raori

living handmade


2 Comments

How to care for a Backyard Chicken Family

chickens-8If I would’ve known how easy it was to keep chickens, I think I would have started to raise my backyard chick-chick flock so much sooner. The truth is that I spend about 5 min per day on them, and they are three very happy and plump chicken ladies.

These are our girls and their eggs:

Tingeling (orange) is at the top of the pecking order, our mother-hen chicken leader. She is also the toughest and bravest of the three. She always comes running when she sees me, and she lets me take her up for a cuddle. She is an “Isa Brown”, a Sexalinks Hybrid. She lays one egg per day, all year around. One BIG pinkish brown egg with white sparkles. Delicious! Isa Brown chickens lay around 300-320 eggs per year.

Gittan (black) is a black Harco chicken (a Black Rocks breed), an excellent egg-layer of 280-300 eggs per year. She is a little shy, but has the same body build as Tingeling. They are BFF’s, Tingeling and Gittan. Her eggs are smooth and dark brown, she likes to spend hours before laying them. And she always lays them around my lunch hour, which stops me from eating fresh eggs for lunch. I don’t want to disturb her. She is usually done around 2 pm, so if I take a late lunch, I’ll get a warm, fresh egg on my toast!

Lotta (white) is the difficult one… She laid one egg, ONE egg, her first 6 month with us. We though something was wrong with her first, but after some research we understood that White Leghorn Chickens don’t lay eggs during the winter. Her eggs are really tasty, a real treat! And it’s so pretty to see her pure white and smooth egg in the nesting box. She is very shy, she doesn’t like to come near us, but she is much more relaxed now and has started to trust us. She does a funny little thing… The other two gladly lay their eggs on top of the other one’s egg, but not Lotta. Oh no, she gets really annoyed if there is an egg in the box when it’s her turn. She hides the other eggs by throwing straws on top of them, then makes a deep little nest for herself where she lays her egg. If we see a Lotta-egg in the nest, you have to dig around to find the other two eggs!

chickens-3

chickens-5

chickens-7

chickens-6Daily Chicken Care:

Morning: We open the (big to stand in) cage where they have been pecking around in the hay since dawn. I give them about 1 dl each of chicken food (as they are free range chickens, they see to most of the food on their own. They have a huge space to roam around freely. I check that they have enough water (they can never run out of water!) and then I open the roof to the chicken coop, grab a small garden fork and start poking away the poop from the night. I put it all, straw and poop, in a pile next to the cage. Once a month I collect all the straw and throw it on the compost. During the growing season we keep them behind the garage, where a locked fence keeps them away from the vegetables, but during the winter they have access to the entire garden!

Lunch: I go for my first egg-collecting and to check that everything is ok. Most of the time it’s just in and out, as the nest is busy and I don’t want to disturb. I do like to sit down to stroke Tingeling for a while (she likes it too!) and to talk to them or give them worms if I find any.

Late afternoon: This is when I usually pick up the eggs of the day. Most of the time there are 3 pretty eggs in different colors waiting for me.

Before sunset: I trick them to go into the cage by throwing some chicken food into the straw (yes, the pooped down straw…) Once they are in I lock the cage, say goodnight and leave them. Just to be sure, I close the fence on my way out as well. There are a lot of foxes around and every neighbour have told me how the fox took their chickens! Our cage go underground as well, so I really hope we can keep him out…

The basics:

– They live in a small chicken coop, which is basically just a box with a roof, filled with straw. I always thought I needed to have a special place for the egg-laying (a nest box), but if I keep the routine of taking away the poop in the morning, I never have any accidents with soiled eggs.

– The chicken coop is located in a big metal cage that also runs underground (3×3 m wide and 2 m high). There is a tarp on the roof to protect from the rain. The food dispenser is attached to the cage, in perfect chicken height. The water dispenser stand right on the ground for now. I need to change that as there is straw in the water constantly… The cage is big enough to keep chickens in all the time, but I like to give them more space, which is why they have the entire area behind the garage. They love it! It’s their (and my kids’) play ground. This is where we have our composts, there is a bamboo bush that they love to play under, there is also a big pine tree, with loose, dry ground underneath, always protected from rain. This is where they clean up themselves. Chickens stay clean by “dust bathing”.

I just cut down all the ornamental grass, we are cutting it down to small pieces to use as straw in the chicken coop, but for now, my kids like to sit on this huge bed of dry grass and play with their feathered friends.

chickens-4

chickens


3 Comments

The Edible Garden Project 2015 – part 6. The real thing now!

