Poultry show

When I first said we were going to a chicken show I had questions about whether the chickens were going to be strutting down a runway. I think it’s hilarious to think of that and likely some of them would have been willing to waddle down a runway if there was a treat at the end of it. 🙂

The Pacific Northwest Poultry Association Show was about 40 minutes away so I took my family with me to peep at the Toms this weekend! Ha Ha! Actually there weren’t that many turkeys but a lot more chickens and ducks. We have not ventured outside of the regular chicken breeds we get at the farm store so this was really cool to see the different breeds. I also didn’t realize some of the roosters were that big. There were some that were a lot bigger than our dog. Of course he’s a miniature schnauzer but still. The speckled Sussex were really cool and the Welsh harlequin ducks were so pretty looking too. There is a local person who breeds the Welsh harlequins too so I was interested to get a close-up look for future ideas down the road. 🙂  Some of the little bantams were quite fiesty including a rooster that I thought was adorable until he crowed in my ear. They are cute and tiny yes but their crow is actually more annoying than the standard rooster’s crow for sure as it’s really high pitched.

There was a judge teaching how to properly pose your chicken and throw it. The girls wanted to leave by then so I didn’t watch the whole thing but the judge looked like Colonel Sanders in a white lab coat. There was a bantam rooster doing tricks for pieces of corn which was cute too.

I missed the whole inside of the other building because I thought it was just vending and egg judging. My husband said they were judging eggs and it was actually filled with all the prize winning best in show chickens. So next time I will go in there too. He was describing the egg judging and how she was cracking the eggs open and saying “oh that’s no good it looks old, a 7 on that one.” The lower the number the better the egg.

The group has two shows a year one in April so I will hopefully go to that one as well. My husband did question why they would have a show in October as that’s when most of our chickens moult and I am not sure.

Most of our chickens are moulting except for the two younger ones and so since it’s also darker now our egg count is like 2 a week I think. Since we have been letting them out of their pen since our garden is done they were hiding a nest but now I think are back on to laying in the coop.

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Land

I have several things I can do to make me happy and earn a little extra money. These are related to growing consumables. Since I have a 3-year-old at home I can’t send her to daycare for the week so it leaves odd part-time writing things and babysitting the neighbor for a few hours a week. I also applied for a part-time job that I am overqualified for but it is good hours so we shall see. I would prefer something two days a week for about 5 hours a day.

We went to look at 2.5 acres or maybe it was 2 acres that is slightly out of our price range. The price range = how much money can I make to pay the mortgage each month from odd jobs and the land. We wouldn’t live on it for quite awhile but I could plant crops and a few trees and see. I could do a CSA or sell from our house legally as well. Farmer’s markets are an idea but they are not that appealing because you have to spend all day there and then pay for the booth which is sometimes $20 -$25.

There is another piece of land that is affordable but I couldn’t find it to look at it. I e-mailed the real estate agent and now have the address or a plat map. I can’t tell if it’s on the road or behind another piece of land. Most property is sold in 5 acre segments or more with a house on it or 22 acres without a house or even 2-5 acres with mostly trees that would have to be logged and even then it’s not a definite as to the elevation or soil.

This photo is the piece that is nice but it’s out of the price range and I think that drainage is a problem because there is a slope to the land on the left. The other idea which I don’t favor is to rent land for a season but I don’t like the idea in some ways because I can’t improve it or build a shelter for animals, etc. I can also just grow the hell out of the back (seen here) and front yard but I don’t want to take the patio and the rest of the lawn out all the way. This is plan B I guess and I could see how much we could do and then the following year realize that we could afford land.

 

More free apples and a gadget

I don’t like spending money on things and so I visited the neighbor’s apple tree again to shake it! Apples are not expensive but if I can walk down the street to get them for free then that is better than buying local ones at the store for now. The eating apples that we have been getting I think are from Ridgefield or at the least within a 3 hour drive.

My parents grew up in Selah, home to Tree Top and all things fruit. My mom sorted fruit at a packer in high school and other kids picked apples from orchards I guess. There are family history pieces that contain relatives’ diary entries stating “helped the neighbor pick 100 pounds of apples today and then went over to John’s for a birthday party.”

My Mom likes to make apple pie so I got her an apple peeler-corer for Christmas last year. This also does potatoes and will peel or core or just slice and core, or a variation. She finally got around to setting the thing up this summer and once I saw it and tried it I had to have one. I think this is a must-have gadget for anyone in a prolific apple growing area! We shouldn’t have George Washington on our flag we should have an apple. 🙂  The girls take turns using this thing after I stick the apple on the end prongs. I made apple struesel pie and apple carmel upside down cake.

