Monday, April 27, 2009

Project chicken continues

So, if you have been following our ongoing saga of getting set up to have chickens for fresh eggs, you know that we have progressed through a couple of stages already.

Stage 1 - gather information, read books, talk to friends, find out legalities, etc.

Stage 2 - obtain a coop and a location for it. Done

Now we have moved on to stages 3, 4 and 5.

Stage 3 - decide what breeds we want and if we want to buy adults or raise chicks. We decided to raise chicks so that we could get the specific breeds that we want. We ordered our baby chicks from a local store and we will pick them up THIS WEDNESDAY (and I mean it this time...) We're getting two chicks each of three different breeds; Barred Rock, Americauna and Rhode Island Red. We're also hoping that we can get a hen to raise our chicks so that we won't have to do quite as much work.

Stage 4 - borrow a broody hen from a friend. Enter the hen in question!

One of my coworkers loaned us this hen who has been broody (sitting on eggs hoping for chicks to hatch) for about a month. I have named her Henrietta Penelope Cluckbottom (Henny Penny for short).
She came to us sitting on two real eggs and one glass egg in a pet carrier. Do you notice anything wrong with this picture? one, two, three real eggs and one glass egg. Yep! Henny Penny laid a new egg. This means that she's not broody any more. She's snapped out of it.

I didn't realize that when I opened up the door to the coop to have a little chat with her on Saturday. And when she decided to step outside, I wasn't too worried. My coworker told me that a broody hen will go outside for a while, but go back to her eggs pretty quickly.

We started to worry about 30 minutes later when Henny Penny showed no interest in returning to her nest. She decided to roam around our garden instead. She quite enjoyed a little dust bath amongst the garlic plants. We shooed her away from the small lettuce, radishes and pea plants in another planting bed, however.

After about an hour of exploring the area, Henny decided that her favorite spot was underneath the coop. So we decided that it was time to move onto
Stage 5 - complete the enclosed chicken run. We hoped to make it all the way around the coop with the chicken wire to catch her inside. Here we are 1/2 way around.

At 3/4 around, Denis thought we might be able to corner her into the enclosed portion and shoo her back inside the coop. He blocked the way out while I did the shooing (after taking a picture).

No good. Henny was determined to stay outside. After more than 30 days sitting on those darn eggs, she wanted to enjoy the sunshine! So we kept going. We managed to get all the way around with the chicken wire which she stayed under the coop.

Aha! We've got you Henny Penny Cluckbottom! Now you will stay inside your enclosure like a good chicken...

We had to leave Henny in her enclosure because we had a game night to attend. We left my mom in charge of checking on Henny and shutting her coop door once she finally decided to go inside for the night. We didn't find out until the next day that Mom found Mrs. Cluckbottom OUTSIDE her enclosure. That's right, she'd flown the coop! But she happily marched into the coop once the door was opened up for her. On Sunday, a tarp was added to cover the top of the chicken run. A permanent roof will be added on Saturday.

Okay, the good news is that Henny is sitting on her eggs during the night. I find her there when I close up the coop for the night and I find her there in the morning when I open it up. My coworker thinks that is a good sign as hens generally ignore their eggs entirely if they are not broody. We're hoping that Henny will still take the chicks. Just two more days, Henny. Hang in there!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A nice busy weekend.

This past weekend was really busy in a good way. Friday and Saturday, I attended our Oregon Diabetes Educator association's annual conference, which is an opportunity to get a lot of continuing education credits that I will need to renew my certification in a few years. The topics this year were quite good and I enjoyed the company of my coworkers who also attended. Some of the subjects this year were:

  • Continuous Glucose Monitoring - what it is and how to use the info (This is the latest tool that we have for managing diabetes, it's not used widely yet, but we believe that it will change how we treat the disease in the coming years.)
  • Why your patients hate to test their blood glucose and what you can do about it. (This was presented by a psychologist who specializes in Diabetes issues.)
  • Diabetes and Exercise. (presented by a very fun physical therapist)
  • Inpatient Glycemic control (This is very applicable to my job, especially the special projects that I work on)
  • Current trends and controversies in nutrition
  • Type 2 diabetes in children (a growing problem in the US!)
I learned a lot and came home inspired to make some changes in my own eating habits.

While I was at the conference on Saturday, Denis helped out at a disability ministry event sponsored by our local chapter of Joni and Friends. I think I heard that over 30 people from our own church volunteered at this event, which is so exciting and encouraging. It was a great opportunity for people to get some experience with this type of ministry. On Sunday, a few special guests from JAF came to our church to speak and it was great to get to speak with them afterwards to keep "picking their brains" about how to keep things growing at our church. They were asking Denis and I if we would like to go to the July family camp as the medical personnel. Please pray for us for this. We would really like to do it, but will have just used up three weeks of vacation pay for our June trip cross-country. It would be a significant financial cost to us when you consider the lost pay.

After church Sunday, we bought our last supplies for the chicks - food and water containers, chick feed and wood chips. Denis has been working on the enclosure, so I'll post pictures of the finished coop when he's all done. And of course, chick pictures will have to be posted!

Some attempts at art

Here are some pictures that I have taken in the last year. They were all taken around the Rogue River which is a world0-class fishing and rafting river here in Southern Oregon.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Adventures in cooking

One of Kristina's three questions last week was "What do you like to cook/bake?" In pondering my answer, it occurred to me that there is a difference for me between "what do you cook often?" and "what do you like to cook?"

The food that I cook often is stuff that I like to eat or whatever is easy. I get stuck in ruts and just do the same stuff over and over. But what I like to cook/bake is whatever is new and adventurous. I like experimentation. When people have company over, usually they cook something familiar so that they know it will turn out well. When I have company come, I usually pick something new to cook that I have never made. It's a good excuse to open up my cookbooks or magazines and try something new.

However, this makes me tend toward buying new cookbooks but then only making a few recipes out of it before I get tired of that particular method. Sigh... Well, my newest adventure is making yogurt and I was successful last night. It's pretty good. We'll see if I find this skill useful enough to make it a regular habit.

My last adventure was inspired by Christine Jolly. She wrote about this book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (on facebook, not on her blog). You make up the dough and store it in the fridge, then use it as desired for two weeks. Here's what the dough looks like

The yummiest creation was the sticky rolls. Here they are rising.

and the finished product!

I did learn I need a better container for storing my dough and I need a plan for how I will use up all the dough/bread. So this book is not in use at the moment.