Monday, August 6, 2012

Chicks Have Belly Buttons, And Other Random Chick Facts

I just received 27 baby chicks in the mail! I ordered them online, at Murray McMurray hatchery. I ordered 25 of them, but received two extra, all healthy and chirpy. Ever since, I have been doing tons of research on what it takes to keep little baby chicks healthy and happy.  Here are some of my chicks:

 As you can see, I got quite an assortment of beautiful chicks. I ordered "Rainbow Layers" which is the hatchery's choice of laying birds that lay all different colors of eggs. I do not yet know what breeds they are, but I am trying to figure that out. When they are very small it can be hard to tell the breed, so I may just have to wait a few weeks to know for sure.

I do know for sure one breed that I have; they are called turkens. Contrary to the name, they are not turkeys at all, they are 100% chicken. They are very distinctive, so I can tell them apart immediately. They have no feathers on their neck!

One thing I found out about them is that chicks actually have belly buttons! You don't generally think about birds having an umbilical cord since they are not mammals, but they do have one to connect them with the  inside of the egg. I, at least, had never thought about this before.

Another fact about them is that while they have no teeth as adults, the newborn baby chicks have one tooth. Technically, it is not a real tooth, but it is a hard point on the tip of the beak that the chick uses to break out of its shell with while hatching. The egg tooth, as it is called,  soon falls off after hatching, but I noticed that a few of my chicks still had theirs when I got them, so I took pictures.

Can you see the egg tooth on both of these chicks?

Another thing I discovered while doing research was that like any other group of people, people who raise chickens seem to have their own dialect! I had to learn new words, like Alektorophobia (the fear of chickens), bantam (a miniature chicken), Crop (a sac at the base of a chicken's esophagus that stores food), and many more. The word "buff" means a golden brown, not a rooster who is exceptionally muscular. Here's a real "buff":

I call these chicks the "chipmunk" chicks, because that is what their color reminds me of!

Something I've seen from watching the chicks is that their motto seems to be, "Don't stop until you drop!" Their daily activities look like this: cheep, eat, drink, poo, cheep, chirp, flap, dash, flap, eat, eat, eat, drink, poo, cheep, drop. Then repeat. It is very funny; they can be running around having fun and then suddenly, kaplunk! Instant sleep.

Sleep, that is, until five seconds later another chick jumps on his head!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tutorial: Squiggle Wire Wrapped Beach Stones

Yes, another beach stone jewelry tutorial. I just have so many lying around now that I am finding more and more creative ways to put them to good use! Although honestly, I like this design the best of all of them so far.

Here's what you will need for one stone link:
A round, flat stone (I used a tan/brown stone this time)
20 gauge wire, your choice color
Clear nail polish
Flush cutters
Round nose pliers

This is for just one stone link. If you want to make a necklace out of them like I did you will also need chain nose pliers, chain, a clasp (unless you make it really long), more stones of gradually smaller sizes, and you will need to make some figure eight links.

Here's how to make one link. First, coat the stone with clear nail polish and let dry.

Then cut a long length of wire, maybe about a foot long (that's about 30ish cm). Starting in the middle of the wire do this:
Weave the wire through the jaws of your round nose pliers, forming an "S" shape. I like to pretend the wire is a horse pole bending :) Do this multiple times until you have a big squiggly line, like this:
Then, as you see in the picture, squash it a little with the pliers so the squiggles are skinnier. This helps you be able to fit more squiggle on a small stone.

Place your squiggle at the center of your stone. You want to leave a bit of space on both ends of your stone, so make sure the squiggle is not so long that it covers the entire length of the stone. I was able to fit four little loops on my largest stone, but only three on the smaller ones.

Wrap the remaining wire around the ends of the stone like such:
The wire should be as tight as possible.

Trim down the wire a bit one the ends, but leave enough for a loop. Then use your round nose pliers to make a nice round loop on either side.
And here is your completed wire wrapped stone link:
I made a necklace out of the stones I wire wrapped. If you want to do the same, make several more, arrange them as you would like and connect them with figure eight links. Then add chain on either side of equal lengths, and attach a clasp.

 Here is my necklace:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tutorial: Make a Wire Swirl Beach Stone Pendant

This smooth stone started out as an ordinary pebble. Years and years ago it had many rough edges; some people may even have called it ugly. But throughout time, this stubborn little pebble survived the merciless poundings of the waves and sand upon the beach of Lake Michigan, until finally it emerged as this beautiful smooth stone. Now you can carry this symbol of resilience and hope around your neck in the form of this small pebble, wrapped with a wire swirl to remind us of the waves of life that sometimes trouble us, but should never defeat us.

I'd like to teach you how to make this pendant that I have sold from DragonInDixie, and which will soon be available again for purchase as a complete necklace. Here are the things you will need:
Clear nail polish
20 gauge wire
One round, smooth, dark colored beach stone
Round nose pliers
Nylon nose pliers
Flush cutters
Chain nose pliers

First, choose your stone. I got mine from Lake Michigan. I stashed a bunch when I went so I wouldn't run out for a while.

Coat your stone with the clear nail polish and let dry. I already have this step completed.

Now, make a tiny loop in your wire with the round nose pliers. Continue to wrap it around itself one time like this:
 After you've begun wrapping it around, you can continue with the nylon nose pliers. Grasp the swirl of wire firmly between the jaws of the pliers, and slowly wrap it around, turning it and adjusting it as necessary.

