Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bread Pans for Whole Grain Breads

With my goal to start creating whole grain bread on a level yet to be seen in this household, I knew I needed different bread pans to achieve this elevated level.

How did I know? Well, I'm no stranger to making bread, even whole grain bread but I wanted to start incorporating much more than whole wheat. I wanted to use a variety of grains, seeds, nuts, a few vegetables, and even beans.

Yes, you read it right, beans. Some of the recipes I'm about to try call for them soaked, cooked and then used in bread. Some for beans just ground through your wheat grinder into flour and used with other flours. And even some told how to sprout beans and grains , then dry them before grinding into flour. This sprouting method being the ultimate nutrient booster.

And I don't want to stop my experimenting there I want to use some of those vegetables I dried and turned into powder. Wouldn't they be wonderful in boosting the nutrient levels in my breads, along with adding flavor?

While my brain was galloping off into these varied paths, it couldn't help but side track to crackers also.
But first before I got serious about bread making, I knew I needed new bread pans. New bread pans because the tiny pans on the left in the picture were too small to form a serious loaf of sandwich bread.

The 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pan in the middle was too wide and though I get a decent loaf of white bread out of them, wheat bread has to be cooked until the outside is quite dark to get the inside done. It's a long ways for the heat to reach the center because the pan is so... wide.

This meant I just couldn't stand it and with fear of my bread becoming dry and over cooked, I'd frequently snatched them out to discover the centers doughy. Waste not, want not, entered and the ends became slices of bread while I disasembled the rest skirting around the doughy center to cut pieces for dressing, bread crumbs, and crouton making.

These wider pans also mean that the heavier, heartier breads with whole grains with the added weight, flop out on top, leaving wings.
Of course there are those whole grain breads that can hold their own form creating lovely round and oblong shapes (Sorry, all I had was a picture of artisan white bread)
But, some grains like Khorasan wheat which is buttery and rich - can not hold a round or oblong shape and needs some confining.
And though the round or oblong breads are great, sometimes a loaf shape is what's needed. So off to my chef supply catalogues I went along with a search of the Internet for information on bread pans.

I saw chit chat on how wonderful different finishes are and dark surfaces versus shiny. Even glass versus metal. But since I have one glass bread pan similiar in size to the metal ones and it still didn't bake the whole grains the way I wanted, I knew there had to be more to it.

Finally, I found a great video on bread making with whole grains. It didn't give any recipes but it did give techniques for  using rye or whole wheat. It mentioned that you needed a narrow bread pan for whole grain breads to allow them to bake through more easily. It also spoke of the importance of measuring your dough, two pounds per loaf. I would guess this is so the bread gets done inside and all the loaves at the same time. That is if your oven is working right.

I was so... excited to see this because finally, someone was speaking my language. So with this bit of information off I went to look at the three chef supply catalogues I have. Only one fit the need, King Aurther's.  

They had bread pans in 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches, 9x5, and 9x4x4. Only the 9x4x4 fit the bill for what I needed since Khorasan wheat was highly nutritious but can NOT stand up on its own. Hence, the high sides which support the dough keeping it from forming wings and the narrow bottom which allows the insides to get done before the outside is dark, dark brown. 

 The pans also have ridges along the sides and in, touted to help air circulation. The pans weigh a ton. Okay, maybe not that much. But, they are hefty. Yet, with this thick construction, I know they will conduct heat well, similiar to a cast iron pan. I have a couple of those bread pans but they are also wide. I am going to bring them in and give them a work out too, to see where they fit in, in my bread making.  No, the heaviness the of King Aurther's bread pans isn't bothering me since I'd guess they will last through my lifetime and my children's too.

The price is pretty hefty for these. No, Walmart special. So if you are looking for just such a pan be prepared to pay $17.99 but keep in mind this is an long term investment. I've learned that if you buy good cookware, you only have to buy it once. 

I'll tell you soon how well I like them.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Taste Test

 I had lots of pumpkin left in the refrigerator that needed used and somehow even though I had pumpkin pie at two different Thanksgiving feasts nearly a week apart, along with leftovers, I'm still not tired of it. After all, it's one of my favorite breakfast foods.
And besides, I had to put to rest which pumpkin was my favorite in pies, the Rouge vif Detampes or the New England Sugar Pie. I already knew what texture that I liked best, the New England Sugar Pie. Add to the fact that the Rouge vif Detampes had to have lots of water strained off of it and was stringy, it was sliding downward in my opinion pole due to the extra preparation time. It did WAY out produce the New England Sugar Pie though and so I just didn't feel like I had a clear decision. 

