Meet the Gang: Luna

 

Luna is one of our inside cats. The other is Lennon which we recently realized is a girl and not a boy… We are idiots. To be fair though, at the time we had four kittens that were abandoned by the mother who never came back to the farm so I’m assuming a coyote disposed of her. The kitten Jeremy was going to keep who was a boy died and so Lennon was the replacement and we just assumed he was a boy.

Back to Luna, she isn’t sweet like Lennon. She has attitude and she flaunts it and loves to play and fight and climb things as high as possible. You are there strictly to let her sit on you lap only… No touching is preferred. She is a complete brat! But they are amusing together and are buddies even though they are complete opposites. So that’s Luna, our black smoke pixie bobcat.

Homemade Creamer

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Fresh cream from our jersey cows Daisy & Maisy


If there was something I could change about myself, it would be that I didn’t need creamer for my coffee! SO MANY CALORIES! GAH! Yet, I do like creamer in my coffee and I really prefer to avoid soy if possible and almost all coffee creamers seemed to be soy based.

You can buy half n half or just heavy cream but a product that Jeremy and I really liked was the Dunkin Donuts Extra Extra coffee creamer. It actually is made with cream unlike International Delight or Coffee Mate. I do like those but… soy. I know they have the Natural Bliss stuff that seems a bit better but I have Jersey cows, surely I could figure out how to make cream.

In my mind, it seemed only logical that it would be half milk/half cream (half n half) but definitely wasn’t. Something that isn’t on my side through all of this is that I can’t homogenize my milk and cream. Homogenization is when the fat droplets in milk are emulsified and the cream does not separate. So it is uniform and not separate. In my case, either you have milk or cream and that’s your only option.

I tried different amounts, sugar syrup mixed in, flavors, etc. I just got frustrated and we kept buying the Dunkin Donuts kind. I even went on Pinterest to find a “natural” creamer and even tried a few that involved using sweetened condensed milk and didn’t really like them. I use to go to a dear ladies house every Friday to write letters. Her name was Carol and she was always in high spirits to have me and several other girls over every Friday no matter her health (which was pretty bad) she passed away last year. I sure do miss her. She would always have coffee ready for us and all she had for cream was heavy cream. It got me to thinking, I can just use the cream and add sugar and cook it over a stove top until the sugar dissolves. It was so simple and it was exactly like the Dunkin Donuts Extra Extra. The only thing I’ve changed about it is I’ve cut the sugar in half. It starts to add up.

Oh yeah, and if you have the cream from cows… It’s so much cheaper to make your own creamer rather than buying it from the store so that’s always a plus.

Farm Fresh Creamer

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon of fresh cream or heavy whipping cream from the store
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar (or an alternative but I haven’t really tried anything else other than my homemade coffee syrups)

**If you don’t like it too sweet, you can always decrease the amount of sugar

You’ll need a medium size sauce pan

Instructions:

  1. Take cream and sugar and put into sauce pan over low to medium heat (I put on 4 setting on my stove top)
  2. Stir every once in a while so that it doesn’t stick
  3. Cook 5 min or more until dissolved
  4. Let cool and put into old creamer container
  5. Shake before use

Hope you like it! We do!

meandcalves

Here’s a pic of when they were little 🙂

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Yes, I know our barn needs work! Here is my cow Maisy following after Jeremy leading her with her own calf

Make Your Own: Homemade Wine

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I’m really not an avid wine drinker but I’d like to be. I’m convinced I just haven’t found one that I like. I’ve been to a few wine tastings. Here in Missouri there are surprisingly a lot of vineyards the most famous probably being St. James Winery which is the first place I did a wine tasting and decided that I’m probably a sweet wine kinda girl. When it comes to the drys I like cooking with it more than drinking it. Like I said previously, not an avid wine drinker but making your own… I could definitely become one! You get to kind of develop your own “taste.”

Making wine can be pretty cheap if you wild craft your berries or grow your own fruits. I haven’t made a strawberry wine yet but this year I plan too since my mother in law (aka Superwoman) usually has extra and last year I planted a strawberry bed so maybe I should have my own. I’m pretty excited since they are local to my climate here in the Ozarks. I purchased them from Simmons Plant Farm out of Arkansas. They ship them when it’s time to plant. The prices are great and everything I ordered and planted grew awesome, even asparagus which is hard to grow in my opinion. If I buy from a place like Lowes, the plants never seem to do good at all. Although this year, I’m planting my comfrey beside them in hopes that my fruit trees that I did buy from Lowes will perk up.

Back to story, I never wanted to really make wine or have an interest until I was watching The Legend of Mick Dodge and on an episode he goes throughout the forest to collect a gallons worth of wild berries to make “Forest Wine.” Which he collects then mashes the berries together, adds water and heats and adds yeast as well. He just puts into 1 wine bottle. I thought, if it’s really that simple I’ll do it.

In the town of Ozark, we have a place called Home Brewery where they have anything and everything you would need to make wine, beer, mead, cheese, yogurt…. The list goes on. They sell EVERYTHING you need to become a home brewer. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re local to Ozark, MO or close by and even if you’re not you can order online. They are super helpful and no matter how many questions you ask…(I always ask A LOT!) They are a laid back bunch that want to help you as much as possible. They also give you a recipe to make a basic fruit wine. I haven’t moved past basic yet since I’ve only made 5 batches (Mulberry, Blackberry, Plum, Blackberry-Raspberry, Pear Apple) The best tasting was my last which I cracked open last night… WOW! Soooooo goood, which was the Blackberry-Raspberry.

When I went in trying to explain that I just wanted simplicity like Mick Dodge the guy tried to explain that yes, theoretically, it would be wine. If you watch the video, there doesn’t seem to be any sugar added and the guy (I think Todd from Ozark Brewery) said that for a good fermentation you need sugar (Without the addition of sugar… You might not havegreat alcohol contents, it would be classified as wine but only certain grapes, some pears, and cider apples to well without the addition of sugar) and after it is wine I can only imagine the amount of sediment it would have in the bottom and actually it would probably be half full with it. After it’s all said and done and Mick Dodge has “wine” it probably wouldn’t taste that great.

It’s actually easier to just be sure you did everything right and there’s no contaminants or wild yeasts going all crazy in your wine. If you watch the episode that I linked above, you’ll see the wine is a gooey mess. They explained if you want something clear that looks like wine, you’ll need to clarify it. You need to think about sanitation as well. I thought it would be expensive and it can be if you do the kits or whatever or buy juice but if you harvest your own fruits–that’s pretty inexpensive. So the only things you need are equipment and things like sugar, water, fruit/juice, pectin enzyme, yeast nutrient, acid blend, campden tablets, potassium sorbate, and your wine yeast. I definitely assumed that would be expensive but each one of those things is $2 each and the wine yeast is cheaper than that.

