Nekkid chicken nuggets

Due to some health issues, it has become necessary for us to eliminate just about all bread from our regular eating, which means some adjustments in food preparation.

I had just gotten my chicken nugget recipe to where I liked it (mostly), and breading was definitely a part of that. Now to revamp it to not have breading, which wasn’t going to work with shredding the chicken in the food processor.

Internet to the rescue! I started with this recipe, leaving out the wheat flour. After forming a few nuggets, that wasn’t going to work – the mixture was just too dry. Let’s toss in a few eggs and see if that works as a binder (it does every other time). It does work – huzzah!

The secret was using the meat grinder attachment on the Kitchenaid. That ground the chicken into small enough pieces (not quite a paste, but more like the ham in ham salad) that the egg would hold everything together.

And now we have nekkid nuggets – no breading, no problem.

Chick season

 

 

One of the side effects of free-ranged chickens is hens going broody and hatching chicks “in the wild”. This is a picture of our first hatching this year (sorry for the quality – I took this through the screen door), and the coolest thing is that these are second generation Innisfree-hatched birds – the hen was hatched from a nest here on the farm.

It’s very interesting to watch them grow – to our eyes, they grow slower than chicks we raise in the coop/controlled ranging. They are also are a lot smarter, but that stands to reason, considering that they are outside 24/7 and need to be aware of their surroundings all the time.

I know of 2 more hens that are setting nests right now – one is a White Rock (purchased), and the other is an Innisfree-hatched hen.

This morning’s surprise (for both me and the dog) was discovering another White Rock hen with 6 chicks in tow, standing outside the hen house. She may start taking the chicks in the hen house at night – that happened with one group last year.

Are there more hens setting? Most likely – when you have lots of tall grass and brush piles for cover, you will have nests!2015-05-25 13.56.32

Day 311 – new chicken boxes

It was time. The old metal laying boxes were just not doing the job anymore. The mesh that was to let the poo through – wasn’t. The covers over the area the eggs rolled into weren’t opening very well (and had become separated on one side). Time to upgrade the nesting box system.

We had already installed some of these nice plastic boxes on the other wall, and decided to use them as replacements for the metal, even though we would be possibly losing a box or two in the process (the metal one had 10 boxes, and I could only fit 9 of the plastic ones in the same space). The theory goes that from 3-5 hens can use the same box, so we wouldn’t be losing too much with the number of hens we currently have.

I decided “I got this” and went to unscrew the metal boxes from the wall. One screw – no problem. The other? Wasn’t too interested in moving. Finally got it to loosen – great! Picked it up to lift it off the cinder blocks – the bottom fell off (that’s the bit laying on the far side of the metal boxes). Then the mesh fell off. I ended up dragging the bits that didn’t fall off through the chicken coop and out the door to where you see them laying in the picture, then tossing the fallen off bits out after them.

Installing the plastic boxes went smoother, although I remembered (after having screwed in 3 boxes) that you should always start from the wall and work out – much easier to make sure there’s enough room for everything! Unscrewed the boxes, started from the corner, and managed to fit one more box in than I expected – yay!

To complete the job, I tossed in some paper shreddings to each of the boxes – which the chickens promptly tossed out of the boxes when they entered to lay eggs.

Another little job off of the list and chore time made simpler for the egg collector.

Day 293 – getting big

They just keep growing – and eating – and growing! There are only a few of them that have “baby fur” on their heads. All the grown-up feathers are in and now we wait for them to be old enough to lay eggs. The breed characteristics from the hatchery say they mature “somewhat early” and have “very good” production. BackYard Chickens postings say 16-20 weeks until the first eggs (your mileage may vary, of course) – the chicks arrived September 5th, so (theoretically) we should (perhaps) be getting an egg or two in January(ish). Or maybe February.

I’ve been telling them that they are all above average, will be very good egg layers (they will be the best egg layers in the 937, in fact), and should think very hard about laying their first eggs as a Christmas present to me because they are such clever little birds.

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They appear to be thinking this over. I’m sure I’ll be receiving a list of demands in the near future.

