Category Archives: quail

Lockdown, Ducks, and Salt-cured Egg Yolks

Well, pretty much everything has changed since the last time I posted, hasn’t it? As I write this, I’m under lockdown in my state for two weeks. They hope this will “flatten the curve” and keep this virus from becoming as terrible here in the States as it has been in other parts of the world. I don’t know if that will work or not. Honestly, I have complete security knowing that everything will be fine for me and my family, whatever happens. We are completely safe, forever.

But right now, I’m off work (with pay, thankfully!) and I’m sitting at home being bored and miserable.

You didn’t believe that last statement, did you? If you did, you haven’t been following this blog very long, I’m guessing! Of course I’m not happy with why I’m at home, and it feels a bit weird knowing I can’t just pop into JoAnn Fabrics at a whim – but even in regular times, it’s basically my goal on most days to never leave my property. It truly is a glorious feeling to have all the time for whatever I want to do…and I gotta say I’m loving how quiet everything is. I live near a busy street, and normally the sound of traffic is constant. I woke up this morning to silence.

I’ve been sitting with the chickens, cooking new recipes, playing games, and crafting. So much peace, here on my property – with just a bit of spice, when we plan future trips to pick up groceries (mainly just milk) and animal feed, wondering if the stores will still be sold out, and if we should spray everything down with bleach before we bring it in the house.  It’s honestly…kind of fun. I’ve always loved reading about people who lived through “interesting history”, and wondering what it would be like to be one of them. If this current world-as-we-know-it holds together longer that I believe it will, one day little girls will be reading about the pandemic of 2020, like I read about the Spanish Flu. I think I’d feel quite a bit differently if I hadn’t already read the ending of The Book, and know that whatever happens, nothing can keep me from the glorious future waiting for me. Some of my friends and co-workers are so scared. I wish they understood. One day very soon, they will.

But I actually just wanted to talk about some of the interesting things I’ve doing these past couple of days. Things like letting the Muscovy ducks out to roam in the garden.

Things like trying salt-cured egg yolks.

IMG_7979

You completely cover raw egg yolks in a salt/sugar mixture, and let them sit in the fridge for a week to dry out. Then you remove them from the salt, further dry them for a short time in the oven on a low temp, then they are ready to eat! But WHY? Because you can grate the yolks and use them as a tasty topping for almost anything that calls for grated cheese. I haven’t tasted them yet, they are still drying in salt, but it sounds intriguing. And if there’s one thing I have plenty of right now, it’s eggs. Particularly since I’m locked down and can’t sell my extra eggs at work.

Today I also brought out the craft I bought a few months back, and didn’t have time to do.

IMG_8010

My first attempt turned out pretty good! This book has THE CUTEST little felt doll clothes for this doll, can’t wait to make the little fox hood/cape!

Out in the garden, Spring is springing up all over. I’ve got the lettuce starts I bought out in the garden, getting a head start while the seedlings I’m growing from seed are in the greenhouse. It never ceases to thrill me, being able to plant things like lettuce – and NOT have slugs immediately devour them! Letting the chickens out to dig through the garden in winter and early spring, controls them so amazingly well. They eat all the slug eggs (and a few of the slugs themselves) and I have a nearly slug-free garden. It works so much better than letting ducks wander through your garden, eating the adult slugs!

IMG_7980

The peach and plum trees are blooming.

IMG_7999

The chickens are laying, and hopefully considering going broody. I’d love it if one of these new bantam cochin hens decided to raise a family for me. I really, really want a Lavender Orpington this year.

IMG_8002

Though not you, Khaleesi! Every year this frost Cream Legbar decides she wants babies, and I remind her that she is quite possibly clinically insane, and thus not a suitable mother.

IMG_8006

Do you see the insanity in her eyes? It’s there, I promise you. She is the most neurotic, crazy-butt chicken I’ve ever owned. I’d think about rehoming her if she weren’t so entertaining.

