Storm, storm go away!

Storm, storm go away!

Just when we thought it was safe to go outside and replace the roof panels from the last storm, in comes Storm Doris and whips off another one! My partner had thought that when he had replaced the panel lost from Storm Angus he had tightens down the hatches on the rest of the roof. Unfortunately we weren’t expecting such strong winds, and once again it ripped off one of the roof panels from the chicken enclosure. Instead of taking the whole panel clean off, this time it snapped at an angle so it will take a bit more time to take off and repair.

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Storm Doris damage

After the wind died down the next day, I thought it would be a nice treat for the chooks to have the run of the garden. They loved scratching through the wood chip and grass to find all the tasty bugs bought to the surface by the rain. This meant that Smudge dog had to stay in but she was desperate to be out and playing with her friends.

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Mummy, I want to go out and play!

Despite the storm, the weather has been improving and getting warmer. With the girls being over their moult as well, egg production has started back up. I tried using them up in last weeks recipe for Chocolate Mousse but I can’t stay on top of how many we’re getting in. Going to have to start selling them again!

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Eggs Galore!

Speaking of moulting, a certain Smudge dog has started shedding her winter fur. We popped into the pet shop today to grab her a brush to help with the loose fur (and where she got fussed over by everyone). She also got a bone or two to distract her whilst I brushed her as I wasn’t sure how she would react to brushing but she seemed to be pretty chilled about it. Good thing as it looks like she really needed it from the amount I got off of her.

It’s been another busy, blustery week. Hopefully that’s the last of the bad weather for the year and we can get on with being happy, content chickens 🙂

Mousse of the Chocolate variety

Mousse of the Chocolate variety

One of my favourite puddings of all time is Chocolate Mousse and being able to make a fresh batch in my own kitchen is everything. With it mostly being whipped up egg whites, having my own supply of fresh eggs to go in this yummy dessert is fabulous. Here’s my recipe to make a family friendly mousse that’s a winner every time and do those fresh eggs proud!

Ingredients

170g Dark Chocolate (at least 70% coco)

7 Egg whites

40g Caster suger

Juice squeezed from half a lemon

Method

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a simmering pan of water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water (or if you’re in the same boat as me and the bowl is too small for the pan, place it in a metal colander over the pan so the heat can still melt the chocolate).

    2017-02-17-15-52-36
    Those oven-mits 😉
  2. Separate the egg whites into a large bowl and add the lemon juice which will help keep the volume in the eggs and reduce the risk of over whipping. Then whip those egg whites and add the sugar to make thick, stiff peaks with lots of volume.

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    My new best friend, a cake mixer!
  3. Once the chocolate is melted, add a third of the egg whites to the melted chocolate and whip it together. Then add the rest of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and fold in gently to reduce the risk of loosing all that lovely volume.
  4. Dish up into glasses and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. It should make a family load!

Goooooood Stuff 😉

Christmas Review

Christmas Review

After a hectic couple of months it’s great to finally get back to blogging. I have a few bits to report from over the Christmas period:

If you remember we lost a roof panel over after a huge windy storm. Over Christmas we finally had some time to replace it and get the enclosure watertight again. To hold some of the muddy floor together from the rain that had come through when the roof came off, we put some wood chip down on the floor. The girls have really enjoyed scratching around in the wood chip and not sinking into mud.

With it being Christmas, it was only fair that that the animals got a taste of the festive season. Smudge got her own advent calendar which she soon learnt meant getting an extra treat with breakfast. The chickens got some sprouts on a string which was hung up in their enclosure to give them a different way to eat their greens.

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For Christmas, my boyfriend and I, unbeknown to each other, bought each other chicken related gifts. We both got each other egg storage, I got him a wire chicken basket and he got me wooden box. The only awkward thing now is that the chooks have packed up production for the winter due to moulting and it being very cold.

