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Archive for April, 2011


Yep.  I confess.  I did it again.  I really had no intention of doing it again, given my track record, but I simply could not help myself. I figure, hey, I got permission, right? So now at least I know I am not in this alone- I have an enabler.  😀

Chicken Math strikes again.  I got more chicks! 😆

Tuesday, I decided to head to Tractor Supply. Hunny had gotten me “chick starter kit.”  The feeder that came in that set was not the kind I had in mind, but thought I’d give it a try and see how it went.  Butternut had gotten her foot caught, and flopped out backwards.  Had this happened slightly to the left, she could have landed in the water and drowned.

After the foot incident, I decided I should try the other feeder. It didn’t even occur to me that it was Tuesday. Tuesdays are the days here when my TSC gets the new batch of chicks during chick days. Normally I have things to do Tuesday afternoons, but since it was the week after Easter, we had the week off.

Can you see me drooling over the chicks down there?  😆  I spent a good bit of time looking at them. Earlier, I had decided that I wouldn’t get my chicks there, because they didn’t know what breeds they were, and I had some specific breeds in mind. As it turns out, they had some chicks there the likes of which I didn’t have already.  And they were cute.  REALLY cute.  😆

I also spent a good bit of time talking with one of the girls who was working there that afternoon.  I told her I had more chicks on order, and really could not take another 6. She was wanting more chicks, but not another 6 as well. We were able to split the 6; she getting 3 and me getting 3. (disclaimer:  normally, TSC won’t let you do this, BUT, they know me down there, and they know I already have chicks.  They know that I am not getting them for Easter gifts for my kiddos, and that I’m adding to an existing flock.  ;))

I called Hunny – well, my dd called Hunny because I was scared 😆 – and then she turned the phone over to me.  I presented my case, and he agreed! It was my lucky day! 

I got one more EE, to keep things balanced, in addition to two others that they aren’t sure of breed.  We think one is a Black Minorca and the other is a Dominique.  I am not sure on the Black Minorca, mostly because the feathers coming in are white-ish, but we’ll have to wait a few weeks and see.  I am hoping (again) that they are all girls. There’s another very nice girl working there who said that in the event I end up with a boy, she will re-home him to her nephew’s farm.  I feel much better having an “out.”

If you able to identify Jasmine, please leave me a comment! 

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Yes, it’s true.  There is such a thing as chicken math, and I have completely fallen victim to it.  😉

I can’t say enough how much we loooooooooooovvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeee  ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ our chicks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Friday, Hunny had decided thy weren’t as dumb as he thought they would be, and was carrying them around the house. He also agreed that getting a few more wouldn’t be a big deal.  😆  Since I had only gotten 1 Barred Rock (BR) (Rocky) and 1 Buff Orpington (BO) (Butternut) and thought they were awesome, the initial plan was to get 1 more of each.

But then I got to thinking (and this is where the chicken math kicks in 😀 ), that K had gotten a Producing Red (which is an mix, as I understand it, between a Rhode Island Red and a New Hampshire Red) and it was cute and friendly. So now I want one, too.  😆 

Since the red lays brown eggs and is a higher egg producing hen than my Easter Eggers (EEs) (which lay blue/green varitey eggs), combined with my BR and BO, who will also both lay brown eggs and are higher producing egg laying birds, I figured I should also get another EE to balance things out.  😆  (EEs are the hatchery version of the Ameraucanas. When doing research, it seems that if it comes from a hatchery, it is an EE, but is wrongly tagged as the Ameraucanas.  While it carries the blue egg gene, it is not true to the breed.  Knowlegeable chicken folks will tell you that if you want *real* Ameraucanas, which are rare, you need to find an approved breeder.)

Down to the livestock store I went, getting there bright and early by 7 am, hoping they had some left. Well, shucks, they had sold out all 1,5000 chicks by 2 pm Friday, the first day the sale “officially” started.  “You can order them,” I was told.  Because there were others ordering as well, it was not a problem for me to have a total order of 4 chicks;  1 of each different breed.  Yippee!!

Now, if you have researched getting chicks, you will know that hatcheries have a minimum order (mostly because chicks need to stay warm during shipping, although there are some that will ship lower numbers but charge you significantly more).  Tractor Supply (TSC) has a minimum order of 25 chicks total, although you can mix breeds in increments of 5.

