Monday, 20 April 2015

Episode Thirty Eight: Teach Them A Chore

Hi again Team!

Wow, I've been meaning to do this idea for a long time now but have never got around to writing about it. I don't know if you're anything like me - but if you are, the images below make you feel a certain way. Like a father teaching his son to shave, something about letting your kid push the lawnmower around just pulls at the manly heart strings. Manly ones, of course. I'm not really that sort of guy but there's something about the noise, the petrol fumes and the danger that makes me love pushing the lawnmower around the yard. To share that with my middle boy is a dream come true.

First I should make two disclaimers: One) We borrowed this lawnmower and it was the quietest lawnmower I've ever heard, which is why neither of us are wearing hearing protection in these photos. Please use common sense when letting your children use machinery. Two) We had to borrow this lawnmower because we have people mow our lawns on a fortnightly basis for us. It was just that with the Christmas holidays they were on a break and our lawn needed doing.

I knew as soon as I ripped the cord on the mower that my son would come running out asking if he could have a go. He's only five but I thought with some supervision and instruction it would be no problem and I knew he would enjoy it so much. So away we went! I got him started on the grass strip down the centre of our driveway and then I turned the mower off. I talked him through all the parts of the mower and also lifted it up and showed him the blade and explained why he should never, ever put his hand in or under there. I then told him the story of the one-armed lawnmower repairman who lived in my town when I was growing up. True fact! 

From there we got the mower started and away he went. Sure, mowing the lawns isn't a chore we do ourselves but it is something that contributes to making our house look good and function well. There are so many things that we as caregivers do to keep the house running. There is something to be said about introducing these to your children. They don't have to take them on straight away, but an awareness of them is a healthy thing. I certainly don't want to raise children who think the toilet cleans itself or expects clean washing to just appear in their drawers.

It's really hard to know when you should get your children contributing to the household jobs and what you should give them. I'm really interested to hear what your children do and at what age. For comparison to my own children, mainly. I grew up having to do a lot for myself and I'm often stuck between wanting to pass on that same skill set but also allow them to have a easier upbringing than I did. Very hard to find the balance, don't you think?

Have fun!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Episode Thirty Seven: Get Chickens

Hello again Team! 

There have been a lot of ideas I've shared that are pretty easy to do and use things you may have lying around the house. This one, not so much. This one take a little more effort and frankly, it's not for everyone. Either way, this weeks idea is get chickens.

First things first: Most councils within New Zealand have bylaws surrounding keeping chickens in suburban areas (the majority of them do not allow for roosters within town) so make sure you're aware of what you're allowed and not allowed to do. There can be some pretty stringent rules around how far away from dwellings and fences the chickens are allowed to be. Don't get caught out.

Once you've got that bit of homework done, the fun times begin. For us that meant building a chicken house and a pen for them to be kept within. There are a lot of differing opinions on how much room chickens actually need - not much room if you talk to battery hen farmers. However, we've opted for around 10m2 for five chickens. They seem pretty happy with that.

Chicken houses differ and companies like Farmlands sell pre-made ones which can be quite cool. I've made my own using forklift pallets I've found behind various shops around town. The cool thing about building your own is that you can make tweaks and changes - trust me, there will be a few variations needed as chickens are quite particular about where they lay and roost.

From there it's a case of finding chickens to buy. TradeMe is your friend. We got all sorts of advice around what sort of breed we should be looking for and in the end opted for Brown Shavers. They are pretty hearty and lay quite consistently. There is a great online resource called 'Chickens By Design' that has some good info around breeds and how to choose your chickens. 

For our children it's been a great excercise in seeing food being brought to the table from their back yard. We feed our chickens our various table scraps and compostables and in turn they provide us with five eggs a day. Our kids are pretty stoked to go out every day, feed them and collect the eggs. It's the same theory as gardening and bringing your veggies to your plate - just with less fuss.

I've also learnt a lot about chickens myself. I didn't realise how curious they are. If I'm working in their pen making adjustments or even in the backyard near them, they love to gather around and get involved. They can be quite smart too!

Anyways, this idea may not be for anyone but I guess this is my way of sharing the fact that we've got chickens and they are super low fuss, fun for our children and we haven't had to buy eggs since getting them. If you've been toying with the idea of chickens in your backyard, do it. Trust me, it's great fun. It's nice to have spare eggs to give away and incredibly easy to entice people to feed them while you're away on holiday (they just collect their eggs as payment as they go!).

Have fun!