Monday, 28 December 2009

Have yourself a merry chicken Christmas

Well I hope everyone had a gorgeous Christmas.
I'm just popping in quickly to share one of my presents!!!!!

Remember my beautiful little lady Holly Golightly

Well at about 8.00 Christmas morn, I let my little darlings out the house, in my candy cane pyjamas, baileys and milk in hand. My beautiful fluffy princess came out clucking and chattering away to as I threw in a handful of corn. Looked me straight in the eye puffed out her sweet little chest and let out an enormous "COCK-A-DODDLE-DO"

To say I wasn't amused would be putting it lightly!!!!!
Oh well merry Christmas Holly Golightly or as she now is Bing Crosby.

Good job I have a sense of humour, and on the bright side I can tell you that the new year will hold some more silkie's (point of lay I think) and Bing can have a kingdom of his own with some fluffy angels and they can hatch some fluffy babies.

I'm excited already.

jess xxx

Thursday, 24 December 2009

one more sleep till..........

Brrrrrr its cold, we've had some beautiful frosts, a light dusting of snow and now everything is frozen soild.

So me, the naughty puppy and all the chickens want to wish everyone a very merry, warm + cosy, peaceful and safe christmas.

I shall return in the new year with a re-vamped blog and lots more inspiration.

jess xxxx

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Chicken dinners

So I want to talk about eating chickens, now I know not everyone wants to or will ever do this but if you do listen up. You can always by-passthis post and come back tomorrow I'm going to a bumper plant post.

I'm not going to give a blow by blow of killing, plucking and dressing for 2 reasons.

1. I'm no expert!!!! I'm still very much a novice but I have learnt a bit.

2. Its not the nicest subject in the world now is it.

If your going to to it find someone who can show you (of course I didn't do that I watched a few you tube vids and read my John Seymour bible (if you haven't already realised I like to do things the hard way)

First the bird. If you have excess cockerels you need to get rid of try and do it before 20 weeks. (If its an old rogue then when you cook it roast it in a covered tray with about an inch of water to tenderise the meat)
If your raising birds for meat then there are fast growing birds such as the hubbert or Cobb or Sasso. Or Dual purpose birds like the sussex that are good layers as well as good table birds. Or there are some traditional birds like the french La fleche or the Ixworth (I quite fancy some Ixworths in the spring) Dorking and Indian game. A cross between an Indian game and Dorking or sussex is meant to be really good.
My only real experience so far is with Indian game. Firstly (I'm sorry if this a bit cold hearted) because the boys are quite um scary looking I didn't automatically form a bond with them like I did with my little welsummer chaps. I guess this made it easier to look at them as table birds. We killed ours at 18 weeks old. Their stance is similar to a bulldog, they have huge breasts and chunky legs.
I found the meat really tasty with bags of flavour. One thing with dark feathered birds though is that after they've been plucked they don't look as neat and tidy, as white feathered. Silkies are black skinned so don't eat them (although in china I heard they are a delicacy)
I feed mine the same as all the other chickens. Growers pellets, corn and lots of treats and greens. Withhold food for at least 12 hours before. It will sweeten the meat and can help to avoid any mess when the inner bits are removed if you get my meaning.

After the kill. Make sure they are well bled and start plucking as soon as you can, don't rush plucking take it slow, try avoid tearing the skin. A fatter bird is easier to pluck than a skinny one. If you can let the bird hang for at least 24 hours it will sweeten the meat,relax the Adrenalin, and let it develop more flavour (the longer you leave it the gamer it will taste), hang it by its feet somewhere cool.

Ok so now the nasty bit. so you have a chicken on your (spotlessly clean) chopping board needing gutting. Ok so be brave and don't think about it just be confident. Make sure your knives are razor sharp, secateurs are handy for cutting through bones and small scissors are useful too. Have a bucket close by for the bits and a bowl for the bits you want. A jug of water and I'd do it near the sink in case you cut through the wrong thing and need to flush it out quickly. Remember to be brave and don't stop and think OMG what am I doing ( I'm sorry if this is sinister but I put Danse Macarbe on really loudly to help me focus) The first cut is the hardest (never a truer cliche). Check and double and triple check everything is out. Save the neck and gizzard (cut it open and wash it out) for making stock with ( I put them in a bag and freeze them till needed) The liver is like nothing you've ever tasted but I found after doing 3 birds in a row I wasn't really hungry any more so I saved them till the next day.
I gutted before hanging but you can hang for 24 hours then gut (but it will smell.

Wash everything up and freak out a bit if you need too.

If you brave enough to rear meat birds go for it, ok they might not look as perfect as nicly packed supermarket shelf ones, but they will taste so much better and I found I have even more respect for them now. If you can't do it (no shame in that at all) then please please buy only free range and check for all other chickeny products (pizza, sandwich's, take aways) I won't eat chicken out without checking to see if it is free range. Turkeys and duck too.

jess x

Monday, 14 December 2009

Dear santa,

This year has I've been pretty good so I would like

A new pair of wellies and some thick stripy socks to go underneath them

A spade, one of those with a heart shape blade

A new wheel for my barrow

Approx 200 metres of electric poulty fencing

A 3 apple, apple tree grafted onto dwarf root stock

A new garden bench

A trio of Indian runner ducks

A lionhead and a black and white dwarf lopeared (I'd call them bigwig and fiver)

A cath kidston teacosy

and Guitar hero Metallica (I asked for this last year too)

My naughty puppy would like a big rawhide bone and either a JRT or westie girlfriend

My chickens would like a big bag of corn and a big bowl of roast potatos

And Mr lovely husband would like some peace and quiet.

