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{wordless wednesday}


this weekend was full.  full of sunshine.  full of productively   full of quality time with the husband.

i made my way through approximately 40 pounds of my 60 pounds of apples.  {post to follow}  the chickens are big fans of when this chicken mama is cooking up a storm.  lots of apple peels equal a very happy flock.

we are beyond thrilled to see our ethel, cosby, and blanche molting.  finally!  molting is when the hens stop laying eggs, lose their old feathers and grow in new ones.  our ladies were looking super rough from the damage our rooster left so we were counting down the days when molting would occur.  it is great to see new feathers growing in and we can wait to have our ladies looking beautiful and healthy again.  until then, they look a bit funny.  apparently chickens going through molt is pretty painful, i didn’t ask my ladies but it definitely doesn’t look comfortable.  so extra yogurt and apple peels it is.

in our continued efforts of homesteading, we found approximately 12 tons of hardwood {mostly oak} on craigslist for a great deal.  this weekend we had the logs delivered.  this should be enough wood to keep us warm for the next few YEARS.

we also found time to go on a run together in the neighborhood.  it is frustrating for me because i can’t run as far as i could before my injury.  it still hurts a bit running up hills.  i am just frustrated in general.  but it is good and healthy to keep moving.  i just have to keep moving forward.  the best part of going for a run, is hammock time afterwards.  especially when i am in the company of this guy.

whole chicken in a slow cooker crock pot.

owning chickens has made me so much more appreciative and picky about the meat i eat. no longer are there the days of eating “just chicken.” years ago i wouldn’t eat chicken if it was attached to the bone. only boneless chicken. subconsciously, i think that it was easy to disconnect from realizing i was actually eating an animal. now, eating meat is a thoughtful decision from where i buy, how often we eat meat and how much there is wasted.

whole foods has one item specials on fridays and occasionally they will have whole chickens for sale.  i mean, cheap. not cheap piggly wiggly, but cheap whole foods.  after all, you get what you pay for. these chickens are organic, have free ranged their entire lives, and have no hormones or antibiotics. i have transitioned to buying the whole chicken, instead of the breast, because i can use so much of the chicken for other purposes. i feel like i am doing my part to make sure there is no waste.

when it is hot out i have a hard time finding crock pot meals that seem appealing.  i LOVE crock pot cooking. this summer i have found a way to cook a whole chicken in the crock pot.  it is beyond super easy and takes no prep time.  after you take the meat off the bones, you have a great starter for homemade chicken stock. chicken breast with veggies one night, shredded chicken for tacos another, and then homemade chicken stock for weeks ahead. talk about cost saving eating. and really, the crock pot did all the work.

here is what you need for the chicken:

2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 onion
1 large chicken

combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over.
put prepared chicken on top of the onions (breast up) in the slow cooker, cover it, and turn it on to high. there is no need to add any liquid.
cook for 4 – 5 hours on high (for a 3 or 4 pound chicken) or until the chicken is falling off the bone.

thats it. you kitchen will smell amazing. the chicken is moist and delicious. and did i mention easy.  it doesn’t get easier than this.

after you have removed the meat from the bones, time to make chicken stock.  trust me, you don’t want to forget to do this. homemade chicken stock is definitely worth the 10 minutes of prep time.

what you need:

leftover chicken bones or carcass roughly equivalent to one small or medium sized chicken
1 onion, peeled and loosely chopped
1 rib of celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped (no need to peel)
1 bay leaf

stock directions:

after removing all edible meat from the chicken leave the bones, skin, cooking juices, etc. in the crock pot.
add the onion, celery, carrot and spices on top of the bones and fill the crock pot almost to the top with tap water (leaving about 1/2” at the top).
turn the slow cooker onto “low” after dinner and cook all night long or alternatively you could start it in the morning and cook on “low” for 8 – 10 hours during the day.
after the stock is done cooking turn off the heat and, using a soup ladle, pass the stock through a fine sieve to remove all herbs/bones/etc. either refrigerate or freeze the stock for future use.

this is my life.

this is a day in my life. have you ever had moments where you just sit back and laugh at the realization that this is your life.  this is the life you chose. or it chose you. either way. it is all yours.  today i am having that day.

