Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
It's been a while since I've had a hen die and I'd forgotten how hard it can be. The other morning my son went out to feed the chickens and get them fresh water when I heard him say, "Mom, this is really strange, come look." My stomach immediately got a knot in it because even though it's been a long time since a chicken has died, I am constantly scared it will happen again. So I went out and found Marshmallow lying in a heap inside the coop. Her head was completely curled underneath her and she was as still as a rock. You can see her at the bottom of this image.
I don't know what killed her. Maybe a raccoon reached through and held onto her until she died of a heart attack or perhaps she was sick - I wish I knew. They've been molting which I know can be hard on the little gals but our other hen Cracker seems fine. Since I only had two hens and am left with just one I don't now what I'll do know but I am leaning towards letting Cracker go to a friend's coop and just going without chickens over the winter. We'll see.
4-5 pounds leeks(clean them well!)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
5 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 3/4 pounds red potatoes(about 5 medium) - peeled and cut into 3/4 inch dice
salt & ground pepper
1. Cut off the roots and tough dark green portions of the leeks, leaving the white portions and about 3 inches of the light green portion. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise and chop into 1-inch pieces.
2. Heat the butter in a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium low heat until foaming. Stir in the leeks, increase the heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender but not mushy, 15-20 minutes; do not brown the leeks. Sprinkle the flour over the leeks and stir to coat evenly. Cook until the flour dissolves, about 2 minutes.
3. Increase the heat to high; whisking constantly, gradually add the broth. Add the bay leaf and potatoes, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender and the flavors meld, 10-15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. (The soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a day or two. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)
This made a good amount of soup so it was able to warm us up for a few days. I also added a sprinkle of cheese on top.
What's in season? Potatoes & Leeks
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Here's some information I found on another site about molting:
Molting is the shedding and renewal of feathers and occurs about once a year. The order in which the different sections of the bird lose their feathers is fairly defined: head, neck, body, wings and tail. Molting is a difficult time for birds, since it involves hormonal fluctuations and increased energy requirements. Eliminate stress during this time: keep temperature in a narrow range (70-80o F), provide a high quality diet, and each day mist the birds with a fine spray or provide a pan for bathing. It takes about seven weeks for new feathers to complete their growth cycle. Domesticated chickens bred for high egg production have a definite molting pattern. A natural molt does not normally occur until the end of an extended, intensive laying period. Chickens that have been laying heavily for one year or longer molt easily in the fall since this is the natural molting season. If they finish their intensive year in the spring, they do not molt easily and may wait until the fall. A chicken loses feathers from various sections of its body in a definite pattern. The order is: head; neck; feather tracks of the breast, thighs and back; wing and tail feathers. Some birds molt more slowly than others; some molt earlier. A good high producing flock tends to molt late and rapidly. Decreasing day-length is the normal trigger for molting. Therefore, lighting programs for egg production flocks should provide either constant or increasing day-length. Stresses caused by temporary feed or water shortage, disease, cold temperatures, or sudden changes in the lighting program can cause a partial or premature molt.
*Did you know that when you have questions about your chickens you can go to this great forum and people will start posting replies almost immediately? I have used it for many reasons asking things like, "What breed do you think this pullet is?" to "Can chickens get fleas?" It's been a great resource. You should check it out!
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Peel and core, cut into slices or rings one-eighth to one-quarter inch thick. Peelings may be left on, however they tend to toughen during dehydration.
Fruits that are to be dehydrated are pretreated to prevent discoloration by oxidation, to keep a fresher color, to have a more pliable texture, and to help retain vitamin A and C.
Each of the following pretreatments perform a useful part of the dehydrating process and each has merit. Personal preference should be your guide.
Dissolve 2 teaspoons of sodium bisulfite in one quart of water and add cut fruit. Slices of fruit should be soaked for no more than 10 minutes. Drain and dehydrate. (CAUTION: Sodium Bisulfite can affect anyone with asthma, allergies or other respiratory problems.)
Dissolve one tablespoon of pure crystalline ascorbic acid in one quart of cold water. Add cut fruit and soak for a few minutes; remove with a slotted spoon; drain well and dehydrate.
Use one cup lemon juice to one quart water. Soak the fruit for no more than ten minutes. Drain and dehydrate. (Lemon juice is only one-sixth as effective as ascorbic acid.)
This method takes 3-4 hot days (98-100 degrees F). Be sure to cover fruit with screen or cheese cloth to keep away insects. Bring in or cover at night to keep moisture from collecting. To "pasteurize" sun dried fruit in order to prevent contamination from insects, freeze for 28-72 hours.
This is generally the fastest method. The temperature should be no higher than 140 degrees, leave the door ajar; place a fan so it blows across the opening and carries the moisture away.
Dehydrator Method. The temperature should be 150 degrees for 2-3 hours, then reduce to 130 degrees until dry.
Fruit is dry when it is soft and pliable with no moist area in the center when cut.
Beef & Sausage Pot Pie (You can also use chicken)
2 cans Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken (10.5 oz)
1/4 cup Water
1 pound ground beef
1 pound sausage (or use 1-2 pounds diced chicken)
1-2 scallions or very small onions (optional)
Options for veggies
Spinach (diced really small)
Or anything else that sounds good to you
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix 4 servings worth of Bisquick with 1/4 less cup water than the recipe calls for. (You could also use your favorite biscuit recipe instead. Buttermilk biscuits are also really good.
Brown meat that you are using (Beef & Sausage or Chicken). If you like onions and 1-2 scallions or small onions. Mix meat with Cream of mushroom or chicken.
When adding veggies, things like green beans, lima beans, carrots, and potatoes need to be precooked. Cook them until they are almost as soft as you would normally eat them. If you cook them until they are "done," they will be mush by the time you cook the whole pot pie. Mix veggies with meat mixture and put in the bottom of a pan or dish. Mix Topping and spread evenly over filling.
Cook for about 45 minutes (or until top is golden brown)
Hint* Most times I will only put on half the topping, cook it until that is done, and then add another layer of topping. This makes a thick crust and ensures that it is not still gooey in the middle.