Not into blogging?
us on Facebook.
This beautiful kid's drawing table was created by French artist Guillaumit.
Congratulations to Julie Keith, winner of our Bocking 4 comfrey giveaway! Julie, please email your mailing address to email@example.com and I'll send you your starts.
always looking for recipes that work well with homegrown chickens
(meaning the meat tends to be more flavorful but also slightly tougher),
and this one is a real hit if you like cream sauces. It's based
roughly on this recipe,
which notes that this is a local variant on coq au vin.
Preparation is remarkably quick and simple, with no advance preparation
needed if you have a fresh chicken on hand.
Preheat the oven to 350. Then melt one tablespoon of butter with the oil in a covered, cast-iron pot on top of the stove.
Meanwhile, cut your chicken
into five parts --- two thighs, two breasts with wings on but no other
bones, and the main carcass. Sprinkle all sides of the meat with
salt and pepper, then brown them in the pot, turning once and taking
about 10 minutes to sear the outsides.
Remove the chicken from the
pot and replace it with the chopped Egyptian onions and the rest of the
butter, simmering until the onions are fully cooked. While the
onions cook, chop the carrots into bite-size sections, and then add them
and the meat to the pot. Top it off with the frozen beans, the
parsley (chopped), the wine, and the chicken stock, then put on the lid
and place the pot in the oven to cook for 30 minutes.
Once the carrots are cooked
through, remove the pot from the oven and place it on the stove without
the lid to boil off excess moisture. You want there to only be a
quarter-inch or so of liquid in the bottom of the pot for a rich
sauce. Once that happens, turn off the heat and remove the meat,
then slowly stir in the cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Serve a scoop of vegetables, a piece of meat, and a sprinkling of
parmesan cheese on top.
This makes four servings, or
possibly five if you pick enough meat off the carcass to make the extra
person happy. After you eat, be sure to stew up all the bones to
replace your chicken stock stash.
This is currently my
favorite way to cook homegrown chickens. Even the pullets who we
accidentally let linger until they were nearly four months old were
delectable in this dish!
After moving our chickens from tractors to pastures
a few years ago, we started using our remaining chicken tractor as an
isolation coop. It's very handy to have a spot like this where you
can put a sick hen so she doesn't get picked on, or a broody hen so no
one tries to lay in her nest. And, of course, if you're raising
broilers, it's much easier to snag them off their roosts the night
before and put them in a small isolation coop for ease of grabbing the
next morning. So when we put our tractor back to work, Mark realized he was going to have to build a new isolation coop.
I won't give you
measurements for this project since Mark tends to build out of odds and
ends (meaning the cost stays very low). Hopefully a series of
photos will give you the gist, while also encouraging you to follow his
Next, he turned the foundation upright to make it easy to attach smaller boards to frame in the sides.
Part of a tarp made a great back wall.
And some scrap tin filled
in one side. Notice how Mark uses scraps of wood on the inside to
ensure the screws have plenty to bite into.
Mark wanted to make
sure the chickens had sufficient fresh air, so he used hardware cloth
on the front. (The coop is still turned on its side in this
Next he framed a lid out
of small lumber and used a couple of hinges to make it easy to
open. (The coop is now sitting back on its base.)
A piece of scrap tin formed a waterproof roof.
A couple of handles on
the sides makes it very easy for the two of us to move the coop from
spot to spot. We plan to store it in the barn when it's not being
used so the isolation coop will last a very long time.
And here's the coop in action! You'll notice the Avian Aqua Miser Original
in the corner --- we still prefer Mark's first chicken waterer design
for this kind of application since it's easy to hang and won't get
bumped when six confused chickens mill about.
I wrote over here about chicken moats
when we first started this aspect of our deer-deterring campain in
August 2011. Since this has been one of our most-successful
permaculture experiments, I figured it needed a followup post, and then I
got inspired to make a video so you can see the moats (and Lucy's dog door) in action. In case the video above doesn't work, you can watch it on youtube here. Enjoy!
I wrote over on my homesteading blog about the power of comfrey last week. What I didn't mention there is that I splurged and bought two Bocking 4 comfrey plants last fall. Bocking 4 is reputed to be the best comfrey variety for livestock due to its higher protein levels and better flavor, and we want our chickens to have the best.
So now it's time for that
split! As you can see from the photo at the top of this page, two
little roots grew into two huge plants that filled up a
four-foot-by-two-foot zone along the fenceline. I'm hoping I can
get at least a dozen babies from these plants and will plant them along
the inner fencelines of our tree alleys
in our new pasture. The photo above shows how I already planted
out some of my unnamed comfrey variety into that setting. The
plants look droopy now, but as I learned last year with my terrace experiment, the comfrey will be bushy and thriving come spring with no care on my part.
Our new EZ Misers
make great gifts for the chicken-keeper (or chicken-keeper-to-be) on
your holiday list. But what if you want to upgrade your coop
as well and can't afford to do both?
"I don't see much difference in brown or white eggs, but my wife prefers brown eggs. Which chickens lay brown eggs? And the best chicken to survive Vermont winters?"
--- Brad Reynolds
I saw Chick Days
on the shelf at our library and, on a whim, decided to check it
out. The book is a fast and easy read, and anyone who's had
chickens probably won't learn much from the text. On the other
hand, the photos are beautiful and the format is very engaging, so I
could see the book being great on a coffee table, or for kids. In
fact, it made me wish the author hadn't tried to make this a how-to
guide and had stuck to the book's strengths --- watching three chicks
grow up into laying hens.
(And she adds that
Wyandotte, Cornish, and Sussex make good choices if you want to eat your
chickens as well as enjoy their eggs.) Woginrich's list clearly
leans toward the more interesting-looking and family-friendly chickens
rather than toward the most productive birds, but her audience is the
suburban chicken-keeper whose flock are pets more than workhorses, so
the choices make sense. If you're interested in a more general list of top-ten chicken breeds, click here.
Last year, I wrote about preparing chickens for the winter,
but I didn't entirely take my own advice. I had read that it's
handy to give your chickens free-choice whole grain for the winter
months (in addition to their regular ration) so they can use those empty
calories to produce heat and counteract winter's chill. But
actually making that happen seemed hard, so I skipped it.
Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed.