Here’s something to ponder on this, one of the last days of January: did you know that if you hard boil eggs at least a day after you collect them they peel really well? I actually steam my eggs rather than boil them, but the result is the same. The Hubs and I had a working theory that I put to the test and it is now conclusive, at least in our house. Old eggs peel easier than new eggs. You now feel like a genius, don’t you? This little tidbit of knowledge has made my life easier. I guess you could call it a little life hack. Hashtag it!
If you can boil water, you can steam eggs and they turn out great! Just bring water to boil, put your eggs in a steamer basket and steam for 17 minutes. Pour out the hot water and refill the pot with cold water and put your eggs in the cold water. Continue to pour out the warmer water and refill it with cold water over and over until it stays cold. When removing my eggs from the steamer and putting them into the pot with the cold water, I usually make sure the fat bottom of the egg gets cracked (drop it like it’s hot…because those eggs are really hot!) so that some water can get into and under the shell to help it peel easier. Just something I read. When the eggs are cooled down, crack the shell all the way around and proceed to peel the eggs! No more peeling little pieces of shell and egg white off. They are nice and smooth. Now, if you have store-bought eggs, well, I can’t help you because (because I haven’t bought eggs from the store in a really long time) I don’t know if this applies to eggs that are that old versus days old. Lesson here? Please, for your own sanity, get some local eggs. You will thank yourself. I am not kidding here, fresh eggs are the bomb. The chicken owner will also thank you, so there’s that.
We cleaned out the chicken coop last weekend. Jealous, aren’t you? I started this post about a week ago, so, I will admit that there has been a weekend since we had our fun-filled time of cleaning out the coop. We usually change the bedding in the nesting boxes every other weekend and clean out the coop every quarter but this cleaning was a little early. Why? Because it was so stinky! We have 38 birds. That’s a lot of chickens. 38 chickens means 38 chickens are pooping in a small space. And if you didn’t know, chickens poop a lot. Did I mention that the coop was stinky? The coop was stinky. That much poop creates a LOT of ammonia. We have windows on the coop and ventilation slats to help with this, but it had been so warm that it became overwhelming. It is bad for the chickens to inhale that much ammonia for too long -can you imagine breathing in ammonia while you sleep? Yikes! So, the Hubs mucked it out (wearing a mask to cover his mouth, nose and eyes of course) and I drove it to the compost pile to eventually be used in our garden! Waste not, want not! They now have beautiful brand new pine shavings in their house and nesting boxes so everyone is happy. You know happy chickens lay happy eggs, right? Who doesn’t love a happy egg?
Princess Chicken Leia update: We cleaned her ears out again, but they filled back up which means she still had her ear infection in both ears. Thankfully she is the only one that has the issue, but she looked so pitiful. She was eating and drinking and walking and talking and acting normal. She just had nasty ears which were affecting her eyes and she had very pale combs. If you didn’t notice it, I used the past tense in this update. That’s right, Princess Chicken Leia has crossed the rainbow bridge. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t help her anymore, so we put her out of her misery. Ok, when I say “we”, I actually mean the Hubs. I was no where in the vicinity for it. So I thank him for such a terrible task that had to be done.
Normally this time of year is cold and I must say it is today. We had a great snow storm a couple of weeks ago and it was cold. It was January normal cold. Then all the snow melted because it went from 10 degrees to 60 degrees in a few days. Crazy is an understatement and I am sure the bees have been just upside down about it! Did you know that bees like chicken feed? MY bees like chicken feed. I have never seen the bees in the chicken feed before, but apparently it can be a thing. I know if can be a thing because my bees are in my chicken feed buckets. The bees have been able to fly because it has been above 55 degrees. When it is warmer like this, all of the bees don’t have to stay inside to keep the hive warm. When I say warm, I actually mean hot. Really hot. 95 degrees hot. That’s how hot it needs to stay to keep the queen and everyone warm and cozy and happy. And alive.
As there is nothing for them to forage for this time of year (because in a normal world this time of year they would all be inside the hive keeping it hot, not out gallivanting around) they are out checking out the chicken feed. Since I have never asked a bee and you will get 17 different answers from 10 beekeepers, it could be that they are bored and are looking for something to do and chicken feed has molasses or honey or something else sweet in it or they are trying to find a pollen substitute or it’s none of the above. They are being very hush-hush about it. All I know is that they have been having a great time in the feed buckets. Go figure. They have also found a water source in the mat we keep on the pool deck to wipe our feet. It’s cute little flip-flop mat so I can understand the attraction. I am just so happy to see them out and about and ALIVE. Three out of four hives are still buzzing which gives me high hopes for the orchard in March! That’s right, the one that I feared we would lose, we did. However, the silver lining is that we have a nice big deep full of drawn comb and full of food for Spring. We haven’t decided whether we will buy a nuc or try to split one of the other hives. Either way, they will have plenty of food to get started! In the second picture, you can see some bees working on the bottom right corner. There is a bit of an opening and they are filling it up with propolis to seal it. They have made pretty good progress! You can also see that they aren’t sealing up the bigger hole because that is the exit/entrance and those bees are pretty darn smart.
You may be wondering why we aren’t harvesting what is in the empty hive for our own use. Good wondering! As we had a pretty good period without anything for the bees in the weak hive to forage, I had to feed them sugar syrup to make sure they had enough stores for winter. That means that most of what is in the hive is capped sugar syrup rather than honey. Therefore, it isn’t really something I want to eat because they don’t make honey out of sugar syrup (they make honey from nectar) they just cap it for later. I am sure there is honey in the frames from last Spring and before the dearth, but I think it’s best just to leave it for the next round of girls that need it.
I have nothing at all to say about the garden except that it is still a mess. Just pitiful. Oh and I forgot to bring in my cilantro and basil plants when it got cold, so they died. Epic fail this winter on the plant/herb front. Although, my rosemary and thyme plants are doing remarkably well in the herb garden. Mother nature has such a sense of humor, doesn’t she? Always keeps me guessing. Always keeps me wondering. It’s always something with her, that Mother Nature. On a more fun note, this is the year for the greenhouse! That’s right, no more lamenting the lack of fresh veggies and such during winter. I still have plenty of veggies in the freezer from the summer, but it will be so fun to have fresh ones all year long. You do see the fun in that, right? I know, the fun aspect is pretty obvious, but I just wanted to make sure we are on the same page here people!
The canines are all doing just fine and are as happy and healthy as can be! We are all awaiting the long warm and sunny days to come. Did I mention I am awaiting the SUNNY days. SAD is a real thing. I need sun. Oh how I miss the sun. I don’t think I could ever survive living where it is dark for the majority of the day. I love the sun. That being said, you must wear sunscreen in the sun. It really is a must. PSA for the day. If you are looking for a great sunscreen or skin care that includes sunscreen, I can hook you up! It’s my blog so I get to plug my business and products any time I want. But seriously, have you tried Rodan+Fields??? It’s great stuff.
So, really, we are sitting here waiting for it to dry out so we can work on the garden and waiting for winter to end and Spring to begin. Oh and we are making plans for all of the things we are going to do when the sun comes out and dries the garden and winter ends and Spring begins. Gotta have a plan. Otherwise, it is just plain chaos and nothing gets done. Plans are good, lists are good. Doesn’t it feel good to strike through things on your list because you have accomplished them? I love that feeling. Even at the grocery store, I love marking through things on my list.
There you have it! If you have any questions or want more info on how to do anything, let me know. I am happy to spout all of the knowledge trapped inside of my noggin. Here’s to the days of awakening to come, seeing as how it is, still just January.