Hatton House Diaries

One day, we decided to buy a 125 year old Victorian House in Des Moines, Iowa…….

Baby Chicks! July 7, 2017

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 1:37 pm
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Last year, we got a new batch of chicks and one of the turned out to be a rooster, then later in the summer we adopted a second rooster, so hypothetically, we could start having chicks. Raising chickens is funny, because you walk a fine line between not wanting hens to get broody and sit on your breakfast eggs, but secretly wanting a few new chicks too. A couple of our backyard chicken friends had hens become broody this year, so we were hopeful it would happen for us too.

Finally, a few weeks ago, one of our Marans sat on a few eggs and we were off to the baby chick races. We tucked a few additional eggs under her and hoped for the best. We are terrible, I mean, extremely busy chicken farmers, and we forgot to mark which day she started (don’t do that), so the last few days have been torture. Finally, last night, we checked her and there were two cracked shells. Mama hen did a great job of hiding them, but I could hear the cheeping and finally, I found them!19780520_10213570361631745_3192537266254928052_oThey were so tiny and new, I left them alone to snuggle their mama.

This morning, our favorite local photographer, @photo_nerd, came over and captured a few adorable images of the new members of our flock.

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Meet Butterscotch, born 7/6/17

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And Charcoal, born 7/6/17

 

Urban Tour de Cluck May 10, 2014

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 8:35 am
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wpid-20140510_005829.jpgI have been a badly behaved blogger. Our house is on the Urban Tour de Cluck, and here I am telling you about it mere hours before the event. See, I’ve been writing a book, Passionate Soccer Love, a Memoir of 20 Years Supporting US Soccer. It has taken up every moment of spare time in my life for a very long time, but it’s taken up all the moments for the past several months. You want to know where all my Hatton House projects went? Now you know…

I digress. The TdC people called me because our house is near another house on the tour and they wanted two stops in River Bend. If I didn’t have two hundred things going on right now, I would totally be down with being a stop on the tour. And my answer to her was “I think we can. What time do we have to be available? ” thinking there was no way I’d be able to fit the tour schedule into our insanity schedule of soccer games. She answered….but here’s the thing….her answer came in an avalanche of email that I ignored. I saw it but really figured if she didn’t bug me again, I was off the hook.

Then this packet of stuff got dropped off at my house on Thursday with a shirt and sign for Tour de Cluck and a map printed with our address on it. All I could do was laugh.

So yes, we are on the Tour De Cluck. Sorry to everyone I told we were not on the tour! Ours will not be the prettiest, but our chickens are pretty funny and our kids have created their own Roxaboxen like in the book by Alice McLerran. It should be something to see. See you on the tour!

Information about the Tour can be found on their Facebook page here. 

 

Chickens Love Compost for Dirt Baths May 8, 2014

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 11:02 am
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Stay of Execution – Chicken Style December 9, 2013

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 6:28 pm
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wpid-20131209_123546.jpgIt’s been a while since I wrote about the chickens. They did well over the summer, but had a serious drop off in egg laying, going from 9-10 eggs a day to 3-4 eggs per day, with a major disturbance in late October, when a hawk took off with two of our girls, including one of our two Ameraucanas (we didn’t see it, but heard about it from a neighbor).

Trouble is, we haven’t had a green egg since mid Summer, which has led to discussions that our surviving Ameraucana had perhaps lived out her laying days, and maybe she should be harvested for soup. This plan did not sit well with the kids, and was really a plan we should have ahem…executed… while it was warm out. We tabled the discussion for a while.

Imagine my surprise today when I went out to feed the chickens the party leftovers from the weekend and they pre-emptively rewarded my treats with four eggs, including one green one! I forgot how beautiful these eggs are. I’m not really sure why there was such a long break, or if she’ll keep laying, but I’m happy to have a green egg back, and convinced that when we get chicks in the Spring, we’ll pick up some more Ameraucanas.

Delicious party leftovers! Everybody gets to celebrate!

Delicious party leftovers! Everybody gets to celebrate!

Sing it with me..."I will survive! Oh as long as I know how to lay I know I'll stay alive!"

Sing it with me…”I will survive! Oh as long as I know how to lay I know I’ll stay alive!”

 

Punk Domestics New Level Unlocked – Peach Canning August 8, 2013

Filed under: In the Garden,In the Kitchen,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 3:03 pm
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imageI have never canned before, and it is a process I previously found terrifying. It’s like childbirth, everyone has a horror story they must share. You mention you’re thinking about canning and everyone feels the need to share the story about the time their Grandmother blew up the kitchen, or that woman that leveled her house with a chutney explosion. Last year, I avoided canning entirely and made peach brandy, and then froze the rest of my peach crop.

This year, my mom bought me a gorgeous set of Weck Jars for Hanukkah, and my freezer is already full, so the pressure was on to figure out canning. I read blogs and asked friends, hinted to my mother-in-law that I might need help, but the peaches were moving past ripe and I still hadn’t worked up the nerve when one of the women on the Midwest Homesteading and Permaculture Facebook group hosted a farm swap. I brought some peaches, and while trading, talking to her about my canning fears. She said the best thing: “It’s like cooking, but with one extra step.” So simple. I can cook. So I just need to cook, and then worry about the canning step.

