Tag Archives: Thrifty

Project Chickens before the Eggs – Lesson 192 – Chickens and Sex, Sex, Sex!

Got your attention?

Well it was bound to happen. Let’s face it, owning urban chickens is getting to be fairly trendy these days. People want information about these backyard birds they keep hearing about and I’m constantly asked questions like:

  • How expensive is it?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Do the eggs really taste different?

In part because of the economy people are considering raising chickens for thrifty and nutritious food once again. And why not? Many of our parents back in the day did it so it couldn’t be that tough, right?

Well as it turns out, it’s not difficult. Raising chickens is enjoyable, rewarding, and once you are set up – fairly easy. I have no problem sharing our experiences and our chicken knowledge with anyone who is interested.

But with popularity always comes a wee bit of degradation. If you look on Twitter and search for the hashtag #chickens you’ll see scantily clad women tweeting “ How To Do Chicken Farming – free videos here:” with a link going to a video website. There are also links for “How to build a chicken Coop” – also posted by equally attractive and semi-clad women.

Now it is not beyond the realm of possibility that these beautiful women happen to be chicken farmers but I somehow doubt it. Not one of them is wearing pink or any other color cowboy boots. They are instead riding a trend and mixing sex with of all things chickens to drive people to a video website.

I suppose it was bound to happen- attention gathers attention – but who knew chickens would ever become popular enough to ever be paired with a bikini?

One sexy adorable chick.

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Project Chickens before the Eggs – Lesson 120 – Waste not – not even a moldy watermelon

This is what happens when you throw the end bit of watermelon gone bad into the chicken pen:

This used to be a watermelon

They finish every little bite and leave nothing, not a speck or a crumb behind.

Impressive no?

Chickens are amazing eaters. Besides eating every single bug, tick, and worm they can find (for which I and our dogs are very grateful), they’ll eat virtually anything we (literally) throw their way. Think about it, with the kind of production they do (an egg every other day) they need an awful lot of nutrients and calories on a daily basis. Stale bread, mushy vegetables, flowers gone dry in the vase – our backyard chicken pen starts looking much like the garbage pile of which Cynthia Sylvia Stout’s Dad hollers because she won’t take it out: Continue reading

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Project Chickens before the Eggs – Lesson 76 – Chicken parties and broken bones

Last year, as part of a personal challenge, I tried to see if I could hold a children’s birthday party for under 10 dollars. Not only was I able to do it but the kids went to the movies (at the local library) ate cake, candy and ice cream and even did some crafts for a total of $3.19.

This year I wasn’t necessarily trying to come in under 10 dollars but I was still trying to make it thrifty.

Why not use the chickens, I thought? They provide easy free entertainment and a great learning opportunity.

When the party started, I had the kids sit off to the side and we let out the larger birds. I talked about what we do to take care of them and about the different types of eggs we get. The piece de la resistance was, of course, the baby chicks that we brought out for the kids to see.

The kids had plastic eggs filled with candy, peeps on their cupcakes, ice cream and a box of chocolate marshmallow eggs to take home. Many thanks go to the half price Easter remains.

The day was bright, sunny, and warm and after the cake the kids decided to play hide and go seek. All was well until someone came running up to me telling me that my daughter Emma was hurt. Continue reading

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Cookbook Review – Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – great stuff here

Jamie, you had me at “lovely charred marks.”

I got Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook this weekend to give it a go, as he would say.

In case you live under a rock, Oliver starts a new reality show this Friday called The Food Revolution where he will attempt to change the eating habits of Huntington WV which had been deemed “the unhealthiest city in America.” The first episode was aired this past Sunday and you can watch it by clicking on this link. Jamie Oliver Episode 1

Anyone who is alive and breathing in the U.S should be watching this show and if you have children, it should be required viewing, Continue reading

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Filed under Food Savings, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, Teaching kids, The Family, The kids

Project Chickens before the Eggs: Lesson 46 – More darn boys have infiltrated the girls club

Our neighbors are going to kill us.

As the perpetual living in denial household that we are, we kept ignoring the facts. Combs were getting larger on two of our birds. Tail feathers were getting longer. Behavior was getting more aggressive.

Voices were starting to squeak less often when exercised.