I'd decided to grow it in part for livestock feed. Something I still think is worthy idea but then I tasted the Rouge vif Detampes in pumpkin pie.  Oh my!

I used the same recipe for both pies except I had to drop the amount of milk called for. Plus, I never use evaporated milk which the recipe calls for preferring to use either milk from the later part of our goats lactation because it is high in cream or half and half (goat milk that has run through the cream separator once, not twice).

For the Rouge vif Detampe pumpkin puree, I dropped the recipe's  one and two-thirds cups to one & one-third & one-fourth a cup. The finished results have led me to believe I should have just skipped the one-fourth cup and gone with one and two thirds cups. Even with straining, the pumpkin puree is very very moist. 

The alterations didn't stop there though because the New England Sugar pie has a very thick, dryer puree and so I added an extra small egg to that pie filling. 

It is just par for course to have to change recipes when you are cooking with fresh ingredients but o...h is it worth it because of the flavor superiority and increase in nutrients.

Unfortunately, I over cooked the New England Sugar Pie, pie a little and I don't have a pretty picture of it to show you. As for the Rouge vif Detampe, it had to cook a little longer due to the higher moisture content.

But when they were done, I had to have a slice of both. The New England Sugar Pie was just how you expect a pumpkin to taste. The only way I can describe it is something earthy and whole, kind like the earthiness you get when you eat whole foods like whole wheat bread versus white bread.

The Rouge vif Detampe was sweeter than the New England Sugar Pie and lacked that earthy taste that the New England Sugar Pie had. It was really yummy though in a different way. It was the white bread in the whole wheat bread versus the white comparison.

And now I can't decide which I like best.

I don't think I will decide. I'm going to integrate the two kinds of pumpkins into my garden. Rotating from year to year which kind I grow so they don't cross breed. Yum! Yum!

Monday, November 28, 2011

How Do I Grow Tomatoes In The House?

Look at this weird tomato. Granted, it was starting to become a bit soft but that's no reason for the seeds to start sprouting already. I'm wondering if this poor tomato underwent false storage somehow to cause such a strange phenomenon. You never know what they are doing to your food before you get it.

I've tried to grow full sized tomatoes in this house by plucking volunteer plants from the garden along with some dirt and bringing them inside. Aphids were my reward. This time, I shook all the dirt possible off of the volunteer tomato from the garden and transplanted it into new store bought soil. 

The plant took off but the insufficient amount of sunlight in the house meant it died. Even up next to our large windows. I couldn't put it under grow lights in the basement because there is no heat down there without the wood stove burning and the weather wasn't cold enough.

In February when I start plants, the stove is going. I've tried growing lettuce too upstairs and down. Lettuce doesn't require much light and a few herbs seem to get by though the leaves aren't as big as I'd like. But nope, lettuce won't grow. They just get spindly and tall and then die.
It's not that I have a brown thumb because I grow a nice garden outside, it's just transferring the crops inside that poises the problem. Oh how I'd love to grow my own tomatoes and lettuce in the winter. We have a very small store here in town but no organic produce. We live in the toolees as we say. A long ways from anywhere. 

So have any of you some advice? Tomatoes from our stores make me leery.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Learning To Crochet

 I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I did. As I ate, I thought about Thanksgiving as a child. The huge smorgasbord of food with multiple salads, and dishes galore to choose from. There were a lot of us to feed as we gathered with extended family to celebrate.

And as my mind wandered, I thought about my grand parents and the things they taught me. One was to crochet. I figured our oldest grand child just might be mature enough to learn. We'd tried a year ago and she had become far too frustrated but as we began once more, she caught on quickly and is thrilled with the possibilities open to her.
 She's already planning on making a scarf though she hasn't gotten beyond a chain stitch. She's only practiced an hour or so. 
It won't be long though and she will be making scarves, hats, mittens, and even sweaters. Then she'd be just like her Aunt Toni. Or that is what I hope as this grandma can crochet but only in a fairly basic manner.

