Saturday, October 15, 2011

#115 - Chickens, Eggs and Food - Country Living

Our chickens are now several months old, approximately seven months old to be giving a good guess for their age.

They are very healthy, robust, happy, and my gals are good laying chickens.

Every day we get at least 4-5 eggs. Most days, we get 5 eggs. And since we are now often getting a jumbo egg in the mix, that actually gives us two eggs or two egg yolks in one egg.

Deputy Dave has been a nice guy to tell his co-workers that if they bring him an empty egg carton, he'll fill it up with the freshest eggs they've probably ever eaten and bring it to work for them to take home for some delicious enjoyment. These days, for our own house, we fill at least one to two 18-count cartons per week with fresh eggs. Considering we get approximately ten eggs every two days, that works out just fine.

Speaking of eggs, I've been cooking a lot of dishes with eggs. Having so many eggs has helped us to drastically cut back on our grocery bill, simply because a lot of our meals are based upon eggs. I love making Bird's in a Nest which is a piece of bread with a hole cut out of the center. The bread is browned on a flat grill or pan with some butter, then an egg is cracked in the center of the cut out hole and once the egg sets, then you flip the entire thing with some more butter for that side and you cook it until your egg is done the way you like. I've become a perfectionist at making these. For years, Stefie cooked these for her family, even though she never ate them herself. So, that's one of the light meals we have a couple of times per week. Cheap, but good.

Another meal we eat with eggs as the main course is a delicious omelet. We stuff the omelet with fresh mushrooms, cheese and whatever else you might like. This past week, we had some leftover ham, so we cut some small cubes of the ham and added those to the omelet. It tasted like Heaven in my mouth.

I also like regular scrambled eggs and egg salad for sandwiches.

Then, there is Quiche. Yes, Deputy Dave can make a blow-you-away Quiche. He makes the pie crust himself and everything. These fresh eggs that we gather from the backyard make everything taste so much better. It does make a difference.

I love boiling eggs for some deviled eggs to be in the fridge for a snack. However, this is when having super fresh eggs is a problem. The eggs are so fresh that you nearly tear your eggs apart while trying to get the shell off. Eggs that are older are good for boiling because they develop gasses or something between the egg shell and the egg membrane which makes it much easier to peel the shell. So, we've set some eggs back to try to let them become ten days old and we'll try again.

Eggs, eggs, eggs is something we have been thrilled to eat on a regular basis. Some people do not know how you could recover your money from raising your own laying hens and I can clearly see the difference. Instead of buying a carton every week at the grocery store, we don't.
And, we are able to eat many more eggs than ever before because we are not having to secretly ration the store-bought eggs in the carton. Since we know we'll have more eggs laid in the coop tomorrow, we'll eat our last egg and still feel at peace! Instead of going through one carton of eggs per week for egg-based meals, we are going through about two cartons (large 18-count) per week. So, we are really eating a lot of eggs and this means we are NOT eating a lot of other foods that we otherwise would be preparing for our meals.

Once we move to the country, I can see that I'm definitely going to give it a try with another rooster. I do want to produce baby chicks on the farm so that we have a constant replenishing stock of laying chickens. But, my laying girls that are producing eggs for the kitchen will be kept separate and happy, happy so their eggs will be extra tasty.

Speaking of chickens, for the past few years I've been decorating my kitchen with the chicken-rooster theme. I love it. This set of tin canisters is painted with a nice rooster design. They are simple, yet I love them.

Now, I'm changing gears a little. I've been thinking so heavy about the house in the country that I think my brain has gained weight.

My daughter Heather and I had an important talk about the driveway. We already have one long drive onto our property that takes you from the entrance of our land to the heart of the land on one side and we had crushed limestone put in as road stabilizing material. Still, it's been a battle to keep the road nice. Heather told me that her future in-laws had a limestone road on their acreage here in Texas and they would never do it again because their vehicles had a perpetual film of limestone dust layered on it, even if the vehicle was just trip down the road put on a coat of dust.

But, I really don't want concrete drives on our land because my whole point of leaving the city is to get away from the concrete jungle. So, we're thinking a regular old-fashioned asphalt drive would suffice...not a marvel of perfection, but inexpensive to put down, easy to patch, rough edges like I want and solid material to make the incoming and outgoing road all-weather and all-season as required.

As for our house in the country, there is a design element I like when it comes to doors. I do not want to purchase regular doors from the hardware store for the house. But, the picture below shows exactly what makes my heart go pitter-patter a bit faster...I love these barn style doors. Maybe we can incorporate some of these into our design. I do know that every little touch like this must be thought out for that country cabin theme to resonate through and through.

This next picture shows a cabin with a stairway built with rough edged stair runners. Beautiful, but the finish was done too smoothly, and I believed it to be too slipper and dangerous for every day usage. But, they sure were pretty.

This house has in the below picture we visited has exposed rough beams left in their natural state. It gives the cabin a more rustic feeling and the open ceiling draws the eye up. It is a nice sight to see.

