Broody Brats

Ah the joys of chickens.  Everyone thinks they are these precious, sweet, little fluffy pets that present you with breakfast every morning.  WRONG-O!  Well, sometimes, anyway.  I love my hens, they give hours of entertainment as well as breakfast and eventually, dinner.  However, there is a ton of work involved with them.

We do not have a rooster and I personally, for reasons of space and cost, do not raise chicks.  We start with pullets.  At least for now.  This summer we had one lady who seemed to be stuck in longing to being a mommy hen.  She is an Orphington, her normal name is Skip, but for about 2 and half months it was Crabby Patty.  And crabby is an understatement.20180620_181808_optimized1940890653.jpg

In all my years of owning chickens, I have never, ever had a hen stay broody for as long as she did this summer without chicks to care for.  She even got to the place where she refused to leave “HER” nest and would push eggs from the other nests for her to sit on them.  Then she decided she would bully the younger hens so they wouldn’t even come IN the coop, she parked her fluffy butt at the entrance of the coop and would not move.  If you took her off the nest, she would turn right around and plop her butt back in the nest.  If you moved her to gather eggs, she would bite you, if a hen came in the coop she would squawk and and attack her.  One morning after her coming at me while I was gathering the eggs, I told my husband it was time for the hatchet.  Egg production was down and I was beginning to have to play hide-and-seek for some of the eggs in the barn off the side of the run.

Bless my husband’s heart, he told me to give him a try at ‘breaking broody’.  I told him, fine, and so he proceeded after his usual deep research.

He used a large kennel cage and placed it in the barn off the run.  He placed it on two railings so it was off the ground a wee bit and made sure it had stationary pans for water and food.  The barn is well lit but nicely shaded and out of the elements and the other hens walk freely around it.  He gently placed Crabby in the cage.  We are pretty sure she cussed at him in chicken squawks as he latched the door.  The other hens seemed curious as they walked around her.  After a while he took her out, and dang gone it, she bee lined it strait for her nest.  If another hen was in her spot, she would push them out.

This went on for several days, my husband’s patience is great, so great I call him the Chicken Whisperer.  Eventually, one day, we noticed, after being let out of detention, Crabby went and sat on the perch with another hen.  Before dusk she walked in and got in HER nest, but she didn’t go strait in.

The next day, she played in the yard with the other hens but still made sure she had HER nest by dusk.  This went on for about a week.  Now Crabby Patty is back to being Happy Fluffy-butt Skip.  Happily playing in the yard and no longer combative with the other ladies, although we have one hen who is still cautious of her.

I had to fess up and say I was wrong for wanting to put Skip on the dinner block and that my husband was Right.  Yes, there, in black and white, he was right and in doing so our egg production is back up, the hens are back to using their nesting boxes and everyone is being civil again.

I have been told this breed is more prone to be broody longer and their desire to be a mommy is great.  So keep that in mind when getting layer hens if you don’t want to hatch and/or raise chicks.

 

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

Preserving Wild Ramps

Wild Ramps, also referred to as Wild Leeks, are an amazing spring treat that grows in the wooded areas around the same time that morals (mushrooms) and Pheasant Back Mushrooms start to peek out.  April to the end of May these wonderful natural treats cover select patches of wooded areas.  They originally were gathered and enjoyed in the Appalachia Areas (that I know of).   Ramps taste like sweet garlic.  Some people say they taste like green onion, but to me they are more garlic.

This year my husband and I went foraging and were blessed with an abundance of Ramps and some Pheasant Back mushrooms.

Since I work in the city all week, I long for my evenings and weekends in the country.  I love coming home to simplicity, and it doesn’t get much more simple than this.  Enjoying the gifts strait from God.  The wonderful afternoon hike proved to be more than just good for my soul, but it provided a bountiful addition to our pantry.

We love both of these items fresh, but honestly their natural shelf life is not very long.  So what to do with all the wonderful goodies, without over eating or worse, wasting them?

My favorite recipe this year is Pickled Ramps.  A very good friend of mine from church sent me a link for a recipe she uses for her pickled radishes.  I’ve tweaked it a tad to include water bath canning time and preferred taste:

Recipe 1:  Spicy Pickled Ramps  (Makes 2 pints)

Preparation:  Clean your ramps.  Wash thoroughly, peel away the outer layer, cut off the roots and just below the leaves.  (Keep your leaves separated for the next recipe)

 

Once you have your ramps ready, pack them tightly in clean and sterilized Pint Canning jars.  I pack mine to where there is a layer bulb down and a layer bulb up so that they are nice and tight but not squished.

