Jeff Sexton

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Even More DIY Bird Toys

One thing you have to do to keep birds happy is provide a steady rotation of toys, particularly toys they can destroy. Ed and Olive, the cockatiels love to chew up balsa wood for example.
Harlan really goes for brightly colored acrylic parts like these. He'll chew up the sections of plastic straws I put in between them.
And a few other chewables...
Harlan approved.









Sunday, October 01, 2017

Bird Cookies Number 5

This bird treat is similar to this one, with a couple variations.

First, instead a mix of several vegetables, I dehydrated a bunch of kale and used that only. All our bird love kale. And second, instead of banana, I used a smallish to medium sweet potato, cooked.

Oh, and I ground up all the seeds almost to a butter.

So...

1 sweet potato
6 tablespoons flax, chia and hulled hemp seeds ground almost to a paste
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons-ish of dried kale, crumbled up
4 tablespoons of cooked brown rice
1 egg
Cinnamon to taste


I microwaved the sweet potato, 4-5 minutes (poke hole with a fork first), removed the skin and cut it up into very small pieces.

No fancy process. The dry ingredients, egg, cooked rice, and all just get mixed together into a dough. This takes awhile, to mash the sweet potato mostly. I used a big spoon, but a food processor could probably do it faster.


I added some cinnamon last and mixed it in, about a tsp I think.
I made the dough into balls about one inch and fried them in coconut oil. The cooking is slow because you can't heat coconut oil much before it burns and probably sets off your smoke alarm. Use heat significantly lower than you would for olive oil or butter. I set the burner on our stove to 3 to 4. Your mileage may vary.
While frying I flattened the balls into thin patties, as thin as I could.
 All done! With left over rice...
These cookies received 6 wing up, bird approved by Ed, Olive and Harlan.

(Humans seem to like them too)









Another Bird Treat Recipe

Ed the cockatiel likes Wheat Thins. A lot.

In fact he knows the word, and he recognizes the yellow box. Nothing will get Ed to do what you want him to faster than a Wheat Thin.

If you look at the box, Wheat Thins are not an awful treat for a bird. Yes, there's probably too much salt, and fat, and other things. But they are a quite simple snack, with very few ingredients.

It would be nice if we could give him something like Wheat Thins that were better for him.

The internet is loaded with sites about creating good imitations of pre-packaged foods at home. It seems to be a hobby for a lot of people. It was easy to find several recipes for making your our Wheat Thins. I read a few and came up with the following interpretation.

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons of coconut oil
A bit of flax and millet seed to sprinkle on top

This is close to what you'll find online, but with reduced salt, no sugar, and coconut oil instead of butter.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, paprika and butter in a food processor, pulsing until the oil is evenly disbursed in the crumbs. Slowly add 1/4 cup of water and mix until the mixture begins to form a dough ball.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the dough on to parchment paper.

Simple.

But next comes the part we learned is really tricky and the critical step in getting something like a cracker.

The dough has to be spread thin, really, really thin. Spread it as thin as you possibly can.

Not thin enough - make it thinner.

We used a stone rolling pin and dusted with more whole wheat flour. It has to be really, really thin,

Then cut the (thin) sheet of dough into squares, like, you know, Wheat Thins.

We then scattered a little flax and millet on top and pressed that it.

The cook time will depend on how thin you get the dough. Ours took about 10 minutes. I'd set the timer for 6 first and start checking then each 1 or 2 minutes after that.

If they are really thin, they will get crispy fast. The exact cook time seems pretty critical.

Did Ed approve? He did. But truth be told he liked these about as much as he liked the "healthy" version of Wheat Thins we got at Whole Foods once.

He liked them, but they weren't the same. They're good, and easy to make,  crackers though. We ate most of them ourselves I think.

Try this, for your birds, or just for yourself. It was quick and easy, and they did taste remarkably like a very low salt wheat Thin.















Thursday, September 21, 2017

Happy Birthday!

Even though we got them at different times, coincidentally, as well as we can know, Ed, Olive and Harlan share the same hatch date within a day or two of each other.

Happy year one Ed, Olive and Harlan!











Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bird Cookie Recipe Number Three

This recipe for a healthy bird treat was pretty successful. All the birds liked it.

2 mashed bananas
6 tablespoons flax seeds, millet and chia seeds soaked in water
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons-ish of dried vegetables (I ran the the birds usually mixture of broccoli, kale, squash, etc through a food dehydrator)
4 tablespoons of brown rice
1 egg

All this gets mixed and mashed together...
...formed into pancakes and fried in coconut oil.

Coconut oil has a low flash point so the temperature had to be kept low. Cooking goes slowly...

The results are a pretty good banana thingy that everyone liked!

I topped some with cinnamon, and some with crushed cornflakes.
The birds have never eaten banana, plain, they just don't like it. But these were a heathly hit!









Saturday, August 26, 2017

Feeding Birds (And Us) Pasta

Awhile ago we got a spiralizer. This photo shows what it does to zucchini.

I really like the idea of coming up with food that we all, humans and birds, can eat. This is a lot easier than one might think. A parrot's diet is an extremely healthy one.

