Archive for Jun, 2011

Wine update

Our wine is now really clear and looking good!  So much sediment too.  We’ll bottle it soon – hopefully it tastes ok.


The new girls

The Royal Canberra Poultry Show was a great event.  Aside from some friends doing well in the judging, and the fun we had at the set-up working bee, the highlight was buying three Rhode Island Red (RIR) girls for our breeding program.  We’ve decided that RIRs are the way forward as they’re definitely good eating and apparently good layers too.  And sooooo purdy.

Here they are, our red-theme-named girls Ruby, Scarlett and Carmine


We recently got a home energy audit which recommended, inter alia, that we top our ceiling insulation to R5.  And being a DIY devotee, I bought the batts and am in the process of doing it myself.

Here’s a shot of the work in progress:

We’re racing the clock on this one – everything has to be in place by September to get the rebate.  I’ve done 13 bags of 20, so getting quite close now!

Minus four

The last four chickens we killed are mostly eaten now.  It was a very long night of slaughtering, plucking and gutting; I won’t do so many in a single night again for a while!  It really brings home how time and labour intensive it is to produce though.

The first thing we did was to gather the boys up and cut their throats.  We like to do this out of sight of the others, which may be anthropomorphic softness on my part, but isn’t any extra effort either.

We also chop off the heads once the bleeding has largely subsided, just to be sure.  If there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s zombie chickens.

Next: plucking.  We’d never done this before.  Plucking involved a dunk in hot water and a trip over a borrowed power-plucker.  This machine was a spinning drum with rubber plucking fingers mounted around the outside, which made short work of the downier feathers, though quite a few big ones remained.  Far easier has been skinning, which I combine with the jointing process.  It means that the carcass can be gutted afterwards which makes it all very simple, quick and clean.  It’s also easier to remove the lungs and kidneys.

I smoked Fred and Barney in the Weber in our traditional style: rosemary as the smoke (because we have masses!) and maple syrup glaze.  Note the Ironbark vineyard cab sav in the background, for scale and as a gratuitous plug to the lovely grape growers and friends who also gave us the grapes we’re currently fermenting.

Fred and Barney have given us some very nice meals including fettucine with a creamy, mustardy, smoked chicken and mushroom sauce.  One of the benefits of eating our dear lads is that I always feel inclined to put a bit of effort in.  Jar sauce wouldn’t do their memory justice.

And here’s Anaconda (we got araucanas and this ancona at the same time, and the mixed-up name stuck!).  He’s stuffed with oats and pumpkin, again with the maple syrup glaze.  Anaconda’s best buddy Red4 didn’t make it into a picture.  His age consigned him to the stewing pot, with beetroot from the garden, among other things.

Fred and Barney were barnevelders (Barney was the one with the broken toe), Red4 was a Rhode Island Red, and Anaconda was a bantam ancona. Thanks guys, you were fun to raise and delicious to eat.

Minus four, plus two

In the ever ongoing chicken flux, we killed the four boys (RIR IV, Ancona and the two Barnevelders) over the weekend.  Whatwouldmacgyverdo is working on a post on the butchering process, so I will leave that to him.

In happier news, however, the Suburbanite Farm has two new Araucana pullets.

Juliet is 13 weeks and Imogen 16 weeks. Being Araucana, they will lay blue eggs!  I am very excited about this.  Ever since I discovered that there was such a thing as a blue egg laying chicken, I decided I needed some.

Imogen and Juliet in quarantine

They are both hopefully carrying a (recessive) lavender gene which in two doses (one from each parent) dilutes black to lavender – the colour Craig is.  This means when they are bred with Craig half their chicks will be the lavender colour he is, the other half will be black but carrying the lavender gene.  Some will also possibly be the Isabel colour, which is a pinkish lavender colour due to the lavender gene diluting red, in addition to the black.  The brassiness in Craig’s feathers means that he is technically this colour, but is a fault in a boy – only girls can be Isabel.  Crazy show rules!  Not that I’m planning on showing, but it is all interesting to find out.  Chicken genetics is fun!

After a week in quarantine, we did a bit of a shuffle with the penning arrangements, so Blue and Sage moved into the big pen (which lost the four boys) and Juliet and Imogen joined Craig and Thyme in the little pen.

So now I have a breeding trio of Araucanas!  I obviously won’t be hatching chicks for a while though – they are only babies themselves.

The big pen now has Red plus eight girls – three Sussex, five wyandottes.  I’ve decided to breed a purebred Rhode Island Red line too, so I am now on the look out for some RIR pullets to add to the big pen… first place to look is the Canberra Poultry Show this weekend!

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