The nine meat birds are growing so large already. They are so heavy and…meaty. I’ve tried several different kinds of meat chickens, and these Freedom Rangers are the best. They are so calm and easy to keep. I keep them in a separate coop, but now that they are large enough to hold their own, I let them out to share a run with the rest of the chickens.

IMG_7998

They are living a happy life, as they should. Even meat animals – perhaps especially meat animals – should be raised in a way that lets them live a natural, happy life. Right now, it’s hard to imagine butchering them, they are so sweet. But as they are almost all roosters, about the time they reach butchering age, they also start acting out and getting bratty. It makes it so much easier!

Before all this virus lockdown stuff happened, I managed to complete most of my must-do spring building list. One thing was raising the quail cages off the ground.

IMG_7991

When they were on the ground, I’d have rats burrowing underneath, trying to get at the quail’s food. This was not a situation I liked. So I raised them up, creating raised beds filled with dirt, so the quail still have a natural place to walk, scratch, and dig. Bonus: I can now enjoy the quails themselves better, since I don’t have to sit on the ground to see them easily.

Two of these raised quail coops are in the chicken run, so I purposely raised them high enough for the chickens to be able to get underneath. Hawk protection, plus shade and rain cover! Ignore the roof on this next one: I’ve got a few roofs I need to finish, but that will have to wait until after this lockdown.

IMG_7995

Another thing I did was install a solar lamp post in the middle of my garden, a tribute to C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. It has a flickering flame light inside, so it’s pretty dramatically realistic at night.

IMG_7993

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Hopefully everyone reading this is nestled at home enjoying their family, and catching up on all the things they always intended to do, but never had the time. For those of you who are “essential employees”, thank you for what you’re doing. A lot of you probably thought you had fairly non-essential jobs – no one ever really appreciates a grocery store clerk or truck drivers on a daily basis, do they? At least they didn’t until now, when you guys are truly demonstrating how essential you are. I hope you’ll stay safe.

And for all of you, whoever you are, if you’re scared right now, if you wonder whether the world will ever be normal again, the truth is, it may not be. And if it does manage to regain some semblance of normality, it won’t last. It can’t. But that doesn’t have to scare you. You can have complete peace, and complete security, no matter what happens next. I do.

“Short Answers to 8 of The Most Important Questions Regarding The Will of God, Salvation, The Gospel, Eternal Security & Repentance.” By Gregg Jackson

1. What is the will of God? To believe on The Eternally Existing Son of God, God The Son, Jesus Christ! “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth The Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40)

2. What are the works of God? To believe on the one whom God the Father sent, His Son, Jesus Christ! “Then said they unto Him, ‘What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.’” (John 6:28-29)

3. What must I do to be saved? Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ, that He died for your sins, was buried, and rose again on the 3rd day according to the scriptures. “And brought them out, and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.’” (Acts 16:31)

4. What is The Gospel & does believing The Gospel save me? It’s The “Good News.” That Jesus died for all your sins (past, present & future), was buried (proving He was dead) & rose again on the 3rd day according to the (old testament) scriptures for your justification in the eyes of God. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you The Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1st Corinthians 15:1-4)

5. Are works required for salvation? No. We are NOT saved by works or kept saved by works. We are saved FOR works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)

6. Can I lose my salvation? No. Once a person genuinely believes the Gospel they are sealed by The Holy Spirit in Christ the instant they believe forever and can never perish! “In whom ye also trusted (referring to Jesus), after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14) “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

7. Do I need to endure till the end to be saved? In Matthew 24 :13 Jesus tells the disciples, “he who endures till the end, will be saved.” When read in proper context, it is clear Jesus is speaking about Jews during the tribulation (which occurs after The Church is raptured). Jesus is telling them that those Jewish believers during the Tribulation who “endure” till “the end” of the Tribulation will be saved. The word “saved” in proper context in this passage signifies being saved from danger during the Tribulation, not saved from hell.