You can make your swirl as big or small as you'd like. When you've got it the right size for your stone, put the swirl on top of your stone, and bend the wire behind it.

Figure out where you want the top to be, then bend the wire horizontally across the top, and bend it back across the back, crisscrossing the last wire.

Don't worry if you can't get it as tight as you'd like, you'll tighten it later. Now bend the wire across the front again like you did the before, but this time at the bottom. It should look something like this:
And the back should look like this:
You still have a loose tail of wire sticking out, so take it and pull it underneath one or both of the wires on the back, so it comes out at the top of your pendant.
Cut the wire down a bit, leaving enough to make a loop on the end. Then make the loop for a chain to go through with the round nose pliers.
Here's the part where we tighten it. Your stone may still have a little more breathing room than it needs, because after all, it's a stone, and stones don't breathe. So, take the chain nose pliers and get a firm grip on one of the back wires. Holding the stone in your other hand, twist the pliers (and the wire in its grasp) so that there is a little kink in the wire. This should make it tighter. Do that with the first two wires that you crossed, but not the one with the loop.
It should look like this:

Here's the finished pendant:
To make it into a necklace, simply put it on a chain with a clasp. Or if you used very small pebbles, you could make earrings, or a key chain, or a bunch of other cool things! Just use your imagination!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tutorial: Make Your Own Jewelry Chain in Five Easy Steps

I was bored last night and had some gunmetal toned wire laying around, so I decided to make myself some chain. After all, when you make jewelry, you can never have too much chain. I frequently run out, so it's useful for me to know at least one or two different methods of making my own.

Now, I don't have the tools or the know-how to make as fine a chain as comes from the store, but I still like my home made stuff. Since I used gunmetal toned wire, I will probably use this piece for a more rustic necklace. If you want a more refined look, you could use a different kind of wire, perhaps silver. I think copper would also look really nice with this design.

Here's what you need:

Needle nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Flush cutters
A ruler
Your color choice of wire  (20 gauge)

1) Use the ruler and flush cutters to cut many equal lengths of wire. How long you cut it will determine how big the links in your chain will be. I usually cut them about an inch long. It is especially important with this that you make sure the edges of your wire are not sharp, and that they are tucked in so they can't snag on anything. I accidentally cut my finger with a sharp wire during this project and made myself bleed! After that happened I double checked all my ends to make sure there was nothing sharp. So tuck the ends in nicely, and file the ends if necessary.

 You will need a lot of these links, especially if you want a longer chain. Pictured here is a finished link, and the length of wire you will need for one link.
I call these pieces figure eight links, and I also mentioned them in this blog post.  In that project I used them to link something else together, but this time they will form the entire chain.

2) Take the one inch of wire that you cut, and make a loop with the round nose pliers like this:

3) You should have a little tail left at the end of the loop. Use that tail to wrap another loop in the opposite direction. If you want your links to be smaller than mine, simply cut shorter links and use the tip of the round nose pliers to make the loops, instead of using the base as I did.
 4) After you have made many of these, connect them all together and clamp them shut with the pliers so there are no gaps.  Here is the finished chain:

5) When you are ready to turn your chain into a necklace, just attach a pendant at the middle, and add a clasp on the end. 

This is a very simple project, but very time consuming. There are many other ways to make chain out there, but I wanted to give you one that was simple enough that almost anyone could make it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Another Day on the Farm

This Sunday I was able to visit the Shock farm, where I received my chicks earlier this summer.  I of course went outside to see all the animals and take pictures.

Mrs. Shock keeps milk goats and uses the milk to make soaps and lotions. She sells them on her website. I have tried them and absolutely love them! They smell good enough to eat. She has a blog about her family farm here. While reading her blog, I was delighted to find that she has posted videos on how she makes her goat's milk soap and lotions!  I hope to try her recipe someday when I have my own goat(s). Here are a few of her many goats:

Now, I know what you're thinking. Why in the world don't these goats have ears? Were the poor thing's ears cut off? Before you get all upset, let me explain. These goats are LaMancha breed goats, and they are born with very tiny ears, as you can see in the pictures. The breed originated in America, and lactating does (a female producing milk) can produce 1/2-1 gallon of milk a day. Also, contrary to popular belief, they will not eat garbage or tin cans, although they are easy to keep and do not require a lot of land.

Here is her buck(the male goat):
 I also said hello to the horses. Here is Tigger, one of their Haflingers, and Addie, a Quarter Horse.
When Addie noticed me taking pictures of her, she got curious and came to see what I was doing!

Their roosters are stunning, dignified creatures.
Dignified, well, except when it's windy out.....
One of the many chickens(I think this one is a Black Australorp):
Some beautiful sunflowers in her garden:

I was amazed at how well her garden was doing, despite sandy soil and the drought we've been having. It was so dry, the cacti in the field were thriving.
In the evening, we helped with milking the goats. Here I am with one of the goats, and a pail of frothy milk!
And yes, I am wearing the necklace I made the other day for this blog post.

I snapped a closeup shot of one of the guys milking:
Since we weren't saving the milk for human consumption today, we gave it to the animals.

My dog, Daisy, also enjoyed it.
One tired puppy at the end of a long day: