Category Archives: Homestead

Raising mealworms for animal feed

The Benefits Of Raising Mealworms

Mealworms are an ultimate healthy snack for chickens, ducks, geese, and quail. They are jam packed with protein and something that your critters absolutely love. We raise our mealworms to feed to our hatching babies in the house. We raise (Grand Champion) Quail. The babies go CRAZY over the mealworms that we put in their feeders. 

A few things I have found in raising mealworms are that:

I know what I am feeding my birds!

I know what I am feeding my kids, why shouldn’t I monitor what I am feeding my birds too? After all, our birds give us meat and eggs that my kids are eating. Mealworms pack so many nutrients and protein. And your birds will thank you for it. 

Meals worms are one of the easiest additions to your homestead. I keep mine in a tub(with holes drilled into the top) and an old fishtank in my laundry room. I feed each container a potato on Fridays and blow out their tanks once a month of all of the “skins” that they shed. Yep, that simple! I have a few pieces of cotton balls in each container for them to lay their eggs in and the bottom of my containers either have oatmeal or chicken scratch. 

The mealworm life cycle is in four stages: egg, larvae, pupa, and darkling beetle. The larvae stage is what I feed to my birds. 

 

You can find me and others at the Simple Life Mom Hop and the Simple Homestead Hop!

Elderberry Syrup for those winter colds

My children know that when they are starting to feel yucky, they can just go into the fridge and get out the elderberry syrup. And all they need to do is to take a spoonful. We have been making this for years. 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dried elderberries (There are many places to get these… The best price that I have found and from a company that I trust is Mountain Herbs – https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/elder-berries/profile
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick (I keep these around for my chai tea)
  • 4 whole cloves (I keep these around for my chai tea, too)
  • 1 cup honey (I buy local honey from a small store in my area called HoneyMan.)

Instructions

  1. Add the berries, water, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon stick to a large pot and bring to a boil. 
  2. Once boiling, reduce the berry mixture to a simmer. (I actually cooked today’s batch on my wood stove)
  3. Allow ingredients to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove from the heat.
  5. Add your honey to your jar.
  6. Strain the berries from the juice, using a cheesecloth and small mesh sieve over your jar. 
  7. Now you have the perfect syrup for fighting off the sniffles this season. Keep your jar in the fridge.
  8. Take 1 tablespoon daily by spoon . When I am in the middle of a cold, I take it 3 times a day. 

You can find me and others at the Simple Life Mom Hop and the Simple Homestead Hop!

Firestarters to make it easier in the winter

Here is a download of this oathkeeper class if you want it as a printout:  oathkeepers-firestarters-Feb2017.pdf (32 downloads)

Learning different techniques to get that heat and/or cooking first started can be a matter of life and death. Here are a few tricks for fire-starters to get you started on some survival knowledge. These work great too in your own fireplace, wood stove, manual pellet stoves or your outdoor fire pit. (We use a few of these at our house too!) Many are great to keep in your camping and 72 hour bags as well.

We also get a chance to show you a simple and effective room heater to use ONLY in an emergency (we have heated up our greenhouse in the dead of winter with it until we got a Chiminea to help with the colder northern Arizona winters.)

What firestarters do our family use? Right now, the toilet paper roll stuffed with lint is our go to. We use this one even without the wax on it. 

Having reliable DIY fire starters nearby will spare you from many headaches down the road.

 Posted by Ryan Lisson – January 9, 2015  

http://www.wideopenspaces.com/make-easy-diy-fire-starters-home-woods/

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the great outdoors, your fenced-in backyard, or sitting next to your cozy living room fireplace, a quality DIY fire starter is just nice to have. As a rule of thumb, you should know how to start a fire without one. (You do, don’t you?) If not, you should learn soon as it’s just ahead of tying knots when it comes to necessary outdoor skills.

But there are situations when you’re short on time, or the kindling is a little damp, or you just plain want an easy way out (no judgment here). Or perhaps you don’t get outdoors much and don’t want to embarrass yourself by committing all kinds of camping blunders.

