A periodic journal of homesteading occurrences here: farm and land happenings, weather events. Location, the Hilltowns of western Massachusetts.
Hardiness Zone 5B, rural.
Most recent dates and additions are to the top.
October 15: Intensive day! Cleaned out the fridge, Took delivery of the Tractor Supply coop (spent a bit of time on the phone with them, prior to its arrival). Went out to buy a tarp and a box cutter to 1) cover the box from rain until I am ready to deal with it and 2) the box cutter will be great for when the coop box is to be opened – either Sunday or Monday. The coop, which is not assembled, weights 170 pounds or thereabouts. It will be moved piecemeal to the basement (temporarily, until I can stain it with preservative). The four chickens from two days ago were sent to the freezer – okay, three of them. I will roast the fourth on Sunday. Gizzards were cleaned out. (I have a package of “offal” and a package of bone broth parts). Harvested the rest of the potatoes, and half of the remaining onions. Cleaned up some trash around the existing coops. Set up the Autumnal and Halloween decorations. Laundry. A few other things in there that all added up.
Temps ranged from 55F to 69 F – perfect for outdoor work!
October 13: Four chickens entered the refrigerator today. On Friday three of them will go to “Freezer Camp” as a lot of homesteaders call it. One was Sheva, the cockerel I switched out a pullet for. He was a standard-phenotype Rhode Island Red (maternal lineage). 15 weeks old. I also put down a Plymouth barred rock cockerel from the same hatching. Two young red broilers (Murphy’s hatchery) also went – they were ten weeks old. Sort of “Cornish Game Hen” sized – though neither Cornish nor hens/pullets.
Currently, I still have three chickens from the original incubation batch of 9 hatchlings. My friend has three of these. Three cockerels are in the fridge or freezer. Remaining are Lazarus, Gandalf and Galadriel. Two cockerels and a pullet.
From the second batch of hatchlings (week12 in age) I have the cockerel Rustbucket and a pullet to be named. ( I had decided to incubate more chicken eggs to be raised up with a couple guinea fowl eggs I had obtained – two were set with a broody hen, and I did the other two in the incubator. Only one guinea fowl hatched, and he/she had a serious birth defect.) The other pullet in this small group is the one I exchanged for Sheva coming back.
And then there are Murray’s Big Red Broilers. I wish I knew what breeds make this bird up. I don’t. I know it is a hybrid. Ten arrived, one died early, and another died a short bit later. So right now I have six of them. I plan to save two of the pullets for one or another coop here. Meat birds WILL lay eggs – just not as prolifically as hens bred specifically for laying.
I put off the “harvesting” of poultry as long as I can. I don’t enjoy the process, but I do respect the gift of food. And as I am by nature an omnivore…
Temperatures today: 50 – 63 F.
October 12: Absolutely beautiful and crisp autumnal day. Started out a chilly but not obnoxious 49 degrees, went to a high of 66 F. Right now it is 9 pm, and time to sleep. Currently 55 F.
The cockerel for a pullet exchange went well yesterday.
October 11: The workshop yesterday went well – I do stumble over words a fair bit, but otherwise I am not unhappy with it. It generated good discussion, and some questions – could answer some, but others I could not – ie, if a sugar maple is in a place where there may be lead toxicity, will the lead be sucked up in the sap? (Someone googled, and discovered via a reliable source: no, lead won’t end up in your sap). These are the way discussions work best. Give, take and share. I did more research than just about sugaring, covered in my blog posts, adding in something of natural history (and, where available, lore).
Late this afternoon, I go and trade out a pullet for a cockerel. My friend had taken four of my presumptive pullets, and well, there’s a future roo too many. And he’s not very nice, either. So… I’m taking him back and bringing over a pullet.
Temp range: 54 – ___ F. Rain in early morning hours (not predicted, just overcast being predicted).
October 6. Trees are beginning to change, more than last week. I am working up a Zoom workshop on maple sugaring for a group I belong to (for next weekend). We usually camp Columbus Day weekend, or as some have it, Indigenous Peoples weekend. Usually we camp (although most stay in dorms – I just can’t deal with snoring, so I camp) that weekend over across the Hudson, but it got cancelled in its in-person format this year (as it was the last, but I was unaware they held a virtual meeting in 2020, too. Sometimes I miss my e-mails.) The workshop will be a riff on my maple sugar postings last spring, with a few additions. See Stage 1, Collecting Sap and see Stage 2, Sap into Syrup for Beginners & Small Scale Tapping . I am also doing some folklore research for it.
Currently it is 54 F., and 7:30 in the morning. I will be putting a cockerel and a rooster into the fridge later today. I hope to get more yardwork done, too.
September 30: The air is full of autumn. Tree leaves are slowly turning. I just harvested some turnips (I will order the same type for next year, probably). Harvested more onions, and discovered that the small little bean plant a friend had given me not that many months ago is doing its work in producing a plethora of string beans.
The four remaining quail from my initial start in raising quail went into the refrigerator yesterday. They had taken to laying erratically, and their shells were very soft despite the calcium supplements I was giving. During the gutting process – there was no sign of future egg development.
This morning I also dispatched an extra cockerel from the batch that had hatched June 18th. There will be more to go, but I want to save one with a good personality. ATM in the June 18th batch, I have two cockerels left (Gandalf the Grey and Lazarus), one pullet (Galadriel as a tentative name – she may be given away to someone who will name her at their own whim), and an uncertain chicken who is not ready to declare gender. Lazarus was actually scheduled to meet the freezer this morning instead of the one I did dispatch, but I just couldn’t do it, at least not yet. Hence, his name.
I am disliking that it is getting dark so much earlier these days. But, short of doing something untoward about Earth’s orbit, not anything can be done about this!!
Temp range: 46-54 F. I think the coldest high we’ve had all year since the end of spring. But I am more energetic in the high 40s to high 60s range anyway, so it is all still fine here!
September 25: I didn’t want to talk about it, but my back went out on Wednesday, big time. So bad that I lost a quail that I would have otherwise been able to catch when he fell out of the coop during feeding time. There was absolutely NO way I could bend down, though he stood there for a few minutes. And then… he wandered off. I could only watch, and cry inside. He had beautiful colorations, too. (I don’t know if he was a male or a female, but I refuse to use the plural pronoun for a known single individual.) NO eggs since from that condo, so she may have been a she. I’ll never know.
Thursday it was horrid getting out of bed – took close to 15 minutes to manage it. I did minimal things – Yes, everyone got fed and watered, and no one else escaped.
Friday, I was doing much better, but there was still a good amount of what I could not do. But at least I managed to catch the two quail that departed while I was feeding them, and discovered the broiler baby chickens jailbreak in my workshop in the basement. Shuffled them all back into their makeshift home.
Today, Saturday, was a lot better for me. I’m still being careful, however. The broilers as I expected got out once again – I didn’t have the physical wherewithall to deal with their setup properly yesterday, but today I did. They should stay in their home – I have to say by today they’ve totally trashed the floor of my workshop with incontinence, which will be dealt with shortly. Let stuff dry, scrape, and scrub! At least the quail didn’t try to depart the condos.
I missed Wednesday night’s dump run – couldn’t move myself more than I did to accomplish essentials. The next dump run is timed for tomorrow. I think I can do that one. I hope I can do the big thing I want to move out…
Temps today – 46 low (well before I got up, already in the 50s by then) to 64 high. Mid day was beautifully crisp and clear.
September 22: A beautiful evening on the 20th for the full moon. And on the 21st, witnessed two Monarch Butterflies spiraling upwards, about 3 pm, out in the back yard. Hadn’t seen much of any this summer – glad to see at least these.
Last night it rained, and right now we are having a steady drizzle, not being recorded by Darksky, but persistent none-the-less. Today is the Autumnal Equinox – I will seriously miss the earlier sunrises. I do tend to stay up at night until about when the sun goes down or so – getting earlier and earlier now. Well, my chickens do the same thing! (Even if it doesn’t matter to them that roosters start crowing about 4 am, sun or no sun!)
For some, a date of the final harvest. Of course, a lot depends on latitude you’re at. And it depends on the fall crops and any planned low tunnels or greenhouses you have or plan to have very shortly….
September 19: ARRRGh Mateys – Is Speak like a Piyrate Day, avast and jump up and down on that thar plank!!!
Meanwhile – yesterday a friend and I went to a hawk watching event sponsored by the Audubon, on a bald mountain in Otis MA. We saw hawks and turkey vultures, none close enough for photography even with a telephoto lens (at least not with the focal length of mine). Did find out info about a good set of binoculars (still not good enough for photography) and a telescope (which might be, and is likely of the sort that could be fitted out for a camera further down the road). We did some back road explorations for a bit, after, then stopped at the Farmington River in Otis, where we had Fun with Fotografy. It is around 6 am in the morning today, so I will deal with providing a few photos of that, later.
