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DIY Egg Scale

first eggs

My chickens are laying!  The broken egg and then the one on the left are normal sized eggs – probably large to extra large.  The rest are my ladies first eggs!  And looking at how small they are, I remembered my mom having an egg scale and then wondering how much my eggs weighed.

skillet

And then it occurred to me – mom still has an old fashioned egg scale.  Like this one for sale on Ebay.

scale

And yes, it is for sale for $49 starting bid plus $12 shipping.

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And yes, you can buy a new one from the same company for $52 plus shipping.  This new one includes grams and not just ounces like the old scale has.  And it looks like a chicken so it justifies the expense.  Right?  No?  Hmm… welll…

Then you’ve come to the right place.  I love the old scale and already put in a request for my mothers should she ever not want hers anymore.  In the mean time, I came up with my own version.

First – the weights.

Egg weight smallegg weight

I came up with my own egg weights chart and made it so that you can download the PDF and have your own copy.  Just click on the words “egg weight” below the egg and you’ll get a PDF of that image to print out.

Next – the scale part.  I’m assuming that most people have a digital kitchen scale already.  Most big box stores carry them for around $10-15 – much less than the new fancy egg scales cost!  They’re useful for so many other things in cooking, too, so if you don’t have one now would be a good time to invest in a simple scale.  Get the one with grams – much more accurate!

carton

So, take an old egg carton like so…

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Cut out one egg cell…

zero

Place on scale and then zero the scale out so as to not include the weight of the carton when weighing the egg.  Be sure to have the scale set on grams!

41

34

29

Weigh eggs.  As you can see, I have a tiny one at 29 grams, well below the pewee level of 35 grams.  None of mine are even into the small egg size yet!

cabinet

Refer to your hand egg size chart that you’ve taped inside of your cabinet door like I did.

So, why is this helpful?  Well, if you have your own hens and are wanting to use these first eggs while cooking, it’s good to know about what you need to sub for a full sized large or extra large egg.  In my case, I used 3 pewee eggs instead of 2 XLs when making granola bars recently.  Knowing the weights helps in the substitution because really it is about volume of egg contents and not number of eggs.

I hope you find this useful!  Happy chickens everyone!

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Chicken Day Spa

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spa 4

This is the new chicken day spa.  1000 square feet (or close to) of chicken happiness.  Completely covered over the top with chicken wire to keep out pesky squirrels, who are rather assertive this year, and to keep out the nesting pair of hawks that we have living in our back acres.  No organic chicken dinner for them!  And, the sides are tall enough that we can walk underneath should the need arise to rescue a bird or plant in new seeds or…

spa 1

Hubs built this just last week and there is a pop door connecting the little day pen to the spa area so that we can let them out, or not, as needed.  Eventually, there will be 2 more enclosures around the coop like this one so that we can rotate them through and then replant the areas that they’re not in at that moment.

spa 2

The girls have gone from an adequate 10 square feet of yard space each to 100 square feet of weedy glory.

spa 3

Of course, that does not mean that they are opposed to sharing their dust baths.  This is Fea (or ugly in Spanish) my weirdly feathered easter egger and one of the brahmas.  Fea is lacking tail feathers and back feathers under her wings and has always been like this.  So far though, she seems to be doing fine.  And since we have such fine sand (called sugar sand around here) dust baths are a wonderful thing to young lady chickens.

At some point soon, maybe in the next month when they are 5 months old, the girls should start laying eggs.  The one remaining rooster has been doing his guy thing for a month now though.  However, the 3 roosters that hubs butchered this past weekend, and that are now in my freezer, were much more aggressive.  The male that we have left is a Buff Orphington and is a fairly nice guy – so far.  Not that it matters, he’ll be joining his friends soon… hubs was going to give him to a friend to eat but hasn’t gotten that far yet.

So, that’s where our chickens are at the moment.  They’re fun.  They eat kitchen scraps.  They’re quiet except for the rooster.  They don’t really smell due to how I designed the coop.  And once the coop was built, they’re really not very much work either.  (I’m sure the hubs would disagree though!)

Have a happy day!

