Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blogging Distractions...

I apologize for not keeping current with postings. It has been the two weeks before spring break and I have been grading, doing report cards, attending track meets, getting ready for after break, spring cleaning, and canning chicken. I also have to mention that I won a case of Mountain House Chicken and Rice in Bernie's first ever contest at his website the Apartment Prepper . Check out his very neat site. He has a lot of good information. Thank you, Bernie!. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to try this product and add it to my food stores. It was donated by Ready Made Resources. They have a lot of really neat prepper and survival supplies. I will give a review of the product when it arrives. I have never tried freeze dried meals before, so this will be something new for my family.

I did find a good deal last week on split chicken breasts. I bought two packages and canned up 7 pints of chicken on the bone on Sunday, and made stock with the rib pieces. I saved 2 breasts and cut those up and marinated them in a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. I cooked those up and we had chicken salad with bread one night. We had chicken soup tonight with the stock I made. The rest of the chicken that is canned is waiting to provide us with delicious meat for a quick and easy meal in the future.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chili for Canning

I hardly ever find ground beef on a decent sale any more. At least not the "old" sale prices. New "sale" prices are the old regular prices. So I picked up some 80/20 ground beef for 2.99/lb. so I could make some chili since we had some the other night and I only have one quart left. I have a simple recipe that cans well. I figure it cost me $18 for the ingredients and I got about 9 quarts. At $2 a qt. that is pretty economical and better than Nalley's canned chili. 7 qts. are in the canner and the rest is in the pot simmering to soften up the beans so DH doesn't crack a tooth tonight at dinner. My family likes a milder chili, so of course, tweak the following seasonings to suit your families taste. The following is a great chili for topping potatoes or rice, or to enjoy with all the fixings.


2 # pinto beans, soaked overnight
6 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 envelopes dry onion soup mix
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1/3 C chili powder
1 TB ground cumin
2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 TB Tabasco or hot pepper sauce
1/3 C brown sugar
1-106 oz can tomato sauce, plus 1-15 oz can
2-3 C water

Drain and rinse soaked beans and cover with fresh water. Bring to a gentle boil  for 20 min. Meanwhile, brown ground beef with 2-3 tsp salt in a large stock pot, then drain. Return meat to pot. Chop onion and garlic in a food processor, or by hand. Add to drained beef in pot. Heat through and add chili powder, cumin black pepper, Tabasco, brown sugar, tomato sauce and 2 cups water. Simmer. Drain simmered beans and add to pot with the rest of the chili. Stir and simmer for 20 min. Add another cup of water if it seems too thick. It will thicken when it is canned, so it needs to be not too thick. Ladle into hot quart jars, cap and seal. Process in a pressure canner for your altitude (15# for me) for 1 hour and 30 min. Return to 0 pressure and remove from canner. Now I have 7 qts. for easy quick dinners, and chili for dinner tonight!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Absolutely Sick...

I am sick to my stomach. I got home from work today and went out to feed the chickens and put them up for the night. As I walk out the chickens run to greet me as they always do, looking forward to food scraps from the kitchen bucket, and some scratch to be strewn upon the ground. Innocent and simple.

Until I walk into the chicken barn and notice that BO is not on her nest and there are only 10 eggs! There is a broken shell and I am looking for mom and some baby chicks. She is out and about without a care in the world. Oh my gosh! What I see next sinks my heart. One of my chickens is running around with a dead baby chick in it's beak with 2 others chasing her trying to steal her catch. I don't know what has happened over the course of the day. I left this morning with mom on her clutch, carefully turning eggs as I fed this morning. Now, half are gone without a trace. Just one eggshell and one dead chick. I don't know if the rest hatched and the other chickens attacked the chicks and mom couldn't keep the others at bay as she tried to defend her little ones. We have never had our hens attack baby chicks and have always had more worries about skunks eating them than anything else.

I am just sick. I came inside to cool down and call DH. I went back out a short while later to see if mom had gotten back on the nest. What I saw made me even madder! One of the chickens was pecking at an egg! I don't know if that is how they all met their demise, from being pecked out to open the shell and then a meal for a mean, nasty hen. Oh,  how nature can be so cruel. I gathered all the rest of the eggs and I just got them in our incubator and have it in the living room. I don't know if anything will come of it, but I can't just let life slip by. They are our chickens and I will try my best to save them.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Counting Chickens Before They Hatch?

 On Tuesday, my DH was out and about tending to chores and the like. Our chickens were happily out of the chicken pen, and about tending to chicken endeavors such as hunting and pecking for food, foraging and having a nice day outside stretching their legs and enjoying life. He noticed as well, that our BO was out. No worries.  She gets up off the nest at least once a day, usually in the afternoons, to take care of her business. We leave the gate to the pen cracked open so they can come and go as they please. So it was not unusual to see her, although we don't generally see her out of the pen when she does get up.

DH noticed that she wasn't going back in the pen and went to investigate. The gate had blown shut and she couldn't get back in! He opened it up and she went right in but didn't go over to her nest. He felt the eggs... cold. He thought she had been out and off the nest for maybe 2 hours. Well, finally,  she did get back on the eggs and has been on them the rest of the week. Maybe she knows something we don't, like how long eggs can be unattended without warmth and still survive. You would think she could tell if the eggs are viable or not. Does anyone have any insight about this?

I hope I am wrong, but unless I am totally off on the days of when our BO started setting on her clutch, we are not going to have any chicks. I am so disappointed. I was really looking forward to having baby chicks around.