Monday, April 15, 2013

Something happy

I think we all need something happy right now. This is all I could think of. Hope it makes you smile.

25 weeks

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Flying the coop

They've escaped!

Yes, I know my yard is a mess. Right now my house is much worse. Don't judge.

It only took a week for the ladies to figure out that they can use the new compost bin to get over the fence and into the yard. I found 4 of the 6 out in the yard. I opened the gate to the chicken yard for the rest of the girls. Luckily, they found their way back at dusk.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The medicinal properties of olive oil

The chickens would like to tell you good morning.  

Also, did you bring them any treats? Hubs and I had a very busy weekend. Friday I got off work at noon, and we set to work in the yard. We needed to replant some grass and clover in the chicken run where weeds had killed everything off last summer. Unfortunately, we don't have great soil, so we needed to loosen everything up with a pitch fork before spreading the seed. From there I set to work transplanting my peas, pumpkins, zucchini, and squash from my seed starter tray into bigger pots, and starting another round of peppers along with some herbs and flowers. I also added some pansies to the strawberry bed out front next to our walkway. I figured it was too early for pansies, but I don't care. I want some color darn it! Then we set to the daunting task of emptying 6 months of chicken shit out of the coop. It's really not that dirty of a job, but it does involve using a pitchfork to scoop out all of the straw and poop. Halfway through I realised that there was no way that much muck would fit in our compost bin. In the fall, I put the waste directly onto the garden. It has all winter to break down. Chicken poop is good firtilizer, but it's high in nitrogen and will burn the plants if you don't give it time to break down. So we scrambled and built a new compost bin out of some pallets we had in the garage. When we finished, we were so exhausted, I'm ashamed to admit, we had Panda Express for dinner. Don't tell my midwife. After all that work on Friday, Saturday was supposed to be relaxing! We had a lot of sticks in the yard along with the plants from the vegetable garden that I never dealt with last year. We were going to have a relaxing day sitting around the chiminea burning. Yeah right. We let the chickens out into the back yard to forage and to "till" the garden. After about an hour I noticed one of the girls trying to take a nap with her feathers all puffed up and her rear end sticking high in the air. I watched her closely all day, but she never snapped out of it. I thought maybe she was egg bound (had an egg stuck in her duct that she could not pass) but try as I might I could not feel and egg stuck inside her. She happily ate the clementine segment I shared with her, but was only taking a little water and had not pooped at all. This is very unusual for a chicken. They poop all the time! I was very worried that we were going to lose her. Finally I remembered a post I had read from HenCam describing about a treatment for egg bound chickens that helps with other ailments as well. This is from the amazing author who wrote the children's book Tillie Lays an Egg. Just as we decided to run to the drugstore to get the supplies we would need to treat our girl, it started to pour and effectively put out our fire for the day. Once back from the store the little lady was dosed with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, which she swallowed, but was NOT happy about having an eyedropper shoved in her beak. Then was given the spa treatment of a soak in warm water and Epsom salts.

I kept her in a box next to me on the couch while I waited for her feathers to dry. She ate the food I brought her, drank some water, and finally pooped! TWICE!

If I'm this excited about chicken poop, you guys won't be able to stand me once this baby is born!

She curled up in her box and napped while I wrote some emails and surfed the web. I never thought I'd be one of those people that brings their chickens into the house, but she was freaking adorable napping next to me on the couch! Then, when her feathers were dry, we put her out with her sisters. She had perked up quite a bit by then and was running around the yard with them enjoying the last hour before sunset and chicky bedtime.

Today when I came out into the yard, all 6 girls were perky and pecking around for bugs. I was such a happy chicken mom!

Things I planted this weekend:
Sweet Basil
Lemon Basil
Red Bell Peppers
Purple Coneflower

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chocolate Granola

Happy Autism Awareness week!

Today is gorgeous! I'm sitting outside watching my chickens eat as much green grass as they can handle. They are so happy to be out of the chicken yard and in the garden. It's a great time of year to let them into the garden. They'll eat up all the grubs and larva that will grow into bigger pests later.

Okay, so homemade granola. One, it's easy. Two, it's delicious. Three, it's healthy (mostly).

This recipe is easily adapted for any amount you want to make. The amounts I have below are based off of the amount of ingredients that will fit on one of my baking sheets. If you want to make more or less, just eyeball the amounts that look good to you as you add them to the pan. Also, all of my measurements that are in ounces are just approximations from the bag size. I can get about 3 batches out of one 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips, so I use about 4 ounces.

Preheat your oven to 350.

Pour 2 cups of steel cut oats out onto your baking sheet, and give it a shake to spread them evenly around the pan.

Next, add a cup of nuts. I used raw peanuts because they were on sale. Also, I love peanuts. I frequently use raw almonds in this recipe, and you can use whatever nut you want.

And if you want to add some seeds you can do that now as well. I added 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds I needed to use up.

This goes into the oven for 20 minutes, taking time to pull it out and stir it half way through. The oats around the edge of the pan will get too dark if you don't stir, so use a rubber spatula to pull the oats from the outside to the inside and give it another shake to even everything back out.

Everyone's a sous chef.

After 20 minutes I add my fruit. You can use any dried fruit you like. In this batch I used 3.5 ounces of dried coconut...

...and 1 cup of raisins.

Put the granola back into the oven for 5 to 8 minutes. If you are using coconut, keep a close eye on it. Lightly browned, toasted coconut is delicious, but it goes from brown to black very quickly.


Lastly, after you pull the pan out of the oven, add about 4 ounces of chocolate chips. Sprinkle them all over the granola. The heat from the granola will melt them as you mix. I use my rubber spatula to press the granola into the chocolate so that everything gets an even coat.

Chocolate just starting to combine

Chocolate mostly worked in

Chocolate completely coating the granola and spread out on the pan to cool

Before you scoop the granola off the pan, it needs to cool so that the chocolate can harden. I usually just leave mine out on the counter for a few hours, but you can put it in the fridge.

Once everything has cooled, you can scoop your granola into an airtight container for storage. Use your hands to break up any chunks that look too big for a spoon.

This granola, in a cereal bowl, with some whole milk is one of my favorite snacks. We would eat it for breakfast every day before we had chickens. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!