We’re Still Raising Chicks

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Yes, we are still raising baby chicks.  And this one is right at home resting in the grass and clover. 

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We have been battling a variety of  predators this year and it seems like there is always something lurking around and outwitting us.  We suspect the latest predator is a mink or weasel.  Sneaky and cleaver best describe it.

I think we’ll name her Clover.

Meet Dinky

Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that hubby and I raise backyard chickens.  And every now and then I’ll throw a chicken post into the mix; this happens to be one of them.  I  couldn’t resist sharing one of our newest additions with you.  We hatched this little chick in a incubator.

A runt (and Silkie breed) for sure, this little chicken has been dubbed Dinky.  It is one of the friendliest and most photogenic baby chicks we have raised yet. 

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Photo’s, a Pretty Little Primrose, and a Turkey

When I started blogging I didn’t realize how important a good photograph could be. I knew very little about depth of field, lighting, composition, and ISO. In fact, I started out blogging with an ancient digital point and shoot.

I also knew zilch about photo editing programs, other than how to hit the auto correct button that I frequently came to rely on, but found did little good.

I took pictures at the worst possible time of the day. There was no way in world I was going to get a decent picture while relying on artificial light in a dimly lit room. Especially without using any fancy photography lighting equipment or hint of natural light.

I discovered direct sunlight and flashes weren’t my friends either. Both created shadows that distracted from my food.

Aside from the lighting issues, I have learned to deal with the challenges of taking pictures of food in general. As you know, food quality changes quickly. A slice of bread will dry up, ice cream will melt, apples will turn brown, etc.

I realize I still have a lot to learn but I’ve found  one of the best ways to improve my pictures is to practice, practice, practice.  I do this by photographing things that aren’t going to melt – like this pretty little primrose or our turkey.

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Picking blueberries and my mood

I love picking blueberries.  There is something therapeutic about it.  You start out thinking you’re never going to fill your (rather large) pail and before you know it, your mind wanders off and suddenly your pail is full of ripe, fresh berries. 

I  made a trip to Glenhaven Farm  to pick some berries today.  It was nice to enjoy the farms beautiful and quiet country setting and sample a couple of their delicious wines before heading home to make an old-fashioned blueberry custard pie (more on that in the near future).  I took my camera along for the ride, took some pictures while I was at the farm, and played around with it once I got back home.  A perfect afternoon in my book. 

I’ve notice that my mood dictates a lot of my posts.  Sometimes I feel more like writing, sometimes I feel like spending more time on my photos, and sometimes I’m just very concentrated on baking a perfect treat.  Today was definitely a photo day but I have to admit the reason I picked blueberries was for the sole purpose of making an old-fashioned blueberry custard pie.  The pie turned out delicious and we had it for dessert.  It was very hard to refrain from going back for a second piece.

 

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These gals were waiting for me when I got home.

 

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To be continued.  Stay tuned for more on the old-fashioned blueberry custard pie….

Bring on the berries

A few years ago I planted a couple of strawberry plants in the corner of our garden.  I loved the idea of having fresh berries at my fingertips. The berries seemed to like it there because they have multiplied significantly, and last year I got tons of berries to eat fresh, freeze, and make into jam.

I use to think the biggest problem with raising strawberries was the weeds associated with them, but this year the biggest problem turned out to be our beloved chickens.  It seems as if the chickens have as much love for those bright red, sweet berries as I do.

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Initially, it started out as a race to the garden, with me always coming in second place.  Shoeing the chickens away didn’t work because they always found their way back to it the minute I turned my attention to something else.  Dried out stems, along with green and half-eaten berries were the only proof that big, fat berries once flourished there.  Tired of the constant aggravation of patrolling the garden and always coming in second place, I threw in the white flag.  And let me tell you defeat is bitter, especially when our dog doesn’t even seem to care.

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A trip to our local berry patch helped ease the pain (a little), but the thought of having to pay for berries didn’t set that well.   I guess we sacrificed my berries for their fresh eggs – I’m not sure I like that deal.  Next year I will be ready for the berry invaders – you can count on that!

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If there is one thing I can’t live without, it’s homemade jams and jellies.  Honestly, there is nothing like them.  Sure, store-bought jams and jellies are okay, but they aren’t as tasty as those you make yourself.  For those of you intimidated by making jams and jellies don’t be.  They really aren’t that hard. 

I prefer to make strawberry freezer jam because it takes less time to prepare than cooked jams and jellies.  It also sets a bit softer, and the fruit flavor is amazing since it’s not cooked out of it. First, I start out by stocking up on two key ingredients.  Sugar and Sure-Jell fruit pectin. 

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Of course, you can use any brand of sugar and fruit pectin but I prefer to stick with brand names when making jams and jellies. 

You will also need clean containers and lids for your jam.  I have always used jars (even for the freezer) but you can use plastic containers if you’re leery about putting glass jars in your freezer.

The recipe for a single batch is as follows:

2 pints of fresh, ripe berries

4 cups of granulated sugar

1 box of Sure-Jell fruit pectin

3/4 cup of water

Wash and dry berries; remove stems, and place berries into a large bowl.  This recipe calls for two full cups of crushed berries.  Add sugar to berries and let stand for 10 minutes.   In a saucepan, add water and pectin.  Bring to full boil, and continue to boil for one minute – stirring constantly. Add pectin to berry and sugar mixture.  Stir for about 3 minutes, or until sugar is completely dissolved.  Immediately pour into containers.  Leave about a 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar for expansion in the freezer.  Leave out for 24 hours and then freeze.

* Tip – when making jam or jellies make sure your measurements are exact.

What is your favorite flavor of jam or jelly? 

 

Time flies

I haven’t been blogging much lately.  My computer has been giving me grief.  I just finished another article for publication, and I’m in the middle of planning a huge yard sale.  I forgot how much work is involved in having a sale.  Sorting, pricing, and lugging – is it worth it?  I’ll let you know.  In the meantime here are some of my recent pictures to hold you over. 

 

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Our turkeys have grown like weeds.

 

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Here is one of our chickens trying to dry off after a rain.

 

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Daisies and more daisies.

 

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I promise I’ll bake soon!