Tag / Chocolate

Stories from Our Nest

Life’s Seasons

Hello friends.  I wanted to take a moment to share the past few months with you. Life has thrown us an unexpected curve.  We lost my Dad of 28 years unexpectedly this summer after dealing with some things since spring. It threw us all into a tail spin and all of us went into survival mode. It was a loss that rippled across all of our lives and the most difficult of all was watching my children have to suffer as they did. Their hearts were broken and mine broke even more than I though possible watching my own children learn how to grieve and rebound from loss.

Crafts Desserts Family Fun Recipes Seasons Summer

Frozen Chocolate Banana Pops: Summer Treat

I’m such a lover of frozen fruit. Have you ever tried freezing grapes, melon and bananas?  They are a fave around here and this past week, I wanted to create a delicious, healthier, summer treat for the kids. Instead of calorie-filled ice cream, these frozen chocolate banana pops were a breeze to make. When I was little my Mom used to freeze the bananas that were on the edge of tossing. Later, she’d give them to us frozen or use them for banana bread. Nothing ever went to waste in our household.  Last week, my daughter had a sleepover with her friend, little did she know that I had popped in some bananas the night before. While they slept the bananas were freezing.

Recipes

Easy Holiday Fudge

 

holiday fudge

Fudge is a holiday classic around here and we love to make during this time of year as gifts for friends and family treats. This recipe is easy and you can certainly substitute any type of chocolate chips. Try your own combinations including mint chips, butterscotch, semi-sweet chocolate and white chocolate. Our favorite is peanut butter!

Crafts Seasons Winter

Homemade Body Butter

 

I don’t have hands that are soft as a baby’s bottom. My hands are continually used and I am rough on them. I get them dirty in the garden, in the chicken coop, at work and with the kids. I wash my hands a lot. There are are times that I treat myself to a manicure, but my manicures are short lived. Inevitably, the polish begins to chip away the next day.

Desserts Recipes

To Die For Toffee

My husband named this recipe.  It is so incredibly addictive that it is hard to pull yourself away from it and stop eating.  Delicious and not too sweet, this recipe is amazing.  I make it during the holidays every year.  Now, you too can make it and share in our tradition.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Missing A Friend

My heart was heavy today.  For some reason, I was thinking about Chocolate, the rooster that we rehomed this past Spring. I think a lot about him and see memories of him, like old movies scrolling through my mind.  I can still remember how it felt to hold him, his wiry neck feathers and his strong feathered feet.  His warm comb against my cheek.  I wonder if he is happy?  Does his family love him as much as I did?  Is he spoiled?  Is he alive?  Does he remember me?  Does he miss his old girls?

I used to have to hold him like a baby on his back and remind him who was the “boss”.

 

He was a gorgeous fellow that looked out so carefully for his girls.  We just could not keep him, as he took his job too seriously.  I waffled with the decision for months.  I did my best to keep him.   My experiences with Chocolate made me realize how much I truly do love these chickens as my pets.  I don’t think,even though I have tried, I will or could ever forget.

Photo Credit:  GLC

P.S. For those of you interested, Appliances Online is selecting a winner from those that comment on this post.  All you have to do is comment as usual.  Good Luck! 

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Reflecting Back~Our Beginning