In Lee, we had ice cream, and then back to where I’d left my car to join my friend for our adventure – and discovered that I seemed to have lost my car key. Okay, after a bit of adventure, I found it (a bit embarrassing so we shall leave it at that…)
In the chicken world, one of the older cockerels is now attempting to… crow! At three months, I find this a bit early. Even the quail had the decency to wait longer!
A long list of domestic and yard things I plan to accomplish today – I’ll let you know about those I actually did finalize, should I indeed do them today.
September 16: The buff Orpington (genetically half and either 5/8ths or 3/4ths Orpington, depending on Grandma) juvenile chicken I gave to my friend is probably a cockerel. My friend loves Shofar anyway and will be getting him a “crow collar” so he won’t disturb the neighbors. Orpington roosters are reputed to be well-behaved representatives of their gender, unlike some other breeds of chicken. But again, they are all individuals, just like humans and cats.
The trees are showing a tinge of fall color change. I like seeing the shades of green and yellowish-green in my back yard. I’ve driven past areas a mile or so away where red is beginning to take form. (But another part of me says that this is Too Soon!)
The War Against the Triffids, er I mean the Mice, continues on.
Tasks for Thursday and Friday: Make two fish dishes – a stuffed trout dish to be posted tomorrow, and a new Arctic char dish with a fig-maple sauce to be posted in a couple of weeks. I want to experiment with sweet sauces that I can add a lot of tang/acidic notes to. Make blueberry buttermilk waffles, to post next week. I also have pizza dough from a local source, and want to make a pizza of the nearly-homemade variety. This probably won’t be posted, unless I am feeling contrary or something. There are a lot of “pizza purists” out there, and I prefer a good Americanized pizza (in this case, with a Connecticut/New York overtone) – one of the few foods I feel preferring mostly Americanized about. Hey… it’s what you grow up on!
Other tasks: Organize the basement and drive stuff around back that still needs to go back down there. (It is a walk-out basement, something very sensible for farming endeavors.) Fall plantings. Later on I will put up a low tunnel over one of my raised beds (November, probably). Work further on the temporary chicken housing setups. Clean the poop out of the quail condos. There are also some phone calls I need to make during business hours, and some mail to send out. And I need to replace Sharkey’s battery (the vacuuming robot), and get him running again.
Lots of rain last night. Temp extremes: 61 – 71 F. (It got up to mid-70s from mid-60s yesterday, but the dankness in the air wasn’t fully pleasant. At least it wasn’t Points South temperatures or humidity.)
September 10: Serenity is still with us on this mortal plane. She’s taking antibiotics for a UTI (urinary tract infection), and is no longer (to my knowledge!) incontinent. She still sleeps close to 24/7, but her appetite is better, too. This may well be due to how bad the antibiotic I give orally tastes. EAT SOMETHING, and the flavor can hide! She is also getting another antibiotic – topical in her ears. Both had been problematic, but the right ear is worse. The left seems fine now, and she does react to loud sounds with a twitch of that ear.
Today, I gave 4 of my pullets (we hope they are all pullets but we have a question about one of them) to a friend of mine a few towns over.
Afterwards, we did take-out from an awesome Mexican restaurant in her neighborhood. I am adding additional items I want to learn to make to the South of the Border list I posted about a month ago. Adding them to the end here, for referencing.
South of the Border Recipes I Plan
- Tetelas Oaxaca – I am in an experimental Mexican mood. I am missing an ingredient or two for this vegetarian appetizer which are fairly essential.
- Oaxacan Black Bean Enfrijplades al Estilo. – Ditto. I will make this with pork or with boneless skinless chicken thighs.
- Peruvian Antichuchos (skewered beef or bison heart) – I’ve eaten these, would love to try my hand at making them. There is bison heart in my freezer.
- Peruvian Corn Tamales stuffed with pork or chicken – whichever turns out to be at hand at the time), with a Salsa Criolla side.
- Mexican Huaraches. I did a quick search on them today, and this specific dish dates only from the 1930s, but it very much builds upon traditional Mexican recipes.
- Chicharrones con Yuca. I want this to go beyond the pork rind and into actual meat, which last night’s dish actually did. The combo together, while not the best of healthy eating, is something I’d love to learn to make. And the yuca – yes, you pronounce it “YOOO-ka”, despite my moments of silly – is a good Mexican root veggie to learn to cook with.
The weather has been beautiful most of this week. This started off as the chilliest this week – 48 F. But the air was clean and dry. The high was a lovely 68 F. Short sleeves, sweater only needed early on.
August 18: My cat, Serenity (aka Miw) is not doing well. She started acting a bit out of the ordinary late last week. By Sunday she turned incontinent. Within 20 hours she peed in my bed, on the kitchen floor, on the living room floor and on the basement flour. Her urine has no odor. She now resides in the basement. She is headed to the vet.
Serenity is over 19 years old. She is due to turn 20 on November 11th, 2021.
She has been put on K/D “Science” diet, and she still has an appetite to eat it. But I don’t expect my little ragdoll to be on this mortal plane much longer.
August 9: Purchased some of the equipment for the outdoor temporary chicken housing construction. The rest will come tomorrow (at Home Depot). Although some of the lumber may need to be cut to size by them. The plan is to work outside today, and to make a couple red cabbage recipes for the actual blog.
Temp range: 64-77 F. Brief shower mid-afternoon.
I’m deciding how to prioritize or think about future recipes and homesteading posts. Here ar things I’m plotting out…. these are not necessarily in any order. And some may get pre-empted by other ideas.
- Building chicken housing for short term residence (by just a few birds).
- Processing and Cleaning Quail for the Dinner Table.
- Preparing Quail Wings for Décor or Other Uses.
- Temperate Climate Stone Fruit Trees.
A couple near future plans
- Carrot and Sweet Potato Pancakes – a savory breakfast?
- Cole Slaw with a Mayo-free dressing – features home grown red cabbage.
(wow, the two above recipes with the frankly-despised raw or near-raw carrot! But I am keeping that ingredient to the minimum.
- Blueberry waffles – breakfast, featuring home grown high-bush blueberries.
Moroccan Quail Tagine – home grown quail, onion… DONE A German red cabbage dish – plenty of home grown red cabbage here.DONE
- Duck and Dumplings – A version of Mom’s chicken and dumplings, assuming I can re-create her dumpling recipe without her recipe to hand. Old stewing hens were available at the supermarket back in the day; this will instead use an old duck from a local farmer. I have other plans for the rooster that is to hand… a recipe already made and posted to this site (Rooster Corfu).
For Fish Friday Foodies monthly challenge:
Vietnamese style summer rolls with smoked salmon and trout pate. – this has been made, I am waiting for the assigned date to post it. Um, have to re-do it as I inadvertently deleted the photos. DONE.
- Oven-roasted trout stuffed with olive tapenade, and battered with almond.
South of the Border Recipes I Plan
- Tetelas Oaxaca – I am in an experimental Mexican mood. I am missing an ingredient or two for this vegetarian appetizer which are fairly essential.
- Oaxacan Black Bean Enfrijplades al Estilo. – Ditto. I will make this with pork or with boneless skinless chicken thighs.
- Peruvian Antichuchos (skewered beef or bison heart) – I’ve eaten these, would love to try my hand at making them).
- Peruvian Corn Tamales stuffed with pork or chicken – whichever turns out to be at hand at the time), with a Salsa Criolla side.
More Greek recipes
- Vegan Dolmas.
- Beef Moussaka.
- Greek Christmas cookies.
Things I keep wanting to make but haven’t gotten to
- Italian Pasta Carbonara. The authentic way. I have the ingredients, just need to do it.
- Granola (so that I will like it – ie nut and dried-fruit-free. At least, almost entirely. Coconut and a VERY sparse scattering of dried currants will be in it.)
- Baked Jerk Chicken Wings/Drumsticks/and or Cauliflower “wings”
- Scottish Forfar Bridies
- Vietnamese Banh Boc Loc Tran – Vietnamese Tapioca Shrimp and Pork Dumplings. I have tried this about a year or so ago, and they tasted wonderful, but the dumpling part of it left something to be desired. I really want to try again! My local Vietnamese eatery discontinued making them.
- An Italian tripe dish.
- Japanese Takoyaki – Octopus rolled into a battered ball shape.
- Taste test ground beef and vegan “beef” comparison (Beyond Beef, Impossible Beef, local ground beef). Both as burgers and as my own recipe for mini-meatloaves,)
Techniques and Equipment
- More sous vide.
- More grilling.
- More tagine cookery.
- Savory bread baking.
- Instant Pot
- Air Fryer (it is part of my Instant Pot potential)
Ingredients to Explore Further than I Already Have
- Gold or Red Potatoes (I am planning on a creamy horseradish potato dish).
- Pork belly
- Country style pork ribs.
- Dark chocolate/cacao
- Tempeh, tofu, tofu skin
- Poblano and other mildly warm peppers
- Hearts of palm
- Ramps and leeks
- Cricket meal
- All manners of seafood
- Goat meat (of course!)