At what age did you learn to crochet?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Taste Testing Pumpkins

I cooked up both pumpkin varieties I grew last summer with the intent to make two pies, one from each kind to form a taste test.  

The Rouge Vif Detampes or also known as the Cinderella pumpkin from France...

and the New England Sugar Pie pumpkin. Not sure this tired bones is going to get it done but I used the New England Sugar Pie pumpkin in my Thanksgiving pie last Saturday. YUM!! 

The two I cooked up today were hugely different in color, texture, and moisture. The Rouge Vif  Detampes pumpkin is on the left and the New England Sugar Pie is on the right.
The Rouge Vif Detampes pumpkin is extremely moist and after having sat in the refrigerator a little while, liquid seeped out all around the edges of the bowl. This pumpkin has a stringy texture.
The New England Sugar Pie is creamy and smoother with far less moisture.
Having cooked both pumpkins whole in the oven, I noticed a dramatic difference also. The skin of the New England Sugar Pie was thinner.  

 It fell away from the meaty inside extremely easily. The Rouge Vif Detampes was more reluctant to let go of its meaty center.
The New England Sugar Pie...

and the Rouge Vif Detampes both had lots of meaty flesh to harvest, unlike a carving pumpkin which has a hard outer core and a hollow center. The New England Sugar Pie cooked whole afterwards separated ridiculously easily from the seeds and stringy center. I'll never scoop out the seeds first again with this variety. 

 The Rouge Vif Detampes cooked in this manner was a little trickier to decipher from the stringy center since it's flesh is more stringy also, though it wasn't bad.

There was one problem pointed out by my mother-in-law who had never made a pumpkin pie with a fresh pumpkin, instead having always used a store bought can of filling. The Rouge Vif Detampes had too much fluid and when she made her pie it was extremely runny. I promised to experiment and after having first drained off a little of the fluid by tipping the bowl of pulp to the side, I then plopped it into a wire strainer to continue to drain. It helped a great deal to remove the excess liquid.  

The results were still moister than the New England Sugar Pie pumpkin. I'd guess I will have to drop the liquids in the pie by 2 to 3 tablespoons.

I never thought about the need to make adjustments when I gave her the pumpkin. At the time I didn't know how moist this type of pumpkin was.

Adjusting is just something you grow accustom to when you use fresh ingredients. Your fresh eggs are different sizes even when the hens begin laying larger eggs. When they are pullets, I use two small eggs to every large egg ask for in a recipe. My home cultured buttermilk is extremely thick and requires a 1/4 a cup of milk to every cup of buttermilk called for in a recipe. And there changes from year to year on the garden vegetables and fruit. Your corn may be really sweet one year and the next not so sweet. The change could be due to the weather and soil nutrients.

Though these changes mean some unpredictably, they also can mean far more nutrition and a superb flavor to that which you can buy in a grocery store. 
Selection of varieties also plays a role in flavor and nutrition. That's what I'm working on. Trying to decide what varieties of garden vegetables to grow depending on flavor, productivity and nutrition. 

Personally, I have decided that I prefer the flavor of these New England Sugar Pie pumpkins to the Rouge Vif Detampes as it is more intensely pumpkiny. I also like the creamy texture rather than the stringy type in Rouge Vif Detampes. Then again, I don't like spaghetti squash because it is too stringy and mild in flavor. I also prefer Zucchini to Summer Squash and my favorite winter squash is Buttercup Squash. It makes a wonderful pie also.    
I do love the yield with the Rouge Vif Detampes though. The pumpkins were several times the size of the New England Sugar Pie and there was a large difference in the number of pumpkins each plant produced. The Rouge Vif Detampes far out produced the New England Sugar Pies.

So what does this mean? If I'm growing pumpkins to feed stock, hands down it would be the Rouge Vif Detampes. If I want pumpkin pie and pumpkin to freeze and can for future use, it's New England Sugar Pie.

So I think I'll grow the New England Sugar Pie every other or every third year as it doesn't take a great deal of pumpkin to keep us in pies, soups etc.  It has been the best flavored pumpkin I've grown to date. Every modern type variety I've tried in past years lacked flavor. The jack-0-lantern types of course are pretty tasteless.

As for the Rouge Vif Detampes, I'm not sure how I'll fit it into my new plans for growing different crops in rotation. It definitely has a place. It would greatly boost nutrition fed to the chickens which would boost the nutrition in their eggs.

