Country Traditions

September 26, 2010

CHICKEN COOPS

Filed under: animals, chickens — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 9:52 am

Another view of my coop above – I lucked out in finding a few stacks of new shingles to use! I also saved extra space inside the coop by building the nest boxes on the outside – you can see the row of nest boxes in the picture, jutting out on the right side (which is actually the back of the coop). There are 8 total boxes for them to choose from.


CHICKEN NEST BOXES
The suggested size for chicken nest boxes is 15″ wide, 15″ high and 11 1/8″ (see picture for example). This can vary to a certain extent. My nest boxes are about 2″ smaller than this and work just fine. You can fill your boxes with straw or place some type of padding down on the bottom so the eggs won’t crack when they lay. I noticed that they tend to kick and scratch a lot of straw out of the boxes so I stapled a piece of padding onto the bottom.

I started off with 8 chickens and made a nest box for each chicken. It turns out they all used the same 2 nest boxes for laying eggs! I’ve even seen 3 chickens in the same nest box at the same time – therefore, you don’t need to make too many boxes. They tend to gravitate toward the same box. If you have a big flock – you’ll need to make more. In some of the links I’ve provided, there are some excellent pictures of nest boxes, diagrams, and “how-to” instructions for building nest boxes. A view of a couple of my nest boxes is pictured above.

CHICKEN ROOSTS
A 2″ by 4″ or 2″ by 2″ board works nicely as a roost. You can also use a tree branch measuring between 3″ to 6.” I used a 2 x 4 and rounded off the edges with a circular saw, and these are working like a champ. This step is not necessary, but I’ve found that they are able to grip onto the roost better when it’s slightly rounded. A view of my roost and walkway leading to the roost is pictured above.

I made sure to place the roosts where the droppings are not in my way when I enter the coop so I don’t have to clean it off my shoes after being inside. Depending on the type of coop you build, you may also want to consider positioning the roosts where you can easily clean up the droppings.

Chickens seem to like roosting higher in the coop at night, so I positioned mine about 4 feet off the ground. I then constructed a walkway leading up to the roost since we clipped their wings (more on this in a bit). It’s basically an 8″ wide board which angles up from the floor to the roost with some make shift “steps” nailed on and spaced every 6″ or so – something they can use to “grip” onto as they walk up.

Back to wing clipping, just briefly – we clipped the outer part of the wings – on one side only. Don’t worry – this does not involve pain for the chickens in any way, and it prevents them from taking flight. When the wings are clipped, it’s done toward the outer part of the wing where there is no blood supply. We didn’t clip their wings at first because we thought it would hurt them. They kept flying over the fence, however, and and we lost one to a neighborhood dog. Thus, the wing clipping, and consequent ramp from the floor to the roost inside the coop. There is a great illustration on wing clipping at http://www.backyardchickens.com.

CHICKEN FEEDER
The farm stores all carry a nice selection of chicken feeders and water containers but they can be rather expensive. I made a 5 gallon feeder and waterer using two 5 gallon buckets I got for free at our local grocery store – usually the bakery or deli section – and two 20 inch plastic planter bases. The plastic planter bases cost around $5.00 – I purchased mine from a garage sale. Of course, any local retailer such as Walmart, Target, or your local hardware store or nursery would carry them as well. The 5 gallon feeder I’m currently using is pictured above – after filling it with feed, it will last about 3 weeks for 13 chickens.

How it’s done: To make the Chicken feeder – drill several holes about 1 1/2″ in diameter around the bottom of the bucket. Make sure the bottom edge of the holes are no higher up than 1/2″ from the very bottom of the bucket. Next – place the bucket in the bottom of the plant base so the top of the bucket is still up. Don’t throw away the lid – you’ll still need it. Make sure the bucket is centered as best as possible in the plant bottom and then screw it in place using 3 or 4 screws until it is secure. That’s it! just pour in the feed and put the lid on and you’ve got 5 gallons worth of feed. I’m guessing this would be roughly 20 lbs of feed since it holds just under half of a 50lb bag of chicken feed in my feeder. I place my feeder on top of 2 concrete blocks – chickens are sloppy eaters and this helps prevent feed spillage. I’ve seen other people hang their feeders a few inches off the ground with rope. The suggested distance off the ground is about the height of the chickens back.

