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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.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The love of Weeds! Dandelion bread recipe

           Einstein looking to see where CeeCee the Roo is before coming outside

Good afternoon to all my chicken friends!  This last week had been a rainy one, but one that we have needed to make up for the small amount of snow we got.  Yesterday I actually saw the sun late in the afternoon for a bit, nice to see Mr Sun since the grumpy old clouds have been blocking him lately.

I have to tell you I love weeds, my yard right now has tons of dandelion flowers blooming & it reminds me of when I was small picking them for my mother.  For me any weed that can be used is a blessing to have.  Yeah I know there are those out there that want the 'perfect' lawn but for me finding usable weeds makes my day.  I have dandelions, plantain, lambsquarters & purslane that all get used either by me or for my chickens.

When I was growing up in Oregon we had a neighbor on our Experimental Station named Virgil who was a big 'back to nature' guy & taught me how to find, cook & eat purslane, then a very old farm woman in Missouri taught me the wonders of lambsquarters, plantain I learned through reading wild plant books or of course dandelions I seemed to always know about.  I know Mother said the small leaves were good to cook & eat.

I love that all of them can be used for the chickens & be a healthy green for them.  I do use a commercial chicken feed but as you all know I tend to hunt for other healthy things to give them.  Since I could not get much lambsquarters are natural weeds up here in my yard I ordered seeds from a company in Canada who carried them as well as the golden purslane 4 years ago to start in my garden.

I let them go crazy in the areas where the garden paths would be instead of trying to weed all the time...too hard on this old back!  I pick the lambsquarters when they are small leaved for us to eat then when they get too big & tough I put it up by its roots & give it to the chickens.  By the end of the day all is left is the stock & the roots.  I do allow some to go to seed so there will be plenty for the next year before I pull them all up.  The purslane I have not had alot of as of yet...they are kind of picky...they want crappy soil so I have found they do well in my tires where I plant the small cantaloupes. So I have yet to get a big crop of them but keep hoping.

OK the reason I am writing about all of this is I found a cool bread recipe 2 days ago that deals with the blooming dandelion flowers.  I have always used the leaves & dried the roots but never knew anything to do with the flowering tops....the chickens play with the flower heads but never really eat them well now I have something to do with them...

So since I like to share here is the recipe for you if you would like to try it:

Dandelion Quick bread  Makes 1 loaf

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of dandelion blooms (yellow flower petals only) washed & lightly towel dried
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup honey
2 beaten eggs
2 2/3 cup milk

Mix all together & place in a lightly greased bread pan.

Bake 400 degrees 20-25 minutes

So my dream is that all of you will get out in the yard & grab those wonderful flower heads & create a cool bread/s for your family.

For those of you that have purslane, you use the whole pant except for the roots, you can either blanch it for about 3 minutes & then freeze or steam it & eat it like spinach.  The lambsquarters you pick the small leaves, wash them & do the same, steam them & eat like spinach.

Now just bewared, lambsquarter has a furry underside on its leaves so if you eat a lot of them you will get what feels like a fuzzy tongue for a bit...but for me its well worth it.  I love to cook them &  add a small bit of fresh garlic & real butter then when in the bowl toss them with a bit of sea salt & pepper.

So friends get out there & have fun with your weeds!

Have a wonderful Chicken day...M'




Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Feeling like Spring Cleaning


Good day to all my favorite blog friends!  Spring was in the air here for a bit but now we are getting tons of cool weather & now the rains have come again...but we need the rain since we had very little snow up here this year.  Makes me sad though that I have to wait to get out in the yard again....daffodils are up & a few things like the lilac bushes are sprouting & starting to bloom but the veggie garden will have to wait til I get back from my trip to Hawaii in a few weeks.

Things have been a bit crazy...ok like that is ad-normal around here!  We accidentally ran out of propane for our stove & hot water heater last week & when I called in to have it refilled they didn't tell me I needed to shut off the in-house valves..plus they weren't coming out until Monday (4 days) to refill it....yeah you see where this is going...well I had decided to rearrange the living room & mop the dirty floors the day after the phone call.  I sat down to rest a bit & feel asleep for 9 hours only to have my kitty Monk head butting me & jumping on me.  Well I kept trying to get him to stop so I could go back to sleep. finally I woke up to a killer headache, dizzy & a bloody nose.  That's when I realized I could smell the gas up in the living room.  Our kitchen is one floor down so it was pretty strong to be one floor up.  Thank goodness the in-house injured chickens weren't dead & I opened all the doors, windows & fans to get the smell out plus shut off all the valves to the stove & water heater.

