Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chicken Rebellion 2012

A year ago I started the Chicken Rebellion. You can re-read the story here.
We have had a lot of fun raising our own chickens. There are many healthy and ethical reasons to raise 
your own chickens, but for us the number one reason is for the humor factor.

Okay, ready for it..... wait for it.....
Chicken Butt!
Now, I bet you couldn't say, "Chicken Butt!" without smiling. After a long and stressful day our little feathery friends are our comic relief.
Let me introduce you to the Chicken Family

The Family
Missing from the picture are: Weirdo #2, Mama Chica and Auntie Ethel.

Each chicken has their own personality and strange little quirks. Papa Royalty the Rooster has this bizarre sound when he's roosting. It can be best described as a deflating balloon. Ms. Hipne aka Ms. Lucky We are Alive still follows Viking Dad around the yard and wants to be picked up. 
Have you heard the term, "Pecking Order?" Well, Big Mama is so named because she will literally peck at the younger birds so she can have her own spot. I want to re-name her Sheldon because roosts in the same spot every night. IGC was so named by Viking Son because she went into this bizarre spinning circle run one day that sent Viking Son into a fit of giggles. He named her "I Got Confused." Thus IGC. 
Weirdo #1 and Weirdo #2 were so named because as chicks they insisted on standing in the water bowl. Viking Son asked if they were ducks or chickens. "They are so Weird Mommy." Thus the names stuck. They are the ones who also lay our beautiful green eggs. One of the Weirdos is also Hipne's Mommy. 
Auntie Ethel

Auntie Ethel. We lost Lucy and Harly during the Winter. We think a rouge Coyote got one and we found the other pinned against the fence one day. Not sure what happened. But, it is the harsh reality of having a farm. However, goofy Auntie Ethel isn't a real brooder like Mama Chica and Mama Buff. She will sit on the eggs while Mama Chica goes out and gets something to eat and drink. Once Mama Chica returns she leaves the nest and either sits in another box or hangs out with the Family. 

Mama Chica sitting on her eggs

Did you know chickens growl? This is how we know we have a brooder.
Mama Chica growled at Viking Dad one day. Viking Dad braved the dangers of having his fingers
pecked at he gently lifted Mama Chica up and discovered.......

Happy Surprise... Mama Chica's first baby
Happy Fluff Ball
Mama Chica's first baby chick. We have called her Happy Fluff Ball. We also discovered that day where the rest of the chickens had been hiding the eggs. We free range our chickens so it is a daily Easter Egg hunt to find where the goofy girls lay their eggs. Apparently, the girls were shooing Mama Chica off her nest and laying their eggs on the nest and then she would sit on them. As the pile grew Auntie Ethel took over to help. We are not sure how many are viable eggs. They are defiantly not appropriate for human consumption. Yuck!

Viking Dad has since moved Mama Chica and her baby to a new brood box with three of the freshest eggs. The old eggs had to be "composted." Eggs that have been left unattended are buried. It helps with the rotten egg smell when one breaks. Yuck!

Chicken Rebellion!!!!!! Go and get a chicken!!!! Warning!!! Once you get one you must get more... They are an addiction!!! 

Chicken Rebellion!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Waldorf vs Montessori

“Viking Mom, we are so frustrated with the state of the states schools. We need something different. But, what is the difference between this Waldorfy thing you do and Montessori that my neighbor kids go to?”

“Viking Mom, we need a private school to send our children too but don’t want anything religious.”

Viking Dad and I are asked this question a lot and we hear these comments as well. My heart goes out to these families because I’ve been in their shoes.  When exploring alternative programs Viking Dad and I looked at many. While we do have a spiritual path of our own schools with a religious foundation didn’t appeal to us. 

Waldorf Kindergarten classroom.

What is Waldorf?

Waldorf education was established in 1919, by Rudolf Steiner. Emil Molt, the owner of the Waldorf Astoria Cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany, asked Steiner if he would undertake to establish and lead a school for the children of the employees of the company. Emil Molt had been inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on how to build a better society. The Waldorf Astoria Cigarette factory was the first sustainable school using Steiner’s philosophies.  To read more about what inspired Emil Molt check out this link….

