Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Break!

with the spring comes warmth and rains, so trees begin a-budding
and fowl, freed from coop constraints, go merrily a-mudding
to seek and ingest grass and seeds with eager scratch-and-pecks,
while drunk on pollen from the weeds are slow-flying insects.

the sun climbs back from southern climes a little more each day,
giving light for longer times, inspiring hens to lay.
finding four eggs in the nest is common happenstance;
the rooster preens his feathered breast and struts his mating dance.

the coop was scrubbed, vinegar-spritzed, and stuffed with brand new hay,
we held a household/closet cleaning blitz the other day.
springtime zephyrs whistle by and tease all windows open;
out the doubts of winter fly to make way for new hoping.

yesterday's experiment was mini pita bread.
puffed pocket bites were what i meant to get; i got instead
a kind of tender flatbread, small in size, and good with dip--
i cannot escape hummus and its culinary grip.

and that's the word from 'round the TUF. happy spring break all!
here's hoping hope and weather hold; we'll spring it up 'till fall!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring Chickens?

today was a beautiful day! texas weather has an erratic personality, and it has been fickle about cold vs. warm of late.  if today was any indicator, it seems that warm has won out and spring is springing earlyish!

i know the air is a perfect temperature when it simply doesn't occur to me.  we ran errands and went to the dog park today, and at no point was i like, oh man, i'm sweaty! or, oh man, i shoulda brought my sweatshirt! or, gah, i'm going to drown in humidity! i spent all my outdoor time enjoying my family and my great town.  HOWEVER,  i worry that i'm going to be thinking about the air  A LOT come summertime.  which at this rate is going to show up in mid-may.  so we've got to revel in these rare weeks of perfect air.

today we had an exciting chicken adventure....the ladies and gentleman got to spend some supervised time in the yard at-large, outside of their normal corner enclosure!  while the chicken run proper is scratched down to the dirt for bugs and dust baths, the recent rains and sunshine have filled the rest of the yard with chickweed and grasses and bugs.  it didn't seem fair that the girls and boy should have to look at the grass all day and not be able to get up in it!  so, we opened the chicken-sized door at the base of the coop and they took a back yard jungle journey.

they stayed together most of the time, going to town on all the grass and weeds and flying insects.  tumblr kept his hareem under close watch, and would sometimes call them all together with funny high-pitched baby clucks.  the dogs were also present, and though confused by the sudden proximity of these strange creatures, they were quite polite. it was a significant step in backyard TUFness!

as they clucked and fussed and scratched around the yard, i wondered if their homing instinct would kick in at dusk and they would put themselves to bed, per usual--or if i would be running around in the near-dark, chasing and plunking panicked chickens back in the safety of the coop.  impressively, they maintained a mental map of yard geography and took themselves home, crops FULL of tasty yard goodness.  chickensperiment success!

this will not be an unsupervised practice, i think...the flock shall stay in their spacious corner run during the normal week. but i think weekend yard excursions will become part of the weekend TUF traditions, and perhaps future enclosures will be informed by the impressive efficacy of the homing instinct!

in other news, here are two delicious ways to prepare the eggs that these lovely birds provide.  you, Dear Reader, will be the judge as to which is the more creepy......

on the left we have a goatcheez omelette alongside a tomato leafy salad (with goatcheez sprinkles), all drizzled with some good balsamic vinaigrette, for dinner.  on the right we have classic poached eggs poaching, to be served over a slice of buttered whole-grain toast, for breakfast.  (one of these kept looking at me until it was done cooking. STOP LOOKING AT ME EGGS!!)

they ended up looking just fine on the toast though.  WHEW. i do love poached eggs; i crack 'em into shallow water boiling in a skillet, to which i have added a dash of white vinegar.  i let them boil for about a minute, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover them loosely with whatever pan lid is nearby that mostly fits.  it takes 5-7 minutes for them to cook until the white is set and the yolk is barely solid on the outside, but perfect fondant runny on the inside.  kind of fussy, and they might stare at you, but. SO TASTY.

and finally, i scored a red ram's horn snail from the not-for-sale aquarium at the exotic pet store for the price of a mere superworm! ($.12) i put him in the buddha betta tank, and though quite small, he is growing quickly and is WAY MORE than twelve cents' worth of entertaining.  he is not a chicken or a recipe.  but i love aquatic snails.

anyway, more as things develop!  keep pulling for the theoretical 5-egg day!  thank you for reading as always, Dear Reader. stay tuned.......