Friday, June 28, 2013

We are Hosting From The Farm Blog Hop today!!

Thank you for joining us today it's an honor to host the From The Farm Blog Hop. Welcome to Chicken Scrtatch Poultry, our breeding fram. My husband Larry and I live in the samll town of McLeansboro, IL We enjoy gardening, working on our small farm and country living. We offer many rare and unusual breeds here that are not only beautiful birds but also lay a beautiful egg. If you want a colorful basket of eggs we can help you out. Stop in and stay awhile we're glad you came by today.

Here are the features from last week's party:

Wine Barrel Summer Salad
by Willamette Valley Wonder Woman

Crochet Washcloths
by Gingerly Made

Coconut Honeybee Lip Balm
by Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth

Now, on to this week's party:
1. Link up to three of your best gardening or homesteading tips, farm-themed posts, recipes, homemaking and simple/frugal living tips, decorating ideas, DIY projects, craft ideas, thrifty makeovers or repurposed items, healthy and sustainable living tips.
2. Link back to my blog, or put the link party button anywhere on your blog or post to share the love.
3. Make sure to check out some of the other links before leaving.

 photo FromtheFarmButton-Final.jpg
Photo provided by Chicken Scratch Poultry

We can't wait to see what you share with us!

Note: Linking up to this party will automatically sign you up for an invite to next week's party via email. To unsubscribe, please reply to any email you receive and you will be removed. Linking up also allows us permission to publish one of your photos on our blogs, Facebook, and/or Pinterest pages.

Angie McEwen
Your From the Farm Blog Hop Co-Hosts:
The Adventure Bite | Sunny Simple Life | 1840 Farm | Let This Mind Be in You | My Healthy Green Family | Fresh Eggs Daily

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Farm Happenings - Western Screech Owls

For the last 3 years Western Screech Owls have nested in a hole in a tree in our front yard.

 It's always so neat to watch and listen to them.  They usually hatch out two of the cutest little chicks.  The parents never seem too concerned with us watching or getting too close. The first year we weren't sure if we were watching babies or adults.  The Western Screech Owls are quite small so we thought they were babies.  There was always one sitting in the tree.  Little did we know that what we were watching was the adult and the mate was sitting on the nest in a hole in the tree.  Well, after watching the owl sitting in the tree for about three weeks, one evening we noticed the cutest, big eyed fluff ball sitting on the ground.  It was at that time we realized we'd  been watching the adult all along.
 This picture was taken after the dog backed him up against the tree and barked in his little face.  The parents are very trusting and didn't try to protect him.  The dog wasn't really sure what to think about his screeching and snapping his bill and decided to leave the ball of fluff alone.
  One evening while returning home from town, when we pulled into the drive we noticed something hanging on our front door handle.  I got out of the car and walked over to check it out, it was the baby owl.  Not sure why he was hanging upside down on the door.   As I got closer he was able to fly a short distance over to this tree.
The next morning I spotted the little guy again sitting under my lilac bush, so what do I do but grab the camera again and snap his picture.  Seems in the bright day light his big eyes don't open so wide.  this baby owl is not the least bit afraid of me.  I have to watch carefully when I pull my car out of the drive because he wants to sit under it.  A couple of days ago I was needing to run to town real quick and guess who was sitting under the car.  So I thought for a minute, how am I going to get him out of there.  So I went to get the broom and broomed him gently away, by the time I put the broom back he was under the car again.  This time I just picked him up and sat him over by the tree.  The mother fussed at me and the fluffy guy screeched a little but we all survived, I didn't loose an eye or finger.  Never a dull moment here on the farm and I love every minute of it!
Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy, meditate on these things

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cherry Season On The Farm

It's cherry season here on the farm, it doesn't last long but boy are they good.  Fresh sour cherries make the best jam I have ever tasted but today I'm going to make something else pretty delicious, cherry tarts. When we moved to this farm it had  Pie Cherry, Bing Cherry, Peach trees, Goose Berry bushes and tame Black Berry.  The trees where a bit neglected and now they don't produce real well but we still manage to get enough berries to enjoy.  Last year we planted a couple of new cherry and peach trees in hopes of having fresh fruit in the future.

