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I am a 50+ yr old stay at home wife of a scientist/Military man.  I raise chickens for eggs, rescue dogs & cats & spoil them all.  I am a silver/metal smith & stained glass artist.  I, at one time was an secondary art teacher & Social Studies teacher.  I am sorta a eclectic earth mother who recycles everything I can get my hands on.  Enjoy working with power tools & even built my own 10ft by 6ft chicken coop.  am pretty much interested in learning everything I can thur books, magazines & friends. I enjoy veggie gardening & doing gardens just for the chickens. I also sew & love making pioneer style comfortable clothes for myself & adding vintage lace when I can find it. I am pretty easygoing, but need my coffee first before I am ready to face the world & day.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicken antics

                                 Chicken in a basket!!!!!

Good day everyone!

As you well know by now, I keep my injured or sick chickens in the house, so in this house 'watch out for the chickens!' really means just that.

The picture above is of Gertie, my white leg-horn hen who came to me after getting injured last summer.  Since she still limps & from the looks of it always will, she have a cage with Piper (another limper) in the diningroom.  For over 2 1/2 years now there is always at least one in the house at any given time & I love watching them.

Gertie is very curious & loves to lay in front of the woodstove so I thought a basket might be nice for her.  She climbed into it long enough for me to get the picture & that was it.   She prefers the indoor/outdoor carpet to lay on in front of the fire.

Piper has picked up a funny but bad habit of trying to clean the dog, which means in chicken words.....Peck...Rosey will allow it for a bit before she can't take it anymore & moves off.  I honestly think Piper does it because Rosey is hogging the front of the woodstove & she wants to be closer.

A few weeks ago I had to bring in Porgie & Bess, because CeeCee the big rooster was picking on Porgie & Porgie was not eating...well since he is tiny & Bess is also tiny I brought her in a few days later because she was getting picked on by the big girls since Porgie wasn't there to protect her.

For being such a small boy, Porgie has decided if it moves like a hen he is going to try & mate with it...yes that includes Jasper, the male Call duck.
Now, he doesn't mess with Gertie cause she won't put up with his 'boy' ways but Piper can't seem to get rid of his attention.  She is quite larger than him so he grabs her neck & yanks her down to his level.  Of coarse she is not having this so she  drags him across the floor as he's trying to climb on her.  I have noticed in the last few days he has smarted up so to speak & waits til she is laying down to sleep & then grabs her.  she still drags him across the room until he is left with only a beak full of little feathers.

Bess has learned to get as high as she can so he doesn't see her...she hangs out on the back of the rocking chair, happy as she can be, cause she's out of sight & out of mating range.  But Jasper has also taken a liking to her since she is small so when he can find her he tries to romanic her as well as Porgie.  I don't think he understands that Porgie is a male yet.

My newest kitten 'Macy' is still learning that if the dish full of food is meant for the chickens she can't have it.  I love to watch Bess chase her clear across the room.  Macy has also gotten her head pecked for sticking her nose into the chickens dish but still she tries.  I am just waiting for Gertie to tell her off, that I am sure will have a big impression on her little kitty brain.

My kids in the basement coop are holding up pretty well with this cold weather.  I put in another red het lamp for them when it got to -27 here a few days ago.  Yes they are well protected by the brick walls but since the walls get so cold I wanted them to be comfortable.  Pippi La'Roo seems to be keeping them all in line & with the extra warm food all 4 hens are laying eggs daily.

I also set up another red heat lamp in the big coop even though there are 11 chickens in there.  I hate having them stay in the coop 24 hours a day but they do not like the snow or cold.  They are down to 1-3 eggs a day but thats understandable since they are mainly hanging out on the roosting bars & sleeping. 

I do know next year I am setting up a different heat system instead of all the lamps.  There is a new heat bar system that doesn't overheat & sends out better radiated heat throughout the coop.  With all the heat lamps its stays about 45 degrees in there even when below zero but I worry about a chicken flying up & hitting one of the lamps & breaking it.  Then you know they will be on the floor trying to eat the red glass pieces. 

