Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving.

May your stuffing be tasty,
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump,
May your yams be delicious,
May your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Food waste.

As usual, no waste this week, of course there never is in this household - nor I imagine in any household that keeps a few chickens!

No new food sources to report this week either. I almost hesitate to mention one "staple" of our chickens. Our kitchen sink has one of those fine strainers in place of the usual trap. It is very fine and catches every tiny piece of food that would otherwise have gone into the septic system. It is surprising just how many times it gets loaded up in the average day. I empty it into the "Chicken Crock" several times a day.

I am not one for washing my dishes etc before putting them into the dishwasher, in fact I think it is crazy to waste your time and water to wash your dishes twice! But, If there is the smallest amount of food or crumbs on the plate or in the pot I scrape it into the sink before consigning them to the Bosch. When I give a fish the final wash and remove any remaining scales or guts into the sink - into the crock they go. Cleaning the crumbs from the bread machine or the plate of sandwiches? Into the sink or the crock. It's surprising how it can add up over a day. The chickens don't mind if its mixed up. It's their "First coffee of the day", when I go out to open them early with the Crock in one hand and MY First Coffee of the Day in my other hand! They greet me like a long lost friend! No one is happier to see me every day than my chickens!

Food Waste Friday - dedicated to The Frugal Girl.

More news on my chickens, last week I told you how I now give them the water from anything we cook in water, like potatoes, beans, carrots, etc as well as any left over coffee or tea that was made with some milk. Now I have "The Fishing Report", as most of you know, we live on The Lake - a beautiful Lake of about 50 acres in Anne Arundel County. When I catch a nice fat white perch, which I do several times a week, I clean it and give the guts to the chickens. As I scale the fish I throw the scales back into The Lake - it all goes back into the Great Mother Earth! In other words, the scales dissolve into the water along with the fish heads etc and are made into more fish or crabs. When we have crabs I throw all the crab "trash" back into the water - after the chickens have had a go at it of course! Anyway, as I was throwing the guts to the chickens one day some scales that had stayed on the board went in - and they pecked them right up! So now not only do they get the guts they get the scales too! During the summer the fish heads of course go into the crab trap. But during the winter there are no crabs, so I have been throwing the heads into The Lake for whatever wants them. Now, when we have finished our fish dinner that we have about once or twice a week, the remains, in the form of bones, skin etc that we don't eat goes right to the chickens who treat it the same way I treat a chocolate bar - it is gone in approximately 2.8 seconds! But if I give them the raw head they turn their noses, excuse me - their beaks, up at it, just the same as I would. So now instead of throwing the heads into The Lake they get a quick boil and go into the chicken run. And very appreciative they are too. (The chickens, not the heads!)

Food waste

As most of you know by now we have virtually no food waste - because we have chickens! In the last few days I have found yet another "Food source" for our chickens. My wife called on her way home the other day and asked me to mash the potatoes she had cooked that day. I found them on the stove, got out the potato masher and was about to dump the water that they were in when I suddenly thought, ahaa, that water looks delicious, well it might to the chickens anyway! They do have to drink and the water that the potatoes were cooked in must have some of the "goodness" from the potatoes - so why not give it to them. I did and they loved it! Since then I give them the water that anything has been cooked in - beans, carrots, whatever, as well as any tea or coffee that didn't get drunk. I always use milk in my coffee or tea, so any leftover drink is welcomed by them. I even gave them some water from a couple of fish that I poached, they "voiced" their approval - by drinking it all down in about 3 minutes flat!

Waste not want not.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Geese have returned.

I woke quite early yesterday - Sunday - and looking out at The Lake the first thing that I saw was the two big Swans flying across The Lake. As I watched them they turned and flew by again, and again, they seemed to be circling The Lake, looking for a suitable landing site? Which they soon found almost directly across from us. I got up and made my first cup of coffee, opened the chickens and fed the cats. As I stood on the deck watching the sun do its amazing thing with the sky and the water and the clouds right outside my house - people pay huge dollars to see this kind of thing on "The Big Screen", but here it was right in front of me "For Free". Well sort of free, Anne Arundel County has seen to it that it is not free! At almost a thousand dollars a month for taxes and insurance, it is far from free!
Anyway as I watched this show, here came the Canada Geese. Seventeen of them came gliding in and landed right in front of me. I took Julia her morning cup of tea and we watched them together, fascinated. A few more landed a little later on.
Today, Monday I returned from work and sat out on the deck again - can you believe we are halfway through November and still we are getting beautiful sunny days with temperatures in the 60's and even 70's? Yesterday it reached 72 and today 67 - enjoying the sun and the view of The Lake. The Canada Geese came sailing into view soon after we sat down and we counted the groups as they arrived. First were four ducks, then eight geese, then twelve more geese and finally another ten geese. Their numbers are building, but they seem to come and go, I wonder if the weather is confusing them.
The garden has still not had a frost so we are still picking produce, the last Zucchini's were picked a few days ago. I am still picking beans, peas, tomatoes, Swiss chard and lettuce. Not a lot mind you, but it is nice to have even a few fresh veg. We even had some raspberries last week! I'll keep on picking as long as it stays above freezing. When we get our first frost warning I'll pick all the tomatoes and beans that are still out there, the others will survive a light freeze and last a while longer.
The tomatoes I wrap in news paper and put in a box in a dark cool area. They will ripen all the way up to Christmas and maybe even longer. Just wrap each tomato in a separate piece of newspaper and place them carefully in layers in the dark, a set of drawers is ideal, otherwise a cardboard box works just as well. Every week unwrap each one enough to see if is ripe. If not put it back - carefully - and use the ripe ones. My experience is that very very few will go bad. the rest ripen gradually over a period of several weeks. Any that don't - fried green tomatoes!