I love this!

Well – I gotta say – I think we’re doing our part!

Isn’t it crazy how completely revolutionary backyard poultry seem less than 100 years later? I mean – honestly – it’s against the law in neighborhoods just a stone’s throw from my house. And don’t even get me started on home owners associations! Ugh!

Well, it’s been a while since I gave an update on the baby girls, so I thought I’d do just that!

But first – most of you are well aware of the fact that we live in Oregon.

Yes, we have a bit of a reputation as being a bit of a rainy state. (Honestly – do you know that a significant part of the state has desert?!) And it’s true – there have been t-shirts produced in the past that read, “Oregonians don’t tan – they rust!” But really – most of the time – particularly in late Spring and Summer, and oftentimes well into Fall – it’s just incredibly beautiful. Green, lush, amazing.

This year – we’re living up to our notariety the home of the rained upon.

This is what the skies look like more often than not:

According to the weatherman, this will be the 4th wettest May on record.

NOT something to celebrate, I’m feeling.

Okay – that’s my whine about the weather. Just wanted you to know that the sunshine filled pictures of the girls ARE NOT going to be coming next… mostly cloudy, recently been rained upon pictures ARE, in fact, next!

Meet Lacey:

This is one of Jezebel’s babies that hatched in February. She’s the first hatchling that we’ve had reach this age. She’s now almost 15 weeks old. She’ll likely start laying in 3 to 5 more weeks. Hard to believe she’s that grown up! Isn’t she pretty? I love her coloring.

Remember my little leghorns that I brought home in March?

They’re getting so grown up! These girls are now just shy of 12 weeks old! Just about six more weeks and then they’ll start laying! They really are lovely – and are very sweet natured.

You may recall the 16 chicks that came home in April. Sadly – we believe a coyote may have gotten the majority of these girls. We’re left with only 4 of the original 16. My heart just aches over the loss of those beautiful little babies!

The four now 7 week olds we are left with are thick as thieves.

The three black chicks are supposed to be Black Sex Links. They look so dissimilar, I’ve got to wonder. The fact that they came from a farm store that we’ve had pretty significant misidentification of breeds in the past, doubles wonder factor! Of course, we have no experience with this breed, so who knows! The fourth chick is the lone surviving Sicilian Buttercup. She is SO beautiful!

Isn’t her coloring amazing? I can hardly wait until these girls grow up!

And, of course, we have the chicks that hatched this past week. Buffy is proving to be a wonderful mother, and her four chicks are thriving!

Buffy – by far – is the most mellow broody mama that I’ve had to date. She lets me pet her, feed her little treats from my hand (without any fear of losing a finger on my part!), and will let me lift her up enough to get a quick status report on the chicks.

…and…. I have yet another broody hen.

She’s a Cuckoo Maran – and she is bound and determined to hatch out chicks with the wooden eggs she’s setting. She somehow manages to gather a few eggs that the other girls have laid each day and gets them to her favorite nest box to warm.

I’m about ready to head out to the feed store and buy a few day old chicks to put under her! We know several folks who have had great success doing just such a thing. The only thing that keeps me from doing just that is the fact that I don’t know where I’d put her and said chicks! Broody Mama quarters are currently occupied with Buffy and babies! Dunno… I’m mulling it over!

And while I know Uncle Sam doesn’t necessarily encourage us all to have a couple of cats in the backyard – I couldn’t imagine our yard without Jake and Caleb! They keep the place rodent free, and – I’m fairly sure – consider the girls strange step-siblings of some sort!

Here’s Caleb – wondering why the heck I’ve got a camera in his face! J

I tried to get a close-up of Pepper to balance things out – but she thought I wanted her to play fetch with the camera – so that didn’t work. Instead, in closing – here’s a further-away shot of Pepper – who is doing what she does best – guard her flock!

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In the olden days…

…and it’s another Fight Back Friday!

I can admit it. I was one of those girls who read “Little House in the Big Woods” and all that followed. I was fascinated by the “olden days” as I was known to call them.

