Her stomach is bald aka Julie is broody again…

For those of you that have been following along for the past months, you know that last year I had a broody chicken and that I spent A LOT of time talking/writing about her.  This, because it was my first year with chickens, although I have a feeling that I will always talk a lot about chickens, and because I was learning so much from such small animals.  So, what am I getting at?  Last week I noticed that Julie wasn’t coming out in the morning to eat with the other birds, this isn’t out of the ordinary as she is a consistent morning egg layer and breakfast may have been occurring at that same time.  It was after I went to collect eggs and she may a very distinct “chucking” sound when I opened the egg door.  There she was, puffy, wings set wide, legs supporting her from the outer part of her body rather than under her, comb looking white on the tips, it was true she is broody already/again. To make sure, without a doubt, I reached under her and yes folks her stomach is bald…

TIME FOR A PICTURE TIME-OUT TO GET A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT I’M DESCRIBING.

This is Julie a couple months ago, her comb and beard were quite red and she was laying regularly.  The next couple photos compare some comb colors for those of you that may not know exactly what I’m talking about.

jules in january

Julie this winter, she's very proud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was taken when Sanders was just finishing her first molt and she wasn’t laying yet.  As Julie’s broodiness goes on her comb and beard will look like this.

You can see the Julie (left) has a bright red meaty comb and Sanders (right) has a whitish comb that looks dry

The color starts to go from the outside in, it's most noticable on her beard

She's really puffed out to keep her "eggs" warm, wings and legs set wide

Her stomach is bald so it can have the most contact with eggs to keep them warm

It is only March, which in some places means there are cherry blossoms in bloom, daffodils and asparagus coming up, and the weather actually gets above freezing; in Minnesota, March means it is still below freezing out but simply above zero and the sun shines a little more.  It seems crazy that this would be a time of year for her want to hatch eggs, but it takes three weeks for the eggs to hatch and then a minimum of five weeks for all the feathers to come in and the chicks to be pushed away by their mother.  That is about eight weeks, which would make it the middle of May if Julie were actually to hatch anything from the time she first started to brood.  Her biological clock is actually really awesome.

Maybe I’ll lose my mind again and let her hatch some fertilized eggs, until then, she can sit on nothing.  I wonder what she thinks about all day?…

I’ll keep you all posted on how things unfold and I promise this won’t become the “broody chicken blog”

~S

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A year of chickens: Happy Anniversary!

it has been a year and one week since we picked up our small flock of pullets and drove them, tucked safely into two cat carriers, the thirty or so miles home in the dark. we stuffed them into the coop, shut the door and hoped they knew how to get out in the morning.  the next morning i let them out and after a couple hours i checked the egg box and this is what i found:

first egg

our very first egg a year ago

i was so proud of my little pullets.  you can actually see a few of them down below. and since then we have received over 100 dozen eggs, that is over 1200 eggs and so many lessons learned.

so, it is the start of the end of winter not exactly spring, because we still have temps in the twenties and thirties and still snow about once a week, but that being said, the deepest of winter is over and with some of the rain that has come recently the garden under the chickens has started to thaw and they are scratching up some stuff that has been buried under layers of hay and snow and ice. soon we will move the coop to solid ground again and tractor it daily.

~s

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kitchen gadgets- some of my favorites

i love spending time in the kitchen, as much as it disrupts my feminist theories, and there are a few kitchen gadgets that i like to collect. ok, so it’s more like kitchen compulsions.  i know that not everyone shares this same…idiosyncrasy, but it was brought to everyone’s attention a bit ago when some friends were over for drinks and snacks.  a friend asked if she could borrow a whisk and without hesitation i said “of course, what size do you need?”, she started to laugh as did several others as she gestured to a crock containing four whisks.  she asked if those were all necessary and i stated “yes, and so are these” as i pulled out three more smaller whisks.  i then let her know that there is a giant whisk in the basement for larger jobs, you know, mixing dirt or clay for throwing pots, or homebrewing stuff.  they are all very important.

i might add that, i’m sure i could get by in my life without so many whisks, but it wouldn’t be as fun.  i then, took a look around at some of the “things” in the kitchen, that may seem excessive, but actually get regular use.  here are some of the collections that exist in our kitchen.

functional whisks

functional whisks

they are different sizes and although, a couple look the same, they are differently weighted handles for whisking different consistency batters or frosting.

two of them are actually for the immersion blender, but i often use them by themselves for small jobs.

i didn’t included this next one in the original picture because it is so small it     might not have shown up very well.

tiny whisk

my tiny whisk

 

this is my tiny whisk, i love it, it is so handy for little things that need a quick whipping.  it’s great for spice mixes or other dry ingredients.  it is also good for one egg.

