Saturday, March 31, 2012

Our Radio Journalist

As most of you know our youngest was privileged to do an internship with KUOW Radio in Seattle, an affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR). The program is called Radio active and the purpose is to train future radio journalist. We went into Seattle twice a week and into the station about every other Saturday for 6-7 weeks while she learned interview techniques, writing for radio, editing and I'm sure other stuff that I don't know. She was really thrilled with the program and produced a podcast for Radioactive about a women who is creating a home for the 86 homeless students on Whidbey.

Go to this website. You will see a picture of 5 girls. She is the second one from your left. 

Click on either the MP3 or the download to listen and don't be alarmed when you hear a bunch of noise that sounds like static. It is their introduction then there is something about some guy and ozone that last about a minute. Her story is right after that. 

Let me know what you think. We are very proud of her. 


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Zombie Apocalypse

The Postman

I love those days when the kids are all home at the same time, quite often with a friend or boyfriend in tow, and we have all settled into the living room after a good meal for a movie. I had ordered this one from Netflix and then had to listen to the man complaining about watching some old movie (1997) that we had already seen and why did I order that one. The kids took a look at the run time (3 hours) and complained about the time. I didn't say anything except I thought it was a good movie when I saw it the first time. Guess what happened? Everyone was glued to the tv! It was actually better the second time than the first for me. I think because when I saw it in '97 it was very much a science fiction flick. This time fiction was much closer to reality.

The story opens in 2013 in what was once the United States. It starts at the end of a three year period of winter where "dirty snow" has been the norm after a nuclear apocalypse and our  protagonist (Kevin Costner) plays a traveling con man performing badly done Shakespeare in exchange for food, lodging, and supplies in various settlements or villages along the way. After escaping the bad guys he ends up taking refuge in an old mail truck and strips the long dead mail carriers uniform to replace his own soaked clothing. Taking a bag of mail he eventually continues his travels using the mail to con people into believing in a revived republic of the United States.

The reason I think I like this film is because it shows several scenarios for social breakdown and what people are likely to do in such a situation. It also demonstrates the power of hope and what people are willing to believe in when the situation looks impossible. Most of all,  I realize that all the prepping in the world could not prepare for the worse. It can only make it a little easier. Being part of a sustainable community however small is the one thing that would make a big difference.

The movie does not follow the novel very close at all but is still a good movie. In this case I saw the movie first and it was probably a good thing I did or I would have had set expectations and not liked it at all. If you are looking for some entertainment, suspense, and perhaps something to think about I highly recommend this movie. Available through Netflix or maybe even at your local library. If you have already seen it many years ago watch it again. You will see more this time than you did before.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Girls Night Out Or (how to ditch your kids)

Our little mother is getting fed up with her babies, namely the ducklings. Tonight she is roosting with the other two silkie girls and I can just imagine the conversation going something like this: "Those kids are driving me crazy! They are two weeks old and they still wont perch at night and all they want to do is play in their water. I spend my whole day standing on a wet floor and trying to get them to hop out of that stinking box. Not only that they talk funny too. They seem to want to talk to the ducks and you know how I really dislike those ducks. Have you noticed how big they are already? I cover their heads up at night to keep them warm but their butts stick out. I swear they are going to catch their death. cluck cluck. "

They really do seem to be a source of frustration for her. If she is done mothering them I will take over and try to socialize them. They certainly need it since they think I am the boogy man.

I need a martini. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Duck and Remodel Update

The sun peaked in and out all day yesterday and I took the opportunity to put the babies and mom outside just long enough to change the bed and water in their brooder box. One of the ducklings was shivering right away and I have to admit it was chilly but I thought they would get under mom. She was more interested in getting some scratch time in so babies just followed her around picking at the grass too. They were only out for about 5 minutes though because the sun disappeared as fast as it had come out. It was working up to a wind storm with another cold front coming in. So we got blustery weather during the night with some little power outages here and there. The three older babies will be a week old late tomorrow. Sure goes fast.

I am thinking about temporarily reducing the size of my chicken flock and re-homing some of them. I found a home for one yesterday through craigslist. Someone was looking for a companion for her hen. The reason is I have come to the conclusion that I could do a better job of getting a productive flock that would fit in better with my preparedness goals. I love the different breeds but some of them are just resource suckers. Meaning eat more produce less. More on this subject in another blog.

