Pasty Butt!!

So, this is batch number five of chicks for us and a first pasty butt experience (also known as paste vent).

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What’s pasty butt you ask? Well, in a nut shell, pasty butt is when a chick poops and the poop gets dried on their down plugging up their vent (butt) . Seems like a simple thing but if goes untreated, it could be fatal.

Apparently, this is common in mailed chicks and is caused by stress.  This would explain why it is our first time experiencing this. All of our other chicks where locally bought.  Another cause can be over heating or under heating the brooder.  Chicks are sensitive to heat (or lack of) and get stressed out easily.  More uncommon causes can be viral or bacterial infections or improper feed, all leading to diarrhea, causing the poop to plug up its tiny little butt.  This is a fatal because their butt is literally plugged up and elimination can not happen.

The way to clean up pasty butt is pretty straight forward.  You run its little vent under warm water, making sure its warm and not hot or cold, gently softening the dried up poop.  Yes, you will have to touch chicken poop but chances are, if you are a chicken owner, a little chicken poop on your hands is no longer an issue. It is super essential not to rush the process and pull on any of the dried poo.  Chicks are delicate.  You can rip their skin or worse, you can cause intestinal damage.  Patience is the key.  So today in the morning, I spent about 10 minutes standing in my bathroom with a chick under running water.  The poor thing was confused at first but then I think he started to enjoy it.

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After the vent is visible (pink and puckered up), I dried the chick with a heated towel, wrapped her in a warmed up blanket stuck her in my coat (next to my chest) while taking her back to the brooder.  The down was still pretty wet so I put her right under the heat lamp and the little booger took a big poop!  Success.  About 15 minutes later, I checked on the chick and it was impossible to tell which one got a bath, all 15 were back to being cute, yellow and fuzzy.

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So according to the book of knowledge–Google and Storey’s guide to raising poultry, this could happen again.  And if it does, the same process should be repeated and and a cooked egg yolk should be added to the chicks diet for  day or two.  If it still occurs, you can put a little bit of vasiline or antibacterial ointment around the vent down to prevent poop from sticking to them.  Avoid oils, as they can become rancid and cause infection.

A very serious problem (if left untreated) with an easy fix–I’ll take it.

The chicks have grown a lot in their first week.  They are officially 9 days old and already have their wing feathers.  Pretty soon, their cutie-pie fuzzy down will be replaced with white feathers and they will go through a few weeks of ugly duckling experience.

On a separate note, today is day two of our broody hen Debbie sitting on a clutch (7) of eggs. If all goes well, we hope to hatch a few chicks of our own by April 24-ish.  We had a rooster up until this last weekend and hope to witness a chicken brooding eggs. We had to sell the rooster to avoid angry neighbors.

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Thanks for reading! Stay updated on the our journey with raising Jumbo Cornish Cross meat birds and our broody hen Debbie in her natural element.

 

Soil Block Party

It seems that the theme of my blog (and life) lately has been about not being able to reach set goals on the homestead. There is so much that we want to do but there is just too little time!  We got a lot of chores done last weekend–some were a little later than usual but I think we just need to accept the fact that with almost four kids, certain deadlines are not possible.  We aren’t sitting around dwelling about our tardiness, rather learning from our experiences.  Being a homesteader is an art on its own and we are still learning!

Here is a picture summary of us finally using our soil blockers to make soil blocks, for our vegetable starts.  This is our first attempt and I really hope that we sprout something.  We made more starts than we need in hopes of having a plant-start sale soon, as a little fundraiser for our homestead.  The kids are stoked and to be honest, so are we.

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baby chicks

The Duck Dilema

I want ducks! I really do, but Paul brought up a good point, our property is pretty small and ducks will turn anything into a mud puddle. We had plans to build them a secure area with a pool, and we still might, but for now, I think we will be duck-less.  I have mixed emotions about this but for now, I think it is for the best.

We still want a different egg and meat source other than chicken, so after a bit of research, we decided to give quail a try. Quail are a common backyard bird that have many benefits on a homestead.

Quail are smaller and quieter birds.  They require significantly less room (1 square foot per bird, vs. chickens at 3-4 square feet per bird) and quite content living in a caged hutch.  I had reservations about keeping any critter “caged” up, but apparently, quail do much better in such habitats.  They don’t free range without running or flying away and they can actually do more harm to themselves in a big space.  They tend to fly into things and if their habitat is too tall, they can break their necks.  Apparently, they are pretty low on the totem pole of poultry intelligence.  It is common to keep quail in a green house and most likely, they will be one of the occupants of our green house.

