Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/29/2013 Footprints in the Snow

This picture was taken a couple of days ago.  It was a beautiful 55 degrees out and the snow was melting.  The girls got out and we could tell where they had been.  An hour later, this was all melted.

An arctic front is coming through tonight, so there will be more snow and cold soon.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pictures of the Day 1/28/2013 Sassy's New Flock

Sassy finding water.
 Sassy, our rescue chicken, has a new flock.  Our original flock of four chickens consisted of one Buff Orpington, one Black Austrolorp, and two Speckled Sussex.  All of these four birds are sweet, gentle, and easy-going. 

After the initial posturing of the birds, they accepted her into the flock.  We kept the four original birds in the enclosure and Sassy in the small coop that was inside the enclosure.  The girls were curious, but not aggressive.  We let the four out of the enclosure into the yard.  We let Sassy out of the small coop and into the enclosure.

Sassy found the food and water, so we knew she would be fine.  She also found a bit of sunshine to sit in.   Since she has been in isolation for three weeks at the Zoo, she was very cautious.  It took her a bit to remember how to be a chicken.

Scratching for food.
The five birds had only one moment of aggression -- and it came from Sassy.  She moved toward one of the birds, letting them know she wanted a place in the pecking order.  The other four birds acquiesced.  So, now life is good.  I love my birds!

The new flock stayed in the large coop last night without an incident.   Which is good, because it is snowing right now and the temperature has dropped below freezing.

Sassy and her new flock.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/25/2013 Our Rescue Chicken

We picked up Sassy today.  She is 8 years old and a sweet, gentle bird.  She has grown most of her feathers back, but the feathers are not too long.  She has been isolated from the other chickens for a couple of weeks, so she is already stressed.

We put her in a small coop inside the enclosure.  Our birds were quite interested in the new addition.  Yoda did a little posturing against the coop, but lost interest after a few bumps against the wire.  The other girls just watched for a while, then wandered off.

We will keep Sassy in the small coop or alone in the enclosure for a day or two to see how things shake out.  We have an arctic front coming in on Tuesday, so we are hoping they will be able to keep Sassy warm.  We will see.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/24/2013 Getting Ready

Every day when I leave for school, it is dark.  When I get home, I have about an hour of light before it gets dark. 

I like to give the girls a treat every afternoon.  I also do poo patrol, collect eggs, and sit and watch the girls.

That is my wind down time before dinner.  My chickens give me cheap mental health!

We get to pick up our rescue chicken tomorrow.  All the reading I have done on transporting a chicken tells me to use a cardboard box, a crate, a rubbermaid box, an animal carrier, or whatever.  I even read someone used pillowcases. 

I have read to have a cover for the box; I have read it is okay to leave it uncovered. 

I have read about putting holes in the box.

I have read to keep it dark to calm the bird.

The one thing I read consistently, is to put pine shavings or straw in the box to keep the chicken from sliding around.

Size of the container also varied greatly.  One site said use a 12" x 12" box so the chicken will not move too much.  Another said to use a box big enough for the wings to flap.  I am not sure I want flapping wings.

So, I think there is no set rule.  Just make sure the bird is safe, comfortable, and calm. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/23/2013 Boys Feeding Girls

 Ok, I had to put two pictures in.  Two boys mean two pictures. :-)

The boys are enjoying feeding the girls their treats for the afternoon.  The birds are so gentle around the kids.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/22/2013 Fermented Feed

As we get closer to adding one more chicken to the flock, I found some interesting information about feeding the flock fermented feed.  The fermented feed is similar to a pro-biotic for chickens.

There is some science behind the feeding of a wet mash, even an unfermented mash.  The villi in the intestines grow longer and have more surface area, which enables them to take up more nutrients.  This leads to greater nutritional uptake and better feed conversion.  Because fermented feed is wet, it also increases the food uptake, food utilization, weight gain, and egg production. This is from: Engberg, R., Hammershoj, M., Johansen, N., Abousekken, M., Steenfeldt, S., & Jensen, B.  (2009).  Fermented feed for laying hens: Effects on egg production, egg quality, plumage condition and composition and activity of the intestinal microflora.

From http://scratchcradle.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/science-of-fermented-feed/

What are the effects of fermented feed?
Reduction of pathogenic microorganisms
These studies found that the fermented feed led to a much healthier gastrointestinal tract.  One study suggested that fermented feed should be called “fermbiotics” because it provides the same benefits as probiotics in the human diet.4  Primarily, fermented feed causes a reduction of pathogenic bacteria including salmonella and camphylobactor in the digestive tract, most particularly in the crop and gizzard.  Because the crop often ruptures during slaughter, the decreased level of pathogens in this area in particular makes contamination of the meat less likely.3
Lactic acid is produced by the lactobacteria.  These beneficial bacteria are present in the feces of birds given fermented feed.  This demonstrates that they have traveled throughout the digestive system,  and they may be killing off pathogens along the way.3  The lactic and acetic acid produced by the bacteria in fermented feed create an acidic environment with a pH of about 4.  At this level of acidity, molecules of acid can enter the bacteria through their cell membranes, and the increased acidity within the cells interferes with enzymatic processes, killing the bacteria.3  Fermented feed is somewhat more effective against salmonella than camphylobactor because the lactobacillus also outcompetes the salmonella for nutrients in the feed itself.3  Still, birds fed fermented feed took longer to begin shedding camphylobactor bacteria in their feces after being exposed to the bacteria and were less susceptible than birds on a non-fermented diet.

