Barred Rock Chickens at Six Months

Chickens always win a Stare Down with Emma the Aussie

We had our first four egg day, just as our six Barred Rock hens were about to hit the six month old mark. I imagine that will be the usual output of eggs, using the one egg per day and a half, per chicken, rule.

I am the Ruler of the Roost

Those two are Big Tail and Little tail. Though allegedly the same age, the developmental difference between the two is obvious. And there is even one thing they like better than their red wheelbarrow.

Earth Movers

My compost bin! I fill it up at least once a week, and they empty it out in no time. I still expect to have some of the richest compost in history, except that I will have to track it down, as they scatter it throughout the pen.

Coop, or Co-op?

At night they all cram into this pre-fab coop, which was made by Innovation Pet. It’s very clever, and was designed by some real chicken experts. Not actual chickens, but humans who are experts on chickens. It cost much less than what it would have taken me to build something similar. I did sit it on a foundation of 4x4s, which turned out to be an excellent idea, as we had an unbelievably wet spring.

At a later date, I will expound upon my mostly home made watering and feeding devices, two of which are partially visible in this picture. Until then, peace out.

Eggs. To Refrigerate, or not to Refrigerate? That is the Question.

Eggs laid Minutes ago, by my Barred Rock Hens

An existential question here–Should I wash my eggs? I mean, they have been up the inside of a chicken, so there is something strange about that. Who knows what those birds have been doing? I regularly catch mine loitering in my driveway. So naturally, the answer is no, and yes.

NO

My fresh eggs, which I collect a couple of times a day, are said to be safely consumed unrefrigerated for up to three months. They never last more than a week around here, so no biggy with that one. Unwashed eggs have a natural bacteria barrier coating known as the bloom or cuticle. If you buy eggs at a farmer’s market, just ask a seller if they have been washed. A little chicken poop on the eggs is a good sign they weren’t.

YES

The big bad USDA requires that all supermarket eggs be washed, and even steamed. Thus the natural coating has been removed, from even the freest of the free range eggs. Combine that with the fact that most commercial eggs are at least a month old before they hit the shelves. Keep these jokers cold. Moral of this story: No supermarket egg, no matter how expensive, will be as good as a farmyard one. There has to be a lesson here.

DOWN WITH BIG CHICKEN

Chickens of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your coops! Seriously, this goes back to the heart of agri-culture. Know where your food comes from, and all will be well. I promise.

An Old Farm Boy Discusses Hoya about Chickens on the Interwebs

Gott in Himmel! A Chicken on a Red Wheelbarrow, Surrounded by Grass Clippings, and Next to a Compost Bin made of Chicken Wire

As an old farm boy, I am endlessly amused by the farming experts on the interwebs, especially those who have no idea what they are talking about. That would be most of them. To paraphrase Nate Silver, the average expert, on their best day, is as accurate as a coin toss. I think that’s being a little generous.

The great Congressman Mo Udall once famously said, “I have learned the difference between a cactus and a caucus. On a cactus, the pricks are on the outside.” Considered to be too funny to become president, he told the all time greatest story about Hoya.

He claimed to have given a speech to a group of Native Americans, and every time he made a promise the whole crowd would yell, “Hoya! Hoya! Hoya!” He thought his speech had been a killer, when he was invited to have a look at their ponies afterwards. As he was walking into the horse pen, the chief told him, “Be careful not to step in the Hoya.” There’s a lot of Hoya out there.

Here are my two favorite Hoya’s about chickens, having grown up on a farm where we had 10,000 chickens a year.

Hoya 1: Grass clippings will kill chickens.

Hoya! The only things chickens like better than grass clippings are food, and chicken sex. Kind of like people, except for the chicken sex part. BTW, my clippings are produced by an electric mower, which is recharged with a solar generator.

Hoya 2: Chicken wire isn’t strong enough to keep chickens from escaping.

Hoya! Our 10K chickens never once broke through chicken wire, and we raised hatching eggs, which meant we had roosters that were almost ten pounds. They were mean buggers, and would slam each other into the wire. Maybe I slammed a few into the wire as well, after they attacked me. I disremember.

So use experience as a guide. Chickens survived millennia of evolution because they aren’t stupid. I refuse to comment on the same topic concerning humans. See: Deniers of Anthropomorphic Climate Disturbance, aka Global Warming.

Chickurkey a la King with Morels

Chickurkeys are not Easy to Capture

What we have here is a dairy-less Chicken a la King with turkey added, and fancied up with morels. I am carefully rationing my years supply of morels, because they are renewed yearly only on December 24. This seemed like a good time to use a few.

Ingredients

3 dried Morels, reconstituted and sliced (Porcini or Oyster work also)

Morel Water

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Flour

I sweet Pepper, chopped

Chicken Stock

Salt and Pepper

1 cup cooked Chicken and/or Turkey

The cooking is simple. Make a blonde (light colored) roux with the oil and flour, stirring constantly. Add the chopped pepper, and stir for another minute or so. Add the morel water, filtered through a paper towel, and the chicken stock, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer until the sweet pepper taste becomes apparent–I let it go for around ten minutes, and add more stock if necessary. Finally add the cooked bird, and warm it all the way through. Best if served on toasted baguette slices.

Though I am far from being a calorie counter, this strikes me as a healthier dish than the normal butter and milk a la King. It certainly tastes better than one with canned mushrooms. Good cage free organic chicken doesn’t hurt, either. For the best chicken satire ever, see this old video from the days when Steven Colbert still did The Colbert Report. This is not a spoiler, but he has a pet chicken named Shirley, who is boneless, and lives inside a paper towel roll tube.

Enterprise #602 Food Grinder

American Foundry Work at it’s Best

This little one hundred plus year old food grinder has become my favorite. Simple and easy to clean, it’s everything a food processor isn’t. I have even managed to assemble a complete set of cutters for this beauty.

A Nut Butter Cutter. Seriously.

Yes, that really does say “nut butter cutter.” It works like a charm. The others grind meat like no body’s business. I also have a giant Enterprise #22, which is large enough to run a small sausage factory. I’m only going to use it for whole pork shoulders from now on. Buy one of these off of Ebay while you still can, if you’re into old school and sustainability.