Brief Summary on what those things do:

Pectin Enzyme: Breaks down the cell walls, fiber or pulp of fruits to facilitate juicing and extraction of color and flavors.  Also helps prevent pectin haze.

Yeast Nutrient: Yeast Nutrient is a combination of DAP (diammonium phosphate) and food grade urea.  These provide yeast the vitamins and nutrients they need to thrive and encourages faster and more complete fermentation.

Acid Blend: Bumps the acidity up more for suitable wine making conditions

Campden Tablets: A convenient way to sterilize your must and accurately sulfite your homemade wine. (Kills wild yeasts)  Contains Potassium Metabisulfite, which acts as a sterilant and antioxidant when dissolved.

Potassium Sorbate: Stabilizer, used after fermentation but before bottling, that inhibits yeast reproduction.  Recommended to be used with Potassium Metabisulphite (Campden Tablets) to fully stabilize a wine before sweetening and bottling. Stabilizing prevents re-fermentation inside the bottled wine which can produce sparkling wine (at best) or worst case scenario – popped corks or exploding wine bottles.  Stabilizing is critical if you plan to sweeten your wine.

Wine Yeast: The role of yeast in wine making is the most important element that distinguishes wine from grape juice. In the absence of oxygen, yeast converts the sugars of wine grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide through the process of fermentation. (The link above for wine yeast is the one they recommend for your basic fruit wines)

Equipment Needed

I will say: For equipment you do need to make a few investments but in the long run–it’s not that pricey. So a startup cost but you have a waiting period since things have to ferment. Buy what you need to start like your gallon jars with lid, air lock, stopper, and your straining bag if you do it that way and that’s it other than your ingredients.

Equipment wise I only do a gallon batch which is what this recipe is for. You’ll need:

2 gallon jars with lids: You need two because you’ll do a transfer after fermentation

Airlock: Down below is what an airlock looks like. (One kind anyway) Some people use balloons but the Home Brewery has these for… I think .95 cents but if you wanna go high dollar for $8 there’s a glass one

Drilled rubber stopper: for the airlock

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This was using an old pickle jar that I cut a hole in for airlock but was unsure on if it was sealing properly so I added a little plastic around the top side

Wine bottles: You can buy these but I just ask people for their leftover bottles. People usually throw these away. Glass is reusable so I remove the stickers and sanitize before using.

Hydrometer: You can measure the alcohol content using these but I really don’t care too much about that. I do have one but hardly use it.

Rubber gloves: To get your sack of fruit out without contamination

Straining bag: To put your fruit in if you aren’t just using juice

AutoSiphon: You don’t necessarily need this but… When you are watching out for sanitation and using a tube to siphon yourself that might be of issue and these things are GREAT ($11)

Tubing: for the autosiphon which is cheap as well

Corks: I think you get around 30 for $5

Corker: Here’s a little video clip of me corking my Pear Apple Wine (Can run from $10-150, I just borrow from a friend I haven’t bought one yet)

You can get fancy and get labels but… I don’t. I usually just use a sharpie and write it on the bottle.

My Way

The easiest way that works for me… I pick my fruit and put it into a crock pot and let the juice work it’s way out of the fruit and then i strain and press with a sieve and get the most juice I can. The biggest thing about making wine is waiting. It feels great to know you made this. You took the time to pick the fruit/grow it and then you got the juice and you added everything together rather simply then waiting for the fermenting, then the clarifying and low and behold, it is wine. The sweetening is the best part. You get to taste and adjust… That’s the wonderful thing about making your own wine. I hope you experiment with this simple thing and reap the benefits. I love to do it. I like making it more than drinking it. Having the satisfaction that I made it myself is exhilarating to me . I share it with friends and family… Anyway, let me know if you guys try it! Or have done it already!

FYI:

1 gallon batches make 5 bottles of wine. Most people that are really into wine making usually do a 5 gallon batch in one shot so if that interests you and you want to try to go cheap on that as well–go to a bakery (I go to Price Cutters) and ask if they have any white buckets, they are food grade. Most of the time they are frosting containers; the last 3 I got were. Point is, they are free and most likely are going in the trash anyway and they almost always have the lids with them. If they don’t have any (at least in my personal experience) they’ll hold some back for you and you can pick them up in a few days. So all you’ll need is to drill a hole in the top and add your stopper and airlock.

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Basic Wine Recipe

Basic wine recipe (NOTE: This recipe is for a ONE GALLON VOLUME OF WINE made from fruit OTHER THAN GRAPES. Fully ripe grapes do not need the addition of 2 lbs of sugar per gallon. Take a hydrometer reading to tell how much extra sugar you might require when making wine with grapes.)

Mix together these items:

2-4 lbs of fruit juice/concentrate/puree, or whatever source of fruit you are using. (If you are using pureed or chopped fresh fruit, place the fruit or puree into a straining bag, tie a knot in the bag, and drop it into the fermenter.)

2 lb of sugar

Pectic Enzyme per our label instructions

Yeast Nutrient per our label instructions

Acid Blend or Tartaric Acid (¼ teaspoon to start, as you can add more later)

Water in whatever amount to reach the appropriate volume for the batch size you are making Any other ingredients called for in your specific recipe

Stir well to dissolve.

Crack or crush one Campden Tablet and add to the above mixture. Attach the fermenter lid and airlock. 24 hours later, remove the fermenter lid and add the yeast. Reattach lid and airlock and allow the wine to ferment.

If you have the fruit in a straining bag, after about ten days, sanitize rubber gloves or your hands and remove the bag of fruit pulp. Squeeze as much juice as you can from the bag, then top up the fermenter with water to the original volume (to account for the volume of fruit pulp you have just removed). If you have used fruit juice, you can bypass this step. Reattach the lid and airlock and allow the fermentation to complete.

Once the wine is finished fermenting, siphon it into a secondary container and allow it to clarify. When the wine is clarified, add 1 more Campden Tablet and Potassium Sorbate per our label instructions. Let the wine sit for a few days. You might need to use one of the chemical clarifiers to speed up the clarifying process, or the wine might clarify on its own. Every wine is different.