Chickens in the Coop

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I had chickens as a kid.  I don’t think I loved them very much.  They were stinky and pecked my hands and back then – I didn’t appreciate how much better the eggs from our farm were compared to store eggs.  Likely because I’d never had store eggs before!

As an adult and after learning the horrors of commercial egg production, I REALLY  wanted my own chickens.  Even city slickers were getting hens for Pete’s sake!

So, for my birthday last fall, my hubs gave me the Raising Chickens book and a promise of a coop.  And it became our first building project that was just to make a new thing.  And it took nearly 2 months of weekends.  It’s a bit hill billy constructed, we used lots of leftover supplies from our house – including the metal roofing and the yet to be installed hardy plank on the outside.  Porch decking became the subfloor.  Remant piece of linoleum over the floor to water proof it… Bought a used chain link dog kennel from a friend….  And LOTS of research on the Backyard Chickens website.

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But, with time, the coop is nearlydone.  This is a picture of the pen, which is hopefully critter proof.  It has the wooden braces on top and chicken wire attached over that.  There is hardware cloth burried out over a foot, up and over the cinder blocks and up the next 2 feet to keep coons from pulling chickens through the fence.  The chain link is tied into the ground with building anchors that go into the ground… we know there are lots of critters out here in the black forest.  We would not like to give them a chicken buffet!

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These are a few of our girls.  We have 18 – we plan on keeping 10-12 of them.  First, we had the minimum order of 15 issues, then they gave us an extra and then we wanted a couple of Easter Eggers so got those locally … so that’s how we got to 18.  Will be selling the rest on Craigslist when they’re ready to move into a pen with older chickens (8 weeks is the rule I think).   We have 6 Barred Rock (not my favorite – more aggressive than the rest), 5 Buff Orphingtons, 5 Brahmas (“gentle giants” good with kids) and 2 green egg girls.

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This is our fancy tree branch playscape.  That they haven’t had any interest in yet.  But… if not, no big deal, it can go on the burn pile where it would be anyways.

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And the chicken water system using nipples.  Hopefully they figure it out today.  As it turns out – chickens are not very smart!  As they grow, we’ll take aways paving stones so that they stay at the right height.  The 2nd picture there is the storage tank that hubs re-plumbed.  Still needs a few tweaks but… And you can see that the hardy plank isn’t on the entire outside yet.  The girls moved in anyways… at 3 weeks, we were all ready!

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We will have a gravity feed system soon… and I’ll post pictures of that and tell you if the girls are able to figure it out, but in the mean time, their old little feeder works for now.  The yellow worm, a flower planter that a friend gave me, now holds chick grit.  I thought the irony worked well…

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This is where they sleep for now.  In a few weeks we’ll be able to take the heat lamp away… And I need to get the cinder blocks to use for roost supports as the bricks clearly didn’t work.

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And when they’re bigger, we’ll have a ladder up to the big roosts.  It has a poop board under it with Sweet PDZ under that… kinda like a cat litter box, that all of the forums say keeps most of the poop out of the pine shavings…. and as it dries the poop out and is naturally amonia adsorbing, also keeps the flies and smell down/gone.  We’ll see, but I tend to believe the hoards of folks on the chicken page who have done this all before me!

The coop is only 10 x 5, the run is 10 x 10… and an open air coop as it is so crazy hot here in Texas most of the year.  We did position the coop under a few oak trees that are still alive so hopefully the shade will help.  We still need to add a bit to it to keep the rain out, and add hardy plank and paint the outside… but it is at least liveable for now.  And the girls are out of my sewing room!

As soon as I get my sewing room cleaned up and looking happy, I’ll do a show and tell of my favorite room in my house… so hopefully by this next week!

Happy chickens everyone!

Gram’s Cookbook – Page 2

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My Great Grandmother, Edna Loveless, was born in 1894.  In 1916, the date written on the inside cover of this cookbook, she was 23 years old.  Just for some perspective, a 23 year old today would have been born in 1988…

Back in the early part of the 1900’s, life was a tad different than it is today.  First, women in most states, still did not have the right to VOTE.  Can you, as a woman, imagine being denied this fundamental right simply because you do not possess a Y chromosome?  (Or , based on the color of your skin?  But, we know that that sadly took much longer to be put to rights…)

During the beginning of the twentieth century, as women’s suffrage faced several important federal votes, a portion of the suffrage movement known as the National Women’s Party and led by suffragette Alice Paul became the first “cause” to picket outside the White House. Due to this manner of protest, suffragists were subject to arrests and many were jailed.[43] In 1918, Congress passed what became, when it was ratified by sufficient states in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment, which prohibited state and federal agencies from gender-based restrictions on voting.