We can no longer pretend.

Currier is a boy

Currier is a boy

Currier (of Currier and Ives) and Tom (of Tom and Jerry) are boys. We have two more cocks in our henhouse. And babies along with Betty make three.

Can no longer deny that Tom is male

Yup that’s right. We now have three testosterone driven male birds who are loudly competing against each other to see who is the big bird on campus.

Not only do we have three alarm clocks going off at the crack of dawn, but we also have three security alarms going off at all times of the night. This isn’t such a bad thing to have if, say a burglar is prowling about our property but trust me, when it’s a skunk, or a deer, or a stray cat, or even the wind blowing, it gets old fast.

Our neighbors are simply going to kill us. But as the continued living in denial people that we are, we are just going to pretend that nothing is amiss while continuing to supply our neighbors with all the free fresh eggs they can eat.

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Dad’s Third World Hash – who knew?

With everyone home for the holidays you can probably only begin to imagine how much food we have to hunt, gather, and prepare for consumption on a daily basis. Having 6 kids and 2 adults in the house is kind of like preparing a Thanksgiving dinner three times a day, every day – for the rest of your life.

It can become a bit much. Which is what led to Marc’s hash recipe that has quickly become one of our favorite lunches.

Marc sautéed some (lots of) onions in olive oil, then he browned a tube of Jimmy Dean sausage broken up into bits. (apparently the secret ingredient is that it MUST be Jimmy Dean’s) Once the sausage was cooked, it was removed from the pan and frozen hashed brown potatoes were added (the loose kind, not the ones in pre-formed bricks) and cooked until brown and crispy.  

After the potatoes were cooked, they were added to the meat and onions, placed on the table and the dinner bell was rung.

It certainly smelled good enough but when we got to the table and saw what was for lunch, a few of us wrinkled our noses. It was lumpy and white and brown. It didn’t exactly look like something that we would want to eat.

Seriously, does this look appetizing to you?

Um, Marc – it looks like something they would serve in a third world country, I told him.

But as firm believers in waste not, want not and knowing full well that there were indeed people in the third world who were literally dying for a meal like this, we reluctantly tried it.

We had a bowl full.

Then we had another.

Then we all fought for the remains.

Griffin hunkering down with Dad's Thrid World Hash

And with that experience, Dad’s Third World Hash was born. It may not be the prettiest food but it sure is tasty and for very little money, you can apparently feed this entire tribe of ours.

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Simple Thrift Column – Nashua Telegraph – December 15, 2009 – eggs and memories

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Chicken eggs are coming, and more holiday ideas
Wendy Thomas

I haven’t talked about the chickens lately, but I have big news. We are starting to get eggs on a daily basis! The older girls have started laying, and the second younger batch of six should also be laying in the next few weeks. The eggs range from brown to light blue to green – proving that, indeed, there is such a thing as green eggs and ham.

We can positively identify two of the layers. Zelda, true to what her previous owner had told us, tends to lay double-yolked eggs. Her eggs are larger, and we need to avoid them in recipes where another yolk might be a problem. For your information, using a double-yolked egg in brownies may not be the best thing for your cholesterol, but it sure makes them extra “cakey.”

Squishy is the one who lays the brown eggs; this I know because I got a frantic call from my son one day telling me, “Mom, I saw the egg come out of Squishy. She was yelling, and then it just sort of popped out. How does that big thing come out of her like that? No wonder she was squawking.”

When I got home, he hugged me. “Mom,” he said, “do you know that you essentially popped out an egg like that six times? Wow.”

Yes, indeed, we are all still learning from our chickens.

