Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Archive for the ‘Free Ranging Chickens’ Category

Welcome to my Chaos!!

May 2015

Yesterday, was a day of chaos reminiscent of a black & white silent movie.  Things were moving in fast forward, and none of the participants seemed to care.  Not one paid attention to the part I played of the ever-present traffic cop, standing in the middle of the busy intersection, blowing my whistle for everyone to just STOP!!  They didn’t; they kept on in their chaotic quest to…do whatever it was they had a mind to do.

May 2015

Goats were running a-muck…outside of their two acres of enclosure.

May 2015

They have been pushy lately….well one has been pushier than the others….this guy…..Lott…

May 2015

….has been trying to breach the boundaries of the gate…not the fence line, the gate.  He sees me leave…and I think his goat mind goes to…”well, I must leave also.”  So he RUNS to the gate to get there before I can get through and close it so that he can put himself in the gap and just push forward like the stubborn goat he has become.  Yesterday, he and Montana worked in unison, while gentle, little Clark …

May 2015

…stood close.  They saw their opportunity…pushed behind me, and they were out.  I held the gate open so that Clark would not be left out of the grand adventure.

Trying to get them back into their enclosure was a comical scene…two goats would follow the goat treats,

Lott & Clark May 2015

while one preferred the leaves of the oak tree just outside of their enclosure….

Montana May 2015

…I’ve truly come to understand the saying, “Stubborn as a goat!!”

May 2015

While the goats were in the chicken’s realm…

May 2015May 2015

…..the chickens were in the goat enclosure.

May 2015 IMG_9827

Then, mama hen, Kermit, at some point in the afternoon, decided that it was time to do this…..

…..okay, that is fine except…. it was very close (well maybe not as close as I originally thought) to the point in the day when the hens and Benedict start to gather before they move into the chicken house for the night.  My mind went to that automatic door, and what if those little chicks could not get back up onto the porch.  What if one, the littlest one, was still outside when the door closed, and she ran under the house where I couldn’t catch her?

May 2015

I decided to corral Kermit and the chicks back into their house.  The porch is elevated…one chick could jump up onto it, the other two fell short.  It took about twenty minutes of getting Kermit on the porch, followed by one chick, while the others called to Kermit, who then jumped off the porch followed by the one chick who was on the porch…gather up the babies and put them on the porch hoping for Kermit to follow, only to have the babies jump off the porch because Kermit wouldn’t cooperate…then placing a plank hoping for the chicks to walk up to the porch….NOT……trying to teach the chicks to walk up the plank…running around to catch the rogue chick that runs the other direction….corralling mama hen to get back on the porch….and FINALLY, timing it all where chicks and mama are in the same place at the same time…and then all walk through the chicken house door!!!  OMGOSH!!

Finally, everyone was where they should be…..

May 2015

It was time to feed Penni, so into the house we go…and see this….

May 2015

…..one of our neighbor’s peacocks…..the other one is running around on the roof.  And the chase begins…

May 2015

…..but then, finally, there was calm….and a beautiful sunset.

May 2015

Oh wait…I still had to close the goats in for the night………..

Thanks for visiting the farm today.  As chaotic as it can be, there is peace.

I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful Sunday on this Memorial Day weekend.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

Creepy Crawlies….YUCK!

Kermit May 2015

Less than a day after the hatching of chick number two, Kermit, left the nesting box.  She moved herself and both chicks down to the larger brooder area, leaving five eggs behind.  I have seen this happen with Chardonnay, but normally that took a good four days, or so, before she totally let the eggs go cold.  This move was definitely early, but this was her first brood, so I chalked it up to inexperience….until…….

……WAIT…….WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT!!!!

As I was reaching down to move the eggs back under, Kermit, hoping she would hatch one or two more….I paused…..looked….what’s on the eggs?  Tiny, tiny little specks…and they were moving!!  I looked at my hand…tiny, tiny little specks were moving on hand, on my shirt sleeve, both my hands….WHAT WAS GOING ON??!!!