Sweetening finished wine (This step is totally optional, but the basic process is as follows): After the wine is clarified and stabilized, rack it into another carboy to get it off the sediment from the clarification and stabilization process. Thief out a 1 cup sample and add granulated sugar 1/8 teaspoon at a time, stirring to dissolve it, and taste until the desired level of sweetness is reached. Then multiply the amount of sugar used in the sample by the number of sample volumes in the total (there are 16 cups in 1 gallon, for example). Using the sugar amount arrived at by the multiplication, add ½ teaspoon of acid blend (or tartaric acid, or whatever granular acid you are using) and bring this mixture to a boil in 1 to 2 cups of water. Cover it and allow it to cool. Pour it into the carboy with the wine, stirring gently. (If you have a really full carboy, you will want to siphon out a volume of wine equal to the volume of the sugar solution you are adding.) Let the wine sit for a few days to one week to make sure it does not restart fermentation after adding the sugar solution. If it is still clear and has not started re fermenting, it is ready to bottle.

NOTE: You can also adjust the acidity of the wine at the same time you adjust the sugar level. If the wine is sort of bland, that means it needs more acid. Add acid blend (or whatever acid you are using) 1/8 teaspoon at a time to the same sample you are adjusting for sugar level, and do the same multiplication up for the total volume that you use to adjust the sugar level.

Here’s the recipe from their website which is the exact same as the recipe you just read.

Dandelion: Not just a weed folks!

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Most people see Dandelion flowers and completely lose it. It’s annoying and in their yard, EVERYTHING must be immaculate, no dandelions aloud!!! Uh… Obviously, this isn’t me and I’ve never been the “immaculate” yard keeper anyhow… I live on a farm/homestead. I do keep our actual yard and the adjoining yards that lead to the barn mowed down because if we don’t… Snakes show up. I can handle the black snakes, they have a purpose but not the ones of poisonous persuasion. There again, once black snakes start eating duck eggs or anything… They are on my list. Before Jeremy does that first cut though, I saw “WAIT!” I try and collect the dandelions for different odd and end things which I’ll post about some other time!

My experience with Dandelion in my life thus far is as a kid. Every kid and their brother/sister/cousin/etc picks a dandelion and blows the seeds across the yard. It’s like a right of passage into childhood. I’ve always had a curiosity about plants even as a teen before I even knew I was actually interested in this stuff. If it’s a weed, what was the point Jehovah? (FYI: Jehovah is God’s personal name check out Psalm 83:18, look it up! Jw.org is a good resource!!)

I think most things have a purpose even if our society today doesn’t see much use in them, the example being dandelion for this post.

So earlier this November I was trying to get my ducks and chickens to do a little digging in my garden so I put out some feed. While doing this, I saw a huge dandelion plant. Looking around, there were actually quite a few; I already had the potato fork so I dug them up. They came out pretty easily because it had rained the day before so the soil was manageable.

I actually had hopes that I would have time to make Dandelion Coffee (So I’ll do a separate post sometime about that) but I never got the time so I looked up what else the roots were good for. Usually when I’m curious about a particular plant I go to The Herbal Resource.

Dandelion Tincture

  1. Wash your roots then chop up into smaller pieces
  2. Put dandelion root in a jar and cover with 100 vodka. Make sure you at least cover with an inch of vodka above the dandelion roots.
  3. Cover tightly and allow to steep for 6 weeks, shaking daily.
  4. Strain out the root using a cheesecloth and put in a dark amber dropper bottle (Or blue one) You can compost the strained roots
  5. For optimum health, take a few drops daily in juice or water.

Benefits of Dandelion

Natural diuretic, lowers blood pressure, reduces blood sugar, stimulates the liver, rich in vitamins C, K, B2, A, Lowers bad cholesterol, kidney cleanse, fights anemia, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, mood enhancer

Nourishes liver against free radicals to counteract acetaminophen liver toxicity, mild appetite stimulant, destroys acid in blood, blood builder & purifier, detoxifies poison & toxic waste in body, stimulate bile production, helps with fluid retention, discourages growth of harmful bacteria, helps flush foreign particles from gallbladder

**Though I want to be helpful to you with information; do you own research so you always have a better idea about things as well!!

 

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information from Blue Missouri Skies Homestead is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or be taken as medical advice.


Sources

http://deeprootsathome.com/homemade-dandelion-tincture/#comment-42969

http://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/dandelion-root.html

http://www.naturallivingideas.com/harvest-use-dandelion-roots/

100 Year Old Doughnut Recipe

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1 egg
1 cupful of milk
1 and 1/3 cupfuls of sugar
2 teaspoonfuls of cream of tartar
1 teaspoonful of soda
Piece of butter the size of a walnut
1/4 teaspoonful of cinnamon or nutmeg salt
Flour enough to roll soft

Beat the egg and sugar together and add the milk and butter. Stir in the soda and cream of tartar into the flour, dry; mix all together, with the flour and salt. Cut into rings and fry in deep fat. Lay them on brown paper when you take them from the fat.

So that’s the recipe. This is just my measurement and I could be wrong but I used about 4 and half cups of flour

This came from a book called Things Mother Used to Make A Collection of Old Time Recipes, Some Nearly One Hundred Years Old and Never Published Before. I think it was printed in 1913 or 1914.

Not Just Another Simple Poke Cake

I have seen on Pinterest lately that Poke Cakes and Dump Cakes are kind of… trending?? I think the basis of it is because it’s easy. Everybody falls into the… “I don’t have time” category and I understand or at least I did when I was working the 40 hour work weeks and trying to maintain a farm. You know, take a Saturday that you’re at home in the kitchen and make it. It’s a lot of work but it’s so worth it. You’ll feel a complete since of pride. You didn’t use a cake mix, you didn’t use canned fruit, you didn’t use boxed pudding… That amazing taste from the moist cake you made, came from your hands and your hands alone so I encourage you to try this. There might also be people like me that don’t stock their kitchens worth a darn… No powdered sugar, no pudding mix, nothing. It might seem like I’m a failure but you know, I came up with some things on my own.

Just letting you know, you will have the insane need to brag on yourself if you make these recipes from scratch, but it’s okay, you deserve to if you didn’t use a cake mix!

The example of a Poke Cake that I’ve seen is through my old boss (she was a caterer, which made me a catering assistant at the time) and would take a cake mix and bake it, then pokes holes in it. Either she’d add sweet condensed milk or a pudding to it and either cool whip or whipped cream. I think Pioneer Woman does the “Dump Cake” which is taking canned fruit, adding to the bottom of pan, pour cake mix over and add pieces of butter to it. Which really sounds like a crisp to me. (By the way, I have a great crisp recipe that I’ll share some other time, super simple and delicious) WARNING: I do have to warn you, from this point on, there will be about 3 recipes I’m listing and that’s not counting whipped cream. It will take a bit of time but if you do it right like, prepare you cake and get it in the oven then make your pudding and put in the fridge then make your blueberry sauce…. By then your cake should be done and you can start poking holes and add the your other recipes to it.