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quail

According to the available literature, quail eat less per body mass ratio and are very healthy sturdy birds.  They do not roost or lay their eggs in a nesting box (they pretty much lay where ever they feel like) and start to lay at 6 weeks (versus a chicken that usually starts laying at 6 months).  Male quail do not crow, so keeping both sexes is possible in a backyard setting (no pissed of neighbors is a good thing) and allows for fertilized eggs and hatching of eggs.

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baby chicks

Quail eggs taste similar to chickens eggs, although about three times smaller.  They make an adorable  egg salad or egg drop soup.  Quail meat is lean and tender.  One quail is a serving size for one adult meal.

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qauil meat

*All pictures are courtesy of Mother Earth News and Wikipedia.

I am looking forward to welcoming quail chicks to our homestead.  They are super cute and make the cutest little chirping noise.  It will be fun to have the kids collect teeny-tiny eggs.

Progress in the making

December flew by, the holidays are over and its already January 26th! Oi!! Time is rushing and we are starting to feel things heat up on our to do list.  We have chickens to put in the freezer and a green house to build (the ground has officially been broken).

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A few weeks ago, I cooked our last two birds…soup was good and the cutlets were enjoyed by all!  Our kids tend to do well with minced meat the most, so our options tend to be meatballs or cutlets, which ultimately is the same thing only cutlets are fried on a skillet.  We have six broilers that will be harvested for spring eating, and a batch of new birds will go into the brooder hopefully by early February.  We are choosing a different breed this time, Cornish Cross. These are the most popular meat birds because they are HUGE.  They are ready for harvest at 8 weeks, versus the Jersey Giants we have raised in the past and took 8 months to mature

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There lots of pros and cons to raising these birds.  People tend to love them or hate them. We are curious and will give them a try.  Here are some pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Mature and ready to harvest 6-8weeks
  • Excellent foragers
  • Very meaty
  • If kept properly. very sturdy and hardy birds

Cons:

  • Tend to over feed, must restrict to avoid joint and heart problems
  • Intolerant of heat
  • And apparently, poop like no other!

It seems that all the cons mentioned in the literature tend to be upkeep issues such as over feeding and lots of poop.  All of these are very manageable if you are on a small scale.  I hope we that we wont find these to be as much of a burden.  As for being heat intolerant, Paul and I are aware of this have the chickens scheduled to be kept and harvested before and after it is too hot.  We hope that this breed will fit our needs as the feed to meat ratios are excellent.  I read that some of the dual purpose birds (who take a bit longer to mature) are more superior in flavor then the Cornish Cross. We will have to judge for ourselves.  Our Jerseys were delicious but it took too long for them to mature, not being very economical for us to raise them. We will see if we can taste the difference.

The green house is very much in its infantile stage, everything is purchased now its is just the matter of putting it together, which seems easier than it really is when there are three kids and full time jobs involved–we can do it!!   Once we start, I will have updates on our FB page!  The green house will aid us in raising our meat birds and also giving our starts a better chance of being a success.  As of now, we have not been successful in planting our own starts and utilize a farmers market.  We really want to learn to be more reliant on our seeds and starts–wish us luck!

For Christmas, Santa brought Paul and I soil blockers.  Special tools to form soil in making little cubes for seedlings.  We got a few sizes for different vegetables, we are itching to get started!  We also hope to have a little plant “garage” sale. So far, we are going to have strawberry starts, succulents and salad starts.  I think the kids would have fun having a plant stand–versus the lemonade stand.

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On a another note, we have been eating from our pantry and are getting pretty sick of zucchini salad, so if anyone local wants to try some, there is a lot! It is very good as a salad or relish, but there is just so much of it.

 

Thanks for reading!! We’ll keep you updated.

 

2015 Was A Great Year!

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2015 has been kind to us! We had an plentiful growing season, healthy children and a happy homestead. We worked and played hard, dreamed big, accomplished lots and planned a whole bunch for 2016. We hope to ring in the new year with a green house that has been in the works for a long time, which will enable us to do so much more.

Some of our goals and aspirations are:

  1. Spend more time at home with our kids
  2. Learn a new art, craft or skill each month, starting January with sewing
  3. Improve and master our home-school skills and abilities–make everything a lesson
  4. Build and utilize our green house
  5. Build a duck habitat and finally get ducks
  6. Expand our garden beds
  7. Simplify our lives by getting rid of 20 or so things each month–starting in January
  8. Get our mushroom patch inoculated and productive
  9. Have more visitors–we love it when people want to come and play with the chickens and learn the art of homesteading!
  10. Be happy!! Live life for today–since there is no guarantee for tomorrow! 1234451_901559219885877_5168660438596806548_n

Happy New Year!  We wish you a good, healthy and happy 2016!

Thanks for reading!

Happy Everything!