MITES!!!  Oh my gosh!!  It was so gross.  I have never had mites, at least I have never seen evidence of mites, on or around my birds.  What was I supposed to do???  I remembered the goat rancher saying to get diatomaceous earth (DE) to powder the goats if they got itchy….in other words, fleas, ticks, etc.  I had some…..I ran to the shop.

web_red-lake-diatomaceous-earth

By this time I was feeling things crawling on me….on my face and in my hair.  KEEP CALM!!!  I put on gloves, and a heavy duty mask….I was already wearing glasses so I thought that would suffice for eye protection….put a bunch of this fine powder into a bucket and ran back to the hen house.  I doused the nest, the brooder area, and even mama hen, Kermit.

May 2015

There was no evidence of the creepy crawlies on any of the eggs laid that day, but I wasn’t taking any chances….everything got dusted….every nesting box, every roosting board, window eaves, and the entirety of the floor of the hen house.  The place went from a pine, wood board color to grey.  I left a good amount on the roosting boards so that the hens, and Benedict would be laying in it as they roosted for the night.  Then I went out to their usual dusting spots, and dusted those areas.

May 2015

I dusted the goats…for good measure.  I used the residual dust on my gloves to run my hands over Penni and give her a light dusting, I dusted my clothes….then….oh gosh…I can’t believe I’m admitting this…..I very, very, lightly dusted my hair.

OH MY GOSH!!!!  SO GROSS!!!  I could feel the creepy crawlies on my scalp….. BLEH!!!!

I left it on for about fifteen minutes, then showered.  They critters were gone, which gave me good hope for the hen house.

That night, however, I didn’t sleep well.  My mind was all about having to clean up the chicken house, and having bugs crawling on me.  Thankfully, after leaving the place thoroughly dusted for three days, when I did clean it from top to bottom this weekend, not one creepy crawly was felt, or found on me, or anywhere else.

May 2015

OMGOSH!!  I don’t know what caused this to happen.  I’ve never had mites in my flock!!  There are two things that I suspect…I used straw as bedding the last couple of months;  I normally use pine shavings.  Straw, apparently, has hollow spaces perfect for little mites to thrive and populate…ok…back to shavings we go!!!  Secondly, mites are spread by other birds…and the other birds hanging around ALOT right now are my neighbor’s peafowl (two peacocks and a peahen), the Canadian Geese have gone.

 

May 2015

May 2015

In the meantime…this little beauty hatched in the incubator….

May 2015

…..and is running around with Mama Kermit…and his siblings…

Kermit and the Brood May 2015 IMG_9779

All is well!!!

Thanks for visiting today….no itchies for you!!  Hahaha.

Have a great evening, afternoon, or morning (depending on when you’re reading this!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

Much Ado About Eggs

“For which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?”
William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

There really is a “love affair” that happens once you get hooked on free ranged, from Farm to Table chicken eggs.  However, there is a question bringing me stress from time to time.  The dilemma of the day ….. “To wash or not to wash??” ……. I’m so confused!!  This question goes around and around…Much Ado About Eggs!!