The references are available on her blog.

So, for healthier birds, especially when introducing a new chicken into the flock, it looks like fermented food will make all birds healthier.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/21/2013

A cold, windy day deserves a warm treat.  I took some layer food and added hot water.  Mixed it up to a thick soup consistency and gave it to them.  They thought it was a wonderful treat! 

I got this idea from Our Neck of the Woods.  She also makes oatmeal for her girls!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/20/2013

We are getting a rescue chicken this week.  There is an eight-year-old Golden Wyandotte in need of relocating.  She was picked on, losing most of her feathers.  She has been in quarantine for six weeks already, under a vet's care.

Our flock of one orpington, two sussex, and one austrolorp will be perfect for her.  All of them are sweet, gentle birds.

So I have been doing some research about adding a new chicken to an existing flock.  I will need to keep the new chicken isolated for a while to make sure the birds will get along.  Being winter in Montana make isolation of one bird more difficult.

This is an excerpt from City Girl Chickens:

Ease Them In

One of the best ways to introduce new chickens to your flock is to do it slowly. If at all possible, place your new chickens NEAR your old chickens, but not WITH them. For example, when I introduced 2 new chicks to my flock, I placed them in an upside down crate inside the hen house. My chickens could see and interact with the new girls, but they were blocked from being aggressive because they couldn't quite get to them.
All the chickens could observe each other from a close, but guarded, distance. And it seemed, also, that the crate in the middle of the chicken coop caused more curiosity not the feeling that their turf was being invaded.
If possible, keep an arrangement like this for at least a couple of days, even a week.

Proper Introductions

In the meantime, stage some introduction 'play date' times for your flock. If you have a run, or yard, bring your old chickens out to meet the new ones, but stay nearby to break up any particularly brutal fighting (you don't want to break it all up, as there is the re-establishing of the pecking order that will naturally occur, but you also don't want a bloodied pulp or dead chicken on your hands.)
Do these meet and greet sessions a couple times a day, after the first day (where they've already had time to get to know each other with a barrier of some sort between them), and every day that you have them separated from each other.

From http://www.citygirlchickens.com/new_chickens.html


Having the small coop inside the enclosure will allow the birds to meet each other slowly.  We are looking forward to this!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/18/2013

This picture was taken a couple days ago.  The snow has melted quite a bit since.

We have bark put down on the floor of the enclosure, which is great for the girls to scratch around and look for whatever chickens look for.  When it is snowy, they spend much more time in the coop or enclosure than out in the snow.  Smart of them.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/17/2013

This is Spice, Ginger, and Yoda on the roost inside the coop.  When the weather is bad, you can usually find them inside the coop.

We have had horrible winds and wind chills this past week.  The air temperatures are 30-35 degrees, but the wind chills are still close to 0 degrees.  If you give the ladies a place out of the wind, they are content.

On another note, because the temperatures were above freezing, the poo was no longer frozen to the coop floor.  I was able to clean out the poo.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/16/2013

This is Crystal walking on the shoveled path.  Yes, I shoveled paths for the ladies to walk on.

The snow finally had a chance to melt a bit today.  The temperatures got up above freezing.  Finally!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/13/2013

Winter storm Gandolf was not as bad as forecast.  In Billings, we only received 8" of snow -- where 12" had been forecast.  The temperatures did stay close to 0 degrees, but the temperature rose to 20 degrees today.

In fact, the girls came out on their shoveled path, onto the shoveled patio, and down their shoveled sidewalk.  Not for long, but they did get out today. 

The water heater tins worked great.  A 40-watt bulb prevented the water from freezing!  The tin inside the coop also gave off "safe" heat for them.

The girls seem to have survived their first below zero adventure.  I am having some trouble cleaning the poo -- it is frozen to the floor of the coop.  Go figure!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/8/2013

Here in south-central Montana, a cold front is due soon.  Highs will be single digits and the lows will be close to 0.  When the weather turns so nasty, the ladies seem to spend more time in the coop.

I created another water heater tin to keep their water inside the coop from freezing.  The food has also been placed inside the coop so the ladies don't have to go into the weather.