I will do lots of research on the new system before I buy it because I want something safe.  The basement coop will get this system also since they also have lots of heat lamps that can get broken if they decide to fly up & hit one.

The herbal recipe I put in the last blog article I made up & gave them for 3 days.  Not because any were sick but being 'cooped' up I felt this would be good for them & not hurt them in any way.  I love the fact you can still eat the eggs....which I did not notice any 'earth' taste to them at all.  I even gave some of it to Jasper since I knew if the chickens could have it that it would probably be good for the duck as well.

With it being so cold here, I have gotten a lot of sewing done plus am dreaming/thinking of what to plant in my garden this coming spring. Since I will be here by myself this year I have decided to do most of the garden for the chickens/duck  I will plant at least one tomato plant since I adore fresh tomatoes.  But I think it will be a lettuce, herb garden for the 'kids'.  I am also hoping to plant another small apple tree in my beginning little orchard.

This year a privacy fence will be going up so that I can free range the chickens in certain areas of the back yard plus keep all the free running neighborhood dogs out of my yard.  Right now I have 5 dogs (not mine) who think my yard is their bathroom & I am tired of cleaning up their mess that their owners won't/don't take care of.  I look forward to the fencing because I can freely walk around barefooted again plus not have my nosy neighbor watching my every move...lol

Well until next time have a great chicken day!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Another year older but not sure wiser (definitely crazier)

Ok, so that's a lie, I 'think' I am wiser...anyway I hope so for my sake!

In less than 2 days I will be 52, not a terrible age by all means, but it sure makes me wonder how I made it this far....Let me restate that as I don't know how my husband made it this far with me. See, I am 10 years older than my dear husband, which isn't a bad thing, but it sure makes me wonder what his parents were thinking when they raised him.

As I get older I see more of my son in him everyday...maybe its cause I am finally paying attention. When I was a child, nice days meant Mom kicked you outside & you stayed out until you were either bleeding or it was supper time. and if the bleeding could be stopped with a band-aid you went right back outside. Now my husband spent his childhood either stuck to a TV or a computer. If he did go outside he took his comic books with him so he could read them. This man now has 38 boxes of comic books in his 'game' room....Each box holds at least 350 comics...I kid you not...and are they ever looked at...that's a no, because they are covered in plastic so each is protected. They take up more room any anything I have because they have to be in the boxes at all times.

As a child I was allowed to watch Captain Kangaroo before school & Batman after if I wanted to stay in for a bit. We would watch TV with our parents after supper such as Red Skelton, Dean Martin show ect but Thomas watched TV whenever he was home & I am sure not everything he watched was great or good for him.

I also grew up with lots of chores, such as wiping the table, dusting, sweeping the floor & hanging up my clothes, as I got older the chores changed to doing the dishes, moping floors, cleaning the bathroom & so on. I think Thomas never really did a chore in his younger life or if he did he forgot that his coat needs to be hung up, trash doesn't go on the floor by his chair but in the trashcan & if the animals need water he has to do it since they can't reach the sink to do it themselves & I don't want the dogs, cats & chickens drinking out of the toilet or the duck using the toilet as a swimming pool.

Now I can't blame this all on him, but it sure makes me wonder what his mother was thinking as she raised him. Yes, I do remember that the 'boys' got it easier than the girls in some ways since they were boys & a lot of the chores were considered 'women's work'. But the older I get, the more I wonder how we women let this happen. I had my son at 3 yrs old stirring the bowls of batter, picking up & putting away his toys, hanging up his coat or wet towel because for one...I didn't want to have to do it. Two, I felt he needed to be responsible & not depend on a woman to do it for him.

I must admit for heavy labor, he comes in handy now that I am older & can't do some of the things I used to do. I don't mind hauling in wood for the wood stove, but he bought a axe so heavy I can't lift it over my head to cut the wood. Right now we have about 2 foot of snow that hit us in about 24 hours. If its a flat area I can shovel but with at least 2 bad disc in my lower back anything uphill or stairs sends me to bed with the heating pad.