I received a call from the post office around 2pm.   They had left a message at my home and also on my cell phone.  The cell phone message was from a very concerned postal worker.  Apparently, my peeping package had arrived and it was making them very nervous.  I suppose the Osterville post office does not see too many baby chicks come through their doors.  After all, these were day old chicks, hatched, immunized and sent through the mail overnight.
I returned the call and told them I would be there as soon as possible.  I had been waiting for two days with my “delivery window” and a much needed errand had me down Cape.  As quickly as I could, I drove.  Someone might have even thought that I was about to give birth!  As fast as I could safely go, I did.  My baby chicks needed me!
I arrived about 30 minutes after speaking to the employee.  The post office was cool and the air conditioning felt good on my perspiring skin.  I stepped up to the counter and stated my name.  I was met with, “Oh thank goodness you are here!”  As the woman walked away, I could hear lots of peeping.  She soon returned, carrying ever so gently the peeping package, a 6 inch square cardboard box.  It had air holes and was adorned with “Live Animal” stamps on all six sides.  It was even wrapped with tamper resistant plastic cording.  Somehow, the hatchery knew that others would be curious.
“Open the box here!” shouted one of the employees from the back, “we’ve been listening to that thing all day.”  I politely declined.  I feared the worst.  Perhaps, one of the chicks would be dead.  I have heard that some of them do not survive the strenuous trip.  What if one of them got loose?  How would I ever catch it?  What if they caught a chill from the air conditioning?  “No, thank you,” I replied.
I signed the release form and quickly started off on my way with my peeping package.  I placed it safely on a towel in the passenger side seat.  There it peeped.  I turned off the air conditioning, as baby chicks require the temperature to be 95 degrees during their first week of life.
I had ordered six little chicks from an online hatchery.  I selected breeds that are known to be good with children, friendly, docile, good egg layers and also cold hardy.  I was so excited to get home and meet my new babies, an Australorp, two Buff Orpingtons, and three Silkie Bantams.  I could not wait!
On the way home, I morphed into my vision of a mother hen.  I peeped back.  To the best of my abilities, I spoke chicken!  I mimicked their little noises for a while.  The three mile trip seemed like an eternity.  Finally, no more noises came from the box.  In my mind, the chicks were all now dead!  Yes, I do tend to think the worst and exaggerate!  No, surely they must not be dead, maybe they were just tired.
I arrived home safely.  I was greeted immediately at the door by the kids.  They were giddy with excitement.  I told them to go inside and I would be with them in a few minutes.  It is not unusual to have a chick perish in transit.  Thus, it was recommended that I never tell my children how many chickens I originally ordered.  Just in case one did die, the children would never know.
Slowly with scissors, I snipped the tamper proof cording.  I ran the scissors along the edges of the box.  Cautiously, I lifted up the lid.  Inside huddled into the corner were the tiniest day old baby chicks.  I quickly counted and the loud peeping began again.  Six.   All six were alive.  I called the kids out to the garage.
We had set up their temporary home in the garage, a tiny little house made of left over plywood, a heat lamp and soft pine shavings lining the bottom.  We filled the food dish with crumbles and also added water to their dish.  One by one I grabbed each chick.  They were so tiny.  As the mother hen, I inspected each one from head to toe.  I was not entirely sure what to look for, but I felt it was the motherly thing to do!  Their bodies seemed so small, consisting of mostly feathers.  Their toes were so incredibly tiny, and so were their toenails.   I even counted their toes.  Yes, just as promised, the Silkie Bantams all had 5 toes instead of the usual 4.
I gently grasped each chick and dipped their beaks in the water.  They stood there stunned.  I did it again repeatedly until they all drank for themselves.  One of the Silkie Bantams appeared weak and not as strong.  I was nervous. Was this chick going to make it?  It was clear that I was going to have to observe this one and pay special attention to be sure during this delicate time.  Next, I took each chick and dipped their beaks in the food.  Though they were confused at first, it took them no time to realize how to eat and drink.  Since they had been shipped as one day old, they were still surviving on part of their own egg from which they hatched.  They could survive for 3 days without food and water.  However, they very quickly realized how much they love to eat.
We placed the beach blanket down on the floor and sat in front of the brooder’s window.  We watched chicken t.v.  The kids and I sat there, quietly mesmerized.  The chicks explored their new 2’x2’ surroundings.  They continued to eat and drink and officially introduce themselves to one another.  After the introductions and tours were over, all six little chicks settled down into the center of the brooder.  They were so tired but had no idea how to sit down.  We watched each one, while still standing, fall asleep and then topple over into the pine shavings.  Some woke, others continued to sleep.  They ended up creating a soft blanket of chicks underneath the heat lamp. We picked out names; Tilly, Oyster Cracker, Sunshine, Chocolate, Peanut and Feathers.
 I began writing about the chickens out of a desire to chronicle our trials and tribulations as newbie chicken owners, but it has turned into so much more for me.  Tilly’s Nest is about the journey.  It is a culmination of stories, wisdom and life’s lessons as taught by the chickens. We have had happy times.  We have had sad times.  We have had challenges.  We have had successes and failures.  I never would have thought that I would have so many wonderful experiences and new opportunities as a result of adding these feathered babies to our family.  This June, the chickens celebrated their first birthday.  You ask me, was there cake?  Yes, I made one especially for the girls.  I would not have had it any other way.
Oyster Cracker and Sunshine~3 days old

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Chicken T.V.

Sometimes I find myself outside next to the coop or watching the girls free-range.  Often, I lose track of time, sitting there, just watching.  Frankly, watching chickens is like watching a good t.v. show and I find it not only incredibly therapeutic but relaxing!

Chicken t.v. is always different.  You never know what will happen and each time you tune in, you learn something new about your flock.  Plus, we have all sorts of genres occurring out there!  When Chocolate was still with us, it was like watching a romantic comedy.  He was a big flirt.  He would lure the girls over with treats.  Some of the girls adored him, and others, like Oyster Cracker, never fell for his charms.  Instead, she often treated his advances like one would treat a bad date.

