Sunday, October 31, 2010

USDA Webinar on poultry biosecurity

US - As part of Biosecurity for Birds' Bird Health Awareness Week on 1 to 7 November, the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is sponsoring a free webinar called, 'The Word on Healthy Birds'.

The webinar will take place on 5 November and be hosted by USDA's poultry veterinarian, Martin Smeltzer and Andy Schneider, an Atlanta radio personality known as the 'Chicken Whisperer'.

Mr Smeltzer said: "The webinar will cover valuable information on raising healthy backyard poultry. Topics will include how to keep your flock safe from predators and disease, the biggest threats to keeping your birds healthy and signs and symptoms of infectious diseases."

More than 200 people have already signed up to participate in 'The Word on Healthy Birds' webinar. If you are interested in participating, please go to Word On Birds Webinar for information on how to sign up [click here]. Space is limited.

Since 2004, APHIS has been conducting an extensive outreach and education program/campaign called 'Biosecurity for Birds', which reaches out to backyard poultry and pet-bird owners to provide tips and advice on how to recognize signs of disease and to prevent diseases from reaching their birds. APHIS' efforts are in recognition of the importance of preventing infectious poultry diseases, such as high pathogenic avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease, from being introduced into the country. To report a bird exhibiting disease-like symptoms, please call 866-536-7593.

For more information on the 'Biosecurity for Birds' campaign, click here.

Beneficial to both experienced and new bird handlers, this webinar will equip you with the latest and greatest information on how to keep your birds healthy and keep infectious diseases from being introduced into the country.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Roasted Free Range Guinea Fowl

Before you start roasting your guineas let me first mention a little guinea hen 101. Guinea fowl are an important food throughout Africa and are found in nearly every region of the world. France, Belgium and Italy are amongst the largest producers of guinea fowl. The guinea fowl is native to West Africa and is known to have been a part of the diet of the ancient Egyptians. It appears in Roman mosaics but did not become widely eaten in Europe until the Portuguese began importing the birds from Guinea in the sixteenth century. Guinea fowl then spread quickly across western and northern Europe and have been reared for the table in this country for ages. I currently do not sell any frozen ready to bake guinea hens, but I can recommend a great place that does. Good Shepherd Ranch currently sells, goose, turkeys and guineas ready to buy for an original feast. Treat your family and friends to a one of a kind Thanksgiving meal.

 Roasted Free Ranged Guinea Fowl

  •  2 Free Ranged Guinea Fowl
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 6 slices of bacon
  1.   Pre-heat the oven to 350°f.
  2. COMBINE 2 slices of bacon, garlic, sage, and the leaves of the rosemary and chop until the mixture is very fine. Add a little salt and pepper and combine with 1 T of the oil. Rub the outside of each bird with this mixture and lay in a roasting pan that will just hold them. Drape 2 bacon slices over the top of each breast and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 1 and a half hours and baste with more olive oil as needed. If the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a fork, the bird is done.
  4. Delicious served with Braised lentils.
Braised Lentils
1 small bag of lentils
2 sticks of celery finely chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
1 small bell pepper
2 carrots finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
olive oil
1 Bay Leaf
1tsp of sea salt
dash of pepper

  1. Fry the onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil
  2. Add the lentils, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and enough water to cover
  3. Simmer for 30 minute until softened
  4. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley
Guinea Fowl Trivia: The name of the common species of guinea fowl, meleagris, comes from a story in Greek mythology. Meleager, prince of Macedon, was killed by his mother after murdering his uncles. Meleager's sisters, weeping in grief, are turned into guinea-hens and their tears form the pearl-shaped markings found on the bird's feathers.

Quick Pumpkin Iced Brownies

Well its time I break out an exciting dessert for you all to try... This recipe is guaranteed to make you happy. If you have kids buy a bag of pumpkin candies to top off each brownie. This will make pumpkin haters into pumpkin lovers.


  • 1 box of your favorite Brownies Mix
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 small bag of chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 eggs

    1.    Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom only of 9-inch square pan with shortening or cooking spray.
    2.    Make brownie batter as directed on box, using 1/4 cup canned pumpkin, nuts and the 2 eggs. Spread batter in pan.
    3.    Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted 1 inch from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely. Frost and then cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.


  • 1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  1. Blend the cream cheese, pumpkin, margarine, and vanilla in a large bowl using an electric mixer set at medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy -- about 5 more minutes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Welsummers - Layers of dark brown eggs

Named after the village of Welsum, this Dutch breed has in its make-up such breeds as the Partridge Cochin, Partridge Wyandotte and Partridge Leghorn and still later the Barnevelder and the Rhode Island Red.

In 1928, stock was imported into this country from Holland, in particular for its large brown egg, which remains its special feature, some products being mottled with brown spots. Welsummers have  distinctive markings and color, and falls into the light breed category, although it has good body-size.

