Sunday, March 29, 2015

Roasted Dandelion Root Coffee

While I was gardening this afternoon (Gardening! In MARCH! I know!!!), I came across some massive dandelion roots. I decided to save them, as I have been eyeing up a recipe for roasted dandelion root coffee for awhile now.
When I brought them in, my sister (via skype) thought they were potatoes and my husband thought they were carrots.
 I sliced them thinly and placed them on a cookie sheet and placed them in the oven to dry and roast at 250F for 2.5 hours. I stirred them now and then to make sure they didn't burn.

 This is what they looked like all done. They smelled so good while roasting- sort of a sweet, nectar-y smell. Maybe it's just because I associate dandelion flavour with all the sweet things I have baked them in over the years.
 Next I had to grind them up into a fine powder. Because I don't have a coffee grinder, I put them in the Baby Bullet with the milling blade. This actually worked really well.
 Soon I had them all ground up into a fine powder.
 To make the coffee, you add 2tsp of powder to one cup of boiling water. You can use a french press or do it instant coffee style, and since I don't have a french press...
Now, you are probably wondering if it really does taste like coffee. And I can't tell you. Because I have never drunk a cup of coffee in my life. I've had a sip or two and decided I didn't like it and have never really tried it since. So I can only imagine what it tastes like and I feel like this drink is probably a blend between coffee and tea. It has a sweetish flavour, slightly citrusy, with a bitter after taste. It's not bad, but I probably won't be drinking tons of it. I'm guessing if you really like coffee, nothing is going to be a good substitute... Especially if you are drinking it for the caffeine. The real reason I made the roasted roots is to make an ice cream recipe, which I will make as soon as I can find an ice cream maker to borrow.
If you have any great dandelion recipes, please share them with me. I love trying all sorts of dandelion recipes and am always on the look-out for a new one.
The chicks and the broody hen are doing great and the chicks already have their wing feathers and a few little tail feathers. The eggs in the incubator are going on lock-down this Friday and due to hatch Easter Monday! Exciting things happening here!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

There's Six of Them!

I saw all six if them today! I pulled out the rotten egg (#7) which was indeed rotten. After that, mama hen felt like she could move around again, and she and the little chicks acquainted themselves with the insides of the chicken coop and the food and water dishes. Everyone is doing well and I am spending my free moments lying on my belly in the sawdust, watching mama and babies. As a result, I am finding sawdust in all my pockets and in my hair.

Monday, March 23, 2015

She Did It!

Well, she finally did it! She's a mom! Peabody has hatched out her little chicks now. I don't want to invade too much into her space, but I am fairly certain all 6 chicks have hatched, as the only intact egg I can find is #7, which is the egg that I was fairly certain wasn't growing. I've caught little glimpses of the chicks, and I've seen up to three at the same time, knowing that there is more under her. They must have hatched last night, because they are dry and fluffy now.
 Little chick bum! Trying nuzzle back under mom.
 A little foot and a shell fragment.
 So warm and snuggly!
 Hatching is hard work and the chicks are taking little naps. It is also hard work for mom! I brought the water dish up close to her and she very thirstily drank a bunch. And then she went to town on the food. She hasn't had anything to eat or drink for the last couple of days, so she deserves it. This is because she can't leave the nest near the end of incubation because the humidity needs to stay high for the hatching chicks. If she were to get off, the membrane in the eggs could dry out and shrink-wrap the chicks, making it impossible for them to hatch.
I am so impressed and in awe of this hatching process. Chickens instinctually know what to do. They turn the eggs everyday to keep the chicks from sticking to the sides of the shell. They pluck the feathers from their stomachs to increase the humidity for the eggs. They only get off the nest for short periods of time to eat and drink and go back on before the eggs get cold. They relieve themselves away from the nest, to keep it clean and sanitary for the chicks when they hatch. We've been able to replicate the process with incubators and brooders, but there is something so neat in watching nature do what it was designed to do.
 I like that I can be a bit more involved in the process when I use an incubator and I can have a certain amount of control. You get to see, up-close, what is happening at every stage. It was stressful for me to hand over the eggs to a broody hen and relinquish that control. I had to hope for the best, and it wasn't going so well in the beginning. We lost 4 eggs to the other hen before I finally separated them. If I ever do it again, I will make sure that my broody hen is alone. It is also challenging to candle the eggs to check on what is growing and what isn't. In the end, you just have to stand back and wait. And don't count your chickens until they hatch! Cliché, but true. 
But there can be down sides to using an incubator too. Power outages are a real danger that I've had to contend with a couple of times. You sure don't have that problem with a broody! The temperature dropped to -22c on some nights and my hen kept those eggs warm without any external heat source, not even a heat lamp!
You have to make sure you remember to add water to keep the humidity just right, another job that nature does automatically.
A mother hen teaches the chicks to eat and drink, but that job falls to you when you use an incubator. You also have to be wary of the pecking order of the chicks.
Broody raised chicks are often hardier and feather out more quickly, as they are exposed to a fluctuation of temperatures. Incubated chicks should wait to be taken out of doors until they are fully feathered out and then it is best to gradually introduce them to the outdoors.

