Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Guinea Story Acording to Mack



O.K. so you probably heard about our Guinea hens from my parent’s blogs. Well, I’m going to tell you about them too. 

We first got them by mail. I know the mail! So we got 22 of them, and we put them in a big plastic box with some water and crushed up feed. As they grew up, we started preparing one of the rooms of the barn for them. Once we got the wiring done, and were able to put a heat lamp in there, we went out into the forest and got some branches and turned them into roosts for them.

After a few weeks we noticed that one of the Guinea hens had one foot growing the wrong way, so I brought it inside to my dad and he got some tape and wrapped it around the foot that was straight, then connected it to the foot that was bent, so that it was pointing straight. But what should have happened, didn’t  happen, because one night it got tangled into some string and went into a panic attack and died. Now we were down to only 21 Guineas.  

A month or two later, we decided to let them roam free in the back fenced area—a bad idea! As it started to get dimer out side, I suggested to my dad that we should bring them back inside the barn. But he said that they would be fine, that that was how they really lived. This was a mistake I will never forget, because that night an owl flew down and got them.

Over night we went from having 21 Guineas to only having 10 Guineas! And on top of all that, the next morning, the neighbors’ dogs, Hank and Stella, crept under the fence, and snacked on two Guineas! Then the next day, one mysteriously disappeared, so now we had seven.

One morning, a few weeks later, I let them out of the barn and when my dad came home, he told me that he couldn’t hear them. So I went to go look for them but they were nowhere to be found. After a few days of despair that we had no more Guineas, we received a call from our neighbor saying that one of her friends who lives across the forest from us, had seen seven Guineas who wandered into her yard. But here’s the thing: these people live 3 miles away! That’s a LONG ways away; especially when there’s nothing but forest! So my dad and I went over there, and what do you know? Its our Guinea hens! The first thing we did when we got, home was clip their wings. 
Areal picture of our house and where the hens were.

When spring came, while I was putting the animals inside the barn, I noticed only 6 Guineas, so I went looking for it. I found it sitting on a nest! I quickly ran inside and told my parents the good news. So my dad put a reminder on his phone to alert him when the eggs were supposed to hatch. When the day came, I went to the nest and 8 chicks were born. However 2 of them died right away, so we only had six.

My dad said it was up to me to decide what I wanted to do with them, and my decision was to take 3 for my own and leave three for the mom to take care of. Another BAD IDEA! Apparently Guinea hen mothers are horrible mothers, after the eggs hatch. Unfortunately, that night it rained really hard, and there were big puddles all over the back. So when I woke up I went to go look for the mother and her chicks, but I only found the mother. By the time I found the babies, they were already in a big puddle, for who knows how long, and they were barley moving. I quickly picked up all three of them, and brought them inside.




I put them all under the heat lamp along with the other Guineas, but sadly we could only revive 2 of them. When I looked outside, I saw the mother standing on a stump looking around with a confused look on her face. It was as if she was thinking,“Hmm… am I supposed to be doing something some thing right now? I think I lost something, but I can’t remember what?” 
I bet that if she could, she would have scratched her head too.

Well that’s my Guinea story. I will soon be writing another entry, about the Guinea chicks when they grow up! ;)

~Mack~

Thursday, June 6, 2013

PURPLE POTATOES?....!#&*%$@#*&


YEP! PURPLE POTATOES ARE AWESOME! 

Why you ask? Well, Im partial to highly colored vegetables. I always figured they must have some benefit over the blah colored vegetables...and they usually do!

Fresh purple potato from our garden
Our garden (one of them)


 Seven facts about purple potatoes:

1) They are from South America.

2) They have a creamy (especially when young) slightly more nutty taste than other potatoes. 



3) A half cup of purple potatoes contains 70 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of protein and no fat. That's slightly more protein and more calories than the equivalent amount of Russet potatoes.

4) Purple potatoes contain 4 times as much antioxidants as Russet potatoes!

5) The chemical that makes purple potatoes purple is called Anthocyanin. Anthocyanin has been shown in studies to inhibit chemically induced cancer of a rat esophagus by 30-60% and of the colon by up to 80%...thats cool!

6) All potatoes are high in potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure. But purple potatoes have extra antioxidants that make them even more effective than other potato varieties.

7) You can make stamps out of them!
Purple potato stamp

So if it calls for potatoes, why not go purple?


Purple potatoes mixed with Yukon Gold potatoes-from our garden


 Be sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming Purple SWEET Potato Post...#%*&@$#!&




Follow our Blog for a Chance to Win a Head of Garlic! Yum!

So Kevin sets down a big hairy bulbous head of garlic right on my kitchen counter top, and smiles. "Dinner," he grunts like a cave man.  I look at the huge thing like it's possessed. What am I to make with a head of garlic that is the size of my opened hand with a long tuft of greenery that is big enough to feed a family of ten!

