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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Creating Headless Halloween Pictures

This post isn't like any post I've ever done before, so I hope that you enjoy it!

This year for Halloween, I wanted to have some personalized decorations. I found a blogpost of 19th Century Headless pictures and I ran with the idea for our kids. I will even show you how to make your own! All you need is a digital camera and photo editing software. I will be using photoshop.

First, a few tips for making it easier:
  • Pull long hair up, or it will look weird to have hair on the shoulders (but no head)
  • Take the pictures on a simple background 
  • Have fun! 
Step 1: Take a picture with subject in it(remember keep the background simple!)

Step 2: Take the exact same picture without subject in it

Step 3: Upload both pictures into your photo-editing program

Step 4:  Using your move tool, drag the photo without the subject right on top of the picture with your subject. You will now have 2 layers, you will only be able to see the picture without your subject.

Step 5: Set opacity of top image (the one without your subject) to about 50%

Step 6: Using the eraser tool, erase away ALL of the top layer picture (the one without your subject) EXCEPT for around the head. With both layers at 100% opacity, your image should look like this at this point:
Step 7: Using the polygonal lasso tool, on the layer with your subject, trace around the head.

Step 8: Make a copy of the selected head by going to 'Edit' then 'Copy'.
Then go to 'Edit', 'Paste'. You should now have 3 layers. 1st layer: picture with subject, 2nd layer: the background covering the head, 3rd layer: (should be on the top of all layers) the new head.

Step 9: Place head where you would like it. It might be fun to have your subject holding a plate, and put the head on the plate.
Step 10: (Optional) Using the paintbrush tool, I drew in the back of the neck (it doesn't have to be perfect, if you are using an action to make it look old fashioned)
Step 11: Flatten your image (so you only have 1 layer)

Step 12: Make it look old fashioned. You can do this on your own, but I chose to use an action by Totally Rad called Old Skool (Fast), there are lots of free actions out there you can play around with to get the desired look!

Step 13: Print, Display, and Enjoy all the crazy comments you will get about your headless pictures!

I would love to hear your comments.
Happy Halloween!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yoga Hike

As most of you may know, we are a homeschooling family.  On Thursdays my older kids go to a charter school to take electives.  They are taking classes like art, piano, guitar, sewing, cooking, karate, sculpting, humanitarian projects, and lego robotics. They love it, and I love it!

That means that on Thursdays, it is just Madelyn and I at home. The days that we are schooling at home I am busy teaching and helping the kids with their work. While Madelyn does receive quite a bit of attention while we do her "school" which consists of reading books and playing games, my time with her is often interrupted by the older ones. Thursdays have become our "special days" where we go and do something together, just the two of us.

Today we did a yoga hike. I strapped her on my back along with our yoga mats and hiked up the hill that overlooks our neighborhood. She talked non-stop on the way up, and we sang songs on the way down. The weather was perfect, the air was fresh, and the morning sun felt delightful on my skin. The only disappointment came to Madelyn when she actually thought we were going to do yoga IN the water tower.

Downward Facing Dog

Madelyn meditating while I did some Sun Salutations

 And of course we had to end by playing airplane

I can't wait until next week with Madelyn! Leave a comment if you have any great ideas for us!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Essential Oils Webinar Tonight

Join me as I teach you how to treat coughs, ear infections, relieve stress and anxiety, assist in first aid and pain relief, remove impurities from the air, and build your immune system with essential oils! 
 This is a very educational class, you won't want to miss it!
  TUESDAY September 25th 7pm Mountain Time
 Just click on this link to register for the webinar. 
One lucky listener will win these 3 oils:
5ml bottles of Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint

Hope you join me tonight!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rooster? We Don't Have a Rooster!

I love sleeping with my windows open at night. The fresh, cool, night air does a clean sweep through the house leaving it refreshed in the morning.

Early this morning, with my windows open, I was woken by a rooster. Our neighbors don't have chickens and I was so confused as to where the rooster had come from. I had to shut all the windows in the house because the rooster was so loud! 

It continued to crow through the morning, and I decided I better investigate. We don't have a rooster, but I decided to check in our coop anyways. There wasn't one rooster in there, there were TWO ROOSTERS in my coop! 

This would have come as a complete surprise to me if I hadn't recognized one of the beautiful roosters as my neighbors. They had bought some "free run" chickens (this means that when you purchase them, the sex has not been determined, so you could end up with roosters), and they had 2 roosters out of the batch. I knew that these neighbors didn't want the roosters and were trying to get rid of them. I just didn't expect for them to get rid of them by donating them to my backyard farm as a "funny" joke.

