) and humid place for three weeks and they turn into birds!  Nobody is feeding them, they just sit there and grow, all we do is turn them a few times a day.  I find that astonishing.  I used to think that the yolk became the chick and wouldn’t eat them as a child.  Now I know that the yolk is what the chick absorbs for fuel it’s last few days in the shell.  That’s why chicks can be mailed soon after they are born with no food or water across the country (we got our first batch from McMurray Hatchery in Iowa).  So while we don’t need anymore chickens (28 or so is enough) we can’t help but hatch more.  The fun of trying to guess who the mom and dad are (we have about 16 varieties who all look different), holding those fuzz balls, naming each and every one – we can’t resist.  Plus the reality is that many will not make it to adulthood (foxes, hawk, dogs, etc).  So, as crazy as it is, we have about 38 eggs in the incubator this time, all “due” the 25th of April or so.  Look for fuzzy chick photos in my next post!

More of what we don't need but can't resist

I guess I’m egg crazy, I even think the egg itself, the pink,terracotta, blue, olive and turquoise tones they have are gorgeous:

A bowl of beauty

Here’s a low fat egg fritata we eat about once a week:

Healthy Egg Fritata:

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Crack 4 eggs and 8 egg whites into a bowl

Add about a 1/2 cup milk

Add any variety and combination of vegetables you have on hand, I’ve tried:

chopped roasted red peppers, olives, zucchini,

chopped mushrooms, broccolli, green onions

sometimes I add chopped ham

add your vegetables to egg mixture, season with salt and pepper and any herbs you like

Pour in large tart pan or pie plate.

Bake for about 40 minutes, testing for doneness in middle. Can be served with green or red salsa.

Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

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The peas and tomatoes are sprouting!  We put the same seeds in the same soil and give them the same conditions but some come up sooner than others.  I began wondering about that and then noticed that within a few days they all catch up with each other and the seedlings are generally the same height.  It reminded me of some advice a school headmaster gave me years ago when I worried that my children weren’t reading much at the ages of 6, 7 and 8.  He said that if all the right reading conditions were in place (parents modeling reading, plenty of good books in the home, continued support and instruction) children will catch up and be reading fluently later on.  I still worried and bought every phonics/reading program known to man.  Now, it has happened.  All that worry for naught, they are reading beautifully now, they just got there with time and the right conditions.

The peas are up and smiling!

When you home school you feel totally responsible for every success and failure in your children’s learning.  As the children get older (now 9 and 12) though, we am working to increasingly shift the responsibility for their education to them.  I realized that until I decided to “own” my education, I didn’t really learn much or retain it.  We have conversations with the kids now about what is an education, who is it for, why have one?  It has awakened in all of us the fact that we are all responsible for our own learning, that seems obvious as I write it but I don’t think I previously owned my education the way I do now.   I have discovered a great resource and inspiration for this in the Thomas Jefferson Education Consortium, www.tjed.org.

So while my children are happily reading, I have more time to try new recipes with all the eggs we find in the hen house everyday.  One of our recent favorites is simple crepes filled with just about anything.

Healthyish Crepes

Put a large saute pan on your burner on medium low to heat up.  Put the following in a blender or vitamix:

4 eggs (you can substitute 2 egg whites for each egg to cut down on yolks)

1 cup lowfat milk

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Blend all the ingredients and then spray your warmed up pan with cooking spray and pour a little less than 1/3 cup mix on the pan.  This is the tricky part, immediately swirl the pan to spread out the mix in a thin layer all over the bottom of the pan.  In about 40 seconds or when the top looks dry, flip it and you are done it about 20 more seconds.  We have them plain or with maple syrup or Nutella or jam or whatever you’d like to try.

Yummy crepes, enjoy!

Great to take to someone’s house with bananas and Nutella in them!

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For many years my husband and I have worked towards our dream:  living in the country with animals, educating our children at home, growing some of our food, and working in our own business that somehow makes the world a better place.  It’s not for everyone but it works for us.  In all these aspects of this dream we now live,  I discover life lessons, humor and inspiration, sometimes seeing threads that connect them in startling ways.  I hope to share these reflections in this blog, encouraging others to create the life they dream of.  Depending on the season, we also create and learn a variety of things living here, working with fibers is a passion of mine that I look forward to sharing as well.  I took the photo in the header of our farm this morning.

Our 100 pound dog that we finally trained to not kill the chickens, more on that in another post

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