Monday, December 31, 2012

Clearing The Camera - Snowy Edition

We had quite a bit of snow last week, so one day after taking care of the morning's chores, I went on a walk with my camera. Sylvester followed along and we got some shots that we wanted to share (go here if you'd like to see more photo posts).

We hope you've enjoyed a slice of our snowy homestead!

~Tammy and Sylvester

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Feathered Friend Friday

Welcome to our series "Feathered Friend Friday." Every Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, videos, or funny stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here  

As I mentioned in my last post, we got snow on Christmas night. We didn't get near as much as was forecasted, but it was very windy and cold the following day so the chickens stayed in the coop all day long. Yesterday was not windy at all and a little warmer (the sun even came out!) so the chickens found it suitable to leave the coop and stretch their legs and wings a bit.

They quickly learned that the snow is very cold on their feet so they took advantage of any clear spots they could find, even if it was the bottom of a tree.

If they are forced to stand in the snow for a bit, they often balance on only one leg and hold the other one up close to their body to keep it warm, alternating legs after one is sufficiently toasty.

Once they are done exploring the snow, they high-tail it back to the coop. It always seems to happen when one of the chickens who has been in the coop for a while is ready to come out and play. Traffic jam!

Apparently Ellie wanted to investigate the snow outside the run, because even though we clipped her wings after this debacle, she still found a way to escape! Clever little girl. I caught her and chased her back towards the run and she just started at me in defiance, refusing to jump back inside. Ugh. Eventually I managed to coax her back in.

Do your chickens like to play in the snow? Or do they hide out in the coop if there's snow on the ground?


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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blizzard Preparations

Before we went to bed last night, we prepared for the coming blizzard. We were under a blizzard warning and projected to get 6-12 inches of snow, so we didn't want to take any chances. Better safe than sorry, right?

First order of business was making sure the animals were protected from the wind and snow. We decided to put Duchess inside an enclosure under the carport with most of the guineas. She doesn't like to be cooped up, but with 45 mph winds and lots of snow, I didn't want her out in the open. I put lots of fresh pine shavings in the chicken coop and gave them extra food and water since I figured they may not venture out much the following day. I put the outside cat's house under the back porch where the snow and wind wouldn't get to it and left plenty of food. 

Then I began to focus on the human needs. If our power goes out, we don't have access to water since we get our water from a well, so at my mom's suggestion, we put several buckets of water in the garage for the animals the following day just in case. Then my dad advised us to fill up the bathtub with water for flushing the toilet if need be. We stored several pitchers of water for us to drink and decided to call it a night.

Luckily our power didn't go out and we didn't end up getting a foot of snow. But when we went outside this morning to check on the animals, we learned that in spots the snow drifts were pretty deep.

I mentioned that most of the guineas went under the carport for the night. The first flock we hatched this summer (ones we call the "teens") decided to brave the storm outside on top of the fence for the chicken run where they normally spend the night. I tried everything to get them to take shelter, but it's pretty much impossible to catch guineas who don't want to be caught.

We knew guineas were really hardy birds after finding our flock last year covered in ice one morning and they were just fine, but David was concerned the teens may not make it overnight because of the strong winds. Apparently the teens are just as hardy as their parents because they were all alive this morning!

Once we let Duchess out, she seemed to enjoy running around in the snow and wasn't bothered by the wind at all.

As of right now, the chickens are still in the coop. I saw a couple of the younger ones who have never seen snow before looking out the pop door wondering what was going on. They turned around and went right back inside! Our chickens don't care for the snow too much and really hate the wind, so today isn't their favorite day.

Did you get hit by the blizzard in your neck of the woods? 


Shared with Thursday Favorite Things, Home Sweet Home  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

From Baby and everyone else on the homestead, Merry Christmas from our neck of the woods to yours. We are so thankful that you take the time to read this blog of ours and we appreciate each and every one of you.

Happy holidays!

~Tammy and David

Friday, December 21, 2012

Feathered Friend Friday

Welcome to our series "Feathered Friend Friday." Every Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, videos, or funny stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here 

We had our flock of hens in the city for a couple years before moving to our homestead. We didn't keep a rooster in the city, so we were excited to add one to the flock once we were out here in the country. I remember being very amused the first time I saw our rooster court the hens.

The rooster will do a little dance for the hen to let her know he is interested. He will circle around her while dropping a wing to the ground and purring softly in her ear. Sometimes the hen will squat immediately and make the rooster's job easier, other times she will run away or play hard to get and the rooster will have to get a little more forceful.

I caught our Rhode Island Red rooster, Roosty Roo, wooing our light Brahma hen, Ellie, the other day. Roosty was a gentleman and tried his hardest to win Ellie's affection, but as you can see, she wouldn't even give him the time of day and appeared to be much more interested in pecking around for treats.