I was pretty amazed by the fact that my Grammy was born in 1912! That was a LONG time ago. Keeping in mind I was like 10 – and that would make it the early 1970’s!

What was even more mind blowing was the fact that my great-grandma – referred to as GG on notes in my Mom’s things – (my Grandpa’s mother) was born in 1889. Dang – that was really a long time ago!

Even at a pretty young age I was trying to fathom the thought of doing things “the old fashioned way” or sometimes known as “the more comlicated” or “harder” way of doing things – just because the results were – well – amazing!

There was never a formal education of Dina about my great-grandmother – it was snippets of conversation over prep for a family dinner, for the most part, when I learned things like, “And she would always put up all of her own pickles, sauerkraut, jams and jellies – every year!” or “And she insisted on the freshest ingredients… she was known to go out to the hen house and collect eggs to make sure they were fresh enough!”

I learned that she loved people.

That she truly enjoyed cooking – even though she cooked for a living.

And that she took great delight in blessing people with a meal that was more than just memorable.

My Grammy and my Mom probably didn’t realize they were encouraging me to be a Food Renegade – but they were.

Going to baking school, and then internships at the old Rose’s in NW Portland and Beaverton Bakery kinda sealed the deal. I loved the statement on the wall of the Rose’s bakery on NW 20th that offered no apology for using the highest quality real butter, cream, chocolate, and old fashioned methods to produce their products.

Learning that a little more complicated sometimes wrought results that were enough to rock your world kinda got me hooked on opting out of the prepared, pre-packaged, eat it in the car culture that my generation was embracing.

 

[Lora Opal Gatton White and Carl Leslie White – my great-grandparents, with their grandchildren.]

To that end, I’ve taken much delight in finding GG’s old recipes. I am fortunate enough to be the recipient of them. More than a little heartbreaking, the fact that my Mom and Grammy aren’t here to impart their memories about them, or hints and insights regarding them. Sadly – they are scattered – through bins and boxes and folders that Mom had put away – probably with a grand plan in mind to get them organized (and likely into a scrapbook! – if you knew Mom, you’re laughing out loud right now!) one day.

In the past few weeks we’ve been trying to get more organized – to try and consolidate some of the treasures, and deal with stuff that was to have been my “project” for the summer last year. Yeah, then I got sick…. and all of those plans pretty much went far, far away!

Imagine my thrill and delight when I came across this:

It’s GG’s recipe box! How cool is that?!

Honestly – too cool for words.

I wish I could say to you, “And since then I’ve gone through and chronicled what I’m going to make first, second, third…” but I can’t. I had to go back to work this week, and well, most of my energy has been directed toward just surviving.

BUT – I have plans, people!

Big plans!

I’m gonna go through GG’s recipes (I found a couple of folders, too!) and find some gems to share with you.

I promise!

In the meantime – I’m gonna share one little find, just to give you something to play with.

I will tell you that GG and Grammy both loved candy. And I remember more than once Grammy confiding in me that GG made the most amazing candy.

I love that.

I mean – hello?! – have you read the ingredients on any of the candy that’s passed your lips in recent months? SCARY!

So – without further ado – and admittedly – without having tested it myself, only with the memory of Grammy raving over this particular recipe – is GG’s Caramel Candy.

Caramel Candy

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lump of butter (the size of a good sized egg)

Optional: nut meats

Put 2 cups sugar in boiler, add 1 cup of milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and butter and let cook.

At the same time, put 1 cup of sugar in a skillet and let brown. When brown, pour into boiling mixture. Let cook until it forms a soft ball in water.

Beat well.

Add nut meats, if preferred.

That’s it!

Simple.

Basic.

And yummy.

Isn’t being a Food Renegade a wonderful thing?! J

Just Because I Can…

…I’m gonna share some more baby pictures!

If you look carefully – you can see all four chicks here.

How cute is that? A day old and grooming already!

Just about bedtime.

How’s that for a sunset?

