And then we had 10 chickens…

So I grew up in Calgary – the city, we did not have a garden growing up and no animals until I brought home a stray cat when I was 17 years old. We did spend most summer’s at the family grain farm in Saskatchewan, but that farm did not have any animals either. So we are starting from zero with the whole chicken thing! A former customer of mine from Baaad Anna’s gave me a book at the going away party Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow. This is an excellent, thorough book and I highly recommend that you pick up a copy if you are considering raising chickens.

Our first chicks

Our first chicks

 

We decided for this first year that we wanted a flock of ‘layers’ (as opposed to broilers – the difference is hopefully obvious, although I never knew this terminology before). So on day 6 of moving into our new place I went and picked up our first 3 chicks. These three are Light Brahma’s and are “straight run” which basically means they may be female or male its just luck of the draw. We are trying to avoid having any roosters for the first year, so this is why we only bought a small amount of these chicks. Two weeks later I picked up 8 more chicks (Cream Legbars and Rhodebars), these were ‘sexed pullets’ meaning I chose the sex (female) and pullets is the name for baby chickens – just in case you decide to raise chickens of your own someday you will already have the lingo!

Peck the Chicken

Peck the Chicken

For the first 4 weeks they lived inside of a ‘brooder box’ in our living room – partly so we could control their environment, but mostly because we didn’t have anything else set up (nothing like jumpin in head first right?). Once they got too big (and a bit too stinky) Luke built a brooder box that was inside of the garage – this was a major upgrade from the cardboard box, but still they outgrew this very fast. Luke was also working on a brand new chicken coop – which we lovingly call the ‘chicken-cabin’ because it’s a really lovely coop!

Brooder Box

Brooder Box

We ran into some timing hiccups around completing the coop, and also had to clear some major poison ivy (note to reader: NEVER under any circumstances remove poison ivy with a weed wacker – it will not end well).  But things finally got rolling and last weekend our chickens moved into their new home. There is a post dedicated to the coop forthcoming!

Josh working on his chicken carrying technique

Josh working on his chicken carrying technique

So chickens don’t start laying eggs until about 6 months after they hatch (who knew?). We are anxiously awaiting the first egg – due around Christmas time.  We feed our chickens a mixed ration from a local feed store, but I’m also planning to supplement their diet with ‘table scraps’ although still doing some research on what their diet will consist of. Our chickens have a temporary yard that they have access to while we are at home, but they won’t be full free-range chickens, as we have a LOT of predators on our property.

Bohdan and Eggy

Bohdan and Eggy

The boys absolutely love having chickens, I think there is something truly magical about animals and children and the lessons they learn from caring for those animals. Of course my boys have given the chickens some absolutely awesome/ridiculous names: eggy, chase on the case, costumy, pollen, peck, nicholas jack, not-nicholas jack, stripey). But the things they have learned in the short two months of having these chickens is amazing!

Follow us chickies

Follow us chickies

I will try not to post about chickens too much – but come on, they are freakin cool!

 

 

 

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Hello Manitoba

Apologies for the radio silence, we’ve been in Manitoba for just over two months, but it has been a very busy two months. I think we are on the tail end of the ‘busy-ness’ and I am finding more and more time to catch my breath and finally do some writing.

The driveway to our new home

The driveway to our new home

It is funny how things work out, and this adventure has surpassed our expectations and now it’s hard to imagine any other way. We expected to take between 3 – 5 months looking for the perfect place (or at least the place that met the most items from our criteria list).  In fact we found our spot within 3 weeks of arriving, and we made an offer, got bank approval and moved in all within 6 weeks of arriving!

Our backyard

Our backyard

When we first drove up the tree-lined, hidden driveway of our home I knew that I loved it, and every single moment of having this place confirms that it is an excellent choice for us. We originally were looking for about 5-10 acres of property that was predominantly covered with tree’s.  We actually purchased 140-acres of mostly tree and bush land, east of Winnipeg, Treaty One Territory.

Trails in our yard

Trails in our yard

The property has a great house that suits all our needs – I even have a dedicated sewing room!!! The yard is lovely with more space than we know what to do with, two outbuildings that need some TLC, a firepit and enough space to plant a garden that will keep me busy all summer long!

