Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!

The turkey's in the oven, and our formerly non-existant Thanksgiving is going to at least make a small appearance after all...yay!!

Jack does have to work that evening and sleep the day, but that buys me some time to put the polish on some side dishes now that we ARE having T-Day. My daughter found out at the last minute she is NOT traveling out-of-state, so she'll be joining us...double yay!!

My kitchen is not clean, which means that has to happen before the last mad dash of concoctions get concocted, but since this is a GREATLY scaled down scenario, it'll be turkey, gravy, dressing, cranberry sauce, veggies, beans, winter squash, pecan pie, iced tea (or kombucha) and pumpkin cake. Not too shabby, eh?? In comparison to other Thanksgivings, it's small, and I really like to put on the dog (well, bird anyway) for a whole gang of family and friends when possible, which usually requires planning weeks in advance and cooking days in advance, a regular baking tear...which I love! But this is ok for this year...I'm glad we're able to pull off something :)

It sounds like a crazy way of dealing with the empty nest syndrome, since my daughter moved out last weekend to her own place, but most of her things are still here, and she'll be coming to get them soon. So I've been dealing with it the opposite way I thought I removing her things and cleaning and then making certain areas "mine" again. Weird. This isn't the house she grew up in, nor do we have any extra rooms, so we don't have a guest room...till now. The second bathroom is the one she's been using as her own, and with her things gone, it's naked. Enter my things...and now it looks like a whole new place (sorta). I'm glad we've gotten her nice things through the last few years so she has the basics to set herself up with. There are enough reminders here that I'll never lack for the comfort of a few talismen. But seeing ALL THOSE things that have yet to be packed and moved was making me sadder and sadder. So I consolidated them for easier sorting, and regained a bathroom and a big closet...two things in short supply around here. I also cleaned out all the movies...also difficult! But half our office got sorted in the process...and that clears my head some.

This whole year has been weird, weird, weird.

Taking out some of my own things and putting them where my daughter's used to be is weird, too.

But not bad.

And there are a few bonuses (oh yeah!) in not having anyone else in the house but just us in point, the romance department ('nuff said...woo hoo!) So I think we'll deal with this. I haven't burst into tears today one time, and tomorrow we'll be thoroughly L-Tryptophanned and stuffed, and we'll have a great time together if I can manage not to burn everything.

I'm still on my Horrid Food Bungling streak. This turkey should be interesting!!


HAPPY THANKSGIVING to everyone who sees this...we are SO thankful for what you mean to us!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Craigslist Therapy, LOL

We are laughing our heads off!!

A Pomello is a type of delicious citrus fruit, if you're not aware (I wasn't till a year ago...)

This is a direct cut and paste from the Craigslist ad we just read.

I can't stop laughing... (I've changed nothing but the location) Here it is...

WHO ever you are YOU stole all the fruit off my tree in (location deleted)
i hope you enjoy them as much i i was hoping too.
if you are starving ,stop by and i will give you most of the food in my kitchen .
i have two children and can go to church as they will give us free food.
just think if some red neck seen you stealing on his property you might have gone home with a rear end full a buck shot .
you could have recycled the lead for fishing sinkers.
unless you plan on stealing the fish also <--I'm seriously laughing...
have a good THANKSGIVING
500 dollar reward if they are covvicted for stealing,
200 dollar just to let me know who they are
i can handle it from there <----lololol

Transgenics: The Economics of Putting Mouse in Pig

Another email digest from the OCA in my In Box, and I just have to share...

Ugh. It gets more and more chilling.

Let me back up a second. Tonight we went out shortly before dark to run some errands. There on the side of the highway was a fairly large wild boar, snacking on seedheads or other finds just at the edge of (what's left of) the woods...a big but not fat black boar with a long narrow snout, rooting around for nature's leavings.

I'm not a huge pig fan because pigs don't figure in largely into my sphere. We don't eat them, don't plan to raise them, and I just smile and wish them well when I see them elsewhere. They're not much on my radar. I'm actually ambivalent to them, pretty much, but even so, I would not take one and mess around with its DNA and decide that Pig is better when mixed with Mouse because of some perceived convenience or monetary benefit I might receive. Is this doing new things by breeding for certain characteristics? that's not new...selective breeding animals has been done for millenia. Have at it...breed for a straight tail rather than a crooked, cross-eyed pigs or pigs with spots or with a bigger carcass or pigs that fit in the palm of your hand or have no bristles or that oink at strangers...whatever. But they're still pigs, with their DNA intact.

Not so with the "progress" of the bio-tecchies. Ugh. Why are our governments playing with this stuff, so so cozy with the huge producers and corporations?

Now they are trying to get around the Big Ag dilemmas rather than solving them, by fiddling with DNA. Case in point, putting mouse DNA into hog DNA in order to (now get this, how to say delicately?) to have more environmentally-friendly create an "Enviropig." The FDA will be trying to bring it to you really soon. I kid you not. Here's a quote:

These are Enviropigs, developed by researchers at the University of Guelph to poop out more environmentally friendly waste. The trademarked pigs are just one of dozens of genetically engineered animals at research institutions around the world whose genes have been altered for human benefit. (<-----Robbyn's interjection: What the heck???)And, due to a recent move in the U.S., the Enviropig may be the first to arrive on your dinner plate.

And of course there's no consumer labeling, so we don't get to decide whether we especially WANT mouse DNA in pig meat.

For me, this is hardly a dilemma, since I'm Jewish and eat neither pig nor mouse. But it's a moral dilemma because in my faith, the Bible is very specific that in both the plant and the animal worlds, living things are delineated into things "of their own type." That does not forbid hybridization but it does forbid what creation itself cannot achieve without human forcefulness and mad science, the forcible mixing of unlike things. You just won't see a lion mating with a hyena, or a giraffe with a water buffalo in nature.

I believe there's a good reason for that.

And what business do we have fiddling with ANY living thing so that it fulfills the propaganda of being crafted and edited "for human benefit"??? This is not the same thing as deciding between a pony and a draft horse depending on its best use. It's not the same thing as breeding a dog to hunt or to herd or to retrieve. This is putting part of other animal and plant DNA INSIDE existing DNA from another species altogether to freaking "play God" and it's the ultimate insult to the universe.

(That's my decidedly objective opinion...) ;-)

Aside from what I believe on those scores, I believe what drives this bio-tech frankenscience is the not-so-almighty dollar/yen/euro.

Here's a quote from the article where you can find the detailed report:

Despite ethical concerns, Ronald Stotish, the CEO and president of Aqua Bounty Technologies, based in Waltham, Mass., is confident genetically engineered animals will make the leap from the lab to the farm - and soon.
"It's the way of the future," he says. "This technology has the capability of making beneficial changes in production agriculture."

Let's demystify this quote.

It's like a house For Sale in the classifieds listed as a "cozy handyman special..." there are more to those words than you might bargain for.

"Production agriculture" is Big Ag, and Big Ag is no friend of the consumer, nor even of your mainstream farmers. Big Ag does whatever it takes to force more into less for fewer dollars into the shortest amount of time for the biggest projected return. It's controlled by large corporations whose interest in money overrides concerns about truthful labeling, plant and animal health, humaneness, consumer health and protections, and other consumer interests. Now they're playing nastier by changing the living things themselves...not by hybridizing, which is how their propaganda would suggest nature does things anyway, but rather by forcing different TYPES of living things into creations that cannot even be created by mating...rather the DNA has to be forced into the DNA of something man.

What arrogance. What foolishness and shortsightedness!

Please read the article by Megan Ogilvie of the Toronto Star, and you'll see what I mean.

Genetically modified and engineered animals and plants MUST be labeled, as there has been no adequate long-term testing on humans.
It must be labeled, so that consumers have a choice.
It must be truthfully spoken about...the misinformation campaign on the part of the big corporations is staggering. Things done in the name of "health" and "environmentally-friendly" are NOT being truthful with their advertising campaigns...changing animal DNA to FURTHER industrial large-scale production has NOTHING to do with REAL CHANGE needed to heal the disconnect and bring production back to smaller local producers, which is more environmentally-concious AND healthy.
Do NOT believe that the FDA is the Benevolent Big Daddy who will handle "all those confusing concerns" for a trusting way. Choice and responsibility lie FIRST with the CONSUMER (that's us) and WE should decide what we eat...and should have the benefit of labels not intended to deceive us in that decision-making process.