I leave you a nice glass of homemade sloe gin and a few mince pies but I'll have to leave them in the biscuit tin in case those damn mice get em.

lots of love jess x

Saturday, 12 December 2009

So this is a very quick roundup of events

Ok I'll be quick as I'm starving and have a little treat for my lunch.

So Cockerels I've a ton of them turned out all of the birds except for Boo, the Indian game hen and (hooray) the smaller of the two remaining Maran boys?!?

About a month ago now we decided the Indian game birds time was up so that morning me and the hubs went over to the field with implements of destruction to do the deed. I let all the raging horde out of the hen house and we kept back all 4 of the IGs, Hubs then went and prepared his axe, knifes and block whilst I stood there listening to the biggest one crow, with butterflies of doubt fluttering about in my tummy. "WAIT" I yelled "let the hen out". Hubs was not impressed. I told him with her gone Boo would be the lone female in a run with 7 boys and will surely be massacred. Also, I told him, she can breed baby chicken dinners for us too. That's what swung the argument. 'Quick run away little hen before hubs changes his mind'.
So only the 3 BIG boys got dispatched and bloody big boys they were too, the biggest weighed almost 3kg.
With them gone the vibe was calmer amongst the lads.

I brought over to the smaller run (inhabited by Ivan the terrible, Boris and the two Marans) my two little welsummer hens and tinkerbelle the Maran. Who were terrified to begin with, nasty little boris kept having a go a them but the big maran girl was so sweet trying to befriend them and putting herself in the way when boris went on the rampage. I was more concerned with the big Maran boy who is about 3 times their size, but he was fine.
Boris was now on his final warning!!!! Later that day when I came back to the field after lunch I could hear them all shrieking and yelling so I ran over to the paddock and saw a caramels flash of fluff leap up into the air. I got to the gate and and the Boys looked up at me all innocent. I did a head count and saw I was missing Boris he'd got into the big boy run (He likes to perch high on the fence and most likely toppled off) He was cowering under one of the shelters but he was unscathed. So I put him back and told him that was Karma biting him on the arse. Weird thing was all the big fellas were bleeding from combs and wattles. So I reckon boris managed to kick some arse whilst be was being terrorized.

All the boys are crowing now which is lovely to hear when I let them out in the morning. Blackberry (the gentle black rock) was the first to start (not counting Ivan the terrible terrible crow). Blackberry has gone though from being a sweet gentle little chap to a sex maniac, but the little Indian G hen doesn't seem to mind!!!, Boo though, not happy about it!!!.

Remember those little whites well one has turned into a massive Light Sussex, one into a teeny fancy looking bantamy thing (with full on Napoleon symptom) and the other two rather scruffy looking birds were leghorn and god knows what else in them. These two weren't the nicest of birds, in fact the were quite nasty picking fights with anyone in some kind of WWF style tag team, and attacking Boo. Yesterday they waited in the door for Boo to come out first thing to try and launch and early rape attempt on her. They didn't attack the Indian game hen as shes learnt from her departed brothers to be pretty hardcore, you don't mess with her, she feisty (another reason I'm so glad we kept her).
Now I refer to the two leghorn X boys in the past tense because earlier this morning, we dispatched with them. We had to. There is to many cockerels, they were horrid and the other boys seem to all get along with each other, and as they were not really attractive or pure breed, I could only have offered them free to a good home and that good home could well have been someones oven.
Also Tomorrow we're going to move the garden girls to the field. Hubs suggested this at the beginning of November and I wasn't keen but their run has just got so muddy and nasty, the steps up the bank have got dodgy and the path along the lawn to get to the steps has got so slippery, that is plain dangerous to walk along. (last week I was coming down the steps along the lawn I went A over T and chucked the eggs up in the air and they landed on my head!!!) so tomorrow They go and Hubs will dismantle the run dig over the mud, add some drainage and lay some turf, so its all lovely for them to come back to in the spring. I just hope Blackberry doesn't hassle them too much. Mind you they've never seen a boy, they might love it.

Holly Golightly and the silkie mini mafia are all doing grand, one of them has turned into the most magnificent cockerel (he looks like Fawkes, Dumbledores Phoenix) but he can't stay in the garden as this morning he starting crowing a bit but I'll worry about that when my nearest neighbour starts complaining.
That pleased me a lot as out of 7 only 3 are boys (Ivan and boris being the other two)

Right I'm off to cook up some lunch. I will get some pics up soon, promise.
(sorry that turned out longer than I expected. lol)

Love jess x

Thursday, 10 December 2009

oh dear.....

I well and truly lost my blogging mojo.
I think its a combination of having a really crap time recently and feeling unwell.
Now things seemed to have turned a corner but I'm up to my eyes in christmas stuff and haven't got time to do any thing else when I up to my eyes in baking, sewing, knitting and gift wrap.

Also I really lacking inspiration for words. When its just me and the dog and chickens all day I don't need to be eloquent.

But Before christmas is through I WILL post up some bits and bobs about winter plants and and long over due update on my mini smallholding.

Hopefully the new year will re-inspire me.

love jess x

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