Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Raising chickens...

I just realized that I haven't written one post about my chickens.  How weird.

But yes,  I have chickens. They were were born April 1st and arrived in the mail a couple days later.  I should have gotten them the next day but unfortunately they got lost in the mail, not sure how you lose a box and chirping chicks but.....

When they finally arrived some of the chicks looked like this....

Over the next few days even more looked like this...

or as my kids put it  "mommy that baby chicken is sleeping..."  

Yep, the eternal sleep. 

Fortunately, most of the chicks looked like this...

Chicks are just adorable.  So adorable that sometimes you have to keep young children from loving them to death. 

We already had a chicken house from our previous chicken experiment.  But at that time we had a fenced in chicken run that we had since torn down.  We wanted to be able to give our chickens access to pasture without letting them free range every day.  If you've ever had free range chickens you know the disadvantages.  They get into stuff and places that you would rather they did not, such as roosting in your garage or laying eggs in the rafters. They make yummy meals for foxes and hawks and local dogs can have ever so much fun chasing them around and playing with them like squeak toys. 

So, my husband built a portable coop out of PVC pipe that we can drag around the yard.  It fits up to an opening in the side of the chicken house so they can go in and out. Then we can move the coop into the grass to let them forage for food. 

Of course, we still let them free range at times.  They love to perch on the fence, sometimes the hens sit there just to get a break from the roosters. 

This year I have a good variety of chickens, some of the breeds are just gorgeous.  I'll post later in more detail about some of the different breeds. 

I'm expecting these hens to start laying around September, we are looking forward to being back in the egg business!

'til next time...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reading...Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon.

I'm sure it goes without saying that my interest in the book was sparked by the TV series.  I, like millions of others, have been sucked into the world of Downton Abbey and eagerly await the next season. I now own season 1 and season 2 of the series so that I can indulge at any given time.

I was finally able to borrow this book from the library and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The book is about Almina Wombwell who became the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.  She was only 19 years old when she married the Earl.  In some ways it was an unlikely marriage, she was of dubious standing as the general understanding was that her god-father Alfred de Rothschild was in fact her father. Her mother was not received in society but Almina had won her way into the hearts of many in society with her impeccable decorum and with her immense wealth from Rothschild she became a Countess.

As a young Countess she accomplished everything she set her mind to.  She redecorated the castle, entertained lavishly, she was a powerhouse of energy.  At the beginning of WWI she realized the need for more hospitals and better care.  She converted Highclere into a hospital and received accolades for her well trained staff and level of care the patients received.

Her husband, always interested in Egyptology, was involved with Howard Carter in the discovery of Tutankhamun. The Earl died soon after the opening of the tomb, there was great speculation that his death was a result of the curse of the Pharaohs.  Almina was devastated at his death.    He was buried on the top of Beacon Hill, overlooking his estate.  His burial took place at eleven in the morning and Almina sat with his until dusk that evening. In an age of arranged marriages she had truly found love.

'til next time...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Squash Soup

Almost every summer we have squash coming out of our ears and I'm always looking for ways to use it.  We love squash but after awhile....well, it starts to lose its charm.   

This year my garden has been less than stellar so I haven't had the over abundance of vegetables that I normally have.  I did, however, have enough squash ripe at one time to make soup. This soup is best slightly warm or room temperature so it is easily enjoyed on a hot summer day. 

Summer Squash Soup

5 yellow squash
1-1/2 TBSP butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
2 tsp Better Than Bouillon chicken base (or two cubes bouillon)
3/4 cup heavy cream
garlic croutons
Parmesan cheese

Steam squash till tender.  Put in blender and puree.
Saute onion and garlic in butter till onion is translucent and slightly caramelized.  
Add the squash to the onion mixture. 
Add chicken base and bring to a boil. After the mixture has reached a boil pour into blender and puree.  
Pour pureed mixture into a pan and add cream, heating over medium low heat till warm through.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 
Depending on the water content in the squash you use you may need to adjust the liquid in the soup. At this point you can thin the soup with more cream or thicken with flour.    
Serve the soup with Parmesan cheese and croutons sprinkled over the top. 

'til next time...

Friday, August 10, 2012


I don't know the name of these pink wildflowers but I love them.  This year they are growing in our pasture.  I haven't noticed them before but maybe that is the benefit to not ever mowing the pasture!

'til next time...