Kael’s Minecraft Party

Kael’s 10th birthday was one month after we moved into our wonderful new home and there was no way we were going to be ready to have his minecraft party on his birthday. So almost two months later, we finally had it 🙂 And now, after finally figuring out photos and stuff, I’ve got the blog post up – only 2 months after the party!

A month before the party we looked at lots of different Minecraft birthday invitations on the internet. Kael’s invitation turned out to be a combination of two different invitations we found that he liked.

Kael’s invitation – a combination of two that we’d found on the web. Tim made it look good

Two weeks before the party we began preparing. Should have started months ago 🙂 We were going to make a Creeper and a Pig from leftover moving boxes and do a Steve cut out to have standing at the front gate. Like I said, should have started months ago!

Tim made the Creeper – it took several hours over several days! It was a lot of work!! It’s not quite full size, but not far off it. IRL a Creeper is about 2 metres tall, making it taller than Tim! Our Creeper ended up being shorter than me but taller than the kids 🙂 It didn’t take Tim all that long to build the Creeper out of boxes, but then we covered it in sheets of butchers paper (also leftover from moving) and when that was dry he ruled a grid all over it so we had lots of squares to paint in various shades of green. That’s what took the longest.

Modelling the side view

We decided that making a Pig or a Steve was just not going to happen. A pity, but we so didn’t have enough time. Now that the party’s over we have our very own pet Creeper standing in the corner of the lounge, in front of the tv that’s slowly dying and we no longer use. He takes up a considerable amount of space, so it’s a good thing that we only made one Minecraft creature!

Tim also customised our Creeper slightly by making it possible for the head to rotate (it fell off in the painting stage), now all it needs is to be remote controlled so we can make the head turn by itself 🙂 Kael wants it to be a motion sensor so the Creeper can rotate its head when we move, like it’s really alive, and kinda creepy! Of course, around this place I think the Creeper’s head would soon fall off again as it would be continually turning while watching boys run around the louge room! I said that to Kael who then promptly told me, ‘We’d have a switch on it Mum! We could just turn it off!’

Kael actually posing for the camera

In the week before we made two different versions of gluten free Brownies, testing which ones made the best dirt blocks. Both types worked, so we iced them with green icing and green desiccated coconut for grass and white icing for snow, giving us blocks that were reminiscent of the dirt blocks you find everywhere in Minecraft.

We also made blue jelly for the water and green jelly cut into cubes for the slimes. On the day, the jelly was pretty much inhaled by the boys – it was the first thing to disappear from the table. Chocolate crackles became lumps of coal, the kind of coal Bry said he’d be happy to find in his Christmas stocking 🙂 Packets of whizz fizz became gunpowder, while a variety of square lollies became TNT. And Aunty Sharon’s muffins became Minecraft cookies.

A glimpse of what the table looked like

Then there were the different fizzy drinks that we poured into interesting bottles transforming them into witch potions. Green fizzy became creeper juice – we took off the labels and added our own creeper faces. Lime fizzy will be forever known in our house as Creeper Juice!

Minecraft Potions of Strength, Healing, Harming, Fire Resistance…

And of course, let’s not forget the cake! I wanted a Creeper cake, but it was Kael’s birthday, so he got to choose 🙂 He chose a cake that was like a section of the Minecraft world. It had grass blocks, dirt blocks, sand blocks and water blocks. We also made small Minecraft models from papercraft printouts, a creeper, a pig and one of the skin Kael uses in Minecraft. It looked great. The only thing I’d do differently is a different cake for the dirt and grass blocks. Ours was too crumbly and that made it really difficult to assemble. Perhaps that was also because it was gluten free.

A Minecraft Cake of dirt & grass blocks, sand and water blocks

Green, black and white streamers were used to decorate the house and we also had a minecraft birthday banner.The loot boxes were green noodle boxes I found at Aldi and Tim used black electrical tape to make their faces. We did the same thing to green balloons and stuck them up with double sided tape around the house. We also used white balloons for ghasts. Ghasts have very simple faces so I drew them on with black texta and we attached white streamers to the bottom of the balloon for legs and stuck them to the ceiling so they looked like they were flying. Nearly three months on and the ghast in the photo is still attached to the ceiling and looking good!

