Double Tragedy at the Chicken Shelter!

6/20/16 – 6/27/16 | Headlines of the week:

Lots happened this week! Monday morning, after the chickens had been in the shelter for 3 nights, I found one dead bird outside the shelter with its insides strewn around and a leg ripped off, and another dead bird in the shelter with a missing leg. I’ll spare you pictures… anyway, I’ve read that raccoons that will pull birds out under the shelter or through the chicken wire (which is why I took these precautions, but they still weren’t enough!), and they will typically just take what they will eat. Possums kill just out of spite, it seems, and rip the birds open, like mine. But possums don’t necessarily have the grip to be able to pull a bird under the shelter. So! I don’t know if I had a possum or a coon attack.

Fast forward four nights, and you’d be in the middle of a huge rainstorm that dumped 2.9 inches on us in a few hours. Chickens aren’t smart, especially when they’re sleepy… and my chickens have a habit of sleeping in their trough feeder. So after that rain I was greeted with two dead chickens in their feeder – they’d either drowned or gotten too cold and died as a result. Two other chickens were soaked and nearly dead, with super low body temperatures.

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I brought them into the garage, set them on a heating pad and under a heat lamp, and tried to give them some warm milk (which they didn’t swallow at first). Then I waited.

First they started breathing more regularly, and then they would sit up and swallow water when I dipped their beaks in. After they drank, they ate. And after four hours they were acting like normal chickens again!

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Now for some happier news! I’m experimenting with growing potatoes this year, and I dug around a few of my plants and pulled out some treasure!

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Also this week I’ve been harvesting and drying herbs to (Lord willing!) sell at the market next year.

And then I made a Youtube video about my morning chicken chores and/or moving the chicken shelter! It was super fun to make, but you’ll have to excuse the fact that I didn’t talk, except a word or two to the chickens. Enjoy the sounds of nature. ūüėČ

Then I made hay! Or rather, my dad cut it and I raked, transported, and spread it on my garden as mulch. Mama helped too, which was awesome.

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Side note: I’ve gotta get my own pickup truck soon…

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I got almost the entire garden mulched with a thick layer of hay! By the end I was (just a bit…) worn out, filthy (sweat + dust + bits of hay), and happy.

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Make it a wonderful week, friends! Think about where your food came from. Did it come from a farmer who cares about its quality and about you? Or has it never touched a farmer’s hand?

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How to Assemble a Bell-Matic Poultry Waterer

I’m actually really proud of myself. Not only did I turn¬†this¬†into a functional waterer for my chickens…

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But I also made a Youtube video showing you how to do it too! Crazy, I know.

I bought a¬†Bell-Matic Waterer¬†from Cornerstone Farm¬†to use in my chicken shelter (which will be in operation in¬†1-2 weeks!). The waterer didn’t come with instructions so I consulted Google and Youtube and was surprised by the lack of information on this particular waterer. There seemed to be more info on the Plasson Bell Waterer, which uses the same concept as the Bell-Matic but is different in assembly. I did find minimal instructions here (scroll to find “product specs” and download the product instructions), and with that and lots of fiddling (wherin I got water all over the laundry room floor…) I was able to figure out how to get it working correctly!

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What is a Broadfork, and How Do you Use One?

I’ve had the opportunity to try out a broadfork recently, and here are a few things I learned:

  • They actually work in hard, clay soil
  • They¬†do not get rid of weeds, but they loosen up the soil around the roots so they’re easier to pull
  • They’re pretty fun, and once you get a rhythm going you can cover ground at a good pace

Check out my video to see how a broadfork works and for a demonstration of using it in two different soil conditions.

It seems that a broadfork would work very well in conjunction with a layer of mulch (which would eliminate the weeds) and loosen the soil enough for planting. This is something I’d like to try in the future! That would mean planning ahead enough to get a thick layer of mulch laid down this fall and also getting a broadfork of my own. We shall see!

Dandelion Greens with Toasted Garlic and Almonds

Dandelion | Taraxacum officinale | Best known as a weed although it holds medicinal properties and value as (free) (nutritious) food. All parts (leaves, root, stem, and flower) can be eaten. The leaves contain lots of vitamins A and K, phosphorus, calcium, fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, and flavonoids.

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Wild Garlic | Allium vineale | These taste and smell more like onions than garlic. The whole plant can be eaten, and  it can be found all over North America growing as a weed.

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This dish looks pretty fancy and it smells absolutely wonderful. But it’s basically free if you forage for the greens and wild garlic and use leftover bacon grease*! Now that’s my kind of cooking.

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Dandelion Greens With Toasted Garlic and Almonds

Serves 2

  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens
  • 4-6 wild garlic bulbs (or green onions) including 1-2 inches of the green stem if you’d like
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 T. bacon grease (or olive oil)
  • Small handful of toasted, sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt

(You should check out that video – I made it) Start a medium pot of water boiling. Coarsely chop dandelion greens and add to boiling water. Stir occasionally until they turn bright green (30 seconds – 1 minute). Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and press with a towel to remove excess water. At this point your greens will look like they went through the washer and dryer – limp and shrunken. Never fear! They’ll look more¬†appetizing¬†once you get them in the skillet. But really, what does it matter if they taste amazing?

Heat your cooking fat in a medium skillet. Finely chop wild garlic and garlic.¬†It’s not super garlicky, I promise. The wild garlic tastes more like onion than garlic.¬†Cook in skillet until they begin to brown, stirring occasionally (30 seconds – 2 minutes). Add dandelion greens and stir for 30 seconds. Add almonds and salt and serve warm.

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*I only recommend saving and using bacon grease if your bacon is high quality. That is, if it doesn’t have antibiotics, steroids, or additives and preferably was pasture-raised. The reason for this is that pork fat is where toxins are stored, so if your pig was raised in a toxic environment you would be eating those toxins. If, however, your pig was raised correctly¬†in a healthy environment…¬†that bacon grease is a (amazing tasting, mind you) great source of animal fat for cooking and you don’t have to worry about toxins. So there is a real reason people shy away from bacon and the resulting fat – but it’s because of the quality of the bacon, not bacon in general. So get yourself some high quality bacon and enjoy it! (Good) Bacon is good for you!!