I INSIST this MUST be OUR one else's.

Here is their contact link if you'd like to add your two cents to others voicing their concerns:

In Canada, please write to Health Canada to voice your strong opposition to the approval of this and other genetically engineered animals. They can be reached at
In the US, let the FDA know how you feel via their contact page or by writing toFood and Drug Administration 5600 Fishers Lane Rockville, Maryland 20857

Monday, November 24, 2008

Life: Sweet and Sour

Sweet: My daughter surprised me with a small blue vase she had seen and thought I'd like...which I did. She bought it for no other reason but that

Sour: She's moved out this weekend, and we're not sure we'll have Thanksgiving this week together

Sweet: Jack has more work this week...HUGE yay!!

Sour: He and I won't have Thanksgiving together, since he'll be working. I'll pack him a bang-up meal, though!

Sweet: The air is springlike here...such wonderful, incredibly beautiful days!

Sour: We're losing a few plants either to the temp changes or to the fact we were over-eager in putting manure on some of them

Sweet: Our neighbor brought us a third trailer load of free manure!!

Sour: Jack's leg is preventing him from doing any work on the hardpan that we're trying to tun into garden beds for spring.

Sweet: Our bills are met as of today

Sour: Tomorrow's bills look bigger due to circumstances

Sweet: I'm feeling healthy, have gotten some outdoor things done, am working on the indoor ones, and am sleeping well at night most of the time

Sour: I'm missing my daughter and for some reason really really missing my family dog we had to give away 4 1/2 years ago. Very strange to feel that at the same time as missing my daughter, but sometimes you just need your dog. I need to GET a dog, but it wouldn't be responsible right now. Not that I'd be entirely responsible if I were the only person in this household, but I have a hubby who reminds me there'll be a right time, and he's right. Doggone it.

Sweet: I've loved looking at the Dogs Available for Rescue sites.

Sour: I'm in love with one of them and can't rescue him. Note to self: Do NOT look at rescue dogs right now...

Sweet: I'm glad my daughter has survived her teen years and is now a young adult. There are so many things I love about her!

Sour: Did I mention I'm missing her?

Sweet: We are well stocked now for most of our dry staple foods.

Sour: Jack was told he can have NO starches or dairy, except yogurt, oatmeal and maybe beans. Most sugars are out, too. NO bread, cornbread, desserts, breaded things, cheese, milk sour cream, etc etc. This is a GOOD thing for his health! It's a BAD thing for the pantry now stocked with so many starches.

Sweet: We did get the freezer, and stocked it with frozen turkeys on sale for $.79/lb. We're ecstatic about this!! There was enough budgeted for that to get a few bags of fish, too. Fish is our weekly "date meal" we usually have as a treat at a restaurant once a week, if finances allow. Now we can have it at home, deliciously, and if we want to get out of the house for a "date" instead of staying at home, we can just have a cup of tea out or some 2 for 1 coupon special, which we like just fine.

Sour: As we were almost done in the checkout line buying all those turkeys, the man in front of us told us of somewhere we could have gotten them for $.59/lb....whoa!! But it would have involved a pretty long drive, and all things considered, we went ahead and got the $.79 ones anyway. No problem :) I just wonder how much more $$ we could have squeezed out of the $.59 ones if I had just called around first...

In the end, the sweet wouldn't be nearly as sweet without the sour. And I'm grateful for the whole shebang. We're keeping a lot of things in prayer, namely our need to sell our vacant residential lots that are sitting in this stagnant market. And we're praying for others, too...friends and loved ones far and near. It's true that life's much bigger than just our little piece of it :) God is good, and I always think of that simple Robert Louis Stevenson line from A Child's Garden of Verses (something I always read to my daughter when she was younger)...

The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.

I wrestle with anxiety, sadness, and restlessness over many developments that have arisen as challenges in areas not on the above list. I also am beset with gratitude, gratitude, and more gratitude for all the things I'm blessed with. If I'll keep a child's-eye view, I WILL see so many things from a much more "royal" perspective...

:) Til later...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I haven't had time to be here much, so I'm behind on replying to comments...please forgive :)

It's been a difficult weekend on different levels. It's just life, though :)

I'll be back soon...hope this is a great week for everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Crackpot Disasters

That's what I get for posting so many recipes.

I've had a pretty good run in the kitchen these days. But pretty soon, it was due to happen.

Today was a total kitchen disaster. I had peeled, diced, stirred, seasoned, combined, tasted, heated, simmered...everything I usually do to stuff in a Crockpot. But this time, the ingredients were just not going to have it...they were done with me. They rebelled. I had overstepped my culinary grace period, and they were unforgiving. The squash disintegrated, the beans retreated, the spices were discordant, and the more I tried to save it, the darker and stranger the color and texture became. Before it all burned. The fabulous slow-cook things melded into an unspeakable substance, inedibility being its highest virtue. I think I may have to patent it and sell it to a bio-lab for testing...

I moved onto other foods, because if at first you don't succeed, try try again, and all that...
I didn't burn water, but I did manage to waste veggies, pasta, and meat in what can only be called a Flameless Charred Carnage, involving multiple pots and pans and the entire countertop surface now cluttered with rescue receptacles (to no avail..there is no rescue for what's already perished). The stench has permeated the farthrest reaches of my house. I had to have a stiff Root Beer to deal with the situation. Or three.

My husband was reduced to eating dried figs at about 6 p.m. after scanning the pantry, declaring we had a few cans of tuna, and staring bemusedly at the "Pasta Something" that remained slightly edible. He finally took me out to eat, more from an attempt at self-preservation than to have a date out. I felt us slide twelve dollars backwards from our goal of paying debt off faster. I think he considered twelve dollars a small price for his survival. Good thing we're not pioneers on the prairie a hundred years ago, or he'd be gnawing for sustenance on the nearest prairie dog.

Not my best moment, hour, day...

I'm typing this lest anyone think I have anything together in the cooking department. The recipes I post usually SURVIVE my attempts to ruin them, which attests to their genius...NOT mine :)

I'm off to my last remaining root beer. No, not something healthy like kombucha. I have to make another batch of refresher tea for the kombucha, and do NOT trust myself to make it tonight...ha!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Heirloom Recipe: Pumpkin Cake

It's what's for dessert today at Women Not Dabbling in Normal...and what'll be on our dessert buffet for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eat 'Em, or Plant 'Em?

...decisions, decisions!
If they don't get saved, I've been wanting to try Maria's recipe...yum!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cook Like a Peasant... like a king!!

I did it...I finally after 42 years learned how to make a decent pot of slow-cooked beans...the deep, rich, savory sort that tastes good no matter how many days you eat it. Or at least that's how I feel about it right now, yay!

I've made some awful beans in my day, so I've been making a real effort to improve things. I made some bangup red beans the other day I wasn't sure I could top, and I'm doing it from scratch, from dried beans. To others, this was a skill they probably learned at age 3, but for me, I usually only bought beans in the can, for chili and such, only occasionally. Cow peas such as pink-eye purple hull were our substitute growing up, and you'll hear no complaints from me about them.

This weekend I made a big ol' pot of slowcooked pintos...the world's simplest meal. And I made cornbread (salty buttery crisp southern cornbread, not the sweet cakey stuff), kale, and roasted a caribbean pumpkin/winter squash. Yep, that's them shown in the pic above (except for the kale), all crumbled up together and steaming hot. I won't make the cover of Gourmet, for sure, but there's nothing else I want right now. It's homespun and messy and perfectly simple...sometimes more is just more.

It's a little nippy outside just now, wonder of wonders. And I just simply don't remember peasant food ever tasting so good.

Here's what we washed it down with...kombucha decanted into recycled wine bottles. Sweet and slightly bubbly and semi-sour in a dry cidery way, mmmm!

I know better than to think I'll ever be a vegetarian, but this meal makes me sooooo happy I don't even think about eating meat.

Love your beans, your cornbread, your roasted winter squash? I raise my 3 week vintage kombucha and toast you! (the temps here in my neck of Florida are for once dipping down into the 30s...a rare treat...I believe I'm giddy on remembrances of Real Winters Past, ha!)