Worry no more. These DIY fire starters are simple to construct, cheap to make, and will save you time and frustration in the long run. Plus, they make great gifts as well!

Materials

First, you’ll need to collect some materials. Luckily, nearly every item needed for these DIY fire starters is easily found within or around your home. Odd leftover bits of candle wax, crayon stubs, paraffin wax, shredded paper, toilet paper/paper towel tubes, dryer lint, paper/fiber egg cartons, small paper cups, sawdust, pine cones, and string are some solid choices, but feel free to experiment! You’ll need an old coffee can or glass jar to melt the waxes, and do so by placing in a pot of boiling water (double boiler system).

Pine Cones

Simply gather up as many open pine cones in your yard as you can and allow them to dry well. Tie a string around the middle and thread it up to the top. Melt paraffin wax with some chunks of old crayons or candles (for color) and dip the pine cone into the hot wax. Allow to dry on wax paper. When ready, simply light the string like a wick, and watch the pine cone go!

Woodchip Cups

If you do any woodwork or cut your own firewood, you’ll likely have large amounts of sawdust, shavings, or chips laying around. Gather some up and let it dry out well. Fill some paper cups (or muffin cups in a muffin tin) with the shavings almost to the top. Pour the wax over the mixture and let harden.

Shredded Paper

You can follow the same recipe as the wood chip fire starter above. Just gather up some shredded paper (most homes and offices have plenty of this available) and fill the muffin cups as before. Pour wax over it and let harden. Then light the shreds of paper or the muffin cup itself to start it.

Toilet Paper Tube

Obviously you could cut up a paper towel roll as well for this fire starter idea, but simply stuff dryer lint or other flammable materials into the tube. Make sure it’s full but not packed, as you need air space to let oxygen in. You can add wax or petroleum jelly as well, but it works quite well as is.

Cardboard Strips

We all have too much corrugated cardboard coming through our house. Instead of recycling or burning it, do both! Cut strips about two inches wide by three or four inches long. Dip them in melted wax, leaving a small portion undipped. The corrugation leaves channels for air flow, and these light very easily.

Other ideas?

Don’t limit yourself to just these examples. There are many other creative ways to make your own DIY fire starter. You could use birch bark, dried conifer twigs, cotton balls, etc. Or you could even combine some of these ideas together, such as putting a pinecone into an egg shell container, and covering with wax and sawdust.

As long as it lights easily and burns for a few minutes, you’ve succeeded.

 

 

 

 

 

The Uber Match- http://www.practicalprimitive.com/skillofthemonth/ubermatch.html  (additional photo

(As featured in the September 2011 issue of Practically Seeking)

 

The ability to get a fire going can be the difference between life and death. That is why I always have multiple means of creating one at my disposal.

The Uber Match is simple to make, and when done correctly is reliable, along with being highly water and wind  resistant. Why you would NOT have a couple of these in ANY outdoor kit I cannot fathom!

Though traditionally made using strike anywhere matches (yes, you can still find them in this post 9-11 world) they can also be made using strike-on-the-box varieties — just make sure you have the box striker as well or you are screwed.
An Uber Match will burn for 5-7 minutes easily, produces a much larger flame than a standard match and gives off far more heat.

A major trick to making sure your Uber Matches will really work well is to allow a little bit of space between the matches and just below the match head.

Now onward with the process!

Step-by-step Instructions on How to Make an Uber Match:

  1. Take out 4 matches, preferably of the strike-anywhere variety. (These are the ones that have a white tip on the red match-head.)

 

  1. Completely unroll a regular cotton ball, and then split it in half, length-wise. (One cotton ball makes two Uber Matches.)

 

  1. Melt paraffin wax (our preferred wax for this and available at your grocery or hardware store) or any other type of wax (old candles, crayons, beeswax, etc) in a small container over low heat. An old tuna can works great for this and will sit easily on the stove burner.

