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Category Archives: Birds

Just Us Chickens

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The total chicken post. For whatever reason we just have chickens everywhere we look. Watching the girls run around England Acres (and getting to feed them, if you want).

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Or, how about the tour tomorrow. See the Conservancy web site, if you want to join us. After all, chickens are immensely interesting.

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The baby chicks at Tractor Supply. I always get inspired and want to buy some and get a coop, but then we just “chicken out” for some reason. While we were there last week, I wanted to take a few pictures of the adorable chicks but they prohibit picture taking.

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The joys of free range chicken eggs. The colors. You don’t need to dye these eggs for Easter. They already are amazing in color and designs.

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Who can resist the lure of these fresh eggs, with so much flavor.

#hocofood

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Chickens …

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… in a fun tour of coop-to-coop.

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April 12th. 10 am to 2 pm. A number of Howard County chicken owners are opening their coops for the chance to meet the “girls” and see what fun chickens are. Sponsored as a free program from the Howard County Conservancy. Visit the upcoming event page to learn all about this program.

You can get a description of the tour and some information on the coops. Visit as many as you like.

I saw this great program a few years back in a blog about living in Sonoma County. Suggested the program to our friends on the committee at the Conservancy. This is the inaugural event.

There are eleven sites on the tour. Come out with us. Bring your friends. I really think this is a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

Updated: Because one of the links isn’t working right for everyone. Visit the Conservancy page to see about the event and get a corrected copy.

#hocoblogs

Feeding Frenzy

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Our little feathered friends were going crazy today, looking for seeds in the swirling snow. At one point, I counted close to a hundred birds in the bushes, on the ground, in the trees and on the feeders.

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This is just a subset. But, look closely to see the red winged blackbirds out there. They usually return in late February or early March. I think they got more winter than they wanted. They certainly were vocal out there when I went to add water to the birdbath. It was a very popular spot since the heater gives them access to water even in these temperatures.

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The juncos are still hanging around. In the above view, you can also see we got about five inches of snow. Much less than that original forecast of 10+ inches.

Now, we just have to make it through temperatures in the negative numbers overnight. I will have to check RIMPO in the morning to see how low the temps get.

As I type this, the reading was 5 degrees Fahrenheit at the Dayton site.

If you can find a place to put out seeds or nuts for the birds, they will certainly find you. As will lots of other little critters. There are all sorts of tracks across our yard.

Another Day, Another Snowstorm

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Winter is getting old, and it’s only January. So far, as I write this we have about 8 inches of snow on the ground. Plus, all of it blowing off the roof and piling against the doors.

The birds are frantic, as usual.

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The robins are fighting for heated bird bath space.

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The juncos are happy the food is under cover, at least for a while.

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The cardinals are hanging out in the burning bush.

We have checked the heat pumps. Checked the storm drain outside the basement door. Cranked up the heat a bit.

It is going to be another series of very cold, very uncomfortable weather.

Heard Around the Water Cooler

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Or should I say the heated bird bath.

Look who showed up today. The first visit this winter. Along with scads of robins out below the crab apples.

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And, finally the cedar waxwings.

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There were three cedar waxwings in our crab apple. Boatloads of robins everywhere you looked.

And happily for me, the four bluebirds that came for a drink from our heated bird bath.

I have said often. Provide water year round for the birds. They will nest and return over and over to your yard.

There were peanuts in the shell on the ground for the blue jays. Suet for the woodpeckers. Seed for the juncos, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows and cardinals.

Keep them fed, and give them water. They will never leave.

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Frigid Weather

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The next few days are going to be tough to deal with, around these parts. Temperatures below zero degrees tomorrow night.

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We have snow on the ground and the birds are pretty active looking for food under the patio table and around the deck. We have unfortunately also had a number of hawk attacks. Lost a few small birds.

I am keeping the bird bath full. It is amazing watching them get into the basin and fluff up their feathers after dunking themselves a few times.

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We now have quite the collection of red bellied woodpeckers. There were three out there yesterday. I refilled the suet holders for them.

Tomorrow (today by the time I post this past midnight) is Little Christmas, the day I usually take down the decorations. I think that will occur later in the week when it warms up.

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The tree needs to be taken out to the landfill later also. They recycle them into mulch. As for the garland, it will become a bed around the rhododendron, where the pine needles can continue to add some acidity to the soil.

I have been heavily using the crockpot, making another batch of venison chili today. I learned a lesson though. My method of putting frozen items in the pot has resulted in a hairline crack in the ceramic insert.

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Thankfully, I do use the liners. Still, I have to buy a new insert. And stop putting the pot on high.

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I am slowly making my way through the Larriland tomatoes in the freezer. Next year I will be getting many more than this time, as they make a world of difference when used in soups and chili.

As for the next few days, I think we will find some indoor projects to tackle. Until it warms up a bit.

Stay warm, and watch out for black ice. And, think of spring.

hocofood@@@

Resolutions

I didn’t make New Year’s Resolutions last year. I decided to challenge myself in my 60th year to do sixty things.

It was interesting. Fun. Not totally successful. But fun. I may try something similar this year.

Like finish the list in the areas I didn’t do very well in accomplishing.

