Category Archives: Animals

Sprouting Seeds for the Chickens and for Salads

I decided to try sprouting seeds for both the chickens and others and for myself.  For the chickens I am sprouting corn (from my garden), wheat and barley.  I also got a mixed groups of seeds to sprout for my own salads.

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Johnny’s seeds came with instructions for sprouting.  I think I went overboard with the number of seeds I added to the ball jars.  Rereading the instructions it says 1 Tablespoon.   IMG_6354

So add your tablespoon of seed to a ball jar and fill the jar 1/2 full with luke warm water and let it soak overnight.  I put cheesecloth over the jar opening and screwed on with the ring part of the lid.  That lets it breath and allows you to add and pour off water.  IMG_6359

In the morning drain off the water.  Rinse the seeds with lukewarm water and let drain.

Put in a dark location that is about 70 degrees with the jars on their sides.  At least twice a day rinse with lukewarm water and drain. IMG_6374 Continue rinsing until seeds have been harvesting.  After they seeds sprout and are about 1 1/2 long and have tiny leaves put them in the light to green up.   These are going back into the cupboard for another day or so.

Gave some to the Hens today.  IMG_6382 IMG_6384

They just loved the sprouts.  I may need to get a grow light to grow these in the winter  But they taste great.

The Chickens Winter Playroom (Aviary)

As we near winter in Maine, we had to think about what to do to keep our chickens warm, dry and happy during the very long cold winters.  So my husband, Brian, built a little enclosed area next to the room they roost in.

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The Dutch door on the right goes to the play room the door on the left goes into where they roost.

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They are not yet using the playroom much yet as they prefer to be outdoors but my friend Betty the Brave always follows me where I go.   You can see the little door cut in between the roosting area and the winter playroom.   The roost is well insulated and so far the play room is not.  But I have noticed now on much colder windy days they stay in the playroom instead of outdoors.  I am sure when the snow piles up they will stay inside more.  What you can not see in these pictures is that we have two chairs outside the pen so we don’t miss our Chicken TV.

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We have a heater under the water container to hopefully keep the water defrosted.  But I imagine we will be carting buckets of warm water out to the shed on days when it is 20 to -20.  I may need a new pair of warm boots.

 

Our Chickens Favorite Treats

My chickens love the treats we give them but we don’t give them too many so they will eat the food intended for egg layers.  But since we started giving them treats they now run when they hear the back door open or my husbands truck pull in the driveway.

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We give our girls any vegetable trimmings if I am not throwing them in a soup pot.  The seem to like a bit of sweet peppers, cooked potatoes and cooked onions, carrots, green beans, pole beans, snow peas, tomatoes, and broccoli.

And our chickens adore corn.  This year the corn we planted for our own consumption was a heritage corn and it turned out to be so tough we could not chew it so we have been drying it and feeding it on occasion a cob at at time to our chickens.  Looks like we may be planting two types of corn next year one for us and one for the chickens.

Some of our chickens corn and our black and red beans drying in bags.

Some of our chickens corn and our black and red beans drying in bags.

We also grew kale this year and I think this is one of their favorites.  The kale is so hearty we can cut the plants to the quick and they come right back.   They are still growing and it is almost November.  We will definitely be planting kale again next years if only for the hens.

This is my first year with chickens and I did not really realize that they are truly omnivores. And since they live in self imposed confinement in their safe fenced home I have started supplementing thier diets with meal worms.  You would think it was candy or a drug with how they try to find every last bit of the worms.  I bought a box online dried so I can give them to them whenever I want with out worms living in my house.

I tried cooking some beets for my husband and myself and well they did not go over big.  So we saved them for the hens and gave them a little bit of the beets at a time.

Our chickens ate a bit of summer squash but then decided they did not like it but they do love pumpkins.  I have been giving them some of the seeds and the strings.  When I cook pumpkin for pies and bread and I put it through a ricer so I give the girls the cooked pumpkin that the ricer removes.  I actually went to the store an bought a non pie pumpkin for my hens as I wanted to make sure I had enough for them.

Our Brave Girl.

Our Brave Girl.

I also have been crushing up the egg shells they produce and feeding them to the hens as well.  The rooster does not seem to be interested in the egg shells.  Makes me happy as he is not laying eggs.

I just purchased some wheat and barley seeds to try sprouting.  I will also be sprouting some of the corn we saved.  By Sprouting it indoors we can give them some fresh greens during the long cold winter.  I will let you know how it goes.

Wow – First day that all of our hens laid an egg

Yesterday was the first day that all 5 of our hens laid an egg the same day.  Again today we had 5 eggs.  Tonight we are having quiche for dinner

I took eggs to my sister in law yesterday.  I am not sure how we are going to possibly use a potential 35 eggs a week.  I am in search for wonderful egg dishes.  I may have to put up an Eggs For Sale sign in the front yard.  This is a wonderful dilemma.  I am so grateful for my wonderful chickens.

