Monday, May 16, 2016

Bird Baths

So what do you do with a pile of old mismatched dishes and your 4-H club is learning about caring for wild birds......Make up-cycle bird baths of course!

My kids completed 4-H bird baths.

Okay it wasn't like I had a huge pile of dishes laying around and I thought this up all on my own.  It was more of a case of we are learning about caring for "Wild Birds" in 4-H this year and not that the temps are warmer why not do a bird bath.  So after searching my favorite place to find project ideas or better known as Pintrest I saw a bird bath made up of dishes mismatch dishes and thought...LOVE it!

Dishes, vases and figurines to choose from

So where did all the dishes come from....A few family members and Skippy's Flea Market another great business who donated to our club.  When we were all done we had a pile of mismatched dishes, vases, and ceramic figures to use.

Glued together with easy and quick super glue for fast results

We glued them all together with plain old Super Glue some dishwasher safe glass super glue and even Gorilla super glue....It was quite a variety.  Seriously, I tried a ton of different glue in my practice attempts and while some worked great they took way too long to adhere, some even took over 24hours to adhere and we needed a "quick stick" so we could finish our projects in one day.  Quick dry super glue seemed to work the best for that.

Variety of types of dishes made for some fun personalized bird baths

Now not all the dishes were the same design, colors or even even close in shape.  We had small vases, large vases, bowls in varying sizes a even plain old coffee mugs but when they were all assembled they already looked quite fun.

Matching them up with spray paint
Next up was making all the mismatched dishes match and the easiest way to do that is spray paint them.  I know there are tons of "glass" paint out there but again we were looking for quick and easy so spray paint it was.  Mother Nature even provided us with a great sunny 80 degree day so it dried even faster.

If your looking for a fun project to do with a group or just on your own I definitely recommend making these.  They are a quick (other then letting the glue dry for a bit) and very easy project, plus you can make them personal to what you need them for too.  We made bird baths because we were learning about birds but I think this one will be used as a cake/cupcake plate.
However I do want to stress that they are quite fragile.  This is the new version of the unpainted one in the first pictures as it was accidentally dropped and shattered so we took new pieces to make another one.  Think I actually like this one better anyway :)

4-H Pheasants

Here it is....Our next big adventure in 4-H. We will be raising pheasants to release to help with the re-population in our area.  Seems like fun but of course its going to be quite a bit of work too. This is also the only project we will be doing this year that involves animals other then the wild birds we built feeders and such for.  Yet here again we are raising "wild" birds.....Fingers crossed all goes smoothly for us.

60+ day old pheasants....WOW!
We started out with quite a batch of babies.......We ordered 70 to raise and release.  I know that sounds absurd for our first attempt but hey came in groups of 35 and knowing already that 24 of them were heading to be raised by our members in town we figured strength in numbers would not work well with just 11 left here so we added the 2nd batch.  Guess it was a good call as by the time they had reached our local 4-H office a few had already passed and a week into this we have also had a few pass too.

Cleaning out the brooder tank for the pheasants and we only had
one escapee to catch...I'm sure it had help "escaping". lol
Its hard work taking care of 30+ pheasants even though they are barely a week old.  The brooder has to be cleaned regularly, they need to be fed and watered daily and other things generally associated with raising of baby animals/bird.
Thankfully for the club, we have regular animal chores to do daily so they will be well taken car of when members can not make it here.  But when the opportunity arrives for members to get a turn you can bet they will.  I will admit that I was a bit surprised when they found out they had to clean the poopy mess in the brooder that they actually were more then willing to do it.  Then later I found out it was more of a case that they got to take a break from the "building" part associated with raising pheasants.

Building the run for the pheasants
Unfortunately for these guys it was cold and snowed on building day (May 15, 2016) which is sort of not normal for our area.  We are cold in May still but we usually don't have snow showers and even a cold morning usually warms up, just not on this day....sorry guys.   But they built anyway and did a splendid job too.  There is still a little tweaking that needs doing to the run, holes to fill in and brush to move in for cover but soon enough the pheasants will be learning the way of the "wild", wit a little human assistance of course.

Now we just have to wait on Mother Nature to warm us up to safe levels for the pheasants and also for them to be big enough not to fit though the netting any guesses on which will happen first????

