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Three swingin' chicks

tales of three (plus one) urban hens and the recipes they inspire

Silkie Chicks

April 24, 2012

I finally did it! I now have two sweet Silkie chicks that I picked up on Saturday. The breeder, who lives west of town by a couple of hours, graciously met me halfway and we surreptitiously swapped money and chicks while dodging raindrops in the middle of a dance hall parking lot. I’ve been dancing ever since.

I’d been exploring the possibility of getting a couple of Silkies for the last year or two but it wasn’t until the untimely death of Coco that I decided to go ahead with it. I know, I keep replacing 1 chicken with 2 chickens, but it’s very hard to introduce 1 chicken by itself and Silkies are bantams, meaning they’re half the size of standard chickens, so these two really quality as just 1 “regular” chicken. Or so I rationalize. read more »

Natural Dyed Farm-Fresh Eggs

April 05, 2012

When I first started getting eggs from my own backyard chickens, I didn’t feel the need to decorate them come spring and Easter time. In fact, I was proud that I had my own naturally decorated eggs, the delicate blue, green and suntanned-brown eggs looked gorgeous simply placed in a bowl. But after several years of displaying eggs au naturel, I’m having fun exploring the possibilities of using natural dyes to color eggs. I am thrilled by the depth, colors and designs I can get from dyeing and decorating my backyard flock’s colored eggs.

I prefer using all natural dyes when decorating my homestead eggs, as the results are spectacular and occasionally unpredictable making it lots of fun. Follow the chart below to create your own dyes from common ingredients. White, brown or colored eggs can be dyed. White eggs produce the most intense colors while brown eggs produce a deeper and richly earthy version of each color. Light brown eggs will yield a stronger color than darker brown eggs. I’ve found that holding brown eggs overnight in dye in the refrigerator produces a deep brilliant color.

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Toasted Pecan-Apple Pie

November 17, 2011

The flock of 17 wild turkeys that have frequented the neighborhood these past few weeks are gone. Hopefully they’ve moved onto more lush grazing grounds than paved streets on the edge of suburbia. We kept trying to warn them what month it was – I hope they’ve finally listened and are hiding somewhere safe.

I’ve had a lot going on lately and haven’t thought much about Thanksgiving, but I’m now starting to get excited for the great feast. It’s one of my favorite holidays because the meal is the big deal. No presents or numerous parties, just great food that everyone loves. read more »

Blueberry-Sweet Corn Cobbler

August 30, 2011

I’ve been walking around with a purple tongue all week, but I don’t care. When a friend gives you a huge bowl of wild blueberries you simply have to indulge. We’ve had our fill straight from the bowl, and now we’re enjoying the last of the berries in favorite desserts, pancakes and more.

I made this cobbler today and simply had to share the recipe. The sweet-tart berries are topped with delicate sweetened biscuits studded with in-season fresh corn kernels. The result is a perfect union of end-of-summer flavors. read more »

Rosemary-Lemon Grilled Chicken

August 08, 2011

The chickens have been the center of attention lately. No, not on the table, in spite of the picture, but with all the out-of-town guests we’ve been hosting.  The chickens are invariably number one on the list of things people want to see when they come to visit.

This weekend they had a visit from their fan club from St. Louis, three of the cutest kids you’ve ever seen. They came for breakfast, a cuddle with the chickens and a chicken chase. All three of the kids are fast on their feet and one is even competing at the national level in bike racing, but my girls outran them every step of the way! The kids also were certain the girls would lay them an egg or two for breakfast while they watched, just like last year, but as I’ve learned myself chickens are anything but predictable. read more »

Safe in a Gated Community

August 02, 2011

The chickens are thoroughly enjoying their new safety of living in a gated community. The fencing contractor finally arrived last week and finished off the wooden fence that surrounds our backyard, adding gates for our ease in getting in and out.  Keeping the chickens safe is of prime importance, so finishing off the fence was our top priority this summer.

Actually, the chickens rather liked the former arrangement of the temporary fence, as they could see out into the world.  They also loved the thrill of  escaping into the side yard with its virgin grass and shrubs.  But I think that the dog attack earlier this summer convinced the chickens they were better off staying within their exclusive boundaries. read more »

Keeping Chickens Cool: Gazpacho

July 17, 2011

How do you keep chicks cool when the heat index is 108ºF in the shade?

Earlier this week it was too cold to go swimming, and today the weather reports included warnings not to go outside in the afternoon sun — that’s Minnesota for you! Today was like walking into a bread proofing box: hot, moist, close. You sort of felt like your skin might start rising from your body just by stepping outside. But I can assure you, nobody was baking bread.

I was worried about the girls all day. Keeping chickens cool is actually harder than keeping them warm. They don’t have sweat glands and are surrounded by a billowy coat of downy feathers. When you see chickens start to pant like dogs you know they’re hot and desperately trying to cool off. read more »

Mediterranean Burgers with Artichoke-Basil Aioli

May 26, 2011

Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to summer in Minnesota. That means a lot of us are heading to “the lake,” opening up cabins and putting in docks. What do I do with the chickens while we’re away?

This year I’m seriously considering taking the chickens with us to the cabin. Yes, the cats, the chickens, all of us, etc. Well, let’s just say I’m considering it but haven’t done it yet. read more »

Creamy Nettle-Chive Soup

May 22, 2011

In between the frequent raindrops this week, I’ve been planting, weeding and generally trying to spruce up the backyard. The chickens love it. They think I’m out there to play and give them treats as I till the soil turning up bugs, worms and other goodies. It’s cute, but they are a bit of a nuisance crowding round my shovel and nibbling newly planted bushes, trees and flowers.

There are plenty of weeds I wouldn’t mind them munching but not surprisingly the girls don’t agree with me. Instead, they head first for the tender young plants. One plant the chickens and most animals ignore are the nettles growing on the edge of the woods. Known as stinging nettles, this plant lives up to its name by instantly causing a stinging sensation on your skin when touched.

What is surprising is that while this jagged leaf plant may be uncomfortable to touch, it’s a spring delicacy when cooked and served. It loses it’s stinging ability when boiled or even soaked in water. read more »

Chickens as Pets

May 16, 2011

I recently did a book signing at the Bibelot Shop where they asked me to bring along one of my chickens. As Coco sat docilely letting people hold her and feed her, everyone was amazed at how friendly she was.

As I chatted with the  customers, I was reminded that people who don’t have chickens often have a hard time comprehending the notion of chickens as pets. They understand chickens for eggs, fertilizer and bug control, but a quizzical look crosses their faces when you mention their appeal as pets. read more »