The bathroom is coming along and I am happy with the progress. The man isn't. He wants it done now. He only gets two days off a week (and they aren't consecutive). He also has a real problem not having his bathroom. We have a powder room that would temporarily suffice for doing things like brushing teeth and drying hair but the only other showers are upstairs in the girls bath (and he doesn't want to go there) and up in the apartment over the garage which means going outside in his bathrobe. He doesn't want to do that either. So I think I need to get the shower ordered and ready to install and the pocket door too. The idea is for him to take a couple days off sandwiched around his normal days off. With four days off he should be able to get the door installed and the sheet rock installed over it and the shower with the doors installed over that and hopefully have the tile guy in to tile the two walls in the shower. He may have to use the girls shower a couple days but it wont kill him. Especially since they are usually gone by the time he needs it.


 We do have another girl moving in this Thursday though. One of the kids has a friend that wants to stay with us until she and the oldest move out this fall. We will call her Em for this purpose. We love Em. She has been a friend for a long time and she is a great kid. Always helping out and jumping in to do things voluntarily. She went to a private college this year. It was her first year and she found out it was just too expensive.  She attended two quarters and is already 10 grand in debt because she had to take out a student loan to pay for her dorm, a requirement for first year students. Our oldest attended running start during her senior year of high school, attended the same junior college and lived at home her sophomore year and has a significant amount saved for this fall when she moves out. If she is accepted she will be attending the University of Washington her junior year and so far no debt. Em realizes that this is a better idea or she is going to have a killer student loan debt when she gets out of school. However she is already in debt and kind of behind the eight ball already. But living here over the next few months she can get some prerequisites out of the way and work somewhere so she can save up a little for next fall. Working and going to school full time is really hard.

So not only will the man need to use that shower but he has to do it with another girl living here. The problem is all in his head but we will just work around that. In the mean time I will be stripping the paint from the claw foot tub and looking for the shower.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

100% Hatch Ratio!

That's a lot easier to do when you are only trying to hatch 4 eggs. However we had to work at it this morning. My youngest went out to check on the last egg before I took her to school. We were expecting to find our fourth and last little duck all hatched out and playing with her siblings but my daughter came in and told me the egg was still in one piece and the same little tiny crack was exactly the same as the day before. She also said the baby inside was still alive. She could feel her moving and pecking but the movements were weaker than yesterday. I took her to school and came back prepared to do something about the last duck if necessary. And it was. The egg was exactly like it had been for the last day and a half. One tiny barely perceptible little crack and it was obvious the creature inside was fading. Now I know you
are suppose to leave them alone when they are piping. Mother nature knows best but I had already screwed around with mother nature by putting those eggs under that Silkie in the first place and I'm not one to stand around doing nothing. When ducks make a nest they place the eggs in contact with the ground so that the humidity is just right for hatching. These little guys were in a nice dry nest in a coop with bedding chips and under a bird that wouldn't go into the water on her own if her life depended on it. I had been putting drops of water on the eggs at least twice a day for the last week or so and I had a small piece of towel under the chips to absorb the moisture and release it back to the eggs when mom warmed it up enough. So in spite of all my efforts I was pretty sure that little one was still in that egg because I had screwed up. I took the egg up to the house gave it a light rinse with warm water and with the tip of a clean steak knife I started tapping on that egg right where the crack was. I just kept working across the egg like I thought a baby would do making sure none of the chips fell into the egg. As luck would have it her little beak was right where I thought it would be. I just kept chipping until I had almost half that egg off. It looked as if the inner membrane was dry and maybe stuck to the duckling so a few more drops of warm water helped with that.
You can see her beak in this picture. When she started stretching  and moving I figured that was enough "help" from me and I had better put her back under her mom to finish the job so I took her back out to the coop and put her with the rest of the ducklings that were huddled under warm wings and went back to the house to get ready to take the cat to a vet appointment. Did I mention it was also 29 degrees this morning?  Any way since I had a few minutes before I had to leave I decided to go back out to the coop to see how things were coming along. That poor baby was not under mom. I don't know if the other ducklings kicked her out or what but she was out of her shell, icy cold, and not moving at all when I picked her up. I was pretty sure
This is how I found her
she was a dead duck. So I took her up to the house. I just stood in the kitchen looking at her laying in my hand and kicking myself for taking her back to the mom in the first place. Her tummy was still open were the yolk of the egg is supposed to be absorbed and I thought that too was my fault for screwing with that egg.  Then I saw it. Just barely her eye opened and she was looking at me. My first thought was she had died but then her eye moved. Quickly I turned on the water in the kitchen sick and got it warm then put her on her back, nose and tummy up and let the warm water run into my hand but not enough to get on her tummy or her beak. I just warmed her up with the water until she started moving. I yelled at the man to go get me the lamp out of the garage. He set it up while I tried keeping her warm in my hands. Not wanting to put her down on cold paper towels I just put my hand under the light. The more she warmed up the more she moved but I was still

