Chicken Moving Day

140915 Coop in Garden

Yesterday was moving day for the coop and chickens.  The vegetable garden is pretty much done although there is a lot of stuff still in there, overgrown and rotting.  The fall chill is in the air and it was time to begin the fall to winter preps.  The coop had been over by the garage with the fencing including a huge old apple tree surrounded by jewelweed.  The chickens loved it there although they had pretty much cleaned the area of vegetation.  I figured the garden would be a great spot for them to clean up and fertilize at the same time.

Moving the coop is always stressful.  It is so heavy that the tractor will only lift if off of the ground by about a foot.  We managed to get it over to the garden.  I then moved the fence.  I let the chickens roam around thinking they would be easy to move with some sweet little snack.  I was wrong.  They spent the majority of the day around the apple tree and although I coaxed them over more than once they had no interest in going near the strange spot their coop was in.

They finally left the tree area at the end of the day and wandered over to the garden but had no interest in going into their new area.  I got out the big guns – a pumpkin spice english muffin.  The rooster and hen happily went into the garden fence but the other 9 hens were nowhere to be seen.  It was getting a little late in the day and I was getting a little nervous.  I called and called and finally saw their little heads coming up over the bank to the back forty on the other side of the yard.  Apparently they had gone on a little adventure.  Seven more into the enclosure.

When the head count was done Bill and I had to search for the last two.  They were snuggled in among some rocks over the bank and were not going anywhere so I had Bill flush them out.  They ran for the coop, one of them tangling herself in the fencing (they still think they are small enough to go through it).  Once all enclosed they discovered what a wonderland the garden is.  Bugs, seeds, berries, a veritable smorgasbord for chickens.  They stayed out until dark which is unusual, they usually go in at dusk.

About nine o’clock Bill went out to lock the shed door and heard a chicken clucking over by the apple tree – an escapee.  He held the flashlight and ran interference until I finally caught her and put her in the coop.  I did another head count and all were there on their roost.  Finally all was right with the world – at least mine.

What you can do with a little flour and fresh eggs

Chickens

My sister has quite the flock of chickens that are just beginning to lay eggs (note the rooster in the back over seeing his girls).  Last week she brought up some eggs and since then I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do with the motherload of eggs like she will be seeing in the coming weeks.  You see, she has 26 very healthy hens.  That’s a lot of eggs.  Once they are all laying it could be up to 2 dozen a DAY.  Hmmmm, what to do with that wonderful fresh egg bounty?

Make omelets, quiche, pudding, angelfood cake?  Fry them, scramble them, poach them – aahh, Eggs Benedict.  Eat them at every meal, sell them, give them away.  The list goes on but how about something a little different?

Saturday I decided to try something new.  I’d been thinking about it for a long time.  Pasta, specifically ravioli, I was determined to make my own.  I scoured the internet and watched way too much Diners, Driveins and Dives in preparation for this new gastronomic adventure.  I bought a pasta machine and ravioli mold (all very on sale) as well as a bag of Perfect Pasta Flour from King Arthur.  Then she brought up those eggs and I was ready.

After all of that prep I ended up using the recipe on the bag of flour (how can you go wrong with a recipe from King Arthur Flour?).  Three cups of flour, four large eggs, very little water.  Sue’s eggs are small so I used 5 eggs. Put it all into the mixer with the dough hook and let it mix.  Well, for a couple minutes anyway.  The dough is so dense that it really requires hand kneading, so I divided it in half and did so.  Let it rest for 30 minutes then shape into anything you want.

Now I have to tell you that this didn’t really look like it was going to make much pasta – I had 4 dozen meatballs just waiting to be turned into filling. Sister Sue wanted to be part of this adventure and entered the kitchen in time to help – good thing because this is a 2 man job (they don’t tell you that anywhere). I started rolling out the dough a little at a time and was AMAZED at how pliable a dough this is.  Stretches like crazy, does not fall apart.  After the first dozen raviolis were made we decided to cut the meatballs in half since the first batch looked more like Chinese dumplings instead of the intended Italian pasta.  Perfection!

We made 3 dozen raviolis.  I also have a pasta cutter attachment with the pasta machine so we made linguini and then spaghetti.  I had no where to dry it so we made piles to freeze.  We had a delicious meal with a homemade sauce and put everything else in the freezer.  It takes only 4 minutes to cook fresh linguine, the ravioli took 5 minutes and was amazingly good.

The question remains, what are we going to do with all of those eggs because this is what we made with only 5!

Pasta