Thursday, September 21, 2017

Broccoli, Make Mine Dried.

While I'm waiting on the last batch of beets to process, I thought I'd show you what's new. I'm drying broccoli. Don't ask me what has gotten into me but I was tired of freezing it and there wasn't any freezer room left anyway. There would be if the freezers weren't such a muddled mess. BUT...,. knew that was coming didn't you, there are two big boxes of apples on the floor awaiting juicing and the last load of hay is still sitting on the trailer. The hay yard fence is down and I see the deer have discovered the goodies we've hauled in this last week so rain or no rain, this Saturday we've got fence to put back up. 

Freezers will just have to wait. That is until I'm processing rabbits and then I'm back in the mess of where oh where do I put them? I've got seven to get done as two does from that batch are due to kindle the first of Oct. If you are counting then yes, that is nine. Betty Boo is such a good mama. No pen room for the new mothers to be as they are all full and these two presently share living quarters. I know their siblings are a bit over sized but how does one keep up? Thought things would slow down but no, something new to throw a curve ball all the time. This week it is lice. The black creepy crawly kind that evade your hair or rather our eight year old  granddaughters. Our kids got lice once from the neighbor girl. It was white lice though this is black. Good thing her mama is an expert. She deals with it at work on a regular basis and says it seems the black ones don't seem to spread as bad. 

Learned a trick on the internet though I hope not to have to use it. If you soak the hair in vinegar it breaks down the glue like substance that holds the eggs to the hair shaft making them easier to comb out. It does not kill them. So far the lice seems to be all gone after one treatment of Vamoose. Need my hair checked again as I'm sleeping with Creepy Crawly Haired Cutey. Waiting on the twin bed mattresses to arrive which had an order mix up. Then my bed partner can return to her room in a separate bed from her sister who has taken up beating people up in her sleep. The full bed which once spelled comfort for our two youngest grandlittles is now the torture chamber. Such is life with growing children.

But we were talking about rabbits or was it broccoli? Maybe I'd better tell you about the rabbits another day.  I've got a batch of nine -- 21 day old babies. They are the cutest things. I promise pictures are coming. It would have been today but the camera's battery was dead. Don't you just hate that? I don't have one of those newer I- phone. It it one of the areas we have cut the budget. Our $50 dollar phones have lasted a good 7 years each and are the only phone service we have.  Service is cheap too because we have the oldies but goodies. I don't need all the gadgetry but those cameras on the newer things would be nice. Ours has a camera option but the screen is a little over an inch in size. Pretty hard to make out anything so why bother snapping a shot? It can't do what my Cannon camera can anyway. If someone sends me a phone picture I have to send it to our daughter, who sends it via e-mail back to us and I check the computer. Most of the time I just don't bother to look at phone pictures so don't send me one just use e-mail.

Oh yeah, I was suppose to be talking about broccoli. It's good stuff dried and I don't hardly notice the taste. I'm not real fond of broccoli. I just eat some because its good for me. Everyone else in the family calls it trees and loves it. So tomorrow I'll cut some side shoots, and dry them. No blanching as this stuff is not going to be around long enough to worry about lost nutrients. I've found I prefer my broccoli dried. The addition in cream sauces and soups enhances the flavor but is not pronounced like when you bite into steamed broccoli. You might just want to give it a try before Jack Frost takes away your opportunity for this fall. Let me know what you use it in.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dragon's Tongue

 They look like Easter or some women's tea party bean don't they? Pretty in pink I'd say and yes, not every one of these beauty's in the photo is a Dragon Tongue for you bean connoisseurs can see one imposter in there but hey, I'm in a rush to get things done. Looks like the weatherman has changed his mind again and we are forecast today to get not .06 inches of rain but .93 and those temperatures he was warming up must have been wishful thinking because we are back down to freezing for tomorrow night and the next with just 40's in the daytime. Plus that snow forecast they took away is back in a greater measure. He hasn't a clue. 

I was watching our youngest granddaughter all day yesterday, 'she is a cutey paooty', and then of course church activities in the evening for the kiddos who stay here. That means putting the pedal to the medal today on getting the garden stripped, in the rain if necessary.  I figured when I picked these Dragon's Tongue that I had better make shell beans of them. There is no way they will make dried bean stage and they were past the fresh eating phase.
Dragon's Tongue is our children's favorite bean for fresh eating especially just picked from the garden to munch on. When canned it looks kind washed out, blah and not as appetizing as the traditional bean of that is my opinion anyway. I've grown these beans many times but never have I been able to get them to reach the dried bean stage.



