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With all of the gardening and preserving of food that I enjoy to store up for the winter, I wanted to share with you a traditional form of canning that has increased in popularity over the years.

Lacto-fermentation.  Just the word fermentation can sound so scary and beyond any regular persons capabilities, right?!  Here is some good news.  When we really begin to understand what fermentation is the less scary it becomes.  Fermentation happens all around us and many of us are eating fermented foods on a daily basis.  Bread, yogurt, cheese, wine, and beer are all examples of foods that undergo a process of fermentation.

According to dictionary.com

fermentation is a chemical reaction in which sugars are broken down into smaller molecules that can be used in living systems.

I just sowed 2 different varieties of beets and will be fermenting them to enjoy all of the rich health benefits one receives from eating fermented foods.

In order to ferment beets or any other vegetable, all this really means is that it undergoes a salt brine cure set out in room temperature for about 3 days to 2 weeks.  Naturally, one would think, “won’t the food spoil?”  By covering your food in the brine and allowing it to sit in room temperature it creates an ideal condition for the lactic acid-forming bacteria existing on the food surface to feed upon the sugar naturally present in the food.  The lactic acid will continue to grow (or ferment) until enough has formed to kill any bacteria present that would otherwise cause the food to spoil.

The benefits of naturally “pickling” our bounty is that the lactic acid, not only keeps the vegetable in a perfect state of preservation but promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.

According to Sally Fallon from Nourishing Traditions

The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels.  These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances.

It’s so funny that what used to be completely normal and so unscientific now needs a clear definition in order to feel comfortable to begin to adapt these foods into our lifestyle.  Clearly our age of pasteurization has everything to do with it.  Unfortunately, we are depriving our bodies of needed bacteria in order to have a healthy intestinal flora.  I really believe that a lot of our sickness starts in our gut and by incorporating and reintroducing many different varieties of lactobacilli, we can begin to rejuvenate our intestinal flora improving our digestion and health.

The more that you start preserving and adding canning books to your bookshelf you will notice that every canning book has at least one recipe for brine curing or lacto-fermentation.  Before the age of canning and using vinegar to pickle, our ancestors preserved their bounty by means of fermentation.  All across the world we have natural pickling recipes to prove this true.  From kimchi in Korea, cortido in South America, sauerkraut in Europe, and relishes in the States.

One of the things I really enjoy about fermenting is that you don’t have to spend all of the time needed to can!  A definite bonus for me :D  Also, it’s another great way to get your kids involved in making real food.

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Below are a few recipes for fermenting foods from Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions.

Korean Kimchi

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For me any form of sauerkraut was well… unappetizing.   I did not grow up with this and found my first batches of sauerkraut and kimchi rather unappetizing.  After research and reading seasoned fermenters experiences I have come to find out that in order to get the best tasting sauerkraut it needs to be fermented for at least 6 months.  Meaning 3 days fermenting at room temperature and placing in the fridge for 6 months before eating.  Wow, did I find this to be ever true!!  I fermented a large batch of this kimchi and would try a bit of it every month.  It has now officially been 6 months and taste out of this world delicious!!  I will now start a routine to make a few jars of this every 6 months or twice a year to have a delicious and nutritious batch of kimchi at all times.  This idea would hold true for regular sauerkraut and cortido.  This has just enough spice and tang, so yumm!!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head of napa cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 1/2 cup daikon radish, grated
  • 1 tbls freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3-4 green onions diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 tbls sea salt
  • 4 tbls whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbls salt)

Place vegetables, ginger, garlic, red chile flakes, sea salt and whey in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices.  Place in a quart sized, wide mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage.  Cover with a large cabbage leaf to ensure the kimchi stays below the liquid.  The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Fermented Beets

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This has to be my favorite fermented food so far because my kids LOVE it!
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They are so easy to make and taste so good!  Earthy yummy beets.
Ingredients:
  • 12 medium beets
  • 1tbls sea salt
  • 4 tbls whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbls salt)
  • 1 cup filtered water, this is very important.  In order for proper fermentation your water needs to be filtered and clean of any chlorine which will inhibit the fermentation process.

