Saturday, September 24, 2011

Floriade 2011

A number of months ago when I heard that Floriade was happening in late September, I remember thinking that when it finally rolled around, I'd know that I'd be having a baby any day. Well Floriade is here and baby doesn't seem quite ready to join us yet so we thought we'd take Riker to see the flowers and the petting zoo yesterday. Here are the highlights:

Meeting a very fluffy bunny:


Bunny gets a kiss (while a greedy goat kid tries to steal its veggies):


Petting the goat:


Feeding the goat:


Snuggling (I think) with a calf:


Floriade is always a great place for family photos:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chickenomics

We've now had our family of chickens for 365 days and as Brian has been keeping stats on costs and egg production, I thought I'd share our cost benefit analysis on keeping backyard chickens. Here's the summary:

We originally bought six chickens and after the first season, we reduced (ate) that number to three, then bought ten chickens (three of which we eventually learned were roosters and who have now all been eaten) and then hatched and raised three chicks from eggs in our makeshift incubation experiment (two of which we strongly suspect are roosters).

Total number of eggs laid in 365 days: 1784


In the graph you can see a major drop in production when the original six chickens started molting and then an increase when we purchased more chickens and then used a light in the beginning of winter to boost laying.  

Costs:
Pen              0.00
Feed        311.16
Straw         92.50
Chickens  238.00
------------------
Total:       641.66

The pen was made entirely of scavenged/found materials so with all other costs accounted for, the price of each egg is $.36 or $4.32 per dozen. The lowest cost was at the end of the first season at day 175 where each egg was at $.31 and a dozen was $3.70. For reference, the cost of comparable store bought free range eggs that we would normally buy is around $5-6 per dozen.

We've learned many, many things along the way including how to:

- build a coop
- generally keep chickens healthy and happy
- distinguish roosters from hens before the obvious signs of crowing and egg laying
- know if an egg is fertilized
- incubate and hatch eggs
- determine an egg's stage of development by candling
- raise chicks and gauge the approximate age of a chicken
- keep chickens from eating their eggs
- kill and process a chicken for eating

It's been quite the adventure in urban agriculture. Brian has loved learning all of the above and Riker adores the chickens and every day helps to feed them and collect the eggs. I love that he's able to have some exposure to where food comes from at such an early age.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tick Tick Tick

See the little ticker on the right hand side of my blog?  It says EIGHT days left!  Single digits!  And if that weren't crazy enough, just yesterday I thought to review the information from our ultrasound scan and realized that according to its estimates based on the size of the baby at 21 weeks, TODAY is the due date!  I'm still pretty confident with our original date of September 28th though and baby has strict instructions to stay inside until at least next Monday for two reasons. First, tomorrow is our anniversary (nine years!) and I don't really want to share the date.  Second, our dear friend Janette, a midwife who is planning to be our doula and labor assistant, has had to leave town for the week since her boyfriend's father passed away.  So, I'm hoping that like Riker, this little one makes his grand entrance sometime right around the original due date.  Oh, and I also hope that the entrance isn't all that grand.  Let's go with quicker and easier this time!

I've really been enjoying maternity leave and have tried to keep the nesting instincts in low gear.  In the last few weeks of my pregnancy with Riker, I power cleaned the house and had everything in perfect order.  This time around, I have no illusions of the possibility of that actually happening what with a toddler hurricane always steps behind me.  I've reread my two favorite birthing books, the baby's clothes and diapers are all clean, the carseat is installed and the house is generally in a tolerable state of disorder let's say.  Mostly, I've been enjoying my time alone with Riker and letting him guide what we do with our days.  Today we spent the whole morning on a walk with him in his Little Tikes red Cozy Coupe car watching the yellow diggers at the wetland construction site down the street.  I am constantly in awe of him, both for his curiosity, persistence and sheer cleverness, but also for the things that he fixates on.  He adores chickens, eggs, wheelie bins and the number eight for example.  He's always pointing out the number eight on clocks and signs and can't go to bed without a good look at the eights on the digital clock.  Odd, yet endearing.

These days are certainly full of mixed emotions, from excitement (a new baby, a sibling for Riker) to fear (how to manage two small children, whether this labor will be as difficult as the last, how to love them both equally) to sadness (I won't be able to spend as much time with Riker, I won't be able to focus on this baby as much as I did with Riker, my "little" baby is going to be a "big" person all too soon). 

I have absolutely no idea how much Riker understands about the arrival of this new baby but I do think he knows that changes are afoot.  He's getting more and more needy and only I can meet those needs.  Really, my biggest fear about it all is that it's going to be a trying time for Riker and that I am going to be exhausted from adjusting to a new baby and not able to help him through the changes as much or as patiently as I'd like. I'm really hoping that this will be a time for him to do more special things with Brian and that they'll grow closer as a result.  While Riker has been the center of our world for some time now, he's going to have to learn to wait and to share. Of course, I also hope to reinforce that no matter what happens, I am still there to support, nurture, and love him.  I suspect it will be a balancing act to say the least!
 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Big Beautiful Baby Belly

I'd really been wanting to do some professional maternity shots for this pregnancy.  With Riker we documented the growing belly every three weeks or so and that just didn't happen this time around so I thought at least one lot of nice photos was in order.  Then I started researching Canberra maternity photographers and found that not only were the prices exorbitant, but that no one would give you the digital negatives for less than $80 each or $500 for all of them IF you spent $2000 on a print package!  I could fly a professional photographer friend over from the US for that!  Yes, Nancy, I did consider it briefly :)

Now I was willing to splurge on the endeavor, but, do-it-yourselfers that we are, we thought we'd give it a go first and then decide if we still wanted to get a professional.  Brian, dear husband that he is, set about creating a "studio" of sheets hanging from the clothesline outside, charged the camera batteries and made a plan for entertaining the toddler during our photo shoot.  The results, I'm sure you'll agree, are anything but amateur.  I'm very pleased!








And because the photographer is also a software guru, I was transported to the Red Centre as well :)  Just glad I didn't have to do the hike to get to this vista!