The ground we have tilled for a massive garden next year

The ground we have tilled for a massive garden next year

We picked up our first chicks 6 days after moving in, I will post about that later on, but needless to say it feels a little like we are moving at warp speed!

The creek that runs through our property

The creek that runs through our property

We made a list of WHAT we were looking for, but without a clear or rigid plan of what that would mean. We are very excited about the 140 acres of possibility that we have right now. I suppose this blog will take the shape more of our adventures on this land and as we explore this new province – both feel like epic adventures as we catch our breath and try to slow down the spinning world that we found ourself in.

Wild flower picking

Wild flower picking

Learning about a [new to us]  land base, and understanding the opportunities AND challenges that come along with it, and day-dreaming about the possibility and the priorities for what we do next seems to be occupying most of my time!

Running free with their cousin - if you like the butterfly wings, check out the 'shop'

Running free with their cousin – if you like the butterfly wings, check out the ‘shop’

Thanks to all of you who have sent supportive messages (or mail), and just supported us along this journey – on to the next step! (also – we bought a trampoline for the boys and it was the best idea ever, they spend hours on it everyday!)

little farm boy picture - I promise there will be no gratuitous nudity in the future!

little farm boy picture – I promise there will be no gratuitous nudity in the future!

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Explore Alberta – Hittin the Road (part 1)

On April 26th we said a huge goodbye to our friends, community and life in the Pacific Northwest and headed East towards family, the prairies and the hope of our own little patch of earth to put down some roots, plant our own food, keep some sheep and chickens and provide for our boys in a less urban setting and a more self-sufficient life style.

see ya later Vancouver

see ya later Vancouver

 

With that sense of adventure we made some stops along the way! For those of you who have done any road-tripping with kids, planning stops along the way is essential!  After a great visit in Vernon with some close friends we headed to Calgary (where I was born and raised) we met up with an old friend and spent an hour exploring the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk:

Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk - Revelstoke, AB

Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk – Revelstoke, AB

“A 1.2 km trail and boardwalk leads you over a swamp inhabited by muskrat, beaver, skunk cabbage and a host of birds. Signs help you identify the plants and animals you see along the way. This fascinating place is at its best from May through July. Trailhead is at the Skunk Cabbage Picnic Area, 28 km east of Revelstoke on the Trans Canada Highway. ” – From the Parks Canada Website

It was a perfect pit-stop, and although it was a bit early for skunk cabbage season in Revelstoke, it was a beautiful place to stretch our legs and check out the various plants and animals in the interior.

Royal Tyrrel Museum

Royal Tyrrel Museum

We spent a few weeks in Calgary with cousins and family and spent time going on many adventures!  My entire family packed up and headed to Drumheller for the day to check out the Royal Tyrrel Dinosaur Museum! I have not been much of a ‘dinosaur person’ until my kids started getting interested in them – but it was amazing to see all the fossils found in Alberta and just learn the geographical history of the region I grew up in!

Royal Tyrrel Museum

Royal Tyrrel Museum

Our favorite exhibition was of the T-rex named Black Beauty – it was initially found by two young boys who were out fishing and saw a fossil – they dug it up and didn’t realize what it was, but their curiosity led them them come back to the fossil – inform a teacher from their school, who identified it as a dinosaur fossil and later was uncovered as an almost complete T-rex fossil.  My boys are now convinced they will find fossils every time they fish!

My nephew in awe at the Royal Tyrrel Museum

My nephew in awe at the Royal Tyrrel Museum

The museum has an excellent playground outside, with a huge sandbox and ‘digging’ for kids. The museum is suited for a range of ages, of course the youngest explorer will most likely enjoy just looking at the large dinosaurs, and the older explorers will enjoy reading and learning about how and where the individual fossils were discovered.  No matter the age, we all enjoyed it, and will definitely be back!

Royal Tyrrel Museum

Royal Tyrrel Museum

 

The Badlands of Alberta are so beautiful and stunning. Totally different than the temperate rainforest we spent the last 10 years exploring, but so worth the drive and the adventuring! If you get a chance, and especially if you have a dinosaur fan in your life you must make the trip out the the Royal Tyrrel Museum!