I made three recipes: two from my favorite food blogger, Local Kitchen, with her Honey Spiced Peaches and Maple Bourbon Peach Butter, and the rest of the peaches in simple light syrup from Frugal Living NW. I started the Maple Bourbon and simple syrup, and spent 2 days cooking and canning. Of 25 attempts, only three didn’t seal, which I’m going to call a success for my first time out. Fortunately, one jar each from the recipe batches, so I got to taste both, and they are delicious! I almost can’t wait for winter! I’ll do another canning run this weekend, but to use the weekday peaches, we made a Smitten Kitchen Peach Pie, which was heavenly, and had such an intoxicating smell, I stole a bite before thinking of photographing it. Maybe next time!

Hope you’re enjoying your peach harvest too!

 

Happy Pi Day! March 15, 2013

Filed under: In the Kitchen,Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 3:15 am
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imageI have a very domestic next door neighbor. She was raised in the Midwest, and I’m pretty sure she makes dinner for her family every night, in addition to baking yummy treats that she often brings over to share with us. She does this, while bringing up her adorable 10 month old son. She’s the kind of woman I would despise for her “how does she do it” housewifing skills, except for the fact that she is so unbelievably nice and friendly, and she IS a really good baker, so I just try to learn a few things from her.

Today, I went over to her house to check out the new color she’d painted her dining room and she came over to see my newly stained kitchen woodwork. She was amazed at how much I’d gotten done, and I loved her new color, so things were going quite well. Then, I stepped into her kitchen, which, as always, smelled amazing. How does she come up with these endless ideas for tasty food? I mentioned that I had to dispatch two pounds of beef, and she suggested I check out Pinterest. AHA!! That’s how she gets all these ideas! But I didn’t even need to go that far, because something about the smell of her kitchen got me thinking….

We had onions and potatoes left over from the Thrilla in the Skillet, and my husband had left the deep freeze unplugged for three days because he needed the outlet to plug in a router in the basement (more on that later). Two pounds of thawed beef + onions + potatoes on 3/14 equals Pi Day Sheppards Pie! Bonus: I could skip making the peach pie I wanted to assign to my pie wizard husband.

I adapted from Simply Recipes version, and used two pounds beef, two onions, carrots, green beans, and Italian seasoning. I threw in beef bullion (the liquid mush kind) and salt and pepper. I used five potatoes and 2 sticks of butter and added garlic salt to the potatoes. I had enough to make a full size pie, two bowls for my impatient daughter and I, and these four little Staub pots that got their first run tonight. “But Tanya, there are only three little pots?” Yeah, well….we were anxious to sample the baked version. Baked or unbaked, it was delicious beyond expectation.

Back to the husband: There are only two outlets in our basement: one for the deep freeze, one for the chicken coop. In my mind, the chickens will let us know there’s no power on, because the coop will be dark at night. The freezer, on the other hand, will sit without power until I go shopping, which luckily, I did NOT leave for the weekend. By the time I caught it, the top layer had thawed, which meant throwing out some fish that seemed instantly sketchy, and cooking the still cool but no longer frozen beef, and cooking up some turkey sausage. Husband survived, and has promised to wire in a few more outlets. And make me a pie.

 

A Chicken Screams “Hawk!!” February 9, 2013

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 9:34 am
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hawkA few weeks ago, my husband reported that there had been a hawk over our backyard, terrorizing our chickens. The hawk had gone so far as to capture a squirrel and eat his snack while glaring at our chickens, who were cowering under the back steps. We considered moving them under better cover, but they seemed to do a good job of protecting themselves, so off we went.

Then yesterday, I’d had a long day of appointments and kids home from school for conferences, and by 4:45, I was exhausted, and came to my back office and stared at my screen, trying to will myself to write. That’s when I heard it, the panicked screaming of my chickens, clearly freaking out about more than a laying box squabble. I leaned over to pull my curtain back just in time to see a hawk swoop down into the yard to more chicken freak out noises. I couldn’t see where it had landed, or if there were victims, so I jumped up, leapt over my Kindergarten son, yelling something about hawks and chickens, and ran for the back door.

In my head, there was a voice pointing out that perhaps I should have a plan. Was I going to wage war with the attacking hawk? Maybe I should find safety goggles if that was the case. The other voice in my head yelled that there was no time for goggles and plans, to just get out there….but stop long enough to switch shoes for slippers. No way that hawk’s going to take you seriously with sheepskin lined slippers on.

I got outside, and 11 of our 12 chickens were cowering under a leaf-naked bush, but they were unharmed, and apparently glad to see me. The 12th chicken was a bird my daughter named “Featherless,” because she is half plucked from other’s fighting with her. She lays huge eggs, so we keep her, and hope that she’ll one day feather out again, but so far…no luck. Apparently, her lack of feathers had made her an easy target. I concerned myself with getting the others to safety. They didn’t have any interest in my shooing them across the yard, so I started to carry them, two by two when I could manage it, back to the coop, while the hawk watched from a tree two houses down, apparently threatened by my very shiny Danskos. Take that, Hawk!

I got all but two of the chickens cooped up when out came the 12th chicken, Featherless! I’ve never been so happy to see our most ridiculous looking bird. Another 20 minutes of chicken-around-the-lilac-bush later, and all the girls were safe and sound. And I had gone in to open a nice bottle of red wine…