Friday, May 31, 2013

Adventures in egg hatching part 1- with Melissa

Summer is upon us and we have some exciting things happening in our home!  When Aunt Angie and I started talking about working on the blog together we discussed how she would love if I raised some of her chicks and could share about all the fun we had with them.  More recently she shared with me that her good friends over at  Brinsea had very generously sent her an incubator to try hatching chicks out of.  While I was a little apprehensive about trying to hatch chicks with such a busy home we decided that this would be a good opportunity for me to "get my feet wet".

The incubator that Brinsea sent us is the Mini Advance High Performance egg incubator.  It holds 7 eggs and turns them automatically for me.  (Let's face the facts... I have three small children if the incubator does not turn them, they probably are not going to get turned like they should be.)  When we opened the box and I pulled out the instructions I was a little intimidated.  There seemed to be a lot of information, once I started reading the instructions it all made sense and I was able to set it up with no problems.

Beautiful eggs!

My girls are very excited about having our own chickens!  They helped put the eggs in, and have been keeping tabs on them each day.  My oldest daughter Ella was convinced I told her it would only take three days to hatch our eggs.  What I actually said was three weeks. She has probably asked about 50 times if the eggs will hatch today, tomorrow, in a little while etc.  I count it quite an achievement that we put the eggs in the incubator with none getting busted.  My middle daughter Emma has lightening fast hands and not a gentle bone in her body.  As she was putting her egg in I was having flashbacks of egg dyeing at Easter.  Egg dye splashing everywhere and busted eggs!  Oh my!  She managed to put her egg in ever so slowly.  Mommy was proud!  I think she will do great with the chicks.  Now we are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

I just love this little hand!

Up close quality inspection

If all of that was not exciting enough for you listen to this news!  Not only did our friends at  Brinsea give us an incubator to use they will also be sending one to a lucky person at the end of this hatching experience.  As I share the progress of our egg hatching I will also share how you can have a chance to win that incubator.  Be sure and go check out  Brinsea's web page.  They have everything you need for hatching and raising  chickens and most any other bird.  Thanks again to them for helping us go on this egg hatching adventure!

If you want to be updated on the latest news about our hatching and our incubator giveaway become a follower and our updates will be emailed to you.

Hope you all have a great weekend!


And The Winner Is!!

Well not really a chicken dinner but the lucky winner of the cute set of chicken towels is, drum
 roll please......
I don't know Nichelle's last name but I will message her.
Thanks so much for everyone who left us such nice comments, we love hearing from you!  We like to know someone is listening out there.  Stay tuned for the next giveaway....

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Giveaway - Sign Up To Win

We will be choosing a winner Friday May 31 for the Kitchen Towels.  To be a winner of this cute set of towels you need to like Chicken Scratch Poultry on Facebook and become a follower of the Blog.  To become a follower go to the right hand side of the blog and click the Join this site with Google Friend Connect button.  Then you'll know each time we update the blog or announce the winner of the giveaway.  You have until 12:00 a.m. May 31 to get your name in the drawing.  These cute chicken towels will look great in any kitchen.

Sorry the eggs are not part of the giveaway, we'll do that another time...
Good Luck!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Planting Strawberries In An Old Chicken Feeder

I have always wanted to grow strawberries though never had much luck with them. So here I go again, I'm giving it another try.  I've seen people using old chicken feeders to grow herbs and flowers.  I got to thinking, I have an old feeder in a junk pile.  It's not in great shape and has some holes and is missing the grate on the top, but I think it will work fine for what I want to do with it.  When we moved to this old farm we inherited a lot of old junk with the place.  The old saying one man's junk is another man's treasure is very true.  I love junk, rusty, raggedy, peeling, and crackling, the older the better.  I like to re purpose and reuse.  When I asked Larry to help me pull the chicken feeder out of the junk pile, he gives me that look (you girls know the look) what do want with that old thing?  We bent the feeder back into shape, put a new leg on one side and I was ready to begin.

  First I began by getting the dirt ready to put in the feeder. I got the wheel barrow and dumped in a bag of potting soil I had sitting around, some composted chicken manure and a little sand, I mixed that all up with a shovel.

We drilled a few small holes in the bottom of the feeder to allow the water to run out and filled it with the dirt mixture.

Next I put in the strawberry plants.
Covered them with the dirt and watered each one.
I added straw to the finished product, what's a strawberry without straw.
While I was planting the strawberries. I had the Black Copper Marans free ranging.  They are so nosy, they can't hardly wait for me to finish so they can check it all out.
I don't know if the strawberries will do well in the old chicken feeder, but if the little bloom is any indication I'll at least get 1 berry.
 Oh well if the strawberries don't do well I'll try herbs.  It does look cute sitting on the porch of the brooder shed.  I hope to get this shed painted soon so imagine it being red...

What good ole junk do you have sitting around that you can re purpose?
Have a Great Day!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thank You and a Giveaway!

Good morning friends!  Today we are going to have a little giveaway.  We're so thankful for all the support we have received since starting our blog and we thought we would giveaway a small gift of gratitude.

