Category Archives: Chickens

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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Something for ‘almost’ every gardener

April was an unusually cool April for my tiny zone 7b garden.

60 degrees F is kind of, sort of the magic soil temperature needed for many garden vegetable seeds to germinate. It was the last week of April before we approached the 60 degree soil tempeture.

May arrived and my soil has warmed to 71 degrees F and it is still a month until the start of the summer gardening season. Leaving plenty of time for most gardeners to plant summer and fall producing vegetable gardens.

I’m happy with our bamboo project. We planted bamboo in a well contained garden plot about 25 feet long by 12 feet wide near Christmas time 2015 and I have been concerned that I wasted my money on two 6 inch pots of bamboo. However after 2 summers of putting down a good root system this spring bamboo canes have jumped up and some canes are more than 11 feet tall and still growing taller everyday.

I invite new visitors to my tiny blog to search my previous posting. At sometime in the past I have information about almost every vegetable from A – Z as wells as info on raising chickens, rabbits, composting and water saving irrigation ideas.

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Backyard flock of laying hens are good for your health

Nutrition journal guidelines for egg consumption eggs make a healthy, affordable and tasty meal. Research has revealed just how many eggs is safe to eat in a week.

Grandma said “eat your breakfast biscuits with butter, jelly or jam, gravy, maybe a few slices of bacon or sausage patty’s as well in addition to your healthy 2 egg breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day.”

Good news for lovers of a frittata or scramble, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found there were no adverse effects from having as many as 12 over seven days.

They discovered that even participants with type-2 diabetes did not suffer adverse effects from eating a diet high in eggs such as inflammation, cardiometabolic risk levels or raised glucose levels.

Eggs particularly the yolk are high in fat, they are full of vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy omega-3 fats. The yolk is packed with nutrients, so there’s no need to opt for egg-whites only.
Eggs do not significantly raise cholesterol in the blood, the Mayo Clinic reports, and people who replace a grain-based breakfast with eggs have been found to eat fewer calories over the day.

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Better Late Than Never, Spring Is In The Air

It’s a week past my normal last frost date and maybe, just maybe I have had my last spring frost. A few nights ago it went down to 26 degrees F. and did a lot of damage to tender new plant buds and plants that had leafed out. It, the frost, has set my grapes back at least 1 if not 2 weeks.

Hummingbirds have started arriving. Everyday it seems that I have one or two more than the day before visiting my feeders.
Just my opinion but I think it is a good investment to buy feeders with what sellers call bee and wasp guards. After replacing my old style feeders with new feeders with bee guards having bees and wasp feeding at my hummingbird feeders is no longer a problem me and the hummingbirds must contend with.

The Purple Martin house is open and raise to a height of about 12 feet. My first pair of Martins arrived Saturday and have given their nod of approval.

Chicken have finished molting and have started laying about 1 egg per bird everyday. Just for the record I have 4 hens that are now 4 years old and 3 that are 2 years old.
Grin … now me and extended family have more eggs than we can eat every week and that’s a good thing.
Smiling… as my hens get to old to be useful egg producers, I keep putting out feed and they become yard ornaments for my viewing pleasure.

Cataract surgery on my left eye went well. I’m seeing things that I have not seen well for at least 4 or 5 years. I have a followup doctors visit set for the 18th and he will operate on my right eye on the morning of the 25th.

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2017 – Rushing into the history book

Christmas eve fades into Christmas morning and we have had our first really cold temperature forecast to be near 19 degrees. Not that cold by many northerners standards but by my standards, frozen chicken trough water is ‘Cold’.

Looking back I see that my tiny garden has received 1.90 inches of rain during the past 90 days. Getting pretty dry in my neighborhood. The sad part of this story is the long range 30 day forecast looks no better for a good soaking rain.

Colder weather, short daylight hours and chickens in molt my daily egg count has fallen from 6-8 eggs a day to 1-2 eggs. Grin, of course with the colder weather they are eating more and producing less. At present my eggs are only costing me about $1.00 an egg in feed and water cost. It would save me a lot of money if were to have a lot of chicken soup and buy eggs at the supermarket.