Gluten Free Cake That Actually Tastes Awesome

Original post:  http://www.nwedible.com/2013/01/gluten-free-cake-that-actually-tastes-awesome.html

Gluten Free Cake That Actually Tastes Awesome

We had a lovely couple over to dinner for the first time a few days ago and the lady of the pair kept to a gluten free diet (and has for like 17 years, so you know it’s not a passing thing).
I know what you’re saying: “Hey, I know someone who is gluten free!” or maybe, “Hey, I’m gluten free!”
That’s right, Gluten Free People are everywhere. Gluten Free foods are one of the fast-growing segments of the food industry, with total sales in the past year of somewhere between $4.2 billion and $12.4 billion depending on who you believe and how you define “gluten-free food segment.”
When it comes to gluten free cooking, generally everything is all fine and dandy through the salad (skip the croutons, natch) and entree course, but if you get to dessert you might be faced with the same dilemma I was: how to make a gluten-free cake.
Of course, you could buy a gluten-free cake. The world of commercial, gluten-free dessert options has exploded along with other gluten-free analogues, but….um, how shall I put this delicately?… of the dozens of gluten-free cookies, cakes, muffins and other baked goods I’ve sampled in my day, a depressing number tasted like someone mushed beans and chalk together and called that a recipe. Faced with cake that tasted like that, I’ll take ice cream and berries.
Gluten Free People deserve better! Gluten Free People deserve this cake! And you know what’s nice for everyone? No weird ingredients required. With the exception of the almond meal, you probably have all this stuff in your kitchen already, and almond meal is easy to DIY if you want.
Psst…Paleo people, if you can get past the sugar, this cake is cool for you too.
Gluten Free Almond Cake with Lemon Curd

Gluten Free Almond Cake with Citrus

adapted from How To Eat by Nigella Lawson
2 1/2 cup (8.5 oz) finely ground almond meal
2 cups (8 oz) powdered sugar
8 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
zest of one large orange
Toolsone 10 to 12-cup Bundt or ring cake pan (you might be able to make this cake in a standard rectangular or round cake pan, but I haven’t tried it. If you do, let us know how it turns out in the comments!
Preheat oven the 325 degrees and grease a 10 to 12 cup Bundt pan or ring mold cake pan.
Toast almonds in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. They should warm, and be very fragrant, but their color should not noticeably change. Remove the almonds from the oven and let them cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
While almonds are cooling, beat together egg yolks, powdered sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with handheld beaters, until the mix is pale yellow and creamy looking, about 3-5 minutes.
Add warm (but not hot) almond meal to the egg yolk mixture a little at a time while continuing to beat. When all the almond meal is incorporated, the mix will look and feel quite thick and sticky, like nougat. Set aside while you beat the eggs whites.
Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks in the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with handheld beaters. If, like me, you need to clean your standmixer bowl or other equipment to do this, make absolutely sure there is no remaining fat from the egg yolk mix on anything that will be used to whip the egg white. While you’re at it, make sure to dry off any moisture, too.
Add about one-quarter of the egg whites to the yolk-almond mix and fold together as best you can without deflating the egg whites. The goal is to lighten up the heavy yolk mix so that you can gently combine it with the remaining whites. When the almond mixture is more pale and lighter in texture and the first portion of whites have been completely incorporated, add the rest of the egg whites and, using a big flexible spatula, gently – gently – fold everything together.
If the whole “egg white folding thing” feels confusing or intimidating, just watch this to see how it’s done.
When all the egg white has been incorporated and you have a lovely, non-streaky batter, pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Check cake. It should be golden brown and slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan. A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.
Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely, and serve dusted with powdered sugar with a few canned cherries in syrup on the side or – if you really, really love your Gluten Free Person – with a big dollop of homemade lime or lemon curd.
Gluten Free Almond Cake with Lemon Curd
If you have any of this cake leftover, I may have reason to suspect that this cake, just possibly, is fantastic for breakfast. Not that I ate two pieces of it with coffee or anything. That would be glutinous. But, you know, trust me. Breakfast.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/7/2013

We received the flag for Christmas from my mother.  She gave us the flag pole last summer after I bought the kite in the picture. 

The kite balances on the pole and moves slightly in the wind.  My mother got online and found four wonderful flags for us!  I can change flags all the time now!

The ladies like to hang around us whenever we are out.  Today was no exception.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/6/2013

While making pancakes today, we had one store-bought egg and one of our eggs.  Our egg was three hours old.

The store-bought egg is yellow, not golden.  Which means that our egg is much healthier with more nutrients. 

The store-bought egg is not as fresh, which is why the egg white has spread out and is not contained.

I just love my chickens!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/5/2013

On a recent trip to Rockin' Rudy's in Missoula, I found these Chinese flags.  They are prayer flags for compassion, knowledge, prosperity, peace, success, and long life. 

We decorated the inside of the enclosure with the flags.  The flags are tied onto chicken wire.  Behind the chicken wire is the wind panel that will come down in the spring.  Come spring, we may need to move the flags to a more sheltered spot.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/4/2013

The sun has been a welcome treat today.  The girls are enjoying their afternoon treat.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/3/2013

Our first egg of 2013! 

The cold weather, the shortened daylight hours, the molting, the addition of two new hens, and the deletion of two old hens have all played a part in our hens not laying for weeks. 

Crystal, one of our best layers, supplied us with the first egg of the year. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Picture of the Day 1/2/13

This is Ginger.  Notice the wind ruffling her feathers.  She doesn't mind the cold, but the snow and wind make her seek refuge.