Archive for April, 2012

I ran across the idea over here at The Art Girl Jackie.  I finally got to try it with my sister and my little girls.

Basically, you use sharpie type permanent markers to draw on your shirt (or other clothing item).  Cotton fabrics work best.


After you’re done drawing, you use rubbing alcohol on it.  Either an eye dropper to drip the alcohol on the design, or we just put it in a spray bottle and I spritzed the designs until they started to “bleed” on the shirt.  I spritzed mine flat on a board, purposefully to let some of the color bleed onto the back of the shirt as well.


If you don’t want it to bleed onto the back of the shirt, put something in the middle as a barrier until it dries.  It will continue to bleed more as it dries.  I think more rubbing alcohol and hanging it causes more bleeding.

Best part:  If you get a stain on the shirt (extremely possible with white shirts and my little kids), you can just scribble on it a little more and spritz it again!

I haven’t washed them yet, but I’ll update if things go south…


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Disclaimer:  Included in this post are photos of chick embryos.  Some may consider them to be graphic- please take that into consideration before you continue.  That being said, I in no way mean to dis-respect these little creatures.  I have taken photos of the embryos and details because I find beauty in the way God creates even the smallest details of simple animals.  It’s amazing and fascinating to me and I’d like others to be able to see that too.  All these embryos were from eggs that “quit” in the incubator- I didn’t start them and crack them open (and kill them) just to get some photos.

If you want to see pictures of chick embryos from each day of development (1-21)  I found this site.

incubator progress- a journal of sorts for the details.  My incubator start-up post can be read over here.

Eggs placed in the incubator on 3/11 in the evening; started with 61 including some older than 10 days from in the fridge (un-turned, point end up) and eggs from my flock, my uncle, and the lady I borrowed the incubator from.  Eggs from my uncle and friend were collected within a few days of incubating and stored “properly”.  I also am trialing a damaged egg.  I took a bit of elmers glue to one egg that had been cracked (pecked?) near the end of my egg collecting days.  It just broke the shell, not the inner membrane.  I found the idea online with parakeet eggs or something like that.  The big detail is to make sure you only put it on the crack so that as little of the porous surface is blocked. (And it worked- the egg didn’t hatch, but it fully developed.  See details later in the post.  Certainly a greater risk of introducing bacteria, though.)

3/19  I opened the first egg earlier today- one from the woman I’m borrowing the incubator from- that had only a small embryo that had “quit”- I wrote about that in my first post on incubating here.  The picture:

I opened 2 more this evening- both that I have never seen anything in (vessels or otherwise) when candling.  The shells were lighter, so I wasn’t concerned about having missed something.   Still no smell, although they’re runny and disintegrating a bit.  Neither looked like they had ever had any progress.  One was out of the fridge, and one was from my uncle.  So now all my remaining eggs in the incubator fit in to egg cartons- I’m at 58 and counting down.

3/20 I took out another egg this morning- one that showed no development when candled.  I had seen a bubble that would follow as the egg was turned.  This might not have been a concern if I could have seen other development, as I found some forum discussions where that was happening with developing eggs.  This one never showed an air space at the end of the egg, and had a crack in it that was visible when candling but hard to see otherwise.  I tried to take a picture, but you can’t see the air bubble in the pic.  No development when I opened it.  This one was a fresh laid/collected egg from my flock.

Another “clear” egg out in the evening.  No development when candled, none when opened.  Another that was freshly laid- just a few days before I started the incubator.

3/21 Another “clear” egg out in the morning.  No development when candled, none when opened.  From the dozen I got from my uncle.

3/22- A cutthroat morning at the incubator.  I candled 24 and took out 12.  That being said, I went through the fridge eggs.  I also took out several that had started to develop, but stopped.  7 from the fridge, 5 I had collected “fresh” for incubating.  Of the collected ones, one had a crack in the end and was fairly porous, and one was from the first day I collected- neither of these had any progress.


