Sunday, December 30, 2012

Very Simple Lemon Chicken


I want to share a very simple and basic baked chicken recipe. I originally got the idea from a recipe in a Taste of Home issue (Feb/March 2009, pages 32-33). The first couple of times I followed the recipe ingredient for ingredient, but after that I modified it. It still tastes great and I get compliments on it every time I make it.

It's featured in Taste of Home under "Lemon Basil Chicken" but I consider it "Lemon Chicken". Here is the recipe as it's featured in the magazine. You can make it like this, how I modified it, or how ever you so choose. Either way, I think the secret is the lemon!

Lemon Basil Chicken

1 med. lemon
2 garlic cloves, divided
1/4 cup minced, fresh basil, divided
1 broiler/fryer chicken
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 tsp. pepper

Grate lemon peel to measure 2 tsp. Cut lemon in half; squeeze juice from half. Set aside. Slice one garlic clove; place sliced garlic, 2 Tbsp. basil and the remaining lemon half in chicken cavity.

Place chicken breast side up in a shallow roasting pan; rub with reserved lemon juice. Mince remaining garlic; combine with butter and reserved lemon peel. Brush mixture over chicken. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and remaining basil.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F. for 1-1/4 hours to 1-1/2 hours, or until meat thermometer reads 180 degrees. Let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

So I'm a little lazy and don't feel like grating lemon peels, and since no vampires live out here in these hills, I never have garlic in my house. Here is my version of this recipe:

Lemon Chicken

1 med. lemon
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1 broiler/fryer chicken
Pampered Chef Lemon Pepper Rub (Or any seasoning of your choice)

Place chicken breast side up in shallow baking dish. Cut lemon in half and insert one half into chicken cavity. Brush melted butter all over chicken. Sprinkle entire chicken with lemon pepper rub (or any seasoning of your choice, or not at all). Slice up remaining lemon half and place slices over chicken.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F. for 1-1/4 hours to 1-1/2 hours, or until meat thermometer reads 180 degrees. Let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

This is so simple and tastes great! Your chicken should come out very tender and juicy! It's so good served with a salad and warm bread. Plus, Dan and I can eat off of it for at least three meals!

Happy carving!

                                                                                                  ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Marshall, Marguerite. "Lemon Basil Chicken." Taste of Home Magazine.  Feb./March. 2009. 32-33.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

He's Back...


UGH! That is right. He's back. Mr. Weasel has struck again, and again, and again, and again. Four chickies have been killed before we were about to spot the perpetrator in the act. In lieu of the holidays, I haven't said anything about the dead hens. Plus, I wasn't sure what was going on...until Christmas day, of all days.

We discovered the first dead chicken underneath the nest box. Dan found her one morning. After moving the nest box, he saw that rats had chewed a hole through the wall of The Fortress. That made sense that Mr. Weasel could squeeze through a rat hole. Dan immediately patched the hole and it seemed like the problem was solved.

The second corpse was found one morning in the kennel area. It was pressed up against the kennel door, like whatever got her tried to drag her through. I was upset at the loss, however, the motto around here is if you're not smart enough to go into the coop at night and get safely locked in, then we don't feel very sorry for you. I wasn't that surprised she didn't make it through the night.

Number three was beginning to confuse me. Now that it's winter it's getting darker much sooner (DUH!). This particular night I had locked all the chickens in around 6:00 p.m. Sometimes they are still mingling around the kennel at this time and we lock them in later when I put the horses back out for the night. I was walking back out to put Jimmy and Charlie out when I saw Gracie the Cat eating something by the gate of the steer lot. Upon closer examination, I saw she was eating at a chicken! Was Gracie getting our chickens?! For a couple of minutes I wanted her dead, and she would have been a dead cat, but I stopped Dan since I didn't want to be there when he popped her. (Gracie is still alive, but she's  been warned.) Plus I didn't think cats attacked adult chickens. Like the kennel case, this body was dragged to the fence of the steer lot and was pressed up against it. I thought, What in the world attacked that bird in a course of a couple of hours? Like I said, sometimes it's 8 or 9:00 p.m. before the chickens are safely locked in at night.

Our fourth girl was discovered IN the nest box!! Dan was collecting eggs one night and opened the lid and there she was...along with some smashed eggs. Whatever had gotten her went into the coop during the day and had attacked. By now I was thinking we were dealing with something different than a weasel. I assumed weasels' only attacked at night. Was it a fox?

