Monday, February 16, 2015

The First Buckeye Egg

If you have been following along you know I got some Buckeye chickens for myself and my brother right before Christmas. One ended up dying on him but the other two have been laying eggs for a month or so but mine hadn't laid until today. Mine turned out to be two roosters and two hens. Today I got my first egg from them and I am so excited. It wasn't a normal pullet egg either which usually is a small egg. This one as you tell from the pictures (the Buckeye egg is the one on the left of the picture) was as large as my other chickens lay. Not that it matters really, as an egg tastes like an egg no matter what size.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Another Cake

This cake was for my daughter Michelle's friend, Nikki. I really just wanted to practice making some flowers. It isn't the greatest cake but I have a person who does cakes on my facebook and she told me how to smooth out my buttercream frosting last night so the next one I make should be a lot smoother. I need a lot of practice using the icing tips too and making colors (her name was supposed to be purple but it just wouldn't turn out right which is funny because I don't remember having that problem years ago when the food coloring was liquid and not gel.). I got to use my flower plungers, leaf plunger and the strip around the bottom is from a mold (which was easier than I thought).
Anyway, practice can only make me better so I'll keep practicing and see how it goes.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

New Brooder

I love my new chicks but my old brooder just wasn't big enough. I can't feel good about my chicks if I know they are in too small a place, and their droppings cover the floor too fast, and I know they aren't  clean enough, plus the old brooder just couldn't seem to stay hot enough. The temperature kept dipping down in the 80's. That isn't hot enough for new chicks that should be started off at 100 degrees for the first week (at least 95 degrees!). So yesterday I stopped and got one of the biggest totes I could find. It was $10.57. I got some pine shavings and a real red brooder bulb for the chicks (red bulbs keep them from pecking each other). I got the bulb at Tractor Supply and noticed they had a new bin of chicks. These chicks were black and just labeled pullets (all females). They are probably Barred Rocks. I always loved the Barred Rocks I used to have. Yeah, I just had to get some. So now there are six of those. I went home, got the new brooder all set up and the chicks put in it. It is a relief to know they have plenty of room now and that the brooder isn't too cold. The red light doesn't make for very nice pictures but they'll have to do.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Chicks!

Tractor Supply got in their first order of chicks yesterday and today I went and got some. I was hoping they would have some Cornish X (meat birds) but all they had were layers today. They had California Whites which are a leghorn chicken. Leghorns lay more eggs than any other breed. They had Production Reds and another red chick. I think they were Rhode Island Reds but I can't remember. All the red birds are fairly good layers. They had Americaunas which often lay green eggs (I have one of these here now that lays lovely green eggs) and they had two different kinds of ducks. Ducks are so cute but terribly messy and I am not ready for that mess again. I bought 6 California Whites and 6 Americaunas.

I'd love to be able to say that they are all doing great but unfortunately one of the Americaunas is failing. I have dipped his beak in the water several times but I have never yet had a chick live that looked like this--listless, not eating or drinking. I imagine it will be dead by morning. The rest of them are moving around and eating and drinking though so that should be the only one we lose. Sometimes they just don't do well considering they are shipped on a plane with only their body heat to keep them warm, then sit at the post office, then are put in the brooder at the store (their heat lamps are awfully high over the brooders) and then caught, put in a box and then a ride in the car to your house. Sometimes they just get chilled too much and don't make it.
Anyway, I'll keep you all updated on how the rest of them do.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cranberry Juice Again

If you have been following this blog for years now you may remember me making cranberry juice and jellied cranberry sauce from marked down cranberries. The post is here.  Well, yesterday the bags of cranberries happened to be $ .50 in the store and I got 8 bags of them. However I didn't get started until 3:00 in the afternoon because Phil and I had to go to town and then went to visit with my brother. Plus after we returned I noticed I didn't happen to have any pectin so the jellied cranberry sauce will have to wait until tomorrow or the next day but the juice did get made today.
You start with picking through the berries. These bags have sat in the store since Christmas it is only common sense that they aren't ALL going to be good. If they were all good, they wouldn't be selling them for $ .50. I pick out any of the berries that have any brown in them, because those I know have some kind of rot going on inside and any that are mushy and soft.
Then you add the water and they go in the pot to boil and pop.

Eight bags is a LOT of cranberries. 

After they cook I strain them. It is a messy job and I was running out of big pans so had to strain some in a pan then transfer it to a bowl and then strain more in the pan. Then you add the sugar (1 cup per bag) and they are put in the canning jars. 

Last time I boiling water bath canned these for 10 minutes but some of the jars didn't even make it a year before they started to become cloudy so this time I canned them for 20 minutes, just to be on the safe side.

I did a canner full of 7 quart jars then there was a whole pitcher (the same 2 quart pitcher in the other post) and 1 1/2 quart jars left which will go in the refrigerator to be drank in the next few days.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cake Decorating!

Today was my first attempt at cake decorating. I always wanted to learn and took a little online course on using fondant and now I am hooked. There are all sorts of videos on YouTube to teach you how to do any kind of cake decorating you want. However, I started with something really simple. This is a red velvet cake. It is a boxed cake but I made some alterations to it that were suggested on another site. I used butter instead of oil (same amount) and used our milk instead of water (also the same amount). In the center of the cake I have used the leftover strawberry frosting from Valentine's cookies (from two posts ago) and the outside is an almond buttercream frosting. The hearts are fondant which I had never used before but was so pleased with how easy it is to color and roll out. I added sprinkles and then the fondant balls on the bottom.

It is not perfect. You can see where this side has a little messed up spot but it wasn't too bad and I learned a lot.