Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Slice of Life - Ben

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are challenging ourself to write a Slice A Day. Here we go! 

I love when you see glimmers of your teaching inside of your students. There are days that you can see the light bulbs turn on, when they “get” it. Then there are the days were I wonder if anyone is listening. If what I’m doing matters. And on those days, I need to keep things like this to remember that yes, it does matter.

My thirty-eighth birthday was Monday. My students found out and the news spread like wildfire. Many rainbows were drawn, cards were created after the question,

Mrs. S, what’s your favorite color?

Was asked repeatedly. The kids asked me to leave the room for random reasons only to return and they had cleaned it or jumped out to say surprise, etc. So sweet how each year even big fifth graders continue to want to celebrate your day.

See below for the text

At the end of the day I looked on my desk and saw this card. While just as sweet as the others, I loved noticing that he had been inspired just like Jack from Sharon Creech’s two wonderful books, Love That Dog and Hate That Cat. Jack often writes poems inspired by some of his favorite poets. In the first book he decides it’s “ok” as long as he includes the line, Inspired by­­­­                                . To see Ben write, Inspired by Jack, somehow just touched me.

It says:

Keep Teaching Please.
From: Ben
To: Mrs. S

Love That Teacher
by: Ben
(Inspired by Jack)
I love that teacher
like a student loves to read
I said I love that teacher
Like a student loves to read!

Happy Birthday, Mrs. S with covers
from Love That Dog & Hate That Cat

I went up to him to thank him and he said, “I used Jack’s poem as my mentor text.”

Rock on, Ben. You make me so proud to be your teacher. 

Incubation Series Part 3: Choosing an Incubator, Setup and Collecting Eggs

by Jennifer Sartell

In Part 3 of my incubation series, I'd like to start out by giving some tips and sharing some experience I've had with different styles of incubators. I've worked with a few different types in the past, and my favorites by far are the incubators made by Brinsea. We have four of the Mini Advanced models and they take the guesswork out of egg care. I like the smaller batch models, because I have more control, can fill up an incubator faster, and am free to start different batches going at different times. Our incubator is seriously foolproof. If you can water a houseplant you can hatch chicks. It does all the rotating, timing, temperature upkeep and even humidity levels for you.

Many different styles of incubator are available. One of the other models I've used are the common square incubators with the Styrofoam outer that you can find at many chain feed stores or education supply stores. These incubators hold more eggs and are usually less expensive, but they require more involvement in the hatching process. There is often an optional egg turner that can be added for convenience, and the addition of this unit will bring the price of the incubator to that of a more automated model such as the Brinsea Mini Advanced. If you don't get the egg turner, you must hand turn each egg three times a day. A good system that helps keep track of this process is to write an "X" on one side of the egg, and an "O" on the other with a pencil. That way you know which eggs have been flipped. Personally, I wasn't home enough everyday to turn eggs for 21 days or longer.

Another thing to consider about this style of incubator is that they hold a lot of eggs at one time. If you are planning on hatching out a lot of chicks at once, then these styles would be a great choice. The problem that I had with this option is that often I don't have that many fertile eggs to hatch. Many times I have only one or two of my best hens with a rooster at a time. It would take me a long time to fill up an incubator of that capacity, and by then, the eggs would no longer be hatch-able (more about this below). So you might think, "Why not add eggs to the incubator at different times?" And this is a great idea, except for one thing: two to three days before hatching, an egg should not be turned. So, if you continue to add eggs to an incubator, eventually you will have eggs that need to be turned and eggs that shouldn't be turned. You would have to keep track of this, and the automated rotary turner would have to be stopped when the first eggs approach day 19.

Humidity levels should also be increased as hatching time approaches. This would also be difficult to control with eggs at different stages of growth in the same incubator.

