Monday, July 24, 2017

Some things we're going to eat in the next couple of weeks

It's a menu plan, yes, but not for this week necessarily.  Because of people traveling and other people having evening activities, supper as a family is going to be a little hit and miss in the next couple of weeks.  So instead of pretending, I decided to just put it out there.  Into the universe.  Do with it what you will.

This free-form menu plan feels appropriate for what I consider to be our last few weeks of summer (defining summer as it's hot and the kids are not in school for an extended period of time).  We actually have about 3 1/2 weeks before the kiddos head back to school... So I guess we just have to repeat once?  Or eat a lot of leftovers?



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ten week chick update

Hey y'all.  The chicks are 10 weeks old, and possibly halfway to laying!  Here are some pictures taken during the past couple of weeks:

Austro looking all fluffy.

Rocky preparing to roost.

Esther with #fluffycheeks

Austro and Esther chasing the worm in Red's mouth.



Toasty Crunch



We got the larger feeder and waterer made and installed.  They'll have to be moved up a bit as the girls grow, but they're good for now.

We used food grade 5 gallon buckets.  We bought these for a few dollars at a home improvement store, but to make this project even lower cost, ask at restaurants, school cafeterias, or even the bakery at your grocery store to see if they'd be willing to set aside a few buckets for you.

We used horizontal chicken nipples again, because they worked so well on the smaller waterer.  We used nipples because they keep the water cleaner, and we used horizontal (as opposed to vertical, which are cheaper) nipples so the bucket could be set on the ground for cleaning and filling.

For the feeder, we used 3 inch diameter PVC 45° elbows, which cost a couple of dollars each from our local hardware store.  They're installed so that the lowest part is 3/4 inch above the bottom of the bucket.  The idea is to make it difficult for the girls to spill their food.  They have to put their whole heads inside, and when they try to beak the food out to the side, it just stays right there in the elbow.  For my five chicks, the feeder holds enough food for at least a month, and the waterer would hold enough for about 3 months (we will be cleaning it out and refilling it much more frequently than that, though).

Just in the past week or so I've noticed increased wattle (the red hangy downy things) development, which, of course set me to googling 10 week old black australorp hen and rooster images (Austro's are the most developed, but not anywhere near the 10 week roosters that google showed me).

The girls live for going outside.  It's just so much more interesting, I guess.  Yesterday for the first time, I left them outside for about an hour while I was inside.  They all survived the experience, and it even looked like some wild turkeys were checking them out while I was inside.

As I said, the girls are halfway to laying.  Maybe.  Most chickens could possibly start to lay at around 18-20 weeks, but that can vary widely depending on many factors.  I read somewhere that Silkies (fluffy-head chickens) might take a year or longer before laying their first eggs.  Toasty Crunch is bred for early lay, so she might be ready at around 16 weeks.  What all this means is we need to start getting serious about finishing the nest boxes.  It's a lot easier to train chickens to lay where they're supposed to from the start, than it is to retrain them after they've gotten into a bad habit.

That's all for now.  Until next time...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Menu plan for the week of July 17

The crazy short summer continues, y'all, and one month from today, the kiddos will be heading back to school.  I'm just not sure what to say about that.

This week, the two oldest boys who live here begin bike practice two days a week, which means I'm back to planning two meals a week that can be eaten in shifts.  The slow cooker is great for this--it'll cook the food, and it'll be ready when shift one wants to eat, and then keep it warm for subsequent shifts.  Unfortunately, our family doesn't really care too much for slow cooked food.  Maybe I need to try some of these recipes?  I also purchased another Wildtree workshop, this time a slow cooker one, so maybe we'll like some of those recipes as well.

This week, our eaten-in-shifts meals are spaghetti and BLTs.  I know.  Spaghetti isn't too shifty.  But it kinda is when the two younger boys who live here don't eat sauce.  What are your favorite on the go or able to be eaten in shifts meals?

Here's what's on the menu this week:



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Eight week chick update

The chicks have been with us for eight weeks now.  Seems like forever, and then sometimes it still seems a little surreal that we actually have chickens.

They've been out in their coop for two weeks now, and have completely defoliated the run.  That didn't take long.

Just in case you're wondering, the hen house is the building where the girls sleep.  The run is the enclosed "predator proof" (hopefully) outdoor area.  The coop is the hen house + the run.

Bubby continues to pick up chicks every chance he gets.

It gets a little tedious in the coop, since all the green stuff is gone, and probably most of the bugs have been eaten, too, so every now and then I'll bring the girls a treat--here they are playing tetherball with an apple.

I've been letting the girls out of the coop for an hour or so every now and then.  Now whenever I show up, they gather by the door, hoping for a chance at some fresh pastures.

It's a jungle out there.

I still don't let the girls out by themselves because they're so small, so I let them out close to sun down.  They go back into the coop on their own as it gets darker.

The other night, this deer wandered into the yard while I was supervising the girls, and watched me watching the chickens.

Then she snuck up on me.  Had to get a closer look at the crazy chicken lady, I suppose.

I think I told y'all in a previous update that I was obsessing over Esther's gender.  I finally figured out what all those chicken people were talking about when they said single or triple comb, and at this point, I'm pretty sure all the girls are, indeed, girls.  Rounded instead of pointed feathers, combs still yellow or light pink, no spurs, no wattle development, and in Esther's case, a single pea comb and even coloration.

Won't know for sure for sure until they start laying eggs, of course, and I found out that chickens can change gender.  What?!  Yeah, you heard me.

The girls will be excited when these wild raspberries ripen.

What else should I tell you?

The girls have dug a hole in the run for their dust bath.  They put it where I was planning on putting it, when I get around to making a dust bath.  I'm not sure what that means when owners start thinking like their chickens.  I had heard that dust bathing is a social activity for chickens, and it is.  For some reason they need to be right next to each other.  Much squawking ensues.

Speaking of right next to each other, Esther continues to like to snuggle with her sisters.  She'll walk up and plop herself down, sometimes right on top of somebody else.  Much squawking ensues again.

The girls have been doing a bit of what I would call posturing--makes me wonder if they're figuring out their pecking order.  Two of them will get right up in each other's faces, stretch up their heads so they're as tall as possible, and flap wings at each other.  Sometimes one will peck at the other's beak.

I'm realizing why people who are afraid are called chickens.  Chickens are so cautious and suspicious of every new thing.  And when one gets spooked, the others all get spooked.  It's funny to watch them all run around in response to one getting all worked up.  I try to reassure them, but they don't listen.

And...I think that's all for now.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Menu plan for the week of July 3

Every week, I keep thinking this is going to be the last menu plan for a while (at least the last posted menu plan for a while), and every week, I'm wrong.  Maybe this week?

Here's what's on the menu this week:

  • Out to eat
  • Kielbasa and potatoes, green beans
  • Fend for yourself
  • Nachos with guacamole and taco toppings
  • Pizza
  • Hamburgers, buns, carrots, chips
  • Hot dogs, buns, carrots, chips

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