Oh those Wily Chickens

I started raising chickens a decade or so ago to provide us with eggs. With new chicken syndrome, too many ended up here and too many young randy roos, so Son 1 and I learned to dispatch them and put them in freezer camp. I find them too tough to eat but for a few years, he would take frozen ones home occasionally. His situation doesn’t provide the facilities for that to happen at this point and there are several still in the freezer. Over the years, fewer chicks were purchased at replacement time, but last time, they were purchased in February and half died, they were replaced and several died, they were replaced again, thinking I would end up with only the few I started out to get, but ended up with 15, two were roos and dispatched that summer.

With more hens than are necessary, I found a friend that would gladly take a couple dozen a week off my hands. Daughter also welcomes some, but I have found that my priority for the eggs has shifted from producing them for our use to hoarding them all week so friend and daughter get what they want. The current 13 hens are going on 2.5 years old, molt is starting for the first time as last winter they hadn’t yet had a winter as adults and didn’t molt. Their age has also slowed laying. One has taken to becoming an egg eater, though I haven’t caught her in the act to isolate her, just finding evidence later. And I hear egg song, go look in the coop to remove the egg to stop her and there isn’t one there, so they are hiding them.

This morning, I heard egg song from this thicket.

There were three hens in there and rooting around from two sides, I couldn’t find where they might have laid their eggs. Only 4 have been in the coop today. A few minutes ago, I heard egg song again, right behind the house. The walled garden built last summer is pretty overgrown due to patio construction and rocks being tossed aside out of the way until it is finished, so weeding has been sporadic and the vetch and comfrey have taken over. The herb part I have tried to keep clearer, but the deer were eating down a tall flowering plant against the tall wall, so I leaned a piece of old fence there to protect them and the weeds had grown up under the leaning fence. I found this:

Six eggs hidden. There must be another cache somewhere else also. So it seems that they are laying them in the flowers and thickets instead of the coop. I guess they will have to lose their free range time except for a few hours each late afternoon. As they think nothing of going over a 4 foot fence, using electric mesh that can be moved through the orchard to give them fresh grass ever day or so won’t work.

Since my priority has gotten skewed, when these hens are replaced, there will only be 5 or 6. I will stop providing eggs for my friend (she can buy free range eggs from the Farmer’s Market) and will give daughter extras, but our household will come first.

On the plus side, while rooting around in the thicket, I spotted peaches. We didn’t plant a peach tree on that side of the yard, but there must be a volunteer, I have seen it bloom in the spring, but never followed up later in the summer. Maybe the thicket needs to be cleared back so the peaches on that tree can be accessed, giving us two peach trees and more fruit than we can possibly use.

This is the plant the deer eat back, the butterflies love it.

An Interesting Experiment

The garden has never grown beans that were intended to be dried and stored until this year. A 4 X 4 foot square bed was planted with Pinto bean seed. The package said they were not a climbing bean, so no structure was provided. Over the past couple of weeks, the plants were browning out, but this past week, we have had thunderstorms just about every day and more rain a few nights. This afternoon, I went over to see if the green beans had produced enough for out dinner, there weren’t, but it was obvious that the Pintos needed to be pulled. Unfortunately, many had been on the ground as the plants died back and were sprouted or molded. The bed produced about 5 cups of useable beans that are now drying further for storage.

Also a basket of tomatoes, a handful of hot peppers, a couple ears of corn and the Komatsuma thinnings. It took me all afternoon to shell the beans even after spreading them the back deck to dry the pods more. It was an interesting experiment but I think a pole bean that dries off the ground would produce more useable beans. Some research will be done to find one appropriate for this area that will be suitable for the types of recipes we use beans for.

Somehow the deer managed to lift the netting on the grapes and they have grazed off all of the leaves on the woodpile side and have eaten the last remaining bunch of grapes.

Earlier this week two days of canning were done and it looks like another batch of Rotel style tomatoes are in order tomorrow.

Peppers, Tomatillo Jalapeno jam, Rotel tomatoes, and Peach Sriracha sauce were added to the shelves.

