Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wishing You A Merry Christmas From Chicken Scratch Poultry

We've had an absolutely beautiful December on the farm and I want to just share a few pictures with you and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

The snow does make things more difficult to take care of although I can't help but appreciate it's beauty.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year!

The Chicken Scratch Poultry Girls
Melissa & Angie

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

NPIP - National Poultry Improvement Plan

In 2009 our flock became certified by the the Illinois Department of Agriculture into the National Poultry Improvement Plan.  The NPIP program was started in the early 1930's and aimed at eliminating pullorum and Typhoid from commercial poultry.  Pullorum is an egg transmitted disease that is caused by Salmenella Pullorum, that kills 60 to 80 percent of baby poultry.  Typhoid is also an egg transmitted disease caused by Salmonella gallinarum and will cause high mortality rate in both baby poultry and adult birds. 
We wanted our flock tested and certified in order to ship our chicks and pullets through the US Postal Service.  There are many other diseases that poultry can carry but these are the two disease we test for annually.
Every year in the month of October we are required to have our poultry tested and re-certified.  The Illinois Department of Agriculture came to the farm and performed our first test back in 2009.  On the first initial test every bird on the farm was tested, at that time we had many quail, chickens and turkeys, it was a huge job.  Larry and I were required to catch every bird and bring it to the State tester, he would test the bird, once the bird was tested it needed to be kept in an area so it wasn't mixed back in with the untested.   After our first testing Larry and I chose to take classes to became certified testers ourselves so that we're able to test our own flock.  We're also certified testers for the Illinois Department of Agriculture and can test flocks for them if we choose to. Once our flock was certified, the following year we we're only required to test 10 percent if we have over 300 birds.
Testing box, bottle of antigen, and bleeder loop
The type of testing we do is the rapid whole blood plate agglutination.  Whole blood is taken from the bird and mixed with the stained pullorum organism.   Before we begin the testing we need to order the testing Pullorum antigen from the Department of Agriculture, each bottle of antigen is numbered so you need a new bottle every year.  

To begin testing we catch the bird, lay it on it's back, pull some feathers from under the wing to obtain a clear view of a vain.  Once you have a vain, you stick the bird with a devise called a bleeding loop, it has a sharp point on one end and a loop on the other end.  It only takes a small stick with the bleeder and you will have a drop of blood, then pick up the blood with the loop end.   

Blood is then tested with a light box, this is basically a plastic or wood box with a light bulb under white glass.  The white glass is sectioned off into 1 inch squares with a permanent marker.  A drop of antigen is placed on each square.  The drop of blood is mixed into the antigen.  The antigen will look clumped or stick together if you have a bird testing positive for Pullorum or Typhoid.  If no clumpiness then the bird is negative.

  This is a very timely and costly project if you aren't qualified to test your own birds.  That is one reason few farms are NPIP certified.  If a breeding farm is unwilling to take the time and effort to become NPIP I suggest you shop else where.  This is for the safety of the entire poultry industry.
Part of being Certified NPIP means we are unable to allow visitors around or in our barns.  We enjoy having our customers visit the farm but it's always difficult to explain why they can't go and see the breeders they travel so far to see.  It's simply for the safety of our flock and theirs.  If you come for a visit sometime don't be offended when we tell you that you will need to look form a distance, it's not you, it's just bio-security.  Keep in mind, we go to great lengths to raise the healthiest birds possible.
If your a poultry breeder and plan on shipping birds across the US, be a responsible breeder and become certified, don't put the poultry industry at risk.

Have a great day!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pumpkin Crescent Roll Perfect for Christmas Morning

Christmas morning will be here before we know it and I know that many of us celebrate with breakfast or brunch.  I ran across this Pumpkin Crescent roll recipe on Pinterest.  I think these would be great on Christmas morning with a hot cup of coffee.  In the recipe that I found they used Pillsbury crescent rolls, that would be tasty but I thought that this same idea would be even better with my homemade crescent rolls.  I made these and took them to our families Thanksgiving dinner and everyone thought they were delicious!   Pretty sure that you will too!

To make the crescent rolls use this tutorial that I shared a couple months ago on the blog.  Just click here to find it.  Make the dough the exact way that the tutorial shows, then you will need to make filling for the rolls.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling:
1 Can of Pumpkin
1 Package of Cream Cheese
2 TBS of Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

To make the filling start by beating the room temperature cream cheese until it is fluffy.  Next add in the pumpkin, spices and brown sugar.  Beat the filling until it is well mixed.

If you have followed the crescent roll tutorial you will see that you should roll your dough out into a circle.  Once this is done spread your filling evenly across the dough and then cut the dough like seen in the tutorial.

 Proceed by rolling up the crescents and then dust them with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake the rolls at 350 for 15-18 min or until golden brown in color.  If you decide to make these for Christmas you could easily make the rolls days in advance, and rather than baking stick them in the freezer.  Then get them out Christmas morning and let them set for about 1 1/2 hours and thaw, then bake them.

The perfect sweet treat for Christmas morning!

I hope that everyone is getting excited about the quickly coming Christmas!  I encourage each of you to take a look around and seek out someone that may be hurting or lonely during this time of year.  A simple invite to your families Christmas or some warm rolls and heartfelt card can brighten what can be a dark time of year for some.

God Bless

Monday, December 9, 2013

How To Remove A Skunk From Your Live Trap Without Being Skunked

           Once upon a time there was a man named Larry and he lived on a small poultry farm called Chicken Scratch Poultry.  Larry was always up for a new challenge and his dear sweet wife Angie was always following behind with the camera.  So here goes the story of how they removed a skunk from their live trap without getting skunked. 

