Thursday, October 24, 2013

Late Night Chicken Calls

This morning I went to get the honey out of the bathroom. 

I know what you are thinking.  It goes something like this “There’s something strange going on at that house!”

Let me assure you – you are absolutely correct.

And it involves a chicken.

In the bathroom checking out her comb, I think her part is a little off.
Let me back up a few hours into yesterday.

I was out doing chores and a Buff Orpington (9 months-old so technically a pullet) is sitting in a bucket hoarding five eggs.  I finally move her aside and take the eggs.  In disgust, she gets up and leaves the bucket.  Whereupon I notice her back end is all scraggly like a long-haired lady fresh in from the rain.  An Orpington behind is supposed to look like this:

Now imagine wet and bedraggled.  No I did not take a picture.

Normally I would chase down a chicken that looked like that – after all, I love examining chicken vents.  (Sarcasm)

Lucky for me, I was late for parent-teacher conferences at school so I had to run off.

Later, much later, we were doing chores by flashlight when I saw that wet bum again.  

Still?  We don’t have any puddles.


What is that coming out of her hind end?  

I’m so green I had to run in the house and Google “my chicken’s vent is inside out.”

That was after making supper and feeding the baby twice.

So here it is 9:30 and I’m pretty upset.  It says here on all these technical sites that a well-cared for, young chicken rarely has this problem.   When it does happen, it’s from trying to pass too large of an egg, or uterus default from a calcium deficiency.  The midwife in me understands that kind of talk!

Now we feed our chickens an excellent, complete food, plus we supplement.  However, if they free range enough and don’t eat said food – a calcium deficiency is possible.

I’m woefully short on chicken tending skills but I understand the term “could be fatal.”

I mixed up a chicken cocktail for her to drink while I was researching how to fix this problem at home.  The cocktail was postpartum tea (it works on human uterus’) heavy on raspberry leaf (high calcium content), liquid dispersible vitamin/mineral mix to combat shock, raw apple cider vinegar to help fight infection, and liquid dispersible probiotics.  Looks like a liquid cure to me!

Google came up with many horrifically intimate instructions for reversing a prolapse.  I prefer non-invasive techniques so we decided to try those first.  Besides, this was thumb sized, not a monstrosity. 

Evidently honey will reduce swelling and fight infection.  First a hot bath to clean and relax the area.  We added a small amount of hibi-cleanse to the water.  

Then Nolan did like James Herriot in all his late night animal calls, and stripped to his shirt-sleeves and cap.  Thank goodness this didn’t require wellingtons for mucking about.

WHOAH!  It voluntarily went back in!  The cocktail must have scared her.  

We honeyed her bum for good measure.  Kept her warm and dark all night then put her in an isolation cage, also dark, to keep her from trying to lay any eggs. 

She might be fine.  Odds are high, according to Google, that this will be a repeat occurrence.  They recommend culling (removing from the flock) but we will withhold judgment. 

The Chicken Spa.  She never once fussed.  She must have known a honey rub was coming!

Meanwhile, I’ve put the honey back in the kitchen.

Links for those of you who need to know about chicken prolapse:

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's a Wonderful World - SOUP

 Don't you just love it when a recipe you invented turns out to be just what you wanted the first time around?  That's what happened here.

We were having that kind of night where the parents are rushed and the children naughty.  I was so overwhelmed that I left immediately when daddy got home from work.  The groceries wouldn't deliver themselves!  Our children had traumatized me anyway and I needed a break.  

Don’t even try and tell me you’ve never been there.

Toss in day four of a 5-day fever and there you have it.  I really needed to walk down the aisle with no helpers and lean on a cart.

I couldn’t think what to fix for supper – stuffed sinuses will do that – so I needed to hit the stores and just look at the food.  Inspiration waited for me in the vegetable aisle.  Yes, I went to town contagious.  Isn’t life great?  No choice really.  Just have to drag myself around, wipe down the carts and avoid talking to people.  

I know you've done that too, quit being so horrified.

When I got home daddy had restored a semblance of peace to the household.  Wow, do I ever love that man!  He has serious Daddy skills.  He had brought up music youtube videos of Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo`ole. 