So on Christmas day before Dan let the chickens out, he blocked off their window to access to the steer lot. I was a little leery of this since something could still squeeze it's way in...the chickens just couldn't get out. Later in the afternoon I was putting away laundry upstairs when I decided to look out the bathroom window. I saw the chickens in the coop flying up and acting very distressed. Dan and I rushed outside, hearing their squawks and screams...yes, it sounded like a scream. I didn't like actually hearing my birds scream from pain/terror. The some chaos ensued. I was ordered to stay far back, as Dan had already grabbed one of the two firearms we keep in the barn. For a split second I saw something that looked like a ferret. Dan shot, but Mr. Weasel had already squeezed through a loose board in the wall. After that we herded the chickens in the coop and locked them in. No one was seriously injured on the Christmas day attack. Thankfully.

Later on Dan went back out to the barn and moved some wood boards around hoping to scare Mr. Weasel out and bring us some justice. Bless his heart, he even sat up in the loft over the kennel and channeled his inner sniper hoping Mr. Weasel would show his cowardly face. He didn't.

Since Christmas, the chickens have been locked in the coop and will continue to be until we do something about this. We did set our weasel trap (thanks Probst!) and we baited it this afternoon with the gizzards of the chicken we had for lunch. (I bought it at Kroger's! It wasn't one of ours.) Plus, Weasel Lure is on it's way.

I will keep everyone updated. This year will be our year. I can feel it. Justice will be served!

                                                                                              ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Chronicle Carol

A Chronicle Carol
Written By: Rebecca Shawhan
"Mary, Did You Know,
This Christmas has been different for me?
I am pregnant too,
And have been identifying more with you.
O Little Town of Bethlehem,
Was where you traveled to.
Uncomfortable on the back of a burrow,
While I'll ride in a cozy seat -not very far at all -just into Hillsboro.
Away in a Manger,
Was where you had to stay.
Laying down in some discarded straw,
While the animals looked on from their stalls.
Silent Night, Holy Night,
I think about delivering my child in a barn.
The fright growing more and more as each contraction comes and fades,
Laying down on the hay in a nest that the chickens have made.
Mary, Did You Know,
I've thought about this all December?
What it would be like to bring forth a child,
In the eyes of my animals, so tender and mild.
Mary, Did You Know,
How different it will be for me?
In a hospital bright and sterile,
To announce our baby, Facebook will herald.
Ding Dong Merrily on High!
Thank goodness for what you did!
Giving everyone everywhere,
Someone who will always care.
Go Tell it on the Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere!
Have no doubt in your mind Mary, that my child, I will tell,
Of the grace of your son and that wondrous night, of The First Noel."
Merry Christmas!
The Chicken Lady

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Are You a Good Egg or a Bad Egg?


This photo shows what I was up to this evening. I washed 7 dozen eggs in my utility room. I did this for two reasons: 1.) The weekend is coming up and I need to sell some eggs. I have had several comments from friends and family about receiving eggs with poo on them (really, can't you just deal with it?) and 2.) I wanted pictures of pretty eggs for this post. (Actually, we have concluded that most of the brown stuff that is caked on our eggs is probably more mud than poo since all the monsoons have the steer lot a mud hole. Maybe Dan and I should start growing rice???)

Anyhoo, since I want to sell my eggs and get some Benjies, I figured I shouldn't sell poo/mud covered eggs. It could be bad for business. I couldn't help but cringe as I washed away that protective coating that keeps eggs non-perishable for up to 6 months! By the way, if anyone wants non-washed eggs, just let me know and I can arrange that.

I'm reading this book called Mi$erly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy, (just preparing myself for what might happen in 6 months...) So far the book has talked a lot about how to save with your monthly food bill. I was excited when I came across the guidelines on how to tell if an egg is fresh or not. However, I would LOVE to hear from anyone who has actually come across a rotten egg! E-mail me at to share your story.

Personally, I've never dealt with a rotten egg. I don't know why, but I always associate the smell of sulfur with what a rotten egg would smell like. Am I right? Does anyone know?

Here is what Mi$erly Moms has to say:

"To tell if an egg is fresh, place it in a pan of cold water.

  • If the egg lies on its side, it is fresh.
  • If it tilts, it is 3-4 days old.
  • If it stands upright, it is probably 10 days old (use for baking).
  • If the egg floats to the top, it is old and should not be used."
(McCoy, 34)

OF COURSE I had to try this with my eggs. (I will warn you, the results were not that impressive.)

