When you decide to free range, this is what you get.
A daily Easter Egg hunt.
When you decide to free range, this is what you get.
A daily Easter Egg hunt.
File this one under “don’t even ask.”
This afternoon, my husband Marc and I had our annual office Christmas party. It’s something we always look forward to and as I am the owner of my own free-lance writing business and he is my IT department, we never even have to make a reservation for the two of us.
Each year the two of us have a Yankee Swap, the biggest surprise is who will pull that coveted Number 1 position.
This year it belonged to Marc. He opened the gift I supplied of spicy wine from Chili, cheese in a can (a left-over love from childhood) and some dark chocolate. All things that I knew he would enjoy.
Then it was my time. Half of his Yankee swap gift was a bottle of mead. Nice, but I’m not the mead drinker in the house, Marc is. The other half of the gift was a set of 4 wine glasses in a box. Nothing exciting but still nice – I suppose. (It kind of felt like getting a toaster for Christmas, yeah it’s nice but it ‘ain’t anything to write home about.)
Still, a gift is a gift. I thanked him. Continue reading
Last week I taught part one of my two-part Chicken Owning workshop for our town’s Adult Education program. I always have a lot of fun teaching the class and it’s good to see the continued interest in chickens.
We started with obtaining chicks and I told them about how I recommend that all baby chicks get medicated feed until they are fully feathered (about 5 or 6 weeks.) At that point I suggest that you discontinue all medicated feed and transition them to regular feed, free ranged food, and kitchen scraps. My reasoning for this (besides the fact that I have worked as a clinical microbiologist and I respect the bacteria) is that often baby chicks are around many other baby chicks and there is a high probability of them being exposed to various pathogens. I see giving them the medicated feed as a type of insurance.
“But, we want to raise our chickens organically, is there anything we can do for our chicks that could protect them naturally, without medication?” one of my workshop attendees asked me. Continue reading
When you write about chickens and eggs (and children and parenting and Lyme disease and books) people tend to send you things to take a look at and/or review.
Recently I was sent the cookbook Put an egg on it by Lara Ferroni. Laura loves eggs the way I loved raw carrots as a child, it wasn’t a good day unless my mother had a peeled carrot waiting for me when I got off the school bus and likewise Ferroni is not happy without her eggs.
Ferroni, a self-described egg addict and food writer/photographer from Portand, Oregon and who regularly contributes to Epicurious.com, Portland Monthly, edibleSEATTLE, and Seattle magazine writes:
It never fails. When I look at a menu, my eyes magically zoom to any dish where an egg appears. You might, if you listen closely, even hear a little “oooo” escape my lips. (OK, maybe you don’t have to listen that closely.)
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like a good egg dish but this lady LOVES her some eggs and because of this love she has created a cookbook filled with gorgeous photos (that one would be tempted to call true food porn) and “70 delicious dishes that deserve a sunny topping.” Continue reading
This past weekend, our town put on a Business Expo where area groups and businesses got an opportunity to let people know about their services – table after table of what was going on in our town. I worked at the library table and Marc was there for the historical society. Not only is the Business Expo informative, (and very social, *everyone* from town was there) but it’s always a lot of fun and, quite frankly, it’s *the* family event to attend because EVERYONE gives out candy.
Seriously it ranks second only to Halloween night. My kids, who (even in their teens) have restricted access to candy, went crazy squirreling away the treats in pockets that they hoped I didn’t know about.
One of my reader (Hi Sunita)’s daughter had set up a henna tattoo booth at the event. She’s saving up money for a computer (hey, a kid who is working for what she wants, props to her) by doing henna tattoos on people’s hands.
Henna is a plant that when dried and crushed can be made into a paint-like substance that will stain the skin. The paint is put into what looks like a tiny pastry frosting bag and the artist “draws” on you by squeezing out a steady, tiny flow from the bag. The paint comes out thick and almost black and you leave it on your skin until it hardens and flakes off on its own. When it does this, it leaves behind a “stain” where it had been. Continue reading
Last week Marc and I took the day off to celebrate our anniversary. We went out to lunch and then we puttered around quaint Peterborough New Hampshire, visiting some of its antique stores. In one store just as we were starting to leave I noticed something high up on a shelf.