I would guess that the seeds scooped out before cooking the pumpkin would hold more worming ability but I don't really know. And though I haven't tried it yet, pumpkin is suppose to be a wonderful addition to a goat's diet. I'm just wondering if I can get my goats to eat them. I'm going to try it soon. I'd guess they would want the pumpkin not cooked. Anyone tried this yet?

So exactly how I'm going to rotate my pumpkins from year to year as to the varieties I'll grow hasn't been worked out yet. And how am I going to fit in pumpkins for the grand kids to carve for Halloween also.

 I do have some serious thinking to do. What is your favorite pumpkin for pumpkin pies?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Taking Yarn Inventory

The thought is making me exhausted. After our two daughter's and I spent eight hours together cooking for Thanksgiving, I'm not wanting to start all over on making pies. I know, I know, I don't have to do anything else for Thursday's dinner with my brother and sister in-laws but I'm simply tired. This body can only push so long and it's screaming STOP!!

Rather loudly since I have Addison's disease and my get up and go and all got up and went.
So I went on strike on Monday, after I took my husband to the airport where he left on a trip. I then drove home on the much improved highways ( We had over six inches of snow over the weekend leaving the roads solid ice.) and sat on the bed watching Hulu and Netflixs.

I watched Hulu so long a message popped up on the screen telling me I'd been watching for three hours wouldn't I like to stop?

The truth is I wasn't really watching for three hours since I was pausing the shows every little while to go and get something or answer the phone.

It was Kirk telling me he'd arrived at this airport or that. And what do you do at an airport while you wait for your next plane, call your spouse of course. Or I hope that's what you do.

Anyway, when I'm overwhelmed and need to take control, what do I do? Something I don't have to, of course. Something that won't help the long list of to do's get done.

 I copied free knitting patterns off the Internet and then realized I had no yarn to knit them with. Since all the patterns called for something I didn't have. 

No I'm not low on yarn. All three of these containers are full of yarn, but I didn't seem to have what I needed. I didn't think I did anyway because I really didn't know what I had.

Yes, you long time reader might remember that a long while back I drug out my yarn and corrected the twist on some of my hand spun skeins and labeled each skein as to what kind of fiber it was spun from.  It took me quite a while.What I realized then was I really liked to spin a few skeins of one kind of fiber or color of yarn and then I was off to another kind. This left me with only enough homespun yarn of one kind and color to make one sweater. Unless I was the size of my sweet small sized daughters. Nope, I need four more skeins to create a tent sized one for two ton Tessy here.

In enters goal one, to spin enough yarn of one for another wool or alpaca sweater.

Plus, I realized I love snoods, cowls, and scarves that fasten with buttons and pins. No, I don't necessarily love to wear them, except I do want a snood which I especially love the look of and think I'd actually wear.

 I do have a couple scarves that fasten that I wear out in the cold. But, as active as I am, scarves just don't fit my lifestyle that mixes house cleaning, cooking, and livestock chores. They are meant more for indoor jobs such as office workers and so forth who hold still.  

Not that that should stop me so -- Goal number two comes in. I want to make a couple snoods and some more scarves, and cowl thingies. I'm itching to adorn them with homemade buttons and pins I create in my husband's workshop. I've been doing a little this and that trying to figure out what kind of small art based business I want to create. So far I haven't found it but Kirk and I sat brain storming in the airport as we waiting for him to fly out and I became really excited at the creative latitude making snoods, cowls, and scarves along with fasteners. I could use those scraps of
Mastodon ivory, woods, and horns left over from Kirk's knife making.  
Some of these projects would be made with store yarns. Some of those luxury gifts my oldest daughter gave me during my yarn adoption visits to her stash. And the few skeins I've purchase on my own.

Some would be from homespun yarn.
But first I realized I needed to take an inventory of just how many skeins I had of what varieties of fibers, yarn diameter size, and yardage and keep it in a notebook. Then I'd know what yarn I had that would be suitable and enough yardage for cowls, scarves, and snoods. Other yarns I might branch a little off into making a few hats and gloves. Those that would be suitable for office workers and trips where you aren't wearing your Muck boots. I don't make many of those but city folks do.

How do you organize your yarn stash?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pumpkin Chicken Wormer

What, oh what, do you do with the pumpkin seeds as you prepare to make pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving? I haven't the time to do salted and roasted seed while I'm baking up a storm like today for our early feast tomorrow.  