2 of the fridge eggs had started to develop and stopped.  These you could see the beak starting to develop and wings that were looking more like wings (not just buds) as well as legs developing, and I believe organs (outside of the body- they go into the body nearer to the end of development, if I remember correctly).  I can’t tell you what day these quit, but my guess would be somewhere around day 5-6


1 collected egg had a teeny tiny embryo- basically only the basic shape- no details could be seen.  Day 1 or 2?  It’s not just a fuzzy picture- that was really about all there was to see-barely.

2 of the collected eggs had started and progressed further before stopping.  Day 7-9ish is my guess.  You can see lots more detail on these- the 3 individual toes, a beak that can open, wings, and even the spots on the skin where feathers would be growing in later in development.  Organs, too.  If you know what you’re looking for, you might be able to tell what’s what.  I assume the dark red blood spot may be the heart?


A brutal night as well- 12 more removed.  4 from my uncle, 4 from the friend, 4 of my own (1 fridge egg).  Small embryos- less than a week, I’d say- in 3- two from my uncle and one from my friend.  The two banty eggs (mine- one fresh, one from the fridge) had a string of almost clear jelly ball type things- maybe a very early embryo?  They (embryos) are starting to be a bit more disintegrated now when I open them and find an earlier quitter.  I found blood rings in several.  Most of the eggs I pulled out this evening were darker brown shells or green shells- much more difficult to see through.  That and the blood rings- that look like something early on, especially to a beginner, make it tricky.  I am seeing a more pronounced thicker line around the entire egg (or most of it) on the eggs I find just a blood ring in.


The better news now, is that I saw movement in a large percentage of the eggs that I candled and left in the incubator.  More than half way done now, and 31 eggs remain in the incubator.  Some more will probably go when I can decipher better what’s inside.  The ones with movement I’m going to try leaving alone from now on.  I figure if they’re alive now, they probably won’t explode before the end, even if they don’t make it any further in their development.

3/23-  3 more out this morning that showed development when candled, but seemed very small and had no movement.  One of my freshly collected eggs and 2 from my friend.  When opened, 2 had small embryos (less than a week) and one had another clumpy string of clear jelly balls.  Down to 28 in the incubator, and I’ve seen movement in all but 7- those have darker shells so it’s difficult to see anything.


last 3 eggs removed from the incubator tonight.  1 from my friend that had a small (less than a week) embryo, 1 from the fridge with only a blood ring, and 1 freshly collected with only a blood ring.

That leaves 25 in the incubator, and they should all stay.  only 1 banty egg still has me guessing, and I THINK I saw movement- so hard to tell and the bits of light flashing in your eyes make it hard to tell in the dark between movement and eye spots in a very dark/green eggshell.  The 2 with only blood rings kept me guessing, too, they had porous shells in places, and when the yolk moves, it can leave you guessing.  I finally took the 3 out because they seemed to have more light space than I thought they should, and no defined movement.  And I thought I was only seeing that thick blood ring, no vascular development.

Egg yolks are very disintegrated and runny when opening them now.  The white has a clump that jells up in the pointy end of the egg.  Still no bad odor, though.

Hoping for most of the 25 to be hatching into lively chicks on April 1st!

3/27- opened the incubator this evening to check the temperature when I turned the eggs.  My nose told me something wasn’t right.   So I sniff tested the eggs to find the offender.  I hesitantly cracked it open to find a chick embryo that had stopped developing I’d say around day 9?  Stinky, but not as horrible as I’d expected it might be.  It was an egg collected the day before I started the incubator.

3/28- I thought I should check each egg over once more before lockdown, and (SADLY) pulled 6 more eggs out.  They had a lot more light coming through when candled than they should have at this point, and no movement that I could see other than the sloshing of the cloudy stuff that moves when you move the egg.  Several had what looked like a blood ring that looked clumpy and stuck onto the shell.  5 fresh laid, 1 from the fridge.  All with embryos developed to roughly day 8-15ish?  One looked pretty fresh- I’m hoping I didn’t open it in error!  (Update:  I found the eggcartonlabels post (mentioned above) with all the embryo pictures, and was relieved when it looked like too few and too short of feathers to be developed to the date we’re at today.  Whew!