Our ghasts were friendly and didn’t spit fireballs at the party guests

Originally we were going to use helium, but have recently discovered that the world’s supply of helium is getting low. Turns out helium is not an infinite resource and is needed for specialised medical equipment far more than it’s needed in balloons. We did our bit and didn’t have floating balloons! This Creeper balloon is still up too, but looking a little more worse for wear, slowly shrivelling.

Creeper Balloon Face

We also created a couple of games to play based on the Minecraft theme. The first was just a variaton on ‘Duck, Duck, Goose!’ Which we called ‘Hiss, Hiss, Boom!’ What a Creeper does if it sneaks up behind you. We also created a game based on a card game called Pit. It’s a stock trading game. We had the Villager Trading Game. Tim even created little cards for it.

Our customised Minecraft Villager Trading Game

But what made our Minecraft party really work was our Minecraft server that ran a Minecraft world. With some extra computers we hooked all the boys up and they got to Minecraft to their hearts content – which they did. I found it funny that I, the Minecraft Noob of the family, was guiding others who were even less proficient than me, showing them how to make crafting tables and different tools and helping them survive their first night!

Minecrafting Together

The boys all had great fun, and although in the photo it looks as though they are all in their own little world and being terribly unsocial, that was most definitely not the case! As they were all on the same world there was lots of interaction where they were trying to locate each other, asking questions, looking at each others’ screens. Aside from coming out and eating cake they also got off the computers to play nerf gun wars and pop balloons while bouncing on the trampoline.

More Minecrafting Together

The next day Tim’s family came up and we did it all over again. Although this time we needed to give guided tours as most of Tim’s family hadn’t seen our new place yet. This time it was for lunch so I had to actually provide some ‘real’ food! Especially as there weren’t that many leftovers from the day before:-)

Thatsss a very nice cake you have there… Not much cake left, looks like the Creeper exploded

We tried to stick with the minecraft theme here too so had what was going to be barbequed chicken and baked potatoes, both of which can be found in Minecraft. Sadly I couldn’t get the bbq to light, so ended up roasting the chooks in the oven. (I’d bought a couple of free range chooks from the Hook & Spoon Butcher, its tag line is ‘from paddock to plate’. No intensively farmed animals there! More on that in another post). More Minecraft was played and the day ended far too quickly as far as the boys were concerned.

Creeper & Kael Again

More Minecrafting

Permaculture Consult – part 1: What’s Important To Us & What Do We Want To Achieve?

On Wednesday Beck & Mark from Cydonia Permaculture came up and did a Permaculture Consult. This means we walked all over the property together checking out the soil, the plants, animals, structures, the lie of the land and other features. They asked lots of questions, particularly about what we wanted to achieve and what was important to us.

Then we brainstormed all the different ideas that could work in our particular situation based on what we want to achieve and permaculture design principles. Beck drew some pictures. We scribbled on the plan. Went back outside and rechecked a few different things. Came back and wrote them all down.

After three and a half hours we have a list that is seven pages long (and still growing) of all the things we could do! Next step is to prioritise and work out what is the most important things are. There will be a flurry of information exchange in the next few weeks via email and lots more questions asked.

So what is important to us and what do we wanted to achieve? The list we came up with is as follows, not in order of importance:

  • Living as sustainably as possible with as little intensive work as possible, as I’m the full time carer for 3 special needs boys and part time to my chronically ill husband, so time is something I have little of
  • Growing as much of our own food as possible, especially fruit, veggies, eggs and chooks. Possibly a house-cow or a goat, bees and ducks. Maybe even grain crops. Growing stock fodder thus reducing the amount we’ll have to buy in
  • Maximising the amazing south facing views from the house
  • Not mowing or whipper-snipping to keep the grass down every few weeks. Our property is set out much like one of those English Manors or Parklands with trees dotted around the place and lots and lots of lawn
  • Improving the soil. Making it less boggy in places. Using the natural bogginess in some way (it’s so wet and muddy here I’m sure we could establish our own wetlands! You sink into the soil almost everywhere in the backyard or step into large puddles of water pooling all over the place). Need good drainage where we don’t want it boggy
  • Retreat spaces throughout the garden to sit and enjoy. Play equipment for the boys integrated within the garden spaces, not standing out like a sore thumb, using existing structures or making new ones that are also part of something else