Sour Pie Cherry

Bing Cherry
I began by picking fresh Sour Pie Cherries, this only took a couple of minutes to get enough to make a few tarts.
I love picking cherries, it's nice to have a little quite time outside away from the distractions of life and enjoy the great outdoors.  While picking I watch the wild birds picking along with me and listen to our roosters crowing in the background.  I love this place and all it has to offer.
I picked about 3 cups of cherries.  When it's the perfect time to pick cherries the stems stay on the tree when you pull the cherry and no need to stem them. Next give them a good rinse in cold water and your ready to remove the seeds.
I found this cherry stoner at an auction a few years ago and I'm so glad I bought it, it's pitted many cherries over the years.  It's not perfect, it does smash the cherries but I don't care it pits them so fast and is so easy to use.  In just a couple of minutes your cherries are pitted and your ready to bake.
All you do is put a few cherries at a time in the hopper, crank the handle and the cherry meat falls out the bottom.
It spits the seeds out here and they fall into a bowl.
3 cups pitted cherries
2/3 cups sugar 
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 store bought pie curst or make your own
I put my pie crust on a cutting board, used my jar funnel for canning to make a circle that fits perfect into the cupcake pan.
 Cut on the lines.
place circle of dough into cupcake pan.
Mix your sugar and corn starch into the cherries.
fill each one with cherries but don't over fill.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 to 30 minuets.
Add a dollop of whipped cream and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Hatch and The Winner Announcement

Thank you all for liking pages, sharing, and leaving comments to enter the Brinsea Mini Advance giveaway.  We really enjoyed seeing what Brinsea items you like and hearing tidbits of your hatch stories!

The winner of today's giveaway is... Angela Lashley  

Congratulations. we hope that you are able to hatch many healthy chicks with this incubator!  We would like to say a big Thank You to Brinsea for making this fun hatch and giveaway possible!

The chicks first photo shoot

The Hatch

Hope you enjoyed the sneak peek of our fluffy chicks.  Our whole family are loving their presence in our home.  I was out doing some shopping today and I kept thinking I was hearing chicks peep!  I think that my ears are getting used to constant peeping in the background. Since our chicks ended up hatching over a period of about 2 1/2 days I decided that the easiest way to tell about it would be to share a timeline with you all.

Day 19- Being a very inexperienced "chicken farmer" I decided to candle the eggs and discovered that one egg looked as though it was no good but all of the rest were perfect. Later I was educated and realize that I broke a very big rule of incubating, I should have candled the day before and then put my incubator on "lockdown".  Nothing bad happened as a result but it could have so... do not do what I did.  As I was putting the eggs back in the incubator I started hearing peeping.  At first I thought it was a bird out side, then I realized that it was a blue egg peeping at me.  Eggciting!!  A few hours later the chick had peeped through its egg and was on its way to hatching.  I was a little scared because the chick was early, but it hatched out in the middle of the night and when I got up to check on it at about 2:00 am it was resting in the incubator.  Since the chick was early none of the other eggs had peeped through their shell's and the chick seemed to be beating itself around an awful lot in the incubator I took it out after it had dried and look strong enough.  We named this first little guy Early.  Of course because it came early!

Early coming out of his/her shell.

Early snuggling it "friend" before all the other chicks hatched.
Such a cute little thing!

Day 20- Early was doing great and another chick peeped through it's egg.  Again the chick waited until the wee hours of the morning to make it's way out of the shell.  Since no other eggs had chips or wholes once the chick got dry and started getting "wild" in the incubator I took it out and let it join Early under the warm light.  After talking to my Aunt Angie she said it would have been fine to leave the chick in the incubator for longer than I did.  Being a first timer I didn't know this.  Our second chick was lovingly named Henny Penny.  Early decided to show Henny Penny who was boss after we put them together under the light.  My oldest daughter came running through the house yelling,"MOM WE HAVE AN EMERGENCY!!"  thinking the worst I ran to the laundry room/chicken farm only to find Henny Penny on it's back with Early picking at the poor chick!  Emma was screaming almost crying, "He my friend! Don't hurt my friend!"  Oh the drama of having little girls!! We got Henny Penny back on it's feet and after a little time spent together the chicks became friends.

