Happy Homesteading

Winter Egg Hunting

Just before it started to get cold, a friend gave me 6 hens.  Her mother was moving out of state and couldn’t take her beloved chickens with her so I agreed to take them.  Weeks passed and I was convinced that they were duds… old hens that were too old to lay, too old to sell, and too old to eat.  I was disappointed because I had approximately 57 egg cartons I was so eager to fill with eggs…. and twins that will go through 4 eggs a day if I let them.  In 3 months, my 6 old birds had yielded 3 eggs total.


A few months later, I got 5 more hens and 2 roosters.  They were 6 weeks old when I got them. We made arrangements to keep them separate from the old birds but still in the same barn. 


Within 2 weeks of having our new chickens, our old birds began laying.  I’ve been getting 3-4 eggs per day… and the best part is I get to go hunting for them each day because I have one or two hens that lay in the most peculiar places – between wall studs, behind boards, and behind feed barrels.  


Here’s what I think made a difference in their egg productivity:

  • Roosters: even though they are young fellas, I think the old gals were inspired by the handsome youngins.
  • Heat Lamps: In the corner of the barn I’ve mounted a heat lamp. They can definitely avoid it, but they’ve made a pile of hay near the heat lamp and have created a cozy place for egg laying.
  • Oyster shell: I was offering oyster shell to my hens from the beginning, but I recently started putting the oyster shell into their crumble food. I don’t mix much in.  I think the recommended ratio is 1 lb oyster shell to 20 lbs of crumble.
  • Scraps: But I really think this is more about me than it is about the food.  They are much more comfortable with me coming in and out of their space when I bring them snacks.  Some of their favorites include veggies or noodles that the kids don’t finish, apples, leftover biscuits and dinner rolls.
  • Space to roam: I used to lock up my birds at night and let them have free range during the day.  Now that the youngins are locked up full time until they get a little bigger, my old birds are free ranging all the time.  The kinda like having the freedom to roost anywhere they want… in fact one of my gals enjoys the barn rafters.

I’m still new at this but based on my flock, happy chickens with the prospect of young love, warm nesting spaces, calcium supplements, tasty snacks, open spaces and high ceilings produce the most eggs.  This spring we hope to put build a chicken coop for them so they can have their own private space and get them out of the horse barn.  But hopefully we can keep them just as happy.  We should have 5 more egg layers by April 1 and we can’t wait to fill up all of our egg cartons!

I can’t wait to share some of my favorites egg recipes with you soon so stay tuned!

Happy Homesteading

Chocolate chip peanut butter cookies 

Well, happy New Year! It has only taken me 8 days to publish my first blog of 2018. And while many of you may have resolutions to eat healthier… I’m still stuck on the delicious cookies I made 2 weeks ago. So for those of you who are avoiding cookies, check out the recipe below for protein balls and save this blog post to your Pinterest recipe board and come back to the cookie recipe in a few months! Haha!

For those of you that aren’t in the Kansas City area, HyVee is a grocery store chain. We had some HyVee brand mini-chocolate chips. They were originally intended for no-bake oatmeal protein balls – but the cookies won. We had a Christmas party to go to and I was assigned to bring a sweet treat. I ended up following the recipe on the bag of mini-chips and OMG they were so delicious. And they just happen to be the most beautiful and uniform cookies I’ve ever made! They were worthy of a share.


Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1 c.  unsalted butter, softened

¾ c. granulated sugar

¾ c. packed light brown sugar

½ c. creamy peanut butter

2  large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ¼ c. flour

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 (12 oz) pkg mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. honey roasted peanuts
Directions

Step1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step2

Cream butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with a electric mixer.

Step3

Add peanut butter and mix well.

Step4

Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Step5

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually stir into sugar mixture.

Step6

Stir in chocolate chips and peanuts.

Step7

Drop by tablespoons onto greased baking sheet.

Step8

Bake for 11 to 12 minutes.

Step9

Let cookies stand on baking sheet 2 to 3 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.
Since I rarely follow a recipe, I thought I’d list the changes I made. I didn’t use the honey roasted peanuts, I didn’t grease our cookie sheets and I added a bit more flour than the recipe called for… I probably used 2 1/2 cups of flour.