It enters the medium class in the country of its origin. Judges and breeders work to a Standard that values indications of productiveness, so that laying merits can be combined with beauty.  Its main characteristic is the large dark brown egg, described by many as "a rich deep terra red brown, almost glowing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blue Laced Red Wyandottes

Now this hen loves her rooster

I am really happy with my great Blue Laced Red Wyandottes. This variety of Wyandotte is relatively new and came to the United States from England a short time ago. I was able to get my stock from an outstanding breeder in Oklahoma, Mr. Bill Braden. Mr. Braden told me that he had purchased his first birds from a lady in Axe, OK who had obtained her birds from the McKinney-Govero Line.  Mr. Braden then purchased a rooster from Mr. Gregg Catt of Colorado, and crossed the females he had obtained from Axe, OK. to produce the Bill Braden Line of Blue Laced Red Wyandottes. I feel fortunate to perpetuate the Braden Blue Laced Red Wyandotte gene pool. 

This rooster is 99.9% perfect - hes molting in this pic
 It is said that the original development of these beautiful birds came from crossing Silver Laced and Golden Laced varieties of Wyandotte's. After much work the Blue Laced Red was developed from this cross. The blue gene will color the chicks either light blue or dark blue in the lacing (the area around the reddish colored feathers) in both the baby chicks and the mature birds. 

I have 3 different ranges of blue

Therefore you may have birds that vary somewhat in appearance but still display the beautiful colors of this very rare and unusual chick. Mature Blue Laced Red Wyandotte's lay brown eggs and are medium in size with the deep - round -Wyandotte appearance. There are three different Blue Laced Red Wyandotte colors, Blue, Splash and Black Blue. Below is the breeding chart to follow when breeding the different blues.

Sorry I'm molting, get back with me in the spring and I will rock your world.

 If you mate: 

Blue  X Blue = 50% Blue . 25% Black , 25% Splash

Blue  X Splash  = 50% Blue , 50% Splash 

Blue X Black = 50% Blue, 50% Black

Splash X Black = 100% Blue  

Black X Black  = 100% Black 

Splash X Splash = 100% Splash

What a BLR Wyandotte should look like......


BEAK: Horn shading to yellow at point. 
EYES: Reddish bay. 
HEAD: Plumage, rich mahogany bay, each feather having a medium blue stripe tapering to a fine point near it extremity. 
NECK: Hackle—web of feathers lustrous medium blue with a narrow lacing of rich mahogany bay, uniform in width, extending around the point, shaft mahogany bay. Front of neck—same as breast. 
BACK: Rich mahogany bay on surface. Saddle—rich mahogany bay in appearance, with a medium blue stripe through each feather, laced with rich mahogany bay, conforming to shape of center, the medium blue stripe having a long diamond-shaped center of rich mahogany bay. 
TAIL: Main Tail—Medium blue. Sickles and Coverts—Lustrous, medium blue. Smaller Coverts—Medium blue with diamond-shaped centers of rich mahogany bay laced with rich mahogany bay. 
WINGS: Fronts—Medium blue with rich mahogany bay centers. Bows—Rich mahogany bay. Coverts—web of each feather rich mahogany bay, with narrow, sharply defined lacing of lustrous, medium blue, forming a double bar of laced feathers across wings. Primaries—Medium blue with lower edges rich mahogany bay. Secondary—Medium blue lower half of lower webs, rich mahogany bay with narrow medium blue edging wider at the tip; upper webs edged with rich mahogany bay. 
BREAST: Web of each feather, rich mahogany bay, with a narrow sharply defined lacing of lustrous, medium blue .
BODY AND FLUFF: Body—web of each feather, rich mahogany bay, with a narrow sharply defined lacing of lustrous, medium blue. Fluff—medium slate. 
LEGS AND TOES: Lower Thighs—web of each feather, rich mahogany bay, with a narrow, sharply defined lacing of lustrous, medium blue conforming to edge of feather Shanks and Toes—yellow. 
UNDER COLOR OF ALL SECTIONS: Medium slate, shading to mahogany bay at base.
I am almost done molting, and when I am, I'm drop dead gorgeous.


