Thursday, September 18, 2008

wildlife sighting

From my second-floor study a few minutes ago I saw a flash of the brown and cream barred pattern of a Red-tailed hawk flying across the yard. It disappeared in an evergreen tree not far from the chicken pen. Although there had been no warning squawks from the chickens, everybody had taken cover except for Punkster, who stood frozen beside the egg-laying hutch. I watched for a while. Punkster didn't move, could've been cement. No sign of the hawk.

I wasn't too worried because there's netting over the top of the pen. I went outside, followed by Darwin. Punkster and everybody else didn't move until I reached the bottom of the stone steps leading to that part of the yard. The spell broke, all the chickens emerged from inside the mini-barn and under the hutch. A squirrel started chattering from a tree to the right and a Steller's Jay screeched from a tree to the left. The hawk was gone

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Found a link to the chicken book that's better than Amazon:
Chickens in Your Backyard

Eggs for winter

This about wraps up a year of chickens. The hens are still laying regularly but will slack off as the days get shorter. They'll need the break, so I don't plan to add artificial light to the coop until much later in the winter. Meanwhile, I'll have eggs for cooking because I'm freezing them.

Eeewwww, you think, frozen eggs. Warning: do not freeze in shell unless you want to eat crunchy bits of calcium after you thaw out exploded eggs. According to the book Chickens in Your Backyard, mix fresh eggs with half a tsp salt or one tsp honey for each cup of egg and freeze them in ice cube trays. When they're frozen, put them in plastic freezer bags and they should keep all winter and more, as long as the power doesn't go out for three days or somebody leaves the freezer door open....

One egg equals about 3 Tbsp of thawed eggstuff. Yolks and whites can be frozen separately if you're really picky and only the yolks need the salt or honey. I have been known to forget a bag or two in the freezer and find their little frozen bodies in the spring--the following year. But I'm sure other people are much better organized.