Alberta Bad Lands

Alberta Bad Lands

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Victoria Butterfly Gardens

Bohdan and his monarch wings

Bohdan and his monarch wings

So many of you know we are huge butterfly fans – so in March we took off for Victoria and visited the Victoria Butterfly Gardens and the Victoria Bug Zoo!  It was an amazing trip – and if you or your littles are big fans of bugs, insects and butterflies then you must check it out!

The Great Mormon from the Phillipines

2 Great Mormon butterflies from the Phillipines

The Butterfly Garden has a huge exhibit full of beautiful birds, butterflies, and even a few friendly turtles. We loved watching all the various species of butterflies flutter about, and even had a few land on our bodies. My personal favourite is the Blue Morpho and it was March Morpho Month so the garden was full of these stunning blue butterflies.

Blue Morpho Butterfly from Costa Rica

Blue Morpho Butterfly from Costa Rica

Besides all the beautiful butterflies, we loved getting up close and personal with Leo the parrot, watching all the flamingo’s and looking for the gecko’s!

Flamingo's and turtles on a log!

Flamingo’s and turtles on a log!

They have a great display case of all the cocoons and we loved watching the various stages of metamorphosis for the various butterflies. Bohdan was of course extremely proud to wear his monarch wings while we visited the gardens.

White Tree Nymph from the Phillipines

White Tree Nymph from the Phillipines

 

Not only was this trip on our PNW (Pacific North West) list of things to do before we leave, it was also motivated by my 4-yr olds interest in insects and butterflies. As I waffle back and forth on whether we will choose the traditional schooling route or fully immerse ourselves in unschooling I realize that what we have been doing since the beginning is child-centered learning and what I would call unschooling.

Tropical Birds at the Garden

Tropical Birds at the Garden

So basically whenever our kids start taking an interest in something, my husband and I do whatever we can to encourage that learning and with a wide range of mediums. Thus, the trip to Victoria!  The bug zoo was fantastic, we got to see bugs that thus far we’ve only ever read about (praying mantis, mexican red-kneed tarantula, and a fantastic inside look at leaf-cutter ant colonies) I unfortunately have no pictures of the bug zoo – but take my word for it, it’s worth the trip!

Intently watching the proboscis of the butterfly

Intently watching the proboscis of the butterfly

 

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Oregon

Ok, so as many of you know, we are in the middle of a HUGE transition. I am really looking forward to writing about our new adventures here in Winnipeg. Now that we’ve landed I realize that I really need to catch up on all the amazing adventures we had before we left the Pacific Northwest!

Exploring the paths in Cape Disappointment State Park

Exploring the paths in Cape Disappointment State Park

 

I cannot believe that I lived on the westcoast for 10 years and never made it down to Oregon. We went for a week trip along the coast, and it was absolutely stunning. Words won’t do it justice, so I will post these pictures.  But seriously if you get a chance people – go explore in Oregon. It was beautiful an amazing, and we all loved every minute of our trip.

The path to the North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment

The path to the North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment

After a brief stop in Seattle and a great trip to the Pacific Science Center we headed to the coast and visited what felt like the edge of North America at Cape Disappointment. We walked along the path to the North Head Lighthouse and watched as the powerful waves crashed against the rocks.  This is a great state park, the drive is beautiful throughout and exploring around the park is amazing.  Waves, big tree’s, beautiful vegetation and a lot of amazing birds.  Totally worth the stop if you are heading to the coast!

The edge of the world at Cape Disspointment

The edge of the world at Cape Disappointment

We then headed across the bridge to Oregon, and started exploring the coast. If I was going to explore the coast again I would devote at least an entire week to the 363 miles of accessible coast line. We spent some time at Cannon Beach and then also at Hug Point – just two of the numerous amazing places along the coast. We played in the sand and the water, we explored caves, and tidal pools, we ran away from sneaker waves and our mouths were sore from smiling the entire time.  Seriously you must do the coast – can I say it again…go, pack up your kids, and your tents and just do it!

