Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Fall Hatching Season has Arrived!!

My girls are finally starting to lay at a decent pace again. They are averaging a half dozen a day with some days getting as many as 11! This passed Tuesday, September 25th, I put my first batch of hatching eggs for the fall season in the incubator.

20120930-132249.jpg These eggs came from the juvenile/lockdown pen which is currently occupied by one big Black Copper Marans rooster; 2 Black Copper Marans, 2 Golden Cuckoo Marans, 1 White Cochin, 1 Buff Cochin, 1 Light Brahma, 1 Silver Lakenvelder, and 2 Easter Egger Hens. It’s hard to tell but the top row in the Brinsea tray are all EE eggs, the pic washes the color out a bit but they are definitely all green tinted. In the second row the middle two are definitely BCM eggs, I believe the far right is a GCM and the remaining three are anybody’s guess.

20120930-134450.jpg These six eggs were collected over the last 4 days and were added to the incubator today.

20120930-134656.jpg I’m pretty sure this batch has two BCM’s (3rd & 6th) and four GCM’s. I’m really looking forward to seeing the outcome of the GCM x BCM eggs. Heather on her blog, Scratchcradle, had a very interesting series on chicken genetics and in response to a question I asked on this post Heather speculated that I should get sex-linked chicks. The cockerels should come out with a white white spot on their heads!

20120930-141829.jpg If all goes according to plan I will be putting the first batch in to lockdown October 12th and should have babies by the 16th. Batch 2 will be locking down October 17th and should hatch the 21st. Those dates should work out just right to open up room in the incubator for a batch of Basque hatching eggs I’ve been promised will arrive in mid October!

googlebec50072b948063f-1.html

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

Steam Triumphs over Modern Technology!!!!!

A couple of weeks ago I read a blog post about boiling fresh eggs, I have hunted diligently for that post so I could link to it here but ain’t had no luck. Anyone that has chickens has run into the age-old issue of cooking hard-boiled eggs, FRESH eggs just wont peel after being boiled! It is frustrating. irritating, and ultimately enlightening. I don’t understand all of the science and ain’t got the motivation to look it up, but suffice it to say that if you leave your FRESH eggs in the fridge uncovered for 3-4 weeks they will boil up and peel fairly well. The older they are the better, what does that say about store bought eggs?!!!!! They are all labeled “farm fresh” but they sure peel good even straight from the store!

google-site-verification: googlebec50072b948063f.html

I had read all sorts of sure-fire process’ that are guaranteed to make your FRESH eggs peel reliably after cooking. In the past I had tried most of the ones using traditional egg in boiling water techniques, lots of salt, baking soda, vinegar, starting with cold water and rapidly chilling when done, cracking the shell once the water came to a boil to name some of the most popular. None worked reliably for me. Recently I had read that steaming your eggs worked like a charm so today I decided to find out. Additionally my wife had bought some funky device called “Eggies” for boiling eggs outside of the shells, she insisted I try them so I ran a head to head test to compare the methods.

The Software: 11 FRESH eggs (less than a week old)

The Hardware: Karen’s “Eggies” kit on the Left and a Pot, Colander, and Lid on the right.

For the Steaming method I put the colander in the pot and put enough water in to leave about a 1/2″ of space between the water and the bottom of the colander. The pot was put on the stove and brought to a full boil, then I placed seven eggs in the colander, placed the lid on, and set the timer for 15 minutes. When the timer went off only 1 had cracked egg. I separated them and left 3 to cool on the counter while the other 4 went into ice water.

Next I proceeded to set up the Eggies, What a pain in the ASS! After thoroughly reading the instructions, I cleaned the cups, lubed them, assembled them, then carefully cracked an egg into each of the 4 cups. They were then sealed, placed in the pot which was filled with warm water and put on the stove. When the water came to a boil I reduced the heat to a gentle boil and set the timer for 15 minutes as suggested by the chart on the back of the instructions. All went well which then led into the peeling and evaluation phase.