A Symphony in Eggs

A Symphony in Eggs

I was visiting a very seasoned rancher, and we got to talking about chicken eggs.  At one point, he had over 100 hens from which he sold dozens, and dozens of eggs.  I asked him if he sold the eggs straight from the bird, or if he washed them.  He told me that he washed them…”Always wash them,” he said.  He just used warm water, no stringent egg wash products.  His point was that you just don’t want to take a chance….that you don’t know who is handling the eggs after they leave you, and if they will use good hygiene practices.  GOOD POINT!  GREAT POINT!!
 IMG_5229
After talking with him, I was pretty sold on that idea…then I thought….. “I just don’t know.”  That bloom that is on the egg from the hen is a great protector.  It protects the developing chick inside the egg from harmful bacteria penetrating the shell….left undisturbed, it should do the same thing to eggs intended for the frying pan…right???  AND…it is actually ILLEGAL to sell washed eggs in the UK, and all of Europe!!  http://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2012/10/25/why-american-eggs-would-be-illegal-in-a-british-supermarket-and-vice-versa/   I think that says A LOT!!
Well, the USDA  is also on the side of the UK for eggs in shell unless you are a USDA egg handler producing graded eggs sold in grocery stores (large egg producer with caged birds)….. Should you wash eggs?
No. It’s not necessary or recommended for consumers to wash eggs and may actually increase the risk of contamination because the wash water can be “sucked” into the egg through the pores in the shell When the chicken lays the egg, a protective coating is put on the outside by the hen. Government regulations require that USDA-graded eggs be carefully washed and sanitized using only compounds meeting FDA regulations for processing foods.”   http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/egg-products-preparation/shell-eggs-from-farm-to-table/   Basically, if the water is too cold, you run the risk of bacteria permeating the shell…….
So, it seems to be one of those “Damned if you do….Damned if you don’t” kind of situations.  Since there are no rules I can find regulating the washing or not washing of eggs in Oregon ( I have looked far and wide for regulations on this), I think I will leave this up to my individual customers.  And yes, washed eggs are going to have to cost more since they are more labor intensive.  It’s not like I have a lot of customers………right now!   I guess a call for clarification to my county’s extension office is next on the list for the coming week.  I want to be in compliance with my county / state’s requirements.
Benedict's Bungalow 2015
How do I manage eggs that I personally use, or sell??  I keep my nesting boxes clean…very clean with new pine shavings every few days, or if there is any soiling or broken eggs on any given day.  The hens / rooster are outside the hen house all day…unless laying eggs.  Their roost, where 99% of the poop falls, is 5 feet or so away from the nesting boxes…so things stay pretty tidy.
Benedict's Bungalow 2015
That being said, if there are smudges, soiling, or dried products from a broken egg on any of my eggs, they go to the dogs….literally.  Depending on the weather….literally, rain or no rain, determines how many treats the dogs enjoy.
IMG_9050
So, the eggs I eat, sell, and give away are visibly clean.  I, personally,  wash my eggs in warm water right before using….and tell others to do the same (with the exception of a couple of friends this past week going by the advice of the farmer …. which I still think is good advice…..)  According to the USDA….maybe we don’t even have to do that….not sure.   The learning process continues…..always!!!
What are your thoughts????
Thanks for spending part of your Sunday with us here on the farm!!  I hope your day is wonderful!!
Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

Egg-zample of Diversity

Penni and Lilly

Penni and Lilly

Chicken eggs…keep me thoroughly entertained.  Really!  There is a kind of, “Treasure Hunt,” satisfaction that happens every time I go out to collect them.  I never really know what I’m going to find….well…I don’t usually expect to find dinosaur eggs or anything like that, but I’m always hoping to come upon that golden egg…..wait….that was Aesop’s goose.  However, in Laos, there is a similar fable with a hen being the giver of the golden egg….it could happen!!!

2014

Our very first hens, remember them…the Untouchables (meaning, these hens and our rooster, Benedict, will never visit the stew pot…they are the Untoucables)…started laying eggs about a year and a half ago.  This was my very first experience with eggs not bought in a grocery store.  At first I thought, “Uuuhhmmm…..EEEWWWW!”  They looked different than store bought eggs….they weren’t…..perfectly sized and formed.  The shells had blemishes….this couldn’t be okay….could it?  Well, I quickly learned that they are very much OKAY….and delicious!!!

Here is a sampling of how free range chicken eggs can differ one from another…..

A Symphony in Eggs

A Symphony in Eggs

….pay no attention to the ketchup packets….hahaha…they provided structural support 🙂  As you can tell, I have all brown egg layers.  The difference in shading is quite remarkable.  I wonder what determines the shading from hen to hen or egg to egg….hhmmmm…..lots of things I suppose.

Eggs 2014

Home-grown, free range eggs come out spotty with deposits of pigment dotting the beautifully browned shell.  Notice the little warty thing on the egg to the left….those happen too.  I imagine those are little extra deposits of calcium.  It’s all good!!

Eggs 2014

Sometimes, the spots look like someone spattered white paint all over them.

Eggs 2014

Is this splotching pigmentation deposits, as well??  I don’t know…but it is common, and does not affect the integrity of the egg.  I will admit, the first eggs that I discovered with this kind of….decorative coloring…were discarded.  I just didn’t like them….I soon learned that the goodness inside was beautiful, perfectly formed, and perfectly healthy.

Torpedo Egg

Torpedo Egg

Some of my hens have a great sense of humor…..they lay torpedo eggs!!  Seriously, I think I have one hen in particular…not sure which one….that lays these extra extra large, elongated eggs.  I feel bad for this hen as laying these eggs must be quite the feat!!   Many times these eggs are more fragile…..

Egg 2014

…and their smaller ends come out a bit wrinkled…sometimes cracked.  The torpedo egg below….

