Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Spring Meal

Living 20 minutes away from any sort of restaurant or store, I have learned to cook as part of life. In the morning after breakfast if I am to be home all day, I start something for lunch and supper. I like things that can simmer unattended while I work. It is a way of life. 

After cooking....a lot... over 40  years...it is like breathing.... to know what goes with what. I do not think about it often, but today I thought I would share a basic pan meal "recipe".

A Spring Meal. I have also called this Chicken in a Pot. It has many variations depending on what you might have on hand. Today it was chicken, red potatoes, spring onions, carrots, and herbs. You could add greens of any type, quartered cabbage, mushrooms, fresh or frozen english peas or edible pod peas at the end for 5 minute. You could even leave the meat out completely and it would be delicious! 

This is the basic recipe..but change it depending on what you like or find in your garden.

Chicken boneless thighs or what you have-4
Olive Oil-3 T
Butter-1 t
Potatoes-6 small
Carrots-6 washed not scraped
Spring onions-washed and roots removerd-2 include greens
Fresh garlic clove-1-2 depending on what you like minced
Bacon-thick smoky type with skin-1 strip
Fresh thyme sprig
Fresh parsley-roughly chopped
Black pepper - fresh ground
Sea Salt to taste
Water, Chicken Broth, or white wine-2 cups to cover chicken and touch vegetables




Peel potatoes as needed. Today I had red potatoes that had sprouted a little, with no green under the skin,  so I took cut sprouts off to start a new potato row in the garden. But that is another story completely!





Run out to the garden for fresh thyme, parsley, and green spring onions.


Chicken-use what you have. Bone in or out; skin on or off...does not matter. Brown Chicken boneless thighs in olive oil 3 T, and 1 t butter until a crusty brown forms on the bottom of the pan and all sides of the chicken are brown.  Use a heavy stainless steel pan. NEVER use a nonstick pan because it will not form the lovely tasty brown crust needed to make the sauce AND it is terrible for your health. THROW it out if you have one.



Scrap up the tasty brown bits and add 1/4 cup plain unbleached flour. This is called a Roux. Use that word and people will think you really know about cooking. Stir and cook until slightly golden. NOT brown. Add chicken broth if you have it or plain water-1 to 2 cups to cover the chicken.
Add salt and fresh ground OG pepper
Bring to a simmer.

Add carrots and potatoes in separate areas of the pan. Place onion, herbs, garlic and bacon on top. More salt and pepper for the vegetables.



Simmer on low heat with a lid on for 45 - 60 minutes. Add asparagus tips in last 10 minutes.
Check every 30 minutes or so to be sure there is enough liquid. The broth will thicken and make a luscious sauce.

This is Slow cooking. VERY slow cooking. BUT just think all the things you can do while this is gently simmering on the stovetop. AND the house will smell heavenly of fresh herbs!

If you decide to add fresh asparagus, english peas, edible pod peas, cabbage or kale remember to add those in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. These are not good over cooked.



A delicious meal eaten on the porch while it gently rains. Lovely!


Friday, December 4, 2015

Peace

There is a peace here that is as quiet as the snow that comes stealthy in the night without warning.

A quiet that bubbles up from inside with the sight of the last shadows on the back hill; the silhouette of the chaulk trunks of the white oaks against the dark woods; the sound of the forest sighing as the night gently...slowly covers the land.

There is a peace here with the urgent bark of the fox calling for a mate in February; the steps of the deer as they go toward a bedding place; the deep low voice of the great horned owl as he drifts silently across the pasture with eye peeled for rodents amongst the tall golden grass.

The night is alive with soft voices and cries. The bobcats call like a scream.

There is a sustenance here. A fire gently fluttering on the grate; a slow cooked meal in the pan; the clock in the hall with a steady tick.

Quiet, yet alive more than any contrived event or venue.

Eyes wide open, ears yearning to hear, a soul needing to be filled.

Sometimes when I walk with Toby back up the hill, I catch my breath at the beauty. The house sitting in the evening light, white against the green. The hens contently marching to their house; A thin trail of wood smoke from the chimney top. The smell of hickory smoke finding its way to my nose; The sound, at times when I am so blessed to have Sam home-of music of fiddle and mandolin erupting like a sonnet from the house, interspersed by male voices and hearty laughs.  Joy Oh Joy!

Then peach coloured haze along the treeline as the day slips away and the navy blue night arrives with starry lights and crescent moon.

