Friday, March 22, 2013

Chicks Right At Home

I finally got the real proof of our building adventures on video, and off the video camera, quite a feat if I do say so myself. Here's a little snippet from the beginning of the chicken coop building on March 10th. Since then we've gotten the roof attached but we still need to finish the inside, attach the metal roof, and paint it. I wish the weather wasn't so cruddy this weekend, but I'm sure we'll get it finished soon.

Today I upgraded the chicks living quarters to give them a little more space and so I could raise their heat lamp more to keep them from being to hot. We have an extra dog kennel that I'm hoping will help contain the chicks more as they start to fly. I may have to get a piece of chicken wire to cover the other part of the brooder. They're growing so fast!

I was also able to get some video of the chicks today eating some fresh fruits and veggies and one of the chicks took her first dust bath. How cute!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Has Sprung!

Happy Spring!

I hope for some of you today brought sunshine and flowers, because for us here on Flathead Lake, MT it marked the beginning of windy rainstorm season. Mother Nature definitely didn't disappoint. The morning was grey and uneventful but sometime mid-afternoon the temperature got up to 55 degrees and a huge grey cloud was headed straight for us. I was cooking dinner when it reached us with winds and heavy rain. It must have been Bomber's first rainstorm because he curled up at my feet, shaking, as I chopped potatoes for spicy fish and potato soup. In less than half an hour the storm had passed and everything was back to normal.

Since I knew I wasn't spending today outside, I decided to start canning season off early! Asparagus was super cheap at the store, that never happens, so I bought at least 5 pounds of it. I froze most and decided to pickle the rest. I used the Pickled Asparagus recipe in Canning For A New Generation as a loose reference for liquid amounts because I didn't have an interest in making pickling spice.

I started out with 1 pound, 6oz of asparagus with the ends cut off, but not quite short enough yet to go in our jars. I mixed a brine using the liquid measurements that the book suggested for 1 pound of asparagus (forgetting I had 1.5 times that much) and ended up only having enough for half of my jars. Whoops! I had to scramble to whip up another batch of brine for the remaining jars. If I had mixed it all as one batch here is what I would have had:

1 cup rice vinegar
4 cups white vinegar (because I didn't have enough of the rice vinegar)
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/3 tbsp salt
2 tsp dill seed
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove per jar

2 jars have a half rice vinegar/half white vinegar brine and 2 jars have an all white vinegar brine. There was 1 jar that overlapped the two different brines.

Boil the brine, pack the jars, fill the jars with enough brine to cover the spears. Process as you would any other pickled veggie (I did these in a hot water bath for 10 minutes).

Throughout this whole process I couldn't help but think of an asparagus roll hors d'oeuvres recipe that I used to help my grandmother make when I was a child for her bridge club. They had a strong curry flavor so the entire time I was canning I kept getting the urge to put curry in the jars. I decided to do it in the one jar of overlapping brine, I'll be sure to let you know how they turn out.

Manna's Asparagus Rolls

1 can green asparagus spears, well drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp chutney
1 loaf this sliced white sandwich bread with crusts removed (Wonder Bread!)

Use a rolling pin to roll each slice of bread lightly. Spread with dressing and seasoning. Place asparagus spear at one end of bread slice and roll up (leave edge down so it will stay rolled). Cut into halves or thirds. Cover with a damp towel or place in a tight plastic container until serving time. Makes approximately 3-41/2 dozen depending on how you cut them.

I think I need to find an excuse to make this recipe again...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Which came first?

The chicken or the egg?

I'm pretty sure that for most "Chicken Farmers", the coop came first. At least it probably should. We made our best effort and had the greatest intentions, but were only moderately successful in erecting our "Chicken Mansion" before the arrival of our chicks. Luckily, the chicks will be living in our spare bathroom until they are fully feathered, so we have a few more weeks to finish the coop.

I started by researching coop designs in books and online to find the one that I liked the best. There is a very basic design in the book How to Build Animal Housing. I think it was quite large, 10'x12', which is larger than we would need. I really, really loved the design of this coop posted on the community website Backyard Chickens. It has a separate area closed off for food storage, vents that lift up for easy cleaning, and lots of windows. I took these two designs and sketched what I wanted for our coop.

I wanted a door so I could walk in, a window for light, vents at the top for ventilation, and I wanted it to be insulated since we live in Montana and I want to promote egg laying in the cold winter months. The final design is an 8'x8' coop that is 6' high in front and 4' high in back. We found a 5' used door and used window that opens. We are going to seal the floor so that it doesn't rot and instead of having a separate closed off area for feed I'm going to get some lidded garbage cans to leave in the coop with feed and first aid supplies.

The coop is going to be placed in the front of our property where we can see it from the house and they will be close to the garden so they can work their magic on our soil. It's between two trees to provide wind protection in the winter and sun protection in the summer. The last piece we need is the fencing to protect them from our dogs.

The progress we made last weekend:

Here are the chicks in their temporary home under their heat lamp!
More on them tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spin-Off Magazine 2013

Check out the newest issue of Spin-Off Magazine (Spring 2013). Jacey Boggs wrote an article about Mail Order Fiber Dyers and there's a feature about me and my company BohoKnitterChic Spins!


Friday, March 1, 2013

X-Men Spin-A-Long

Join the BohoKnitterChic Spins X-Men Spin-A-Long! <-----click the link to go to my etsy shop.

What is a Spin-A-Long? A Spin-A-Long or SAL is a themed event where a group of spinners purchase the same fiber and spin-a-long together and compare results. You don't get to see the fiber ahead of time, but you do get to choose among several different colorways based on a specific inspiration. It's a fun surprise and a fun event. I hope you join!

The colorways for the X-Men Spin-A-Long are Wolverine, Storm, Mystique, and Magneto.

X-Men Spin A Long