 

cannonbeach3

Looking for sand dollars at Cannon Beach

hugpoint5

Hug Point

hugpoint1

Exploring Beach Caves

 

After the Coast we spent a few days in Portland – such an amazing city and fantastic green spaces everywhere in the city. We did a day trip to Multnomah Falls – a stunning waterfall only 30 minutes from the city. There are lots of mini little hikes and trails depending on your time and hiking ability. But no matter how far or high you hike, the entire place is stunning!

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Even though we have left the Pacific Northwest we have already decided that we must return to Oregon – a stunning place that is worth checking out!

Sleepy kid at Multnomah Falls

Sleepy kid at Multnomah Falls

 

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Adventure in our city – Queen Elizabeth & Bloedel Conservatory

We love to head out to the north shore mountains and beyond, but we also really enjoy exploring the many amazing green spaces in our own city. A favourite is Queen Elizabeth park! It is such a diverse park with so many different things to explore.

Queen Elizabeth Park - Vancouver

Queen Elizabeth Park – Vancouver

You can spend hours looking at and learning about the beautiful flowers and plants species, or just run wild with the vast open green spaces.

Queen Elizabeth Park - Vancouver

Queen Elizabeth Park – Vancouver

It is the highest point in Vancouver and on a clear day the view(s) are stunning!

View of the City - Queen Elizabeth Park - Vancouver

View of the City – Queen Elizabeth Park – Vancouver

This past fall there was an abundance of stunning mushrooms of many different species (and a plethora of our favourite amanita muscaria).

Queen Elizabeth Park - Vancouver

Queen Elizabeth Park – Vancouver

 

We also love hitting up the indoor Bloedel Conservatory on rainy Vancouver days. My boys love walking around the conservatory and seeing the birds, plants and other hidden treasures among the giant leaves!

Bloedel Conservatory - Vancouver

Bloedel Conservatory – Vancouver

 

The staff is very kind and always willing to answer a hundred questions – and it is such a rich place for inquisitive little minds. It is pretty inexpensive to go to the Bloedel Conservatory, and if you have a memberhip to Vandusen Gardens you can get into the Conservatory for free!

Bloedel Conservatory - Vancouver

Bloedel Conservatory – Vancouver

The conservatory is such a fantastic place for us to feel as though we are ‘outside’ on those days when it is just too soggy to actually be outside. Although the conservatory is not a large place, we have spent hours just walking around finding plants we’ve never noticed before, or sitting on a bench trying to talk to the parrots!

Bloedel Conservatory - Vancouver

Bloedel Conservatory – Vancouver

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Sea to Sky – Squamish

Ok people I’m sorry that I’ve been so quiet lately – lots of changes are happening (more on that later), and I’ve been trying to enjoy being outside with all of our amazing weather – thus blogging has really fallen off the giant to-do list.

View of the Inlet from the Sea to Sky Gondola

View of the Inlet from the Sea to Sky Gondola

So often I focus on the local (lower mainland) free hikes that we enjoy, but a few months ago we had the opportunity to go ride the Sea-To-Sky Gondola with some dear friends. It was a great day, with some amazing trails, and fantastic mushrooms! The base of the Gondola is just east of the Chief and a few km’s before Squamish. It is so worth the scenic drive, and totally worth taking the Gondola!

Spirit Trail - Sea to Sky Gondola

Spirit Trail – Sea to Sky Gondola

We walked both the Spirit Trail and the Lookback trail – both are simple trails, and do not take long to walk! There was no snow when we hiked the trails, and they were still full of mushrooms, and lush vegetation.

"Mama I see a blushing bracket mushroom"

“Mama I see a blushing bracket mushroom”

The clouds parted briefly that morning and the view of the inlet was breathtaking. In fact, there were many opportunities on the hike to see surrounding mountains and landscape, that even the kids enjoyed!

We think this may be a False Morel - more research required

We think this may be a False Morel – more research required

The trails are stroller accessible, and also not to challenging for little legs. The upper lodge has a full cafeteria and great bathrooms. There are many opportunities for bigger hikes around the area check out their website for more details!

The lookback trail -  Sea to Sky Gondola

The lookback trail – Sea to Sky Gondola

 

Our Nature Finds from the day!

Our Nature Finds from the day!

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