By the way, there are four chicks hatched now. Three are Easter Eggers, the fourth is a Dominique. A fifth chick has been working on hatching this afternoon and evening. I’m still hoping for the balance to hatch, too!

You Need One of These

…and it’s Fight Back Friday!!!

Do you have kids?

Do they eat food?

Snack food?

Do they seemingly subsist on things that you sometimes wonder ARE food?

Yeah – I have three teenagers in my house.

Know what they love?

Popcorn.

Lots and lots of popcorn.

Seems simple enough, right?

Buy the popcorn.

They will eat it.

Guaranteed.

Typically in fairly short order, as well.

But there’s a moral dilemma involved.

Do you buy the stuff at Costco?

Yeah – that one. Those 32 bags will be gone in one week at my house.

Seriously.

But then you read the ingredient list:

And aside from the fact that I don’t know what the heck TBHQ really and truly is, and that the corn and corn products used are probably GMO – it looks like it should be healthy, right?

Ummm… I just can’t go there. I refuse to believe it.

So, for a while we tried this:

Loved it!

But, sadly, it didn’t stand up to the constant abused heaped upon it in our household. And honestly, kinda spendy to replace. So we didn’t.

So, for a while we tried something sorta like this:

Honestly – it’s a pain in the butt. It sits on the shelf. No one seems confident about using it. And it has pieces – that if lost – render it unusable. Frustrating.

So… one day, while perusing the pages of my very favorite cooking catalog, William and I came across this: (I have mentioned my love of Sur La Table here before, haven’t I?! J)

Interesting… very, very interesting.

It’s a microwave popcorn popper.

It’s supposed to be easy to use.

And durable.

And easy enough for a teenager on the brink of starvation to use.

I was intigued.

Guess where I went!

And this is what came home with me:

The box says things like…

Pops corn in microwave with no oil.

Made from Laboratory Glass

Butter Melting Lid

…and my favorite…

Dishwasher Safe!

The sales girl said, “…and it really works.” She went on a similar litany of items that hadn’t so much. She also mentioned that they sell out of them regularly, and this was the last one they had in the store. She said it was oftentimes easier to get it from the online store. She said people love them!

I was pleased to hear this.

When I unpacked it at home, I pulled the instructions out of the box and a few things concerned me.

“Simply fill the bottom of the popper with one layer of kernels – about 1.5 ozs.”

That means NOTHING to a teenager.

So John and I experimented. As it turns out, just shy of 1/4th of a cup is about 1.5 ounces – but it doesn’t make very much. Also turns out that 1/2 of a cup is WAY too much, and said popped corn will be somewhat scorched. (Isn’t it good to have chickens who don’t care and will greedily consume ANY popcorn offerings?!)

One-third a cup is just the perfect quantity of kernels for this popper.

Step one of teenager translation completed.

Next, it says, “Place in microwave on high for approximately 2 minutes and 45 seconds, no oil necessary. Cooking times may vary.”

Oh dear – my kids are used to the “Popcorn Button” on the microwave. Approximate means nothing to them.

So more experimentation ensued…

Using the Butter Melting Lid loaded with butter – it takes about 3 minutes 10 seconds to achieve the correct outcome.

Using no butter – 2 minutes 45 seconds is just right.

These are things that teenagers can and will understand and implement into day to day life.

I was satisfied.

Taste testings confirmed that popcorn made with this device does, in fact, taste MUCH better than prior methods of popping corn, for some unknown reason.

Two of my children will be fine using this appliance and popping corn with reckless abandon. The third will ask me or one of the other kids to do it. But then, it took said kid an alarming length of time to decide to learn how to do the yucky Costco popcorn – yes, the push the “Popcorn Button” kind. That’s okay – not a bad thing to learn new things!

So – after about ten batches of popcorn – I’ve decided we may have waited too long to purchase this thing. I like it. Enough to actually eat the stuff myself – which happens fairly rarely!

