Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Stock, cookies, and chickens

Good morning, friends.

I got the turkey stock canned on Monday.  I went out in the morning to get lids, and decided to do my weekly grocery shopping at the same time.  While I was at it, I picked up a mystery shop that was available in the area.  After I grabbed the lids, I started to wonder if I had enough jars... I ended up with 20 quarts and 6 pints, which is one quart short of my estimate.  And we did have enough jars, although I think we need to eat some of this food before we do much more canning.

As the jars were coming out of the canner, I placed them on top of our fireplace, like I usually do with my newly canned foods.  Except this is December, so my Willow Tree Nativity is on the fireplace right now.  So, Mary & Joseph had 15 quarts of turkey stock in their front yard.  It was all very festive.

Canning the stock required staying up late (well, late for me, that is), but by the time I got to the last two canner loads, there was no way I was willing to stop and then do it all again the next day, so I finished it up.  I started around 1:30 p.m., and ended around 10:30.  Usually, after time is up, I turn the burner off, wait for the pressure to drop, and then remove the jars (to the fireplace).  For the last load this time, I just turned the burner off, and when I got up in the morning, the jars were still warm to the touch.

Last weekend, I got out our cookie jar for the first time in ages, and put cookies in it (not very many cookies), for probably the first time ever.  And then yesterday, Hubby was making his lunch and the cookie jar was empty.  And nobody launched into a rousing rendition of, "who stole the cookies from the cookie jar," but at least one of us thought it.

Hubby was very sad about the lack of cookies in the cookie jar, so I made cookies yesterday: Santa's Snickers Surprises.  See?  I told you that you'd probably find out what cookies I made this week.  My sis said she remembered SSSs being quite tasty, but hasn't made them in over a decade due to an unfortunate condition, so I said I would save some for her.  I wrapped some up, and put them in the freezer labeled, " Buckwheat's cookies.  Do not eat."

I froze an additional dozen so that we don't run into an unfortunate situation of our own--that is, an unfortunately empty cookie jar or, even worse, unfortunately stale-before-their-time cookies in the jar.  These are labeled, "not Buckwheat's cookies.  Still don't eat."

There's something I don't understand about this recipe.  It says it makes 2 dozen, but following the directions, the pertinent part in this case being to scoop out tablespoonfuls of dough, I always make 3 dozen, or however many mini-snickers are in the package, and I always have leftover dough.  I'm pretty sure there's enough dough this time for another 2 dozen, at least, so instead of making the rest into peanut butter cookies, as I usually do, I froze the extra dough until such a time as I obtain additional mini snickers.

The girls turned 7 months old on Saturday.  I know.  That means they've been with us for less than a year, even though it almost feels like they've always been with us.  When last I posted (about chickens) I mentioned that the chickens were doing well with the cold so far, but their water wasn't.  I am happy to report that we now have electricity running to the coop, so the water has remained liquid.  So nice to not have to carry water out several times a day!

Not much has changed with the girls.  Esther still hasn't laid an egg, and Toasty still lays one just about every day.  Unfortunately, Rocky has stopped laying, probably due to the shorter days (hopefully due to shorter days and not due to something nefarious, like disease or stress).  She'll probably start up again in February, which is when I hope Esther will decide to join in.

They're doing really well with the cold, and they still don't like walking in the snow.  The other day, I figured there was enough bare ground around the coop that they might like to get out for a bit, and they did go out, but they followed me more closely than usual, and had no problem at all going right back in to their snow-free run, when I gently suggested they might like it in there better.

I don't know why people don't believe me when I tell them that chickens don't need supplemental heat.  They do just fine in the cold.  They're wearing down coats.  And...they're not human.

About a week ago, we had a close encounter with a hawk.  And when I say close encounter, I mean that hawk swooped down and landed about 2 feet away from where Rocky had taken cover under a pine tree.  I ran toward that hawk, yelling, "BAD hawk!  Go away," and waving my arms over my head.  Uh huh.  I actually did.  The hawk looked at me for a few looooong moments, shot a glance at Rocky under the tree, and then gave me this look like, ok crazy woman, I leaving, and then it flew away.  Unfortunately, I had too much adrenaline running through my bloodstream to appreciate his beauty from my vantage point about 6 feet away.  In hindsight, considering that the hawk could have ripped my face off, I'm not sure why he left without making another attempt at grabbing one of my hens, but I am thankful they're all safe.

I discovered that the girls like raisins.  I brought some out for them the other day, and they were just slurping them right down.  I feel like I need to make a special effort to make sure Esther gets her fair share, since she's at the bottom of the pecking order, so I was hand feeding them, and I had to literally shove Toasty and Rocky out of the way, and block them with my body, so that Esther could eat hers in peace.

I haven't been taking as many pics of the girls lately, but here's one of Esther sunbathing on Thanksgiving.

I'm still trying to get a video of Esther flying.  The key is to walk away from her, and get the other two to follow, while she's not looking.  Then when she notices we're several yards away, she'll run and fly to catch up.

I think I mentioned that Esther likes to perch on my boot while I'm sitting?  Well the other day she jumped up onto my arm to perch!  While I was standing!  I was so startled when she launched herself up in the air so close to me that I put my arm up by my face, and she still made it, about 5 feet up.  Oofda.  She was eyeing my head, as if she wanted to jump up there.

And...I guess that's it for now.  Take care, friends.

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