P.S. I've been lazing around today, ignoring the stack of dishes remaining from my cooking frenzy of two days ago. I really truly will be answering emails and comments soon. As soon as I finish my second Cary Grant movie...this one with Ingrid Bergman. Ah, I love home!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cookies and Ramblings

Don't you love those 5-ingredients-or-less foods that can be put together in a jiffy and turn out great?

Here's an easy recipe I tried this week for peanut butter cookies called Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever, and I love flour, no milk, and really delicious. (I think I could even back off the sugar amount some, which I'll be trying for my next batch.) Here's the link... and here's the easy recipe:

2 cups peanut butter
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a medium bowl, stir peanut butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Press a criss-cross into the top using the back of a fork.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

These were seriously the best peanut butter cookies I've had. You have to remove them carefully with a spatula to cool...careful or they'll fall apart. After they cool, they keep their shape really well. The comments section at their website states that regular peanut butter works better for this than hand-ground, for whatever reason.

On to other things...this is a rambling post and it'll be all over the place. I apologize in advance :)

Continuing to Make It at Home
Right now, since my regular job has not picked back up all the way, I'm at home more (yay!), which I really prefer. I've been trying to contribute to our budget, especially with the reduction of incoming money, by making nearly everything from scratch and really tightening the food budget a lot tighter. I still would like to get the numbers lower, without sacrificing nutrition.

We don't have optimal nutrition at the moment in this scenario.
We're working within our limitations. Yes, I know there are those out there with very good arguments for why it costs less overall and is preferable to buy everything organic. I'm sorry, I just don't have the sources or the income for that, so our answer to this will be to supplement what we can do right now with our OWN garden produce, something over which we have more control.

Our strategy is to slowly and deliberately begin substituting one for the other...our own home-produced foods to replace the store-bought ones.

Prices Still Climb
Has anyone noticed the price of simple things like rice and beans? It actually made me angry...I went to the store prepared to pay the prices for dried beans that I'd seen a year ago. We seldom eat beans, which is now changing, and I seldom had the need to buy dried beans. I'm used to their being the cheapest thing going as far as staple items. The price now compared to then is simply ridiculous....I really had a moment right there in the grocery aisle...I just stoood there and got really, really mad. (not something I usually do...)

So, I'll deal. You can believe beans and cowpeas of different descriptions will be on my garden list for next year.

Anyway, we hope to transition to our own garden produce, supplying our own staples, growing our own meat and dairy animals, and purchasing or bartering for organic supplies, including bulk purchase co-ops in the future...this is part of our Plan.

At the moment, I'm at the base of the learning curve.
I didn't realize how much we relied on processed foods to fill in the gaps, till now. Here at the very bottom of the learning curve, I'm having to learn for the first time how to bypass instant gratification. Yes, I cooked a lot at home. Yes, I used to cut corners. I still will on days I have to work, or if I'm not feeling well...I'm not a purist on this, nor am I critical of other families doing what works best for them. I'm just documenting my growing process here...which, for me, is more of a Growing Up process.

I've been pretty spoiled, even when I thought I wasn't...

While someday I hope to only cook using my own homeground grains, sugars that aren't processed white cane, and etc., at the moment, till I get some of those tools (grain mill, etc) and get set up for it or find better sources, I still do use them. I've experimented with the store-bought whole grain flour, and in comparison with the freshly-ground-at-home ones, there's just no comparison. Same thing for white sugar. There are my goals, and at the moment, my reality is in the early parts of transition. So regular unbleached white flour and white sugar are still here in my kitchen for the time being.

Reminding Ourselves of How Far We've Come
Debt-reduction is our Job One. All other things right now as far as the To Do list come second. It's easy to think we're making no progress whatsoever, as we trudge onward in this process of getting out of debt, locating a piece of land (and all the other stuff that comes with that), selling off a couple vacant residential lots we can't use (nothing is selling in our area right now, as you can imagine), scratching our heads over how (time, resources) to invest in doing for ourselves right where we are...namely, coaxing a garden from hardpan and all that entails...we just can't spend more money without careful planning, and it's difficult to decide when that same money's needed for more than one goal at a time.

For instance there's a real opportunity right now to purchase frozen turkey for $.79/lb. One small turkey could contribute largely to our meals in different ways for about two weeks, maybe more. Normally, the cheapest sale on meat of any sort (besides pork, which we can't have) is $1.99/lb, and the cheapest ground chuck normally runs $3.69 lb. And that's for what Jack and I term "the nasty stuff"...totally processed Big Ag chicken or beef...something we're trying to get AWAY from eventually. Oh, have I mentioned I just about can't take the chicken anymore? It tastes like bleach and chemicals to me, and I am trying so hard not to have to buy it anymore. We're incorporating more vegetarian meals as a result.

Anyway, turkey at $.79/lb is a real find for us, but we don't have freezer space. We can pick up a small freezer right now at a reasonable price, but of course that money doesn't come from a void, and is earmarked for other things. However, the impact it would have right now in SAVING us money on our meat and grocery budget is a real consideration.

Buying, to Save?
We seldom make snap decisions, and this is no exception. We've deliberated now for two weeks, "sleeping on it." We did decide to go ahead and get the freezer and to stock up with holiday turkeys on sale, and other items reduced for the holidays.

And here's what got cut from the gifts. All of them.

Happy holidays to us...we'll have something to put affordable food into and cut my grocery budget down down down, and pay those remaining debts off off off :)

What Gives
I'll write more another time about how our gift-giving and holiday celebrations have changed dramatically in the last few years...that's been our choice, frankly. This year, everyone in our household is working, and all of us have been very up-front about our financial goals. We have discussions and updates regularly, and encourage each other in these let's just say none of us is unaware of the big steps we're all taking in many areas. That takes the ouch out of adjusting to other changes such as reducing our holiday budget, and the pressure off of the rut we'd gotten into with gift-giving. A rut of gift-giving?? Is that a bah humbug sentiment? :) No...I'm not on a high horse here and not critical of others' gift-giving fun at fact, I quite enjoy seeing the happiness others have with the fun of it all. And I do anticipate future years in which we'll have the extra to embellish family times with some extra indulgence in that area. We'll really be able to enjoy it then, without feeling stressed!

I am saying this:
1. We have no TV (we have a set for watching movies, but we have no TV reception or cable...none.) We see no ads. We don't know what we're missing! :)
2. We're giving ourselves the gift of being debt free. We're not willing to halt that, even momentarily, because we want to be FREE more than any other want.
3. We have what we need, and a whole lot of what we want.
4. We have more than what we need, and are still having to get rid of Stuff. We don't want to replace Stuff with More Stuff.
5. There are some tools we need to live the lifestyle we want, better. We try not to get caught up into thinking we can't live this life without those tools. As we Reduce, we only Replace with things that are Essential.
6. Holidays can be celebrated without gifts. If we don't think so, we've lost out on something very fundamental. BEING WITH our loved ones is the point...THAT is the gift. It's taken me a lot of years to "get" that.
7. Gifts don't have to be confined to holidays. We think most things are better when shared. Jack and I tend to be "giving" people anyway, and simple things such as homemade food, canned goods, handmade items are best when shared. Time spent together is still the greatest gift. A favorite meal together, singing songs, favorite music/movie/home movies/photograph albums/games...these are gratifying and fun. Making foods together...popcorn, caramel corn balls, taffy, cookies, a family recipe, grilling, a fish fry, a potluck buffet, a bonfire with roasted marshmallows or hotdogs...that's shared "giving" time that can't be replaced. My grandparents always had a wooden bowl of whole nuts, with nutcracker, and I remember lots of times the grownups would sit around and talk and crack nuts as they went. And don't forget snuggling with the kids or sweetheart, hugs, and reading aloud, or storytelling. I just don't know anyone who doesnt love a good story!

OK, I never know where things are going when I begin typing. This was quite a departure from Peanut Butter Cookies, ack!

I hope you've had a wonderful week, and will have a relaxing weekend.

As soon as I'm off the computer here, I'll be cooking up a storm and straightening some around the house for tonight and tomorrow. At sundown will come our weekly time of thanks, feasting, and simple comforts. It's not always an easy week, and it doesn't always end with a big meal or everything finished around the house. But it's always welcome, and a reminder that there's a new week for new starts just around the corner :) I do have some emails to catch up with over the weekend (says the procrastinator, lol) I'll especially enjoy re-reading all the wonderful replies to the Chicken Question grateful for so many detailed answers... you have no idea how much this helps us get a more realistic idea for planning our own future! Thank you so much!