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!! Happy Everything from our family to yours. Thank you for joining us on our journey to being self sustainable–it has been a great year on our homestead! We wish you health, joy, happiness and chickens!!  We are truly blessed!!IMG_20151224_064057 IMG_20151224_063912 IMG_20151224_064008 IMG_20151224_064021

Egg Drop Soup

Egg Drop Soup a la Lina

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This is one of my most favorite soups that is super easy to make! I don’t add starch–I like the thickened version but we try to cut on carbs.

2 quarts chicken broth

1 tsp grated ginger (you can use powdered ginger, but it’s just not the same)

3-4 grated garlic cloves

1-2 tbs soy sauce

1/2 cup of frozen corn or canned corn

A handful (package) of enoki mushrooms (can be found in an Asian store) or white mushrooms

Zucchini noodles (optional)

2-3 beaten eggs or 5-6 quail eggs per person

Bring the broth to boil, add the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, corn and enoki mushrooms. While the soup is boiling, whisk in the beaten eggs, or if you are using quail eggs, individually drop in all the eggs (poaching them). When ready to serve, place the desired amount of zucchini noodles in a plate and ladle the hot soup over. Enjoy! If you want to thicken it with starch, make a rue and add to soup prior to eggs.

Sage, Ham and Spanish Lentils Soup

Sage Ham and Spanish Lentils Soup

lentils

This is similar to the split pea just a different legumes!

We also get our Spanish lentils from Palouse Brand of Amazon!  Again, we get nothing from Amazon or Palouse Brand from advertising their product.  We simply love the quality and how local they are!  They come in 5 pounds or more, initially, I was overwhelmed with the idea of having 5 pounds of lentils but rest assured, it really is not that much.

Palouse Lentils

2 cups of lentils

4 quarts of broth

2 medium potatoes (finely diced)

1 small onion (finely diced)

2 carrots (finely diced)

Ham (diced) about a cup

Sage powder or a few fresh sprigs

Salt/Pepper to taste

In your soup pan, saute onions, carrots and ham, add broth, lentils, potatoes and sage.  Cook until lentils are tender (but not falling apart)…voila dinner is done! Garnish with Parmesan cheese and devour.  Easy, hearty and delicious!

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One more from Palouse: Garbanzo Bean and Meatball Soup

Garbanzo Bean and Meatball Soup

 

Palouse Garbanzos

 
This soup was often the byproduct of my mom making cabbage rolls. She would have more meat and not enough cabbage, so she would roll the meat into bite size meatballs and make this soup. Two meals in one process. It makes me wonder if she prepared “extra” meat on purpose.

Ground beef, about a pound or so

1 handful of rice

1 small onion, ground

2 cans cooked or canned garbanzo beans

1 bunch of cilantro

2-3 medium potatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the onion, meat, rice and salt/pepper together, make meatballs, set aside. Boil water and potatoes, this will become your broth, so season it with salt and bay leaf (whatever spice you add to make broth would be welcome here). Once boiling, drop the meatballs in one at a time. Let them cook, and come up to the top. Add the cooked/canned garbanzos and cilantro. Let the soup simmer for an hour to marry the flavors. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Split Pea Soup: An oldie but still a goody


Split Pea Soup

peas

Palouse Brand split peas

Growing up, we ate this soup often.  I like it with ham, bacon, vegan or vegetarian (with cream). In my opinion, this soup should be thick and chunky.  I like to mix yellow and green peas together. It makes the color richer and the dish more appetizing.

We are big supporters of our local split pea producers, Palouse Brand. They sell on Amazon and ship free with Prime. We get no financial compensation for advertising for them, I just genuinely love their product and I love the fact that they are Washington locals!

Here is the recipe I use.  Add what you like and omit what you don’t.  Proportion depends on the desired thickness and amount of soup you wish to make.  This soup can be frozen.  I usually make enough for at least two meals and a few lunches.  When the soup is super hot, I pour it into pint canning jars and tighten the lid, the heat from the soup will seal the jar allowing for it to live in your refrigerator a bit longer (a couple of weeks).  But remember, that does not mean it is canned, so don’t leave these at or above fridge temperature

Finely diced 2 carrots and 1 small onion

Smoked ham bone (shank) with some meat, trim the meat and put aside

Yellow and green dry split peas.  I usually use 2 cups of peas for 4 quarts of broth.

4 quarts of broth

A bunch of cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or crumbled feta cheese

In a stock pot, cook onions and ham shank, add broth, salt/pepper, carrots and peas. Cook until peas are very tender. Take out the shank and put in the meat (from the shank).  We like our split pea chunky but my sister always blends her split soup–at this point, it is entirely your personal preference. Garnish with sour cream or feta.