 Prick beets in several places, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about 3 hours, or until soft.  Peel and cut into a 1/4 inch julienne or slice.  (Do not grate or cut the beets with a food processor – this releases too much juice and the fermentation process will proceed too quickly, so that it favors formation of alcohol rather than lactic acid.)  Place beets in a quart-sized, wide mouth mason jar and press down lightly with a wooden pounder or meat hammer.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over beets, adding more water if necessary to cover the beets.  The top of the beets should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Cortido – Latin American Sauerkraut

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Ingredients:
  • 1 large cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
  • 1 tbls dried oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbls sea salt
  • 4 tbls whey (if not available use an additional 1 tbls salt)

In a large bowl mix cabbage with carrots, onions, oregano, red chili flakes, sea salt and whey.  Pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release juices.  Place in 2 quart-sized, wide mouth mason jars and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage.  Cover with a large cabbage leaf to ensure the kimchi stays below the liquid. The top of the cabbage mixture should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jars.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

These are recipes, some adapted, from Nourishing Traditions.  There are numerous ways you can begin to ferment your own vegetables.  Really, you can include any sort of vegetable or spice to your liking.  This year I’m going to experiment more with my harvest.  I plan on buying a crock and try to do some large scale fermenting including vegetables such as cauliflower, onions, garlic, dill, green tomatoes and wow.. the list can go on.  I can’t wait!!  I also have a few recipes utilizing fermented veggies that I can’t wait to share!

I hope you found this way of preserving vegetables exciting and something to try in your own home.  Please do share if you’ve fermented vegetables and how they turned out.  Like and dislikes.  I was excited to create this post especially for Annette’s lacto-fermenting carnival over at Sustainable Eats.

Other posts of interests

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This dish has always been a favorite of my sisters and I.  The smell of homemade meatballs and the slow simmer of sherry wine brings me back to Espana!  Small cobblestone streets lined with clad iron balconies filled with beautiful terra cotta pots of multi colored geraniums.  Can you tell my heart and mind is set upon my trip to Spain which is only 5 short weeks away!  I can’t wait to smell the beautiful Spanish air! Back to my dish, lol!  This is a wonderful, easy to make dish especially for this time of year.  Not quite cold enough for a stew and not quite warm enough for a backyard bbq.  It’s also a great way to use up those storage potatoes as Spring time and green veggies are near!

In order to capture the best flavors of this dish I recommend to use a good dry (fino) sherry wine, preferably from Spain.  You will find complete differences in flavor when using an ordinary sherry and one from the Andalusian region of Spain.  Manzanilla. The brand I buy here in Iowa, is Pedro Romero, a pale dry sherry, fino.  If you are from Iowa, it can be found at Gateway Market under dessert wines.

Papas Con Albondigas

Ingredients:

  • 5 large potatoes chopped
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, pressed or diced
  • 2tbl fresh parsley, cut into small pieces
  • 1 farm fresh egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1 cup sherry wine
  • pinch of saffron threads (optional)
  • 1-2 tbls arrowroot powder to thicken (cornstarch or flour will work fine)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • EVOO
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

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  1. Begin by making the meatballs.  In a large bowl mix the ground beef, onion, garlic, parsley, egg, breadcrumbs, and 1tsp salt.
  2. Form into 2″ meatballs.
  3. In a large dutch oven (I used my cast iron) warm 1/4 cup (or so) of extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Brown the meatballs on all sides.
  5. Once the meatballs are browned, add 1 cup of sherry wine. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Once the meatballs have simmered in the wine for 20 minutes, add the potatoes and enough water to cover.
  7. Add a dash of saffron threads for color (optional), arrowroot powder (or cornstarch) to thicken, 2 bay leaves and salt/pepper to taste.
  8. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

This dish is wonderful with crusty bread and a nice green salad.

Buen Provecho!

If you haven’t signed up already,  I’m hosting a Garden Patch™ Grow Box™ Giveaway!  An easy way to Grow Your Own Food even in small spaces!!! Check it out!

