Category Archives: Chickens

First Thanksgiving Dinner menu

First Thanksgiving Dinner – Smithsonian magazine Pilgrims and Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony in 1621. Edward Winslow, an English leader who attended said: Besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison.
In addition to wildfowl and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish, such as lobster, clams and mussels.

The forest provided chestnuts, walnuts and beechnuts. They grew flint corn (multicolored Indian corn). They grew beans, which they used from when they were small and green until when they were mature. They also had different sorts of pumpkins and squashes.

England not having turkeys it is likely that the Pilgrims favored swan, geese, ducks over turkey meat. It is also likely that passenger pigeons were on their menu.

Historians think Pilgrims stuffed birds with chunks of onion, herbs and shelled chestnuts. Pilgrims did not have white(Irish) potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, butter or wheat flour to make crusts for pies and tarts.

Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book was a leading voice in establishing Thanksgiving as an annual event. Beginning in 1827, Hale petitioned 13 presidents, the last of whom was Abraham Lincoln. She pitched her idea to President Lincoln as a way to unite the country in the midst of the Civil War, and, in 1863, he made Thanksgiving a national holiday.

As for me and my family, this Thanksgiving we will have a small(10#) slow smoked/cooked turkey, mostly for the smaller members of our clan. Adults will feast on slow cooked/smoked beef brisket, racks of ribs and buckets of BBQ sauce, the mild and hot kind. Of course there will be ample assorted side dishes, ice cream and pie for all.

Post a comment and share your Thanksgiving menu.

Raising laying hens – first coop or remodel is easy

Maximize egg production and growth rate of your meat birds by installing a coop light. Buy and install a simple timer. Set your timer to provide 16 hours light in your coop. One 60 or 100 watt bulb is all the light your coop will need.

Don’t forget to provide fresh water and an ample food supply inside your coop. Chickens Will Not go out of the coop into the darkness of night to eat or drink.
Hint: What ever you build or buy, make it covenant for ‘You’ to access. To clean, gather eggs and so on without the need to stoop low or crawl around on your hands and knees.
When possible make all gates and doors wide enough to get your wheel barrow in and out of the hen house and chickens runs.

Do it right the first time. Choosing the best coop wire. 1 inch X 2 inch or 1/2 inch X 1 inch utility wire is a good choice. Small mesh welded wire cost more than poultry netting but in the long run will be a cheaper ‘long term’ investment and a better choice. Poultry netting will rust and become useless in just a few years, 2 X 4 welded wire is strong but is not effective in keeping small chicks in nor is it a big obstacle to keep determined animals like cats, dogs, coyote, fox or raccoons out of your hen house.

It seems that after searching the Internet I find end listings on how to build a chicken coop but, most everyone wants to ‘Sell’ you a plan or blueprint.

You do not have to be an architect or construction engineer to construct a chicken coop. Anyone can do it. Keep in mind that you may need to scale any basic construction plan up or down to fit the flock size you want to maintain.
* Hint: Many storage shed plans are free to download and is a cost effective hen house by another name.
Cover windows with strong predator proof wire.

A secure coop is very important, it seems that everyone and everything likes the taste of chicken. Cats, dogs, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, fox and even a hawk or owl will take a small chicken given the chance to do so. Snakes can be a problem eating small chicks and always looking for a chance to take a few eggs. Other than stray dogs daylight predators are few, but after dark your chickens are ‘setting ducks’ just waiting to be eaten by a hungry predator.

What your chickens Really Need. Warm secure chickens produce many more eggs and gain more weight than chickens housed in a cold drafty coop. When building your coop be sure to close up any holes or cracks that allow a cold draft to enter your coop. Do not use calk or spray foam, chickens will peck at and eat calk or spray foam.
Unless you live above the arctic circle supplemental heating is generally not needed.
If you feel the need to heat your hen house consider enclosing a ‘milk house heater in strong wire or add a 250 watt heat lamp located 3 – 5 feet off the floor. Use caution, a heat space heater or heat lamp bulb that comes in contact with hay, straw etc. can catch your hen house on fire!