Once you decide on an incubator, it's important to clean it thoroughly. I wash all removable non-electric parts with soap and water. Then swab the crevices and areas near the heating element and fan with a cotton swap dipped in alcohol. Let dry completely. Brinsea sells an incubator wash, which I haven't tried, but it's good to know about. Clean your incubator in the same fashion after the chicks have been hatched and again in the spring after they've been stored for the winter. An incubating environment is warm and moist, perfect for breeding bacteria as well as chicks.

You're going to want to start your incubator about 24 to 48 hours in advance of your eggs arriving to get the temperature stabilized. You can add your moisture source as well. Our Mini Advanced has a circular dish with a separation in the middle. We keep one half of this dish full of water for the first 19 days, then fill both sides until hatching day.

The nice thing about the Mini Advanced is that it's programmable. It has a countdown to hatch day, and alarms that let you know when you need to do something, or if something isn't right. It comes with instructions on correct incubation temperatures for each species, and an egg size chart for choosing the correct rotation level. It will also stop rotating your eggs automatically when hatching day approaches.

Keep your incubator away from radiators, doorways or other areas where the temperature might change often. Power outages are also something to consider. We get a lot of spring ice storms here in Michigan, and it's not unusual to loose power for a couple of days. Last year I had an incubator running when we lost power for 14 hours, and we still had a successful hatch. I've read somewhere that two days is about the maximum that the eggs can be left.

Some people wash their eggs before putting them in an incubator. I've never had the need, but if you decide to wash, Manna Pro sells an egg wash that is supposed to be hatch approved. The instructions say to soak eggs in a diluted solution for 5 minutes. Always wash hands before and after handling hatching eggs or newly born chicks.

The Birds and the Bees, Collecting and Storing Eggs
I'm sharing this with you, as I wished I could have found this information more easily when I first started out. This has been an accumulation of different people telling me different things and then testing these theories with my own practice. We free range our birds all together except during breeding season. We raise three main breeds of chickens, French Black Copper Maran, Lavender Orpington and Blue Laced Red Wyandotte. While free ranging, our hens are exposed to many different breeds of rooster. To cleanse our hens of the different strains of rooster that she may have mated with, we separate our breeds for a month or more to get clean lines. Once the hens are clean and fertilized with roosters of the same breed, we collect the eggs to be hatched or sold. The eggs must be stored in a cool place, well away from hatching temperatures. I try to keep them under 70 degrees. The eggs will stay fertile but dormant for about 10 days until they are exposed to incubation temperatures. That's why no matter what day an egg was laid and collected, they will all hatch around the same day if put in an incubator at the same time. This is also why it's important to begin incubating your eggs as soon as possible if ordering them through the mail. Communicate with your breeder and have your incubator set up and the temperature and humidity levels settled before your eggs arrive.

For more information on incubating and raising chicks check out some of my other posts:
Part 1: Incubating Advantages
Part 2: Choosing Birds to Breed
Part 4: The Long Wait, Candling, and Hatching Day
Raising Chicks

Do you have a favorite incubator, or hatching story? I'd love to hear about it! Feel free to leave comments or photos on Iron Oak Farm's Facebook Page or Blog and I'll do a Reader's Response after the series has posted, celebrating all our new babies from Spring 2012!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Incubation Series Part 2: Choosing Birds to Breed

by Jennifer Sartell

Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Pullet (Blue Variety)
This post is the second in my Incubation Series. In the first post, Incubating Advantages, I discussed some of the advantages and disadvantages of incubating your own hatching eggs. One of the advantages that I'd like to discuss further is that home incubating allows more control over what characteristics a particular chicken's offspring will have. It gives us the opportunity to encourage or discourage those features by selective breeding. This post is going to explore that subject a bit more in the hopes of helping you to select the correct breed for you, or the parents of a breed you hope to hatch. I will share with you my own experience with our Blue Laced Red Wyandottes.

Breeding can be tricky, but very rewarding. Unfortunately it is not as easy as bird 1, plus bird 2, equals bird 3. I have learned so much about chickens by breeding, and the most valuable lesson has been discovering the importance of starting with good-quality stock.