Well, we are going to try to buy our neighbor's narrow strip of property that is next to us. If we could buy that piece, our land would reach all the way to the corner of the block and we would have a much easier time fencing and dealing with property boundaries. It would only add about 1.5 acres to our property, but the positioning of this strip of land could be very important for added access and it would change our home site. More importantly, owning this land would fiercely protect our privacy in the future and owning it would protect the integrity of our own farm because no one could build or live next to us. Since we are wanting to build our cabin near that boundary line, owning that property would be very important to us.

Over the past decade, there's been no evidence of this owner going to the property. A lot of property in East Texas was purchased by people in their youth and then it is held onto for a lifetime with nothing happening to it. My parents were one of those people. They also purchased land just a few miles from the land that Deputy Dave and I own...I grew up going out there, but the land now just sits and sits, uninhabited.

So, over this next week, I am going to be writing a letter to see if they are interested in selling. Who knows? Maybe...Maybe Not. All I can do is ask and offer fair market value. I always pray over every decision, so I've asked the Lord to bless our efforts. These are the scary things that we are willing to do in an effort to make our country home as nice as possible and to prepare for future needs before they are on top of us. Since the economy is rather blue in the face with feeling ill with recession woes, this might be a good time to ask if she would like to sell the property to some good people willing to pay the worth of the land.

Anyway, I'll let you know how that goes. One thing for sure, that property has some beautiful forested areas that would allow us to savor more towering trees in our landscape.

I think Deputy Dave will probably build a smaller
version of this fish cleaning station on our property.
We will be eating a lot of catfish from Lake Livingston.

Here's the PERFECT stick to roast a marshmellow!
Again, in Livingston.

Roadtrip through Livingston. Such a beautiful, quaint little church.
I love these old clapboard white churches with the gothic peaked window design.

As for that next door property owner....Perhaps I could also offer to bring her a carton of our freshly laid eggs. The owner of this land lives in the Houston area with us...perhaps I could woo her with some fresh eggs and chocolate pie! You know, I'm always a firm believer in the personal side of feels so much better to sell to someone you like. So, we'll see what I can do to soften the seller, and if she's ready to let go of that land, we will be ready to jump on her offer so we can start working. I think she'll be really happy to see how much the land out there means to us, it is sacred to our family and we plan on taking excellent care of it through the next few generations...we hope our kids or their kids will see the value in our small farm and will be drawn to continue the tradition. Yes, that's already Part Two of my dream. For this land to touch our family beyond just Deputy Dave and myself, for it to stay in the family.

We will work hard; smart, and efficient over the years to make the most of this land. For over ten years we've been patient. We've spent many summers on our land with our children having great fun while growing up as part-time country girls. We would go to our land with a truck full of explosives so that we could enjoy the best 4th of July Firework display ever seen; we all swam and paddled around in a boat in the lake together; we've walked the creekbed looking for tadpoles and other treasures; the girls have enjoyed watching me, their mother, falling into that creek quite a few times; we've gone hiking and become lost in the dense woods; we've sat around big bonfires at night and ending up screaming and ducked with sticks flailing around so we'd not be attacked by the swooping bats who were just swooping down to eat the bugs in the fire-light...oh yes, this land is in our heart, it's long been a part of our memories and will hopefully be a huge part of our future.

And even though my girls have grown up and have their own lives, this land will always be their home. Our actual country home is springing to life, but the land is already rooted deep within us.

Me washing up in the RV we sold this year.


LindaG said...

Good luck with getting that property!

Mike said...

We call your 'birds in a nest', 'scooby eggs' and I'll take mine over easy, please. I can't remember the last time I had one.
Years ago, the last cabinets my father built were the pine cross board style. That is most definitely a country design.

Karen said...

Lana, thanks for the ideas for our eggs, too. We get about the same amount of eggs as you do every day from our hens but some of ours are tiny since some of my hens are bantams. Isn't it amazing how much darker the yolks are in our homegrown eggs? We have a rooster right now (one we hatched out in May from eggs given to us by a friend) but he's gonna be leaving us one way or another because he's such a noisy thing. He is handsome, though.

Yesterday a hawk swooped in and almost killed my prized Araucauna hen, Ashley. Feathers were everywhere and Ashley's back has a bald spot, but she pulled through. I don't know how the hawk thought he could carry her off, she's a heavy laying hen.

I hope you can get the extra land, it sounds like it would really be an excellent thing for you. Love the doors you've picked out, too. Your new home is going to be fantastic!

ain't for city gals said... are a busy woman! first of all, I love eggs and I think they are one of the most under rated food..tons of protein! I do hope you get the extra husband and I are home builders and we are in the process of building for ourselves right now. We do all the work we pay as we go. hard work but totally worth it..looking forward to reading your past and future posts.

Dreaming said...

There is nothing nicer than fresh eggs! I really enjoyed it when we had some hens. Our refrigerator was always filled with eggs in all kinds of containers! I was constantly giving them away!
I love the door style you are interested in. It looks lovely. A neighbor has a few doors similar to that that are on barn rollers. I think the doors to her laundry room, pantry and powder room are that way. The one going into the pantry has a screen on the upper half. It really makes you feel like you are in an old cottage or barn.