To bring them home from TSC, I would need to get 6. I had been to my local TSC on Thursday, and they had some chicks.  Problem was, they only had a straight run (which means boys and girls) and they had no idea what was in the tank.  Interestingly, both TSC and the livestock and feed store get their chicks from the same hatchery.  Why one place knows what they are getting and the other one doesn’t is a mystery to me.

But I digress.  🙂

So, ordering from the feed store made sense to me.  My question was, what kind of time frame are we looking at?  When I had gone online at the hatchery early in the season, everything I wanted wasn’t going to be available until May at the earliest, and since I hadn’t ordered then, it seemed to me (without checking, of course) that a new order would be even later in the season.

This would mean that I would have two set of chicks that were very different ages, which would necessitate a second brooder and worries about integrating “flocks.” After talking to the folks at the store, though, they seemed pretty certain that they would get all the other ordered chicks in about two weeks, based on years past. I couldn’t help myself, and took the plunge.  😆

Now that a few days have passed, I figure, even if it takes longer for them to get here, I would not be too worried about getting set up for another brooder.  Given the way this batch of chicks has grown, I am not too sure that it will last them until they are ready to be outside, so chances are good that we’ll need to make them something bigger anyhow.  And if that happens, I’ll have an empty smaller brooder, perfect for baby chicks.

See!  It all works out!  Chicken math is something that folks going into chickens need to be aware of. 😉 My hope is that I don’t end up with roos, because I’m pretty sure that would be a problem.

There is nothing like hearing the cheep cheep cheeping from my girlies.  I also think there is nothing quite as fascinating as chick tv, either.  On the second day, they were trying to fly, and it is crazy how fast their wings grow!! By the time I had them for a day, they were trying to perch.  Even though the perch wasn’t that high, there was much falling off, and limbo practice going on. As you can see in the pictures below, roosting has been conquered, although they don’t do this at night yet.  Lately, there has been much bickering and shoving to get the “sweet spot” on the perch.  😆

♥♥♥ my chicks!!!

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Thursday was a mad dash to get ready for chicks, with the expected arrivals coming Thursday evening instead of Friday morning.  They are great fun!

The plan had been: get chicks at 7 am with K; come back here and do apples.  The week brought a variety of adaptations to that plan.  The apples were left over from the Friday prior, when we ended up looking at the garden and chicken tractor instead of canning. Because the apples had been waiting for a week and were getting eaten, I knew I had to get them done Friday, or there wouldn’t be enough left to justify the effort.

I started working on mine, and was finally able to head over to Ks, chicks in tow, to help her get her apples done. As I’ve been researching and looking for recipes, I’m trying to find some where she can omit the sugar.  See my comments below on what I did, vs the recipe.  🙂

 

Apple Pie Filling in a Jar

4 1/2  c sugar
1  c cornstarch
2  tsp cinnamon               
1/4  tsp nutmeg
1  tsp salt
3  tbsp lemon juice
10  c water
6 lbs tart apples, washed, peeled and thinly sliced

Note: Slice apples into a solution of 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 quart of water to avoid discoloration. Drain the fruit well before packing in jars.

In a large pot, blend together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the water and lemon juice with a wire whisk. Cook and stir until bubbly and thick; remove from heat.

Drain the fruit well before packing in jars. Pack apples into clean, hot canning jars leaving an inch from the top of the jar. Fill with the hot syrup, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, and apply lids and rings.

Process in a boiling water bath for 20 -30 minutes.

No Sugar:

Omit sugar and adjust:

1 c cornstarch

9 c water

All other ingredients same.

My comments:  I used Jona Gold apples; K used Red Delicious.  I have found the Red Ds to not be as firm, but I don’t think this is a big deal. I have canned all different kinds of apples, and they are all good. I also didn’t measure the lemon juice into the water since we had several bowls going.

I ended up this time with 19 quarts and 1 1/2 pint (jelly jar) of pie filling along with one 1/2 pint of juice, which I didn’t process this time.

You could, I suppose, use Fruit Fresh on the apples instead of the lemon juice in the water.  I don’t, though, because lemon juice is cheaper and I usually have a lot on hand.  Plus, lemon juice is a natural product.  So, that’s my .o2.  😀

When I make pie filling,** I’m usually using a box, which is about 40 lbs of apples.  I have found that an apple peeler is a “must-have” for me.  This makes my time peeling and cutting much easier, since, as you can see from the picture, it spirals the apple.  Once the apple is off the peeler, I cut it in half and plop in the jars.