Extreme Torpedoing

Extreme Torpedoing

Torpedo Egg cracking

Torpedo Egg cracking

….is an example of the cracking that can occur.  Only the outer shell is cracked, but the integrity of the egg has been compromised.  This egg either goes into the compost pile, or directly to our Great Dane, Penni.

Eggs 2014

Of course, my hens lay perfect eggs…why not…they, themselves, are incredibly perfect!!  Doesn’t that egg look entirely delicious!!  The goodness inside is like no other egg you’ve ever tasted, unless of course, you have the privilege of raising, or buying true, free range eggs yourself.  I can’t even order egg dishes in restaurants any more (with the exception of eggs benedict.)  My hens have completely spoiled me!

Eggs 2014

Just look at the depth of color that yoke has!!  It is fully of an amazing amount of omega-3s…truly, very healthy!!  One thing you may notice is how the yolk kind of separated from the white in this picture.  Many times, this is what happens when you cook eggs that are same-day fresh.  It does make it easier for the yolk to break if you are trying to fry it.

BREAKFAST!!

BREAKFAST!!

Making a tiny omelette with two tiny eggs.

Making a tiny omelette with two tiny eggs.

I usually have a supply in the fridge, and am generally cooking up week old eggs rather than same day.  It does make a difference in the integrity, especially if you’re going for that “flip” when creating over-easy yumminess.  I keep a carton of about 2 week old eggs for hard boiling, as the shell won’t stick as much to the white when pealed.  HHHmmmm….makes you think, doesn’t it….how old are the eggs we buy at the grocer….I never had a problem with shell to egg-white sticking in hard boiled eggs when I was buying them…..HHHmmmmm!!

Quiche 2014

How about that lovely beauty….my first quiche!!

I think it’s easy to say that my hens’ free ranging, farm fresh eggs are the star of the show around here.  If you’ve never indulged in a golden delight raised by one of your local small chicken farms…do yourself a favor and get a dozen….

Beautiful golden gems.

Beautiful golden gems.

….I think you’ll be hooked….so be prepared, there’s no going back!!

Thanks for visiting the farm today!  I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

 

The Littlest Hen

The morning was filled with the warmth of summer in late July. Anticipating the freshness of the day, the flock was noisy, calling for their freedom. I pulled opened their door, and quickly, hens rambled outside. Opening the “people” door, I heard that familiar little sound. Although, somewhat muffled, it was undeniable. Peering into the brooder, my eyes landed on the source of the high pitched “peep peep peeep”……

July 2014

…she would have been easy to miss, as she quickly hid in the warmth of Mama Chardonnay’s wings. Out of seven eggs, she was the only one to hatch.

August 2014

The baby chick quickly grew, and became her mama hen’s little shadow. Chardonnay shared all of her food with the chick, always allowing her to eat first. She has always been such a good Mama Hen.

Mama and Chick catching some rays.

Mama and Chick catching some rays.

She grew, and grew.

She grew, and grew.


Corn has always been one of her most favorite things.

Free ranging everyday, she diligently followed Chardonnay, listening, watching, imitating, and learning. She became well integrated into the flock, and was rarely chased or pecked at by the older hens.

September 2014

As is the danger of growing up in the middle of a farm – forest, predators are a real threat when feathers cover your body. The flock works hard to safeguard themselves against these threats, and they do very well. Sometimes their efforts, and our efforts are not enough. Something attacked our littlest hen.

The undeniable evidence.

The undeniable evidence.

I found the evidence yesterday morning…I’m not sure if it happened Saturday evening, or Sunday morning. Usually, I count the flock to make sure everyone made it into their house for the night…I didn’t do that Saturday night. I don’t remember specifically seeing her come out of their house on Sunday morning, but nothing alerted my conscious thoughts to her absence. In any case, she is gone…I wish I knew what got her!

It’s that circle of life thing. The flock knew it and were on high alert all day, hiding underneath things..running from cover to cover to change locations. They felt the loss, and the danger. This is the life of a free ranging chicken. There are real dangers, and in spite of that, there is real freedom….and sometimes, if I catch it just right, I think I can see them smiling!

Sorry little girl!!

Sorry little girl!!

There are definite life lessons that occur in nature, look for them, they’re there.

Thanks for walking through nature with me today.

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

29 Hours on the Farm

I’ve come to realize that my life is all about the chickens…and of course Sir Benedict.