I am so happy my little boy didn't give up on waking me up when he did.  Hubby was out & didn't return home until an hour after I got up & was able to clear the house of the gas but I tell you what a scare for me....not so much about me but the idea I cold have killed my chickens made me sick to my stomach.  I have been watching them the last few days & they are all alright.

Today the propane company came out & checked to make sure there were no gas leaks & we were good to go but I told them I was never told to shut off the in-house valves & that they need to tell people who are like me to do it...I have never had to deal with propane so it never entered my mind that I had to do anything with it if it ran out...Well I will tell you I learned my lesson & am still her to tell you about it.

Another thing I learned is that smoke/carbon detectors don't tell you if there is propane in the house, so will be getting one that I can set  up in the kitchen. Who knew??

Getting a bit of the Spring fever...you know the feeling you get when you need to dust, clean, shake out rugs & sort through things?...Well its hit me, now I am not saying it will stay with me long once the sun & heat come back...I tend to ignore the house when the weather is super nice & the dirt is coming to me.  But for now I am sorta doing the spring cleaning bit here.  I am always surprised about the amount of dust this house has....its like it comes only here on this block to visit....soon I will expect the dust bunnies to come knocking on my door to hang out with the funny little cobwebs that just show up in the oddest places.

I learned to mop floors on my hands & knees & even with my small steam floor cleaner I still like to do this when I can...the knees & back aren't happy about it but it makes me feel like I am really getting the floors clean. Plus there is something therapeutic about it that makes me feel like its a well worth job.

After 4 years of the same living room I also decided to move things around so it has a new look & easier to walk through....now if I can just figure out where to put the small stuff...lol.....

My 'kids' (chickens) are doing really well & I have a few broody ones that I am letting have 2 eggs each to sit on.  I don't really need anymore chickens but if they want to hatch a few I can deal with that plus it is so wonderful to see happy baby chicks running around here.  many of my girls are getting old now..over 4-5 yrs old & don't lay as much so having a few new ones won't hurt any.

As you know if you read my blogs I don't butcher my chickens I just let them hang out & grow old when they quit laying,  I have about 3 to 5 that have pretty much quit laying all together but I am so attached to them that I am happy to say I can just have them here.  Plus these older hens seem to keep the other younger ones in line & are a calming affect on the whole coop.  I do have the young ones that were hatched last July who are still what I consider babies in their behavior & when they get too out of control a older hen steps in.  I have noticed all it takes is a noise from a older hen & the youngin' will calm down...pretty cool if you ask me...kinda like a grandma who just has to look at a kid to stop the behavior...lol

Less than a month & I am off into the wild blue yonder with my bestest Friend to Hawaii, I have everything set up for us & even have been printing out directions ect to the open air markets there...I am not a good driver in unknown areas so am so happy I have a printer now so I can download the maps....but if we get lost we are on an island so its not like we will end up in another state! For some reason every time I am with Anne' I get us lost when I am driving...never tend to do that with others but with her its a given that where ever we go we will have to turn around or ask someone where we need to go.

I think its cause we see each other so little, that we are talking so much, I am not paying attention to the signs & we end up on a adventure.  Thank goodness we always get to where we need to be even if its a few hours past when we thought we would get there.

I don't remember if I told you all I got one of those electric smokers awhile back.  We used to have a traditional one but it rusted out & since I am older now & the memory isn't as good thought this might be a good thing for me to have.  You set the time, temp ect & it does its thing & then shuts off when its all done...how easy is that..no checking it, replacing woodchips or water plus its the size of a college dorm refrigerator so you can load it up with more than one thing...definitely something I like & want since I cook many meals at one time to save time & energy.  anyway I finally pulled out a big deer roast & a small turkey today to thaw so I can try running it tomorrow....we normally do hickory chips but found some apple chips which are suppose to be milder & sweeter for the meats so am excited to see how they make the meats taste.  The nice thing about this cooker is its also set so you can dry foods & steam foods so I get 3 times the amount of things done with it.

Normally this cooker/smoker cost $400 but during the winter I found it on sale for $229 including the shipping so I am hoping I get plenty of use from it in the coming years.  I plan to smoke/steam a bunch of corn on the cob this fall & then cut the corn off the cob & can it up for the colder months if it taste good....will do a small batch first so I don't waste the corn if we don't like it. I also do a lot of canning of pears from my neighbors yard that I would like to dry up this year as well...so wish me luck!  I will let you all know how it goes.

Since I am on vacation until the end of May my gardens will be late going in this year but I mainly only do tomatoes & green beans so I should be alright...I am planning on a few new things to add plus put in the garden for the chickens.  I know it will be something fun for me to try & hopefully the chickens will like all the fresh greens they get.  Yeap they are spoiled!

Well I guess I had best go for now, need a cup of coffee & the living room is calling my name.

Have a great chicken day!......M'