Friday, January 24, 2014

And then there were ten...


A little more than a month ago, we noticed a burst of chicken feathers in our yard, a careful count of our birds revealed we were down to eleven. This scattering of feathers is a common reaction of chickens to a predator.

About a week later, (and amidst the first bout of the "arctic vortex") I noticed a second burst of different colored feathers - and we were down to ten. Without knowing what kind of predator we were dealing with we felt hard pressed to know how to protect our flock.

Two days later, I noticed Jake sitting at the end of his line watching the woods intently and I ran to look. I saw a fox trotting from the neighbor's field heading straight toward our coop.

I ran to the bathroom and managed to hastily snap the following photo before running to the backyard to scare it off before it reached the girls.

They were all a flutter and made quite the racket before the fox heard me and turned tail.

We've since shored up a few loose spots on the chicken yard and sent our resident large predator out to the yard nightly to mark the territory. We've held steady since that sighting, and I keep singing to myself "A fox went out on a chilly night..." 

Occurrences like this make me grateful for the reminder of the awesomeness of the wild, how we are never really far from it, and how, in our little mutterings about our property, we contribute to the greater world.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dyeing gDiapers


Before we had our daughter, I did a lot of research into the types of cloth and eco diapering options that are currently available. Eventually I settled on gDiapers, as I wanted to have one kind that would work well in the many different situations we find ourself in at home, while traveling, and while she is in the care of others. I love the flexibility of the different types of inserts (the absorbent part). After about the first month, we settled into using organic pre-folds as inserts and occasionally the biodegradable inserts when on the go. 

While pregnant, I kept an eye online for people selling used bundles of the covers and ended up getting her first couple sizes worth of covers for only a few dollars each - new gDiaper covers retail for as much as $25 each. 

Once she was with us and growing quickly, I found my interest in spending my valuable personal time scouring the internet for deals on used covers completely absent. After a couple of attempts I found that I could get a starter pack more cheaply than I was finding the larger sizes used - the only issue: The colors.

While I like orange and green as much as the next person (perhaps more so in the case of orange), I missed the variety of colors! 

Enter fabric dye! 

First I used Rit Color Remover on all the covers. Several of them ended up looking as though they had been subtly tie-dyed and I left them without further color. You can see the original green and orange on the elastic band at the top of the top two in the picture above. 

I then dyed two crimson and two burgundy again using Rit Dye. In both pairs of red liners the (originally) green is on the left. For both the color remover and the dyes I followed the directions on the package so I won't transcribe them here.

I had intended to over-dye one of each red with a deep brown and end up with six different colors, but... well... she grew out of this size before I ever got around to it. All in all I am quite pleased with how well they turned out and have since dyed some of her next size up with similar wonderful results.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Introducing Einkorn: the wheat we can eat


For a couple years I had occasionally come across posts from writers I follow about their family's food sensitivities leading them to switch from conventional wheat to Einkorn

Food sensitivities within my own family lead me to ask: what is Einkorn wheat? According to Jovial Foods (from whom we buy our flour): 

"Einkorn is very different from all other varieties of wheat. It was the first species of wheat grown by man more than 12,000 years ago." Since then it has never been hybridized and remains the purest (and easiest to digest) form of wheat known today.

More about the genetics from Jovial Foods: 

"Like einkorn, most plants are diploids, which mean they have one set of chromosomes from a male parent and one from the female parent. When other species of wheat were created, additional sets of chromosomes were added. Emmer wheat was created roughly 2,000 years after einkorn by the hybridization of two wild grasses adding two sets of chromosomes. Kamut®and Durum Wheat are descendants of Emmer. Spelt was the first wheat hybridization that occurred with the help of man between cultivated emmer and a wild grass, creating a species with six sets of chromosomes. Common bread wheat descended from spelt."

Why does this matter to me? Several people in my family, while not fully allergic, are sensitive to wheat, and feel the all-too-familiar "wheat bloat" after eating much conventional wheat.

Enter Einkorn - the wheat we can all enjoy. While it ends up being a little bit more expensive than standard flour, the results are more nutritious, and noticeably more delicious. I have had several non-bakers ask me for the recipe and a lesson after tasting homemade einkorn bread. 

Even if our youngest family member grows out of her sensitivity, we will continue to enjoy this newfound addition to our lives.

If you're interested, I could wax poetic about my love for this grain - someday I hope to buy a high quality grain mill so we can grind our own fresh flours. Until then enjoy this teaser, and thank you Jovial!

Photos c Jovial Foods
This is my own personal experience and in no way a paid advert for them. 
Also please note, that while many with wheat sensitivities can fully enjoy einkorn free of discomfort, it does still contain gluten.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year


It hardly seems as though it's the end of the year with the rush and bustle of the holiday months still ringing in our ears. But there's the date - January 1st. 

Even though it's a precise measurement from a pretty arbitrary start point, the turning of the year is still something to celebrate - if for nothing else than the ritual and tradition of celebrating. 

So we turn our clocks and calendars and refresh our resolve. We recollect the past year and promise with all our intentions and hope to do better in the coming year.

The past couple of months I've been enjoying very much enjoying felting. The mini-hedgehog and its log were a present for C. The needle-felted owl was made as a gift for a cousin's new baby and the case is for myself. 

Sending you love and wishing you a better year to come than we had this past year. Although, for us, 2013 will be pretty hard to top!