With the cold comes the snow! The chickens have already seen some snow in their lifetime but for Smudge puppy this is the first time she has seen snow. We woke up on 13th Jan to a pathetic amount of snow, but snow on the ground nonetheless. She seemed to enjoy it but I think if we had more she would be able to make more of it. Today we had a lot of flurries and we got caught in them on our walk. She seemed to enjoy chasing and eating the flakes bless her!

Hopefully I’ll be able to be a bit more regular with my blog rather than catching up on two months worth of activities in one post! For now I shall leave you with a very merry Smudge puppy:

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The Year of the Rooster

The Year of the Rooster

Happy Chinese New Year! And Happy New Year, it’s been a while since I’ve had chicken news!

This is the year of the Rooster. The rooster is the symbol of fidelity and punctuality because of the way it would wake the people at sunrise. I was born under the rooster sign myself in 1993, which makes me a Water Rooster, so I am supposed to be smart and agile, sensitive, keen on art and niceness…. apparently! I found this all on travelchinaguide.com.

With this set to be the year of chickens, it’s great to see a scientific study on chickens making headlines. Recently scientists have reviewed a lot of evidence on chicken behaviour, cognition and emotion to determine if what we perceive of chickens to be true. For people who don’t have regular contact with chickens, they perceive them as unintelligent and not worthy of being considered a “higher” animal. This is in-fact far from the truth as any chicken keeper will tell you!

The review collaborates evidence on chickens that show that they have a basic grip of arithmetic and can count up to 5, here’s a video if you don’t believe me. They are also able to plan for the future to get better deals, that they can determine how their peers see the world and how to use that information to their advantage. This includes males making a call that tells females that they have found food, and using it even when they haven’t found any. It is also possible that chickens could feel empathy towards each other but that is yet to be decided. To read the review in full go here, or to get an easier breakdown of the information here is the link to the BBC’s article on the review.

As chicken keepers we see them on a daily basis, we interact with them and we all know how smart chickens are. The people who wrote this are hoping that it will help educate the general public on chickens and change how they perceive chickens in order to change their consumer habits. This should hopefully make customers at supermarkets more conscious of where their chicken is coming and lead to better welfare and living conditions on industrial chicken farms.

BEWARE: even though this review was written with the best of intentions for our chicken friends, it was written under bias circumstances. That could mean that there are some studies that did not further the point of that chickens are intelligent birds were under played or not taken into account in the review. However, for us chicken lovers, this is great news, it confirms what we know about our feathered friends and should hopefully lead to better conditions at farms from better consumer understanding.

Hope you’ve found this interesting. After doing my zoology degree I enjoy keeping up to date with recent scientific research, especially when it coincides with my interests like my chooks. Happy New Year!

chinesenewyr

To Oz and back…

To Oz and back…

Last night was a bit windy apparently. As the girls were snuggling down to sleep, the extreme winds of storm Angus managed to catch under one of the roof panels and took it off! We woke to a soggy enclosure and a rather unhappy flock that look like they’ve been to the land of Oz and back.


Just another thing to repair when this storm passes… 

As well as the roof panel, the wind blew our garden furniture around the garden and a plastic box that normally holds Smudges toys got smashed up. 

Storm Angus has hit The UK hard, with our enclosure being one of the many casualties. Everyone stay safe in this weather and let’s hope it blows over soon.

Moulting on the Job

Moulting on the Job

Please excuse us whilst we moult. We’re a little scruffy….

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but we still like getting up to mischief…. like coming into the house…

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and having a good nap under the table…

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Smudge also likes a good nap and snuggle on the sofa.

As for me, I’ve been treated to a few chicken themed goodies!

Unfortunately since my last post though (which I’ll admit was a while ago), we have lost one of our girls. I’m sad to say that our dear Blossom, one of our little Warrens, has left us. She just went over night without warning and we still don’t know what caused it. She is missed so much, even Smudge had taken to hanging out up near the chicken enclosure after she died to comfort the other girls. This now brings our little flock to 7. RIP our little Blossom.