8. Do I need to repent for my sins to be saved or to stay saved? No! Neither Jesus, nor any of His apostle’s or disciples ever told anybody they needed to “repent of their sins” or “stop sinning” to be saved. Sin is transgression of the law. Repenting of sin is following the law. Salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Not by faith in Jesus PLUS obeying the law. The only requirement for eternal salvation is believing The Gospel! AFTER a person is saved, they SHOULD repent from their sins (confessing your sins to God) not to stay saved (because you can never lose your salvation) but as their rightful service to God to stay in right relationship with Him. The ONLY requirement for salvation is trusting (BELIEVING) in the finsihed redemptive work of Jesus Christ on The Cross ALONE for the remission of all your sins and eternal life. “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son that whoesoever would BELIEVE in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The Sweetest Thing

The sweetest thing just happened on my urban farm. I have a pair of snowflake bobwhite quail, and although they have tried for three years to hatch out some babies, their eggs are apparently infertile. They sit and sit – the male sitting patiently right beside his hen – but nothing hatches.

Until now. I bought some coturnix quail eggs to put under her. I was afraid she’d reject them – either because I messed with her nest to replace the eggs, or because bobwhite eggs are pure white, and coturnix eggs are usually spotted.  Could she tell the difference?

Either the answer was no, or else she didn’t care. They sat on the eggs together, and out of the eight I gave her, three hatched. And they are so so so sweet! I went out to check on them periodically the day of the hatch, and I knew something was up when I approached their pen and male began to pace in front of his hen, holding out his wings to look big and fierce, and warning me away. He was a father!

I’m not sure there is anything so bitty and fluffy as baby quail. Since I had more eggs than would fit under the hen, I put the extras in my incubator, and managed to hatch out five more.  I’m really interested to see what the adult colors are going to be; the chicks range in color from pure golden yellow, to yellow/black/brown spotted, to dark brown.

IMG_7545

Since I was out there with my camera, I did a few photoshoots around the poultry run.

The Muscovy ducks:
IMG_7567

IMG_7568

IMG_7586

The boys are always bold and out in front. The females are more shy.

IMG_7590

I also discovered that, unlike the camera-shy larger chickens, the bantams are little divas. They are happy to pose.

IMG_7519

IMG_7622

I also simply sat and watched everyone (as I do every day) with Ellie on my lap.

IMG_7556

(She wants to make sure you know she is currently molting, and not quite the gorgeous girl she normally is. Kindly disregard the fact that she only has two tailfeathers at the moment. These things are vastly embarrassing to a hen. Good feathers are important.)

The grapes are starting to fill out.

IMG_7627

IMG_7634

And the tomatoes are already ripe.

img_7636_zps6nsnuef4

We’re had a fantastic summer here in the PNW. Warm, but not too warm. And quite a few rainy days. I adore summer rain!

Yesterday I defrosted and cleaned out the freezer, which means I was inspired to fill it again. First I sliced and bagged 14 quarts of raw mushrooms.

IMG_7506

This is the best method for keeping mushrooms. They are just like fresh, whenever you need them in your recipes.

Then mom and I harvested apples from our mystery apple tree. The apples are ugly, but they make the best pies in the world.

IMG_7507

And then I made three pies. One for now, two to freeze.

IMG_7509

I love making pies. And I can’t believe it took most of my life to try putting lattice crusts on them! It is so easy to do, and besides looking beautiful, they taste better, as the spaces allow more gooey goodness to bubble up unto the crust!

Building and Baking

Every time I think I’ve built the last animal-related housing project, I discover there’s another thing I need to make. This year I’ve built a duck coop, an angora rabbit pen, a meat rabbit grow-out pen, and a nest box for the pigeons. Is that it? I feel like I’m forgetting something! Anyway, let me show you some pictures of the latest things.

The meat rabbit grow-out pen. I was using the second chicken coop for this, but now that I’m raising meat birds, this coop isn’t available for rabbits anymore. In the front yard veggie garden, there’s this one awkward corner. It’s awkward because it’s always overgrown with bindweed. Rabbits love to eat bindweed! So I built this.

