Explore the blog, Then Check out our website

Explore the blog, Then Check out our website
Chicken Scratch Poultry

Friday, April 28, 2017

When Are My Chicks Coming - Spring On The Farm


Spring has sprung and the crazy hustle and bustle has begun.  It's been awhile since I've had a chance to sit down and write a blog, I want to give you a peek into why it takes so long to fill those chick and pullet orders.  Right now is the time when every customer that has placed a chick or pullet order, comes down with a bad case of spring fever and wants to know when they'll get there shipment of fluffy butts.   I get about 20 or more emails and phone calls each day asking that very question.  I can guess a time frame for shipment but it really means nothing when dealing with chickens because they really don't care about my plans.  There are just too many factors to figure when guessing a shipping time, here are just a few of those factors to consider...

Beginning in early February we stop selling hatching eggs and we start filling the incubators with every egg possible.  Egg production is not good at this time and fertility is poor but we begin anyway as we try to get an early jump on raising up the young pullets.  Good fertility doesn't happen until warmer, sunny weather, so hatch rate is small and the process begins slowly.
Our incubators are located in a Morton building without heat so temps fluctuate which also effects hatch rate.  We hope to fix that problem in the near future.


We place eggs in the incubator every Monday night, usually about 8 trays and we have a hatch every Monday night.  It takes 21 days for an egg to hatch.
The photo to the left is the farmer working on an incubator as quickly as possible before the eggs get cold.  It seems that this was the year that all of our egg turner motors decided to have a break down, if eggs aren't turned, eggs don't hatch.  You might read that eggs need to be turned 3 times a day...wrong!  Our turner turns the eggs every hour, more turns, better hatch.  Just one more thing that effects the hatch rate.  In the back of this huge incubator is a fan blade that is as tall as me and it needs to turn and blow air across the eggs at just the right speed.  If it's the wrong speed it effects the hatch.  That's Just one more variable to figure into many others.
So when a customers asks why aren't my chicks here yet, should I say the turner broke down, the fan was blowing to fast, it was to cold for fertility, or the hens decided not lay an egg last month...

With every hatch of these sweet little fluffy butts it takes 7 to 8 weeks to grow one up big enough to confidently sex and to make sure that is has just the right body weight to ship safely in the mail as a started young pullet.  If that little girl is not old enough she can not stay warm enough in shipment, if she does not have a good body weight she can not with stand shipment and arrives at your home weak and susceptible to illness.  We make every effort to insure that they are well prepared for shipment.  If you have an order of young pullets with us, please don't make us feel rushed to get your order out, we know what we are doing, we've been doing this for a very long time and we do a great job.  If I feel rushed it causes me to make needless mistakes on guessing of the sex or sending a pullet out that is just to young to ship.  Allow us to do our job to the best of our ability, I promise we haven't forgot about your order and these birds are worth the wait!




We just purchased 3 more brooders just like this one to give us even more space to growout chicks into young pullets.  We like to raise them on wire not in shavings.  Shavings + poop + water = Illness.

Another factor to figure when wondering why it takes so long to get those sweet little fluffy butts. We keep our flocks small, over crowded birds are unhappy birds.  You might think more hens is better, not always the case if you don't have sufficient space to support all of those hens.  Over crowded hens are unhappy hens, which means fewer eggs.  It is by far better to keep your flocks small, you can't make birds produce any faster by cramming more birds in.



Be patient with us as we continue to work through the orders, we're hatching just as fast as the hens will allow.   We like our hens happy and healthy and you'll thank us for it when you see your healthy fat beautiful chicks. 
Have a great day, I'll be calling you soon to say your chicks are on the way!
Thanks Angie

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rendering Lard


Lard, is it good, is it bad?  Well it just so happen it's not as bad for you as we've been told.  Pure lard has no trans fats and has half the amount of saturated fat of butter and is also high in Vitamin D. When I say pure lard I'm not talking about supermarket lard, I'm talking about home grown hog fat rendered into lard.  Lard that you purchase from a supermarket has chemicals and hydrogenated fats that are bad for you.  Another thing to think about with supermarket lard, pigs that are raised with antibiotics store antibiotics in their fat.  When you raise your own pigs you know what they eat.  I'm not saying you should live on Lard, everything in moderation.