 

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Chookie Delay

No Chooks today, so sad 🙁

I had a phone call from my chook supplier last night telling me that he wasn’t happy with the quality of some of the birds he was sourcing for me, so could I wait another month? He didn’t want to sell me chooks that were poor quality. I’m very, very grateful for that.

I’m disappointed though. Was soooo looking forward to picking up our girls today, but I’d prefer to wait than get substandard chooks. Not all of them were substandard. I could have got half my flock, but then I’d have to deal with introducing new birds to an established flock. Something I’m trying to avoid in the beginning of my chook keeping career.

On the upside, I’m really glad I’m getting my chooks through this guy – he’s looking after me and not out to rip me off. He knew I’d be disappointed (I’ve been talking to him for the last four months about which chooks I should get) but he said he’d much prefer me to be disappointed now than disappointed in the long term with poor quality chooks. Besides, it would make him look bad and I’d probably never buy from him again!

He did say that if he’s able to source those other breeds I’m after before next market day, he’ll deliver them sooner. The delay gives me the chance to finish one or two small things in the coop that are bugging me, especially setting up the enclosed space for our broody chook and future chickens.

It also give me time to research the geodesic dome chicken tractor and put one together, maybe even before the girls arrive. We’ll be using it as a day run. That way the girls can help me turn the weedy mess that calls itself a lawn, into beautiful, productive (eventually) circle gardens.

 

 

Keeper

I was making a dip to have with our chips so we could nibble while watching a movie. I love eating chips and dip while enjoying a movie. For me, the movie watching experience is never complete without a bowl of chips and a homemade dip.

Anyway, Brydon said, ‘Feed the dip to the chips, and the chips to us’ while I was preparing the dip. I thought it was quite a novel way of putting it. So I’ve recorded it for posterity because if I don’t write these kinds of things down, I forget them 🙂

Still more about Chooks

Chooks! Chooks! Chooks! Whoever knew that choosing a breed of chook was going to be so hard!!!

In researching chooks, the only thing I haven’t been swayed on was the fact that I didn’t want commercial hybrids. Right from the beginning I’ve said I don’t want Isa Browns or Hylines, even though they lay lots and lots. Although, only for about 18 months, maybe 24. That’s why commercial egg producers get rid of them after a year. I still don’t want them!

Looking back over my notes I realise that actually, it’s two things that I haven’t been swayed upon. The other was colour. I wanted some pretty chooks, something with a bit of colour.

My research has led me through so many different possibilities over the last couple of months, that I thought we’d do this and I thought we’d do that, and I’ve uhmmed and ahhed about which breed so many times too. I’ve wavered between ‘Dual Purpose’ birds and ‘Layers’ on a regular basis. The primary purpose of chooks was eggs, but we also wanted to eat our chooks too! And originally my thinking was such that we would get  only one breed, so which one to choose?

Barnevelders or Wyandottes? Light Sussex or Plymouth Rock? Australorp? Ancona? Faverolle? Welsummer? Adulusian, Leghorn or Minorca? Dorking or Orpington? Hamburg or Houdan? Langshan? Naked Neck? Araucana? New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red?

In the end, I couldn’t decide upon only one breed, so now we are getting a variety 🙂 It wasn’t such an anguishing issue for anybody else – I’d had only one request, and that was for the Araucana, because Brydon wanted blue eggs. Of all the different breeds out there, the Araucana, Barnevelder, Wyandotte and Ancona, have been serious contenders from the beginning. But I oscillated quite a lot between the breeds.

