Friday, August 30, 2013

Dehydrated Tomatoes And Green Pepper

We're getting so many tomatoes and green peppers from the garden right now as I'm sure you all are also.  One great way to preserve them is to dehydrate them.   There are so many different ways you can use them and it takes very little space to store them.  If you don't have a dehydrator of your own, I bet you have a friend who has one you can barrow. 

Wash the peppers and tomatoes then slice.  It's a good idea to slice the tomatoes a little thicker than what you would use on a hamburger.  If you slice them to thin they will be difficult to remove from the dehydrator rack.  Slice the peppers a good inch thick.  Place them on the rack and your ready to go.  It's a good idea to start them early in the day because it will take all day for them to dehydrate.

Once they are ready to remove from the rack it's a good idea to put them right into zip lock bags or vacuum sealed bags or they will very quickly absorb moisture from the air. 

I keep my dehydrated tomatoes in the freezer, I'm just a little afraid they might go bad without refrigerating or freezing.  The tomatoes are great during the winter on salads, in soups, dips, on a sandwich with a little Italian dressing, the tomatoes reconstitute and ooo so good.   The possibilities are endless.  The peppers are also great in meatloaf, soups, dips.  Throw them in your food processer and give them a whirl and they are ready to use.
Drag out that dehydrator, dust it off and get started, you'll be glad you did this winter when you pull out those tomatoes and they taste like you just picked them from the garden.
Have fun!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Down On The Farm Photos

Do you find yourself doing less and less of the things you once enjoyed simply because you don't have the time to do them.  Sometimes I just want to relax, slow down and  

I grew up on a small hobby farm just a few miles away from where I live now.  My 8th grade year of school my father joined the military and began moving us all over the US.  This little country bumpkin was shocked at city life.  I never forgot my country roots and longed for country living every single day that I was away from it.  I finally made my way back and raised my kids the way I was raised.  Here are some farm photos I hope you enjoy. 


I love hanging laundry out but don't do it often enough.  There's nothing like sleeping on line dried sheets.

My little grand daughter already has a love for birds.  It warms my heart when she looks up at me and says "feed Chickens?"  In this photo I'm explaining what the hen is doing in the box.

 I think roosters are beautiful!
 Take a moment and think of things you love to do, have you done any of them in awhile?  Our summer is quickly passing us by.
Have a great day!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Eggnomolies = Odd eggs

Here at Chicken Scratch Poultry I gather a lot of eggs and very often I get an egg that makes me think,  how did she do that!  This is a basket of what I call eggnomolies.  After getting quit a few of these eggs I decided to start saving them to see if there is a pattern, if a hen is doing this often, does she always lay this kind of egg.  I've found it kind of interesting, I hadn't always paid much attention but when I started watching I was a little surprised at what I found.  We have a lot of laying hens, many different breeds so it's not like I'm only gathering from a couple of hens.

These are eggs that I kept early in the spring, when the new layers just begin.  The egg to the far right is a normal sized egg to give you an idea of how small these cute little eggs are.  This is perfectly normal for a first time layer to produce tiny little eggs.  I always save them, I don't know why.   I've had these for about 4 months, they feel hollow and dried out now.

It's a little hard to tell from this photo but these eggs have a kind of side goggle curve to them.  By the time I started saving them back she was about done laying.  She laid the egg in this shape about every other day.  The egg to the far left is lighter in color which tells me she was coming to the end of her laying cycle and running out of paint.

The hen that lays these amazing eggs is a Black Copper Marans, she puts this wonderful curl on the top of every egg she lays.  The top photo is the first one she ever produced and I was so amazed I took this picture of it but the eggs kept coming after that.  I saved a few and finally just stopped saving them.  She is still laying this same egg always with this curly glob on top.  As you can see the egg color has started to lighten as she goes through the laying cycle and the eggs begin to get lighter with spots.  This is common with the Marans, once she molts she will go back to laying the beautiful dark eggs.
   One of our little hens lays this interesting egg everyday.  It has the same swipe pattern on every egg.  Are these just a coincidence?  I'm finding that it's not, having so many hens has given me the opportunity to see it's no coincidence and once a hen begins to lay these odd eggs this is the normal for her.
Tell us about your odd eggs.  What interesting eggs do your hens produce?
Have a great day!