IMG_7483

It’s about 6X2 foot, and I need to roof it, but roofing it isn’t a huge priority, since it will only be in use during the summer months, when I’m breeding rabbits.

IMG_7484

As the bindweed attempts to grow up through it, the rabbits will eat it. Mwahahaha! I love it when I can solve two problems with one building project!

IMG_7486

Also, the rabbits will be conveniently to hand, when I’m weeding in the veggie garden. They seem to like it.

IMG_7498

Next problem was the pigeons. Whenever you get a new animal, there is always a learning curve, while you figure out what they really like/don’t like. My plan was to have them all nest in the attached building. Problem is, my first male on the scene, Emerson, decided that ALL the building belonged to him and his mate. He would not allow any other pigeons to nest in it. My second male, Mordecai (Emerson’s son), was growing increasingly desperate to find a nesting area. There was constant tussling in the coop, and no one was happy. So I built an attached one-pair nesting box on the opposite side of the coop. (It still needs a roof.)

IMG_7476

Mordecai was SO HAPPY. He immediately went inside and started calling Esther to come and see.

img_7474_zpsd5j34qyr

It’s nice because I can open the back from the outside of the coop in order to clean, or check on things. They immediately built a nest, and peace was restored. (You can see the original pair, Emerson and Peabody, canoodling at the entrance to their nesting area.)

This nest box is working out so well that I think I’m going to build several more on the back side of the coop, then close off the attached mini-shed and have it be for hay/food storage. It’s more difficult to clean, and it would be so much more convenient to have all the pigeons nesting in single-pair boxes like this.

And now for the cool story of the month. My mother and I belong to a neighborhood social media group called ‘Nextdoor’. People in your city can post warnings, requests for advice/recommendations, etc. About a week ago, my mom commented that someone had found a mysterious ‘strange bird’. This woman was sure it wasn’t a chicken, but otherwise had no clue. It had marched right up to her neighbor’s back door, and appeared to need help, but since she wasn’t sure if it was an escaped domestic bird, or a wild bird, or even if it was an adult or a baby, she wasn’t sure what to do. People were commenting thinking it was anything from a dove to a baby hawk! I went and looked at the pictures, then laughed at my mom. “That isn’t a strange bird! That’s a coturnix quail – we used to have those in the backyard!” I contacted the concerned lady, and she asked if I’d be willing take it, since I mentioned I was currently in the process of hatching more of these quail. I said sure, and that is how I ended up with Scruffles – who I renamed Amelia, after Amelia Earhart. It seemed appropriate, given how adventurous she was. She had obviously been through some hard times, she’s blind in one eye, and was missing a lot of feathers.

IMG_7494

The feathers are mostly grown back now, and she’s laid about seven eggs for me.

IMG_7500

What’s really weird, though, is that two days after she came to me, the lady who found her called back. Another quail had turned up at a neighbor’s yard. The cat had gotten this one, but they’d rescued it, and didn’t see any injuries. This one was a male, but unfortunately, it died the next day. They couldn’t find anyone in the area who had quail, or had ever heard of quail. I don’t know whether these two escaped, or whether their owner had gotten tired of keeping them, and had released them into the wild. Please don’t do this, people. Domestic animals cannot survive in the wild, and even though there are wild varieties of quail, coturnix are so thoroughly domesticated that they have no wild instincts at all. At least little Amelia/Scruffles found a safe home. She’s a bit lonely, but my quail eggs are due to hatch in about three days, so she’ll have friends soon.

And one last thing. I discovered this fantastic baking blog: https://www.womanscribbles.net/

Spanish-Bread-1

I’ve tried three of her recipes so far, and they are extremely well-written and clear to follow. All three breads turned out perfectly – just like the pictures! – and were very tasty. One of them, Spanish Bread, is going to be a regular in my household.

