Monday, February 27, 2017

Missing Chicken

I try not to be obsessive about counting my chickens. But I do try to count them every evening when I'm locking them up.

The other evening I was one short. One chicken had been outside the fencing during the day so I figured it was that one. In the evening when they're roosting or settling down, it's almost impossible to see the different breeds. It wasn't until the next morning that I could tell one of the brown Americanas was missing. 

Sometimes you never know what happens to them. When they get outside the fencing, you can't protect them.

But at least this time I found it. I found it lying dead on the driveway. I think Lilly either chased or "herded" it until it died, or maybe something else killed it and Lilly carried it around to the driveway.

This leaves us with 22 chickens: 21 hens and one rooster. The hens are all beginning to lay again and I'm getting about a dozen a day.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Frosty Morning

It was frosty one morning recently and I noticed these ice crystals that had formed on the side of the truck. I just thought it was pretty.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sand Art Brownies

For Christmas gifts this year, I decided to try making Sand Art Brownies. In previous years, I've made pound cakes as gifts for a few friends. I got the idea from a good friend in Florida and she kindly shared her recipe. I'm not sure where she got it originally.

The idea is that you fill up quart canning jars with a basic brownie recipe mix. As you fill it, the ingredients create different colored layers which is more interesting that a brownie box mix. It makes a cute gift. I've been similar ones for sale for $10-12!

Her original recipe would fill 48 quart jars (yikes!) so I divided it down to make 12 this time. I might try 48 jars another year.

I bought a box of 12 new quart jars for this project, and even found them on sale for $8. I washed and dried the jars and lids before I started filling them.

Here's the original recipe if you feel brave enough to tackle 4 dozen.
25 lbs. flour
20 lbs. sugar
15 lbs. brown sugar
46 oz. cocoa
180 oz. chocolate chips
180 oz. white chocolate chips
For one dozen jars, this is what I bought and supplemented a little towards the end with things from my pantry. I've included prices I paid at Aldi. I bought organic ingredients where I could.
5 lbs. flour (plus 1 lb. from my pantry) -- $3.49
4 lbs. sugar -- $2.89
4 lbs. brown sugar -- $1.98
8 oz. cocoa (plus 2 oz. from my pantry) -- $2.19
4 x 12 oz. packages chocolate chips -- $6.00
4 x 12 oz. packages white chocolate chips -- $6.00
Here's the method for layering the jars. I found that using a funnel really helped.
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Then, you'll want to print out instructions for your recipients so they'll know how to make them. I punched a small hole in the paper and tied it to the jar lid with a red ribbon.
Mix contents of jar with
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup oil
3 eggs
Bake in a 13x9 (for thin brownies) or a 9x9 (for thick brownies) for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees

In the end this turned out to be a cheap (sorry to those who received one - now you know how cheap I am) and easy and fast. Each jar cost about $2.50. This was just what I needed this time. I decided we needed to test it out before I gave them as gifts, so with some of the remaining ingredients I mixed up a batch for us. I used butter and our fresh eggs. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tiny Egg

We had a TINY egg the other day. Not sure why this happens, but I suspect it came from one of the younger hens that have just started laying eggs.

I cracked it and ate it with another egg for breakfast.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Chicken Fencing

We have movable fencing for the chickens, so it's fairly easy to move it around on a regular basis. I try to move the chicken fencing every time it rains. Or the day after it has rained. The ground here gets too hard when it hasn't rained for awhile. I can't get the stakes out or back in. It just makes it so much easier when the ground is soft.

My chicken coop has two little chicken hatches on two sides which gives me the ability to have two separate chicken runs. Over time by using both chicken runs the area around the coop gets grazed fairly evenly. Sometimes when it hasn't rained for awhile the runs get overgrazed so I will give that patch a rest for awhile. The areas right under the two doors are always going to be a problem, but I do have an idea for that at some point. I've also worked out, that for us, narrow runs work best and prevent the hawks from swooping in and attacking the chickens.

The first photo is from this morning after I moved the fencing over about four feet to the right. You can see how well the chickens have grazed the run to the left. The rest of the photos are from previous moves this winter.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bad Bull

We have three bull calves we're raising. The plan is to keep one for breeding purposes and harvest the other two.

We know one that we're going to harvest.

He keeps getting out of his fencing. We have put him back multiple times and the next day he's out roaming where he pleases. We're not sure how he gets out but he must have thick skin and not be bothered by the electric fence. We suspect the boys are fighting.

So lately we've just let him go where he wants - within reason. As long as he doesn't get in with the girls he's fine. He's too much trouble. He'll be steaks soon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


We have had a ladybug plague of sorts lately. We started noticing them back in November. I'm not sure why or where they all came from, but they're literally everywhere. They are on the windows, walls, curtains, ceilings, countertops, floors, doors, etc. They seem to like the windows the most. They cluster in corners. Maybe they're trying to get outside.

I did a little googling and came up with this:
The Asian Lady Beetle is much like the native species found through the United States. They are small, hemispherical in shape, and can be found with and without spots. Their colors may vary from red and orange to a dull cream. However, unlike the native species, this ladybug can be quite aggressive. Masses of ladybugs have been known to swarm and even bite when seeking shelter for the winter months. In this regard, they have been an unwelcome guest for homeowners that don't find them to be good luck at all, but rather a nuisance. --
And they don't seem to die easily. They survive being on the windshield driving down the highway. They survive a freeze. They survive heavy winds. They survive the rain. One survived a car wash. Another one even survived being heated in coffee in the microwave!

And now, for another unknown reason, they are beginning to die. So I'm finding dead ones all over the house.

Apologies that my photos aren't very good. They make it really hard to take photos. They are tiny and move fast.

"Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home"

Note: Ladybugs are called Ladybirds in England.