Wasting them isn't an option around here so I give them to the chickens.

But first, I put them through the blender with some water to chop them up. The chickens eat them far better that way.

I leave the stringy insides of the pumpkin with the seeds.

Then I give these seeds and pumpkin shells to the chickens. The seeds have a coating on them that paralyzes tapeworms and round worms. Then they are flushed out of the chickens digestive system.

Other times I scramble older eggs and cook them with a hefty coating of garlic, another natural type of wormer. 
So if your cooking pumpkins next week for pumpkin pies, don't forget the chickens.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kamut Grain

I've discovered a new kind of wheat and here I thought I knew all the varieties. Shows you just how little I know. Allison's Pantry advertised Khorasan wheat under the brand name of Kamut and being the curious me,  I bought it. After all, it isn't like I was buying candy, I was buying something good for us.

When my first order arrived, Ruth and Naomi, from the Bible, came to mind. I've never been able to imagine them gleaning tiny grains of wheat in Boaz's fields until I saw this wheat. It's grains are far larger than our modern wheat and though it would still definitely have been a pain to pick up seed by seed. The story makes more sense.  

Then I did some research on the grain since it looked like wheat but yet was quite different in appearance and I wondered if it was different to bake with.

What I found was:
(The name KAMUT is the registered trademark and brand name used to sell the grain variety khorasan. The word Kamut stems from the ancient hieroglyphic language meaning wheat.

Kamut International uses the KAMUT trademark to protect and preserve the ancient grain variety khorasan. The grain differs from modern day varieties because it has not been modified through modern breeding practices or genetic modification.

The wheat is tolerated by many who have allergies to typical types of wheat and in fact a study showed that 70% of people with wheat allergies had no, or little reaction to this type of wheat. But if you have coeliac disease, this isn't for you.

Kamut (Khorasan ) wheat is higher in eight of the nine vitamins of traditional wheat, 40% higher in protein, easier to digest, 65% more amino acids, more lipids, and more fatty acids.

But Kamut does have some down sides. It is lower in yields. Not too surprising since that seems to be the main push with all modern varieties of grains. Higher yields at the expense of lower nutrition. Modern wheat is definitely an instance where more is simply more, not better.  

This grain also can't be rushed. It takes its time absorbing liquids, raising, and the elastic bands can be cut easily so it is not recommended that you add nuts when cooking with this grain. I'm wondering about flax seed. I'd guess it could also cut these delicate strands. It doesn't hold its shape well and so a bread pan is recommended or mixing in 25% regular wheat.

I guess you would not call it a beginners whole grain. None the less, it is definitely a grain worth adding to your whole grain diet with its reported buttery, sweet taste.

I thought it was a winner to try in my new goal for 2012, to cook as much as possible with whole grains, so I ordered some more.

I've been researching recipes for breads that include a wide variety of grains such as traditional wheat, spelt, wheat, Kamut, oats, rice, millet, rye, and even dried beans.

I'm looking to see if Triticale, which I still have a little grain in the basement from years ago, is available or if it has gone out of style. I may try using it once more.

Some of these recipes I've found call for sprouting the grains to an eighth an inch, drying them, and grinding them into flour. Others cooking beans and adding them or just grinding them at the dry stage into flour. 

All this research has me thinking crackers and breads, breads, breads and nutrition. Yup, it's winter time outside and I'm in the mood to bake.

So as soon as our Thanksgiving holiday is over, this weekend, I'm going to start my ancient grains bread baking adventure.

No, I'm not confused. I know Thanksgiving isn't until next week in the USA but in our county of Wyoming, folks have from now until a few days after the traditional Thanksgiving Day on Thursday that they celebrate with a feast. The majority of families have shift workers that put in at least a 12 hour work day, not including travel time so holidays are celebrated whenever one can get the majority of their families together.

That means this Saturday for us and another celebration with Kirk's family next Thursday with a small amount of our immediate family able to attend.
It is an ancient grain that dates back to Noah's time and has thus gained the nickname Prophet's Wheat. And since it was found in Egyptian Pharaohs tombs it also has the nickname 'King Tut's Wheat. Others call it Camel's Tooth due to its hump back appearance but what every you call it, it's a grain worth taking a look at.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Home-made Gift Idea

"Sleigh bells ring are you listening. In the lane snow is glistening." Can't you hear me singing. Well, maybe your lucky but I have been because it's that time of the year. The time you have to put your rear in high gear and get to making Christmas presents.