pretty sure she wasn't going to make it. When she dried off a bit and the box and paper towels had warmed up to  87 degrees we put her under the light along with a rolled bolster of paper towels to keep off drafts. Little by little that little fighter came back.

By noon she was walking around and trying to get out of the little box I had her in. I had to tape the flaps up to make the box taller. When the oldest got home she immediately started to spoil that little duck rotten.  Putting her on her lap and letting her walk on her computer while she did homework. When the youngest got home it got worse and soon that little duck didn't want to stay in the box and would just scream her head off.

Now it doesn't take long for a baby bird to imprint on people and this one had wasted no time doing so. I went to the coop and got one of the other babies and brought it up to keep this one company and to let it know it was a duck. They stayed in the house all night so that I could make sure the weaker one was going to make it. Buy morning she was eating and drinking and so far so good. After the girls went to school I went down to check on mom and the other two babies. Mom needed a poo break so I put her on the floor while I changed the wet papers in the brooder box. What a difference in babies. The two that spent the night with mom thought I was a monster. Guess the kids will be doing some bird socializing. It's so much easier to fix a bird in trouble if they are use to human handlers.

All four babies are now with mom so I will be keeping an eye on things to make sure the littlest doesn't get bossed around. I will end with photos of mom and babies. To see larger images just click on the photos.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hatching Update

Mama didn't like me invading her nest. 

My youngest wanted to go see how the duck eggs were doing after school today. I had given someone 12 duck eggs to incubate in an incubator last month and they only hatched 2 out of 12. So I told her not to get too excited that I thought we either had 3 live eggs and 1 rotten egg or 1 live egg and 3 rotten eggs because 3 looked alike and 1 looked different. (I had not candled them). We had also started out with both Silkies with two eggs each but the black one got sick and I had to put all four under the white one. She didn't mind but I had my doubts that she could cover all four of those big eggs.

When we got past the attack geese (ya the geese go after everyone but me because it's breeding season) and into the coop I took mama off the nest for a food and water break and we started looking. Damn if one didn't have a crack in it. I thought maybe mama had done it though so I picked it up and I could feel the little
You can see the raised spot in this photo that is the crack 
guy moving around and pecking. I held it up to her ear so my youngest could hear the pecking. Then said "we have at least one live one". Then we heard it peep. She was so excited. I decided to check the others and I could feel something in the second one too. When my daughter felt the last two she could feel life in them also but much fainter. So if they all manage to finish we have 4 potential ducklings on the way. Last week the black silkie had climbed back in the nest to help but only lasted a day and got off. But she will get her chance.  Guess I better go find a brooder box and light for them because we had a cold front move in today and it is suppose to get down to 30 degrees tonight. It would be nice if they were all girls. The duck eggs are proving to be very popular with my egg customers. And last night my girls and the man wanted to try deviled goose eggs with dinner. They were almost a meal by themselves.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tuesday is Hatch Day!

Next Tueday marks 28 days from the time I slipped those duck eggs under my Silkies. Although Baby Mama (the black one) wasn't able to continue on the nest due to illness she is insisting on helping to finish the hatch. So I have both on the one nest. Guess we will just see what happens unless I can convince her to get off.