Some sites say chickens need about 2 square feet of coop floor space for each hen in your flock. I disagree and recommend 3 square feet ‘4 square feet is better’ of floor space for each laying hen. A 4X4 sheet of plywood = 16 square feet and should house no more than 4 or 5 chickens. Remember you will loose a few feet of floor space to nest boxes and roosting areas.
You must decide if 2 square feet or 4 square feet of floor space is best for housing you chicken flock.

Clean water is a must have thing. Don’t skimp, purchase or build large good quality freeze resistant water containers.
Feeders should be designed to prevent them from wasting feed or being of a design that allows them to set / roost on top of your feeders. Chickens Do Not go outdoors to poop! Given the opportunity they will poop in feed troughs and water containers! Hanging style containers work well. They can be raised higher off the floor as your flock grows.

Free Range or Penned hens? A chicken run is nothing more than a fenced in area that attaches to or surrounds your coop. Your chicken run should allow at least 10 square feet of run for each chicken in your flock. Thus 4 laying hens will need a minimum of 40 square feet of run. An 8 foot by 8 foot run will provide you with 64 square feet.
Free range is just what it sounds like. Free range chickens are free to range and forage anyplace they feel like going. Free range chickens seem to be healthier and consume much less store bought feed than penned chickens. However free ranging chickens are more likely to be taken by predators.

Allowed to free range chickens will eat large quantities of grass, weeds and every insect that they can catch! They scratch eating weed seeds worms and grubs.

13 free chicken coop plans
60 free chicken coop plans
65 free chicken coop plans

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Sounds of Autumn and Chicken Coops

Summer has given way to Autumn/Fall cooler temperatures and a burst of color. Today has the feel of fall in the air. Cooler weather and the air has the smell of Autumn and a feel of dampness.

Long before first light I could hear the calls of wild geese each carefully following the one ahead as they wing their way south. This is always a sure sign that a cold winter blast is not far away.

Wild sun flowers in pastures and along roads are 4 to 6 feet tall bearing many 3 to 4 inch bright yellow flowers making a cool autumn day feel brighter and warmer.

Gardeners in their hast and busy schedule often fail to truly listen to all the fading sounds of summer and fall as winters cold winds approach. Don’t miss out on this once a year event. Stop look and listen, tune out all the sounds of our modern world and listen to what nature is telling you.

Chicken poop, nothing but poop. Now is a good time to get all that old litter and manure out of your chicken coop/hen house floors, nest boxes and roosting areas. Spread this chicken litter lightly on your garden plot and till it in or pile it on your compost pile. As the weather gets colder and nights get longer your chickens will spend more time in there coop. Now is a good time to sanitize your coop and spray or dust for mite control.

Close your hen house door and cover all windows, look for places you can see light entering your coop. Nail or glue wood trim to cover these holes that will allow the cold winds, rain and snow to enter your coop this winter. Don’t use calk or spray foam, your chickens will peck at and eat calk and spray foam.
Cold weather will send every mouse and rat within 1000 feet to seek winter shelter in and under your chicken coop. Put out mouse/rat bait now. Rat and mouse bait is a poison, insure the bait is in a place that your chickens flock and pets can not gain access to the bait.

Build or buy enough feeders and freeze proof waters dispensers to keep you flock supplied with fresh feed and water. Raise feeders and waters off the floor high enough that your chickens need to reach high to access feed and water. This will help your keep chickens from wasting feed or pooping in their feed and water containers.

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Food Safety – New direct from USDA research and testing laboratories – safe cooking temperatures

USDA – United States Department of Agriculture research and testing has developed a handy chart listing safe cooking temperatures for poultry, beef and pork products.

Unlike grandma’s kitchen modern gadgets like instance read digital meat thermometers are cheap and should be in every kitchen. Meat thermometers can be found starting as low as $4.00 – $7.00 to $10.00 being a good entry point for a good quality thermometer.