This egg I've known I've had for awhile. I was captivated by the speckles so I haven't given it away or eaten it yet.

I figured if any egg would show results, this one would, so I placed it in cold water to see what it would do.

My best guess is that this egg has a tilt...maybe. I am almost 100% sure it's the oldest egg I have.

I placed a few more in the water and all the results were the same. They all laid on their side:

Part of me wanted all kinds of results...except for old nasty eggs you shouldn't use. But I guess I can be happy knowing I have fresh eggs. But I wonder if it was an unfair experiment. Did I get fresh results because I had just washed the eggs and they were still considered fresh because of the protective coating? Are my eggs just so darn awesome and good? I'll settle for the latter.

I would like to conduct this experiment with store bought eggs and purposely set some back for a month or two and try it then. However, I can't bring myself to spend money on something I get for free and also I can't stand to eat store bought eggs anymore. So maybe you readers can try it for me?

Hopefully it will be successful weekend of egg-selling. Or maybe it's a good thing I have 7 wait...make that 8 dozen (Dan just brought in 14 from the girls today!!!) in my fridge, since the end of the world is tomorrow. If I make it, I'll have some food to eat!

                                                                                                        ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

McCoy, Jonni. Mi$erly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy. Elkton: Full Quart Press. 1996.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Got Nothing


Sorry I didn't post Thursday and today's post will be next to nothing.

Because that is all I got right now...nothing.

Chickies are all doing fine and we are still happy with our egg count.

So not much new to write about.


...but sometimes, no news is GOOD news!

                                                                                                   ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hawks V. Falcons


Don't let the title of this post deceive you; it's not about the actual birds of prey (hawks and falcons) but it is the names of the two gangs my chickens have broken off into. Let's channel West Side Story, shall we...

Thankfully between these two gangs there are no star-crossed lovers, but Chicken Hawk is the leader of the Hawks (imagine that) and Cad-Buddy is the leader of the Falcons. Both roosters have taken to wearing large quantities of hair grease and I have seen both of them smoking cigarettes. And for some reason they started talking with New York accents...

I know this because I have seen it with my own eyes. But I didn't know what was going on at first. In the beginning, we noticed a group of chickens roosting on the old roost we placed out in the kennel area in the evenings when we went out to the barn to do the nightly routine. It was odd behaviour because it wasn't as if the coop light was off and they had taken to roosting in a lighted area. It even happened when the kennel light was off and the only light on was the beacon in the coop to signal everyone to come in at night. Personally, I didn't think chickens would settle down for the night in the dark without a light to guide them in. Oh well, apparently I was wrong. Goes to show what I know...

This went on for several days and we eventually accepted it as the new normal. However, the other day, I got a tip from one of the steers, and for his safety, he will remain nameless. He told me there was discontempt going on within the flock and that everyone had broken up into two groups. Their behaviour resembled that of gangs and the littlest steers were becoming afraid.

I was puzzled. I hadn't noticed shoes were thrown over the phone lines, the walls were free of graffiti could all this have happened without my knowledge?

I decided to do some spy work. One day as the chickens were pecking around outside, I hunkered down behind some hay and waited. I wanted to catch them in the act. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long. Soon Chicken Hawk came bumbling in with about 9 hens chattering behind him. I was too far away to make out everything they were saying...something about Falcons, turf and rumbles. After several minutes, I couldn't even see them...the kennel area where they had congregated became very smokey since everyone in the Hawks had a Marlboro.

Suddenly, Chicken Hawk jumped up on the old roost and broke out into song:

"When you're a hawk
You're a hawk when you lay,
From your first cluck or squawk,
To your last dyin' day!"
I had no idea Chicken Hawk was such a thespian! He was really good! And boy, could he sing!
"When you're a hawk,
If the poo hits the fan,
You got sisters around,
You're a family wo-man!"
Personally, I was looking forward to hearing the rest of the song and watching the intricate choreography, but before Chicken Hawk could go on, the Falcons, led by Cad-Buddy, came bursting through the door, snapping their wings and a rumble broke out.
After several minutes of total chaos, I was able to break it all up and seperate the two groups. Calming everyone down enough to calmly talk to them took another several minutes. I finally found out that a disagreement had broken out between Cad-Buddy and Chicken Hawk several weeks ago, and eventually each hen had taken a side. It had escalated to gang behaviour and turf wars. They had refused to roost together at night, had decided us by placing look outs and regrading us as the "fuzz" and it has been Gracie supplying them with cigarettes...
This story is completely false, except we DO have several hens who think the new roost at night is the one in the kennel. Every night we have to corral several chickens into the coop with my pink hog stick.
Chickens will always keep you on your toes. Once you have established a routine, they will screw it up. Once you think you have them all contained, they will show you you don't. Once one drama is solved, they will find another...