I breath in the majesty and I am grateful.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

What? Today's weather is a promise of Fall to come?



                                                     The Back Pasture at Dusk

The Seasons are so definite here and I am grateful for them. I always yearn for Spring after the cold and gray of Winter.  By this time every Summer I am thinking blissfully of Fall. Spring and Summer on this farm are constant weeding, mulching, seeding, staking, and harvesting in the humidity and heat. Most days I work outside 2-3 hours twice a day until sunset donned in a long sleeve shirt, gloves, long pants, and boots. Each time my clothing is wet as if I were thrown into a pool!  I yearn for cold crisp air and a day outside when the sunshine is a joy instead of obstacle.

Last night as I finished up weed-whacking the invasive new weed in the back garden I walked up the road from the barns to the house. As I approached - the air was filled with the swoop and swing of BATS. Amazingly they never came close to me as they were concentrating on eating mosquito's in the air!  It was at that moment I realized... I have seen very few mosquito's this year. I am sure the bat's are taking care of them. I never use insect repellent and rarely have a bite. One night while working upstairs I saw a big brown bat flying around and around the house. As it flew by the upstairs window where I was standing, she turned her foxy little face towards me. A beautiful creature so much like a little dog. There are ways to give bats good habitat so they will live around the house and I have used them all. Bat houses are the key. http://www.southernwildlifeandland.com/


This morning when I walked out with the dogs the air was strikingly less humid. The birdsong a chorus as they too enjoyed this glorious change.
Ah yes, Fall is just around the corner.
A time for rest.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Chaos in the Goat Pasture!

There was Goat DRAMA tonight! With the air crisp and cold watching  a low sunset filtering through the dark winter forest I set about my nightly routine: Goat Chow for Faye and her baby Pearl and Auntie Ruby. I give Faye and Pearlie their chow in the Goat Shed which is snug and warm for the cold night to come; and Auntie Ruby has her chow in the paddock near the chicken barn where she sleeps. As much as I would like them all to be together for the night, Ruby has proven herself to be a wild thing as she aims to claim the best sleeping spots and ledges by jumping,pawing, and butting! It is just too much potential for injury for baby Pearl until she is larger.

Getting back to the story: Then I fill water pails and gather eggs. During this quiet routine tonight, unexpectedly Ruby stuck her head in the bucket I had used to bring out the goat chow to the feeders and in a instant the wire handle was over her horns and the bucket was STUCK on her head!

Oh my Goodness what a sight and sound! The bucket clanging loudly as Ruby running, jumping and kicking across the pasture with a metal bucket hanging from her neck; Faye and Pearl horrified that the world was coming to a end! Ruby would take a step or two and kick., but the bucket was hopelessly over her horns and swinging back and forth!

As with many things this took some time to watch the situation and consider the best approach. Treats are Ruby's weakness...so I offered graham crackers. She was in such a state that even this had no appeal. She was running and jumping....suddenly the bucket came OFF! Faye had taken Pearl into the goat house certain the world WAS coming to a end. Pearl got on her ledge for safety.

Ruby, although free, was clearly worried that horrid bucket would suddenly attack her again. She would take a step or two; stop and look up-down-left-right....where is that bucket? It was horrible and awful but she was a brave and a smart girl I told her with soothing words over raisins and graham crackers..."you were very wise and brave! "  I am pretty sure she smiled as she munched that cracker.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Simple Things Are Richly Beautiful and a Meditation

This house has always been a balm. A soothing calm for healing of the heart, soul, and body. This place has comforted me through many a difficult time.

Today I am reminded of her magic.

Walking out to gather hickory and oak sticks fallen in the night, to use as tender for the first fire of the season in the living room, the thought of the comfort this place has provided, struck me again today.

The front room with ancient pine floors worn at the doorways from feet passing for over 150 years and downy oriental rugs;  tables laiden with stacks of favorite books like old friends  pulled close to the sofa; the smell of the house-a mix of wood smoke, the fragrance of supper roasting, wood wax and the slight aroma of dog is unmistakable...drunk, blind or dying...I would know it.

The joy of going out to the wood shed to gather more wood is a mediation: Hickory smoke wafting from the chimney gently making a way to my nose; the thick carpet of mossy green in the front yard padded under foot; millions of oak acorns crunch with each step as they cover the rocky quartz rich ground; the sound of woodpecker taps in the old growth hardwood forest.