- Mushroom varieties
- Foraged foods
August 8: I haven’t updated here for awhile. At any rate, only one of the quails hatched, the following week from the below chicken hatchings. Unfortunately, he/she had a bad leg problem stemming from the hip, and had to be put down about 10 days in.
July was a rainy month, but the early bits of August were unseasonably cool – which was great for me and for doing yard projects – and now we are up to higher temperatures, but fortunately without that humidity thing, which means it cools down over night. Yesterday I picked up two ducks from a local farmer, for the freezer. They are likely going to be too old and tough to roast, but however they were still not quite mature – the quail I put into the fridge today had larger gonads than these two drakes. At any rate, potentials are for stew or for sausage. Then again, I might try roasting a half-breast anyway?
Today’s temps ranged from 67 to 81 F.
July 15: Yesterday, on my 6 year old great nephew’s birthday, two of the chicken eggs hatched. One appears to be a barred rock x buff rock cross – light buff head, black body; and the second, which I thought had come from the tractor coop, appears all black, so I’m still confuddled on genetics at the moment. Two more to go, and some pipping has started on both of those. Doing research on the quail, it seems they won’t hatch until the weekend, probably Sunday at the earliest.
The original batch of chicks still need the brooder, and these guys are too small to put with them yet. I have an alternative setup that I will prepare today to move the new chicks to. The perfect box for them arrived yesterday – high sides and all.
June was the month for drought conditions; July we’re turning into a rain forest. Today seems to be about the only day that won’t get any rain…. they say.
July 11: The guinea fowl will take longer to hatch than the chicken eggs included in at the same time (two with the broody hen down in the Back 40, two in the incubator with 4 chicken eggs.) I haven’t been able to candle the broody hen’s foster eggs, but up at the house, one looks viable, and the other, not so much. Hen eggs are due for lockdown later today or at latest, tomorrow morning. I put them all in lockdown, but will quickly reach in twice a day to move the guinea eggs around a bit. Not that the second one will hatch, but…
Baby guinea fowl are known as keets, not chicks. A word that spell check doesn’t know…
Last night, about 10:30-11 pm (yes, I was out during much of the day) when I checked the 9 chicks, they were spaced out away from the heat lamp in their trough, for the first time since having a heat lamp. Prior to that they’d been just shy of being directly under it.
July 9: The nine chicks in the basement are doing well.
We are now, starting around 8 am, getting the residues of Elsa, the Tropical Storm and low grade Hurricane that came ashore in Florida, after wandering across Cuba and several other Caribbean islands. Just, lots of rain, shouldn’t be much wind.
The first chick below is a ten day old Plymouth barred rock. The second is maternally a buff Orpington. The father (Romeo) is either a barred rock x half and half buff Orpington , or is possibly (probably) a barred rock x [silver laced Wyandotte x buff Orpington] – in other words, this chicken may have Chickpea as a grandmother!
July 5: Just like Memorial weekend, lots of rain. Lots of drought after. It is the tail end of the Fourth of July, and rain most of the weekend here in New England.
My nine hatched chicks are doing fine, and I started up some more chicks on the 16th of June. Mainly because I received 4 guinea fowl eggs from a neighbor friend, and I gave two of them to the broody hen, and two of them to my incubator. The broody one should have hatched her seven (or at least some of them) at about the same time as the eggs mentioned below. She didn’t – indeed I found 1 crushed, and most of the rest missing. Two of the chicken eggs left… but the word my guinea fowl owner gave me is that these fowl are more likely to go home at the end of the day if they get hatched where they will be raised. BUT – since said hen has had a terrible tract record – despite her consistency in laying – I divided up the eggs. Two with her, two with the incubator. To give this buff Orpington hen, she’s still seriously trying.
Last Wednesday, I finally got the half a porker I’d ordered a year and a half previous with our wonderful farm-share group – normally would have arrived autumn 2020, but… COVID. The butcher got backed up, and apparently also ended up seriously sick with COVID. An assistant eventually took over, and did the butchering, but didn’t follow any cut sheets – a rush and related pressures, as I am certain our group of porcine requests weren’t the only ones on the docket. I picked up the meat in a driving rainstorm on a nasty hot and humid day at a Park and Ride off of I-91 in Windsor CT. Since I knew I didn’t have sufficient freezer space, and besides I have a friend who would appreciate some, I dropped off some with her afterwards on the way home. (I hadn’t saved every last bit of space, because I really didn’t know if or when this share would happen… and if you find a deal, or you make bone broth… you use what you got.
The rest did fit. The bacon is good – I had asked for thick cut, but this thin cut was surprisingly tasty, and I am enjoying it. I was able to talk to the share organizer (there wasn’t just me) and he made sure I didn’t get a huge bolus hunk of ham. I am certain others who could make good use of that, did get that. I got a smaller hunk, and am happy with that! I can see that for a party of four or even up six people, depending on sides. I have a hunk of shoulder, and some rather strange narrow cuts of country style ribs – but these are my favorite parts of the pig. (I’d actually asked for as much as possible from both.)
With not having the assistant butcher following a cut sheet, I missed out on: pork tenderloin, any ground pork not pre-made into sausage. I had also asked for certain offal, but that disappeared into the ether. Pork tenderloin is not something I typically want to buy, but I had been interested in testing it in the sous vide. However, there are a LOT of chops and hocks – and I LUV hocks. Think a good collards and ham hock recipe…
This year was bad for so many people and businesses. Not going to cast blame. Although whomever made the ground pork into “sweet” sausage this year should have renamed it “horrendously over-salted sausage”. COVID is not sufficient excuse for that.
June 28: Horrid weather now. 86 F and high humidity, with deep sun… not my favorite. (The thermometer is in the shade – most of my yard is not). Lot of things I am trying to get done. Put some of the eggs that usually sit on the counter into the fridge. I don’t want them to start “developing”. Inside the house it is currently 81 F. Florida is certainly welcome to take their weather back!! (Next autumn or early 2022 – getting central air installed!)
Harvested two male quail yesterday. Clipped off the wings to save under salt. Plucked, saved meat with skin, and the following: gizzards, hearts, testes, some liver. Feet. Gizzards still need to be cleaned out. The testes from the younger bird are about rice-grain sized, but the older male – these are HUGE, in comparison to what I’d expect in such a small bird!
One of the birds had gotten breakfast with his compatriots. His crop was HUGE. I had removed the other bird from the colony prior to doing the colony feeding – hadn’t been sure which bird from the other colony I’d wanted to take at that time.
The first bird didn’t pluck all that well, but the second (older one) was rather clean. Either getting better or the hot water cooled down enough to make the plucking not rip up the skin. Note to self: do a lukewarm heat next time. These are my first dinner-harvested birds since I started keeping quail.
I boiled a batch of 22 quail eggs, which are due to be de-shelled and pickled.
Dealt with some further PayPal compromised issues. I haven’t talked about that here, but mark my words: I am Never Going Back. Two or three more major phone calls (holds, hitting random numbers, yakking to machines, etc) scheduled for tomorrow. PayPal is essentially a good service, but when you want to deal with humans, as in RESPONSIVE humans, it is like pulling teeth. Done with them. (“I’m having scammers from the Ukraine and Russia delve into my account and taking money.” “Okay, we can raise your credit limit.” “NOOOO, that’s NOT what I’m asking, I want the dang thing FROZEN!!” And, so forth…)
My nine recent chicks are doing fine. They’re happy in the basement.
June 21: Yesterday temps 63-85 F. Wasn’t home a good portion of the day. We went to a culinary adventure pot luck, theme being a pairing of cocktails with a dish. I chose to make a “Strawberry Gin Smash” to pair with a vegetarian dish of somewhat Persian ambiance (using eggplant, beet, and celery, but tossing rhubarb into the mix. I won’t be posting this because I did not keep any records). Said dish included Grains of Paradise, cardamom, a dash of bitters, and a small amount of gin. Oh, ancho chilli. Not really Persian, but hey… I did have a Tzatziki yogurt sauce to top it with – this one with cucumber, cardamom, nutmeg, mint, which makes it different than the one I’ve posted on this site before.
Today’s temps: 65 – ___ F. As I type, it is already too hot in here at 78 F (49% relative humidity). I will arrange for central air to be installed September/October, when I hope prices and labor availability for that go down or up, respectively. I am on force air.
June 19: We now have 9 hatched birds. 6 from the second coop, 3 from the tractor coop. I can’t tell Peach apart from Ginger, so the names will remain indefinite until they are old enough to band. Rusty has been re-named Paprika. If I DO get another RI Red phenotype, that one will be Rusty, or perhaps something reddish from the spice cabinet.
I have one more that is trying to hatch – but seems too weak. I did try to help, but I don’t think he or she will make it. (No you are not supposed to help, but when it is obviously too impossible for the bird to make any more shell headway in a long number of hours – I think around twenty in its case – go ahead. I also helped just a little with one of the fully hatched ones above, and she or he was bouncing around just fine this morning upon my awakening}.