Thomas is very smart & I do adore him when he realizes I am in the house but I don't get this attitude about life & the ways he lives it at times...maybe it is because I have always done everything so it gets done but now with the age I am starting to see just how different we are. Our goals & dreams don't even match up anymore...lol....Oh well I am thankful that he is around as I age since I know in time the burdens of everyday things will fall more on his shoulders & hopefully I won't have to put him in the doghouse....OK just kidding there.

Now, on to my love...chickens

I just lost another girl, Scarlette this last week to possibly intestinal blockage. she had a extended tummy area & her poo was white & yellow. I checked for a egg blockage, which she didn't have but her tummy was hard as a rock at times even though she ate & drank well. I am not shy when it comes to having to put my fingers inside them to see if there is something blocking them. Thomas holds them & with a oiled finger I go in slowly as not to hurt them. they hate it but if you do it very slow they calm down & let you feel around in there.

Unfortunately nothing I did helped her & she got so bad, I put her down with Chloroform. 

I had done research on the web & through my chicken magazines & actually was able to find a 'sick' chicken herbal mixture that helps boost their system when they get stressed or feeling slightly abnormal.  So since I am always trying to find better ways to take care of my chickens I thought going herbal or natural with some of the things I do for them would be a blessing....I hate using medicines or chemicals that can harm them in the long run.  anyway I thought I would share this with you.  It also helps to boost their immune systems & won't hurt any of the birds that are not sick.. 
*****You need to remember this recipe is per bird so when you mix it up you need to times it by the number of birds you have. So if you are creating this for 10 birds you need to measure out all the ingredients 10 times.

1 cup of water
1/2 cup of oatmeal  (corn can be used in the cold months instead of the oatmeal)
1/2 teaspoon of Echinacea powder
1/2 teaspoon of Astragalus root powder
1/2 teaspoon of Golden seal or Oregon Grape powder
1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon of plain yogurt, Kefir or Pro biotic powder

Now if you have the herbs in bloom form or the Astragalus root is chopped you will need to grind them into powder for this.

Cook the oatmeal in the water until it thickens,  The corn you will want to cook until soften some.  Let cool to warm off the stove & then add the herbs, apple cider & stir really well, once mixed stir in the yogurt, kefir or pro biotic powder  If it is too stiff add more hot water til you get a nice mash that isn't runny.  It is recommended you do this for one meal per day for 3 days then skip a day & do it again for the 3 days.  The rest of the days feeding is normal chicken feed or whatever you give them.

The nice thing about this is you can still eat the eggs during this time though they may have a bit of a earthy taste but they are not dangerous.  I recommend using those eggs in baking or something where they are not eaten by themselves.

I want to give credit to Laura Haggarty who published this in the Backyard Poultry magazine.

I got my herb order in yesterday & plan to make this up this morning for my Chickens since they have been hiding out in the coops.  I think they all need a boost since they are in close quarters & not getting out in the fresh air.  Plus if any are feeling a bit under the weather I know this will be good for them.  My inside girls are doing well but I think even they might benefit from this, especially my crippled girl Willow.

If you have any comments or would like to see something on my Blog please contact me...until next time have a great chicken day

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Trying some new flours & baking

My little sis, who is actually taller than me is dating a man who can't have gluten.  Well being a country girl raised on flour I didn't understand this, so had to dive into some research.  I decided for a yule gift to give her a big lot of gluten free items as well as a gift certificate so she could get some of the stuff she wanted to bake. I came across coconut flour & tapioca flour that seemed really interesting to try...  thank goodness I am in a really great Co-op & able to get both at a better price than in the stores. 

I will tell you right now if you have never tried or used coconut flour, you have missed out on something wonderful.  It really doesn't have the coconut taste but the smell alone is heavonly.  It is expensive, about $5 a pound but you don't use it like you do with flour.  Instead of cups of traditional flour in a bread you use less than a cup so it balances out in the price...for me anyway.

