Monday, November 7, 2011

MUENSTER, TX


video


A recent production scouting trip took us north to the Muenster, TX area. We were delighted to find wind turbines dotting the landscape. We even saw a turbine manufacturing site. It is encouraging to see our big Texas winds being put to good use. The use of alternative power is a hot topic that Down to Earth plans to explore on the show so stay tuned!


While in Muenster, we were fortunate to visit the lovely Elm Creek Manor, an inn and spa in the countryside just outside of town. They grow their own vegetables and herbs from which they create five star quality meals for guests. Meals are served in the elegant dining room of the main house, exquisitely decorated from the inkeepers' worldly travels. Dairy goats, chickens and bees will soon be taking up residence and contributing their own gifts to meals. Guest rooms are peaceful and relaxing. An oh so comfy bed is dressed in crisp white linens; the inn follows the European tradition of a fluffy down duvet without a top sheet.

We learned from proprietors Brad and Marcia that the original house had burned and was at first considered a total loss. After many bids to demolish the structure, they learned that many structural elements were still sound and were offered the opportunity to rebuild. The house today contains much of the original wood, showing the scars of the fire, but possesing unique character.












Friday, November 4, 2011

Chickens! Chickens! Chickens!

Every year we look forward to the great State Fair of Texas! This year, Andrea hosted a talk and demonstration about urban chicken keeping. We brought along Wedgewood, the bantam blue Orpington to help us out.

There is much to learn about selecting and caring for your chickens, but they are a fun and low maintenance pet. In fact they are the only pet that can provide you with fresh ingredients for fluffy omeletes and yummy cakes and quiches. We have a wealth of information to share and have included some of it here. Check in with us often to find out when and where we will be appearing with our fun and informative presentation - Household Hens!

Why Choose Chickens?
They are fun, quiet and clean.
Enjoy fresh eggs without a trip to the store.
They bring a bit of the country to the city.
They produce the best garden fertilizer around.
Children can learn about farm life and caring for animals.
They are a natural component of sustainable living.

Things to know:
Look up codes and regulations on your city’s website.
Most municipalities do not allow roosters.
You do not need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs.
Be sure your chickens are safe from predators.
Keep the peace with your neighbors by offering them eggs and keeping a tidy roost.

Basic supplies include:
The coop
A run or outdoor area
Feeder and waterer
Chic chicken d├ęcor to suite your taste
Feed appropriate to your hens developmental stage
Kitchen scraps make a great supplemental feed.

You can get most everything you need for keeping chickens at your local feed or farm store. Here are a few we know of, check local listings where you live.

D&L Farm and Home in Aubrey, Celina, Denton, Gainesville and Sanger; and D&L AgMart in McKinney
Boyce Feed and Grain in Waxahachie
Southland Farm Store in Dallas
Southwest Feed Mills in Dallas
Roach Feed and Seed in Garland
Wells Brothers Farm Store in Plano
Collin County Feed and Seed in McKinney
McKinney Grain in McKinney
Master Made Feeds in Grapevine
Russell Feed and Supply in Fort Worth
Marshall Grain in Fort Worth

Some great books about chickens:
Storey’s Guide to Raising Poultry by Leonard S. Mercia
Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces by Barbara Kilarski
Chickens: Tending A Small-Scale Flock For Pleasure And Profit by Sue Weaver
The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow
Chick Days by Jenna Woginrich
Pocketful of Poultry by Carol Ekarius
The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals edited by Gail Damerow
Chickens in children’s literature:
The Little Red Hen
Chicken Little / Henny Penny
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins
Louise: the Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo
Tillie Lays an Egg by Terry Golsom
Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke
Daisy Comes Home and Hedgie’s Surprise by Jan Brett

Visit your local book seller or public library for these titles and more.

A new magazine just for chickens:
Chickens from Hobby Farms

A few of the many chicken websites available:

Check out some creative coops at these chicken coop tours, check local listings to find out if there is one in your area.
Funky Chicken Coop Tour in Austin in April www.fccooptour.blogspot.com
Wise Chicks Coop Tour in Decatur in April www.mainstreethomeandgardens.com/chickencooptour.html
West Side Urban Farm Frolic in Dallas in April http://westsideurbanfarmfrolic.blogspot.com/
A Peep at the Coops in Dallas in May www.apeepatthecoops.blogspot.com
Oak Cliff Coop Snoop in Oak Cliff in October www.oakcliffcoopsnoop.blogspot.com


Big thanks to the following for their support and helpful information:


D&L Farm and Home in Aubrey, Celina, Denton, Gainesville and Sanger; and D&L AgMart in McKinney.



The Boyce Feed & Grain Corp. in Waxahachie, TX
(972) 937-1541



Mobile Chicken Coops in Burnet, Texas
512-756-7537


Green Garden Goodies


HAPPY GARDENING!

Catch up with our host Andrea Ridout Saturday mornings on DIG IN airing in the DFW area on FOX4 at 6:00 AM. This week Andrea will tell us all about some unique and useful green gardening products for fall. A complete list of all products as well as video of the segment can be found on the DIG IN DFW website.

While you are there, you can find out how to send in your favorite fall garden photo to win a set of Radius Garden tools. Remeber that there's also a set of tools up for grabs on the DOWN TO EARTH Facebook page once we get to 100 likes!  



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Clean are Your Windows?

Down to Earth host, Andrea Ridout, was a guest on Fox 4's Good Day Show this morning. Thanks to Central Market and Home Depot for providing us with samples to demonstrate. We learned easy and fun ways to clean our windows for fall - with an eco-friendly twist. Andrea offered great tips and information on some handy products. Click here to watch! 

ANDREA'S TIPS:
~ MAKE YOUR OWN window cleaner at home from our recipes below.
~ USE A "Z" MOTION across the window, then go around the border, rather than round in circles. 
~ VINEGAR is a non-toxic and effective ingredient for window cleaning
~ DETER STREAKING AND LINT by using crumpled  newspaper or a micro-fiber cloth
~ AVOID washing exterior windows in high wind or in direct sunlight
~ FOR HARD TO REACH WINDOWS, try a telescoping pole with cleaning attachments.

~ APPLY CLEANING SOLUTION dirtectly to pads and cloths to avoid spray dispersing into the air. Not only will this help your product last longer, it is also safer for the environment. Take care using vinegar around outdoor plants as it can kill the leaves; in large quantities it can kill the plant. Be cautious of any spray, (particularly with chemicals) getting on pets, backyard chickens and other birds and wildlife.


RECIPES:
~ Make a great all-purpose window cleaner by combining 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake lightly to mix.
Adding a dab of dish soap to the vinegar and water will help remove the buildup from years of using commercial cleaners.

~ Also try mixing 2 cups of hot water with 1/4 cup of vinegar and a tablespoon of cornstarch. The vinegar gets the window clean, but it's that little bit of cornstarch that really gives it the shine!


Monday, August 29, 2011

OUR NEW SIZZLE REEL

All this travellin' and filmin' you've been readin' about weren't for nothin'! Our editing team hasn't seen the light of day since starting work on our awesome sizzle reel  !

We are so pleased with the results and just couldn't wait to show it to you. We hope you will enjoy watching it. Please let us know what you think.  


Friday, August 26, 2011

Around Austin - Day Three, June 19th

In between marvelling at the unspoiled beauty of the countryside, we had the chance to run around Austin marvelling at the urban sights. We loved seeing the food trucks along South Congress Avenue. Imagine the mall food court meets open air dining. Clever restraunteurs have re-purposed vintage travel trailers and food catering trucks and are serving up some of the best street food you've ever had. 


As if we could eat anymore, we were treated to a wonderful vegetarian lunch at Mother's Cafe and Garden. We all know that Texas is known for its BBQ, but you've probably never had BBQ Tofu!


