Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fun Facts about Chickens

I compiled this list about 6 years ago when I worked at Seattle Tilth as their City Chicken Coordinator.  I just found it again when doing some research.

  • A chicken will lay bigger and stronger eggs if you change the lighting in such a way as to make them think a day is 28 hours long!
  • Chickens can travel up to 9 miles per hour.
  • There seven distinctive types of combs on chickens: rose, strawberry, single, cushion, buttercup, pea, and V-shaped.
  • Unrelated to the chick, the male cock-of-the-rock bird earned the name "cock" because of its rooster-like appearance and combative behavior. The female of the species influenced the word "rock" being added to the name because of her habit of nesting and rearing the young in sheltered rock niches.
  • There are four places in the United State with the word "chicken" in their name. Chicken, Alaska; Chicken Bristle; in Illinois and Kentucky; and Chicken Town, Pennsylvania.
  • The largest chicken egg on record was nearly 12 oz., measuring 12 1/4" around.
  • The greatest number of yolks in one chicken egg is nine.
  • The record for laying the most eggs: seven in one day.
  • There are more chickens in the world than any other domesticated bird. More than one chicken for every human on the face of this earth.
  • The longest distance flown by any chicken is 301 1/2 feet. (as the crow flies)
  • Every bird and mammal except the spiny anteater experiences REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
  • Did you know that some breeds of chickens can lay colored eggs? Sure enough, the Ameraucana and Araucana can lay eggs colored in shades of green or blue, depending on the breed and it's ancestry.
  • In 1994, 73,866 million eggs were produced in the U.S. proving once again the U.S. has the best darn chickens in the world.
  • China not only has the most people in the world, but also has the most Horses with 10,000,000 and chickens with over 3,000,000,000 of them.
  • Chickens and turkeys are known to cross-breed, these breeds are known as "Turkins".
  • The term 'Chicken Pox' didn't come from people believing that they came from chickens, it came from the Old English term 'gican pox' - which means the itching pox.
  • Alektorophobia - Fear of chickens.
  • Laid head to claw, KFC chickens consumed worldwide would stretch some 275,094 miles. They would circle the Earth at the equator 11 times or stretch from the Earth approximately 50,094 miles past the moon.
  • There are approximately 450 million chickens in the United States.
  •  Chickens make sounds with actual meaning. They give different alarm calls when threatened by different predators.
  • A rooster will attack anything that he thinks will harm the hens ( that includes humans ). Their spurs (located at the back of their leg ) can cause a very painful puncture wound.
  • If a rooster is not present in a flock of hens, a hen will often take the role, stop laying, and begin to crow.
  • In Gainesville, Georgia - the chicken capital of the world - it is illegal to eat chicken with a fork! [Source: local ordinance]
  • McDonald's in India doesn't serve beef -- only chicken, mutton and fish. [Source: notice displayed in McDonalds Bombay outlet]
  • The closest living relative of the t-rex is the chicken.
  • The waste produced by one chicken in its lifetime can supply enough electricity to run a 100 watt bulb for five hours.
  • The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds.
  • There are more chickens than people in the world.

I am not sure how correct some of these facts are, but some are pretty darn fun!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The First Eggs of 2013

I just went out to check on the chicken's water and feed, and look what I found!

Four little, white eggs!

I was just planning to close them into their coop for the night! 

I am so happy! They are little eggs, but they are gorgeous. The shells are not quite as thick as I would like but for the first try they did great (meaning: they have shells)! Just means I will have to add some calcium to their diets.  

They might not lay anymore for the next few days, but hey these are some beautes! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Laundry Day

Sunday is laundry day.

It always has been for me. It always will be. Sunday mornings, I do all my laundry and clean the house while it splishy splashes away in the laundry room/ larder / guest room.... I have a small house.

Today, half way through the pile of clothes that needed to be washed, I ran out of laundry detergent. I still had another couple loads to do and I was in a groove, so instead of putting on a bra and heading to the store, I made my own.

Ok, that isn't quite right, I made a batch of laundry detergent about 2 months ago. I actually like how it cleans our clothes so I have all the ingredients to make another batch.

I found the "recipe" at and went to town.

Pretty easy actually

1 Bar of Fels-Naptha (you can use Ivory too)
1 Cup of Borax
1 Cup of Washing Soda (you can actually make that yourself by baking Baking Soda!)

So you take a bar of soap, preferably a laundry soap like Fels-Naptha or Zote, you can also use a soap like Ivory. Each bar cost me .99 cents.

I've heard you can use soaps like Dove, but I think I will stay away from moisturizing soaps for laundry.

You grate the soap using a cheese grater. I had considered using my food processor, but I love it too much to take a chance on breaking it. So hand grate it is and there is only one or two slivers of my flesh in there!
 Once grated, you add a cup of Borax.  A box of Borax cost me $3.89.

Borax is used as a water softener which, in turn, helps the detergent to work better.

Next you add a cup of Washing Soda Powder...

I didn't have washing powder...

So I made washing powder by cooking baking soda in the oven at 500degrees for 30minutes. Basically, if you evaporate the water molecules out of baking soda you get washing powder.

But this giant bag of baking soda cost me 12 bucks at Costco and I have used it for both uses. Win!

By the way, washing powder is caustic, poisonous and no longer edible so don't try to use it for cooking after this process.
 Baking my baking soda into washing powder!

Easy peasy, take baking soda, stick it in a pan, bake it at 500degrees for a half hour, you can see the difference in consistency when you take it out of the oven.

The powder is a finer consistency than when it went in a baking soda.
Then you mix everything in a big bowl and mix well for a few minutes. Make sure that everything is mixed together very well.