 

  1. While your wax is melting, take one of your matches and, starting just below the tip (make sure you can see a short bit of the match stick) wrap around the stick one complete turn with the cotton. Take your second match place it up against the first, then wrap the cotton once completely around the two together.

  

  1. Add your third and then fourth matches in the same manner, wrapping the cotton around all three, then all four matches, creating a square, not a line. This way of wrapping creates necessary air space between the matches to allow for easy ignition. (Remember fire requires fuel, heat and oxygen to establish combustion.)

   

  1. After all 4 matches have been wrapped together continue to wrap the remaining cotton around all 4 sticks until you have completely covered the match sticks all the way down to the bottom. Strive to make the wrap nice and even all the way down, as if you were wrapping a mummy for Halloween.

  

  1. Roll the now completely wrapped matches tightly between your fingers to really squeeze down the cotton wrapping.

 

  1. Give the BASE of your Uber Match a quick dip in the melted wax and allow to cool and harden slightly. (For the sake of domestic relations, lay down a piece of aluminum foil for a cooling station — wax can be very difficult to remove from counters, stove tops and plates!)

  

  1. Once the base is cool enough to handle, give the top of your matches a quick dip in the wax far enough that the entire Uber Match is now completely coated in wax. Set it aside and allow to cool. When the wax is cool enough to handle but still warm enough to mold, use your fingers to press the wax-covered cotton into the matches and shape each Uber Match to a nice smooth cylinder.

  

  1. After the wax has hardened on all your Uber Matches, place several into an old pill bottle (along with the box striker if you have been forced to use strike-on-box types) and put this in with your camping gear/emergency kit/GO Bag. Allow the remaining wax to cool in the tuna can and it will be ready to melt again for your next set of matches!

  

  1. These Uber Matches will strike even when wet. And be careful, they have a much bigger flame than a regular match!

  

 

 

 

 

How Do I Make Vaseline Cotton Ball Fire Starters?

http://www.ramblinjim.com/articles/using-vaseline-cotton-balls-as-a-fire-starter/

To make your fire starters, you just need two ingredients — petroleum jelly and cotton balls. Any brand of petroleum jelly will work, just make sure it’s 100% pure petroleum jelly. You’ll need a lot of it, so get it in bulk. For the cotton balls, get jumbo-sized cotton balls and check the package to be sure they’re 100% cotton. Artificial fibers won’t take a spark.

Rubbing the Vaseline into a cotton ball is messy work. The fibers of the cotton ball tend to pull apart and the Vaseline gets everywhere. The cleanest, easiest method I’ve found is to put a scoop of Vaseline into a snack-sized Ziploc bag, toss some cotton balls in, zip it up, then knead the Vaseline into the cotton balls.

You want to get as much Vaseline in the cotton ball as you can without completely saturating the cotton ball. It’s very important to have some dry fibers available in the middle to take the flame, especially if you use a firesteel or magnesium rod.

 

How to Make Lint Fire Starters

https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-make-lint-fire-starters-1388857

 By Erin Huffstetler  Updated July 05, 2016

Forget about paying for fire starters. You can make all the fire starters you need for free.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 15 minutes or less

What You Need

  • Dryer lint
  • Cardboard egg cartons
  • candle wax (old candles work great)

Here’s How

  1. Fill each cup of the egg carton with dryer lint.
  2. Melt the wax in a double boiler.
  3. Pour the wax over top of the lint.
  4. Allow the wax to cool and harden. Then, cut the egg carton up to create 12 fire starters.

To use: Simply place a fire starter in your fireplace (or firepit) with your kindling and light. The wax will keep the starter going long enough to ignite your kindling.

Tips

  1. Be sure to cover your work surface, before you start.
  2. You can use saw dust from non-pressure-treated wood in place of the dryer lint, or broken crayons in place of the candle wax. There’s plenty of room to improvise.
  3. Fire starters make great gifts. Make a bunch, and you’ll be all set for Christmas.