To enter to win this very cute dish towel set (Don't you just love the chicken towels?) all you have to do is like Chicken Scratch Poultry on facebook and become a follower of the blog.  To do this just look for the join this site with Google friend connect button on the right hand side of the blog page and enter your email.  This way you will know each time we update the blog.  If you do each of these then leave us a comment. We will pick a winner next Friday at noon! When trying to leave a comment, if you don't have a gmail or other user name select anonymous. 

Thanks again for all of the support!  Hope you have wonderful long weekend!

Sorry but the basket of eggs does not come with the towels.
US address only.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Chicken Wire Cloches

As you probably remember about a month ago I shared with you in our blog about helping out some sweet little baby rabbits.  Well now those sweet little rabbits are eating up the cabbages in my garden.  I read awhile back on Farm House 38 blog about making wire cloches to keep the chickens from eating up your plants.  So out of necessity I am now making them.  This is what's left of one of my poor cabbages.


You'll need wire cutters, a roll of  24 inch wide chicken wire and I'm going to use old forks as a little handle.
I began by rolling out the wire on the ground.
Roll the wire out to the size you think you would like your cloches width around to be and then your ready to start cutting.
 After you cut the wire you can now roll it into a cylinder shape.
Fold over the loose ends of wire to hold the cylinder together.
After I got my cylinder shape together I decided it was to tall so I cut off about 6 inches. 
I used that 6 inches of wire that I just cut off to make the dome shape on the top.
Just to top this cute little cloche off.  We used an old fork to make a handle, it was just the touch it needed.
Now my cabbages are safe from nibbling rabbits.
This picture was taken about 9 days after I covered the cabbage with the cloches. As you can see I should have made mine a little bigger around.   They are doing much better now that they are covered.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Wild Asparagus Hunting

Spring is the perfect time to go wild asparagus hunting, no gun required, just a keen eye and a good memory.  Asparagus grows in the same place year after year so you can also mark the spots on your GPS.  Wild Asparagus grows along old fence rows or just along side the roads here in our county and we look forward to hunt every spring.  The season doesn't last long and you need to catch it at just the right time or your too late and it's all gone to seed.  Or someone else has beat you to it.  It seems asparagus always taste better when you find it yourself, it's so fresh and crisp.

 We either jump in the car and ride the country roads or we get on our 1999 Honda Recon 250 and take off for the hunt.  Once we get both of our rear ends on that little Recon it's squatin'.  What a fun relaxing time it is just riding the roads, talking, laughing, spending time together and picking delicious asparagus.  

 The asparagus just grows along side the road but it's hard to spot if you don't know what you are looking for.  The best way to find it is look for the old growth that went to seed the year before.  If the area has been mowed then you go by memory or GPS.

Once our basket  is full we head home to prepare our fresh asparagus.  Asparagus can be cooked many different.  We like it grilled, stir fried, and steamed.  Here's how I served it this week.  It's really pretty quick and easy.

Fresh Asparagus
4 chicken Scratch Poultry egg yolks
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
pinch of cayenne
pinch of salt

Wash asparagus and trim off the bottom part if they're  a little woody.  Separate egg yolks and whisk together with lemon juice in a stainless steel bowl until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume.

If your like me and don't have a double boiler, use a metal bowl that will sit on a sauce pan.  Put about 2 inches of water in the sauce pan, you don't want the water to touch the bottom of the bowl.  Place the bowl on the sauce pan and begin to simmer the water and continue to whisk the egg mixture rapidly.  Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble.

 Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. 

Remove from heat and whisk in cayenne and salt.  Set aside in a warm spot until ready to use.  If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving. 

I now steam my asparagus in a covered Pyrex dish in the microwave for about 4 minutes, I like it too still be a little crisp.  

Drizzle on your Hollandaise sauce and enjoy. 

Drop us a comment and let us know if you also hunt asparagus.  Start watching along side the road you just might spot some.
God Bless and have a great day!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My First Sewing Project

I have told in previous post that I have always loved to create and make things.  As an elementary student I would sit and stare at the same simple worksheet for what seemed like hours convinced that I could not do it, but when a school project came about I thrived.  I loved participating in art, science and history projects.  Pretty much anything hands on was what I loved to do.
When I was 9 or 10 years old I discovered a book of children’s sewing projects in our school library.  I had great grandmothers who could sew very well, and my mom would mend things from time to time but I had never sewn anything.  Immediately after flipping through the pages of the book, I found a project that I knew could do.  It was a stuffed animal in the shape of a cat, and it had buttons for its eyes and nose.  After checking out the library book I brought it home and talked my mom into letting my younger sister and I make one.  We gathered our supplies and took off.  In no time at all we had each made a bean filled cat.  I was so proud, I took the cat to school at showed it off to the librarian and my teacher.

That little project brought me such joy and accomplishment, I made something all on my own.  I still love that feeling.  Hopefully in the near future my girls and I can recreate that little cat and they will love it too!

Since I am on the topic of my first sewing project I thought it would be a nice time to share a simple hand sewing tutorial with you all.  I am quite certain most of you have seen these Yoyo’s around on home goods as they are quite popular right now.  This could be a great first sewing project for a little girl or boy.  If you have been sewing forever this might be a new addition to all of your sewing knowledge. 