So as a last hurrah, I used up the last of my seed and our kids can grow them if they wish since they are all grown up now.

We ate some fresh and then I let the rest of the Dragon's tongue beans go develop to the shell stage. I had three other fresh beans going with two kinds on a trial basis so I wasn't in great need of fresh beans. 

The bean in the photo on the right is fresh stage and the one on the left is shell. 
 

As a shell bean when blanched, they are gorgeous in looks but how will they taste? We shall see as I chose to blanch for 3 minutes and then freeze this time instead of can because there were so few. I've never frozen shell beans. I've never done much of anything with the shell stage. In fact, I'd never even heard of shelled beans until a few years ago. There apparently is a whole different taste to them. Since the dried bean varieties I have chosen can be eaten fresh, shelled, or dried; I may just have to try each variety at all of those stages. You never know what the weather will bring. The Weather Channel said we are going to experience temperatures to 25 degrees lower than normal this week. 

Many believe the weather will become more unpredictable in the years to come. The scriptures foretell of it and it is a no brainer that the earth has weather cycles. We had far more snow in my grandmothers childhood than in mine or my children's. A mini ice age may be around the corner. It has happened before why would it not happen again? Or on the flip side, the earth may experience a global drought. Change is inevitable. I just figure we had better change with it and not get stuck thinking beans can only be eaten dry and green. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tis the Season


Snow was in the forecast but they decided it might rain instead. I'm questioning the weatherman but when don't I? Along the coastlines I hear he can do a pretty good job but here out in Wyoming his mind is as clean as the driven snow -- he changes it so often. Yup, just wait a few minutes and he'll tell you something new. Then maybe he will be right or maybe we'll get 18 inches of snow like we did the first year we moved in. That was our first snow of the year and he said a skiff if I recall.  Then there was the year we had a killing hard frost on August 23. Did not expect it to be so dramatic .. but it was.

Wyoming is famous but we're infamous. Did I use that right. Anyway, where we live in Wyoming, our weather is note worthy. If the Interstate is closed, it's most like because of us. Well, not us personally but us as in us'es weather. So the best thing is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We are not prepared for the worst since that requires more funds than are currently available. It appears we are the only ones without a propane tank in this valley and a generator that runs the whole house? Didn't know that when we bought the place. Not that there wasn't a generator but that we needed to have one. It's a bit better now but the power use to go out several times a month. Usually when the weather was nice. It is better now but I'm still leery. The neighbors tell a tale of being without power for 6 days because of a series of snowstorms. We have a lot more preparation to do because Murphy hasn't forgotten us and I'm not stupid enough to think that won't happen again someday.

 Even though it has been in the 90's F. lately, the calendar says we are approaching the 15th and that means erratic temperatures which includes cold and a killing freeze. The wishy washy weatherman says a high in the low forties during the day for Friday and Saturday with 34 F at night. 34 is awful close to 32 and you know  how accurate our weatherman is. In fact while I am writing this, he changed the forecast once more from supper time when he said we'd get .83 inches of rain one day and I think it was .60 something the day before. Now I feel cheated because he says only .06 inches of rain. No wonder we have so little faith in him. He gets our hopes up and then dashes them. He had better be wrong.  We need that rain.

 We hauled three loads of wood in from the sawmill last weekend in preparation for the cold temps we've come to expect this time of year. No, not the super cold temps but the need a fire in the stove kind to stay comfy weather.  The nice chilly weather that invigorates me.
One of these days we will haul in logs but for now this is pretty cheap stuff. This is the outer sides of logs they are making into boards.
 

Time consuming to cut but cheap is floating our boat right now. Early next week we will hopefully get two loads of hay and then we need to haul in sawdust for bedding, and fill the trash cans up with livestock feed. Not before we glean from the garden first. Don't know how we'll get er all done but.... we have to. 

Then when all is gathered in we can relax and do all the fix it jobs for winter. You know, finish the rabbitry Kirk began. Amazing how motivated he is since I  moved the rabbits to the barn. The place he does his forging of knives in. Then we have to replace some windows, seal up some sheds tighter, ......... The list doesn't end just the weather ends our progress. It just gets taken up again when the weather improves. So if this blog is a bit silent, know when I can, I'll write. 

Things have been crazy with the grandkids in school. I'm running like a yoyo between towns trying to keep up with them. Tomorrow I babysit our youngest who turns 1 the middle of October in one town but only after I get four other grandkids on the bus headed in the opposite direction. 

