Archive for July, 2013

Today, I taught my best friend’s son and grandson how to harvest chickens.  They brought their two young roosters.  I went down to our chicken coop and got one of our roosters.  Then I checked the vents on the chickens to determine which are still laying.  The first thing to do is to look at the chicken’s comb and wattle.  If they are a pretty shade of red and the eyes are clear, then look at the chicken’s behavior.  Is the chicken active or lethargic?  Either way, continue with the examination of the chicken.  Place the chicken on its back.   Put your hand on the chicken’s belly between the two legs.  If you can put four or more fingers, then the chicken is probably still laying.  The eggs push the pelvic bone apart making the distance wider.  The last thing to do is to check the vent.  If the vent is pink and moist, then the chicken is still laying.  If it is yellow and dry, then the chicken is done with laying.  It’s a good idea to check your chickens at least twice a year.

We had four years worth of chickens since we add to the flock each year.  This year, I discovered that three were no longer laying.  One was questionable, so I decided to let her live.  One that I did choose to harvest was surprising.  She’s only a year old and should be in her prime.  The one that I let live was her sister.

Keeping one rooster will allow the flock to be self-sustaining rather than having to purchase chicks each spring.  The ones that are our best layers were hatched and raised by our chickens.  When this rooster gets too old, either we will get one from a friend or keep one from the latest hatching.

Chickens in the Run HarvestingChickens




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Curious Cats


It’s 5 o’clock in the morning.  You go outside with a cup of coffee to enjoy the sunrise.  You see your cats.  One acts like it found something interesting.  The other goes over to investigate.  What did they find?  What do they do?

If you wish, write about this from the cat’s perspective.  Or from the perspective of whatever animal has their interest.




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I was absolutely surprised when I went out to my greenhouse yesterday to discover about twenty or so grasshoppers.  Last year, I had a few of them.  I also had praying mantis to keep them in check.  This year, there are plenty of grasshoppers, but I have yet to see a praying mantis.  Wonder what’s going on?

Maybe it’s been too rainy.  We’ve gotten more rain in the first six months of this year than we normally see in an entire year.  Of course, along with the rain came cooler temperatures.  Maybe that has something to do with the lack of praying mantis.  Maybe they drowned, or hatched late.

We don’t use chemical pesticides or herbicides.  We use natural means as needed.  So now I need to figure out how to get rid of the grasshoppers.  Maybe I’ll put a chicken in the greenhouse on the next rainy day.   I’m certain the chicken would love the grasshopper feast.  I’m not so sure my greenhouse would appreciate the presence of the chicken, though.  I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head.

Any suggestions?

In the greenhouse, summer 2012

In the greenhouse, summer 2012

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*This is not my photo.  I took it from a live feed offered at explore.org/bears.*

Bear or SalmonThese bears are fishing for salmon on the Katmai River in Alaska.  Now, imagine you are the bear.  What do you see?  What are you thinking?  Feeling?  What happens if another bear approaches?  You catch a salmon, and a thief bear comes to try to steal it.  What do you do?  Next, imagine you are the salmon.  What do you experience?  Next, imagine you are the river.  What does this event mean to you?



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I went out to the greenhouse the other day.  I wanted to pick a couple of beets to throw into a salad.  I pulled the first one, and it was huge!  So I pulled them all.  Here’s the harvest before it was cleaned up and canned as pickled beets.

Beet Harvest

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I’ve two bits of news to share.  The first is that we’ve just harvested about a 1/2 bushel of beets from the raised bed in my greenhouse.  This is the first year that we’ve grown so many beets.  We’ll be pickling and canning them.  It’s been rather interesting trying to find a good recipe for pickled beets.  It seems that recipes vary widely, almost as much as the amount of sugar in each recipe.  Also, there are many combinations of spices that can be used.  We’ll either find a recipe that suits us, or we’ll tweak a recipe that’s close.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

The second thing is that our electric chicken fence stopped working the other day.  As it turns out, the hot wire disconnected from the charger.  I turned off the fence and reconnected the wire.   I thought the disconnect worked for the whole system.  As I discovered, it only turns off the fence itself.  So, now I’m sitting inside writing to you good people and feeling like I now have arthritis from head to toe.  At least the fence doesn’t even come close to the way I felt after lightning got me when I was a teenager.

So, if you have a recipe for pickled beets that you’d like to share, please do.  And, for those of you who have to work on or near electric fences, please be sure to disconnect all power sources before doing said work.  Brightest of blessings, everyone.

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Imagine that a military jet flies overhead.  Where is it going?  What’s it going to do?  Why is it flying over your house or neighborhood?  What do you think when you see it?  What do you do next?

Military Jet

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