Tag Archives: urban chicken

Egg-less Banana Bread

First, if you’ve never been to this blog before, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am not a vegan or a vegetarian. I eat eggs. I raise chickens just so that I can have good, quality eggs at my disposal. However, we’re smack in the middle of winter. Even worse, we’re smack in the middle of some awful polar vortex that made its way here from the Arctic and won’t leave. If you’re not familiar with chickens, you probably don’t know that when the daylight starts to wane, so does their egg production. Add to that the fact the we’re down to three hens and Luna’s production has slowed anyway as she reaches her fourth spring. We haven’t had an egg here since October!!
So, I’ve been forced to go to the co-op or farmers’ market to keep eggs in the house. Which is fine, but um, we’re trying not to spend all our money on groceries and egg and sausage biscuit sandwiches are on this week’s dinner menu and I didn’t want to use them all up and have to buy more.

My pig!So, the bunch of bananas getting browner by the day was screaming at me. I could have peeled the bananas and put them into one of the freezers, but I’m trying to empty them enough to make space for the hog we’re getting from Quartz Farm as soon as he’s big enough.

Banana bread is the best way I know to use up sad, old bananas. All my recipes called for eggs. I Googled egg-less banana bread and got 2 or 3 different recipes that were all basically the same. I then searched for egg substitutes. My search returned the usual, “applesauce, banana, flax seed or oil”.

I ran through the options in my mind and decided against all of them because: I’m already putting 6 bananas in the recipe, I don’t think I should substitute one for the eggs; banana bread already has a lot of butter or oil, so I didn’t want to add any more; all my applesauce is flavored and I don’t want to add any more fruit to my bread; and finally, I don’t have any flax seed. But, there was another egg substitute that intrigued me, for each egg, mix:

2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon oil
2 teaspoons baking powder

I have oil, water and baking powder in my house, so I decided to give it a go.

Banana bread recipes are essentially the same. Oh, of course you can add chocolate chips, or sprinkle some sort of topping on your loaves  but they all boil down to the same thing. Bananas, flour, sugar and a few other key  ingredients in similar proportions across the board. Well, except for that whole egg thing.

Have I mentioned that I’m a math geek? Sometimes when I can’t decide on which recipe to use, I like to play the game of averages. Do you remember averages from school? Or maybe, like me, you actually still use them in your adult life? Add up the values of a given thing and then divide by the number of given things you started with. It’s pretty easy actually, but the nerd in me loves it.

(If you’re screaming in your head, “Just get to the recipe already!” Click here for a printable version or scroll down to the pictures and please accept my apology for rambling.)

I start with a table. I list all the ingredients down the side and then across the rows I write in the volume of that ingredient in the various recipes. Once the table is complete, I calculate the average amount of each ingredient, round it to the nearest measurable amount and then use that number as the amount in my recipe.
For example, sugar. I had six recipes. The sugar called for in those six recipes was: 1 cup, 1 cup, 1 cup, 2/3 cup, 3/4 cup and 2/3 cup. I added all the sugar amounts together and divided by six to get 0.74 cups and then rounded it up to 3/4. Sound tedious? It actually brings me a great deal of joy that I can’t quite explain. Oooh! Oooh! Plus, I doubled the recipe; more math!

When I was all done with the math for my recipe, I added in a few ingredients of my own. One of my original recipes called for milk, one for sour cream, and one for cream cheese. When those ingredients were averaged in, they didn’t account for much of the total recipe, so they weren’t included. Except, I happened to have a half a container of sour cream in the fridge. I myself am not a fan of sour cream, but I needed it for a recipe so I decided to go ahead and add sour cream after all so that I could use it up before it spoiled. And, I added WAY more vanilla than the averages called for. Plus, cinnamon. It wasn’t in any of the recipes and I just felt like putting it in.

The batter was really thick and I thought I was going to end up with a dry bread (which I hate) but I’m quite pleased with how the loaf came out. It was very moist, had a nice flavor and if I have sour cream in the refrigerator again I could probably be persuaded to make another batch.

