Monday, December 27, 2010

Luxury Egg-laying

I saw this article in the New York Times today...

For a cool $3500 you can purchase your own "modernist, high-end" coop (and then assemble it of course). With its 3 levels - a "run" level, a nesting level and a roosting level - the coop was supposedly designed for "discriminating" poultry.

Ah, discriminating poultry. Does that mean they don't poop all over everything? I'd love to see a photo of this coop 6 months in...

Friday, July 16, 2010

What to do with those giant zucchini????

Photo: Getty Images

It happens almost overnight. To all of us. Those gorgeous zucchini flowers suddenly become GIANT ZUCCHINI. Cavemen-size clubs of greenness. Eek! What to do with them?

Here is my family's tried and true recipe for Zucchini Soup. It's a bit old-fashioned, but it is creamy and yummy and fantastic hot or cold. And it uses up those zucchini in a way that is elegant and easy. Try substituting creme fraiche for the sour cream!

Zucchini Soup

1 1/2 lb. zucchini (3-5) cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup minced shallots or onions, chopped
3 Tabsp. butter
6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. wine vinegar
3/4 tsp dill or tarragon (I use dill)
4 Tbsp. cream of wheat
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper

Cook the onions slowly in the butter until golden but not brown. Add the zucchini chunks, chicken broth, vinegar and herbs. Bring to a boil and then add cream of wheat, stirring into the soup. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes. Puree with a handheld mixer or in the blender, season with salt and pepper, and just before serving, mix in the sour cream.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cuckoo for Colored Eggs

I'm cuckoo for chickens that lay colored eggs. We had one Araucana with colored egg laying potential but alas Rosie turned out to be a rooster and if you've been following The Monument Street Coop's blog then you know how that turned out. . .

I've been terribly jealous the entire year that Red Bird Farm's coop has been producing beautiful blue and green eggs. I'm always thrilled when Isabella asks me to stop by the coop and check on the chickens when the Ehrlich's are away --because that means I get to bring home gorgeous colored eggs.

While Sweet & Savory is producing plenty (3 - 4 eggs a day) I feel I must have a few colored eggs in my life. Enter a great resource for chicken lovers. They have a three chick minimum on orders and a great assortment of unique birds. Many states have minimums in order to avoid one-off purchases for over enthusiastic Easter egg basket fillers. Massachusetts for example requires a minimum purchase of 25 pre-Easter and 6 post. New Hampshire has a 12 chick minimum.

I'm eagerly awaiting my order currently scheduled to ship the week of May 24th. Four little chicks are headed our way: two Cuckoo Marans and Two "Easter eggers" i.e. Araucanas.

Silver Cuckoo Maran (chocolate brown egg layer)

I'm looking forward to chick-rearing again. I Just hope the newbies are accepted into the flock come mid-July when it is time to introduce them to their coop mates. I'll be disappointed if my only access to colored eggs is during vacation week at the Ehrlichs.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Femivores = Chicks with chicks

My friend Leah just called me about a recent article in The New York Times Magazine "The Femivore's Dilemma". Definitely worth a read and in my case a bit of a laugh. Backyard chicken farming is (according to the article) transforming the definition of homemaker. There is something to be said for that. As a former working woman who found great satisfaction in her career the transition to staying home with my daughter has definitely tested my sense of self. Success is no longer measured by boardroom presentation skills but by nap time preparations and potty training.

I've found great satisfaction with my chicken coop and love being home with my daughter. But I don't disagree with the author's closing --we backyard chicken farmers need to be careful not to put all of our eggs in one basket.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bunny Rescue

As I'm sure you've read Isabella, Tim and August added two adorable bunnies to Red Bird Farm. Isabella has a knack for gathering animals around her and I seem to have a knack for following in her footsteps. One of her two cute bunnies, originally adopted from our friend Hilary, has made its way over to our yard.

Unfortunately, after a successful entry into Isabella's coop the bunnies while getting along well with the chickens were not happy together. Peter Rabbit aka Cottontail aka Peekaboo otherwise known as the black bunny (the poor thing probably has identity issues he's been renamed so many times) was attacking the other Peter Rabbit aka Flopsy otherwise known as the brown bunny.

To make a long story short we came to the brown bunny's rescue by agreeing to take the black bunny.

Peter Rabbit is now living in a new hutch in our backyard.

He seems very happy snacking on papaya, carrots and yogurt bites. I go out and check on him numerous times throughout the day. Especially with this cold weather as his water dispenser freezes and needs to be changed at least twice a day.

His next move will be into our coop. We intended to put him in there right away but the hutch I bought quickly --without taking any measurements, doesn't fit through the door of the run. My husband had graciously offered to dismantle part of the run so we can squeeze the hutch in.

Hopefully Peter and the chickens will get along I'd hate to have to move him again. Poor thing. He's like a foster kid with one too many homes. I'm hoping to make this recent move his last. Will keep you posted!

We are happy to have him. Izzie LOVES her bunny!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Leave a light on

With winter comes reduced daylight hours and often a reduction in egg production. My four gals went from one egg a day on average down to one egg between the four of them as soon as it started turning dark at 4:30. While I love the hens, I also love the eggs they produce so I decided to take action. We installed a lightbulb the coop. IT WORKED! We are back up to three or four eggs a day and I get a total kick out of going out in the evening to see the coop all lit up.

No one sleeps in here until 9:30 (we have the light on a timer)

Chilly but inviting. . . 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Animal Friends

Sometimes my husband amazes me. A year ago he didn't know how to build anything. Now we have a finished coop and run that he basically built (with the help of some friends).

I asked him to build me a bunny ramp... and voilĂ ! He built it quickly and installed it. I was so impressed and grateful. Thanks, Tim. You must love me a lot :)

Here one of my Orpingtons - curious gal that she is - braves the ramp. The bunnies haven't quite figured it out, but the chickens immediately were curious.

I am not exactly sure how chickens and bunnies become friends, but I followed my friend Terry Golson's instructions/advice on her blog. She's my go-to gal for all backyard animal farming information.

Here the bunnies pose - we took our Christmas card photo this morning. Cottontail is on the left, Peter is on the right. August renamed them even though their original names are Floppy (left) and Peekaboo (right).

I also realized today what a wonderful dog I have. He drives me crazy sometimes with his needy golden retriever traits, but he's remarkable. He didn't bark at the rabbits. He wanted to play with them. He kept circling the run, but when I told him to lie down, he did.

Here the chickens eye him. I wanted to get all of my animal friends in one photo... some day!