Friday, August 23, 2013

4 Roosters + 2 Hens +3 Little Girls = Fun!

Hello from the Triple E chicken ranch! (Triple E for Ella, Emma and Eva)  Our six chick's are growing up very quickly.  They are almost 10 weeks old, and we can now tell that we hatched 4 roosters and 2 hens.  Our roosters have just started to learn how to crow.  They have been sleeping a little house in the garage and I can hear their scratchy crow early in the morning when they are ready to go out.  Since we ended up with so many roosters we may have to swap Aunt Angie a couple of roosters for a couple more hens.  All of our chickens are really friendly and we really hate to see any go, so we will have to just see what happens.

Our youngest chicken farmer is giving the chickens some love.

Princess Emma and her friends.

My oldest daughter Ella is now a self proclaimed chicken farmer.  Like most things concerning her she takes her tasks very seriously.  She likes to feed, water, and give the chickens daily check-ups.  Her favorite chicken named Little gets the brunt of her attention.  He is the most easily caught and so she can be seen packing him around quite often.  Here is a short video of her giving him a check-up.  As you can see she gives a very thorough check-up!

Since the chickens have grown so much they were in need of a more permanent residence.  We got them a very cute little coop!  They love to roam the yard eating bugs and dusting all over the place, so we plan to put them in the coop each night and let them out to "play" every morning.  The girls have been calling it the chicken "club house".  Here are some pictures of the coop construction.  Daddy had lots of help from his girls!

Emma saying, "Cheese!"

Ella cleaning up.
Emma likes the coop!

Putting on the finishing touches.

Like I have said a few times before.. we are really enjoying our backyard chickens.  I think they are making great pets for our girl's.  If you are considering getting chickens and are concerned about the time and care involved, I can honestly tell you that they have been far easier to care for than any other pet I have ever had.  We can't wait until the the hens start laying us some beautiful eggs, until then we are just enjoying the laughter and fun they are adding to our life!

If you are old or new to raising chickens (like I am) and have questions or comments leave us a comment below.  We LOVE comments!

Hope you have a very blessed weekend!


Monday, August 19, 2013

Molting - Help My Chickens Naked!


If you have chickens there's a good chance right now you have a few running around naked.  At this point I'm seeing quit a bit of nakedness.  I posted this photo on Facebook a few days ago about my molting hen and got many questions about this process.  I often forget how many of you all are chicken newbies.  Some of the questions people asked are, does this hurt, itch, how long is the process, when does it happen, do they feel bad?   I had a lady come to the farm this week who said, "my hen just stopped laying, she's always a good layer, I don't know what's wrong with her."  I asked how old is she?  The Lady said "she's about 1 and a half years old".  I told her, more than likely she's getting ready to molt.

Chickens molt at the age of 18 months, it usually happens in the fall.  The first sign will be a decrease in egg production, feathers will begin to drop off as they slowly replace the feathering and then egg production will stop altogether.  Molting can take up to 2 months or longer.  It's hard to know if the process is painful.  I notice the hen that is molting does seem to often hide and duck and I see others want to pick on her.  This could happen because they see bare skin, or because she suddenly looks so different.  Birds will molt naturally once a year. 

Did you know that the large poultry industries here in the US force the hens to molt.  This is achieved by withdrawing food for 7-14 days, the hens loose 30-35% of their body weight which caused  the reproduction tact to reset, after they begin to feed the hens again laying is resumed.  75% of all large poultry farms in the US force molt.  How does this make you feel?  Pretty much makes me sick to think about it.  Just one more really good reason not to buy eggs from the store.  Put a couple of hens in your backyard, I happen to know where you can get some....Check out the website at  I bet you'll find something you'll like.  

If you have a question feel free to leave it in the comment area, I'll do my best to answer it but keep in mind I'm no expert.
Have a good day!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Zucchini Chocolate Cake


Are you up to your rear in Zucchini?  Let's make something delicious!
This recipe is from a dear sweet elderly lady by the name of Reva Phillips.
2  1/2c.  sifted flour
1/4 c. baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 c. cooking oil
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 Chicken Scratch Poultry eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 c. grated zucchini
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. chopped pecans
 *If you don't have buttermilk, you can sour milk by adding 1/2tsp vinegar to the 1/2 c. milk*
Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Cream together butter, oil and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, using electric mixer on medium speed.  Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in vanilla.  Add dry ingredients alternating with buttermilk to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.  Stir in Zucchini.  Pour batter into greased 13x9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans.  Bake in 325 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes.

 I'm not much of a cake lover, I would much rather have pie any day.  I can tell you this was delicious!  It is so moist, give it a try I think you'll love it and you'll use up some of those zucchinis.