These are the steamed eggs after peeling. The shells slipped right off of the warm and chilled eggs alike.Above are the eggies after boiling, cooling, and opening. As you can see I broke the yolk on one of the eggs while filling the cups, that was my fault, I had forgotten how tough the membrane in duck eggs can be!Based on the results I would have to admit that both steaming and Eggies create a hard “boiled” egg that peels easily. But if you take into account the effort put into each method along with the aesthetics of the finished product Steaming wins hands down! The original recipe I read for steaming eggs said to steam them for 20 minutes but then I read several posts on the forums at Backyardchickens.com that claimed excessive cracking at that length of time and recommended cutting the time in half. More posts reported slight undercooking at the 10 minute mark, I like HARD boiled eggs with no iridescence left in the yolk but no green ring either, so I settled on 15 minutes and got perfectly cooked eggs with only one cracked.

I highly encourage all of my fellow backyard chicken owners to give steaming eggs a try and start enjoying easy to peel hard boiled eggs again!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Blechy

My Sweety Karen has been on a top secret mission helping train some kind of birds for the last week, it involves getting up early (6:30 is early?) and being gone for a couple hours. Alexa helped her yesterday but I still haven’t been granted Top Secret Clearance, maybe next week she says. Anyway what’s this got to do with me? well it meant that I had to get my butt outta bed to load some seed in the truck for a delivery Karen had to make after todays secret mission. Not bein the type who goes back to bed very readily after getting moving I decided to have a cup of coffee and read a bit. Just yesterday the Library received my interlibrary loan request for The Monster War by Dave Duncan an omnibus book incorporating three previously published novels from Duncan’s The King’s Blades series that my local library didn’t have. Duncan’s books are great reads, not a lot of meat, but fast paced character driven plots with plenty of twists across the series to keep you interested. The book started off great but I wasn’t doing to well staying focused.

Pat over at growsoeasyorganic.com had replied to my post “What to do”, where I was whining about lack of motivation with a referral to her similar post “Fall Garden Clean Up”. She expressed some of the same sentiments but instead of just whining created a common sense approach to getting stuff done. Those ideas kept spinning in my head and interrupting my reading to the point that Cammie and I got up and headed up to the homestead to get some work done.

The focus of our plan was cleaning up the chicken run. So much mulch and other debris had been washed into the run during the flood 3 weeks ago that combined with this past weeks rain I had one blechy mess. Cammie’s project was seeking out possible escape routes from the newly fenced backyard. Michone, my sons Husky puppy, keeps finding weakness’s in the security system so the services of an expert were deemed necessary. As you can probably tell from her picture when it comes to “pointing” out things Cammie is truly an expert.

My little Honda Tiller made short work of breaking up the compacted mulch, soil, chicken crap, and straw. It also did an excellent job of mixing all of those components so that they should cook up really nice in the compost bins. Tied into the chicken run cleanup was the duck pond mucking out job. The process was that I would run the tiller over an approximately 4 square foot area, shovel all of the loosened stuff into a bin with my flat nosed shovel, then wet it all down with pond water. When the pond got low enough I scooped all of the blechy gunk out of the bottom and spread it evenly in both bins. In no time at all I had two full compost bins and a spic and span area in my chicken run! Then it was breakfast time for all the Chickens and Ducks. As I was bringing in their rice Cammie found a weakness in the backyard fencing, before I knew what had happened she was in the chicken run grabbing up a red hen in order to tell me she had a red alert situation over in the backyard! She had found a 6″ gap under one of the gates that Tommy thought was secure, not for an expert like Cammie! She made it through it without a scratch.

The next project was going to be relocating the “lockdown” pen. It sets in the shade and had never really dried out from the flood 3 weeks ago. That along with the rain earlier this week and the overflow from the watering system has combined to make the area not just blechy but smelly and slimy to boot. First thing upon arriving I had propped open the door and let all of the chickens in lockdown out to mingle with the general population. The purpose of the chickens in the lockdown pen had been to isolate my 2 BCM, 3 EE, and 3 GCM hens with one of my BCM roosters so that I could get some hatching eggs for my incubator that would give me more dark brown and olive egg laying hens. Today was going to be my first day of a week of egg collecting out of that pen, wouldn’t you know it I caught one of the supposed EE hens fighting with another Rooster! Guess who’s going to the SantaRia priest! Turns out Tommy, who I was counting on to help move the pen, wasn’t at the Gym he had already gone into work. Oh well that gives me something to do next week.