The deep, deep sound of silence is palpable and a solace. I breath it all deeply in, and am so grateful.

The fire fluttered softly throughout the day as I worked, and read and dreamed. A brisk walk down to the the Hickory grove with Toby. The weather crisp and misty with light rain...exhilarating. Walking back up the hill, golden lights in the windows are beacons to supper. Crispy oven baked chicken, roast potatoes-golden and crisp, roast onions, and slow stewed kale soup waited as if entering a magical fairy tale house after walking from a distant place....the magic of it all is humbling.






Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cold Crisp Air and the Scent of Hickory Smoke Herald the Arrival of Fall

I cleaned the fireplaces out today. The first cleaning before the cold weather. Ashes and half spent twigs from last year fill buckets carried out to the garden.

Toby at my side, my trusty assistant to any task.  I could feel Susie,who has been gone for several years, at my side too with her tail uplifted and twitching in the way only a Scottish Terrier is able to do. Certain in her Scotty mind that a furry creature is about to be uncovered!

The snap of twigs as a new fire starts. The quick, strong draft pulling the smoke up and out reliably. The sweet, sweet smell  of Hickory and a bit of Bay that was the starter perfumes the garden as we walk outside.

The curl of fairy smoke, a offering to the sky. A new season. New dawns and new dusks all of our lives entwining.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Chicken Pie, and Chocolate Cookies

This morning was the perfect day for cooking. I woke up with Chicken Pie in my head. This is recipe I discovered just 2 years ago. The crust is made with a egg, and sour cream, and of course lots of butter. Because there is no water, the crust is flaky, crispy and tender all at the same time. It is the perfect crust for most anything. With a wonderfully grown High Ground Java Cockerel (young rooster)) harvested last spring, the broth was thick, rich, and golden




As the cooking progressed, as always, one thing lead to another. "Wouldn't  soup with tender garden greens and white beans be good?" and what about cookies?  Double Chocolate, and Colonial Spice?



Out to the kitchen garden in a flash to pick Vates Kale, Tuscan Kale (Dinosaur), Russian Red kale,Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens, and Asian Greens. Good Olive Oil in a pot; Add course chopped yellow onion-a big one; crushed and chopped 4 cloves of garlic. Heat, but do not brown. Add chicken broth-2 cups, then the washed, chopped greens with white Cannenilli beans. I used a can of Organic 365 brand, but could use dry ones, and cook before adding greens. Simmer with a lid for 30 minutes. With a dash of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, Delicious!

A walk down to the creek after cooking as a way to fight the drowsiness of too many cookies.





The woods were alive with wildlife, and the ferns and running cedar so green in the low areas, untouched by people for so long, it was like a wonderland. A Cathedral. Great tree trunks like fallen giants lay across some banks for years, but thrive although horizontal. A haven for woodland creatures, and beautiful mosses. The water ran fast and deep today after the rain last night. Several little rapids,and waterfalls were music that echoed against the hill. A deep woods, that is as it was. Untouched by progress. This is part of balance for me. Sitting, standing in awe of this Greatness.





The Wood Shed Full, A Beautiful Sight!


Yesterday as I went outside to carry the hens kitchen scraps the huge pile of split firewood in the middle of the grass in front of the shed, tugged at me as I passed. The sky was leaden gray and the weather forecaster was calling for heavy rain as a cold front was approaching  from the west. Not wanting the beautiful dry wood to get wet I pulled out the biggest tarp in the barn. Wrestling with the bulky taupe I quickly realized it was going to be a struggle to cover it all up, I started to move and stack the wood under the shelter. One by one, piece by piece. The day beautiful with a breeze and Autumn leaves, orange, yellow and red trickling down from the sky like jewels. A good time to think, and pray. A good time to be thankful I can still without any trouble do this type of work. Some cannot. It is a beautiful thing...life, and a job finished well. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chaos in the World but Soft,Gentle Quiet Here

So much chaos in the world it seems.  
Everyday unsettling news at home and afar. 



 But, tonight standing out in the thick of night, with the glitter of Venus overhead, and the hoot, hoot, hoot-alllll in the distance; the cicadas chorus all around; the sweet, gentle breeze; the bark of a fox on the hill and the gentle nuzzle of Blue's muzzle with tickle-y whiskers in my hand...all is right. 
The Spirit all around us is in control, and is already in the future.
 So far as the chaos in the world, we nor "they" are in control.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Poppies Dancing in the Gentle Breeze

After several days of hot and very humid weather, the air was crisp yesterday morning as I walked out to the garden. A breeze, crisp and almost cool seemed to make everything brighter and a deeper color. For the first time in weeks some of the garden chores did not seem overwhelming! The air was light, and not longer heavy on my shoulders. As I was cutting flowers for bouquets I noticed the leaves low to the ground had captured the heat and the humidity. There was a distinct change about 6 inches from the ground. (CLICK on the photo to make it bigger, and like you are here!)