Oh – and one more last thing! Remember the Freedom Ranger meat birds I was testing out this summer?

img_7137_zpsprfipqmd

These guys were the perfect birds. They were completely docile and calm, quiet, and sweet-tempered…right up until a couple weeks before butchering. Then they suddenly turned into little peckers. Literally. We harvested them and they weighed out at about 3 1/2 to 4lbs each. Perfect. A couple of days ago, Mom roasted one of them, and we both agreed it was the best chicken we’d ever eaten! Tender, so full of flavor, and the skin was so crisp and wonderful. Freedom Rangers are it. Next year I’m getting a bunch more!

Ducks, Quail, and Rabbits

The Muscovy ducks are fitting perfectly into the farm. They are eating the bindweed (yay!!!!) and my plan of rotating the ducks and chickens through the chicken food forest run is working perfectly. The ducks have an open-air coop at the far end, where they also have a very small container to splash around in. It’s important for ducks to be able to bathe in water, because it keeps their feathers properly waterproof. Like all ducks everywhere, these Muscovies love water. Unlike every other duck everywhere, these Muscovies are not obsessed with water.  They like it, they enjoy a good splash now and then, but most of their life is spent doing things apart from the water. You can really tell that they aren’t truly, scientifically, ducks. They are something else, closer to a goose.

Whatever. They are awesome. They do poop like ducks, prodigious amounts of poop that normally they would stamp down into the ground with their flat feet until it formed a solid poop carpet. Poop carpets stink. This is where the chickens come to the rescue. Chickens love to scratch and dig, and they particularly love to scratch and dig in areas where they have been forbidden to go.  So the chickens are forbidden to go into the back duck yard…until I decide to send the ducks on parade.

The ducks are marched out first thing in the morning, all the way to the far opposite part of the chicken yard (I have grapes planted there, hence the “vineyard”). They spend the day eating the bindweed and relaxing under the honeyberry bush. The chickens, meanwhile, are delighted to discover the forbidden duck yard is now open to them. They scratch all the duck poop up and turn it over into the dirt and chips before it can mat down into a poop carpet. It’s been working perfectly! And this is with seven almost full-grown ducks. The ducks will be downsized into only three in August. I’ll miss the full duck parade in the mornings, but three ducks are a better fit for a small garden like mine. Also, I can’t wait to taste Muscovy. They say it tastes like a fine beef steak!

There’s been some changes among the rabbits, as well. I decided to sell one of my angoras, because my two does had started to fight, and I really don’t have time or space for two. So I listed Cinnamon, and found her a lovely new home as a birthday gift for a girl who has always wanted a rabbit, and has been checking out a ton of library books on rabbit-keeping in the hopes she’ll get one. The family is on vacation until August 4th, so I’m keeping her for them a little longer, but she’s officially no longer my rabbit.

IMG_7454

I also made the more difficult decision to cull one of my Rex does, the grey one, Thistle. She’s part of my meat rabbit colony, and she wasn’t doing well. Her last litter had only two kits, both stillborn, and her litter before that had only one kit. I can’t keep a doe that can’t have healthy litters. So she went to freezer camp, and I decided to replace her with one of Blackberry’s last litter. Meet Foxglove:

IMG_7466

Her mother, Blackberry is wonderful. Large, healthy litters, and more sweeter-tempered than Thistle. I’m hoping Foxglove will prove equally wonderful, and I really like her name. She looks like a foxglove to me!

FLSDIG34214_3

My Snowflake Bobwhite quail pair has gone broody, and they are always the sweetest pair. The male sits alongside her in the nest to keep her company, and whenever she leaves the nest to stretch her legs, he takes over sitting on them, first carefully inspecting the eggs, and rolling them over so gently with his beak. I would let them raise their own offspring, but they appear to be infertile. I’ve let them sit on eggs for three years now, and nothing ever hatches. So this year, I’ve ordered some hatching eggs off ebay for them.

