Sunday, January 22, 2012

Coming out of hibernation .....

....maybe a little bit.  

Believe it or not, I like the kind of weather we are having today - damp, but not raining, foggy, chilly, but not frigid. Great for working outside.  This morning I 'stripped' Francis  and Dolley's cage.  Most of the time I use the 'deep litter method,' just putting clean shavings on top of the dirty.  When it gets so deep it's easily kicked out of the cage, and has broken down almost completely, it makes an incredible amount of dust - which can't be good for any of us.  Out it came, and was added to the compost heap(s).  The pine shavings leech nitrogen out of the soil, but the chicken poo adds plenty back in, so it's a well-balanced addition to the pile. Include green clippings and you've got the makings of 'black gold' - compost.  I left the new pine shavings in big compacted chunks as I put them in the cage.  The chickens enjoy scratching them apart, then 'arranging the furniture,' -  making heaps and hollows that are just as they like.

Here they are in their freshly-clean coop.   I was trying to get a decent shot of Francis for a potential taker.   He is afraid of the camera, but Dolley loves it, and kept sneaking into the shot.   He has grown into quite a handsome boy, but look at the difference in size!    He's definitely breeding her, meaning fertile eggs, but her blue and the Orpington gold don't produce a nice result color-wise. Think mud.  He's gotten Abigail at least once (Orp and Brahma would make a nice cross) but Gracie (for purebred Orps) is scared to death of him and stays out of his way, when the cage doors are open. 

I have been given the phone number of a lady who might be willing to take Francis on her farm.  I don't know why I haven't called her yet.  I think the main thing is the idea of putting him outside suddenly at the worst time of the year. He is sweet and will let me pick him up and cuddle, so temperment - wise he is fine for a pet. If I kept him I could get fertile hatcing eggs for sale or to give away, but he does crow (loudly) and I just don't like whole squawking, violent aspect of the breeding.  Outside in a coop is one thing, right in the middle of where I live is another.   Maybe I'll call her this afternoon. 

On the other hand, the other girls got out for a few minutes on the deck for some fresh air and to clean up some birdseed.   They were having a good time until a hawk swooped low over the deck, chasing a Mourning Dove.  It spoiled everything and they ran for the door and wanted back in. 

Unlike my ambivalence about keeping a rooster, I love all my bantam girls.  They make great pets - with benefits.

Today for brunch, I used some of those benefits in a fritatta. I'm sure I've talked here before about buying some of my dehydrated food. I've tried drying potatoes without success, but I've bought some hashbrowns inexpensively from the company on my sidebar. They come in a #10 can, (large coffee) are easy to store, save freezer space, and store forever.  While I was using the kettle to make a cup of tea, I just covered the potatoes with the same boiling water to rehydrate them.   Be sure to salt the water you rehydrate in.  Like grits, if you wait to season them until they are done, you'll pour on the salt and they'll still be bland.   By the time I had finished my cup of tea, the potatoes were ready to go.  Drain, and put in the pan, browning - covered- as usual, with butter or oil as you choose.   When they are browned, reduce the heat,  pour some lightly beaten eggs over the top, add some spinach (I used kale, because I have it still fresh in the garden)  Cover and cook, flipping over once.   Yum!     

I've been messing around a little with some jewelry making, but don't have anything finished to show yet.  I need to be spinning and working on fiber things.  The Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival  is only four months away!!!!

Until I next emerge ..... from Wren Cottage.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Just in time for the New Year

This may be January 2, but today feels like the real holiday.   Yesterday was a dud, with no parade on TV and no bowl games.

Today we have all that, plus our first snow of the season (not sticking) and the questionable chicken's first crow.   Right.  Definitely a male.  :(   He began jumping on Dolley and crowing all in the same day.  I had been calling him Francis, since that name could go either way, but there is no question now.  

Fertile eggs are not a problem, I guess, other than the ick factor. I just don't want a bald, traumatized hen that can't get away from him.   All 3 of the girls are in the same coop now, and not liking it much.  Both Dolly and Abigail are pretty dominant, and they are squawking it up to establish a new pecking order (neighbors not home today).  Putting Grace in with Francis when she starts laying would give me purebred bantam Orps, if I wanted to sell fertile eggs for hatching, but she is SO shy, she could handle it even less than Dolley. 

That boy's got to GO!

Re-homing a rooster at any time is very difficult, and at this time of the year.........Besides, he's been inside all this time, and putting him outside at the coldest part of the year seems cruel.   Taking him to the butcher is out of the question.  Sigh..... not sure what I'll do. 

Dec. 11

today (note bigger comb and wattles)

 If you know of anyone who would be at all interested in a PET........he is not at all aggressive, in fact he's a big....well...chicken!  He skitters around at anything he considers alarming, but since I can catch him in the close confines of his coop, I can easily pick him up and hold him.   He doesn't want to admit it, but he likes it.   

As for the girls, Abigail and Dolly have been laying sporadically all season.  I began keeping a light on by the coop when it started getting dark really early.   Abigail molted in the late fall and is still looking pretty ratty, but the new feathers are emerging.   

January means seed catalogs and planning the spring garden.   I saved a good many varieties of seed, and if I buy any, I think I'll buy local.  Sure other seed companies have exciting pictures of new varieties, but will those varieties, grown in a very different part of the country, grow well here?   Ferry-Morse Co. , which I blogged about last spring, is here in KY, has an organic line, and has signed the 'No GMO' pledge.   They can be found everywhere from TSC to Walmart.   I think they will be my go-to source

A day late, but I hope everyone has a happy, healthy New Year.