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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pickles and Chickens

After spending the past few days in bed with the flu which is the biggest waste of time to me and a pain in the backside all around, I am up and feeling mostly myself and ready to check in with all of you.

  I asked Chance for his input,thoughts, ideas or his maybe next time I would___ about pickles and here is his answer.
  It was easy.And I really should get in touch with Portland Charcuterie about curing meat and making pickles.( Ah yeah?! Stop talking and do it already! )
Chance's Pickles.
   Ok then,I guess that's it.I will add though he canned up 19 Quart jars from 20 pounds of cucs, that are now sitting in the pantry letting their magic work.We use my Grandmother's recipe that dose not tell you how long to process or how long to let them sit before you pop a jar open so we use the Ball Canning Book's guide lines.15 minutes processing and about 6 weeks of fermenting time.But really with Pickles the longer you can resist the urge to open a jar the better.Last falls Pickles hit their prime late Spring.I really do love Grandma's recipe especially the one scant cup of salt part with no naming of which kind of salt or what is a scant cup by the way Grandma?

 As some of you may know we have a handsome Rooster named Zephaniah who is the father of our 3 homegrown pullets that hatched this summer.When we brought Zeph home we told the neighbors if his crowing is bugging you please let us know and we would re-home him. The time has come, Zeph needs a new home,a neighbor whom we respect greatly commented on how vocal he has become.We are hopeful he can live at our friends farm out in the country where Zeph can go and be his loud and handsome self. I will miss that guy,he's been a great Rooster who took good care of his flock of girls.
 There's more news from the chicken yard as well.The Mama Hen has gone Broody again.It is totally the wrong time of year for this since the warm weather will be gone before chicks could become steady on their feet.This time around we are not letting her sit on any eggs.That dose not mean she is not trying really hard to sit.Her story is a funny yet sad one here it is.
  Mama has no eggs in her nest and when one dose get laid there we take it hoping she will just get the idea, nope.Chance put a block of wood in her nest to keep her from sitting and so the other hens wouldn't lay in Mama's nest.Mama still tried to sit,  on the block of wood! Ok, so now what? We are now letting the hens out every day to roam the yard and picking Mama up and forcing her to get off the nest.We then shut the coop door until evening.Mama now struts around with her tail fluffed up looking like a turkey's tail growling at everyone and thing.Poor Mama,poor, poor Mama.All of those hormones going to waste and a bad case of Chicken PMS.Watching her go through all of this has put a thought in my head or maybe I should say phrase- "bird brain". Only a bird brain would try and hatch a block of wood.
  This is kind of a lazy way to keep a hen from being broody,kind of. The other way to discourage a hen from going broody is to put her in a small cage that is only big enough for her to take a couple of steps.A kind of solitary confinement to get her to snap out of it.When we had an old cage we did this but sometimes it just seemed to not really work and even though we go about things with a certain amount of farmer's sensibilities it just gave me flash backs to all of the film footage out there of those God awful commercial chicken "farms".
   Make your own choice either way it takes a week or so for the Hen to get it over with.

   The last bit of chicken news.Our three Pullets now have a nickname,"The Bearded Ladies". All three have been graced with the Americanas beard from Zeph. Every time I look at them their markings change just a little bit.The two with the Gold Lace Wyandotte coloring are losing the light colored hoods they had but are still lovely.And the other black and white has the best coloring in her beard, a salt and pepper effect.I wish the trio would hold still long enough to get a good photo to share here.
( I stopped here due to Sol begging me to see if the Peach Crisp I made this evening was just right for eating.It was and bowls full topped with vanilla ice cream were enjoyed.)

 Other than pickles and chicken news what has been going on?.... I have been collecting seed heads from various things in the garden for next years garden,our cool weather crops are looking more hopeful than the ones we planted in the Spring.We shall see how long that lasts since we are due for La Nina weather this fall/winter bringing us even more rain than we had last spring (of course,go figure we live in Oregon after all.) and sometimes colder temps.
    I can't remember if I mentioned this but if you have fruit trees you may come to realize that every other year there seems to be no or little fruit.This year we are having a no fruit year. I have also noticed that it is also a no spider year here at Hrafinstaad.Usually by now I am walking through the yard waving my hand in front of me to knock the webs down before I walk through them.There have always been spiders despite us having the chickens so why there's no spiders this year is a mystery to me.I understand the fruit tree cycle but no spiders has never happened here before.I have also noticed tons more wild bees,3-4 different kinds in fact.This is good,those poor little things are dieing out all over and we need to them to keep the world fed.I don't know if we are seeing a rise in them because we now have several plantings they really like or if they fared better this past winter.Having this kind of relationship with the world around me is important to me,it keeps me from forgetting that I owe the Earth stewardship in exchange for all the Earth gives us.
    Right after taking note of the fruit trees,the spiders and bees I read a book by Barbara Kingsolver called "Prodigal Summer".Ms Kingsolver's name may ring a bell, she also wrote "Animal, Vegetable,Miracle" Prodigal Summer is what I consider a "chick book" (not my normal genre) but I enjoyed it for it's message about how inner connected and important the circle of life is.I would recommend this book not for the romance that comes and goes but for the conversations about how dependent one life is on another and how little most know about this.
  Wow,this post is a bit long so I am closing for now before anyone's eye cross.


  1. My head is trying to wrap around hatching a block of wood ... perhaps it was an especially fragrant cedar block or spruce ?~!

  2. Lynda- Chance dose have some chunks of all kinds of exotic woods in his shop but he just stuck a plain old scrap of pine 2x4.
    Ever see those Japanese egg molds for boiled eggs? We had one when I was a kid,why I don't know,but you stuck a boiled egg in it,left it in the fridge and the egg would become a cube.
    Add one of the molds, a confused broody hen and some wood I wonder what it would become? Oh the goofy comics some clever person could write/draw about that one! LOL!