The earth continually amazes me. The soil that sustains us, also filters the water, and along with diverse organisms decomposes and starts new life. Yesterday as I was digging a grave in the pasture for a hen who was victim of a hawk attack I was struck with the balance provided by the earth and the soil. So simple it seems, and taken for granted....yet complex and vital for our lives. Soil, a perfect creation.

Every year, I like to try a new type of flower or vegetable. This year one of my new trials is Poppies. I sowed about a cup of seeds in a new little field in the Kitchen Garden. After adding composed chicken manure, tilling it in well, and raking it smooth it looked perfect. I surround all my plots, and add thin string "guide lines" to row crops so Emmy will know not to walk on them. I call them Dog Lines. The string is old tobacco twine cotton string (I have no idea how I came to this huge spool of string...it was from one many parents things after they passed). After stopping Emmy a few times when she touches the string, she now understands, and will jump over the row, or go around the stringed plot. She is so smart.  BACK to the Poppies. They are beautiful dancing on delicately thin stems. Like wild flower plots the grass grows among the poppies, as the poppy plant is very delicate and weeding would destroy more than it would help....but they seem to be thriving. I hope next year the seeds will have scattered with the wind and volunteers will be all over the farm. I do love a volunteer.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Sun Came out just for a second and I dashed out with my camera




For the first time in several days the gray disappeared when the sun showed it's face for a few minutes today. I dashed outside with my camera to try to capture some of the beautiful sights for you to see. The roses are continuing to open more each day, and the gardens are coming up from seed. According to the weather forecast, there will be a big rain beginning Saturday night into Sunday. This pleases me as there are many, many little seed under the ground waiting. The big vegetable and flower garden are planted in long rows, quiet until the rain comes. Watching as the wonder of a seed erupting into a plant never ceases to amaze me. Such a miracle really....a wonderful design.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How DO you cook Kale and bisquits








I was thinking tonight as I was cooking Kale that many people do not know how to cook fresh greens! I cook them this way partly from watching my mother cook turnip greens and partly from reading cook books. I hope this helps you enjoy one of the joys of keeping a kitchen garden.

Pick the greens just before cooking, careful to avoid weeds, and heavy stems. Put them in a clean sink, and fill with cold water. Swish in the water, and pick up small bunches loosely to allow the water to drip from the leaves as you put them into a clean bowl or pot. Empty the water, rinse the sink, and rewash. Do this at least 3 times, or until the water is perfectly clear when you are finished. Amazing how much pollen is on the leaves. Set the washed greens aside.

In a heavy big stock pot pour 1/4 cup good olive oil, 1 large yellow onion chopped, 1 slice dry rubbed black forest bacon (no nitrates) chopped, sea salt 1/2t. cook on medium until onions translucent. Add 2 cups chicken broth (or veg. organic, or made from scratch) bring to low simmer, add greens. Turn once to coat and bring onions on top. Cover with lid, and simmer 20 min. Add more salt, fresh ground pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.Reduce broth if desired by simmering more. Cut up greens with 2 knives if desired before serving in a bowl with biscuits or cornbread. A Meal!

Biscuits: Preheat oven 425F. In large wide bowl put 2 cups unbleached flour (I use King Arthur), 1 t. seasalt, 1/2 baking soda, 2.5 t. baking powder(be sure no aluminum in it, I use wholefoods brand) and mix well with wire whisk; cut in 3 T. butter until size of small peas; add 1 3/4 cup buttermilk all at once; stir from outside of bowl towards center, like folding until dough comes together. Will be wet. Heavily butter a pyrex, pottery, or ceramic baking pan. Add 1/2 cup of dry flour along side of the moist biscuit mixture. Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop up biscuits with the dry flour to keep it from sticking. With your hands softly form by rolling in your palms round balls. Add one at a time to the pan until all dough is used. Flatten each with your knuckles and flour. Bake at 425F 10 min. then lower heat to 405F for another 15 or until lightly golden brown, do not over cook. Remove from oven and brush with butter. Good even on the second day if kept in the frig.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kale is Out of Control




The Kale I planted last fall is absolutely out of control in the one raised bed in the kitchen garden. I have eaten kale almost everyday for weeks, and now I am begging people to take some home with them!