This week I added a craft to the basket. Sashiko, a Japanese form of embroidery used as visible mending or as decorative stitchery. I can thank the spindle social group to introduce this one. As hubby playfully calls all of my fiber crafts, sewing, it seems only appropriate to actually have one that is sewing.

These three mini panels are being stitched to the fabric they are on to become the pocket on a canvas tote bag.

For a while, I have been trying to decide whether to cease vending and selling as a cottage business. The tax ramifications cause stress every year, so at the end of this calendar year, Cabin Crafted will cease to exist.

Sunday Olio – July 31, 2022

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

What a busy week. At least the later half. On Thursday, hubby and I drove to mid South Carolina to pick up the two local grands from their other grandparents who drove them up from Florida that far. Daughter was unable to go get them and they needed a place to stay for a few days so they came home with us. They are now 10 and 15. On Friday, we took the 15 year old to take his learner’s permit test, which he passed and came out with a brand new learner’s permit. He mowed for us that afternoon after he and I determined that the mower had not broken the belt, just jumped it from the pulleys. I don’t know if it is stretched or if the repair shop made an adjustment while replacing the drive cable, but as long as you turn off the motor prior to disengaging the drive belt, it stays in place.

Saturday, he was given a lesson on driving the real tractor and did great, but after several starts and stops as we were using the height of the tractor to trim back some branches overhanging the driveway, it suddenly would not engage in any gear. It is parked in front of the barn until I can troubleshoot the issue, hoping it is something his size 13 feet kicked getting on or off. We did get the branches trimmed by using the seat of the riding mower, me pulling down on the branch to lower it enough for him to cut it. This was done after we all walked at the pond. It is great having a teenage boy around that is willing to work with grandmom to get things done I can’t do by myself and to have someone who enjoys riding the riding mower get the grass done.

Up a tree?
Tractor lessons

They were taken home early this afternoon and daughter presented me with a gallon bag of jalapenos. Her’s are larger and more prolific than mine at this point. Once home after hubby and I walked in the rain for the 4th time this week, a basket of softball sized peaches was picked from our tree and canning commenced.

First up were the peppers. I process them two ways. First is to pierce them, pack them in a jar with a little oregano, a tablespoon of salt, and pour hot vinegar over them. They then sit out until cooled and are put in the refrigerator to pickle over the next couple of weeks. The other way is to make them shelf stable, by doing basically the same thing, but while still hot, water bath canning them so they seal.

There were about 2 1/2 pounds of Amish paste tomatoes that had been picked yesterday and they were next. Blanched and peeled, seasoned, cooked down, packed in jars for pizza sauce and they were water bath canned.

Nine of the huge peaches were blanched, peeled, chopped in the food processor, and made into Peach jam with Sriracha, which makes a great cream cheese topping with crackers or meat glaze. The peaches cooked while dinner was prepared and eaten and then the jam was packed in jars and canned.

Total for the day: 1 quart refrigerator pickled jalapenos, 5 pints canned pickled jalapenos, 4.5 half pints pizza sauce, 8.5 half pints Peach jam with Sriracha.

Several days ago, one of the Easter egger hens decided to be broody. She was put in “Purgatory” aka isolation on Thursday and released late this afternoon. She went straight back to a nesting box and parked. She is back in purgatory for another 2 or 3 days to cool her off. All of the hens are beginning to molt already and their pen is beginning to look like a pillow fight occurred in there and out in the yard where they wander during the day.

The monthly spinning challenge ended today with me finding all 31 scavenger hunt items and posting the daily picture with my spindle and the item. Though I didn’t spin as much this month as usual, I needed 62 grams spun and did about double that. The blue on the scale was used partially for the visible mending on my wool hoodie, and the white is more than half used on the tribute hat for my friend, so more spun than the scale shows.

Next month’s challenge has been posted and will begin tomorrow with the spinning for it.

During the week, while looking for a library book online, I saw the monthly selection for July was “The Girl in His Shadow” which was a great book sending me to the sequel “The Surgeon’s Daughter.” Both excellent historical fiction books set in the early 1800’s in England. If you are looking for a good book, I recommend both, but the second, the sequel should be saved til the first is read.