Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Henrietta's Day Off

I was at work. The manfriend sent me a txt simply saying 'Henrietta's sick'.

My heart stopped.

They may just be chickens, but they're MY chickens. And I do love them so. And this wasn't just any chicken, but Henrietta. The prodigal hen.

I got a hold of the manfriend and he filled me in on the deets. She was lethargic, off her feed, and had gone pale in the comb and wattle. I had him palpate her belly and vent, check her airways, feel her crop, listen to her breathing.... nothing. I also told him to give her a bath. To his credit, his only response was 'a bath? Like hot water and soap bath?', when I responded in the affirmative, he said OK, got off the phone, and got to it. And boy would I have liked to have seen him lathering her up and then blow drying her fluffy feathers.

Henrietta spent the day at home with Mike, sitting on the rubbermaid tub we use as a side table and really not moving much. Mike spoon-fed her water with honey in it, and hand-fed her feed.

Sleeping chicken

When I got home, I gave her a once over and noticed that she is growing in A LOT of feathers. As in a large percentage of the feathers on her body are new. It's her first year and we haven't noticed her losing any, but it's clear that she is growing a bunch. Which would seriously explain her being so tired and off. It takes a lot of energy to grow feathers. They're mostly protein, after all.

She felt like a fluff-covered porcupine

See? They grow in with a sheath, and then it gradually falls off to reveal the floof.

Kinda reminds me of those hair wraps that were big in the 90's...

And when we got home from going out to eat (at our favorite place in Burlington), Henrietta was looking a fair amount better and started showing interest in food again. Read: she obligingly ate all of my leftover shredded lettuce. Like a champ!

She's much better and off with the flock, although still not quite up to 100%. I did give everyone a boost of ACV in their water, and yesterday before I wet to work I made them a smoothie. Yogurt, garlic & banana. Oh my!

Enjoying a morning smoothie.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

(almost) wordless


Friday, January 20, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

Even though the chickens have slowed down a bit in their laying, we have managed to amass 2 dozen eggs. I don't get enough reliably to try to sell any, but with our oversleeping and not being home for breakfast a lot recently, we have a big of an excess. And while fresh eggs last a loooong time, real estate is at a premium around here so they must get eaten.

And sometimes breakfast for dinner is awesome. But I wanted to get in some veggies. So I made a compromise and made a frittata (of sorts) with spinach and peas in it...with a side of hash browns and pork jowl bacon. So happy!

Eggs. I ended up using 8. I adjust according to how much filling I have.

Even with crappy lighting, you can tell these eggs are beautiful.


I finally learned how to make them well. Thanks for the inspiration Indy!

Spinach, peas, onions.

Frittata, hash browns, jowl bacon. Yum.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Last year, winter sucked. It was cold, frozen, snowy, and really really cold.

This year, we are having a bit of a respite from the whole 'winter' thing, and even if I have just jinxed it, we have had such a mild time thus far that I am grateful. And as it's mid-January, we only have so much more to go!

(and cue panic! MUST GET SEEDS SOWN!)

The sun is shining, giving the illusion that my laundry will dry quickly:

And the DAFFODILS are coming up:

It's like this all over the property...
...with more on the way!
And I must say, the chickens are LOVING the nice weather:

Red. Posing. It's his new thing.

New Year's Resolution

Most years my New Year's resolution is a resolution NOT to make any. For if you don't make any, you won't break any. But 2011 was an odd year for me, and let's just say that with the amount of responsibilities I managed to take on, one little resolution shouldn't be TOO difficult...

I do have a tendency to go on and on about said manfriend, but in all seriousness - nothing out here would work without him. And since he is so pulled in many directions and does many things for so many people, I figure he should have ONE thing done for him - consistently.

Dinner. I settled on dinner. I will make dinner for the 3 of us, everyday. I had already been doing it more often than not, but with my working nights 2 or 3 nights a school week, those days were up in the air. Now I make sure that there is something on the stove or in the oven or something for when he and the spawn get home and I'm not here.

What I DIDN'T count on was how this would benefit me. (This is, after all, supposed to be about the manfriend). When I work nights I often bring something home with me - soup or a salad or something - and I don't usually end up eating what I've left for them. But. Working nights means I'm home in the mornings...and soups/stews are the easiest thing to reheat and get better with time (not to mention being seasonally appropriate). And so I end up eating the leftovers for breakfast. And I think I might be getting the better end of the deal here ...

Split pea and ham hunk soup. With Rye toast. For brekky. On a day where I had more energy, there would be a fried egg on top. But that might make the boys *too* jealous.
Maybe next year my resolution will be to make my own chicken feed...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chicken Update

First we weren't going to do chickens last spring. And then we did. And then we got more. There was the chicken palace, the multi-media chicken tractor, and a winter coop.

And now yours truly is absolutely enamored and addicted to chickens. I can't help it. Their antics are fantastic, they're useful as a food source, and they make great pets. You may think that coming home to a dog is the epitome of pure joy at your arrival. Well, having a whole flock of chickens come running up to the car when you arrive home AT TOP CHICKEN WADDLING SPEED is an absolute sight to behold (never mind that they mostly expect treats out of you). I love it. Can't get enough of it. And I was planning on getting a few more chickens next year.

And then I read this book.

And now I have an excuse to triple my flock next year - so we can use some chicken labor in the garden, get more eggs next year (I would like to be able to sell some), and have enough meat to limp through the year with fewer shopping trips for other meat.

