Friday, February 28, 2014

Chocolate Orpington - Breed Information

Today let's talk about the Chocolate Orpington.  Our Chocolate Orpingtons are a bantam not the standard size bird.  They are not a real tiny bantam but they are smaller than our standard sized birds.  The Chocolate Orpington is a new breed to the US and has only been here for a couple of years.  I have heard that the Large Chocolate Orpington is also in the US now but have not had much luck finding it.  The ones I have seen look no bigger than what I have at this time but that's not to say that they aren't here.
The Orpington breed is well know for it's gentle nature and friendliness, the Chocolate fits that description perfectly. When I'm gathering the eggs in their pen they are the one bird that is looking me in the face as if to say "what are you looking for and can I help you find it?"  I can always reach right out and pat their fluffy rears.
The hens are almost completely round and the size of a volleyball.  Their feathers drape down over their feet and cover their short legs, this gives them the appearance of floating along the ground.
The chocolate gene is the same as the Lavender gene in that it will breed true.  When breeding chocolate to chocolate you will get Chocolate drops.   You can improve on this breed by breeding a black bantam Orpington back into the flock.  The Chocolate Orpington is a good bird to have if you are limited on space, since they are a small breed.
The roosters have amazing personalities, they are feisty, yet friendly.  They are very animated, playful birds. Melissa, my niece who helps me with the blog, had a Chocolate rooster that they loved dearly.  He had a very neat playful personality, he would greet Melissa each morning with a few pecks on the feet. He was friendly to their three young daughters also.
The Chocolate Orpington has a beautiful feather duster tail, nice round robust fanny and they are chocolate from head to toe.  The Chocolate Orpingtons beaks are brown and so are their feet.     The Chocolate hens lay a cream colored, small egg. They are good layers and will go broody.  I let our Godiva Chocolate hen hatch some babies this past month and she has been a great mother.  She was bound and determined to hatch some eggs.  The eggs she was sitting on weren't fertile since she was not in with a rooster at the time, so I stole her eggs and replaced them with some Black Copper Marans eggs.  She was perfectly happy.  She is now the mother of 5 Black Copper Marans chicks.  I put 7 eggs under her and she hatched 5 chicks, 4 days early.  She had her Thermostat set a little high but she needed to with the terribly cold weather we had. I was really surprised that she was able to keep them warm enough to even hatch them.  The first couple of days after the chicks hatched she was terribly protective of them but she finally realized I was not going to hurt them.

Don't you deserve a box of Chocolates delivered to your door this spring?
Have a Great Day!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Breed Information - Ameraucana & Rumpless Tufted Araucnana, Two Very Different Breeds

This week let's talk about the two most mislabeled and misunderstood breeds in the poultry industry, the Ameraucana and the Rumpless Tufted Araucana.  They are two totally separate and different breeds.   The big hatcheries can't seem to understand them and for many years sold a mongrel bird they call an Ameraucana/Aruacana and claim this is a true breed.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  After many complaints from their customers they now call whatever junk they have created an "Eater Egger"

Let's begin with the Rumpless Tufted Araucana.  What a fascinating bird!  They are a blue egg layer, can be tufted and are Rumpless  meaning they do not have a tail or even the oil gland at the tail.  Tufts are unique to the Araucana breed.  Tufts are a group of feathers that grow from a flap of skin located near the ear.  Tufts can be many shapes and sizes and they may only have a tuft on one side of the face and can have no tufts at all or "clean faced".  A double tufted bird is an awesome sight.  Double tufts are very difficult to obtain on the Rumpless Araucana.  The Tufted gene is a lethal gene and will cause 25% of the chicks to die in the shell before they can hatch.  Rumpless Araucana are also a difficult bird to breed, due to the lack of a tail, fertility is difficult to obtain.
 Araucanas lay a beautiful blue egg.  The blue egg color in any bird is created by a liver bile pigment that is deposited throughout the shell, even the inside of the shell is blue when you open the egg. You will not find this in a brown egg layer, the inside of the egg will be white.  Brown egg layers deposit color on the outer part of the egg shell only.
Our Araucanas are good layers during the winter months but when it gets extremely hot outside the laying slows down.  This breed will go broody even more so than the Amraucana.

