Archive for the 'chickens' Category

Instant Chocolate Cake

Spring is here! Hooray! We’ve had incredible weather this week and while it is raining here right now, I don’t feel the weight of the grey like I had been since I’ve gotten so much vitamin D this week. We’ve been working hard on the back yard and have de-thatched the lawn, pulled a lot of weeds, and I’m in the midst of digging up and resetting a stone pathway that had become completely covered in dirt. In gardening news, we have asparagus and kale ready to eat and our pea plants are thriving (if not producing yet). The apple tree and blueberry bushes are blooming. I have yet to dig up the garden beds, though. The other projects are taking up all of my spare time.

In chicken news, we have eggs! The girls are laying six days a week and are almost keeping up with Nancy’s insatiable love of all things egg. Both of the chickens are somewhat naughty and have been going into parts of the yard that they are not allowed, including my flower beds where they have been sunbathing (and dirt bathing, too).

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Clara has taken to collecting the eggs every day herself. The other day, she got an egg, and since it was dirty, she washed it and dried it in a towel. Then the towel became a nest and she played with the egg for a good twenty minutes and became super attached to her “special egg.” I bet you can guess what happenend. Her poor little egg fell and broke and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men and even Momma couldn’t put her “special egg” back together again. She was so upset.

What to do? We made a little chocolate cake out of her egg and then she was happy again. I googled a cake in a mug recipe and found the easiest cake recipe ever! Here it is if you want to try it.

Mix the following ingredients in a microwave proof mug:
1 egg
1/4 C. powdered sugar
2 Table. cocoa powder

Microwave for 50-60 seconds or until done.
Enjoy!

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Tomatoes Galore!!

My garden this year has been somewhat underwhelming.  I got very few squash, cucumbers, or zucchini because of some sort of mildew.  I treated it with a garlic powder and water solution, which worked, but they didn’t produce much after that.  I had great peas, but then it got too hot for them.  My kale was amazing, and I planted a huge pot of it on the patio for the winter.  But, that’s about it.  My green beans were practically worthless.  For some reason, I only got two carrots.  And I’m eagerly waiting on my brussels sprouts to produce anything.

But, the tomatoes!  Oh, the tomatoes!  I finally found the perfect spot for them in my yard and they have been incredible despite that one chicken who thinks that I put them there just for her to eat.  I’m off now to make roasted tomato sauce!  Yummy!
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Garden/Foster Farm Update

The rain has finally subsided for a few days!  I am overjoyed!  So overjoyed that I actually acquiesced to a bike ride with the hubby and kids (in the bike trailer) today.  It was beautiful.  If only it was summer in Portland all the time.

Anyway, this was a garden update!  I was talking to a friend the other day, as we played in the park on a rather partly cloudy and sixty-five degree day, that maybe this year isn’t quite as bad as last year as far as rain goes.  My roses are not molding.  But, it is rose festival time and do I have even one rose blossom?  Not a one.  So, they aren’t moldy, but they are just non-existent.  But, the irises are coming in!  Remember that we planted a TON of irises last year after the birth of Miss Nancy Iris?  Here’s the first of them about to bloom!  I’m so excited to see them.  I don’t even remember what colors we planted!
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I have pretty much all of my vegetables in the garden now. There are carrots (seedlings are just starting to show up), kale (a new veggie… I’m hoping to make kale chips that the girls will love), brussels sprouts, swiss chard, lettuce, cucumbers, squashes, zucchini, pumpkins, green and yellow beans, and Clara also convinced me to plant corn, which should be exciting. I got rid of all of my sunflowers last year because they were a pain in the butt to try to keep standing come late summer, but preschool sent home some seeds to plant, so I guess we’ll have some of those as well. I also planted some peas and tomato plants around the patio, in hopes that the hotter spot will get me more tomatoes (although it can’t get much worse than last year).
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Oh! And my chives are back and blooming. I just love chive blossoms.
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The chickens are finally all living together outside in the hen house. It was a little rocky there for a while. I had the little chicks in a chicken annex run outside every day for a month before I actually tried to put them all together. The first time didn’t take. Curry tried to peck their eyes out. So then I let them free range together for a few days and finally just locked them all together at night fall. They survived. And it only took a month of that for the big chickens to let the little ones roost near them.
Here’s Clucky, a beautiful Americauna. I just love her coloring.
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And here’s Sugar, a Buff Orpington.
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And the big girls, Buffalo, an Australorp, and Curry, a Buff Orpington.
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New Homemade Chicken Feeder

It’s very interesting to me that in writing this blog, I have written 156 post on various topics (parenting, crafting, chickens, gardening, stocking a freezer, etc.), and consistently, the most popular post, the one that is looked at by the most people, is this one about my homemade chicken feeder.  Therefore, it is with great hoopla that I announce, I have made a new chicken feeder of a different design!  Hooray!