 Waldorf Education is based on a profound understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head.  Waldorf teachers educate to the soul of a child and not to the outer shell.
Teachers in Waldorf schools are dedicated to generating an inner enthusiasm for learning within every child. They achieve this in a variety of ways. Even seemingly dry and academic subjects are presented in a pictorial and dynamic manner. This eliminates the need for competitive testing, academic placement, and behavioristic rewards to motivate learning. It allows motivation to arise from within and helps engender the capacity for joyful lifelong learning. It takes a lot of energy for the teacher to create this kind of atmosphere. Rudolf Steiner encouraged teachers to take time to rest and breathe so that they can be authentic and true teachers.

An element that is unique to Waldorf schools and this model is found throughout the world in every Waldorf school, is that the grades teacher stays with a class from 1st grade all the way to their 8th grade year. This consistency is amazing! This time allows the teacher to really know a child.

To learn more about the history of Waldorf Education start here.
One of my favorites quotes from one of my mentor teachers, “We teach children with reverence.
 Rudolf Steiner’s Archives.
Threefold Social Order (This is NOT about Socialism!!) Check it out here 

Montessori classroom

A mural being painted at the Waldorf School of Hawaii.

Maria Montessori

What is Montessori?

Montessori is an educational approach that was developed by the Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori opened her first school in 1907, called Casa de Bambini.  Montessori education is described as having an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development, as well as the need for understanding and learning the technological advancement in society. (This is in direct conflict with Waldorf since they theorize that modern technology is the leading cause for ADDHD, ADD, emotional disturbance, and other related health impairments in children. Technology is introduced in the last semester of the 8th grade year in the Waldorf schools.) 

The Montessori classroom and pedagogical approach is structured differently then a traditional classroom.

v     Students are in mixed age classrooms. The most common is a combination of 2 ½ or 3 to 6 year olds.
v     Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options. (There is a myth that children are allowed to focus on just one topic and never allowed to progress beyond that topic. This myth isn’t true!)
v     Uninterrupted blocks of work time! (Awesomeness)
v     A “Constructivism” or discovery model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instructions. (Student wants to learn how a volcano works; they build one and watch it blow.)
v     Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators.

Teachers in a Montessori school design their programs using Montessori’s model of human development, use of pedagogy, lessons and materials introduced in Montessori teacher training programs.
Maria Montessori’s first school, Casa de Bambini, was established in a “slum” area of Rome. According to her biographers, “Dr. Montessori filled her first school of 3-6 years olds with dolls and other traditional make believe toys but found that when children were given the opportunity to do real work such as cleaning, cooking, and caring for themselves, each other and the environment, they completely lost interest in make believe and preferred real work. She later, at the request of the parents who were impressed with the new cleanliness, happiness and good manners of these slum children, invented manipulative language, math, and other academically oriented materials and studied the children’s responses to these new stimuli.” Based on these observations academics are offered but never forced. 

Children's artwork from a Montessori school

To learn more about Maria Montessori and her methods go here.

Rudolf Stiener The Father of Waldorf Education

Children's artwork from a Waldorf School

I belong to several Mommy Blogs and Homeschooler blogs who’s Mommies, and some Daddies, share their experiences about homeschooling. There are a few who home school using religious curriculum but many use either Waldorf curriculum or Montessori. Our Viking Son’s Pre-School teacher is Montessori trained and had home schooled her four boys using Montessori’s methods. I was intrigued and fascinated at how much the children learned from her methods and creativity. Personally, I think she is a Waldorf teacher at heart.
I do know that many Montessori parents send their children to Waldorf schools because for some reason many Montessori schools in America do not go beyond 2nd grade. What I have heard about transitioning is in regards to technology. Waldorf is very technologically light. While the Waldorf schools recognize that technology is part of the 21st century they do encourage parents to limit the amount of time on technology. In contrast Maria Montessori did recognize the need to be technologically savvy.  Many Montessori schools have computers for students to access and use as part of their learning.