Is that? No, is it?
I walked over and pulled down one of the greatest egg cartons I have ever seen.
The eggs are from Old Hickory Smokehouse which also encourages you to “try our Smoked Bacon, Ham Turkey.” The eggs are supposedly “Farm fresh eggs from Palmer Mass.” Continue reading
It’s been a long, cold winter but with the spring sun we are finally seeing an increase in our flock’s egg production. During the summer, we can get up to 24 eggs a day, however with the very cold temps, lots of snow, and far too much dampness we’ve had around here, this winter we were getting about 5 eggs a week. If that.
I know that we weren’t alone. Many of my chicken friends were noticing the same things in their flocks. Egg production is supposed to decrease during the dark months but this was ridiculous.
Just what am I going to do with 5 eggs when my son the gymnastic uses that many as a “snack” when he gets home from practice?
And I sure as heck, wasn’t going to buy store eggs after preaching to my chicken workshop students (and to readers of this blog) about their evils with regard to nutrition. Continue reading
This past Christmas, a very good friend of mine (hi Gina)gave me a most incredible gift for Christmas. Be careful of the bag, she told me. It’s fragile.
I’m not one to open gifts early and so I waited and on Christmas morning, I discovered that she had given me some of the most incredible, artful, and beautiful eggs I had ever seen.
The first egg is called a Victorian Lace Egg made by Beth Ann Magnuson at The Feathered Nest (http://www.bishophill.com/featherednest.php) To create this egg, she employed a high tech, high speed drill. The tool makes it possible to cut eggshells into intricate designs reminiscent of exquisite antique Victorian lace. Patterns are drawn and cut by hand. Each shell is a unique natural wonder, each is a are delicate work of art.
And I’d have to agree. Who knew that such beauty could arise from a simple egg? Continue reading
Look what we recently found in our hen house!
The brown egg is from a standard layer, the white is from a bantam, and that little green marble is actually a new egg. It’s from a juvenile who is just starting to lay eggs (around these parts, tiny eggs are that are called “fart eggs.”) It’s perfectly normal, except that we’ve never had olive colored eggs before. (Going to have to dig up my edition of “Green Eggs and Ham.”)
The only culprits we can come up with are the Guinea hens (which have both proven to be females, thank God.) I got the Guineas as young juveniles in the late summer/early fall so the timing is just about right. From what I gather Guinea eggs are typically brown, but the color depends on the breed. I got my hens from a chicken swap and don’t know if they are pure-bred or are a mix, and if they are a mix, then olive eggs would be more than probable.
Guinea eggs are typically smaller than hen eggs (although not this small) and the rule of thumb is to use two Guinea eggs in place of one chicken egg. Some people swear by the flavor and insist that they are tastier than their chicken sisters’ counterparts. And speaking of tasty, although we are not going to eat our birds, by all accounts, Guineas have meat that is compared to Pheasant – I’m assuming that that means it’s a bit flavored and probably needs to be cooked longer.
On that point, however, I shall never know for certain.
Guineas also tend to lay eggs in a hidden corner or under a bush, as opposed to using a nesting box. If they free range, good luck finding their eggs. Not the smartest of birds, they nest on the ground and will lay up to 20 eggs in a clutch making things very easy for predators to snack on the eggs. Once the eggs hatch (if they hatch) Guineas are notorious for abandoning the nest – resulting in a very high mortality rate for the chicks.
Bottom line is that if you want to breed Guinea hens, you’ll have to secure them in a confined space or hatch the eggs by incubator.
None of this matters though I got the Guinea hens to help with tick control next summer. My plan was to keep them in the coop over the winter (thus ensuring they know it is “home”) with the intent that if they got away from the coop (we free range the birds during warm days) they would know where to return in the evening.
And if they do fly off to the woods, I’ll make sure they have access to food so they will stay local and still, hopefully, manage our ticks from a distance.