18 left…

3/29- I put the incubator on “lock down” this morning- filled up the water reservoirs to increase the humidity and removed my block of wood that “turned” my eggs from under the incubator, so all sit neatly in their cartons, point side down now.  I kept 3 egg flats and distributed the eggs evenly.  I have 6 left from my uncle, 1 from my friend, 2 from the fridge, and 9 I’d collected- 3 banty eggs, 1 egg that was cracked and I repaired, and 5 others- some are from my black chickens and some from my chanteclers- it’s difficult to tell for sure, as most of the eggs are the same light brown color.  All the eggs I knew for sure where chants were removed 😦  If black is dominant over white, I should be able to tell my chicks apart.  but if white is dominant, there’s no telling for sure, since my roos are chants (and the banty, which is quite possibly the daddy for some of these chicks).  If I try again, I’ll be separating my chantecler girls for 2 weeks, then adding the roos for a week, then I’ll collect eggs solely from them (and probably some bantys since they’re fun and easy to tell apart) to put in the incubator.

3/31 My dear daughter(s?) raided the incubator! 😦 😡

One egg was completely smashed open.  A little white chick inside that was so close to being done… 😦 It was one of my fridge eggs.  Back in the incubator with everything else, including one egg that lost some pieces of shell, but the membrane was still intact.  I can’t express how upset I was at my kids!

4/1- 1 egg piped, slightly enlarged the hole, then died.  4 others piped and zipped, 3 from my uncle, one of my own that I collected.  The 3rd from my uncle seemed to be stuck- like dried in stuck.  I opened the incubator since nothing else showed signs of hatching yet, got the 3 out that were out of shells and dry, and freed the 4th- shell was completely stuck on it.  I only took off the top and left it in the incubator to finish getting out of the egg itself.  I added a bunch of water, since things were obviously too dry.  The egg with pieces of shell missing had something breathing in it, but not hatching.  I ended up taking out the 4th hatched chick after it was mostly dry and misted the eggs.  The chick that had piped and stopped I removed the eggshell from- a little black chick, definitely gone.

4/2- nothing happening.  Not sure if anything is still alive in the egg with shell missing- it’s been oozing some and I haven’t seen the movement lately.

4/3- 1 more chick from my uncle out this morning, with another from him piped and zipped (now out).  One of the chicks that hatched out from my uncle died.  No other action in the incubator, so I took out the two that hatched and cleared out the shells, etc.  Spritzed the eggs, added more water.  Took out the egg with pieces missing, as I was pretty sure it was dead (it was- another black chick).

4/6- I emptied the incubator this morning after giving the “float test” a try.  Mine all floated, but it seemed to be just the airspace above the water.  I candled and (hesitantly) opened them.  All were mostly developed, but hadn’t quite finished.  3 banty chicks, 1 white one of my own, one from my uncle, 1 black chick from my friend, and 2 black chicks of my own.  The egg that I had glued at the beginning was the white chick.  One of the black chicks of my own was a fridge egg.  I have too few results to be able to speculate much on the color gene dominance.

So:  I have 5 live chicks- 4 rhode island reds and 1 that’s half Chantecler of the 18 that made it to lockdown (17 that stayed in after the incubator was raided) and 6 that hatched.  My think my chantecler chick is likely half banty Americauna.  The wing feathers are coming in patterned.  We’ll see what it grows up to be.  Note:  The yuck on the chicks is a combo of crud from hatching and colostrum- I put in a dish shortly after they hatched and they flopped around in it. They gobbled it up, but it makes a sticky, nasty, clumpy mess before it’s gone.


