We’ve made it! It’s December 21, the winter solstice. Although I am not a big fan of the shorter day length and winter in general, the dynamics of how our big Earth is put together never ceases to amaze me. Our days will be noticeably longer a month from now and that makes me hopeful for spring.
How does this relate to chicken-keeping? When the days begin to shorten in the fall, it triggers laying hens to go into a molt. During their molt, they stop laying eggs and spend their energy replacing their feathers. They will then take a break from laying until the longer day length triggers them to begin again as we head toward spring.
Many chicken owners believe it’s the colder weather that causes a hen to stop laying. In fact, it’s all about the day length. Commercial egg producers leave the lights on in the poultry houses around the clock in order to keep the hens laying for maximum production. I personally feel that the hens have worked hard producing all year long, so I am happy to let them take a break.
If you keep chickens, tell me about your experiences when dealing with hens that stop laying in the winter. Have you ever tried to extend the day length to trigger them to lay?
Store bought eggnog doesn't even come close to what this homemade eggnog tastes like. You just cannot get the creamy texture otherwise. This recipe isn't difficult to make, but you do need to plan ahead a bit. Be aware that the egg yolks are not fully cooked in this recipe, so if you do not trust your source for eggs, you may want to pasteurize them first. This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 11th edition.
Ingredients6 egg yolks, beaten2 cups milk1/3 cup sugar1 to 3 tablespoons light rum1 to 3 tablespoons bourbon1 teaspoon vanilla1 cup whipping cream2 tablespoons sugarground nutmeg
In a large heavy saucepan mix the egg yolks, milk, and the 1/3 cup sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture just coats a metal spoon (see photo above). Remove from heat. Place the pan in a sink or bowl of ice water ad stir for 2 minutes. Stir in rum, bourbon and vanilla. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.Just before serving, in a mixing bowl beat the cream and the 2 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form. Transfer chilled egg mixture to a punch bowl. Fold in the whipped cream mixture. Serve at once. Sprinkle each serving with nutmeg. Makes about 10 (4-ounce) servings.
Nutrition facts per serving: 201 cal, 13 g total fat, 164 mg cholesterol, 71 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 6 g protein.Let me know what you think of this recipe by leaving a comment. Enjoy!
Believe it or not, at first we didn't set out to make this piece of land a market farm. We purchased the parcel at a foreclosure auction in the fall of 2009. It was completely covered with head-high weeds and lots of trash. There was an old farmhouse that we initially planned to rehab, but neglect and vacancy had taken their tolls on the structure, rendering it no longer safe. Our focus shifted to cleaning out that old house and the land, reclaiming as much as we possibly could. By the spring of 2010, after several consultations with engineering professionals, the old house was deemed structurally unsafe and we began construction on the new house. Fortunately, we reclaimed all of the wood trim from the original house to use in the new farmhouse.
As we worked our way through the weeds, we discovered "trash valley", a low lying waterway in the field that a previous owner used as a dumping site. We spent the next several months hauling away tons of scrap metal, worn out carpeting and used appliances. We recycled enough scrap metal to buy a new gas powered weed trimmer!
This Old Plow
Among the piles of trash, we discovered an old Massey Ferguson 2-bottom plow. In spite of the layer of rust, it was in relatively decent shape. With just a little bit of greasing and coaxing we got the coulters to turn. We knew instantly that we had just discovered the inspiration piece for the farm's name.
Unfortunately the plow didn't get to stay on our farm for very long after we discovered it. Once we had moved into our farmhouse, we had the plow sitting in a flower bed near the main road. We were awaiting the delivery of our farm signage to be placed near the plow. One morning we woke to discover that some time in the middle of the night, someone decided to steal the plow. Although we filed a report with the sheriff and called around to all of the local scrap metal recyclers, the plow was never located. And that's why you don't see a rusty plow anymore at Rusty Plow Farms.