December 2011 Chickens in the Road Newsletter

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*Feature: Last Chicken Standing

*Kitchen Extra: Jam Thumbprint Pastries

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: A Very Frilly Apron

*Recent Highlights: House Tour, A Memoir of the Renoir, Morning at Sassafras Farm, and More

*Sneak Peek: Retreat 2012 Registration Opens Soon

*Farm Bell Recipes: Cranberry with a Kick

*Blast from the Past: Death in the Garden

*Feature: Last Chicken Standing

When I moved to Sassafras Farm, along with all the other animals I had to move, I had to move several dozen chickens. I’m hoping that moving chickens is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, because I don’t really want to repeat it. Most of my chickens at Stringtown Rising Farm were free-range chickens, so it wasn’t as easy as cornering them in the chicken yard. And believe me, they didn’t want to go in the chicken yard or house and nothing could entice them in there. Perhaps it was because we had just recently butchered several dozen meat roos, but for whatever reason, the chickens weren’t in a trusting frame of mind.

Moving the chickens meant catching them, and once caught, placing them in large and small animal carriers. I could get 10 or 12 in an oversize carrier, and maybe 4 or 5 in a cat carrier. I chased them left, right, and in all kinds of circles, lunging for a feather to hold on to in order to capture them. I ran through the easy ones first, the ones that would run up to me when I had a can of feed in my hand. After that, I had to work harder to get the wily ones.

And then there were the ones that didn’t want to be caught at all.

Within the first few days at Sassafras Farm, I had all the chickens except for six holdouts. Four escaped meat roos and two hens. Originally, I had believed that only two meat roos escaped butchering day. They must have had a deal to only show themselves in twos. Eventually I realized that there were actually four of them. Plus the two hens.

After some time of returning to Stringtown Rising Farm over and over with a cat carrier in the back of my car, trying to capture the six renegade chickens, I spoke with the Ornery Angel. By this time, one of the hens had actually moved to her house, and I asked her if she wanted to gather up her kids and capture the renegade meat roos and the other hen. I was ready to give up and I couldn’t keep up the chase and take care of Sassafras Farm at the same time. She had some success, and by the time I went back this past week, there was just one chicken standing at Stringtown Rising Farm. One wily hen who had been eluding me, and everyone else, for over a month.

She came running up to my car, clucking, but as soon as I got out, she ran away. I told her that I didn’t care. I hadn’t even brought a cat carrier with me. She could just move herself over to the Ornery Angel’s house whenever she was ready. She clucked and clucked. I still have some things to move, so I went about my business. “I’m done with that hen!” I told myself. And every time I went back and forth to the car, there she was, lurking here, lurking there, clucking and sounding lonesome and looking a bit bedraggled.

“You could be living at Sassafras Farm,” I told her. “But don’t you worry about that! You just live here. BY YOURSELF.”

I got ready to leave, and there she was, lurking here, lurking there, clucking and sounding lonesome and looking bedraggled.

And still running away from me.

And I didn’t have a cat carrier anyway because I’d given up on her.

But I looked around and found a tiny bit of cracked corn in the bottom of an old can. I brought it out and knelt down in front of the car. I shook it. Like she was going to come to me for corn. She was too wily for that.

Oh, she was so wary. She darted for the corn, dancing back, darting forward again. I made my move and managed to grasp her by one big bedraggled tail feather and she was mine. I took her and the corn to the car. I put her in the back with the can of corn. I didn’t have a cat carrier! She was going to flop all over the car, sit on my head, and poop on my lap!

But she just set herself down in the back with the corn and snacked all the way to Sassafras Farm. As much as she hadn’t wanted to go with me, I’m sure she thought she was having her last supper and was headed for the guillotine. And she didn’t care anymore.

At Sassafras Farm, she wasn’t sure she wanted to get out.

She had to think about it for awhile.

She finally made the leap–and came home.

And found her peeps.

She’ll be fine now. She’s just a little…..


*Kitchen Extra: Jam Thumbprint Pastries

Fun with pastries! Try out my new Grandmother Bread for Pastries recipe with this simple pleasure.

