Sunday, February 28, 2010

An easy and warming chicken meal - with little washing up!

The relentless rain, sleet, snow and cold, does tend to dampen the spirits after a while.
I had often heard it said that when you get older your enthusiasm with food dwindles, but I never thought it would happen to me.  I love food, love cooking, but maybe its the weather - non stop rain, hail, snow with very little respite, than found me sighing wondering what to cook.

The store cupboard, and a large chicken breast, put a bit of colour into a somewhat miserable day.
Chicken Parcels.
Two pieces of foil, a slurp of olive oil, diced up chicken breast, slices of choritzo, a large sun dried pepper diced ( or 2) chopped tomatoes - you can use a tin of  tomatoes, they actually give cooking a more intense flavour - I just had these to use up.

Add a pinch of rosemary, and a teaspoonful of  masala powder sprinkled through finger and thumb over the mixes.  Cook for 30 - 40 minutes depending on how much you put into each parcel,  180c.

Just have a peek after half an hour to see how it's doing - and pop back for a bit longer if the chicken needs it.
Look at those lovely juices, it's not the olive oil, it's the chicken, tomatoes, choritzo, and peppers.
I served it with roasted root vegetables - potatoes with their skins on of course, carrots and parsnips which took the same about of time to cook in the oven as the chicken parcels.
Of course, Patrick had the large size.  It's lovely and moist and juicy and rich in flavours, and just the colours and aroma brings a smile to your face on a miserable grey day
And the added bonus is only two backing trays to wash up!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Raining again

It's been tipping it down all morning, but I tempted the girls out with some left over pear cores from last night
My poor lawn - it's dreadful after the winter
The worst it has ever looked!

I don't like using any fertilisers or chemicals on it
because of the birds so I guess I will have to dig
out the weeds.  

No point in re-seeding it - the chooks and wild birds would have a feast

I shall just have to change my way of thinking

It's not a lawn

It's grass - it's a wild meadow in the making!
Wait until you see the daisies!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just for Gill. 2010 Eggs to date:22

We have had the most awful weather so the bantam babes have been confined to Peckingham Palace compound quite a bit lately.  But they do manage to dash out inbetween snow and torrential rainfalls.
My Lipreading tutor is going to get some chickens - I think I bore everyone into submission with stories about mine.  So here are a few quick snaps of them just so that I can persuade her that lovely little bantams are just the best chickens!  I have had Rhode Island Reds when my sons were little, and bantams too - but the bantam cockerell was absolutely evil and used to jump onto my husband's back and peck at his neck if he had half a chance - and 'No' I did not train him to do so!
Here are girls at 3.15pm today when the rain finally eased off.

It is virtually impossible to get a photo of all eight chooks together
They dart around so quickly chasing insects, searching for bugs
and just for the sheer fun of it!
Snow the silver Sebright and Poppy the red gold Sebright.
These two positively glow in the sunshine - but it's drizzling now.
On the right is Zola, one of two Patridge Game Birds, her sister Lola you can just see below

What ever titbit they have found, they are always convinced that
one of the others has found something better and dash off to  investigate
Scrabble is in the middle - a Wheaten Game Bird - sheis an old lady too,
I have Twiggy who is almost identical as well, and you can just see the back of Zola.

On the left Gozzie, a Rosecomb and Daisy speckled Pekin
these are old ladies now

Daisy rules the roost and shows off when she lays an egg - the others don't!

And here are what their eggs look like.  
From bright white to cream, and pale coffee - but the light is not good
for taking photos.  And yes they are all different - but you probably think they all look the same!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Video of some of my bantams and Egg total so far:15

I didn't know that my camera could do this, it happened quite by accident - but I  thought I would upload it anyway.

I am also chuffed that I managed to open a You Tube account, upload it and embed it on here!  Hopefully future films will be better.

This is just a clip featuring Twiggy, Lola and Zola, the Modern Game birds hanging out around the fish pond -  and at the back are the shy Poppy and Snowy the Sebrights

Monday, February 08, 2010

Monday afternoon ramblings. 2010 eggs to date: 9

Yes you've guessed it - it's the weather.  Sleety and wet all weekend so I was stuck indoors.  Luckily I had company
So I have been rather rushed off my feet.  Luke decided that after a big Sunday lunch we needed a sit down to re-charge our batteries - and what better way to do it than with ice cream smothered in lots of chocolate sauce.  Of course, us grown ups went for the less messy version of choc ices - will it was summery warm indoors.

Today it has been snowing - so the chickens didn't want to put one step outside their cosy run.  I went into town to get some bits and pieces - and it was still snowing when I got home.  The forecast is for snow all week, so it means that my little bantam babes will be spending more time in their run.  As it has been four weeks since I installed the run, and as they have been spending so much time confined to barracks, I thought I would give that a clean. 

I KNOW. I don't need telling - but it comes with old age!  So I was out in the snow, on my hands and knees in the run, filling up trugs with the old bedding, and putting down fresh.

