Thursday, December 29, 2011

What is Science?

This is one area I always feel I am not doing enough in. Yes, we do at least one organized lab a week and have all kinds of organically grown science projects/experiments around our house but it just seems like we need more.
So what is science? I liked this explanation that can be found at the following link

As I type The Boy is telling me about a critter his father got him to put into his praying mantis habitat. Obviously, it is different than the red wigglers we use to compost. Supposedly it will eat the praying mantis if the praying mantis doesn't eat it first.
I think what I would like to do is make all the science we do a little more "formal". Our old house used to have posters and charts to help us recall what we were learning and doing. I think it is time to tag on these walls. Make charts, posters, graphs, print pictures. HHHmmmm need to get a new printer. God willing, that will all happen early in the new year.  For now, here are a few pictures of us doing science (this week).
I am amazed at how fast thought travels. I was also interrupted by Faith needing my help to set up the solar oven. (I just posted in a garden club that we need to dust it off). Then The Boy telling me he wants to do math on the wall. Ok, not actual wall. but you know. He even said he already has a huge piece of paper. Although I am happy he is trying to recycle, he can't use that sheet because it is the poster I use in my writing class. Not recyclable just yet.
My attempt to actually blog in the middle of the day was not as uninterrupted as I had hoped, it has been a learning experience. But then again, What isn't?
I love this picture. Girls working together and they are wearing their work boots. The sight of my children in work boots always makes me smile. Oh and don't mind all that wood in the backdrop. i hope to turn it into a chicken run.

Helping Faith set up the solar oven

The Boy pouring the ph indicator into the liquids to determine if it is an acid or a base.

This is after we used a ph indicator. These (pinks) are acids. Greens are bases and purples are neutral. I think The Boy either mixed this with mineral water and or added an antacid to cause the chemical reaction.
The messy table. Took picture to shame The Boy into cleaning up after himself.

The Boy before he does his experiment with acids and bases.

The Boy tasting his experiment.
Faith tasting The Boy's experiment.

The Boy convinced Peace to taste his experiment.

Robert & The Boy tending to his car.
 The joys of learning.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Builders Build

Not sure where to start. HHhhhmm let me try this one:
1 girl (me), 3 children, a supportive husband and a yearning for more chick(en)s (a dozen).

This project was fun and definitely a learning experience. Initially, I looked at books and sites seeking to copy someone's plan. However, none of them were quite what I wanted. And I wanted to use recycled materials. Oh and when using recycled materials you MUST be flexible. For instance, after having no luck with wood donations i decided I would use pallets because I knew I could get them for free. Well, in my initial research it seemed like pallets came in a standard size. I quickly learned that this is not the case. Yes, I could have kept collecting until I was able to work with all the same size but instead I chose to use what i had and get the project going. And I think it worked out fine. Here are a few pictures to tell the story.
Just trying to get a visual since working from an idea in my head.

Still visualizing
and still

Faith working the saw so she will have the skill and an appreciation for power tools.
Peace was kind enough to step out the house and take a photo from afar of me tinkering while they were watching a movie or something.

Ok. that part is done. Thanks to my lovely family who helped me flip this thing over. All hands were on deck for that.

I see. and I like.

Coming along nicely.

future egg door
Grateful they decided to come check on me. Getting ready to put roof on.

small door is chicken door. big door is access/cleaning door.

egg door

this is a view of inside the coop from one of back doors. spacious.

chicken testing out the new floors. a mixture of cork board and tiles.

scrapped together this wall. it was hard to come by good quality exterior plywood.

interior view from egg door

pretty much complete. I did change the roof on the right side.
primed and painted. however, we didn't care for this color. Tho it was free wasn't lively enough.

Got this blue. Only had a little but made it work. I also hope children use coop as a canvas and paint over this with their own designs. We shall see.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WOW, this stuff works

Home-made Laundry Detergent
This recipe is probably on the internet a million times over. However, I was asked to post on the blog with my spin on it. So here goes:

I have tried many "natural" laundry detergents and tho most are ok i was never wedded to one.
Easily 2 years ago I saw this recipe for laundry detergent while I was looking up how to do a particular sewing technique and thought, hhhmmm I wouldn't mind trying that. However, it took me sometime and several more coming across it (on various sites) to finally make a batch of my own. So I did. And i liked it, LIKED the price, but I was not necessarily sold on it enough to scream it from the mountain tops though I had committed us to no longer buying store-bought detergent. That was until I washed sheets and pillow cases that we thought were permanently stained with hair oil aka grease. We had sprayed, soaked, washed and rewashed trying to get the oil stains out. However, they never came out so we just chalked it up and, thought "oh well." The sheets were new so we kept them in the rotation. (They were stained the first night).
So one day Peace was washing sheets. No biggie. While folding her sheets she noticed that the stains were gone. Of course, we were happy. It never crossed my mind that she used the homemade laundry detergent, even though that is all we use now. I thought maybe she did more spraying and soaking this time around and got lucky. Something told me to ask her. She said all she used was the laundry detergent I made. I surprisingly said, "REALLY?" And she simply replied, "Yes." We both looked at each other and agreed, "WOW, this stuff works." I then sent either an email or text to a few folks that know I make our laundry detergent, and who has shown some interest in trying to do the same.They seemed happier than me about the discovery. Hence, here is the recipe should any of you want to try.

Time: About 15 min (i guess)
Amount: 2 gallons (liquid) some exclude water and make a powder detergent
This is all you need. Borax, Soda Ash, Soap
  • 1/2 cup of Washing Soda (Soda Ash)*
  • 1/3 Fels-Naptha (some say you can use Dr. Bronners, I have yet to try)**
  • Borax **
  • 2  one gallon containers
  • Water
In a large pot bring 4 cups water to a boil; add in grated soap and stir.
In separate pot heat up another 4 cups of water until hot.
When melted add the washing soda and borax. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
Pour in additional 4 cups of hot water.
In empty containers put 11 cups of water in each. and half of the solution in each.
Let it sit for 24 hours and it will gel together. Stir every couple of hours to mix solid and non-solids together.
(I tend to make late at night so I do not mix every hour. The first time I made it I shook it vigorously before we began to use it. This was the batch that actually got stains out. The following batch I put in a bucket the following day and just whisked it all together once it was cool then poured it into gallon containers. Basically, don't let this step deter you. It can be easily rectified).

*I purchased from Dharma Trading Company in San Rafael. We were over that way one day and I know they carry it. From what I understand Arm and Hammer is another brand and you can find it at random stores.
** I purchased from ACE hardware, I had a coupon.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cold Weather

The Creek

Generally speaking I do not like to do yard work in the cold. In the past I would try to pump myself up and say this year, but cold weather would come and I would find myself letting other things occupy my time. Happy that I still had access to other food sources. Yes, Spoiled.
This year has been a little different. I am not planting yet, but doing yard work to prepare for the spring and next winter. And as most of you know, this season has been colder than ever. or so it seems. At least it is not wet (tho we can use the rain). In short, I am doing something new. Working in the yard in COLD weather on a daily basis, happy for lack of rain because it is affording me an opportunity to get the yard set up for future growth. Today we even painted the coop. I thought we wouldn't be able to do that til next year.
Which reminds me, I forgot to measure the area I want to put raised beds. God willing tomorrow.
The children and I splitting the coop in half so we can put the chicks outside.

The Boy learning how to work the staple gun.

We REALLY like zip ties

Grapevine almost dormant

Grapevine pruned back

As I was painting I was reflecting on the kitchen as our medicine cabinet. Well I guess our backyard is turning into our lab.