The Chicken farm often has a skunk problem, Angie's poor house dog Rusty was skunked twice last winter and once, so far this winter.  It took a good six months for this smell to go away and made for some unpleasant days for all.
When walking around in the dark on the farm, the last thing Angie wanted to walk up on and startle was a skunk.  To remedy the problem farmer Larry set the live trap, this is the only kind of trap that could be used since their are other pets running around the farm.  Well it didn't take long and Larry had a skunk in the trap.  The last skunk caught he put down while still in the trap.  When he did that the skunk sprayed, and months later the his trap still has an odor.  A stink so bad that he could not catch another animal in the trap for about a year.  So, Larry and his sweet wife did some research on how to transport a skunk, in their live trap, away from the house without being skunked.  Angie found all kinds of information on the subject and Larry was ready for the challenge.  Angie, armed with her trusty camera was right behind him..."I've got your back dear!", she said.

This is Mr. Stinky

Courageous Larry, notice how he keeps his head low... 
Angie watched in amazement as Larry crept very slowly up to the cage with a blanket.  His dear wife snapped pictures and gave stop and go hand signals to let him know what the skunks tail was doing.   (You really should have all the hand signals worked out before starting this process so the person operating the blanket doesn't need to yell "What!"  That upsets the skunk!)  
Once Larry was all the way up to the cage he very slowly lowered a blanket onto the cage and completely covered the skunk.  Next Larry took one side of the cage and his sweet wife took the other end and they lifted it onto a board.  

Larry and Angie loaded the skunk onto the 4 wheeler and transported him down the gravel road and far away from their property.

Once they found a good spot to release the skunk.  They very gently lowered him off the 4 wheeler, onto to the ground.  Now Larry began the process of very carefully removing the blanket.  As you can tell from this photo, the camera operator was standing way back.

Once that cage door was open it didn't take long for Mr. Stinky to head for the tall grass.  This isn't a very good picture but no one was asking him to slow down for a better one either.
The whole process worked out very well, Larry was able to sleep in his own bed that night and the skunk is no longer hanging around the barn hunting for eggs. 
Have a great day and don't try this at home!
The Chicken Scratch Poultry Farm

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tis The Season

I love the changing of the seasons and how with each one comes something beautiful and new in our surroundings.  This past week we had some unseasonably warm weather here in Illinois and I headed  out to enjoy it because it won't be here long.  Like they say, if you don't like the weather in Southern
IL. wait a couple of hours and it'll change.

We have about 16 acres of land, which is not a lot but plenty of room to go on a good hike.   I decided I was on the lookout for pine cones, evergreen boughs and berries,  just anything pretty to bring into the house to make a winter arrangement and decorate my old mantel.
About 8 years ago we planted between 500 and 700 Christmas trees on our property and they are just now beginning to get big enough to cut.  We have nowhere near the amount that we planted, the deer love to eat them and scrap them with their antlers, so we now probably have about half remaining. Right after we planted all of those trees, we also started selling hatching eggs, which then grew into selling chicks and has continued to grow.  Needless to say the Christmas trees have been greatly neglected.
I love cutting the Spruce boughs with the blue berries, I guess they are juniper berries, not sure.
This year I noticed we have Bittersweet vines to cut from.  Apparently they are an invasive species but I kind of like it.
Found a sweet little finch nest very low to the ground, this will look cute on my Christmas tree.
Once I got back to the house I arranged some of the pretty greenery and Bittersweet into my old coal bucket to leave sitting outside the door.
The little nest adds a cute touch to the Christmas Tree.
The old mantel is all decked out for Christmas.
I always like to cut enough to make a few little arrangements, stick some in baskets and just lay it around on shelves.  It adds a nice look and doesn't cost a dime.  Take a few minutes for a walk, you might be surprised at the pretty things nature has to offer.
Have a Blessed Weekend!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree with Melissa

In our home the Christmas season begins just after Thanksgiving with our family setting out to find the perfect Christmas tree.  I love the smell of a fresh tree and can not imagine myself ever putting up an artificial one.  Our family usually has a bit of a trek to visit one of the few remaining Christmas tree farms in our area. This year was a little different since Aunt Angie offered to let us come out to their farm and cut one of the trees she and Larry planted several years ago.  The Chicken Scratch farm has a little bit of everything!  Most of the tree's still have some growing to do but there were a few that were just right.

On Saturday myself, the girls, my parents, and grandma all went and trudged out into the field to take a look at the trees.  My mom found a very cute one and so she and my dad cut it that day.  The girls and I also spied a perfect tree. Since my husband could not be with us that day we marked our tree with a chicken leg band (we were on a chicken farm), and came back the next day to cut the tree as a family.  Not only did the girls enjoy finding a tree, they also loved visiting with the chickens and getting a four wheeler ride from Uncle Larry.  

My Dad, Mom, and Grandma.

Mom and Eva next to her tree.

We may have been on the chicken farm to get a Christmas tree but Ella was sure to stop in and visit her feathered friends.

The girls favorite part of their trip to the farm.. four wheeler rides!

Cutting the tree!

We are so very blessed to have 3 healthy and happy girls!

Once home with the tree I put the lights on while the girls took their naps and then they put all of the ornaments on after they woke up.  With three young girls in the house the ornaments get moved around a lot.  By the time Christmas arrives we will probably only have ornaments on the top half of the tree and that is okay.

Our tree 2013.
It looks good now.. if I take another picture in an hour that will be a different story!
 Our tree looking less than perfect is just another reminder for me that Christmas is not about the tree, decorations, food, or gifts.  Even though we celebrate with traditions like finding the perfect Christmas tree, our family's main goal this time of year is to celebrate a truly perfect Savior.

How do you celebrate?  Leave us a comment and tell us, we love to hear from our readers!

God Bless!