When everything was said and done, I ended up with this:Yummy homemade banana bread.

To make Egg-less Banana bread,
preheat your oven to 350°.

Add butter and brown sugar to the mixing bowl.

Butter and sugar

Cream butter and sugar together.Creamed together butter and sugar.

Add one egg or one “egg”.

egg substitute

2 T. water
1 t. oil
2 t. baking powder mixed together

Mix well and add sour cream and vanilla. Mix until combined and add bananas. My math said 5 1/2 but I had 6 so I used all of them. I also didn’t mash the bananas before I put them in; I broke chunks off into the mixer and then just beat the snot out of them until they looked like this.All mixed up

Measure the dry ingredients into a separate bowl or 1 quart measuring cup.Flour and spices

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in stages, mixing after each addition.

Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish or two loaf pans. Spread the batter into your pan(s) and bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes. Bread is finished when toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Click here for printable version.

Egg-less Banana Bread

Makes 2 loaves or a 9” x 13” pan

Preheat oven to 350°

  • 1 cup butter

  • 1 ½ cup brown sugar

  • 1 “egg” ~ whisk together:

    • 2 T. water

    • 1 t. oil

    • 2 t. baking powder

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 1 t. vanilla

  • 6 bananas, mashed

  • 3 1/3 cup flour

  • 1 t. baking powder

  • 1 t. baking soda

  • 1/3 t. salt

  • 1 T. cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg substitute or egg. Mix well. Add sour cream and vanilla and blend again. Add bananas and mix well.

In a separate container combine dry ingredients. Add a little at a time, mixing after each addition.

Grease a 9” x 13” casserole or two loaf pans.

Pour batter into pan(s). Batter will be quite thick and may require spreading with a spatula.

Bake in 350° oven 45-55 minutes.

Bread is finished when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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2013~ A Year in Review

2013 was a busy year. I didn’t blog much, but I did get a lot done.

I have a daughter that is now a senior in high school and a son that left elementary to move up to the big leagues of middle school. Hubby got (and rejected) two job offers. One was definitely not a better job. The other would have been a pay raise but would have caused a ridiculous amount of stress for Mr. Hippie. Mr. Hippie’s ulcerative colitis doesn’t do well with stress, so although I still pine for the extra income that would make our fiscal lives easier, I am grateful for his time with our family and for his health.

Will 2014 be The Year of My Blog? I don’t know the future, but I hear that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Regardless of what 2014 brings, I’m leaving 2013 with a bang!

The top posts always surprise me a little, but it helps me understand what people actually want to read! Apparently the movement toward healthier, greener cleaning hasn’t lost steam and people still love animals!

Coming in at number one:

Vinegar and oil(s)Homemade Fabric Softener

housing for two rabbits

Home to our breeding pair.

Building a Rabbit Hutch

Finished loaf cooled, sliced and ready to eat.

Freshly baked bread in five minutes?

Crusty Round Loaves of Homemade Bread

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Soap after the mold has been removed.

How I Made Homemade Soap (and Didn’t Screw it up)

Some of the finished treats.

Homemade Dog Biscuits

Supplies needed to make your own.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Sink Scrub

Homemade Scouring Powder

Chicken Tractor

Chicken Run

Pinot Jelly

Pinot Noir Jam

Thanks for sticking around to hear what I had to say even when I didn’t have much to talk about!

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Goodbye, Molly Weasley

When I decided I wanted chickens, my friend Stephanie encouraged me and even dragged me with her to a poultry show. I came home with my first four chicks in a box.

Molly weasley and her Peeps the day I brought them home.

I initially named them all after delicious chicken entrees so that the kids would remember that they could end up as dinner and not get too attached. As fate would have it, three of those first four chicks were roosters, and they did end up being three tasty dinners. One lonely hen survived that initial chicken run to be rechristened Molly Weasley. This evening, Gwen went out to the coop to feed the chickens one of their favorite treats, corn cobs with bits of sweet corn still attached. Sadly, she found Molly Weasley, still warm, laying deceased in the run.

