Saturday, January 21, 2012

Icy Walk

Last night we had an ice storm.  This morning we awoke to everything covered in ice!  The ice is expected to melt by noon today, but it's cold outside now! 

Come on outside and check it out with me...
These first couple pictures are of ice on the cars.

The guineas were not happy with the ice.  They were up on top of the chicken coop and refused to come down to the ground.  The one on the right has ice on her back - it looks like she put glitter on!

Lets go in the chicken coop and say good morning to the chickens!  They didn't want to leave their coop to go outside, so they were all hanging out inside.  Here's Muffin, lead rooster.  He approved our visit to the coop.  If he didn't approve, he would have attack us.  Today he was friendly.

This is Luna.  Luna doesn't look good.  I'm worried about her.  She just sneezed.  Luna and her sister Virginia are 2 hens that we purchased as adult hens off Craigslist last year.  I will never buy a bird off Craigslist again.  Luna's been sneezing for the past year, since we got her, it just seems to be getting worse now.  She's a great hen, has gotten very friendly, and lays every day.

Cinnamon is laying an egg!

Dotti is looking outside.  Dotti is Muffin's grand-daughter; she's still a pullet.  She lays green eggs.

Here's Freckles, our very first hen - we bought her as an adult with a batch of chicks from an Amish farmer.  She was with us through the early days of chicken-raising.  She's a senior now and doesn't lay anymore.  We couldn't have had a better first mama hen than Freckles.

Let's go for a walk outside...  Bundle up...
Past one of the fields...

I'm heading up to the cemetery.  Looks like someone else, a family of deer, were here just recently.

Rest in peace.  It's quiet out here.  And cold.

The ice is starting to melt in the road.  My hand holding the camera is cold, I'm going to head back now.  Thanks for coming on the walk with me!

Ahhh, nice and warm inside!

Happy Saturday!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Angel Food Cake

To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, I made an angel food cake!  I'm off work today, and I've been wanting to make an angel food cake since I got an angel food cake pan for Christmas!  I actually bought the pan for myself since I realized I didn't have one, and then I also realized I've never made an angel food cake before!  So today was the day!

I downloaded the following recipe from food network.  I really liked that it came with a video on the website that showed Alton Brown actually making the cake.  It looked easy!  I can do this!

The craziest thing is that it takes a dozen egg whites!!!  The recipe calls for an entire dozen!  I actually used 15 egg whites because my eggs are small.  Luckily, I usually have 5 dozen or so eggs in my fridge at any given time.  I do love my hard-working chickens! 

The most important thing is to bring the egg whites to room temperature before baking begins!!  I've attempted to use cold egg whites before to make meringue - they don't get fluffy when they're cold, I guess.  My previous meringue was awful.  And the recipe called for fresh eggs.  My eggs were laid yesterday ~ guess that's fresh enough!

This time, my eggs whipped up higher than could fit in the mixing bowl!  Yeah!  My batter was fluffier than what was shown in the website video.   

For Christmas I also got a new mixer as my old one broke.  This was my first time using it.

My cake pan was pretty small - only 7 inches around. I thought it was cute because it was small. But then I wasn't sure for how long to bake the cake, as the pan was smaller than the one used in the recipe. I ended up baking my cakes for 23 minutes. I made 2 angel food cakes because they were so small. It's important to cool the cake upside down.

I used almond extract in my cakes. You can use any flavoring - the recipe called for orange extract, but said any flavor could be used. The cake turned out light and fluffy ~ just perfect. The cake itself didn't have much flavor, it was just light and airy and moist and good. I served the first one with warmed blueberries. The second one had mixed berries as a topping. Next time I'm going to use another extract other than almond and see how it tastes. There will definitely be a next time for this cake!
I loved this angel food cake - I give it 5 forks up!

Now you go give it a try and let me know how it turns out!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Diesel Fuel Spills in NJ Waters

Although this didn't happen here at Razzberry Corner, this happened to my sister in NJ, and I felt compelled to mention it here.

On January 12, 2012, twenty-six thousand (26,000) gallons of diesel fuel spilled into NJ waterways, including Big Timber Creek, Greenloch Lake and Blackwood Lake.  The area is a country, wooded area, with lakes and creeks. Many animals lived there in and along the waters.  This caused devastation for the animals living in and along the water, and greatly impacted the people in the area.  My sister lives along the water there.  Here's the initial video from a local website about the spill.