Early spring and square feet.

The gardening reading material that I have been plowing through this winter is Mel Bartolomew’s “the square foot garden”. I think this gardening method will fit our small garden perfectly as it enables you to squeeze in A LOT on a very small space. To quickly explain this method:

You grow everything in squares instead of rows.

By doing this you eliminate weeds growing and the endless weeding between rows. You avoid planting more than you need and there won’t be any more hard work or analyzing of the soil as you use a special mix, perfectly fitted for anything you want to grow, in raised beds.

The result is an impressive harvest in little space. Perfect for a small vegetarian family.

You plant by following a formula, a plant spacing guide, based on the size of your finished plant/ vegetable. For example: carrots are thin and don’t need a lot of space in between, so 1 square can fit 16 carrots. Beetroots are bigger, but doesn’t need a lot of space in between, thus 9 beets in 1 square. Squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage etc are bigger plants, so they need more space. 1 plant per square. See the diagram below.

March 2015 was spent building the beds, mixing the soil (Mel’s mix) and planting a few early seedlings that could stand the frost. I also gave my older kids 3 square feet each, where they can plant what they want. My son planted in each square: 6 pea plants, 1 cauliflower and 16 carrots. My daughter: 16 radishes, 16 carrots and 1 cauliflower.

My biggest challenge at the moment is to make my baby daughter understand that dirt is not meant to be eaten…

ediblegarden new beg-3 ediblegarden new beg-5ediblegarden new beg-6ediblegarden new beg-8 ediblegarden new beg-9 ediblegarden new beg-10Square-foot-1ediblegarden new beg-2spacingchart


1 Comment

Let’s dress up as Harry Potter and Hermione Granger!

harry potter-3 harry potterharry potter-2 At least that’s what my kids wanted to be for this year’s Carnival in school. The decision didn’t surprise me as we started to read from the Harry Potter books before going to bed a few weeks back. There is a Harry Potter fever in our house! And for you who know me; I really don’t mind that. I’m a mega-Harry Potter- nerd 😉 I knitted the scarfs, I made the robes based on the pattern below (found on Kostuum.com), but the Hogwarts badge, I ordered online (on eBay) as well as the ties. The wands are plain chop-sticks. I also thought that Harry needed his owl Hedwig, so we bought her as well. The cage is from the famous Belgian flee market: Jeu de Balle. Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 17.33.26


3 Comments

Barbie house rehab!

barbie house-8barbie house-7 We have a beautiful wooden Barbie house, but they kids never played with it. The house had painted furnitures on the wall and my kids didn’t like that. They said they wished it had wall paper like in real rooms instead. We decided to do a mega clean up of the house we had instead of giving it away. First, we through away half of the dolls. Plus a lot of the half-broken plastic furnitures that came with it. All the small things that comes with a Barbie house; clothes, bags, food, glasses, make-up etc, was thrown into a big box next to the house where they had been long-gone forgotten. My philosophy when it comes to toys is: the less they have, the more they play with it! Therefore, they got to keep 6 of their favourite Barbie dolls, two boys and two girls, plus 2 small Barbie kids. The box went away. Anything they wanted had to fit into the house, if it didn’t we threw it away. I took down my old dollhouse furnitures and small things from the attic instead (I made lots of miniature things in my late teens) and we got to work on our new house. We found some pretty printed Japanese rice paper in DIY shop which we mod-podged to the walls. We added drawer lining to the floors, apart from the bathroom, which we painted. We also painted the outside walls in plain white. The plants are painted and cut masking tape glued to metal wire, put into a flower pot made of clay before drying. The closet of the balcony is made from a BBQ stick, attached to the ceiling with looped screws. The hangers are metal paper clips that we re-shaped. The shoes and bags are stored in a storage furniture for my old dollhouse. The result is an original and pretty Barbie house that they finally play with a lot. It feels like a real house now! barbie housebarbie house-2 barbie house-3 barbie house-4 barbie house-5 barbie house-6   barbie house-9


Leave a comment

Lovely vintage toys…

cowboys-2 cowboys-3 cowboys

Look at these plastic fantastic old figurines! I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or if I’m just a very nostalgic woman, but seriously: wasn’t toys back then so much prettier and better made than nowadays? The simpler, the better in my taste. And since plastic will inevitably stay around for long until after we are gone, we might as well stop supporting new production  of plastic crap that are meant to break anyway, and spend way less money on cute vintage toys like these 😉 Be the change!