Monday, April 23, 2012

Let's Check In on Chickens

Over the last few weeks our ladies have really started producing!  The Silver Laced Wyandottes started first, about a day after we got back from our honeymoon.  I like to think that they were waiting for us.  The Ameraucanas started laying about a week after, but with a twist: As appears to be common, we were not sold Ameraucanas.  Instead, we got a more broadly defined Easter Egger, which is any chicken that carriers the blue-green egg laying gene.  While Ameraucanas lay strictly blue eggs, Easter Eggers will lay anything from blue, green, pink or brown, which is exactly what's been happening.  Personally, I think it's more fun to get a variety pack every morning!  Just yesterday we started getting these lovely, olive-colored eggs...

It's so nice to be eating fresh eggs again!

With our 27 hens (that's 14 Wyandottes and 13 EErs), we're now getting about 14 eggs a day.  We can't really tell which breed is laying more, because some of the EEers lay brown eggs, but the EEers are supposedly the superior layers.

We also said goodbye to one of our roosters, Chuck.  He's in a better place now.  Specifically, a farm in Sequim, Wa, where he has his own harem of some 30 hens.  We certainly didn't need two roosters, who were getting competitive, loud and obnoxious.  When Chuck started squaring off against Christy, the decision was made, and a craigslist post posted.  That now leaves only one rooster to rule over our hens, and Stubbs has been doing a great job.  We call him Stubbs because Chuck used to pick at his tail feathers until they were sad little twigs.  With his only competitor gone, though, Stubbs has gotten a little, er, cocky.  He is much more protective of his ladies, and attacked Christy one morning while she was collecting eggs, managing to draw blood.  Her theory is that he was provoked by her red sweater.  My theory is, that only relates to bulls.  Either way, she now carries a weapon of some sort with her when she goes into the run, and he respects the stick.

Has anyone else noticed sexist tendencies in their roosters?  Neither of ours ever squared off against me, or the farm owner, Jim.  The other owner Terry however, and Christy, have both been attacked.  The same thing happened with their last overly-protective rooster, Adolf.  Is it an olfactory distinction?  Pheromones?  Chime in if you have a theory, or a similar anecdote.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's On

La Nina is weakening, clouds are dispersing, trees are budding, the sound of lawnmowers is echoing through the hills and all over town people are pulling recycled billboards off of their foundations to mop and sweep them in preparation for what could only be... the beginning of framing season.

Ok, that last one might just be us, but it is definitely springtime in the great northwest!  Over the last few days Christy and I have been getting MFW prepared for house framing.  That means mowing, clearing the path to our worksite, setting up tents for working and lumber storage, uncovering the foundation, and staring at it and it's suggestive J bolts with extreme trepidation.

Our first load of lumber was delivered today, containing everything for the sill and wall framing.  Considering what we hope to turn that pile into, it seems small and almost manageable.  It's only when we think more specifically about all of the steps between that pile and a framed house that a multitude of questions arises, each one accompanied by a little drop of fear.  Being in over our heads, however, is home turf for us!

We've enlisted some knowledgeable friends, a library's worth of books and an internet's worth of questionable information;  we're armed with the knowledge we gained from building the shop from the ground up, and all of the mistakes we made along way, and we're both far to stubborn to let anything stop us.

Let's build a house.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Triumphant Return, Pesto and Chicken Porn

We are back!  I won't bother telling you all how lovely our Puerto Rican honeymoon was, because you would just be jealous.  I won't blather on about all the time we spent drinking rum based cocktails on postcard-worthy beaches, or the bioluminescent bay we kayaked through.  Seriously, what would be the point of bragging about spending all of that time away from our building projects, lounging in the sun and playing dominoes?

That not being said, it's nice to be back!  We had some lovely friends stay in the yurt to cat, plant and chicken sit for us, and everything seemed to work out great.  Our flock is still not laying yet, but the first egg should be showing up any day now.  They did seem to figure out chicken sex, though, so that's a start...

Our greenhouse got a little out of hand while we were gone, with most of our greens bolting and going to seed.  We welcome any recipes someone might have for large quantities of chard or mustard greens.

Tonight we used some of our excess roughage to make arugula pesto.  It's a great way to use up a whole bunch of arugula at a time.   Here's how it goes:

In a robot coup, or large food processor, blend the following into a paste:

6-8 good-sized cloves of garlic
The juice and zest of two lemons
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
A handful on sun dried tomatoes (we had some from last summer, not really necessary if you don't)
A handful of grated parmesan, or similar hard, salty cheese

Add a bit of olive oil to blend smoothly.  As soon as that's a wonderful, fragrant mush, fill the food processor with fresh arugula.  Once you mix that in, you'll be able to fill it about 2 more times.  Season with salt to taste (no pepper!  the arugula does that on it's own) and a splash of white wine.  Easier than pie!  You can mix in some basil if you want a more classic taste, or spinach if the pepperiness of the arugula is too much.  

I tossed a bit of that with some pasta and sauteed broccoli raab (also from the greenhouse), and topped it off with a chicken breast stuffed with some gorgonzola and sundried tomatoes I found hiding in the fridge.

Oh yeah, if things are looking a little sharper than usual around here, it's because we decided to invest in a pretty serious camera.  We had been thinking about it for while, in part because of this blog, and the decision was made a whole lot easier when our old camera recently took a dip into the Caribbean.  We'll be using our new toy to spruce things up around the old dot-com, so bear with us if things are changing around in the near future.

It's good to be home!