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Yellow Cake Recipe

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/4 cups milk

This is how you do it:

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beat in vanilla.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Beating well after each addition.
  3. Transfer to a 9×13 pan, spray or grease it. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 min (I’m not sure how much the time was, I’m not a timer kind of gal, my oven never matches the time when I do use a timer, just keep an eye on it and test in the middle with a tooth pick)

Vanilla Pudding Recipe

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbs cornstarch
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 tbs butter (I’m not saying “or margarine” because that is chemical crap…. Use sweet cream butter, better yet buy a cow and you can make your own butter or just get some heavy cream and here’s how)
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla (Even more delicious would be vanilla bean but I’m out need to order more)

Here’s how you do it: (If you’re tired at this point, I don’t blame you if you want to use the pudding mix)

  1. In a sauce pan combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk to the beaten eggs. (TIP: This is called tempering the eggs. If you add them all at once or too quickly, you’ll have chunky scrambled egg pudding. Remember to stir/whisk when you’re tempering eggs)
  2. Add egg mixture to saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat. Stir in butter and vanilla, pour pudding into a bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap, put in fridge to cool.

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Blueberry Sauce Recipe

  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (by the way, it doesn’t have to be blueberries I’m sure you could do whatever berry you prefer I just had a lot left over in the freezer from when we went to Persimmon Hill Farms which I LOVE! It’s in Lampe, MO. If you’re a local, I highly recommend this place they have a little bit of everything including an amazing blueberry muffin that they serve with ice cream)

This is how you do it: (If you’re tired at this point, I don’t blame you if you don’t want to make whipped cream there’s always cool whip 🙂

  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Stir in the water until smooth. Add blueberries; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir 1 minute longer or until thickened.

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After I “poke” the cake, I thought adding some blueberry sauce over the cake would be awesome sauce (haha pun intended)

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Time to add your pudding to the cake

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Yes, it looks sloppy but that won’t matter. Put this baby in the fridge for 30min-1hr

 

Since your cake has been chilling in the fridge a few minutes before you’re ready to serve or eat it or whatever make up some whipped cream (or cheat and buy some or cool whip)
The final touch which adds another flavor profile to the decadent cake is zest a lemon and orange, maybe about 1 tsp each and put it in the whipped cream. Put the whipped cream on the cake and then add the last of your blueberry sauce. AMAZING!!!!!!! Take a bite into heaven, don’t you agree??

Morning Rituals: Roast Your Own Coffee

 

 

 

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Imagine this: Your alarm clock is going off and you stumble around mid dream to the realization that that is in fact, your alarm going off. DANG IT! Then you hit the snooze! A few times… When you finally get yourself up, you’re groggy and need coffee immediately. UNLESS! You’re a morning person and if that’s the case then BUG OFF! 😉

Yet we partake of the magic elixir known as coffee. I’ve swore I’m going to quit it over and over because I don’t like that it CONTROLS MY LIFE! and I do quit for a bout a month or more then I can’t take it anymore and I go right back to it. So to embrace my addiction hehe, I thought I’d talk a little about my history with coffee and tell you guys how to roast your own coffee beans.

My history with coffee

 

My first interaction with coffee was always being curious as a little girl wondering why my dad always ordered it at the Apple Tree (Which no longer exists in the little town on Sparta, it was replaced by a Chinese buffet). You know the little cups creamer comes in? Well, one time when my dad ordered coffee I expressed an interest and he made me a “mini” cup with the creamer cup and I tried it and liked it but that’s about as far as it went.

My next interaction was with my sister Tammy. I don’t support cigarette smoking whatsoever but I remember her saying, “If I have a cup of coffee and a cigarette in the morning, it’ll be a good day.” (She passed away in 2007, I sure do miss her!!) I never shared her love for coffee at that point but I was in my teens I didn’t need the extra energy. My love for coffee probably came from Jeremy (the hubs) because it was special to go in the morning to have coffee at Starbucks and chat.

In the process though… He created a monster. It started with a simple little vanilla latte, then to caramel fraps, then the specialty ones that are only seasonal (hate that btw!) My weakness was caramel brulee latte. LOVED IT but it was starting to get rather costly so as you know from a previous post, we invested in an espresso machine. Then, I would buy the starbucks syrup off of Ebay when it was out of “season.” Still expensive compared to making your own Syrups!

I go through phases. Sometimes I just want regular old coffee. Other times, I like my lattes. Still yet other times when I’m just in a hurry and don’t want to spend a lot of time, I like to brew an espresso shot by itself. Right now I’m kind of in the regular ole coffee stage but I’m getting to where I can’t stand Folgers anymore. Maybe it’s because since Jeremy’s coffee pot finally gave out he started using my percolator. The only way I used my percolator was the pot itself. I’d heat up water in my kettle and pour it over the grounds. I really liked it that way but now he has taken it over as his “Coffee Maker.” It reminds him of his grandma and grandpa because that’s how they always made their coffee but to me… It just taste burnt.

My newest coffee experience is that I have been ordering green coffee beans on Amazon and roasting them myself. I didn’t think it was that much of a difference but when I went to Starbucks the other day as a treat to myself–I got a White Mocha Latte–I was sorely disappointed! It tasted burnt, just over done. The latest coffee shop experience I had before that was at Dunkin Donuts. Then I tried Jeremy’s Folgers… Eck. Then I made my home roasted… DELICIOUS! Very mild. I LOVE IT!

So I guess I’ll tell you another way how I’ve ruined my life with coffee taking control yet again: roasting your own coffee beans.

Choose Your Poison

You need to find some green coffee beans. I just went to Amazon and looked around. The company I ended up using was Heirloom Coffee, LLC The first type I got was Costa Rica Dota Estate (Nectar) here’s the product info,

“We seldom get “nectar” coffee in the USA because it is such a limited picking. What makes “nectar” coffee? It is the first picking of the harvest, right after the rainy season, with the highest sugar content (sap/nectar) in the bean before the dry season really sets in. Farmers often give this micro-harvest special treatment, as in this case when the producer adjusted the washing methods to minimal water, to preserve some of the pulp to enrich the beans during sun drying.

The extraordinary nature of this first harvest starts from an incredibly select picking of ripest beans only, through special drying processes, resulting in a coffee so superb it is almost in a different class from anything else produced in the region that season. Move over Geisha, Dota Estate Nectar Coffee is in town!

When we talk about “sugar” in coffee, it is not to say that the coffee tastes like it has been sweetened, but rather that the character of the coffee is so smooth and free of bitterness due to the “nectar’ present in the bean during processing that the coffee is perfect for drinking black if desired. In Costa Rica, the tradition is to serve coffee with warm milk and sugar, but in the case of the nectar coffee, it is often consumed without any added sugar, because the brew already has a strong honey taste and tone to it. The amount of “honey” in the taste is adjusted by the roast level. You will enjoy trying this coffee at dark and medium roasts to compare the difference, it is amazing how different the profiles are.

