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Monday, March 28, 2011

The Beatles' Chicks Reside in Joe's Garage

We've named the chicks! We're crossing our fingers that these little ones are all hens and that Marek's STAYS AWAY! Our new little fuzzballs came from My Pet Chicken - they sex chicks (with a 90% accuracy rate), and we vaccinated all four for the dreaded and fatal Marek's disease.

We love them!

All of them received female names of characters in Beatles' songs. 

Our little yellow one is named Lucy (or Lucy-Poo after her whole poo situation) from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Lucy Poo
Our little Barred Rock is named Sadie from the song Sexy Sadie. She's very spunky, so we figured . . .

Sexy  Sadie
Our very sweet dark brown one is named Prudence from the song Dear Prudence. The lyrics remind us of her too:
"Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence won't you come out to play"
Sweet, sweet Prudence
 And finally, "Andy's chicken" - Rita. She is so pretty and very affectionate. Her name comes from the song Lovely Rita.  "Nothing can come between us, When it gets dark I tow your heart away." Sweet.

Lovely Rita

Lucy-Poo: Chicks and Pasting Up

The subject of our post today is poop. Poo. Crap. Doo-doo. Dookie. Feces. More specifically, chick poo.

One of the worries chicken owners have when getting new little chicks is that they may paste up. In fact, it's something every chicken owner should check for every day on every single little chick that he or she has. Tiny chicks can get stressed out, especially after getting transported or having their housing changed. When they get stressed, they often hunker down, causing poo to get stuck to the feathers by their vent. The pasting refers to the thick poop that is being excreted. Pasting up refers to their vents getting essentially blocked by dried doo-doo, leaving new dookie without an exit.

Pasting up is not in and of itself too big of a deal. However, it can be fatal if left unchecked.  That's why it's essential to check each chick each day.Little Lucy (who is now being affectionately referred to as Lucy Poo) got pasted up on Friday. She did not exhibit any sort of lethargy or illness. We only noticed the pasting up by checking her little bottom.

So what to do if you have a chick who has pasted up? Well, wipe her little tush. We used a warm, wet paper cloth. We held it on the bottom of her bum until the poop loosened and easily came off. Lucy was not happy with this AT ALL. She peeped loudly, and when we put her down, she kept trying to scratch her raw little butt. She soon got over it though, and she still loves us. 

The good news is that this is a short-term worry. You won't have to wipe a large chicken's bum! Chicks grow incredibly fast, so the pasting-up concern need only be present the first few weeks of a chick's life.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What to do with all of these radishes? - Tacos, of course!

What to do with several bags of winter radishes in mid-March? Pickle 'em for radish tacos, of course!

Recently, I bought several dozen homemade flour tortilla's from a student's family, so we'd been craving "Mexican" anyway.

A few years back, Tex Tubb's Taco Palace in Madison offered a Daikon Radish taco. I was in love with it. I ordered two each time I went. I was sad when it was discontinued. I still ask for it each time I'm there in hopes I'll get a chef/wait person from the good old days who will make me one. I never have any luck on that one.

So, we created our own! We made a coleslaw with a kick, a mayo-based sauce, pickled radishes, and viola - even better radish tacos.

This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thank god we have this blog to record the process.

Pickled Radishes (good for more than just tacos - that's for sure!)
up to 4 lbs. radishes (you could add carrots to the mix if you'd like)
6 c. water
1.5 c. white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 c. apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1/4 c. kosher salt
1 garlic clove per jar
1 sliced pickled jalapeno per jar
2 dried chipotle peppers
1 tbsp. mustard seed
3/4 tbsp. celery seeds
15 coriander seeds
6 allspice berries, plus a pinch of ground allspice
1/2 tsp. turmeric

Add everything except the radishes (and whatever else you add!), jalapenos, and garlic to a non-reactive soup pot. Bring to a boil. Put the radishes, jalapenos, and garlic into a Tupperware or jar. Pour liquid over veggies. Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours before eating. The longer you wait, the deeper the flavor will be! However, if you can't wait (like I couldn't), dig in early.

If you want to process them, put them in sterilized mason jars, and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Coleslaw with a Kick
1 purple head of cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup yogurt
hot sauce (we used ghost pepper hot sauce) to taste
1-2  teaspoons of sugar
a pinch of salt

We made this on the fly, so these measurements are guesstimates. Combine all ingredients except cabbage. Taste as you add ingredients to make sure the flavor suits your palate. Then, add the shredded cabbage. Refrigerate.

Chipotle-Mayonnaise Sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
chipotle adobe sauce
lime juice
sour cream

Combine all ingredients. Taste to find the correct combination for your liking.

Andy decided he wanted to add some meat to the mix. He brought up a piece of Bodin's fish from the freezer. He spiced it up and got it ready for fish tacos.

Pickled radishes, coleslaw, tortillas, marinated fish
Achiote Fish
4 rounded tablespoons achiote seeds
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
12 whole allspice
white fish

Put all ingredients into ingredients (except the fish) into a coffee or spice grinder. Dump contents into a bowl. Add water until you get a thick paste. Spread paste on fish. Marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.

To cook it, heat a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan on medium high. Add enough oil to coat the pan. Put the fish in for 1-2 minutes per side.