The spill is now contained according to the  state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  As of about 8 a.m. Friday, roughly 13,000 of the 26,000 gallons of diesel fuel believed to have leaked from the New Jersey Transit underground storage tanks had been collected, Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer reported. 
The heavy odor of diesel fuel hung heavy in the air and over the water Friday as crews from Clean Venture Inc., a contracted environmental remediation firm, worked to clean up the spill for New Jersey Transit. Workers in protective suits installed 1,300 feet of yellow booms to stop the fuel’s spread. Water vacuums, skimmers and absorbent pads were all utilized during the cleanup.
Residents should not enter the impacted waterways or fish in them or their tributaries until further notice, officials said. New Jersey Transit has installed signs around the area notifying the public of the ongoing cleanup efforts.  Despite the heavy odor of diesel on the waterways, officials say there are no air safety concerns.
Good luck to all those people who live there and who are dealing with this.  I don't know how the animals who used to live in and beside those waters, who depend on those waters to drink, can survive.  Such a tragedy...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Artificial Light in Chicken Coop?

Just thought I'd ask my online friends about artificial light in the coop.  What do you think?  Do you add light in the coop?  There's so much passion among backyard farmers about it.  

Here's my take.  I do it.  I have a light in the coop which stays on about 12 or 13 hours/day.  I think it does help the hens to lay in the wintertime.  Plus my coop just naturally gets dark, it's only got a small window to let in natural daylight.  And that window doesn't face the sunny side at any time of the day.

We have 17 hens and are averaging about 9 to 11 eggs a day right now, in January in Maryland. 

How many hens do you have?
Do you supplement with artificial light?
How many eggs do you get a day?

Here's today's photos.  The coop always looks dirty - I cleaned it a week ago.  This is the nest box scene at 11AM.

There were lots of birds hanging in the coop this morning.

These hens were in the nestboxes this morning:


Chloe.  She's broody.  She's starting to look bad.  We are going to have to break her of her broodiness if she doesn't get over it soon.  She's looking very dehydrated.  Poor girl.

Zoner.  Her name fits her.  She's such a space cadet.  I love her!


We also add plastic eggs in the nest boxes.  The hens seem to like them, although they know they are not real.  They are supposed to encourage the birds to lay.  When the hens are in a bad mood they throw the fake eggs out of the nest boxes.

Here's the first egg today.
I'm looking forward to your comments!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Welcome, Bobby!

It's come to my attention that I neglected to tell my blog friends about our kitty, Bobby, and his Christmas wish...
Bobby WAS an outside feral cat.  He did great work out there, taking care of the rodent population, and even taking care of any wild birds that ventured too close to him, too.  He enjoyed working with the chickens and always kept me company at chore-time, although he HATED when he was locked in the chicken pen by mistake.  He dealt with the guineas - he really didn't like them, but they allowed him to live outside, so he respected them and kept his distance when they came close.
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Bobby outside
But Bobby didn't understand why he had to stay outside in the cold when two other cats lived the good life inside.
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Jack and Shadow

And so, Bobby was granted his Christmas wish...
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Bobby moved inside the house, and now lives the high life.  He's still a teenager, he's full of spunk and plays 24/7.  (In the picture above he removed the tail from the toy mouse.)  He gets into everything, but he listens and wants to please.  He watches the other two cats and imitates their actions.  Bob is now a happy boy.  My only problem is that he looks VERY similar to Shadow, and when he flies by at 10 MPH, or when I hear a crash and enter a room just in time to see a black tail disappearing around the corner, I never know if it's Bob or Shad.  But most of the time it's Bobby who's causing the commotion these days.  

He lived a few weeks locked in a bathroom, then moved into the kitchen, then after he kept escaping from the kitchen, we decided to let him have the run of the house.  None of our cats get up on tables or counters or anything.  They eat in the kitchen like respectable beings - their food bowls are in the corner all in a row.  They come when called to eat.  So far Bob hasn't learned to shake hands for treats, but he will.  Shad and Jack both happily sit and shake hands and earn treats.  Shad is funny because she's not good at sitting and shaking, she needs to lay down to give us her hand to shake.  It's something about her balance, I think, and she's plump .  Bob's just a little too hyper to sit down and shake hands right now.  We worry that we didn't keep him locked up long enough when we first brought him in and he's too hyper now because of lack of restraint in the beginning, but I think he's hyper because he's young and he'll mellow out.  He's very curious, and he learns by watching.  He can meow, unlike Jack, but he's not loud.  I've found that he needs toys.  He'll play with the table legs or Jack's tail or whatever else is available if he doesn't have toys.  Maybe I'll work on teaching Bob to fetch since he's so full of energy...
Happy New Year!!