October 2014

They tell me, under no uncertain terms, when to wake up. On those rare mornings that I have not gotten out of bed before sunrise, Benedict loudly calls from his high roost, and the hens squawk and complain….and poop…everywhere. Since I clean their roosts, nesting boxes, and platforms in front of their nesting boxes every morning…it’s a good idea to get them out just as the sunlight crests the darkness. I fudge this timing, just a little on the weekends, but still need to get out there before the hens have need for their time of privacy.

No more rooms at the Inn!!

This flock dictates how late I can stay out at night…somebody has to close the door to the hen house after dark!! Predators in the forest = a definite need for security.

Moonlit Night Oct. 2014

The flock and I have a symbiotic relationship…..they poop…I pick it up. They eat…I buy more food. They get blown by the wind….I cover up the drafts…. (this will be the last time I do this….more on that in my next post.)

The UPS guy told me that that was the most "Red Neck" chicken coop he's ever seen...hahahaha!

The UPS guy told me that that was the most “Red Neck” chicken coop he’s ever seen…hahahaha!

…..they poop…I pick it up (yes, I said that twice…I spend a lot of time picking up chicken poop!) My flock free range. They follow their natural food sources, and always end up back in their house at night. Sometimes that means this……

Hey, get off the porch...that water is for the dogs!!

Hey, get off the porch…that water is for the dogs!!

….and this…..

Seriously...that is chicken poop...That's ridiculous!!!

Seriously…that is chicken poop…That’s ridiculous!!!

….so, I follow them around picking up their…not so golden surprises. In the end, I believe the flock is healthier (I know we are!) and happier.

If you have 41 seconds….take a look at our little video, 29 Hours on the Farm , …. this is the reason I let this flock run my life ….

….next stop….well, we’re looking at goats (any ideas?), but I think I need a trip to Disneyland first!!! I’ve definitely got the bug!!

Thank you, for visiting the farm this morning!! Have a wonderful Sunday!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

Nope, Not Moulting

You may remember this guy…..

Benedict....our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

Benedict….our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

….big daddy, Benedict….our gentleman rooster. Always polite, never asking of his hens without the traditional dance. He doesn’t eat of the discarded kitchen goodies until his family has had the chance to partake. This boy keeps his eye on the sky and warns the flock of any impending dangers…Yes, he is the stud of the farm.

The past couple of months, Benedict has become somewhat of a bully to a few select hens. Oddly enough, these are hens of his roo-hood…the full Rhode Island Reds, all of them…except mama hen, Chardonnay. He will literally chase them down, not necessarily to mate, but often times just to, well…stand on them. Really, at this point, I know the difference..hahaha! Their backs are bare, or in various stages of feather regrowth.

Poor little Reisling's bare back...FYI she had just gotten up from a dust bath, her back looks dirty.

Poor little Reisling’s bare back…FYI she had just gotten up from a dust bath, her back looks dirty.

I’ve read about this. Their feather loss is not due to molting, there are even thick wing feathers that have been broken off, not pulled out. And I’ve witnessed it…I’ve seen the intentional chase..mount..stand, just standing, no rooster duties going on. Sometimes, Claudio, our Buff Orphington hen, gets in the act with Benedict, and will run over and start some weird kind of hen attack…plucking at the other hen’s feathers while Benedict stands on them. Is this common behavior??

Benedict and his harem...including the 4 bare backs.

Benedict and his harem…including the 4 bare backs.

As the colder weather approaches, I’m a bit worried about these girls. At the advice of our local feed store, the flock is now getting supplemented with Purina Flock Raiser which is higher in protein and fat than regular chicken feed (Purina Layena.) It seems to be helping with feather regrowth, and since the cold weather is currently knocking on the door, I’ve made this their primary food. As the feathers attempt to grow back, those thick shafts stick out, and it seems much more painful for them when Benedict does…whatever it is he is doing. I’ve become, Alpha Rooster, and chase him away from these girls when he pursues them…he does seem to be listening. I’ve read about hen jackets that are made for this reason, however, you run a greater risk of a mite infestation with the jackets….I don’t think I want that…but I also don’t want my girls to be cold. The only thing I know is….there’s a lot I don’t know!!!

HEY!!! Get off the porch!!!

HEY!!! Get off the porch!!!

