Category Archives: Chickens – Chooks

Jim Gerrish puts it all together!

Here is a podcast Jim did with Charlie Arnott when he and Dawn were in Australia earlier in the year. Charlie is a biodynamic farmer/grazier located in New South Wales who also produces podcasts related to regenerative ag, human health, and an array of other current topics.

This serious yet lighthearted conversation covers a lot of ground. We hope you choose to listen & enjoy it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orRLYqSQQEM

 

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In this episode Charlie chats to the American grazier and educator Jim Gerrish. Jim takes us on his regenerative journey and recalls the moment, when he realised that the aroma of freshly turned/ ploughed ground he had always liked growing up was in fact the smell of the earth dying…this proved to be the turning point in his life. Jim’s journey is a captivating one which touches on human health & diet, food definitions, changing farm practices and a whole lot more. To start a dialogue and converse more about topics raised in this podcast, please visit The Regenerative Journey podcast Facebook group. Episode Takeaways We don’t need feedlots. We just need people who have grazing management skills to take a pasture and turn it into delightful beef | In research we don’t call it a cow pie/cow pat, it’s a SEE…a Single Excretory Event! | We don’t need new knowledge, we need to be applying what we already know | The whole idea that beef cattle are destroying the environment is only tied to feedlot phase of it | The methane thing is a real red herring with grazing cattle, feedlots it’s a problem. It’s the production model not the ruminant animals that are the problem | Grass feeds the grass, grass feeds the soil, then grass can feed the livestock| Human health is intrinsically linked to soil health. Links Jim Gerrish – American Grazing Lands LLC Maia Grazing – Grazing management tool Dr. James Anderson – Scottish agriculturist in 1700’s Diana Rodgers – Sustainable Dish Sacred Cow – Film project led by Diana Rodgersint

Chooks Peeking In

Daughter, Jessica, noticed a spider in the shower, so wanting to get ahead of the curve, i decided to move our Welsummer laying hens to around the house foundation.  Thankfully, we finally received some rain, so it was at least doable, though difficult still, to pull the electric fence posts out of the ground.

I move them near dusk so the ladies don’t drift too far from their roosting home and scatter.  I can take down the fence and move it, then about the time i’ve set up their new digs, they have filed inside according to their pecking order and i shut the solar electric pop door early and pull the wagon around.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Setting up the electric poultry netting not only continues to protect the hens from predators, but keeps the hens right where i want them.  In this case around the foundation to find bugs to eat.

The beauty of having chooks is they can turn over ripe cucumbers into delectable golden yoked eggs.

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My first go at making Chai tea was a disaster for us, but a bonus for my layers.  They loved it!!!

 

 

Broody Hen

This is a dorky video, but this young hen wants to be a mommy SO badly, yet she is well behaved and does not peck or bite me when i collect the eggs beneath her, so i thought i’d share with you how a broody hen reacts when disturbed.

If i had a purebred Welsummer rooster, i’d let her lay and set on some fertilized eggs so she could raise some chicks, but i don’t.  Of course, these eggs are not fertilized and will never develop embryos.  These Welsummers, purchased from Cacklehatchery, are the most entertaining, friendly (though are easily startled), beautiful hens i’ve ever raised.  They are excellent layers to boot.

 

I had a few repairs to make to the eggmobile since its high profile encourages it to be blown over in heavy winds, which we seem to get more of these past few years.  I have rigged a way to support it so it doesn’t blow over anymore.

Anyway, collected these few eggs a bit early in the day because it’s a bit wet and muddy and the hens sometimes come into the nesting boxes with muddy feet, soiling the eggs.

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Truly pastured hens protected from ground predation with Premier 1 Supplies’ PoultryNet.  This is the best netting i’ve found for performance and ease of handling.  I bought two of the 100 foot green rolls (product number 207001).  It is still a bit heavy.  They also offer a 50 foot version (207002).  They also offer the plastic nesting pads which are excellent – forget straw, paper, chips – these keep the eggs cleaner and the hens can’t scratch them out of place.  Item #5404120

 

 

 

 

Free is Never Free

It has finally warmed up and i moved my laying hens out of their winter abode in the garden into their new safe haven of a fenced lot in the pasture.  I then move them about once a week, depending on forage availability during the growing season.  Now, warm weather, sunshine, lengthening daylight, and out on pasture make happy hens lay oodles of eggs.

