Thursday, June 13, 2013

Baby Birds!

A few weeks ago on one of my many daily trips to the chicken coop I noticed a bird flying from the corner of the roof.  On further inspection I discovered a birds nest in the corner of the eaves.  Now this section of the roof is supposed to be boxed in but that's a project that still hasn't been completed yet. I am happy about now because I get to watch the little ones grow in the nest! 
The birds are Eastern Phoebes and there are four babies in the nest. I read that phoebes like to build nests under building overhangs, but maybe she felt a kindred spirit with the hens because the nesting boxes are right on the other side of the corner she chose to build her nest.  Momma bird is usually close by and doesn't seem to mind me peeking in as long as I don't get too close!
It's a little hard to tell in the picture but there is a little bird peeking out !

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Chive blossom vinegar has become one of my favorite things since I first made some last year.  It is super easy to make.  All you need is snip off the chive blossoms, then give them a good rinse because bugs like to hide in the dense blossoms.

Then place them in a jar.  Fill the jar with white vinegar, place a top on and let it sit for a minimum of two weeks.  The longer it sits the more intense the flavor will be so don't get worried if you forget about the vinegar for awhile.  When capping your jar do not use a metal top as the vinegar will corrode it.  Use plastic or place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the jar before screwing on the top.  The vinegar will turn a pretty pink as the blossoms marinate.
Chives are full of vitamins A and C and are a powerful antioxidant.  Chives are also antibacterial and can help fight off colds and the flu!  To get the most nutritional value from chives don't cook them.  Sprinkle them fresh or dried onto your meal right before eating.
Another way to get a good dose is of course with the flavored vinegar which makes a great vinaigrette!

Chive Blossom Vinaigrette

4 Tbsp. Chive vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Large shallot, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine vinegar, shallot and Dijon in a bowl.  Slowly whisk in olive oil until combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Chicks meet the Captain

The babies finally got their first taste of the great outdoors, though they remained enclosed for their own safety. It also gave me a chance to give the brooder a good clean out without chicks escaping and running amok inside.

They seemed to enjoy being out but the most interesting thing to them seemed to be a visit from some of the older chickens, namely Captain Hook.  It was another interesting view into chicken behavior.
Captain Hook circled the enclosure several times looking for a way in or a way to get the chicks out.  He seemed ready to have them join the flock and the chicks were fascinated by him.  When he was unable to get to them directly he started showing them how to scratch and peck at the ground and even tried feeding them grass through the holes in the fence!  I was under the impression that as a rooster he would have little interest in them but here the Captain was showing off some fine fathering skills. I realized later that I should have taken video instead of still pictures-Doh!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Pair of Pears

My pear tree has a pair of pears!  This makes me so happy.  You are probably wondering why I would get excited about only two pears but I have reasons. 1) This is the first time it has bore any fruit. 2) It's MY pear tree.
The tree is only a few years old and though it usually has many blossoms it is really too young to support much fruit.  I think it will be able to support these two pears without hurting the tree but I will be sure to keep an eye out to make sure the tree doesn't suffer any damage.
We've got other fruits starting to blossom too!  Our blackberry bush is covered with blossoms. Our raspberries aren't faring so well though, not sure what is going on with them.  We do have wild raspberries all around the perimeter of the yard and those have lots of blossom.
I also have one blueberry bush that is covered with lots of blossoms too. Again there are also several wild blueberry bushes that are also covered with blooms. (Kinda makes you wonder why I bother with the domestic bushes when there are so many wild ones around, right?) We'll have to get some  netting to keep them from the birds!
I put in a few strawberry plants in containers on the deck and those are blossoming too.  By having them in containers on the deck I am hoping to keep out the chipmunks and squirrels.  There are lots of wild strawberries in the yard that I told the critters they could have, we'll see if they listen
I have also put in three apple trees and two cherry trees.  I had to relocate the apple trees to a sunnier spot and I didn't fence them in right away after moving them so the deer had a little snack on them.
They are now fenced in and I expect that they will make a full recover and do much better in their new location.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

New Brooder Box

As you can imagine our chicks are growing like weeds.  They are no longer tiny little fluffy  butts but already have real feathers and are starting to looks gangly and awkward.  The plastic bin that was the original brooder was quickly getting crowded so Dom and I decided a regular brooder was needed.  Lucky for us we already had most of the materials on hand and within an afternoon we had a new home for the chicks complete with little roosts for them to perch on.
They are big enough now that every time I open the top someone tries to escape....
They will soon be having their first adventure outside now that the weather has warmed up.