December 30, 2012

Twelve days of chickens...Carmen

And the final post of the Twelve Days Of Chickens!

Carmen Miranda, our Polish Crested, has been the star of the flock since the beginning. Referred to as Big Bird, “the Blonde” or a character from Dr. Seuss. Her personality is as different as her looks.
  She lives in her own world when free grazing, focused on finding a bug or worm. I really believe her eyesight blocks most of her view and she has tunnel vision.
  She stays with the group to a point when they first go out but, she will venture out from the group to investigate something new. With limited vision, she is not as alert as the others.

From the time she was a chick, she also had a very distinctive chirp. Now as a grown-up girl, she makes this horrible noise that sounds like a TV dinosaur call. I hear it when we haven’t been out to take them a treat. But sometimes she just stops in the middle of yard and makes it. I thought it may be a warning sound but the others look up for a second then seem to say whatever and go back to what they were doing. 
  We heard stories that other chicks in a flock will pick on the Polish hens. This was true when she was little, mainly pushing her out of the way for food. Now, grown up, Carmen seems to be holding her own and is more aggressive by pecking back if someone bothers her. She has appeared to earn some respect from the others.
Don't like this white stuff - please move it!
We celebrate today because she laid her first egg. She had started doing the squat when we got close the past few days, just like the other girls before they started laying. This afternoon I checked the nesting box and found her in there for the first time. Shortly afterwards there was an egg, small but beautiful.

December 29, 2012

Twelve Days of Chickens...Julie

Julie Newmar our Light Brown Leghorn has transitioned through several phases in the first 6 months. 

As a chick she was always the fastest, hardest to catch and was nicknamed speedy. She looked very similar to Raquel but her method of slipping away set her apart.

As a teenager, she was the first to get her comb and to date has the biggest.  

It has a distinct shape extending in length toward the back and folds over.

--> Julie and Carmen are the smallest of the flock and seemed to become buddies in the teenage period. They both love bugs and worms and always head straight to the mulch pile to go digging together.  
This white stuff is WHAT?

Julie has maintained her speed by looking like a road runner darting across the yard. She continued to be hard to catch until a month ago when she started laying. She suddenly changed. When you get close to her now she will squat and let you pick her up. When we first let the dogs hang out with them, she was the first to come up and check out Ruby. She now comes up to us all the time and will sometime jump in our laps to see if we have food. 
What's up?

Her eggs were the first off white one we got. Carmen’s are similar but have a little more point to them.



December 27, 2012

Twelve Days of Chickens...Audrey

(For anyone just jumping into this-
The Twelve days of Chickens….
Between now and Christmas/New Years each of us is going to post views and insights about each chicken in our flock (2 people X  6 chickens =12). )

As I mention on Katherine’s post, the Hepburn sisters were always hard for me to distinguish who was who until now. Audrey, now biggest of the two has the larger comb with a large blade at the end, folding over slightly. 
They both have that black and white distinct feather pattern. 
  Looking back at their earlier pictures, its cool how their eyes changed from a green to an orange color.

Both sisters were the first to start laying however we believe Audrey produces from time to time a slight speckled medium brown egg. 
  Audrey is more the Spa type of girl loving to take her dust baths each day. She was the first to dig the hole for bathing. Recently she has invited other ladies in to join her including her sister.
 She is a queen

December 26, 2012

Twelve Days of Chickens....Katharine

For me, it was difficult to tell the difference between the two Hepburn sisters, our Black Barred Plymouth Rocks until recently. Both were out going but have good nature. They are always first to see what is going on.
  Katharine is now slightly smaller than Audrey and has a smaller comb. Maybe out of the two, she is the friendliest or maybe begs the most. 
She will be the first in your lap if she knows you may have something to eat.

Now well trained, they will jump up and steal the food right out of your hands. Both of them are big, fluffy and round. 
Sister Audrey on top
  When they run across the yard it reminds me of a balloon being blown across the yard slightly bumping into the air with a little grace. 


December 25, 2012

A Recipe For Christmas Egg Nog

1960 Christmas
Now that we have our own back yard eggs, eggnog is more special. It has been a tradition in my family to make the eggnog Christmas morning as far back as 100 years based on stories pasted on. The story gets more interesting. My father was a Display Artist and starting in the 50’s to the late 70’s, he was Mr. Christmas. We would have a different Christmas scene in our front yard every year winning countless awards.
Mid 60's Christmas
  Since I was a little kid I remember getting up and my dad would always have the eggnog ready to drink. 
Early 70's Christmas

We were very lucky that he put together this very special recipe for the eggnog in a story. Below I would like to share this unedited original version.
60's Christmas Spread

A Recipe For Christmas Egg Nog

 By John H. Hessen Jr.

Now at last, Christmas morn’ is here,

The last few weeks, too busy to cheer.

Long nights are past, busy weeks end too,

Painting Santa and carolers, holly and yew.

Hanging lights on the house, and on the tree,

A nice yard display, for all to see.

Even last days of rush, where you work are past,

About Christmas Eve, you’re off at last.