As I am using both methods right now, it will be interesting to see what way I prefer at the end.

p.s. All 7 of my eggs in the incubator are fertilized and growing right now! I've never had all 7 fertilized at once. If they all make it to hatch day, it is going to be mighty crowded in that incubator!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Knitting: Cedar's Spring Shawl

My Cedar baby needed a new shawl to wear to match those baby blues. And so, here is my latest creation!
 This beautiful shawl is designed to fit babies from around 10 months -18 months. It is knit by holding two strands of worsted weight yarn together. The garter stitch gives it wonderful texture and keeps the shawl from curling. A double increase in the centre of the shawl leaves a delicate pattern up the back.

Download the printable version here.

 Cedar's Spring Shawl

Yarn: 1 skein each of Bernat Satin in Sage and Aqua (worsted weight). Both strands are held together while knitting
Needles: 6mm
Gauge: 3st x 5rows = 1”x 1”in garter st
Size: 12-18 months
Measurements: Each arm of the triangle measures 23” from the tip to the centre top.

k2tog-knit two together
WS-wrong side
yo-yarn over

Shawl Pattern:
Cast on 3 st on 6mm needles using both strands of yarn held together. The shawl is worked in garter stitch.
Row 1: k
Row 2: k1, yo, k1, yo, k1
Row 3: k
Row 4: k until just before centre st, yo, k1, yo, k to end (You can place a marker before and after the centre st to remind you where it is)
Row 5: k
Repeat rows 4 and 5 until you have 49 st on your needles, ending on a knit-only row.

Knit the next 24 st and place them on a holder, bind off centre st, and knit the last 24 st. You will be now working these st back and forth.

Knit 3 more rows
Decrease: k1, k2tog, k to end (Decreases are worked closer to the centre side)
Knit 3 more rows.
Continue to work a decrease row after every three rows knit until you have only 2 st remaining on your needles.
Knit two more rows and bind off.

Rejoin yarn at the centre and work the stitches that were on the holder.
Knit 2 more rows.
Decrease: k1, k2tog, k to end (Decreases are worked closer to the centre side)
Knit 3 more rows.
Continue to work a decrease row after every three rows knit until you have only 2 st remaining on your needles.
Knit two more rows and bind off.
Weave in ends and block the shawl.

 Each arm of the shawl measures 23" to the centre top.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

In the Incubator

On Monday I picked up 7 eggs for the incubator- 6 Salmon Faverolles and 1 Rainbow Egger. Salmon Faverolles are adorable looking chickens with feathered legs, 5 toes, a muff and a beard. They are a very gentle breed and supposed to be good with children. Do a google image search of them to see what they look like, especially the chicks. If all goes well, they should be hatching out on Easter Monday. The Rainbow Egger will be a surprise. It is from an Ameraucana rooster and an unknown mother, so we shall see what hatches out!
The broody hen is doing really well now that she is separated from the other hen. We've had no more casualties. The eggs will be on lock-down as of Friday and I hope we will have some chicks hatching out on Monday!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Activities

The snow keeps melting and melting and we are not even hitting freezing temperatures some nights! I opened the door to go outside yesterday and was welcomed with a whole chorus of Red-winged Blackbirds. This is several weeks earlier than I have heard them here before.
Inside, my seeds are doing pretty well. My quinoa is just starting to sprout now. I'm starting over 60 quinoa plants inside this year:
 My Tomatoes are getting along well. I just transplanted them to larger pots today.
 Here is a volunteer pumpkin plant that sprouted in the sink that I use to wash out the chickens' water bucket. The seed must have hitched a ride from the coop inside. It is thriving now.
 Kesten is getting excited about gardening, especially since he has his own garden plot this year. He says he wants to grow "really high sunflowers," so he planted some sunflower seeds to start inside. They just started coming up yesterday.

Here you can see the flats of quinoa and broccoli under the lights.
And here are the squash and tomatoes.
 And now for a chicken update. I have decided to separate the ladies. Peabody has the coop and part of the run to herself:
 With her own food and water dishes:
And Eggwina has the other half of the run to herself. I put a little mini hen house in the run for her to nest in and sleep in. She's got scratch to keep her busy, plus her own food and water and fresh hay on top of all that mud in the run. (Is it ever mud season! Every entranceway to the house is constantly assailed by mud!) 

