No rest for the wicked

The long-awaited hen house upgrade is underway! The weather has been unseasonably warm, but it sure makes working outside nice. Some of our plants are starting to leaf out already – red flowering currant, red elderberry, honeysuckle, quince. Time to start watching for the return of the hummingbirds.

We’re converting two “squares” of our little barn into an enclosed nesting/sleeping area, and a mostly enclosed screened “lounge” area. The gals will also have an enclosed outdoor run to wreak havoc in.

Of all the livestock we’ve tried here at Seven Trees, so far the hens are the easiest to care for, and just about lay for themselves with egg sales. It’s only fair to give them a suitable residence.

The past few days have been really warm for January. We topped 60 yesterday, and the bees took advantage of the sunny day. Bees don’t poop in their hive, so in winter they just hold it until it’s warm enough for a potty break. Who knew they would be little manure factories! The shiny blue truck was parked near by, and got speckled with bee pies too. Oh well, at least we know they’re healthy and active.

We had to go to Sunnyside, WA for a funeral last weekend, and paused on the way out of town to survey this feedlot. The whole area is replete with feedlots, and hence redolent with the smell of steer manure. It was feeding time, so most of the steers are ringing the perimeter fence where the troughs are. You can see a giant manure pile in the background, partially covered with tarp & tires. This is just too much critter to be sustainable, but it’s where cheap beef comes from.

We used some Buddy stew meat to make a pot of stifado yesterday. It’s great comfort food, and the kind of meal you can set to simmer while you work, then come inside for a hearty dinner. The last of the Reddale potatoes went into the stew, plus our homegrown tomatoes, onions, garlic, etc.

Here’s one version of the recipe that I like to use. Some recipes call for pounds of pearl onions, but peeling them is a lot of work. I add boiled potatoes to the stew once the meat is tender.

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4 thoughts on “No rest for the wicked”

  1. Hello J&D,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while from Holland. I found the blog through CR.

    I have lived in Sunnyside for a while making Gouda cheese. At the moment I like to follow the situation in the USA. Your blog has been a place to check regularly. Thank you for sharing your interesting way of living.

  2. Hi Sjoerd!

    I’m glad you like the blog. There is a lot going on in the world right now, and focusing on small things like chickens and chard can help lessen stress. We’re planning to get a little more businesslike this year, now that we’ve had a few years to make mistakes and figure out what we like doing most here. I hope you’ll find our new adventures entertaining…

    I spent a lot of summers in Sunnyside, visiting relatives. It’s a lot bigger than it used to be, but still mainly agricultural.
    -J

  3. Hey you two,
    I’m thinking about another chick order in a month or so… have you decided on a favorite hatchery? I’ve had mixed results….

  4. When we order the usual batch of 25 chicks, we tend to go with Stromberg’s. I think once we had one dead chick, but mainly no losses due to their fault.

    This year we’re going with Cackle, since we only want 15 chickies. I think we’ve only ordered from them once before, but with no problems.

    I need to get my order in, in case the breeds I want are farther out in the hatching calendar….

    -J

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