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Other than that, not much else to report. With a lot of fruits ripening we’re planning to do lots of interesting brewings soon that I’m hoping to document so keep an eye out for that entry next.

Bacon Egg Cups

Bacon Egg Cups

My boyfriend loves this bite-sized breakfast, if ever we have any spare eggs that I’m not going to sell he asks me to make bacon egg cups. They’re perfect for him as they have lots of protein so he often has a few before going to the gym. Also being small and easy to mostly prepare the night before, they’re the great for a breakfast on the go. It’s hard for these to look untidy as the egg usually shrinks into the cup, so they’re also good for entertaining when friends stay over as they look really professional. To be honest though we don’t need the excuse to make them, nor other people to help us eat them all!

Ingredients

6 slices of bread

12 rashers of bacon

Grated cheese

12 fresh chicken eggs

Method

1) Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with spray on oil to stop the cups from sticking once cooked.

2) Cut 12 circles out of the bread to create the base of the cups and place in the bottom of the tin. I use a drinking glass about the same size as the tin cases to cut of the circles and I can usually get two circles out of a single slice of bread. (The cut-offs usually go to the chickens so nothing is wasted)

3) Fry off the bacon so that it cooked through but still flexible to line the sides of the tins. The bacon will form the sides of the cups so they need to be tall enough to stop the egg spilling out. Where they shrink from cooking the rashers are not long enough to go all the way around the tin so I trim the bacon where it is taller to plug any gaps.

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4) Grate the cheese and place on top of the bread base. If you’re preparing them the night before this is as far as you can go for now. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge ready for tomorrow.

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5) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Crack a single egg into each cup. Don’t worry at this stage if a little bit overflows as the egg will shrink back into the cup when cooking.

6) Place in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes (or a bit more or less, depending on how runny you like your yolk). Once cooked take the cups out of the tins and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, enough time to get yourself a coffee!

Enjoy!

Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial

A year ago when I got together with my boyfriend he asked to make Elderflower cordial. Unfortunately we never got round to making it, but promised each other that we wouldn’t miss the season next year. So this year, once all the rain had cleared up we took our Smudge puppy on our favourite nature walk and picked the flowers we needed for the recipe. 

 
If you have a family, or just like Elderflower cordial, this recipe is so simple that everyone can get involved. Just plan ahead of when you are going to want to have it as it needs some time to infuse. Hope you have as much fun as we did! 

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Ingredients 

20 (or more if you like it stronger) x heads of freshly picked Elderflower

2.5kg x white granulated sugar
1.5lt x water

2 x lemons

85g x citric acid (this is hard to find, I found the best place was Amazon.com)

Method

1.Get the largest pan you can (we used an 8lt jam pan which was plenty big enough) and add the sugar and the water. Heat the pan until the all the sugar dissolves without boiling it. 

A watched pot never boils….

    2.Rinse the flowers in cold water to remove any dirt (or creepy crawlies, eeek!). Use a peeler to take the zest off the lemon and then cut the lemons into slices.

    3.Once all the sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. Now add the clean flowers, the lemon zest and slices and the citric acid. Give a stir and allow to infuse for at least 24 hours (we left ours for two days which gave it a stronger taste).​ 

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    4. Strain the syrup through a colander which has a clean towel in it to catch all the loose bits so that the syrup comes through clear. Ladle the syrup into the colander and let it dip through slowly.

    5.Whilst that’s filtering, sterilise the bottles. This is where doing a biology degree comes in handy; to sterilise, wash the bottles in hot water and soap (or the dishwasher) and then dry in them in the oven on a low heat. Best to do the lids as well if you’re using screw tops like we did. To ensure the cordial lasts as long as possible though it is best to use a bottle that is  tightly sealed with something like a cork.    

               

    6.Using a funnel, put the syrup in the bottles and store in the fridge. It should keep for 6 weeks, or freeze for future use.

