Sunday, May 23, 2010

4 and counting...

While the sheep feigned indifference, Snowball, the white Silkie pullet, came through her marathon broody spell with 4 chicks hatching today.  Poor thing started out brooding almost 5 weeks ago but every day when she left the chicken house to grab her once-a-day meal, another hen would add an egg to her nest.  Soon she had over a dozen eggs and she couldn't keep them all covered.  So we cleared those eggs out and gave her 6 fresh eggs and a house of her own on May 1.  May 2 we added one grey silkie egg from our new pair.

Around mid-morning today we spotted this little black-and-white Dominique chick poking his (her?) head out from under Snowball.  By noon there were three more chicks added to the brood: 2 Turkens and a chipmunk-looking one which is probably a green-egg layer.  (All the full-size eggs placed under Snowball were brown but in addition to Cappy, the Dominique rooster, we had Brownie, a green-egg layer rooster, in the pen from which the eggs came.)

One Turken is a yellow-white fluffball and the other is very similar in coloring to the chipmunk-looking chick except it has the trademark naked neck. Maybe it will be a green egg layer, too?

Snowball wouldn't come off the nest even to eat today so I'm thinking there might be one or more eggs she's waiting to hatch. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dehydrator Diary - Socks and Mushrooms...

This week I found organic mushrooms marked down at the grocery. I spent about $15 and came home with 5 pounds of cremini mushrooms, 2 pounds of portobello mushrooms and a pound of shitake mushrooms. They were in very good shape so I put a 1/2-pound of cremini and a pound of portobello mushrooms in the fridge for a couple of meals later in the week. The rest of the mushrooms I prepared to put in the dehydrator.

But first I had to take out the socks that were in the dehydrator. Yes, for the second time in 5 days I've dried DH's wool kilt socks in the dehydrator. You see, it's too warm here for a fire in the woodstove but it's been raining. The socks are so thick they'd take more than a day to dry after handwashing (don't want them to felt so I eschew machine washing and drying) and the dehydrator racks offered good support. Drying went pretty fast; took about 4 hours at 105°F. and, since I add a drop or two of patchouli essential oil to the rinse water as an insect deterrent, the house smelled faintly of patchouli for several days. I like that, too.

Once the socks were out of the way, I spread sliced cremini mushrooms (or, according to the label, baby portobellos) and whole shitake mushrooms on the racks. Before slicing, I removed the stems and sliced them for drying separately. Sometimes they're tough but the flavor's good so I won't waste them but use when I'm going to puree or just need stock. I did the same with the portobello mushrooms, and because I only had a few of them, I mixed them in with the cremini. The dehydrator was full and ran overnight at 115°F.