Quick Meal Recap
Some of our meals this week were Cabbage Rolls with Rice, Leftover Lasagne from last weekend, all sorts of things served with homemade bread, Tuna Noodle Bake, Cabbage and more cabbage with nearly everything, homemade cookies, red beans and rice with cornbread (and cabbage, what else, ha!). I'll get another batch of beans and rice going to slow cook in the crock pot for tomorrow's meals, make up some squash/spinach/noodle bake (sounds gross but it's delicious), and some beef enchiladas if my tortillas are still good to go. We have potatoes, so potato dishes will figure in largely for the upcoming week. I need to get a couple batches of breads going, too...some will be plain, and I'll probably try to use the calabaza I have in another batch and make it sweet, probably rolling it up with brown sugar and cinnamon for sweet loaves, mmmm :)
Jack treated me out yesterday at lunch to our favorite hole-in-the-wall Mom and Pop restaurant, where they serve homecooked food. I got my fish 'n chips fix there, and he had some corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. I laughed when he was eating and he pointed to the cabbage and said "hey look's MORE CABBAGE!" heehee Obviously the man can eat it seven days a week ;-)

As always, we're loving the Kombucha. Love, love, loving it! I don't even miss other drinks. It's kombucha, water, or sometimes milk. I'm noticing a difference in my health that I attribute to it, not the least of is more energy and a better sleep cycle.

Slow Mend
Jack is on Week Two of tendonitis in his right leg. Not much is getting done outside as far as the heavy stuff. So we're utilizing time together indoors, and there's been some fun in getting back to the drawing board (literally) in trying to finalize house plans/drawings. It's something we don't seem to get tired of, and we scout around online, too, for plan ideas. It's all budget-directed, so it's not the "dream house" of unlimited resources, but it's a lot of fun sharing in the formation of something that will hopefully serve us well, if we ever get to that point. That'll be the fun part of being out of debt :)

Bucketville/the Garden
We'll be getting into a bit lower temps here over the weekend. We'll be closely monitoring our buckets of semi-tropicals to see what we can do if they start looking puny. We have old sheets at the ready. The guava has fruits on it...hope it does fine. The soapberry tree babies look like they're going dormant. Hope they're not dying.

Ok, duty calls, gotta scoot. If I don't stop typing now, there won't be time for everything.

Have a great weekend, and shabbat shalom!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reader Answers to Chicken Question

The answers to the list of questions I posted on my recent post were so wonderful and specific, I thought they deserved to be their own post instead of hiding in the comments section. If you haven't been able to add yours yet, if you put your answer in comments here, I'll just cut and paste them into the text here, no worries.

A HUGE thank you to all who have contributed your wisdom and thoughts about these questions! Thank you! We're learning so much :)

Here are the original questions I asked (your answers are posted further down):

For all the folks out here in blogland who keep chickens, or have kept chickens, I have a couple questions...

1. Do you have a particular favorite breed of chicken, and if so what is it and why do you prefer it? Or if more than one, which ones, etc?

2. Do you use your chickens for your family, to sell, or both? Meat, or eggs, or both?

3. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out raising them, other than reading some good books on the subject?

4. Do you primarily keep your chickens in a coop/enclosed chicken yard, or do they roam your property?

5. Do you ever let them into your garden? If no, do you have a fence or something to keep them out?

6. Do you ever use a chicken tractor, and if so, is it for meat birds only? do you use electric/ net poultry fencing? I'm interested in which has worked for you and which has not. What has been your experience with pastured poultry 'a la the Joel Salatin sort (follow behind the livestock grazings at the optimum time), if that applies?

7. Do you keep chickens year-round, or raise them for seasonal processing?

8. How many chickens of a certain type do you raise at one time (what works best for you as far as how many to raise at a time?)Inquiring minds (me!) want to know. I've seen so many folks with their own styles of chicken raising, and I'm so curious to know what works best for you...

Here are your wonderful answers!

Donna said...
I don't have any chickens now, but I surely did have to keep them penned up when I had them. By day, roving neighborhood dogs would chase and kill them. By night, it was the racoons, foxes, coyotes and possums. Especially possums. They'd simply eat the head off the chicken and leave the body for me to dispose of.
November 10, 2008 1:30 PM

fullfreezer said...
I don't have any chickens either, but I have wondered the same questions. I look forward to the answers you get. Vicarious information gathering... fun, isn't it, full freezer ? R
November 10, 2008 2:46 PM

Country Girl said...
Wow, lots of questions. We have Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds. I like them both, the Reds are suppose to be better layers and the Barred rocks are mild mannered and easier to handle. We have 12 RRR and 24 Barred Rocks and their primary purpose is as layers although after a few years when their egg production reduces drastically they may be headed to the freezer. During the summer we were getting 2 + dozen a day but now that the days are shorter we get approx 1 dozen a day.

We sell our excess eggs for $2 a dozen.We also raise meat birds Cornish Rocks. We buy 100-200 at a time sell all but 20-30 and then raise the remaining for our own consumption. Lots of great info on line about raising chickens...nothing in particular???

They all reside in chicken tractors attached to portable fencing in spring, summer, and fall. This allows them to have fresh greens readily available and clean bedding. We move them every 3-4 days and in the late fall/winter they are in the barn. After they are done laying for the day usually 12-1 I open up the door and they free range in the yard until dark then they all voluntarily go back to roost is their coop.

In the warmer months we keep them penned because they are very destructive to the garden!They also lay wherever and I cherish every egg I get and do not want to risk loosing out on some.

Hope this helps! ~Kim :) It does, thanks, Kim! :) R
November 10, 2008 3:14 PM

Stephanie said...
We are still novices, but here is my two cents.

1. We've had Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpingtons. The Reds were good layers, but they are a smaller bird and the roosters tend to be mean. (if your going to keep one.) The Buffs are very gentle larger birds. Their size limits their ability to get out of the fence (The Reds wings had to be clipped) They lay large eggs. Haven't butchered any of them yet...

2 Meat and eggs for us, but I'm considering buying quite a few more to sell eggs

3 They really are pretty easy. Start small and you can always grow your flock.

4 Ours are pastured. They used to free roam which was fine when there were only a few, but too messy when we got more. (poop and scratching out everything)

5 The escapees get in the garden I'd like to tractor them in the garden, but haven't yet

6 Ours in the pasture with the other animals and have access under the rabbit hutches. I'm not sure about the method you refer to. Having them clean up after the other animals, sure keeps the flies down.

7 year round

8 We have 14 hens right now. The older ones have slowed way down.. (kicking my self for not getting chicks last spring.) We are barely getting enough for us (6) plus my parents. (about 4-5 per day) At their prime they laid at about a 80-90% rate

HOpe that helps Thanks, Stephanie :) R
November 10, 2008 4:19 PM

Christine said...
1. I have several different breeds and love them all.

2. Yes, yes, yes and yes.

3. Check out

4. Ours are in an enclosed area to keep them protected from predators.

5. No.

6. I've not used the tractor, but would love to do so. It's a great concept.

7. I keep them year round, they're fun.

8. I have about 23 layers right now. You would really only need about three if you only want eggs for yourself. I love my chickens. Go for it!
November 10, 2008 5:55 PM

Christina said...
We got our first chickens this spring. We had to do some research first.

We wanted winter hardy with decent egg laying out put. I put together a list of preferred breeds. When we went to the feed store, they didn't have my 1st 3 choices, so my second string choices were all there and so we came home with 3 of each buff orpington, NH reds, and barred rock. We got them for egg laying. And boy do they lay eggs. On avg. 7 eggs a day times 7 days equals about 4 dozen eggs a week!

We kept them in Sugars old crate for a bout a month and a half. Then they got their own tractor. We live too close to a road and predators and since we rent, we didn't want a permanent structure. So we move the tractor to fresh ground every day. We let them out in the evening for a little while. They are quite happy to go back and roost.

I love my chickens. They actually all have names. Now, this is the funny part.... We got 9 straight run day old chicks. We thought that we would lose a couple. But no... still have 9. The other extraordinary thing is that we only ended up with one rooster! Oh, well ... didn't intend to write a novel! Did I say I love my chickens???? Do you love your chickens or something?? lol ;-) R
November 10, 2008 5:58 PM

Laughing Orca Ranch said...
1)I've raising chickens for a little over a year. I chose two of each kind to see which would be my favorites.

