Friday, January 22, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, December 14, 2009
Now that I've told you what my garden used to look like, let me tell you what the chickens used to enjoy... running free. They are still free-range. It's just that their range is smaller than it used to be.
Here is what they used to have...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
A lot of you comment about the rich color of our egg yolks. DJan, believe it or not, your store-bought eggs started out like these. Yeah, a long time ago! That's the problem. The cooked eggs I'm showing you are usually around a week old. The ones you get in the store? Who knows. Eggs, properly handled, do keep a very long time! But, like anything else, over time they loose nutritional value and taste. That's the big difference. It takes time to go from the nest to the grocery shelf. So, for the same reason we seek out fresh veggies from the farm markets, you should be buying your eggs fresh from the farm.
Most of the comments we get about our eggs are about the taste and the colors. You've seen in previous posts how the brown eggs range from almost white to deep brown, some even almost mauve! Then there are the green ones... some mint green, some sage, some olive, some aqua. They look lovely on a tray. Not only do they vary greatly in color, they also vary in size.
I've posted pics of the extremes, from the tiny egg I had for lunch to the one that had to hurt! Aside from those, our eggs range from small to jumbo. We don't separate our eggs by size the way you find them in the stores, so when we box them up, we try to mix the sizes so that each cartoon contains about the same amount. We do, however, try to keep out the small eggs and the jumbos. Customers really don't want the small ones. When they open the carton, they want to see big eggs. That's fine with us... the small ones are our favorites!
We've discovered that the ratio of white to yolk is not the same for the smaller eggs. The yolk is a much bigger percentage in the small eggs! When I had a friend tell me she prefers more white, I was astounded! I thought everyone like the yolks the best! Is there anything tastier than egg yolk sopped up with rye bread?
And the jumbos? Well, most of them are double-yolk, and well... you know. Lots of yolk! Actually, we wouldn't mind putting them in the cartons to sell, too. Problem is, the lids won't shut! Yeah, jumbo eggs take a larger sized carton, so we set those aside for our own use.
We've just learned there is a down-side to fresh eggs (...aside from the cost, the filth, the work, etc.) You can't boil them! I don't eat a lot of boiled eggs, so if Mr J or FIL have boiled any of our fresh eggs before, I don't know how they turned out. Last week Mr J decided he wanted some hard-boiled eggs. After the determined time had passed, we cooled the eggs down. I always remove the shell before putting them in the fridge, so I thought I'd be sweet and remove the shells from Mr J's eggs. OMG! What a mess! The shells wouldn't come off. They stuck and pulled chunks of egg off with them.
We found out what went wrong from the resident chef at the Bengal Barn. Something about the membrane not yet being detached from the shell. An egg must age two to three weeks to allow air to enter and the membrane to detach. Otherwise, you'll never get the shell off without practically destroying the egg! So did ya ever think an egg could be too fresh?
Now Mr J has two dozen eggs set aside for Thanksgiving. He wants some hard-boiled and some deviled eggs for the big dinner. I've decided to split the hard-boiled eggs and lay them out on a tray like deviled eggs to show off their beautiful innards! I'm thinking about using the double yolks for the hard-boiled. Yum!
I mentioned proper handling... Egg shells are porous and chickens poop alot. These two facts combined spell trouble. It is important to clean any poop off the eggs before storing them, but you have to be cautious in how you clean them. If you scrub the eggs wrong, you can actually push the contaminates (nicer word than poop) through the shell! You can't soak the eggs in water, nor can you let them sit to dry. The water will soak into the egg. I won't share all the details. If you have chickens and want to know, just ask me...
Here's a cute tidbit to tie up this post... If you feed your chickens garlic or onion, you can get flavored eggs!
Now, don't you feel eggstremely eggducated?
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
We plan on donating some to our city's food pantry, and we'll sell the rest. Hubby says that will pay for the cost of having them. Yeah, right. Did I mention our hen house has vinyl flooring? Sure, we bought it from the remnant rack, but it wasn't cheap! We did use recycled wood for most of the house, and the shingles came from everyone's left overs. (The roof is patchwork.) We used free telephone poles for the foundation. The door and windows are all free recycled goods, but the siding is purchased, as well as the floor and roof joists.