 

 

Tea Light Personal Space Heater

http://simplydixon.com/2014/01/06/tea-light-heater/

Jeremy January 6, 2014 do it yourselfhome

This may sound like one of those “free” energy things, and I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical about this working until this morning. After spending a morning next to this thing, I can now say that this tea light candle heater actually works. You have to be near it to get warmer or have a small space to heat, but it works…really.

What is it?

Basically it is 4 tea light candles, placed in a foil lined bread dish, covered up with one terracotta pot and that covered up with a larger terracotta pot.

How well does it work?

I have a relatively large space in my completely unheated basement office, but if i put it next to where i’m sitting I can definitely feel the heat.

Why it works

The inner pot gets really warm, even hot to the touch, so I imagine that the two pot system helps keep some of the heat contained so it can slowly let it radiate from the pot instead of letting the candles heat dissipate quickly in the cold air. I’m sure there are many others who know a lot more about the inner workings of this type of a heating method.

How I made mine

  • 1 glass bread dish (metal would probably work better if we had one)
  • Line the dish with aluminum foil (I figure it would help reflect the heat back at the pots)
  • 4 tea light candles placed in the center of the dish (you can get100 of them from amazon for $8.95)
  • one smaller clay pot, set on the dish (must be large enough to rest on the top of the dish to create airflow for the candles)
  • a larger clay pot set on top of the whole thing but resting on the top of the bread dish.

 

 

Days 2 and 3 – Reestablishing Fodder

By day 3, you should have 2 trays with sprouting seeds and another soaking. Little roots are starting to sprout out of the seeds and a network of roots will begin to grow and intertwine together over the next few days. 

This morning we put out tray #3 with seeds. We are growing ours in our feed storage barn. I am not certain how well it will do as we used to have the shelf by our door in our kitchen. We just installed a new wood stove in the same area, so the fodder had to be moved. 

Here is a download of a presentation that I gave several years ago to the local Oathkeeper’s Preparedness group.  Fodder (49 downloads)

Day 1 – Reestablishing Fodder

Photo of Day 9 wheat/pea fodder

Last year, after my foot surgery, we put growing wheat fodder on the back burner along with many other things. (When Mom is down….) It was a bit too hard to keep up with it.

However, with a yard full of KuneKune pasture pigs, we needed to start growing something for them again during the winter time.  Fodder is PERFECT! It is 100% greens and soil free that is perfect for animal feed. 

Soaking Wheat Seeds

Fodder is a GREAT way to feed animals in the winter time, especially when there are no greens growing in your yard. I soak my seeds for 24 hours in water to help jump-start their growing.

To start, we soak 4 cups of recleaned wheat seed in water for 24+ hours.  That’s my Day 1 for every tray. If you notice mold forming in day 3+ you can add a capful of apple cider vinegar to the soaking water. 

You do not have to stick with just Wheat. You can use barley, oats(although I haven’t had a great outcome in the past with oats), winter peas, black oil sunflower seeds. Whole corn takes too many days to sprout, so I avoid this seed.   

 

In the past, we have used solid trays and drilled holes into the ends for the water to drain. I am trying this new mesh bottom trays this time to see how they work. 

Fodder can feed my kunes and also my chickens, ducks, goats and rabbits. It is a win/win feed and the output is up to 6x the feed grown in 9 days as the weight of the seeds. 

You need 1 soaking bucket (I used an old plastic bin that was missing its lid and you need 8 trays/buckets/bins.  Heck, you can use old rain gutters if you have enough angle that the water doesn’t sit and mold the seeds. 

You will also need a shelf or some way to stack these. I have a PVC pipe shelf that Griffen made for me years ago. 

 
Here is a link to the trays that I am trying out.

