Archive for June, 2010

Spring Chicks Update

So we did two hatches this spring, one with 8 our of 34 survived (not good at all). And then the second batch 14 out of 32 survived and are doing great. I sold a few from the first batch but kept the three mixed breed chicks, so all together I have 17. Some are mostly black, some are brown with stripes, and some are more blond with stripes.  I have no idea if any are pure or not.  I did read that when you cross a Plymouth Rock hen with a Speckled Sussex Rooster, male chicks will be black with a blond spot on his head, and the hens will be all black. So I have at least three black hens, and one black rooster, who we plan on eating.  We are going to butcher the roos in the fall, unless we get a SS roo, which we might keep.  All the chicks are in the brooder coop with a lamp that comes on in the evening and goes off during the day. Gotta keep the costs down!

We finished the Truck Cap Chicken Tractor, but not the run. We are housing our SS roo “Lucky”, two leghorn hens, and two young roos that were given to us in it.  One leghorn we are treating for “bumblefoot”  (abscess on the foot) and the other has severe feather loss. We call her “Franken-Chicken” and her feathers are growing back in.  They are both doing much better in the new coop. The two young roos are happier in there too, because in the layer coop they were getting picked on by “Little Roo” the RIR rooster.  Lucky and Little Roo, who isn’t so little anymore, started fighting so I had to seperate them.  They are getting used to sitting on the roosts while we push the CT to a new spot of grass every morning. The milk crate nest boxes are working out well, and Vincent can open the sliding window to reach in and get the eggs.  Next year we will set up Luck and our one and only SS hen to try to get some pure SS chicks. We plan on building a detachable run for the coop, but have gotten rather busy, not to mention hot out!

Blessed Summer Solstice to you all!

QH

Berry Crazed!

Strawberry Harvest!

A few weeks back, a friend invited Julian and I over to pick strawberries which set off my new obsession with pies. We had a great visit, picked some strawberries, ate some delicious muffins, and let JJ skinny dip in the kiddie pool.   I plan on inviting her to my homestead when the blackberries are ripe to return the favor.  So that weekend I bought some Rhubarb from Sharon’s Natural Garden and made a Strawberry-Rhubarb pie, and a Strawbery Poke Cake. I also discovered that you can make whip cream with a hand crank egg beater.  My pie went over very well Memorial Day weekend which we celebrated with friends at a Firefly Marathon (the TV show).  Last weekend Sharon’s Cherries were ripe and I bought two quarts of sour pie cherries from her and made my first cherry pie. I don’t normally like cherry pie, at least not the stuff you get at a dinner that probably came out of a can.   But I LOVE fresh cherry pie!  We have two dwarf pie cherry trees planted that we will one day make our own pies from!

Currently at the homestead, the raspberries are ripening! I have this great raspberry salad dressing recipe that I think is too good to share!  I’ve picked and frozen several pints, and hope to make some ice cream from them this weekend.  I also purchased a black raspberry plant from Sharon!

Julian Picking Strawberries

My mother’s favorite ice cream is black raspberry, which is not at all like red raspberries or blackberries.  When I was a kid, we use to stop at Richmond’s Dairy near Woodstown, NJ just for the black raspberry ice cream on the way to and from grandma’s house.   Anyway, black raspberries are hard to find in the store, so I’m delighted to add them to my homestead.  They produce small berries in the spring a little earlier than the red ones. Sharon might still have some frozen, if you are looking for them!

So, with all this pie making, I was thinking how fun it would be to have a “in season” pie business, where I grew as much of the fillings myself.  Currently we have raspberries, a few blueberries, lots of blackberries and apples. I also have all the eggs I could ever want!  In the future we will have cherries, plums, more apples, peaches, and pears. If we add to that sweet potatoes, and pumpkins, strawberries and rhubarb  we could make pies from May to November.  And I could bake them or freeze them to be baked at home.  The question is, where would I sell them?

Easy Peasy Frugal Double Roast Chickens

Lots of families, in a pinch buy rotisserie chickens from the store already cooked, and it is a much better option than fast food, but you can roast your own chickens at home very simply if you plan ahead.  First you have to have  a roasting pan with a lid,  so that you can easily roast two chickens at one time (one inside the lid),  which saves time and energy.  (Two birds with one stove, I mean stone! LOL)  You will also need about 5 minutes to prepare the chicken, and about 1 hour and 10 minutes to cook the chicken.  If your chicken is frozen (keep two in the extra freezer in case you have friends over) you will need to take them out of the freezer and leave it on the counter in a pan (or in a cold oven in case you have pets ) the night before (and the entire next day) you plan to cook it.  (Yes, I know this isn’t how we should thaw out chicken, but it does work. Instruct the first person to get home to cook them, or at least put them back in the fridge if they are totally thawed.) You will also need cooking spray, salt and pepper, and an empty sink.

  1. Spray the inside of the lid and base of the roasting pan. Also spray any racks, but they aren’t really necessary. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Unwrap and rinse your birds, most chickens don’t have any organ meat packed inside, like a turkey does.
  3. Put your birds in the pan breast up, spray with cooking spray (faster than applying butter) and put a dash of salt and pepper over the top to taste.  Optional: some like to put a pealed whole onion inside the bird, but it’s not required.
  4. Put your birds in the center most rack on the oven, and cook for 30 minutes. Then turn the heat to 375 for 40 minutes.   When it’s done, cut into the space between the thigh and body and if the juices aren’t pink, it’s done.

Now you have 1 hour and ten minutes to work on side dishes! I mashed potatoes and gravy with a salad are a favorite in my family!

Why is this a frugal recipe? For one, whole chickens are the cheapest way to buy chicken. Locally I can get whole birds for $0.88 a lb. Two, you are cooking two at once, so you spend less money on electricity or gas.  You can use one roaster to cook two birds, so that saves money too.  And you have lots of left overs! Don’t for get to pop the carcass in the freezer to make chicken stock at a later date!

Enjoy!