While researching about the difference between the two schools I found Michael Olaf’s page. He’s a very pro-Montessori supporter so his page is a bit bias in that direction. But, I am kinda of bias toward Waldorf. Check out his site here.

A huge similarity between the two that is so radically different from public school is the focus on a holistic and therapeutic approach towards teaching children. The hurry up and race to the finish line of standardized testing is not present in either philosophy.

We chose Waldorf education because it aligned more to our values, ethics and lifestyle then the other schools. 
Typical Waldorf grades classroom

Bless Bless

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beekeepers in Poland when a lawsuit against Monsanto's GMO seeds

Booya! Take that Monsanto! 

Beekeepers in Poland have won a lawsuit against the big corporation Monsanto.  Pictures and video speak volumes! Enjoy!

I want to encourage others to take stand and be heard!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Another Manic Monday

Yes, you may cue the song from the Bangles!

It's one of those days..... Where is my Friday?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Is that grass edible?

Real barley

Hare Barley also known as Foxtails

Real Barley

Barley has been grown for human and animal consumption of thousands of years.  The recorded history of human domestication of barley, wheat, oats, and rye can be documented as far back as the Egyptians and the Mesopotamia.
For the small homesteader growing ones own grains can be a perfect and wonderful addition to ones sustainable lifestyle. But, be warn not all "grasses" are beneficial and some are even deadly.

In California there is an evasive species of grain that was arrived with the Spaniards and Father Sierra from Spain. It is often called hare barley or in our home it's called foxtails. I remember as a kid watching my Mom and Grandfather sadly take care of dogs and kitties who had these foxtails impaled into their ears, nose and paws of their feet. We had one German Shepard whose ear was permanently damaged because one of these foxtail burs embedded itself into her ear. The resulting infection damaged the ear. Poor Freyja's ear never stood up after the damage. It added to her goofy personality but my Grandfather would go after fields of foxtails with a vengeance.

The deadly barb of the Foxtail that harms animals.

There is a difference between barley and hare barley. Barley is grown for human and animal consumption. The barley seeds are large enough to harvest and ground into the flours used in cooking. The the young shoots of the hare barley can be eaten by foraging animals.  Once the "flowers" are out on the plant that is when the hare barely becomes dangerous to animals and humans. There is no nutritional value to hare barley for either humans or animals. For more additional information check out the University of California, Davis Ag extension here.

Since hare barley is not native to California it is not drought resistant. Once the hare barley becomes dry it becomes a huge fire hazard since it burns hot and fast. Homeowners are need to keep this evasive grass cut or eliminated to prevent fires from traveling close to dwellings.

Torpedoes of death masquerade as innocent grass! Exactly! the barb is like a tiny torpedo that burrows into the skin of a pet. If not caught early the barbs create nasty infections, abscess and in poor Freyja's case, permanent damage.
It is recommnded by Carla Jackson of Jackson Ranch for Dogs to do the following
Beware! If you have foxtail weeds on your property, eradicate them BEFORE they dry and start doing their deadly damage. Even if they don't attach to your pet, they will at the very least, reseed themselves and come back even stronger next year.
It's possible to make it through summer and fall without an expensive foxtail incident, but it requires diligence on the part of pet owners.
When it comes to fighting Hare Barley Hordeum murinum, it's not a battle - it's war!
  • Own a long-haired dog? Consider having him/her shaved during foxtail season
  • Inspect pets carefully each day, especially after outings near dry weeds. Brush thoroughly, check ears, in between toes.
  • Eradicate foxtail weeds from your yard. Pull them out by the roots. If you use an herbicide, spray in early spring before they develop.
  • If you mow foxtails, bag and THROW THE CLIPPINGS AWAY!
 Check out Carla Jackson's article here

As a biodynamic gardener my goal is to grow our own food for our animals. But, beware that not all grasses are beneficial to our animals.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mommy wants to bang her head!!

Really?? Summer College for Kids?!