I then tried to make apple cider but the problem was that I don’t have a juicer and I was in a hurry and I made apple sauce and then simmered it with water and spices on the stove. I killed what natural yeast was in there so then I had to add some sliced apples and yeast to the gallon bottle and we shall see what happens.

Herbal healing salve

This is the family heal-all salve that I use on most everything especially scratches and scrapes but also dry skin.

The beeswax was local as was my lavender and comfrey that come from my garden. I didn’t have enough calendula to use but saved some petals from a previous year.

You can use baby food jars or an empty, but durable container that won’t melt when you pour hot liquid in it.

Herbal Healing Balm/ Salve Recipe

For rashes, scrapes, small cuts, bruises, and very dry skin.

*1 1/2 c. olive oil
*1/4 c. dried comfrey leaves
*1/4 c. dried calendula petals
*1/4 c. dried lavender buds
*2 oz. beeswax
*15 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
*15 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Place dried herbs into a crock pot. Pour olive oil over them. Turn crock pot on low and let set for four to six hours. Strain infused oil. Discard herbs. Place infused oil into a 1 qt. saucepan and turn on low. Add the beeswax; stir until beeswax melts. Remove from heat and add essential oils. Pour into 1 oz. jars. Let cool and then seal.

*Makes approximately 14, 1 oz. jars. *Recipe may be halved, doubled, etc.

Wine oops

Oops on the blackberry wine. This is supposed to be an easy recipe but in fact I messed up because I didn’t print the recipe out and I didn’t have the laptop in the kitchen while measuring. I got too hung up on the pints of water instead. So instead of adding 2 1/2 pounds of sugar I added 6. I should have added 7 if I was really doing it the complete wrong way. So I have to go out and pick 3 more pounds of blackberries and then added some others from the freezer and some raspberries to double the recipe. I also added another yeast pack. The only kind I had left was the dry wine yeast which I use for mead. In the past I have had the meads not be sweet enough but I actually don’t know if it’s from lack of honey or my taste or the yeast used. So we shall see how this disaster of an experiment goes shall we?

This is the recipe to make the blackberry wine that you are supposed to follow to make about a gallon of wine.

4 1/2 pounds of blackberries

2 1/2 lbs. of regular old sugar

7 pints of water

a red wine yeast

optional is a campden tablet to kill wild yeast

Rinse the berries and heat them with 2 pounds of the sugar and let it cool.  Add 7 pints of water to the mixture and then let it sit till it’s cool enough not to kill your yeast. Disolve your yeast in a cup of warm water and mix. Then add the yeast to your bucket of the wine mixture and cover it with a lid and airlock or a bucket lid. Let it sit for 7 days and then strain the berries out. I mashed them through a sieve and then discarded the seedy part. A note about this part: I would suggest not composting this pulp because your chickens or other animals can get drunk and also the seeds could germinate themselves in your garden somewhere. I don’t trust blackberries at all. Add the rest of the sugar and then transfer the mixture to a secondary fermenting vessel. Leave it for 10 more days and then check to make sure it is finished fermenting. If it’s not bubbling you can rack it/transfer it to your bottles and then drink after 3 months.

Valerian root tincturing

I have two pots of  valerian that I kept in pots because I thought it would be easier to harvest the roots to make a tincture. This is a great thing to do in the fall while you are preserving everything else anyways.

Valerian root is a sedative and antispasmodic useful for insomnia, nervousness, pains and symptoms of stress. It has a strong odor and taste that is not so great but it’s not bad in a tiny tincture amount to take. The roots when I harvested them did smell but they don’t smell as bad as the dried roots for some reason.

Making the tinture you just need 80 – 100 proof vodka, the herb chopped up and diced, etc. and a jar with a lid. I like to use canning jam jars and then put the jar in the cupboard so it’s dark and I remember to shake it about every day.

Dosage for valerian tincture is 10 drops to 1 teaspoon three times a day, or as needed.

Diced or blend or mortar and pestle the herb and then put it in a glass jar that’s labeled with the date and the herb. Add enough vodka to cover the herbs.  Screw on the lid, put the jar in a dark place at room temperature and shake at least once daily (shaking ensures a strong extraction). After two weeks, pour the contents of the jar through several layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filer and express the liquid. Place it in a labeled amber bottle out of the light or in a clear bottle in the dark.

When you are making tinctures from fresh herbs they require more alcohol because of their water content. Refer to a good web site or book for making different tinctures and what percentage of alcohol to use. Some herbs when dried don’t need as much alcohol.

For more information on tinctures visit Herb Companion.