Mix this up and cook with some ordinary pasta and you have the basis for a good meal for both humans and birds.

We seasoned ours with oil and garlic, but set some aside plain for the birds.
This stuff was a hit. All the birds liked the pasta, and Harlan really like the long strands of zucchini. This is funny because he eats zucchini all the time, chopped, and it's just sort of ho-hum. But in long spirals, it's like a whole new food!











More Bird Food

Here's another attempt at a bird food... This is a sort of bird salsa. We thought we'd freeze it in single serving pieces as a more convenient way of getting the morning feedings done.

Basically, this is just an assortment of vegetables, including some hot pepper (yes, bird like hot peppers).
We mashed it all up in food processor and filled muffin tins, which then went into the freezer. I was hoping one could be thawed out in the morning for the day.
These weren't a big hit.

I think the birds, Ed, Olive and Harlan, all like their vegetables in bigger chunks. As far as the hot peppers go (and by the way, this stuff was really hot), they all ate it but only Ed really seemed to go for the hot.









Bird Cookies Number One

This was our first attempt at baking up something for the birds. These turned out to be a sort of cookie that were actually pretty tasty (or at least we thought so).

1 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
1/2 cup mixture of buckwheat flour, hemp seeds and flax seeds
1/4 cup raisins
1 egg




Basically, we just ground up and mixed all the dry ingredients and kneaded in the egg.
It was flattened out and baked in a pan like a cookie; 300 degrees for 20 minutes (or more). Unfortunately I couldn't find any photos of the final result.
These were a partial success. All the birds ate them but weren't thrilled.









Sunday, July 23, 2017

Pocher Progress

While it was winter, the Posher Alfa was sitting fairly idle since the next steps, for the most part, involved body paint and sanding that I wanted to do in warm weather outdoors.

Well over the past couple of weeks I did do a little work.

Here is the radiator and nose, in place! The first body part finished and attached to the chassis... Actually, it still needs some polish, but I plan to do that to everything at once.
The next thing I plan to tackle is the doors and associated interior details.

The model has "working" latches. I place the word "working" in quotes because short of completely re-designing and making all the related parts from scratch, there is no way these latches are going to work.

I guess most models either redo the whole thing, or they skip it and let the doors just stick closed by friction, which they will. I am going to split the difference and make the latches and handles move, but not actually latche.

This photo of the backsides of the door panels shows a typical Pocher problem. The black part will be spring loaded and turn up (to "unlatch") with the door handle. On the right side is the left door. The inside panels are held with screws, and left side is ridiculous. The screw post is literally right over the latch. There is no way the latch can lift up, the screw completely blocks it.

On the other door the situation is better, but the screw still blocks the latch some (why are the doors even different? Some questions are better off left unasked...).

I plan to cut those screw posts off and hold the inside panels on with just two screws and some glue.

Which brings us to the next problem. The screws are much too long and will go right out the outside of the door. They have to be cut significantly shorter.

Also, the big screw heads stick up and will interfere with the leather interior.

I used the lathe to cut four original Pocher screws shorter, and tapper the heads so I can put them down flush.

The screws are so bad that I found them not even consistent in size. I had to use a different size collet for half of them.

Here is the original screw above, and the altered screw...

So, why not just glue the panel on and use no screws? Why not use some completely different screws that are a better size? Good question... It's a philosophical point. I am trying, as much as possible, to "build the kit" on this car. It won't be as perfect a scale model as some Pochers, that do extensive enhancements, turn out to be, sure. But I kind of want this to be a Pocher model "out of the box" as it were, as much as I can.

Find the rest of the posts about this project here.

See all the photos here!








Six Months!

Harlan the African Grey Parrot has been with us for six months now! Time flies... So what have we learned?

He'll talk, but he'll say whatever he wants and not what you hope he'll say.

It's a challenge to get him used to new experiences.

He will bite me sometimes, but he bites other people a lot more. We'll work on that.

It's going to be difficult to make sure he's well cared for when we go on trips. Still wondering about that...

He still doesn't rip things apart as much as he should, especially things like wood. I worry that he won't be getting enough beak-wear.

And finally, grey parrots are awesome!












Monday, June 05, 2017

Parot Toy Recycling

Toys are a necessity for parrots. And store bought bird toys are expensive. But I don't mind buying them now and then. For one thing they are generally handmade, so labor intensive, and that does justify the cost. For another they often include good, creative designs (that is, ideas we can use for toys we make ourselves).

But another nice thing about commercial toys is that once a toy is worn out, the surviving components can still be reused in new arrangements.

Take this house-shaped foraging toy for example. Harlan really loved this toy (as you can see) because it could be filled and refilled with treats that have to be chewed and clawed out. Even when the toy was pretty well done, Harlan still chewed the grassy material and the colorful wooden beads, most of which are still good.

The toy is (was) made of two mats with wooden blocks in between to create space, held together with cord and beads. Besides the surviving beads, the back mat is pretty good, as are blocks and the longer pieces of rope.
This toy has loads more life in it!
And Harlan definitely approves.






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