Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like...

Winter! Well, Winter for the PNW, anyway. Rain, rain, and more rain. Glad it isn't snow!

Princess and Bean are of a different opinion. Every morning they wake up and immediately look out their bedroom window, hoping to see the ground covered in a blanket of white. Instead, they see our soggy boggy backyard. Generally our area only gets an inch or two of snow each year, if that much, so they aren't likely to see their wish come true anytime soon. But it doesn't hurt to hope, right?

Since the sky isn't providing the kind of snow they can walk in and toss around, I've been trying to provide a little bit of that wintery spirit in their lunchboxes. 

Today Princess has snowflakes in her lunch. A snowflake turkey sandwich, snowflake pretzels, snowflake yogurt, and snowflake Ritz. Think that will hold over her wish for snow for a little bit longer?

We love the snowflake Ritz. They're so pretty! I also cut some cheddar stars, and tucked in a few grape tomatoes, a Princess favorite.

The pretzels are white chocolate covered with a sprinkle of crushed peppermint. They're delicious! Definitely going to have to try making some myself soon.

For Bean, I packed a fun bunch of Christmas trees. She has a tree sandwich, yogurt with sprinkles (trees, snowflakes, and candy canes), apple pieces, star shaped crackers, and some star pretzels with tree gummi candies.

The sandwich is made with whole wheat white bread and turkey, cut with a tree shaped cookie cutter. It's topped with a cheddar star and decorated with sprinkles and decorating gel.

Both lunches are packed in Easy Luncboxes.

My lunch today was too pretty not to snap a pic of. Greek yogurt over banana slices, topped with berry granola. So very delicious! The Greek yogurt brings a nice tang, the granola a bit of crunch, and the bananas round it all out by lending sweetness. My favorite lunch!

In other random news, our ducks are laying! I was starting to think they were going to hold off until Spring, but then the Dude went out to add bedding to their duck house and found a whole cache of eggs hidden there. Ducks roll their eggs in mud and hide them under grasses to keep them safe from predators. Their eggs are huge next to chicken eggs, and packed full of protein. They taste just a tiny bit more rich than a chicken egg.

In this picture, the big semi-white eggs are from our ducks, and the smaller darker eggs are from our chickens.

To give a better idea of size... the egg on the far left is from Chick, our "mystery hen", or might be from Buffy the brahma. The one in the middle is either from Princess, Lady, or Peach  (the buff orpingtons), or Hawk-Stripe or Rosebud, the Americaunas. And the egg on the far right, and the three behind, are all from Olivia and Nut, our duck hens. Nut is a Pekin (she looks just like the Aflack duck), and Olivia (and her mate, Annie) is a mystery breed.

The story of how we came to have ducks, and our 'mystery hen', is actually kind of interesting. The short story is that a friend of mine posted to Facebook that a friend of hers had found a pair of ducklings and a chick abandoned in her yard. She couldn't keep them, so they were trying to find someone who could take the trio. I lived just a few blocks away and had just recently moved my hens from their brooder pen in the garage out to the chicken run in the backyard. I still had the brooder pen set up, and the Dude and I had been talking about getting a few ducks eventually. I picked them up the next day! 

We named the ducklings Annie and Oliver, and the chick... Chick. A few days later we picked up Cutie and Buffy, our brahma chickens, and added a Pekin (Nut) and an Indian Runner duckling (India). They all grew up together in the brooder pen and moved to the yard together. 

Raising ducks and chickens in the suburbs has been interesting. They're loud, but luckily none of our neighbors has complained (yet). We keep them from smelling by keeping the coop and duck house clean and well stocked with pine shavings and straw. Occasionally I take eggs to the neighbors, to help keep the peace. Shortly after we got our ducks, the couple next door started raising a pair of ducks, too, so definitely no complaints there! It's fun to go hang out in the backyard on warm days - our ducks and the neighbor ducks "talk" to each other through the fence. We can hear them quacking and gabbing back and forth.

Chickens are very easy to care for. Ducks are more work, and they're louder and smellier than chickens. But they're also adorable and a lot of fun to watch. Worth raising, if you're able!

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