I don’t know what her cause of death was. She hasn’t been behaving strangely and up until yesterday, she was still laying eggs. It seemed disrespectful to tinker with her carcass in search of an issue, so I buried her without probing for more information. Just in case  it was some sort of illness, I’ll keep an eye on the rest of my flock, but hopefully the rest of the girls are fine. For now, I’ll just take a moment to remember her on a happier day.

chicken in the backyard

Free range chicken

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Egg Update

My babies started laying eggs the 8th or 9th of August.  If you read “Whose Egg is This?”  or “Green Eggs“,  you already know this.  With all the egg hubbub in the news and tainted eggs now reaching my neck of the woods, I figured now would be a good time to do a follow-up.  

I was pretty sure this egg wasn’t Molly’s because of the size.  Now, I’m not so sure.  That egg was the only egg we got that day and we didn’t get another little brown egg for nine more days.  It’s typical for chickens to take a day off every few days, but nine?  Plus, Molly’s egg the day after I found the tiny egg was ginormous, really pale brown and weak-shelled.  I’m thinking maybe the mini egg was Molly’s after all.  Research online leads me to believe it’s not impossible for a hen to lay a tiny egg even if she normally lays larger eggs, but I’d love to hear your opinions. 

My favorite hen.

Bella wouldn't hold still for a close-up.

 

I don’t think it was Bellatrix’ egg anymore because she laid her first verified egg August 17th and has only taken one day off since. Nine eggs in ten days is pretty good! 

Hermione really has beautiful markings.

Still not laying.

 

Hermione still hasn’t started laying, but that is typical of a larger breed bird like a Wyandotte. 

Luna's a big girl now.

Luna in the run.

 

So, if Molly laid the tiny egg, Luna was the first of our new girls to start laying.  She’s laid thirteen eggs in the eighteen days since she started.  Her eggs have gotten a little bigger, but her eggs will never really be large because she is a medium-sized bird.  

Between the babies, we’re getting a dozen eggs a week now.  That’s good because Molly stopped laying again the same day that Bella started.  I’m not sure if it’s permanent, but her crop is doing strange things again.  Even if Molly doesn’t start laying again, we’ll soon be getting a dozen and a half, free-range, untainted eggs a week.  I think that’ll be plenty.

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Whose Egg is This??

This weekend was the 18th Annual Dunegrass Festival in Empire, Michigan and our second annual weekend at the festival.  Aside from Dunegrass, we’ve been to Empire a lot this summer.  Day trips to the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lake Michigan.  Day trips to North and South Bar beaches.  The kids and I even made a trip out for Food for Thought’s Green Cuisine event which technically is in Honor not Empire, but we did have to run to Empire for gas so we could make the long trip home.  These little staycations are one of the reasons I’ve been away from my blog so much.  There are posts here and here about other reasons I’ve not been around, and a couple more coming I’m sure.  

Delilah at Dunegrass

Delilah playing her bass while standing ON it.

But, I digress.  Dunegrass is technically a real vacation, not a staycation like our daytrips to the beach or the dunes.  We load up the car with food and camping gear.  We set up a campsite in the field with all the other festival-goers and we enjoy great bands like the Rachel Davis Band and Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys.  

 We sleep in a tent during a torrential downpour and wake up in puddles that quickly dry up the next morning in the sweltering heat and enjoy tins of Jiffy-Pop cooked over a Coleman campstove. 

Gwen and Dylan enjoying the festival.

Gwen and Dylan at Dunegrass with their balloon accessories.

So, if this is a vacation post, why is it called, Whose Egg is This??  Good question.  Even though we went away for a vacation, we drove the 17 miles back into town several times.  You see, we have animals.  The chickens?  They would have been fine.  I checked their food and water supply each time we came into town, but I never had to refill it.   