Avoid breathing in the powder, it doesn't feel too good inside your nose.

Then store it in a air tight container.

You only need to use a tablespoon of detergent per regular load. I take that to mean a tablespoon for medium fill in a normal size washing machine.

For the boyfriend's grease covered stuff I tend to use two. But that is just because I have issues.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

25 Pounds of Strawberry Love!

This is what 13 and a half
pounds of strawberries looks like.

I loves me some strawberries!

I loves going out to Harvold's Berry Farm every June and picking a whole bunch and making them into all sorts of nummy things!

This year I took the boyfriend's daughter with me and put her to work toiling in the hot sun!  Ok, I wasn't quite that cruel, but I did threaten to throw slugs at her...

But those tiny tween fingers picked 12 lbs of strawberries on their own! So in total today I came home with 25 POUNDS of strawberries. For get this... TWENTY-FIVE BUCKS!!

Now I know you are saying, "Holey strawberry shortcakes, Angelina! What are you going to do with 25 pounds of strawberries?!"

my cool hulling tool..
an old grapefruit spoon
And I will look solemnly at you, shake my head and say, "EVERYTHING!"

First thing I did when I got home was wash and hull 12 pounds of strawberries. I spread them out on wax paper covered baking sheets and they in the freezer as we speak.  Once they are frozen solid I will separate them into gallon ZipLoc freezer baggies and those babies will keep me in smoothies and cold snacks for months!

Next I took 5 lbs and made Strawberry-Lemon Jam.  A new recipe from a book my boyfriend's mother gave me for Xmas. Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. There are quite a few interesting recipes in there so I can't wait to give it a try this harvest season!

Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry

I am canning another 5 lbs for strawberry cheesecake, shortcakes, ice cream topping and whatever else I want to cover with canned strawberries.

I will go into more detail in a separate post on how to can strawberries as opposed to making jam!

I still have some strawberry jam left from last year, 3 pints, and those go to the front of the shelf to be used first.  I don't use pectin in my jam and last years batch was a bit runny, but it is awesome over pancakes and ice cream so it goes pretty quick.

Lastly, I have about 3 lbs of strawberries to send home with Trinity for her and her mother, for all her hard work at the strawberry patch and there will be a few for dessert tonight!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Soakin' It In

Earlier today, as I was procrastinating by walking the boyfriend's dog, Olive, I wandered over to visit with my friend, James. James is married to Sandy who runs Urban Land Army (which she needs to update sometime soon.. hint, hint).  Anyways I caught James just in the middle of laying in his soaker hoses in the garden. Something that I needed to do myself... But I decided to walk Olive another half mile instead.

But when I got home, I noticed it instantly,the glaring omission of soaker hoses in my garden and I was ashamed. So, I pulled up my big girl pants, changed out of my running shoes and got down to the nitty gritty of laying down 75 feet of hose.

 For those of you who might not know why gardeners might use soaker hoses, it's mainly because they conserve water, they get the water directly to the roots and they are much cheaper than putting in a drip hose or underground water system.

There are many different kinds of soaker hose; some are made of recycled tired, some are made of neoprene, some are made of high density fabric and some are simply hoses with holes drilled in them in intervals. All do the same thing, they water the roots of the plants which is where the water needs to go.

They are also good for reducing the amount of water that you use.  You are not watering the sidewalk or the neighbors yard or the side of the house, which might be the case if you use a sprinkler.  The water goes directly to where it needs to go.

Also with soaker hoses you water deeply which encourages the roots of your plants to spread wider and more deeply making them stronger and healthier. This again then conserves water as those wider, deeper roots are able to locate more water and drink deeply, which makes the need to water less frequent.

Soaker hoses are cool.

I am currently using the fabric flat hose by Gilmour. (No, I don't get a kickback from them for saying that, although I wouldn't mind.) These hose are AWESOME!

I've used the recycled rubber ones and the neoprene hoses, but these are flexible, light weight and pretty freaking durable. I have cut through one too many rubber soaker hoses with my shovel and those are a bugger to put back together...  Also they fold up small and store well for the winter, which can't be said for the rubber and neoprene hoses.

I already had one and needed a couple more for my project today so off I ran to the hardware store. I could only find the 25 foot soakers at the local giant box hardware store so I grabbed two. And headed home.  They are inexpensive, ten bucks at the local box hardware store  and you can screw them into each other in order to make them longer.

You can also find them on Amazon: Gilmour Weeper/Soaker Hose 25-Foot 27025G

Slightly more, but you can find the 50 and 75 foot lengths which has been hard for me to do locally. But I am a lover of instant gratification so I just grab the 25 foot lengths and screw them together.

Now one garden bed and my tomato bed are hosed. I need two more 25 or a 50 footer for the second long bed and a 25 footer for my herb bed. I'll get to that tomorrow... Although I admit I do enjoy standing outside in the morning before I head to work water my garden, at least now I can stand and stare at my garden lovingly while cradling a cup of coffee. Win-win!

Caw! Caw!

This morning a baby crow came into the yard.
Her parents are watching, vigilantly
I fear my eyes will get pecked out....

There is currently a baby crow in the yard.  I like crows, I find them entertaining. They make sure that the squished bits of squirrels are cleaned from the streets. They are smart.

Crows are in the Corvid family and that includes, magpies, ravens and jays. They are very smart critters and some can  even learn to speak.

This time of year, the young are kicked out of their nest and become fledglings. They cannot fly yet, but the parents are always close and they will continue feeding them for about another month or so.

So, currently, I have to keep my eyes to the sky while the parents protect their little one.