Cammie and I had stopped by Star Nursery and bought some fall plants, Mustard Greens, Napa Cabbage, and Cauliflower. To make room for these I focused on clearing out one of three 4’x4′ raised beds. Tuesday I had cleared one bed and replanted it with broccoli and collard greens, all it had in it was buckwheat, soybeans and wheat so I chopped and dropped the existing plants then planted the new ones through the newly created mulch. Todays bed had zucchini and squash in it which made me think of Pat’s caution about overwintering pests in her fall clean up post, so I cut all of the plants off at ground level and through them in the chicken run. Leaving the roots in place should help build structure in the soil of my bed and the chickens will gobble up any pests or eggs hiding out on the plants.

All in all Cammie and I had a productive morning up at The Fruity Chicken orchard and fowl ranch. Now I can go back to my book and Cammie can take a well earned nap.

I think she’s braggin about how good that red hen’s tail tasted!

Tagged , , ,

What to do?

Humidity is dropping, temperature is moderating, and sadly motivation is waning bit. Shoulda got up and got a load of mulch but didn’t, coulda headed up bright and early to clear out vegetation but just veged. I did make it up to the homestead kinda later in the afternoon and found 10 eggs, woo-hoo. Yeah it’s kinda like that but it won’t last, motivation is right around the corner. I can feel it bearing down on me like……….well I don’t know like what, but it’s comin! Mother Nature took another swing at the Orchard/Chicken Ranch but thanks to my sweety Karen & daughter in law to be Shanda it was a swing and a miss. They braved raging flood waters (4″of rain in an hour) to clean out the grate on the storm drain and narrowly diverted a repeat of the Great Flood of 012! I still have a soggy stinky mess in the chicken run though, primarily in the juvenile pen so my goal tomorrow is to relocate it. The chickens have done a great job of turning the compost piles and I need to get all of that mess back in to the bins.

I need that compost to amend the back-fill for the raised beds/boxes I am going to create for the replacement trees in the orchard. It would be nice to get those made, hung and filled so that I can put some winter crops in them to condition the soil before planting new trees next February. By hung I mean that the plan is to build 3’x3′ boxes out of 2″x6″‘s then hang them from 3’ T type fence posts on each corner so that I drastically reduce the relative slope of the orchard. The hanging boxes which will probably end up about 6″ above the existing ground in the lowest area then be filled with amended soil and surrounded with a heavy layer of mulch. Will this plan work? Hell if I know but it sure aughta.

Did I mention I got a 22 lb watermelon out of all that mess of vegetation? I’m pretty sure there’s at least on more in there along with some punkins and zucchini. So really it’s not a matter of “What to do” it’s more a matter of getting my butt up and doin it! Tomorrow, yeah tomorrow.

Tagged , , , ,

Life’s a Beach

Last Wednesday Karen and I escaped Vegas for an excursion to Southern California. As usual neither one of us is ever able to totally escape from the day to day grind but we sure tried. Running her own business, Gotbirds?, Karen has to take every opportunity she can to pick up supplies, we took the truck this time in order to deliver a bunkbed for our niece and nephew so we stopped at Magnolia Bird Farm. Frank and all the rest of the staff there are fantastic people and always treat Karen like she treats all of her customers. 600 pounds of seed, 3 pair of cinnamon zebra finches, and 2 pair of button quail later we were back on the road.I’m not sure if Arwen’s reaction was for us or the bunk beds but it was certainly great to see her, Grady and finally get to meet our newest niece, 3 month old Tess:We did manage to fit in a little beach time:Timber Bamboo also found a spot in our agenda thanks to Karen’s single minded focus. She knew I was looking for some to screen my orchard/chicken ranch from the street, but when we found it outrageously priced at a wholesale nursery in Oceanside I was ready to call it quits. Not Karen though, she somehow conned the guy helping us to call one of his “sources”. We ended up at Bamboo HQ in Vista. What a great place! I am so blessed to be married to Karen, she truly does not let anything stop her when she’s on a mission. They not only had the Oldhami Bamboo I was looking for but also a beautiful Jacaranda Tree that Karen had been trying to find for her sister.Saturday on the way to ride the train the kids helped me find a Mulberry tree at a nursery in Escondido. All in all we had a great extended weekend and came back with desperately needed supplies for Karen’s business along with plants for my Orchard/Chicken Ranch project.The Mulberry Tree replaced the very first one I planted this past spring that didn’t make it. This time I added more compost in a bigger area and also raised the planting a bit so as not to let it get wet feet.The bamboo went in slightly behind the pomegranates to provide screening during the winter. Once the Mulberries, Bamboo, and Pomegranates get established I plan on removing the evil, nasty oleanders that flank the gates and currently provide the bulk of the screening from the street.