Also In the beginning, I was liking the idea of getting some fertile eggs and hatching our own, but after much research I decided against it. Too complicated and time involving for me and my special needs family! Then I was liking the idea of getting 4 week old chicks already sexed – 1 rooster and 12 girls – so we could handle them and get them used to us and get the boys used to them…

What I eventually decided upon was getting at least one chook from a breed known to go broody and also be good sitters and good mothers. When she does go broody I can get a clutch of fertilised eggs from a local breeder and stick them underneath her. She can do all the hard work – it also removes us a few steps so that when the chicks are old enough for us to know the difference between the girls and the boys, it won’t be so hard to kill and eat the boys.

We decided that at this stage we won’t be breeding them, so we don’t need a rooster. I’ve located three local suppliers from whom I can get fertilised eggs of a variety of different breeds, so I am definitely not in too much of a rush. At first I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to breed with a mixed flock, but I’ve since found out you just have to take the girls out of the flock and isolate them for a while with their rooster. After about two weeks, the eggs they are producing will be the purebred variety. Sounds easy enough for when the time comes.

Okay, I’ve ordered our chooks, nine in total. One from a broody line and the rest, decent layers. We’ll get them at the end of this month, so now I have to make sure the coop is ready!

Below is my revised and shortlisted table of birds I was seriously considering, ones that would probably do well in our climate zone, sorted in eggs per year (a rough estimation) because the primary aim of our first flock is to produce eggs for the eating. Breeds with Egg under the Bird or Fertile Egg category means I want these breeds and hope to get them by putting fertilised eggs under the broody hen.

Any roosters we get from the hatching of fertilised eggs will be used for the table, although it’s been suggested that as I will be using purebreeds, to get an expert in to check the roos over, because there may be one or two roos worth saving for breeding purposes. The girls will be kept on as layers or we’ll sell them if we have too many.

 

Breed Purpose Eggs p/year (Av) Buy Bird or Fertile Egg
Ancona Layer 225 Y Bird
Leghorn Layer & Show 225
Andalusian  Layer 210
Hamburg Light 210 Y Egg
Langshan Dual purpose 205 Y Bird
Minorca Dual Purpose 200 Y Egg
Sussex  Dual Purpose 195 Y Egg
Araucana  Layer & Novelty 185 Y Bird
Rhode Island Red Dual Purpose 180
Barnevelder  Dual Purpose 175 Y Bird
Welsummer Dual Purpose 175 Y Egg
Australorp Dual Purpose 170
Campine Dual Purpose 170 Y Egg
Faverolle Dual Purpose & Show 170 Y Egg
New Hampshire Dual Purpose 170
Wyandotte Dual Purpose 165 Bird
Plymouth Rock Dual Purpose 160 Y Egg
Dorking Dual Purpose 130

In the end I chose the Ancona because, even though a little flighty, it is a good forager, good layer, does well in the heat and is a striking looking bird with a reverse dalmation affect. The Langshan is another good laying breed, good forager and does well in the heat and cold. The Araucana was chosen for its blue coloured eggs and good foraging skills. The Barnevelder because it’s adaptable and does well in most climates, is a decent layer and forager and a good looking bird. And the Wyandotte was chosen because I always wanted one – they are the prettiest of the lot (I’ve ordered a gold laced one) – and they go broody easily, so are not recommended if you want lots of eggs. She will, hopefully, be the one we use to hatch our fertilised eggs. All these breeds are being sourced locally, less than 2 hours drive away, so they should be okay with our climate – I hope.

Keepers

Over the last couple of days, out of Xavier’s mouth have come two ‘quotable quotes’, what Tim and I have called ‘Keepers’.

The first ‘keeper’ came about when Xav was talking about a pc game he didn’t yet have. He said, on August 3rd, ‘My most favourite game that I haven’t got yet!’

Love it. 🙂

Then last night, while I was suffering a massive headache, he asked me what it felt like. I described it to him, not very well. Pounding headaches and loquaciousness just don’t go together.

His response was this, ‘Does it feel like someone stamping on your head wearing diamond boots?’

That was a so much better description of how my head was feeling.

Fortunately by the time this morning rolled around, the ogre (coz the ‘someone stamping on my head’ wouldn’t be a very nice person) stamping on my head with diamond boots got bored and left. But I’m going to keep Xav’s description for the next time my head is pounding. 🙂