What I’ve learned/reinforced:

1) a.  God makes amazing creatures and b.  He uses amazing processes to form them!

2)  Children are very interested in and amazed at #1

3)  I have to try again.  Note to self- stay AWAY from the bins of chicks a the feed store and tractor supply…

4)  Monitor humidity much more closely.  I don’t think a “dry hatch” is going to work for me.  That’s not what I was going for, but I really think I needed more humidity than I had.  I got a hygrometer to check humidity part way through, but never checked to make sure it was calibrated correctly.  I’ve found how to with the “salt method”, and need to do it before I try again.

5) Somehow I MUST keep my children away from the incubator for lockdown!  I assume that contributed a lot to my end losses.

6)  If I just separate my 2 banty chickens and my banty rooster, I will be able to solve this color thing…

7)  I’ll be a lot more confident in my candling the next round, and probably will leave them alone ’til something like day 10 next time.

8)  While fridge eggs can develop, the rates are lower, so I won’t use them unless I have to.  I did this time for experiemental reasons and because I had room.

9)  Glueing an egg can work if needed.

10)  I still have a LOT to learn!

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Our MOPS Creative Activity for April.  Our kids joined us for our MOPS meeting this past Wednesday.  We were doing a MOPS “swap” day- bring your kids stuff (toys, clothes, books, equipment) they’ve outgrown and maternity clothes and take home what you can use.

Before we swapped, we had a trail mix line for a snack- dip a bit of several different snacks out of a bowl and put it in a bag for each kid.  We enjoyed some chat time while the kids snacked and played.

Then we worked together on our Creative Activity- Summer bucket lists.   I got the idea over here at thefoleyfam.

I got sand buckets for a dollar at Michaels and made a simple wrap from paper for them- about half a sheet of paper that slightly curves.  (Your pattern will vary based on your bucket.  Just remember you can’t get the cool castle shaped buckets if you’re putting a wrapper on 😦 )  Everyone decorated the wrap pieces.  Some colored right on the wrapper, some had kids color on paper and cut out shapes to glue on the wrapper. Stickers or paper punch shapes would probably have worked equally well.  (We’ve got part of a sandcastle, a campfire, a wildflower, a book, a kite, a berry, and an ice cream cone here.  I-Spy, anyone?  Colored paper for either the wrapper or the shapes would have been helpful for visibility.)

The wrapper tapes onto the bucket.  You can try glue, but I don’t think it will work well.  (Not that you can see the tape here, but you get a detail of our sandcastle and some random squares/circles)

Then, the list.  The idea is to make a list of things you’d like to do as a family this summer. Go camping, roast marshmallows, catch fireflies, read books, go to the zoo, blow bubbles, go swimming, pick berries, etc. etc.  Some moms wanted to take their list home to consult with their husband and make it a full family decision.  (Great idea!  They just took clothespins with them.  I don’t always think of these things when I trial these crafts at home…)

Once the list is made, write each goal on a clothespin and clip it on the edge of the bucket.  I used a pen to get more letters on, but a sharpie would be suitable as well.  Shorten your phrases and write small.  Remember there’s 2 sides if needed for more detailed goals…


As you complete each activity over the summer, pull the clothespin off and throw it in the bucket.  Fun!

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An eventful week for our critters!  Since the calf was born, I’ve been milking.

LOTS of milk!  Not as much as a “real” milk cow, of course, but plenty for us.  I’ve been getting about 3 quarts a milking over the last several days.  I’m milking twice a day until the calf can take it all, then I’ll drop back to once a day and pull the calf for 12 hours or so.  Norma has been a wonderful milker for me.  The only time I had trouble was when she left her calf in the hay pile instead of getting her to come out for milking time.  We won’t do that again- for Norma’s sake and for mine.  She’s a nicer/better milker than Ellie, AND her milk tastes a lot better to me- not cow-y.  I’m so glad!  I’m hoping that won’t change with the spring grass.