We have a limited supply of rare nectar coffee, and when it is gone it will be unavailable until next season.

As with the main harvest, this coffee is safe & sustainably grown with virtually zero environmental impact, at altitude of 2000 m (~6000 feet), in Dota canton, Tarrazu.” [1]

My second pick was Nicaragua Matagalpa Catimor Arabica which I like even more. You can look up the info by clicking the link.

Choose Your Roasting Method

There are a couple of options. Depends what you have available to you and if you willing to purchase something to work for you. Originally I wanted to use a heat gun because I knew there was one abandoned on the homestead but it was broken– as I soon found out– so I ended up buying a popcorn air popper. (By the way, you’ll need to get one that blows hot air in from the sides and not upwards–not that I know that from experience or anything…)

  • Stove top/frying pan method
  • Oven roasting method
  • Heat air gun method
  • popcorn air popper method
  • air roaster

There are you options but I’m only covering one and not too in depth. If you want more in depth, I learned from Sweet Marias. They go in depth and tell you different ways to roast your beans.

How to Roast Coffee Beans

It’s actually fairly simple and doesn’t need too much explanation but here you go anyway:

  1. Make sure there aren’t any rocks or debris in with you coffee beans. Depending on where you got them from… My place comes straight from the farm so sort it like you would regular beans.
  2. Add coffee beans to your air popper (I use a nostalgia, I got it from Bed Bath and Beyond for around $20) and don’t over do it. When you turn the machine on, they should spin. If they aren’t, you over filled it. Best way to know, measure your amount once you get it right the first time and just remember that’s what fits into your machine. (I should also tell you, you need to have a container to catch the chaff that’s going to shed off the beans)
  3. What you’re looking for as far as the roasting goes is “cracking” noises but since the popper is loud, you’ll have to pay attention. For me, most of the time I let it run a bit and just turn off to check the color but be careful because it will burn if you let them sit for too long. When I notice it is starting to brown I turn it off and listen for the crack. First crack (Blonde roast aka light roast) will be light sounds whereas Second Crack (medium roast) is a bit more volatile. You can go past that which leads to the darker roasts. If you go past that… I wouldn’t it. It will end up like the first batch I did…. Charcoal roast 😉
  4. Once you reach your roast preference, pour beans into colander or something similar to cool them. They them cool 4-8 hours.
  5. Grind up and enjoy!

Video of my air popper

Extra Info

As far as knowing your roasts and first and second crack here’s how to know from Sweet Marias:

“- Yellowing: For the first few minutes the bean remains greenish, then turn lighter yellowish and emit a grassy smell.

– Steam: The beans start to steam as their internal water content dissipates.

– First Crack: The steam becomes fragrant. Soon you will hear the first crack, an audible cracking sound as the real roasting starts to occur: sugars begin to caramelize, bound-up water escapes, the structure of the bean breaks down and oils migrate from their little pockets outward.

– First Roasted Stage: After the first crack, the roast can be considered complete any time according to your taste. The cracking is an audible cue, and, along with sight and smell, tells you what stage the roast is at. This is what is called a City roast.

– Caramelization: Caramelization continues, oils migrate, and the bean expands in size as the roast becomes dark. As the roast progresses, this is a City + roast. Most of our roast recommendations stop at this point. When you are on the verge of second crack, that is a Full City roast.

– Second Crack: At this point a second crack can be heard, often more volatile than the first. The roast character starts to eclipse the origin character of the beans at this point and is also known as a Vienna roast. A few pops into second crack is a Full City + roast. Roasting all the way through second crack may result in small pieces of bean being blown away like shrapnel!

– Darkening Roast: As the roast becomes very dark, the smoke is more pungent as sugars burn completely, and the bean structure breaks down more and more. As the end of second crack approaches you will achieve a French roast.

– Ack!! Too Late!: Eventually, the sugars burn completely, and the roast will only result in a thin-bodied cup of “charcoal water.” [2]

Ending Thoughts

My experience with roasting your own is that coffee is no longer bitter and you want regular creamer, not the flavored kind. You want to taste the coffee and it’s unique undertones. It’s completely different and a real treat. The cool thing is, you get to try different kinds. I especially like the place I order from because they seem to-most of the time-focus on small farmers and to help them gain business. It’s pretty neat to be a part of and to try new things is always nice as well. Hopefully this will cause that little curious part of you to leap out and make you want to try this! ENJOY!


Cited Sources

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Costa-Estate-Unroasted-Coffee-Nectar/dp/B00KTLLC8E/ref=sr_1_5_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1484241382&sr=8-5&keywords=heirloom%2Bcoffee%2Bllc&th=1

[2] https://www.sweetmarias.com/instructions

Keep Your Chickens Warm in Winter

snowchickens

Just to let you know, I feel a little silly writing this because yesterday even though it’s the middle of January, it was 60-70 degrees! BUT a cold front is moving in in a few hours and it’s supposed to go from 55 to 30 and there is a chance of “Ice-mageddon” (That’s what Jeremy keeps calling it) tonight since rain is coming. Depending on the temperature going under 32, it could be good or bad. I guess I shouldn’t feel too silly though because I follow Fresh Eggs Daily on my instagram account and Lisa’s been posting pictures of snow like crazy but she lives in Maine.

So, other than the crazy weather fluctuations of Missouri we should still cover how to care for your chickens during the cold times. First, I’m happy to report, my girls have been laying most of the winter but after doing a little research for Which Chicken Breed Do You Need? article, I learned that Barred Rocks are pretty great little winter birds. Which is AWESOME! I must be doing something right because my mother in law (AKA Superwoman) who has eggs constantly even when it’s cold asked me for 5 dozen eggs to sell and the next day my friend Cindy asked for 5 dozen as well!! I feel pretty good about my little Barred Rocks… THEY ROCK! (Pun intended) Which means I’m supplying my regular customers and Cindy’s. Yay!

Moving on… I’m just going to cover a few basics and hopefully it’s helpful!

Let’s begin with I don’t think you should heat your coop. There is just too much of a chance of a fire and your birds suffering and dying. I’d rather them be a little cold and survive than the other choice. No matter how careful you are, whose to say they won’t knock something over or something like that. I mean, it seems like nature does pretty good for itself. What about the cardinals and other birds flying around. They seem fine in the cold, don’t you think? They don’t have space heaters in their nests? So PLEASE don’t heat your coop.

Deep Litter Method or NOT?

