Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It was a Dark and Stormy Night......

Thanks to Hurricane Isaac,  rain has been steadily falling for a few days along the coast and it does not look to be stopping any time soon.  Earlier this evening, Jeff had moved some of our younger hens in with the older flock.  Since they had not gone into the coop before dark, after dinner he ventured out into the rain, thunder and lightning to make sure everyone was cooped up and the door shut to keep out the wet.   Armed with only a lighter ( who needs a proper light in a chicken coop at night in a thunderstorm?)  he stepped inside the coop and bent down to make sure the new girls were no longer huddled outside by the door. As the flame sputtered to life in his right hand, something sleek, long and fast slithered past his left.  " Babe!  We got a snake in the chicken coop!!", I heard him yell.  Now, Keep in mind it is raining, there is constant thunder and lightning- However, myself, Jeff and our 15 yr old son jumped into action, donning important safety gear ( flip flops) and grabbing essential equipment ( smart phones for the flashlight app and camera and umbrella) to fight the -assumed poisonous until proven otherwise- deadly intruder. 

Once at the coop, armed with my flashlight app and Jeff with his real flashlight we leaned in the door carefully keeping an eye on the snake as it climbed ( yes climbed) up over the top of an enclosed nest box and tried to reach the roost where the chickens were.  As we are looking we are rather calmly ( I think) discussing the shape of the snakes head and trying to discover what kind it actually is.  Our first thought was that it was probably a rat snake, but it chose that particular time to climb its 5 foot plus body down the nest box and head for the door.  Jeff made a valiant effort  to stop it before it got past, but it slipped by.  Dashing around to the side where he saw it headed we waited in united ambush ( Me, smart phone in hand , Our son Allen armed with an ax and Jeff with the shovel.   It wasn't more than a few seconds before the beady eyed head emerged followed by a rapidly moving body right towards our position. 

Jeff had seen a newly hatched chick the day before that had mysteriously disappeared...

Now the snake had returned looking to fill it's belly again.  Unfortunately it had the worst possible timing.  When it's dark, raining, and there is thunder and lightning this family tends to use the shovel first and ask questions later.   

Not a good night to be a yellow rat snake in a chicken coop...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Braided Egg Bread

 I always enjoy trying out a new recipe, especially one that
will make good use of all the eggs we have around here
 from our beloved chickens. That joy doubles when my
desire to cook coincides with someone saying something
along the lines of, " I'll clean if you cook".
Yes!  ( Insert mad scientist laugh here)
 Because now I can simply concentrate on adding
 ingredients and the fine particulars of mixing, kneading,
or greasing and if the kitchen blows up- I don't have to clean it up!

Unfortunately, today was not one of those stellar days, so I was stuck with cleaning up my own mess.
However, I didn't let that put a damper on my mood as I set my gaze upon a picture of my future creation.

Braided Egg Bread
Braided Egg Bread!  Isn't that just gorgeous?  No, it's not the one I made, that picture is further down, but I wanted to get you in the frame of mind I was in when I first saw it, and then found the recipe for it.  This makes 2 regular sized loaves or one Huge one which would be great for a family holiday get-together, as I discovered when I tested it.  I should read directions better....

Here is the recipe: 

2 (.25 ounce) packages of active dry yeast (5 teaspoons if it's in a jar)
1/2 cup water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 cups hot milk
1/2 cup white sugar
                                                     1/2 cup butter
                                                     2 teaspoons salt
                                                    1/2 cup water (yes another one, but room temp will do)
                                                      5 eggs (yay!)
                                                      11 cups all purpose flour
                                                      1 egg (yes, one more for later)
                                                      2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)

1) In large mixing bowl, proof yeast by adding to one cup warm water.

2) In medium bowl, combine hot milk, sugar, butter, salt,  and 1/2 cup water and cool to 110 degrees.

3) In small bowl, slightly beat 5 eggs, then add to cooled mix mixture. Add milk mixture to yeast mixture.
    ( Feel like a mad scientist yet?  Go ahead, laugh, I won't tell...)