The poor chooks didn't like being out in the snow and complained bitterly - but soon forgave me.  First in were Twiggy, Scrabble and Lola - tucking in to their lunch - they had only been out for half an hour for heavens sake!

Zola was next, quickly followed by all the others.
Scrabble is inspecting the new roosting bar at the far end of the run.

And set about with the others (who are out of sight in other areas), spreading all the bedding about.
Last in was a very reluctant Daisy - the pekin - she had been scratching around in the soil and was filthy! In fact I had to 'herd' her in eventually.

Gozzie has pride of place on the new perch. 
I wish I had noticed that dried leaf on the wire - it's really annoying me in the photos.

Daisy ate her fill and then decided that she would
go and try and lay an egg in the nest box

I re-installed the high perch I made at the front - which the girls love.
All eight don't sit on it together, that's why I installed another at the other end. 
 Snowy and Poppy are sitting it out until the others have eaten.

They are stunning looking girls aren't they - and doesn't Snowy know it!

At that point the snow was coming down even heavier, and I was freezing so left them to it.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Spring cleaning at the palace - and 8 eggs in total this year

After the past few weeks of snow, rain, mist, fog, frost, ice, and a repeat performance of the list - Peckinghan Palace was looking a bit dingy, so I decided to give it a spring clean
The money I invested in the palace was well spent.
I slid off the roof, lifted out the back, and took off the egg hatch door.

The outdoor tap was still frozen so it was the old fashioned method I used.
A bucket of warm water with some disinfectant in it.
I emptied the 'litter' trays.
I gave all the surfaces a quick scrub and wiped them dry.

I sprinkled Stalosan on top of the Hemcore - I have been using it for years.  It is a powdered form of disinfectant, anti-bacterial, etc and it also keeps the palace smelling fresh and clean.

I also use it in the nest box area where they lay their eggs.  Scrabble tends to sleep in there at night.  The reason for the green seed tray, is for Daisy's benefit.  She tends to take over the whole nest box when laying an egg - or just contemplating it and gets very grouchy if anyone wants to share.  But having a separate tray for her - has solved the problem.

I probably should have posted these photos in a different order - this is just to show you how easy the trays slide out for emptying.

The plastic roosting bars seem almost non-stick - and only needed a quick wipe over both sides - no risk of red mite in this Peckingham Palace that's for sure

There we go - in less than an hour it looks like new again - the back top panel is just drying off

The girls were keeping a close eye on the spring clean and having quite a cluck about it

Daisy being the top and very chic chick decided to do a bit of casual preening, trying to act all nochanlant  - but taking a keen interest in what I was doing

Teeny Poppy did a running commentary on the process - but Snowy got rather bored and went off to do some serious insect searching

Poppy decided to chat to Gozzie instead - who actually paid some attention to her - she is too polite to do otherwise

Daisy was in chicken heaven having discovered a nest of insects by the strawberry pots

Twiggy was checking out my efforts in the run and deciding whether to help me spread out the hemcore

Having been a show girl she decided it might mess up her pedicure so had a little snack instead!  Which I thought was priceless considering how she had spent the morning digging over the flower beds chomping at worms
Snowy and Poppy were deeply engrossed in their search for insects, and judging by the excited squawks coming from them - they were having great success

Twiggy has finished her snack and can't decide what to do next

Scrabble is looking like she had a late night - but she is getting old and it will soon be time to go in to roost

Hmm - she's twisting her foot - I will have to keep an eye on her.  She is prone to 'leg' trouble at her age, but it might just be what she is doing today - she always makes funny stances - often standing on one leg like a stork - especially if the ground is cold and wet - but she can stay in the nice warm run if she wants too the door is always open, and she often goes back for a doze on the roosting bar just inside the door

She's OK now!   Well I can't be standing here any longer

But they are so fascinating!  Always up to mischief and fun.
I am getting cold - so off to tidy the things away - I will be back out again soon when they go in to roost

Monday, February 01, 2010

Snowy Sunday

Eight year old Kerys has named the Silver Sebright 'Snowy', and I promised to put photos of her on my blog tonight - of Snowy that is, not Kerys

So here are a few snaps of them out and about in the snow today

It was the first time the new girls have experienced snow- and their reactions were quite funny

At first they did their usual and ran out like children at playtime.
Then they looked rather puzzled and kept lifting up their feet

They started pecking it and eating it - then they moved off onto the gravel

I think they must have found some insects amongst the gravel as they spent ages scratching about on there

Lola, Twiggy and Zola  spent at lot of time lifting up their feet.
Soon after I took this photo, they were charging around the garden one after another in a game of chase.  Up on the raised beds, across the flower beds, on the strawberry pots - they looked like a gang of delinquents chasing around - but not doing any damage.  They didn't want to go into their run this evening, so I left them playing until they went in at dusk.  They were out all day and had a great time - and it's lovely to see so many little starfish footprints everywhere!

The older girls stayed in the sunshine, pecking at the gaps in the paving slabs, and NOT eating my newly appeared bulbs all along in front of the patio door!