It never ends.

                                                                                                         ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Chronicle Profile: Nemesis


This post is not about a chicken named Nemesis, but a stray tomcat that seems to have made the Shawhan farm is occasional home. I promise there is a link to the chickies in this and I'll get to that, but first I want to give you some background information on a cat we came to call, Nemesis.

Nemesis showed up here some time ago. We noticed him lurking around the place, but respectfully keeping his distance. Then one night, we heard terrible screams. I mean horrible, in-human screams, feline screams that sounded like a cat was being ripped in half. Racing out to our "cold room" which is lined with windows, we saw the cats were just fine, unless you count the irate state Ed was in. His tail was puffed out like he had just stuck it inside an electrical outlet. The hair stood up down his back. I had never seen him so upset. We turned on the outside lights and there he was, the pretty grey tomcat with a speck of white under his chin. I thought it was funny since Ed was all twitterpated and upset, meanwhile this other male just sat outside wondering what all the fuss was about.

Occurrences like these happen frequently, especially if Ed is hanging out by the windows in the cold room at night. When the weather is nice and we have the windows open in the living room, it happens in there too. Once, Nemesis even jumped up on the screens and scared the wits out of all of us.

Since this cat bothers Ed SO much, I started calling him Nemesis. Because that is exactly what he is...Ed's nemesis.

Here's Ed, when nothing is bothering him:

We see Nemesis off and on. Sometimes he hangs out by the steer stuffer, hopefully catching rats. The other night when it was cold and rainy I saw him curled up in the barn laying on the hay. When he saw me, he ran.

Nemesis isn't the only cat that hangs out on the Shawhan farm. We share a couple of cats with the neighbors, Marshmellow and Gracie. Here's Gracie snuggled in what looks like a bed the chickens made:

And little Marshmellow, the cat that never grows:

I haven't seen Nemesis in a couple of days...not since the rain (I'm not worried), and I think getting a picture of him would be like photographing Sasquatch.

But I did want to mention the cats because they've become part of our family. I used to get worried when I saw a cat prowling around the barnyard thinking It's only a matter of time before they go after one of my birds! I don't think cats go after chickens, and by nature you think they would. Unless cats are smarter than we take them for...after all, if I were close in size to a chicken, I definitely wouldn't want to take one on! Now I enjoy seeing the cats lazing around and a chicken walking by it. It's like the cats don't even notice them. Plus it's nice to know your home is inviting enough and nice enough to have a cat stick around and make it their own home.

                                                                                                ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Deck the Coop!


"Deck the coop with bells and holly,
Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, SQUAWK!
Tis' the season to lay and be jolly,
Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, SQUAWK!"
Yes, despite this freaky December weather we are having today of 70 degrees, the chickies are in the Christmas mood. They are in a generous spirit if giving...we had a perfect dozen the other night and they asked that we pass that dozen on to the neighbors.
What selfless birds chickens are...
They did have one request, however. In my last post I described how I sell my surplus of eggs. The chickens thought it only fair that I take some of their hard earned dough and go buy them some Christmas decorations for the coop. (I have a confession, I already decorated it for fall and Christmas festoons are much more fun), plus I couldn't ignore their pitiful expressions when they mustered up the courage to ask and thought, Well, they can't go themselves to the Dollar Store. I guess I can go for them.
I spent exactly $10 on barn decor that I will probably not be able to use for next year. (I'm cheap, but not THAT cheap...) I think the barn looks a little merrier now:
I think chickens are an animal that knows when you are doing something nice for them. I also feel like "Happy chickens produce more eggs!"
Jimmy and Charlie don't get any decorations on or near their stalls...I wanted to, but I don't trust the decorations wouldn't get eaten. They are so starving after all.
Happy decking your own halls this Christmas season!
                                                                                                       ...cluck... cluck... cluck...


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Secret Santas


I am very happy to report that we are still getting right around a dozen eggs a day. Sometimes we get up to 13 or 15 and other days the girls slack off and only produce 9, but this momma can't complain!

So what do we do with a dozen eggs a day? Often I get egg requests from family and friends. It's a pretty well known fact now in the extended family circle that Becca always has eggs to pass out. In October it was simple. I would stalk pile my hoard throughout the week and take the crop down to Shaw Farms on the weekend and pass them out to family.