CHICKEN WATER CONTAINER
For the waterer, it’s the same method except you only need to drill one or two small holes (1/4″ or so) near the base of the bucket – and drill them around 1″ up from bottom of the bucket. You can vary the height or distance from the bottom of the bucket a little, but make sure the hole does not lie above the rim of the planter base – If you do, all the water will overflow out of the trough.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING A CHICKEN COOP
Dimensions: Each chicken requires 3 to 4 square feet of space – this will need to be taken into account when designing your coop so you don’t make it too small. I would suggest making it a little bigger than you need since, if you’re like me, you’ll want to purchase more chickens each year.

Climate: Build your coop to suit the climate of your area. If you live in a warm climate, you will need to make sure there is plenty of ventilation to keep your chickens cool. In cold climates, it’s important to keep out the draft and to make sure it’s warm enough so that the drinking water doesn’t freeze. An insulated coop will ensure the coop isn’t drafty either. But you’ll still want good ventilation, however, to ensure that fresh air can move in and out of the coop – minimizing the likelihood of your chickens getting sick.

Elevated Coop: An optional part of the design is elevating your coop. Having it elevated can help with the flooding rains and keep it cooler in the summer heat. It also gives the chickens a shady place to go during the day. I elevated my coop and noticed I’ve never had any rodents in it either – I’m not sure it’s a way to fool proof your coop from rodents or predators, but it probably helps to some degree.

Location: If you live in the city, check your city regulations. Sometimes, they require you to be at least 5 ft from the property line. Also, try to make a coop that won’t be offensive to your neighbors. It doesn’t have to be as pretty as the home you live in, but not too unsightly so as to reduce property values. Keeping on top of the smell is also key, since you don’t want to damage relationships with your neighbors.

It’s beneficial for the chickens to have adequate sunlight as well – for staying warmer in cold climates and for maximum egg production. Putting a window on the south side would allow for the light to enter the coop all day.

Deep Litter Method
You’ll also have to consider if you’re going to clean out the droppings on a regular basis or if you want to use the “deep litter” method, which is less maintenance. This is important to consider for designing the floor of your coop. Some people prefer to use a chicken wire floor so the droppings fall into a container under the coop for easier cleaning, less odor in the coop, and a way to regularly stay on top of the cleaning.

With the deep litter method, you essentially have around 4-8 inches of wood pellets, wood (pine) shavings, or other bedding on the floor of the coop. Every few days you’ll want to use a rake or shovel to stir the droppings on the top into the bedding underneath. The chickens do this on their own, but you’ll want to rake it in a bit deeper and more evenly across the whole floor.

The bedding/droppings will begin to decompose underneath. As this happens, the amount or level of bedding starts to shrink down. As this happens, you’ll simply add another inch (or more) of bedding so you’ll always have about 4-8 inches. By using this method, the odor is minimal. You really only need to clean the entire coop out once or twice a year.

I use the deep litter method and highly recommend it – it saves me a lot of time, and I can use that rich compost for our garden once it’s done! I buy 40 lb bags of wood pellets for my coop – most large retailers i.e. Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes will carry some. It may be that they only stock up on wood pellets during the winter so it may help to call the store in advance. Another great place to get pellets is at farm stores, and they usually carry them all year long. However, the price may be a bit higher.

I start off pouring a few bags on the floor until I get about 5 inches of pellets, spread evenly across the floor. I occasionally (once a week) rake the droppings on top, into the pellets underneath. Then I periodically add another bag of pellets – about every 3 monts on average.

I usually know when it’s time to add another bag of bedding – when the coop starts to smell a little and just raking the droppings into the bedding underneath is not working to eliminate this odor anymore. After a year, I simply clean it all out and start the process over again. You can find more information on this process at http://www.backyardchickens.com which, by the way, is an excellent overall resource for all things related to chicken care.

Predator Control
If you live in an area near dogs, coyotes, racoons, skunks, mountain lions, fisher cats, red tailed hawks, or bears (the most common predators), you’ll want to make sure to make your coop is predator proof. For an outpen made of chicken wire or bird netting, you should embed the material 8″-12″ below the ground around the perimeter of the pen to prevent the would-be predator from digging in.