The brooded eggs down at the tractor coop appear to be a bust. As noted on the 17th, I brought up one of her eggs after an apparently hatched / hatching one went awry. The next day I brought up three more. I forgot to candle the first of those, but two of the following three had good-sized embryos inside. The third had a lot less. At any rate, last night I tried checking the tiniest peephole in one of these. No sign of life. I went outdoors and opened it up – yuck. So I have hopes towards the other two I brought up, maybe late bloomers as the temperature and humidity under a broody hen is not necessarily the same as in an incubator. (I wasn’t expecting a high hatch rate, based on previous experience. Maybe I need a few Silkies?) Anyhow, I did leave the broody hen with two eggs… we will halt any unhatched incubations on Monday, Midsummer Day.
Of the barred rock hatchees: Perhaps a couple are from buff rock maternal stock. I am wondering if these are the two with lighter heads. I did take four eggs each of two consecutive days up to the incubator. So – two of those, that’s fulfilled. I will have to mark them with a Sharpie in case their featheration changes. The one that won’t fully hatch has a darker head, so I assume straight up barred rock.
June 17: First incubated egg hatched yesterday. I had gotten up about 6 am, and all was quiet in the incubator (nine eggs, remember?) I’d marked three eggs as being from the Tractor Coop and 6 being from the Not-a-Nugget Coop. At about 7:15, I was sitting here, listening to birds chirp – and realized one of the chirpings was not outside, but in here. My first little chicklet was busting out. By 15 minutes later, she’d emerged. She has the buff Orpington coloration, so she’s been named Peach. That was the smallest egg in the batch. She was so tiny!!!
Parentage: Daddy is Romeo, a handsome gentleman of the chicken world. He is either: (Plymouth barred rock x buff Orpington F1) OR he is (Plymouth barred rock x [silver laced Wyandotte x buff Orpington F1]). So, Peach is: ¼ barred rock (PBR); and either ¾ buff Orpington (Orp) OR 1/8 silver-laced Wyandotte and 7/8th Orp.
Overnight, Rusty and Ginger were hatched. Ginger was still damp around the feathers before 5;30 am this morning. Peach is surprisingly large – especially since she hasn’t eaten or drunk a thing since hatching (day old chicks have the residue yolk to live off of, for two-three days. One should not open up the incubator without cause….)
Ginger’s parents have the same background as Peach. Same father, same breed of biological mother, although which one gets the blame will never be known.
Rusty is also from Tractor Coop, which means she has the same father as the others. Mom, however, is a Rhode Island red, named Rhodie. So, Rusty is ¼ PBR and ½ Rhode Island red (RIR); and either ¼ Orp OR 1/8 silver-laced Wyandotte + 1/8th Orp.
Yeah, Chicken Genetics!!!
Anyhow, Peach and Ginger have the buff Orpington phenotype, and Rusty has the RIR phenotype. (Although I will confirm leg coloration later on as they develop.)
NOTE: I have no clue as to how to sex a chick. They will give me a gender reveal party in several weeks – hopefully without setting up a forest fire by shooting out fireworks to announce this, as happened last autumn in dehydrated California. Since chickens lack opposable thumbs, I doubt they can handle matches. I understand sex-checking in just hatched chickens is a rarified ability that takes a lot of practice – and last year I got a male Rhode Island White chick mistakenly labeled as female. (He is no longer with us.)
As for the six eggs from the other coop? Two have pipped a bit, but one’s pipping hasn’t gone very far since yesterday. The other is newer, and early this morning… still pipping. Paternal rooster is pure-up PBR.
We, shall see. It is currently 6:20 am.
6:40 am. I went down to check the Tractor Coop. The Orp foster mama there now has only six eggs. There are signs of shell, but no signs of a chick. So- I took one of her RIR eggs – they are darker than Orp eggs – and it is now in the incubator here. I’ll check again later to see what the situation is. If he hatches, his name will be Copper.
Yesterday’s weather: bright sun, nicely dry; 53 – 57 F temp range.
Today’s weather: bright sun, nicely dry: 48 – __ F temp range.
June 2; Farewell to a Beautiful Quail.
Occasionally my quail will escape from their outdoor condos. They drop to the ground, are a bit confused, or they see some food remnants they’ve kicked out through the front gaps of their units, and while they snag those, I reach down… I grab them immediately and put them back in. I’ve never had more than two jump out and down, and it is usually one. They don’t go anywhere, since I move fast.
This afternoon was different. I was reaching in to feed them, and one dropped down. She looked around as I reached for her, and suddenly inspiration hit her! “What ARE these things – appendages – attached to either side of my body, eh? Maybe I can use….” And she did. She flew 20 or 30 feet away. I walked over to grab her, but she saw me coming. “Worked once. Let’s try it again!” Another 20 – 30 feet, over terrain I couldn’t handle easily. When I went around the obstructions to where she’d landed then – no sign of her. That little lady is… gone. “Where am I?? Such a big wide world to explore! Let’s have at it!”
Alas, she won’t have much luck surviving in the wild. Depending on what gets her, she’ll be considered a meal or a snack. The other predators out there are faster than I am.
On other news, the current baby quail are now outdoors, in another level of the quail condos; I put them out there yesterday.
In the chicken coops: I got one “fairy egg”. That’s a small one (in this case about twice the size of a large quail egg), Typically it won’t have any (or barely any) yolk. I think I will pickle it with my quail eggs. I had a previous one either in 2020 or 2019. That one had a schmeer of yolk in it.
My broody Orpington remains broody. I pick her up from her nest, and take the new eggs in the pile, laid by any of her hen-mates. (At this point, she’s no longer laying any of her own, but she welcomes any and all newcomers). I place her back down on her own (8) eggs. SO far, the weather protection I did for that corner seems to be working. We have had heavy rain, but so far not accompanied by heavy winds. Keeping fingers crossed.
Temps today: 48 – 74 F. There’s a bit of unwelcome humidity to the air, and it should rain all tomorrow and most of Friday. The gardens need this.
Incubator is now started up – 11 chicken eggs, three from the tractor coop, and 8 from the last coop. None from the primary, Ovalicious Coop. I’ve marked the 3 from the tractor coop. Two or three hens are earmarked for the Ovalicious Coop – one rooster with two hens isn’t sufficient, and that coop can certainly hold more hens. These hens will have to come from the last coop – no blood relations in there. Two more hens will end up with a neighbor. Any cockerels will end up in the freezer (unless I have to replace a rooster at some point). The last coop might get a hen from the tractor coop – again, there’s no relationship in that combination.
Meanwhile, as noted on the 25th, one of the tractor coop hens has gone broody. Last night, before our rainstorm, I fixed their tarp so her eggs won’t get wet and their protective coating compromised. I am glad to note today that my efforts were successful.
(Addendum – Just before I started typing the above for today’s date, I thought I felt something itchy on my forehead. Checked the bathroom mirror, saw nothing. As I was typing the last sentence in the paragraph above, I felt it again. Reached up – pulled down a deer tick who’d been wandering around. It’s dead, now. But damn. I seriously LOATHE this tick infestation! I end up feeling so ITCHY everywhere!)
The broody hen now has 8 eggs she can try to hatch and rear. She’s a buff Orpington, which are prone to go broody. I have marked her permitted eggs – any new eggs she or her sistahs lay will be mine to bring inside, for human eats. (Now that she is really into being a broody lady, it is likely that all the other eggs will come from her Sistahs!) I don’t expect more than one or maybe two of hers to hatch, which has been my past success rate from broody hens.
PS, mostly dog ticks to date but this latest was the second deer tick I’ve seen on insect surveillance. I did rescue a trapped hornet in my house this morning – and safely deposited him or her outdoors. Hornets don’t plan to cause trouble, but a bit of paper toweling for personal protection – they’re reasonably easy to grab and toss back out where they belong.
Temps: 60 – 67 F.
May 25: The weather broke on the 23rd, with an unpredicted storm roiling through, giving us a bit of much needed water. Yesterday’s temps started at 41 F and went to 66 F – dry and pleasant. (But we still need more rain!) Today’s temps started at 49 F.
I’ve been collecting eggs, and didn’t think anything of it when the eggs from the tractor house were always turning up warm for a few days. Late in the day layers, I assumed. Nope, I have a broody Orpington. I should have cued in last night when she didn’t get up to eat when I brought dinner – nope, I assumed she was doing a late lay… She was still sitting there this morning (unless it was a different Orpington…). So anyhow, I will mark those eggs she currently is on tonight as hers, and simply take any further eggs laid there (there are four hens in that location – three Orpingtons and one RI Red. This will give her at the most 8 eggs to hatch – but I am going to guess about 6. Considering the hatching success of my hens when left to their own devices, I’ll be surprised to gain two chicks.)
May 22: Yes, it is now hot and nearly nasty, Florida can come and take its weather back! Preferably before we really get their weather!!! Although Florida typically gets more rain than we are getting now – our last storm was about 90 minutes on Tuesday, which did, for about an hour of that, unleash a goodly amount of rain. But the soil out there now is drier than the lint-collection pocket in your laundry dryer. Yesterday’s high: 79 F. I think the low was 64 F. At any rate, I think I inherited Dad’s heat-intolerant genes.