On top of the building costs, you'd be surprised how much it cost to feed a bunch of birds! They need laying feed, scratch, grit, special things to put it all in. Don't forget the electricity for the heat lamps while they were young. Oh yeah, the fence... I think you get the point. Already we'd have to sell eggs for the rest of our lives to break even!
Just when you think I've covered the expenses... Now we need something to put all those eggs in. People don'[t want to carry them home in Wal-Mart bags. We only have about two-hundred saved, so last night I went online and researched egg cartons. They hatchery we bought the chicks from sell plain cartons for about 3.3 cents per carton cheaper than the printed ones from another supplier. (Would you believe eggcartons.com?) Hubby liked the printed ones. I don't blame him. They do look nice, don't they?
And for just a few bucks difference, why not. So I clicked on eight-hundred and went to my cart to settle it. At about $186 we could have a good supply of cartons. I enter my shipping information and click. Then comes the total... Add another $75 for shipping! OK, so Hubby's going to have to settle for the plain ones that are only 45 miles away! That is, if we can pick them up...
I knew somewhere there was a window to heaven, but I didn't expect it to be a double-hung. This was our sunset last night. Do you see the center bar of the sash?
I guess God wanted to keep out the flies and humidity.
With all the creative bloggers out there showing off their quilts (OK, just Grandma Nina), I thought I'd show off mine. Wish I could take credit for it. My daughter's grandparents made this. They passed away in the 1980's. I've had this in my cedar chest for awhile because it didn't really match my decor. I pulled it out because who cares! It's a work of art. This is it on my queen-sized bed...
It has a unique pattern. They were very serious quilters; they measured their stitches constantly to make sure they weren't spreading apart or cramming them too close. This is the border. (I know - duh!)
Noticed the stitched design in the white area? How about the heart? Here's a close-up... (You might have to enlarge to see the detail. I forgot to correct the exposure before uploading. Stupid camera!)
Every quilt they made was dated upon completion. This one is older than my daughter.
I am so thankful to have this to remember them by. It was such an important part of their lives. They sat together, side-by-side in front of the quilting rack for weeks upon weeks. When the quilt was finally finished, they would put the rack away for a while. Next thing you knew, it was back!
Monday, August 10, 2009
Hubby was pleasantly surprised today when he went to feed the chicks! He wasn't expecting this for another week or so...
You've come a long way, babies!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Do you suppose they are agoraphobiacs? If they were raised outside, would they be afraid to go in? I wonder if there are other animal species that fear the big world.
I remember the first time our goats saw snow... We had five that we raised from babies. They stood packed together in the back door of their shed staring at the white stuff. One of them finally stretched a foot over the threshold. Woah! What the heck is that stuff? You sink in it! It was fun watching them test it over and over until they finally summoned up the courage to brave it. I don't remember now how long it took them to venture out, but chickens, if you're reading this, it was the SAME DAY!
The four laying hens we have were several months old when we got them, so they were already accustomed to the outdoors. They are over a year old now. Hubby says they have to be kept separate from the young ones until the babies get bigger. In an earlier post I mentioned how the house was divided. When the chicks got too big for their small corner, Hubby moved the grown hens to a separate house so the babies could have the whole big house to themselves.
Hubby's first wife's father (now deceased) built bird houses. That's what I'd always been told. Bird houses. Those cute little things you hang from tree branches, right? Nope. We're talking big bird houses! When Hubby got ready to have chickens, they gave him one of the bird houses. That's where the hens live now. It's big enough for probably a dozen hens. He was quite the craftsman. Hubby added the little chick door on the side, the ladder, handles and wheels. It's a mobile home for chickens!
It's hard to believe that, in another three months or so, the fifty new hens will be laying eggs. I guess they can all live together peacefully by then - the young and the old. That will be fifty-four hens laying eggs every day! Does anyone out there have any egg recipes they'd like to share?
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Let me know what you think. BTW, for those that will ask how I did this: I used excel to draw the wood plans, then copy/paste to paint to add the finishing details. I don't need a landscaping program.