Friday, November 21, 2008

Slick, the polish chicken, gets a haircut!

Slick is our silver-laced polish chicken. She started off with a cute little extra tuft of hair, that grew into quite a mop. As her 'hair' grew longer she got more and more blind and wouldn't leave the coop when I let all the chickens out and got picked on so badly that she got a pretty big bald scab on her back. (I figured out that it was mostly the work of one particularly aggressive salmon faverolle which now lives in a coop across the street.) She couldn't see to fly up, so when the other chickens would roost up on bar, she was on the ground all alone and I had to put her up there myself. I felt so bad for her that as cool as her hairdo was, it had to be adjusted.
This is Slick at 2 weeks old

At 10 weeks, her hair had already grown into this blinding afro

In case you were wondering, this is what a blind chicken has to do to see what's behind her

I went in the coop and caught her from behind (which is very easy as her field of vision is next to nothing) wrapped her in a towel and held her between my knees. After she was secure in the towel, she didn't fuss at all, surprisingly. I used our second best haircutting scissors and went to town. When she was in my lap it looked like I'd given her a mohawk, but when I put her down it was more of a "modified Hillary Clinton"
Slick, still in my lap

When I set her back in the coop, she immediately went outside to join her friends and it seems to have made a world of difference in her quality of life. Maybe I could open up a chicken grooming center. ;)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where have all the postings gone?? and making olives.

I sort of fell off the face of the blogging earth. I've been busy scheming up ways to make extra money and tying up lots of loose ends. I know that most of us are all on the conserve-every-penny boat, which sucks, but I guess the bright side is that there's lots of empathy and moral support to go around.

I've been thinking about things to do to save money. (which I always do, even in more flush times-- I consider myself "delightfully frugal", my husband would use different terms when I'm explaining to him why I didn't buy magic shell for his ice cream.) I've noticed there's been a huge resurgence of canning recently, which is wonderful, however, it seems like a lot of people are going to the store, buying things in bulk and saving $1.20, and then canning them in jars that cost $10/dozen. If it's a matter of having food set aside in case there's a food shortage, then that's one thing, but if you're doing it for financial reasons, then it doesn't really make sense unless it's your own surplus crop or you're getting a really unbelievable deal on those apples. Just a thought.

So, I played crazy neighbor lady and picked 4 pounds of olives off the vacant (in foreclosure) house across the street. Three or four of my neighbor friends came over mostly to hang out and laugh at me while I picked, one neighbor decided it might be a fun idea and filled all the pockets on his cargo pants. I watched several youtube videos about brining olives, and it seems easy enough, so I'm giving it a go. You can watch them yourself, but they all say basically the same things. Here is the info pared down for you:

1. Pick olives, preferably between rosy and dark purple in color. Don't get them off the ground, they are probably covered in various animal pees.
2. Make a brine. Add kosher salt/pickling salt to water and stir so it dissolves. Keep adding more salt until the brine is concentrated enough to make a fresh egg float.
3. Put olives in a jar and weight them down with something so they won't float in the brine. (I used cut up pieces of those plastic basket things strawberries come in.)
4. Add brine to the jar and make sure all of your olives are covered.
5. Change out your brine about once every month or two, the more often you change it out the faster your olives will become edible. Some suggest every two weeks, some say every three months, depending, your olives will be ready in 2-6 months. (Months??!! I know, but they're free! :) )

Brining olives gets rid of the bad bitterness and makes them safe to eat. Don't eat them raw, that would be bad news.

The brine has already started to take out some of the color, resulting in some splotchy olives

P.S. If you're in the Phoenix area and want to learn about keeping chickens, I'm teaching a class for the Phoenix Permaculture Guild at the downtown farmer's market from 8-9:30 AM this upcoming Saturday (11/22).