The turnip greens are blossoming beautifully for the bees, so will leave it for a week longer before taking up to make room for asparagus crowns. Putting in 40 more soon.

English Peas, and multicolored beans are up, waiting for a trellis. Oh yes, and the Horse Radish root I put in just last year is up and beautifully lush on the south side of the Pullet House. I do love a Perennial vegetable (is horse radish a veg, or a herb...not sure). The idea of having Asparagus and horse radish for years to come is comforting. A sense of permanence.

Thinking of comfort, I have been struck again by the beauty of this place. It is gorgeous: Bright, bright green, with roses and bachelor buttons just starting. And the Bird Song is like a symphony. In early morning I am awakened by the birds singing and the soft light as it filters through the branches into the house.

Walking outside in early morn to see what the night has given, the "sound of quiet" is profound. Only the Gentle Breeze, Bird Song, the Hum of the Bees, and Silence. I take the quiet for granted, as it is normal here...but often visitors say, "Listen". "To What?" I Say...."to the silence" the visitor says as we stand still. And with a sigh they say, "I have not heard that in a long, long time".

Thursday, April 5, 2012

So Much Happening...The Day is a Whirl of Activity





Not sure where to start, as so much is going on at the same time!

Spring is a frantic time. Getting all the seed into the ground in front of the next rain; Repairing fences; Mowing and trimming paths and grass; Putting up new bluebird houses; Watching over a hen with chicks; Planning for the season....to name a few! Last night I was exhausted, and this morning I was expecting to be stiff and sore, but was really fine. I think I have gained amazing strength and endurance from farming full time for the past 3 years!

Life is so uncertain. All we REALLY have is the day in front of us, minute by minute. I greet the new day with a cup of steaming coffee and quiet with the dogs to sit or stand in awe of the miracle of the morning light. Never old, no matter how many times I see it. It is a miracle. It is magic. It is perfectly designed. The freshness, and promise of things to come. I hungrily breath it in. I am so humbled and so grateful. This time of solitude, and meditation is priceless for me.

A list on paper some days, and in my minds eye others. Yesterday, with the help of a wonderful man with a bobcat moved several stacks of rocks to a new wall I am putting up; moved a cast iron bathtub to the pasture; and generally did work that would take many people several hours in less than 5 minutes! A dry stacked rock wall along the side garden is growing out of the mountain of field rock. Rocks so intricately fit together. A wonder of physics, and a beautiful sight. I love spending time putting these rocks together...the process, and the outcome is gratifying.

Then later in the day, a neighbor farmer and good friend came over with a 1942 Farm All tractor to furrow up my big vegetable/flower garden. Then we spent at least a half hour picking up rocks...again. (this is the 3rd year now that we thought we had them ALL!) A beautiful sight...a freshly plowed and furrowed garden spot. Lovely...the promise of new beginnings. I was able to put in a long, long row of beets before the storm clouds, grey and blue gathered over us, and the wind suddenly picked up and started throwing branches everywhere. Mac became frantic, as he is terrified of storms, and Emmy thought it was a game and did not want to go inside! Oh me, what a sight we were as I was trying to get inside, and Emmy wanted to play...and run in the whirling wind!

The flower gardens are doing well. Time soon for close up tiny weeding...very time consuming and detailed work, but well worth it. The tiny flowers, and herb boom afterwards. Then in another week I will mulch them..this makes the rest of the summer fairly easy, so far as preventing weeds. I have several varieties of zinnias, cosmos, batchelor buttons, english roses, larkspur, bee balm, hydrangeas, confederate jasmine, and many herbs. Many volunteers..and you know I do love a volunteer, often re-routing the entire garden path around a volunteer.

The Java Chosen Ones selected from the flock as the best so far as breed standard are back with me again! The lovely couple who bought them last fall, are moving out of state and could not take them...so they have come home. So funny to watch them, go into their old hen house,and immediately go back on the roost poles...they knew they were home! The first day out of 9 hens I had 6 eggs, and the next day 3 eggs, so I know they are happy. So happy to have them back!