Palomino Rabbit

Fiona enjoying some time in the yard.

Our new friend, Fiona, would have been fine too although she probably would have gorged herself on all the extra food the first day and been hungry until we came back to feed her again.  I could have boarded the dog, but I didn’t.  Dogs, especially indoor dogs, have needs.  Like food.  And Water.  And the bathroom.  Mostly, that last one.  As far as I can tell, Luther doesn’t eat when we’re not home; his food sits untouched in his room until we come home and he’s sure we’re not leaving again.  However, if he had too, he would go potty inside.  He’s done it before.  Wouldn’t you? 

So, we came back into town.  When we came home Saturday morning we collected Molly Weasley’s egg from the nest box and found the “little” girls taking turns sitting in it.  I saw both Luna and Bella sitting in the box on separate occasions.  We weren’t home for a long period of time, so Hermione might have been trying it out too, but we never caught her. 

Sunday morning we came home and found this in the nest box: 

Does it even have a yolk?

Bigger than a bantam??

  Isn’t it cute?  Now we just need to figure out to whom it belongs.  

I’m pretty sure it isn’t Molly’s because she’s been laying (much larger) eggs off and on since February.  

Molly enjoying the sunshine in her new run.

It has been 19 weeks since our girls were hatched and now we have eggs!  Don’t you love Urban Farming?? 

It can’t be Luna’s, because she should be laying blue or green or pink but not brown eggs. 

Luna's a big girl now.

Luna in the run.

If I had to guess, I’d say it belonged to Hermione because she is the biggest of the three babies and according to MyPetChicken, she will be the most prolific layer of the three little girls.  But, I never actually saw her in the nest box.  I still haven’t seen her in the nest box even though the other girls have been testing it out since at least Saturday. 

Hermione really has beautiful markings.

Could it be hers?

So, it could belong to Bellatrix.  She was actually sitting in the nest a few times, but I never saw or heard her laying an egg. 

My favorite hen.

Bella wouldn't hold still for a close-up.

  I guess I won’t know for sure until I catch one of them in the act!

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Happy, Happy Day! (Or, Egg Independence Day)

Back in May I told you about Molly Weasley’s crop problems.  Then, I left you hanging without an update. 

Molly’s crop seemed to clear up after her daily massages and diet of soft foods so I started letting her eat her regular diet again after a week.  This return to her regular diet didn’t seem to have an ill effect on her crop, but she gained a strange habit.  Suddenly, Molly wanted to drink her water out of the dirt.  I have always added grit to her food, she eats grass, bugs and dirt from the front yard and she scratches in the dirt for cracked corn and compost so I’m not sure why she felt the need to drink from the ground as well.

Every time I took fresh water to the coop, Molly pecked at the container to try and splash water onto the ground.  If I dumped water out she joyfully scratched at it and drank it.   

Molly was eating so much sand that her droppings started to look like sand castles.  You probably think I’m joking.  I’m not.  I’d take a picture and post it but then I’m sure my husband would have me committed.  He already thinks I take way too many pictures of otherwise trivial things like jars of jelly and whatever we ate for dinner.

Back to the crop.  It seemed to be maintaing a normal size and was regrowing feathers so I figured eating all that sand was some sort of chicken self-doctoring.  After several weeks of sand eating and a normal sized crop, I was expecting my dear hen to start laying again.  No luck. I waited.  And waited.  Still nothing.

Then Molly started picking at the little girls.  You know the term, “hen-pecked”?  That’s what my chicks were.  Luna even had a bloody spot near her tail.  I was at my wit’s end with Molly.  Not laying was one thing but now tormenting the rest of the flock?  Not cool. 