4) Add 2 cups flour and beat until smooth.  Slowly add remaining flour until stiff dough forms.  Knead on    floured surface for 10 minutes, only 5 if you are using a bread hook. ( Wimp!)

5)  Place in a lightly greased large glass or plastic bowl.  Turn dough over to grease both sides.  Cover and let rise in warm dark place until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.

6)  Punch down, cover and let rise again until double, about 30 minutes.

7)  Punch down again, and form into six equal parts (or three for a loaf big enough for Shrek). Form each part into 20 inch long roll.  Braid rolls on a large greased cookie sheet.  Cover and let rise until doubled.

8) Lightly beat remaining egg and brush over loaf.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake in preheated 350 degree F ( 175C) oven for about 55 minutes until nicely browned.

   I wasn't paying attention to that part of the directions that stated this was for making 2 loaves and ended up making one large  Shrek size one.       See that picture above?
That is a regular 16 inch long cookie sheet. That picture is BEFORE it was left to double in size the last time...

This is after it is done cooking. Ahhhh smells wonderful!!  However, notice
you can no longer see the cookie sheet. And it is sitting on top of the stove.  It takes up one WHOLE side of the stove.  Which is why I said it's perfect for Holiday family gatherings as one large loaf.

It does taste wonderful, and now my guys can cut off a braided section and make a monster sandwich.  Let me know how it comes out for you!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chicken Coops

I love new ideas for Chicken coops and I am always searching the web for fun ideas! 
Here are a few I have found lately that I thought were great for inspiration.  What does your coop look like??

Very Modern and fun! 
More info @ :  www.Nogg.co

Don't think you have room in your backyard for chickens?    How about under the slide of your kids' jungle gym?  If you are just wanting a few hens this is a GREAT idea!

Got an old vehicle sitting around taking up space? With a little elbow grease, a few cans of spray paint and a little wood and walla!  A great coop that has been made out of recycled materials !

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's getting warmer

It is getting warmer!  Summer is just around the corner  and even though it will be easy enough for us to head to the beach, it won't be quite so easy for the chickens.  Already the 3 month old chicks are finding ways to cool off and relax.  Sometimes that means digging in the dirt early in the morning, and then slipping underneath the cool of the coop  for the hottest part of the day.

No matter what the weather is there is always at least one character finding a unique way to relax and let it all hang out...  For example, today's award for " Letting it all hang out" goes to...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Colored Cochins!

Though you can only see the one cuddled up to mom
in this photo, we have 6 little guys running around in
our big coop with the adults.  As their feathers come in we are seeing some very strange but interesting markings and colors develop.  Once they get a bit older I will post some pictures to document the feather patterns.  But already I'm wondering what is in the genetic background....

 Speaking of surprise genetics, this blue mottled cochin  chick is growing and doing well.   I"m curious to see if the mottling will continue or if it will disappear with the next molt and leave us a solid blue bird.

Likewise with the black mottled cochin chick.  Will the white feathers become black?  I"m hoping not.  I"m really loving the look of the mottling and would love to see this carried on to further generations.

We have our eyes on a few others that are becoming increasingly interesting as they grow......

Looks Exactly like  his daddy Big Bo
Beautiful color, hoping it stays.
These barred feathers are going to be interesting when this chick is grown!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mr. Bo Blue

Last September, I had shared a couple pictures of Bo Blue, one of our Large Fowl Cochin, also called Giant /Standard to  distinguish from the smaller sized bantam cochins..  We had no idea what to expect when the buff colored feathers started appearing on his chest.  Now in his adult plumage, I thought I would put the pictures all together here so others could enjoy watching him grow and see the changes as we have.   Obviously my favorite Roo with his wonderfully sweet personality, and beautiful coloration I am even more excited to watch Bo pass along these great traits to future generations.  So far, I have spotted at least 3 chicks that will have the same type of coloring.  Pictures of them will be posted soon.

Here is Bo Blue at 2 months.  Hard to believe he started out completely blue, but soon he started to show some buff feathers on his chest, then wings then it just kept going.


