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...