 To make matters worse, one day shortly after the Coop Loop I picked up Molly and found a large, sandy scab on her crop.  Apparently all that sand was more than her crop could take; it seemed to have ruptured causing sand to ooze out.  The sand had all hardened and despite my strong urge to pick at the sandy clump, I resisted.  I checked on Molly’s scab every day to make sure it wasn’t getting worse.  After a couple days, the wound was significantly smaller.  Shortly after, to my great surprise, it had completely healed!

Despite Molly’s return to good health, we were still without eggs.  And, the girls were still being tormented.  I was just about ready to send Molly to the soup pot.

And then . . .

I found this:

Egg Independence once again!

The end of a long, eggless spell!

Beautiful, isn’t it?

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Random Drivel

If you are a regular reader, you have by now realized that I’ve been on a little hiatus.  Things are getting a little crazy around here and I haven’t had much time to devote to a “real” post. 

The craziness began with an amazing trip to Detroit (yes, I said “amazing” and “Detroit” in the same sentence) for the 5th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference.  I was too cheap to spring for an internet connection while I was there so blogging was out.  Not to mention the fact that I was busy for three days and spent every spare moment with my family.  I have an amazing opportunity to write about the conference for one of my favorite local publications, but I’ll save that for its own post once an article has been written, approved (hopefully) and gone to print. 

When I returned from the conference I went straight back to work.  It was/is end-of-the-year-assessment time and I had missed three prime days.  Add to that the half day I missed last week to have a lost filling drilled out and temporarily replaced and now I’m knee-deep in paperwork and running out of days to finish it all.

In all my spare time, I’ve been working in the garden a ton; helping with Girls on the Run; finding and starting a summer job at the Mercato in exchange for my summer CSA share from 9 Bean Rows and trying to finish up the final details for the Coop Loop.   There are lots of exciting developments and eventually I’ll tell you more, but I’m still working on sifting my compost heap.  I love you all, but a girl has to prioritize. 

 I’ve had lots of thoughts and ideas, but  I haven’t had the time and energy to sit down and compose something meaningful to share.  I’ll be back to a more manageable schedule soon.  Until then you’ll have to make do with this collection of random drivel.

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Upcoming Chicken Events

Traverse City put itself on the Chicken Map last September when it changed the city ordinances to allow residents to keep four hens on in-town parcels.  TC wasn’t the first foreward-thinking city to allow urban chicken keeping but was definitely ahead of the trend; residents of other cities are still fighting for the right to keep chickens in their towns. 

Now that chickens are legal, people are making a squawk about it.  (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)  NMC recently held a class about keeping chickens.  ISLAND, the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art and Natural Design is hosting a skill swap in June for rabbits, ducks and of course, chickens.  Both the express and the Record Eagle have run chicken articles (featuring my chickens) since September.  The Record Eagle even reprinted the article (much to my surprise) in its free weekly paper, the North Coast.  Edible Grande Traverse, one of my favorite publications, recently featured an article on chickens.  Even though they weren’t mine :), I must admit it was an excellent article.  

Urban Chicken Parade of Homes

Are you chicken enough?

 

Of course, I can’t forget the Coop Loop.  The tour is June 12th from 11:00 – 2:00.  You can do the tour at your own pace or join a guided cycle tour led by a chicken on a Vespa.  The tour concludes with a shindig at the Commons complete with frescas and a raffle.  I’ll hook you up with a map soon so you can join us if you’re around but there’ll be a sign in the yard pointing you to my coop.   

Tony of Traverse City Urban Chickens is the webmaster for our group.  He recently updated the website to include “coop owners” info.  The girls and I are here.   See you on the tour?

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Chicks, Man

The girls are getting so big!  They’ve changed so much over the last few weeks.  They’ve lost almost all of their downy fluff and their feathers and personalities are developing. 

Here they are in the living room not paying attention to the basketball game.  This step-stool chair makes an ok perch, but it is very slippery.  Bella didn’t stay on very long but the other girls did well.

The three girls on a chair.