Thanks for checking in on the farm today. When I tell the flock that you’ve been here…they get very excited!!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

Autumn is Fall-ing

I had help writing this morning…

Penni Sept. 2014

We’ve been seeing the tell-tale signs of the wilting and turning of leaves…some are starting to drop. The season is beginning, yet summer is giving its best effort to hang on. Yesterday, the last day of summer, Se˜or Verano, decided to flex his muscles for one more day here in the Pacific Northwest. Take a quick look at this comparison to areas that are typically on the hotter side this time of year……

1:40 p.m. PST (time that I looked at it )... 3:40 p.m. EST (actual time of temp.)

1:40 p.m. PST (time that I looked at it )… 3:40 p.m. EST (actual time of temp.)


September 2014
Sept. 2014

……What….doesn’t everyone have Disney World and Disneyland programmed into their phones?? Typically, the Bay Area gets hit with a late Indian Summer in Sept…uhhmmm, hmmmmm. In contrast….

Take a look....this was at 6:00 P.M.

Take a look….this was at 6:00 P.M.

it seems since we moved up to Oregon the sustaining heat followed us….don’t laugh too loudly!!! It’s been a hot, very dry summer. We, on this little farm including our fine feathered friends…

Ready for Fall 2014

…have had a collective, sigh, as the forecast shows dropping temperatures and RAIN in the forecast. For the flock this means the emergence of bugs, worms, and a bit of fresh, greens growing up out of the dry soil….for the humans it means sweaters, warm coffee, an eventual lift in the burn restrictions equaling in the ability to mow down those darn weeds, and the chance to build outdoor / indoor fires…yes, we are ready!!

Tomatoes 2014

While we wait, there are tomatoes to harvest, watermelon and pumpkin yet to ripen, a new hen house to build (that’s a different story), and hopefully one more blackberry harvest. I do hope the watermelon ripens!!

Watermelon 2014

Thank you for visiting the farm today!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

My Least Favorite Time of Year

Do you like summertime? I do! I like harvesting, sharing, and eating the beauties from my garden….

Summer Corn 2014

I like the long days that stretch into the later hours…

July 2014

……and the hot summer night sounds from my neighbors Peacocks

I like the warmth of early summer….

June 2014

…..when the ground is still green…

Happy chickens in the warmth of early summer.

Happy chickens in the warmth of early summer.

THEN…..August thinks it can just come along and spoil the goodness of my green summer days……my least favorite time of the year!!

What's that???  Hey who invited, August, to our summer party??

What’s that??? Hey who invited, August, to our summer party??

August brings the heat, and the dryness to the land. It is the time for getting poked from stickers that get stuck in your socks as you walk through the dry grasses.

August 2014

August 2014

Unfortunately, a bolt on the mowing implement attached to the tractor was broken for awhile at the end of June. Burn restrictions went up on July 3rd…since we have rocks, and metal blades against rocks can create sparks…sparks against dry grasses can create fires…mowing season ended earlier than usual. I didn’t have a chance to do the final cutting…so, unfortunately, the weeds are larger, and uglier than I am happy with…

YUCK!!

YUCK!!

The chickens get hot, and scrounge the dry grasses for bugs and seeds. I hooked up a fan in the chicken house for relief of the hens while they conduct their “business”…then I turn the fan in the afternoon toward the roosting boards so they can find some relief as they need it.

August 2014

The pond has receded….thankfully it has never gone dry! But this summer…actually, the past two summers, have really tested our little pond….

The pond is way down...this "green" area is usually not as large.

The pond is way down…this “green” area is usually not as large.

See the green ridge above the water line? This is where the pond usually recedes too…the ridge above it is where the pond sits when it full…I call that the NORMAL part of the year!!

August 2014

Saturday, August 30th, did bring some relief…

Fall can’t come too soon!!

Thank you for sharing the first day of September with me. I hope your Labor Day is spectacular….put one on the barbie for me, and I’ll add a burger on my BBQ for you!!

Your friend from the NW,
Tami

Oh, Did I Tell You…

It seems like forever since I have sat down to write. It is that time of year. Mid-August usually demands a certain amount of sweat-equity…not only from the summer heat,

Oregon's best kept secret....

Oregon’s best kept secret….

but also from the demands of the oh-so-soft-spoken ripening garden. It has been dry, really dry.

The ground is so dry.

The ground is so dry.