My 11-yr old set in and helped me chop veggies.  The baby tried singing along.  The 8 yr old started dancing so the baby was waving her arms and dancing along.  Quick tears stung my eyes as the exhaustion gave away to joy.

Out of that came this soup -

It’s a Wonderful World – SOUP

      Small qualifier here - I don't measure anything.  So these amounts are all approximate.  
      Use a 6 qt + pan
·         ½  a very large onion or 1 small one, diced
·         2 Tbsp chipotle olive oil
·         3 cloves garlic minced
·         ¼ tsp curry
·         Pinch of ginger
·         10 cups of chicken broth
·         4 cups of chopped raw butternut squash (I bought pre-prepped cubed and cut into smaller pieces because I was in a hurry)
·         4 med. Size Yukon gold potatoes chopped
·         4 carrots sliced
·         Salt
·         1 cup of quinoa
·         1 cup canned coconut milk (not cream)
·         2 cups snow peas cut into 1” pieces.  Not the big fat peas.  The skinny ones that are flat and have the hardest time making it past your mouth into the pan.
·         Optional – cilantro

Find this link

Listen to the song repeatedly.  Perhaps find some of his other music.  Dance with your spoon. It’s okay, the spoon doesn’t care if you miss a beat.

Toss the onion into a hot pan with the olive oil.  
This is a little extra brown because the batch I was intending to photograph - well I messed it up right off the bat.
I grabbed the balsamic vinegar not the olive oil!  Splashed about a Tbs on the onions.
Went - WOOPS!   Didn't feel like chopping more onions, so just went with it.
How I measure water, I like this old square mason jar
If you don’t have chipotle olive oil, use plain oil and add chipotle powder but go easy, you want the heat to be delicate.  Hot sauce can be added at the table for those addicted to the adrenaline rush of heat induced asphyxiation. 

Add the garlic.

When the onion becomes clear, add the curry and ginger.  Brown it with the onion/garlic.
Pour in the chicken broth.  Scrape all the brown off the bottom of the pan.  This is where the flavor is, so don’t neglect this step.  Also, if you get lazy here, odds are high it will burn and you’ll ruin your supper.

 Add all your veggies in one fell swoop (careful not to splash yourself, silly).
Salt as much as you think it would need.  I use a French grey rock salt and toss it in as my hand feels is right.  Now you try it.  Be careful!

Bring your veggies to a boil.  Back off heat, simmer until almost done.  Watch closely, this may be about 15 – 20 minutes -- depending on your heat and pan situation -- it could be as long as 45 minutes!  I sincerely hope not because you want SOME nutrition left in your veggies.

Admire your soup.  Isn’t this the most beautiful pot?  Just lovely and it gets better..

Just before the potatoes are done – by the way – Yukon Gold’s have a better nutrition structure than Irish whites so they won’t look done.  Test it with a spoon.  If it’s a tad underdone, now is the time –

Throw in the quinoa and give it a stir.  Isn’t it fun to toss things about in a kitchen?

The quinoa is your protein source.  You could add meat such as chicken or bacon but this is a lovely clean soup and doesn’t need meat.  Quinoa is gluten free and a complete protein with all the necessary amino acids.

Quinoa is done when you see the little white rings floating around the nucleus.  About 10 minutes of simmer.

You can see the Quinoa here; it is the little white circles.
Add the coconut milk.

Taste it.  Add salt here if necessary.  If it’s close, just put your salt grinder on the table.  What?  You use Morton’s?   FOR SHAME.  Get some good salt.  I like the Himalyan Pink salt in the grinder from (drumroll) COSTCO!

Do not allow the soup to return to a boil.

Just before placing on the table, add the snow peas.

Garnish with cilantro if you are of a mind.

Side note: I found Costco carries prepared butternut squash, ORGANIC for the same price as not prepped, not organic in other stores.  Enough said.

The pictures are not quite accurate because I made this the second time in a hurry.  Couldn't quite figure out what was wrong.  The soup was strangely disappointing.  I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and had an AHHA moment.  

Yes, these moments wake me up.  

I had forgotten the coconut milk!  
Don't forget the coconut milk.  That single ingredient transforms this soup from a nice vegetable soup into something extraordinary.  Enjoy!