Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Avoiding Boredom with Backyard Chickens...
Alfalfa Feeder (AKA Suit Holder)
Today the rain just would not stop! It was pouring down rain -  thundering, lightening, and the yard was filled with puddles. I hated leaving the girls cooped up, but I do during inclement weather.

I take a few treats out to them through out the day to keep them busy like cabbage, some watermelon, cherries, apple slices, strawberries, some veggies, some earthworms, a few meal worms or a few greens.  They get plenty to eat - I worry about boredom.  I am concerned if they get bored, they will start pecking at each other and fighting - I am trying to avoid that issue.  I have made a few "Chicken Toys" for the girls to keep them occupied - they actually work I think!  Anyway, I change them out so they won't get used to them. (The ones I have filled with scratch grains, I change what grains I put in it for them - its ever-changing!)

Lately, I have read some people give their chickens a bale of alfalfa to pick at and it keeps them busy.  I liked the idea but I use straw over the sand to make cleaning easier.  I like the straw for the compost pile - I did not want to encourage eating poo-covered bedding. I decided I would just buy a small hay feeder and hang it inside the pen - problem solved.  It would also give them something to peck at without having to get it off the water-soaked ground.

Since the girls were penned up today, I went to the feed store today to get the alfalfa and holder. I bought a bale of alfalfa but the hay feeder was just too much money I thought for a couple of pieces of wire.

After leaving the feed store, I went to Tractor Supply. There I found a large suit feeder; I think it is actually for feeding squirrels - it was less than $5.00 - I could make that work.

I got home, filled it with alfalfa and hung it inside the pen. I video taped the chickens reactions. As always, anytime something is added that is new, the girls talk about it first, then the big girl approaches, checks it out, and once she is comfortable, the others come up to check it out. 

Adding the suit feeder as a hay feeder kept them busy for quite awhile this afternoon.  I will keep it as part of their feeding regimen they liked it so well.  I will also be able to fill it with other goodies and treats.  This idea is a keeper!

Note: I ended up screwing it to the divider of the pen and attaching it with a metal bracket so it is securely hung.  The chickens managed to pull it down so I had to re-secure it!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Old Time Golden Syrup (A Good Honey Substitute!)

This recipe is pretty simple to make but it does require about 45 minutes to make, a good gram scale, an accurate candy thermometer and a heavy-bottom stainless steel pan.  Note: You cannot make substitutions with this recipe!

For this recipe, you will need:

800 grams of white granulated sugar               290 grams of filtered water
2 or 3 organic lemons (You need 6 Tablespoons of squeezed lemon juice)  Wash skins well. 
Quarter the lemons and Squeeze through a sieve to get 6 tablespoons of juice.) 
2 tablespoons of white vinegar

You'll also need 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda mixed with 2 tablespoons of water.  Set this aside until the end!

Place pan with candy thermometer on the stove and add water and sugar only to the pan. Bring water and sugar to a boil stirring constantly until dissolved.  Once dissolved, turn heat down to medium high heat and add lemon juice, quartered lemons, and the vinegar.  Stir occasionally so it doesn't burn. The mixture subtly starts turning a beautiful honey color as it reaches temperature. Keep cooking until the mixture reaches EXACTLY 226 degree Fahrenheit or 108 degree Celsius.  (The mixture will be extremely HOT, be careful!)  Once to temperature, take off heat and stir in the 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 2 tablespoons of water; make sure you incorporate it well.  Bubbles will be on the surface of the mixture but once it cools, they will dissipate.

Once cooled, place in jars and keep in refrigerator.  This syrup keeps refrigerated for about 2 months.
I'd love to hear how you use your Golden Syrup.  I will be posting here how I use mine as a substitute for honey in different recipes. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 7, 2013

How to Make Depression Era Malted Milk Powder

I wanted to add a few additional notes on how to make Malted Milk Powder and its uses.  In order to clear up any confusion on what kind of barley to use.   You need to use "whole barley"; you need to make sure the barley has not been processed and is still in its "husk" - it would be able to be sprouted and planted; I usually call it "whole barley" or "seed barley" when trying to locate it.  (It looks similar to wheat berries or wheat seed you use to sprout wheat grass.)

Here is a photograph of the barley seed soaking (in background with coffee filter on jar) and the whole seed to the right of the photograph.

Here you can see in the above photographs the seed after a "rinse" being put back into the jar and the other 2 photographs show the "barley seeds" and how they actually release bubbles while they are soaking.  They are very active and smell really good while they soak. (Remember to keep them covered with a paper towel or a coffee filter to keep bugs and dust out of them.)

I soak anywhere from 1 to 2 cups of barley seeds at a time in a quart mason jar.  You need to rinse them while soaking in the morning and then again in the evening.  I always use my reverse osmosis water which is about the same as filtered water.  (I would not use city water with the fluoride & chlorine additives.)  They need to soak for 2 days; on the 3rd day, rinse them again and place in the dehydrator at about 115 - 120 degrees or in an oven at the lowest temperature possible - be sure to stir them around and do not let them burn.  You just want to dry them out to make them into a "flour" or "powder".

Once you take them out of the dehydrator or oven, (my dehydrator dried them overnight), I place mine in my Vita Mixer to turn into "flour".  You can try using a spice grinder, flour mill, food processor or even a blender.  The barley seed is not a very hard grain.
Once you "flour" the barley seed, I put about half of the barley, or about 6 tablespoons of "flour" or "powder" into a bowl.
 I put the rest of the "powder" in a marked mason jar without adding anything to use later. 
To the bowl I then add about 1/4 cup of granulated sugar* (you can use organic, raw or cane sugar) to the "flour" and then I add 2 cups of powdered milk. 
(* Sugar is to taste.  You can add less or you can add more.)
I like my malted milk made with low-fat milk - I use a couple of tablespoons to a glass.  You can mix the malted milk powder into water if you prefer, add it to ice cream with a little milk for a malted shake, add it to a smoothie or even add it into your yogurt - it is very versatile! 
Homemade Pancakes made from your homemade mix (recipe follows)

1 c. pancake mix (see below)
1 large egg
1 c. milk
1 tablespoon of butter
* Optional - 1 tsp Cinnamon

1. In a large pan, melt the butter so that it covers the bottom of the entire pan.
2. Once the pan is heated, put about a 1/3 c. of the batter into the pan and let it cook until you see bubbles on the surface.
Once you see bubbles, the pancake is ready to flip over; allow the pancake to cook on the other side until it is golden brown. Serve hot with maple syrup!

HOMEMADE MALTED PANCAKE MIX  (Makes a nice homemade gift too!)

Mix the following in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly mixed together:

4 cups flour
1/2 cup Malted Barley Powder Drink Mix  (Homemade or Carnation Malted Milk)
3 Tbsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1 Tsp Salt

Store the Malted Pancake Mix in an airtight container.

I hope you enjoyed this & it helps to clear up any confusion!  Please comment, subscribe & visit often!  :-)