 

Revisiting – Raising your own meat, Oathkeepers

oathkeepers-homesteadmeat.pdf (37 downloads)
I love that my children can stand up in front of a group and share everything that has to with their homestead animals and the meat that comes along with it. Shelby and Elwyn had a GREAT presentation for the Oathkeepers.  (August 2017)
by Shelby Fullmer – August 12, 2017

Rabbits

Food – Alfalfa pellets, basic greens like kale, spinach, chard, leaf lettuce (NOT iceberg, cabbage or broccoli), alfalfa, timothy, and bermuda hays, carrots, even small quantities of raspberries, tomatoes and strawberries.  

Shelter – Rabbit hutches or colony living with buried wire with shade/cover to protect from weather.

 

Gestation period – 28 days – up to 14 babies

Male rabbits go sterile in severe heat and all rabbits need a cooling system in Arizona in the summer time. Frozen water bottles, fans, misting systems, in a cooler shelter, etc. are all good ways to keep your rabbits cool.

Uses of Rabbits – Meat, bones for broth, leather, fur, manure

A few of the meat breeds of rabbits for meat, Rex, New Zealand, Californians, American Chinchilla, Silver Foxes, Flemish Giants

Website with more information on breeds – http://theselfsufficientliving.com/best-meat-rabbit-breeds/

 

Chickens

Dual Purpose Chickens are the best egg laying hens combined with the best meat chickens. The truth of the matter is that there are plenty of chicken breeds that are good for both purposes.  Includes Rhone Island Reds, wynnedottes, barred rocks, orphingtons, Jersey Giants – all full sized chickens. For smaller meat and egg production Bantams or (mini chickens) lay smaller eggs and are about half the meat size of a regular chicken.  

Food – Layer, seed, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs, produce/greens, kitchen scraps (no meat)

Shelter – Coop to protect, layer boxes with hay, ground shavings/hay

Incubation times – Bantam 19-21 days, Full sized chickens – 20-22 days

Uses of chickens – Meat, bones for broth, feathers, fertilizer, insect control, garden prepping.

Website with more information on breedshttps://www.backyardchickencoops.com.au/dual-purpose-chicken-breeds

Waterfowl

Birds including ducks and geese

Heavy and medium weight ducks typically are raised for meat production. The main breeds are the Pekin and the Muscovy. Around 90 percent of the duck meat produced in the United States is from the Pekin. Commercial producers are able to obtain a duck weighing 7 to 8 pounds in seven weeks.

Food – Layer chow, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs, produce/greens.  

Shelter – Coop to protect, layer boxes with hay, ground shavings/hay, swimming pool/pond

Incubation times – 28 days

Uses of waterfowl – Meat, bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

More information on raising waterfowl – http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/raising-ducks-geese/ducks-and-geese-zm0z14fmzchr

Quail

Fast growing animals for meat and eggs. In 8 weeks they are full grown and laying eggs between 8-10 weeks old.

Food – game bird chow, oyster shells/ground egg shells for extra calcium, bugs like mealworms, produce/greens, excess eggs – Quail need at least a 25% protein to lay.  

Shelter – Smaller rabbit hutches work great for quail.  Or larger enclosed coops

Incubation times – 16-17 days

Uses of quail – Meat (mainly breast meat), bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

Information on Coturnix quail – https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/quail/

 

Game Birds – Chukars (Partridges) and Pheasants

Food – gamebird feed and cracked corn in the winter for all your birds. You can also give them treats like fruit, veggies, mealworms, peanuts, and wild bird seed.

Shelter – Large enclosed pens with coop.

Incubation times – Chukar – 23 days, ring necked pheasants – 24-25

Uses – Meat, bones for broth/soup, feathers, fertilizer.

More information on Game Birds – https://wgfd.wyo.gov/WGFD/media/content/PDF/Habitat/Extension%20Bulletins/B33-Raising-Pheasants-or-Other-Game-Birds.pdf

Favorite time of the year AND Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies

Don’t get me wrong, I love summertime and spending it outside with my family and friends. I love the sound of the cicadas in the trees of Arizona. I love eating freshly picked watermelons from the garden and swimming in the pool with the kiddlings…

But my favorite time of the year is the fall when we start to can (applesauce is my favorite) and bake. Hoodies and apple pies!! Fires in the fire place. I love baking bread and biscuits. I love the smell of cookies coming out of the oven. (My waistline, however, doesn’t love that part! 😉 )

I love the approaching winter season when we celebrate the birth of our savior. 