 So last night I candled the eggs. We were down to 9 eggs, and out of those eggs 7 were fertilized and growing, 1 was not fertilized and I got rid of it, and 1 has an embryo in it and I am not sure if it is alive (I doubt it, but I left it in for a few more days to be sure). One of the growing eggs was cracked though, and I planned on trying to put some wax on it in the morning to attempt to save it, but when I checked in the morning it had fully broken open, making a sad mess. I cleaned it up and wiped off the other eggs. I hope that now that the hens are separated, this won't happen again. So we are down to 6 growing eggs with 1 maybe. It is so stressful using a broody hen to incubate eggs. You really can't count your chickens until they hatch!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Broody Update and the Complex Social Order of Chickens

Ok! Time for an update. We currently have 9 eggs under Peabody, the black hen. It went like this:
After the first night, I checked on her and found only 11 eggs. Hmm, that's strange. I thought maybe one was buried under the sawdust, but couldn't find any trace of it.
A couple of days later, there were 11 eggs under Peabody, but one of them was laid by Eggwina. So another egg is missing! This time I found the remains of a yolk in the sawdust and the shell in the run below. Uh oh. I quickly cleaned it all up. Now I am a bit worried.
On Saturday, I checked again, and this time I found an egg with a cracked shell. I pulled it out so that it would not break further and tempt the chickens to eat it or contaminate the other eggs. I cracked it open outside to see if it was fertilized and it was. There was a tiny embryo inside, but it looks like it had already died and the yolk was broken. :( Made me pretty sad.
So, we are left with 9 eggs. I haven't candled any of them yet, so I don't know how many of those are fertile and growing. But I did observe something interesting today. I placed some treats in the run below the coop to convince both the chickens to go down and help themselves (so I could sneakily check on the nest of eggs). Eggwina paced around in the coop, making as if to jump down, then changing her mind and backing away from the door. She has been staying up in the coop with Peabody, not wanting to be on her own. Well, Peabody had enough of this waffling about and hopped down to feast on some oatmeal. While Peabody was down in the run, I noticed Eggwina looking as if she was going to try eating the eggs. I shooed her off of them and she hopped down into the run, only to be promptly chased back up into the coop by Peabody. It looks as if Peabody has inherited the alpha role since the former alpha died in the summer (heart attack from a falcon). Peabody used to be the bottom of the pecking order and bullied by the other two, but now she is in charge! Well, I stayed by the eggs until Peabody hopped back on them and nestled them under her feathers, pecking at Eggwina when she got too close. Judging from this encounter, I suspect that Eggwina is the egg breaking culprit. The problem is that I can't really separate them. Eggwina would lose it if she was alone. So, I think I am going to keep the water and food close to Peabody in the coop, so that she doesn't have to leave her eggs alone with Eggwina. Hopefully that will keep them safe. And I think when it comes time for hatching day, I might just kick Eggwina out into the one section of the run that closes off with a door. Hopefully then it will be drier and warmer in there.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Broody Update

As of the afternoon of March 2nd, Peabody, the little black hen, is sitting on 12 large Red Sussex eggs. My friends dropped off the eggs and I numbered them with pencil and popped them into the coop. Peabody took that time to hop off the plastic eggs she had been incubating and go and get a drink and a bite to eat. I checked back soon afterwards and she was fluffed out on top of her dozen eggs, looking very pleased with herself.
 Hopefully the pencil markings will help me keep track of which eggs are the fertilized ones and which ones came from Eggwina, as Peabody will likely attempt to steal those eggs for incubation too.

It looks like Eggwina is keeping her company. Tonight is supposed to get really cold, close to -20c, but from what I've been told, the eggs should weather through it ok. In ten days I will attempt to candle the eggs to see what is growing and what isn't and hopefully again at 17 days. It will be interesting to see what comes of this!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Our First Dog Sled Ride

Our annual Caledonia Classics dog sled races happened again over the past weekend. And we turned out to watch, as usual. There was a change in venue this year, as there is virtually no snow on the lake. Our unnervingly warm weather has melted and refrozen the snow until the lake is a big mess. So the races were held in the forest instead. It was a beautiful location, but it did make viewing the races more challenging (and the racers had to race in timed heats, not mass starts due to a narrow trail). 
 The corner that was set-up for viewing was an exciting corner, as the dogs flew around it and the mushers tried hard to keep the sled on the trail.

 A group from Valemount came up to do public rides and so, Kesten and I got our very first opportunity to ride in a dog sled. Here they are getting the dogs ready.
 I was so impressed at the strength and speed of the dogs. There were two mushers behind us, so altogether 3 adults and one child, and the mushers had the brake on most of the time so the dogs didn't go too fast. We flew! It was really very thrilling.
 It was a cold day compared to the weather we have been having, about -10c when we went for our ride. By the time we got back, my face was feeling quite frozen from heading into the wind. Another thing I never thought about when riding in a dog sled, is that the dogs kick up bits of ice and snow as they run, and you have to shield your face from those small chunks. I got a good sized iceball to the forehead. Haha. Kesten was lower down and seemed to avoid both these problems. He looks a bit grumpy in the photo below, but he had lots of fun. Oh, and I think some of the sled dogs had gas.
 Cedar and Daddy stayed warm by the fire. There was yummy food, as always. If you ask Kesten about the highlight of his day, he would say it was the cupcake he ate, not the dog sled ride. Ha!
 In the picture below, you can see a very broken sled to the left of the red truck. This sled belonged to one of the stage racers. Apparently he smashed it up going over a creek wrong.
 And at the end of the day, Kesten and I got to ride again in a sled pulled by a single dog for the Kid and Mutt races. So much fun!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...