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Posts Tagged ‘chicken tractor’


He had a vision. I had a vision. But he was building it. So I kept my mouth shut.  😀

It started off simply enough- we agreed to 3 chickens.  Both of us were bitten by chicken math pretty early on.  As any good builder knows (at least in our case :lol:), you put your plans together, and then you build bigger than you think you really need.

That meant I could get more chickens.  So then we planned on 6.  And he built bigger.  😀

By this point and time, I was in full addict mode, chicken math  and oops, I did it again having fully taken over.  And, to be fair, hunny was too, although you won’t get him to admit it right now.  😉

His vision was a chicken tractor that looked like a barn.  The upside to a tractor is that they are mobile, which means you can move them around your yard, making clean up easier, whilst giving your chickies fun things to do in the grass.

Work began. 

Then a bit of paint. 

Once it was finished, we moved it into place on the other side of the yard, next to the garden.

Long story short, we needed to add a run.  And probably another nighttime roost.  Plans for a silo to attach to one side were discussed and pondered. Materials for a run were acquired. Research was ongoing, and my “wouldn’t that be nice” list continued to grow.  😆

My big concern has been predators.  While I don’t think we’re going to get bears and coyotes in the backyard, I couldn’t emphasise enough how devastated I would be (never mind the kids!!) if something got in and took off the heads of my chickies and scooped them out one handful at a time.  More research was done.

This morning, he says to me, “I really ought to just build something else entirely.”  Can you see the jaw drop and the eyes bugging out of my head in sheer delight? (clap clap clap) So, we designed and priced, and off they went to get materials.

We moved the barn tractor back to the other side of the yard, so they can build in place. While I’m going to miss our little barn and its features, it’s going to a *very* good home. 😉

You can’t see it well, but the ladder is on sort of a pulley to close the ladder up at night.  Both sides of the roof open for easy cleaning.

I know that last one is redundant, but I can’t take enough pictures of the chickies!  😆

Round 2 is well under way.  The two oldest are out there (yes, in the 100 degree heat) pre-drilling holes and screwing things down.  My oldest dd is more inclined to this kind of work than my son is, which is interesting.  I think the only thing he really likes building is computers.  😆

Let the round two chicken fun begin!  😀

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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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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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