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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Blowing Out Eggs for Crafts, Christmas Ornaments & Holiday Tableaus




Blowing out your eggs is a great way to save your prettiest or use them for craft projects.  It's easy, especially with the help of the Blas-fix kit (see the link to buy one on amazon.com below).  You can also use a thumbtack, paperclip and plastic coffee stirrer if you wish or a Dremel tool.  If you have a Dremel, it's the way to go, it makes a nice round hole without the spider webbing you sometimes get using anything else.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Randall Burkey Company



Many of you who have been following my blog and facebook page know that my grandparents had a chicken farm. They sold the meat and eggs to support their family all through World War II and right through the early 1970s.

I grew up across the street from their farm, in a house that my grandparents built for my parents as a wedding present. They also built them a chicken house that was at least three times the size of the house...

and as you can see in this photo, came fully furnished with chickens !

But I digress.....
 I have been around chickens almost my whole life.  My brother and I raised chicks when we were young in our homemade cardboard box brooder and then collected their eggs wearing oven mitts so we wouldn't get pecked by the broody hens !  We had a rooster named Bojangles who used to chase us.  We never kept a lot of chickens, and in fact the ones we had as kids lived in a smaller 'brooder' house that was behind our house.

 Living right across the street from my grandparents, I naturally spent a lot of time with my grandmother especially.  I remember spending rainy afternoons lying on her bed flipping through the Randall Burkey Company catalog, marveling at the cute chicks and all the other chicken-related items they have sold since the company started in 1947.   My grandparents always seemed to have a copy of the catalog lying around.

Of course the products have changed over the years and the company has grown. I doubt my grandmother was ordering her hens treats or fancy feeders or waterers.  She certainly wasn't buying any cute little coops or signs for the run, but I bet she placed orders for chicks over the years and maybe even medications for them. 


So imagine my delight when Randall Burkey Company said they would be interested in sponsoring my blog!   Randall Burkey is a company that I have grown up with. Their catalog is the very first one I ordered after we got our first chicks here in Virginia in 2009.  My grandmother died last year, but I just know she is smiling down on me having Randall Burkey as a sponsor. She never understood the way I spoil my chickens, taking photos of them and naming them all, but she always understood quality and practicality - and Randall Burkey Company offers both.

Randall Burkey also sent a box of 'gifts' for my girls.  Although my chickens are very familiar with Mealworm Frenzy, they had never tried the Sunflower Sensation. So I loaded up their hanging treat feeder and let them at it.
It was a HUGE hit as you can see.

A few of the girls seemed interested to learn the ingredients (psst, girls - it's a blend of assorted sunflower seeds, sunflower kernels, oats, oat groats, peanuts, and raisins).

There was also a treat ball in the box. 
  

Since my girls already have one, they decided they wanted to give it, 



along with the Mealworm Frenzy, to two lucky winners !

GOOD LUCK ! And be sure to check RANDALL BURKEY COMPANY for all your chicken needs from chicks to supplies, feed to instructional videos and book

CONGRATULATIONS TO RADISH GIRL THYMES AND LINDA MOFFITT WHO WERE CHOSEN AS THE WINNERS!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sunflower Egg Shell Cups


This coming Sunday, April 1st, we will be hosting the first annual Sunflower Sunday, and hope you'll join us!  It's easy....just plant some sunflower seeds - the only catch is that you have to plant them in eggshells.   The calcium carbonate in the shells will help nourish the growing plants and they make free, 'green' seed cups.




So save your eggshells after you make breakfast this weekend and get planting !

Here's what you'll need:

- an egg carton, egg tray or sectioned tray
- enough eggs to fill the tray
- a package of sunflower seeds
- potting soil
- a safety or sewing pin
- water

Here's what to do:
Poke a hole in the blunt end of the egg with a pin and wiggle it around to enlarge it a bit. 

Carefully crack the top third of the egg and remove it, then rinse the inside and remove the membrane if you wish.

Arrange the shell 'cups' in an egg carton, deviled egg plate or sectioned tray.  My Pet Chicken sells a neat Ceramic 6 Egg Holder that is similar to the one I am using.


Fill each shell 3/4 of the way with potting soil. 

Put two or three sunflower seeds in each 'cup' and press them into the soil. 

Then cover with more potting soil. 

Give a light watering.... 

And put the tray on a sunny windowsill. 


Keep the soil moist, and in two to three weeks you should see the seeds start to sprout.  




After the danger of frost has passed in your area, you can plant the cups outside.  Just crush the shell a bit before planting in the ground. 