In EACH Pint Jar Add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seed.

Set the jars two the side, while your water bath canner is heating up.

Off to the side on another stove burner in a Simmering Pot Add:

  • 3/4 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar (canning grade)
  • 3/4 cups of Water
  • 2 teaspoons of canning salt
  • 3 tablespoons of raw honey

Heat your liquid mixture, constantly stirring until it is boiling.  Make sure you don’t stop stirring so your honey doesn’t scorch.

Pour your liquid over your ramps in your jars until the ramps are covered (1/2 inch head space for the jar).

Wipe down your jar rims from any splash.

Place your lids on the jars and tightly (but not like Hercules tightly) put on your rims.

Place the jars one by one in your water bath canner.  Water should be one inch over your jars after all jars are loaded into your canner.

Once your canner comes to a boil, you will want it to remain boiling for 20 minutes.

At the sound of the timer, the end of twenty minutes, I turn off the heat to the canner and let it sit until the boil is gone.  Then using canning tongs I take my jars out and put them on a clean covered area where they can cool for the next 12 hours.  Each sealed jar will give you that wonderful “POP”.  Let cool for 12 hours and put away in the pantry.

These are best if you can wait 5 days before opening, however, we opened one jar 24 hours after it was canned, we couldn’t stand it any longer, and it was absolutely heavenly.

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Refrigerate after you break the seal.

Recipe #2: Dehydrated Ramps

Remember when I said, don’t throw away those leaves?  Well here is why, they make yummy soup & stew & Stock greens.  Using your dehydrator (or oven on the lowest temperature), spread your leaves out and dry, then crumble up.

For the bulbs, we slice thin and put in the dehydrator at 100 degrees for overnight (or until they crumble).  Dehydrated ramp bulbs are so yummy to just eat like chips if you like garlic, which we do.  They are also perfect for dried goods for your pantry to be used anywhere you would use leeks, garlic or green onion.

We have a Vac-u-Sealer with a lid attachment, so we put our dehydrated goods in a canning jar, then using the lid attachment vac-seal the jar.  This is a great way to store without crushing your dehydrated goods.  NOTE:  You must use a clean jar and a clean canning lid each time you seal the jar.  You can not reuse lids.20180508_200148742386972.jpg

We also cleaned, diced and stored our Pheasant Back mushrooms this way with the dehydrator and the vac-u-sealer with the lid attachment.  The centers will be used for stew and soup stock while the tender outer areas will be used for pretty much anything.

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I really hope you enjoy this recipe and ideas to use what you have and venture out into nature to enjoy the beauty and bounty provided there.

But remember this, don’t take more than YOU can use.  Don’t be greedy.  Use a netted bag when collecting mushrooms (that way the spores will fall to the ground and make more next year).  Leave plenty for the animals and nature.  Oh and if you don’t know for sure if something is not edible, don’t eat it.  😉

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

Oven Fried Rabbit

Rabbit, whether wild or domestic, is a great lean meat.  The entire body is dark meat and one rabbit can easily feed 4 people.

My favorite way to prepare rabbit is to “oven fry”.  It keeps the meat tender and has less breading than typical frying or deep frying.  I use a Dutch Oven but you could use a deep lidded casserole dish as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole rabbit cleaned and cut up into 5 pieces (2 back legs, 2 front legs, 1 back)
  • Buttermilk
  • Fine ground cornmeal
  • Lard or butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat your oven 350F
  • Melt your lard/butter in the bottom of your Dutch Oven, about a tablespoon.
  • Coat each individual piece of rabbit in the buttermilk then the cornmeal and place in the Dutch Oven.
  • Put the lid on your Dutch Oven and place in the oven.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350.

Serve hot.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

Homemade Butter

There is something about the flavor and texture of real butter.  I have made butter for years.  I bet images of a woman hunched over a butter churn for hours is popping up in your mind.  But honestly, depending on how much you make it takes about 20 minutes.  Now, once in a while I will add herbs, garlic and even dried peppers to give extra flavors and color to my butter but for plain every day use you don’t need to get fancy.

