Katie showed me this article in her issue of "Backyard Poultry". I am always saddened by some practices within our commericial food industry. I am not the type of person who will protest or become a public vocal activist, but our family works hard to live our life in the most responsible way. Always aware of the consequences of our actions. We are fortunate to be able to raise our own animals and vegetables, and don't expect everyone else to do the same. But something as simple as eggs, which is such a staple of the American diet, is readily available with a liitle effort. Most all major cities have farmers markets available. There is a multitude of "non- farming" people who have chickens and sell their eggs. You would be surprised, if you just started asking around. I know price can be an issue for some, but I believe, once you have, not only,tasted the difference, you will have great satisfaction in knowing that they came from humanely treated birds. Experiment, step out of your zone, give it a try, or just pause to think next time you grab for that dozen at the supermarket.
David lookin' local!
Today could have been a VERY special day! We thought we finally had a great opportunity to rid our lake of "Greg the Menace"! (Check out blog entries from 8/15/2010, 8/21/2010, 10/31/2010) This morning, what looked like our squatter, Greg the Beaver, taking his last lap around the lake munching on our fish! David grabbed the rifle, first shot! No more Greg!!!! Or so we thought! David definitely hit something large (and it wasn't a fish!). As we waited a few hours, watching it slowly move close enough to the side of the lake so we could reel it in with a rake. We started to doubt, if it was Greg. As David raked the 2nd (not so innocent) innocent victim from the water, where there should have been a paddle was a tail! An Otter! It was a big guy, too! At least he won't be harassing our fish any longer! So, the hunt for Greg continues! (PS - I've got to say what a great shot! Not just David, but I caught the gun smoke and the hit!)
If you recall, Honey had a rendevous with a buck back in November(Check out Blog dated 11/15/2010). Well, she has been in heat at least three times since! I guess that means no babies in April. :( We were all so excited for many reasons; Honey is our first little girl who we love so much, and we were so excited to have "Little Hun's" running around. Also, we had her bred to Luzifer Blue, which is a buck we like very much and thought he could improve upon Honey's conformation. We decided not to try to re-breed her, since we have acquired two doelings by Luzifer Blue. Since we have a few girls "coming of age" this year, we will just wait a little longer for goat parenthood. We will have a busy year, with having more little girls to show, starting in April!
My beautiful Mom!
Since we have been "processing" roosters lately, I have taken the opportunity to freeze as much chicken broth as possible. My mother was an awesome cook and understood the importance of using "homemade" broth. She always had a quart or two in the freezer. For whatever reason, I always felt intimidated about attempting to make "my own" broth. As an adult, I reluctantly continued to buy it from the store, always choosing the organic, free-range, but it never, ever measured up to Mom's broth. You are no doubt asking, "Why didn't you just have your Mom show you?" Well, I was younger and never had an overwhelming desire to know how. Plus, I was one of those naive people who never thought my Mother would never be there to do it for me! Of course, I have grown up ALOT in the past 10 years...my dear Mom had a stroke and is unable to help me. But she did teach me how to be an independent thinker and get things done! So here I am, not just brilliantly making chicken broth, even my Mom would be proud of, but I raised and butchered the chickens too! I must admit, I get a huge swell of pride every time I open my freezer and see all those bags of "liquid gold"!
I was at the grain store the other day, chatting with the sweet, lady who owns it, about food, and she mentioned that she has never made homemade chicken soup before. I was stunned, because there are some people you just assume know everything about everything. I assumed she was one of them! I thought, if she doesn't know, maybe I should pass on to eveyone else who is missing out, like I was, what is truly a VERY easy thing to do! (As my Mom always said to me!) So if you are interested, click on the Cooking Page and discover the world of Awesome Chicken Broth & Soup!
We love our little Goaty Girls sooo much! Doesn't it look like they are looking back at us with the same loving thoughts?!
More real; They are totally looking at us like in the episode of Gilligan's Island, where the lion looked at Gilligan and saw a can of meat! I probably look like a bale of alfalfa!
I'll take that love:)
Honey on ice!