66706619_10157759594160101_4278845474829500416_n

I don’t need any more bobwhites, so I’m giving them coturnix quail eggs instead. This seller has really pretty and unusual colors – both in eggs and in adult feathering. The eggs are arriving later this week, so fingers crossed my assortment is as pretty as these. And also fingers crossed that Bellatrix the Bobwhite will accept them as her own.

img_6694_zpsbgsftctm

End of March

Pigeons grow INSANELY fast. Remember how small they were at hatch?

img_7090_zpsxlcf46xx

Here they are, today.

IMG_7115

IMG_7117

Such funny looking, prehistoric birds! And so calm. They don’t mind being taken out of the nest at all. The parents have differing opinions on that subject. The father, Emerson, would guard his chicks to the death when HE’S on the nest. He growls and pecks and slaps me with his wings. Peabody, the female, is pretty sure I intend no harm. She prefers I not touch, but if I do, she just gives me a precautionary wing-slap, then settles down and lets me pet her and the babies. Needless to say, I handle the chicks when she’s on guard duty…or when they’re both off the nest.

The first ten days of life, the parents feed the chicks with ‘milk’ produced in their crop. They are one of only three birds that do this, and it’s really cool. The crop actually changes to produce milk much the way human breasts do, then changes back after ten days. These babies are on solid food now. When I touch the thin skin of their chests, I can feel the crop’s contents and tell by the bulges that the parents are bringing them whole grains and peas to eat.

The mealworm farm is doing fantastic too. Most of the original worms are now either pupae or beetles. When the beetles first hatch, they are white, then slowly turn brown, then black.  Hopefully the beetles are laying eggs, and soon I’ll have a bumper crop of new worms – some to feed the critters, some to let grow into the next generation of beetles. They are kinda creepy, but definitely the easiest animals I’ve ever cared for. Put them in some wheat bran, add a few slices of raw potato, and let them do their thing.

IMG_7106

The Spring here has been fantastic. About 60 degrees during the day and sunny, in the 40s at night. The garden is exploding with life.

IMG_7114

I filmed a little video tour of my March garden. My camera shut off halfway through, so it’s in two parts.

1,100 New Livestock Critters!

I’m adding several new animals to the urban farm this spring. Muscovy ducks, King pigeons (my first pair is arriving this week in the mail!) and I just put myself on the waitlist for a satin angora rabbit.

And then there was this, which came in the mail last week:

img_7002_zps1mxvz53c

I didn’t count them, but the seller said there was 1,100 critters in this cloth bag!

img_7003_zpszleifmpe

Yep. Mealworms. Not the cutest or cuddliest thing I’ve ever added to the farm, but if it works out, definitely practical. Almost everything I own likes to eat mealworms…chickens, ducks, quail…pigeons? Do pigeons eat mealworms? I need to google that. Mealworms are an excellent protein source.

They are supposedly easy to raise, as well – especially if you do the no-sort method I am trying. Basically you just put them in a plastic bin, add several inches of wheat bran (bedding AND food for the worms) and a few cut slices of raw potato or apples for moisture. The worms eventually turn into flightless beetles, which lay eggs, which hatch into a larger number of worms. If it works, I’ll have a sustainable protein source for the birds, and a fertilizer for the garden (worm poop).

 

Gotta say, I’m a LOT more excited about getting the pigeons! (But I have a feeling the chickens will prefer the worms….)

Babies, More Babies, and Baking (not the babies!)

The critters around here think it’s Spring. I have eight (possibly more) bunnies born yesterday, with second doe due on Sunday. This, I will admit, is my doing, since I did enable the affair. They were certainly enthusiastic participants, however! I still have three from the previous litter – one of them I actually sold. This handsome little buck is going to be a pet – and possibly getting a girlfriend later on.

img_6758_zpsnpszyecf

The Snowflake Bobwhite quail have decided to try for a family too. I’m not overly optimistic about success, since Buckbeak (my male) suffered a leg injury as a chick and has never had perfect agility since. I’m not sure he’s able to properly balance on Bellatrix in order to fertilize those eggs. They are so sweet, though.

img_6798_zpsxodfzux5

Buckbeak has taken to sitting on the eggs with her, and when she leaves the nest to stretch and eat, he moves over to keep the eggs warm. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’d love to see them manage to hatch out at least a couple of chicks!

