Sunday, March 22, 2015

Getting Better At These Cakes

Yesterday and today I made this cake for my sister-in-law. Her birthday is Tuesday. Every birthday is now a chance to get more practice making cakes. My sister-in-law has become really interested in chickens since I gave them the three at Christmas so it had to be a chicken cake.
I did a lot of looking in the last few weeks to find a cake that I liked and felt I had enough skill to make. I settled on this one, and I think it turned out pretty good. It is a chocolate cake with cotton candy flavored frosting. They had the little flavor packets at the store for the cotton candy so I thought I would try it with my own buttercream frosting. I only used one packet and I think it could have used another one but it was still really good.

The chicken, leaves, flowers, and her name are done in fondant. The straw is buttercream icing.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Meat Birds Go Outside

Anyone who has had meat birds, especially Cornish X, knows that they are just nasty birds. They basically eat and poop and grow. They have to do all these rather a lot if you want them to be ready to eat in 8 weeks. Mine have outgrown their tub already. They kept waking Michelle up at  night because they would get out of the tub and then peep like crazy cause they wanted back in. They also smelled bad and I refused to play my violin in the spare room anymore because of the heat and smell. It was time for them to go out. In order for them to go out the other chicks needed to move. The other chicks had also  basically outgrown their pen and needed something larger. I decided to put them in with my one big mamma bird left from last year. She is a big old meat bird that was always a cripple but somehow managed to live and I didn't have the heart to eat her. She is in her second year of laying eggs for me which is pretty phenomenal for a meat bird who technically should have died long ago. I have some reservations about that pen however. It is protected from the elements because the pen is under the roof of the back shed, but the pen is open on the top. It does not go all the way up to the roof. I am worried the cats will get in the pen so have been watching it all day. The little bantam roosters did get in and I threw them out, they are also a concern. We'll just see how it goes as I really don't have another pen they can go into right now so hopefully this one will work out.

They are quite happy in their new pen and the big mamma bird doesn't move well enough to hurt them. They have discovered dirt for the first time and bugs and they are enjoying both.

The meat birds are also enjoying their new pen which I had to clean all out and add new pine shavings. They had gotten quite crowded, dirty and hot in the tub and they are now enjoying more space and cooler temperatures. Their pen, unlike the other one, is quite secure.

Here's hoping everything goes well for the night.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Meat Birds

 I got a few meat birds. I hadn't planned on it. My sister-in-law posted that the chicks were on sale at Tractor Supply and we went to see what they had and found they had a few meat birds left in a wet brooder. Some of them had been pecked on and I always take those because once I get them home and in a clean brooder they always do fine. So I took them all. There were 9 of them and they were marked down to $ .75 each! These are Cornish Rocks, for those who don't know what I mean by meat birds.

As for the other chicks (the chicks that will be used for layers...providing they are hens), they are all doing well. Unfortunately, it looks like at least 4 of the California Whites are roosters. That doesn't help much as I don't need any more roosters (2 of the Buckeyes turned out to be roosters) and California Whites do not make a good dual purpose breed...meaning they don't have a lot of meat on them. They will be for stewing at best unless I decide to keep a rooster for breeding more California Whites, which I doubt. 

Definitely a rooster. The one on the ground looks like it may be one as well. 

However, that little white one in front is definitely a hen and all the black ones (they will be barred later) were supposed to be pullets so I will have plenty of new hens eventually. I have no idea about the Americauna as they have a pea comb and I won't be able to tell them apart until the roosters get sickle feathers. 

I'm not sure if I will try to get any more meat birds. I don't want to get more than I will feel like butchering myself as Phil does not help with the chickens and I don't want to get overloaded with things that need doing in the heat of summer but I feel good that I at least got nine of them. 
The Buckeyes were doing well with both of the hens laying almost every day and then one day I went out there and found they had picked the top of one of hens heads completely bloody. She now has a pen of her own and is healing well but I am not real impressed with these Buckeyes now. I like a more calm tame bird for eggs, I think.