Start by making the pastry dough. (Get the handy printable for the pastry recipe at Farm Bell Recipes here.) When the dough is ready to use, divide dough into two dozen balls. Place balls on greased baking sheets. Press with your thumb to make a well in the center of each piece. Add a teaspoon of jam, jelly, or marmalade to each. Cover and let rise about an hour. Brush edges with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake at 350-degrees for 15-20 minutes until browned. Keep this pastry dough in the fridge or freezer for an easy treat anytime!

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: A Very Frilly Apron

A gift from community member Blyss.

I was surprised and delighted to receive a package containing this gorgeous handmade apron. I’m in love with it! THANK YOU, Blyss! By the way, Blyss will be teaching an apron making class at CITR Retreat 2012–come and let her teach you to make your own!

*Recent Highlights: House Tour, A Memoir of the Renoir, Morning at Sassafras Farm, and More

Barn: I’m ready for winter! I’ve been Gettin’ Hay–and more hay (see Round Bales). Despite it all, I’m feeling lazy with my new chore routine. Morning at Sassafras Farm is nothing like I’m used to! But we still have our annual holiday tradition–don’t miss Clover as the Christmas Angel.‎ Find all my farm animal stories here.

Cooking: See the new dinner schedule in Mexican Mondays and Other Things then check out the Hidden Treasures in my kitchen. And be sure to make some Bear Claws! (Your family will thank you.) Don’t miss a thing in my kitchen! Get all my recipes.

Country Living: Come with me as I dig into a childhood gift and finally find an appreciation for it in A Memoir of the Renoir. I had a new homeowner of an old home experience with The Big Dig. And was The 2011 Woolly Worm Report true? We’re not seeing much winter weather yet! You? If you missed anything, get the annual recap here: The Farmhouse Year in Review 2011. See all my country living stories.

House & Garden: Take a tour of Sassafras Farm! See downstairs and upstairs, the cellar and the studio. Browse all my posts in house & garden.

*Sneak Peak: Retreat 2012 Registration Opens Soon

Bigger and better than ever.

CITR Retreat 2012 is set for September 13-17, with the Party on the Farm (at Sassafras Farm!) on September 16. (Check-in at Camp Sheppard will be September 13, with check-out September 17.) Registration opens in January–keep a close eye on the blog for the announcement very soon. Registration is limited, and you don’t want to miss out!

Retreat workshops at Camp Sheppard in 2012 will include cheesemaking, preserving, soapmaking, breadbaking, candlemaking, natural skin care, apron making, spinning, felting and fulling, container gardening, painting, goat milking and husbandry (with goats on site!), mushroom log inoculating, and more!

Evenings will be “freestyle” with craft-sharing time and some very special entertainment. West Virginia dulcimer player and maker Jim Good will entertain us with his music on Friday evening (September 14) and Granny Sue, a real live old-fashioned folk storyteller will regale us with her tales on Saturday night (September 15). See you there! For more info, check out the Retreat 2012 page.

*Farm Bell Recipes: Cranberry with a Kick

One of my favorite community member ideas this month came from CindyP with her homemade cranberry-infused vodka. It makes a great gift during the holidays–or any time! Try Cranberry with a Kick. (Don’t plan on driving afterward.)

To submit a blog post and enter to win the latest contributor giveaway, go here. The December contributor giveaway winner was CindyP.

December 2011 Farm Bell Recipes blog contributors:

AstridApple Tree Acres
CindyPOur Life Simplified
Grouchy MamaBlue Silo Farm
Kathi NGranddad’s Corner
KerrieCIty Girl Farming
Maker of Stuff
Prvrbs31 GalHomesteading on the Homefront
Robin from RurificationRurification
ShelleyTwiggity Nigerian Dwarf goats

THANK YOU! Please give them a visit!

*Blast from the Past: Death in the Garden

A creepy winter post.

Yet so much fun!! Check out Death in the Garden.

The CITR 2012 Calendar is available!

Keep a goat in cookies! Buy a calendar here!


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*I’m giving away Ball Blue Book Guides to Preserving so don’t forget to watch the blog for The Ball Blue Book Project days.

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