Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life is Pura Vida!

Miss Kitty and the kittens are doing fine. Every day I am so happy that Miss Kitty is here. I have been humbled by this young lady. Even though her vision is like looking through a tunnel she plays hard. She climbs the fences but does not climb out of the yard. She is slowly making friends with the other cats and has started to play with a couple of them. She is also very bold but not stupid, ol' Desi has challenged her but instead of running or fighting she hugs the ground while still holding her ground. It works, Desi just ups and walks away. Miss Kitty has become so familiar with the area in which she spends most of her time outside that a new plant gets a good checking out almost immediately. She knows there is something new in her domain, she must give her approval. The kittens are growing fast as kittens do. They play so very hard it is so entertaining, many, many laughs from them. Miss Kitty will sometimes bowl one of them over but they bounce right up and go after her. She will wrestle with them when she wants to play. She will also swat one if she doesn't want to play but no one ever gets hurt or very mad. She still wants to be a hair dresser, she really gets involved in Caroline's hair. She just pats me on the head and feels sorry for me. Both she and Daniel have something going with my left ear. They will get on the back of my chair and either reaches out with a paw or nibbles on my ear, sends chills all over me. Oh, Daniel has a thing for my feet too, he will attack them when I walk by and sometimes if I’m just standing. Sometimes when I'm walking he tackles my feet. Hard to keep your balance with a surprise attack like that.
Miss Kitty and the kittens. Those who don't know the story email me and i'll send you the marvelous story behind these very happy cats.

  As to the ol' garden, well it is still growing a few tomatoes and some very hot little peppers that look like jalapenos but are much hotter. I am trying to save seeds from the tomatoes for friends but the first batch didn't dry right, they molded, now I'm hoping to get a couple of large tomatoes to try again. I'm going to get a load of horse manure and pile it on the garden, not to mix it in but to cover it with black plastic to burn up any seeds or bugs in the garden soil so it will be good for planting come fall. That should really get hot, I'll lift the plastic every now and then and wet the manure down to keep it as hot as it can be. When I am ready I’ll shovel the manure off and scatter it around plants and trees, it should be very good after being heated on the garden.
 Something new I’ve been doing for the feathered flock is fermenting their feed, mainly cracked corn. Fermenting feed, referred to as FF is very beneficial for the chickens. I started out with some of the regular feed, some cracked corn, a little yeast and some sugar to get it working fast. I found out about FF on the Backyard Chickens forum. Folks had been feeding it to their meat chickens and were having so many benefits from it I decided to try it with my laying hens. When I posted that I was feeding it to our hens more folks responded that they too were either feeding it or were going to try it with their egg hens. The benefits are much better eggs, they look better and cook better, the yoke is a bright red/orange and the whites don’t run in the skillet as much. Because the cracked corn has absorbed water it is easier for the chickens to digest.  Not only that it being fermented the sugar in the corn is converted and much better for digestion. The chickens don’t require as much water trying to digest the dry corn. Their droppings have become more solid and aren’t as smelly. The chickens also seem to be filling out better and their feathers are much fuller/neater. A big thing is for me and my small flock is the ease of the whole process. With my set up I can easily feed a flock of 20 chickens but the only time I'll have over 10 chickens is when we raise some meat chickens.
This is what the mash (the fermenting corn and water mixture) looks like as it is fermenting. Notice what they call mother, the brownish layer on top of the mash. There are also lots of bubbles from the fermenting process which is CO2.

Notice the liquid that has condensed on the lid of the fermenter. It is actually alcohol (yep, alcohol, I tasted it) from the fermentation process.

This is basically is my set up that produces the mash the chickens love. I take the mash in the bucket (they are actually 10” tall plastic trash cans) on the right then pour some of it in the strainer which drains into the bucket on the left.

 The strainer fits the empty fermenter like it was made for it. This is what makes it so easy, there is very little mess and it takes so little time. When I pour some of the mash in the strainer I go and do more of my morning chores. I let the mash drain somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour.

 The top for the fermenter is actually a regular plastic diner plate. It fits the fermenter just right and being that it sits loose it relieves the CO2 build up. Put on a tight fitting top and you could have a big mess when the fermenter bursts.

  Right now I have 3 fermenters going giving 36 hours of the fermentation process to each fermenter, not long enough to cause the mash to taste bad to the chickens and also so it takes up a small amount of space which is the top of our fridge where it is nice and warm so the process is quick. When I move the containers I may have to add another fermenter as it will be cooler and slower to ferment. I’m also looking for some oats to add to the mash. I don’t really like the regular feed as it contains a lot of soy beans, which I am not found of. I know, the chickens like it but I keep reading about soy beans not being the best thing for feed but until I can find oats they’ll have to do. Once started there is no additional cost for fermenting feed just a little time. Getting a proper setup cuts the time down to a few minutes so I think it is well worth the effort. I’ll post more photos and how things are going.
So much to do so little time!

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