Holiday memories
Here are some more holiday memories when money was tight that will warm your hearts.
n Every year, whether money was tight or not, my children and I made something homemade; even when they were teens, they still wanted to do it. We would buy plain Christmas balls and cover them with glitter, or at the craft stores, you can get little knickknack things and paint them. One year, we made Santas out of felt and walnuts still in the shell. Anyway, my mom and aunts still hang them on their trees each year. My children are now 25 and 29!
– SUSIE TAYLOR, Harpswell, Maine

Last year, I had $49 to my name. (I had savings, of course, but being retired, you never know how far they will go, and that’s for the future, anyway.) My day-to-day expenses left me with $49 until the end of the year. I had a thrifty year, because the economy took away the ability to withdraw from my savings, so it’s good that I ended in the black at all!
As a result, my grandchildren were the only recipients of gifts from me. I asked each one what they would like for a painting for their rooms. Kate chose horses galloping across a field, and Ben chose a soccer player scoring a goal.
– PAULA SUPER, Merrimack

There were many years my mother wouldn’t waste money on gift wrap and instead used the funny papers for wrapping presents. I’ve learned from her – my kids have been receiving gifts from Santa in the same recycled gift bags for years.
– GWEN MIKAILOV, Nashua

The adults in my family have, for a number of years now, decided that we can’t afford to buy presents for each other, and none of us really need anything anyway. (We’re not a well-off family, but we’ve also – knock on wood – been pretty lucky about staying employed and keeping roofs over our heads.)

So, one year we decided to start making gifts for each other rather than buying them. We make the same thing for everyone, so when the family gets together to celebrate Christmas, we all open, for example, my sister’s present at the same time, then my parents’ present, etc. That way, the surprise isn’t ruined for anyone else if one person opened the parents’ present while another opened sister’s. There have been some pretty imaginative and well-made gifts over the years.
The real concept is that a handmade gift is of far more value to us than a store-bought one. Of course, we each think our own handmade gift is the stupidest yet, so we ended up calling these our “Stupid Christmas Crafts.” I’m still working on mine for the year, and, yes, I think mine is the stupidest yet!
– JANE LAW, Concord

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Filed under Simple Thrift Nashua Telegraph column, Simple Thrift Tips

Project Chickens before the Eggs: Lesson 43 – Houston, we have eggs

And just like that we have started getting eggs.

On Thanksgiving (of all days!) we found two eggs. And of course, being the cynical person that I am, I accused the kids of using fake plastic eggs to fool me but no, upon inspection I saw that they were indeed real light green/blue colored chicken eggs. One was even warm. One was found in a nesting box and one was found in the sandy corner of the dog pen.

Our Thanksgiving two eggs

Our Thanksgiving two eggs

The next day we found another in corner of the dog pen. Having read an article about setting up nesting boxes, we went to the Tractor Supply Store (one of the coolest stores in the world if you haven’t been inside) and we purchased two horse buckets. (Horse buckets have a flat side so that they can hang against a wall). Logan chose the black buckets as opposed to the purple ones (“to give them a better sense of privacy”).

Three eggs!

Three eggs!

Marc placed hay in each bucket and we waited. Sure enough, after taking all of the hay out of the buckets and strewing it all over the yard, we found another egg in the sandy corner of the dog pen.

If I had known the chickens would have such a blatant dis-regard for “privacy” I could have saved myself the cost of those two horse buckets.

The next day, we found another egg in the coop, right in the middle of the nesting box. “It’s like it was perfectly placed” Marc told me beaming that his investments were finally showing some (literal) output.

Feeling a bit like the Count, I feel compelled to say "4, we have 4 eggs!"

Feeling a bit like the Count, I feel compelled to say "4, we have 4 eggs!"

And then yesterday, we found yet another egg in the sand. (When the snow comes and the sand is covered, I’m not sure where these girls are going to go).

Just look at those five beauties.

Just look at those five beauties.

So lucky us! After months of hand holding chicks, paying for housing and food, shushing our clandestine rooster, and bringing little Simon back from the dead, we can – without reservation be officially called chicken farmers eggstraordinaire.