Another thing that is helpful is to fill the jars with a few ladle scoops of filling, then apples, then top off with filling.  It just seems to go by a little bit faster.

When using an apple peeler, be aware that you get a lot of peels. I have mine saved in the freezer waiting for a resolution to my food processor issue.  I may decide to go ahead and do the apple (peel) butter in the crockpot and then can. On the other hand, I really need to get a working food processor.  😆 

** A regular slicer/corer is good for canned apples.  I don’t remove the peels in this case, but you certainly could if you wanted to. I have also made apple pie filling using the larger apples that come from the slicer, but it’s my feeling that you can pack more smaller pieces of apples (like what you get you from peeler) into your jars than you can get with the larger, sliced apples. We like more apples to juice, but if you want more juice to apples, the slicer is a good way to go.

You could also just do the liquid and add your apples when you are ready for pie, or you could do a variety of apple piece sizes.  If you find your filling consistency is too thin, you could heat it up and add more corn starch; and/or you can add more apples to your filling.  One of the things I looooooveeeeeee about canning is the variations you can come up with.

My plan for today is to use my apple pie filling to make a cobbler.  It’s been a really crazy, busy week (with middle-of-the-night checks on the chicks), and my body is paying for it.  My big stuff today is laundry, chick tv, and hopefully finishing up knitting the one remaining sock while I hang out in bed.  Once I get that done, I’ll go looking for another sock pattern and get that started.  I have yet to use my new set of circular needles, but since I also have a few 5 needle sets, I am going to have to figure out which pattern to do next! 

That’s the plan.  We’ll see if I can stay awake to get it all done.  😆

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Set in Cripple Creek, Colorado, in 1896, the storyline has great potential.  New resident Ida Sinclair has moved out West to be near her two sisters.  Both sisters are recently married after having settled in town, matches helped along by the boardinghouse’s landlady.

Ida, however, has no aspirations for marriage; her sights solidly set on being a businesswoman.  To that end, she takes a job with Mollie O’Bryan, a business owner. (Historically, Mollie O’Bryan was the first woman to have an official seat on the gold mining stock exchange.)

This book was a bit short and underdeveloped for my personal liking.  While the story has a variety of characters, there was not much character development. I found the plot to be predictable overall. What was there was well written; there just wasn’t enough of it, in my opinion, to really draw you in and keep you reading.  I am a fan of shorter chapters, though, since those are good stopping points; something I found myself doing more of than usual for me while reading.

If you like shorter books with predictable plots, be sure to put this book on your list! I give it 3 stars out of 5; not a great book, but not bad, either.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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I got my afternoon shopping done so I was ready for my chicks in the morning.  I went to Tractor Supply to pick up the few remaining items I needed and ended up drooling over the chicks they had there.  They couldn’t tell me what they were, though, and I could tell that they didn’t have any of the Easter Egger/Ameraucanas that I really wanted.

So.  When I got home, I called the livestock store to find out if they were going to let any go tonight before the sale tomorrow.  He said if I could get there by 5:30, I could get my chicks.  So off we raced!  I got there with 30 minutes to spare, and back home.  Before I left, I called my good friend who is also getting chicks (we were going together in the am to get them), but she didn’t answer.  We called several more times. 😆

I made it home by 5:15 and she called me and literally ran out the door to get hers.  She got inside at 5:26.  😆  We now both have chicks!  They had gotten 1,500 in for chick days, and I’ll tell you, there were only a few hundred left by the time *I* got there.  Another friend is going down tomorrow, but I’ll warn her to get there as early as she can.

I now have 4 EEgs, 1 Buff Orpington and 1 Barred Rock.  Hopefully they really are all girls.  😀

Hunny had just gotten home, and the other night I was mulling over a re-purpose of the old computer desk bookshelves that had been in the girls’ room.  While I got them set up, he went about drilling and remaking the shelves into a brooder.  He even drilled holes for the “perch”- the stick the girls found in the backyard.  The chicks seem to be loving it!

This brooder took him about 10 minutes to make.  🙂 Then he went out and got me an electronic thermostat for the light. Love my hunny!  ♥♥♥

   

I’m loving it!  If you don’t see me around much in the next bit, it’s because I’m busy watching chick tv.  😆

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Planting.