All chickens are not created equal. Even a chicken that appears to be healthy can be carrying genetic secrets. Crooked beak, for example, is hereditary and can arise from two seemingly normal parents. Chickens that throw undesirable genetic mutations should be discouraged from producing offspring. There are many people who devote years of patience, effort and love to producing healthy, beautiful chickens. When you see a bird raised in this way, the care speaks for itself.

With that being said, not everyone is able to start with "award-winning chickens." In my opinion, this should not discourage someone from continuing their own flock. Do the best with what's available to you, research, research, research and breed responsibly.

Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Cockerel (Blue Variety)
My first suggestion is to research breeds that do well in your area. Weather, climate and humidity are all things to consider. Our Blue Laced Red Wyandottes do fabulous in our Michigan winters. They have a short comb, which is not prone to frostbite, and dense plumage that keeps them warm in the cold months. You will get the best results from offspring that are raised in a climate that suits them. Start with one breed and see how it goes. If you decide to raise multiple varieties, remember that each breed must be kept separate or "mutt" chickens will be the result. Sometimes this is desirable, sometimes not. Just make sure you know where you're going to put everyone, so that you don't have any oopsies! (More about this in my next post Part 3: Choosing an Incubator, Setup and Collecting Eggs.)

Second, consider the space that you have and incubate accordingly. Even a small backyard collector can raise a few hatching eggs. It's not quantity but quality, and you don't have to fill an incubator to replenish your flock and experience the fun of incubating.

One of the things that I find most interesting about raising chickens are the breed standard guidelines, and trying to breed birds that will produce offspring with those qualities. This is a heated subject on many a chicken forum. Many people think that chicken breeding should only be left to experienced breeders who are strict to the standard guidelines. Others feel that breeding is a hobby, and it should be left up to the individual's discretion. Both sides of the argument have merit. On the one hand, there is a risk of losing original breeds through "mutt" breeding, or losing the breed's integrity though poor-quality breeding. On the other, I think it's important to encourage newbies to get involved and to generate interest in raising chickens of all sorts. Honest communication would solve many of these debates. Breeders have a responsibility to be truthful about what they are selling, to provide line information when possible, and to divulge a bit in their breeding practices.

Buyers also have a responsibility to do their homework and know what they're paying for. There's a ton of information online to help explain the genetics of breeding, breed standards and how to pick a good-looking bird. Talk to different breeders and ask questions. I find that people who are really enthusiastic about raising chickens will be happy to answer any questions you may have. There are also poultry clubs all over the United States. 4-H is a great place to start. Even if you're over the age requirement (it's usually 18), the poultry club should have some information for your area and tell you where to start looking. Some clubs are even breed-specific and will help you narrow in on your breed of choice. If you can't find something in your area, there are forums and even online chicken shows where people can upload photos and get feedback on their birds.

Go to chicken shows in your area and get a feel for what a quality bird looks like in the breed that interests you. Read the judges' comments and talk to the judges if possible. For more information visit the American Poultry Association.

There are two shows in our area that I hardly ever miss. The first being our local 4-H fair. To take a tour of our 4-H fair, read my post The Poultry Barn.

Another favorite show in our area is Fowl Fest. Each autumn, Zach and I head north to spend a day oohing and aahing over our area's finest selection of chickens. To see a tour of Fowl Fest 2010 check out my post Visiting Grandpa Tiny's Fowl Fest. Or click the video above to see snip bits of the following year, Fowl Fest 2011. Seeing these beautiful specimens makes me want to raise the best chickens I can, and I'm sure it will inspire you as well.

My last bit of advice is that when it comes to breeding chickens, yellow and blue don't always make green: Some breeds are more predictable than others. In these breeds, you mate a rooster and a hen of the same breed and color and you get offspring of the same type. But in the case of our Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, for example, there's much to learn under those pretty laced feathers.

Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Hen (Splash Variety)
Blue Laced Red Wyandottes come in two color varieties, Blue and Splash. There is also a third color that will occur, Black, which resembles the coloring of a Golden Laced Wyandotte. If you mate a blue rooster to a blue hen, you will not get all blue chicks. You will get 50% blue, 25% black and 25% splash. To make it easier to understand, visit for a chart that breaks down the color combinations that will occur when mating the different varieties.

Frizzled breeds are another fun example of complicated breeding. Frizzles are a classification of chicken whose feathers grow outward, almost backward, curving toward the front of the chicken. To produce frizzled young, you must breed a smooth chicken (normal feathering) with a frizzle. This will produce 3 out of 4 frizzled chicks. If you mate a frizzle to a frizzle, all the chicks should be smooth.

This post is a mere drop in the ocean when it comes to learning about breeding, and is not meant to act as a guide, only to bring some interesting facts to your incubating experience. Even if you are the only one who will ever see your chickens, it's fun to look at where the breeds are going, and what people are doing to improve and prolong their existence. New breeds are being developed each year, some are trying to gain recognition, some are struggling to make a comeback from near extinction. Everyone raises chickens for different reasons, which makes the chicken world a fun and exciting place!

For more information on incubating and raising chicks, check out some of my other posts:
Part 1: Incubating Advantages
Part 3: Choosing an Incubator, Setup and Collecting Eggs
Part 4: The Long Wait, Candling, and Hatching Day
Raising Chicks

Do you have a favorite incubator, or hatching story? I'd love to hear about it! Feel free to leave comments or photos on Iron Oak Farm's Facebook Page or Blog and I'll do a Reader's Response after the series has posted, celebrating all our new babies from Spring 2012!

Link for International Match, England vs Holland:

Thank you for reading and your continued support from views and suscribers.

See you later everyone.


Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers 

Doesn’t just the word conjure up images of skipping through the woods at springtime? Yep, that’s how I feel too. Seriously, my husband Chris always does our taxes. My job is to gather all of my school receipts and total them up in an Excel sheet for him.

Tonight he came upstairs and asked if I realized how much of my salary went back into my classroom this year. Hmm. Hadn’t thought of it that way. I knew what the total was – I had added it up myself. Wasn’t the highest amount ever but wasn’t low either.

Chris pointed out that I had spent 8% of my salary on books, office supplies, and miscellaneous items for my class. He told me to go for an even 10% and call it a tithe.
J But then he went on to say how ridiculous he finds this. To have any books in my classroom I have to spend money, there is no money set aside for classroom libraries. Chris said here we can see how all classrooms are not “created equal.” Obviously not all teachers can put this amount of money into their rooms, and maybe they shouldn’t anyway.  I am absolutely aware that I am a bit insane. But thinking about our economy, I can help but shake my head.

There are people who make my salary five times over. They can write off about everything they do. They aren’t pouring 8% of their salary back into their job. And yet, here I am. And here are countless of other teachers. Working for low salaries, having more asked of them then ever before. Being talked about in the media – not for the dedication to their profession; not for their love for their students; not for the sleepless nights spent worrying about lessons, students, their home lives, test scores. I can’t do much about that. What I can do is continue to work hard – not for praise from others, but because it is what I do. I will continue to ensure that my own children’s teachers know how much I appreciate them and what they do each and every day. And I will continue to spend money on my classroom. Anyone up for a trip to Barnes and Noble?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Incubation Series Part 1: Incubating Advantages

by Jennifer Sartell

It's that season again! Pictures of baby chicks are popping up all over my Facebook Farm Page, as fellow bloggers, homesteaders, and chicken enthusiasts share images of their new little peepers. It's an exciting day when chicks arrive, whether they come from a store, a breeder, through the post, a broody hen, or from an egg in your own incubator. Baby chicks are a miracle I never tire of.

In the first post of this four-part series on incubating, I'd like to talk about some different reasons for raising your own chicks from a hatching egg. The advantages, the disadvantages and some tips that I've learned along the way.

My favorite way to add chicks to our flock is by allowing a broody hen to do the work for me. Mother Nature really does know best, and it takes the guesswork out of egg care for us humans. To read more about my first experience with a broody hen read my post Bath Time at the Lavender House.