Buffy, the Peeved

When we choose breeds of chicks last year we referred to an oft used resource – Henderson’s Chicken Chart. Things that I looked at were how cold tolerant they were, how hardy they were, whether or not they were good forager, whether they were a consistent layer, and what size egg they were known to lay. I also like to choose breeds that aren’t quite as common – if we can help keep a breed from extinction – then happy day! I also pay attention to that column that tells what a breed’s likeliness to go broody is. Cause, while it’s nice to have a mama hen now and then, it really does do a number on egg production. A broody hen will set eggs for 21 days, and then for the next 4 to 6 weeks will be all consumed with raising said chicks. (And her pals in the flock will sometimes sympathize with her so much, they’ll slow down laying, too!) Then she’ll likely moult. Then, when she gets back around to it, will start to lay again. It’s totally the easiest way to raise chicks, but well – like I said, puts a bit of a damper on the egg production.

In the 2009 chicks we had 3 Buff Minorca’s, but by the time that group of chicks grew up, we were down to just one. We named her Buffy – anyone else remember Family Affair?

That’s her at about 10 o’clock in this picture. She’s decidedly a blonde. A sweet little bird, a little shy, but a great layer of large white eggs.

One of the things I’d learned about Minorca’s was the fact that they pretty much don’t go broody.

Leave it to us to end up with one that has!

Meet Buffy the Peeved:

She sat here for about a week – strangely enough, taking one afternoon off – but then went back to broodiness. After a few more days, we finally decided to get some fertile eggs to let her set.

So I took a little road trip south to http://www.eggs2u.com and came home with a dozen fertile eggs.

Here they are, nestled in a bed of hay, just waiting for Buffy to come warm ’em up!

There are:

4 Dominique

4 Easter Eggers

2 Rhode Island Reds

2 New Hampshire Reds

So – I went and got Buffy from the nest box, transferred her to the Broody Mama part of the coop, and expected her to sing the Hallelujah Chorus for bringing her REAL eggs!

WRONG!

She was totally PEEVED! Why, pray tell?

Cause I took her away from THESE eggs:

Yes, they are wooden.

No amount of explaining would quiet her down. So I left her to stew.

An hour or so later I found her thus:

MUCH happier, don’t you think?

So… we’re on hatching watch. We should have chicks sometime around the 25th or 26th.

I can’t wait!

It Just Always Works

…and it’s another Fight Back Friday!

One thing that I hear from a lot of people is that they don’t make pies – well, because of the crust.

I always ask why – ’cause, honestly, I think the crust is a breeze! And well, it just always works. And well!

They say things like… it looks okay – but tastes awful! or, mushy pile ‘o sticky gook! or, something as all encompassing as, “It just doesn’t ever turn out!”

I think the fact of the matter is simply that folks are starting with a recipe that does no one any favors.

I have a pie crust recipe that will do you favors – lots of favors, and garner you cheers whenever you choose to share the fruits of your labor!

This is a pie crust recipe that came from my Great Grandma (referred to as GG on the corners of old recipes that were hers!) who was a professional cook. She really knew what she was doing, that GG!

So here, without further ado is GG’s Pie Crust.

GG’s Pie Crust

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 3/4 cups Butter or Lard

1/2 cup ice water
1 egg
1 Tablespoon vinegar

  1. Keep the fat (butter or lard) cold until you’re ready to use it. Cut it up into small chunks. Return to refrigeration until you’re ready to mix into dry ingredients.
  2. In a glass, add together ice and water – set aside and allow to chill through.
  3. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix together thoroughly. You can do this with a stand mixer, a wire whisk, or the like.
  4. Cut fat into the dry ingredients – working together until the mixture resembles coarse meal, approximately small pea sized.
  5. In a glass measuring cup, combine 1/2 cup of iced water, 1 egg, and 1 Tablespoon of vinegar. Use a small wire whisk or fork to mix completely.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the other ingredients – combining until just moistened completely through. DO NOT OVERMIX!
  7. Form dough into a large rectangular round with your hands. Wrap in plastic wrap, or place in a large zipper plastic bag. Refrigerate until chilled through.