Even after the pumpkins have long been disked under and earth freezes over I still have aunts and cousins who will gladly take several dozen at a time off my hands.

There are times when travel is not in any one's plans and I have an egg over-load on my hands. FINALLY after almost an entire year of people telling me to start selling my over stock I decided, why not try it out?

This summer I went to Hobby Lobby and made a cute sign to stick out in the yard whenever I have an abundance in my fridge. (Even if no one stops, maybe they get a smile out of cool sign.)

YES you read that price correctly. $1.00 for farm fresh eggs. They aren't "organic" so I don't feel as if I can charge an arm and a leg. A lady right down the street sells hers for $1.50 and I hear the Amish have raised their prices to $2.00. So I feel like I need to be cheaper than the competition. Plus where I live a lot of people own chickens or know somebody who does. It's a pretty common thing. Not like in the suburbs where fresh eggs are a rare thing. (I have a relative who lives close to Columbus and pays $3.00 a dozen.) Also, the advantage of being married to a grain farmer, I don't pay anything at all towards the feed for my birds. (Thank goodness too! I would not own chickens if I had to buy a bag of chicken feed at TSC for $18.00 a bag!)

Anyhoo, I have come to learn that placing my sign out during the week draws in no business. If I put the sign out on a weekend day, I can sell out in a day. Weird, huh? My biggest customer if my "neighbor" who owns the property next to the field that separates us. She and her husband come out on the weekends and if she sees my sign, she stops in and takes all I have to sell. She has also given me oodles of egg cartons.

Another lady asked me once if I ever needed carton, which I never refuse, and said she's stop in and drop them off. Now one day back in October I was surfing the Internet all dressed up in my sweat pants and a sweatshirt, laying on the couch. It was the middle of the day and I couldn't have felt more like a bum. Actually, I think it was one of those days where I wanted to die. (First trimester of pregnancy, folks. I was so nauseated I couldn't get off the couch.) I'm laying there and I hear someone come up to the front door. Normally people pull in our driveway and use the back door. At first I thought it was the mailman or UPS dropping something off and my first instinct was to grab the computer and run. I didn't want anyone seeing me in my near-death state. So I ran into the kitchen and waited. No one knocked and all seemed quiet again. When I opened the door and went out on the front porch, I started to laugh. There was a stack of egg cartons.

This isn't the first time someone had dropped off cartons and left. In fact, a bag of them ended up on my neighbor's mailbox...someone thinking it was our mailbox.

I think it's funny people are beginning to know me as having chickens and I get these random surprises.

I added the above stack to the supply in the cold room, where we can grab a  carton and go collecting, or add it to the stack in the barn because we are always coming home and going straight to the barn!

                                                                              ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Angry Birds


This post has no photo to accompany it. Sorry. I tried to take a good picture to show my meaning with our angry birds, but thanks to the chain mail protecting the door of The Fortress, it made it impossible to photograph the congregation of cluckies gathered there every morning.

Any morning the chickens don't get let out of the coop before 8 A.M. (which is about everyday) we always joke that the chickens are mad. And I really believe that they are. The chickens all gather around the door, pushing and shoving each other aside, trying to see out and when a human might be coming along to free them for the day. After all, they have a stressful schedule to keep. Bugs to dig up, corn to eat from the steer stuffer, walls to fly over or fences to go under, eggs to hide around the barn for us to look for later. I will worry when the day comes and I go outside in the morning and no one is standing there mad at me because they've done been up for at least an hour and are ready to start the day.

The chickens HATE New Years. They know it is the one night a year Dan and I stay up past midnight and it will probably be 9 or 10 in the morning before they get let out.

I tried to find anything that told me how long a chicken sleeps. For example, we know cats sleep like 20 hours out of the day. I know horses will nap up to about 4 hours a day. But how long does a chickens sleep?

I doubt the hens get much shut eye. A rooster will crow any darn time he feels like it. Since I've been getting up two or three times a night to use the bathroom, just this morning I heard Cad-Buddy or Chicken Hawk crowing around 3 A.M. (I'm surprised our neighbors haven't T.P.ed our house yet.)

I figured chickens woke up when the sun came up. I don't think this is necessarily true. I've heard different things as to why a rooster will crow. Some say it's to tell predators they survived the night. (So why would mine crow with three hours of darkness left?) Others say a rooster will crow whenever he feels like it and for any reason he feels like it.