Early and Henny Penny are taking a much needed nap!

Ella and her buddy Henny Penny

Day 21- Early and Henny Penny were waiting on all of their friends to hatch and the eggs did not disappoint.  That morning there was much peeping and movement coming from the remaining four eggs.  By noon all four had peeped through their shells and were on their way to hatching.  We had to leave the house for the afternoon and evening so I fully expected to have an incubator full of chicks when we arrived home.  To my surprise only one chick had hatched out.  I resisted the urge to take it out of the incubator and left the chick in to encourage the others to hatch.

Chick #3 who is now being called Crazy.. he is a little crazy!
Eva admiring Crazy chick!

By about 10:00 pm nothing more had happened with the eggs and I sent my Aunt a text asking what if anything should I do.  She replied and said that if they weren't moving or doing anything then they may not hatch, she suggested I give them more time and then if nothing still maybe think about assisting an egg to see what would happen.  I finally went to bed and then got up again at 1:00, nothing had changed with the eggs.  After reading on the internet that sometimes if you talk to and encourage hatching chicks it can help them to find strength to get out of the egg I decided it was worth a try.  So in my very best cheerleader voice I started  cheering on the chicks. (I was never a cheerleader so I am not really sure what that voice is.)  After a few minutes the eggs started to wiggle and then the chicks started to zip around the eggs.  With in 15 minutes two chicks had hatched!! Talk about exciting!  It could have been total coincidence that the chicks hatched then but I like to think that my encouragement helped them along.

This is a short video of chicks 4 and 5 hatching out.  They are the only ones I actually witnessed hatching.  It was so neat!!

There was one egg left that had made no progress, I could see the chick barley moving its beak under the shell and it wasn't peeping anymore.  It was 2:00 am and I started looking on youtube for videos on how to help a chick out of its shell.  I found a very helpful video and following it's instructions I removed just the shell from then end of the egg.  It was tedious work and I was very careful to leave the membrane like the video suggested.  I tried to work quick and when finished put the egg back in the incubator laying a warm wet paper towel next to it to help increase the humidity.  I had know idea if this would help but thought it was worth a try.  I set and watched the chick struggle for a while and decided to go on to bed and just see what happened, fully expecting the chick not to make it. When I got up in the morning I was so surprised to see that the chick had hatched and looked like it was going to survive.  All six of the chicks are still doing great and getting lots of little girl lovins!  Ella, Emma, and Eva all love the chicks and are enjoying getting to help take care of them.

This is the little one that needed some help getting out of the egg.

I know that I have said this over and over but it is the honest truth.. I feel like Brinsea makes a very good incubator for the first time user.  All but one of our eggs hatched perfectly even with the power outage that we had.  Chicken Scratch provided some really great eggs also, I mean come on they survived me making almost every beginner mistake there is!  I feel like our first hatch was a great success, looking at six fluffy chicks and little girls with smiling faces proves just that!!

Hope you have enjoyed following our hatch!  I am sure more photos and stories about our chicks will follow soon!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Adventures in Egg Hatching: We Have Chicks!!

I just wanted to drop in a let you all know that our chicks hatched and are all doing great!  Today I'll give you a sneak peek of the cuties, and then tomorrow I'll be back to share their hatching story.  You won't want to miss it because it was a pretty exciting event and I will be revealing the winner of the incubator!!

Here is short video of Ella teaching the chicks how to eat!  The little girl and chicks are pretty cute!!

Six fluffy chicks!

Please don't forget about the Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator giveaway! You only have until tomorrow at noon to get your name in the drawing.  If you have friends who might be interested send them our way so they can get their name in too.  You have to be a follower of the Chicken Scratch blog (do this by giving us your email on the blog (there is a box that says become a follower.. type it in there), like the Brinsea facebook page, and share our facebook update about the giveaway.  To let us know you have done all of these leave us a comment and tell us your Brinsea "dream item" and make sure it has your e-mail address in the comment.  If you click here it will take you directly to the blogpost about the Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator giveaway.