If a broody hen isn't an option, my second favorite way to acquire chicks is by hatching them myself with an incubator.

The main reason I started incubating my own eggs is that some years ago, I was able to purchase some good-quality stock from a serious and reputable breeder of Blue Laced Red Wyandottes. I couldn't afford to purchase new chicks of this type each spring, but I wanted the lines of these quality birds to continue each year, for our own farm and for our customers who buy our chicks and hatching eggs. (To read more about our hatching eggs and chicks, visit our farm blog at Iron Oak Farm.)

We purchased three fertile hens and two cockerels, beautiful birds but quite expensive. We collected the eggs from our hens over the next week, ordered an incubator with rush shipment, and hatched our first incubated eggs.

From this experience on, I was hooked. This was one of the most amazing things I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing. I also felt that this experience needed to be shared. So with the next batch of eggs to be incubated, I set up a live cam so our blog readers could watch the miracle as well. The response was overwhelming! We weren't alone in our amazement ... So many people were watching that it bogged down the online connection and I had to keep re-booting the system!

There's a lot to think about when making the decision to bring an animal into the world. Other than the pure joy of watching chicks hatch, there are some advantages and disadvantages of incubating eggs. Below are a few things to consider.

The Advantages:
Some things are extremely important to our farm and our own rearing practices. If you can think of more, I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment!

1. Hatching eggs open up a whole world of breeds that would otherwise be difficult to find. A lot more breeders are willing to ship eggs than they are live chicks. Incubators can also be used to hatch other species of birds such as turkeys, geese, guineas, peafowl, swans, etc. Our model even came with directions for parrots and other tropical birds!

2. Raising rare breeds of chickens is not only interesting, it's also a great thing to do for the historical integrity of all livestock breeds. Through incubation, we can help some of the disappearing heritage breeds make a comeback. For more information, visit the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
(I will have more information on choosing birds to breed in my next post in this series, Part 2: Choosing Birds to Breed.)

3. It is usually less expensive to buy hatching eggs of a rare breed than live chicks or adult birds.

4. It's less stressful for a bird to be shipped while it's still an egg versus a live chick. You cut back the chances of the chicks being chilled in the shipping process, which can lead to pasty butt, or death. There are also regulations as to when chicks can be shipped. Many times it must be within the first day. Hatching eggs open up this short time restraint.

5. You don't necessarily have to order large minimum numbers. Many hatcheries will have a minimum order of 25 chicks. They do this for a number of reasons, one of which is in order for the chicks to stay warm in the shipping process. More bodies equals a warmer trip. For a small backyard collector who only wants a couple of chickens of a particular breed, this number can be a bit daunting. Some hatcheries will sell a smaller number of chicks, but many charge you for a heating device that is mailed along with the birds. This device can tack on more than $50 to your shipping price.

6. You know where your chicks have been from the beginning, what care they've had, and who's handled them. I cringe sometimes when we go to large chain stores that get in chicks to sell. I've seen chicks chased, squeezed, dropped and handled by every Tom, Dick and Harry that wanders over to the brooder bins.

7. You also have the choice to vaccinate or not vaccinate.

8. And finally one of the best reasons is that it is an incredible thing to witness and be a part of. It is a great learning experience for children and adults!

The Disadvantages:
While hatching chickens can be loads of fun, it might not be for everyone. Here are a few things to think about.

1. One of the few disadvantages of hatching your own chicks is that you can't order pullet eggs. If roosters are a problem in your area, bear in mind that you will more than likely hatch out a male bird amongst your eggs. But don't despair. While re-homing a rooster is classically harder than re-homing a hen, it's not impossible, especially for some of the rarer breeds. Have a few people or ideas in mind before committing to a hatch. There are forums for chicken enthusiasts that help people find homes for birds. For more helpful suggestions on dealing with roosters, read my post Keeping Roosters Together.