Every day in the fall, I try something new in my kitchen. I attempt new cookies or bread. I love making dinner in the crockpot. I love creating new soups for my family. 

This morning in my area, we woke up to the first day of frost on our windshields. It was 34 degrees out when I got up at 3:30 for my classes to start. And our high today isn’t supposed to get over 55 degrees. It is a crockpot kind of day!

On the list for the week –

  • Chicken and Dumplings, Biscuits, Crockpot beef stroganoff, homemade noodles, and animal circus cookies.
  • We have beautiful purple cabbage coming out of the freeze dryer this morning and apple slices going in.
  • We plan on having a road trip if it doesn’t rain at the end of the week

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies

Peanut butter, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-1/4 cups flour

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

PREHEAT oven to 375°F.

COMBINE together butter and peanut butter until well blended. Add sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and soda. Beat until combined. Next, beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Add flour, oats and chocolate chips.

Drop on cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees

*This recipe doubles fantastically – We add 1 bag of chocolate chips to a doubled batch.

 

 

Revisit – Oathkeepers – How to use medicinal herbs

Oathkeepers - Medicinal Herbs (36 downloads)

http://www.yourbodycanheal.com/medicinal-herbs.html

How to Use Medicinal Herbs

So you’ve decided you want to incorporate herbal remedies into your health regimen. Congratulations! You’re embarking on a journey that will help your body heal itself from the inside out in a way that is much more natural, safe and gentle than conventional medicine.

It’s also a journey that can be a little confusing. There are many different types of herbal remedies out there. Sometimes you will find the same herb sold in many different preparations. What do all those different terms mean? Here’s a rundown of some of the most common ways medicinal herbs are sold and used.

Tablets and Capsules: Like conventional drugs, herbs are often packaged and sold in tablet and capsule form. Tablets involve compressing an herb into a round or cylindrical shape, usually with some sort of binder, colorant, flavorings and coating that prevents them from breaking down in the body too quickly. Capsules are usually made of gelatin and the herb is placed inside the shell. Other ingredients can also be mixed in to make the herb taste better or to prevent it from being digested too quickly. Vegetarians can find capsules made of vegetable cellulose, but check the label to make sure you know you’re not getting any animal products.

Extracts: Herbal extracts may be sold as tablets, capsules orliquid herbal extracts; the herbs contained in an extract are far more concentrated than those in a standard pill. Extracts are made by soaking the herbs in alcohol or water (or a combination) and filtering and drying the herb at low heat. Much like culinary herbs become stronger when dried, herbal extracts are highly concentrated remedies, allowing you to take many fewer pills to get a large dose. Continue reading Revisit – Oathkeepers – How to use medicinal herbs

Garden & Happy – 8 Best Egg-laying Chickens

My friends over at Garden and Happy posted a GREAT article on the best laying Chicken breeds.  Here is the article (and a link to their site: https://gardenandhappy.com/best-egg-laying-chickens/)  And as most of my readers know…. I love me some chickens! I mean where else can you get fresh eggs to feed my crew??? I did take the photos mostly out…. They were having issues loading them on my server. 

There are few things better than having fresh eggs at hand for creating all kinds of mouthwatering dishes. Thanks to a resurgence in self-sufficiency, people around the world are enjoying fresh eggs from their own chickens instead of running to the grocery store to get them. Take note, however, that some chickens are better than other varieties when it comes to getting quality eggs. Read this guide to find the best egg-laying chickens for your needs, before you get your coop started.

1. Rhode Island Red

Photo credit: Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/en/users/Capri23auto-1767157/

The Rhode Island Red chicken is a hardy and adaptable variety, ideal for first-time farmers. Developed in—you guessed it—Rhode Island in the mid 1800s, these chooks became so popular that they ended up as RI’s state bird!