 

Day 271

It occurs to me that I should be paying more attention to this blog!  With my laptop gone, I have to remember to use the “big screen” because my tablet makes it a little convoluted to post.  Here’s to good intentions! Things have definitely picked up around here – my two classes are taking their […]

It occurs to me that I should be paying more attention to this blog!  With my laptop gone, I have to remember to use the “big screen” because my tablet makes it a little convoluted to post.  Here’s to good intentions!

Things have definitely picked up around here – my two classes are taking their amount of time, and it doesn’t help matters that I’m creating everything for my humanities class. But that also means that when I teach it again, I will have much more time to tweak things and not worry about having to make a presentation for the next class.  Good news there.

The barn is filled with hay – next step is to go back out and mow the second cutting. For that, we all need to be healthy and able to sit on a tractor for hours. We’re working on that. It may be a touch of the flu, it’s definitely allergies, and all the bean/corn dust in the air from harvesting isn’t helping one bit. If you’re driving down the road in the morning and notice what looks like smoke hanging over a harvested field – that’s probably dust still hanging in the air from the combine harvesting the day before. And it is horrible for breathing!

Remember these cute, fuzzy things?

IMG_0370

They now look like almost proper chickens, just smaller:

2013-09-28 08.26.46They still have the fuzzy chick head, but the rest of them look like proper Barred Rocks. I didn’t know this, but their legs have black bands on them.

Lovely harvest moon the other evening – hope you had a chance to see it. Yes, those are geese!

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We have a couple large stands of pampas grass (a tall, decorative grass) that the dogs love to hide in. You’ll be walking around and hear “swish swish” as they move through. I found Prince hanging out in here the other day:

2013-09-18 14.00.12He’s such a silly dog.

Interwebz shopping is just about awesome. Click, click, and here comes the UPS or FedEx truck with your goodies. I don’t remember ordering this though:

2013-09-19 14.32.27

 

The garden is finished – we got a lot more tomatoes of the vines, harvested the potatoes, and pulled the last cabbages. Now for the clean-up crew.

2013-09-28 08.25.34They’ve done (as always) an amazing job of eating, and they haven’t even been in here a week. After they’re finished, we’ll put them back in the “test garden” to work in there some more, then start our soil amending in this garden – cow/horse manure, straw, and green manure (a seed mixture that fixes nitrogen and other good stuff in the soil). After the green manure has a chance to get started, we’ll probably open the gate for the chickens to scratch around and do their thing. It’s going to be a lot of work (well, what isn’t around here!!), and a lot of poo to move, but in the end, we’ll have better soil for food growing.

If your garden didn’t perform “up to snuff” this year, chances are you may be missing something in the soil. Our corn was pretty lack-luster – small stalks, small ears that weren’t all filled out – so that was our clue that the ground needs some TLC. You can buy soil analysis kits at home improvement stores – try one and see what your soil is telling you.

 

 

 

Day 271

It occurs to me that I should be paying more attention to this blog!  With my laptop gone, I have to remember to use the “big screen” because my tablet makes it a little convoluted to post.  Here’s to good intentions!

Things have definitely picked up around here – my two classes are taking their amount of time, and it doesn’t help matters that I’m creating everything for my humanities class. But that also means that when I teach it again, I will have much more time to tweak things and not worry about having to make a presentation for the next class.  Good news there.

The barn is filled with hay – next step is to go back out and mow the second cutting. For that, we all need to be healthy and able to sit on a tractor for hours. We’re working on that. It may be a touch of the flu, it’s definitely allergies, and all the bean/corn dust in the air from harvesting isn’t helping one bit. If you’re driving down the road in the morning and notice what looks like smoke hanging over a harvested field – that’s probably dust still hanging in the air from the combine harvesting the day before. And it is horrible for breathing!

Remember these cute, fuzzy things?

IMG_0370

They now look like almost proper chickens, just smaller:

2013-09-28 08.26.46They still have the fuzzy chick head, but the rest of them look like proper Barred Rocks. I didn’t know this, but their legs have black bands on them.

Lovely harvest moon the other evening – hope you had a chance to see it. Yes, those are geese!