Just on the outskirts of Austin, but only minutes from town, live Lynne and Jim Weber, authors of Nature Watch Austin. Their home and the surrounding hills are a shrine to the beautiful and fascinating native flora and fauna described in their book.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Farms and Ranches - Days Two, Four and Five - June 18th, 20th and 21st




In Elgin, we visited Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill (the first commercial organic feed mill in Texas) where simple grain is turned into the very best organic feed for raising healthy animals. Jeremiah Cunningham raises some lucky chickens and cows who are able to live as nature intended, on open pasture. We were inspired by his love of the land and his committment to sustainable practices

Our journey led us to the Selah Bamberger Ranch Preserve where we met J. David Bamberger, a man who has dedicated his life to restoring 5500 acres of over-grazed, under utilized land in Johnson City. Selah means "to pause and reflect," and there is no better place to do just that than looking out at the breathtaking views at the Bamberger Ranch.

Co-founder of Church's Fried Chicken, Mr. Bamberger always wanted to make a difference; so 40 years ago, the day the company went public, he went out and bought a piece of the Texas Hill Country. He has brought springs, creeks and ponds to life where there was once no water to be found. He has planted native grasses on once cedar choked hillsides. He built a bat cave and enticed a colony of Mexican Free Tail Bats to come home. We braved flesh eating insects and the possibility of contracting deadly disease to enter the bat cave. It was a magical and rewarding experience.

After our brave adventures into the bat cave, we were appreciative of a relaxing evening swim, a comfy bed, fresh hot breakfast the next morning and some mighty fine hospitality at the Best Western in Johnson City. They have the very best Texas shaped waffles ever!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Farmers Markets - Days Two and Three - June 18th - 19th


There are lots of Down to Earth folks at your local farmers market. In Bastrop, about 30 miles east of Austin, we visited the 1823 Bastrop Farmers Market where we met Charles Eastland selling his big juicy tomatoes.Mr Eastland's great, great grandfather was the first judge in Fayette County! We sampled fresh baked vegan pretzel bread from Tough Cookie Bakery and admired the work of some local artists. The Producers Market is an indoor farmers market and small grocery store. They provide the products of local farmers year round alongside basic staples. After hoofing around the markets, we sat down to a yummy lunch at Maxine's on Main which serves some of the best pie in Texas (we tried several pieces, we should know)!

Pie at Maxine's on Main
Back in Austin, Ty Wolison of Windy Hill Organic Farm showed us around the HOPE Farmers Market. which is a part of the HOPE Campaign whose participating artists promote education and peace around the world. We saw planters made from recycled bicycle parts alongside fresh homegrown summer squash and heard tunes from strolling hometown musicians. We loaded up on some great local goodies.
Filming at the HOPE Farmers Market



Fresh from the earth!

Ty Wolison shows us around.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

BATS - Day One - June 17th

Our first night we were delighted by the emergence of the more than one million Mexican free-tailed bats that live under the Congress Avenue bridge in Austin. We had a perfect view of the bridge and the river from our nice rooms at the Hyatt Regency Austin and had front row seats for the bat emergence aboard Capital Cruises double decker paddle wheel river boat.


It's remarkable that these creatures decided an urban bridge was the perfect place to call home. Friend and bat expert, Sara Weaver enlightened us about bat behavior and habits. We learned for instance, that much of the Austin bat population recently tends to over-winter rather than migrate because the insects that they eat (by the ton) are not migrating as much either. This is thought to be due in part to warmer winter temperatures. Maybe they just love it here in Texas as much as we do.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Down to Earth Great Texas Road Trip Begins

On Friday, June 17th, 2011, we headed south on Interstate 35 from our homebase in Dallas to begin the adventure of a lifetime. As we hit the road to film the pilot episode for Down to Earth, our travels took us from Dallas to Austin and on to Bastrop, Elgin, Johnson City, Marble Falls and Burnet. The sights along the way set us off on a detour more than once and we've documented the whole journey for you.

Come along with us on Down to Earth as we take you across the great state of Texas and beyond!