Here's the chickens we chose and my favorites in order:

*speckled sussex (super friendly, more like a dog then a chicken, heritage breed, beautiful and regular brown egg-layer)

*barred rock (very friendly, regular brown egg layer)

*americaunas (friendly, calm, regular blue/green egg layer. One of ours even lays pink eggs)*rhode island red (friendly, daily brown egg layer)

*silver laced wyandotte (flighty, not as friendly, good tan egg layer)

*brown leghorns (daily white egg layer. tends to be agressive with other chickens, egg eaters, not as social with people. These are the same breed used in factory farming)

We also have:

*japanese silky


They both lay eggs, but are more 'decorative' as they don't lay as often. Polish aren't usually eaten, though Silkies are a special delicacy in Japan, due to the Silky's black skin, meat, even bones.We got them jus for fun and for my kids to show at the State Fair. We are also planning on breeding the silkies to sell the chicks next year, too.

2. We use the eggs for our family. We go through at least 2-3 dozen eggs a week in baking and cooking, egg salad, etc. We sell the rest for $2.00 a dozen and always have a waiting list for our eggs.Don't have any plans to butcher any yet. My husband might faint. lol!

3. Build your coop BEFORE your chicks arrive! lol! We waited and then were racing. Chicks grow so fast!Also, decide what time of year you want chickens. There are pros and cons. We bought ours in the fall because I wanted eggs in the Spring, and all summer long. Most people wait until Spring to buy chicks, and then have to wait until late summer for eggs, and then the chickens slow down egg laying during the winter.Downside to Fall chicks is having to keep the chicks inside for the first couple months, and then providing a heat lamp for them most of the winter.

4. Ours primarily live in a coop, due to predators, especially hawks and stray dogs. But we allow them to free range when we can be outside with them.

5. Only before planting anything to till the soil, or afterwards to clean up the dead plants. Chickens are otherwise too destructive.

6. I have no experience with those things.

7. Year-round egg layers.

8. This is just our family flock and we have 17 chickens. We sell the extra eggs to pay for the chickens feed.Happy Poultry Raising!! :)~LisaNew Mexico Thanks, Lisa! R
November 10, 2008 6:59 PM

Wendy said...
1. We have seven chickens and seven different breeds. They all have their merits, but I have to say that for egg color, I love our Araucunas (green eggs! ;). For temperment, I love our Rhode Island Red, our Light Brahma and our Australorp - all of which were very good layers and are considered good "multi-purpose" birds, which means they're good as layers and as meat birds. The leghorns, while purported to be good layers, are flighty, and not as good around children, which is a must for us, as my children spend a lot of time in the coop. We also have a buff orpington and, what we think is, a plymouth rock.

2. We do not sell eggs or meat, although when our chickens are all laying, our neighbor "buys" a dozen eggs a week.

3. Pick a breed that's good in your area. Some chickens work very well in cold temperatures and some do better where it's warm. Build a REALLY strong, sturdy and predator proof coop BEFORE you put the chickens in there, and I would even suggest that you build the coop and then put some strong-smelling something in it to see if anything gets in. Better to know where your weaknesses are before a raccoon chews the head off your best laying hen.

4. Primarily our chickens stay in their coop, but we let them out occasionally - more during the spring and summer than this time of year. We try to let them out for a couple of hours a couple times per week, usually right before dusk so that they'll put themselves "away" when the sun goes down.

5. We have a very small space, and so, when I let the chickens out, they do have access to my garden. When the plants are young, I will either be out in the yard with the chickens to shoo them away from the raised beds, or I just wait until the plants are more mature, when the chickens won't do as much damage. But I like that they'll eat the bugs off the broccoli and tomato plants, and they scratch under the plants and aerate the soil, which some of my plants seem to like.

6. We raised broilers in a chicken tractor that we built using PVC pipe and hardware cloth. The bottom was open to the ground, but there was a top. We did not use electricity, but we made sure to cover the tractor at night and for the first few weeks, before they got bigger than my beagle, we locked them up in a dog crate at night inside the tractor which was covered with a tarp that was weighted down with logs. Anything that wanted to get in there would have to work at it a bit. It worked very well. We started with eight broiler chicks, raised them for ten weeks, and put eight 5.5 lbs fully dressed chickens in the freezer.

7. We keep the laying hens year round. The broilers are a seasonal thing, as our butcher only does chickens from May to August.

8. See number one. I did read, however, that keeping a variety for a small backyard flock is a good idea. I don't remember where I read it, or why it's a good idea. We love the different personalities of our hens, and the eggs are so much fun - all colors of the "egg rainbow" from white to dark brown with a green one thrown in there when Emily feels like it. As an additional comment, I highly recommend getting chickens. They're a wonderful addition to any homestead - large or small. We have only a quarter of an acre, and chickens are a big part of our self-sufficiency plans :).
November 10, 2008 7:01 PM

Jo said...
We have bunches of chickens. Japanese bantams, Faverolle bantams and regular, ISA Browns, Americaunas, Sumatras, Silkies, probably others.

1. I love the hardiness of Americaunas. The Silkies are great brooders.

2. We do Cornish crosses in spring and summer for the freezer, and we cull roos and older hens for soup. ISA Browns lay large, gorgeous eggs. We have some extra in summer, but usually give them away.

3. I would recommend fearing not. You CAN love a chicken.

4. Some of ours live in the coop on our property (large and already here). Others live in the barn. They all roam freely.

5. We lock them out of the garden and away from the bees. Fences.

6. Ours roam the pasture. They love the sheep, the sheep seem to like them, and our flies are not bad at all.

7. We try to cull as many as possible by now, to keep feed costs down.

8. When we do meat birds, we order 25 at a time. We hand process here by ourselves. I would not want to do more than 30 in a day, personally.I love my chickens. They are such a part of our farm life.
November 10, 2008 7:08 PM

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...
Gosh all of that depends on what you expect from your chickens.

We liked the Barred Rocks for our "commercial" layers, they were calm and good layers. If you want to raise your own chicks you need a broody breed that likes to set like the Buff Orpington. For meat, I like the Cornish X, but I know that is an unpopular choice, but they do well and they are especially suited for tractors. I don't like the mess chickens leave, poop and scratching so the tractors work well for us. It is also a great way to build your garden soil, with a deep bedding in the tractor. I didn't particularly care for my visit at Andy Lee's farm, but his book Chicken Tractor is full of good sound advice for start to finish on meat birds and layers.

If you mail order your chicks you have to order a minimum of 25, some hatcheries allow mixing and matching of breeds. Mail order is a good way to avoid chicks getting medicated feed. It is common practice at feedstores to feed medicated feed right off the bat. A lot of health problems can be headed off by NOT giving medicated feed. But it is hard to find counsel that believes that and will recommend no antibiotic laced feed.

As for Joel's methods, again not popular with homesteaders, but they have worked the best for us. Joel really does know what he is doing. I think most people anthromorphise farm animals and discard Joel's methods as too production oriented. But, while production oriented, Salatin's livestock is treated very well.

The electric poultry netting from Premier is well worth the money. Ours is still good and we have abused it for over 8 years.

And we are strictly seasonal, it costs too much to raise poultry against the seasons. Think nature. However, your growing season is so different, you might be looking to raise your birds in the cooler part of the year, since they don't take the heat all that well.Gosh, I guess I hijacked this post didn't I? Oops. I wondered why the terrain below was suddenly looking like Cuba...haha, just kidding, Nita ;-) R
November 10, 2008 11:19 PM

Phelan said...
Answers on my blog. Neat! Thanks, Phelan ~R
November 11, 2008 5:05 AM

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...
I meant seasonal on meat chickens and turkeys, we keep laying hens year around.:)
November 11, 2008 6:42 AM

Just trying to be green said...
(I just wandered by, via Homesteading Neophyte. I had chickens growing up, and I'm going to get them again in a few months)

1. Do you have a particular favorite breed of chicken, and if so what is it and why do you prefer it? Or if more than one, which ones, etc?I love Barred Rocks. They are so friendly, hardy, calm, and ours laid well. I loved their eggs because they would lay eggs with purple speckles and pink dots.

2. Do you use your chickens for your family, to sell, or both? Meat, or eggs, or both?We raised mainly for my family. Mostly it was for eggs, but we did do meat birds occasionally.

3. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out raising them, other than reading some good books on the subject?Start out small (i.e., don't go out and buy 100 chicks), and start out with good housing. Also, if you buy those cornish-cross meat birds, don't think all chickens are that dull, slow, or ugly. Just saying.

4. Do you primarily keep your chickens in a coop/enclosed chicken yard, or do they roam your property?Depends. Most of the time, they are kept in sheds at night, and let loose during the day. Sometimes we use chicken tractors.

5. Do you ever let them into your garden? If no, do you have a fence or something to keep them out?They usually had access to the garden. If there was something that needed protection, it got it's own little covering.

6. Do you ever use a chicken tractor, and if so, is it for meat birds only? do you use electric/ net poultry fencing? I'm interested in which has worked for you and which has not. What has been your experience with pastured poultry 'a la the Joel Salatin sort (follow behind the livestock grazings at the optimum time), if that applies?We used tractors with the laying hens (next boxes built in), and when we wanted to isolate a breeding pair We're also used them with ducks. It worked pretty well- except that my dad built it, and he didn't take into account who would be moving it. Most of my childhood, it took two people or more (where people are children) to move one. I really like chicken tractors, but if you design your own plans- take care with moveability and sturdiness.

7. Do you keep chickens year-round, or raise them for seasonal processing?We keep them year roung.

8. How many chickens of a certain type do you raise at one time (what works best for you as far as how many to raise at a time?)Generally around 12-20. My family eats a lot of eggs, and there are 6 of us.
November 11, 2008 9:06 AM

farm mom said...
1. well, my favorites have been the barred rock, buff orpington, and black australorps. These were the calmest breeds, the friendliest breeds and the ones who went broody readily. They were also winter hardy! If I lived in your climate I have to admit I'd be more than a little tempted to raise some of those rarest of rare breeds listed on ther ALBC website, who are smaller and more suited to your climate than mine. I also am really enjoying my Easter Eggers and my Silver Grey Dorkings this year as well, but I've only had them this year and don't have as much experience with them as I had the others.

2. We raise dual purpose birds for both meat and eggs. My parents put up a sign and sell their excess eggs and I've sold a few there, but I usually just freeze my excess and keep them for leaner winter months.

3. Know your goals. Do you want reliable eggs? Are you more interested in the huge-breasted meaties? Do you want a middle of the road bird who does well at both? Are you thinking about having a breeding flock, or just raising them seasonally? If you want to breed, will you keep more than one roo? Where? separate coops for separate breeds? A rooster bachelor pad? Stick with one breed and one roo, or create mutts? Is ranging important to you? What are the likely predators in your area? How will you deal with them? Know your goals in terms of that bucolic farm scene as well as in productin needs. My advice is to really sit down and figure out what your goal is with this future flock of yours. Not only will the answers to these questions steer you towards a breed or set of breeds, but it will do wonders in dampening any future disappointments in your flock. I also recommend a local source, be it a farm or local small hatchery. I've used larger hatcheries over the years but lately the quality has really been horrible. Nothing is worse than opening that box and getting most birds dead or dying, disease, illness and deformities. No eyes, extra legs, twisted beaks.... you get the idea.

4. My chickens have all 3. A coop, a run and free range. The coop is mainly used for laying and sleeping, and of course winter shelter. I keep them confined to a run in the morning hours, while they're laying. So, they can get outside, scratch about, and still lay those eggs where they belong. Come afternoon they're out and about in the yard until nightfall. I like this set up because I am free to leave the property for a weekend, or on errands and I know the birds are safe, but still have outside access.

5. Yes, my birds have access to my gardens. They do wonders for the bugs, particularly in spring/fall when they can really get in there and turn over the earth, looking for overwintering bugs, slugs and insect eggs. During the ripening season, it can get a bit hairy, particularly the tomato patch. I usually cover any raised beds that I don't want them to have access to with a floating row cover or bird netting.

6. No, I've never used a tractor. If I was ever considering selling I would. I enjoy reading about Joel Salatin's methods I think he has revolutionized the idea that food production had to be mechanical and industrial.

7. I keep them year round, as we want a breeder flock. We keep the hens for eggs and cull the older birds and the extra roos for meat.

8. I've had as many as 50, but usually keep between 12 and 20. I have had both mixed flocks and same-breed flocks and have enjoyed both. Usually the 16-18 mark is enough to keep us well supplied in eggs and meat. (I don't use forced lighting in the winter to make my girls lay, so while that may seem like a lot of eggs for a family of four, keep in mind that their laying slows/stops in the winter months, so I stock pile our summer surplus to get us through.)Hope that helped robbyn! It does! Oh how I wish we had chickens RIGHT NOW :) R
November 11, 2008 10:10 AM

mommymommyland said...
Hey, I was writing about chickens today too, so I just added your answers to my post. You can find them here Thanks, Robin! ~R
November 11, 2008 11:20 AM

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...
You've probably figured out my answers from my blog, but I'll recap here.

I only keep chickens for eggs, so long-lived, good-laying, friendly birds are my top priority.

Easter-Eggs are tops on my list. They come in many colors, as do their eggs, which they lay regularly. We only got our chickens this year, but a friend with vast experience (she even raised SHOW chickens) says they lay for a good, long time. I plan to keep my chickens to old age, so that's good.

Our neighbor used to raise organic eggs for sale, and she put 2 or 3 at a time in a small tractor to keep her little garded weeded and de-bugged. My husband has a thing with big bird poop, so ours have a coop and a fenced yard.
November 11, 2008 1:00 PM

Rena said...
Rocks and Orpingtons are good for both meat and eggs. We like them both--they have less meat than the fast growing Cornish crosses but it tastes much better.

Araucanas/Americanas (not fancy pure bred ones)lay the pastel eggs and are very popular if you are going to sell any eggs.

We have had meat ones in a tractor. We have let our chickens out to roam once in a while. They are easy to get back in where their feed is. I have put the tractor in the garden at the end of the season. It is helpful to have a dog who gets used to the chickens and won't attack them. He will keep the critters away from the birds.

These are disjointed comments, sorry. I love them, thanks! R
November 11, 2008 1:43 PM

hickchick said...
I'm late to this post...but I'll throw this out to anyone still still reading...does anyone have experience with growing their own feed for winter or buying whole grains-something other than the expensive 50# bags from the feed store?
November 11, 2008 2:54 PM

Alan said...
I thought I left a response to this question. If I didn't I left a very detailed response about chickens on someone's blog. They may be wondering why. We have raised both layers and meat chickens and used fixed coops, mobile coops with poultry netting, and chicken tractors for each. I like the poultry netting best. It gives you more flexibility, longer life, and less labor than tractors and healthier chickens than a fixed yard. If you didn't get my response shoot me a question on my blog and I'll do a post. My response was rather like a book. I didn't get it, sorry! I look forward to whatever you post about it :)
November 11, 2008 3:07 PM

tygab said...
Here's what I posted on our blog for answers...

1. Do you have a particular favorite breed of chicken, and if so what is it and why do you prefer it? Or if more than one, which ones, etc?Fairly new to chickens, so I have no strong preferences. Our black sex links are laying like crazy, and our Blue Laced Red Wyandotte roo is quite the looker. Though he is a big baby. The Easter Eggers lay fun eggs and are pretty chickens, too. If I were going just for volume, the black sex links would win.

2. Do you use your chickens for your family, to sell, or both? Meat, or eggs, or both?We have our layer hens and we only plan to sell the excess (to friends, coworkers, family). We subsidized the raising of 10 meat birds at another farm, and we've had 1-2 roasters a month since they were processed in July. This usually translates to several meals for 2 based on a 5-6 lb bird. The meat birds were able to enjoy fresh pasture and were fed w/organic feed.

3. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out raising them, other than reading some good books on the subject?, and build a strong run. Don't skimp on the housing and fencing, though the very resourceful can get a lot of building materials through yardsales, Craigslist etc. Just make sure it will be a clean and dry home. Overestimate the size you need, you can always add chickens if you want to later!

4. Do you primarily keep your chickens in a coop/enclosed chicken yard, or do they roam your property?Our chickens stay in the run area for most of the time. We let them out only when we are ourselves outside doing work around the barn, yard, etc. We usually do this late in the day so twilight gets them back in the run. However, a cup of scratch tossed in the run will usually work too!