I am so excited to have Gaelle of What Are You Feeding Your Kids These Days guest post.  What I love about Gaelle and her super creative blog is that she is the French me!  Her mother lives in France and her way of cooking healthy wholesome meals has been instilled in her from her heritage, her family.  She is very adamant about feeding her children nourishing foods and shares with us how easy and simple French cooking can be.  You want to see something incredible?  Check out Gaelle’s version of buckwheat crepes
A couple weeks ago, I read on her blog that she was going back to work.  In order to keep feeding her family healthy foods she started up her menu plan once again.  I thought this was a fabulous idea especially for working mothers that just don’t have the time to prepare a homemade meal after work.  Gaelle puts the thought and game plan together for her readers and I just had to share it with my readers.  All it takes is a little work the evening before and away you go with homemade, nourishing meals for the week.  So if your a working mama out there or really any mama that could benefit from a menu plan, visit Gaelle at What are You Feeding Your Kids These Days!  I know you’ll find it as bright and cheerful as I do!

Day Suggested Menu
Monday Boeuf Bourguignon with steamed potatoes

Plain Yogurt with honey

Fresh Fruits

Tuesday Buckwheat Kasha with Mushrooms and Onions with Green Salad

Coconut Macaroons

Wednesday Swiss Chard Soup with Socca

Plain Yogurt with dark brown sugar

Fresh Fruits

Thursday Tuna Curry with Vegetables and Rice

Plain Yogurt with homemade Apple Sauce

Friday Ham and Olives Savory Cake with Green salad

Plain Yogurt with chestnut spread

Fresh Fruits


Boeuf Bourguignon



Buckwheat Kasha with Mushrooms and Onions



Swiss Chard Soup       Socca




Tuna Curry with Vegetables and Rice

Ham and Olives Savory Cake

Game Plan:

Sunday Evening:
  • You want to make the Boeuf Bourguignon on Sunday evening. It’s not difficult at all (go and read all the comments of some of my friends who made it). It just takes a while to cook. To speed up things, you could use regular onions instead of pearl onions. The taste might be slightly different but at least you won’t spend 20 minutes weeping in the kitchen. Since it’s Sunday, you could ask for help to peal and cut the veggies!
  • You could make it with steamed (boiled) potatoes or pasta (egg noodles are great). I chose not to publish the recipe with pasta so that you could have a “pasta emergency dinner” during the week if need be!
  • A serving of frozen green beans on the side would also be great.
Monday Evening:
  • You just have to prepare the side dish for the Boeuf Bourguignon as it heats up: egg noodle, potatoes and/or green beans. I chose not to publish the recipe with pasta so that you could have a “pasta emergency dinner” during the week if need be!
  • If you have time, you could make the apple sauce for Thursday evening. You can keep the apple sauce in the fridge for up to 5 days. The recipe calls for rhubarb and banana… but you can use whatever fruits you have (pears, strawberries, etc.) or just plain apples (with/without cinnamon).
  • The Boeuf Bourguignon makes a great leftover for lunch (if you can reheat it)
Tuesday Evening:
  • Make the Macaroons first. They are very easy to make but are even easier if you let the dough rest for 15-30 mn in the fridge before laying the macaroons on parchment paper.  If you are up for a little mess, you can ask your children for help to scoop the macaroons! Macaroons are also best eaten fresh so it’s not a great idea to make them the day before.
  • While the macaroons are in the fridge (or in the oven), prepare the kasha. You want to cook the
     mushrooms and onions first; kasha cooks in less than 15 minutes. 
  • If your children don’t eat green salad, you can always give them cucumber or avocado.
  • Just after dinner, prepare the socca batter. Italians like to let it rest overnight (I generally make it in the morning or early afternoon for dinner). It takes 5 minutes to make so don’t think that you don’t have the time!
  • Kasha makes a great leftover if you can reheat your lunch.
Wednesday Evening:
  • You have to make the Swiss chard soup and cook the socca. Start pre-heating your oven for the socca as you start the soup.
  • If you are opting for the Caramelized Onions socca, start with caramelizing the onions. It takes a while. If you are just serving it plain (or with green onions), just start making the Swiss Chard soup.
  • The Swiss chard soup is really easy to make and takes less than 30 minutes.
  • 15 mns before dinner, make the first batch of socca and make the 2nd/3rd batch afterwards.
  • If you are feeling zealous, and have not made the Apple Sauce on Monday evening, you can make it on Wednesday.
Thursday Evening:
  • If you have not made the Apple Sauce before, you have to make it on Thursday evening together with the Tuna Curry. 
  • If you have to make both, start with the apple sauce: while it cooks, you’ll cook the curry and rice.
  • The curry takes less than 30mns to make. You could add whatever vegetables you have in place of/in addition to yellow squash. Zucchinis and snow peas are great.
  • While you start sauteing the vegetables and tuna, prepare the rice.
  • The tuna dish makes a great leftover if you can reheat your lunch.
Friday Evening:
  • It’s Friday. Pressure is off.  You can take the time to make the Ham & Olives Savory pound cake. Since the batter requires beer, you can drink the rest while you finish up cooking the cake!
  • If your children don’t eat green salad, you can always give them a few cucumber slices or carrots. Any raw veggies would do it.
  • The leftover cake is great to take on a pique-nique on Saturday instead of sandwiches.

