Our First Baby Chicks

This definitely is a little bit late, considering that their almost all grown up (except of course for our rooster – Gimpy)  but I guess it’s better late than never! I want to share with you the exciting process of our little chicks growing up, and what we found as good indicators to determine the sexes of them (luck be had, we were right about all of them!) I like to believe that it was these observations – and really not just only luck – that led us to gain the sexes that we wanted, 7 hens and 1 rooster.

Gimpy our Rooster!

Gimpy our Rooster!

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Cherry Preserves

This year was a wonderful harvest for our two cherry trees on our property. They both need a pretty good pruning this year, so we’ll have to be sure to remember to do such this late fall.

My Father and Sister were graciously wonderful to offer their help picking, as Tim was tied up in the construction of our lovely new chicken coop and working longer hours at work to boot. I on the other side, had my hands full with Nathan our little 9 week old baby!

We had close to 9 pounds picked for these preserves, let alone all the ones we ate fresh and some I used to make cherry turnovers; Those didn’t last long in our house at all!
The cherry preserves I made are pretty heavy in the sugar category, I’m thinking next year I will try a lower sugar option and see how that goes. For now though, it was pretty successful I think for what we wanted, I will be using these mostly to make more cherry turnovers over the year as those were quite the hit. Perhaps I’ll share those in another post…

Gone Wild Farmhouse Cherry Preserves

8 lbs. 13oz. / 3.997 kg. fresh pitted and halved sweet cherries
7 lbs. 4 oz. / 3.289 kg. white sugar
2 large oranges, zest and juice
3 fresh lemons, juice and zest

Place the cherries in a large stock / preserving pot and add the white sugar to them, stir well to coat the cherries and make sure there are no sugar lumps. Let sit for 1 hour to render out some of the juices.

Heat the cherry / sugar mixture on the stovetop on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and cover with a cloth. Let stand at room temperature for 12 hours.

Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, add in the orange and lemon juices and zests. Stir often, and skim off any foam that results until the syrup thickens, test using the spoon test (judging by the dripping) or a chilled dish – if your draw your finger through and the path remains clear the syrup is ready.

Remove pan from the heat, portion the cherries to the jars and cover with the syrup in pint or half-pint jars, I prefer half-pint and got approx. 7 jars of cherry syrup and 12 jars of cherry preserves. Add the rings after heating for 5-10 minutes in hot water and the rings to fingertip tightness. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes at sea level.

Remove jars from boiling water bath and let sit on a towel upright, gently remove the excess water from on top and let sit for 12 hours.

Voila! Delicious cherry preserves and syrup.

Pickles and Casper; Houdini Chickens?

We’ve been doing some great progress on our indoor renovations, first the bathroom done and then the first of three bedrooms. With the good spring and summer weather coming on though, now is the time for our outdoor projects and garden tasks to get done!
We started this back in February, we’ve been so busy between the pregnancy / our baby’s birth, getting the garden started, and starting the chicken coop (let alone all the everyday tasks and work days!) I haven’t had much of a chance to share what we’ve done;  So this is only the beginning with more posts to come.

First on the list has been to start on our garden rows; tilling, weeding, and building up the rows all from scratch converting a grassy patch into a beautiful abundant (hopefully!) vegetable garden. We have a few starter rows set up and our field tilled and ready for other rows to be put on, though we think we’ve let it sit barren for too long and we’ll most likely be re-weeding /  turning the remaining area all over again. Having tilled in February and it now being the beginning of June (soon to be hubby’s birthday), you can see why that is.

With the garden being started this left the chickens a problem, especially being free-ranging our yard they were especially attracted to our newly made garden rows and plants that were sprouting and the fresh soil hoping for some bugs.
Since then we’ve fenced them into a large area instead of having it around our first rows we started. Of course with chickens you get the mischievous ones, and we’ve had some escape artist problems with Pickles and Casper almost doing it daily.

We finally had been able to figure out where they were escaping from and remedied the problem. We had to put additional barrier above the wire fence with lines of fishing line, as well as put rebar staked in at certain areas of the fence where they were sneaking underneath. We also clipped Pickles and Casper’s wings (only one) to help discourage them from flapping their way over, although easier said than done with Casper (She still managed to make it over once, luckily wasn’t too hard to get her back in; Pickles is no problem, she’s far to heavy to flap over!!)

Finding out how they did it was a frustrating one I have to admit, having a 6 week old baby it was near impossible to keep a full eye on them to see if I could sneak a glance at how they are getting out, I was far too occupied and with Tim at work that left no back up to keep watch! We did finally figure it out, though it was a little tough to accept the fact that these two chickens were not only outsmarting us but baffling us all the same. Pretty impressive I suppose…

So with the pretties all penned up, we’ve started adding more rows now to the garden which has been pretty exciting! Having it be beginning of June, we are quite late with a few things for planting but hopefully the summer will be a bit of a longer one to help extend the growing season and the harvest period. We shall see!

For now we’ll be content knowing that we’ve got some good potential for some lovely nutritious fresh food and the beginnings of building a strong foundation with our soil.
To the new relationship with the ground we walk on, here’s to new adventures too!

Perhaps with the nicer weather our cat, Oblivion, with get less lazy and join us for some quality outdoor time 😉