It also has a high amount of protein...20% so added with the eggs in the recipe you are creating a very high protein item, which I really like.

I really was surprised by all the wonderful recipes I was able to find, that didn't require weird ingredients that I didn't have. Plus the good thing for me is that I can't make tradional bread very well.....I tend to over knead bread like its a lump of clay & its so hard the birds can't even peck any crumbs off of it.  These recipes didn't need any kneading, just mix them up & dump them in the bread pans!  In a half an hours time I was able to mix up & get in the oven: one coconut bread loaf, one coconut pumpkin bread loaf & a batch of coconut muffins.

Now the tapioca flour also called white yam flour or casava flour ran $1.60 pound.  I have read that if you don't have Tapioca flour you can make your own grinding the tapoica pearls. I have yet to use it but am excited to see how it turns out & tastes.  I ate casava while I was in West Africa, its like a very dry starchy potato that is used there.  The casava chips (Fries) were great & I ate a lot of that while I was out in the markets there.  Anyway I already know that it will have a blander taste & smell but think that some of the Jamaican recipes will be fun to try with it.

So I thought I woulld share some of the recipes I found & tried with the Coconut flour.

basic coconut bread-1 small loaf

3/4 cup of Coconut flour
1/2 cup of melted butter (can use melted coconut oil)
6 eggs (or 3 extra large eggs)
2 tablespoons of honey
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Mix all but flour together, then beat in flour.  place in greased bread pan & let set 5 minutes to thicken.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

This bread was great but very flat...only about an inch high so I recommend doubling the recipe for a larger loaf & leaving it in the oven a bit longer checking it often until done.

Honey Muffins- makes 6 small or 3 large muffins
I love this recipe & plan to use it often

3 eggs
2 tablespoons of melted butter ( or melted coconut oil)
2 tablespoons of milk
3 tablespoons of honey
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I used orange extract instead...good taste)
1/4 cup of coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
*** can also add 1/3 cup of nuts, raisins ect (I added raisins to mine)

Mix all but flour together & beat in flour.  Pour into greased muffin tin & bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
These lasted maybe 10 minutes after I got them out of the oven so next time I will double the batch!

Coconut pumpkin (or zucchini) bread- 1 loaf

3/4 cup of pumpkin (or zucchini)
8 eggs (or 4 extra large eggs)
1/2 cup of melted butter ( or melted coconut oil)
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
3/4 cup of coconut flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of chopped nuts or raisins

Mix all but flour together then beat in flour.  Put in greased bread pan, smooth the top & let set 5 minutes to thicken then bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes

this is a good thick bread with lots of flavor...will definitely be making this one again.

I think you have noticed the amount of eggs used for these.....it is said on the recipe website that the eggs give the extra protein & weight to the breads.  thank goodness I have my hens & lots of eggs to work with.

This coming week I am planning on doing some more of the pumpkin bread since I froze quite a few quarts of it this fall. What I don't use in the recipes I give to the chickens in their morning wet fed.  That is one of the reasons I froze so much pumpkin, the chickens sure enjoy it.

Since it is cold here my chickens have pretty much stayed in their coops & napped.  I did have to put down one of my older girls today.  She was brought in a few days ago because she was very slow moving & just not right.  Well she had lost a lot of weight but her belly area was swollen & hard.  I checked her to make sure it wasn't a stuck egg, which it wasn't but she had something inside her that didn't feel right...possibly a tumor that was growing.  though she was eating & drinking she was in a bad way so tonight i put her down with cloriform.....she went very quickly thank goodness.  I hate doing that but I hate it more when they are fighting & straining while dying.  It breaks my heart to see them in pain.  they say a chicken cn live up to 15 years but I am not sure I will ever see that happen.  I would love to have my 'kids' that long but they are so fragile & it takes very little to hurt them or make them sick.

For now though all the other chickens seem to be doing well so I am thankful for that.