Notes: All photographs and content on Whatareyoufeedingyourkidsthesedays.com can not be used for commercial purposes without prior approval.

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Good Morning Garden Soldiers!  I can’t believe it’s already been over two months since I’ve started this series.  If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the Garden Patch™ Grow Box™ Giveaway! A super easy way to Grow Your Own Food even in small areas!!

Today, I’m going to talk about tending your seedlings and how to best nurture them to help them grow to beautiful strong plants.  As my examples, I’m going to be using my tomato seedlings.

Watering

One of the first steps you’ll need to do is to make sure you are watering correctly.  Some plants are more forgiving than others.  Below is a video I took of how to water your seedlings.  Always from below.  This was taken before my true sets of leaves had grown in.

I know, it was a bit bouncy, lol!!  If you have any questions on watering, leave me a comment or send me an email.

This year I actually started my tomato plants in a larger peat pot with only a small amount of dirt on the bottom.  For all of my other seedlings, I start them in small peat pots and as they get bigger, I transplant them to a larger peat pot giving them room to grow more before I transplant them outside.

Tomato plants are a bit different than most other vegetables.  The stem of the tomato plant can be planted deep within the dirt and will start to form new roots encouraging a stronger plant and root system.  If you have ever bought tomato plants from the nursery, they always instruct to plant the entire plant leaving only 2 inches above ground.  Last year, I actually posted a video of someone starting their seedlings in this same way to utilize the concept of developing more roots for a stronger plant.  I followed the advice and as you can see from the images above, the seedlings have grown with 2 true sets of leaves.  You can definitely tell the difference between the cotelydon leaves which nourished and fed the seedling to the plants actual true set of leaves and the onset of photosynthesis.

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Now that the seedlings have grown their true sets of leaves, we can thin or cut the other seedlings in each cell so that only the strongest remains.  You do not want to pull them out as this can disturb the root system of the seedling that you want to keep.

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Since these were my tomato plants, I went ahead and filled them in with dirt.  This will encourage that tall stem to start developing roots.

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Fertilizer

Now that the plants have 2 true sets of leaves, it’s time to start fertilizing the young seedlings.  In order to keep these babies organic, I feed my seedlings a fish emulsion every other week.  It’s a natural based plant food and one that you should be able to find at a local nursery.  You can also use a seaweed based fertilizer.  For the first month, I dilute the formula since the seedlings are so young.  My bottle of fish emulsion calls for 1 tsp in a gallon of water.  So naturally, I half that amount for the first month. After that I’ll go ahead and use the teaspoon/gallon ratio and only water enough so that the soil is moist and not soggy.

This is where trial and error comes in Garden Soldiers!!  You can do it!  Be vigilent of how much you are watering.  Once you find the right ratios, stick with it and write it down!  This can be the most troublesome part of starting seedlings indoors as well as watering outdoors.  A topic to come!!  I’m a stickler when it comes to watering and constantly keeping an eye on the soil temperature.

Temperature

One of the best investments I have made was buying a soil thermometer.  A soil thermometer allows you to check the temperature of the soil to make sure the growing environment is at a right temperature.  If the soil is too cold, the seedlings can go dormant and grow at a very slow pace.  This can be very apparent on tomato seedlings.  If your tomato leaves turn purple underneath, this is a clear sign that the soil temperature is too cold.  You will need to either place a germinating heat mat underneath your trays or place a heater nearby.

Your soil thermometer will tell you which temps for which plants.  As a general rule of thumb, if starting your seedlings indoors try to at least keep the soil temperature at 70F.

Mold

One of the biggest reasons we want to make sure and not over water our plants is to discourage the growth of mold.  Mold thrives on damp, wet, humid conditions.  You may start to see a white thin film of mold start to develop on your peat pots.  This is not a big deal and one that can be rid of by simply sprinkling cinnamon over it.  If you start to see green mold, that’s when you know you have a problem.  The best way to avoid this is to make sure your not over watering and if you think that your conditions may be too humid, place a fan in the area of your seedlings to promote air circulation.

As you can tell, tending to your seedlings is the most important aspect to grow strong and healthy plants.  This is not something that you learn right away, but through trial and error.

If any garden soldier out there has pictures of their seedlings, please email them to me.  I would love to post a round up of people Growing Their Own Food!!!  I am so EXCITED as next week I will start to seedlings outdoors!!!  5 weeks before my frost date I can start to plant peas, radishes, spinach and swiss chard!  Spring…. BRING IT!!!

Part 1: Ordering Seed Catalogs
Part 2: Understanding the differences between Heirloom, Hybrid, GMO, and Organic Seeds
Part 3: Planting Zones, Frost Dates, and Planting Calendars
Part 4. Understanding Succession Planting
Part 5. Spring Time is Near! It’s Time to Start Those Seedlings!
Part 6. Growing Seeds Indoors Under Supplemental Lighting
Part 7. Tending your seedlings
Part 8. Methods of Urban Gardening

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Do those potatoes look amazing or what?!  Nope, I didn’t make them.  My mami did!  You know, I have the most amazing family in the world.  I am so blessed!  We are a family that nurtures and supports each other.  We’ve always been known as the Caraza family, the Caraza crew and it now consists of 13 people!  People often ask me, “Diana, how do you have time to do all that you do?”  Well let me tell you, if it were not for the help of my family, especially my mami and sisters, there is no way I would have the time to do half of what I do.

I often feel that is what is missing in our community today.  Families and neighbors helping each other and forming a bond to help improve the lives of their loved ones.  My mami is an incredible woman that loves her family so much.  She left her full time position and went part time in order to help my sister and I with our kids 2 days a week.  She doesn’t just see the boys 2 days a week, she literally stops by almost every day and at any time that I “need” a sitter for a couple hours or so, she is there.  If she isn’t available, my sisters are.  As you can see I have a network of support around me all the time.  On the days that I work or on weekends, we usually visit “mami’s restaurant” as my father calls it, lol!  However, on the days that my mami works I invite my folks to my home.  Did I mention that we also dine at my older sisters house?  Yeah… there is ALWAYS a home cooked meal somewhere.  This makes life so much easier and so much more fruitful.  My kids think it’s absolutely normal to be constantly surrounded by family.  This is how I was raised as well, always surrounded by cousins and family in California.  (Love you familia Caraza!!)

This past weekend we had dinner at mami’s restaurant.  I adore eating at my mami’s.  Like usual she SHINES in the kitchen and always has a beauiful array of Spanish foods waiting for us!

A beautiful Spanish style salad

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Here is my mami.  I just love sitting with her in the kitchen as we sip on a glass of wine and chat about family and life. She is my inspiration and she continually teaches me how to cook.
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I can go on about this lovely woman.  She is content with her life, her home, and her family.  She has never been selfish and always so giving of herself and her time.  If there is ever anything I need, I never fear to go to my mami and papi.  The most caring and nurturing people that I know.  I pray that I can be the same to my children as they have been to theirs.

The papas en veranillo is such a delightful dish infused with the flavors of tomatoes, peppers and onions.  It can work beautifully as a soup or a side dish.

Papas En Veranillo

Ingredients:

  • 3lbs of potatoes, chopped
  • 3 whole tomatoes, skinned and diced
  • 3 green peppers, sliced
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a dutch oven, heat 3 tbls evoo. 
  2. Add the onion, peppers and garlic.  Saute until the onions are transparent and not browned.
  3. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the potatoes and enough water to cover the potatoes.
  5. Bring to a boil then simmer until the potatoes are tender.
  6. Season to taste.

Buen Provecho!