It took me a while to get to the bottom of it, but I figured out all who were involved. I only have pictures of two out of the three culprits, and I'm posting the most embarrassing pictures I have of them. Yet, the payback is not complete!

If you see these two hooligans in your neighborhood, beware! You may end up with roosters waking you up early in the morning. 

Don't forget to register for the Essential Oils Webinar
Tuesday, September 25th 7:00 PM Mountain Time


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Where Have We Been?!?!?

We have received so many kind emails asking if we were ever going to come back. Quick notes wondering where we have disappeared to.  Thank you so much for those kind words. They are so thoughtful and I truly appreciate them!

  This backyard farm of ours continues to make progress towards becoming my "dream farm", but just at a slow pace. But, that is okay!   Its just too bad that I don't have enough time, money, and energy to keep up with all the dreams I have in my head. All that matters is that we continue to make progress in the right direction, right?

So what have I been doing with my time?

Most importantly I've had a lovely summer spending time with my family. We have been able to do a little traveling and see some beautiful places like Yellowstone. 

And Lake Powell

And I met up with my family in Santa Fe
 It is just always so much fun when my entire family can get together for a few days. We laughed, we cried, we saw the sights, we had a family 5k, a talent show...it was so dreamily perfect.

I've also been busy sharing my passion of essential oils. Have I told you how much I love essential oils? Have I mentioned how they have blessed my family? Michael has been off of his anxiety medication for a year now, and I haven't had to use my rescue inhaler for asthma. Not to mention the ear aches, tummy aches, athlete's foot, warts, coughs, Molluscum contagiosum and so many other minor issues we have cured with the oils.

I will be hosting another webinar, so that you can learn how essential oils can heal you emotionally, spiritually, and physically. 

Essential Oils Webinar:
Tuesday September 25th 7:00 PM Mountain Time


I would love to have you join me! Come ready to learn and ask questions. 

(I think I need a new picture since I'm growing my hair out, what do you think?)

Oh, I almost forgot....leave a comment and share what you were up to this summer!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

We are OK

Thank you everyone for all of you thoughts and prayers. Our neighborhood survived the Eagle Mountain Pinion Fire thanks to the wonderful firefighters that refused to let our houses burn. No one in our neighborhood lost a home, and the fires don't seem to be a threat to our neighborhood any more. Here are a few more pictures so you can see what it looked like, but rest assured we are safe.

This is our chicken coop. We still are in the process of putting siding on it. You might remember that we had to build a new coop after the chicken coop fire we had last winter.

This is a picture of Michael and our neighbor. it looks like we are walking out of the bowels of hell.

Here are the firefighters standing watch over our property. We can't express our gratitude to them.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Our Backyard Farm is on Fire

This is our house on the left. We were evacuated today and are hoping the great fire fighters can keep our home safe!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Buttermilk Drank Too Many Energy Drinks

Buttermilk the goat has taken the internet by storm. Took a Leap Farm posted a video on their blog showing their 5 week old Nigerian Dwarf goat named Buttermilk. He has too much energy and seems to enjoy jumping over and off of his fellow goats. If this doesn't make you want a goat, I don't know what will.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chicken Saddles


Could you please help me, I would like to purchase a jacket for my hen moon. I am having trouble finding a place that sells them.

Thank you
 J Morton


Louise's Country Closet sells what they call "hen saddles", I think it may be what you are looking for. They are to protect from aggressive roosters and from other hens that like to continuously peck other hens. I hope this helps!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Signs of the Food Apocalypse: Burger King App

The food apocalypse is on the verge of overtaking us my friends. The time is near that we will only eat foods that we don't recognize, foods that have been so processed that we don't even know what animal or vegetable they came from. Todays food apocalypse example comes to us from Burger King.

Burger King is testing a new mobile app for android phone users. This app will allow people to add money to an electric account. Then when they go to their beloved local Burger King they don't have to get to their wallets or purses to pay. They simply pay with the app, and even gain points for future purchases.

I admit that I eat fast food at times, but I hope I never eat it enough that I will need an app for convenience. The next thing we will see is fast food credit cards where you can charge your fast food meals and not even have to pay for them. Can you imagine a future where fast food zombies go through a Burger King drive through (so they don't have to walk or talk to a person face to face) order their food and then just flash their phone as they pass the drive through window, grabbing their food from the Burger King robot? 

