Remember back in April I said something about having animals on our land? I was thinking maybe next summer we would get a few chickens and see how things went.
Providence has seen fit to let me find out sooner how things will go. A friend had to move away on short notice, and I ended up with her chickens! There were 21 hens and a rooster when I went to get them (they were young, so they all fit into one large travel dog kennel). 5 weeks later,having lost 2 (one to the neighbors’ dogs, the other to ???) they are getting pretty big, and we have gotten up to a dozen eggs a day in the last few days.
our first egg
This is the first egg we got from our young hens. You can see the colors in some of their feathers here as well. We have Rhode Island Reds, Speckled Sussex, and one Golden Laced Wyandotte. The rooster is a Speckled.
- Here you can see our handsome rooster.
- Peter named him Luke Skywalker
The chicken with many names
This beautiful hen has had many names. The previous owner named her Betty. When I brought her home she escaped from the pen 3 times the first day, so I called her Henny Houdinni. For a while the kids called her The Queen because she was the biggest and oldest (1 year old) of all the rest of the chickens. Lucy named her Sally Henny Penny, and I usually call her Henny.
- Here are a couple of our Speckled Sussex hens. Margaret named the one on the left Sparkles. The one on the right looks too much like the other hens to have her own name yet.
Rhode Island Red hen
This hen has no name. Neither do any of the 15 Rhode Island Reds. They all look alike. So I call them all “Chicken.”
- Pretty Red
Ain’t she purty?
- Right after we took this picture, the kids came in with another egg. They lay eggs all day, not just over night, apparently.
Mary Kochan has finished her four-part series on how to make and use a pantry in your home. This 4th part talks about saving money by copying favorite pre-packaged and restaurant foods using your own fresh ingredients. Much of the time it only takes a little more time to make a meal from scratch, and you are less likely to waste food if you put out the effort to make it yourself.
Mary mentions that as you build up your pantry and don’t have to go to the store more than every couple of weeks, you will notice that you miss fresh fruits and vegetables. This is when growing a garden comes in handy, as well as frequenting farmers’ markets and other local produce growers. Maybe you can trade a neighbor part of your chard harvest for part of her zuchini overflow. You will become creative in your cooking when you find yourself holding a huge bag of fresh spinach leaves!
The most important outcome of learning how to keep a pantry is the sense of gratitude you can cultivate. After all, everything ultimately comes from God, doesn’t it?
In this article, Mary Kochan explains how to incorporate your freezer into the pantry system. Mary’s system will help you stock up and save money by not having to go shopping as often as you do now. My Mother-In-Law has an upright freezer in her garage which she uses in this way, and her system works well.
At this point, our family is able to go shopping once a week. I do have some non-perishables stored and we could probably survive in our house for a month or so, if we lost power and were snowed in, as long as I start storing water. Mary says I can store enough to only have to go shopping once every 3 to six months and beyond! I am intrigued by this concept and will try it.
Right now we have our kitchen refrigerator and a medium-sized chest freezer. In a few weeks we will be receiving another, larger chest freezer. I am hoping that this summer we can grow a lot of food and freeze or dry the bulk of it. I would love to be able to go “shopping” in my own pantry all winter, and maybe save up for an upright freezer to replace the chest freezers eventually.
The fourth and final part to Mary’s pantry article will be coming out next week. I will be out of town until the end of the week, so I won’t blog about it until I get back. You can read the article when it comes out at Today’s Catholic Woman.
Here is part two of the article I posted about a few days ago.
This time Mary has gone into detail about how to organize a pantry, including creating inventory lists that your household’s shoppers can work from and how to establish minimum and maximum quantities. Sounds like something I can use. How about you? Enjoy!
Over at Catholic Exchange, Mary Kochan has posted an article on the practicality of having a pantry. Not the small closet in the kitchen we modern women think of – the one with cereal and mac-n-cheese for this week’s meals on its shelves. No – a real pantry like our mothers or grandmothers had – its shelves lined with jars of applesauce, green beans and beets she canned – and maybe grew – herself, the goods meant to last throughout the winter and spring until the next harvest.
This is an intriguing concept, one I hope to see revived in today’s homes. Mary’s article is the first of four, and I am eagerly awaiting the next one. I hope it will have some practical advice about how to start and maintain my own pantry.
Today: Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Outside My Window: sunny, windy
Today’s Goal: Exercise and drink more water
Today’s Plan: School; install the new side view mirror on the van; take the kids for a play date and dinner at Debbie’s house.
Today’s Tea: Cinnamon Delight Rooibos. This is so good hot or iced! It’s one of my favorites for hot summer days.
Today’s Tidbits: The Master bedroom is starting to look nice again – I moved my writing desk against a different wall and Ian hung a fabric wall pocket I made on the wall above it so I can keep clutter off the desk. I can now reach the curtains to open and close them.
I found this article in a Babyfit’s Natural Mother e-newsletter. I haven’t tried it, but it looks pretty easy.
Besides driving your cat crazy, catnip has another more practical (but less entertaining) use. It also drives away the mosquitoes. According to a study at Iowa State University Department of Entomology, an essential oil found in catnip is 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than potent chemicals such as DEET. If you grow catnip in your yard, you’ll get moderate protection from the pests, but for greater benefit, you can try making your own skin potion from your fall harvest. Here’s how to make your own herbal insect repellant:
What you’ll need:
2 cups catnip, stemmed
1 cup dried peppermint
1 cup rosemary, cut into 6-inch sprigs
2 cups grape seed oil or almond oil
Place herbs on a cutting board or counter, and lightly crush them with a rolling pin. Place them into a clean glass jar with a screw-on lid. Pour in the oil, seal the jar and place in a cool, dark cupboard for two weeks. Lightly shake the jar once a day for two weeks. Strain into a clean jar, seal and refrigerate (it will keep for up to 8 months). To use, rub on exposed skin.
QUICK TIP :
Check your local nursery for catnip plants, or simply order seeds online.