Today’s temperature range: 66 to (UNKNOWN). An early light breeze seems to be stagnating.
Planted in Raised Bed 3 (individual plants, not seeds): Bed 3b, right behind the alliums (mid-bed): a row of baby bok choy. At the back of Bed 3b, I planted (right to left): a green zebra tomato plant, a Japanese Shishido pepper plant, a Mexican Serrano pepper plant, and a Cardoon. A sad-looking tulsi basil plant ended up amidst a vacant hole in the alliums.
The ticks are terrible this year, and all popped out earlier this week. I’ve pulled about 7 off myself, and grabbed a bunch more that hadn’t begun to settle down. Poor little Serenity (the cat) had about seven herself to date, and there’s not really much to her body to begin with. I am actually glad I had her shaved a couple weeks back, for matting. She’s long-haired, and now having peach fuzz of about a quarter or so of an inch makes it a lot easier to give her a body search. They come in with me, after I do chicken work. I’m sure the chickens are eating ticks; they simply are too numerous for them to eat all. I now strip down and change upon re-entry. Despite that, there were three ticks (moving around) on me last night. The field won’t get tractor mowed until early June. Logistics.
I am plotting when to start up a new breeding cycle of home-raised chickens. I am hoping Sunday or Monday, likely Monday, or possibly Tuesday. I really don’t need more hens overall, but my roosters do. The Ovalicious Coop has Roo (Barred Rock from 2019) and his two hens, Yin (black Australorpe) and Chickpea (Silver-laced Wyandotte x a buff Orpington). The Tractor Coop has Romeo (Roo x either a now-diseased buff Orpington or Chickpea), and his four hens (three buff Orpingtons and one Rhode Island red). The newest coop has two barred rock roosters (un-named until I can tell them apart), three barred rock hens (ditto on naming), and one buff Plymouth rock. One of these latter roosters will soon meet the freezer.
Roo needs (and has space for) two or even three more hens. I also have a home for two more females with a neighbor who would love to have them. Boys from this breeding will be raised up for the freezer. And any Barred Rock x Barred Rock offspring can be sexed fairly early on. As in the past, I will mark baby chicks as to which one came from which breeding stock, even though obviously they will all be reared together in the brooder.
I should probably write a post (someday) about tracking genetics….
May 4: Drizzly and overcast day. Low this morning: 49 F.
Planted: Swiss chard (Rhubarb supreme variety) via Johnny’s seeds, three rows, lower Raised Bed 2a.
Hybrid Turnips, Johnny’s Seeds, three rows behind the chard, Raised Bed 2a. These are for small salad turnips, and could potentially be harvested in 30 days. I will have a follow-up veggie here.
The final potatoes, just purchased as individual seed spuds. 1 red, 3 gold (Kennebunk or something). At least they aren’t russets, which I believe are only good as steak fries, here…
May 3: Too many baby quail have died off. I have something like 21 left. Three were very weak, and a few found some inventive ways to suicide. No new deaths this morning.
Yesterday, May 2 – low of 33 degrees F. Out back, some water from rain was lightly frozen. I forgot to record the high. Rain started heavy here at 4 pm, although predicted not to arrive until six. This resulted in some unplanned online disruptions via Zoom. But I found an alternate site to sit at. I cannot wait for something other than the satellite-dependent Hughsnet.
Today: Planted alternating rows of seed potatoes: Yukons (three) and reds (two, I think a couple different varieties). Some came from my potato storage of uneaten from last fall. To finish up the planting, I need to get four more potatoes – one more red for that row, and three more golds for the other row. I will do that tomorrow, the local farm and pet place sells seed potatoes by the individual tater. (Planted in Raised Bed 4a.)
Also planted: lettuce seeds. I will use some as microgreens, spacing enough out so I can have some as full fledged lettuce heads, as I harvest the smaller or weaker plants. These all came from Baker Creek, and I have enough seeds left over for a fall planting. These are, in order, in Raised Bed 2c.
- Big Boston. Definitely need some to get to maturity!
- Henderson’s Black-Seeded Simpson – Leaf or head.
- Merlot – A beautiful red lettuce that can form heads.
- Tom Thumb – Apparently can make small, 3 to 4 inch, lettuce heads.
One row each. I have enough seeds left over for a fall planting on all of these.
Also planted: Avalanche Snow peas (Raised Bed 2a).
The rhubarb (Raised bed 3a) is not yet mature enough to be eaten. Very tiny. We will get them going and maybe next year?
I have mentioned it before, but the kale overwintered in its two rows of Raised Bed 4b.
Temperature range today: 45 – 62 F. Chickens are being prolific egg layers, and the adult quail are doing fine in that regard. However the first batch no longer has a rooster so I won’t be breeding new ones from that stock. .
April 28: No new quail hatched. And one baby died yesterday, two found dead this morning. Unless one of the remaining does something stupid (I wouldn’t put it past them), hopefully that will be all. 32 surviving to date. Next week I am considering starting up the dozen chicken eggs in the incubator. Have to check timing, though. Need to be here when they hatch, as I need to track which chicks come from which coop (for breeding purposes). We don’t want them to take after the historical monarchy of Europe, after all!
Heavy thunder and lightening, with rain, in the wee hours of morning. Low of 46 F.
April 26: By Friday bedtime (about 8:30 PM), 6 hatched quail. By next morning, an uncountable more. In the evening that Saturday, I’d brought 33 hatched and dried-off quail downstairs to their preliminary brooder. Numbers 34 and 35 hatched during the day on Sunday, April 25th. Both got a slight bit of help. There are two babies that seemed yesterday to be a bit weak – there are again two – the same two? in the same straights this morning. They have figured out what food and water is (although I can’t guarantee the same for the weak ones).
Tally to date: 63% of the eggs received from my quail nursery hatched (discounting the one I inadvertently cracked and it ooze white over another, also discarded).
79% of the eggs that were candled at day 14, when they went into lockdown, had visible potential viable embryos inside, when so candled. I discarded the rest, as they would take up too much lockdown space in the incubator.
80% of these eggs hatched.
April 21: Candled the quail eggs and put them into lockdown last night just before going to bed. 12 eggs discarded. The new candling unit is very definitive (unlike using the phone’s flashlight, which I don’t recommend). So…. 44 eggs remain. 78.6% fertilized. How many will actually hatch is still unknown. There was one very tiny (relatively speaking) embryo. I kept that egg, anyway. I hope for pipping and hatching to start tomorrow and head to the weekend.
Oh, almost forgot – got my first quail egg of 2021 from my own quail, yesterday!
Made an appointment for Serenity to get a lion cut on Saturday.
April 18: We had what I would like to be our last snowstorm the night of Thursday the 15th into Friday the 16th. About six or so inches, then while it still snowed, the ground was warm enough that most of it melted by Saturday morning. With luck, I’ll have most of these hatch.
April 11: beautiful weather the past two days plus today (although it will rain late… which is okay by me). Yesterday I let the newest coop out to free range and when I went back down to put them back in, one of the roosters landed up on my upper arm (I am tall) and nestled there. Wish it had been possible to take a photo! One of the hens jumped up on my lower arm.
Some of these hens now have names: Spice is the buff rock. Henny Penny is one of the three barred rock hens. She actually followed me into my basement when I first let them out to roam.
April 6: The quail eggs I ordered a few weeks back have finally arrived. Apparently according to USPS tracking, they arrived at my Post Office yesterday afternoon, after a week in transit. Shipped out March 31st. I have ordered Jumbo quail. Will pick up the eggs this afternoon when the PO here is open. (Nope, many rural post offices don’t have full-day hours.) So… TODAY IS DAY 0 FOR THE EGGS: I WILL SHUT OFF THE ROTATOR FEATURE ON THE INCUBATOR AT DAY 14 , IE, APRIL 20TH.
Why Jumbo quail?
For One: Any that become food will have more meat on their bones.
For Two: They shouldn’t be able to squeeze into adjacent condos when set up in their adult homes. Want to keep separation without fighting. Yeah, these tiny birds know how to fight.
Got to get my hatching setup in place!
As far as yesterday – I moved the one rooster (now named Romeo) to his new home and his new girls. He doesn’t seem anxious to leave – after all, he has no competition for their attentions now! SO I was able to go in and nab the egg one of the ladies there had laid, without him trying to get back out to more familiar territory. (Eventually this crew will be allowed to free range for part of the day, but I want him to get used to where his new home is, first.)
A couple things I REALLY have to attend to this morning that precludes me from putting the other rooster into the freezer today. Things do seem more pleasant there (for now) without Romeo there. But he WILL have to go to the freezer ASAP.
April 5: Hoping anyone who celebrates had a Happy Easter.
Today should be entirely above freezing; we are having a fair amount of wind but not as much as recently.