It is raining now a steady soft rain. The temperature has dropped into the 50's. The dogs are sleeping a sweet dreamy dog sleep with legs running in a dream field and whimpering softly. The house is quiet. The tick of the clocks the only other sound. Life is wonderfully good. It is a great adventure and I am grateful to have become who I am...a mother, a farmer, a artist, a steward, a nurse, and a dreamer.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Springish midday Dinner





My plate today was so, well..."Spring-ish"...I thought I would show it to you!

The Chicken Pie, is actually called, "Moravian Chicken Pie" and is from the American Test Kitchen Magazine, "Cook's Country". It is a recipe from Winston Salem, NC, and really comes together nicely. Yes, yes, it IS a lot of trouble..but well worth it! The crust is perfect, and very brown underneath as well as on top. The chicken mixture is deliciously rich. It keeps well in the refrigerator, and can be eaten cold with one hand...much like pies I have seen in the UK. I found the recipe on another blog, Dark Side of the Frig, so here it is. I used fresh organic chicken. 3 thighs,3 legs, and 1 large breast, all with skin ON. Brown them in olive oil on all sides;take out of skillet/cool and remove the skin. When completely cool, remove all bones/skin etc. Same oil/chicken fat to use for the roux when making the gravy. It is RICH...but only about 3 T oil all together. If you have any questions can post exact recipe from Cook's Country. Email me!

The Quinoa Salad is fresh and great for several days in the refrigerator. Cook 1 cup of quinoa 1:1 with water 5 min. and put lid and wait 15 min. All water should be absorbed. Mix together: fresh cilantro, fresh parsley, fresh mint-all washed and chopped finely; 3 cloves fresh garlic finely choppped; 1/2 red onion finely chopped; fresh ground black pepper; 1 can (2 cups) garbanzo beans drained; the juice of 3 limes and 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil. Mix well. Add liberal amounts of sea salt to taste. Very good salty.

English Peas and red onion- 2T. olive oil in skillet. 1/2 red onion chopped and heated until soft but not brown in pan. Add 2-3 cups frozen petit green peas. cook 3-4 min. do not over cook. Add sea salt /pepper/red pepper flakes to taste. This is one of my FAVORITE "Quick Meals".

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Correction...WOOD DUCK not a Mallard in March 2 post

I learn something new everyday!

My middle son Alex tells me the duck that came down the chimney a few weeks ago is a WOOD duck not a Mallard! He took ONE look at the photo, and said, "Wood Duck..look at the mask around the eyes". He is surely right. It is his field of study, and his business, Southern Wildlife and Land Management. As a young boy Alex roamed the beautiful woodlands here everyday. Soon he knew the forests, and waterways over most of the state, like most people know the streets and landmarks of their city!

So forgive me for incorrectly calling this beautiful duck a Mallard in the March 2 post!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Double Rainbow After a Early Morning Spring Rain



The rain came suddenly this morning. A strong downpour then as quickly as it came the sun came out. The light was bright as a crystal jewel...and arching North to South a dazzling rainbow! A faint second rainbow was just over the primary one. It was a precious gift ... the future holds such promise and I am humbly grateful.

Extremely broody Java Hen and her Chicks



This old white Java hen is a faithful mother to her brood of 8 chicks. She sat on the eggs in the nestbox daily, with me taking her off every night to remove any new laid eggs, and put her back. Not a sound from her, as if she understood I meant her no harm. Then after 4 chicks hatched over 2 days, one chick was cold and limp as it was outside of her warm feathers. I put this lifeless chick in the incubator. The next morning it was up and chirping! Because the hen usually will get off the nest to take her hatched chicks to food and water by the second day, leaving the eggs to die, I put the rest of the eggs in the incubator. The hen and 4 chicks went to the "pullet house" to stay inside with a light, water, and 24% chick feed. The hen kept them under her. Amazing to watch...as she showed them how to drink and eat. The cluck of a hen with chicks is unmistakeable. As the chicks in the incubator hatched out, I left each 1-2 days to gain strength. Then I took them one by one to the mother hen at night, and put them under her.

I have tried all sorts of ways to keep chicks with hens that hatch them...but this is the only way that has worked for me. Many times 2-3 would hatch, and the hen would take them off the nest and the other eggs abandoned.

Today I let them out into the wire lot (hardware cloth to keep out the snakes that LOVE to gobble up little chicks!). The mother is showing them how to scratch the dirt, and look for bugs. Lovely the way the mother shows them by doing. A lot like people. Children learn by what they see, not by what they are told.