2013-09-18 19.27.31

 

We have a couple large stands of pampas grass (a tall, decorative grass) that the dogs love to hide in. You’ll be walking around and hear “swish swish” as they move through. I found Prince hanging out in here the other day:

2013-09-18 14.00.12He’s such a silly dog.

Interwebz shopping is just about awesome. Click, click, and here comes the UPS or FedEx truck with your goodies. I don’t remember ordering this though:

2013-09-19 14.32.27

 

The garden is finished – we got a lot more tomatoes of the vines, harvested the potatoes, and pulled the last cabbages. Now for the clean-up crew.

2013-09-28 08.25.34They’ve done (as always) an amazing job of eating, and they haven’t even been in here a week. After they’re finished, we’ll put them back in the “test garden” to work in there some more, then start our soil amending in this garden – cow/horse manure, straw, and green manure (a seed mixture that fixes nitrogen and other good stuff in the soil). After the green manure has a chance to get started, we’ll probably open the gate for the chickens to scratch around and do their thing. It’s going to be a lot of work (well, what isn’t around here!!), and a lot of poo to move, but in the end, we’ll have better soil for food growing.

If your garden didn’t perform “up to snuff” this year, chances are you may be missing something in the soil. Our corn was pretty lack-luster – small stalks, small ears that weren’t all filled out – so that was our clue that the ground needs some TLC. You can buy soil analysis kits at home improvement stores – try one and see what your soil is telling you.

 

 

 

Day 258 – laptops and plumbing

First off, the laptop and the plumbing are two separate things – although I would like to throw technology in the toilet at times. My laptop had been clunking along for awhile, then it got a little worse, but was still clunking along. This past week, it up and died. For a piece of technology […]

First off, the laptop and the plumbing are two separate things – although I would like to throw technology in the toilet at times.

My laptop had been clunking along for awhile, then it got a little worse, but was still clunking along. This past week, it up and died. For a piece of technology that was purchased in 2006, I’m told that this is a good long life. Off to our computer boneyard it goes, probably to be resucitated at a later date as a robot or something. We do have the “family computer” for me to use when the tablet or phone just won’t do the job. At this point, the only thing I really need it for is making presentations for my humanities class. I’ve figured out how to do everything else on the tablet. Yay, me.

It’s been a relatively calm week on the farm – it was too stinkin’ hot for a few days to do much of anything except stay inside and drink lots of water. So I got some studio time in – mostly glazing. I went to Cornell Studio Supply in Dayton for their “Clay Day” festivities. Nothing like a bunch of clay artists getting together for food, beverages and clay games. I was the left hand in a pair throwing contest, and made a 30 degree bowl – while blindfolded! Saw some friends, made some new friends, and generally had a good time.

My friend Erin (who owns Cornell Studio Supply) – she was part of the 13 pound challenge, which was to form the tallest/widest work from 13 pounds of clay.
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The highlight of the week came today – plumbing! Our kitchen sink has needed a new faucet for a while, so a trip to Menards netted a nice faucet/sprayer combo. That was about 4 months ago. I guess I needed time to work into it. Or something! My problem is I want/need a whole day for this stuff in case I screw it up and need to make trips somewhere to get, well, something to fix the mess.

As expected, it took awhile to complete – the cold water hose was cemented onto the threaded pipe under the sink (we have really hard water). Denny suggested the Dremel tool and diamond blade for some plastic wingnut demolition. It worked.

Here’s the remains of the wingnut, and the new faucet assembly:

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2013-09-15 14.53.09

Something I now know how to do, although it’s ok if I don’t have to do it for awhile!

Food for thought – we were discussing how people view animals and food. Example – at one of the farmer’s markets, a lady was very upset that the veg seller would be taking his unsold produce home at the end of the market and feeding it to his chickens. He and I weren’t quite sure why she was upset – the chicken eats the produce, gets big and strong, and is butchered for meat to feed the human. Seems like a pretty good cycle to me. Moving along to our own garden. We decided that we had canned enough tomatoes for our future needs, and have been picking tomatoes to eat fresh. This picture from last week shows that we still have a lot of tomatoes on the vine:
IMG_0361

And after the mini heat wave, they are going bad very quickly. What to do? Pull the vines and feed them to the chickens, who pull off the leaves and tomatoes for a nice feast. We humans will still get the benefit of the tomatoes down the road when we eat the chickens. So have the tomatoes (or the leftover produce of my farmer’s market friend) been wasted?