BEAK: Horn shading to yellow at point. 
EYES: Reddish bay. HEAD: Plumage, rich mahogany bay. 
NECK: Rich mahogany bay in appearance, each feather medium blue with a narrow lacing of rich mahogany bay. Shaft, mahogany bay. Front of Neck—same as breast. 
BACK: Web of each feather, rich mahogany bay, with a narrow, sharply defined lacing of lustrous, medium blue. 
TAIL: Main Tail—Medium blue. Coverts and Lesser Coverts—rich mahogany bay, laced with medium blue. 
WINGS: Fronts, Bows and Coverts—web of each feather rich mahogany bay with a narrow, sharply defined lacing of lustrous medium blue. Primaries—Medium blue with lower edges rich mahogany bay. Secondary—Medium blue lower half of lower webs, rich mahogany bay with narrow medium blue edging wider at the tips; upper webs edged with rich mahogany bay. 
BREAST: Web of each feather, rich mahogany bay, with a narrow, sharply defined lacing of lustrous, medium blue. 
BODY AND FLUFF: Body—web of each feather, rich mahogany bay, with a narrow, sharply defined lacing of lustrous, medium blue. Fluff—medium slate. 
LEGS AND TOES: Lower Thighs—web of each feather, rich mahogany bay, with a narrow, sharply defined lacing of lustrous, medium blue to conform to edge of feather Shanks and Toes—yellow. 
Hello there

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Soothing Texas chicken and rice soup

The weather is changing fast and before we know it, its winter. With that being said cold and flu season is creeping up slowly.  When fighting a flu or just the cold weather, nothing warms you up faster than a bowl of chicken soup. This healthy version filled with vegetables, garlic and jasmine rice is guaranteed to hit the spot and soothe what ails you.

Texas Chicken and Rice Soup
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 large diced tomato, or subs. small can of diced whole tomatoes 
  • 3 fresh large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 3 corn cobs, cut into 3rds (can substitute w small can of whole corn)
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 2 whole dried Serrano chili's
  • 2 quarts chicken stock or broth
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup jasmine rice, can subs. with any rice
  • 1 whole boiled chicken, that has been cut up into small pieces
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • add more water as needed
Boil the chicken and save stock for soup. Place a soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, thyme, chili's, and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken broth and water- bring the liquid to a boil.  Add in the corn, tomatoes and chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low for a half hour than add rice and cook again until the rice is tender-about 30 minutes.  Serve hot.
*serve with hot flour tortillas and honey iced green tea

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall Garden Update - Peas in a Pod

   My fall garden is coming along just great. I have to chase a few marauding hens out every now and then. Don't get me wrong hens and gardens go together like "Peas in a Pod." Except when there are seedlings and then I have to watch them like they are hawks. The girls are lucky that I watch out for them..and the hawks too. It is hawk migration season here in Texas  and hawks have been hanging around all of a sudden in droves, its scary for the young pullets. They can get snatched off the ground in a split second, which I witnessed the other day. Fall hawk migration dates are August 15th through November 15th.

As I said they are quite persistent little gals. I have one hen in particular who is kind of a pest, because she flies over the fence every morning. She could wipe out all my fruits of labor in a few short minutes. I discovered that she targets my garden to go lay her daily golden egg in the compost bin. Well I have moved the compost bin outside next to the side of the house. She will have easier access to it now. You could say that chickens are easy to outsmart. Unless she figures out where the peas are at. And a hen eating my pea sprouts will definitely get me started.

Friday, October 8, 2010

October Pumpkin Bread and a Latte

 I was dreaming of savory hot pumpkin bread today while I was working on the chicken coops and this recipe popped into my head. I have perfected this over the years so that it is tasty and good for you at the same time. I harvested some pumpkins earlier this year and froze some of the pulp for this occasion.

My other treat is my great do it yourself pumpkin spice latte recipe. No need to go to Starbucks. Let me know how your bread turned out I would like to hear from you.

October Pumpkin Bread

3½ cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
 2 teaspoons cinnamon
 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 1 teaspoon cloves
 2 cups sugar
 1 cup of honey
 1 cup canola oil (substitute with 1 cup of applesauce to make it even healthier)
 4 *eggs (I use fresh brown eggs or duck eggs)
 2 cups canned pumpkin or fresh *pumpkin that has been boiled, and mashed
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup *raisens

Preheat oven to 180 °, Sift dry ingredients together, Mix pumpkin, water, oil and eggs together in another bowl. Pour into dry mixture and mix well. Pour into 2 greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean. Cool before removing from pans

Your Own Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 shot of expresso; or use strong brewed coffee
1 cup of milk
3 Tbsp sugar-free Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
cinnamon-sugar (optional)

Brew the espresso as usual, or brew strong coffee. Froth milk in 2 mugs. Warm frothed milk in microwave if desired. Pour 1 1/2 Tbsp of syrup into each mug. Add vanilla if desired. Pour espresso or coffee into each mug through the foam. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar if desired.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Home dried Serrano Chilis

Today I harvested all my Serrano chili's and took them in the house so that I could dry them in the oven for future use. I washed the peppers with warm water and dried them thoroughly with a dish towel. Next I removed the stems. Be sure to discard peppers if they have:
    •    Soft, mushy, or spoiled areas
    •    White, grayish, or diseased-looking spots
    •    Have a questionable or rotten odor
Also remember before you start drying peppers to take the following precautions:
If you're drying peppers indoors, keep the area well-ventilated. Warmed peppers will give off strong fumes that are irritating to the eyes. Make sure to open your windows and bring in a portable fan or two to keep the air circulating and minimize the watery eyes and burned nasal passages. Take extra precaution around young children, pets, or anyone who is sensitive to spicy foods.