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To keep these Welsummers safe, i must use an electrified netting or every critter in the country will kill them.  Even the hawks and eagles circle above, but chickens can be smart and they’ll spot an aerial predator immediately and take cover in their eggmobile.  
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Winter abode

When i posted these photos on Facebook, one fellow suggested, ‘ Eggs are hard to come by at some of the big city grocery stores these days… you might wanna put those up on Amazon (:’

Given the expense and logistics of shipping a very breakable commodity, it’s just not worth the cost, so i end up giving away extras to people who help me throughout the year and will never accept a payment.  Plus, nobody is going to pay what it actually costs to produce them.  Springtime provides a lot of eggs, but the supply will dwindle as the daylight hours are shortened and as hens get older.  Prime laying is only through their third year of life (max!)

Please know, however, that i don’t just give them away willy nilly (i do like to give them to people who do things for me but will never take payment) because it harms those who are trying to make a living at it. In a similar fashion, when US Aid sends tons of grain as a ‘help’ to other countries, it drives down the market price for the local farmers scratching out a living. Much the same happens here when our markets are opened to meat that is produced overseas for far less than what we can produce it here. Free stuff is never free.

Philadelphia Scrapple – My Version

Philadelphia Scrapple

Philadelphia Scrapple

Cooking time: about 4 hours   Servings: 12-24 servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 lbs stewing hen (you’ll need about 6 cups of ground meat)
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Slow cook stewing hen until tender.  Remove meat from skin and bones and cut meat into pieces.  Place meat back into cooking water with sage and cayenne pepper and simmer 2 to 3 hours.  Drain and reserve stock.

Chop meat with a knife or food processor, being careful not to grind it too fine. Set aside.

(Note that i had already done all the above and just froze ground meat separately from plain chicken stock – i only add spices when ready to make this recipe)

Measure 5 cups of stock and return to pot.  Bring to a simmer, add meat, cornmeal, salt, and peppers, then stir constantly until thick and smooth – about 15 to 30 minutes.

Pour mixture into 2 loaf pans and refrigerate until completely chilled.  Un-mold scrapple.  Slice and fry until golden brown and crispy on both sides.

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Whilst stirring, you may need to break up clumps of corn meal
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Whilst stirring, you may need to break up any clumps of corn meal.
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The mixture needs to be thick to hold together once you’ve removed from pan.
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Refrigerate or cool outside like i did here since it’s colder outside than in the frig anyway!

 

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No need to grease or butter the loaf pan, but definitely sliding a knife around the edge to loosen really helps it ease out of the pan.
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I’m using beef fat here for frying, but butter or olive oil works just as well.

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Fry on low-medium heat, then carefully flip to reveal this crispy brown side, fry the other side, then ready to serve.
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Philadelphia Scrapple with egg – this is just a terrible photo, but you get the idea.  Notice the pale yolk on our farm egg – that’s a winter egg.  No green grass out there now.
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Despite the savory aspect of scrapple, you may enjoy just a smidgen of syrup on this.  Try it on just a corner.  We are so fortunate to buy pure maple syrup from our neighbor – Coyote Orchard, Purdin, Missouri.
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Almost all gone! Yum!

Farmers Are Obsolete – Joel Salatin

I don’t always agree with Joel Salatin, but he seldom fails to inspire critical thinking.

Reblogged from The Lunatic Farmer  Joel Salatin

FARMERS ARE OBSOLETE

            A major article published in The Guardian last week by George Monbiot, producer of the film Apocalypse Cow, reports that very soon we won’t need farmers any more.  I know, the tendency for us reasonable people is to just laugh this off and dismiss it as idiocy, but believe me, this is the serious narrative driving food policy around the planet right now.

             The article is about a Helsinki, Finlind company named Solar Foods that uses modified bacteria and supercharged hydrogen from water to brew proteins in giant vats.  Supposedly the energy comes from water an sun.   The plant-based fake meat movement, of course, uses either soybeans or field peas as a protein base.

             In this Finnish process, the feedstock is simply water and manipulated microbes.  According to Monbiot, the yellow froth created by this process can be arranged into meat, milk, eggs, fish–virtually anything.  Leftover carbohydrates can of course be made into crackers and pasta.  With complete faith and obvious enthusiasm, he claims that “all farming except fruit and veg production is likely to be replaced by ferming:  brewing microbes through precision fermentation.”