The last few years I've bought them but this years funds are a bit short. And... our children have voiced numerous times in those years just how much they enjoy the home-made gifts. Would I please start making them again. 

So... though our daughters do sometimes read this blog. It won't be giving away their gift because they already know part of it anyway. It's the gift they've been hounding me to make.

No, not aprons, though I am making a variety of styles for gifts for Christmas. This one needs some ruffles around the pockets and a little this and that to jazz it up.

What all our children, including our son, has been after me to do is copy my recipes that I've worked to collect and change over the last ten years or so.
This year I'm working on breakfast. I've enough recipes to fill a inch and a half three ring notebook. A daunting task alone just to type them all up but... being me, I'm also photographing for it. Yup, those apples are apples off our tree and those waffles were served to our grandchildren one morn. I've seen cool programs on the Internet where you can type your recipes and a company will make a book for you but it doesn't allow photography freedom that I want. Plus you can't add to it like you can a three ring notebook with recipes in slip covers. The ability to slip out the recipes also allows you to add notes.

Since a cookbook is so... much more inviting with photographs to entice you to cook and I love to photograph...I've got to add that personal touch.  

Our one daughter will tell you that it will take more than some scrumptious looking food in photographs to get her iinterested in cooking breakfast yet, she is just as interested as the rest to have a cookbook also. Though she might not be interested, she still has a family to cook for. 

I'm not photographing for every recipe. That would take me for ever and ever since I can't stick with one task long enough with so much else that needs done. Plus, the cost of colored ink alone would break my tight budget. Instead, I'm taking a few shots here and there as I cook not only breakfast but desserts and main meals too. Yes, they are expecting those recipes to come along next in a cookbook.

And since so much of our lives revolves around food, with raising livestock for milk, eggs, and meat, along with hunting and fishing, I can't leave that out either. Yes, this cookbook will be a bit of a pictorial food history that will include photos of our family too. 

I've got pictures of the grand kids cracking eggs for breakfast.

Some of them making noodles, cookies, etc. and even a few of them eating that which I cooked.
Then there is this one for chicken noodle soup. Nap time couldn't come soon enough for our cute little bug and she fell asleep eating.

 And if our family thought I took a lot of pictures before, they haven't seen nothing yet. My camera is going to have a permanent home on the kitchen counter until I'm done, especially during the holiday season when everyone is home. 

Though this will be lots of work, it will finally end my steady search for recipes I know I have somewhere but can't lay my hands on when I want them.

Yup, I think I want these cookbooks as much as they do.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just Call Me Match Maker

Don't know if all goats do this but mine do. When the urge is upon them, the girls stare at me in panic, the whites of their eyes showing and bellar, "
Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
catch me a catch
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Look through your book,
And make me a perfect match"

Nope, they don't say anything to the buck, it's me they turn to. I think it is because when in the past the urge has come on, it's me that has taken them by the collar and led them to Prince Charming. I hold the solution.

The doelings don't act in this manner but given a year or two and their trained for life. This is Megan's first time and I'm having a hard time telling when she comes in. I'll figure it out though and train her to tell me. It makes it so much easier. You can count with accurancy the days of gestation on a particuliar doe and after a kidding or two, you have an excellent idea within a day or two when she will kid.   

And though I've had been checking for a discharge and other signs, nothing but the bellaring appeared with Chicory in October. 

I've found Nubians are much harder than Saanens to tell when they are in Estreus. For me, none of this putting the doe in the pen and letting nature take its course. I want does that breed once and become pregnant. Those that take multiple breedings are sold.

Last year when I we had the three grandkids living with us and the two doelings were not very tame. I put a buck that was unfamilar to them in their pen a week before I knew they would come into heat. That was so they would not be scared of him and allow him to do his job. 

Some day, I want to AI and I don't want to waste semen. A fancy buck has a fancy price and I want does that settle with kid on the first time.

In the past, I often had only one opportunity to breed a doe. One time a really nice buck of our neighbors was being sold and the owners were picking him up in an hour. I had a couple does come into Estreus. Slam bam thank you mam as they say and sure enough, both girls were pregnant. 