My ideal goal today is to move one of the barred rock roosters from the newest coop into a pen for dispatching to freezer camp tomorrow. He’s getting overbearing on the hens. As is the barred rock x buff Orpington rooster, whom I hope to move to the chicken tractor to become those hens new roo. Thing is, too many roosters to too few hens will make for a bad situation – and the boys have just discovered they have too much testosterone to co-exist. The remaining two roosters will let me know who gets to remain with them, too. One is definitely a submissive with a smaller comb than the others, so he remains.
In the main, first, coop – I thought my hens were either eating their eggs or laying them outdoors when they went out. NOPE – they’d been accumulating them in a far different (and very dirty) corner of their coop. Over three days. 13 eggs uncovered! Their rooster (named Roo) remains a gentleman.
On April 3rd, I found my most pretty quail hen dead. She was speckled, dark-feathered, and a good bird. No idea of cause. I wish poultry didn’t do this!
March 26: Rain overnight, heavy at times. Glad the roof vent is fixed! Today’s temperature range: 54-67 F, with wind increasing in the afternoon. (EDIT from the 27th: Temps dropped overnight, so that by midnight it was 44 F. Winds got really heavy-handed overnight.)
A total of 7 chicken eggs today, the late summer hens yielding up two of those. So, biggest records for 2021 so far: egg numbers and temperature maximum. The quail aren’t laying, stubborn buggers! I have to have a talk with them, and show them some cooking supplies…
There’s a last bit of snow back in Blueberry Grove. Otherwise, snow is done for. (I mean, we could have a future snow shower or storm, but this winter’s contribution is gone.) PS, I don’t count snowplow piles next to the driveway, but those are actually mostly gone, too!
March 25: Lots of life since my last update.
On March 22, 23, 24, boiled down collected sap from four trees. Not much boiling needed on the 24th, and indeed I went over on it. I salvaged by mixing some less-boiled down syrup with the newest overcooked stuff. It’s fine. A little crystallization in the bottoms of the three containers, but not an issue.
On the past four days (March 21, 22, 23, 24) the barred rock hens (or at least one of them) have started laying a daily egg. It is only mid-way through today so perhaps I will see another egg later today.
Temps: March 21: 28 F – 50 F.
March 22: 28 F – 54 F.
March 23: 28 F – 57 F.
March 24: 33 F – 48 F. Rained late.
March 25: 44 F – 66 F. Rained this morning. Overnight some of this was heavy. This matters, see below.
Into any home ownership, a little rain (ahem) must fall:
It rained last Friday the 19th, too. The snow had finally melted off of rooftops and in a lot of other areas of the yard (and has continued as this current week progresses). This past Friday’s rain is important, even though it wasn’t heavy. Snow was well off the roof at that point. I discovered a roof leak!!! Yes, when I went to curl into bed the night of the 19th, there was a steady mega drip drip drip in the master bathroom… went into the bathroom, and noticed water draining out through the ceiling air vent and onto the floor. First thought: a pipe broke? NO, this is a one level home, no water intentionally running up in the ceilings! – ah, the vent system broke down! (This is the thing that draws the methane from bathroom usage up, out and into the great beyond….) Someone got here Tuesday the 23nd, and did a temporary fix, and a regular pro roofer whom the first guy called in, came here on Wednesday and fixed it good. Turns out the building constructor putting this vent in had done it totally wrong – simply nailed the pipe up there without dealing with roofing underlayment. Both men were surprised I had had no problems before this!
Yes, I did guess it was a problem with the roof vent, but I just simply thought it was wear and tear and heavy sun / UV damage on the cap boot, since it gets intense south sun exposure. I can’t climb up to look for myself aka Bad Knees and a bit of height phobia. I thank the great locals who can help out here if and when needed!
No new water un-intentionally arriving in, overnight! Thank you!
Maple syrup is distilled down. I don’t use much each year and even though this looks like way too little for one person in a year, I am only keeping one of the larger jars for myself. More into flavor than sugar! Next year, ten or fifteen trees, a sugar shack, and perhaps some birch tree sapping, too. The actual collection post is here.
March 16: A mushy day. Still a yard full of snow. Temp range: 32 – 56 F. I checked one syrup tap bucket – somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 full. Had only tapped two by this date.
March 10: Low of 25 F, High predicted to be mid 40s. Bright and sunny, so more sun-sublimation due today. My back deck table is now finally devoid of snow. Went out and fed/watered chickens before the sun rose above the trees – not fond of snow-blindness, even though I have the ski goggles just in case. Serenity (the cat) is moving slower but still has an appetite for food. PS, High of 45 F.
March 9: Low of 26 F this morning. We still have a grand level of snow out there, mostly from that major snowstorm earlier this winter.
I’ve been in a blah mood these days. I only now want to start to get things done.
The newer quail have yet to lay eggs; the older ones have not yet returned to laying. I am looking forward to when I CAN order more eggs.
Tapped a couple sugar maples. Our high today was 42 F.
February 28: The howling and yipping of coyotes in the distance, about 3:30 am.
February 23: I’m doing fine. I am just not posting here often. Regards snow, we get more and more of it, along with a good ice storm somewhere in there – which actually wasn’t entirely a bad thing. My crampons could purchase in that stuff! And I had sufficient holes in the ground for my hiking poles to give me additional balance.
Alas, on February 17th, shortly after the ice storm, I found Celeste – my favorite chicken – dead in her run. She had such a good personality, but I did notice before all this winter happened that she was moving slower and not jumping as high as usual – it would now usually take two tries to hop into the bin instead of just one. (If I had the chance, I helped her.)
Celeste the Hen: Late April 2018 – February 17, 2021
She’d died in the run, not in the coop, and a whole bunch of snow and ice had slid off the roof and had blocked he entryway to the run. Not being chicken-sized, I was unable to get through the chicken door from the coop to the run, so she had to spend the night out there in the run. (Each trip down to the chickens takes a LOT out of me.) The next day I got down there with an ice chipper, and was able to get myself into the run.
Normally, I would have buried her. (In soil, not snow.) But that’s not possible here at this time of year. So I left her out to continue the cycle of life, as close to the woods as I could get her.
On the morning of the 22nd, I found something had found and taken her. Paw prints were too collapsed, but by spacing and overall size, I think a fox. R.I.P., my lovely feathered lady!
Rest in peace, dear Celeste!
Today: Bought two kitten-sized litter pans to give my chickens more liquid water, as their current pans are now full and frozen. They will also eat snow, which does blow in and land in the runs.
Snowed overnight, about 4 inches, but today’s temps: 29 – 37 F. Right now we are having flurries (late afternoon).
February 12: Happy Asian Lunar New Year! Remaining to be posted this month (and in most cases, still to be made): Filipino Tripe (Kare Kare), Taiwanese Pork Rice Bowl, Korean Fried Vegetarian Tofu). May get one more recipe in here by the end of February. Hopefully a Vietnamese dish I tried to make in the past, but failed at.
Temps: 5 to (less than 20) F.
February 9: I don’t want to talk about yesterday evening, but I have to. But first let’s do the other stuff. Today temps 12 F to 23 F. It is snowing today, maybe up to five or so inches.
Yesterday evening I went down to the chickens, about 400 feet from the house (or so). Fed and watered. On the way back up, about one fifth of the way from the closest coop, I fell into the snow. Because of my bad knees PLUS the depth of the snow not giving me a purchase to stand up upon – despite the walking sticks – I could not get myself to stand. Eventually, I had to “backstroke” back to that coop, pull myself up on the door handle, to stand. And then walk home. I’d ditched the backpack early on, as it was hindering me in that position. I think this took around 20 minutes but no real idea. I knew I had to get upright to walk home somehow, and the skies were darker and darker. The house itself was lit, but there was no light to guide me in actual footprints should darkness truly fall.
Fortunately still light enough to get home. I got in, leaving the backpack to wait, and took off all the snow-soaked garments. Went to bed, and shivered for at least two hours after arrival back here. My cat mostly ignored the dilemma. Okay, she’s not Titania, who would have cared… I will note that the one egg I retrieved didn’t get crushed in my endeavors!
I need to find a neighbor who can keep in touch with me on a daily or a semi-daily basis. I have a couple of ideas for this. I will note WiFi and cell reception is terrible around here.
February 1: I finally ran out of bandwidth on my internet service through Hughesnet, last week. I never had that happen before. At any rate, couldn’t understand why the service was down so I called them on the land line. They told me (mentioning if it had been a satellite problem, my phone would have been down as well). They did extend a bit more coverage, but I decided to wait until today when the new month’s plan rolled in, to post to my blog area. Considering we had a nasty cold snap in the interim, I figure I’ll post the temp ranges for the last few days. Temps in Fahrenheit.
Friday, Jan. 29: Low to high: minus 3 to plus 9, with severe wind, wind chill down to about minus 20. I’d buckled in the quail outdoors with another tarp layer, and they were fine.
Saturday, Jan 30: Low to high: Zero to plus 14. The chicken egg I found was frozen/cracked. I was able to use it anyway once it thawed.
Sunday, Jan 31: Low to high: -7 to plus 23. The minus 7 is the low end record for this winter to date. Two eggs found, chilled but not yet frozen.
