Sunday, December 16, 2012

An Update

I apologize for not being around lately. Life has been a bit uninspiring and sad lately. Hopefully with the coming new year and the days getting longer things will improve.

We’ve lost Doris to a horrible backyard attack by an unknown animal. The signs don’t point to a dog, but something else. Perhaps a raccoon, but we are still unsure. She was a huge chicken. At least 12lbs. and a streetwise bully. She usually scared off animals that came in the yard. I saw her stand up to a wild Tom turkey once and he ran the other way and no turkey has come in the yard since. The remaining girls and myself are terrified that whatever took her down will return.

Aphrodite also left us. She has had a mysterious issues since an incident with Betty in June where she got too close to the babies and was pecked in the head. She had seemed to mostly recover and then in October lost function in one of her legs. After living life for several weeks as a happy hoppy one legged chicken, she lost function in the other leg. We then made the hard decision to not let her suffer in that manner.

The three remaining girls are adjusting. They spend most of the day now in the house by choice. They’ll come out in the run if I bring them a treat. I think we all just need a little time.

I hope you all have a happy holiday be it Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Quanza, or Festivus.  May the new year bring you all health and happiness. I will return after the first of the year, I am determined.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Scalloping

I really do love the bay scallop. Each one is like a little scrumptious jewel. Every year I wait with eager anticipation for our first outing to harvest them. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. So when the day finally came this morning, I made sure I was prepared and laid a tarp in the back of our 4wd vehicle and stocked it with my waders, basket, peepsight, scallop net,  shucking knife, plastic container, and a change of dry clothes and set off with my scalloping buddy for Cape Pogue. You can see bing has spelt Pogue wrong. It actually just depends on who you ask.

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It was such a beautiful day today! The sun was shining and there was a slight breeze when we got to our spot about an hour before low tide, which eventually turned into a stiff breeze causing a bit of a troublesome chop by the time we were done. Towing my peepsight and basket I waded in to my favorite spot and started gathering my bounty. The scallops this year were not big, but big enough and plentiful enough to harvest and eat. P1050443(1) 

It’s so peaceful out on the water. It’s quiet save for a motor boat once in a while. You can hear the birds and looking through the peepsight is like a window on another world. I tried to get a view through the peepsight. Especially of the little school of fish that were following me the whole time I was out there. It was a little difficult with the movement and the glare. See any scallops? I see four maybe five :)

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It didn’t take us too long to get our limit and we set off to my friends house to shuck our haul. It took us quite a while to shuck and I was exhausted by the time I got home. I rinsed the salt off of all of my equipment and the car. Brought some to granma and then took a nap. My reward was dinner…

P1050456 Lightly tossed in breadcrumbs and quickly sautéed at high heat just to sear the outsides.

Hope you’ve enjoyed our trip today. For more information on scalloping please check out last year’s post :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Going Scalloping!

Scallop season started Monday. Because I have to work for a living during the week, I’m going tomorrow. Can’t wait to get some of these guys! Yum! You can just hear them. “clackety clack clackety clack”

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Beach Plum Jelly

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The beach plums were plentiful this year. Unfortunately, I only got out once to pick and left the camera at home. So we get to see the final product.

Beach plum jelly is a staple here. It’s goes great with fish, pork, lamb. Or if your my husband, alone in a sandwich or on toast.

As with most local specialties, everyone’s great great grandmother, nona, granma, mother, aunt, cousin has a different recipe. Pectin or no pectin? Sugar? What’s the ratio for sugar to juice? How do you make the juice? How much water do you use? Or the biggest controversy …..squeeze the last of the juice out of the berries or don’t squeeze?!?! (It is said that squeezing will make the jelly cloudy)

That’s no help when your looking for a tried and true recipe. So with no consistent guidance from the women in this community or local cookbooks, by trial and error, I have combined my favorite parts of all those questions and come out with a jelly my husband approves of (which is the most important critic). Not to sweet, still a bit tart, good jell texture, and (mostly) clear ;)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

It’s Raining

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  It’s been raining for a few days now. The girls blame me. They yell at me from the dry safety of their covered run.

“Why did you make it so wet?!?!”

“Why won’t you let us out?!?!?!”

Well they were making such a racket this morning, I just opened the run door. It was pouring. They went running out like they had been trapped for eons. (The covered run is quite spacious. 6’ X 10’ two levels with house. Lots of places to perch. Not a cramped crate by any means)

The quiet didn’t last too long. They were now wet. There was water being thrown at them from the sky. They didn’t like that either. They ran back in the run and started preening and yelling again. Well the big girls were. When I went out to check on them. Freya and Hildy were hiding under a patio chair. Freya was yelling from there. Hildy doesn’t yell, she makes a squeaky squeal noise. The big girls were too close to the run door for them to feel safe going back in. I went out there and threw some sunflower seeds in the far corner distracting the big girls so I could herd the younger ones back in the run. The quiet of the sunflower seeds lasted all of five minutes. The yelling then resumed. I gave up.