Last year we raised up 2 hogs, when we had them processed I requested that they save the fat for me.  So it came in this large frozen hunk.  I weighed the hunk but can't for the life of me remember what it weighed.  I think it was around 10 to 12 pounds.





I thawed out the fat and chopped into about 1 inch squares.  Now that I've completed this process, I think next time I would run the fat through my grinder or cut into even smaller pieces but thinking the grinder is the way to go.
I think grinding the fat will cut down on the cook time.
Once cut into pieces I put it into my crock-pot with about 1/4 cup of water and turned the crock-pot on low.






Within a couple of hours you will start to see the fat turning into a liquid.  The trick to pearly white, unflavored lard is to cook it low and slow, yes it is time consuming but very much worth it!








I forgot to take a photo at this point in the process so I've borrowed this photo from mommypotamus blog, she has a very nice blog on rendering lard that I found very helpful.

Once your fat has cooked down to this stage you are ready to strain the fat but keep these nice little bits to make some cracklings, yum.





Pour the liquid through a cheese cloth right into your jars.  I put the jar lid on while the liquid was still very hot so that the lids would seal.  I keep mine in the pantry not in the refrigerator.  When I open a jar I do store it in the refrigerator.








This is what it looks like before it cools and hardens.
I know I told you to cook it low and slow, but to be honest, at the end of the day I was ready to pour that lard in the jar so I cranked up the crock-pot and finished it off.



Even though I rushed it in the end I still had pearly white lard.  It does have a tiny hint of pork flavor but it is amazing!!  I've not tried to make pie crust or pastries with it but it makes the best fried chicken, fried potatoes and stir fried vegetables are out of this world good!  
When finished I ended up with five half pint jars and two quart jars, I feel it was very much worth the effort.




To fry up the cracklings, just throw those brown bits of fat in a skillet, salt them and fry.  Be careful they will pop on you.  Marvelous!!
Have a great Day!
Angie


Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Breed On The Farm - Maline


We have another new breed at the Chicken Scratch Poultry Farm.  The Malines were created in Belgium back in the 1800's as a meat bird.  This is a heavy breed, roosters can weigh over 12 lbs.  We have a couple that are topping the scales at 14 lbs.  Although the roosters are huge, they are gentle giants.  There are many color varieties of the Maline but the black herringbone pattern is the most common.  That black and white pattern goes from the top of their head to the tip of their toes.  Absolutely stunning!





The hens are also a very heavy bird but gentle, they lay a cream colored egg that is large and also lay a large number of eggs.









The Maline is somewhat of an auto sexing bird but the visual clues are not easily recognized at hatch but days or a week after hatch the clues are noticeable.  We will only sell the day old chicks as straight run.






If you are looking for beautiful, sweet tempered,  easy to handle, physically impressive birds for your backyard flock, the Maline should be at the top of your list. 




We traveled to Greenfire Farms in the spring 2016 to pick up our breeders and also took a farm tour.  During our tour as we walked past the Maline pen I was so impressed with the way their little faces were pressed up against the fence, I knew instantly I had to have this bird.  They beg for your attention, I LOVE it!!
Have a Great Day!
Angie

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chicken Scratch Poultry Farm Store - Etsy



We're happy to announce we've opened an etsy farm store.  We'll be offering products created right here on the farm like our home grown honey, homemade soap, dried berries, flowers, vines, wreaths, baskets and much more.  Not only will there be hand made products but we'll be offering antiques with rustic shabby charm.  I love rusty, dusty, junk, I hope you do too. 
Please come by and favorite Our Store and check out what we have.  We're adding to it daily so check back often.  There just might be some treasure you can't live without.
Keep in mind honey and cute chicken soaps make great Christmas gifts....

Friday, November 18, 2016

New Breed On The Farm - Crested Cream Legbar




One of our new breeds on the Chicken Scratch Poultry Farm for spring 2017 will be the Crested Cream Legbar.  I can honestly say I've grown to love this breed and I feel confident you'll enjoy it as much as we have.  


This remarkable bird has all  the attributes most poultry enthusiast are looking for.   
Cream Legbar are a medium sized bird, auto sexing, good foragers, sweet temperament and great  producers of beautiful pastel sky blue to light green eggs.   They produce large numbers of eggs and are rarely broody.  The hens produce a rather large egg for the size of bird. 


The Cream Legbar are really good foragers and do well free ranging.  They are nicely camouflaged with the beautiful charcoal grey and tan feathering.   The roosters are also protective of the hens and always have an eye on the sky.