What are some of the signs you all have seen of the coming food apocalypse? Share them in the comments.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Urban Farming in Venezuela

Venezuela is having a hard time growing enough food to feed it's population. They have begun to allow the poor in urban areas to start gardening in unused urban spaces. Seems like a great idea. Some of the people in the video reduce their food bills by 50%. Hopefully they use heirlooms so they can harvest their own seeds. Think about what would happen to the world if everyone would start growing what they can, where they can. Check out the video. It always makes me happy to see people gardening.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Have You Seen This? I'm Farming and I Grow It

Hey there guys! Thanks to those of you who emailed to find out if anything was wrong because we haven't been posting. No, nothing is wrong, I guess we just needed a little break. Hopefully we will get back on track and will be posting often. We love to hear from you guys, so thanks for all your comments.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Backyard Flock Demonstration Part 1

Backyard poultry flocks are all the rage right now as people want to produce their own eggs and meat. In February, the University of Maryland organized the Mid-Atlantic Small Flock Poultry Expo. We expected 100-200 participants. Over 400 people showed up from 7 states. People are eager to learn about how to keep backyard poultry. So at the University of Maryland research farm, we are constructing demonstration facilities that people can visit and where we can conduct education programs. Below is a photograph of the complex. Our farm manager Dave Wyand, who stands in the middle, built these facilities for us.  At the right is a large layer coop that houses two free range layer flocks. It opens onto a large pasture at the rear where portable electric netting is used to optimize pasture grazing for the flocks. This demonstrates larger scale backyard production. At the left is portable pasture coop, a “chicken tractor” as some people call them. We can load it in a pickup and take to various education events to show people with small back yards how they can keep layers. In the next few days I will post more articles that describe these systems in more detail. I want to thank Dave Wyand for the work he put into building these facilities. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

How I Artificially Re-engineered My Hens’ Pecking Order

By Michael Atkinson, Chicken Lover

A brazen daylight attack
One day while in my kitchen I heard a baby screaming. An awful, heart-wrenching sound… coming from my backyard. As I rushed outside I realized it was one of my hens.

Let me introduce them. Two Rhode Island Reds (Sammie-lane and Rose), one Golden Laced Wyandotte (Bobby Jo) and one Americana (Nikki). This was their pecking order – led by big, confident Sammie-lane who led with a gentle wing:

  1. Sammie-lane      2. Rose        3. Bobby Jo         4. Nikki
Back to our story. Bobby Jo was caught up in the curled end of the chicken wire fence, freaking out in a way that made me sick, sounding the alarm. I saw two Boston Terrier dogs in the process of eating Nikki. It was shocking. Feathers were everywhere, Sammie-lane was limping nearby and Rose had simply vanished.

I grabbed each dog. Up and away they went, flying high over the fence unceremoniously back to their yard with satisfying thuds – they were neighbor dogs and had dug under my fence.

 I rushed the remaining three hens to the veterinarian. The triage nurse quickly admitted them for emergency life-saving surgery. My incredulous wife mocked me bad (and was upset later at the bill) but my kids stood by me. We saved the hens’ lives. Over the next couple months we did our best to administer oral anti-biotics twice daily and rub anti-biotic cream on their wounds. Bobby-Jo got re-infected and had to go back for Surgery Part II. Nikki was severely depressed for a few weeks… instead of being her spry self, she’d slowly shuffle around dejectedly despite actually having the least wounds. I was worried sick they wouldn’t pull through but they all did. With consequences...

Chickens pecking chickens… and a new regime
We had found Rose hiding under discarded netting for the strawberry patch, reunited them all and soon I was shocked again: Sammie-lane was being severely pecked by the others. Her surgery shaved rump literally squirted blood as the others tried feeding on it. I put smelly black cream from the feed store on the wound but it didn’t do much. I then separated her: keeping the others in their fenced off area I let her roam the rest of the yard. She got lonely, it was sad.

Meanwhile over the next several weeks a New Fowl Order was established. Gone was Sammie-lane’s kind reign. Bobby Jo took over, and ruled with an Iron Claw. She cracked down on the other two brutally. It was senseless violence, shameful and ruthless. Realizing I was too emotionally immature of a human to let the chicken’s pecking order go its own way naturally, I staged an intervention.