It should stop raining this afternoon sometime.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chicken Chat - Signs

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Betty was caught randomly shrieking like a pterodactyl today at the other girls. Hark! Is that the low far off moan of the broody train I hear? This is how it starts. If I am correct it will be followed in a couple of days by puffed up crazy lady clucking.

I’m a bit sad because she lays such large beautiful dark brown eggs. One every single day. She’s only been laying them for a short time now after weaning off Hildy and Freya. Well we’ll see if anything develops.   

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Stinkeye

P1050303(2) Doris is a professional
Stinkeye – To give the stinkeye is the chicken act of staring you down with the “Don’t mess with me lady!” vibe. If a look could kill, it would. It especially happens when a hen may be broody or a certain hen may be sick of having their picture taken that day. It can also happen when the treats are not doled out quite fast enough to satisfy said hen.
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*I am soooo busy prepping for the Annual Rotary Craft and Antique Fair on Saturday and Sunday at the Falmouth Marine Park from 8-4 both days. Regular posts should resume Monday :) * 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chicken Chat – The New Girls

The babies Betty hatched in the Spring are sprouting up. Two of them were boys and had to be sent to the “rooster sanctuary”. So the two girls that got to stay are now 14 weeks old or so and they have received their names. This year we went with a Norse theme. I would like to introduce you to Brunhilda (aka Hildy) and Freya.

Hildy is a Black Cochin. She will hopefully be Betty’s size when she is full grown. Her brother was enormous when he went off the the “sanctuary” a couple of weeks ago. She’s going to be a big round ball of fluff. Right now she’s a small round ball of fluff. I love her little pantaloon feet.

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Freya is a Black Laced Red Wyandotte. Her brother was blue. She is my only chicken with yellow legs. I never really realized that I didn’t have any yellow legged chickens until she and her brother showed up. She looks a little roo like at this point, it’s a good thing we had her brother to compare to.

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I don’t expect to see any eggs from them until February or so. You never know though, they may surprise me. They are both going through that flighty teenage phase when they don’t want to listen or go back in the house. I can’t wait until they are adults and calm down a bit.

Betty stopped mothering them at about 9 weeks. Motherhood turned off like a switch and the next day she layed an egg. It was tough on them. One day mom wanted to cuddle and the next she acted like they were strangers and was pecking them. They have adjusted however. Right now they are at the bottom of the pecking order. At least they have each other. But, I think Freya is going to give Betty a run for head hen when she gets older. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cream Puffs at King Arthur Flour

On the quest to always learn something new, my sister and I recently took the trip to King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont to attend a cream puff and éclair class. It was held in the new baking education center which is part of a new complex that is all under one roof which also includes a nice store and cozy cafe. We had a great time. I found out that they are a lot more involved than I had originally thought. What I really love about the classes at the KAF is that they teach you the science behind the recipe. They help you understand why it comes out the way it does and if it doesn’t what may have happened.

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Hungry yet? They were delicious :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Summer Sight

I honestly meant to return on September 1st. Obviously that plan didn’t work. Summer was really hectic. We start the great return with some island scenes of summer. The sailing ships Shenandoah (black one) and Alabama (white one) with sails billowing and full heading out of Vineyard Haven harbor. They are sisters, but rarely go out together.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Betty and the Spring Babies

Betty hatched four of the eggs she had been sitting on. There are two Cochins and two chipmunky ones. The chipmunks I am unsure of. They are either Easter Eggers or Wyandottes or one of each. All I know right now is they are so darn cute!

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wandering Wednesday – The Dockyard, Bermuda

We just returned from spending some time in Bermuda. This week we’ll visit the Naval Dockyard with it’s old fort and museum. My picture taking was a little lax this trip. I kept staring at how blue the ocean was.

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ooh look at the tug boats! Wait! What’s that on the battlements?

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Sheep! The natural lawnmowers :)

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We also saw a family of bantam chickens. Husband spotted them first. What a guy! They were too fast to pose for a picture for me though. Hope you’ve enjoyed our sunny Wandering Wednesday :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wandering Wednesday – Herculaneum (Ercolano), Italy

Today we travel a short trip south from Naples to Herculaneum. The victim of the same eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (Vesuvio) in 79 A.D. as the ever more famous Pompeii, Herculaneum is smaller and less crowded. They think that most of the people escaped, the people who didn’t were found huddled in the boat sheds at the edge of town where they died instantly with the heat of the first pyroclastic flow.

We spent most of the day wandering in and out of all the buildings and up and down the ancient streets. P1000307

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Waiting for the train after our visit, I remember it was Sunday and it was perfectly quiet except for the sound of a person playing the accordion in one of the nearby houses. Everyone waiting for the train was just sitting quietly listening to the music lilting into the streets. It was a magical moment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our Wandering Wednesday :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Persy

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So, I’ve calmed down a bit and can now look at pictures and talk about her without crying. I miss her yelling in the morning. It’s very quiet. I’m sure the neighbors appreciate it.

She was fine Friday. Her regular perky self. I went off island for a family thing and returned late Saturday afternoon to find her in the corner of the house sitting like she was trying to lay an egg.(The big girls are getting crabbier in broodyland) Nike was standing over her harassing her. So I kicked Nike out. But she kept coming back and Persy seemed to be distressed, like perhaps this had been going on for a while. So I moved Persy to a crate in the basement, gave her some food and vitamin enhanced water and thought she would lay her egg and I would then let her out in the morning.