Everything, is feeling thirsty from the lack of those wet, drippy things that fall from the sky. It takes a bit of an extra effort to keep the flock in fresh water (they get overheated very easily), to maximize the benefit of the water given to the garden, to water young fruit, nut, and Sequoia trees one by one by the bucketful, while keeping a balance with the water level in our holding tank. That tank holds water from our well…which in turn, waters this family.

"Yeah, I'm guarding the water!"

“Yeah, I’m guarding the water!”

In spite of water rationing for the garden, there is plentiful ripening. Harvesting of more than just a couple of tomatoes here…a pepper there…has begun! We are starting to enjoy the “fruits of our labor”, especially in the berry department. Wild blackberries are ripening at break-neck speed, and my little strawberries are right behind them. When you pick them at that juicy, sweet ripened stage from the vine, they don’t last long. The upshot of that is turning this…..

IMG_6460

….into this!!!

Making jam...

Making jam…

Strawberry jam

Strawberry jam

And this….

Bucketful of Blackberries

Bucketful of Blackberries

…into this…

Blackberry Cobbler!!!

Blackberry Cobbler!!!

Oh boy!!!

Oh boy!!!

A little time consuming, but totally worth it!!

Oh, did I tell you….

The newest addition.

The newest addition.

….welcome to the farm little Roni Jr. ….. hatched on my daughter’s half-birthday. Out of six eggs, this is the only one that hatched. After several days, Mama Hen abandoned the nest, and the eggs went bad. The baby is out and about free ranging with the rest of the flock, watching every move Mama makes.

Thank you for sharing the long days of summer on the farm with me!! Hope you are having a wonderful August!

Your friend,
Tami

Dinner Last Night

There is artistry in the food we eat. I realized this with last night’s dinner. I don’t mean in the way of how it is displayed on the plate, or the unique style in the craftsmanship of the porcelain it sits upon. More and more, thanks to the numerous cooking shows on T.V., I’m experiencing the depth of flavors one can create when the main seasonings go beyond garlic salt and pepper (that’s where I’ve been stuck for many years.) Even this, however, is not really what I’m talking about right now. Although spices add to the complexity and success of the dish, the main ingredients, the stars of the show, are what my thoughts have been focusing on.

OOOOPPSSS...how did those Little's get into the garden??

OOOOPPSSS…how did those Little’s get into the garden??

Dinner last night, the sustenance of nutrition, was completely grown, or raised, on this little beginnings of a farm…right here on Haveadane Hill. Okay, so the spices I used and the local honey were not…but….does that count??? Something to think about…can I grow my own cumin, how about ginger?? Something to definitely investigate!!

Baking chicken on the grill.

Baking chicken on the grill.

This beautiful bird (one of the roosters of the Littles, aka The Muppets hatching) was hatched, raised free ranging from day one, culled by Tony, cleaned and processed by my own hands, chilled in the fridge for a few days, and became the star of the show!!

Isn't that gorgeous??!!

Isn’t that gorgeous??!!


Rooster Aug. 2014

I made a rub of powdered garlic, cumin, ginger, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil. This little bird was well coated and cooked up beautifully!!

Then I chopped up onion, crookneck squash, young yellow bell peppers, and zucchini…all from my garden…sauteed them in olive oil (well..no, I didn’t squish the olives hahaha)…cooking the onions first, sprinkled with cajun spices until well caramelized, then added the two squash.

August 2014 Saute

As the veggies started to release their juices, I added the wonderfully delicious local honey I discovered a couple of weekends ago (I was not at all fond of honey until I discovered REAL honey…not the junk sold in the grocery store.)

The end of the honey drizzle....who wants to lick the spoon??

The end of the honey drizzle….who wants to lick the spoon??

I thought that I had possibly cooked the veggies too much…I didn’t want mushy, but I wanted them to be cooked through. Much to my delight, they still had a nice crunch from their skin due to the just, picked, garden freshness. Next time for color, I may add some spinach at the end of the veggie saute. I think that would be good!!

My completely home grown dinner...delicious!!

My completely home grown dinner…delicious!!

The little rooster was really, really flavorful…and a bit tough. He was a very fit bird, with very little fat. Butterflying the bird and roasting it on the grill breast side up (thank you FoodNetwork – The Kitchen) allowed the spices and the small bit of fat from the skin to permeate the meat making it very moist. The veggies were outstanding, and the sweet honey added to the brightness of the cajun spices really complimented each other. The flavor that stood out to me the most, however, was how absolutely fresh everything tasted…really, it was amazing.