And today? Low to high: plus 14 to ____. And a blizzard oncoming. It wasn’t to start snowing until this afternoon, but we now expect snow by about 10 AM today.
Quail egg news: None hatched. To say I am disappointed is an understatement. When they got delivered, I think they got left outside the PO structure overnight. I will have to open them all up (outdoors) to see what if anything can be determined as to any embryos. Then I can be more definitive. I know I am guaranteed a 50% hatching rate, but if this was not the hatchery’s fault, I’m not going to cash in on that.
7:20 am – a first band of light snow is now falling.
January 23: Day 17 for the quail eggs, no sign of activity.
Temperature range: 5 F to 19 F. High winds over the past night.
January 21: 9 degrees F at 7 am – a drop of a degree since I got up to candle the quail eggs at 6:30. Candled 60 eggs, rejected 8, but have no idea if the 52 I saved really are all containing embryos. I will be checking the 8 to make sure they didn’t have embryos, which if any of them do, the process will be fatal (crack them open, outside, in other words). This is my first time candling quail eggs, although I checked the first chicken eggs I tried hatching (or letting my broody hen hatch for me). The dark shell spots that quail eggs have make this a bit challenging, so I saved any uncertain eggs. The eggs are no longer being rotated, so the hopefully living embryos can orient themselves for hatching, rather than getting seasick or something (joking). I am seriously looking forward to JUMBO quail – and some of their mamas had to be jumbo, considering the size of a few of these eggs – otherwise that had got to HURT during laying!
Tuesday I added a strand of 50 battery operated outdoor-rated Christmas lights to the outdoor quails’ housing. Tired of them getting the proverbial “free ride”! I am still not good at sex-venting them – which is the reason I ordered the Egyptian Jumbos this time – you can feather sex them once the feathers grow in.
Wednesday, Archie the Speckled Sussex rooster was found dead. No loss, he was mean. I tossed him in the woods. I hope something gets dinner out of him, but he was frozen like a rock. Cause of death unknown. The Rhode Island White is now the main rooster in that group.
Also, more dehydrating on deck today. Yellow squash and green (zucchini) squash. The squashes are becoming chips (both with salt, and the former with nutmeg, and the latter with chipotle powder). Tomatoes. Jalapeños, done whole. Bell pepper chunks. Started the dehydrator at 9:30 AM, just about when it started snowing out there.
I’ve been getting a chicken egg every other day, with two of them on Tuesday, for the last ten days. Yes, they’re responding (somewhat) to increasing light.
January 14: Temp range 26 – 36 F. On and off snow showers.
January 13: Temp range 24 – 34 F. Lightly overcast.
Dehydrated potatoes and bell pepper yesterday (the potatoes were done this morning). The potatoes are my own Yukon golds (with a smattering of my reds in there as well.) Quail eggs continue to incubate.
Chickens and quail are doing fine.
January 8: Temp range 19-30 F. Bright sun.
Dehydrating zucchini and grape tomatoes today. First time I’ve ever run the unit indoors. Feels weird. Didn’t have the space at the old home, and onions really need to be outdoors due to a bit too much aroma.
January 7: Temperatures today: 21 F this morning to a high of 28F.
60 quail eggs have started incubating. Today is Day 0, they go to Day 14, when I stop them from being rotated. About Day 18 I hope they hatch. Eggs arrived yesterday, you let them sit overnight to adjust after all the transit jostling. I was sent ten extra eggs. Jumbo Egyptians.
January 6: It is 6 pm now, and dinner is in the oven. I spent a couple hours or so in the morning at the auto place getting front and rear brake pads and rotors replaced, along with a couple of filters for A/C and something else. No, I don’t speak Auto. Watched Flipper 101 with Tarek somebody on HGTV in the waiting room. WHY OH WHY do these flipping imbeciles find a need to paint perfectly GOOD brick white??? (I gasped, as did the other woman waiting in the room.) And in that 2 million dollar home, why oh why did they not put in some good under-counter drawers instead of cabinets? AND why does HGTV run back to back episodes of the same show on the same day? Vary it up, guys!!! I ended up watching four of these things. (How many do they run in a day?)
I will admit, the one home that was obviously in late foreclosure, anything, ANYTHING they did to it would be an improvement. You know popcorn ceilings? That one had stalactite ceilings! I’ve never seen that before. But the 2 million dollar house – when they removed the walls to open up the space – they had to make a sunken living room. Sorry, the inner klutz in me would have walked right back out that door and into an escape car. But at least they made that kitchen look good and not monochrome, though I suspect (they focus on the kitchen for about five seconds in each of these things) the layout would not be user-convenient. And yeah, no drawers.
At least Tarek brought the homeowner flippers into a tile outlet to pick out tiles and such. No one was stuck with the Joanna Gaines taste in having verbiage splattered across all the walls.
I think there’s a reason I don’t watch TV much.
January 5: The day starts overcast, at 30 F. High of 34 F,
It is official, now. I have 4 pullets and 4 cockerels in the new coop. At least two of the latter will need to end up in the freezer, soon. (Or I could give them away to someone else’s freezer, which I’d rather not.) One last barred rock had taken his time to develop, and the coloration was slightly iffy, too.
Now, it is a matter of deciding when to cull. (And, which two?) Eventually it may have to be three. 4 hens is a bit low for two roosters.
Beautiful hawk circling around the back acreage here just now (3:15 pm) when I went out to discard kitchen trash into compost. Too far away to discover if it was “my” hawk but it was of similar size.
Hoping to pick up the quail eggs for hatching tomorrow. I do have some questions but we shall see.
January 3: Mixed precipitation in the morning of the Second, which led me to postpone my 8:30 am appointment for front and rear brake pads and rotors, which my last visit to the car service shop about a week ago told me was screamingly essential. I don’t want to roll down icy hills to an appointment on marginal brakes! Rescheduled for the 6th. Also early in the day. Will bring lots of reading material. They no longer have magazines for folks waiting for service to complete, to read. Not that anything other than the one or two cooking magazines had ever drawn my interest there, anyway. (There’s a Television, but I’d only be interested in cooking shows on it, anyway. Not like a good movie would be on in the mornings. Or that television ever broadcasts useful DIY home improvement shows any more, either.)
Working on improving my WordPress viewer “experience” this month. I finally see some way to use the new “block editing” in my favor, but there are some lumps on the road. I set up the Blogroll/Links page you will find on the upper tab using it – but having issues getting graphics there to do what I want them to do. Come on, this shouldn’t be so difficult!!!! And I still can’t access the outdated blog-roll on the right side of the blog pages to edit (and now, mostly, remove that). I can remove the ENTIRE right column where I want, but the rest of that I still find useful.
Yesterday’s temps never got above 37 F. Today, we start at 26 F. Will wear the cleats to the chicken houses – it is not quite 7:30 am here as I type. Overcast and shady.
The ordered quail eggs will arrive this week. I get to follow the USPS tracking system – last word they were in Ohio (which is where they are being shipped from). I will guess Tuesday or Wednesday.
January 1: Another year gone, another year wiser?
Unless a date is involved, items listed for my goals are not in any order.
Cooking Goals (for the Blog)
- January – No theme. Dates are largely tentative.
- Artichokes, done simply. (Recipe is completed) (Tues Jan 5)
- Leg of Lamb. (Recipe is completed) (Fri Jan 8)
- Chirachi (Tues Jan 12)
- Compare ground beef with Impossible and Beyond Beef ground “meats” – both as burgers and as mini-loafs. (Fri Jan 15)
- Coffee liqueur – (Recipe made, but needs to be re-made for photos). (Tues Jan 19)
- (Fri Jan 23)
- (Tues Jan 26)
- (Fri Jan 29)
- February – East Asian cuisine.
- Vietnamese tapioca dumplings (…)
- Japanese Takoyaki Octopus Balls
- Filipino Tripe Stew
- Something Asian and Vegan
- March – No theme.
- Maple Syrup Homesteading post.
- April – Vegetarian and vegan. (Other than the April 1st dish… You will see…)
- Nut Free Granola. Nut and dried up fruit-free, to be more specific.)
- May – By this point, tie off the Greek dishes I really want to make: Spanikopita, beef moussaka, and a couple others – hopefully in the earlier months. Also, something Mexican for Cinco de Mayo.
- June – Hopefully by then I will be able to do some restaurant reviews combined with a potential trip – see below.
- The rest of the year… as it happens. Not planning further than that, just yet. Other than making the Greek Almond and Chocolate Christmas Cookies, to post Dec 17th.
- January – No theme. Dates are largely tentative.
Homesteading Goals, Maple Syrup
- Get everything together and tap them trees in March. (They are already marked.)
- Possibly, simply for giggles, tap a large birch tree. If only a taste, good enough this time.
- Boil down everything, and make both maple syrup and a thinner maple drink.
- Evaluate how it all went.
Homesteading Goals, Veggies and Fruits
Homesteading Goals, Feathered Critters
- Carry on with Main Coop.
