Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

I braved the elements and the people today and did some shopping.  Did the usual Target, Wal Mart, Galleria, etc but I also did a few places off the beaten path and those were the best.  First I headed down to Allen St to Hero Design Studio , which is a locally thought of, owned and operated boutique that sells original screen printed posters, clothing and toys.  Per their web-site: HERO is a multidisciplinary design studio dedicated to producing hand-crafted illustration and design, run by Buffalo-based husband and wife team, Beth Manos and Mark Brickey. Formed in 2003, Hero focuses primarily on design and illustration for the music industry and cultural institutions.
I have long been a fan of Hero, especially their one off concert posters, typically shopping on-line to purchase prints from them.  This was the first time (surprisingly) that I visited the actual store.  It is a quaint shop located a few doors down from Colter Bay on Allen St and I loved it.  I picked up this tee shirt as well as a few other prints.  I also ended up talking to the owners about their new, 13 week old, Bull Terrier pup, Seri.  Super cute!  
During this holiday season I strongly encourage you to visit them at their store or at least visit them on-line.  Beth and Mark seem like incredibly genuine, nice people and it feels good to support the local economy and allow them to live their dream.
We have this Hero print hanging in our kitchen.  A vintage looking owl: 
After that, I stopped at another of my favorite "Buffalo" stores.  Buffalo reUse: the Resource While I couldn't find anything to buy, this time, I did get a whole box of old, very large antique light bulbs that I am thinking about turning into a chandelier.  These were free!  Now that is a black friday deal!  Happy Holidays!

First Thanksgiving at Czar of the Woods

Since last year we moved in here just before Christmas this was our first Thanksgiving at Czar of the Woods Farm.  Sarah, an amazing cook, made a feast beyond feasts that put me into a food coma that lasted all night.  We are so very thankful to live here on our farm and call it home.  It is cozy and full of love.  On this Thanksgiving we are thankful for family (our animals included), friends (our animals included), health, our home and for all of you that read this blog.
This is the dinner invite I sent out to our family.  I took the logo that Todd (my brother) designed for the farm and "thanksgiving-afied" it with the appropriate colors.
Here is a photo of the table (aka The Big Lebowski ) as Sarah began to set it for dinner:
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

New Family Member: This Time With 4 Wheels Rather than 4 Legs!

After dealing with the winter in the hills of East Aurora last year in my car I decided that next time around I would get something with 4 wheel drive.  Since I couldn't afford one of these: 

which is quite possibly the coolest truck ever built (handmade/custom in LA by a company called ICON by the way) last weekend I brought home a Jeep Liberty.  So far it's been a great deal of fun to drive except for when I look at the fuel gauge!  Boooo!  It looks fun and safari ready sitting next to my ubiquitous ornamental grasses!  Welcome home!  The color is dark khaki.

With my father, now retired, having worked for GM for 40+ years it is odd to me to get something    non-GM.  What was important to me, and important to my Dad, was to stay American made.  Dad, you'll have to forgive me when one day I can afford (right!) my Ferrari 308 GTS Magnum PI style:

Update: Reclaimed Barn Board on Ceiling Project

My Dad and I finished cladding the ceiling of our guest room in reclaimed barn board that I originally mentioned in this post .  A ceiling like this, as cozy as it is, can bring the ceiling down in feel.  In order to combat this we added a 1" X 4" bright white molding which brings it back up and highlights the warm, weather aged color of the ceiling.  That coupled with the light grey ("sparrow" by Behr) makes the room really look nice.
Just last night I laid on the bed in that room for the first time since the new ceiling went up.  I can't tell you just how cozy it was.  It was also very calming as I digested the feast that Sarah cooked for Thanksgiving.  Cozy wood ceilings are great remedies for food babies while in a food coma! :)
We are going to add some sort of ceiling hugging light as well to brighten the room up at night.
Here are some of the new photos (took them as the sun was coming up the other morning).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Big Bad Wolf

Traveler joined me in the barn to "help" with the morning chores and this is the view that the chickens saw when I opened their coop door inside the barn.  Tell me that if you were a chicken you wouldn't crap your feathers if this "Big Bad Wolf" greeted at the door first thing in the morning! 

Winner of most handsome dog ever!

Chicken Update: Eggs For Sale!!!

It's true!  The chickens are finally starting to earn their keep!  They are laying eggs, some of them are anyway.  Here is one of our Buff Orpington's hard at work in one of the next boxes.  We are getting 7-8 eggs/day and I have even sold a few dozen so far.  This will help pay for their grain, which surprisingly is not cheap.  Don't worry Ed, I am not stealing your egg customers at work.  :)

I clean out the coop once a month and lay fresh straw down.  This is one of the chickens' favorite times because the hay is all fresh and fluffy and they love to scratch around in it and nest in it as well.

We chose the breeds of chickens that we did because we liked the way they looked and wanted a variety.  We couldn't be happier with the color palette that we have.  They seem to fit right in with each season so far.  Could this photo look any more fall?

This is "Roadrunner Boese."  She is a Golden Penciled Hamburg.  A supposed breed of chicken but I am convinced that she is part dinosaur part roadrunner.  Sweet but weird.  She, during the day, lives with her life partner "SunButter."  See the photo below of the little English Game Hen, that's her.  During the day, if they were to be with the main flock, they would get picked on mercilessly so they get their own run outside.  At night the flock, being more sedate in the evening as chickens are, coexist with them peacefully.  Chickens are fascinating animals.