 

in our house we drink alot of coffee, even more now that there are four of us that partake in the deliciousness. before i divulge just how many coffee makers we have, i will say that last year we got rid of an electric espresso maker and  steamer all in one because we didn’t use it all the time. so, here goes… we have five coffee makers. there are three press pots of different sizes and two stove top espresso makers, that function in two different ways.

coffee makers

the route to caffeine

once upon a time there were two of the mini press pots, i think our last roommate may moved it into her new apartment.  the far left espresso maker has no handle- making it difficult to pour, but man oh man, does it make a delicious cup of coffee.  the large press pots both get used on a daily basis, the largest by our couple-roommates and the smaller one by allyson and i because we drink a bit less coffee than they do.  and the tiny one is for the single serving  when everyone else is gone or sometimes for tea.

and how do we grind all the locally roasted beans that we have?  well, there are a collection of grinders that i have.  i wasn’t able to locate one of them, i think it might be in the studio or hidden in the cupboard because it is sometimes used for non-coffee things.  these are the three that are used weekly.  allyson wanted me to mention that she like to use the biggest one to grind her grains when brewing a batch of beer, it works well because you can adjust the grind on it and it has a large catch drawer.

grinders

the everyday grinders

i’m sure there are few other things that are collected in excess in our kitchen like graters or food processors, but we all have our things… like pint glasses…

enjoy!

~s

 

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what’s up in our kitchen

yesterday, i did something that i have never done before: i roasted a duck.  it was a bit daunting, because i had been advised on several ways to get it “just right” and eventually i just kind of combined all the techniques.

i left it for hours at a 300 and then gave it a good browning at 400 until it was just right.  it was amazing; crispy, juicy, delicious.  i made a gravy from the neck (i passed on using the liver, i have an issue with filter organs, and cooking the heart is something that i just can’t do) and some yummy spices, with carrot and onion.  so good… here is a picture of the finished bird.

first duck

the finished duck

and a couple of the gravy in progress.

duck gravy

duck gravy in progress

finished duck gravy

duck gravy

and…if that wasn’t enough, allyson came home and made wontons and a bunch of tempura fried veggies. yum!  she wanted me to take some pictures of the goodness.  there are pics of the wonton filling, the folding process, the veggies and then everything being fried. enjoy!

cream cheese, scallions, lots o' garlic, faux crab

wontons in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wontons and veggies

wontons & veggies ready for frying

 

 

 

 

 

 

and then there was batter, so light and so delicious… remember to keep it really cold.  we set it in a bowl of snow because there is plenty of that around.

tempura batter

tempura batter in a bowl of snow

after each piece was fried, it was set on the rack to drain, before going on to paper towel to dry and cool a bit.  our wok has this amazing little rack that sits over the top, lets things drain, but stay warm.

our wok

tempura frying in our awesome wok

everything came out amazing. in all we had cream cheese wontons with scallions, garlic and faux crab, and we battered zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.  this needs to be a regular house dinner with all the roommates.

 

~s

 

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the end of the month, not the end of winter…

happy friday.

this month is the start of thinking about gardens or to at least enjoy looking at seeds and plant catalogs.

i want to start seeds already, to get the ball rolling, so to speak.  it is of course to early here in minnesota. sigh…

i read a couple of blogs from writers on the west coast, the live in seattle, san francisco and oakland.  in seattle the flowers are starting bloom – johnny jump ups are showing their cute faces and crocuses are smiling thru the leaves.  in california it never really gets “cold” and i have to wonder what spring actually looks like in place that never sees frost. so, as they plant asparagus ( i won’t see mine for at least another three months) and start cold hardy seeds, i will continue to shovel feet of snow and hope for days above twenty degrees.

i am keeping my spirits up by planning the garden, but what i want to know from anyone out there: what are your favorite seed/plant catalogs.  my whole foods coop down the street has an amazing selection of seeds, but they don’t have everything.  where does everyone get their starts?

hoping to hear from you…

~s

oh here are the links:

http://growandresist.com/

http://ghosttownfarm.wordpress.com/

http://ittybittyfarminthecity.blogspot.com/

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a new year’s resolution

i started my day by looking out a -20 degree morning, with wind chill, who knows how cold it was.  the lake steamed in the extreme cold…

my new year’s resolution was to write at least once a week, so far i am working on making that happen, but i am staying optimistic.

since i last dropped a line, my life was consumed by tomatoes in the month of october.  we canned, i made sauce and paste. all delicious.  i took some pictures of it all, i must find those…

we had house guests off and on as several friends moved to oregon and needed a place to crash as they packed up and said their good-byes.  november was all about adjusting to a smaller social circle and trying figure out how to host stitch-n-bitch, our own knitting group that a friend who moved to guatemala used to host.  it grew cold and i couldn’t bring myself to do much outside, other dream of spring.  december snowed and i finally harvested the brusell sprouts, they were getting buried in the snow.  the chickens are adjusting to the cold weather; after an october molt one of them – sanders – finally grew all her feathers back, just in time for this “cold snap” and is laying again.  allyson put a heated water dish in the coop along with a light and a heat lamp. i have increased their calories by feeding them more grain from the brewery i work at and also by feeding them beef fat.  the beef fat is a bit gross and i never thought that i would EVER find myself at the butcher shop ordering “a pound of beef fat please; fresh, not frozen”. we change and we grow.