The rush to bustling stores to buy,

Last minute gifts, then home with a sigh.

Last night you wrapped so many presents and gifts,

You needed a highball to give you a lift.

Now over your coffee while the family’s asleep,

You start your Egg Nog, Quiet! Not a peep.

Twelve large white eggs I lay out neat,

After separating each, the yellows I beat.

Add a cup of sugar and three quarts of milk,

A cup of thick cream, stir till smooth as silk.

Now do not boil, but bring to a scald,

Then remove from the stove, pot, egg nog and all.

Now into the dining room and into the bowl,

Careful, do not spill, or Ann will scold.

Now back to the kitchen, the whites to beat,

Hurrying now, as you think how time is fleet.

Again to the bowl, add bourbon a fifth,

A cup of good brand, then nutmeg you sift.

Then fold on the egg whites with loving care,

Do a good job for good friends will be there.

Go rouse the family and pour each a glass,

Everyone smile, and lift, it’s no task.

We all give a toast, Christmas morn’ is here,

Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year.
70's Nog

I continue to make my eggnog Christmas morning and this year with homemade eggs. What’s nice is drinking it hot off the stove and as it cools it continues to improve through out the day.  
Twelve large white eggs I lay out neat, ( in this case, all white not required)

After separating each, the yellows I beat.

Add a cup of sugar and three quarts of milk,

A cup of thick cream, stir till smooth as silk.
 Now do not boil, but bring to a scald,
 Now back to the kitchen, the whites to beat,

Again to the bowl, add bourbon a fifth,
A cup of good brand, then nutmeg you sift.
Then fold on the egg whites with loving care,
Do a good job for good friends will be there

Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year.

........Harry and Liz

December 21, 2012

Twelve Days Of Chcikens...Raquel

Raquel Welch is our Easter Egger. The EE's lay pastel green or blue eggs (thus the name Easter Egger). The color egg they lay first will be the color that EE lays for life. She as not started laying yet but it should be any day now. Not only are we excited about having another laying, but the color will be a surprise.

Fluffy Baby...

Teenagers hanging out!

Newly hatched and in the brooder, Raquel's markings were similar to Julie, our brown leghorn. She looked like a chipmunk with a beak! She was, like the rest, a sweet fluff-ball. She an Julie were close in the size till about three months. Then  Raquel absolutely took off growing.  Julie's growth was so much slower that  I became concerned (new mommy -remember). But I did my research, look at photos of sizes each were supposed to be at that age, talked to my chicken buddies. They were both right where they should be. I just LOVE this new education I'm getting! Raquel and Talulah are the biggest in the flock now. Although some of Talulah's size is due to fluff, Raquel's size is just BIG fluff or not. 

Which is mine?

During the summer months, when I was reading everything I could on egg production, I learned that chickens larger in size, like the EE's, start laying later. Bummer…I was ready for eggs then! The two middle-sized barred rocks started laying first. Julie, next to the smallest, started laying right aft they did. Raquel should be next. She certainly acts ready! 

Sunbathing and ignoring Talulah. 

Raquel's favorite pastime is also dust bathing. She's bigger, has strong claws and gets a hole ready faster than any of the others.  Once she gets settled into the hole she dug -all by herself - the others suddenly show and want her to share! She doesn't try to chase them away but she makes sure her large body and out-stretched wings leave little room for any of the others!


Twelve Days Of Chickens...Talulah

For anyone just jumping into this, each of us is going to post views and insights about each chicken in our flock (2 people X  6 chickens =12).  Today is my post about Talulah.

At almost six months Talulah is a really beautiful chicken. When she starts laying eggs they will be dark brown or chocolate colored, (not chocolate covered as my granddaughters thought I said)! Right now she spends a lot of time checking out the egg boxes, either practicing or making sure they are up to her standards. She is very picky about the coop area also. We keep it filled with a lot of extra straw to help keep  out the cold. For some weird chicken reason she kicks the straw out into the run the minute we get the coop area filled and cozy. We go through this routine several times a day in - even on the coldest days. Yes, chickens can be weird. 

Eagle eye!

She and our Easter Egger are the two biggest chicks in the flock. We've decided that, although she may not be at the top of the pecking order, she's definitely head look-out or maybe Chief of Chicken Police. She's alert to anything in the sky or trees that might mean peril for the others. If she heads for cover so do the rest, immediately.

Welsummers' have a small comb, ear tufts and no wattle.  She's a beautiful chicken with gorgeous golden feathers across her shoulders (like a cape) that really reflect beautifully in the sun...and of course her super fluffy butt that you see more of than any other part of her!

Lazing in the sun.

 As I'm writing this post she is digging a hole to China for the purpose of a luxurious dust bath! Even in this cooler weather they will do anything for a dust bath. I guess Talulah and Raquel are the queens of the dust and not-to-muddy holes around here. Because of their colors they're both good at disappearing down into the ground. 

From this fluffy baby...

to this big girl!

A great gift on Christmas morning would to find an egg from a new layer, or two,  ...chocolate, blue or green!