Category Archives: chickens

meet the peeps, take 1 1/2

So… my first thought when I thought we lost our chickens was that we had just gotten into the chicken groove and now we were down two chickens and it was kind of lame that we had this perfectly good coop and everything that wasn’t being used (especially since Buffy is inside recuperating).  When it started to look like Buffy might make it, my next thought was that she was going to be lonely.  Everyone knows chickens need other chickens (you can’t just have one) to keep them company, keep them warm, give them someone to talk to, etc.  We could have just gotten another grown-up laying chicken, but 1) that’s not really the most fun way to go and 2) I didn’t want to get a chicken than would put Buffy on the bottom of the pecking order.

Luckily, it’s baby chick season and a lot of the feed stores are getting shipments regularly.  They get different breeds at different times, but they usually have the “common” ones all the time.  I made a few calls and a very patient Travis drove with me to the Country Feed Store in Vista to pick out our new chickens and Buffy’s new family.  Two days after we buried Bunny, we brought fluffy peeps home with us.

The feed store didn’t have any Barred Rocks (we had discussed these as the next chickens for next year) but they had Delawares, New Hampshire Reds, Turkens, California Whites, and a couple random ones.  We picked a New Hampshire Red and a Delaware (both supposed to be good layers AND friendly).  Travis took a liking to a little Bantam, so we brought her home, too.  I don’t know what she’ll end up looking like, but she’s got these huge feathers on her feet and she’s really pretty so far.  She’s so tiny!

The really nice thing about the Country Feed Store is that if we end up with a rooster (their chicks are supposed to be pullets 95% of the time), they said we can bring it back to them.

New Hampshire Red

New Hampshire Red

Delaware

the Bantam

sad day for chickens

Update: Buffy seems to be doing okay. She’s eating and drinking and laid an egg!  Her wound looks like it’s more of a surface wound, but it’s pretty big.  She’ll be staying inside until we think she’s safe from infection – she thinks she’s ready to get out of her cage already!  Thanks for the thoughts, everyone!

I came home today to find a chicken massacre in the backyard.  Well, maybe not a massacre… but definitely a lot of feathers.  Bunny didn’t make it.  I though Buffy was a goner, too, but by the time Travis came home she was up and walking.  There’s a huge wound on her upper back, but I’m not really sure what to do about it.  I put her in a large dog crate with food and water and tried dripping some water into her beak with a straw.  I have some sort of spray I used on Lexi when she had a hot spot and kind of sprayed it on her back.  I guess all we can do now it wait.  Because, honestly, I can’t justify a vet visit for a chicken.

I think the gate latch didn’t close all the way.  Whether the wind opened the gate or what, I don’t know.  I’m sad that we lost our pretty chicken, but I feel even worse that I let the chickens down.  I was supposed to make sure they had a safe home and make sure the dogs wouldn’t hurt them and I failed.  I can’t even be mad at the dogs because they were just doing what their little doggy instincts told them to do.  I’m upset, but not mad.

Travis was very sweet and wrapped Bunny up in a paper bag and buried her inside the chicken pen.  We threw in some scratch and said our goodbyes and then he covered it all up.  He also said I could get new chicks if I’d like.  I’m hoping Buffy will pull through, but I just don’t know.

We’ll most likely do some redesign on the chicken pen to make it more secure and maybe build in some sort of secondary containment.  But we’re not giving up.  We enjoy our chickens and I’d like to continue with the bawking.  And the eggs were damn tasty, too!

I have a problem…

See, our two chickens used to go through a heck of a lot of feed. Like, I had to refill it every few days. At first, I thought it was because they had just started laying eggs are were ravenous (I don’t know… it made sense to me at the time). But then they kept knocking over their food dish and it would fall into the pine shavings. It has a little loop on top, as it’s designed to hang. I’d also heard that hanging feeders reduce waste (oh, those messy chickens). So, one weekend while we were home I decided to just get in there and hang the darn thing. Since I did that, I maybe fill the feeder once a week. I clean and fill the waterer more than that!

Let me back up.