This breed adapts well to both hot and cold climates, and isn’t sensitive to rain or snow. In fact, they maintain their happy-go-lucky demeanor regardless of weather, and are friendly, pleasant hens to have around.

Rhode Island Reds have a deep red to almost brown colour, and males have a ruby red plume and facial skin layer. This chicken breed prefers to socialize with others of their own breed, so they’re not great for mixed flocks.

These hens adapt well to either being free ranged or cooped, though they enjoy roaming time outdoors. In terms of laying capability, you’ll get an annual egg count of around 260, medium-sized brown eggs per bird.

2. White Leghorns

The White Leghorn chicken variety is one of the most prolific egg layers out there. They have an early maturity rate at about 16 weeks old, so they can start laying eggs while still quite young. This makes them a very popular breed for egg lovers.

Their annual laying count falls in the 280-300 range! This is in the highest egg-laying bracket, so if you really like omelettes, put this breed at the top of your list.

This chicken variety lays large, white eggs, which can often have double yolks. They’re beautiful birds, with tall, slender statures and white plumage, upright tail feathers, and long legs. In terms of temperament, they’re known to be skittish and will often take flight if provoked. As such, they’re better suited to more experienced farmers who have the proper equipment to suit their needs.

3. Golden Comet

Golden Comet chickens are a cross between Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns. Amazingly, they’ve inherited the best traits from both breeds. Plump and stout, these chickens have dark, golden feathers, and occasional white lacing on their necks and tails.

These gorgeous birds have more than just their looks going for them. Golden Comets are well known—and preferred—for their easygoing, calm demeanor. This breed’s nature makes them one of the best egg-laying chickens for small areas. They’re also ideal as household pets… though you might want to invest in some chicken diapers if you let them live indoors.

Golden Comets are naturally and mothering, and are as nurturing with their own chicks as they are with human children. They’re affectionate and gentle, and if you choose to breed yours, you can rest assured they’ll mother their offspring well. This breed is also friendly with different chicken breeds, so they’re ideal for mixed flocks.

Comets have an annual egg count of between 275 and 330 large, brown eggs. As such, they’re preferred by those who sell their eggs at farmers’ markets.

4. Barred Plymouth Rock

Barred Plymouth Rock chickens are on the larger side, and this helps them to be highly resistant to cold temperatures. They have a round, robust body size and are covered with white and black speckled features on top of a fluffy gray undercoat. These layers make them perfect for cold climates like the northern USA and Canada, since they can endure snowy weather well.

This breed has a high annual egg-laying rate, at approximately 280 large, peach-colored eggs at a constant, predictable rate. They’re also known to be quite calm and content in nature. Due to this pleasant demeanor, they get along well with other animals, whether livestock or household pets.

5. Golden Laced Wyandottes

Golden-Laced Wyandotte chickens are known for their curious temperament. They love to forage, which makes them a perfect breed if you’re looking for chickens that will be able to fend for themselves. Their predictable, highly energetic nature makes Wyandottes a great breed choice if you want to raise free-range birds.

By having a chicken breed that forages well, you’ll be able to lower your chicken feed expenses exponentially. Your hens can hunt for their own food outside, and are great for clearing “pest” insects like slugs and caterpillars from your vegetable garden.

Golden Laced Wyandottes have beautiful, black-tipped, dark brown feathers. Expect around 200 small, white eggs from your hens every year.

6. Buff Orpington

These golden girls are sure to be a hoot in your flock. They’re a top breed to consider if you’re planning to raise chickens in pens. Their fluffy feather layers makes them cold hardy, but they don’t handle heat well.

Buff Orpington chickens are medium-sized birds with gold-yellow feathers. They can be expected to lay around 200 small, light brown eggs every year. They’re very tame in nature when alone, and social in groups.