Manipulating the pecking order
Step 1:
  • I isolated the bully Bobby Jo from the other two in a solitary A-frame coop for a few weeks. (I believed if I brought her back at a later time, it would be 2 vs 1 in the pecking order and she would lose status and I was correct.) I always made sure the groups of chickens were near/could see each other.
  • I also tried reintroducing Sammie-lane after a couple weeks, thinking she was healed enough. Nope. Nikki and Rose still went after here. Back to Isolation for Sammie-lane.

Step 2:
  • After almost a couple months I felt good about Sammie-lanes’ healing so I re-introduced her again. Feathers were growing in well and she looked much better. They all looked like they were going to survive! But I was still worried about the pecking order, and still had three separate groups of chickens. I reintroduced Sammie-lane with Nikki and Rose. Rose, having successfully hid from the dogs, had of course been the healthiest this whole time. Bright red comb and wattle, she was energetic and quite a contrast to the recovering three.
Soon as I put Sammie-lane back in, Rose attacked really aggressively. Poor Sammie-lane just melted. It broke my heart and made me mad. So I booted Rose in with Bobby Jo – misery loves company ladies! Nikki asserted dominance with Sammie-lane and I let it slide because she wasn’t cold-hearted cruel about it. Again I figured I’d eventually add Rose or Bobby Jo back in one at a time, they’d enter at the bottom of the pecking order, and I’d re-arrange Nikki later… exactly what happened.

Step 3: After a couple weeks, Bobby Jo got let out of the coop to rejoin Nikki and Sammie-lane. After staying long enough to ensure Bobby-Jo sinks to the bottom of the pecking order (the power of 2 vs 1), Nikki went in with Rose. Sammie-lane got good payback and Bobby Jo quickly sank back under her in the pecking order.

Step 4: Nikki came back, easily went back under Sammie-lane (and Bobby Jo), and then finally Rose was reintroduced as well. By this time Sammy-lane was flush red again in her comb and wattle, and strutting her stuff. All back to normal!
A happy ending
There are still remnants of the Pecking Order Wars of ‘11-12. Nikki and Sammie-lane are best of friends – I’ve never seen Sammie-lane so much as nip at her, and Nikki is always quick to hop up on the roost and get under Sammie-lane – her favorite bedtime routine.
Rose is deft at fitting in and avoiding problems. She hangs with Bobby Jo at nighttime a lot, but is frequently welcomed to join Nikki and Sammie-lane. Bobby Jo continues to pay for her reign of terror. Dumb as a rock and a social misfit, she often gets pecked and chased off. At times she sleeps alone. Lately the girls have been reuniting a lot at night like an old teen band getting together for reunion gigs. It warms my heart. They are happy and each lay eggs almost seven days a week. And most importantly, back to where they started in their original pecking order, after months of hard work and juggling isolations and social groups by their favorite meddling human…

 by Michael Atkinson

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Legacy of trees

When my grandfather built a farm home east of Shelley, Idaho in 1928, one of the first things he did was to plant trees around the house. He was 53 years old and he knew he would not live there long enough to enjoy the shade of those trees. He was planting them for the generations to come. My father and mother bought the house and nurtured the trees. Those Box Elder trees grew large and shaded the house. Flocks of song birds nested in their branches. I played under them and in them (tree houses) as a child in the 1960s. I napped under their coolness on hot summer days. I splashed in piles of their autumn leaves. How grateful I am that Grandpa Johnson planted those trees.

We delight in the beauty of spring flowering trees, suckle the sweet goodness of fruit trees, bask in the coolness of shade trees, revel in the fire of autumn maples and aspens, celebrate in the glow and scent of pine, fir, and spruce Christmas trees, and contemplate the majesty of a mighty oaks and walnuts. But we must remember that many of these trees were planted by those who have gone before us, not for their benefit but for ours. We must carry on this legacy for future generations.

Plant a tree when each of your children or grandchildren is born.  Tree seedlings make wonderful gifts for birthdays and anniversaries. When my mother passed away in the spring of last year, my in-laws gave me a beautiful Prairie Fire crab apple tree. Now each spring when it blooms deep reddish pink blossoms, it will remind me of her.

Celebrate National Arbor Day on April 27th. Plant trees in your yard for those who call your place home after you are gone. Organize tree plantings around your schools and churches. Initiate tree projects for your parks and playgrounds. Encourage reforestation projects. Leaving a legacy of trees is an altruistic action that passes on the pleasures of trees to future generations.
 A Prairie Fire crab apple tree commemorates the passing of my mother.

 A row of ornamental cherry trees, a birthday gift from my daughter will one day bracket our pasture fence.

~by Uncle Dale