Making chicken stock.

Making chicken stock.

THEN….not wanting to waste one bit of this amazing little rooster, I added water (we’re on a well so again…straight from the farm), carrots and onion (from the garden) and made a wonderful stock.

Stock after sitting in fridge overnight.

Stock after sitting in fridge overnight.

There was so little fat that rose to the surface, that this is all I could skim off….

Rooster Stock Aug. 2014

I’m proud of my little rooster…he was one healthy bird!! He provided my family dinner last night, and will provide us broth for a great soup once the weather turns cooler.

Cooled, skimmed, and ready for the freezer...to enjoy as soup in the cool of a fall evening!

Cooled, skimmed, and ready for the freezer…to enjoy as soup in the cool of a fall evening!

Who would have ever thought that this city kid from the San Francisco Bay Area, who ate in restaurants more than she cooked, could move to the country and raise the meat and veggies entirely on the farm for dinner last night?? I’m so excited to explore what is next for the farm…I keep talking to Tony about a couple of cows…he keeps talking about a couple of pigs….bee keeping for honey is totally on the list…stay tuned, there’s more to come!!!!!

Thanks for sharing my dinner last night!! Have a wonderful, wonderful Sunday!!

Your friend,
Tami

Of Summer and Chickens

A little chicken humor to start your day…

A Pig and a Chicken are walking down the road.
The Chicken says: “Hey Pig, I was thinking we should open a restaurant!”
Pig replies: “Hm, maybe, what would we call it?”
The Chicken responds: “How about ‘ham-n-eggs’?”
The Pig thinks for a moment and says: “No thanks. I’d be committed, but you’d only be involved!”

Here’s something else that I find very humorous….

YES!!!  That's our Benedict!

YES!!! That’s our Benedict!

…Benedict!! Our gentleman rooster kicking back and spending time with mama hen, Chardonnay. She’s been broody lately, but non-committal. She’ll sit for a couple of days, then I find that she has switched nests. I’m fine with that as I really don’t want more chicks right now. I think Benedict misses her!!

With mama hen broody, I don’t think she is laying right now which is totally fine. Out of nine laying hens, eight are very active. I have more eggs than I know what to do with. Here’s a peek into my fridge….

Eggs galore!!!

Eggs galore!!!

…..EGGS, so many EGGS…..they are taking over!! I’m averaging six eggs a day. Once in awhile they all get on the same page, and all eight will give us a beautifully formed gem…

Beautiful golden gems.

Beautiful golden gems.

….with four more hens coming of age (remember the Littles), I’m going to have to open an egg stand at end of the driveway! I’ve read of those farms that will have an “on you honor” system wherein they have a cooler with their eggs, and people just stop and pay for what they take. I may try something like that. I figure, if someone needs to steal a dozen eggs, then they must be really hungry and they can have them for free!!

Speaking of the Littles (aka the Muppets)…..

The Littles

The Littles

…they’re not so little anymore! Can you see the three young roo’s in this bunch? Their plumage is really becoming apparent, yet, at this point, I haven’t heard that tell-tale croaky call that shouts they have come of age. Benedict does do a good bit of chasing them around, so the day of reckoning is close at hand.

Other than that, the flock is basking in the joy of summer. They lay in the sunshine and spread their wings wide, then shuffle, shuffle, shuffle in the dirt allowing themselves a good old fashioned dust bath. In the heat of the afternoon, they find a well developed shade tree, or hang out wherever shade is cast.
June 2014
The flock freely moves about, picking the seeds off the mature grasses, and wait for me to come out with discarded fruit, or leftover corn that may be hanging onto a half way eaten cob. They stay up way past their bedtime, since the sun set after 9:00 pm, and wake up demanding to be let out of the house at 5:15 am every morning. They thoroughly enjoy their remodeled house, and complain loudly when something disrupts their solace. Life is good!

Oh, by the way, they have a new friend who greets them as they enter their house…the first of what will become a collection to garnish the outside perimeter of their home….

June 2014
June 2014

Thanks for taking a walk with me today. Have a great, and wonderful Sunday!!

Tami

“HEY…WHAT WAS THAT CROAKY SOUND COMING FROM THE LITTLES?” Seriously, just right now…..oh boy!!

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