The E.V T.V Show

…the food I make, the plants I grow, and the items I create.


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6 Things to Consider When Raising Healthy Chicks

We recently received our mail order chicks.

When I say that statement out loud I shake my head a little. “Chicks in the mail?” Really Emily? That does not sound like a good idea.

But at the time the excitement of raising my own meat birds and laying hens blinded me from what I knew. I am often re-taught the things I know, each time with a bit more depth and clarity.

Below are 6 important things I learned from raising chicks. In about a month, I will be doing this again but with birds from a local hatchery. I hope these lessons make me more successful as well as guide you through your experience.

Are there elements of animal husbandry you can share with the community? Please comment below.

6 Things to Consider When Raising Healthy Chicks 

1. Time of Year

When you order your birds, take into consideration the time of year you will be receiving them. At the age of 2 to 3 weeks the meat birds are ready to move outside. Once outside, you can more easily regulate their food intake. This forces them to forage, strengthening their legs and slowing their growth rate, reducing the risk of overall problems.

2. Space

The baby birds need enough space to thermoregulate. Their brood box needs to be large enough so they can either lay underneath the heat lamp if they are cold, or move elsewhere if they are warm. This reduces stress and lowers the chance of dehydration, a surprisingly swift killer.

When constructing your brood box air on the side that bigger is better – providing them with enough space to run around without running over one another.

Minimum space:

  • 0-4 weeks – 1/2 square foot per bird
  • 4 – 8 weeks – 1 square foot per bird

3. Temperature

Purchase a thermometer from your local farm store so that you ALWAYS know the temperature in your brood box. Place the thermometer  in the halo of the heat lamp. If you have a large enough space, you can have the temperature directly under the light be a bit warmer then recommended since the chicks have the ability to move into cooler areas if needed. They can always cool off, but if the box is cold, they cannot warm up.

When the babies are 0-1 week old start with a minimum temperature of 90F. Over the course of the next four weeks, lower the temperature about 5F every week until it is 70F. At this point the birds should no longer need additional heat.

If, however, you started them early or they are being kept in a place with little or no insulation you may need to continue providing additional heat in either the form of a space heater or red heat bulbs.

4. Check their Butts

Pasting up occurs when fecal matter sticks to their vents preventing them from eliminating waste. It occurs often, without any real notice, and can kill them. I pick up my girls once a day and check to make sure their rear ends are clear. If they have a little fecal matter stuck in their feathers I take a warm paper towel and gently clean them. If it is really bad, they get a little bath. Make sure you completely dry them before they go back into their brood box.

5. Diseases

There are diseases and parasites that can kill these little guys fast. Work with a preventative mindset and do what you can to establish healthy baby birds. Keep their brood box dry and clean by removing dirty litter frequently. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to their water to help eliminate parasites and keep it clean of fecal matter.

6. Baby proof the brooder

These are babies. Day old, week old, babies. Similar to real babies they do silly things that can result in death. Avoid drowning by putting marbles in the tray of their water dish. For the first week use an old blanket or larger wood shavings to prevent them from eating something they shouldn’t. After the first week begin to give them grit so they can more easily digest their food. Make sure the walls are high enough that they cannot escape.

Raising your own laying hens can be fun and rewarding. Gardening while my older girls curiously dig beside or get chased around the yard by a butterfly is my favorite form of entertainment. I can’t wait to introduce them to their new sisters in a few short months.

Happy Gardening!


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Honey Roasted Chicken with Cranberry Relish

I always eat my condiments with food, not my food with condiments. Are french fries not merely a vehicle for the ketchup?

My recent obsession- honey mustard. Local honey simmered with fresh whole grain mustard – to die for.

Now honey mustard and chicken are a classic combination, but instead of a dipping sauce, simmer the chicken in the honey mustard with fresh herbs and dry white wine. The house will smell fantastic – drawing your family to the dinner table!

I prefer to cook this in a cast iron skillet, as a one pot meal. If you do not have a cast iron skillet, simply saute the onions and garlic in a standard skillet; then use a baking dish to cook your chicken.

HONEY ROASTED CHICKEN AND CRANBERRY RELISH

total time: 45 minutes   yield: 4 servings

ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of whole grain mustard or honey mustard of your choice
  • ½ tsp of fresh grated ginger
  • 2 sprigs of thyme and marjoram
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of Marsanne Roussanne
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced

 

rub

  • 1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

directions

  • Preheat your oven to 400F.
  • Mustard Rub: Combine mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Using your fingers or a brush work the rub into both sides of the chicken. Set aside
  • For the Sauce: Whisk together the mustards, honey, ginger, and olive oil into a small bowl and set aside
  • For the Chicken: Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in your cast iron skillet, or standard skillet, over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add your onions and garlic. Cook until golden brown or about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and sear for 2-3 minutes on both sides. Add the ¼ cup of wine and honey mustard sauce. Nestle in a few sprigs of fresh herbs and place in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until chicken has reached the internal cooking temperature.
  • Serve along side rice to soak up the honey mustard sauce. Enjoy with cranberry relish to brighten the dish and pair with Unionville Vineyards’ Marsanne Roussane!


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Chocolate Lava Cake: My Go-To Dessert Recipe

plated cake

Chocolate Lava Cake

This past weekend, we had a few big celebrations in our house. As I felt the tingling urge to indulge in good cheer – I realized I had only a a few moments to whip something up.

I am not always the best at planning ahead.

So I defaulted, as usual, to my go-to dessert recipe – Chocolate Lava Cake.

This recipe calls for ingredients I generally keep on hand and is delicious.

Doll them up with fresh fruit, fruit compote, or home-made whipped cream. For an extra special treat, pair this dessert with a delicious local Port.

ingredients

Yield: 2-3 cakes      Time: ~35 min
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for muffin tin
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for muffin tin and serving
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • 1 ounce semisweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 ounce bittersweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • nonstick spray

directions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray your muffin tin with a nonstick spray, such as PAM.
  • Dust the muffin tin with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder.
  • Place the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 20-second increments. Use a whisk or fork to stir after each increment.
  • While the butter and chocolate is melting, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, sugar, espresso powder, and salt. Once the chocolate mixture is melted whisk it into the egg mixture to combine. Add flour, and whisk just until combined – take care to not overmix.
  • Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. Make sure you fill the empty muffin tins with water so that your lava cakes cook evenly.
  • Bake until the top has just set and a toothpick inserted in center comes out wet, 5-6 minutes. It is better to under-bake than over-bake!
  • Cool cakes for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Use a knife to loosen the cakes and serve inverted immediately top with Raspberry Mint Compote.


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Raspberry Mint Compote

This will be the hit at your next ice cream sundae bar.

This will be the hit at your next ice cream sundae bar.

Yogurt, topped with fresh blueberries, strawberries, and homemade granola is one of my favorite ways to start the day.

So what is a girl to do when the cold weather hits and fresh fruit becomes obsolete?

Make my second favorite thing – compote!

Compotes, made with fresh or frozen berries, is a simple way to brighten up breakfast or dessert.  Unlike a jelly or jam, compotes are cooked relatively quickly and do not contain a thickening agent like pectin.

This makes it a perfect toppings in a pinch!

ingredients 

  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar – for a thicker compote split 1/2 and 1/2 with confectioner sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 mint leaves, julienned
  • 1/4 tsp cornstarch

directions 

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir and simmer over medium low heat, until fruit has broken down. Cook until sauce is at desired thickness.  Stir in mint leaves and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

cooking compote

The compote should cook within 10 minutes.