Know I'm thinking of you and that I haven't shown you our nine baby rabbits yet. Oh my are they cute. The eyes just started to open today and all nine of them jumped out of the nesting box. Two more does are due at the end of the month. How will I ever keep up?

Friday, September 1, 2017

Handling The New Milker



You got her on the milk stand, HURRAY! She's eating her grain, great! You reach for her teats to milk and she squats down. Her udder tucked inside the milk bucket. Surely she can't hold this position for long? She can't so she uses the bucket as a prop and there she remains eating her grain. You stare, wondering how in the world you are going to fit your hands inside and milk her. Actually you won't but then you might have figured that out by now. Been there? Me too, more times than I can count. In my experience of 32 years of milking goats, a few horses, pigs, sheep, and yes - cows, I've learned a few lessons and have some tricks up my sleeve. 

I'll share some of those with you in regards to milking goats. The other species have tricks unique to them but that won't be discussed today. The first tip is to breed your doeling at around 60 or 70 pounds. You want them to kid when after they turn 1. You might think dairy goat yearlings milking for the first time is way too young. Actually for you and for them it is better. It will require a good feed program yes. But having kids at one does not stunt their growth when fed properly. Speak to any National Dairy Show herd owner and they all breed to kid after they turn one - not two. A linear appraisal judge, I believe it was Whiteside (He was awesome and very matter of fact.) ended a debate I had with a couple friends of mine on the subject. The increase in hormones helps physically and mammary wise in their development. The guy should know, he was raised on a goat dairy and has had goats for probably his whole life. Keep in mind I am speaking of dairy goats. I can not speak for the smaller breeds or meat breeds. 

I prefer the smaller size as they are easier to handle. If need be, you can physically lift them on the milking stand. Don't think because they have been on the stand since they were a month old that they will automatically jump up. Their udder fills and all of a sudden it is, 'Oh my, can I really jump up on that stand. It looks so high?' You think I'm being dramatic - oh just wait, you haven't seen drama until you've met a yearling Nubian who's milking for the first time. Be sympathetic, they are like a hormonal teenager, their body has changed and that makes everything so much more emotional and difficult. You WILL have to be patient and yes, you may have to at least lift that now so..... heavy back end up for them. Usually you can get them to put their front feet up and then of course they will want to work there front legs over to where they can eat the grain but not resort to putting the back end up too. Simply stand where they can't reach the grain unless they jump up. It usually works best if you position yourself so they have to mount from the back end of the milking stand. Don't pressure any more than absolutely necessary. It just impedes progress.


You've physically lifted them on the stand, yes!! They are eating their favorite grain, good. Now how do you get around the newby squat. Simple - you don't use a bucket. Instead get a baby bottle or anything similar that you can grip nicely. You grab hold of the baby bottle in one hand and the teat in the other. Then squirt the milk into the bottle. Yes, that means a larger mouth on the bottle is needed. It takes longer but then you can milk almost the whole herd before you get that first time milker done so plan on it. Think ahead of something the girl can eat that isn't all grain like pelleted hay. It could take a while and you don't want to cause tummy scours from an over load of COB. Word of caution milk makes the bottle slippery and you will get some milk on the outside so frequently empty the milk into your milk bucket which is preferably not on the milk stand that she is tap dancing on. With the baby bottle you can still milk to a degree while the tap dance is going on, very important because you have to teach her that the show must go on. Now if it a high stepping  Riverdance leap kind of stepping then a bit of preparatory work is in order first.

Put the milking supplies to the side and simply put your hand on her udder -- firmly. No tickling! Sometimes I run my hand down the hip because they are use to that and then stop on the udder. When she begins to become more comfortable with that, then move your hand a short distance (remember firmly) and then stop with your hand still on her udder. Do NOT take your hand off. If she holds relatively still for a  millisecond then remove your hand. Begin again and when that area is good, move your hand further and further until you are feeling the whole udder. If she can remove your hand by kicking and thrashing then she will do it because it works. Teach her that what works is to hold relatively still and your hand will leave. Slowly keep your hand on her udder longer and longer as she tolerates the touch better. 
Pudge is hardly a Newby but she liked my to lean into her slightly. One could hardly help but not to she was always so pudgy. 
 
Some newbies like you to lean gently into them as it gives them reassurance. 


For safety sake, so the newby does not fall off the other side while their neck is locked into the stanchion, we have a side on our stand. I lean on the doe gently and she leans into the side. This often calms them down. Goats cluster in the corner pressed up against each other and the wall or fence when frightened. I just take a page out of their own play book and use it. When they are relatively calm with this, then move to the next step.

