Thursday 20 July 2023

Chickens, programming, and pork

Realizing time was getting away from me, I spend an afternoon in the garden and finished planting the corn block.(the rows on the right) The sunflower block is next.(The big area at the back) 

I've gotten back to working on my programming project. It's a record keeper for my chickens and garden that might later expand to a general external-brain type dealio. Not much to show yet as I'm working mostly on the background connections but it's slowly coming together. 

In the middle of May I put 4 of my best eggs in the basement fridge (more consistent temp) to test longevity. It's been two months so it seemed a good time to test one. I cracked it open and found it to be just as fresh and lovely as if it were yesterday. The yolk was high and the whites still had the thicker portion that usually gets watery quite a while before eggs get close to going off. This told me my original timeline of 4 eggs from May to be opened July thru October will not be enough and I picked another four to go towards science. I mean this one also went towards breakfast but, you get it. 

The girls are currently in summer production mode which means I'm pretty consistently getting 3 eggs a day.(Henrietta hasn't been laying since she got sick so that one egg may have been a fluke.) I noticed this week that Isabella's legs had started to get swollen and flakey and the others were starting to look a bit flakey too so I started treating them all for scaley leg mites. It basically involves slathering their legs in vaseline every so often for a few weeks. They don't like it and I basically have to ambush them at bed time so they're too groggy to complain too much, but their legs are starting to look better already. The extra grease it great for their feathers too but does mean that the dirt clings to them more causing the chickens to look either gorgeously silky smooth... or completely filthy, depending on where in the cycle of treatment they are. 

From the left: Jennifer in her new blue dress, Isabella, Henrietta, Romeo, and Kelly

While treating their legs I noticed how bad Jennifer's rump was getting. She seems to not be able to say no to Romeo and it's putting a strain on her feathers. I got a chicken saddle/apron for her and just put it on yesterday. Hopefully that will give him something to hold to and she won't get injured. Thankfully none of the other chickens seemed to take too much offence to it. I wouldn't want her to get picked on over protective gear.

A vertical freezer FULL of porkMy rough count of quantity and weights.

Last night we picked up our 1/2 hog from Yellow Brick Road Farm. It was a little earlier than expected but our pasture/woodlot raised pig was at size so there was really no point in waiting another two months. I'm so very grateful to be living in a community with these opportunities. We are now very "meat rich" as Jennifer says with OVER 90 LBS of roasts and chops and ground meat and sliced pork belly and more. We decided against any additional processing this time, but next time we may pay the extra for bacon, sausages, or cured hams... or maybe by then I'll be set up enough to give the curing and smoking it a go myself. :-)

That's all for now.... I think. :-)  Until next time I'll just leave you with this:

Monday 10 July 2023

Food, Weather, and Chickens

Thyme growing wild in our yard.

There's a lot of different types of plants in our yard that I just really couldn't ID when it was mowed so short last year. I'm very glad I mostly let it go this year while mowing high in the areas I needed walkable. This leaves a large portion(over and around the septic) that I don't really use right now with beautiful long grasses that swirl and sway, and the rest has plenty of beautiful flowers.  

Peanut butter and oatmeal raisin cookiesHomemade salsa and some yogurt

I did some baking so we had cookies for games night, and this week I've also made some salsa which goes great with yogurt and cornchips. This experiment with salsa has shown me that I'm not really interested in canning salsa. Diced tomatoes and tomato paste are the ways I use tomatoes right now and I just mix up pasta sauce or salsa as needed. This is working well so far so there isn't really any reason to change that just because I'll be growing the tomatoes. 

The only downside to that plan is the fact tomato paste is not can-able with home systems. I could freeze some but I don't want to trust too much to freezers so I'm thinking about canning diced tomatoes and some tomato juice, and then dehydrating a bunch of the tomatoes and all the skins into tomato powder that can be reconstituted into tomato paste or sauce when needed.

Tomatoes are next years project anyway. Although it's been lovely weather temperature wise, the winds and rain have matched my expectations which make outdoor tomatoes unwise. Once the greenhosue is set up, the plan in there is tomatoes and cucumbers all summer and leafy veg and roots all winter. 

The sun is surprisingly strong here. IDK if it's a lack of smog or just the slightly different angle or the ocean making weird clouds or what but,,, It'll be 17C and cloudy so I'll walk outside to do some work and the sun THROUGH the clouds, will cause me to get very hot. Even the chickens hide sometimes even though the official humidex equals the official temperature. I know it's the sun because walking over to the shade is enough to feel the cool air. 

I'm trying to figure out how to work around this and I think the best bet is to just ignore what the temperature suggests to me and just avoid the sun. Work outdoors in the morning and then indoors in the afternoon. I must say it has been nice not needing the heater overnight anymore. Now that everything is reliably over 13C I don't need the heater to avoid waking up cold. I kinda felt silly using the heater at night in MAY but I need to remember that the climate here is very different and that I'm also not used to having control over the heat so I don't really know when they shut it off in our old place in Ontario.

I was tired of grocery store lettuce going off in the fridge because it was always too cold or too damp or too dry or who even knows, SO I had an idea to keep the lettuce on the countertops. I figgured since i could successfully root grocery store celery in water before planting it outside, I might as well try with the lettuce too. Even if it doesn't root, the heads seem heathy and green after a day and a half so I'm seeing this as a win. 

Another win, Henrietta seems to be completely recovered from her illness and has laid her first egg since going eggless last month. It has a white dust coating on it which is what happens when an egg stays inside the chicken longer than necessary, but that sometimes happens when a chicken is nervous. That said it is a full sized egg and she's looking well. I'm very glad Henrietta recovered her egg production. It means I caught the issue early enough. I want to treat some flaky skin on Isabella's feet, but everyone is bright eye'd and bushy tailed. One bonus I wasn't expecting from her health scare, is that Henrietta still lets me pick her up! So I do, and give her head skritches. Maybe one day soon the rest will see me as not-scary.