Friday, April 27, 2012

Feathered Friend Friday

I thought it would be fun to start a new series called "Feathered Friend Friday." The plan is that every Friday I will write a post with interesting facts, photos, or funny stories about chickens. I'm a bit obsessed with my girls, so this is a good way to share my love of all things chicken!

My good friend Heather introduced me to PicMonkey since our beloved online photo editor, Picnik, closed down earlier this month. PicMonkey is very user-friendly and there are so many cool features! Much easier to use than Picnik, in my opinion. I decided to play around with my facebook profile picture.

This is my Delaware hen named Jobin ("joe-bin" not "job-in"). Never heard that name before? Then I'm guessing you've never seen the movie I Love You, Man. We watched it while we were in the middle of trying to name our first flock of eight baby chicks. In the movie, the main character is newly engaged and realizes he has no close guy friends to be in his wedding. His solution is to go on "man dates" to find a best man. Hilarity ensues. He's trying to act cool by throwing out random nicknames for one of his suitors, and one of the names he blurts out is Jobin. For some reason, that cracked David and me up, so we thought it would make a good name for one of our chicks! And it ended up being one of my all-time favorite movies, so the name stuck!

Of course, as with all my animals, I hardly ever call her by her actual name. Most of the time it's Jobs for short, or Jobina when I want to make it sound more feminine :)

Jobin lays the prettiest pinkish eggs. She will be three in August, and she still lays really well, usually about 5-6 eggs per week. I've read in the past that a hen's egg production declines sharply after she reaches 18 months of age (hens raised commercially for their eggs are typically slaughtered around that age and sold for their meat because farmers don't think they are worth keeping around for egg production). However, I have not found this to be the case as all my hens are still laying well, usually 4-5 eggs per week. It could be the fact that I allow them to take a break from laying while molting in the winter, whereas commercial farms use artificial light and other methods to keep their hens laying year round (check out this article about the "last battery hen" in the UK being sent to an animal rescue organization. So great!).

Jobin has such a fun, laid-back personality (yes, chickens do have individual personalities!) and is a great member of our flock. Our rooster, Cam, has taken quite a liking to her, and they often sleep cuddled up next to each other on their roost. It's one of the sweetest things I've ever seen!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Seasonal Supper

The first Farmers' Market of the year in our area took place this past Thursday. I heard that one of the farmers was going to have asparagus, so as soon as I saw this recipe I knew that would be our dinner for the night.

The soup was so yummy! The lemon juice stirred in at the end worked really well in combination with all the flavors of the soup. This is definitely going in my rotation of recipes.

On the way home that night, I passed a roadside vendor selling fresh strawberries! I was so excited that I turned my car around and went back to buy some. I saw this post on TheKitchn that called for strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar and it looked amazing. I just subbed my beloved dairy-free cream cheese for the sour cream and went to town.

After making a big pot of the soup, I didn't want to spend forever on a dessert, so this was perfect. I ended up just slicing the strawberries and sprinkling the brown sugar on top, then getting a little bit of cream cheese on my fork before taking a bite of the strawberries. David and I finished off most of them that night in front of the TV!

I'm always so excited when fruits and veggies come back into season each year. Of course you can buy nearly anything you want year round now, but there is something special about waiting to bite into that first sweet, juicy strawberry of the season. I find that when something is in season, I eat so much of it while I can that by the time the season is over, I've had my fill until next year. I think that is ultimately what nature intended!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Be Astonished

I recently discovered the poet Mary Oliver and I'm already obsessed! I saw this quote on a blog I read - "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" and I immediately googled her. That famous quote is from her poem "The Summer Day."

She is inspired by nature and takes daily walks in the woods with a pencil and paper. She started doing this when she was young, about 12 years old, and hasn't stopped yet at the age of 76. She is continually amazed and in awe of the world around her, which totally resonates with me. I have written posts in the past about how I see new things nearly every day living in the woods (here and here) and how it makes me feel like a kid again. That child-like wonder is such a special feeling and I hope that I never lose it.

Every year when spring is about to roll around I think, "There's no way the leaves and blooms will come back this year. Everything is too barren to recover." And every year I am blown away by the fact that color does return. It is the greatest magic trick I've ever witnessed.

No matter how many times I've seen a baby cow running across a field, I always let out a girly squeal when I see it on my way home from work. And jumping baby goats - all bets are off (witness the insanity here and here and try not to squeal).

"Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it."
-Mary Oliver


Monday, April 9, 2012

Meet the Chicks

Here's the story of eight little chickies....

We gave you a sneak peek of the new additions to the Barani family on the last post, but wanted to give them a formal introduction!

They are a couple of weeks old now and are all in the awkward phase of shedding fluff and growing in feathers. 


They look so small still, but they have so many wing feathers in already!

It is truly amazing how fast they grow. We raised our current egg-laying flock from baby chicks, so this isn't our first rodeo. Even still, we are amazed at how much they change each day. It's like magic and makes me feel like a kid again, filled with wonder.

They are currently in the garage until they all get fully feathered here in another couple weeks. After that, we'll move them to their outside brooder until they are about four months old then integrate them with the existing flock. That's always a stressful time because chickens have a very defined pecking order to keep things running smoothly. There's a lot of fighting for about two weeks until they sort out their differences. That will definitely be another post all its own!

We're enjoying them while they are small because it goes by so fast. They'll be laying eggs before we know it!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Catching Up

We've been scarce around these parts lately! With the weather so warm (88 degrees last Sunday!) we spend all our time outside and I don't feel like sitting in front of a computer waiting for my painfully slow satellite internet to upload photos when there's so much change and growth going on outside our back door.

The woods are going crazy right now! The landscape has changed completely in the past couple weeks.

The mayapples are blooming already!

Last week we decided to try letting the chickens free range - supervised - for about an hour before the sun goes down each night. They have a large fenced in area for when we aren't home, but we thought they'd enjoy pecking around the woods and eating some grass and bugs. It's fun for us to watch, too!

Baby hung out in the background.

Cam struttin' his stuff.

As soon as I get home it's into my work boots and out to see what David's up to and enjoy what daylight we have left. I'm usually so excited to get outside and play with the chickens that I don't even change out of my work clothes!

We made preparations for our garden over the past few weeks as well. Borrowed a tiller and made a couple of beds for lettuce and herbs. They're just now starting to sprout so it'll be a few more weeks until we see anything edible. Tomatoes need to be started inside, so we planted our seeds in a makeshift greenhouse in the garage and when they germinate, we will put them under a bright light to help them grow.

The baby chicks are growing like crazy! Haven't been able to get any recent pictures of them, but will try to soon. Spring is so magical out here, we're just trying to soak up every moment.