USDA has made some important changes in their recommended cooking temperatures for meats. The biggest change is in safe cooking of pork products.
Here’s what you need to know:

Cooking Whole Cuts of Pork: USDA has lowered the recommended safe cooking temperature for whole cuts of pork from 160 ºF to 145 ºF with the addition of a three-minute rest time. Cook pork, roasts, and chops to 145 ºF as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source, with a three minute rest time before carving or consuming. This will result in a product that is both safe and at its best quality juicy and tender.

Cooking Whole Cuts of Other Meats: For beef, veal, and lamb cuts, the safe temperature remains unchanged at 145 ºF, but the USDA has added a three minute rest time as part of its cooking recommendations.
* Ground beef must reach an internal temperature of 160 before being served.

What Is Rest Time you ask.
“Rest time” is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful bacteria.

USDA testing has determined it’s just as safe to cook cuts of pork to 145 º F with a three-minute rest time as it is to cook them to 160 ºF, the previously recommended temperature, with no rest time.
The new cooking recommendations reflect the same standards that the agency uses for cooked meat products produced in federally inspected meat establishments, which rely on the rest time of three minutes to achieve a safe product.

How Do You Use a Food Thermometer? Good question.

Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the food. It should not touch bone, fat, or gristle. Start checking the temperature toward the end of cooking, but before you expect it to be done. Be sure to clean your food thermometer with hot soapy water before and after each use.

Your tax dollars at work.
If you have questions about cooking meat, feel free to contact USDA Hotline (1-888-674-6854 toll-free) or online at AskKaren.gov or m.AskKaren.gov (Mobile Ask Karen) on your smartphone.

Judge rules ‘ duck’s have the right to ‘Quack’

Ducks have won: French court rules they may keep on quacking.
Ducks on a small French smallholding may carry on quacking, a French court ruled, rejecting a neighbor’s complaint that the birds’ racket was making their life a misery.

The complaint was brought by Douthe’s neighbor who moved from the city around a year ago into a property about 50 meters (yards) away from the enclosure in the Soustons district where Douthe keeps her flock.

City dwellers that move to the country side should be required to certify in writing that they understand poultry, waterfowl cows and goat bells are common sounds that occur when living in the country and city folk will not be allowed to disturb their neighbors life’s with lawsuits that may relate to life in the country or that may effect farmers lives.

Remember Maurice? A judge ruled a rooster named Maurice was allowed to continue his dawn crowing, despite complaints from neighbors who had also moved in from the city.

UK – Gardening for Victory and Survival

Eighty years ago at the declaration of war, Great Britons leaders knew that one of their highest priorities was to feed the citizens of Great Briton during the war no matter how long the war lasted.

Digging for Victory: Gardening in World War Two. (BBC News Service) A photo gallery of UK War Time Gardens 1940 to 1947.

UK’s War time Ministry of Agriculture initiative to help to keep the population healthy during food and fuel rationing following the naval blockade that saw food imports drastically reduce.
By 1943, most households had their own garden plot

This a unsung and mostly forgotten event that not only fed millions of fighting men but also fed citizens of both countries during WWII war years a history that was playing out in America as well as Great Briton.

Maurice the rooster – crowing over judges verdict

French rooster cleared by court after lawsuit accused him of making too much noise.

The 4-year-old rooster’s dawn crowing exasperated its neighbors, a retired couple who moved to the small island of Oleron off of France’s Atlantic coast.

The judge not only decided to allow the 4-year-old rooster to stay with his owner, Corinne Fesseau, but also ordered the couple to pay 1,000 euros ($1,103) in damages to her for reputational harm, plus court costs.

Maurice’s case was the most high-profile. Local residents even brought a “support committee” of roosters and hens from around the region to the trial venue in Rochefort this past July. The case elicited letters of support for Maurice from countries around the world, including the U.S.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Looking back it seems that I made my first Word Press blog post in June 2009. Wow 10 years and 1,145,766 hits later I am now moving into my 11th year on Word Press.

