Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Joshua Home!

Bringing Joshua Home...

On Sunday, August 22 Henry, Denise and Mark drove down to Salt Lake City, (SLC) Utah to pick up Joshua. We drove down to Boise and stayed there overnight then got up early and headed down to SLC.  We were able to make it down there around 11:00AM on Monday morning and discharge went quickly.  We headed to Apollo Burger for lunch (Joshua's request).  Then, we went to Mrs. Cavanaugh's for a tour of the candy factory (another suggestion from Joshua).  
Since this was our first stop, we took a lot of pictures.  We bought some candy AND had some frozen custard!

That evening, we went to the Tracy Aviary.  Tracy Aviary is committed to inspiring curiosity and caring for birds and nature through education and conservation.  Joshua really enjoyed the ducks there.  Two geese got into a fight which was "fun" to watch them honking at each other and trying to goose each other.  The pecking order is real!
On Tuesday morning, we went to the Natural History Museum in SLC.  The Natural History Museum of Utah illuminates the natural world and the place of humans within it.  There were exhibits ranging from dinosaurs, and gems and minerals to Native American artifacts.  Currently, they have a special exhibition of Egypt: Land of Pharaohs with a real mummy on display.  We grabbed lunch and then hit the road back to Boise.
On the way to Boise, we stopped by the Shoshone Falls which is often referred to as The Niagara of the West (my pic really does not do it justice!).  At 212 feet tall and 900 foot wide, Shoshone Falls is one of the largest natural waterfalls in the United States surpassing the height of Niagara Falls. Shoshone Falls is located on the Snake River as it carves its way through a deep basalt Canyon on its way to the Columbia River. 
On Wednesday morning, we got up early and started on our last stretch of highway back to Moscow.  We made a quick stop at Ponderosa State Park in McCall, Idaho.  This is Lake Payette in the pic. 
Then, we finally made it home!  It was a long trip and we are glad to be back to the farm!
Now, we are working to get Joshua set up for his Senior year of High School and learning how to all live together again!  Busy, busy!

Have an eggcellent day!

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Fermenting feed for the girls!

In the Coop

When the girls were going through a molt last fall, I had read that fermented feed is great to give while chickens/ducks are molting.  We bought some gamebird feed.  It has 30% protein!  Our regular layer feed is about 17% protein.  Feathers are mostly protein so it is advised to increase protein intake when the poultry are molting.  There are several benefits of feeding fermented feed.  Fermented feed has tons of probiotics.  Fermentation makes the vitamins, minerals and proteins more bioavailable to the poultry.  In addition, fermented feed is easier to digest which is great during this stressful molting time. 

Any feed can be fermented!  All you have to do is put it in a bucket and cover it with water and let is sit for 3 days.  Easy peasy!  Since we feed about 23 pounds of feed a day, there is no way we could ferment all that feed.  I take about 5 pounds of feed and ferment that for the girls.  I end up adding about 15 pounds of water to get the finished fermented feed.  I also read that feeding fermented feed increases egg size, weight and shell thickness.  The fermented feed kind of reminds me of a porridge...
A study performed in Denmark in 2009 showed that laying hens fed fermented chicken feed not only performed better and required less feed, but they showed signs of increased intestinal health.  

Closer to home, I found a podcast talking about a study that was completed last year in northwest Washington.  They compared dry feed, fermented feed (fermented for 3 days), and hydrated feed (feed that had water added just before feeding).  Basically, the chickens ate a little bit less of the fermented feed AND the real eggciting news is that the egg lay rate went up 9%  for the fermented fed hens!  So, they ate a little bit less feed and laid more eggs!  Here is a video all about the study but I basically already told you about it...also, I found a Fact sheet about the study.
We probably will not be able to keep up the fermentation during the winter months.  It seems to me that the bacteria responsible for fermenting the feed will need a certain temperature to "work" and digest the feed to release the extra nutrients in the fermented feed.  We could try fermenting in the house but fermented feed really stinks!  I had also read that fermentation is really good in the summer when the birds will be getting water and feed at the same time when they eat.  Chickens need water to help produce eggs so any way of getting more water to them in an advantage.  We will start up the fodder production and use that during the winter months and ferment a little feed for summertime.  This is a great way to provide different foods and keep things interesting for the girls.

Here is a little video I made of the chickens eating the fermented feed out on pasture...
It took a couple weeks but the ducks seem to finally be taking advantage of the fermented feed...
So, bottom line is that fermented foods are good for us (see blog post from 4 weeks ago regarding radish fermentation) and good for the poultry!  Pickles or Sauerkraut anyone?

Have an eggcellent day!

Sunday, August 8, 2021


 In the Food Forest    

I made some White Currant Jelly and took it to the Farmers Market.  A lot of people ask me what it tastes like.  I have a hard time describing it...I am not a supertaster (a person that experiences the sense of taste with great intensity).  I found the following description from specialtyproduce.com:

a floral aroma and flavors of sour cherry, 
kiwi, Muscat grape and a lingering residual sugar

This seems like a complicated description but maybe this is what I should tell people from now on...

Anyway, I had an idea for a different blog post today but felt that currants was a more timely topic.  I just finished picking the white currants and now I am picking the black currants.  I was able to pick 4 gallons of white currants off one bush!  They are really small berries too!  I was really impressed with the production!  I don't think I need anymore white currant bushes but I did propagate some of my black currants and I have 2 more bushes growing in the food forest.
White currants growing in bunches

I also have a golden currant bush and it put on a few berries this year for the first time but there was not really enough to make anything with them.  I think I also have a red currant bush but it has not produced any fruit yet.  

For some reason, I have always been fascinated with currants.  There were some wild currant bushes that grew in the hedge row at the home where I grew up.  They are still there.  I just thought it was so neat that these berries were just growing there and we did not cultivate them but could enjoy the free food.  
Black currants are bigger than white currants and a deep purple color

I knew that I always wanted to have some currant bushes in our food forest.  I bought some from the University of Idaho Pitkin Forest Nursery when we moved to the farm 4 years ago.  The U of I Fall plant sale will start September 1.  They have some amazing resources on their website about Idaho native plants. I am almost positive that they will ship trees/bushes.  I ordered some oak trees during the pandemic shut down last year and they came in the mail.  They do not list white currants on their website so now I am trying to remember where I bought mine from...hmmm...probably a local plant nursery.

Currants are part of the Ribes family and are related to gooseberries.  Contrary to popular belief, zante currants, are just tiny raisins and nothing like actual currants.  Currants can taste tart.  Red and black currant varieties are generally considered to be too strong and tart for fresh eating.  The white currants are the sweetest and may be eaten fresh.  All fresh currants can be used just like other berries.  They can be baked into quick bread or muffins, ice cream, sorbet, or used in pie filling with other fruits. Since both black and red currants contain a lot of natural pectin, you can use them to make the most delicious jams and jellies with only sugar as the other ingredient.
Currant buns

Black currants are also delicious with game meat, and often cooked into a simple sauce that's paired with duck or venison.  Freshly picked berries have a short shelf life so they need to be used right away.  This might be one reason you don't really see currants in the grocery store.  It is really easy to freeze them and pull out to use later.  They can also be dehydrated and used in baking.

Give currants a try!  I think that some black currant lemonade will be making a debut at the Farmers Market soon...

Have an eggcellent day!