Roosty can be pretty rough and just grab the hen by the neck if she's not paying attention to him, but he was exceptionally sweet this time. Sometimes I feel bad for the boys when the girls just ignore them or run away. I guess they are playing hard to get! Typical girls.

Have you ever seen a rooster dance for a hen?


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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our 2012 Christmas Card

The past few years I didn't send out Christmas cards. I wanted to, but didn't put it on my list so it kept getting pushed aside until it was too late. This year back in November, I heard an ad on the radio for 40% off photo cards. I said to myself, "This is the year." As soon as I got home I started our cards and ordered them right away so I could mark one thing off my list.

I really like how they turned out. I wanted them to be personal, so what better way to do that than to show my favorite photos from the homestead this year. I made sure to include a representative for each animal family (dog, cats, guineas, chickens) and of course had to include a photo of us.

As soon as my grandma received her card, she called me and couldn't stop talking about how much she loved it. When I went to visit her earlier this week, she had the card proudly showcased on her coffee table. I love seeing my card displayed in other people's homes!

Did you send out personalized Christmas cards this year? Or is it still on your list? :)


Monday, December 17, 2012

Family Hoosier Cabinet

When my parents got married and bought their first house, it came with an old hoosier cabinet. Somehow, the cabinet made its way to my grandmother's house, where it stayed for many years. When one of my older brothers got married, the cabinet traveled to his new home. I had my eye on it for a very long time, and my brother passed it down to me when my husband and I bought our first home.

Decorated for Christmas :)

I simply adore the fact that it was passed down through the family and eventually found its way to me. To make it even more special, my grandma gave me lots of treasures to fill the cabinet.

This is my favorite piece of furniture and everyone who sees it seems to fall in love with it as well. I have always been one for antiques and vintage items over anything new, so this is such a treasured piece. I think it's so special when the items you surround yourself with have a deep, personal history. I'm so nostalgic and love to imagine my grandmother using the cabinet and china in her day. I often wonder how many times she washed these dishes and replaced them in the cabinet after a long, tiring, but hopefully happy day.

Do you have any treasured hand-me-downs in your home?


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Friday, December 14, 2012

Feathered Friend Friday

Welcome to our series "Feathered Friend Friday." Every Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, or funny stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here        

When we ordered our first flock of chickens over three years ago, David was the one spearheading the process. I wasn't all that into it (I know, hard to believe, right?!) and he was really excited, so I let him take control. He decided it would be fun to get eight different breeds so we would have a varied flock and a colorful egg basket.

One of our original eight named Jobin is a Delaware, which is a cross between a Barred Plymouth Rock and a New Hampshire Red. The breed was created in 1940 by George Ellis of Delaware (hence, the name) with the aim of maximizing meat value. The Delaware was actually a very popular broiler chicken up until the mid-1950's when it was eclipsed by the White Cornish Rock cross. Since then it has steadily declined in popularity and today the Delaware is considered a critically endangered breed in danger of extinction.

As far as egg production goes, Jobin lays fairly well, usually 3-4 large, pinkish-brown eggs per week. Personality wise, she is so cool and laid-back. It might sound strange to say a chicken is cool and laid-back, but Jobin really is! She just goes with the flow and nothing seems to faze her. She is actually David's favorite out of all the chickens because of her personality and how she always chats with him when he goes out for a visit. If he is working on something outside, she is sure to be right there beside him clucking sweetly as if asking what he's up to.

She also happens to be my grandma's favorite of our flock because of the black spots around her neck. Grandma says, "It looks like she is wearing a necklace!"

It makes me sad to think that the Delaware could be extinct one day because Jobin has been such a great member of our flock. Hopefully other chicken keepers will be interested in saving the breed and maybe one day the Delaware will make a comeback. If you are thinking about getting chickens, I'd definitely recommend adding some Delawares to your flock. I think you'll love them!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Easy Cobbler

About a month ago I was catching up with my grandma over the phone, and she told me about an easy cobbler recipe she received from her sister's 95 year old neighbor, Evelyn. Grandma raved, "Tammy, this cobbler is delicious. You won't believe how easy it is. You put the ingredients for the crust on the bottom and the fruit on top, and the crust bubbles up during cooking."

The next couple times I talked to her, she brought it up again, just in case it didn't sink in how great this cobbler was. Last week I went to her house for lunch and she made peach cobbler for dessert using Evelyn's recipe. I finally understood what she was raving about all this time! I decided I had to try this one out myself.