Here is Bo blue at 6 months.  Amazing what a change in only 4 months makes!  He has the  most amazing feathering on his legs and feet and I can't wait to see what kind of babies we get from him.

 Bo Blue at one year old, enjoying an evening stroll with the ladies through the back yard.  He has kept his amazing feathering on his feet and legs.  Already we are seeing his coloring and feathering passed down to future generations.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Growing up Cochin!

Black mottled Cochin chick and blue Cochin chick

One of the fun things when hatching chicks is that
 sometimes you can look at the parents and know
exactly what to expect.  For instance, the blue Cochin chick on the right is a perfect copy of it's mother just like we hoped for.  But the mottled on the left, was a surprise!!  We LOVE surprises!!

Blue mottled Cochin chick on left, partridge mix on right

Add to that surprise a blue mottled chick too!  None of the parents are mottled, and though I had seen hints it was in the genetics somewhere, I hadn't expected to have any mottled ourselves.  These two are definitely keepers for the future!

We also ended up with some Wyandotte X Brahma crosses.  Although, I have to admit some of them are showing some interesting coloring and  feather patterns themselves.

 This one and the one to the right are the same and  has already been dubbed the moniker
"Pretty Boy Floyd"    We are pretty sure it's a future rooster, but he is our #1 favorite for color  and patterns at this time out of our crosses.
Though he looks headless from this angle, it's a better picture to see the barring in his feathers.  We can't wait to see what he looks like once his adult plumage comes in!

This little partridge colored one also has some interesting barring on it's feathers as well.

Some of the others

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Relaxing Evenings

      One of our favorite things this time of year is sitting outside in the evening enjoying our gardens, chickens, dogs and the wonderful weather.  Of course, we are not the only ones who enjoy this time, all the animals seem to look forward to it and enjoy it as well.

   Bailey is a Yorkie rescue  that we adopted a couple of months ago.  Though she is used to running around the pens full of chickens, this was her first night out lounging with the chickens.   Only slightly curious, she was content to simply lay around and watch them until one would wander close then she would jump up and come running to me LOL.

Big Bo, our Cochin rooster, is bigger than our small dogs, but he has the sweetest nature and makes for an awesome rooster ambassador. 

After a late afternoon spent in the yard, even the chickens are so relaxed they are ready to go to bed early.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Got Broodies??

 Things don't always go according to plans, especially with chickens.  For instance, last year none of our hens felt the need to go broody and hatch out chicks.  So, we decided earlier this year to use the incubator to hatch around 40 chicks thinking we would use some to replace older stock, some to expand our flock,  and the others would be placed in the freezer.  All 40 chicks are filling out beautifully and growing well.

  However, sometime last week between the warmer temperatures, the sound of morning irrigation, and pollen swirling through the air, there came a mystical shift in the attitudes of my hens and suddenly almost half of them have decided now is the time for motherhood.   These are three who share one nest of around 21 eggs, and they will take turns getting something to eat and drink before returning to keep the eggs warm.

 These two are in the same coop as those above, but sharing another nest as they couldn't fit into the first one.  I"m not sure how many eggs are in there, somewhere around 12 last time I could get a peek to check.

The madness has spread to another coop where at last check, 8 eggs were being safely guarded by squawking and feather puffing by this mom to be. 

Luckily, the chicks 'we' hatched have a coop all to themselves to go to so all the new chicks hatched by the hens will get to stay with them.  Phew!  Anybody  need some chicks? 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gotta Love Spring!

Some days I am simply amazed at the amount of eggs we get from our hens.  Matter of fact, we get so many we simply can't eat them all.  Those that don't get eaten or sold end up getting cooked and fed  back to the hens and any new chicks we have running about.

This basket has been filled a few times recently and for fun I asked some friends how many eggs they thought it was.  There were many guesses and one person even got within 3 eggs of being right.  How many do you suppose there are?

 Is this not the CUTEST idea?  I couldn't resist it when I saw it and I plan on making this for my table for our Easter dinner. 