So – that’s it. You’ve just made pie crust with minimal effort and it’s going to be FABULOUS. Seriously. I kid you not.

What I do – ’cause honestly – it’s a pretty sizeable chunk of dough you’ve got there – is I roll out as many crusts as I can from the recipe, put them in pie tins, and then freeze them. You can even layer them – putting waxed paper between each crust – and then put them in plastic wrap and store them for as long as a couple of months. Then – next time you need a pie crust – pull one out of the freezer and you’re set to go!

Voila!

Happy pie crust making!

Potato Crusted Quiche

and it’s Fight Back Friday!

Well – it was Fight Back Friday – and then my computer got the hiccups – and so you’re getting Fight Back Friday on Saturday. Sorry!

I gotta tell you – I love quiche.

Well – it has to be good quiche, because bad quiche – ewww…. YUCK!

Good quiche is – well, obviously – the polar opposite of what bad quiche has not going for it… you know, that rubbery consistency, the slightly (or not!) burnt egg aroma and taste, greasiness, and is overall – not an experience you want to repeat.

The problem being – too many people have come to accept that quiche is:

1. Hard to make – a total lie!

2. Not worth the effort – fallacy!

3. Is probably nutritionally not so great for you – um, not!

4. Kinda yucky tasting – au contraire!

I’m here to show you that quiche is one of those things that is easy to do, fun to make, is nutritionally fabulous (protein galore!), and tastes utterly divine.

There’s something important that you need to know starting out, though. You need fresh eggs. Seriously fresh eggs. Like go out the back door and collect the eggs from the coop and then start cooking fresh eggs. (Julia Child agrees with me on this!) I know you may not have a backyard flock of chickens – and that’s okay. If you don’t – find someone who does and buy a dozen eggs from them! Totally worth it, people! (And you should know my bias – I feel like this should be the case for all food – fresh, local, organic – do this, and fabulous food will ensue!)

Okay – so – insider tip: all good quiche is built around two basic ingredients: fresh eggs and excellent quality heavy whipping cream.

That’s it!

Seriously!

From there on out it’s about what floats your boat.

This post is about a potato crusted quiche, but it could just as easily be about a traditional pie pastry crusted quiche, or even a crustless quiche. Quiche is incredibly versatile, easy to throw together, and willing to work with you. I’m going to throw in ingredients that I love and have on hand – but you could mix it up any way you wanted!

So let’s get down to it!

So this is a potato crusted quiche, right? All that means is you’re going to take some frozen hash brown potatoes, a couple of beaten eggs, about 1/2 a cup of shredded white cheese – whatever you have on hand is fine. Mix them all together, press them in the bottom of a pie plate or something akin to that. Go ahead and bake it for about 20 minutes at 350 F. It should look something like this:

Yeah, I know, it’s not a traditional pie plate. This was actually my Grammy’s and she cooked all sorts of stuff in this pan. It is circa 1940-something, and has been well used and loved. I particularly love it because it’s so nice and deep – so I can put lots of yummy stuff in my quiche.

Note: you could totally put the potato crust up the sides of the pan. I just wasn’t in the mood for that this time, so didn’t.

Go ahead and take it out of the oven and set it aside. You don’t want it piping hot when you have the filling ready.

Moving on to the filling. I start with bacon – a wonderful place to start, don’t you think?

I took 8 slices and just cut them up into little strips. It’s so easy to do it this way. Once it’s cut up, throw it in the frying pan and cook until they’re nice and brown – but not so brown that they’re super dry.

Perfect!

Then I remove the bacon to a paper towel lined bowl, leaving the drippings behind in the pan. You’re gonna need those drippings!

Now comes the love…

Is there anything more fabulous than a sautéed Vidalia onion?

I think not!

Again – I remove the contents, not the bacon drippings.