This is "Pachyderm."  Our Blue Silkie Chicken.  She is a bantie, which is a smaller breed of chicken.  She is named "Pachyderm" because she is grey, like an elephant.  And yes we have a grey house cat named "Elephant."  Gangloff, this one's for you!

This is our "White Capped Black Polish" chicken, "Lola."

A bowl full of fresh eggs made all the better tasting by the varied diet that our chickens eat.  The eggs you get in the store are typically at least a month old before they hit your table and you can tell that they don't get fed what our chickens do by looking at the pale color of the yolk.  Those chickens are not pets and live in cramped pens as well.  Because people ask I will tell you that the only way eggs get fertilized is if you have a rooster to mate with the hens.  We do not so there is no chance of having a partial chicken in any of the eggs.  Plenty of people ask and for all that do there are probably plenty that don't sp there you go!

And apparently an ostrich snuck into the coop!  The egg on the left if a normal, large egg.  The egg on the right is obscenely large.  The other egg would fit inside it.  I feel like I should examine the hens and find out which one had the episiotomy.  Then I would know who "delivered" it.

Here it is in an egg carton for another perspective.  Couldn't even close it!

Re-Seeding the Back Horse Pasture

On Saturday morning I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and re-seeded the back/main horse pasture with a special blend of grasses and clovers made especially for horses.  This is a view of the pasture in question.  All in all it is about 1.1 acres that I re-seeded.  Fall is a very good time to plant grass seed as it will remain dormant all winter and wait for sprint to come.

My tractor that I got stuck in the mud several times getting back there.  It's really a large riding lawn mower, looks kind of small in the picture doesn't it???  Seems much bigger in person.  Anyway, someday I will have a real farm tractor.

Use for Reclaimed Barn Board Wood

My Dad and I have been working on a project, one of many, but this one in particular involves taking reclaimed "barn board" wood from our property and cladding the ceiling of our guest room in it.  Technically it didn't come from a barn but rather a fence and it has been weathered and sun bleached for God only knows how many years.  We dried it out, wire brushed it to get the moss and lichens off and cut each to length.  Each piece is ~ 10' 3" long and 6.5" wide.  It is taking a total of 22 boards to complete the room and right now we are waiting for the other half to dry in the barn.  It makes the room look very cozy.  Slightly rustic yet the room itself will have a clean, bright look to it to keep it from looking too "cabin-y."  My wife, Sarah, and I will eventually use this as our nursery when the times comes to have a baby.
We are also in the process of remodeling the kitchen and are currently picking out new countertops.  Photos to follow.

Turtle Enclosure Progress

Many of you will remember that next summer we are rescuing some Box Turtles.  Here is my previous post on the topic and the photos of the raw site:
Below are some photos of the progress we have made so far.

One of the best parts of the 144 sq ft enclosure is the fact that part of our huge willow tree fell (years ago) and now several "baby", albeit 20 ft babies willow trees are growing from it.  The large portion that fell down you can see below and I have incorporated it into the enclosure, in essence it runs right through it along the back part of the enclosure.  It will give the turtles a place to go under, explore and hide.

 Here you can see that I have all the corner and fence posts in.  The enclosure will have a 12 inch high solid wall around the bottom and see through fencing up from there and some type of light netting on top to keep raccoons, etc. out.  A week after I put these in I then buried (in pouring rain) 4" X 16" stone blocks around the perimeter to keep the turtles from digging out.  I got most of what I wanted to get done for now, until next spring that is.  Took advantage of the ground still being soft before it freezes.

This is a view from the back of the enclosure facing out.  Notice the willow tree parallel to the ground.  It runs right through the enclosure and eventually the fencing will, somehow, allow it to pass through it while still being secure.  The photo doesn't do it justice in that it is much bigger in person.

And lastly here is a turtle's eye view of a hiding place under the willow tree.  The eastern box turtle is a land dwelling turtle (that like to take an occasional soak) so this type of habitat is perfect.

First Snow of the Year or Short Winter

This week the temps were in the mid 60's and some of our indoor cats (clockwise from lower left: Ruby, Clementine, Kate and Luna) relaxed in the warm sun.

Czar enjoyed the warm sun but more importantly the fact that he didn't have to wear a blanket!

What a difference a week makes!  Last week it was in the low 20's in the morning and mid 30's during the day.  Clementine playfully bats at the big snowflakes outside the window during our first snow of the year last week.

And the horses were eating breakfast as the snow came down-it didn't last long.  They actually seemed to enjoy it.

Fall at Czar of the Woods Farm

Fall, especially October, is one of my favorite times of year.  This year October was a bit of a wash out as it rained more than it didn't.  November has been pretty great.  Bone cold at times but also unseasonably warm.  We grew our own pumpkins this year and the chickens got to celebrate fall by eating some.  Our chickens eat very well: steady grain supplemented with fruits, veggies and plant material...and sometimes pasta!  

Our Buff Orpington is really enjoying the pumpkin treat!

The horses however weren't so sure what to do with it.  And yes, your favorite pig Morgan has been getting plenty of pumpkins as well.  She knows exactly what to do with them.

This is a view of our property looking South.
Fall has some of the best clouds and light of all the seasons...
You will probably have to click on this photo to enlarge it in order to see the "V" formation of Canada Geese as they head south for the winter.