Don't milk, just hold your hand (just one) in the position of milking with your fingers around one teat. Less stimulus for the newby. Then I release my hand when the behavior is positive or in other words they hold still even a short, short time. See a pattern? When the goat begins to tap dance less and hold still more, then I hold my hand a little longer and a little longer as the behavior grows more positive. Speak sweetly to her. Not, "You little piece of ......!" Unless you can say it in the kindest of ways. This is all suppose to be positive. 

You want the milk stand to represent good things like grain, a more comfortable udder, and gentle hands. This reward system does take skill to develop but it works incredibly well. When one hand is excepted reasonably well then move on to using two hands. Be aware that it might be a one hand at a time milking method for a few weeks. My well prepared yearlings are almost all milked one hand at a time for the first week and sometimes two.

Now let's say you can milk her but she still has the occasional kick. Most newbies do for a while. Just put the bucket in back of her legs and squirt to the south end because 99 percent of goats will kick forward with the leg or legs. Occasionally I've had one try and kick with both legs. Yeah, it ends up with an upset heap on the milking stand. Normally they don't do that twice. The whole getting comfortable having you handle intimate parts of their anatomy takes time, weeks of time if preparatory work was not done. If the newby was worked with far in advance of kidding then all this newby behavior is usually over in a week or a little longer with intermittent forgetfulness.
I start training my doelings at this age. Handle the doeling everywhere. Pick up her feet and especially rub in the area of her udder. You aren't milking at this stage just preparing to so don't tug on the teats. 

I sold a yearling this spring with her two male offspring and the buyer is thrilled. He says his grandson is milking her while she stands un-tethered in the middle of the pen. He just thinks she is the most laid back goat he has ever seen. My husband failed to tell him that I trained her to do that. I train ALL my yearlings to do so. If the preparatory work is done, it is quite simple to do. I get the newly kidded doeling up against the fence and press against her. Keep her from moving forward by putting a knee in her way if need be, then shift backwards a bit toward the udder. On rare does I have to tie them to the fence to stop the forward motion. Then I press and milk one baby bottle at a time, milking one side and then the other going back and forth to encourage the let down.  A nice udder massage works wonders to help her let down. I use it on the milk stand also when needed for the young and older does. 


 I searched and searched for pictures of newbies being milked and realized I didn't have any pictures 
and now even this last little doe who kidded this year is gone. I have only a buck and one doe left, both Saanens and the beginning of a new herd.
 
I fill bottles with colostrum and make sure the newborn kids get plenty within the first hour of birth. I don't worry about their nursing until they get on their feet strong. Just takes a few hours. Then either work I teach the kids to suckle or simply leave the kids with the mother and milk her in this un-tethered position multiple times a day. For me it is much easier than keeping milk in the refrigerator and heating it up four times a day.  When newborn I also milk and feed in the middle of the night for 2 to 3 nights initially. Frequent demand stimulates the mother's milk production increasing her supply.

From the time the kids are small, I have them getting on the milking stand with a reward of a small treat. It does not have to be every day but at least a couple times a week. The last few weeks of a yearling does pregnancy, I do not ask her to get on the milking stand. It is hard with the weight of twins or triplets. Yes, most of mine have twins and even the occasional set of triplets.  I do not ask the doe to get on the milking stand for the first three or four days after kidding. They are sore. I milk squatting or kneeling on the ground.  Even though they have been on the stand for a year and their udder handled frequently in the pen and on the stand, they will do some dancing. It is uncomfortable. You nursing and past nursing moms know what I'm talking about. 

Even with all this preparing of the doeling, they will might do the newby squat and dance. This will last for a short while and in comparison very mild to what you would have dealt with had you not prepared her.The last yearling I worked with this year held one leg up the whole time when milked. At least she couldn't dance in that position. It worked for her. It worked for me.By next year I'm sure both feet will be on the ground. I think anyway since I sold her.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A New Spice Container Set Up


 This is what my spice cupboard looked like - plastic containers. Yes, all but the lone powdered mushroom glass jar. Loved those plastic spice containers but of course they did not love us. I felt pretty guilty after I did the blog about BPA and BPS in plastic so I decided to start practicing more seriously what I preach. Realistically I know I won't be avoiding plastic all together, It is everywhere and face it, it is super handy. But especially where our food is concerned I need to steer further away from it. That will take time. The plastic spice containers, though they were not originally manufactures for such, are now delegated to the garage where they hold small bolts and such.
To change out my containers that housed the spices seemed a good place to start since I already had glass jars that would work great. As you can see I started out with the plastic tops since they screw on and off easier than the metal ones and the food rarely touched the tops. BUT they are slicker than well...., you know as they slip sliding around on the tops of the bottom jars. A few near accidents and I went to using standard metal canning lids.