Thanks again to the folks over at Brinsea for letting us use their incubator to hatch our chicks and to Aunt Angie for giving us terrific eggs!  I feel like much of our success can be contributed to a great incubator.. this has all been a learning experience for me and if I had been using an unreliable incubator I don't think things would have gone this well!  Tune in tomorrow to find out if you are the winner and to hear about how our eggs hatched.

See ya soon!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Home grown lettuce - Let's make a wilted salad

 A garden favorite from the time I was a small child has always been fresh lettuce from the garden and my mother made the best salad ever! Maybe you all have had this before we always called it wilted lettuce salad.  It's probably not the healthiest for you but it's delicious.  It's never as good with store bought lettuce It needs to be fresh garden lettuce.   My all time favorite lettuce to plant in the garden is Butter Crunch.

It's a good feeling going out to the garden and gathering the produce that just a few weeks ago were seeds in a packet.  I begin by cutting the lettuce off at the ground.  I usually plant a couple different kinds and cut a little of all.

The radishes have grown so fast this year with all the rain fall we've had.  Don't they look great!   chicken manure grows an amazing garden.
I pull a couple of green onions.  Within just a few minutes I have the makings of a salad cut and gathered.
Probably the most time consuming part of this salad is washing each leaf.
After you've washed the lettuce, onions and radishes you need to let the water drain off good.  I like to cut the lettuce up very tiny for this salad.  What I do is take handfuls squeeze out the water and start shaving it off in thin slices.  Then cut up the radish and green onion.
The next step is to fry up about 6 slices of bacon in a skillet.  Once the bacon is fried, set it aside and let your bacon grease cool down.  In a small dish combine 4 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of  sugar.  I like to use Balsamic vinegar.  Stir that up until sugar is dissolved.
Now pour the vinegar mixture into the cooled bacon grease and begin to heat your bacon grease back up.  Simmer the vinegar and bacon grease for just a couple seconds.  While the mixture is still hot pour over the lettuce and toss.  There you have it wilted lettuce salad, ooo it's good!
Don't forget to sign up to win the Brinsea incubator this week.  You can get the details on the blog Adventures in egg hatching part 3.
God Bless and hope you have a great weekend.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Adventures in Egg Hatching: Part 3

We are getting very close to our chick hatch date!  If the chicks come right on time, they should hatch on Saturday.  When reading after our power outage I learned that they might hatch a day late since there temp was down for several hours.  Low temp slows metabolism and growth of chicks.  Either way it looks like we will have fluffy little chicks this weekend! 

Since the chicks will be here so soon the girls and I have been getting ready for their arrival.  Aunt Angie helped us to gather all the supplies we would need.  I’ll give you a run-down of what we have.  The chicks will be tiny and we will only have 7 at best, so we are going to have them spend their first days in a large rubber made tote.  To make their home very comfy we are putting some pine shavings in the bottom.  These are easy to change out when they get soiled.  One of the most important items needed for raising chicks is a heat lamp.  Since Aunt Angie has several she sent one home with me.  We also have a chick feeder and waterer. 


I couldn't keep them out of the pine shavings!


It worked out great for us that Angie is letting us borrow all the things the chicks will need.  If you are hatching chicks and don’t have access to borrowing the things you will need be sure and check out our friends over at Brinsea.  They have everything you need for not only hatching but also raising happy and healthy chicks. 

 If you are interested in hatching chicks then obviously the first item of business is getting an incubator.  We will be helping one of you out with just that!  Our Brinsea friends are going to be sending an incubator to our lucky winner.  To let us know that you would like to be put in the drawing to win the Mini Advance Brinsea Incubator you need  to become a follower of our blog (if you have not already done this), like the Brinsea Facebook page and share the Facebook update about our give away. To let us know you have done these leave us a blog comment telling us what your favorite “dream item” is on Brinsea’s website.  Be sure and leave your email address in your comment so we know how to contact you if you are the winner.  I know there are a few steps to enter the drawing but the Brinsea Incubator is worth it!  I have had no temperature problems and it turns my eggs like clockwork!  Your chance to enter will end next Tuesday, June 18 at noon.  We will announce the winner the next day and hopefully be sharing our successful hatch story.

Someone will have one of their own!!

Hope all of you have a great week!!