And it isn't only the does you will deal with but most likely her offspring also as she passes on good fertility or bad. 

If you don't know when your does come in Estreus, this blog I wrote in 2009 might help you. My Saanens were perfect for picture taking and there was no doubt when they came in.  

Now to figure out Megan. I want to have her bred in December.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pullet Eggs

Maybe it is ridiculous but when I saw my first pullet egg in October, I was giddy with joy. It was like Christmas as a child.
And even though this happens every October, I look forward with the same level of excitement as Christmas morn. Like presents mounting under the tree, one by one the hens comb's change from blushed red to a rich ruby red, a sure sign eggs will soon arrive. The eggs start out tiny and grow rapidly in size with each time the hen lays one. As for cooking, I just use two eggs instead of one when they are this small.
What makes these pullets eggs special is you are never sure what they will lay as their bodies work out the ins and outs of egg laying production. We've had eggs with only a dot of yellow for a yolk, no yolk, two yolks, (once) a three yolker, no shell, and so ginormous an egg that it killed the hen that laid it. It's part of the surprises that await you when you open the coop door. Surprises with lots of yummy flavor.

This year, we haven't gotten any eggs that have a gelatin like shell instead of a hard shell but we have had a steady stream of double yolkers. I suspect that they are a sign of heavy layers as this has been the case in the past. The years I don't have very many double yolkers, the hens aren't laying well. That has been the case with the last couple batches of chickens I've ordered. Solution, change hatcheries. I have suspect that the old hatchery was emphasising show quality way too much. To me, pretty is as pretty does.  
Just for those of you who maybe don't have chickens and all this fun. I found this interesting site on the abnormal eggs that pullets lay.
DOUBLE YOLK EGGS: Double Yolkers appear when ovulation occurs too rapidly, or when one yolk somehow gets "lost" and is joined by the next yolk. Double yolkers may be by a pullet whose productive cycle is not yet well synchronized. They're occasionally laid by a heavy-breed hen, often as an inherited trait.
NO YOLK: No-yolkers are called "dwarf", "wind" [or, more commonly, "fart"] eggs.  Such an egg is most often a pullet's first effort, produced before her laying mechanism is fully geared up.

MORE THAN TWO YOLKS: Occasionally, an egg contains more than two yolks.  I once found a pullet's egg that contained three.  The greatest number of yolks found in one egg is NINE.  Record breaking eggs are likely to be multiple yolkers.  The Guinness Book of Records lists the world's largest [chicken] egg (with a diameter of 9 inches/22.5 cm) as having five yolks and the heaviest egg (1 pound/0.45 kg) as having a double yolk and a double shell.
NO SHELL:Every once in a while we get an egg with a membrane, but without a shell.  It feels like a water balloon. This is another accident of the hen's reproductive system and is not necessarily an indication of any problem.  The membrane was placed on the yolk and white, but it somehow slipped past the "shell mechanism" and the shell wasn't deposited.
EGG WITHIN AN EGG: An egg within an egg, or a double shelled egg appears when an egg that is nearly ready to be laid reverses direction and gets a new layer of albumen covered by a second shell. Sometimes the reversed egg joins up with the next egg and the two are encased together within a new shell.  Double shelled eggs are so rare that no one knows exactly why or how they happen.
To answer a question some of you may pose. You have to have a rooster in with your hens to get this. Chicks don't form inside fertilized eggs unless there is adequate amount of heat and humidity. 

If you notice a blood spot in your egg don't panic. It is only a broken blood vessel. And those thick meat like spots are nothing either. Just scoop out the blood spot or meaty spot and cook as usual or throw them in the trash if that makes you more comfortable.

Remember, practice makes perfect and perfection doesn't happen except in the grocery store where they've weeded out all the interesting eggs. Not to mention those with vitamins attached. 

So while you finish reading this post, I'm going to take a little nap. Too bad I don't have cute company like Kirk had last week. I've not felt well since yesterday. Not sick but I'm having one of my Adrenaline bouts where my temperature won't stay up. 93's F. all morning yesterday and only a bit better the rest of the day. Today, my temperature and blood pressure are down. The spirit is willing too keep going but the body weak. Gr....!!!!

Now if only the good brownies would show up and clean up my kitchen while I sleep. sigh!!!