Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Could be naughtier

I have three large and well-loved dogs. Two of them are Weimaraners, an intense breed known among its admirers for having some screws loose, or--depending on the dog--missing entirely. The OTHER dog is the naughtiest.
His rap sheet is extensive, and includes the following charges
* breaking and entering
* breaking and exiting
* unauthorized consumption of food and nonfood objects
* impeding a government employee (mailman) in the execution of his duty
* unauthorized execution of doody

Naughtiest. But he has never been interested in the chickens...until yesterday.

Yesterday, while no one was looking, he quickly weaseled his way into the new chicken pasture. When sighted (and up until the time he was "apprehended"), he was standing in the corner of the chicken pasture, eating something off the ground with great relish. Thankfully it was not a chicken...not even an egg....it was polenta. A cornmeal-like substance I had bought for my own kitchen, but never figured out what to do with. I thought the chickens would like it, because they loooove corn, but the chickens were largely indifferent. Their new pasture is open now, filled with plants and weeds and bugs and worms, and they don't have time for my silly kitchen scraps.

"Stupid chickens," thought my dog. "I bet polenta is deeee-lishous. I'm gonna try me some." And he did.

NO ONE TELL HIM where chicken comes from.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Madam, what has happened to your rear?

We have four Buff Orpington hens, three of which look pretty much like this fine lady here. Though she is turning away from the camera, you can see her red comb and wattle pigment. She also sports a standard-issue rump, with a nice feathery tail.

Then there is the fourth Orpington. She has no tail to speak of, and her comb and wattles are pale. Wondering about these differences, I turned to the interweb. A google serach for the exact phrase "assless Orpington" returned no results. Then I found that chicken fanciers have a much less vulgar vocabulary than my own: the correct term for types of chickens deficient in the booty is "rumpless." But, it turns out, there is no such thing as a "rumpless Orpington."

In the end (so to speak), it seems most likely that this hen has been bullied, and the bullies have removed her tail feathers. Orpingtons are kind of gentle, and apparently may be bullied by other breeds. This paints the other hens in an unflattering light, in which I do not like to think of them. When the new chicken habitat is finished, this chicken--and the other Orpingtons--will live in a separate habitat for peaceable chickens.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Hard-boiling farm-fresh eggs?

Farm-fresh eggs do not peel well! Peeling is easier if eggs are not hard-boiled until they are 1-2 weeks old. As the egg ages, air slowly penetrates the shell, helping to separate it from the membranes inside.
Some websites suggest modifying the traditional hard-boiling procedure to make fresh eggs easier to peel. I've had pretty good success with the modified method, but haven't yet done the sciencey side-by-side comparison that this situation cries out for. If you try the modified method let me know how it goes!

1. Put the eggs in a single layer in a pan. Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by 1 full inch.
2. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. When the water reaches a boil, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan.
3. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 16-18 minutes. (this gentle cooking yields tender, not rubbery, eggs.)
4. Cool the eggs under cold running water, or in prepared ice water.
Modified for very fresh eggs:
After the eggs have been sitting in the hot water for 16-18 minutes, remove them to very cold ice water as above and SAVE the hot water; don't dump it out. (tip: use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs from the hot water.)
5. While the eggs cool, bring the hot water back to a boil. Then put a few eggs at a time back in for 10 seconds.
6. Take the eggs back out of the boiling water and cool them again in ice water.
Final step for both procedures: refrigerate the eggs for up to 1 week, or crack them all over, peel, & serve immediately.

Incredible Egg
Catherines for lamb (?)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Insert new chickens here.

Baby chickens are arriving at the end of the month! Once the little guys and gals grow up, our flock will have roughly doubled in size. This new run will give them a lot more space, and we'll be able to subdivide it and separate some chickens.** The plants will have a fighting chance to grow without being scratched to death, too. So a win for chickens, win for plants...but look out bugs!
The gate is up, but I suppose we should finish the fence too.

**Why separate some chickens? For one thing, one of the new breeds is friendly, docile, and apparently "prone to bullying" by other chickens. More to come on these chickens with no lunch money.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Infotainment: Shelf life


Q: What is the shelf life of a farm-fresh egg?
A: According to the American Egg Board (www.aeb.org), raw eggs can be kept refrigerated for 4 to 5 weeks without much loss of quality. Those weeks start when the egg is created, though—so for grocery store eggs, aim for 3 weeks in your refrigerator. With the farm-fresh eggs in this carton, you get your full 4 to 5 weeks.

Q: What is the shelf life of a hard-boiled egg?
A: Properly refrigerated, hard-boiled eggs keep for 1 week.

Q: Why is the shelf life of a hard-boiled egg less than a raw egg??
A: Hard-boiling an egg removes the bloom from its shell. (Remember the protective bloom?) Therefore, on a microscopic level, the shell is now 'drafty.' Bacteria, off-flavors, and weird refrigerator odors can drift in. So 1 week it is.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Sometimes, you just have to make a stuffed chicken. I had some yellow fabric so I decided I would make an Orpington. I had big plans for making this chicken's tail, face, and cute little feet.
Things turned out...okay. I made up the pattern, and the first chicken that resulted from my made-up pattern was kind of long and skinny. (I have yet to design a pattern where the first product isn't longer and skinner than I thought it would be, even though I really try to draw the pattern very fat.) I am happy with the cute little feet, and fairly happy with the tail. The smile is kind of a problem though: from some angles it is cute and from some angles it is unsettling, like if the Mona Lisa had a chicken. Perhaps I should stick with OUTRAGE and its friend contentment.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Who's the Boom King?

This Lace Wyandotte has always looked like a rooster. From the time he was nugget-sized, he was heftier than his friends and had a bright red comb. We dubbed him "rooster boy." And now he is a rooster MAN. In this picture he invites you to check out his handsomeness.
He keeps a beady eye on us when we handle his hens; he looks out for hawks; he is not rough on the hens. When it comes to his duties as Boom King, however...he is not so skilled. (Sorry to air your business on the internet, Rooster Boy.)