Egg color is one of the most difficult things to photograph. Different lighting can make the eggs look completely different. The two top eggs in the carton are my Ameraucana eggs, they always lay a sky blue egg. The other 6 eggs are the Cream Legbar, they range from pastel blue to turquoise blue/green.  The color is bold, rich and makes for a lovely egg basket. 
In 1952 a  study was conducted in England with seven Cream Legbar hens for one year, on average they each laid 260 eggs. That alone makes them a great hen to have in the coop.




Cream Legbars are an auto sexing breed which we find so appealing as I'm sure our customers will also enjoy.  It's very difficult to find a bird that produces a pastel colored egg that can also be easily sexed.
We will be offering this breed as sexed day old chicks or you can order as started young pullets and roosters. 
Look forward to hearing from you.
Angie & Larry


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pullets Available For Shipping


We have a nice selection and range of ages in our started young pullets so I though it would be a good time to share a few photos.  Fall is a great time for shipping poultry, with the cooler weather they ship very well.  Some of the pullets that we have right now will be laying eggs very soon and will continue to lay through the winter months.  We have some 4 to 5 month old Light Sussex hens that will be laying within the next month.  I also have young ones if you want something a little younger.   They're a very friendly breed that love to interact with you if your looking for more of a pet.  They are also great for egg production.  We can always give you advice over the phone if your unsure of what age group you need for your existing flock.



We have a few Ayam Cemani pullets.  I've been very surprised at egg production of this breed. They lay a nice large egg and lots of eggs!  They tend to be a shy bird but if worked with for a very short time become very friendly and easy to handle.  They're absolutely stunning to watch forage around the yard.





I only have a very few of the Beautiful, big butted Black Orpington left.  You can't go wrong with this amazing bird.  Not only are they gorgeous, but they're friendly and huge.  I'm talking wide load....








The Olive Egger, our top seller for several years now.  The breed that we created over 10 years ago that now all of the hatcheries have copied (but they still can't get the egg color that we do.) We will have a few available soon.  Don't wait to long to place your order, they'll be gone in a flash!







I will have just a couple of Splash Marans very soon.  They will be a nice dark egg layer.  The Splash Marans are a more friendly bird than the Black Copper Marans.







The Chocolate Orpington.  This is a borrowed photo from one our happy customers.  As you can see they are very interactive, friendly and not to mention cute as can be!
These sweet little birds are round like a volley ball, with the shortest little legs.  Their little brown toes just peeking out of the feathers.








Lavender Orpingtons, I have several pullets around 10 weeks of age.  Talk about beauties!
The great thing about getting a bird this age, they will be laying by spring and they're already feathered out for winter.  I also have young roosters in this breed is you would like a breeding pair.






This amazing blue bird to your right is the Rumpless Araucana.  You can't find a TRUE Aruacana anywhere because there isn't a hatchery in the USA that even truly understands or knows what this breed is.  Don't even try to get this breed from a hatchery, you can only find a true Rumpless Araucana from a breeder.







I have two Rumpless Araucana hens ready to go, they are 3 months old.  I have the blue one (above) and the black on to your left.  I will have more at a later date.  This breed is very difficult to sex and takes several months of growth before mother nature reveals her secrets.




For more information head over to The Website.  Your also welcome to give me a call at
 618-643-5602.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Freezing Fresh Green Beans - No Blanching Method



My Green beans are still producing here late into October and I thought it would be a good time to share an easy way to freeze them without all the work of the blanching process.  Blanching is suppose to help vegetables keep their vibrant colors and flavors.  I've never liked blanched green beans, they always taste watery and I've found that it is unnecessary.  Your welcome to keep blanching if you think they need it.  I know all women over 60 are gasping and say you must blanch!

Simply pick, snap the stems off, snap the beans into small pieces (that really isn't necessary either) and wash the beans.  Lay them out  on clean dish towels and let them dry a little or pat dry with a towel.


Then stick them into freezer bags, push out all the air, seal and freeze.  I use a food saver, they are worth every penny.


Here are my frozen green beans from one year ago, they still look great and taste wonderful.  Thanks Judy Webb for teaching me the no blanch method.
Go ahead girls, throw in the towel, no more blanching your beans into a tasteless, mushy, green mess, just because someone said "you must blanch!"

Have a great day and say NO to Blanch!
Angie