Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

Teenaged Chickens & Pickled Radishes

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013


chicken butts 2

The chicks aren’t chicks anymore.  They’re teenagers now. This morning when I let them out of the coop into the pasture, I noticed their chirpy little voices were interspersed with awkward, croaking clucks. Also, a few of the roosters have been attempting to crow, which is hilarious. I’m reminded of  the catching and cracking of the voice of a teenaged boy, as it transitions to a deeper, more manly sounding thing.

As you can see in the shot above, feeding time is very serious business. Whenever I make a trip out to the pasture, I’m practically mobbed, as they all come running up to see if I’m bringing more food.

chickens grazing

The roosters have begun to develop their tail feathers, and combs and wattles are coming along nicely. I ended up with 12 hens and 13 roosters.  When butchering time comes around, the largest guy with the most spectacular plumage, comb, and wattle (aka superior genetics) will get to stay on as the patriarch of my little flock.


On to the subject of radishes.  This past weekend I brought in my first major haul of the gardening season, and spent time in the kitchen putting some of it away for winter use.

strawberry rhubarb

I made 3 small batches of strawberry vanilla jam, a batch of my Gingered Rhubarb Conserve, an arugula feta quiche for lunch, a pan of strawberry rhubarb crisp (my youngest son’s special request), and a big jar of pickled radishes.

jar of radishes

These are quick and easy refrigerator pickles, and my solution to a bunch of radishes that need to be pulled all at the same time.  I just can’t eat them all at once, and they don’t hold all that long.  I go with the more French garlic and tarragon flavor, but you could go with dill instead, or any other favorite herb for that matter.

Pickled Radishes
Tarragon Sprigs

Stuff a jar with cleaned and trimmed radishes, several whole garlic cloves, sprigs of tarragon, and a teaspoon or so of peppercorns.  I like my radishes whole, but they can be sliced.  Fill the jar to cover all of the radishes with a solution of half vinegar, half water, and salt.  I use about 1 tablespoon of salt per 2 cups of solution, but it’s a good idea to adjust to your personal taste.  Let the jar sit in the refrigerator for a few days before eating.  The pickling solution will pull all of the red out of the radishes.  This is what mine looked like in less than an hour.

pickled radishes

Winter Blues

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

I thought I had better put in a quick appearance.  Thanks to a mild case of the winter blues, my motivation level has been almost non-existent.  It’s been a few years since I’ve had a legitimate case of the blues, and I hope it’s the last for long time to come.  I’m dreaming of sunshine, warmer temperatures, green things, and dirt under my fingernails.

I’ve been getting organized, and all of my seed starting paraphernalia is ready to go.  Egg production in the chicken coop is on the rise…. a sign of days lengthening into spring.  Speaking of chickens, I was cheered a little by a sight outside my window.  Not exactly the kind of bird I was hoping to attract to the feeder, but a bathing beauty all the same!

The girls enjoy grazing on the dormant rye/vetch cover crop I planted in the fall.

Monster Chickens!

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

A couple of days ago we had some visitors show up on the property, and they’ve decided to stick around.  The first evening they roosted in the rafters of our barn.

Today after work I went out to check on the girls, and discovered my little  flock had expanded.

These guys are VERY skittish, and I’m not able to get very close to take pictures.  I had to crop the pictures very close to give you a good view. I’m not sure if this is aggression, or if this peacock thinks he’s courting.  We think these pretty birds have wandered from one of our neighboring Amish farms, and will probably start trying to find the owners this weekend.

Chicken Coop Construction

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

This winter my husband I decided to start keeping a few laying hens again.  My parents had chickens when I was a kid, and I’ve kept them off and on over the years. I think it’s been about 8 years since I’ve kept chickens.  It was one of the many things I let go while I was establishing my business.  On the list of things I chose to give up for a while were: My dairy goats, chickens, beekeeping, my small greenhouse, the HUGE vegetable garden which easily rivaled my Amish neighbors’, and my papermaking hobby. Now that the business is 9 years old and well established, I have begun to reclaim some of my old interests. About 3 years ago I began gardening again, but on a much smaller (and smarter) scale than before. Now I’m ready for chickens!

When Bart and I moved into this old farmhouse 20 years ago, there were a few outbuildings on the property.  One of the buildings was a long, low barn which had been used for small-scale chicken farming.  It hadn’t been used in decades and was full of trash and varmints.  It took us several years to get it cleaned out, and eventually I converted it to keep my small dairy goat herd.This is a view from the side where there is going to be a large fenced area for the chickens to roam. In years past, I allowed the chickens to roam the property, but they could be a bit destructive in the herb and vegetable garden, so I’m confining them this time.

Around the corner to the right is this door going into the area of the goat barn where our chicken coop is under construction.  Because the building is so old, Bart is having to replace some boards and fix a leaky roof.  We also decided that, for less than a dozen chickens, we wanted to use a more confined space and make sure that it would be tight against predators.  As you can see, I will have a small utility area outside of the coop where I can keep a couple of metal cans for storing feed and a few bales of straw and grass.

Because the coop is exposed to the northeast prevailing winds and weather, we have chosen to add some insulation to the walls. We also decided to create a raised floor with some old pallets, as this end of the barn can become quite wet during the spring and fall rainy seasons.  We put down a remnant piece of linoleum to protect the wood floor from decomposition, and to make cleaning a little easier (I found this idea while looking at coop designs at  Bart had an old screen door lying around, which he cut down to fit the space.  For the sake of summer time ventilation we have decided to enclose the coop with 1/2″ mesh hardware cloth. A determined raccoon can make a mess of chicken wire, so it’s not an option.

I also have plans to hang a shop light fixture with UV bulbs.  During the winter months when daylight hours are fewer, the light will be on a timer to provide a few extra hours of light for more consistent egg production.  Bart built the nest boxes with a hinged lid for easy access.

He built the door to the pasture so that it can be closed at night against predators, and also during inclement weather. When this room was last used for chickens, the door to the outside was hinged in such a way that high winds would cause it to flap, and snow would drift into the coop.

I’ve chosen to keep Delaware chickens, a heritage breed on the critical endangered list. I found a local breeder who will have some young chickens ready for me within the next couple of weeks.  I’ve also located a local source for organic, non-GMO chicken feed, and will supplement the birds’ winter diet with vegetable scraps from my kitchen, whey from cheesemaking, and some sprouted grains.  Once the coop is finished and the birds are settled into their new home, I’ll be sure to post an update.