Next, the mushrooms. I always debate whether or not to add mushrooms to my quiche. Some of the time I do, some of the time I don’t. The reason I hesitate? Well – it’s the texture. But since this quiche has bacon in it – say, opposed to some diced black forest ham – it’s already a little bulky, so the mushrooms are no biggie. If this were the black forest ham rendition, I’d probably throw some spinach in there with the sautéed onions and call it perfection.

Back to the mushrooms. Yes, there are bacon drippings in there, but not a whole lot left, so I added a couple of tablespoons of butter to aid in the whole sautéing effort.

You don’t want to cook these down to shoe leather or anything. Just enough to soften them up and give them the opportunity to suck in some of that buttery/baconey goodness.

Voila!

Here are our toppings:

Now it’s time for cheese.

Here’s the thing – you can use any old cheese you want. I’ve used cream cheese, various Spanish cheeses, goat cheese, cheddar, co-jack, muenster, jarlsburg – you name it, I’ve probably thrown it in a quiche. They’re all fabulous. Just choose cheese that complements your other ingredients.

For this quiche I used some Monterey Jack and some Swiss cheese.

I would normally have a block of Swiss on hand that I would grate, but I found an insanely cheap package of sliced Swiss at the grocery store the other day and brought it home. Sliced is fine!

Now is when you start layering.

First – sprinkle a little bit of the Monterey Jack on top of the potato crust, then top it with the Swiss.

Now add the bacon:

Next the onions:

And then the mushrooms:

Now more cheese – Swiss first this time:

And then the Monterey Jack:

Easy so far, right?

It just stays that way… Now for the rest.

You’re going to need six fresh eggs.

These were laid yesterday and today. See that dark speckled egg on the right in the front? BB laid that one – her eggs are SO fabulous!

Crack those eggs into a container that you can mix the eggs in easily. I have a stick blender that I love that came with a fabulous container that is perfect for this application!

This container has markings up to 24 ounces. The eggs take up about 8 ounces, then I fill the balance up to the 24 ounce mark with heavy cream.

Now blend those babies until they are as smooth as can be. It takes a good two or three minutes with the stick blender to get the consistency that I want to see.

Time to put everything together!

Now – insider tip.

Put the pan with the oven.

NO – I did not skip a step.

See? Put the pan in the oven:

NOW… pour the egg/cream mixture in the pan. Like so:

Perfecto!

Now you need to find something else to do for an hour. Yep, it takes a whole hour to bake. But that’s okay – there are dishes to wash, laundry to fold, kids to nag to clean their rooms, chickens to chase… The time will fly.

And soon – you’ll find this in your oven:

Isn’t it pretty?

The real key here is to make sure that when you jiggle the pan GENTLY that you don’t see any movement. You want it to be just set up.

I go so far as to use a toothpick to make sure it is:

Exactly as it should be – the toothpick will come out clean. (Yes, sorry – I have Blu-Kote on my thumb nail! A chicken keeper’s work is never done! And yes, it can take WEEKS to wear off!)

Now all you have to do is wait for it to cool a bit before you can dig in.

That is the hard part!

Voila! You have now made an amazing quiche – it wasn’t hard at all, was it? You’re going to make it more often, aren’t you? Nod your head up and down. You will – I know you will, as soon as you have a bite of this luscious treat!

And just so you know – I make a quiche about once every week or so. I cut it up into 8 pieces once it’s cooled some, cover it and put it in the refrigerator. Then, every morning I take it out, take a piece from the quiche, put it on a plate and microwave it for about a minute to 90 seconds – and I then have a fabulous breakfast with little or no effort!

Warning: others will find out how marvelous this is and will want some, too. Be prepared to make quiche on a regular basis!