    I found that the recipe makes about 4 wine bottles of cordial. If you’re not happy with it just with water, there’s nothing wrong with adding it to a gin and tonic! 

    A week on the beach

    A week on the beach

    This week I’ve been back to my home town of Folkestone. Whilst I couldn’t take the chickens with me, I did take my other half and our new puppy, Smudge. Even though she gets on with the chickens and we could have left the chooks to babysit Smudge, we figured we’d give the hens a break from being terrorised by a puppy. Plus, Smudge had to see the beach.

    Being in the middle of the countryside and busy with jobs and chickens, I don’t often get to go home and see my family so this week has been rather special to me. As well as showing the puppy the sea and watching her wind herself up over the sand being too soft to walk on, it was also my nan’s 70th Birthday so it was nice to celebrate that with her and the rest of my family.​

     A natural water baby: Smudges first swim!

    Beach babe: Smudge posing on the beach
    Happy Birthday Granny, hope you had a great day!

    Everyone got to have a cuddle with Smudge and a taste of a few homemade cakes that I made special for the occasion. The Victoria sponge turned out great, but the coffee cake was a little flat (I put in too much coffee!) but still tasted like coffee cake so I was pretty happy with the outcome 🙂 

    Victoria sponge: a yummy success
    Coffee cake: a little flat but no flop on taste
    It’s been a great week with everyone and now that it’s rained all the time since we’ve been back, it’s a shame that it’s all over. Still it’s good to the chickens again 🙂

    Gin and Tonic Cupcakes

    Gin and Tonic Cupcakes

    As promised, here’s a recipe involving our fresh chicken eggs . 2016-05-13 22.19.24

    As a great lover of gin, I couldn’t help myself from adding it to one of my foodie loves, cupcakes! These fabulous little wonders are a great evening treat that goes with a well deserved  G&T, and that doesn’t have to just be at the weekends 😉 . Whilst enjoyable any time of the week, with this weekend being a bank holiday, what better time to treat yourself. If these have caught your eye, here’s how you can make them. I’ve adapted the recipe from Bake It Instinct:

    Ingredients

    The cupcakes:2016-05-13 20.04.30

    • 175g unsalted butter softened
    • 175g golden caster sugar
    • 175g self raising flour
    • 3 medium eggs
    • 4 tbsp tonic water
    • 2tbsp gin

    The icing:

    • 250g unsalted butter softened
    • 500g icing sugar
    • Juice of one lime
    • 4tbsp gin

    The decorations:

    • 1 lime halved and thinly sliced

    Method:

    1. Pre-heat your oven to 170c and place 12 cupcake cases into a muffin tin
    2. Add the sugar and butter into a bowl and beat together until light and creamy. Make sure to clean down the sides to get all the sugar2016-05-13 20.13.39
    3. To this, add the eggs in one at a time and whisking in, making sure each one is fully combined before adding the next2016-05-13 20.27.54
    4. Next, sift the flour in, being careful to fold it in and not to over stir it, then stir in the tonic water
    5. Fill the 12 cases about 2/3 full with the mixture, then bake for approximately 20 mins.They should come out golden, springy and a skewer should come out clean2016-05-13 20.52.03
    6. Once cooked, remove from tins and place on cooling rack
    7. Whilst still hot, pierce each one with a skewer 6 times evenly across the tops and brush as much gin as you like (I went a bit crazy with this step!)2016-05-13 21.18.53
    8. To make the icing, soften the butter with a whisk, slowly adding in the icing sugar and whisking until fully combined
    9. Add to that the juice of lime and the gin into the icing, whipping again until light
    10. Once the cakes are room temperature, pipe the icing on to the cakes using a piping bag and add the slice of lime on top to decorate

      If you have any spare icing, it’s very yummy just to eat on it’s own. Be careful though, it can get you pretty tipsy without you realising it! Happy Bank Holiday from all the chickens. Enjoy 🙂