I replanted my vine garden on Monday.  Something I discovered while doing that were seeds.  ?????

It’s been three weeks, and they hadn’t germinated.  Some of them were sitting out in the open.  I was amazed that they hadn’t been eaten. I guess the dove-be-gone baggies are working.

The second thing I discovered was that despite my continued effort to keep the soil moist (so things could germinate), I think it really only resulted in the seeds getting washed out to the surface.  Interestingly enough, the dirt where they had been planted was very dry. I think the dirt crust was preventing the seeds from getting and staying moist.

To that end, I have changed hose nozzles.  I broke down last week and got another nozzle, and I am really pleased with how well this one works for trickling water, gently.  We’ll see if it makes a difference.

While there are some things growing, my corn, for example, isn’t coming up bu 1/3 to a 1/4 of what I planted.  When I planted the first time, I was sure I had waaaaay over-planted, just to be sure I would get enough growing.  This translated to basically twice what the package called for.

My hunny recently cut me out a Dennis the Menace cartoon, where Mr. Wilson is planting and says, ” “I always plant three seeds…. one for the birds, one for the bugs, and one for me.”  He taped it to my desk.  😆

So now I’m wondering: should I plant more corn, interspersed with the corn that’s already growing? If I do plant more, will it grow as well being in the shade of the taller plants?  What about other things, like okra?  I am leaning towards giving it a week or two more and then seeing where we land.

I did plant more bell peppers.  Since I had “help” with my planting, some things didn’t get planted, and I am sure others are somewhere other than where I have them on my map.

Yes, I am that anal.  😀  I drew a map, or two, rather, so I could get a good idea of what was best to plant where.  The second version was the one I settled on, but I neglected to write down the changes.  At the time, I thought it might be fun to be surprised.  Now I’m just kicking myself, because I really wish I knew what some of those things are!

At any rate, I am enjoying going outside and seeing what has sprouted.  And thinking that in some spots, there is going to have to be some thinning to do! I had forgotten how neat it is to watch things grow.

In the meantime, the countdown has begun.  Two more days until chicks!!!  The chicken tractor will be complete in the next weekend or two, but gollee, I am looking forward to chicks!

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Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockle shells

And pretty maids all in a row.

Well, ok, I’m not really talking about Mary Tudor, as in “Bloody Mary,” Queen Mary 1 of England. 

I’m talking about my garden, and the growing thereof.

I counted it up, and the total of things planted was 28:

Corn
Okra
Rosemary
Tarragon
Dill
Cilantro
Green Beans
Peas
Spinach
Bulb onions
Carrots
Pinto Beans
Basil, sweet
Basil, Genovese
Oregano
Parsley, tripled curled
Parsley, Italian
Bell Pepper
Radishes
Onion
Lettuce
Cucumber
Watermelon
Pumpkin
Cantaloupe
Thyme
Squash
Tomatoes

I made a chart and have determined that the doves got a lot of the seeds.  😦  There is basically nothing in my vine garden, so that means replanting watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin and cantaloupe, although there is now one stray seedling of something popping up.

My corn continues to sprout, but initially it looks like the doves got at least 1/2 of the seeds. I am trying to determine if I should wait to replant for a few more weeks.  I think that at the very least, I am going to start some seedlings inside and then transplant outside once they are bigger.

While the garden area is no where close to being done, for the time being, it’s good enough.  I have pulled hunny away from garden escapades to work on the chicken tractor, which is nearly done. He still has the drip system to get out there, and it seems we have effectively gotten the dogs to stay out. 

The plastic bags seems to be working out ok, but I think getting rid of the feeder was the biggest help.  We’ve been able to shoo away the doves when they get in the garden for the most part, although I have no idea what is going on while we are sleeping.  😆 I think the new few days will have some additional planting. In case if you haven’t read my struggle with birds in the garden, read Garden Pests and This Means War! (Garden Pests #2) for the background information.

I have been spending a large portion of my time preparing for chicks.  I am going to be extremely bummed if they are gone by the time I get there when they open on Friday morning.  I have a back-up plan in mind, but I will say that won’t be nearly as fun.  I also expect to post about the chicks once they are here, so stay tuned!  😀

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