Their friendly attitude makes them an ideal chicken breed for suburban farmers and garden growers who have limited space, or those who choose to raise their birds in coops. These big, friendly birds are also incredibly smart. Some farmers have even trained their Buff Orpingtons to obey commands!

7. Ameraucana

These hens are also called “Easter Eggers”, or “Easter Egg chickens”. They produce a large amount of eggs annually, with shell hues in all shades of pink, blue, and green. They were bred in the United States in the 1970s, derived from Chilean Araucana hens.

Ameraucanas are known for their gorgeous appearance. These beauties are medium brown with white, yellow, and deep brown speckles, and golden beaks. Their appearance ensures that you that you’ll never tire of watching these supermodels outside your window. They have an odd body shape with a stout beak, slanted lower tail feathers, long neck, and stout head.

Their yearly egg rate is about 260, and the hens are known to quite broody. This means that they’re overly protective of their fertile eggs, especially around fellow hens. Other than their motherly attitude, they are generally well behaved.

8. Andalusian

Andalusians are known for their small stature, and are the opposite of Barred Plymouths in every way. They have a high heat tolerance, and stunning blue-black feathers. They lay approximately 170 large, white eggs annually, which is on the lower end of the laying scale. That said, they have the highest laying rate among heat-tolerant varieties.

Indigenous to southwestern Spain, Andalusian chickens thrive best in hot climates. This makes them ideal for egg lovers in the southern USA, and warmer European regions. They’re known to jump, run, and take flight, but are typically non-aggressive in nature.

This is a rare variety that may be a bit more difficult to find. It is, however, gaining in popularity thanks to chicken hobbyists.

Are You Ready to Raise Backyard Chickens?

Thanks to recent bylaw changes, many people in suburban areas have permission to raise chickens in their backyards. These permissions are limited so specific areas, and have to adhere to certain requirements. If you’ve been toying with the idea of raising your own hens, find out whether you’re permitted to do so.

The most important thing to mention in this article, however, is to be make sure that you are 100% ready to raise hens before even looking at buying or building a chicken coop.

First, make sure that you have adequate space on your property. Chickens need enough room to spread their wings and get their recommended amount of exercise. You need to meet your area’s laws and safety standards for a chicken coop and pen. These ensure that your chickens will be safe from predators and inclement weather.

Be careful if you live in an area where wildlife runs rampant. It might not be the best thing to add chickens to the mix, as you may put their lives at risk. In addition, chickens require food and water that might not be readily available at a local store.

A Final Note:

The most important thing to remember is that chickens are living beings that need proper care. They need love, attention, and affection just like any other animal, and can’t just be tossed in a pen and neglected. You have to ensure that you have the time and energy to interact with them and check them regularly for any health issues.

Chickens are a lot of fun to raise, but they’re also a big responsibility. If you’re dedicated and willing to put in the time and effort, then go right ahead. Set up a coop, get yourself a couple of hens, and experience the joy of farm-fresh eggs every day

Cherry Black Pepper Jam

I have been making this jam for many, many years and boy, is it good on a toasted sourdough turkey sandwiches with a bit of cream cheese (or 3 sandwiches if you are Griffen or Berlyn). I can’t say “YUUUMMM!” enough.   When I open a jar, I  know that  it will be gone faster than I can say “cherries!” 

We also make this same recipe with Strawberries as well. And man, that black pepper just adds a bit of kick perfect for a sweet and savory dish. 

I never make quite enough of this jam either to last until cherries are ripe the next year. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 4 cups of  pitted and stemmed cherries ( I buy mine in bulk from my local fruit lady in the fall. HI JESS! and they come in 5-gallon buckets, pre-pitted!)
  • 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • 4-1/2 TBSP Pectin
  • 2TBSP Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Bring to a boil and then add

  • 6 cups sugar

Stir, Stir, Stir!!! And bring back to a rolling boil for 1 minute. 

Now, you can can add to your jars and can these bad boys for later use. Please follow all canning requirements to ensure safety.