Happy Homesteading

Meal Planning Crash Course: Week Three of October

Sad story, bro:  I wrote a draft last night and didn’t hit publish, because I wasn’t quite finished with the final links…and none- of- it- saved.  (Enter crying emoji here.  …Can I use emojis in WordPress?  …Can I use emojis on a laptop?  Remind me to research this at a later date.)

jettCan I also tell you the whole truth?  I didn’t make a single meal that was on my menu for last week.  Wanna know why?  Last week felt chaotic–and flexibility is key with a newborn.  And this week…I’m 1 for 3.  BUT I have faith that as long as I keep planning and purchasing the ingredients I need for what’s on the menu, eventually I’ll get to a place where I can actually focus on the intended meal.

 

 

kids

 

 

What’s your experience with cooking after having a baby?  Did you find yourself eating healthier?  Could you follow a menu or meal plan?–or did everything feel like you were flying by the seat of your pants every night?  I’d love to hear what you think and how you tackled family meal times.  ♥

 

 

Disclaimer: To those of you who know me, this may come as a surprise to see that I’ve written an entry on the blog about meal planning.  Please know that my intent is to share weekly meal plans of the most simplistic “easy-to-throw-together-and-have-leftovers-for-the-next-day’s-lunch” type of meals.  Basically, I’m just sharing with you what our family is eating to give you a fresh idea for your family’s menu.  I hope to have the next week’s menu posted by Wednesday each week, so you can prepare for the grocery store, if needed.  ALSO: I plan 5 meals a week.  That leaves one night for leftovers and one night for dining with family/outside of the home.  The majority of the meals you will see are not super healthy…and none of them are conscious of gluten, dairy, or other allergies that are so prevalent; however, if you would be willing to leave a comment on how you’ve tweaked the recipes to make them more “diet friendly” or “dairy/egg/gluten free” or even just better overall (I’m not a chef and I won’t be offended), we would LOVE your input.


October 2017

Week One:
Mama Mary’s “Homemade” Pizzas
Chili (we pair this with a cornbread mix that happens to be gluten free and delicious)
Chili Dogs (I feel like this is self explanatory, but: Prepare hotdog, then cover with leftover chili and cheese.  Have a salad on the side so you’re having something that your body will thank you for.)
Chicken Salad Sandwiches (I linked my latest favorite.  I had it for lunches regularly when I was following Weight Watchers. ♥)
Baked Burritos (If you don’t bake them, they can be prepared in bulk, SaranWrapped, frozen, and microwaved for later consumption.)

Week Two:
Breakfast (This is my husband’s night to shine in the kitchen!  He makes scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy…and it’s so amazing. –Oh, one more thing:  We use Pillsbury frozen biscuits.  They are the closest to the taste of homemade we’ve found…minus the effort.)
Potato Soup
Sloppy Johns (Okay, so it’s Sloppy Joes…but my daughter has always called them Sloppy Johns…so that’s what we call them.  Also, I’ve attached Dad’s recipe, as told by Dad.)
Tater Tot Casserole (I linked a recipe in another blog…Is that even legal?!  Am I going to get arrested?!  …I’m only half kidding.  But I haven’t tried this recipe yet, so I’m not sure what adjustments I’ll want to make.  If you try it before I do, let me know what worked and what you changed!)
Burgers (with a side of broccoli...nomnomnom)
*Note: My husband typed the recipes he uses for the gravy and the burgers…that’s why the wording and format is a little different than mine.  …I talk and carry on…and he’s very to-the-point.

Week Three:
Fajitas
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Pasta in Olive Oil (You will want garlic bread and salad to pair with this.  …Are you aware that you can buy OLIVE GARDEN dressing?!  It is HEAVENLY.)
Chicken Noodle Casserole (I love to serve this with corn and blueberry muffins.  SO GOOD.)
Jambalaya (If you are feeding kids or someone who gets heartburn easily, you might want to give them a head’s up before eating this.  It’s got a bit of a kick.)