Easy Cobbler
by Evelyn McCubben

1 stick melted butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 t salt
2 t baking powder
2/3 cup milk (I used unsweetened soy milk)
1+ cup sliced peaches (I used frozen peaches from this summer, thawed) or other fruit of your choice with liquid (canned fruit also works if you don't have fresh or frozen)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix butter, sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, and milk in a bowl until just combined. Pour mixture into your pan (an 8x8 baking dish works well).
3. Spoon the fruit on top with any liquid and bake until the crust has bubbled to the top and is a golden brown color, about 40-45 minutes.

Since peach cobbler is just about my favorite thing in the world, I was so happy to find a really easy recipe. It only took me about five minutes to prepare and get in the oven. Waiting is the hardest part! Towards the end of cooking the delicious aroma fills the air and you can almost taste that first bite. The wait is hard, but oh so worth it.


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Monday, December 10, 2012

Clearing The Camera

Here are some recent photos I've taken that I wanted to share. Go here if you'd like to see more photo posts.

Finally got an egg basket!

Fitz loves lazy days.

Foggy sunrise in the woods.

Sunny day with Baby.

I think Fitz looks like a kitten in this photo. I love it because I didn't get to see him as a kitten.

Jasper is conked out!

I can't say no to Duchess when she looks at me with her puppy dog eyes.

We had a torrential downpour last night and the creeks were overflowing.

Wanted to get a cool bokeh shot with the lights. Finally figured it out!

Hope you've enjoyed a slice of our homestead.


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Friday, December 7, 2012

Feathered Friend Friday

Welcome to our series "Feathered Friend Friday." Every Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, or funny stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here      

First of all, I'd like to thank each of you who read and commented on our last post about losing Buttercup. We read every comment and truly appreciate all the kind words. You guys are the best :)

Our chickens stay inside an enclosed run (with our guard dog Duchess) for their protection because there are lots of predators out here in the middle of the woods. We made the fenced in space pretty large since we knew they'd spend most of their time inside and we also wanted to give Duchess some room to roam.

When we are home and are able to keep an eye on them, we will let the chickens out to free range. They stay pretty close to the run but enjoy nibbling on grass and any bugs they can dig up. One of my favorite things to do is sit outside and watch as they happily graze. I find that it really eases any stress or worry and makes me feel instantly calm.

No matter how bad of a day I've had, they can always cheer me up.

They have fluffy bottoms again after their molt!

Spending time with my chickens who are still here has helped me so much after Buttercup passed away earlier this week. Petting their soft feathers and having them jump up on my lap for cuddles makes me realize how much joy they bring to my life and how grateful I am for the time I have with them.

"When the heart grieves over what it has lost, the spirit rejoices over what it has left." - Sufi epigram

Today I am rejoicing, because I have a lot left.


Shared with Tilly's Nest 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Tonight at 6:00 pm, I said goodbye to my sweet girl Buttercup.

She had been sick for a very long time so we knew this day would come. It was a lot of back and forth with her, and I had already said my goodbyes several times before it actually happened.

Still, that doesn't make it any easier. I was glad that I was home when I noticed her slipping away and I was able to put her up on my lap and talk to her for about 15 minutes before she was gone.

I told her that I loved her, and I thanked her for changing my life. I can't even imagine where my life would be today if she hadn't been in it. Everything changed after we got our chickens. We found our passion, realized our dreams, and got up the courage to change our circumstances to live the life we imagined for ourselves. Without Buttercup, none of this would have happened.

The last photo taken of Buttercup

I think that's why it's so hard to let her go. She was so much more than just a chicken. She and the four other girls we have lost so far will always be in our hearts and I will always be thankful for them.


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Monday, December 3, 2012

Indian-Spiced Bean & Tomato Soup

I used to be all about canned beans until my friend Heather convinced me start cooking my own (much cheaper and much tastier). Since then, I've been buying up dried beans and haven't looked back! One of my favorite ways to use cooked beans is in soups, and this recipe has been in my rotation for a few weeks now.

Indian-Spiced Bean & Tomato Soup
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Serves 4-6

1 T olive or vegetable oil
1 finely chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
2-inch piece of ginger peeled and finely grated
1 seeded chopped jalapeno (or more if you like it spicy)
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground turmeric
1/4 t smoked paprika
1 can (15 ounces) peeled plum tomatoes with juice
4 cups cooked kidney beans, plus 2 cups cooking liquid
Pinch of coarse salt

1. Heat oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and spices; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
2. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, beans and their liquid, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
3. Coarsely mash the tomatoes and beans using a potato masher until reached desired consistency; stir to blend.

This is a very thick and hearty soup that is perfect with pita chips on the side. It is inexpensive to make since dried beans are a steal, and if you have a bulk spices bin at your disposal, you can buy the spices for next to nothing. It's also very good for you with the high protein and fiber content from the beans and healing properties of the warm spices.

If you are on a low-calorie diet or simply looking for a healthy bowl of soup with lots of flavor, this is the soup for you!


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