2. The second problem is less of a problem and more of a test of patience. Incubation takes planning and preparation. In my third post I will touch on issues like choosing an incubator, prepping for your eggs and other helpful tips. With home hatching, you won't have the instant satisfaction of driving to the store and getting your chicks that day. You will have to wait for the breeder to ship you your eggs, and then of course, there is the 21 days of waiting. Which to an excited chicken person like myself can seem like an eternity! But there are fun things to keep the impatient monster at bay. Like candling. Which I will also talk about in my fourth post. (link below)

For more information on incubating and raising chicks, check out some of my other posts:

Part 2: Choosing Birds to Breed
Part 3: Choosing an Incubator, Setup and Collecting Eggs
Part 4: The Long Wait, Candling, and Hatching Day
Raising Chicks

Do you have a favorite incubator, or hatching story? I'd love to hear about it! Feel free to leave comments or photos on Iron Oak Farm's Facebook Page or Blog and I'll do a Reader's Response after the series has posted, celebrating all our new babies from Spring 2012!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I’m joining Jen & Kellee (and many other bloggers) in discussing what we are reading this week. Join us! Go to their site and link up your own blog.

Another week has gone by and more characters I have met. It was a wonderful week of reading. I’ve noted any particular favorites with an *.

·      We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C. Alexander London *
·      Another Brother by Matthew Cordell *
·      Paper Towns by John Green *
·      Runner’s World: The Runner’s Diet by Madelyn H. Fernstrom
·      Petunia Goes Wild by Paul Schmid *
·      Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal *
·      Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson *
·      And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano *
·      One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo *
·      Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman
·      Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood *

Woo Hoo! That was one heck of a week of good reading. What’s next? Time to see where my mood takes me. To run my hands over my to read shelves and see what calls my name. Enjoy the week!


The Weekend's EPL Results Analysis:

EPL Results:
Round 26.

Saturday's Action:

Chelsea 3 Bolton Wanderers 0
This match was played at Stamford Bridge as 5th placed Chelsea hosted 19th placed Bolton. 
Defender David Luiz opened the scoring for The Blues in the 48th minute. Striker Didier Drogba doubled the hosts lead in the 61st minute to score his first goal since going to the African Cup of Nations. Midfielder Frank Lampard capped off the match with a goal to make it a 3-0 win to Chelsea after 79 minutes.

This means that Chelsea manager Andre Villas Boas lives to fight another day in the EPL, while Bolton boss Owen Coyle is in no better position with lowly Bolton.

FACT: This is Chelsea's first win in 5 matches (against QPR in the FA Cup).

Midfielder Frank Lampard celebrates his 12th goal of the season against Bolton in the 79th minute to put Chelsea 3-0 up.

Newcastle United 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
This match was played at The Sports Direct Arena as 6th placed Newcastle hosted 16th place Wolves.
Striker Papiss Demba Cisse scored his second goal for his new club after only 6 minutes. Midfielder Jonas Gutierrez scored a belter from 25 yards out to double the Geordies' lead in the 18th minute. Winger Matthew Jarvis halved the hosts 2-0 lead in the 50th minute and gave Wolves hope to salvage something away from home. Striker Kevin Doyle equalised in the 66th minute for Wolves and that is how the match finished. 

Newcastle will feel disappointed that they gave up a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2, but grateful they did not lose and are still in 6th place. Wolves will feel happy that they cameback from 2 goals down, but unlucky not to win the match and are still in trouble, seven points off 15th placed Aston Villa - still in relegation trouble.

QPR 0 Fulham 1
The first London derby of this weekend was between QPR and Fulham.
Striker Pavel Pogrebnyak scored the only goal of the match for the away side after 7 minutes. QPR midfielder Samba Diakite picked up two yellow cards in the space of 14 minutes and brought QPR down to ten men - on his debut after moving to Rangers in the January TW. 

Fulham celebrate striker Pavel Pogrebnyak's early 7th minute goal to win the match against QPR at Loftus Road...