 

Today's Five Eggs

Today’s Five Eggs

The Chicks are Growing Up

The chickens had been in their coop outside for maybe two months when the first of our girls laid her first egg. I think she was about 17 weeks old and the egg had a very thin shell. It felt like an eternity before that day came. Really not bad time for a Rhode Island Red Hen to lay her first egg. Seems like we added a hen laying every two weeks after. Our last hen “Brave Girl” just laid her first egg yesterday and it had no shell. I hope she has better luck with her next egg. She is now 6 months and one week old. For the past week we have been getting 4 eggs a day. I have been wracking my brain for recipes using eggs. We may have to start giving them away or start selling them.

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“Brave Girl” is the lowest in the pecking order in the group of hens. I did not know this was a real thing. But, she waits to eat the treats we give them until the others are done. Or if she does try the others run her off But since they were small chicks, in our house, we had one that was always brave and unafraid of us. She would come over to us and had so little fear that we started calling her our Brave Girl.   We were able to tell who was laying because the girls developed their combs and waddles about the time they started laying.  We don’t have specific names for the other hens because we can not tell them apart. The look like they were cut from the same cookie cutter. I imagine soon we wont visually be able to identify “Brave Girl” by her looks only by her bravery.

We put a light that comes on in the early morning so they are still laying eggs in October. The way I understand it hens stop laying if there is less than 14 hours of daylight. We will not extend the light to much more so they can take a break when it is very cold.

I really enjoy our eggs with their bright orange yolks.

Preparing Fresh Pumpkin for Pies

This is my Mothers method for preparing pumpkin for use in pumpkin pie recipes.

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Her favorite pumpkin variety was  the white pumpkin with lovely orange flesh the Valenciano.  I have not been able to find a Valenciano pumpkin for sale in the market in Maine.  I have asked more than one fruit stand and market to open a bit of a white pumpkin so i could see if the flesh was orange. There are many other white pumpkins with white or green flesh and I tried cooking with one once and realized the are only ornamental.  If you are buying an orange  pumpkin from the store look for ones label for Pies.

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I take off the top as thought I were going to carve the pumpkin,  Then I cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.  I save the seeds for roasting and I give the strings to my chickens.  They really love the seeds but I like them too so we share.

Put the pumpkins flesh side down on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 60 – 90 minutes.  One way to tell when they are done is when the pumpkin shell collapses in the center.  Take them out and let them cool.IMG_6308 (2)

When cool trim off the skin and throw out or save for your critters.  Take the pulp and put it through a ricer to take out any additional strings.  My Mom as she got older tried whirring it up in the food processor but the texture of the pie was not the same.  After you have put it all through the ricer put in a bowl in your refrigerator and put the pumpkin on one side and tip the bowl a bit so the water will collect on the side and remove water with a turkey baster.  Do this for up to two days until the water stops collecting.  Some types o pumpkin have very little water  If so no need to drain.

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Then package the pumpkin in 1 1/2 cup portions stored in zip-lock bag in the freezer until ready to make pies.  they should stay good to use for 1 – 2 years.

 

Our Chickens

This last spring we added some chickens to our family. It was the first time I had had anything other than a dog or a cat. I ordered them online and we waited impatiently for the two weeks until their scheduled delivery.  It was still very cold outside so while we waited my husband built a box and we put it on two saw horses in our dining room (our converted into Chick nursery). We covered it with chicken wire in case the dog or kitten got too interested in them.  They arrived via USPS when they were one day old on April 15th.

We ordered 5 hens and 1 rooster.  We couldn’t tell for the first month or so who the rooster was.

According to the Chick supplier we needed to keep the temperature between 90-95 degrees the first week and 5 degrees cooler each week after that.  Our house was a glow every night with the heat lamp we used to keep them warm.  From the road we looked a bit like we lived in the red light district.  By the fifth week we moved them out to the coop my husband built in our shed. Inside it has 4 boxes for the hens to lay in and bars to roost on in front of the boxes  Later we added a long branch up quite high in the coop and they like that best of all.  Our shed already had little doors that slide open so we put a ramp to the outside for them.

We fenced it in to keep them safe when they were young.  Now  they don’t like leaving their fenced in area.  And my dog Abby, a heard dog, tries very hard to make sure they don’t leave either.  We may add a chicken tractor or other portable coop so they can move around the yard without them being scared.

This is a picture of them a week ago.  You can tell it is fall in this picture with all the leaves.

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This is how they looked at  maybe 2 weeks old.

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And of course this is our proud rooster.  Ruben Cogburn a John Wayne character  in True Grit.

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More on our little family another day.