 
What I discovered is that the metal jar lids stack really nice and the lip helps keep them in place. 
Alphabetical order seems like a pretty good idea in order to find them BUT..., when do I ever use chili powder and garlic with cloves, allspice and cinnamon? It meant a lot of moving jars around to find the spices I needed. And with so many jars on one shelf they still slip slided away. Solution - I rearranged things so that the spices were in three smaller cupboard shelves.  Yes, smarty pants, I know the spices are not in exact alphabetical order. I'm taking a realistic shot. In the general area of alphabetical is what occurs  with four young children underfoot; and cows and goats mooing for attention in the pasture. 

This may not be the end result but something that is working far better is to put cooking spices like garlic, chili powder etc. on one side of one shelf with Italian spices like Oregano, Basil, Winter Savory, Garlic, and such on the other side. I use those combinations together a great deal. Still another shelf has Parsley, Lovage, Cutting Celery, [powdered Mustard, celery salt(I want to be doing my own someday)], and bouillons plus some spices from the store like garlic salt, and Lawry's seasoning salt. 

Did you know that celery salt comes from the Lovage plant, not the tall celery we crunch on? I've got a Lovage plant growing in the front flower bed but being that it is its first year, it has not gone to seed. Alas, an experiment for another year and all part of my move toward self-sufficiency because I LOVE Celery salt. 


Baking spices like cinnamon, allspice, ginger etc. are on another small shelf and of course various kinds of oils, vinegars and balsamics on another. Do I have a lot of spices. Oh my YES! And I need to make room for flavorful things like jars of powdered green beans, zucchini, beets, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, onion tops, and spinach. I like lots and lots of flavor in my foods but then that also means a lot more vitamins too.

Are the jars a perfect solution? Maybe not but a much safer health wise than plastic containers.  

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Herb Garden Goals


     How long would a pound of oregano last you? Even with as many herbs as I use - a long time. So why did I do it? Herbs bought in bulk saves a lot of money and trips to the store. But I want independence -- as much a possible. I want the intense green color that freshly dried herbs give to a dish. Years of cooking for the very young and old including Dementia parents has taught me that appearances matter. Appearance invokes pleasure and appeal. 'Hmm.... that looks good.' does a lot to get them to eat. Aged herb's color fades and a lack luster brownish cast is what takes over. The flavor wanes also but can be compensated in part by adding more.

    I want to grow and dry more herbs of my own. I want a measure of self-sufficiency in my herbal world and avoid all those preservatives. I had not really given preservatives in my herbs a thought until I was redoing my herb shelves and pulled out a jar of home dried herbs that had gotten tucked in the back for quite some time - maybe a year. Wow, I could not believe how much the once deep green had dimmed. I took out some bulk spices of the same type I had bought years back and was amazed. Yes, they were paler with age but one whiff of my old bottle and one of the old store products told me that a ton of preservatives had been used because the store's product had a more intense smell. 

    In the last few months home dried herbs have begun to take over my spice cupboard. I open a jar, sniff and I'm inspired. 'Wouldn't this be good in ......' It isn't just me that this sensory pleasure effects for the intense smells effects the whole household. The family comes home and smiles appear, ' What smells so.. good?' Good food has gone a long way in helping our grand daughters adjust to staying the bulk of their time with us while their mother battles cancer. I've discovered the best way to get a kid up in the morning for school is to tantalize their nose which leads them to investigate what's for breakfast especially at 5:45 a.m. 
    So in the name of always reaching for greater heights I've set some goals for myself.

    1. Tweak my cooking to use mainly use herbs I can grow myself in the yard, in the house windows, and under grow lights. 

    Powdered Zucchini
    2.  Expand the things I use to spice up dishes to decrease the amount of herbs I need. Last year I learned to use homemade bone broth. It is wonderful and now it is really rare for me to use beef bullion. My usage of bone broth just keeps expanding and now I want to play more intensely with home dried vegetable powders.  Potato soup  with the addition of home dried herbs, and zucchini is awesome! The zucchini helped thicken the soup, added vitamins, and increase flavor. The preparation was simple. I cooked potatoes, carrots and onions in a small amount of chicken bone broth until firm but done and then added chopped ham, fresh milk, herbs, salt and black pepper, and powdered zucchini. 

