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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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White Power Chickens

November 23rd, 2010  · stk

NewsBrief: [Mo' Chickens] The Kimlers bring home 10 new laying hens • [White Stuff] The Hutton House sees it's first snow • [Power Outage] Snow in, power out - for 18 hours.

Mo' Chickens

Hutton House - Reporters learned today that the Kimler clan has added ten more chickens to their egg production company. These new additions more than doubles the number of producing layer hens, as the Hutton House is now home to 19 laying hens.

Rachel, Scott and Alex made the drive down to Duncan on Sunday, to fetch the ten young hens. All of the birds are of the famous ISA-Brown variety, which are bred as laying hens. All were purchased as POL (Point-Of-Lay) chickens, which means they are approximately 5 months old - at the point where they are due to begin laying eggs.

Purchasing point-of-lay hens is a change for the Kimlers, as all of their other ISA-Browns hens were raised from week-old chicks.

"Buying point-of-lay birds is more expensive," said Scott, owner of the Hutton House Hen Farm, "but we actually save money on 5-months-worth of feed, reduce our chances of losing stock due to illness or predation and they begin earning their keep right away."

The 10 hens were transported in the back of the Kimler Subaru wagon, to their new home at the Hutton House. There, they are acclimating to their new environment and getting to know the 9 older girls.

"It will take a couple weeks till the new hens become acquainted with the older birds," Scott says, "During this time, they'll be lots of clucking and pecking, as the older girls will make clear to the youngsters, who is in charge!"

Ah yes. The pecking order must be established!

About ISA-Brown Hens

ISA Brown is a hybrid Sex-link chicken, the result of crossing Rhode Island Reds and Rhode Island Whites. The ISA Brown is a hybrid, not a true breed. They are known for their high egg production (approximately 300 eggs per hen in their first year).

"ISA" stands for Institut de Sélection Animale (the company which developed the hybrid in 1978). In 2005, via company takeovers, the hybrid is now maintained by Hendrix Poultry Breeders. More information about the ISA-Brown can be found on the Hendrix website

ISA-Browns make great family pets. They are confident and not afraid to try new things. When they get older, however, they show their love by pecking you a lot!

About the Hutton House Hen Farm

Hutton House Hen Farm is renown for farm-fresh, free-range brown eggs, which are distributed to local Vancouver Island clientele. Sales inquiries may be made by clicking the email link.

White Stuff

Hutton House - The arrival of ten new hens to the Hutton House was coincidental to the arrival of the first winter snow. Nearly 5 inches of the white stuff fell, mostly on Friday night, but more fell on Saturday, Sunday and a bit on Monday.

Most of the accumulation occurred Friday night, however, blanketing the Hutton House acreage with a thick blanket of big, heavy, wet flakes.

"The thermometer has definitely taken a flight south this week," reports Rachel, who has had to dust off her car several times, in order to make tracks into town, "Temperatures are well below freezing and we have to keep hauling warm water out to the chicken run, so that the hens have liquid water to drink. There's nothing more difficult for hens than to have to peck at ice cubes in order to quench their thirst!"

 

Power Outage

Hutton House - Along with the arrival of heavy snow and winds, came the first power outage of the season. It started early on the morning on Saturday (3:30 AM), just as Scott was returning from a MVI call-out near the North Cedar Fire Hall. As he was sweeping snow off of one of the temporary tarp "garages", the lights went out.

The power remained out for approximately 18 hours. Fortunately, the Hutton House is heated largely by a wood stove, so the power outage doesn't affect home heating. Water, however, is an issue, since the pump, cistern and pressure tank are all powered by electricity.

The 2Kw gas-powered generator kept the television, lights, microwave and computer functioning for most of Saturday, enabling Alex to watch her Saturday morning cartoons and Scott to catch the Penn State Indiana college football game (Penn State won, of course!)

Power was restored at approximately 10 PM Saturday night, this after the family meal - roasted chicken, pan-fried potatoes and salad - was prepared largely on the outdoor barbeque (which has a side-burner).