Many people dote on this method. If you’re not aware, basically the floor of your chicken coop becomes a compost pile. As you probably know, compost breaks down organic matter (poop) and brings in bugs to do so, and so forth; it puts out heat. From what I’ve read, people only clean out their coops once a year and apply layers and different things and the chickens scratch around to stir things up and eat bugs in the process. It seems pretty good to me. If you do it right you shouldn’t have the ammonia smell but after reading THIS article…(This website is amazing for chicken info; explore it! Very handy!)

Here’s a snippet, ” The deep litter system might work for you. If you have the proper housing. If you are experienced enough to recognize when it is right and when it isn’t. If you have active, young chickens to do the work. If you know enough to regulate moisture and can judge when to top off the bedding. Don’t jump onto the deep litter bandwagon because it is the trendy thing to do, or because you’ve been told that it’s the best way to be sustainable/organic. It’s one option. It can provide an enriched environment for your hens. But it can also go very, very wrong. As with all animal keeping, pay attention to the individuals under your care. Think critically about the facilities you have. Constantly monitor your flock’s health and behavior. There’s a lot of advice out there and right now, it might seem as if everyone is telling you to switch to deep litter. Heck, I give a lot of advice here on this blog – of course I hope that you’ll agree with me. But, what I’d really like you to do is not to blindly follow what I say, but to listen to your animals. Spend time in the barn with them. Breathe their air. Watch their behavior. Then you’ll make the right decisions for them and yourself.” [1]

What I’ve Been Doing: First off, during the rest of the year when it isn’t cold, I go to our local sawmill and fill empty feed bags full of saw dust and that’s what I use for the coop. During the winter though, I get a square bale of hay or just hay from the pole barn and I put it on the floor in the coop, at least 6 inches worth to cover whole floor. At this point, I also add more hay to my nests as well. Any holes or drafty areas, I add more hay to block it out. At night, I block the little chicken door we cut for them so animals don’t come in and massacre them since in the winter it seems like they are in full force. You might have to clean it out a couple times depending on how much time your chickens spend in there.

The ironic part of your time spent fixing up your coop for make it warm… I did all of the work of trying to make them happy and yet, every night I’d go out there and they’d choose to roost in the trees rather than stay in the coop. I ended up trimming the limbs off my smaller trees because they wouldn’t use the coop! No matter how cold it is, my chickens prefer to be outside. It’s just in their nature. After the removal of limbs they seemed to finally accept roosting in the coop thank goodness!

I’m probably going to stick with what I’ve been doing. Seems kind of chancy to me and since what I do seems to work, why change it? Plus, saw dust is free. I don’t have to buy special bedding it’s all kind of a sustainable kind of process. Hay is free as well since we cut our own hay.

Feed

There seems to be a bit of controversy with what I’m going to suggest next BUT you can go to this forum I found on it and pick your own side! Sounds fair to me. Here is what I do and my chickens seem happy and it’s also what I did last year and all seemed well. During the normal year, I just buy regular old chicken pellet layer feed but when it starts to get cold I get Gamebird Feed and mix it with cracked corn. Gamebird feed has extra protein compared to the regular layer pellets and cracked corn doesn’t have heat value per say but it does help keep the birds warm by the digestion process. The body has to work harder to digest cracked corn vs regular feed which causes the body to put out more heat. That seems to be what my lady at my local MFA says too but you can go read about it in that previously mentioned forum. (Do keep in mind though that they don’t need that much cracked corn, I put their feed out and mix in a little corn. On colder days I’ll scoop out some corn and scatter across the ground for extra. The best way I’ve heard it explained is that candy is to a child like cracked corn is to a chick… They like their crack…hehe)

You can also be feeding your birds extra stuff because their diet changes pretty drastically compared to summer time when they are eating tons of bugs and grass. In winter, most of you grass is dried up and bugs are nonexistent (which was their protein). So you can feed them kitchen scraps and maybe a head of lettuce of something. If I cut up a pineapple i’ll give them the outer shell of it or have left overs from fruit or vegetables I give it to them. You could also buy stuff like meal worms but I don’t. It might seem weird but I also give them raw cow milk occasionally for calcium and fat(I’ve heard pasteurized store bought milk isn’t that great for them though). If I make cheese, I’ll give them the whey for protein, they seem to really love it.

Water (MOST IMPORTANT)

Obviously, everything needs water to survive. I go out several times and break ice for them to drink when it’s freezing temperatures. You could do the heated water thing but I don’t. I don’t have electric anywhere near my coop and I’m okay with breaking the ice.

End Result:

In the end, you need a good shelter that gets them out of the wind. Stop drafts from coming in. You need more than one bird because when they roost they huddle together for warmth. You need good ventilation in your coop for good air quality. Watch out for dampness because that could cause a respiratory infection. Decide on what litter your going to use whether deep litter method or not. Try to feed them greens and decide if you want to add in cracked corn to their diet. They need water. This is what I do, if you don’t choose to that’s fine by me but I still hope maybe you learned something or found parts of this helpful.

(Backstory of the coop: Guess I should also say that my chicken coop is a 8×10 shed that we bought for $100. We occasionally would look around craigslist to see if anything popped up for a coop since what we had was too small for the flock we currently had. That amount of money for a shed was a great buy. We had to drive a bit but we have a flat bed trailer so why not?? It took most of the day but we brought a wench. Halfway up the ramps, we broke said wench… What now, right? I looked around and saw a guy’s house that looked the Tinkering Type and we walked over and asked if he had a wench and he did so he let us borrow it. Partway through the wenching process, he came over to investigate and help. He brought a chain wench that he used to use with his father to pull motors and that helped EVEN MORE. We eventually got it and offered the old man some cash and he refused. Really nice guy, I wish we had butter at the time I would have given him some but we were far from home. Gas mileage wasn’t the greatest but hey, it was cheaper than buying a new shed and the guy had replaced the insides and had the doors rebuilt. When we got home we used the tractor to get it off the trailer into the chicken pin. So worth it!)


Cited Sources

[1] https://hencam.com/henblog/2013/12/why-i-dont-use-deep-litter/

 

Elderberry Tincture

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Soon to be Elderberry Tincture!

I figure it’s time for this blog to have some home remedies on it and it’s definitely the season to be using Elderberry Tinctures and syrups.

Recently, I had to resign from a job. For one, it was a part time job (I liked that part because I could still get my butter making done and soaps and whatever else the homestead required) and didn’t amount to a lot of hours whatsoever but I enjoyed the freedom and since I was a Cater Assistant, I got to bake which I really liked. Then they cut catering and got rid of the Caterer as well which REALLY cut my hours since there was really no need for me except to serve a business group (BNI) three times a week. Getting to the point, I recently turned in my resignation since I wasn’t getting enough hours.

