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Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page

Today i killed a chicken.

In chickens, Hand-made life on February 10, 2013 at 15:42

For the most part we don’t eat meat. I am less picky than Ben. I will eat something containing chicken broth or bits of chicken if someone i know has made it for me, mostly soup. I prefer not to, but if it is what the meal is i will probably eat it. We do not buy or prepare meat for ourselves. That being said we keep chickens for eggs.
In Seattle we can own 8 chickens. And while 8 chickens lay more eggs than 3 people should eat, i do a lot of baking so more eggs are always nice, and sometimes i need to bribe the neighbors. I realized that at some point, when the chickens stopped laying, i would need to figure out what to do with them. It would be great if there was some retirement home for elderly chickens, but there isn’t really. And i feel it is my responsibility. While i know that i would have issues eating my own chickens (it took me a few weeks before i could eat their eggs), i am not opposed to someone eating them.
Most of the people i would give the chicken to for eating would not really be up to preparing the chicken, so i felt that it was something i had to learn. That coupled with the fact that sometimes chickens get sick or injured and the best thing is to help end their pain. We decided before we got chickens that they would not be going for doctors visits, so we would need to figure out how to handle the situation ourselves. So i took a class.

I got back about 30 mins ago. My hands have been washed 5 times with soap and hot water, but they still smell slightly of freshly killed chicken. I did not bring my own chicken to cull, but someone in the class was kind enough to let me cull one of their chickens. It was a lot easier than i thought it would be. Of course that might have something to do with it being someone else’s chicken. I held the chicken for a while to calm it down. Then i lowered it into a cone and pulled its head through the hole in the other side. The chicken was really calm, and still. Slit, and drain. Once the blood stopped dripping you take the bird and dip it in scolding soapy water for about 10 dips to loosen up the feathers. After that the feather came off very easily. Strangely enough i found it more difficult to gut the dead bird than i found to cut its throat, but i did it. It was a good learning experience. I do not wish to do it often but i now know that i can do it if it needs to be done.

The sadness of garden greens in winter.

In Gardening, Hand-made life on February 6, 2013 at 13:14

As autmn began I started to plan putting the garden to bed. Autumn came and went, winter set in and still the garden was not fully tucked in to bed. The mustard greens that I had let go to seed with the intention of using said seeds to make mustard powder slowly fell to the ground and started to sprout. The broccoli rabe that had not really matured during the summer had continued to attempt to grow. The kale grew on, the garlic I planted too late last season began to sprout and the buckwheat I planned for the chickens emerged from the ground. We are having a very mild winter.
A few weeks ago I started to look through the seed catalogs and decided that with what we had still growing and seeds we saved from last year, we wound attempt to just plant what we have and see how it went. Then the garden massacre happened.
Due to miscommunication (I am being nice), some workers our landlord hired to cut down a tree “weeded” the yard. Because no one was around to tell them what was a weed and what was food and I suppose assuming that nothing grows in the winter, the lovely (I am being nice) workers proceeded to rip up every green thing emerging from the ground and remove the first inch of top soil cleaning up. The mustard greens were gone, the kale gone, the buckwheat gone. Half of the garlic remained but because they had removed so much soil most of them now stood naked above ground, their roots exposed. I later found out that they had ripped up all 4 kinds of mint we had growing, and as if to add insult to injury after they had made bare our raised beds they trampled through them to remove the cut down bits of tree from the yard. (Footprints don’t lie).
I have been feeling sorry for myself garden wise since then. I know it’s still early and there is plenty of time to plant most things again. I just really want to yell at someone for this but that won’t happen. So I shall start planning my spring garden as if nothing happened and look forward to eating those first greens.


In Hand-made life on February 1, 2013 at 15:32

Probably a few years ago now, a friend of mine said that all ladies secretly wanted to own chickens and goats. I admitted to maybe wanting chickens, but i proudly declared that i had no desire for goats. I was apparently telling lies. I want some goats. Well, i want some girl goats.

A few weeks ago i went to a cheese making class not at all close to my house. I happened to meet a woman who lives about 300 yards from my house. I was happy to find out that she had chickens, rabbits, ducks, and.. goats. I went to visit her later that day and convinced her that she wanted to teach me how to milk a goat.

The first time i tried i was really bad. I mean, Really bad. I first watched her, and then she said i should try and told me what i needed to be doing with my hands but my hands did not seem to want to listen. I was afraid i would hurt the goat by squeezing too tight so instead i just molested her teats a bunch while pushing the milk back and forth from her udders to her teats, and not at all into the bucket. The goat got impatient at my lack of skill or confidence. And i lost more confidence that i could acquire this skill. Eventually i managed to get some milk to come out. I finally came to terms that i had to squeeze harder than i was comfortable with and realized that i was not hurting the goat in doing so. The next hurdle was trying to get the milk to go in to the bucket and not just have it run down my arms. I stopped once milk in the bucket had been achieved a few times. I felt that i had learned a lot for the first lesson and that the goat was very much tired of me molesting her. So i stepped aside and watched the pros finish.

Yesterday i went back for my second lesson. I managed to get mostly all the milk nto the bucket, and the goat did not seem to hate me touching her as much, though she was pretty distracted with her goat treats. I was able to nearly get all the milk out by myself, but did need help in the end. My arms are not sore anymore, but i can tell that i am going to have to build up some milking muscles for the future. Ben is not so excited about the idea of having goats, but i plan to give him a little while longer to get used to the idea and then well once i get the goats he will just have to deal with it :), besides… im letting him have a cat.. the goat is going to be far more useful.