Elephant Garlic looks imposing, but here's a clear case of the bark being worse than the bite. I ended up stir-frying two of its huge cloves in my trusty wok along with some freshly picked tomatoes and about a pound of green beans, also freshly picked from our garden. The elephant garlic tasted mild and buttery with a slightly crunchy texture, similar to a watercress.

At this rate though I can see that it will take us several years to eat through our bountiful harvest. I lost count of how many heads we pulled! So I'll be making lots and lots of garlic power in an attempt at shrinking down the bulbous bulk that is currently drying in our barn.

Ever since my friend Michele (Mikel) invited me to lunch at her house--where she treated me and and a group of "Raw Food" enthusiasts to Rawco Tacos--I've been coveting a new kitchen gadget. The   TSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator with 5 Stainless Steel Shelves AKA: awesome dehydrator that works ten times better than my dinky one. (Yes that's my preliminary review)

With all this garlic, I'm gonna need this big guy to make a stock pile of Garlic Powder that will last us through dooms day!

So while I figure out how to get pounds and pounds of garlic dehydrated and ground into powder, I will offer you (dear reader) a chance to taste some of our bulbous beauties.

For every five new followers to our brand new blog, I will raffle off a dehydrated and granulated head of garlic. A process that I will no doubt document on this blog.  So in essence, a head for a head! Get it? :-)

All you'd have to do is click on the Join This Site button on the sidebar of the blog and for every five people we will choose one at random and mail you out a dehydrated head of your choosing. Leave us a message and let us know what type of garlic powder you'd like.
Ajo Rojo or Elephant.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to incubate poultry using a styrofoam style incubator

This is not supposed to be an exhaustive step-by-step explanation on how to incubate poultry eggs. You'll find there's A LOT of ideas out there. This is whats worked for me using one of the best inexpensive incubators out there-
Little Giant Deluxe Egg Incubator Combo Kit

For starters-below is how to correctly incubate eggs:

One of my guinea hens sitting on almost 30 eggs!


Short of that we can incubate eggs with a Little Giant Deluxe Egg Incubator Combo Kit! Like the one below...


 If your hatching chicken eggs-

1) Plug in the incubator and make sure the temperature is steady at 100 degrees. I know most say 99.5 degrees but in this incubator you want to be at 100 degrees, 100.5 degrees if you don't have a still air fan. I use 2 thermometers and a hygrometer. You want 50% humidity for day 1-18, then 75% for the last few days. You can add water to the tray on the bottom, spray the insides of the incubator (not the eggs), or put a damp paper towel inside the incubator to adjust humidity.

2)  Place the eggs in the incubator. Hopefully you have an auto egg turner-like below-if not mark one side of the egg with an X and the other with an O-and hand turn once in the morning and once in the evening...I suggest an auto turner like the one below. Stop turning the last 3 days of the incubation period.

3) After about a week you can candle the eggs by placing them on a bright flashlight in a dark room. You should be able to see veining and/or a small dark mass inside the egg-this means its fertile.



 41 chicken eggs fit in this turner.



 The motor turns the eggs one full turn every 2 hours-too slow to see.





 Here's the turner fit into the incubator.




 I use two thermometers in case one goes on the fritz. The thermometer on the right is also a hygrometer.



A piece of advise-once you find the sweet spot temperature, mark it with a small point permanent marker. It can be hard to find if you accidentally over-adjust.

You can purchase this set up on Amazon by clicking the link below.


Monday, June 3, 2013

GARLIC and ONIONS and SHALLOTS...OH MY!

GARLIC and ONIONS and SHALLOTS...OH MY!

We planted Elephant garlic, Ajo Rojo garlic, shallots, onions, and leeks last fall-around late Septemeber early October. Last weekend we harvested them, except for the leeks-we'll leave them a little longer. It was a bountiful harvest! Below are some pictures and descriptions.



 Here are the Ajo Rojo garlics ready for harvest. Ajo Rojo (Red Garlic in Spanish) Is considered a hardneck garlic. Its a great garlic to grow in mild winters-great garlic for the south. This is a spicy, high quality garlic! What do I mean by spicy? Well, when cooking with it 1 clove is equal to about 1 normal (Note: Im not the best to describe normal but in this case Ill define it as store bought) bulb!





 And heres the Elephant garlic! These are on the other end of flavor when compared to Ajo Rojo garlics. Elephant garlics are mild and sweet, they are related to leeks and they are HUGE! Be sure to check out the single CLOVE (not to be confused with a bulb) my daughter is holding in the pic below.



 Ajo Rojo garlics freshly harvested.




 Elephant garlics freshly harvested.


 Wheelbarrow full of garlics (and some shallots)!



 Same...

 Garlics and shallots curing in the barn. I have a fan on them as well, Ill leave them here for about 2 weeks before removing the leaves and roots and storing them.



 same...


1 (one, uno) Elephant garlic clove!

Be sure to check out my wife's post on Garlic Soup using our Elephant garlic!



Mashed purple potatoes from the garden.



And they say you cant grow Dahlias in North East Texas! ha!