The hens are very sweet and a little on the shy side and a rather quite bird.  Our Araucanas are standard sized birds but the hens are small.  The fact that the birds are rumpless can cause short backs which can in turn cause hens to become egg bound. We have not had a problem with this ourselves but I have heard from other people who have.  When the chicks are tiny you really need to watch them, they will be the first to get pasty butt.  Since the little rump is so round the poop sticks to the chick. Keep a good watch and keep those fuzzy butts clean.
Golden Duckwing Araucana Rooster

The Rumpless Araucana make great foragers and free range well.  They are a light bird and can fly short distances if needed.  We keep our chicken run covered because they can fly over.  They are a very beautiful bird and come in many colors.  You can not get this bird from a hatchery, buyer beware, purchase from a reputable breeder.


The Ameraucana is also a fabulous breed but a total and separate breed from the Rumpless Araucana.  The Ameraucana has a beard or muff which looks like amazing puffy cheeks.  The Ameraucana has a tail, slate gray legs (not yellow or orange) and always lays a blue egg.  Every bird will lay the same blue colored egg. When the egg is cracked open the inside shell will be the same color as the outside.   They will not lay green, pink or brown eggs, that is a mute the large hatcheries have created and pass off as an Ameraucana.  Our Ameraucanas come in Black, Blue and an occasional splash bird.
Ameraucanas are good layers, they do slow down production during the coldest months.  They will occasionally go broody, which means they will want to hatch eggs.  We don't see much broodiness from this breed though.
This breed is very shy and skittish here on the farm but I get totally different revues from our customers. I think it has to do with the fact this is a breeding farm verses a pet in the backyard.  Our customers say they are the most friendly bird they have ever had.  I always think they must be kidding.  We aren't able to hand raise our birds with having so many and it makes a huge difference.   Even those folks who have our roosters say they make the greatest pets.
The Ameraucana chicks are so very cute with their little chubby cheeks.
The Ameraucana and the Rumpless Araucana are two of the most difficult birds on the farm to guess the sex on.  Just when I think I have all of my hens separated into the breeding pens, one of my hens will begin to crow.    Even at the age of 4 months they will have me scratching my head thinking are you a rooster or a hen?
What a great breed!  Those robin egg blue colored eggs are amazing and a farm favorite.

Have a Great Weekend!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Tasty German Recipe!

Growing up I was very blessed to have not only my grandparents still living and active in my life, but also my great- grandparents.  I was able to get to know my great-grandparents and spend a lot of time with them.  During the school year each and every Wednesday my Great Grandma Irma would fix dinner for our entire family.  This was no small feat.  Looking back I realize what work went into those delicious meals that she fixed for us.

My favorite meal that she fixed for us was fried fish and gnipflin. (We pronounce the word nifflin.) My Great Grandpa Rob loved to fish and caught all of it, then Grandma breaded and fried it all up for us.  To go along with the fish grandma always fixed gnipflin.  Gnipflin is a German fried dumpling.  If you have heard of this before, you have probably heard the dish called spaetzle.  I searched for the word gnipflin on the internet and found nothing, I am thinking this is just what our family has always called it.  Basically Grandma Irma made a very wet dough, scraped it off into boiling water, then fried it with sauerkraut.  It is still one of my favorite dishes and reminds me of my Grandma every time I have it.  

I made gnipflin for my family a couple weeks ago and thought I would share the recipe with you all. The dish is very simple, but takes a little patience.  If you love German food and sauerkraut then you will LOVE this!

This is the dough ready to be scraped off into boiling water.
3 cups of flour
2 eggs
1 cup of water

Beat the ingredients well.  It will be VERY sticky.  Bring some salted water to boil.  Put the dough on a plate and scrape it into the water in small pieces.  The smaller the better in my opinion.  Boil it for 10-12 minutes.  Pour it into a colander and rinse with cold water.  Then add the gnipflin to a skillet with hot oil or lard.  Add a drained can of sauerkraut and fry it all together until it is lightly browned.  I salt and pepper my gnipflin to taste as I fry it.  

This is the size I try to make gnipflin.

I had to borrow this picture of finished gnipflin from, my picture disappeared.  

For my family I usually make two batches.  My husband's family is also German and he grew up eating gnipflin, only his family ate it without sauerkraut.  I make one batch with sauerkraut and one without.  It is tasty either way, but I think gnipflin and sauerkraut must be eaten together!
Grandma Irma, Ella and I at a mother-daughter banquet in 2009.