Tagged , ,

Plans, we all need Plans

This weekend my Sweety, Karen, the Princess, Alexa, and I went to Tonopah  to watch our oldest son Michael’s team play football. Growing up Mikey always planned to coach football, he truly loves the game for the games sake meaning that it isn’t about the “celebrity” players for him. I am not a sports fan in any way, shape or form but I enjoy watching a game with Mikey because he understands every little thing that is going on and loves to talk about it without pontificating.

Pyramid Lake High School hired Michael 2 years ago as a Social Studies Teacher/Head Football Coach. The first two seasons were rough, a big goose egg in the W column. He had told me he had a 5 year plan to build a program at a school that had never embraced football, him and his boys are in year 3 and things are starting to come together a little bit. The first season Mikey was a maniac on the field, throwing clip boards and stomping his hat. It was interesting sitting in the stands listening to the parents talk about that crazy white boys antics on the field, but they liked how respectful their sons were required to be. This year he finally found an assistant coach to be the drama queen and Mikey is growing into the Head Coach role, being the calm in the storm but always ready with the steady encouragement or the swift kick in the ass. I think he is finally getting it that if you scream all the time everyone gets used to it and just tunes you out. His boys are 2-0 this year, are they going to go undefeated? probably not, but they, Mikey included, have turned a corner because of the strong foundation that was forged in those tortuous first 2 seasons.Mikey was even calm enough to ask his niece, Alexa, to be water girl and put up with her antics the whole game.OK maybe not the whole game, Lexi did spend a little bit of time in the stands helping Karen pick on me. Karen has been encouraging Lexi to help her with the birds and loving the fact that they have found an interest they can share.Sometimes though I think Lexi is planning how she can use the birds in a Lady GaGa style dance performance. This post has been way off topic, could you guess that my main focus right now is how proud I am of my eldest son? He is developing into quite a man. Getting away and putting the mess in my little plot out of my mind for a bit was nice.

That doesn’t mean ideas aren’t swirling around, straw bale gardens popped in to the old noggin for a bit but luckily that idea slipped out my left ear during a highly unusual afternoon nap Sunday. The focus is going to be on refining the narrow raised beds between the rows of trees and raising the lower end of the orchard. Both of those projects are going to require fill so right now my labor efforts are zeroed in on compost manufacturing. This weekend Karen and I are going to Escondido to hang out with Arwen, Grady, and Tess. Tess is my newest niece and isn’t in this picture, I haven’t got to meet her yet and am very excited about that. While in Escondido Karen has promised to find me a couple more Mulberry trees and maybe some more Comfrey. Knowing Karen she wont be able to resist taking the kids to the feed store which means baby chicks! Woo-Hoo! Isn’t it great how plans are always being formulated, coming together, and coming to fruition?

Tagged , ,
The Idiot Baker

(mis)adventures in the kitchen

Home on the Hill

A permaculture garden

The WordPress.com Blog

Chicks and Fruits in Las Vegas

Comfy Posy

Who knew, right?

Old World Garden Farms

Gardening, Cooking & DIY Living

kalegrower

Get Dirty!

Bygone Basics

Preserving our heritage, because we CAN

Emily's Vegetable Patch

Backyard Hobby Farmer

Suburbutopia

Life on the mini-farm, with just us, the neighbors, and the zoning code.

I hope this works....

If you don't experiment, you don't learn.

Full Hearts Farm

Growing the things we love!

The Angry Dwarf Dairy

Urban or Rural? Yes, please!

Shoreline Cluster Poets

building a creative atmosphere for writers on the Connecticut shore & beyond

:: in a mirror dimly ::

An imperfect and sometimes sarcastic perspective on following Jesus by author Ed Cyzewski.

Heritage and trail cooking

Just another WordPress.com site

1840 Farm

Living and Writing at the Intersection of Family, Food, and Farming