My previous chicken feeder was wonderful.  The feed lasted between two and three weeks depending on how much free ranging my chickens were doing and it held up really quite well, but since I am introducing two more chickens to my flock in the next couple of weeks, I realized that feeder was taking up way too much space in my hen house.  I needed something smaller, more compact, and out-of-the-way.  I will still use the old one when we are out-of-town on vacation or visiting the grandparents, but for every day use, I made a new one.

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It is a design I blatantly stole from our friends Courtney and Joe. You need very few pieces and all of mine were recycled/repurposed. I used a length of drain pipe that was sitting in my garage and the bottom of a 2-liter bottle that I cut in two parts. I (with Adam’s help) drilled and screwed the drain pipe to the inside wall of the henhouse. While screwing in the bottom, I jammed the 2-liter bottom on the bottom of the drain pipe and screwed in tightly. Then, I poured in some feed. Below you can see my new feed scoop. You may be able to guess where it came from.
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Voila! New chicken feeder is finished. This was a pretty easy project once I found the right screws. Now all I have left to do for the new chickens is install another roost in the hen house to keep fighting to a minimum and eventually build one more nest box. I’ll keep you updated about how the introductions go.

New Chicks!

Meet the newest members of our family!  They are adorable and Clara thinks that they are just her new best friends.   Nancy screams happily every time she sees them and tries to poke them.  Clara picked out the names Sugar for the yellow one and Clucky for the brown one.  The yellow chick is a Buff Orpington (the same kind as our older chicken, Curry).  The brown chick is an Americauna and will lay blue or green eggs.  So, we’ll have four chickens for the time being and possibly go down to two later in the year after the older girls stop laying for the winter.  I’ll make sure to update as I introduce the new chicks to the older chicks as that should be an interesting process!
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Gardening Update

Sorry for the lack of gardening blogs this summer.  I have not been inspired as this has been a rather… ahem… crappy gardening year.  As of right now, the only things that are doing well in my garden are the carrots.  Better them than nothing, though.  Oh, and the blueberries.  They have been bonkers.  Not sure if that’s because we finally learned how to prune them correctly or because of the cold, wet spring, but we have a bumper crop.  Clara and Daddy go out every evening and collect some to share and we have three gallon bags full in the freezer.
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My lettuce was doing well, but then I left for a week and the sprinkler got shut off, so it all bolted. I’m going to pull it all out this weekend as well as my aphid covered broccoli which got no where and start all of my fall crops (new lettuce, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and maybe red onions). Garlic will go in later. I’m still hopeful about my winter squash and tomatoes, but I don’t think my fifteen tomato plants are going to produce enough for even one batch of sauce. That being said, I’m going to the farmer’s market soon for tomatoes to possibly make this beautiful golden tomato sauce.

My soybeans are finally blooming, so we’ll see what happens there. I do have crazy nasturtiums and poppies if anyone wants seeds from those, they are aplenty! Our irises also came and we planted them all over the yard. I can’t wait to see all of their many-colored splendor in the spring!

Also on the plus side, I’m still getting eggs (although the heat zapped those up last week for a bit) and Clara has learned how to pick up the chickens and carry them around. They are not fond of it, but are not pecking at her and allow it. Clara rules the roost– in many ways, come to think of it!
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That is all. If I get much of a harvest, I’ll take pictures and post them. Hopefully all my work was not completely in vain!

Dyeing brown Easter eggs

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As you know, I have a ton of brown eggs.  My chickens produce about fifteen eggs a week.  We eat about three.  Not really kidding.  So, I had plenty of eggs to hard boil.  Fresh eggs do not hard boil well because they are hard to peel, so I saved a dozen in the fridge for three weeks.  My fingers were crossed that they will work out.  But then about a week ago, I gave away four eggs from this dozen.  No big deal.  I still had eight, which was plenty for our deviled eggs.  Then this morning I went to boil the eggs and this is where the first one I tried to put in the pot ended up.
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So, I added one fresh egg into the pot. It will be fun to figure out which one is the fresh one. I call not peeling that one right now!

Anyway, we dyed the eggs this afternoon with Clara. It was her first time and I was a little freaked out about the possibility of food coloring spread all over the house and all over us. Plus it was sunny for the first time in what feels like weeks, so we took our project outside. I did a little research and learned that those little kits with the pellets that dissolve in water to make dye are totally bull. All you need to dye eggs is vinegar, food coloring, and warm water. I already had all of that in my pantry.

First we made only the primary colors: yellow, red, and blue. Add one tablespoon white vinegar to each cup, then a bit of food coloring (I went with six drops… it was a pretty random number, though), then I added enough hot water to fill the cups halfway and cover an egg.
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We dyed the eggs each of the primary colors, then grabbed some more glasses and did a little color experimenting. Clara was amazed that yellow and blue make green, blue and red make purple, and yellow and red make orange.
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Overall, this was an incredible activity. I have to say that all my worrying was just silly. Not one drop of dye was spilled and Clara LOVED it! It was a science experiment, art activity, and cooking project all in one. And, brown eggs officially make the best dyed eggs ever. They are so dark and beautiful!
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