I love making things that remind me of my loved ones!  There were so many "easier" dishes that Grandma Irma could have made for our Wednesday night suppers, but quite often she found herself making gnipflin for us.  I know that it is because she knew that we loved it.  I am thankful for memories like the ones of eating at she and Grandpa Rob's house.  They cause me to want to give similar happy memories to my girls and future grandchildren (I know we are a long way from that.)
 Grandma Irma left a legacy of lovingly serving her family.  I hope to leave that one day!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Chicken Breed Information - Will The Jubilee Suit Your Needs?

This week let's take a look at the Jubilee Orpington.  What an impressive bird, just about says it all!!  This massive bird looks as though it is a cross between a chicken and a beach ball.  The Jubilee Orpington is the largest of all the Orpington breeds.  They're very rare in the US and an import from Britain just a couple of years ago.  The Jubilee coloring is a deep Mahogany with an over lay of flecks of white, black and undertones of Emerald green.  The coloring of this magnificent bird is described in the Smithsonian Magazine as "The spring time sun melting the snow from a winter hillside."

The Jubilee roosters are gentle giants, non aggressive, docile birds.  A fence of only 18 inches high would be sufficient to keep this flightless bird penned in.  The roosters are enormous with a very wide breast, I bet if I measured the breast of our roosters they would be 12 inches wide or wider.
The hens are a very quite bird, not sure I ever hear much sound out of them.  They are great layers and will produce an egg every day.   Our winter has been very extreme this year and it did cause them to stop laying for awhile but that is very normal for all of our birds.  I can honestly say they're our best egg producer on the farm.  They lay a large pinkish cream colored egg and the hens are non broody.   Our hens aren't fond of the laying boxes we have at this time and have never put on egg in the box.  I think they're needing a bigger box to accommodate their roundness.  The Jubilee hens are very round and robust, they have that nice big fanny I like to see on my hens.  Have I mentioned I like big butts on my birds?  They tolerate cold weather just as well as the hot summers.

The Jubilee Orpington chicks when hatched are a buttercup yellow but within just a couple of weeks time begin to sprout their color, it takes a Jubilee over a year to fully color out.

These gentle birds make great pets and are good with children.

Doesn't your farm or backyard need some Jubilation!
Have a blessed Weekend.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

White Lightening

Hey friends this is Melissa, today I am excited to introduce a new addition to our flock.  Since our rooster named Little disappeared a few weeks ago our hens have been in need of a rooster's protection.  Aunt Angie was once again kind enough to give and deliver a nice young rooster to us.  When she brought the rooster out to our house our girls were napping.  We put him in the coop, and then after the girls awoke we sent them out to check in on the chickens.  They were pretty surprised to see a big white rooster in the chicken coop.  An even more surprised look came to their faces when Aunt Angie told them his name...  White Lightening!
White Lightening

When White Lightening first arrived our hens were less than pleased.  Our hens must be a little rough around the edges, because they made life miserable for the poor guy.  He was definitely "hen pecked", every time he even looked at the food they were doing just that.  We have had more snow, so the chickens have had to be in close quarters to stay warm and safe.  This has forced them to accept White Lightening as their rooster.

White Lightening's breed is a Light Sussex.  He seems very docile and easy going.  I have been able to handle him without much resistance on his part.  It will be interesting to see what he thinks of Ella, Emma, and Eva.  The weather has been so cold that they have not been able to do much "playing" with the chickens.  As soon as it warms up they will be outside loving on him.  I sure hope he is ready!