Now I’m at a new job and with the weather getting colder, we had some snow fall the day before… It’s bringing in the colds in full force. I will say my husband and I are doing pretty good with our immune boosting supplements. We take them every day (most of the time) and we haven’t got sick even though all the employees here have gotten sick. My daily routine (When I actually stick with it!) is oregano oil, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, and Echinacea tincture (Not every day unless I feel like I’m getting sick). Now that my Elderberry Tincture is done, I might throw that in as well since I’m really not a fan of the Elderberry syrup as much. (Too sweet)

I actually made up echinacea tincture for one guy and was bringing him the Elderberry when there was another guy sick!! Yikes! So I just gave it to him instead. Hopefully he uses it and it helps. So I figured I’d tell you how to make your own. It’s a very simple process and not hard to whatsoever. Elderberry has quite the benefits!

Ingredients

  • Fresh or dried elderberries
  • Vodka

How to Make Elderberry Tincture

  1. I think most people might use a one pint mason jar but at the time I didn’t really have that many elderberries so I used a half pint jar, fill it up a fourth with dried elderberries (or 1/2 full with fresh)
  2. Cover with vodka, fill jar to within 1 inch of top
  3. Put lid on tightly (You’ll be shaking daily so you don’t want it to slosh out)
  4. Put in cool dark place and shake daily or at least every other day for 4-6 weeks
  5. Strain berries and put into dark amber bottles (or the blue ones) with the dropper lids

To Use

If you are currently sick or feel it coming on, use 3-4 drops under your tongue (sublingual) 3x a day. Just for daily maintenance use a drop a day. Under the tongue is a small amount that tends to work faster.

If it bothers you to do it under the tongue, just add 1/2 a dropperful to a dropperful in orange juice or whatever you prefer.

Hopefully you can make your own and keep your immunity up!!

 

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information from Blue Missouri Skies Homestead is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or be taken as medical advice.

Which Chicken Breed Do YOU Need?

chicken-1607408_1920

Yes, I know. A LOT! of people have wrote post after post on which chickens to buy and why and how and…. ETC! Yet, I feel like since this is a homestead blog and I haven’t really included chickens thus far… I’m kind of slacking here. It isn’t that I don’t have chickens; I do, but I feel like I’ve battled getting them for years. I will tell you why but you might think it’s a little childish but HEY I got past it anyway.

So… Growing up I didn’t have the best childhood. I’ve accepted that my mom did the best she could with her inner struggles and dysfunction getting in her way but that’s okay(I’ve moved on). In the past though, I was always so angry and one of those silly little things happened to be against chickens. My mom was obsessed with having chickens. So much so that her kitchen theme was… Roosters and Chickens. I never understood it and actually refused to like them. The only time I supported it was during the holidays or birthday time and (Which I no longer celebrate) I would buy her rooster pictures and whatever else there was!

The stupid part is, because of teen rebellion and what not… Since she loved them, I hated them and wanted no part of it. I spent several years on the homestead refusing to accept chickens being part of the farm but after a while… You want your own eggs and it just makes sense (Sustainability) to have your own way to supply. I fought it for so long but gave in (In 2013 or 14 I think). I started with the Buff Orphington breed which is good to start out with. So now that you know the idiotic back story I’ll get to the point.

I’ve had several breeds since then and also a little experience. I hatched my own chicks this year as well which was a mistake because my mother in law (Who usually raised the meat birds) saw that I could do that so I ended up raising my own meat birds (I’ve processed meat birds since I got with Jeremy in 2011 but never had to raise them) and did pretty well with them. We ordered 25 and they all lived! They grew fast and no antibiotics whatsoever. I wanted to use Non-GMO feed but the price tag on that was CRAZY! so I didn’t do it but healthier than store bought and you know where they came from not to mention sustainability kinda thing 🙂

Now that I have the experience, I want to fine tune the operation 🙂 I currently have Barred Rocks which have great personalities. Looking at information from Cackle Hatchery and having a few, I really like the Cinnamon Queens and Golden Comets. They aren’t a dual purpose bird but the fact that we raise meat birds twice a year… I don’t really require dual purpose, I just want more egg production and since they are a hybrid that have fast body development, fast egg production, and start laying sooner than standard breeds… Seems like a winner to me. Plus, I had three this year and they have the BEST personality, very friendly and personable. I’m actually kind of irritated because I had one left that I named Queenie and a skunk got into my pen and killed her last week– but he no longer exists.

Back to the point–Keeping old birds; I tried it but after about 2 years they just start slacking off and to me, it’s wasting chicken feed on them so let’s say: If you buy chickens this year in February then they should be laying in August so in a year and a half which would be that next August, you would sell those and have your new ones (If you get some every Feb in continuous cycle or hatch out every Feb, either way) laying at that point. People will pay for year and half old hens because they still qualify as young birds and will be laying too. This way, you should constantly have chickens laying; depending on weather of course. Here’s what the hatchery recommends: “Six months – eighteen months is considered the first laying year. The second laying year the hens usually lay a little bigger egg however, production will be 10%-20% less. The third and fourth year can dramatically decrease. Most owners will harvest the hens after 1-2 years of production and start over with young stock. This is the most economical strategy (less feed consumption) and keeps disease issue down. So one might raise young chicks each year so 1/2 the flock are young pullets and the other 1/2 are last year’s pullets keeping a diversified laying cycle going giving you the best chance at averaging/even the eggs per week you get. Generally in the late summer or fall hens will do a natural molting process and produce very few eggs during this time”

Also, the easiest way to keep track which I’m going to start doing as well is to keep a livestock journal. I’ll add in a link to a more detailed post that I read from Homesteading.com that is exactly what I’m going to do. If you don’t want to just buy a different breed every year so you can tell the difference.

So that’s what breed is for me and my current plan. BUT what chicken breed would best suit you? What are you needs and requirements of chickens? Do you need a rooster? Do you want more egg production? Do you want dual purpose? Do you want them for just the meat? Do you want different colored eggs? White or brown? Kid friendly? Just for pets? Is it worth it?

I’m sure you can all come up with more questions or have more (Which feel free to comment if so) but let’s look at a few breeds and characteristics. I’m not covering all breeds but we’ll pick a few. I don’t think I need to go too in depth since there is this thing called the internet and you have two hands with which you type a word and push enter and PING! Information is freely given! AMAZING 😉 So we’ll do breed name, purpose, egg amount, color, personality or qualities.

I don’t know if I’ll get to all questions but as far as Roosters go they aren’t necessary for egg laying production. They are necessary for egg fertilization if you want to hatch/incubate eggs. Also, if you can get a good rooster with a good personality they do take care of your girls. Usually the ratio is 1 Rooster to 10 hens and they usually offer them some good protection.

