Happy Peeps

April 14, 2012

Laying down on the job

The hens are a year old and with 13 of them, we have been gathering 9-10 a day. Everything I had read said that they lay about one egg every 24 hours. Someone isn’t pulling her own weight.

It occurred to me this could be a good reality television show. Not sure what I’d call it; but it would have to do with me installing cameras in hen houses and spying on the hens to see who is laying and who isn’t.  I mean come on, if they’re not laying, what are they doing?  They’ve got to be up to no good. Are they hanging out with the those good-for-nothing roosters from the other side of the railroad tracks? Sneaking off into the woods to search for wild mushrooms and then tripping out on them?  Or are they just lazy and being a nest-box potato?

I’ve seen a reality show where a guy installs cameras in restaurants and bars to spy on the employees for the owners, who aren’t there to see what’s going on. When they realize all the pilfering and partying and sometimes abuse of customers that’s taking place, they’re able to confront them and fire them!  Not before it’s all televised nationally, of course.

It would be very easy to install cameras in the henhouse on a weekend day when they’re all out foraging in the yard. Come sundown, they would all traipse back to their roosts, and then the real fun would start. I could watch them on a remote to make sure there was nothing illicit going on, and the next day I’d be able to see who was doing all the work and who was laying down on the job.

What do you think? Going too far?  J  Working on a name for the show...

“The girls” playing a game of tag and being lively 
(of course, they knew they were being watched). 

April 1, 2012

Easter Eggs

It's getting close to Easter, the stores are jam-packed with chocolate eggs and stuffed bunnies and marshmallow "Peeps" of every color,

  and it all reminds me that it’s time to dye some eggs.

Since we have an abundance of them, I'd like to try a new (to me) technique that sounds fun and a lot better than the usual technique of coloring them in coffee cups filled with Paas dyes, which for some reason seemed to require sitting and staring at them for hours on end, stirring them constantly to get an "even" color. I have a feeling my mother told us they needed this much attention in order to keep us out from underfoot.  But back to the present:  none of the eggs in my house are old enough to “hard boil” (which is itself a misnomer but we'll save that for a cooking blog). You see, I found out that older eggs are better candidates for boiling, as their shells will come off MUCH easier when you peel them. I'm sure you've cracked a hard boiled egg once or twice in your life and found that the shell would not come off without taking gouges of egg white with it! That means the egg was a pretty fresh egg; eggs which aren’t quite as fresh won’t have this problem. So, you start out with eggs which are older. But how can you tell the age of an egg?  If you have chickens, you know how old the eggs in your refrigerator are.  If you aren’t a chicken/egg aficionado and think this is all a bunch of hooey, try this:  put them in a bowl of water. If they sink, they're fresh. If they float, they're old. That simple. You want one that is somewhere between the sinking and the floating stage - standing on end is great candidate for 'hard boiling.'  (Now, don't put salt in that water, because with enough salt, any egg will float. Try that with your kids and see if they can figure out why that is, it's a good hands-on science experiment).
So let’s get back to that tie-dye.  

You need:

Old silk ties (or scarves, or blouses, but I’ll write this as if I’m using a tie)
White cotton cloth (old t-shirt will do)
String (optional)
Pot with water

Turn the tie over and cut it up the middle. If it has a white fabric lining, remove that & save, because you can use it in place of the cotton t-shirt above. 

Wrap up your egg(s) in the center of a piece of the tie; try to get the material as flat as possible against the egg. Twist-tie it closed at the top. Here’s where the optional string comes in. If you have it, tie some string tightly around the egg to keep the material as flat as possible against the egg.  In the image below, some are tied, some aren’t, and only a few have the white cloth on them.

Then do the same with the white material. At this point you have a nice, double- wrapped egg.
Boil water in a ceramic or glass pot. Don’t use metal, as it reacts with the vinegar. Place the egg(s) in boiling water with about a tablespoon of white vinegar. Then add the eggs.  If the water was at a rolling boil, you can at this point remove the pot and keep the eggs covered for 20 minutes, or, you can boil the eggs for 20 minutes. I prefer the former, because sometimes leaving the eggs on that high of heat will overcook the yolks.
After 20 minutes drain the hot water and pour cold tap water over them until they are cool to the touch, or simply place them in an ice bath for a minute. This step is important, because it stops them from continuing to cook. Overcooked hard boiled eggs – yuck. The yolks turn a little green. Still okay to eat, but not very good looking.
Now unwrap the egg(s) and look at what you have created!  Below are some photos of eggs done in this manner that I found online. (I currently don’t have any eggs old enough to boil!)
Silk Dyed Easter Eggs