We have westernlike showdowns too.  Lately, these showdowns have been occuring more frequently as the mini-chickens are finding their place in the pecking order.  First, they meet head on.  Then, they move their heads side to side.  If no one steps down, then they elongate their necks and stand as tall as they can.  Finally, someone gives, the other receives a peck and life continues on like nothing ever happened.

We also have game shows too.  These are the funniest times when the girls are playing with their treat ball.  The wire ball is filled with goodies like a halved apple, a head of broccoli, or a large juicy tomato.  The girls take turns wacking it like a pinata.  It swings wildly and sometimes spins.  It is a game to the girls.  It keeps them occupied and gives them tasty rewards.  This is one of my favorite things to watch.

We also have dramas.  Sometimes, they are like a good medical show.  If you saw yesterday’s post Sunshine had an injury that we had to tend to.  Sometimes they are like a mystery, like when Dolly fooled the girls with her disappearing act!  Sometimes, they are even sad, like day we rehomed Chocolate and Meesha. Some days are filled with drama, complete soap operas.

Finally, we have an occasional Broadway musical, mostly from Tilly.  The girls will sing their little hearts out.  Some are altos and some are sopranos.  Some sing lead and others back-up.  I think that Tilly does most of the singing, especially when new treats come or she is laying an egg, or she wants to free range.

I love chicken t.v.!

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

One Rooster Allowed

Well, we knew that it was going to be inevitable.  Barnstable now has a law regarding chickens.  With the popular trend of gentleman farming and people starting to keep backyard flocks of their own, it only took a few careless chicken keepers to force the hand of the lawmakers in the Town of Barnstable.  With the assistance and guidance of the Barnstable Agricultural Commission, a new law regarding poultry keeping in the town was passed and will become effective come the beginning of June 2011.

Complaints have been few but those that have occurred have been difficult for mediators and town officials to resolve without having any laws to assist them with their efforts.  Noise caused by roosters has been the issue.  Can you believe that people in our town have gone so far as to tape record their rooster’s crowing and play it back to the neighbors at extreme volumes?  Well, it happened.  So, now we have new regulations.

The new regulation is only in regard to roosters.  There are no laws or restrictions to keeping a flock of hens in your backyard.  You can continue to keep your flock.  The new law will enforce individuals living on less than 5 acres to only keep 1 rooster.  Unless you live on 2 acres or more and can show $1000 farming profit on your property, you cannot keep more than one.  All rooster will need to be housed and locked up between the hours of 7pm and 7am.  In addition, there are similar guidelines for noise complaints based upon the Dog Noise Ordinance in the town. 

The law no longer applies to Tilly’s Nest as we have rehomed Chocolate, but I must say that he became incredibly symbolic to me while we tried to reach a fair and reasonable ordinance.  He represented backyard roosters.  We practiced good rooster management and our neighbors adored him.  He was one of the reasons why I became involved and eventually became a member of the Agricultural Commission.   It was important for me to make sure that people who were considerate with their rooster would be able to keep them and not be penalized for the behavior of a few bad eggs.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Saying Goodbye

Well, sometimes the best laid plans can change.

After I finished posting yesterday, my friend with the farm called and asked when I was going to bring my chickens over!  Her ears must have been ringing!  She also asked about Chocolate and if I was ready to bring him too.

 

Past Winter, reminding Chocolate who is boss by cradling him on his back.

I went through the motions almost trying to numb the reality that today was going to be the day that Chocolate would be rehomed.  Chocolate became very symbolic to me.  He helped me advocate with the town to allow individuals to keep backyard roosters.  He graces the cover on the Agricultural Commission brochure that I helped to create.  He also served his flock well, protecting and warning his girls from danger.  He is the father of our first brood.

I caught him and gave him the most love that I could.  As tough as it was, I placed him in the box.  I also decided that Meesha our little Silkie girl who has been broody for over 2 months was going to need a change of environment if she was going to survive.  Sitting in the nesting box had made her very thin.  As much as I could, I intervened but it was just not enough to break her broody spell.  Next, I took all of the chicks from the brooder except for one of Dolly and Chocolate’s chicks and Dottie Speckles.  I placed them in another box.

We drove over to the farm and the little Silkie Chicks went right into the run with my friend’s twenty or so baby silkies of mixed ages.  Soon they blended in so well and seemed so happy that they were no longer decipherable.  They were happy.  Next Chocolate and Meesha were placed in their very own cage.  I had done it.  Chocolate could no longer try and harm my daughter.  Meesha would be nursed back to health and the babies were now in a large chicken daycare waiting to find new homes.

Later that evening, Dottie Speckles and our little Silkie newly named Fifi joined the larger flock under the cover of the night.  I placed them in the nesting box with Dolly.

Photo Credit:  GLC