FYI: As far as egg production goes, I was getting most of my information from cackle hatchery but the numbers seem REALLY low compared to other online sources so I’ll list their number and another as well.

Rhode Island Red

Dual purpose bird, Brown Eggs, 200-280/yr (Cackle Hatchery) 200-300/yr (American Homestead Institute)

“They are a popular chicken choice for backyard chicken flocks because of their egg laying abilities and hardiness. Rhode Island Red chicks are a good choice for raising baby chickens naturally and raising baby chickens for eggs.” [6]

Barred Rock

Barred rocks are a color from the Plymouth Barred Rocks, Dual purpose, Brown Eggs, 200-280/yr (Cackle Hatchery), Because of its many good qualities – tasty meat, good egg production, resistance to cold, early feathering, easy management, good sitting – the Plymouth Rock became the most widespread chicken breed in the United States until the time of World War II [1]

Cinnamon Queen

Cross between and Rhode Island Red Rooster and Rhode Island White Hen (Hybrid), Light Brown Eggs, 250-320/yr (Cackle Hatchery)

“The Cinnamon Queens are one of two modern day production brown egg laying strains from hybrid breeding that produce fast body development, fast egg production and rich brown egg shell color. These strains will start to lay eggs at a younger age than most standard breeds and produce big large/extra large brown eggs.” [2]

Buff Orphington (Known as the Golden Retrievers of the chicken breeds)

Dual Purpose Bird, Brown Eggs, 200-280/yr

“These ‘Golden Chicken Beauties’ are a large, stately chicken with a quiet disposition. Buff Orpington chickens are one of the best chickens for eggs and for meat. They are white skinned, plump, and juicy for a great dressed out chicken.  Many will put their 2 year old chickens in the stew pot and retain the 1 year old hens for laying eggs. Then buy more baby chicks to keep the cycle going. This accomplishes the most efficient cost to feed ratio to raise chickens. Most chicken breed charts will list the Buff Orpington chicken as a dual purpose bird that lay a medium brown egg. Even though the Buff Orpington chicken is a very heavy and large bird, this does not always mean the bigger the hen the larger the egg. Buff Orpingtons make excellent broody mothers for baby chicks.” [5]

I can say I don’t interact with my chickens like a kid would but I do talk to them like I would a pet dog or cat. I did have one that I aptly named Sweetie because she followed me everywhere and would kind of hop up on my leg if I was on the ground or squatted down. She liked attention but I think with most anything you raise; if you interact and you actually raised them as babies and didn’t just buy them as adults they tend to develop a trust with you. Plus, if you’re the one feeding them… They also like you for that 🙂

Black Australorp

Black Australorps are a color from the Australorps whose origin is Australia the only colors in America seem to be the Black ones, Dual purpose bird, Light Brown Eggs

*Interesting fact about them is in the 1920s they set a world record with their egg production without the modern use of a shed. Australorps lay approximately 250 light-brown eggs per year. A new record was set when a hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days. They are also known to be good nest sitters and mothers, making them one of the most exceptional large, heritage utility breeds of chicken.

Araucana

Eggs and Ornamental (Read somewhere that they are supposed to resemble quail in taste), Green\Blue\Pink Eggs, 200-280/yr

These birds are the craziest, squawkiest, loudest birds if they don’t want to be messed with but they are wiry and take good care of themselves plus mine lays me a blue egg, which is so pretty. Believe it or not, they are really good layers (At least they were on my farm) my current Araucana is 4?? She’s still going strong. I named her Bird Bird.

White Leghorns (I figured I should include at least one white egg layer)

Egg Laying Production,Leghorns are good layers of white eggs, laying an average of 280 per year and sometimes reaching 300–320

Originated from Italy, “very athletic, hardy, non-sitters and lay very nice large/X large white eggs. They have a good feed-to-egg conversion ratio, needing around 125 grams per day of feed. This chicken breed is great for free range chicken farming or organic free range chicken eggs.  Leghorns rarely exhibit broodiness and are thus well suited for uninterrupted egg laying. The Leghorn is a light breed that matures quickly and is not considered a viable meat producer. Leghorns are active and efficient foragers and are one of the best for free range chickens that can avoid predators” [4]


 

So, in giving you all this information I still have to say: Chickens are kind of like humans, depending on environment, good health, stress, etc–they are different. No matter how much information you seem to get, learning is the best info you’re gonna have.

To prove my point, here is what a hatchery has on their FAQ page: “Egg Production
Egg production can vary from one person’s experience to another person’s experience. The differences can be many and wide. Variables can include and not exclusive to: history of sickness, wormy, care, lighting, climate, geographic location, housing condition, crowding, feed consumptions, water conditions and consumptions, nutritional care, bedding, sunlight availability, number of cockerels with the flock, noise condition, nesting conditions, roosting conditions, winter housing conditions, summer housing conditions, predator harassment, whether or not you are breaking up setting hens and other conditions. Six months – eighteen months is considered the first laying year. The second laying year the hens usually lay a little bigger egg however, production will be 10%-20% less. The third and fourth year can dramatically decrease. Most owners will harvest the hens after 1-2 years of production and start over with young stock. This is the most economical strategy (less feed consumption) and keeps disease issue down. So one might raise young chicks each year so 1/2 the flock are young pullets and the other 1/2 are last year’s pullets keeping a diversified laying cycle going giving you the best chance at averaging/even the eggs per week you get. Generally in the late summer or fall hens will do a natural molting process and produce very few eggs during this time.” [3}

For example, I did my research and wanted Black Australorps but when I went to the feed store they were sold out and I wasn’t prepared to get a different breed so I winged it and got Buff Orphingtons and thought they were the best after researching them but my opinion now is if you have kids and they want chickens or whatever, get Buffs. For egg production they are kind of flaky.

Well, I didn’t cover ALL laying breeds but this is a LONG post so I’ll stop here! Hope the information is some what helpful guys!!

 

EXTRA INFO

By the way, any information that I don’t know about chickens… I love Fresh Eggs Daily with Lisa Steele, head there for what I don’t cover, she’s great! I especially like following her on Instagram. If you ever have questions concerning chickens Backyard Chickens is a pretty good forum to find the answers.

 


Sources Cited

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth_Rock_chicken

[2] https://www.farmandfleet.com/blog/guide-chicken-breeds/

[3]https://www.cacklehatchery.com/index.php/faqs/#Egg%20Production

[4]https://www.cacklehatchery.com/white-leghorn.html#product_tabs_description_tabbed

[5]https://www.cacklehatchery.com/buff-orpington.html#product_tabs_description_tabbed

[6]https://www.cacklehatchery.com/rhode-island-reds.html