- Cull a rooster or two in Second Coop. Go by behavior. Encourage egg-laying. Build “toys” for their run.
- Set up tractor for eventual meat birds.
- Electronetting, finally.
- Order new day old chicks to arrive July – mostly broilers with supplemental barred rocks (this time the latter should be all female).
Note, they’re ordered to arrive week of July 26th.
- September – October – harvest the broilers.
- January – order from Myshirefarm.com – two batches of Jumbo Coturnix eggs, to arrive Jan or early Feb. This is 50 eggs. Set up incubator and have at it! ORDERED.
- March – Quail go outdoors, or if too many to house out there, extras into freezer. (FINALLY I will be able to eat one of my quail!) Another possibility is to find neighbors who want quail of their own.
- Cook up some meat quail.
- Other Poultry
- Evaluate the potential of having either guinea fowl (tick control!) or turkeys (just two or three, for end of season dinner) here. Hens are fine for the turkeys. Both species will also lay eggs. I will probably not establish them here in 2021.
Homesteading Goals, Other Critters
- I am definitely getting and using a fishing license this year. On the western end of this state, I seriously MISS fish or seafood of any kind!
- Rabbits? Dunno. I’d like to raise them for food, but between 1) too much like white meat of chicken – but perhaps if semi-free-ranged they won’t be like that and 2) probably too many neighbors hating on me for wanting to eat those gentle fluffy things? Dunno. (Personally, I rather eat squirrel. I wish I had this blog in place back when I last had squirrel…! – Um, I also feel that way about the overnight-braised bear roast we had back in the day…)
- Sheep. For some reason I prefer the smaller but wilder breeds of sheep, at least to have roaming around here. I’d like Shetland, Icelandic, or to go WAY back evolutionarily, the Soay sheep. Seriously winter-hardy. These would primarily be for fiber, but cull out extras. I am going to research housing and put in fencing in 2021. I will not be able to bring any on this year, see Personal Goals below.
- Goats. Still researching, but for meat, I am leaning Kiko goats. Will look into other goats, preferably not too large as I have some bad body parts. I have absolutely NO interest in milking any animal here.
- Alpaca. This one is also a real possibility, for their fiber. I could sell it to others, and perhaps learn to use it myself.
- Main need for all this over 2021 is to find the best FENCINGS, get a small tractor (and a way to cover it when terribly inclement out), and plan out essential housing that allows room for growth. 2021 will be a year of research with some early infrastructure.
- The idiotic “benign tumor” in my knee is growing back. I need to deal with this, get another MRI, and get it excised once the nasty and icy part of spring is over. I looked last spring at the potential of hitting it with radiation (it hadn’t grown back a lot then) and that doctor and I concluded that since little was known about this type of tumor, it would not be practical with unknown benefits. This is why I will have new quail come early – since I already have quail, the newbies can be outside with the others when the time comes – and new chickens will come late. I will have to have someone in town maintaining my poultry and my one remaining cat while I am out/not able to do things, and I want them NOT to have to slip down on snow or ice to get to the chickens, either. I have also delayed due to the coronavirus of note, since New Haven is a state away, and I really didn’t want to avoid having enjoyment here the balance of 2020 – and the growth only started to take back off this past month. But this HAS to be done this spring. I can still start seeds indoors for the garden. I will be able to be weight bearing, but other factors mean I can’t slip AT ALL during the healing process outdoors. On the plus side, it is not growing back at the juncture of the knee itself. So far less physical therapy will be involved than last time.
- Serenity my cat. (She got introduced to the world of the Internet back in 2002 as Miw, an Egyptian persona/avatar on a couple of creative and interactive websites. She’s still on the site that is still available,) She is 19 years old, and she beats Grumpy Cat out in spades (without looking or being grumpy), but I never knew I should have tried to monetize her! Born 11/11/01 – she’s a Ragdoll. She and my two American Curls got along well with each other, but the last had to be put to sleep last October. Since she no longer has Obi-Wan, she sleeps with me at night. She has early kidney failure problems, and a bit of hind end osteoporosis issues – but I WORK with her. I am hoping she can make it to age 20, and to that end I will do whatever I can – as long as she’s happy being alive. (If it becomes miserable for her, I do know how to let go, despite the tears.)
- There will always be cats in my life. I cannot bring any new ones in here while Serenity lives – she’s mellow and will pretend to deal, but at age 19, that is rude to her beyond belief. I am considering if/when that time come, adult cats, no specific breed. From a shelter or some such. While I LOVE both the ragdoll and American curl breeds, there are so many cats already out there waiting for love and a home.
- A dog or more? I am finicky about dogs, just like people. Some people are worthwhile and more than worthwhile. Same is true of dogs. Never wanted one in my working days – yeah, there are puppy day care facilities, but eh.. II might be gone for 11 hours a day, including commute time. And I might need to go somewhere afterwards. For an emergency, yes, but otherwise? I am retired, and considering a bundle of factors. However, I am looking at guardian dogs (yes, that type would stay outdoors to watch the flocks), sheepherding breeds possibly, and maybe a couple other types. Yes, with dog breeds, breed personality can get involved, but I have known some mixed that turned out wonderful. Depends on what is needed when the time comes… 2022? With other needs for 2021, a dog is premature. Much more needy creatures than cats (or, for that matter, most poultry).
- Getting the Solar connected.
- Getting the Generator installed and connected.
- Dealing with homeowners insurance and then getting a wood burning fireplace in and on line.
- Finish all the exterior staining and preserving, and re-doing some of the sun-intensive parts on the house (some of this may need me to hire out – as I can’t do ladders these days).
- Take a VACATION. While I could go down to Florida to see family sometime in April, I think surgery will supersede this. I think the probable vacation will be in June, with family, to Maine, to lay to rest Dad’s ashes with Mom’s. That’s fine. (I can find locals to take care of poultry and the cat – especially with the snow GONE. I have NO intention of visiting Florida in the summer. I am not a masochist.)
- Short trip travels: Vermont weekend in August, Hudson Valley weekend in October for Columbus Day weekend, NOFA summer conference in Amherst MA. This all depends on what is cancelled due to COVID.
- Hosting the annual (except 2020) Maypole.
- Garage clean-out and organization.
- Basement re-organization.
Personal Goals, Creative and Related
- Return to stained glass. Did some in the past.
- Learn a language. I started Duolingo for Welsh last year, but I do want to go beyond Tourist Lingo. I want to read the literature. Yes, the former is first in the way of learning, but I don’t see there is much available to learn that language deeper (should I actually have the time). Portuguese would also be interesting. NOTE: I don’t have a NEED to learn a language, I just figure it would be an interesting way to keep that part of my brain active. I’d thought about Korean or such (as a foodie), but I do NOT want to learn that alphabet. Sticking with language, not writing!
- Painting: Watercolor, acrylic, oils – as they occur to me. Not planning on hitting them ALL.
- Vastly improve my photography, and set up a studio in the basement for adding to that. At least for the indoor portions. Deal with the fact that Lightroom software is now inaccessible to people who don’t have good internet connections and get something as good or better than that.
- Consider making videos.
- I plan to read 60 books in 2021 – this will be tracked on Goodreads. Cookbooks, how-to books, and reference books won’t count – since those tend to be skimmed or opened up for specific needs. I read 60 this year, so I don’t think this will be a stretch.
- Exercise a LOT more. This is by being active around the property, and by walking/hiking. If you homestead, you probably really do NOT need to join a gym or fitness center. Fifty years ago, no one was doing that, and they were overall a lot more fit than people are now.
- Improve my state of mind. Meditation and other techniques. Things to improve my sleep hours. I’d love to get back into tai chi, but need to re-develop body flexibility. Connect with people early and often. (Even if just by picking up the phone, these days.)
- Sleep. I understand 7-9 hours a night is ideal. I read somewhere that Benjamin Franklin ended up waking mid-night, got work done under an oil lamp, then went back to bed… to rise early and wise or whatever. That’s possible, too. I do wake in the early hours of the new day (um, restroom reasons…) but I do get back to sleep. I want to experience better sleep patterns, even if I do get up for the nocturnal voyage to the john. I need to improve on this.
- Just damn well accept that some people think political viewpoints are more important than friendship, and just go ahead and get along with life. DEAL with it. I learn to refuse to fall into that shallow trap-hole. Not my problem if they decide to do so. Friends are friends because they are FRIENDS, not because they have to agree with me on every count, or that I have to agree with them on any. Cut the fake ones loose. I admit I am having some vestigial problems with this. But I have a history of a couple (2) earlier problems with fake friends. At least this all happens for different reasons… (Mebbe I am learning something, but at a case at a time?)
- Listen to MORE music. I need (finally!) to get my iPOD converted over to the current i-World out there. The stuff on that implement is my musical soul.
- Find something volunteer to do. I had planned to host the local monthly night Potlucks at the Community Center starting last March after the slippery ice went away, but… COVID closed everything down. I would like to volunteer at a pet shelter. Those are still necessary.
- WRITE! Oh, Please! And not just for this blog!