If your coop is fenced in with woven wire farm fencing (or any other type of farm fencing), it is a good idea to place either a strand of electric wire or barbed wire around the perimeter a few inches off the ground on the outside of the fence. Again, this will deter predators from entering.

http://www.freechickencoopplans.com/

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September 17, 2010

Old Fashioned Egg Drop Coffee

Filed under: recipes — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 3:46 pm
An old-fashioned manual coffee grinder.

Image via Wikipedia

Egg drop coffee is an old fashioned way that coffee was made. It was a good way to make and get the coffee grounds to stay at the bottom of the pot. The egg would catch the coffee grounds and make them settle on the

bottom of the coffee pot. Egg drop coffee is still a great way to make coffee. It can be especially helpful when your coffee pot unexpectedly stop working and you are in need of a cup of coffee. Egg drop coffee is a very tasty coffee. You don’t really notice the egg in it when you are drinking a cup of egg drop coffee. Egg drop coffee can be a great coffee to have when you have company since egg drop coffee can be a good conversation with your company.

To make egg drop coffee you need an egg, enough coffee for up to ten cups and a pot or old enamel coffee pot. You can really use just about any container that can heat up water and is safe for consumption. It is best to use one egg for 2 through 10 cups of coffee. A tablespoon of coffee grounds can make one cup of coffee.

Take the coffee grounds for as many cups of coffee that you want to make up to ten cups and put them in a cup. Crack open the egg and smash the egg shell and put the egg into the coffee in the cup egg shells and all. Take a spoon and mix up the egg and the coffee mixture so the coffee grounds are mixed up with the egg. If the mixture is dry you can add enough water to make a wet mix with.

Boil enough water to make the amount of coffee that you are making grounds for. Add the egg mixture into the water when the water is at a full boil. Stir the mixture until the egg and coffee grounds are well mixed into the water.

Let the water with the coffee and egg in it sit quietly for a couple of minutes and then pour a cup. Make sure when you pour egg drop coffee that you pour it gently so the coffee grounds stay at the bottom of the pot. If you are good at pouring coffee you should be able to get most of the coffee out of the pot without ever having the grounds in the cup.

The egg should hold the coffee grounds together at the bottom of the pot of coffee.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/156059/egg_drop_coffee_is_a_old_fashioned.html?cat=22

Uses for Salt & Baking Soda

Filed under: curing meat, dehydrating, farming, freezing food, home remedies, poison ivy, recipes — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 3:18 pm
Sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogencarbonate, ...

