Archive for July, 2012

D-Day for Willie-Blue CAUTION: GRAPHIC

This morning Willie-blue, the second largest silkie chicken, let out a crow while I stood in the coop calmly waiting.   He got to spend his last day in the other pen munching on fresh greens and bugs while the girls remained on their pecked-down-to-nothing side of the pen.  Beanie and her Daddy watched a few youtube videos about how to best kill a chicken and talked about the circle of life.  She (opposite of how I thought she was going to react) was right there with Daddy every step of the process.

Willie-Blue gets a calm walk to execution-land. But in all seriousness he was a very sweet chicken and we all (Beanie included) gave him a nice pat and told him thank you for feeding us.

“Hey, what are you guys doing down there?”

Quick swing around and the neck is broken. We decided this was the fastest and most humane way to kill him.

Beanie got a very visual lesson about the nervous system. She also enjoyed the anatomy lesson, observing the heart, liver, kidneys and spine.

Sorry baby, you can’t help.

Off the with head to drain the blood. Shiloh was very interested as you might imagine.  She gobbled up the heart and any other scrap that hit the ground.

as evidenced by the teeeeeny chicken breast…silkies were not meant to be meat birds…come to think of it they’re not meant to be laying birds either. Good thing they’re pretty.

Beanie marveled at how soft the feathers were.  Even now, as I type and my husband skins the chicken, she is ouside collecting the feathers to take to her secret fort in the woods.

UPDATE:  He wasn’t the only one!!!!  There was another crow from the coop today!  Booo!!!

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Ok that was loud.

Looks like Wed is going to be the day…My hubby works until then and the crowing was loud enough to wake me up this morning.  So Tuesday is mission figure out which grey silkie is the roo.  I think I may troll craigslist for people trying to get rid of roosters and off a few instead of setting up a whole roo-killing operation for my one little almost-big-enough-for-a-pot little boy.  He’s a nice enough boy, isn’t mean to anybody.  But we never wanted a rooster.  And we do enjoy a good chicken dinner…even if it isn’t “Dinner”.

Want to know the best herb in the world?

LEMON VERBENA!

Lemon Verbena plants can grow to be 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide. This was bought last year. It is deciduous so over the winter we’d thought it died. Good thing we didn’t uproot it! it is easily 4x as big as last year!

Now it may not be the most versatile of herbs.  In fact I guarantee it is not.  We easily use the chives and parsley most often, and who can argue against the wonderful flavor of fresh basil, but my favorite is hands-down the lemon verbena.

I hear that you should harvest leaves before the plant flowers for the best flavor. Harvest by plucking individual leaves, not by cutting branches, unless you are trying to prune.

We use the lemon verbena in tea along with some fresh mint leaves.  I am going to attempt to dry the leaves so I can enjoy this refreshing herbal tea all. year. long.  I Gathered several handfuls of leaves and pulled out the old de-humidifier we got from a friend who was cleaning out her late grandfather’s estate.

mmmmm smells like heaven….if heaven smelled lemoney-sweet

Place the Lemon Verbena leaves on the de-humidifier so air can circulate all around them. Our de-humidifier has several levels and a solid sheet for making fruit leathers so I placed this sheet on the bottom rack to catch any crumbs from the dried leaves.

Dry the leaves on the lowest setting. I let them sit overnight.

In the morning the leaves were perfectly dried.

Be sure to check the leaves and make sure they crumble easily. They can also be dried by laying them out on paper towels and then transferring them to drying racks, but I found the overnight a ton faster and less of a hassle.

And now I have a jar of dried lemon verbena! Viola!

Final thought: If you don’t have a lemon verbena plant buy one.  Ours was $4 from the local Home Depot.  If it dies you’re only out $4 and if it lives, oh the glory that will be wafted about your property will be priceless!

Of course while I was drying these I got an urge for some delicious lemon verbena mint tea.  So what is a girl to do?  Guess I’ll just brew up a pot.  Want a play-by-play of that too?  I know you do!  (short version: put leaves in pot, add hot water.)

Mint and Lemon Verbena leaves for a 3 cup pot of tea. Even Beanie loves the smell and is always asking if she can pick one just to have.

Select the perfect tea-pot.

rinse the tea leaves thoroughly.

 

Fill the pot with hot water while the fresh cool water boils. Pre-heating your tea-pot helps to keep it from cracking.

Here is another shot to show the proportions of lemon verbena to mint. The volume of each is approx. the same, but the mint leaves are much larger in size, so more lemon verbena are needed. We usually go about 16 lemon to 8 mint.

empty the hot water and put the leaves in the pot.

add boiling water.

Let seep for 5-10 minutes or until desired strength is reached.

Add sugar (or honey or nothing) and enjoy.

Well…I guess I’ll have to learn to cook black chicken…

Most chickens look like the ones we find in grocery stores, but not Silkies.  They’ve got black skin…and guess who is practicing his pathetic crow on a daily basis?

This Guy

He had always been the biggest of our three Silkies so I can’t say that I’m surprised.  What I’m still trying to figure out is if he is the only one.  One of our Barred Rocks is a bit bigger than the other and (s)he has a slightly bigger comb than the other one.  The rest of the girls(?) are doing really well.  Here are some shots I took yesterday.  Sorry for the lull in posting but it’s summer and I have three kids.

The chickens enjoy a giant handful of weeds every day, along with table scraps as they’ve already stripped the ground to dirt in their current side of the run.

Dinner (who may not end up getting eaten after all) and our Easter Egger behind her. (Notice the weird funny beard on the Easter Egger)

You talkin’ ta me!?
(SLW, Easter Egger, BR butt)

I wish I could tell you which RIR this is…but they all look so similar now. Polly is still a bit smaller than the other two. I hope that doesn’t mean she’ll be a poor layer.

Aurora our beautiful Welsumer going after the greens.

Now I suppose it’s just a waiting game to see if there are more crows before our backyard turns into a mobile slaughter house.

Photo of the week: Movement

Here is a shot of my daughter learning how to play baseball.  she hit this one!

photo of the week:  movement

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Uh Oh

We left town for a week and headed out to MN for a family reunion and my cousin kept an eye on the girls while we were gone… He said he heard a crow…but he doesn’t know who. The mystery is on. Photos to follow, prob. not tomorrow with the 4th of July, but for sure on the 5th!!