Like always thanks for reading the Chicken Scratch Poultry Blog!  If you have a question about a post or anything really just leave us a comment below.  We are always quick to respond and comments make our day!!!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Chicken Breed Information - What Breed Will Suit Your Needs - Part 2

Last week I decided to take a fews weeks and share some information on each breed of chicken that we offer here on the farm.  I think it's a good idea to know the temperament and what to expect from the bird you choose to live in your backyard or farm.
Today let's take a look at a couple of the Orpington breeds.  First lets talk about the Lavender Orpington.
The Lavender Orpington is a fascinating bird, if you enjoy poultry breeding and genetics.  I'm no expert when it comes to genetics but I'm slowly learning. When breeding a Lavender hen to a Lavender rooster the Lavender will breed true, which means you will always produce a Lavender colored chick. This is not so with other blue or gray colored birds. When breeding blue poultry the blue gene is not a dominate gene and will not always produce a blue chick.
It is also a good idea when breeding Lavender Orpingtons, to breed the Black Orpington back to the Lavender.  This helps when trying to improve on body type, feathering, and size of bird.
Orpingtons are a large heavy breed, very gentle and friendly.  The Lavender Orpingtons are good layers and our hens have produced eggs all winter even though we've had one of the coldest winters on record for our area.

The Lavender roosters are very gentle and non aggressive.   We are able to keep several together in our breeding pen and they all get along great with no fighting.  I highly recommend this breed for those with young children.  The hens are non broody, for you who are first time chicken folks, this means she will not want to hatch eggs. They lay a light peachy, cream colored egg.
One of the large hatcheries is now offering this beautiful bird and I really hate to see this happen for one simple reason.  Any time a large hatchery starts to offer a rare breed, that breed will never be the same again.  Large hatcheries go for mass production of birds and not breed quality.  Buyer beware!!

This is a young Lavender pullet, she's almost old enough to start laying.  Notice the blood red comb that announce eggs will soon be coming.
If your looking for a beautiful bird for your backyard look no farther than the Lavender Orpington.

Next let's talk about the Black Orpington.  They are also a large gentle bird, which that's just Orpingtons in general.  The Black Orpington is often over looked.  I specifically purchsed the Black Orpington to improve on my Lavender Orpingtons but very quickly fell in love with the Black.  The rooster pictured at the right was allowed to free range the farm for one whole summer while I decided how I wanted to use him.  Turns out he became the customer greeter when folks arrived to purchase birds.  This huge bird would come strutting up to greet people as they got out of their cars.  Some folks where a little intimidated, wondering why is he getting so close to them.  Very quickly he would make friends with the visitor and they would ask, how do I get a bird like this. We're still working with a very small flock of the Black Orpingtons and can only fill small orders now.

The Black Orpington is a difficult bird to find, there aren't many farms who offer this color. I can't stress enough what an impressive, beautiful bird they are. They're slick as a ribbon and have that green iridescent beetle bug shine.
The Black Orpington is a very friendly, non aggressive, docile bird.  The hens are also non broody and good layers of the peachy cream colored egg.  They are large, heavy with nice round rumps.  Have I mentioned that I like big butts on my hens.  They are quite and not to chatty if you need a hen that won't make a lot of noise.   I've found over the past couple of years that I really enjoy the Orpington breeds.
Have a Great Weekend!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Taste of Summer: Peach and Blueberry Waffles

Well, it is another snowy day here in Southern Illinois.  I think it is safe to say that we are all ready for spring to make its arrival.  Since I am longing for warmer weather and we're having a slow day around here, we started off our morning with some very tasty waffles.  I thought you all might like to try them! 

My parents gave me a waffle maker for Christmas and we have definitely been putting it to good use!  This morning instead of having plain waffles and syrup, I decided to add a little warmth to the mix by making a delicious fruit syrup and homemade whipped cream to top the waffles.  They were so good!

I have been using this waffle recipe: Perfect Crispy Waffles.  I am a trial and error kind of person, so I tried several before I decided to stick with this recipe.  It is a little labor intensive, but the results are a really good waffle.  For the topping I used some of last summer’s frozen peaches and some fresh blue berries.  I put the peaches and blue berries in a sauce pan, then I added sugar to my taste, 1 tsp of vanilla, and a little water.  After this simmered for about 10 minutes it made a nice sweet syrup for the waffles.  After the fruit syrup and the waffles were ready I whipped some heavy whipping cream until it made stiff peaks.  Then I added about 1 TBS of sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla.  The whipped cream, syrup, and waffles were a perfect combination.  My family thought so as well!

Ella and Eva enjoying their waffles!

When the winter seems to be going on forever, it can be such treat to pull out something canned or frozen from the summer’s harvest.  As my family sat and ate our waffles this morning I could not help but to get excited for the times that are ahead of us as spring arrives!  

If you are feeling like winter will never end where you are, give these waffles a try!

Stay Warm!