Potato Crusted Quiche

Crust:

1.5 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup shredded white cheese (your choice)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

  1. In a bowl, mix together hash browns, beaten egg, and shredded cheese.
  2. Press hash brown mixture into a pie plate, covering as much of the surface as possible.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes. There will be some browning at the edges.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Filling:

6 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 slices bacon, diced
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
12 mushrooms, sliced
2 Tablespoons butter

  1. Cook diced bacon in medium pan until it is cooked through and fairly browned. You don’t want it super crispy. When cooked through, remove the bacon from the pan and set aside – leaving the drippings in the pan.
  2. Sauté thinly sliced onion in the bacon pan. Cook until translucent and beginning to brown. Remove onions from the pan and set aside – leaving the drippings in the pan.
  3. Sauté the mushrooms in the bacon pan. Add the butter, cooking the mushrooms just until they have tenderized. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Sprinkle half of the Monterey Jack and Swiss cheeses on top of the crust.
  5. Now layer the bacon, onions, and mushrooms on top of the cheeses.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining Swiss and Monterey Jack cheeses in the pan.
  7. In a bowl, combine the eggs and heavy cream. Beat until thoroughly incorporated and smooth.
  8. Place the pan with crust, fillings, and cheeses in the oven.
  9. Now pour the egg/cream mixture into the pan.
  10. Bake at 350 F for 50 to 60 minutes – until the center is set and a toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

85, People! 85!!

We have chickens.

Yeah – I know. You know.

We have a lot of chickens.

More than the average, most likely.

Particularly when you consider that we’re just a stone’s throw from downtown Portland.

As you may recall, we also have a bit of an egg business going on here, as well. Our son BiL was the catalyst for that, and the need to increase our chicken population – oh, about a year ago.

So, increase the size of the flock we did.

Funny thing, though, even with 32 regularly laying hens, the most we’ve ever collected in a day is 24.

Wierd.

It didn’t take long to come to a conclusion…

The Ameracaunas are horrible layers!

We have FIVE Ameracaunas. We know three of them are green egg layers, one an almost pinkish-beige color, and the last a cream with beigeish dots.

On average, we get a green egg every other day.

ONE.

Crappy layers.

It was disappointing, really, because we like them so much – they are really personable hens. But dang – that makes them the least consistent layers of the flock… or so we thought.

Remember these little girls?

The newest chicks?

Well, the other night – the first night they were allowed to go outside and explore the great big world that is our yard – several of them did NOT come home to roost at the appropriate time.

Being the paranoid Mom type girl that I am, I had a little bit of a freak out. I called out the troops – we searched high and low – and lo and behold! – we found they’d gone UNDER the coop and had holed up there. NOT okay. NOT warm enough. And well – hello – racoon food in no time at all! So we got flashlights, formed a battle plan, and eventually got them all rounded up.

It was during that rescue mission that I had occasion to get down nearly to the ground (which is no small feat given I still have an open surgical incision!), shone the flashlight under the coop – and what did I see?

EGGS.

A lot of eggs.

Like more than just a couple.

Good grief!

Well – I reported my findings to John, and so we decided that today – Saturday – would be the day to deal with the stash of eggs under the coop.

So that’s how our day started…

You must have the correct tools.

A bucket. I love that grabber – I got it when I had my hip replaced a few years ago – awesome thing to have around! And gloves – very, very important to wear gloves on this type of endeavor.

Here’s what we found:

Can you see them?

I told you there were more than just a few.

Lord have mercy!

Any guesses on how many eggs of questionable age and quality were under that there coop?

EIGHTY-FIVE, PEOPLE!

EIGHTY-STINKING-FIVE!

About 80% of them were green, by the way.

Guess where my Ameracaunas have been laying!

My first question for these hens is this: How the heck can you lay in that small a space? Good grief!

My second is: What were you thinking?!

So – that, of course, meant it was time to make sure there was NO way possible to get back under the coop. My husband IS amazing.

In no time he had just the right solution in place.

SO!

Should be interesting, shouldn’t it?

Will they start using the nest boxes to lay their eggs in? (Please, Lord!)

What will our egg count be?

Will we finally not run out of eggs and have to stop turning people away eggless?!

And – because I can – here’s a gratuitous picture of cute baby chicks playing in the coop!

I really do owe them thanks – if they hadn’t gotten stuck underneath the coop we might never have found that stash of eggs! YUCK!