Image via Wikipedia

  • Rub salt on fruit stains while still wet, then put them in the wash.
  • For mildew spots, rub in salt and some buttermilk, and then let dry in the sun.
  • If you spill wine or fruit juice on your tablecloth, pour salt on the spot immediately to absorb the stain.
  • Apply a paste of salt and olive oil to ugly heat rings on your table. Let sit for about an hour and then wipe off with a soft cloth.
  • To improve your iron, sprinkle salt on a piece of paper and run the sticky iron over it a few times while the iron is hot.
  • To restore some of the color to faded fabric, soak it in a strong solution of salt and water.
  • Mix a tablespoon of salt into the water of a vase of cut flowers to keep them fresh longer.
  • A mixture of salt and vinegar will clean brass.
  • Salt on the fingers when cleaning meat or fish will prevent your hands from slipping.
  • To kill unwanted weeds growing in your driveway or between bricks and stones, pour boiling salt water over them.
  • For perspiration stains, add enough water to salt to make a paste, then rub into the cloth. Wait for an hour, and then launder as usual.
  • Cover spilled eggs with salt, then wipe clean with a paper towel.
  • To freshen smelly sneakers (or any canvas shoe) sprinkle their insides with salt. Wait 24 hours for the salt to absorb the odor, and then shake them out.
  • Pour salt directly onto a grease spill and come back to it later.
  • A new broom will last longer if you soak the bristles in hot salt water before using it for the first time.
  • Stainless steel can be cleaned by rubbing it with a gritty paste of two tablespoons of salt mixed with lemon juice. Rinse well and pat dry with a soft cloth.
  • Rub two to three tablespoons of salt onto the stains inside your glass vases, and then scrub clean with a damp bristle brush.
  • Gargle with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon salt to one cup water) to relieve a sore throat.
  • Sprinkle salt on carpets to dry out muddy footprints before vacuuming.
  • When silk flowers get dusty, put them in a paper bag with several tablespoons of salt and shake gently for two minutes to clean them.
  • Refresh household sponges by soaking them in cold salt water for ten minutes.
  • BAKING SODA
  • Add baking soda to your bath water to relieve sunburned or itchy skin.
  • Make a paste of baking soda and water, and apply to a burn or an insect bite for relief.
  • Clean your refrigerator with a solution of one-teaspoon baking soda to one quart of warm water.
  • Pour a cup of baking soda into the opening of your clogged drain and then add a cup of hot vinegar. After a few minutes, flush the drain with a quart of boiling water.
  • To remove perspiration stains, make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Rub paste into the stain, let it sit for an hour, and then launder as usual.
  • If you crave sweets, rinse your mouth with one-teaspoon baking soda dissolved in a glass of warm water. Don’t swallow the mixture; spit it out. Your craving should disappear instantly.
  • Add a pinch of baking soda to boiled syrup to prevent it from crystallizing.
  • To remove pesticides, dirt, and wax from fresh fruits and vegetables, wash them in a large bowl of cool water to which you’ve added two to three tablespoons of baking soda.
  • Soak toothbrushes in baking soda and warm water overnight to clean bristles.
  • Gasoline and oil odors can be removed by putting clothes in a trash bag with baking soda for a few days before washing them.
  • Lay down barrier of baking soda under sink-pipe openings and along basement windows to keep carpenter ants, silverfish, and roaches from invading. Roaches eat the baking soda, dehydrate, and die.
  • A light baking soda paste on a damp cloth will remove bugs and tar from cars without damaging the paint. Let paste sit for a few minutes before wiping and rinsing clean.
  • To remove stains from your coffee and tea cups, wipe them with a damp sponge dipped in baking soda paste.
  • Keep your rubber gloves dry and smelling good by sprinkling baking soda inside them. They’ll slip on more easily too!
  • Sprinkling baking soda on your front steps will provide traction and melt the ice. Unlike rock salt, kitty litter, or sand, it won’t damage outdoor or indoor surfaces or shoes.
  • Boil two inches of water in a pan with a burned bottom, turn off the heat, then add half a cup of baking soda. Let it sit overnight. In the morning it will be easy to clean.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of baking soda on the bottom of your toaster oven to eliminate the burned smell from drippings and crumbs.
  • A paste of baking soda removes red sauce stains from plastic.

Wash Day

Filed under: laundry — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 11:34 am
6 smiling women under tenement clothesline; ca...

Image via Wikipedia


Well it’s wash day again and you’ve got piles and piles of laundry that needs to be taken care of right away! But you have no electricity! Now what? First of all, don’t despair! Great Grandmother did it, so can you! She had the tools of the trade though, and you can too with a little ingenuity…

The very first thing to do is gather all your equipment. You will need: 3 large tubs, water tight. These can be made of any material. Years ago iron pots were used for this, but I use galvanized tubs or even plastic for rinsing. Laundry Soap. Of course, lye soap was used many years ago, but if you only have regular laundry soap, so much the better! You can even use bar soap like Ivory. A washing board. Yep, you really need this little contraption. Unless that is, you want to take your clothes and pound the dirt out of them with a club! Yes, some ladies actually did this to clean their clothes! Wore the fabric out pretty quickly, I’d say. Believe me, you will get very tired of rubbing your clothes on your hands, get a wash board. You might want to get a bottle of bluing for the whites, and some fabric softener. You’ll need a supply of wood for a fire and a safe place to build a fire. One of your pans needs to be able to sit over a fire. You will also need a long stick with which to move clothes out of the hot water, and to stir them in the wash water.

Now, you’re ready to start!

Build a good hot fire. Wait a little while and let it burn down a bit so that there are plenty of hot coals. Fashion a way that you can set the tub on the fire, keeping the fire underneath the tub. It is really best to have a tub with feet on it, but you can rig up a good set up using an old grill off of a BBQ or something. Even cinder blocks or large rocks can be used. While the fire is heating, you can separate your clothes, by color and by least to most dirty.