Monday, May 2, 2016

Pepacton Reservoir Fishing Trip

It was the last "sort of" nice day the kids had left of their spring break before a bunch of rainy days were predicted and I was determined that we would do something on this spring break as a family so fishing it was.  Sometimes family time is just really hard to do here, everyone likes different things and time to do it is also pretty hard to come by.  Having 3 days a week off in a row for the Hubby is great but when only one of those days (Saturday) is a day we are all home together it makes stuff like going fishing for the day a bit of a challenge.  So when the kids are on vacations from school I make every effort to do something as a family on those days.  Sometimes its as simple as building something for the critters (not that, that is ever simple) and sometimes its as complicated as finding time get everything ready, load up the kids, car, snacks and to drive 20minutes to the reservoir and go fishing.

Yes, we have an amazing little brook right here on our property that we could fish in but its just not the same.  Honestly this reservoir is kind of special to both my family and the Hubby's family and for very different reasons too.  For me and my family the Pepacton Reservoir meant too very different things, to the older generation (my grandfather) it meant NYC stole their land and forced them to move but to me, my siblings, cousins and even parents it was a little different story.  We literally grew up here (about a mile from this exact location pictured above) and we were always at the reservoir or in the little brook that leads into it.  We fished and swam and played here, it is home for me so being able to let my kids have some of the great feeling I had here really means a lot to me.  
For the Hubby's Family the reservoir had a bit of a different meaning as Papa Bull (Hubby's dad) was employed by NYC DEP and worked all around the reservoir till his retirement, which also meant the Hubby spent plenty of time at the reservoir growing up too....funny we never met each other till we were both in our mid 20's but that's another story.

Now the conflict of fishing the reservoir was definitely an issue in this family for different reasons.  Its not that we did not want to go but rather that each of us wanted to fish in an area where we remembered from growing up at....hmmmmm!  This debate has been in the making a few years and every time fishing the reservoir has been brought up we just kind of dropped it and did something else rather then fight over a fishing spot.
That is till we made the fishing poles in 4-H and took the members fishing at the river, now the Big Guy wanted to go fishing and we both wanted to go fishing as well so being the awesome Hubby he is he gave in to his nagging wife or as I say, obviously I won the debate over the fishing hole (haha) and we went fishing at the reservoir.

Anyway, we dropped everything we were doing like working on the green house, making the turkey barn and sawing lumber for up and coming projects to head out for some family fun time fishing.  Not everyone was excited to be fishing as the Oldest Daughter wasn't as into it as the rest of us but she was allowed to run the camera and explore everything around so even the non fishing one had fun fishing.  Our first stop was a place I remember sitting for years with my parents and Grandmother Sprague fishing but unfortunately the reservoir was very full and the wind was quite cold so we moved on to the next place.
And again the memories almost made me cry....sheesh, it was like I was 8yrs old again and we were running from rock to rock playing and Grandma would tell us to knock it off, only I'm sure that's not what she said, she definitely took her fishing seriously!  But as kids we ran around and did it anyway, it was still fun even if you were getting in trouble.  

He was so excited to finally be able to fish with his new 4-H fishing pole someplace other then our little brook
Well back to our trip, thankfully it was much warmer and the water was a lot calmer tucked up into the falls so that is were we fished the rest of the day.  The Big Guy fished and fished and fished but just wasn't having any luck with his homemade, bamboo pole.  He was having fun but he wasn't catching but he was still determined, which is not what I was expecting for a 7yr old with low patients.....Then it happened, the Hubby managed to catch a fish (Sucker fish) on his "real" pole and the Big Guy got to real it in and the excitement was amazing for him.

Reeling in the "BIG" fish.

Everyone took turns showing off the "BIG" fish, everyone but the Oldest she wanted no part of that wiggling, slimy thing. lol   It wasn't long after that the Big Guy decided he needed to use a "real" fishing pole to catch fish like Daddy which meant Mommy was down to fishing with the bamboo pole.  It was fun though and to see the Big Guy smile as he learned to cast a pole all by himself in only a few attempts was worth it.

We spent only a few hours fishing that day and all I can say is even though we only caught one single, non keeper fish, for family fun it was definitely worth every second of it and we will definitely do it again.  Only maybe we will let the Hubby choose the fishing hole the next time?  I really don't think the fishing hole debate all these years even matters now as the Hubby is happy to finally find something the Big Guy liked doing as much as he did.
Not that the trip was all about the "boys" as I love fishing and the girls both had fun in their own ways while one enjoyed fishing the other enjoyed taking pictures and running from rock to rock.
However I probably had the best time out of everyone and I didn't catch a single fish, but I was blessed enough to make some more great memories here with my own amazing family.........

