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Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

As a homeschooler, this “end of school” time of year feels stranger each year the children get older.  What is it we are ending?  Are we going to stop learning and reading for the summer?  Of course not.  We will put aside formal math lessons, history lessons and other curricula that is more “schoolish.”  We are all hooked on reading aloud (almost done with Tolkein’s four books, I hope they remember it because I’m not doing it again!)  so we’ll keep that up.   So much of what we do is related to learning (just like in all educated families – homeschooling or not) that the line called “school” is getting more fuzzy for us.  We don’t have the dramatic transition that school families do.  Most of our friends are not homeschoolers (there aren’t many around here), and most of my kid’s friends go to school.  My friends who send their children to school have shared that they are relieved school is over, now they can relax from the schlepping, homework and busyness that surround it.

Since we school at home, what is defined as “schoolwork” and what is a really fun project (like my daughter learning to design and sew 18th century costumes for her doll) is something we are sorting out.  If I call it “school” I get groans, if I say, let’s learn about the stars this summer and go to a planetarium – I get excitement.   For us, I guess summer is more of a fading of some formal studies in favor of projects and spending more time outside with the animals, farm and garden chores, an occasional camp for the kids and a family vacation trip thrown in somewhere.

Still, my kids want some of the same rituals school kids have.  Since the school kids around here all have a “last day of school” party,  I bought a box of Lucky Charms cereal (probably the 2nd time that sugar “breakfast” aka dessert has been in our house) to celebrate.  For our school party, the kids inhaled the evil cereal, we picked more snow peas, played with chicks and gave Flynn (my much fawned over horse baby) a bath.

He's white! It will last about 15 minutes.

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Well after three weeks of turning our eggs and hopeful anticipation of many fuzzy chicks to play with, we hatched one.  Yes, you read right, 36 eggs and one baby!  So the children and I used the failure as a science project.  We hypothesized that perhaps the thermometer that came with our new incubator was inaccurate.  We gathered five thermometers from around the farm and put them in the incubator and found that the one we used was 5 degrees too cool.  So we believe that we cooked our chicks.  When we thought we had them at 99.5, they were actually at about 105 degrees.  We can’t figure out how we have one live chick that survived this sauna.  He was our biggest egg which led to more theories.  Here is a picture of “Buddy” as my son named him, I think “Miracle” is more fitting.  He shivers quite a bit and seems to like being right under the heat lamp, hmmm.

Buddy the Wonder Chick

We think his Dad is “Officer” and his Mom is “Triple Time Cuteness:”

Dad, our sweetest rooster named "Officer"

Mom, "Triple Time Cuteness," an Araucana who lays olive green eggs

This weekend we will test our hypothesis by putting a batch of fresh eggs in the incubator with a new, tested thermometer.  So back to waiting anxiously for three more weeks!

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It’s our third year incubating eggs.  It is a miracle that I can’t get over.  We put these tiny eggs, which can sit for a week or more after they are laid, into a warm (99.5 degrees) and humid place for three weeks and they turn into birds!  Nobody is feeding them, they just sit there and grow, all we do is turn them a few times a day.  I find that astonishing.  I used to think that the yolk became the chick and wouldn’t eat them as a child.  Now I know that the yolk is what the chick absorbs for fuel it’s last few days in the shell.  That’s why chicks can be mailed soon after they are born with no food or water across the country (we got our first batch from McMurray Hatchery in Iowa).  So while we don’t need anymore chickens (28 or so is enough) we can’t help but hatch more.  The fun of trying to guess who the mom and dad are (we have about 16 varieties who all look different), holding those fuzz balls, naming each and every one – we can’t resist.  Plus the reality is that many will not make it to adulthood (foxes, hawk, dogs, etc).  So, as crazy as it is, we have about 38 eggs in the incubator this time, all “due” the 25th of April or so.  Look for fuzzy chick photos in my next post!

More of what we don't need but can't resist

I guess I’m egg crazy, I even think the egg itself, the pink,terracotta, blue, olive and turquoise tones they have are gorgeous:

A bowl of beauty

Here’s a low fat egg fritata we eat about once a week:

Healthy Egg Fritata:

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Crack 4 eggs and 8 egg whites into a bowl

Add about a 1/2 cup milk

Add any variety and combination of vegetables you have on hand, I’ve tried:

chopped roasted red peppers, olives, zucchini,

chopped mushrooms, broccolli, green onions

sometimes I add chopped ham

add your vegetables to egg mixture, season with salt and pepper and any herbs you like

Pour in large tart pan or pie plate.

Bake for about 40 minutes, testing for doneness in middle. Can be served with green or red salsa.

Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

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