From the Wikipedia site.

Cars were also in their early years… with Model T’s not coming out until the late 1920’s…  This is the Benz Patent Motorwagen, built by the inventor of the modern automobile, Karl Benz, in 1885.

A photograph of the original Benz Patent-Motorwagen, first built in 1885 and awarded the patent for the concept

But, back to the cookbook.

Gram's Cookbook Cover

Ready Reference Recipe Book.  Written inside the cover is what appears to have been the price – 75 cents.  The book was blank, with lined pages with tabs on them – apparently to list what recipes are written on what page.  The rest of the pages are blank, with the page number in the top corner.

Inside of Cookbook Cover

My mom and I were talking about this cookbook… and why Gram had it.  There are several curious aspects to it – namely that the recipes all have names written below them and they’re all written by different people.  Mom remembered that Gram was married in 1918… and we think that this is the “wedding shower” cookbook.  So, Gram would have bought or been given the book (maybe by her mother?) and then given it to different married women that she knew so that they could give her a recipe to use in her new married life.

People still make wedding shower cookbooks – but most are written on recipe cards and then assembled – not written into a blank book just for that purpose.  And, how often do we refer to those modern books?  It looks like this book actually got a bit of use by Gram…

Page 2 - Chicken Bisque

There are 15 pages with recipes written on them – so I will post one per week for over 4 months!   Not a full cookbook, but enough to get a perspective on the foods made by the women of Kansas in the early 1900’s…

So, I will write out the recipe as written, and then, if it is reasonable according to my tastes now, tell you how I made it, with modern recipe written out, and what I thought of it.

Original Chicken Bisque – by Gertrude Hackler

Joint the fowl and cover with cold water, one quart for each pound.  Put in a large minced onion and three stalks of clery, minced fine.  Cover and cook slowly until you can slip the  flesh from the bones.  Let all get cold together; skin, take out the bones and meat, and chopp the latter fine.  Return the soup to the fire and heat in another vessel a cupful of milk (dropping in a little soda).  Thicken this with a tablespoonful of butter rubbed into a teaspoonful of flour, add a tablespoonful of minced parsley.  When the soup has reached a fast boil, stir into it the chopped chicken with a cupful of cracker crumbs soaked in warm milk; boil one minute, beat in the milk and butter and pour out.

As this seemed like a “reasonable” recipe, I decided to give it a try.  There is an updated version of the Chicken Bisque at CopyKat Recipes….

Crockpot Chicken Bisque-ish

1 whole chicken

1 onion, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

red pepper, diced

Italian seasoning

water

1/4 c flour

2 T. butter

frozen peas

shredded carrots

1 c. quinoa

Put celery, onion, pepper and Italian seasoning into the crockpot and add enough water to nearly cover the chicken.  Cook on high until the chicken comes off of the bone easily.  Separate the meat from the bone and skin, shred the meat into bite sized pieces.

On the stove, in a large soup pot, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter.  Add in 1/4 cup of flour – cook for a couple of minutes.  Stir in the boiling (or very hot) chicken broth from the crock a bit at a time, stirring the entire time… eventually add it all and cook until it starts to get thick.  Add back in the chicken and veggies.   Stir in any veggies you have hiding in the fridge – I had green peas and carrots.

But, my bisque never bisqued for some reason… so in a desperate act to thicken it up, I added in 1 cup of uncooked quinoa and cooked until the quinoa was done.  That did the trick…

It tasted OK, not super spicey, but OK.  My husband liked it, said that it was very filling.   We love quinoa, so it was a nice addition.  I’ll probably make the quinoa chicken soup recipe again, with more spices added to it.

I hope that you liked week one of Gram’s recipes… next week, it’s Breads!