My list —
Visit six festivals and/or fairs that are new to me
Taste at six new wineries never visited before
Seek out six new farmstands or markets to expand my locavore network
Do something different or visit someplace new in six states other than MD
Eat at six small business restaurants and/or diners
Eat/drink or experience six childhood memories
Log six new birds not seen before
Cook and eat six new proteins, i.e., meat, seafood, beans or nuts
Grow and/or eat six exotic fruits, veggies or herbs
Tackle six rightsizing projects

I am proud of myself in really taking on those rightsizing projects and pushing myself to get rid of things.

I hit more than enough wineries. Getting out of the rut of going to the same places. Discovering new and not so new places in MD and VA.

Farmstands and markets were successful too. Fruits, veggies and herbs, yep, did those too.

Where did I fail? Not getting out of MD, VA and PA. I really have become a stick in the mud when it comes to traveling. We did the trip to Roanoke and a few trips to PA. Found a few new towns in MD.

Never made it to DE or WV or NJ or NY, like we planned.

I was lucky in getting three new birds. Not by traveling, though. What were they? The guinea hens, the screech owl and the great horned owl. Thankfully, the program on creatures got me two close encounters with delightful creatures.

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Cooked with some new grains like wheatberries.

Hit more than enough childhood memories, too.

I should take inventory of how much I did. And, decide what to do next year. I am a firm believer in challenging myself, so as not to get stodgy and set in my ways in retirement.

After all,

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cooking with chayote was a highlight of my adventures into new foods.

As for wine, we can add Big Cork, Old Westminster, Early Mountain, Doukenie, Port of Leonardtown, St. Michael’s, Villa Appalaccia, Ankida Ridge and Valhalla to the list of new wines and wineries discovered this year. Not bad.

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Here’s to a great year. And many more adventures.

One Week Left

Until I turn 61 years old. This last week before my birthday has been pretty crazy. The weather has been amazing, with spring temperatures.

The last minute holiday baking and cooking has been intense. I got shrimp from Boarman’s the other day, in order to make steamed shrimp with Old Bay. The requested dish for my brother’s Christmas Eve party.

I made two kinds of cookies today. Chocolate pistachio and chocolate chocolate chunk.

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These cookies again came from Bon Appetit. Hard to make. They tended to break up when slicing. But, very good. Particularly with red wine, for dessert tonight.

As for the weather, with the doors open today (it hit 72 degrees here), the starlings made a huge racket in the trees out back.

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Thankfully, they weren’t nailing my bird feeders.

As for the last week of my 60th year, I did request that we try and go to the newly opening Highland Inn for brunch on my birthday. That is, if they open in time.

On the way home from Boarman’s yesterday, they looked like they were close to opening but who knows.

I saw their new menu on Facebook today. A bit pricey, but for special occasions, like those where we used to go to King’s Contrivance, they might be a new local special place.

We shall see.

hocofood@@@

It’s Been A Soup Sort of Week

Seems to be the norm this week to have soup for lunch or dinner. What with a second snowfall today.

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At least we got the snow thrower some hours. I think it hasn’t been used in two years. My husband had everything done in about an hour this afternoon. All told, between the two storms we had about seven inches of snow on the ground.

It even brought the red bellied woodpecker up close to the house, something she rarely does.

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While we were out there, the crockpot was on, with my latest version of cauliflower leek soup bubbling away.

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The secret to my soup? Garam masala. It makes it much more complex in flavor.

The recipe:
1 small head cauliflower, broken into pieces
4 medium leeks, sliced, white part only
2 scallions, sliced
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, parboiled first
1 pint stock (I used turkey)
1 pint almond milk
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Everything in the crockpot except for the almond milk, for six hours on high, or eight hours on low. One hour before serving, I pureed most of the mixture, leaving about 1/4 of it in its chunkier form. After pureeing it, add the almond milk for the last hour to give it the creamy texture.

Tonight we dressed it up a bit.

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I had a package of Copper Penny Farm mini chorizo in the oven on slow cook (250 degrees) for that last hour. Placed a few of them, with some of their juice, over the soup.

A mostly local meal tonight. Just the spices and the almond milk, not local. Warm, satisfying. It’s interesting how soup is one thing we love to have when the “weather outside is frightful”.

hocofood@@@

Sweatshirt Weather

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That’s what my husband calls it. The first frost of the season. Although it will warm up again, and today was lovely. It was cold overnight.

Today we headed out on errands, and a picture taking mission. I needed to get rid of some old pain meds at the county take back prescription drug program, at the site of our Saturday market. Unfortunately, TLV was out of eggs, but I knew if I was lucky I could get them at England Acres.

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My husband wanted farm scenery pictures to use for his postcard design that highlights living in farm country in Maryland. The “QSL” card is what is exchanged by radio amateurs to confirm contacts. He wants one that highlights farmland, so we have been taking pictures, like these.

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The fields that are part of the farm west of Mt. Airy. The farm where I love to get meat, dairy, eggs, and love to see the new animals.

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Like their guinea hens who were checking out their reflections in the hub caps of our truck. Interesting animals.

We came home to see our newly resident black squirrel checking out the bird bath. The heating element is in. Getting ready for winter.

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Finally, in the end of a busy day, I did manage to make a frittata using techniques learned from Marcella Hazan, to participate in a web based tribute, where bloggers and others cooked Marcella’s recipes and either tweeted or blogged about it.

Hashtag — #dinnerwithmarcella

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Spaghetti frittata with parm and pepper.

hocofood@@@

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