I thought this purse was too cute!  Though I am not the type that collects purses, I might be willing to carry this one around.  How can you not look at it and smile?  Definitely one of those things that make life a little more fun!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chicken Fashion for Southern Belles in Georgia

Though Chicken Saddles  are a practical part of keeping hens healthy during breeding season by protecting them from feather loss from roosters claws, that does not mean they can't be colorful and fun!  
Not only do I enjoy making and selling them,  but it is even more enjoyable when customers send in pictures of their chickens wearing them !!!  

 Suzanne Bailey of Sandy Creek Farm in Brooklet,Ga.  sent a few pictures of her girls wearing our chicken saddles while hard at work :)

Top Level Management
At the office,  gossiping around the water cooler
Climbing the corporate ladder.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chicken Saddle Give Away!

What is the well dressed chicken wearing this spring?

 So glad you asked!   With Spring time comes all those bright beautiful garden colors we love:  pinks, blues. oranges and purples.  That is the inspiration for this years line of Chicken Saddles or Chicken Aprons.  Not only do they protect your hens from loosing feathers during breeding season, but they look great and are machine washable.  Generally, I make these in assorted colors and patterns for $7 each.

I am going to be giving away a set of three saddles every month for the months of April, May, June and July.  

To enter for the give away simply spread the word by linking to Cochin Coop News   and leave a comment letting me know you did.

Winners will be announced the last day of the month.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rooster Report March 3, 2012

Jail Bird-  Rowdy Boy Tibbs
 A rooster known as Rowdy boy Tibbs has been caught and is being held in the local jail on three charges of aggravated assault.  Officials say that according to witnesses,  the assaults occurred on three separate days within the last week and involved the same victim each time.
Defense attorneys were said to be scrambling around eggs-citedly  as they prepared  to go before the judge this afternoon.
 Family and friends report   that the female  victim was uninjured during the violent attacks.

First March Arrival

 In other news, the first chicks of the season began arriving today.  The front runner was a light Brahma / silver laced mix who was quickly followed by others as well as some giant Cochin.  At last report all appeared healthy and were busy jockeying for the most comfortable positions next to the windows with the best views.

Breaking Ground in Backyard Acres

And finally, after months of stalls and delays caused by finances, labor negotiations and Husband approval, ground was broken yesterday as the Chicken Little Corp.  began the clearing and clean up of land slated for a new development in the upscale community of Backyard Acres.  Sources said contractors were committed to using recycled materials during construction and hoped revenue would be enough to continue the company's sustainable living adventure.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Turn on the heat!

Despite the chilly temperatures that appeared out of nowhere, the chickens have determined it is time to lay eggs, and indeed they have been.  All this Egg-citement has caused incubators to be pulled out of the closet and cleaned in anticipation of many new chicks being added this spring.  I also spent some time cleaning out the brooders and making sure we have a place to put them once they arrive.  Safely tucked out of the way in the front bedroom,  are the two incubators with a small  brooder in between.  The brooder will make a great place for the eggs to hatch and chicks to dry before being moved to the bigger brooder and will allow me to quickly start new batches of eggs.
Middle: brooder without heated top installed at the moment

Now that the first incubator is full, the heat is on and we have 21 days of patiently waiting to see what will arrive.  There should be chicks for everyone in the family to enjoy as there are eggs from different varieties of Cochins- Blue, black, splash, and gold laced.  We also have eggs from our light Brahma and Silver laced wyandotte.
Grow babies, Grow!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Spring Cleaning

I"m not quite sure what happened to winter this year as it seems to have passed us by.  Here it is February and my plants are all blooming and green shoots are growing everywhere!   We took the opportunity of the great weekend weather and went to work spring cleaning our biggest coop that houses our Standard Cochins.

After a couple hours of shoveling out the old shavings, dusting for any pests, and adding some new bedding the cleaning was almost done.  Only thing left was to add some new nesting boxes as our chicks from last spring have finally started laying.  I'm excited about using the wire baskets for the new nest boxes as they should last a long time and be extremely easy to clean.  Both are huge pluses.   The girls seem to really like the new nest boxes too.  In less than 12 hours we had 2 eggs waiting on us
One coop down, two to go....