We had a fabulous couple of days.  Unfortunately, we got 6 inches of snow last night right after a sunny 63 degrees the day before.  That’s Iowa for you!

I wanted to take some time to share with you how happy I was with how my chickens held up during the winter. Here are some of my lovely ladies.  They were just as happy to be able to get out and spread their wings.

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It has been a very difficult winter for all of us.  Humans, chickens and dogs alike.  We literally had snow on the ground from November to March and we are all itching with Spring fever.  We will be so blessed as soon as the buds start to appear on the trees, the grass starts to grow and the skies fill with the sounds of life.

During the coldest parts of the winter, our temperature dipped well below 20 degrees.  We were able to bring our dogs in during these extreme cold days, however, my poor ladies stayed outside.  Praise God my hubby built me an amazing coop that proved to hold up strong for my girls.

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As you can tell from the image above, they have an enclosed area above ground and a run to get some fresh air below.  I was concerned as above their enclosed area is actually an opening.  I feared that it might get too cold and that my girls could end up with frostbite.  However, I now feel that this opening was actually a good thing.  I kept a heat lamp inside their enclosed area and feel that condensation was able to escape through this opening and actually prevent my girls from frostbitten toes, waddles, and combs.  A couple of times I actually closed my girls in their enclosed area as they enjoyed staying out in the run.  During those negative degree days, I again feared they would get frostbitten or even die.  I learned quite quickly that I shouldn’t lock a bunch of girls in an enclosed area.  Some of my ladies started to gang up on one of my Barred Rocks and pecked her head clean of feathers.  I freaked and after a call to a farming friend she calmed me down and reminded me that these are just chickens and as much as I care for my girls, they can be, well… dumb!  Ha!  After that, I no longer locked them in and let them go in and out of there run as they pleased.

Before I bought my birds, I made sure to research their breeds.  I purposely bought winter hardy breeds that were good layers and family friendly.  The yellow  ones below are Buff Orpingtons, The black and white girls are Barred Rocks and the beautiful black and golden ladies are Golden Laced Wyandottes.  My absolute favorite!  Oh how I would love to have a Golden Laced Wyandotte Rooster.  So gorgeous!

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eggs

I was very happy that my girls laid really well all winter long.  We usually get about 5-6 eggs a day.  There were a couple of weeks that they slowed down during the extreme negative degree weather but as the temps went up so did their laying.  Now, I do spoil my lovely ladies.  I get a special mix of feed made for them and since they had nothing to forage on I continually fed them fresh organic veggies and clabbered milk and yogurt.  They love it and I love their eggs :D

This is Ethel.  She leads the pecking order.  As you can tell, she has only a speck of frostbite on her comb.

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This is Margaret.  Golden Laced Wyandottes generally have combs that stick to their heads.  She is my special lady with a beautiful comb with only specks of frostbite.

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This is LuLu.  She’s my special lady as I almost lost her last year to my dog.  I nursed her back to health and now she’s back at it and laying like a champ!
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This is Gertrude.  One of my first lovely ladies. So sweet and gentle.

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This is Wilma!  She is my curious adventure seeker.  She jumps our wooden fence and wanders my neighbors back yards.  Last week, I thought I lost her.  I called the animal rescue league as I couldn’t find her in any of my neighbors back yards.  I have no idea where she went but as usual, by the end of the night she was roosting with her sisters in the coop.  I hope she doesn’t get eaten or run over one day!  Here she is taking a dirt bath.

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This is poor Henrietta.  Yup, the gals ganged up on her and pecked her head clean of feathers.  I hope they grow back in.

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So those are some of the ladies.  Soon enough they will start to molt and drop in production.  At that time I will need to start thinking about replacing these girls.  They’ll probably be with us for another year before the inevitable… the stew pot.  Yes, I do care for my ladies, however, this is life and one that I respect and I will continually tend to them as best as I can even to harvest.
I’m starting to think about ordering about 15 more chickens.  These chickens will be my broilers and only with me for 8 – 12 weeks.  I do plan on sharing with you as I receive these chicks and the process of harvesting a chicken.  I’m really excited about this!
If you haven’t signed up already,  I’m hosting a Garden Patch™ Grow Box™ Giveaway!  An easy way to Grow Your Own Food even in small spaces!!! Check it out!