Space the cups 16"  apart.  Keep them watered and when the seedlings are 3-4 inches tall, thin out any that you need to for 16" spacing.



With any luck, by July 1st we all should have big, beautiful sunflowers !  Here we are the beginning of June already.

Once the sunflowers bloom, enjoy the cheery yellow flowers, and then cut the flower heads when the backs turn yellow and hang them in a warm dry place to dry the seeds.  Save the seeds for your chickens or the wild birds, and remember to save some seeds to participate in next year's Sunflower Sunday.


The eggshell cups work on any other kind of seeds also and especially those that can suffer blossom end rot will benefit from the added calcium the shells provide.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Vintage Spoon Garden Markers


Toss out those white plastic garden markers ! There's a much nicer way to mark your vegetables and herbs. Vintage spoons make gorgeous, durable markers to use year after year.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Farm Chicks


Welcome to the world peeps !  

The nine newest additions to our flock all hatched over a 24-hour period this past Thursday and Friday.  We had a 100% hatch rate in the Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator in our very first ever time hatching eggs!  Maybe it was beginner's luck but I think it was more a testament to the quality products that both Brinsea and Chicken Scratch Poultry provided to us.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Help your Backyard Chickens Beat the Summer Heat


Did you know that the effects of heat on chickens is cumulative? And that a sudden increase in temperature is more dangerous than a gradual climb. Temperatures between 65-75 are optimal, anything higher starts to cause stress to chickens' bodies. The added blood flow to their combs, wattles and skin reduces the flow to their vital organs.  

Doing all you can to help your chickens stay cool in the summer isn't a matter of 'spoiling' them, it can be a matter of life or death. Chickens have a hard time cooling off, so everything you can do to help them is beneficial.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blueberry Bread Pudding - for the Chickens


Dry bread isn't good to feed to chickens because it can get stuck in the crop and cause an impacted or sour crop.  So what to do with the heels of the loaves or stale bread ?  Well, you can try my Blueberry Bread Pudding with Maple Syrup and Blueberry Sauce Recipe ....and you can make your chickens a nice treat right alongside a pan of Bread Pudding for the family.

Blueberry Bread Pudding (Chicken style)

4 pieces stale bread, cubed
4 eggs, whisked with 2T. of water
1/2 Cup blueberries (or raisins if you prefer)
Honey

Arrange bread in a small baking pan and pour egg mixture over to cover completely. Allow to sit a minute for the bread to absorb the liquid.  Sprinkle blueberries over top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Cool and drizzle honey over the top before serving in the run.  


This is a quick, easy way to use up both extra bread and eggs. My girls absolutely loved it !  



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

National Poultry Day

Yesterday, March 19th, was National Poultry Day.  Apparently no one really knows the origin of the Day, when or where it started, but the concensus is that it was dreamed up by the poultry industry to promote the eating of more chicken.  

Fast forward several decades, and backyard chicken keepers have put a whole new spin on the day, making it a day to celebrate your chickens not eat them !

It's a day to pamper and spoil them, spend time with them and enjoy the peace and tranquility they bring, punctuated by pecking order squabbles, fights over treats and the most affectionate vying for a spot on your lap.

Yesterday I was busy coordinating the activities on our facebook page and have to admit that other than the normal feeding and watering, fluffing the straw in the nesting boxes, collecting eggs and such, I barely paused to toss them a head of lettuce before dashing back into the house.

Although I did make them new nesting box curtains over the weekend...

But this morning I felt bad that my own chickens had been neglected on THEIR day !  
So I first scrambled up some eggs to bring down to them as a peace offering.

While the chickens enjoyed their breakfast, I filled the duck's pool with fresh water. Ten minutes of my time made for deliriously happy ducks.

Then I decided to give the chickens another treat so I turned over the dirt in part of the run and let them have at it.  I just stood back and watched as they delightedly pulled worms, grubs and bugs from the dirt.  It now looks like a bomb went off in the run - but by evening the girls will have thoroughly gone over the area with a fine tooth comb and all the soil will be turned, tilled and smoothed out. Chickens are amazing roto-tillers !


The ducks even abandoned their pool for awhile to join in the fun.


Orange Chicken knows to stick close to the shovel.  She, along with the two Graces, have figured out that the bird near the shovel gets the worm !


I think the chickens have forgiven me for not spending much time with them yesterday.  They are still busily scratching the overturned earth.


But soon, one by one, they will return to the coop to lay their beautiful eggs...

I think it's a fair tradeoff.  We're all looking forward to celebrating next year, but I certainly won't wait another year to spoil my girls.  After all, there's absolutely nothing wrong with spoiled chickens - just spoiled eggs !