it all started with the husband leaving this morning with a sweet kiss “hey, i think something is wrong with stevie nicks. have a good day!” oh okay. it didn’t seem like an emergency request so out the door i went with my electric pink sneakers for a run.  by the time i get back the husband is gone and i check on the chickens.

indeed, stevie nicks wasn’t acting like herself.  i decided to take advantage of my current sweat situation and clean out the coop. i also decided to bring stevie nicks inside. this involves getting a plastic box filled with shavings, electrolyte water, fresh food inside. oh and i had to catch the chicken.  she is one of the newbies and is not easy to catch. at all.  if there were ever a video of this, i would be youtube famous.  by 10 this morning, i had a run, cleaned up chicken poop, and caught a chicken. rock star day ahead.

click for source.

lets see. a quick call to our local feed store. then to our poultry extension agent. then a shower. blogging. eat lunch. etsy emails. make 3 pillows. 2 loads of laundry {yet to be folded, oops} receive 4 pillow orders. decide to make 3 pillows for our master bedroom (almost finished!). oh right. time to check on the chicken.

i walk over martha stewart, sam, and milo. all sitting in our living room. {the chicken is inside our office, just off of the living room. it was not a coincidence that all the four-legged babies were all together in this room. ridiculous.} this is what i find when i open the door.

oh hell no. i just shut the door. i sat on the couch and laughed. i called the husband and laughed and laughed. this is my life. of course.

i made a plan with the husband {which didn’t include a shot of tequila, but should have} and i went back inside. to find this.

oh really stevie nicks. you think if you look away you won’t see me either?! i mean, i guess that is what i did when i just shut the door. pretend i didn’t see what i just saw. we tangoed a bit. i caught her, again. {this is definite rock star status} i decided if she is healthy enough to bust out of her top {which had textbooks on top to weigh it down!} then she is healthy enough to be outside.

so this is my life. i appreciate the days when i can just sit back and laugh.

our little chunk

the extreme heat this weekend was just too much for our ameraucana chicken, rose.  when we first picked up the three “ladies” they were to be named after the golden girls.  dorothy, blanche, and rose.  dorothy turned out to be a rooster.  we immediately nicknamed rose, chunk.  on they way home from the feed store, when the other two were frightened and huddled in a corner, our little chunk happily ate.

from right to left: rose, blanche, dorothy

most of the pictures of rose from her first few days look a lot like this.  crowding the food jar.

chunk gave us our first blue egg.  our first double yolker.  and so many laughs.  my favorite memory since owning chickens is this little white blur running as fast as she could at me when she saw me heading her way with treats.  i will miss this the most when going out to the run.

for fellow chicken farmers here is what we noticed.  yesterday afternoon she was lethargic and not at all interested in the watermelon i was bringing out.  it has been 100 plus degrees for three days straight.  we have been supplementing the chickens water with electrolyte water and changing the waterers several times per day.  if the water gets too warm, they won’t drink so it imperative that you change the water frequently.  i have been giving watermelon as treats because of its high water content.  we also set up two electric fans to create an air flow.  the good news is the other chickens seem to be healthy.  we let them free range most of yesterday evening and this morning.  all seem to have lots of energy.

we brought rose yesterday evening. i gave her access to electrolyte water, food, and yogurt.  she would occasionally drink but only when i put her beak in the water myself.  i gave her a luke warm water bath to try to cool her body temperature.  it is important not to give them ice water baths because they will go into shock.  we went to bed feeling optimistic but still very concerned.  i woke up in the middle of the night to check on her and i found her.  she did not make it.

i am thankful she didn’t appear to suffer.  i am thankful she died in the the air conditioned room that she was raised in.  i cried.  she is my first chicken that has died.  after a year and half, i guess those are pretty good odds.  i hate feeling incompetent, like i missed something or could have done something different.  it isn’t the loss of a “pet.”  i will be absolutely devastated when one of my pups or mr. milo bojangles passes on.  it is different but it is still sad.

chickens aren’t the smartest animals but they know hurt.  they know pain.  they know happiness.  they recognize us.  i have learned so much by owning chickens.  they have enriched my life more than i could have imagined.

i miss our chunk.  i will remember her like the picture below.  swallowing blueberries whole.

i took this video over the weekend.  they ladies were being extra chatty.  it made me laugh so i thought i would share.

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