So why the misconception of roosters crowing when the sun comes up? Chickens ARE birds and birds are most vocal in the A.M.

I don't know. I'm no chicken expert, I just know mine. I know I sleep with a fan on so I'm not woken up at ungodly hours. I know I cringe when I do hear them, praying the neighbors don't decide to get violent over it. And I know that every morning I walk out to the barn is not early enough to let the angry birds out for the day.

                                                                                              ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! From all of us here on the Shawhan farm!
Dan and I are thankful for so much this much that I won't name them all on here and bore everyone.
The chickens are thankful for the obvious...we usually don't eat chicken on Thanksgiving. They ARE thankful to be alive, however, since someone...not I...forgot to lock them inside the other night. Thankfully everyone was safe and accounted for in the morning.
Remember to celebrate the day and remember how truly blessed we all are!
                                                                                         ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Danimal Egg Sandwich


Something I want to try and incorporate in my chickie blog this year is egg and chicken recipes. My goal is to try these recipes before sharing them. If anyone has any chicken or egg recipes, PLEASE e-mail them to me at:

My first recipe is dedicated to my husband, Dan. Hence I named it, The Danimal Egg Sandwich.

This easy-to-make sandwich is what powers my man through the morning hours, at least 90% of the week. He likes it for breakfast, but it is a fulfilling meal no matter what time of the day you wish to make it.

Dan has a special 4 (or 3) inch skillet whose soul purpose in life is to be used in the making of these sandwiches. A small spatula is also useful since you must flip the egg at some point in the cooking process:

Before breaking the egg(s) in the pan, spray it with cooking spray.

Over medium/medium-high heat, break the egg into the skillet and stir it up. (Dan likes to use either one BIG egg or two SMALL eggs.)

Let the egg cook for a few minutes. Meanwhile go ahead and start your two pieces of toast.

Once the first side of egg has cooked, carefully flip the egg. Here, you'll see why a small spatula works so well. You can tell the egg needs flipped when you check the underside and see that it's done.

Once the second side is done, place on toast. We like to add cheese slices to our sandwiches. Dan will use two, whereas I prefer only one. The finished product is a healthy, filling breakfast, using only cheese, bread and egg.

If you want to add anything else, this simple recipe is like a blank canvas. Sometimes Dan will add slices of's all in whatever you prefer.

Hope you try The Danimal Egg Sandwich and you enjoy it!

                                                                                                ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chickies and Dinos...A Post 65 Million Years in the Making


"The compys didn't look dangerous. They were about as big as chickens, and they moved up and down with little nervous jerks, like chickens."
(Crichton, 559)
I wanted to start my second year of blogging on dino-scale proportions. The timing couldn't have been any better. I just read Jurassic Park, by the very talented Micheal Crichton, for the second time in my life. (Currently I'm reading The Lost World which I've never read before.) I wanted to start posting again with an interesting topic, so as I'm reading this book about re-creating dinosaurs that many believe to have evolved into our modern birds, I caught a special on TV about the exact the same thing. Sad to say I only caught the last 15 minutes of this program, called Dinosaurs: Return to Life? but what I saw had some pretty cool information. Plus I have evidence of it all right in my back yard!
" 'So these velociraptors look like reptiles, with the skin and general appearance of reptiles, but they move like birds, with the speed and predatory intelligence of birds' " ~ Ian Malcolm
(Crichton, 168)

I am sure most of you have heard of the idea of dinosaurs evolving into birds and have seen the movie Jurassic Park. (The book is better. I HIGHLY recommend it, but beware, there are some graphic parts.) This theory seems to be a popular one and the TV program Dinosaurs: Return to Life? gave examples to prove this theory. For example, most dinosaurs that stood upright on two legs had arms and hands with 3 fingers. Scientists think that these arms and fingers evolved into wings. A chicken wing has three "fingers" or bones as one can see by looking at a chicken skeleton. They also highlighted a chicken foot as being almost the exact replica of a dinosaur foot:
Again, dinosaurs that walked upright had 3 toes, as do modern-day birds/chickens.
Another link they pointed out are the scales on chicken feet. Despite some proof that dinosaurs had feathers, they had scales too.
Scientists today are working at genetically modifying chicken legs by adding in the feather-growing gene to produce feathers on their legs. (Though my Light Brahmas have those???) Anyhoo, they feel like they can reverse those genes and have feathery legs and also change those wings back into hands.
Are we going to have genetically-altered dinosaurs like in the book?
"In fact, the velociraptor conveyed precisely the same impression of deadly, swift menace Grant had seen in the casowary, the clawed ostrich-like bird of New Guinea."
(Crichton, 168)
The TV show said it would be hard and would take a lot of time for us to grow a dinosaur from scratch. (In the book it took them 10 years...) But we can alter smaller things such as the feathers/scales and arms and hands/wings. If scientists DID create a dinosaur, the popular bird of choice to begin with would be an emu. From an emu, we could get a raptor-sized dinosaur.
" it came forward, it looked from side to side, moving its head with abrupt, bird-like jerks. The head also bobbed up and down as it walked, and the long straight tail dipped, which heightened the impression of a bird. A gigantic, silent bird of prey."
(Crichton, 472)
I've always said the chickens look like dinosaurs with their movements. (Of course some of that came from watching the movie Jurassic Park.) And we have always said we have a flock of velociraptors in our backyard. I just hope to never see the REAL thing hanging out in my barn!
                                                                                             ...cluck... cluck... cluck...
Crichton, Micheal. Jurassic Park.  Boston: G.K. Hall & Co. 1990.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wrapping It All Up