Drying in the Oven

You can dry peppers in any regular kitchen oven. Simply place the peppers on a cookie sheet in a single layer and place it in the oven. Set the oven to its lowest temperature setting, which is usually labeled as "WARM", or just below 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Every hour, rotate and/or flip the peppers over for even drying. As soon as they're fully dry, remove from the oven and place in an air-tight container. Larger, thicker-skinned peppers will take longer to dry than smaller or thin-skinned chili's. Once chili's are totally dry and cooled off they may be placed in a plastic storage container or a zip lock baggie. I like them ground up and saved for chili spices. There are some excellent Serrano Chili recipes at this blog.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Build Your Own Clothesline

What's a great way to reduce your energy usage, and at the same time enjoy some fresh air? Don't let me forget to mention that you will save over $150 annually on your electric bill? Why its building your own clothes line. Really, there is really nothing better than clothes that have been dried naturally in the outdoors… the sweet smell of the breeze and the sun. It’s amazing how the sun naturally bleaches stains out. Building an outdoor clothes line is inexpensive and will only take you a couple of hours…For approximately $30 at your local Lowes or Home Depot… you can get everything you need to build your own outdoor clothes line.

Material List:

(2) treated 4 X 4 Posts – 8ft
(1) treated 2 x 4 – 8ft
(10) Wood screws

(8) #6 Eye Bolts

Clothes line (nylon or plastic), 100ft
(2) 80 lb. Bags of Quikrete
Paint (this is optional)


Drill / Cordless Scewdriver

Saw (hand or circular)

Measuring tape


Shovel or post hole digger

1. Dig 2, 24in deep holes about 10 – 12 feet apart.

2. Cut 4 x 4’s down to 7 feet (less if you want your clothes line lower).

3. Cut 2 x 4 in half.

4. Attach 2 x 4 across the top of the 4 x 4 posts with wood screws.
5. Pre-drill holes for eye bolts across 2 x 4 and screw in 4 bolts per side.

6. Mix quikcrete following directions on the bag.

7. Using a level place posts in ground and make plumb, and then fill the hole with  the quikrete.

8. Tamp down around base of posts.
9. Hang line across and tie with 2 – 3 half-hitch knots per. Make lines about 95% taught.
10. You can choose to paint if you like.

That’s it. For $30 and a couple of hours in the back yard you can build your outdoor clothes line dryer, reduce your household energy consumption, save over $150 annually and get fresh smelling clothes.

Tips & Tricks

Don’t like the stiff feeling of your clothes after being line dried? Try doubling up your towels when you hang them out. Washcloths can be dried in sets of three. Slower drying fabric equals softer fabric.

Green Ideas

Going green can be easy after all! Browse through this list of simple solutions designed to save energy and reduce carbon emissions for the planet, and at the same time save you money.  I have listed these suggestions that I use from day to day.
* Hang laundry out to dry on a clothesline - they are fairly easy to make
* Do not accept plastic bags - instead buy your own grocery bag and bring it with you to the store
* Compost food waste for your garden
* Choose recycled purchases when possible
* Recycle paper, cardboard, metal, plastic
* Convert to all CFLs 
* Turn off lights when not in use
* Turn off water while rinsing/brushing 
* Use high-efficiency washing machine
* Dishwasher - full loads, water saver, turn off dry cycle
* Turn refrigerator temp up to 43F
* Buy many items used
* Recycle, Freecycle, consign, donate instead of trash
* Use cloth handkerchiefs
* Use cloth napkins
* Print on both sides of paper and re-use paper before recycling
* Unplug appliances
* Bring own water bottle & coffee cups
* Grow our own vegetables and fruit
* Drive gently to get better mileage
* Reduce hair dryer use
* Use low-flow toilets
* Flush less
* EnergyStar appliances
* Low-flow shower & faucet aerators
* Get books/movies at library instead of buying
* Wash your clothes in cold water
* Cook with a crock pot
* Use public transportation whenever possible
* Use a laptop instead of a desktop

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ruth's Split pea Soup

This is a great all time favorite recipe that I just made the other day. My teenager even liked it so thats saying alot.

1 pound of sausage (your choice) browned and drained
6 Cups of water
1 bag (21/2 cups) dry split peas
2 medium potatoes, diced
3 large carrots, shredded
1 onion chopped
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp. pepper

Wash dried peas, and soak the night before. The next day combine all ingredients in your crock pot and cook on low setting for 4 to 6 hours or until done. Serve with hot french bread.