We were scheduled to meet up with a gaggle of friends in Newport, many of whom were from out of town. Back when I was first reading up on chickens, I read about a freaky flesh-eating disease that killed a chicken. I'm panicking, because I think Spicy is going to die of the same thing. I offer to skip Newport and take Spicy to the vet. My reasoning is something sophisticated, like "We can't just let her die."
But neither of us know what is wrong with her, or if it's serious. Spicy has a bare butt and the coop was filled with her feathers. The feathers had fallen out through the night, by the handful. She's a smaller bird, so missing all of those feathers, she looks cold and pathetic. To make matters worse, we've already had our first snow and it's been wet and chilly.
Maybe she's stressed or has separation anxiety? For the last two days Coach had been in the garage in her cage for two days, while we broke her of her broodiness. Since chickens are very social, maybe the separation is making Spicy anxious? And yet, when I pick her up, we find spikes sticking out of her skin where she lost the feathers...as if she sat on a small porcupine.
Horrified, I grab my books and Chris googles "chicken feather problems," "chicken skin problems," and "chicken skin spikes". I suggest he check "molting." I had read about molting--chickens losing their feathers and getting a new "coat"--but didn't know how it looked. I finally read in my master chicken book a passage that says after molting, new feathers grow in through "tubular shafts." Amazing.
So she's molting. And when she started losing feathers on her wings, the "tubular shafts" turned out to be blue. We went to Newport.
While the birds have cut back dramatically on their egg production, for the winter, it was only a few weeks ago that 3 dozen eggs overwhelmed the fridge. Egg recipes are very much on my radar. This new quiche became an instant favorite over the last two months. I've found three occasions to make variations on it: one with less quinoa, and another with arugula. You can change the cheeses, or throw in different greens, but this weekend I'm going back to the kale-original. The recipe came from Hilarybee and is perfect just as it is.
Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a 9″ pie dish (either butter the dish thoroughly or spray with baking spray). Rinse the quinoa. Combine the quinoa and water in a pan. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer. This will take about twenty minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, start to caramelize the onions. Heat the olive oil in a large saute on medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions. Slowly cook until the onions are soft and browned.
Remove the onions from the pan, and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the kale into the hot onion pan. On medium heat, cook until the kale is wilted and bright green, about two minutes.
Allow the greens to cool. Squeeze out any extra liquid using a sieve or a clean dish towel.
Add the kale, quinoa, garlic, cream cheese and cheddar to the mixing bowl. Stir the ingredients so that they are evenly distributed.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs so that they are well combined. Pour over the quinoa/kale mixture. Stir until the egg clings to the greens. Add salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture in the prepared pie dish. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the pie has started to pull away from the edge of the baking dish. This dish is delightful hot, but even better at room temperature.
I borrowed the camera from work tonight to test it out (see above). I'm in the market for a new camera and have only had my camera phone, for…way too long (see photos below).
This is my first year trying to grow beans. I ordered Yellow Beans from Johnny's Seed catalog way back when. These are of the bush bean variety (as opposed to climbers) and only grow 2 feet tall or so. The beans are yellow and long, and we'll see what they're like. Who knows. I planted a crap load of them, in little patches--one on the left side of the garden and one on the far right, in front of the sunflowers.
I seeded them directly into the ground on 5/28 and only 4 days later they busted through the ground. I love these fast-to-germinate seeds. There's something encouraging about seeing results so quickly. Plus, these beans can be planted in batches every few weeks throughout the summer, to get a steady crop. I should probably start another batch in any empty areas.
These are Pink Chinese Dianthus (pics). I bought one small grassy plant plant last year at the Southside Community Land Trust plant sale. It grew quite a bit and i read that you can split them, so I did. And then the summer ended, the plants, which was only grass-like leaves, turned brown & purplish. I assumed they had died. Then the snow came.
When it melted, the plants were still there. We moved this box with us to the new house, have kept it watered, and I dug one out and planted it in the ground in the new garden.
Then come the flowers…
...and more flowers…and more flowers. I love this plant. Since it's a perennial, we've got it forever (or until I kill it). I'll keep splitting the plants, and maybe slowly line the borders of the yard with them.
5/20/11 - Doesn't it look like she's playing dead? Here, Spicy is laying on her side, of all things. The first time I saw her do this was in the run and it seemed to be part of her dust bath. I had read about chickens flopping around in the dirt, taking dust baths, to clean off their feathers in places where they can't reach.
For a brief time when I was a kid, I had two chinchillas. They took dust baths in a silver/gray powder. They too flopped around like little tazmanian devils. So the first time Spicy laid down on her side, I rightly guessed this was a version of or part of the dust bath. In the rocks she doesn't flip around like she does when taking dust baths in the run, but I have to imagine she was sunning herself. Too cute. Within seconds she had popped back up on her feet and flitted off.
90% of the garden is finished, meaning all purchased seedlings are planted. Only bush beans need to be seeded. Above, in my first in-ground garden, I've got the following:
5 Yellow squash plants (from seed)
10 Sun flowers (from seed)
3 white pumpkins (from seed)
1 cilantro seedling & 2 small sungella tomato seedlings that I don't expect to make it (from seed)
2 cornflower seedlings (from seed)
3 zinnia flowers (from seed)
9 corn plants (from seed)
a flowering grassy plant, overwintered from last year
1 Best boy hybrid tomato plant (starter purchased at last weekend's plant sale)
1 mortgage lifter tomato (plant sale)
1 sungold sweet tomato (plant sale)
1 mammoth sunflower (plant sale)
1 verde pueblos tomatillos (plant sale)
1 Matchbox hot pepper plant (plant sale)
1 Early jalapeno hot pepper seedling (plant sale)
5 genovese basil plants (plant sale)
1 Tall Climbing nasturtium (plant sale)
9 white onions (plant sale)
1 oregano (plant sale)
Corn seedlings, 5/21/11.
Outside of the garden, the love goes on and on. In the raised "drawer" garden (above): 4 kinds of lettuce, arugula, kale, spinach, and carrots.
Thyme (from Elizabeth's community garden, gifted and planted in a hanging planter)
...as well as 2 sweet peas (from seed) and 6 climbing morning glories (from seed) in a hanging planter & a row box, an unknown squash plant in a blue bin (volunteer), and 3 more white pumpkin seedlings in a round planter on the deck.
It wasn't a major disaster. We had torrential rain on and off for an afternoon last week, and the weight of the water on the tarp tore through the chicken wire ceiling of the run. We've had lots of leaking into the coop itself, as well. With a week of rain, the pine shavings that cover the floor of the coop were continually soaked in one corner of the coop.
The leaks in the coop probably need a different solution, but for the immediate, we've changed the tarp and re-rigged how the two tarps overlap. Chris cleaned house in the coop. This gave us the opportunity to lay down mite prevention dust to lay under the wood shavings. Our chickens' previous owners passed it along to us, and I imagine it's like getting a flea & tick collar for an ourdoor cat. I climbed in and e-stapled the wire to the side of the coop to close the hole, and we'll add reinforcements there soon.