i recently celebrated a birthday, the dirty thirty- to distract me from the pressures that come with the big three zero, allyson threw me a roll your own sushi party.  so sweet of her and so delicious, i took some pics, but they are not that great so i don’t know if they will ever see this blog.  but the big news for this birthday is…. that i received a ceramic blade knife.  it so amazing, it totally kicks the ass of all the other knives in the house.  i got turned on the idea of them after watching christina pirello on christina cooks on pbs (www.christinacooks.com) anyway, it rocks and i love it.

i will be loading so many pictures this month of what has or has not happened in the last months.  see you more often.

~s

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Roll your own…


Sarah’s birthday was last week and after discussing how she wanted to celebrate we decided on roll your own sushi. Instead of asking our friends to drop a bunch of money going out to eat we asked them over stone soup style. We provided the base (rice, nori, tempura batter, sauces, book and a bit know how) and I assigned each guest a few ingredients to bring. I tried to keep everyone in the $5 to $10 range.
I loved this party! I think everyone had a great time… Lots of smiling and laughter… a bit of saki or plum wine didn’t hurt either.
I also made everyone a set of walnut chop sticks to take home. They are super easy to make and I have a bunch of scrap wood. They are beautiful and I’ll try to do a quick how to post when I make some more.

~A

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Time to start the mission…

All summer I have been looking at the vacant lot behind our house, it has no house on it and in July they removed all the utilities.  Who is “they” you might ask? The county, they “manage” the property for the state who actually owns it because it is a tax forfeit property.  But it sits there, unoccupied and yearning for something new to happen to it.  Today is the day that I cruise on over and take another look, of course after I finish my buckwheat banana bread french toast, to see where my new guerrilla garden should be.  Yes, I am going to embark on a gardeing project like I have never done before.  Fresh food come spring!!

Okay, I realize that this may seem a little like tresassing, but the state doesn’t want to give it to me or even sell it at this point, but I am doing this anyway… And now, (sigh), I have put it all on the internet…

I will be taking pictures and uploading it all, for any followers that we may have to see…  You will get to see the trials and errors of this and also I will also do my best to keep you abreast to my attempts at getting/making the government give up the space in whatever capacity that is…

Ooooh, one last thing, if any of you happen to want to participate in this escapade and are interested in getting dirty in a garden environment and drafting letters to local representatives, email us and you can hop on board.

~S

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the babies have grown…

On a recent trip to Wrenshall, I go there every week to volunteer at Northern Harvest Farm, (http://northernharvestfarm.com/) I stopped to see Kitty and the growing chicks.  There are starting to act like adults and are much larger than when they arrived.

gold star chicks

the babies have grown, you can see that the rooster is starting look like one

Here are a couple pictures of what they will look like when they are older:

gold star hen

this is a gold star hen, she is full grown

here’s one of a few of them, they are all a little different in their brown and white patterns:

gold star hens

a few gold stars running around at kitty's

and here is a picture that I uploaded of a gold star rooster,  the roosters that fathered my chicks have since been butchered because their services were no longer needed – the females were relocate to a farm that already had enough roosters…

gold star rooster

the rooster will looks something like this

Cool bit of info:

Today I learned that Gold Star chickens are a variety of Red Star that are cross breeds called sex-links because when they hatch they are different colors, so that they can be sexed immediately – no guessing, no waiting till they are older…

I officially met one of my neighbors to day: Jen, she is getting chickens sometime soon and she told me about sex-links, I had never really thought about this as a bred into trait, but I guess it makes sense for efficiency sake. I read a bit more about it on Wikipedia… (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_Link) Oh, right I met Jen at Harvest Fest in Duluth- at the Marvelous Melissa booth, where I bought a pair of slippers – it’s always amazing who you’ll meet at these things…

So the links, I should give credit where credit is due:

lssfa.org/HarvestFestivalEnergyfair.html

http://marvelousmelissa.etsy.com/and also at

www.woolywearables.etsy.com

and the location of the rooster image, this is NOT a blog I follow, but I found they had some good images of this particular chicken:

http://providence-acres.blogspot.com/2008/10/chickens-and-fresh-farm-eggs-we-now.html

So another day meeting people in the chicken world- awesome…

~S

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The smelliest part is the fat…

I drove to Wrenshall (and for all of you that don’t know where that is-it’s in MN not far  from Duluth) with a bit of hesitation.  This was going to be a neighborly event and I didn’t think I would know anyone – I would be the greenhorn.  When I arrived at Dragon Fire, Kitty met me in the driveway, all the equipment was set-up and I could see people milling around in front of the studio.  Continue reading

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