5. Do you ever let them into your garden? If no, do you have a fence or something to keep them out?Uhm, yes, they have gone in our garden. It is not fenced from them. But our garden was not a wild success this summer. Next summer may be different.

6. Do you ever use a chicken tractor, and if so, is it for meat birds only? do you use electric/ net poultry fencing? I'm interested in which has worked for you and which has not. What has been your experience with pastured poultry 'a la the Joel Salatin sort (follow behind the livestock grazings at the optimum time), if that applies?We do not use a tractor for the layers. The meat birds were in a tractor for much of the time.

7. Do you keep chickens year-round, or raise them for seasonal processing?Year round; it'll be our first winter with the hens.

8. How many chickens of a certain type do you raise at one time (what works best for you as far as how many to raise at a time?)I think this depends on your goals. If it's just family eggs you want, a half dozen may be enough. We have 12 hens and 1 roo, in part because I figured a few wouldn't make it. They all did! But we're happy anyway, a dozen seems like a good number for us.Inquiring minds (me!) want to know. I've seen so many folks with their own styles of chicken raising, and I'm so curious to know what works best for you...Raising them from chicks is very rewarding!

P~ said...
Hi Robbyn, I imagine you probably already read my post about my chickens. (Funny that I posted and you asked on the same day huh? Great bloggers must think alike.)

I think it answers most of the questions that you asked here but maybe a few.

I raise leghorns, not for their marvelous companionship skills (not) but for their prodigeous laying. I had a few barred rock roosters that came as additional birds with my chick order and I really liked them. Very nice birds, also they tasted very good...(answer 2).

I don't specifically rais them for meat, but roos are not allowed so that was the best way to deal with.

Advice would be to be truly honest about why you are getting them, and what your environment will sustain. i.e. do you want "pets" that lay, or livestock only? Do you have a fenced area protected from animals where they can range or will they need greens brought to them as do mine? They do free range occasionally but never in the garden!My coop has been designed to be able to be made mobile, but has not been yet. Next year.I have 9 birds, and I will be raising them all year primarily for egg production.

Best of luck to you!

P~ Thanks, P! Yes, your recent writing on this subject was perfect timing...hope everyone stops by your place for a read! R said...
Excellent read! Of course, my lazy back end didn't make it over here to comment on this post but had I done so -- I would have said that my favorite chicken breed is the Buff Orpington because they are dual purpose birds. They have a nice sturdy build and lots of layers of feathers so they keep warm and continue laying eggs through the winter. How do I love them? Let me count the ways!Blessings!Lacy

Phelan said...
I answered hickchick over here.

The Thinker said...
I answered here (Sorry, I don't know how to use the tags) And now i have to take time to read everyone else's answers. (sigh) I love chickens.

jayedee said...
a day late and a dollar short...that's my mantra lolanyway, here are my answers

1. Do you have a particular favorite breed of chicken, and if so what is it and why do you prefer it? Or if more than one, which ones, etc?honestly, i really like my production reds. nothing phases them. i have two elderly (9 years old) that are still laying several eggs a week. ALL of my heritage breeds quit laying when hurricane faye rolled thru and haven't laid a single egg since.

2. Do you use your chickens for your family, to sell, or both? Meat, or eggs, or both?both and both

3. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out raising them, other than reading some good books on the subject?start small and with some variety so you can make educated choices. don't discount what the oldtimers have to say either (even when their advice sounds somewhat bizarre)

4. Do you primarily keep your chickens in a coop/enclosed chicken yard, or do they roam your property? my girls roam the entire property when there isn't a garden actively growing

5. Do you ever let them into your garden? If no, do you have a fence or something to keep them out? the forage in the garden when it's clean up time.....when the garden is growing/fruiting, they're confined to the chicken yards

6. Do you ever use a chicken tractor, and if so, is it for meat birds only? do you use electric/ net poultry fencing? I'm interested in which has worked for you and which has not. What has been your experience with pastured poultry 'a la the Joel Salatin sort (follow behind the livestock grazings at the optimum time), if that applies?i use small tractors when i'm transitioning from the brooder to the poultry yards. i have no experience with poultry raised completely on pasture

7. Do you keep chickens year-round, or raise them for seasonal processing? year round for the dual purpose breeds, the strictly meat birds are seasonal

8. How many chickens of a certain type do you raise at one time (what works best for you as far as how many to raise at a time?)Inquiring minds (me!) want to know. I've seen so many folks with their own styles of chicken raising, and I'm so curious to know what works best for you... i ALWAYS have too many dadgum chickens lol but i think about 50 would work best for me (maybe not for danny though lol)
November 12, 2008 12:03 PM

Killi said...
1. My eldest was given a Cochin chick a year after her father's arrest & removal. He hated being alone & cried, until I found out that he was a Mumiy Troll'fan & then he "sang". My other 2 childer were then given a Cochin chick each ~ we were lucky as we ended up with 2 girls & the cockerel from hell. Welsummers came because I'd heard that they were good layers & I wanted to supplement our money with egg sales. Eldest fell in love with Silkies ~ an ancient fluffy Chinese breed, so they joined us. Buff Orpingtons came because my chicken mentor was selling her stock off after her sister died & she re evaluated her life. I moved to Ireland & Cuckoo Marans (along with KC ducks) joined us after the Orpingtons died/were killed. I gave someone eggs for their incubator & got a few chicks back, including Banties. Now I have a mad mixture & I love them all. I'm hoping in the next season to separate out my feather legs & non-feather legs & put the FLs in a copse where they can stay cleaner.

2. Eggs to sell & for us. Cockerels go somewhere, probably for dinner, but I physically cannot kill them & we eat no feather meat. I've given some of my flock to friends

3. Find a chicken lady to talk chicken to! I did a couple of years after we got ours & pre-Shirley (& post-Shirley) we do things by instinct & hope as well as consulting books. Talk to chicken people & compare notes. I butted into a conversation after a concert with someone talking chicken & the friend that took me along in exchange for a bed for the night asked in awe how I knew June Tabor ~ I didn't. I'd never met 1 of the queens of British Folk Music before, but chickens are a great leveller & we chatted chicken.

4. I want my feather-legs (Cochins, Silkies & their crosses) in my small copse area, so they will be fenced in but free to roam their area. & I want to fence the others in another area with access through the old cowshed window. I love having them all roaming freely around my land, but my Beddy likes fresh chicken & she's teaching the Lurcher pup to hunt them. Also there are foxes & mink around. I have my mummy & her 1 remaining chick cooped up with the Partridghe Cochin cockerel after her other 7 chicks were taken. The Cochin is there only because he refuses to sleep in the shed with the other poultry & puts himself to bed in that house. I'm breaking the law as I have chickens & waterfowl all in together & roaming the same land.

5. Garden? What garden. Once they're fenced in I can have a garden ~ so long as the goat fencing holds!

6.They're not fenced in here & wander off into the forestry as well as around my land. I used an unelectrified fence in UK to try to separate the breeds, but the Cochins, who shouldn't fly, would liberate the Welsummers & the Silkies ran out through the holes ~ it WAS Poultry fencing! I may put the horses/ goats in with the chicken for a while if I need foliage clearing, but 1 area only grows nettles at present & I'd love grass to regrow there before letting anything else share it with them. Because they're free-range, totally, they can go join the horses/goats when they're up behind the house. I don't have a chicken tractor.


8. No idea! I didn't incubate this year until I was given some eggs specifically to incubate, but next year I'll incubate any eggs that come along (but not all of them ~ I only have 2 incubators!) & I'll try to buy in Cochin, Silky, Welsummer & Maran eggs to hatch to bring in fresh blood to those breeds. At 1 point I had 80 chickens, but disaster struck last year & I have around 27 hens now ~ no idea how many cockerels. I'll also incubate duck eggs & goosey eggs if my girls don't sit.Hope that helps. Chickens are great timewasters & are wonderful things. said...
Since chickens is what I enjoy raising and writing about, I couldn't resist answering your questions:

1. At present I have a RIR and Barred Rock and love both of the hens. I also enjoy raising anything that lays green eggs. I am writing a series on chicken breeds on my blog post and plan on getting some Australorps in the near future due to what I learned about them while researching.

2. My chickens are for the fun or having and the eggs. I have never eaten one yet but that doesn't mean I won't if things got tough.