We have two chickens. The big Buff Orpington faithfully lays one egg every day. The smaller, louder, pushy Easter Egger lays every day but occasionally takes a day off (such a slacker!) You’d think two eggs a day is a lot and we’d be overrun with eggs. Alas, this is not so. On mornings when I make breakfast to eat in the car, it’s usually 2 eggs, fried or scrambled on a tortilla or toast. So, right there we’re eating eggs as fast as our chickies give them to us! But, we don’t eat eggs for breakfast every morning, so sometimes we build up a surplus. I’ve given 4 to 6 eggs away to friends about 3 times and that’s it. I don’t bake with our eggs because baking uses a lot of eggs! That, and our eggs aren’t quite as large as regular large eggs (2 oz. average) so I’m always worried it’ll mess something up.

Eggs went on super-sale this week, I’m guessing because of Easter and the inevitable egg-dying and/or hiding that goes on. I wanted to make some hard-boiled eggs and try pickling some eggs, so I picked up a flat of 20 since I certainly wasn’t going to experiment with our precious home-grown, not-quite-free-range but definitely not stuck-in-a-cage eggs. And then I hard-boiled 8 of them.

Crazy chicken people on the chicken forums swear that their eggs are, like, 5000% better than store-bought eggs. They swear they taste better and can tell the difference blind-folded and with one arm tied behind their backs. I was just thrilled our eggs have bright orange yolks and are tasty. Not once did I think there was a difference in taste. Until I ate the hard-boiled egg. It just wasn’t the same. Maybe it was because it was a jumbo egg; maybe I didn’t cook it the same (I should have thrown one of our eggs in the pan, too). All I know is that it didn’t taste as, well, tasty as the time I did hard-boil a pretty blue-green egg. We had fried eggs in PA, too, along with Travis’ dad’s tasty, tasty sausage gravy and biscuits and I’m sorry to say the eggs just weren’t as good.

I have become an egg snob.

There is a point to all of this rambling, I swear. The point is that I’d like more eggs. But, I need more chickens to get more eggs. And I’ve been told that there will be no more chickens until our chickens are a year old (because egg production slows down after 1 to 2 years). So, the chickens get to be a year old, I can get 2 more chicks and by the time those new chickens start laying, our girls should just start slowing down.

But! I had a plan! It is prime chicky-getting season (aside from the fact that Easter is coming up and there may be people buying cute chicks for Easter when they aren’t prepared to raise a full-on chicken, to whom I say don’t do it! Go buy a chocolate bunny instead!) and there will be different types of chicks at all the feed stores (as opposed to the slim pickings when chicken shopping in, say, August). I figured, the way our chickens go through feed, we’ll have to stop by the feed store soon to get more food. While we’re there, how can we resist picking up new chicks? And then the hanging feeder foiled my trickery because the feed supply will obviously be lasting for quite a while.

You may be wondering why I don’t just throw the feeder back on the floor so they go through feed more quickly? Well, because my frugal side kicks in and won’t let me knowingly waste all that food when I know it can be prevented.

Perhaps I’ll just have to make the argument that now is the perfect time to have chicken breed choices instead of waiting until August again. If we wait until next spring, the chickens will be 2 years old before new chicks are laying and I’ll probably have to go buy regular eggs or something. Which, if you really think about it, completely goes against any frugal, money saving argument since we all know raising chickens for eggs is not saving me money.

Maybe I’m just addicted to chickens.

procrastination

I am supposed to finish laundry, pick up the yard, and mow the lawn at the moment, so of course I’m playing on the computer.  Travis just finished weed duty, then he’s going to clean his kegs and start the transfer process.

We’ve consistently (for 3 days, ha!) gotten one egg from the chickens (I think it’s Buffy) each day.  Each day they get a teensy bit larger and the color is a little darker.  One thing I noticed is that the yolk is the same size, there just seems to be more of the egg white.  We cooked them up for breakfast this morning and they were definitely a darker color than our store-bought eggs, which is exciting to me.  I’m wondering how long it will take before we actually have an egg backlog.  Right now, we go through them faster than the chicken lays!

Poor sweet Cassie is full of matted fur.  I think part of the problem started when we shaved her a couple of years ago (I read you’re not supposed to shave double-coated dogs) and the other problem is that we just don’t brush them often enough.  Lexi is easy because her fur doesn’t really mat up.  Sadie doesn’t either, she just needs constant brushing to get rid of the extra fur.  But, she’s also kind of easy because you can swipe at her a few times here and there and eventually she gets groomed.  But Cassie takes more effort and time (for being the same breed, she and Lexi have wildly different fur) and she’s just kind of been fur-neglected.  So, we’re going to see if we can find a good groomer to do something and then try to take better care of her from here on out.