Everyone was happy to have electricity - flush toilets, hot water, lights and a clothes dryer - though it did mean setting the time on several blinking clocks. Extension cords were coiled and remain at the ready. Rural life can be "rough"!

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Updated: 28-Nov-2010
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New Rescue

November 17th, 2010  · stk

NewsBrief: [New Rescue Truck Arrives] The North Cedar Fire Hall takes delivery of a new 4x4 rescue vehicle. First look at this custom-built bad boy!

New Rescue Truck Delivered

North Cedar - During practice last night, firefighters got their first, close-up look at the new North Cedar Fire Department Rescue vehicle. Sporting a 6.7 liter twin diesel engine, crew cab that seats five, LED emergency lighting, 4-wheel drive and a frame-mounted 5-ton winch ... this baby is going to rock the streets of North Cedar.

The custom-made box by Express Custom features convenient and curb-safe roll-up doors. Slide out gear racks provide quick access to emergency equipment and an on-board SCBA air-compressor means on-scene refilling during major fires. Powerful scene lighting can be rapidly deployed and will assist in during nighttime emergency calls. There appears to be enough room to stow ample medical and rescue gear, including the equipment for newly acquired capabilities - swift-water and low-slope rescues.

The details on this new vehicle haven't been confirmed, but on first look, it appears to be an excellent replacement for the existing Rescue truck, which will likely be refitted and recycled as a multi-purpose forestry/utility vehicle. The new truck costs just a tad more than your base-price Masarati sports car, but the Department didn't have to raise taxes to pay for it. Because of foresight and responsible fiscal planning, money for this vehicle came from an existing "Truck Fund" (a long-term budget item ear-marked for major apparatus improvements and replacement).

The new truck is awaiting registration, decals and an equipment transfer. Fire Hall officials hope to have the new truck in service sometime during the next week. Look for it responding to calls in the North Cedar Fire Protection area soon!

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Updated: 23-Nov-2010
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Sunshine Coast Cycle Tour

August 23rd, 2010  · stk

The day before yesterday, we returned home from our first cycle tour in which Alex actually pedaled a bicycle (attached to our touring bikes). We cycled from Nanaimo, up-island to Comox, took a ferry to Powell River and then cycled down the coast to Vancouver. This coastline is called "The Sunshine Coast". It's a cycle tour that's been on our list of adventures for some time.

Since we moved to Vancouver Island in 2006, we've been spending our holidays exploring British Columbia. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful Province and - so far - there has been no shortage of wilderness adventuring.

Now that our daughter, Alex, is six and a half years old, she is too big to tow in a bicycle buggy. Some time ago, we bought Alex a 'Trail-a-Bike', which allows her to sit behind our bikes, on a bike seat and contribute to pedaling. The 'Trail-a-Bike' even has a 5-gear shifter, though she hasn't quite gotten the hang of which gear to switch into at any given time.

Because we have been giving some thought to a Cross-Canada bike tour, we thought it would be a good idea to see how Alex does on a long bike trip. The trip we concocted was - "The Sunshine Coast Bike Tour" - which we did as a loop trip from Nanaimo, up to Courtenay/Comox, across Georgia Strait by ferry to Powell River, then down the Sunshine Coast, ending with a ferry ride from Langdale to Vancouver (where we dropped Alex off at her maternal grandparents house).

The trip took us the better part of five days. Along the way we stayed at a First Nations camping area, repaired a flat tire and a broken spoke, visited a salmon channel and sorting facility, swam in the ocean, cycled onto four different BC Ferries, stayed in two Provincial campgrounds ... all the time enjoying sunny weather, beautiful scenery, challenging cycling and a wholesome family vacation.

Join us on our family cycling adventure and see how Alex fared on her Adams 'Trail-a-Bike'. We hope that our journal whets your appetite for adventure and is useful to others who are thinking of a similar cycling trip. (Some time ago, Rachel and I had made a list of adventures we wanted to do and a "Sunshine Coast Bicycle Trip" was on the list. It's always nice to be able to check another adventure off the list, eh?)