Fulham beat QPR again for the second time this season, but it was less routine than the 6-0 win in October 2011.
West Bromwich Albion 4 Sunderland 0
15th placed West Brom hosted an in-form Sunderland side in 9th place, who were only 10 points off 4th place. 
Striker Peter Odemwingie broke the deadlock for the home side after only three minutes into the match to put West Brom ahead. Midfielder James Morrison scored a header to made it 2-0 to WBA in the 41st minute. Odemwingie scored his second of the match, three minutes after the start of the second half to put The Baggies in a surprising controlled position. Midfielder Keith Andrews rubbed salt in the wounds, making ut 4-0 in the 90th minute on his debut scoring his first goal for WBA.

Wigan Athletic 0 Aston Villa 0 
This match was hosted at the DW Stadium as 20th placed Wigan hosted 14th placed Aston Villa.
This match ended in a goalless draw, with both teams staying in their same respective positions but only a point ahead from their last matches.
Villa will feel upset that they could not get the job done against a weak Wigan side stuck in 20th place, while Wigan will feel relieved that they did not lose at home, but could have moved further off the bottom of the table with a win.

Manchester City 3 Blackburn Rovers 0
1st placed Manchester City hosted 18th placed Blackburn at The Ethiad Stadium. 
Striker Mario Balotelli broke the deadlock for the home side in the first half (30th minute). Striker Sergio Aguero scored his 20th goal of the season to double the lead in the 52nd minute after capatalizing on goalkeeper Paul Robinson's fumble out towards him. Fellow striker Edin Dzeko ended the match in the 81st minute to give City a 3-0 convincing lead and keep the pressure on rivals United in 2nd place, two points behind them.

Striker Sergio Aguero scoring City's second against Blackburn on Saturday.

FACT: City are now unbeaten at home in one whole year at The Ethiad.

Today's Action:

Arsenal 5 Tottenham Hotspur 2
North London Derbies between these two teams never seem to disappoint, and today's was not stalemate either.... Striker Louis Saha put the away side in-front after only 4 minutes, before former Gunner forward Emmanuel Adebayor doubled Spurs' lead with a penalty, 30 minutes later to give Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger a real headache. Full-back Bacary Sana halved the 2-0 lead in the 40th minute, before captain and striker Robin Van Persie curled a stunning shot past Brad Friedel to equalise for the home side. Midfielder Tomas Rosicky scored his first goal at The Emirates since 2010 to make it 3-2 in the 51st minute before a Theo Walcott doubled in the space of three minutes (65th and 68th min) allowed Arsenal a 5-2 comfortable scoreline.

Striker Robin Van Persie celebrates scoring to equalise for Arsenal against Tottenham in the 43rd minute. He has now scored 29 goals this season in all competitions.

Norwich City 1 Manchester United 2

Stoke City 2 Swansea City 0

Carling Cup Final: 

Cardiff City 1 Liverpool 1 (AET 2-2) (Pens 2-3)

Well, well, well! What a match at Wembley! Everyone (except me) thought that this would be a rout in Liverpool's favour.... but it was nothing but!

Defender Martin Skrtel equalised for The Reds in the 60th minute after striker Joe Mason had put The Bluebirds ahead after only 19 minutes... The 90 minutes was over and the match went to extra time. Striker Dirk Kuyt made it 2-1 to Liverpool, three minutes after coming off the subs bench (in the second half of extra time). Everyone thought it was over, but defender Brian Turner shot through Pepe Reina's legs from a corner in the 118th minute to make the match go to penalties.
Liverpol captain and midfielder Steven Gerrard missed his penalty, along with Charlie Adam (who skied his to Row Z). 5 penalties scored later, Steven Gerrard's cousin Antony stepped up to take it, but his shot narrowly missed the left post and Liverpool prevailed!

Liverpool's jubilant celebration after beating Cardiff on penalties to win their first trophy in 6 years.
Is this a sign of things to come for King Kenny's men?
Is this the start of a new Liverpool generation??