I made Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Braised in Milk the other night, except I followed this recipe instead, which added lemon juice (not just the zest) to the pot.  I liked it, because you can taste the lemon juice ever so slightly in the finished sauce.  I kept the cover on for the first hour, then took the cover off, which gave us some nice crispy skin on the breast.  The chicken was moist and tender and the sauce was good over rice, on the chicken, and absorbed into some homemade bread.  We also used an organic chicken (from Costco… small steps), which made me feel better, but I don’t know that it tasted all that different from a regular chicken.

Now I’ve got a pot roast in the oven – just a chuck roast with French Onion Soup and some beef broth – waiting to become dinner.  That and the leftover chicken should get us through the week before we jet off to Denver.

All right.  Enough procrastination.  I’m going to go get my chores done so we can go get lunch.

Oh yeah, Happy Super Bowl Day!  This may be the first year we don’t have plans to attend a party, which may be kind of nice.

Still a new year

Is it too late to say Happy New Year?  It’s still a pretty new year…

We spent our holidays at home, laying low, and generally enjoying the down time.  Especially considering we’ll be hopping on and off of planes and taking various road trips in the next couple of months. 

I’ve been taking advantage of my Blockbuster by Mail subscriptions lately, renting various workout DVDs and then exchanging them in-store for a new release.  So, we’ve gone through quite a few movies during our long weekends.  We watched Angels & Demons (I think I was too busy wondering what Ewan McGreggor would do as a priest to see the ending coming), Twilight (yes, we watched it; mainly to see what the fuss is about and to find out what vampires look like when they glitter – Spoiler: they look like glitter), Inglourious Basterds (entertaining and quirky, and then we figured out it was a Quentin Tarantino movie and it all made more sense), District 9 (I didn’t like and really wanted the main guy to just die already), and Four Christmases (I like Reese Witherspoon, Travis likes Vince Vaughn, it was pretty much a win/win movie).  The funniest thing about Four Christmases was the baby puking.  Because it’s exactly like that in real life (I suppose Vince Vaughn’s reaction is pretty spot-on, too).  If you’ve ever had a baby throw up on you, you’ll appreciate those parts of the movie.

I haven’t committed to any New Year’s resolutions, nor have I signed up for the 10 in 10 challenge, but I am still on that never-ending quest to get a little fitter and a little lighter.  Also, because I started months ago, I consider it a continuing and ongoing habit and not just something to start once January hits.  I was doing pretty well before Christmas, then kind of hit a snag, and now hopefully I’m back on track.

We’ve been eating pretty well lately.  I managed to not cook on both Christmas Day AND New Year’s Eve, but I did cook most of the meals around those days, so I think that’s a good trade-off.  Since we both worked on New Year’s Eve, we just went for an early dinner at Luc’s Bistro (still my favorite place to eat in Poway).  The next night I cooked up some lobster tails I snagged at Henry’s, and then I made Shrimp Fra Diavolo using Rao’s arrabbiata sauce and fusilli pasta (also found at Henry’s).  I dusted the shrimp with a mixture of flour and cornstarch, though, instead of just flour and it made the shrimp light and crispy.  It was actually a really good meal.  We still have half a bottle of the sauce left, so I might pick up more shrimp and do it again.

Then it was a meal at Indigo Grill ($20.10 Anniversary Week through the 8th!) and it was good enough to make me want to go back, which I think is a sign of a successful promotion.  There are a lot of Cohn Restaurant Group haters in San Diego, and I do agree that some of their places are overpriced and underwhelming (like Mister Tiki), but I have also enjoyed meals at Thee Bungalow and the Gaslamp Strip Club (more for the fun of it than anything else) and now Indigo Grill, so I think sweeping them all under the rug is a little uncalled for.

In chicken news, they are getting so big and heavy, but no eggs yet.  Granted, they’re still too young to be laying eggs (maybe next month?) , but I keep hoping they’re overachievers or something.  Lexi got into the coop one morning when I was bringing them treats, got a mouthful of Bunny, and now they’re all wary when I let them out in the morning.  They used to run right out to see what treats I brought; now they sit in their coop and give everything a big stinkeye and only when I show them something enticing will they come down.

Bunny is definitely top chicken in her coop

Buffy is a big girl!

So far, 2010 (twenty-ten, if you’re tallying votes) looks like it will be a good year.