In the morning, she was the same. Seemed to be having a hard time laying. There was nothing outwardly wrong with her. They went through a dusting series a couple of weeks ago. No bugs, No odd lumps, no weird secretions, and she was not underweight. She was alert, just sitting. So I left her there thinking the quiet and peaceful area was probably the best place for her to be calm and relax to lay the egg that was giving her such trouble. She had gone to the bathroom overnight, so I knew those things were working. The poop looked normal.

I went to the Sunday market to have my table, and when I returned Husband was in the backyard. Eager to check on her, I didn’t go in the house but made beeline to see Persy. I asked Husband how she was and he looked at the shovel he was holding and said not good. He had found her in the crate when he got home about an hour earlier dead and had already buried her. It was too quick.

Persy was the first girl Betty hatched that we kept. I saw her start from a regular egg to hatch and eventually lay her own. I know chickens are fragile and know these things happen. I just feel like a bad chicken mom that I couldn’t save her or didn’t see something. As an extreme precaution, I have put the other girls on antibiotics for a few days. If  it wasn’t an egg issue and it was something else, I don’t want to loose anyone else. Poor Persy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sadness in the Coop

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We lost Persephone today. I’m so sad. She was a special girl.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chicken Chat – Happy Betty

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The eggs arrived Monday afternoon. We promptly carefully unwrapped them and gave them to Betty. Some people say to wait 24hrs and let them sit after shipping. I just can’t. She was so happy! She snuggled down with happy little clucks and spread out to cover all 12 of them (4 Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, 4 Easter Eggers with a 50/50 chance of Frizzle!, and 4 Blue/Black/Splash Large Fowl Cochins :D).

I will be so egg-cited if any girls hatch :)

Wandering Wednesday – Naples, Italy

We missed Wandering Wednesday last week. woops! This week we will take a leisurely brief stroll through the streets of Naples. It was Sunday and the smell of clean freshly hung laundry was in the air in the back streets and alleyways.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed our Wandering Wednesday this week :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chicken Chat – All Aboard the Broody Train

Well Betty has joined crazy Doris on the Broody Train. The signs were there last week. It’s just fully developed now. At least they are sharing the box in a civilized manner most of the time.

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This morning, everybody piled in for laying time until they kicked Doris out who sat right outside the box waiting to go back in. Percy is having a hard time dealing with it. She’s used to being the center of attention with Betty and sitting next to her on the roost. She seems confused about the whole thing.

I must admit that I have been seeing everyone else’s chicks and the cuteness has been overwhelming. Your all such enablers. I have broken down and ordered some eggs for Betty from the same farm we got Percy’s egg. The farm is NPIP certified and I have requested a copy of their certificate to show to the the inspector in July when she comes to the island if anyone hatches. Doris was so great being an aunt to Percy, I am hoping that she will be helpful to Betty. Some animals and people just make better aunts than mothers. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Cleaning

I’m pooped!

We use the deep litter method in the coop and run. Today was Spring cleaning day. I shoveled out all the dirt and shavings, about 3” deep. I cleaned the ramp and made sure the stump at the bottom of the ramp was cleaned. It took two trips with full tarps to the compost pile. Where the girls promptly ran over and spread it out for me.

When the run was empty, I spread the diatomaceous earth (DE) on the ground and then emptied all of the shavings from the house into the run and spread them out. Then added another layer of DE. The floor of the house then got a healthy dose of DE and some fresh shavings.

We then gave all the girls a dusting with the poultry dust when Husband got home and before returning them to the coop. The DE keeps the fly population down, but the poultry lice seem immune to it after our experience with Nike last year. We have a system, Husband holds them in the empty tub and I sprinkle and rub. It’s usually a bit of a struggle, which is why I wait until the two of us can do it together. Betty, who I thought was going to be the most difficult today, just squatted in the tub for us no problem. Sometimes they surprise us.

Our run is only 6’ x 10’ I can’t imagine the work involved in a bigger one. I’m gonna feel it tomorrow.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Chicken Chat – Persephone and the Cantaloupe

The Greek myth goes that Persephone was abducted by Hades to the underworld to be his queen. Persephone’s mother, Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, was so upset that she refused to help the crops grow and created a great famine. Zeus, Persephone’s father and king of the Gods, felt sorry for Demeter and talked Hades into releasing Persephone to be with her mother. Hades released her and gave her a pomegranate for her journey. Demeter was so happy to see Persephone again, but noticed the pomegranate. She asked if she had eaten any food from the underworld. She had eaten 3 seeds of the pomegranate. Because of these three seeds, she had to spend 3 months of each year being queen of the underworld. Which is why we have winter where there are 3 months of no crop growth.

My Persephone has yet to try a pomegranate, but she loves a cantaloupe. After everyone else had gotten their fill, Persy got some alone time to enjoy the fruit. Well, until Doris saw what a good time she was having.

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