Have a Great Day!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Let's Make an Easy Dill Pickle

I'm not sure what it is about kids and dill pickles, but they just seem to go together.  My girls love pickles of all varieties, they especially like a good sour one.  When my Mom passed on a huge pile of cucumbers I knew I had to make some pickles with them.  For several years now my mom has made a family recipe of refrigerator pickles.  They are a tasty sweet and sour pickle. My sweet Mom had just given me a giant jar of those pickles so I decided to make a dill refrigerator pickle.  After looking at several recipes I used a basic brine recipe and added what I thought the pickles needed.  From start to finish this took me about an hour.  I feel like that small amount of time is so well spent.  It brings me such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I see my family enjoying good foods that I make.  God has given me this time to bless my family.  Stay at home mama or not I think all women enjoy that feeling.  If you work you could throw these together in an evening with your kids.  Ella washed the cucumbers and then stuffed all of the jars with cucumbers for me and did a great job.  We had a really fun time making them!

Ella washing all of these cucumbers while I sliced them.

What you will need?

2 lbs of cucumbers (I used homegrown, you could get seedless cucumbers from the store.)
1 1/2 cups vinegar
2 cups water
1/8 cup sugar
4 tsp salt
2 tsp mustard seeds
3 tsp dried dill
2 tsp dill seed
3 tsp peppercorns
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
5 cloves of garlic
jars (the amount of jars you need will depend on how tightly you stuff the cucumbers into the jars)

First I cut all of my cucumber into spears, leaving the skins on. In each of your jars sprinkle a small amount of dill weed and a couple peppercorns.  I'm not sure if this changes the taste, but it makes the pickles look pretty.

Next take your spears and put them in your jars.  You will have to pack them in very tightly.  Once the hot liquid hits the cucumbers they will shrink a little, so squish them all in. On the stove top combine all of your spices and the liquid ingredients.  Allow this to come to a boil and then let it simmer for a couple minutes.  Now you are ready to pour your very hot brine over the cucumbers placed in the jars.

 After you have poured the brine into the jars all of the spices and garlic cloves will be left in the bottom of your pan. I took a spoon and put a little scoop in each jar.  Put your lids on and let them cool, then place them in your refrigerator.  I read that these they will keep for up to a year, they will never last that long here.  These pickles MUST be refrigerated, the jars will seal but cannot be left out.  One recipe I read said to wait 2 weeks to eat the pickles, we dove into ours the very next day and they definitely tasted like a pickle!

If they look tasty.. it is because they are!
(This is more than one batch of pickles, if you only make one batch you won't have as many.)

I hope that if you get a chance you will try these!  Your kids, grand-kids, or friends will be giving your homemade pickles rave reviews!

Enjoy your weekend!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Burlap Wreath

   This week I made this cute burlap wreath.  I like things rustic and country looking and this looks great in my barn wood entry way or on my front door.  It's very easy to make and pretty inexpensive.
Supplies Needed:
1 straw wreath
Hot Glue and glue gun
Ribbon or strip of material
Rotary cutter and matt
Or just use scissors

Begin by cutting burlap into 5 inch squares.  Your going need lots of squares, you can make the wreath as full as you like.
Heat up hot glue gun and start rolling each square from opposite corners and put a dot of glue to hold it.  Your making burlap tubes.
After you have several tubes made up you can begin gluing them to the wreath, you can make up more tubes as you go along.
After you make it all the way around the wreath gluing on your tubes it's time to go around again. This time I glued them between the cracks of the first ones.
On my third time around I glued the tubes in-between each of the last ones.  This time I curved them to the underside and glued it to the straw wreath to give it a more finished look.  You can continue with as many rows as you like to make it fuller.  I kind of wish I had made mine a little fuller.
Next I took a piece of material and ripped a strip off just big enough to hang my wreath from and to make a bow at the top.  I hot glued the strip of material to the back of the wreath.  You can also use ribbon to do this step.
I tied a ragged looking bow and hot glued it on and now it's ready to hang.   Burlap also comes in different colors.  I think a bright yellow or orange would be cute for fall.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ageless Iron

While I was outside today catching up pullets to ship on Monday I seen a couple of tractors drive by the house, the longer I stood and watched I noticed it was the Ageless Iron tractor parade.  By the time I ran in the house and grabbed the camera I had missed half of them.  Such beautiful old tractors, spit shinned for days I'm sure and then they parade them all over the county.  I thought you all might enjoy seeing some of the photos I did manage to get.




Hope you enjoyed the parade!