Luna, Bellatrix and Hermione

 Bellatrix or “Bella” is my favorite.  She comes right to you if you put your hand in the brooder, loves to be held and will sit on my lap for a long time while I work.  She’s “helping” right now. Bella’s a Dominique which is a “heritage” breed because although this breed has been around for a long time, they are now considered critically endangered.

My Bella

Bellatrix "roosting"

 Here she is with Dylan. 

Bellatrix perched on The Boy.

Bella wouldn't pose for her picture.

Even though she wouldn’t look at the camera, you can get a nice view of the feathers coming in on her back.

Hermione, our Golden-Laced Wyandotte, is the most skittish of the three.  She won’t come to me readily but doesn’t protest once I have her. 

Hermione from behind.

View of Hermione's back.

 Her feathers aren’t as evenly developed as the other girls’ feathers are, but she’s starting to catch up.  She still has crazy “hair” but her lipstick is pretty, isn’t it?

Hermione: front view

Hermione close up.

 Luna, an Easter-Egger, looks like a hawk. 

Luna Lovegood

You are the falcon and I am The Falconer.

The pattern on her wings is very pretty.  Luna is the biggest and the bossiest of the three.  She’ll probably lay green eggs, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for blue.

Luna Lovegood

Backside view of Luna

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Crop Failure

I wish I would have taken a picture.  But, I didn’t.  Molly has had a gigantic, enlarged crop for at least a week. 

You’re probably wondering, “What the heck is a crop?”  I imagine it like this: Hamsters have pouches to store food, right?  A crop is like a storage pouch to hold a chicken’s food before it moves to the gizzard to be ground up.  It’s normal for the crop to change sizes during the day as the chicken eats and then digests food.  Poultryhelp.com has a diagram of a chicken’s digestive system if you are interested.

Back to the giant crop.  I’m not sure what caused it, but I have some ideas: Too much popcorn?  Bunches of kale that we wouldn’t eat?  Too much roaming about the yard eating grass?  Eating straw out of her coop?  I don’t know for sure, but a hen doesn’t usually have a crop so large that it starts losing feathers, does she? 

When I found the large, grapefruit-sized blob on my hen, I started freaking out.  I Googled, “chicken tumors” and narrowed it down to either sour crop or impacted crop.  There are all sorts of remedies online for both, but the most drastic is surgery.  I’m not up for doing chicken surgery myself, and as much as I love my hen, I’m not ready to lay down $100+ to have it surgically removed by the vet. 

So, I started trying other “remedies”.  I started with crop massage.  Some sites say to do it, others advise against it for fear of choking the chicken on her vomit.   I massaged Molly and inverted her several times on Sunday hoping that she would vomit and clear her crop.   She dripped quite a bit, but never vomited. 

I continued massage for several days with no success.  Instead of getting better, she actually seemed to be getting worse.  Her crop was so full that  she even started “dripping” when bending down to eat grass.  Still, after all this, she seemed in good spirits and wasn’t lethargic in the least.  Despite her cheerful demeanor, she stopped laying eggs.

Time for drastic measures (but still not surgery).  First, I stopped putting her in the yard where she could eat grass.   I added apple cider vinegar to her water.  I took away her food.  I tried to feed her yogurt.  (She wouldn’t eat it.)  Two days ago I scrambled an egg in copious amount of olive oil which is supposed to lubricate her digestive tract and served it to her.  She tasted it, but didn’t love it.  Finally, she got hungry enough to eat the egg.  The next morning, her crop was smaller, but still pretty large and filled with grain considering she hadn’t eaten solid food in a day.   So, yesterday was day two of scrambled eggs in oil.  This morning her crop was almost completely clear but still had a ping-pong ball-sized lump.  It didn’t seem hard which would indicate impaction and didn’t feel grainy like it had before, but after two days of almost no food, I was hopeful that it would be clear.  Today I let her pick the sweet corn off our eaten cobs and gave her some watermelon rinds.  I think the pieces are soft (and small) enough not to worsen her condition. 

She still hasn’t started laying, but I’m hoping for a full recovery.

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