Friday, September 30, 2011

There'll be no getting any work done now...

"It's not our fault we're so adorable!"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I've been reminiscing about our chickens this week.

remembering them as tiny peeping fluffballs, they were so cute!

teenagers - a bit more awkward, but still cute...

figuring out how and where to sleep...

always eating!

our first egg...

feeding them messy stuff like this, and them standing in the food and flinging it all over the coop...

chicken glamor shots...

chickens in the snow...

Why the reminiscing? Well... our chickens are all gone now.
Last Sunday we put them in boxes...

loaded them in the car...

and drove over to a friend's house who was having a chicken culling party.

They had the whole set-up. A cone (for doing the deed)...

a rented chicken plucker...

and a table with knives and cutting boards for processing.

This is NOT one of our chickens! There were 8 other birds meeting their fate that day; I didn't take pictures of our girls...till later.

Lest you think I am totally heartless (and you would certainly have reason to think that!), it was a very hard day. I was sad to see our girls go. I didn't kill any of them myself, but I did end up dressing two of them (such an innocent sounding euphemism!).

Several folks at the "party" had evisceratead a chicken before, but it had been at least a year for those who had and it's not something you just remember how to do. We had Gail Damerov's book out (which frankly isn't super helpful) and one person had been to a class and she still vaguely remembered the steps. I think the first chicken took at least 30-45 minutes from killing to putting on ice! We got much faster after that - we had to with 15 birds to deal with!

It was quite an experience I must say. One interesting thing was seeing the various levels of egg development inside the birds when we took out the innards.

And the plucker was amazing! Seemed too weird to take a video of it in action - but I'm sure you can find videos online.

At the end of the day we had a basket full of 2.5 to 3.5 pound chickens, chicken feet and necks for stock, and other innards (like liver) for...whatever Jeremy is going to do with those.

This was always the plan. The decision to do it now was prompted by two things. First, we had to buy eggs at the store for the first time in two years because the girls just haven't been laying much. (Eww, that's what we used to eat!?) And second, our friends were having a party and renting a plucker! Can't say no to that. =)

Plus it was really nice to do this as a group learning exercise instead of on our own.

The girls are in the freezer for now. I think we might can them later - I've heard that can really help the tough quality of old bird.

We've been chickenless for three days and it is very strange being out in the backyard and not seeing and hearing the girls. It's time to clean out the hen house, disinfect things, and get everything ready to go.

After all, our shipment of new baby chicks arrives in two days!! =)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I'm on vacation this week! Or, for a few days anyway. I'm in Oregon visiting my family (here I am on the beach!) and tomorrow I'm heading up to Seattle for some meetings.
Jeremy is home managing the homestead all by himself. Poor guy - someone should go visit him and keep him company! =)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Toads and frogs and toads, oh my!

Part 1.

Out on the mushroom farm there are a lot of frogs and toads. Months ago they were tiny things, but they have gotten a bit bigger, especially the frogs. The toads are still pretty small. There are so many you have to look down while walking or you may end up stepping on them. Jeremy sees all kinds of frogs/toads when he goes out to work - sometimes they're on the logs, sometimes in one of his stock tanks full of water, always hopping all over the place.

It makes me feel like I'm way out of town, out in the country (instead of on an old nursery lot in the suburbs) to have all these frogs and toads around. I had to share some pictures. It gave me an excuse to run around catching toads - uh, not that I really needed one! No frog pictures here - those guys are way too fast and almost never out in the open.

It's very wet at the farm so the frogs love it.

Get me outta here!

So little!

It was hard to get a good face shot. For some reason the camera wanted to focus on the back legs instead of the head. Someone with an awesome camera could get some even better shots. I'd have to go back at night with a flashlight to get some frog shots. They seem to hunker down at night and not move as much, or not be as skittish anyway.

Part 2.

Yesterday I noticed the garden was looking dry. I grabbed my trusty red watering can, plunked it down under the rain barrel and turned on the tap. I filled it right up, then picked up the can and proceeded to tip it over the nearest garden bed.

Nothing came out.

Not a single drop of water. What the...!?

I tipped again; nothing. There must be debris, leaves or something, stuck in the can. I unscrewed the head of the can and didn't see anything there. Then I looked in spout part and was shocked to see this:

Sorry, that's the best I could get. It was a toad face looking back at me! I was stunned. How on earth...? It must have been in the watering can and when I filled up the can the toad must have climbed up into the spout to escape.

I figured I'd just have to push it back down the spout. I got a little stick and tried to carefully push on the toad. It closed it's eyes up tight and sort of hunched up, like it was going to hold on for it's life. I stuck my finger in there and pushed on its poor little face. I didn't want to hurt it, but how else to get it out!? And it wasn't budging.

Stubborn little bugger.

So I put the spout right under the rain barrel spigot and turned on the water. After a minute I checked and saw the toad had slid or at least backed down an inch or two. I turned up the flow of water, sat back, and waited.

Another minute or two later, and plop! Out he came:

Holy cow!! He was huge!

How the heck did he fit that far up in that tiny space!?

He seemed none the worse for wear, but was very sluggish and slow to move for about 15 minutes. I put him in a shady garden patch and checked on him every few minutes. And then - he was gone.

I have no idea where a frog that big would come from. We do have a lake nearby, but 6 or 7 blocks seems like a long distance to come. Perhaps our raingardens are wetter than we thought!