This post is called Wrapping It All Up because I have now blogged about my chickens for one whole year. My first post was last October 27th...the day the Chicken Lady phenomenon began.  This is also my 100th post! Chronicles of a Chicken Lady is the only creative writing project that I have successfully stuck with, setting aside days I would post and sitting at the computer at 10:00 on a Sunday night when I would rather be in bed. I have shared my success stories and my failures, which I might add, is not easy. But I am very proud of myself for creating this project and maintaining the discipline to do it, even when I didn't want to and when I was grasping at straws for something to write about. So, go me!

I also want to thank everyone who reads my chronicles! You all mean so much to me. I am still in awe at the number of people who talk to me about it and really show me that they are out there listening and reading. That is something I'd like to work on in the future, is trying to get Chronicles out there to more than just my Facebook friends.

That being said, I have no plans to stop writing Chronicles of a Chicken Lady. In fact, I have even more ideas and plans for my blog in the next year to come. I have decided to take a week or two off because I want to experiment with the site and make a few changes to give it a fresh look for year 2. Plus, I don't want to ever burn out my readers! (That's why I limited my posts to 2 a week.) I think some people already think I have no life since all I post on Facebook are my chronicle links!

As I have been re-reading my posts over the past year, I see that I have made comments or have posted stories/incidents that I never really cleared up. Or that may have left some people wondering, whatever happened with that? I went back and tried to see where any of those instances may have occurred and will try to touch base on them in this post. (This is something I plan to work on over the next year...making sure I have follow-ups on some of my posts that need it.)

So here goes:

In the post Weasel Trappin' I talked about the few times we set our weasel trap and came up with nothing. Last spring we sort of stopped out attempts at catching Mr. Weasel. So his status is still GUILTY and is running at-large. There is still a warrant out for his arrest and death sentence. Now that the weather is turning colder again, I feel we will have a much better chance at catching him. I plan to do some library research as soon as this afternoon in catching/trapping weasels. I could care less if it is illegal...I will not have my chickens attacked and destroyed. I pay for those, so if I get in trouble, the law can repay me so I can buy more chickens. I will of course let you know what I find out and how the trapping efforts go.

Farmers Don't Want to Come Home to an Omelet...this was a popular post, since most of my embarrassing stories are. I just wanted to let you know I have never tried egg-based homemade beauty remedies since and I have no plans to do that in the future.

Saddle Up! I never did buy my ladies "chicken saddles". I'm too cheap and I figure Laura Ingles Wilder never made "saddles" for her girls either.

A Chronicle Mystery: The Case of the Deposited Kittens this is sort of still ongoing actually. It was scary the number of cats we found in our barn that day. My idea of not feeding them in hopes of them moving on helped. In just a few days we were seeing only 3 or 4 cats roaming around. I had given 2 of them names and as soon as I did, one got hit on the road. Some of them ended up at the neighbors. One in particular, Marshmellow, was never tame enough when it was in our barn. It went across the street and became loveable, but it never grew. Now Marshmellow is back at our barn, tame, but is still not growing. I gave it a Fancy Feast sample this very morning that Kroger's had sent me in the mail.

In Scratch Out at the O'Kluck Corral, I saw Cad-Buddy and Chicken Hawk going at it like never before. I have never seen this behaviour since. Maybe that was the only time and they worked it out amongst themselves who is boss and who is the lower peon. Both boys seem healthy and no one is covered in blood...or dead.