Lots of milk means new recipes to try.  I tried some beesting new cheese- it was okay, but hard to know how to eat it exactly.  I roughly followed the directions here.  Basically, you pour the colostrum in a pan and add a bit of sugar.  Bake ’til it starts to brown.   You can “test” your colostrum (aka beesting) by cooking a bit in a frypan to see if it sets up- kind of like scrambled eggs.  Recipes use it in place of eggs for pudding and the like since it firms up so much.

Next I made some fresh butter.  Mmmm… Mom let me borrow her old Daisy (I think it is one of those) churns.  They had built a board for it when we were kids so you could sit on the board and the churn would hold still while you cranked.  My girls got to try it this time, and had fun- for a few minutes.  Then we finished it.  Very yellow- a lot of the cream was early cream, so the colostrum content made it richer colored.


Some of the leftover buttermilk got used in buttermilk pancakes for dinner last night; recipe from Betty Crocker.

Today was a cheese making day.  I am trying “Lannie’s Easy Cheddar” from the “Keeping a Family Cow” board.  I’ve used it before, and it’s a foolproof recipe as far as getting a product that acts properly with no fuss.  It’s a good cheese to start out on.  It’s flexible as far as temperatures and times go, and it “cooks” in the sink (or in a bigger pot of hot water), so there’s no worry about scorching it.  The only problem is we haven’t been a big fan of the clabber to start it.  The flavor isn’t what we’d like that way.  This time I used powdered mesophilic starter and skipped the yogurt to see what our end flavor will be like.  We’ve made cheese curds before with a similar method and enjoyed those.  The cheese curd recipe is over here– I “cooked” these in the sink, too.  I’ve also found that rennet doesn’t work for me ’til more like 85*, but maybe my thermometers are off.  I say that so that if you’re not getting a curd to set, try raising the temperature a bit.  Mine is now in the press (my ever-so-sophisticated #10 can, apple pie filling, and books for weights) and will stay there ’til tomorrow.


With the whey I’m trying some mysost.  I’ve never had any, so we’ll see what it tastes like!  I based my attempt on the post here.  You cook down the whey, optionally add cream (I didn’t) and whip it up when the extra liquid is cooked out.  It’s supposed to take 4-12 hours.  I did about half of the whey left from my 2 gallon batch of cheese in the electric fry pan.  It was done in less than 3 hours.  It looks a lot like ricotta as it cooks down, but instead of straining, you just cook off all the extra liquid.  Since it was curd-y I put it through my mini food chopper to smooth it out.  It’s a different taste- good, but I’m not sure how to use it.  A sweet, tangy, creamy, rich, caramelized flavor.  Anyone have suggestions?  I tried it on a saltine, but the cracker was a competing flavor.


Added:  Here’s what it looked like when it was done cooking, before I processed it.

My kefir grains were put in the mail today from a gracious woman on the “keeping a family cow” board who was willing to share.  I’m looking forward to them!  I’ve got a collection going of different things I’d like to try.

Enough about milk.  We named the calf.  She is Nightingale.  The girls were sure she should be “gai-gai”, Her mama’s name is Norma, and her daddy is Gideon, so NightinGale it is, gai-gai or gail for short.  I weighed her on Monday and she was 47 lbs.  She’s getting to be a bit of a pest, too!  She gets out of the fence and I’m having a terrible time catching her now that she’s getting to be so quick!

And last, but not least, we have a new BOY on the farm.  It’s mostly girls around here except for the roos.  That changed yesterday with the addition of our new herd bull.  He’s a coming yearling out of Ace of Clove Brook and Chautauqua Poppy from Someday Maybe Farm.  I’m actually not sure of his birthdate or his name, but I’ll know once all his registration paperwork is done (or I talk with Shaun).  Cranberry was standing for him when he got here yesterday, but I won’t plan on a January calf yet- I think he’s still got some things to figure out.  (Of course, maybe I’ll be surprised!)


A chick incubation posting/update is on the way- sometime…

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