......Memories like the Youngest Daughter made as she went off and fished on another rock all by herself that day and gazed up trying to figure out just exactly where Grandma and Poppy's house is from there.  Or the memories all the kids will now have and even the Hubby and I have (from our younger years) of this exact rock with the little seats grooved into the side from all the years of water splashing on it.  And thanks to the Oldest Daughter, our non fishing family member we also have some great pictures to go with all these memories.


It wasn't just a fishing trip of lost worms, snagged hooks, and impatient kids but rather a day for making more memories and worth every second <3

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fairy/Gnome Garden

Along with all the other great things I can say about my kids (yes I'm partial, its my job) I can also say when they set their minds to something they come though in a big way.  Case in point, my girls wanted to do Fairy Gardens in our 4-H Club.  Now not that I didn't want to do this but first of all we have boys in our club and a "Fairy Garden" didn't seem like loads of fun to a boy.  However when I changed the name to a "Gnome Garden" the Big Guy was on board and I'm sure the rest of the boys will be too.   Now that we had that settled we were left with another dilemma....Cost!!!  With all the cute, tiny, fancy, smanchy items you put into a fairy garden it gets quite pricey and quite fast.  That's not even including the cost of flowers and planters or even containers......Yes we are looking at well over $100.00 for our club of 13members at least....That big money for a small town club to spend on one project so we were up in the air as to whether or not we could do it.......

This is a sample for our 4-H gardens.  This particular one is made using things that are all quite special from the koi pond the Big Guy painted to the fairy houses the girls painted over 5yrs ago.  Even the blue planter used for height is special as it was from the Oldest Daughter when she was an honorary member of a 4-H club at the age of 4yrs.

 .......Time to get our DIY going and see what we could do.  They started gathering and gathering and then we all started working on things.......Small town rural has its advantages too like free river rocks, sticks for anything one could need and even pine cones or acorns....


....Having a crafty Mommy (and kids) helps too as we together made a ton of great Fairy/Gnome items.
While the kids worked at gathering items I grabbed some old metal hangers and started making fairly lanterns.  Then realizing the boys wouldn't want "fairy" times in a Gnome garden I used a few small fishing floats and made some Gnome lanterns as well....Love them all!

While I may have made the lanterns above the kids helped with just about every other project.  They helped make houses for our Fairy/Gnome garden by collecting and painting larger rocks from our brook, they also painted tons of smaller rocks.  They painted fairies, gnomes, lady bugs, bumble bees, flowers and even koi ponds.  I helped a bit here and there with the "details" but they did the majority of it all by themselves.

Not everything had to be DIY in our Fairy/Gnome Gardens since we had saved so much in our DIY's we figured expense should be in plants and since we needed greenery/plants we opted to go to our local green house and see if they would be willing to help us out and of course small town living paid off again!  The closest local green house know as the Green Thumb gave us a great deal on plants to use in our gardens so a special Thank You to them for their contribution!

The girls picked out the plants for the gardens.  We have 2 colors of  Coleus and the flowers are what the Youngest Daughter called "puffy fairy skirts".  We also got some Hens and Chicks from the green house as well.

Here are a few more great times the kids and I made to add to the gardens for the 4-H.
The arbor is made with some left over animal fencing and the well is a DIY of rocks and sticks the kids collected and I glued togher.
Not to mention the Bird Bath that we will also be making in 4-H but its from dishes....and so fun
to make but that's another post

Some fencing and bridges made using sticks and colored Popsicle sticks.

Not the best picture but this cute little tire swing is just too cute not to share.   The Big Guy has tons of toys that no longer work and he dug around till he found a monster truck with a broken wheel so we used them for Gnome tire swings...too cute!

The planter and spools are the only expense other then flowers and soil that we made for our gardens.  The spools were a accidental purchase (by me personally) when I was buying spools for our 4-H fishing poles that the Oldest Daughter re-purposed into tables and chair sets for the gardens.....Great up-cycle if you ask me!

The kids sure put a lot of time and work into everything for the gardens and I know all of the members will have a great time making these gardens in 4-H!  I'll be sure to update our 4-H page when we do them :)

Check out some of the great items used in the completed gardens Here


Or should I have named this post "Turklings" as that is what the Oldest Daughter has deemed our first ever turkeys to be called.  These 6 babies are a new addition for us here at The Bull's Pen and we or should I say she and I have wanted them for a few yeas now.  She wanted turkeys so much that she actually had them on here birthday gift list too.  Well Happy Birthday to her as we got Turklings this year and it was just weeks before her birthday so perfect timing.