Here’s what you will need:

  • A food processor (hand crank or electric)
  • A coffee filter or cheesecloth
  • A pinch of salt
  • Whole fresh milk (with cream) or heavy whipping cream.  I normally use a half pint for each time.

Directions

  1. Pour your cream into your food processor.
  2. Add a touch of salt.
  3. Process on high speed for 5 minutes.
  4. Open your processor, the contents will be a thick cream almost but not quite solid.
  5. This is important. Take the blades out of your processor and scrape them off on your mixture. Using your cheesecloth or filter, drain off the liquid into another jar.  This is your buttermilk.  I will press my mixture to get as much of the liquid out.  
  6. Set the liquid to the side. Put a lid on it, refrigerate it for other baking.
  7. Back to your butter. Put the blades back in the processor. 
  8. Continue to process for 10-15 minutes, stopping to pulse every few minutes.
  9. You will see your butter forming into a thick “ball”.
  10. Scrape your butter into a “butter bowl” and refrigerate.
  11. You can also roll it and keep it in parchment paper to refrigerate as well.

I hope you enjoy.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

Winter is Coming… Preparing your Pantry

The purpose of home canning and meal prepping is to prepare for times when fruits and vegetables and meats are not as abundant naturally.  When an item is in season, it is more abundant and less expensive, this is the time to prepare for winter, especially when you live in the northern and Midwest areas.  Winter can be harsh.  We believe in canning what is in season, naturally, to help with budget costs, health benefits and being more ‘God sufficient’ than man sufficient.  The other side point to preparing and budgeting your food storage is to better understand what a REAL portion of food is.  America has gotten really bad at ‘super sizing’ and over convenience everything.  We’ve gotten into the mindset of “getting our money’s worth” instead of planning and looking at what our body needs.  The sugar and preservative addictions are just as bad as the “bad addictions”.  Look at the rise of obesity, health issues, enabling etc.  If we are stressed, we head strait for the candy jar, if a child is crying we hand them a sweet treat.  I could go on and on about this subject, because I myself suffer from stress eating and weight issues.  I come from a long line of Southern Cooks.  I love my butter, gravy and I melt with Shrimp and Grits.  Which is all fine, IN MODERATION.

But, back to preparing your pantry.  Each year it is essential to take stock of what your family will need for the upcoming year until the next season arrives with more goodies.  Also knowing crop rotation years help too.  One year may be a great corn year, the next nothing.

Now the big thing I want you to really take notice of is the PORTION of each item.  If we ate this way, I’m willing to bet, the weight loss programs out there would loose a lot of money and we would have more in our savings!

The Canner’s Pantry Planner:
Food Times/Week Serving Jars/Person Jars/Family(4)
Meats, Poultry, Fish 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 36 Pints 144 Pints
Soups 2x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Jams, Jellies, Preserves 6x week, 52 weeks 2 tablespoons 40 1/2 pints 160 1/2 pints
Relishes 3x week, 52 weeks 1 tablespoon 5 pints 20 pints
Greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Pickled vegetables 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons 13 pints 52 pints
Juices and Tomatoes 7x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 63 quarts 252 quarts
All Other Fruits and Vegetables 14x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 76 quarts 304 quarts
Pickled Fruits, Pickled Eggs 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons/ 1 egg 13 quarts 52 quarts

Did you slightly freak out over the portions? Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Here is the thing I have discovered, when you utilize the mentality of using what you have on hand, you waste less, you eat less, and you have that pride of providing. It’s amazing how the world’s perspectives dissolve when you start living like this.

There are other items to consider as well, the meat covers what you should have in your freezer as well as canning, but there are dry goods to consider:  Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda/powder, yeast, dried beans, rice, powders.  Then your wet goods such as honey, syrups, molasses.  Also your perishables, eggs & milk.  There is also cellar storage to consider, potatoes, sweet potatoes, hard squash, apples.  But all in all the portions stay the same.  Now my favorite:  Cheeses.  I love real cheese, love it!  But a portion is only 2 ounces.  That’s the size of 2 dice.

I credit the knowledge of this from my Grandma Inez and my go to book “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery.

So learn to enjoy and appreciate what you have and you will find that your body and your savings will thank you!

Enjoy and let me know of your thoughts.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

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