Day 250 – tomatoes, chicks, fall, onion eggs

There’s still so many of them – I picked the left side of this row and ended up with a 1/2 bushel basket full.  And I still have the right side to pick!  I’m going to enjoy tomato soup this winter, I’m going to enjoy tomato sauce this winter.  But right now I’m tired of […]

IMG_0361There’s still so many of them – I picked the left side of this row and ended up with a 1/2 bushel basket full.  And I still have the right side to pick!  I’m going to enjoy tomato soup this winter, I’m going to enjoy tomato sauce this winter.  But right now I’m tired of picking tomatoes!

IMG_0368It’s done!  And I have no idea what that fuzzy bit in the center is all about.  But the mini-yard is enclosed (and lidded to keep little nuggets from becoming hawk snacks), the door has latches, and —

IMG_0370—we have new nuggets!  These are Barred Rock hens from Meyer Hatchery – we’re trying them to see how their chicks do for us.  They were shipped on Tuesday, arriving on Thursday morning.  So they are already growing their wing feathers and giving me the “stink eye” as I call it – that sideways look that chickens give when they’re sizing you up.

IMG_0374 IMG_0373

More nugget pictures, just because they’re cute!  And one has figured out how to jump up on the warmer.  That’s, Just. Great.  Usually if they are that quick, they are going to be a handful when they grow up.

IMG_0363It’s looking more and more like fall.  The tall grasses are dried, the bean fields have a little more yellow in the green, and the corn is about 1/2 dried (or more).  It will be nice to see all the way to the river.  Corn makes me a bit claustrophobic – it’s so tall and looming!

IMG_0375

And which of these things is not like the others?  I’ve been drying the onions on racks in the garage, and it seems that a lot of the onions are more or less egg-shaped.  Which leads to the hens pulling the onions off the racks, and nesting them.  Sigh.  They’re going to be pretty upset in the morning – I removed all the onions.  This is the fun you get with free-range chickens who are too smart for their own good.

 

 

 

 

Day 250 – tomatoes, chicks, fall, onion eggs

IMG_0361There’s still so many of them – I picked the left side of this row and ended up with a 1/2 bushel basket full.  And I still have the right side to pick!  I’m going to enjoy tomato soup this winter, I’m going to enjoy tomato sauce this winter.  But right now I’m tired of picking tomatoes!

IMG_0368It’s done!  And I have no idea what that fuzzy bit in the center is all about.  But the mini-yard is enclosed (and lidded to keep little nuggets from becoming hawk snacks), the door has latches, and —

IMG_0370—we have new nuggets!  These are Barred Rock hens from Meyer Hatchery – we’re trying them to see how their chicks do for us.  They were shipped on Tuesday, arriving on Thursday morning.  So they are already growing their wing feathers and giving me the “stink eye” as I call it – that sideways look that chickens give when they’re sizing you up.

More nugget pictures, just because they’re cute!  And one has figured out how to jump up on the warmer.  That’s, Just. Great.  Usually if they are that quick, they are going to be a handful when they grow up.

IMG_0363It’s looking more and more like fall.  The tall grasses are dried, the bean fields have a little more yellow in the green, and the corn is about 1/2 dried (or more).  It will be nice to see all the way to the river.  Corn makes me a bit claustrophobic – it’s so tall and looming!

IMG_0375

And which of these things is not like the others?  I’ve been drying the onions on racks in the garage, and it seems that a lot of the onions are more or less egg-shaped.  Which leads to the hens pulling the onions off the racks, and nesting them.  Sigh.  They’re going to be pretty upset in the morning – I removed all the onions.  This is the fun you get with free-range chickens who are too smart for their own good.