It has been a tough year for trees and vines in my tiny part of southwest Oklahoma.
Last June(2017) we had a thunderstorm that packed 104 mph winds along with golf ball size hail. It has taken all summer for my trees and grapevines to recover.
Still trees and grapevines will need pruned soon after new years day to be healthy and productive during the 2018 growing season.

This marks the end of year 2 of the bamboo screening project. So far it has been less successful than I had hoped. Still people that have used bamboo as screens say year 3 is the magic year that bamboo will begin to become an effective screen. Only time will tell.

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Broody Hen – What Do I Do Now?

Broody means that a hen wants to hatch her eggs and raise chickens. Broodiness is driven by several factors including genetics, hormone, instinct and lighting conditions.
Almost all breeds will go broody, including Buff Orpingtons, Cochins, Silkies and many of the Bantam breeds. Others are less likely to go broody.

If You Only Have Hens the eggs won’t be fertile and won’t hatch, so there is no point in letting the hen sit on those eggs. If you do want to hatch chicks under your broody hen, you may be able to get fertile eggs from someone in your area.

Let a Broody Hen Hatch Chicks
It is best to isolate your broody hen so she is not disturbed by the other chickens. It takes about 21 days for a hen to hatch eggs, and she will be sitting in a nest box for the majority of that time with few trips daily to get a drink, eat, and poop.

As the hatch date draws near, be sure to also have on hand some starter feed for the chicks. Starter feed contains more protein than layer feed and is formulated to help the baby chicks grow properly. Chick starter feed will be fine for the broody hen as well.

As the baby chicks start to hatch, check on them frequently (several times a day) to make sure they are doing okay. Her egg clutch was not laid in one day, so it may take 2 or 3 days for all her eggs to hatch.

Breaking” a Broody Hen
As soon as you notice that your hen has gone broody transfer her into a cage that is well lit and that has a wire mesh bottom. I use an old rabbit cage.
The floor of the cage should be several feet off the ground. The idea is to make the cage not feel very private, she will not have any nesting materials in this cage. Provide her with food and clean water. Within a few days, usually 3 or 4 days, she will cease to be broody, then you can return her to your flock of chickens. .

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Winterizing Your Hen House

Winterizing your chicken coop.
Keeping your chickens safe, dry and warm this winter will insure you have a steady supply of fresh eggs through the cold winter months.

Install a full daylight spectrum, 6500K color temperature CFL light bulb on a timer so your chickens get a full 15 or 16 hours a day lighting from artificial and sun light will keep your hens laying well year round.

The annual cost of operating a 150-Watt Equivalent Daylight (6500K) Spiral CFL Light Bulb 6 hours a day at $0.11 a kilowatt is about $9.50 a year and you can expect you bulb to last 4 to 5 years.Your cost to light your hen house will be about 80 cents a month.

Currently at my location sunset is about 7PM. To get 15 hours of lighting I wake my chickens by setting my time to turn the lights on at 4AM an off about 8:30AM. Every month or two I will adjust the timer as needed to keep 15-16 hours a day lighting in my hen house.

Look for and repair as need rodent damage, places where rats, mice or snakes can gain entry into your hen house.

Clean windows and vent screens to allow winter sun light in and vents to allow fresh air to circulate in your hen house. Chickens will spent a great deal more time in their house during cold, wet or snowy winter weather.

Insure that you have feeders located to keep feed clean, dry and away from rodents.
Fresh water is very important to the health of your flock.
You may want or need to invest in an elect powered heater to keep your chicken watering devices ice free this winter.

Carefully inspect and repair fencing as needed. As food becomes harder to find and catch, predators like raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, stray dogs and cats will be looking to snatch a quick easy meal and your chickens will be high on their menu.

Remove old nesting materials, bedding from nest boxes. scrape sweep and remove old litter materials from hen house floor.

Put straw and old nesting materials on your garden as winter mulch on add it to your compost pile.

Wash hen house walls, floor, roost and nest boxes with a mild mixture of soap water and household bleach.
Mix bleach and soap water at a 1:5 mix rate. That being 1 part bleach to 5 parts warm soap water.
While not an exact 1:5 mix rate, to 1 cup bleach, add water to make 1 gallon of disinfectant wash water.
Keep chickens out of their house until walls, floor and nest boxes are dry.

Hint: There are a number of industrial and household disinfectants what work well. Be sure to follow ‘all’ mixing and usage instructions, warnings and caution statements. Wear eye protection and always wear rubber gloves when using any cleaning chemicals or disinfectants.

Fill nest boxes 1/4 to 1/3 full of new clean straw, grass hay or what ever is your choice of nesting material.
Spread 3 to 6 inches deep straw litter on hen house floor. This will help keep your hen house clean, dry and will also help keep your hen house a bit warmer than a house with a bare floor.

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Naked Chicken

Maybe this post should be Headed with ‘Where have All My Eggs Gone’.
As day light hours are reduced and temperatures drop many times your chickens will go into Molt cycle.

Molting is normal and all birds drop old feathers and grow new feathers every year. Molt is just more pronounced in some types of birds than others.

Molting is a natural process that chickens go through annually so they can replenish and replace their feathers. Chickens need to grow new feathers to allow them to effectively regulate their body temperature especially those in colder environments.

Chickens will molt several times during their lives. The first molt is called a “juvenile” molt and occurs when they are only 6 – 8 days old. During this molt, the baby chickens actually lose their downy covering to replace it with actual feathers. The second juvenile molt occurs for the male when he is about 8 -12 weeks old when his ornamental feathers will come in.

The first adult molt typically starts around 18 months of age and occurs in the late summer or early fall. This molt will last approximately 8 – 12 weeks. However, some chickens can spread the molting process out up to six months.

Adult chickens will either have a “soft” or “hard” molt.
With a “soft” molt, the bird loses it feathers slowly and it is hard to tell that they are molting. With a “hard” molt, the chicken dramatically loses it feathers and can appear rough-looking or naked.

The decrease of daylight coupled with the end of an egg-laying cycle is the most common trigger for molting. Physical stress, malnutrition, lack of water, extreme heat and non-typical lighting conditions can also trigger molting throughout the year.

Molting chickens cannot support both egg and feather production at the same time and this is why chickens either stop laying eggs all together or have a significant reduction. Once feather replacement has occurred, egg laying will begin again.

When your chickens are going through a molt, providing additional protein is beneficial.
Most commercial egg layer feeds are at around 16% protein. When your chickens are molting, you should increase protein feed supply, using a broiler feed, to provide around 20 – 25% protein may be helpful.

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Hen House – Controlled Lighting

There is a gland behind chickens eyes called a pituitary gland. When stimulated by light this produces a hormone that is carried via the bloodstream to the ovary which sets egg production in motion.
This makes it possible to give artificial light to laying birds to ‘trick’ their bodies into continuing to lay in the shorter daylight months of Fall and Winter.

Research shows that chickens lay best when they receive about 15 hours of light daily. In the northern United States, natural daylight drops to under nine hours at the end of December. To optimize egg production, supplemental (or artificial) lighting in the coop is a must for the next three to four months until the days get longer.

Extra few hours of light can be added to the morning by using a light and timer. Adding light in the mornings ensures that birds aren’t suddenly caught out in the dark when the lights switch off not having gone through the natural roosting process. The key point to remember is that once the hens are in lay, their daylight hours should not be decreased.
For example, pullets that come into lay when there are 15 hours of daylight should have this ‘top up’ lighting added to their mornings to keep their daylight hours constant.
You need to ensure the timer remains set correctly after a power cut to prevent your pullets going into moult.
A digital timer with a back-up battery is a good investment.
Hint: Beware of dirty bulbs. They can decrease light output by as much as 15 to 20 percent, so clean bulbs once a week.

* Keep a supply of fresh water; heated waterers save time and labor and assure the birds will always be able to drink
* Make sure a high quality layer ration is always available. Your chickens need to eat to enough to stay warm and maintain egg production.
* Check that the coop is free from drafts, but don’t compromise ventilation as excessive moisture in the coop can lead to health problems.
* Put a little extra scratch grain down for your chickens morning and afternoon. The treat will keep winter birds busy pecking and scratching for hours and will help prevent boredom and give them some extra energy for warmth.
* With the chickens spending more time in the coop, bedding will become damp and soiled. Remove and replace as needed. Clean dry bedding will help the chickens stay warm and keep odors down.
* Let the chickens out into their run as chickens enjoy going outside, even if it’s cold.

Common sense care and a little extra light your chickens will keep up their winter egg production.

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