I have made over 1,400 postings. Covering most things vegetable and fruit gardeners seem to need or at least want a bit of helpful hints on.

Search my blog for everything from Asparagus to Zucchini. Apples to Raspberries.

Composting seems to be a favored subject for many bloggers.

You may have an interest in chicken coops, sexing day old chicks or maybe raising rabbits for pets or as a food source.

There is even a good starter recipe for a good beginners Rumtopf (rum pot).

Give my blog a search for area(s) that interest you. Grin, all you have to lose in a few minutes of your time.

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Cranberry Sauce – For your special holiday season table

harvesting cranberry's
New crop cranberry’s will soon be arriving in your local supermarket. Purchase cranberry’s early in the season to insure you are getting the best and freshest berries.

Cranberry sauce goes well with any type poultry or water fowl as well as many pork dishes.

Galaxy Class Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry’s – Tangerine – Cinnamon – Cloves – Nutmeg with or without added sugar, it’s still the best Cranberry sauce this side of Venus and Mars.

You can add either white cane sugar or dark brown sugar. Make this sauce as sweet or tart as you like.
If you like the tart bite of cranberry’s then omit most of the sugar.

If you do add sugar, start with 1/2 the amount given in this recipe and continue tasting and add sugar until you get the amount of sweetness that is to your liking.

Wash cranberries and tangerine’s well. Dump cranberries into a bowl of cold water, pick out any damaged berries.

In a large sauce pan add 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed tangerine juice with pulp, be sure to remove any seeds that may get into your tangerine juice. [Save tangerine rinds].
Note: Oranges are Not the same thing as tangerines! If your use oranges it will produce a totally different tasting sauce.

Add 1/2 cup cold water
Bring to a slow simmer
Add cranberries
Wrap in cheese cloth: 4 whole cloves, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 anise star add to pot
1/8 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
3/4 cup dark brown sugar – Start with 1/3 cup sugar – add more as needed to your taste
Simmer 5 minutes Note: stir pot often
Decide at this point by tasting if more sugar is needed.
Adding sugar until it is as sweet as you like.

At some point cranberries will start to pop open, this is a good thing, stir to prevent sticking to bottom of your sauce pan.

Cranberry sauce is ready when all or at least most of the cranberries have popped open and the juice has become very thick.

Grate 1 table spoon of tangerine rind into mix.

Remove from heat, remove whole cloves, star anise and cinnamon stick. ‘Carefully’ spoon cranberry sauce into hot sterile canning jar(s), seal and allow to cool.
Under Refrigeration this sauce will keep for several weeks.

Better yet process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Remove from water bath, allow to cool, check jar for proper seal. Will store well for 2 years or more in a cool dark pantry.

This sauce can be placed in zip-lock freezer bags and stored frozen for a year or more.

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Skunk In My Coreopsis

Coreopsis, sometimes rightly or wrongly called garden tickseed, golden tickseed, or plains Coreopsis are in bloom. A ready made feast for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

This is a native wildflower that can become an invasive plant. As with many plants it can be considered a wildflower or a damn old weed if it spreads to places that it is unwanted.

Skunks are one of those critters that I truly detest. I can find no redeeming benefit to having skunk(s) any where with in a mile of my hen house.

For more than a week I have been smelling the faint aroma of a skunk when I go to my hen house for feeding and to gather eggs.
So I have been on the hunt for this unwanted critter for more than a week.

This morning in broad daylight about 9AM I saw my unwanted guest making it’s way as I watched through my picture window view of Coreopsis, he was headed for the henhouse.

My tool of choice for such an event is a 60 or 70 year old Remington pump shotgun loaded with #2 shot. The skunk was distracted by the smell and sounds of a fresh chicken meal to hear or care that I had stepped out on my back porch. He (no I did not look to verify it was a male) was about 50 yards away, really out of range for a shotgun. I waited until the skunk had closed to about 30 yards before I give him a lethal dose of #2 steel shot.

Now me, chickens, ducks, goose and dogs will sleep better tonight.

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