The Bates Motel...the bottom floors are the only ones used. We can find up to 5 or 7 eggs a day in one box of the main nest box and yet 4 other nesting places are available. Some of the chickens are not so afraid of the Bates Motel to not stand on top of it at night. Also that Zac guy from Ghost Adventures hasn't been out to look for paranormal activity yet.

My First (and Failed) Attempt at Chicken Stew is STILL my first attempt. I haven't tried it with a store-bought chicken yet, but I still plan on making it making it one day. I also recently threw away the other Amish bird. I didn't think anything good would come out of it.

I am very happy to report that we haven't had any other cases of Coccidiosis! Also, this is something all animals can get...not just chickies.

Our Dueling Sitters are longer brooding...thankfully. Two at one time was too much. I don't think anyone sat longer than the others, and I have a feeling either both of those girls, or at least one of them, is going through the molt right now.

And last but not least, Crutchy the Comet is doing well. She no longer limps, but is running strong through the steer lot!

Speaking of the steers, A.K.A. Beefy Boys: this past year their gang consisted of Bert, Ernie, Chum, Jiblet, Big Mac and Chuck. All of the boys besides Bert and Ernie have met their fate in the last month and a half. However, Bert and Ernie's days are numbered. They were a part of our story and the newbies, who will be arriving shortly, will continue to make appearances in my posts.

I think that wraps it up! One whole year of chicken drama, with LOTS more to come! Please keep reading and sharing as I will continue to learn right along beside all of you. I'll be back in a week or two and will be posting again on Sundays and Thursdays!

Love You All and a big THANK YOU! from the bottom of my heart!

The Chicken Lady

                                                                                                ...cluck... cluck... cluck...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Feel Pretty


"I feel pretty,
Oh so pretty
I feel pretty and witty and bright!"

Oh goodness...has the month been SO busy that I have not been watching my flock very closely? The other night as I was locking chickies in for the night, I saw something that made me do a double-take. There perched on the bar connected to the nest box, I saw a chicken I didn't recognize. I thought, What an odd looking Silver-Laced Wyandotte I have. Why haven't I seen her before? No...that's not who I think it is. Did this chicken get into a fight? She looks OK.

Then I realized what I was looking at...a molting chicken who was re-growing her pinfeathers! Had I really been absent from the coop that long? Or did this suddenly decide to take place and FINALLY re-grow!? After looking around at everyone else, I saw a Light Buff Brahma going through the same thing (the white chickens with feathers on their feet). But the first chicken...Holy Cow..she looks AWFUL! (Like she's been rode hard and put up wet...sorry for the crude analogy, but I honestly don't know how else to describe it!)

Thankfully, molting is a completely painless process. Molting will occur during a chicken's second autumn, and, like egg production, it's also linked to the amount of daylight hours. The waning sun (daylight savings, anyone?) tells the bird to get ready for winter and re-grow some feathers. Some chickens molt for 4 weeks and can go as long as 12 weeks.  Usually the molt begins at the top of the head and works it's way down to the booty. Some chickies will lose all their feathers at once, and others lose them more gradually (like Prissy). Next, tiny pinfeathers grow in...these make me want to itch for some reason...I don't know why.

Here's a decent picture of whitey's pinfeathers:

Molting takes a lot of energy from the hen and usually affects egg production. The body puts all it's energy into growing new feathers, which are 85 to 90% protein. Chickens help to maintain the heath of their feathers by taking dust baths which helps to rid the body of mites, lice and parasites. After a refreshing romp in the dirt, chickens will preen their feathers. During preening, the chicken takes oil which is secreted at the base of the feather, onto her beak, and distributes it over her body. I guess that are too good for Herbal Essences.

These girls look horrible, but they remain in good spirits. I'm guess from the constant musical numbers from West Side Story they are excited to become pretty again. I was outside this afternoon and I heard:

"See the pretty girl that mirror there?
Who can that attractive girl be?
Such a pretty face
Such a pretty dress
Such a pretty smile
Such a pretty me!"
Cad-Buddy and Chicken Hawk are excited too. They told me they are sick of some of these older ugly broods. (You'd think Foghorn was back...)
Our first Light Brahma who went through this, is now the prettiest in the flock. I can't wait to see what the end result of this is going to be!
                                                                                                    ...cluck... cluck... cluck...
Urquhart,  Kristine, Mercedes. "Molting Matter." Chicken Magazine  September/October 2012: 10+