Meet the Turklings

Seriously, just look at these cute little guys how could you not love a darling little face like that....Awe!  I can only imagine how many turkeys we would have if Tractor Supply carried these as regularly as they do baby chicks.....
This one is named Jumper, he/she is the smallest of the turklings
and also the one that is continually jumping all over.  Jumper and
Pam are the only turkeys who have names as they will be kept to breed
for next year, the fate of the other 4 are best not listed.........Sorry but yum.

So now we have turkeys where are we going to put them once they out grow the brooder tubs???  Oh wait I had the Hubby make a barn just for the Turkeys we wanted that we didn't have......

.....Okay it was supposed to be the centerpiece for our 4-H parade float which too 2nd place in the parade but I had special plans for it all along.......

And after a few months of setting empty and lonely up by the critters this cute little barn now had critters to call it home.  It did need a little work first though.  It had no door, no batten trim on the siding or windows and it needed a solid floor.  I spent a few weeks working on it and then the Hubby helped finish the door and last of the boards.  For now we only have plastic windows till we can get a a hold of something that fits the openings better but soon it will be warm enough to just have them open anyway.

The turkeys were moved up yesterday and seemed to take to it with no problem.  They were probably happy to have enough room to actually move.  They found the essentials right away so they were left, well after a while of kids oohing and ahhing over them they were left to settle into their new home.  Its hard to believe they look so tiny after looking so big in the brooder tanks....

We put in roosts for them and some pretty close to the ground since other then jumping on their water/feeders they really had no room to roost in the brooder tubs but they chose to settle in to the nice fresh wood chips.  I was happy to see that they were sitting nicely on roost when I opened the door this morning so hopefully they learn to roost in the barn at night and not outside for when they are bigger......Only time will tell.

For now they are all settled and with 3days of rain expected they wont need to be outside but soon as the opportunity arises we need to make them a run so they can get out and explore and do all the things turkeys do.......I'll try to keep you all updated :)

Bird "House" Gourd

My 1st attempt at a gourd bird house.

Way back in October (2015) we went and bought pumpkins and yes I wasted $2.00 and got a gourd we didn't really need but I just really wanted it so home with us it came.  I was pretty and green and looked great next to the pumpkins we displayed on the patio table.

Makes me wish I had taken a better picture of it now but you get the idea. 

Then winter came and well I didn't really take care of it.  The pumpkin remains were all fed to the goats and chickens but I couldn't bring myself to feed them the gourd as I wanted to keep it and turn it into a bird house.  I read all about how you are supposed to put them in cool dry areas and then the process of how to turn them in to bird houses once they cured but time got away from me and I never actually took care of the gourd.  Thinking it was too late for it I just left it where it was frozen for winter.  Then one day I picked it up and it had started to cure all its own so rather then mess with what was happening I chose to leave it there all winter and see what happened?

By midwinter it was looking quite nasty....Yuck!
By the time spring got here that gourd was looking quite nasty.  Thankfully I did my reading or I would have just tossed it at the sight of it.  Thankfully the gourd had also become quite hard too so I guess it cured all on its own right there on my patio over the winter....Now how do I clean it????  Believe it or not simply soak in water and scrub with a scouring pad and done in minutes.  Really is it that easy?  Sure was and it was looking so nice I wasn't sure I was going to paint it or not.  You saw the pictures so you know I ended up painting it and I love it.

After a 20 minute soak in water and easy scrub with a scouring pad.
So I'm not exactly sure what it turned into....Turkey, Chicken, Rooster (what it was supposed to be), Hawk or as the kids call it a "Weird Eagle" but I still think it turned out pretty good for a first, neglected attempt at a bird house from a gourd.  

Oh and if you haven't done this before you may be as shocked as I was to find so many seeds in this gourds after I opened it.  There were TONS!  I was expecting maybe like one would get from a pumpkin but honestly I think there were double or triple my expectations.  It looked like there was more then should have even fit in the gourd.  Well what else would I do with those seeds but grow them......   
Working on next years bird house gourds.
......Good news it that I can now save myself the $2.00 this year as I can now grow my own.  The second seedling in the back of the photo is from the kids Earth Day Gifts they handed out to the 4-H club and it is a seed from this very gourd!  Guess next year I will have lots more bird houses.....Smiling.