I hope that you can use the recipes I have put in this time.  I would like to as time goes on add more recipes, especially some of the old-time recipes I use for food, medicine & first aid.
I so enjoy being able to create & use the things my ancesters used.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New year has begun

Now I am not one to do the whole big New Years thing of promising to be a better person, diet, be more organized & so on.  Why?  Cause I know that I am not going to do anything I said I was, that's why! 

It's not because I am lazy or anything I just find that making these sort of promises always come back to bit me.  Years ago I vowed to lose weight, even bought a stupid scale & weighed everything....Gained 5 pounds!  Scale, book & all went into the trash.  Decided to quit smoking, well that went over well...the stress of it made me smoke more! 

Somethings I was able to do like save money, which I do anyway so that was an easy one to do.  Now I can't save a lot of money, but I do it so I have to work hard to get to it.  I opened a ING account years ago & ever so often if I have a bit in the checking account I know I won't miss I send it in.  Easy yes, but getting it out means getting on the computer with all the account numbers, codes & so on, make it hard when you forget where you put the codes... which I did when we moved here 3 years ago.  Thank goodness after years of hunting I found the codes now that we need the car fixed to pass inspection at the end of January!

Somethings I find stupid to promise, as being more helpful to family & friends....I try to do that already.....being more patient....trying to do that anyway,,,though lordy some days its hard to hold the tongue!

I have noticed that age has mellowed me more than I ever thought possible.  I used to be very high strung, blew up at the littlest thing & put a lot of stress on myself.  Now its like it all flies over my head.  No money, no problem, I learned to stock up on items when I have the money so we never go without good food.  No heat, wear more sweaters & warm socks, no electricity, out come the oil lamps & go to bed early.  It all seems so simply now whereas when I was younger I thought the world was ending.

I am thankful that when we do have the electricity off from a storm that we have a propane stove so that I can cook on it or the wood stove. Though we could do fine without either since I am well stocked with canned foods....may be eating them cold but Hey its food & that's all that matters.....plus I have no problems drinking cold coffee!

Thomas has been out of work since the beginning of April, thank goodness for unemployment & the Army Reserves we can scrap by until he goes to Afganistan in Feb/March.  Its been a challenge at times but for me its actually been good.  I have always been one who can ride the tough times, figuring out what needs to be done & what can be put aside until later.  For me the tough times are the good times cause I prove that I can make it through it & be a better person when its over.  I also take on as much of it as I can so my husband doesn't have to worry about what is going on.  Yes I leave him in the dark about a lot of things because he can't fix or change it so why make him worry over something that is out of his hands.

I am trying to prepare myself for another year without Thomas, the last time he was gone 15 months (Iraq) & I dealt with everything fairly well.  Yes, I had my moments when I was  tired of dealing with things, but after a good night of sleep I was fine the next day.  This time I know that I will do fine with whatever comes my way while he is gone.  Plus I have animals that need my attention & care & that will always get me through the hard times.  I am not one to do the "What ifs".  It is what it is & I try to handle it with the least amount of stress as I can.

The weather up here in Massachusetts has been weird, today its in the low 40's & for January that is very odd.  My chickens have been hanging out in the coop since the snow on Dec 26th & are starting to act sluggish.  Today the run has very little snow so I was able to get them all out & everyone one of them was in slow motion.  Its like they are super tired plus they haven't been eating much for some reason.  I guess if you are sleeping most of the time you are not eating.  So I took out 2 cans of Veg-all, lettuce & fed mixed with vits & ground sunflower seeds for them.  They weren't too interested in the fed, but when I brought out the Veg-all, thy dove into it so, I guess they needed the vegetables. I was also able to finally get the kids in the basement coop to go outside in their run today....I had to hand carry them out but they finally are outside & getting some fresh air.  I even heard Pippi La'Roo out there crowing so I know he is at least still hanging out there.

I hope that all that read this have a wonderful peaceful & loving 2011 & that each of you have all that you need & want for the coming year.