I find it really irritating and just maddening to hear in the media that schools are loosing funding. Class sizes are going to be larger. Teachers are being pinked slipped and RIF'd during Teacher Appreciation Day. Community Colleges and even state colleges are having to raise tuition and fees because the state is cutting their funding. I really fear for my children and for the future. 

Then my son comes home with this flier. Really? First, the media claims there is no funding for any programs and they have to raise the tuition cost and cut classes.
But, apparently they have funding for Summer College for Kids. 

Hey! Instead of creating useless programs like this one why don't you apply the money to the current classes and programs. 

You can guess my kids WILL NOT be attending this program.  EVER!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Whole Foods Selling Chinese Organic Foods

Yes, you read the title correctly.
A friend of mine sent me a Youtube article regarding Whole Foods selling organic food made in China.

Whole Foods doesn't deny that their in store brand has organic food from China. Here is Whole Foods public statement regarding the use of organic foods grown in China. You can read it here.  In fact, it is common knowledge in the grocery store industry that 90% of our food doesn't originate in the United States. Did you ever wonder how the grocery stores can get fruit in the winter time? Pears, oranges, and apples found in the grocery stores during the winter time are often grown in Chile or in South America. Dole has a huge foot print in South America so that they can provide canned fruits to American.

Since this video Whole Foods now claims that their store brand frozen vegetables are grown in the United States. But, is it still safe?

There is a snarky comment on this video about growing your own food. While I support growing your own food, visiting Farmer's Markets, and supporting your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) people also need to be product savvy.
The public should be able to go to the local grocery store and buy safe and affordable food.

Time to speak up and take a stand!

Support your local CSA and buy seasonally local food. 

Bless Bless

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Random Act of Kindness-Tuesday

There are so many ways to show kindness that it's hard to find a starting point. My recommendation is do what comes naturally to you and what you are comfortable in doing. Just do it!

But, if you are an uber list maker like I am here are 29 suggestions.....

29 Ways to Carry Out Random Act of Kindness... list is here.

I double dog dare you to pick something from this list and do it.!

Bless Bless

Monday, May 7, 2012

Manic Monday-WTF! SDG&E

On Friday Viking Dad and I came home to find a huge hole and shocker. We were stunned to find that one of our huge shrubs, called a Butterfly Bush, had been cut down and the carefully cultivated mustard had been torn up. In its place were huge tire tracks and orange paint.
I was livid and I felt a huge hole. The Butterfly Bush had been in it's place for over 10 years. It hid the ugly telephone pole, balanced  the modern world with nature, gave shelter to multiple birds, small critters, and was home to many generations of butterflies. It was also a huge favorite for our bees. It also gave shelter to our two beehives.
I couldn't wait for Monday to call SDG&E!
SDG&E has been covering their corporate arses since the 2007 Fires, which were caused by poorly maintenance power lines. I feared the worse. Did they come and do " Weed Abatement" and we were going to be charged for this "clean up." The bees! They could have harmed the bees!

I called the main hotline. After a five minute wait I reached an operator who then forwarded me on to SDG&E's "Vegetation Maintenance" division. A What?!
Yup! "Vegetation Maintenance Division. It is their job to go through out the county to help out the crews clear vegetation around their power poles and power sources.

I was actually surprised how cooperative and nice the lady was on the other end. She apologized on how "vague" she was due to the lack information she had on my topic. I left a description of what happened and a call back number half expecting never to hear from anyone again.

About an hour and half later the "district supervisor" called me back. WOW!
The district supervisor explained that they were out by the property to find a service line and conduit that had malfunctioned and to prevent a fire they removed it from the area. She explained that if they had to cut a tree or brush down it was in order to get to the power pole or conduit to remove it.
Then I got another shocker! She actually apologized for cutting down the Butterfly Bush. They had cut it down in order to get to the conduit and remove it. At least this took the shocker and sting of losing the Butterfly Bush.

My strong dislike and barely toleration with the power company was slightly thawed today. I was really pleased how professional courteous the Vegetation Maintenance Division was today.

 Do I still want to go off the grid! You bet!