We got hit with an ice storm last night. Thank goodness we didn't lose power! Of course, everything is shut down. Everyone always comments to us that the southern drivers are wimps about bad weather driving. But after being in the south for almost 8 years now, what I have noticed is not that it is bad driving, but the south just isn't equipped to handle the salt, sand and plowing like the north. Nobody has snowtires or any equipment to deal with this kind of weather. So we stay home.......BECAUSE what we do have is nice mild weather to melt all the nastiness away the next day!!!
Doug is doing well. She has continued to lay eggs without any "assistance" from me. She is acting normal, but she is still walking around with her bottom a little lower than normal. I have read, when eggbound it can put alot of pressure on their back. So maybe she will take some time to recover completley. We are still keeping her in Phyllis' apartment, because the boys (whose numbers will be dwindling considerably after this weekend!) find her new posture very attractive, and won't leave her alone.
Now that it is January, all thoughts point to spring. There are projects to finish before all our energy is devoted to gardening, showing, breeding, raising babies, and always our number one priority, finishing the school year. Growing up in the north, the winters were spent as a break from outside projects, and worked hard through the summer and fall to get things done. But being in the south, it has flip-flopped somewhat. We work outside all winter, cleaning, clearing, finishing projects, before the heat hits hard in the summer. That is when our attention moves inside the house. I don't know whether it's just me, but the critters seem to be less interested in being outside at this time of year. Our horses, goats and chickens can come and go at will, but seem to like to hang out in their "houses" more. I guess they are also waiting for those pretty spring days.
One of the smartest things we did when we built the chicken coop, was that we built it around a leland cypress. The chickens absolutely love having this in their living space. Not only does it help cool the coop, but it provides a great sense of security. Some days there will be 15 or 20 hens huddled around the base, happily hanging out. They also love crawling around the lower branches.
These two Silver Laced Wyandotte pullets (6 Mos) are quite beautiful. They are definitely considered show quality in their conformation. Except the hen in the front has a single comb, which is a disqualifying feature. It does not mean she can't be used for breeding, since her body type is wonderful. Not all her babies would have a single comb. Compare to the pullet behind her, which has the desired rose comb. A great example of the difference between buying hatchery chickens or privately bred chickens; the top picture in the blog has two SLW hens purchased through Murray McMurray Hatchery (From Left: 1st and 3rd). They are healthy and lay well, but you can see the difference from the true conformation standard. The pullets above were purchased from a very reputable Wyandotte breeder in Kentucky, Foley's Waterfowl & Poultry. Just an FYI- When you purchase chicks from a private breeder, you are getting straight run, which means---you will get roosters! This SLW group - 4 girls 14 boys!!!!!!!!!
This Black Wyandotte Pullet (7 Mos) is also a beautiful example of the breed. We purchased Blue Laced Red and Black Wyandotte chicks from a breeder in Florida, Paul's Poultry. The chicks from Jesse Paul were fantastic! And a 50/50 boy/girl ratio! Katie will be showing a few of these chickens at a poultry show in Newnan, GA the end of February.
As a footnote, I still recommend ordering chicks from a commercial hatchery if you are looking for utility birds, ie: meat and/or eggs. The added benefit is you can order the sex of bird you would like and multiple varieties. That being said, I believe it is vital to the survival of any breed to keeping quality bred birds to carry on the true standard of breed. So we keep it balanced, everything in moderation! A little of this, a little of that!
January has become such an enjoyable time for me! First, no mowing grass!!! Secondly, time to get stocked up on seeds and start planning the garden! I thought it would be nice to pass on some of the resources I like best. For baking, I order our grains and beans through a bread co-op in the Columbus area, who then orders bulk from Bread Beckers. Anyone can order direct, but there is a savings when ordering through a co-op. I do believe you can get connected to a co-op in your area on their site. My favorite seed catalog to browse, is Baker Creek Heirloom. I read it like a magazine! Also, we are going to order chicks special for meat production and compare against the birds we are butchering now. We have received chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery and Randall Burkey Hatchery. We find reading through these catalogs can be quite interesting. Day old chicks are sent through the mail! We have had about 40 chicks delivered this way with not one loss! We probably will be ordering sometime around March - April. It's amazing to go to the Post Office to pickup your cheeping box! Will definitely post pictures!