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Simple Thrift Column, Nashua Telegraph, December 01,2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Ideas for leftover food
Wendy Thomas
Recently, at a craft fair, one of my daughters fell in love with a snack called “trash.”
The clever crafter was giving out small samples, and with its sweet and salty taste, I could see how this treat could be instantly addictive.
Trash is a satisfyingly sweet snack consisting of popcorn, nuts, pretzels and candies that is covered with the “secret ingredient.”
At $3.95 for a small bag of this yummy snack, I ignored my daughter’s pleadings and instead hit the Internet when I got home to figure out how I could more cost effectively make this.
As it turns out, the recipe couldn’t be any easier. Basically, you melt white chocolate bits or wafers in the microwave and then add whatever “trash” you have lying around the house – cereal, small marshmallows, cookie crumbs – you get the idea. Just make sure that there is enough melted chocolate to give a good, but not heavy, coating to everything.
There are as many variations on this recipe as there are people who are making it. You can use white chocolate and butterscotch morsels. You can add dried fruit. You can add a touch of cinnamon. Basically, you can pretty much do anything you’d like.
When the batch is cooled, store it in zipped plastic bags to be given as hostess gifts, or presents for neighbors and co-workers.
This is one time when one person’s trash truly is another person’s treasure.
The following is a thrifty egg recipe from Gina Rosati, of Merrimack, that will feed many and that uses whatever leftovers you might have lying around. We save our uneaten vegetables in the “soup bucket” in the freezer, and because of this recipe, I just might have to change the name of our container to the “soup/frittata bucket.”
FRITTATA
12 eggs, or 6 eggs and 3 containers of Egg Beaters
1 (16-ounce) package of part skim ricotta
Grated Parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese, about ½-¾ cup
Black pepper, to taste (optional)
Garlic powder, to taste (optional)
Mix all ingredients together, and throw in whatever you want – diced onions, sweet peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, chives, spinach, chopped broccoli, sliced zucchini, mushrooms, grated carrots, artichoke hearts, diced ham, pepperoni, sausage or salami, or anything else that sounds good.
Pour mixture into a greased 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees until edges are golden brown. Cut into squares. Eat warm or cold.

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Filed under Food Savings, Recipes, Simple Thrift Nashua Telegraph column

Simple Thrift – Nashua Telegraph – November 24, 2009 – try bartering

Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Consider bartering during the holidays

Wendy Thomas

Bartering for goods and services has a long standing history in New England. We’ve all grown up reading stories about how the colonists helped each other out by trading products or services. Hey, I’ve got a dozen eggs – I’ll trade the eggs for help with tilling my garden.
These days, bartering is still alive and well. In my case, one way I save money by bartering is that I review books for a Web site. I don’t get paid for the reviews, but I get to keep the books, which then become gifts for friends and family. To me, that’s a pretty good tradeoff. Books are wonderful gifts and ones you can personally recommend are even better.
In another case, I have a friend who has offered to help us pick up the leaves in our yard in exchange for my setting her up an account and getting her going on Craigslist. Living near woods with lots of tall oaks, this is a welcome trade I happily accepted.
This season, think about how you might be able to barter for what you need. Can you provide a meal to someone in exchange for helping you figure out a software program? Can you watch a friend’s child for a few hours in return for help cleaning out a garage? Can your son shovel a driveway in return for some math tutoring?
With so much to be done in all of our lives and with continued limited funds, the time has come to be creative and think about how we can share what we have to help each other along.
More uses for eggs
With the holidays comes company. Here are some tasty recipes that will stretch your dollar as far as it can go by using those incredible, edible eggs. Which, by the way, we still have not gotten any more since that first (and last) one.

CRABMEAT QUICHE
• 2 eggs
• ½ cup mayonnaise
• ½ cup milk
• 8 ounces shredded cheese
• 8 ounces imitation crabmeat, chopped
• Dill weed and chives, to taste
• 1 frozen pie shell (or if you are ambitious, roll a pie shell, or make a crust and place on a pie plate)

Mix together first five ingredients. Pour into pie shell.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving to allow it to set.
Serves 6 as a main dish.
(Recipe from Shannon Barnes, Merrimack)
UP ALL NIGHT COOKIES
• 4 egg whites, room temperature
• 11⁄3 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 12 ounces chocolate chips, about 2 cups

Mix, whip egg whites until stiff. Add sugar and vanilla. Mix.
Add chocolate chips, and stir.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Put in oven, close the door and turn off the oven. No peaking until next morning.
Makes 4 dozen.
(Recipe from Gale Taylor, Merrimack)
Send your money-saving tips and ideas to Wendy Thomas at wendy@simplethrift.com. She also writes at http://www.simplethrift.wordpress.com.

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Filed under Holidays, Recipes, Simple Thrift Nashua Telegraph column, Simple Thrift Tips