Saturday, May 21, 2016

A weekof weeks

Wow has it been a week around here.  A week of work and craziness.  May is always a busy time around here for me, full of things that I love doing.  Here's what's been going on with different projects.

Back when they were cute.

The red rangers are now 10 weeks old and looking delicious.  Feeling like the witch from Hansel and Gretel I have taken to picking them up and mentally checking their meatiness.  To be sure, I took a kitchen scale out to the yard and weighed a couple of the roosters this week and they were all about 6 lbs.  The hens are considerably smaller.  We've gone through 300 lbs feed for 10 rangers and I need to get more today.  That number isn't totally fair though because I am also feeding 4 ducks, 2 meat silkies, 6 hens and my rooster with the same feed.  I got the rangers by mistake at TSC, they were labeled Cornish crosses, but I am so happy that mix-up happened.  These chickens are a joy, and gorgeous.

Rangers at leisure.

The garden is about 3/4 planted and we've been eating asparagus, lettuce and radishes.  The straw pathways look good so far and I hope they hold up for part of the summer at least.

Last night we moved the beehive out of the garden an into the chicken yard and added a second swarm.  Dad has caught an unreal number of swarms this year, 5 or 6 already and it's only May. So happy to have bees on the property again.

The three peeps hatched earlier this spring are doing great and the 10 in the garage will be moved outside probably Monday.  5 are going to live with a friends so that will give me 8 home bred chickens to put up for fajitas, soup or pot pies.

Quails are laying 2 or 3 eggs a day, which the little man has for breakfast.  It's adorable cooking up quarter sized eggs for the baby.  I managed to give myself  a black eye this week getting the quails water.  I put the waterer on the ground and stood up in time to catch the door latch in the eye as the door swung back open.  It looks like I was in a bar fight, so pretty awesome.  I've learned this week that as a woman it's interesting to be out in public while sportin' a big-ol shiner.  People sure give you some strange looks.

Chaos with the ducks this morning.  I let them out and fed them and went to take care of the chickens.  How long does that possibly take?  On my way back up the yard I see that the 2 runner hens have gotten out of the fence (over?) and are chased by a very enthusiastic mallard drake.  We don't have mallards. Then I witnessed  a host of things that I really didn't need to see that early in the morning.  As in duck humping. All over the place.  Mission accomplished, the drake then flew off over the yard.  Aside from having to witness the event, this is actually awesome because I've been sticking duck eggs under my broody hen the last couple of days and I'll do the same with tomorrow's eggs.  I can't wait to see what hatches.

I love May.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Best. Bread. Ever.

One of the best things (and there are thousands of things) about being at home is that I've finally gotten the hang of making our daily bread.  I've tried for years to make a decent loaf of bread.

This started about 15 years ago when I was in still in college and I wanted to learn to bake.  I enlisted my grandma's help.  Grandma was (before dementia crept in) a cook if there ever was one.  A farm wife with many children, there was nothing in the kitchen that she didn't excel at.  Breads, cakes, frostings, fried chicken, Sunday lunches.. she had command of that kitchen.  So it was Grandma that I went to for help.  I remember making a rosemary flat bread, a nice rye bread and a cinnamon raisin bread.  Then I moved away.  I worked in bakeries. I moved back.  I didn't care about making bread.  By the time I did care again, grandma was no longer baking and I was left to my own devices

Many, many sad loaves followed over the years.  Loaves that involved kneading and careful shaping.  They were always edible but noting exciting.  Then I read in Mother Earth News about that crusty bread you make in a dutch oven that took something like 18 hours.  What I make is basically that loaf, but with more yeast.

3 c flour, a tiny pinch salt, and a big spoonful of yeast go in the mixer.  Add honey and 1.5 c liquid ( I use a mix of dairy and water). Stir. Cover. Wait until doubled (about 2 hours).  Pre-heat oven to 450 with your lidded baking device of choice inside.

I use this cast iron guy I got on clearance at Tractor Supply for like $5. 

When pre-heated, oil pan with butter and dump dough in pan.  Cover and bake for 30.  Uncover and bake another 15.  This produces the most amazing, crusty bread ever for about 5 minutes work.

Look at that crust! 

That crumb!

So finally my quest for a reliable loaf has ended.  This is good for sandwiches, dipping or just eating with butter.  I also like to do variations on this.  A good one is to cut the regular flour with wheat, add good glug of molasses and then stir in dried cranberries and sesame seeds before baking.  Yum!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Let's figure out this blogger thing together with a random cat picture... Hello Bee!
 I just remembered that we no longer have that blanket because Bee destroyed it with her claws and teeth while engaging in some wierd activity that looked like nursing. Thanks Bee!

I do hope that recording some of the small goings-on around here helps me to slow down and be a bit more reflective.  That's the idea anyway.  Today I listed some more vintage feedsacks on Ebay.  Dry goods like flour, chicken feed etc. would be sold in these fabric sacks back in the '30's, 40's & 50's.  Thrifty ladies would re-purpose the fabric into things like quilts & clothing but out here in the country I've been able to pick up unused ones at thrift stores and yard sales in spite of how old they are.

I like this one in particular:

Now I'll try to learn to insert a link to it -  here

There are two of these and if one doesn't sell I won't be crushed.  It would make adorable pillows for the longed for vintage camper of my dreams.