I’ve also had two different chickens decide to go broody on me, too – despite me explaining over and over again that we have already had our allotted chicks for the year, and we really can’t have any more.

img_6799_zps7opawrlx

So they are taking turns in the broody prison. I just released the last one this morning…I hope she’s actually changed her mind about babies and isn’t just going to sneak back onto a nest when I’m not looking.

I FINALLY got the girls’ musical instrument mounted in their coop, right above the oyster shell and grit where I know they can’t miss it.

img_6788_zpsvdtrg5fr

They are pretending it isn’t there. Not a single hen will touch it. I guess my girls just don’t have dreams of going on America’s Got Talent or the Kimmy Kimmel Show.

The guinea pigs have moved out into the large outdoor coop, and are loving all the space.

img_6791_zpsw1f00q9d

Of course, their favorite activity is still coming up the wire to beg for treats. Both are especially fond of cherry tomatoes.

img_6796_zpsxea1gga3

It’s been too smoky from all the wildfires to do much work outside, so I’ve been doing lots of cooking and baking. You know how you tend to pin things on Pinterest but never actually do them? Well, I’m making a point of making the recipes I’ve pinned, and most of them are turning out! A pretty good percentage are actually keepers, and I’ve transferred them over to a new board “Recipes I’ve Made and Liked”.  Just yesterday, I made the Bacon-Wrapped Cornish Hens, and they were fantastic…and super easy. Besides the Cornish hens, I also made two apple pies with apples from my backyard tree (these apples make the most extraordinary pies…but I didn’t plant the tree, and have no idea what variety it is). One pie to bake immediately,

img_6801_zpsenz4oqxi

and one to freeze for later.

img_6802_zpstmwz47ew

As you see in the background, I saved all the cores and peels to make three gallons of apple scrap vinegar. It’s so easy, and tastes just like store-bought apple cider vinegar. I use it for everything but canning. (Canning requires at least 5% acidity for safety, and I haven’t tested the acidity of mine.) Some apple scrap vinegar recipes tell you to start with yeast, or add sugar, or do all sorts of extra things. I do nothing but throw my apple scraps in a jar and add filtered water. Put some 90 grade cheesecloth over the top to keep out the fruit flies, and stir it vigorously at least a couple of time per day. You’ll notice it starts to bubble, and smell like hooch. Once the bubbles stop, and the apple scraps sink to the bottom after a few weeks, strain the scraps out, replace the cheesecloth and store the jars in a cool, dim place for up to six months. You’ll know it’s done when it smells and tastes like vinegar, and then you can bottle it up and use it like you would apple cider vinegar. When you make future batches, add a little of the dregs from your previous batch to kick-start the process.

In the same day, I also made Lemon Poppyseed Yellow Summer Squash Bread – you’ll find the recipe in my pinterest recipe link above. It’s a super way to use up those overgrown yellow summer squash, and you’d never know it has squash in it! I recommend cutting down the sugar by at least half a cup, though. Most comments on the recipe say it’s too sweet as-is, and I’m glad I followed their suggestion.

Dexter was glued to my side during all this baking frenzy, and boy was he ever exhausted by the end of it!

img_6804_zpsuj3egrha

It is hard work cleaning up all the scraps that accidently (and on purpose) fall to the floor. He didn’t even wake up during his close up.

img_6805_zps47aii80cIs someone talking about me? Are there more treats?img_6806_zpspj2nsaef

Finally, Amazon sent Bundy another cat bed in the mail, and this one, sadly, was slightly undersized.

img_6811_zpsdooefmpj

He did his best to make it work, though!