We will be doing straight-run purchase. Unless I'm buying a grown bird from someone face-to-face, I will be sticking to straight-runs.

'Straight-run' (in case you don't know, and if you do please disregard the upcoming rant) means that the chickens haven't been sexed. Ie, you get a mix of male and female. In theory it should be around 50/50, but I do think you end up with more roosters than hens, a fact that doesn't bother me particularly as that means meat for my table.

So, if I am able to purchase female day-old chicks, why don't I? Have you ever wondered (most likely not, unless you're as chicken obsessed as I am) what happens to the less-desirable male day-old chicks? They more often than not don't make it much further than that in life. Unless someone wants to buy a batch of male chicks (which you would really only do for the meat, and if you were raising chickens for meat you most likely wouldn't be buying a breed that is dual-purpose or egg-laying. Which are the males we're really talking about here, let's be honest), they mostly get culled. As in put to death for being roosters.

And cost-wise, it really doesn't cost much more to buy twice as many straight-run chicks as female chicks. So. With cost and morality on my mind, I stick to straight-run. I guess the main downside is you don't know *exactly* how many hens you will end up with. But with predators and heat, you don't really know anyway, so lay down your control issues and let's move on.

Long story short - I am having a really good time fantasizing about what kinds I want to get next year. I will be sticking to heritage breeds (even though my feed store mass-produced chickens have worked out wonderfully) next year. Wyandottes? More Dominiques? Easter eggers (not really heritage, but fun!)? Only time will tell...

Class of 2011

Henrietta. Posing.

Red. Guarding the canoe.

Free. And Ranging.

Dexter. Look at those Sickles!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter Hibernation

Does not exist in this dojo. Or rather it does, but I really can't afford it to. With our plans of expansion and the need to get things rolling out here and in our own lives (something has got to change - soon!) sitting back on our heals wrapped up in the coziness of the past year sipping on the hopes and dreams of the upcoming one just doesn't cut it.

So, you may ask, what are you doing? Mostly hanging in bed with a cold. Which is really serving two purposes:

#1 - letting me ruminate on all that I have to get done and giving me ample time to freak out about it and my current situation, and

#2 - reminding me that, in fact, hibernation is necessary - me, my family, my man, my animals, my extended family - we all need this time to let our last year's achievements catch up with us, and to form a game plan for this coming year. Because whoa. We have plans.

Red. (the until recently unnamed New Hampshire Red rooster)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Road Trips, Snow, a Wedding and a Happy New Year!

I have been MIA for a little while. But with a very good reason. For the first time in a LONG time, I left the 'farm' to go off on a hiatus/adventure. I used to do this sort of thing all the time. And then I came out here on my very big adventure and the little adventures fell to the wayside. And this was a well-needed break from my job and from my 'farm' (love it as I may!).

It started with a trip up to New Woodstock, NY to see the grand-parentals. I haven't seen them in a shamefully long time, and it was a much needed visit. Growing up in Japan, being a poor college student in MN, being a poor cook in CA, and now being a poor deli counter minion/farmsteader in NC...all of these are my excuses for the inexcusable fact that I really didn't see my grandparents enough growing up. And I don't see them enough now. Too late to fix, I suppose, but it's importamt to try!

My mom was already there, and while in NY I also got to see an even less visited over the years aunt and cousin. We had oodles of fun involving art, food (oh yeah Green Jello Salad!), beer, apple pie (oh yeah Grammy's Apple Pie!!), and beer can luminaries.

First things first, I took breakfast supplies with me.

View from their deck.

More view.

Luminaries in the snow. They were very pretty - especially after they sunk down into the snow a bit.

Yes. Beer can luminaries.

Then it was time for the happy happy joy joy (reference anyone? anyone?) portion of the trip - my sissypants' wedding at Toronto City Hall. In Toronto, Ontario. Into the car the my mom and I went, and off to the great white north we went.

Rainbow Bridge. Waiting to get into Canadia.

The weather got even better on the way into Brantford, ON. All nice and icy and snowy and ridiculous.

We lit a sky lantern the night before the wedding.

Malia & Matt's wedding was awesome. Beautiful, spiritual without being religious, and full of joy, laughter, and brevity. Quite nice.

My sissypants is SO pretty!

Following the marriage ceremony, we took a short walk to an Italian restaurant and proceeded to gorge ourselves on great food with great company.


I glossed over the walk. It was EXCRUCIATINGLY cold...900 meters down Bay street in the icy blasting wind. The air temp was -6C. I don't even want to know what the windchill factor was that day.

On the way back to New Woodstock my mom and I stopped for a well needed walk and photo-op at Niagara Falls.

Still awe-inspiring. Regardless of how many times you've seen them. Or Superman.

I left on Christmas Day and returned on New Year's Eve... that week has always been a bit of a lost one to me. New Year's is always kind of anticlimactic, yet it's always held on such a holiday pedistool. Maybe because after Thanksgiving and Christmas we can't bear the thought of going back to our normal lives...maybe it's because we're in the habit of having another holiday just around the corner... Regardless, it's always a weird week that always turns out slightly awkward. This trip seemed a fitting way to wrap up the tumultuous year for me. While it was a lot of driving (1,930 miles in just mapped routes - never mind the extra jaunts to the store and whatnot), it was worth every mile.