Note: I updated this journal entry from our 1991 Subaru Loyale station wagon, whilst hurtling northward to check off yet another adventure off our list - a backpacking trip to Cape Scott, at the northernmost point of Vancouver Island! (Ain't technology grand?) The laptop is connected to the iPhone, the iPhone is connected to the Internet, the Internet is connected to the journal ... anyway ... it's a work in progress (i.e., photos to follow).

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Updated: 25-Oct-2010
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eBay ebay Pure-CSS Photo Gallery

August 6th, 2010  · stk

What's more fun for a developer than to show up a huge online company like eBay? How about getting PAID to do it! Here's the write-up from my one, fun summertime web project - a pure CSS eBay photo gallery. (Oh and just for grins, it's displayed in another "Arti-zine" web design). I miss having time to write more blog articles!!

This summer, I have concentrated on work around the house and property (living the real life, as opposed to a virtual life). It keeps my wife happy(er), but it means a lot fewer web projects and contributions to this website.

One of the web projects that I did take on, however, was a fun one. A British web developer and programmer, had a client that wanted a photo gallery "like the eBay photo gallery" for his online auction site. The rub? They wanted a pure-CSS version.

Because it's fun to show a well-known online powerhouse how the web should work - and because there was development funding - I dived into the project enthusiastically. (Ahem - only after my daily, real life chores were complete).

The result - A pure CSS photo gallery that looks identical to the eBay gallery and which has significant improvements:

  • It's completely accessible,
  • doesn't rely on JavaScript,
  • is cross-browser compatible and
  • contains error-free, web-standard XHTML and CSS code.

In short - it rocks!

eBay Pure-CSS Photo Gallery Demo

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Photoshopped Rachel

June 6th, 2010  · stk

In 2008, I entered a photo contest at Alberni Outpost, a Vancouver Island outdoor store. We didn't win, but I recently noticed the photo was used as the background for the new Alberni Outpost web site design. Have a look at the new Alberni Outpost design. Amazing!

Rachel's Photo Backdrop for Local (Alberni Outpost) Website

Rachel paddling a canoe on Isaac Lake, Bowron Lakes, B.C. - now Alberni Outpost website backdrop

We are were considering purchasing a used tandem kayak from Alberni Outpost, a Vancouver Island Outdoor Adventure Store, with stores in Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Courtney & Nanoose. The fibreglass kayak has been in the Alberni Outpost rental fleet for some number of years and yesterday, we took it on a "test paddle" around Newcastle Island and to Protection Island (where we had dinner at the Dinghy Dock Pub). It was an excellent afternoon and will be the focus of an upcoming article.

In doing research for the article, I made a surprising discovery. A photo we submitted the Alberni Outpost in 2008, for a photo contest, is currently the background image for every page of the Alberni Outpost website!!

The photo I submitted to their photo contest can be seen in our Bowron Lakes Slide Show. It's also on the Alberni Outpost Photo Contest page (2008) on the Alberni Outpost website (their site depends on JavaScript, so there isn't a direct link to the picture. Just click on "2008 Photos" at the Alberni Outpost photo contest and you'll see it.)

Despite the fact that the photo didn't win, Alberni Outpost chose it - over all the other photos submitted over the years and over all past winning submissions - as the backdrop for the new Alberni Outpost web site design.

We suspect the photo didn't win because it was a canoeing picture and not a kayaking picture. No worries! Just a Photoshop nip here and Photoshop tuck there and suddenly, Rachel is paddling a kayak instead of a canoe! Amazing what can be accomplished with digital photos, eh?

So, do you think the owner of Alberni Outpost, Richard Antonchuk, will give us a discount on the used kayak as consideration for using our photo in the new Alberni Outpost web design? :D (NOPE and neither a "thanks", nor a mention on the Alberni Outpost web site ... nor any consideration. VERY disappointing). :'(

See & Compare Photos

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