Assemble the tacos: tortilla, pickled radishes and/or achiote fish, coleslaw, and chipotle-mayonnaise sauce. Wow! Yum! Stupendous! Bring on the margaritas! . . . and, is summer here yet? This plate is summer on a plate.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Baby chicks

The newest members of our family arrived this morning.  We are the proud parents of four new baby chickens.  At 6:00 A.M the phone rang loudly, and we knew who was on the other line.  The post office was calling to let us know that our baby chicks were ready to be picked up.  Looking outside you would never think that this was the time to start raising chickens.  We received a dangerous mixture of rain and snow last night.  Neither rain, sleet, or snow will keep these precious chickens from coming to their new home.  We arrived safely home and immediately put the new babies into their new brooder.  We are hopeful that these new babies will grow into happy life loving, healthy chickens.  The new chicks were vaccinated for Mareks disease.  So fingers crossed that they will never contract it.

Here are some pics of the newest members to our family.

As you look at these~ do any names come to mind?  We originally wanted iconic female music artists, but we'd take names from songs too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Transplant #1...and Catnip?

This afternoon our jalapenos, cabbage, kale, and brussel sprout seedlings all moved up in the world. They were transplanted from trays to small pots.

Transplants marked with pink post-its
 The catnip has still not sprouted! Uh, oh kitties. Maybe that's a good thing? Last year, we were mauled by Benson, the cat, every time we came in after touching our catnip plants. Now in March, he still patiently waits on the buffet where we had stored fresh sprigs. He's going to be waiting a long time if we can't get these seeds to grow this year! Anyone have any experience starting this cat "drug" from seed?
Spare room or grow room? The catnip is still covered by the cardboard strip.

Monday, March 21, 2011


There is no more snow in our yard. Hallelujah! Our chickens are out, scratching around in the mud -  hoping to find worms, I think. Tulip and daffodil leaves are shooting up, and it's only a matter of time before yellow, purple, and reds will randomly decorate a green blanket of grass. It's probably also only a very short amount of time before we're swatting mosquitoes as we try to enact our idealistic notions of Chardonnay and grilling veggies on the deck.

Until then, I can go upstairs and look in our unofficial "grow room." Currently we have 150 seeds planted, all veggies/fruits that typically do better with a jump start indoors. The first tray was planted March 9th and consists of the following:
  • 5 cayenne pepper
  • 5 brussel sprouts
  • 5 cabbages
  • 5 round peppers
  • 5 red bell peppers
  • 5 jalapeno
  • 5 fish pepper
  • 5 ancho pepper
  • 5 catnip
  • 5 lacitino kale
Everything has popped up and is doing well with the exception of the catnip.

Then, on the 16th, we filled the second tray with 45 tomato seeds and 5 tomatillo seeds. Will it be raining red around here in a few months or what?

Today, Andy planted the final tray with 35 leeks, 5 St. John's Wort, 3 amaranth, 5 ground cherries, and 2 mystery seeds. Who knows what adventures will come of those? Unmarked in an envelope...we figured we might as well give them a shot. 150 plants to be transplanted in May. We also have packets of beans, corn, melons, and squash to be planted into the ground. Methinks we're going to be busy gardeners!

Happy growing!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Defending Family Farms: Tractorcade Protest in Madison, WI

This farmer was rockin' the parade with a trailer of drums.
 Our blog has been somewhat on a hiatus for the past month; we've been protesting at the State Capitol.Both of us are teachers, so we are worried about the future of education as we fear the government is moving education towards more and more privatization, but this blog isn't about that. It's about another set of our values: local food, sustainable living, and small-scale, family-owned farms, during this time of corporate, big business controlled agriculture. Our motivation for writing this entry is not to offend or sway, but simply to express our perspective on how this bill will affect small- and medium-sized family farms.

On March 12th, 53 tractors drove around the Capitol, while over 100,000 protesters shouted, "Thank you, thank you!"  Farmers decided to join in solidarity with other public workers and supporters, in part, because of the following effects this bill willh ave on them:
  • Collective bargaining rights are essential for farmers' co-ops. Farmers involved are worried that they will be next on the chopping block. The Vice President of Family Farm Defenders and a dairy farmer himself, Greeno, said, "“Collective bargaining rights are the principles that all of our co-ops operate on. And if they start eroding collective bargaining rights for workers, farmers in co-ops are just next on the chopping block, so if we don’t stand together and defend our rights, we all going to take cuts in turn.”
  • Farmers who operate Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are  concerned that their programs will be cut due to other public workers' salaries being cut. They've noted that many of their members are teachers and other public workers.
  • Badger Care and Medicaid programs funding will be put in the hands of the current government administration. Their intentions are to cut the program. Many farmers have Badger Care; it's a taxpayer-subsidized program, and most farmers can't afford other programs. This bill will effectively cut the only insurance many farmers can afford, thereby making it even more difficult for small farms to sustain themselves.
  • Sustainable agriculture programs such as Buy Local Buy Wisconsin will be slashed and gutted.
  • Wisconsin's farmland preservation program will be cut. At the time the program was created, over 30,000 acres of farmland were lost per year. The cuts will undermine the efforts to preserve farmland from development which would make agriculture impossible and the efforts to build agricultural business on those lands.
All in all, many farmers feel Walker's bill is harmful! And they came out to show their support! Here are some of our favorite pictures from the Tractorcade.

Here's said trailer of drums.

It was an inspirational day. One can only hope that this bill will not impede on all of the efforts over the past years to make small-scale farming sustainable and local eating for all possible.