    When our twelve year old granddaughter took a spoonful to test the broth for me, her eyes closed and a moan of intense pleasure escaped. If that is any indication of how much dried, powdered vegetables can do, this could be a very flavorful year indeed. Now I'm wondering why I did not add a bit of my homemade potato flour? It would have thickened the soup even more. When the other choice is flour or corn starch which add no great amount of flavor then hands down, vegetable powder wins.


    3.  Switch my herbs from plastic containers to glass jars to avoid contamination of BPA or BPS. Just did that.

    4. Keep a continual supply of fresh herbs growing and dry the surplus.There is something about combining fresh and dried herbs that reaches the perfect balance in a cooked dish that most of the time just using dried or just using fresh does not accomplish.  
    This is an area that is harder than I thought. For instance - basil seems to do really well potted in the house through two cuttings and then tries to die on me. It did this three different times. I've since read that it needs re-potted often. I'm trying that next. I also read that with time the flavor of the leaves diminishes but at what point is that? With what I've done so far, I've discovered that my needs are greater than my supply of basil, so next summer I will include basil in my front flower bed and oregano too.

    5. Goal number four has led me to goal number five. Keep a continual supply of herbs growing indoors. After all the four seasons in Wyoming are almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction. Fresh herbs in the garden is brief indeed.


    6. Grow herbs outdoors for drying purposes in order to keep the indoor herb garden small. This includes experimenting to see which ones we can grow in our zone 3 1/2. Presently we have only four varieties growing outside in a very limited number.

    Thursday, August 24, 2017

    Feeding Egg Shells to Chickens



    There is a bit of a debate whether or not if you feed egg shells to chickens.Will it cause them whether to begin to eat their freshly laid eggs? In my experience I have to say no, they do not. Not mine anyway. I have no problem with hens breaking and eating their own eggs but it is probably what they are eating which is whatever they can scrounge up in the yard plus a layer feed along with a grain assortment. So pretty much a smorgasbord to choose from which I think makes a huge difference.

    There is no science behind that opinion but then 'Why do kids eat dirt?' The doctors say it is a deficiency in their diet so I guess that is my research on the subject. LOL! I would not be surprised if boredom would not cause some to do so and emotional stress too. There there is the occasional ornery ole bitty who just is a pain in the _____ well, you know what. It would not matter how well you fed her for she would just go on breaking and eating eggs. In doing so she would teaches the others to do so also. If you have a bad behavioral animal it is best to send it down the road or to a much colder climate like the freezer.Most of the habits are learned.

    Since I've had a couple egg eaters in my time, I have been reluctant to feed egg shells to chickens. Probably silly since I've had chickens for over thirty years and two or three is hardly worth mentioning. What tipped the scales for me to get over my insane phobia was our financial crunch and lots and lots of chickens roaming the yard that I could donate to science. Surely not all of them would gain a taste for raw scrambled eggs I figured and at least thirty or so will become icebergs occupying the freezers until I have time to can them this fall. So the experiment began a couple months ago.

    First I baked the shells at 200 F. like I saw on the internet and crushed them only I used a blender when I found out how sharp dried, baked shells are on work worn hands. The result was not so impressed chickens. The army wasn't impressed with powdered eggs either. But wait, they didn't eat the outsides did they? Maybe that would have been an improvement or have I been watching too many M.A.S.H. shows?

    Next, I simply baked the shells, broke them into chunks, and served them up, which was more desirable, says the chickens, but still too time consuming. Time being something I have so little of made me rethink the whole thing. That and the eggs shells would begin to stink before I had enough to bake up. My solution for that was to occasionally rinse the shells but that seemed ridiculous. So, I decided to do like I now do with my mulch piles. Pretty much nothing but that is another blog. I simply put the cracked egg shells right in with the vegetable scraps in my scrap bucket in the kitchen. It goes out each day and I toss it all into a mulch pile - only there is no pile. Between the chickens and deer, only a few citrus shell rinds remain. 

    It is a very coveted pile and when the girls see me headed to the mulch local, they all come a running. What they don't eat, the deer who come through at dusk do. Pretty neat no waste system. To say I have completely eliminated using oyster shells would not be the truth. I put some in now and them more as a comfort thing. It makes me feel like I'm doing a good job. One day I might get over that. Meanwhile it has save me quite a bit of money and I really do like that.