             A huge sector of the planet now believes we are all going to die by 2040.  I’m more than 60 years old and I’ve been hearing this all my life.  Paul Ehrlich said we’d be out of oil by the early 1980s and he was quoted like a god in the 1970s.  I well remember watching documentaries in grade school that said by the 1990s we’d be in an ice age due to atmospheric carbon dioxide buildup.  Or we’d be bombed by the Russians first, or we’d all be crispy critters in a nuclear holocaust.

             May I go on record today as saying we will have farmers in 2040?  Monbiot, quoting a group called RethinkX predicts that by 1935 we’ll see a 90 percent collapse in the beef industry and the dairy industry will be all but nonexistent.  And I suppose we’re all going to eat the same thing planet-wide:  fermented proteins.

             Oh, and get this, because of the efficiency of these vats, all this microbial slurry will be produced in the desert since that’s where the best solar energy is, and it’ll be so cheap we’ll all eat “handsomely” (his word).  No hunger.  Everybody eating only what’s good for them, on pennies a day.

             And the snow only falls in the fields and not on the roads; the leaves fall into neat little piles, and it only rains at night.  Camelot here we come.  And all of us on the planet will be grateful to dine out of a microbial slurry that surely will be democratically arranged socially so big companies and governments will not be able to control the new food supply.

             Monbiot’s anger at current orthodox farm policy, animal treatment, ecological destruction, nutrient deficiency and all the other dysfunctions of the food and farming system are real and correct.  I say “amen.”  But the answer is not hydrogen-infused microbes in slurry vats; the answer is correct food and farming.  We know how to do it.

             Just imagine if Monbiot’s exultant vision of this vat-froth future came into reality.  Every single food morsel would be identical.  No terroir.  No breed differences.  No cultural heterosis.

  That anybody thinks we can distill soil intricacies, plant and animal intricacies, the human micro-biome intricacies into a single manufactured microbial hydrogen-infused froth is simply living in la-la land.  This whole message would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.  I can tell you that some scientists and politicians actually believe this kind of stuff and make policies accordingly, like taxing beef as if it is a hazardous substance.  Whenever I read this kind of stuff, I sit back, take a deep breath, and remember that 500 years ago the planet produced far more food than it does today–with no waste.  People didn’t eat it all, but the pounds of animals on the planet was far higher 500 years ago than it is today.

             Do you think we’re all going to be dead by 2040 unless we eat microbial froth and eliminate livestock?

They’re Laying!!!

Back home and starting to get settled into regular chores and a few moving ahead projects.  Despite coming home to sub zero temps, 1/4 inch ice, and swirling snow, just two days later it is starting to melt and at 33 degrees F (headed to 44F just before dark), it’s not too bad outside.

While i was gone, my silly Welsummer hens began laying – thank goodness – they are about 7 months old and until this past week had laid not one single egg!  Apparently, they had not read the book that they are a breed which starts laying at 5-6 months.  Granted, i am willing to give them a pass because i did accept them after June 8 (because of Nathan and Heather’s wedding and knowing we would be gone, i didn’t want baby chicks around), so that put them going into the shorter days which is typically when hens start laying fewer eggs.  And these gals are truly pastured hens and never on a high powered ration.  But when 6 months rolled around, i’m thinking they ought to be laying something!  I  checked them and most had developed the visible and measurable signs of being mature enough – yet no eggs.

Here’s the lovely dozen eggs i found this morning!  In the photo, the lighter colored one is from a purchased dozen of eggs from the store which say they are on pasture.  Here’s the interesting part, that store bought egg is considered a large egg yet is very similar in size and weight of these first eggs laid by my hens.  In other words, my hens didn’t start with pullet sized eggs, they started in with mediums and larges!  And beautiful shell color.

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Remember that the color of the shell has nothing to do with the quality of the egg nor does it tell you anything about how the hen was raised. The color of the yolk can be darkened by the ration fed to a caged hen  (marigold and/or corn).  Anyway, my hen’s eggs were all frozen, so these first ones will have to be thrown away since they could be contaminated because of cracking.  But maybe we’ll get some today to collect.

Stay warm and have fun!

tauna

Welsummer pullets hard at work keeping spiders and crickets from getting into the house last fall (2019).