Category Archives: Chickens

Mid-summer 2016 inventory

July 10th

  • The peppers are in full swing, especially the Anaheim, Gypsy, and jalapeño. Same for the oriental eggplants.
  • Cherry and Roma tomatoes are starting to make guest appearances in salads, bruschetta, and on nachos. Larger tomatoes are still green.
  • Thai and Italian basil are almost a nuisance.
  • Cucumbers and Butternut squash are threatening to take over the garden (they remind me of kudzu).
  • After a first heavy flush the bush green beans are giving it another go.
  • Volunteer mustard, kale, chard, and lettuce are popping up in unexpected places.
  • I harvested enough garlic for a year’s supply for four families.

And the sturdy and dependable chard is still keeping us in greens. At the height of summer it can get bitter, so I blanch it first, rinse, squeeze out the water, chop and then sauté with olive oil, garlic, and onion. Last night we had chard and black bean enchiladas with green sauce. Tuesday we’ll be having curried creamed chard with basmati rice and this curried eggplant. I’ll make another chard and green chili strata for Thursday’s dinner.

Mike and I discussed what we want to do for our winter garden. We’ve decided to let half of it (one of the two hoop houses) go fallow. But not really fallow, because we are going to grow some cover crops and let the chickens visit it on the weekends. For cover crops I plan on using some of my excess saved seed – kale, Chinese cabbage, mustard, arugula, and lettuce. Such lucky chickens – to be feasting on organic microgreens in January!

new fenceLast week Mike built this fence to replace a section that was about to fall down. Isn’t it gorgeous?

 

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In praise of chickens

Although we live in the center of town we keep five hens in our backyard. No one has every complained, and we keep them sort of hidden where they aren’t too obvious. But still I hear people walking down the alley saying “Did you know they have chickens in their backyard?” Anyway, I love our chickens! Shall I count the ways?

Rhode Island Red chicken

  1. They take up very little room
  2. They’re the best recyclers for kitchen scraps, old leftovers, garden weeding thinning, etc.
  3. After they’ve had their way with the items above, the cleanings go into the compost pile and heat it up fast.
  4. Their poo goes into manure tea for my garden seedlings.
  5. Eggs! Big, big, organic, intense yellow yolked eggs!
  6. Entertaining – they are fun to watch.

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Pickled garlic

If you’ve read my previous posts you know that I had an overabundance of garlic this year. I’ve had two large onion bags of garlic sitting in an extra bedroom, and noticed that many of the cloves were starting to sprout. So this last week, whenever I had a few minutes, I made  a couple of  jars of pickled garlic. First I viewed several recipes online and then made up my own. Since I’m storing these jars in the refrigerator I’m not too concerned about spoilage.

  • 3 cups peeled and washed garlic cloves
  • 2 cup white or cider vinegar, or a combinationpickled garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbed
  • Clean glass jars with well-fitting lids or small jelly jars
  1. Run the jars and lids through the hot cycle of your dishwasher, or sterilize in a pot of boiling water (then drain).
  2. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and spices in a pan and bring to a boil. Add the garlic cloves and boil another two minutes.
  3. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to put the garlic into the jars. Fill jars with vinegar solution, and immediately put on the lids and tighten.
  4. Turn the jars upside down on a dishtowel and let sit for 5 minutes. Then turn the jars right side up and let cool. The lids should “pull down” and seal (if not, it’s no biggie…you’re going to keep these in the fridge).
  5. Place the jars in the refrigerator and use as needed in salsa, sauces, dips, salad dressing, etc. Also, the vinegar solution makes a great salad dressing when combined with olive oil.

Speaking of garlic and salad dressing…I’ve never found a store-bought Caesar salad dressing I really like, so I’ve started preparing my own. It’s really easy and only takes a few minutes.

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all in a small bowl and whisk up with a fork. Keep leftover dressing in your refrigerator.

On a completely different note, our hens and pullets have started laying! With the really cold weather Mike has been leaving the light on them 24-7, and we are getting about 4 eggs a day.

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