Fill two rinse tubs with cool, clean water, away from the fire.

Fill the wash tub about 2/3 with water. Let it heat until very hot, even boiling. You may even want to boil very dirty clothes like work pants, jeans or white socks. Add laundry soap. Remove carefully from the fire and to a table or to the ground. This normally takes two people.

Pretreat any stains as you normally would. Add your clothes to the hot water, starting with the least dirty ones first like shirts and underwear.

Be careful of burning your hands in the hot water! Rub the clothes on the washboard. Adding soap as needed. Rub then plunge, rub, then plunge…..remember Far and Away?

Take the hot clothes out of the wash water with your stick, place them in the first rinse. Rinse and wring as best as you can. Place the clothes in the second rinse, adding fabric softener or bluing if desired. Don’t wear yourself out wringing, just hang up the clothes, dripping, outside. If it is in winter or rainy weather, you will have to wring them as well as you can.

Continue through the dirtiest clothes, re-using the wash water as many times as you can get away with it. Just re-heat it until you have to start over with clean water. You can use the second rinse water many, many times. The first rinse water will have to be changed frequently depending on how much soap you use.

When I get to the point that I need to change my wash water, I try to find something I can use it for instead of throwing it out. Usually I end up washing the porch, patio or outside of the house. You could wash your deck, boat, or dog kennel, I guess.

The key to clean clothes is plenty of elbow grease and plenty of rinsing!

Washboard

http://www.thefarm.org/charities/i4at/surv/washday.htm

http://christianhomekeeper.org/?s=britton

September 16, 2010

Baking Bread in a Coffee Can

Filed under: farming — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 1:37 pm
Wheat flour

Image via Wikipedia

Yeast Bread in a Can

Coffee Can Bread

  • 2 pckg. active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 c. warm water (110 F.)
  • cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 5 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c. warm milk (110 F.)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 tbls. water

In a large bowl, combine yeast and sugar in the water; let stand 15 minutes or until it begins to rise.

Grease the inside of 3 – 1 lb. metal coffee cans and the underside of their lids.  Sprinkle cans with cornmeal, shaking off the excess.

With electric mixer, gradually beat salt, 3 c. flour, and 1 c. milk to the yeast mixture; adding alternately and beating well.

Add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to 1 tbsp. water and dissolve.  Add this to the beaten mixture.  Beat well.

With mixer or spoon, beat the remaining 1/2 c. milk and about 1 1/2 to 2 c. flour to make a stiff dough that is too sticky to knead.

Spoon enough dough equally into cans, top with lids.  Let rise in a warm place until the lid pops off (about 45 – 60 minutes).

Carefully remove lids.  place cans upright on stove rack and bake at 375 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes until the bread top is golden brown.

Slide out of can to test.  Take loaves out of cans and stand upright on wire rack to cool.

Store airtight and keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 4 days.  Freeze for longer storage.

Source – www.about.com

Pumpkin Bread in a Can

  • 2 c. of cooked prepared pumpkin (or 1 large can of pumpkin, drained)
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1 c. canola, rapeseed or extra light virgin olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1 c. chopped nuts, optional
  • 1 tsp. each of cloves, allspice, salt, baking powder, baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat over to 35o degrees F.

Grease and flour 3 (13 oz) coffee cans (or 2 standard bread pans).

In a large bowl, mix sugar, oil and add eggs one at a time.  Set this mixture aside.  Sift flour and all spices together.

Add flour mixture and pumpkin alternately to the sugar/oil mixture.

Mix just enough to moisten all the dry ingredients; it’s better if you don’t over beat the mixture.

Add raisins and nuts.

Pour mixture into the 3 coffee cans or the 2 loaf pans.  Stir a bit when mixture is in the cans to avoid air bubbles.

Cover loosely with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 70-80 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes before loosening from the cans or pans.

http://readynutrition.com/resources/bake-bread-from-a-coffee-can_02032010/

September 12, 2010

How to Set Up an Outdoor Fish Pond

Filed under: ponds — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 6:24 pm

How to Set Up an Outdoor Fish Pond — powered by eHow.com

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