Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chicken Treats

Typically hens left in a coop will denude every piece of vegetation in sight.  If you are like most urban farmers and unable to allow those happy hens to roam your yard I suggest you supply them with a daily helping of chicken treats.  Now I'm not talking about something you need to go to a high priced pet store for....I'm talking about the greens in your yard!  Every day when we go out to check on our lovely ladies we pull an armful of weeds on our way!  The ladies are always delighted to see us when we bring them these tasty treats.  Greens help increase the vitamin content of the eggs and this is good for you!  You can also supply them with grass clippings if you have not recently treated your lawn.  A good rule of thumb is to complete three mowing cycles and then on the fourth you can go back to giving them to your hens.  They do like a variety and who doesn't have some weeds to catch on the way back to the coop?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Best Way to Cook Bacon

Did you know that you can cook bacon perfectly in the oven?  I love doing it this way.  Use your broiler pan and lay out the bacon.  Its o.k. if they overlap a bit.  Then  throw it in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes give or take dependent on your desired bacon crispness and viola!  The best part....not bacon splatter all over the stove and in the twenty minutes it takes the bacon to cook your pancakes will be ready.  I love it.  MMMM Bacon!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pullet Eggs

One of the coolest things about raising new chickens is finding the very first egg they lay as they transition into an adult laying hen.  Typically called a pullet egg, they are often diminutive in size and special to find.  This one was so tiny and long it just fit in the very bottom of the egg carton!  Each egg your new hen lays will continue to be bigger and bigger until reaching its full size.  Typically I would say it takes about 3-4 eggs to get there.  We are now getting at least 3 eggs a day typically from different hens.  When you have a mixed flock you can definately tell the difference.  I have two older hens that I am very familiar with the size, shape and color of their eggs.  Even in the picture above you can see the variation in the browns and whites.  To me, egg gathering is like getting a special suprise everyday!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Nesting Boxes

When it comes to providing a happy place for your lovely ladies to lay those beautiful eggs it doesn't take a big investment.  These are large nursery pots turned on their sides and stabilized in wooden crates.  I'm sure you can find a refashioned vintage suitcase on Pinterest but these do the trick nicely. I softened them with wood shavings.  You might choose straw or shredded paper.  None of it matters as long as your ladies feel like they have a quiet place to concentrate on their very important work of providing you and your family organic eggs.  Our spring chicks have just started laying their first eggs.  The first half dozen or so are typically smaller than the full sized egg.  They are still just as tasty!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Corn on the Cob

Back on the farm one of my favorite things about summer was the arrival of the sweet corn.  My father always planted several rows of the sweet tasty stuff in with the field corn for the sole purpose of providing the freshest and tastiest corn for our family.  Night after night when the crop was in season we would eat corn on the cob slathered in butter and salt and dripping down our chins.  It was not a chore to put away half a dozen ears.  When I had braces and couldn't eat if off the cob I sat down at the  table with the electric knife and sheered off the sweetness onto my plate. I was not going to miss out due to a technicality.  About mid harvest when my father felt the corn had reached the peak of its sugar he would pick gunny sacks full and bring them to the house. Sometimes my aunts would come to help and we would all sit down and shuck corn for hours on end.  The preferred method for preserving was to freeze.  We would place the cobs on end on a cookie sheet and cut the kernels off with an electric knife.  The juicy goodness was then scooped into freezer bags, labeled and stacked into the freezer for future meals.  This is probably the simplest vegetable freeze you will ever come across.     If you don't have a field of your own, you can often contact one of the sellers at your local farmers market and see if you can purchase it by the bag. could grow your own!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Janey Jumper

Pattern - Janey Jumper by Cottage Mama-sewing pattern janey jumper dress cottage mama
I have been giving this Janey Jumper pattern by Cottage Mama a try.  It is a pretty simple vintage inspired design.  In fact I have a vintage pattern that is very similar.  The variations that I tried did not involve the scallop edges that you see above.  I am not sure how enamored I am with that look so I gave the other renditions a try.  I would bet that after you have the hang of it an experienced sewer could crank one out from pattern cut to finish in an hour and a half.  I have had this pattern in the stash for a month or two but it was this sale ad that spurred me to action:
Super cute!  I think I know what summer is going to look like!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Irrigation Installation: Phase II Main Line

The next step in the installation of your irrigation system is to have the mainline installed.  This is the largest line in your irrigation system and carries water to all of the laterals.  For this installation a pipe puller was called in to do the work.  This is the yellow machine you see below.
Installing the main and laterals in this fashion has many advantages.  The number one being that you do not have to spend hours breaking your back digging trenches.  This machine essentially pulls the pipe through the ground with a combination of force and vibration.  A wire mesh that looks much like one of those Chinese finger traps grabs the end of the line and pulls it trough the earth at precisely the right depth.  The second major advantage is that the surface disturbance is minimal so there is no reseeding of trenches in areas of established vegetation.

While the machine is pulling the pipe  through, someone holds the coil on the other end feeding it as needed.  Its important to note that this machine will pull through just about anything.  Including a shallow electric line.
This is the main electric that feeds my house!  Typically they are much deeper than the depth that the mainline would be pulled in at.  This one was marked and accurate, just not very deep.  My house was built in 1919. While I am sure the electrical has been updated since then, who knows what kind of surface grading has occurred making the line shallower than expected.  You can see below where the electricity arched through this quarter inch steel bar on the pipe puller.  It blew the breaker on the pole in the street and no one got hurt.

So even if you have your lines marked, things can still happen.  The procedure here is to call the electrical company out to do the repair.  While on site doing the repair, they will file a report to decide who is as fault. If the contractor is found to be negligent, they will fine the contractor.  I have no idea if the contractor was fined.  I can definitely confirm he was none to happy about the incident.  I'm sure any fines will cancel the profit he made in my yard.  If you did not get your utilities marked and subsequently caused damage to any of the electrical services you will definitely be fined so remember: Call Before You Dig!