What will you need?
A cereal bowl to trace.
Sewing needle

 First layout your fabric and put the cereal bowl open side down, so that you can trace around the edge of it.  (You can make Yoyos as big or small as you like.)

You should now have a circle traced on your fabric.  You can continue by cutting it out.
Once the circle of fabric is cut out, thread your needle and fold down the very edge of your fabric
 circle.  Like seen in the picture below.

Start to stitch in and out all of the way around the circle.  As you go it will gather.

When you get to the end pull your thread tight and tie it off. Your finished Yoyo should be just like this. 

Now you might be asking yourself, “What do I do with it?”.  The possibilities are endless.  My Great Grandma Opal used to make many of these and put them together for table toppers.  She even made an entire bedspread out of them.  It was beautiful!  I make and use them for embellishments on dresses and clothing I make for my girls. When I finished their Easter dresses they were cute but need a little something more.  After making some yoyos, I put a button in the center and added it to the dresses as a flower.  It looked perfect!  Like I said the possibilities are endless.  If you have a child or grandchild that loves to make and create things.  This could be the perfect little project for you and them!

Hope you have a great day!

God Bless

Friday, May 10, 2013

Annie's chicks - From Our Guest Speaker Lisa Steele at " Fresh Eggs Daily"

I am so excited to have been asked to guest post on Chicken Scratch Poultry's blog! Two weeks ago, one of our Australorps hatched five chicks from fertile eggs that Angie and Larry sent me and I would love to share some photos that I took chronicling their first two weeks.


Meet Annie. She's an Australorp, which means she has the tendency to go broody (sit on eggs until they hatch instead of laying her daily egg and hopping right back out of the nesting box). Australorps are known for their broody nature and Annie, true to her breed, goes broody quite often. 

In fact, she helped me write my article on Breaking a Broody Hen last spring because we didn't have room for any more chicks and I wouldn't let her sit on infertile eggs.  But she really wanted to be a Mom.  So I promised her that this spring, if we could coordinate our schedules, I would let her sit on some fertile eggs.  We did, and she did...and now Annie has five brand new baby chicks!

As soon as I realized that Annie was broody again (a quick peek at her bare breast confirmed my suspicions after catching her sitting in the same nesting box on each trip down to the coop for the past day and a half), I confirmed that my order of hatching eggs from Chicken Scratch poultry was still on schedule. My eggs were due to arrive in two days, which was perfect timing.  

I ordered a mix of Blue Ameraucana, Coronation Sussex, and bantam Chocolate Orpington eggs and here's what hatched...

I believe these two little cuties are both Ameraucanas.  I just love the coloring on the first little one.


I tried hatching some Ameraucanas last spring because I love their blue eggs, but Angie sent me all 'boy' eggs and I ended up with two roosters.  She said this time she would sent me 'girl' eggs, so we'll see how good she is at sexing eggs (This is said tongue in cheek of course, sexing eggs is impossible).  

I chose the Coronation Sussex because I have a Light Sussex already who lays beautiful pink eggs and is quite a gorgeous hen herself, white with a black 'necklace' around her neck.  This little beauty is our Coronation Sussex.  She will be white with a light gray 'necklace'.

The bantam Chocolate Orpington is the one I am really excited about. Already a gorgeous chocolate brown and yellow color, she's the smallest, but very feisty!

I also decided to put one of our Olive Egger eggs under Annie as well.  I hatched an Oliver Egger hen and rooster last spring from Chicken Scratch Poultry eggs, and am curious to see what a second generation Olive Egger looks like and what color eggs she lays!  Olive Eggers are half Marans and half Ameraucanas, and you can see the Marans coloring on this little one!

Annie and her chicks are nice and safe in a large dog crate in our coop and Annie has been busy teaching the chicks how to drink and what is good to eat.

Starting around day four, I let Annie and her chicks out for supervised outings at least once a day for some fresh air and so Annie can start to teach the chicks how to look for food, take dust baths and other critical chicken activities. She gently coaxes them out of the crate and then out of the coop.

I stick close as she teaches them what is good to eat and keeps an eye out for danger.

Annie gave the chicks a lesson in dust bathing yesterday afternoon. Not much interest yet from the chicks.

The chicks much prefer running around looking for seeds and worms.

Then they head back into the crate to rest and warm up.

Annie and her chicks will stay in the crate for another week or so and then move to a larger pen with an attached run separate from our laying hens until the chicks are probably just about 18 weeks old.  That way I can keep our layers in the main run eating layer feed and not worry about having pullets in with them who need starter/grower. By then Annie will probably be sick and tired of them and ready to hatch a new brood of babies!

This was my first time hatching eggs under a hen. I've only used an incubator in the past, but I am definitely going to get more hatching eggs from Chicken Scratch Poultry soon and try again. Maybe with Annie or maybe one of our other hens wants to give it a shot.  Chicken Scratch Poultry offers so many beautiful and interesting breeds, they make it easy to want more chickens!

So you don't miss a single photo of Annie and her chicks!