3. Chicken raising is easy so jump in and get started. Start small with a couple of hens. It is contagious and you will be expanding before long.

4. I love free ranging. We have coops and due to multiple roosters have to choose which coop free ranges for the day, but I like my birds to get exercise.

5. A garden is for next year and I will have a fence around it to keep them out until I am ready to let them in.

6. My husband built me a chicken tractor, mainly for my biddies or little baby chicks. It is an intermediate cage until they are big enough to free range.

7. For the past three years I have had them year round and keep expanding every year.

8. Right now I have 15 4-week old chicks, 4 pullets (less than a year old and not laying), 3 roosters, 4 laying hens multiple breeds.If you are considering raising chickens, it is one of the easiest animals to raise and there are multiple forums available to answer any questions you may have. So jump in and enjoy yourself.

jack-of-all-thumbs said...
I came across your blog on Robert's Roost and read through a lot of useful info on all of the replies.

I would offer two somewhat unique contributions to the discussion. The first is my system of rotational gardening with chickens, based on an easy to manage system of gates, that allows the birds access to unused garden space, while restricting them from active garden areas.

It's here:

The other is a SUPER way of excluding predators from your coop that Alan provided to me months ago. I love it and it is brilliant!

It can be found here:

Alan's answer posted to his blog and his second answer, both copied here:

1. Do you have a particular favorite breed of chicken, and if so what is it and why do you prefer it? Or if more than one, which ones, etc?I really like Red Star from McMurray Hatchery. They aren't as attractive as some of the older breeds, but they produce a lot of eggs for the amount of feed. We have tried others and have enjoyed the visual aspects of lots of different kind of chickens but for egg production, I haven't found them worth the feed cost.

2. Do you use your chickens for your family, to sell, or both? Meat, or eggs, or both?We raise ours for eggs for our family and to sell. We only sell from home. Taking the eggs to market was too much work and there were plenty of others with eggs. Currently we have no problem selling everything we can produce.

3. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out raising them, other than reading some good books on the subject?

4. Do you primarily keep your chickens in a coop/enclosed chicken yard, or do they roam your property?Our chickens are enclosed in a yard that we move every few days in the spring, summer, and fall. They follow our herd of goats and cows on pasture, cleaning up the paddocks after we move the herd. We use a coop that we are able to move around the pasture with the chickens.

5. Do you ever let them into your garden? If no, do you have a fence or something to keep them out?In the fall we move the chickens to the garden for clean-up duty. They do a great job and contribute a lot to weed control, bug control, and fertility. We use poultry netting from Premier 1 to contain our chickens. It keeps them in (unless I forget to trim their wings) and keeps the local predators out.

6. Do you ever use a chicken tractor, and if so, is it for meat birds only? do you use electric/ net poultry fencing? I'm interested in which has worked for you and which has not. What has been your experience with pastured poultry 'a la the Joel Salatin sort (follow behind the livestock grazings at the optimum time), if that applies?We don't use chicken tractors. We have used them in the past and found them to be a lot more work than we have time for. Well managed they work well, but you must be able to move them often and monitor them well. I've seen whole pens of birds die in hot weather. We get the same effect with poultry netting and a mobile coop. If you have livestock on pasture, following them with chickens or allowing the chickens to share the same space has a lot of advantages. They really help with fly control and manure management. They also use a lot less feed than chickens in containment.

7. Do you keep chickens year-round, or raise them for seasonal processing?We keep our hens year round. We are finding that moving them off pasture and into a more permanent coop with better protection and light improves our egg production in the winter. We have overwintered our hens in the mobile coop (basically a tent) and had no problem with health or survival, even in 2 feet of snow and -11 deg temps, but egg production really dropped.

8. How many chickens of a certain type do you raise at one time (what works best for you as far as how many to raise at a time?)We maintain a flock of about 50 hens. This fits the mobile coop we have and seems to work in our system. We could sell a lot more eggs than 50 hens produce, but that would require reducing some other aspect of our farm and we choose not to do that.

The most important thing is to decide how many you want and what kind of relationship you want with them. Most people I know who only have a few chickens have them named and pamper them way too much. If you have a lot (more than 20) it's hard to get that attached to any one of them. Healthier in my opinion. I like raising them from chicks. They bond better to me and learn my system. My friend Jack-of-all-thumbs at Self-Sufficient Steward has a great system using a permanent coop and rotates his chickens around his garden. You should check it out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Homesteading Chicken Question

For all the folks out here in blogland who keep chickens, or have kept chickens, I have a couple questions...

1. Do you have a particular favorite breed of chicken, and if so what is it and why do you prefer it? Or if more than one, which ones, etc?

2. Do you use your chickens for your family, to sell, or both? Meat, or eggs, or both?

3. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out raising them, other than reading some good books on the subject?

4. Do you primarily keep your chickens in a coop/enclosed chicken yard, or do they roam your property?

5. Do you ever let them into your garden? If no, do you have a fence or something to keep them out?

6. Do you ever use a chicken tractor, and if so, is it for meat birds only? do you use electric/ net poultry fencing? I'm interested in which has worked for you and which has not. What has been your experience with pastured poultry 'a la the Joel Salatin sort (follow behind the livestock grazings at the optimum time), if that applies?

7. Do you keep chickens year-round, or raise them for seasonal processing?

8. How many chickens of a certain type do you raise at one time (what works best for you as far as how many to raise at a time?)

Inquiring minds (me!) want to know. I've seen so many folks with their own styles of chicken raising, and I'm so curious to know what works best for you...

First Coffee Beans fact, they are the only coffee beans our coffee plants put out this year.
Think we'll get a good teaspoon or so of brew from them? ;-)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Don't Throw Away Those...Onion Trimmings

Don't you love how those cooking onions shed their flaky, papery bits here and there? I seem to always find them lurking wherever I store my onions. I used to throw them away, but now I've stopped fighting the incoming tide, and I gather them instead.

Those dry outer onion skins are said to make a beautiful natural dye, ranging from pale beige to warm gold to golden brown. I think the mordant would be vinegar or alum, and in skimming the recommendations here and there online, it says wool takes the dye better than cotton. I have yet to try this, but it's on my Later On list of To-Dos. Meanwhile, I've got a 5 gallon bag full of the skins, and everytime I chop another onion, the skin goes right into this bag...

We're also experimenting with saving the trimmed-off's a pic of some just-trimmed onion and leek roots. We're just sticking them back into some pots with decent soil to see if anything sprouts from them. If so, we'll either have a perpetual onion, a smaller snack-sized onion, or compost...ha!

We did have some onions take root from the simple trimmed ends...not sure about the leeks yet, though. These leek trimmings remind me of sea anemones...

Here's one of the onion trimmings, replanted, with some regrowth...

Little bucket of experiments...

Here are a couple Jack brought in from the garden. They looked kind of rough, but after peeling down the top couple of layers, they were smooth and delicious underneath...we love fresh green onions with meals!

Uses for Onion Trimmings:

The Papery Skins --

For natural dye-making. Yellow onions yield ochre and brown-toned dyes. Purple/Red onion skins yield dyes in the redder range. These are good natural dyes with vinegar or alum as the mordant. They are said to effectively dye wool. They are also used in some traditional and non-traditional ways to dye hard-boiled eggs for craft projects. I wonder how they do in paper dyeing?

The Tough Outer Skin --

The part you have to peel away because it's too tough to chop ...these are good (washed, of course) for throwing into a ziploc freezer bag along with other veggie trimmings...carrot tops, beet tops and tips...any other veggie bits to include in making soup stock later. When you have enough, it can all be boiled and then strained off after the stock is done.

Or, if you like, off to the compost pile!

The onion tops --

If they're crunchy and tender enough, they can be used like chives as spice or garnishes. If they're little green onions, leave on the part that's tender enough to be noshed on, and only trim the very tough parts off.

The toughest parts of the onion tops can be saved with other veggie trimmings for making soup stock (discarded to the compost pile after straining off the liquid), or thrown into the compost pile.

The roots --

Well, we're experimenting with simply replanting them in pots. We've not done enough to be able to tell if this will work well every time, but we've had enough survive to create little green onions, albeit rough looking ones, that can be peeled down a couple layers and trimmed to eat in-hand as an accompaniment to sandwiches, or meals like beans and cornbread...mmm!

Let me know if you use your onion trimmings in other ways, and I'll add it to the list :)