Cochins vs. Rhodies: A Breed Comparison

I’ve been observing the differences between my two flocks of chickens now for almost a year. This is what I have observed about their dispositions, their personalities and their applicable place in the homestead or backyard chicken coop.

Snowball puzzled look

It’s really quite important to pick the right breed for your weather conditions and land characteristics. I also recommend picking a breed that is suitable for your energy and time constraints too. You will be happier and so will your birds.

Goldy side view on star use

COCHINS BANTUMS: Suitable for an urban backyard coop.

  • Smaller in stature
  • Calm and contented personalities
  • Suitable for younger children to raise
  • Content to be in their coop and run, modestly demanding
  • Very attached to and protective of their flock members
  • Serial brooders
  • For egg laying not meat birds
  • Reliable egg layers laying light brown, almost pink shelled eggs
  • Put themselves in the coop on their own in the early evening
  • Small combs and wattles so suitable for cold weather geography
  • Rhodie in leaves nice light USE

RHODE ISLAND REDS: A heritage breed, suitable for farm or homestead where they can free range.

  • Larger in stature, sturdy birds weighing up to 7 to 8 lbs.
  • Wired personalities, very serious scratch and peck birds, a rather demanding breed
  • Most suitable for older children to raise
  • Every bird for themselves personalities
  • Need to free range and not content to be in their coop and run all day long
  • A duel breed, egg laying and meat producers
  • Reliable layers, laying large brown eggs
  • Want to be out in the woods up well past dusk so need to be put to bed at night.
  • Mediums sized combs and wattles so suitable for cold weather geography

Elsa look good

Whatever your situation and whichever breed you choose, enjoy your chickens and the adventures they bring to your homestead or family. They each have their own personalities, most are quirky, fun and interesting to raise and own. I do recommend keeping chickens!!

Small House homesteader, Donna

 

 

Small House Christmas Dinner

Even though we have kept it pretty simple this year, the past week has been a whirlwind of Christmas activities. Our Christmas cards have been signed and sent, and this past Sunday we enjoyed our families Christmas dinner. We hosted this event in our home so much of my week was spent on planning, shopping, table setting and cooking for the big day. I like to cook as much ahead as I can and set the table the night before.

Gene cooked the chicken and I made the side dishes. I find that healthy home cooked food is one way I can show support to my son and make a small difference in his life. I also like to model healthy food for my grand daughter too.

Susans Fried chicken

I feel blessed to live in the land of abundance where we have the food easily available to create a special and tasty meal but I never forget to remember those who do not. While it has been challenging to switch over to gluten, dairy and sugar-free, I have not forgotten that I am indeed fortunate to have the ability to find and purchase the ingredients I now need. Having computer access to gluten-free recipes and a working stove, refrigerator, electricity and the ability to make these nutritious meals makes us very fortunate indeed.

Our Christmas Menu This Year Included;

  • Susan Lamberti’s Fried & Baked Chicken
  • Twice Baked Acorn Squash Quinoa & Kale with Pomegranate
  • Gluten-free Stuffing
  • Quinoa, Cranberry, Apple, Kale, Pumpkin Seed Pilaf
  • Grandma’s Orange and Cranberry Gelatin Salad
  • Tossed Lettuce Salad
  • Cider (hot or cold) and Water

The highlight of the meal was definitely the Susan Lamberti family chicken recipe we call, Mom’s Fried Chicken. Mom was Gene mother, Susan Lamberti who emigrated from Italy and was a true and traditional Italian cook.

Gene cooking chicken

She fed her family of six every day, making many traditional Italian recipes and cooked everything but the bread they ate from scratch and kept her family fed, full and satisfied. Gene’s childhood holiday meals always included a fully baked turkey with all the seasonal trimming as well as homemade lasagna using her handmade lasagna noodles. Gene says his mother was “a piece of work,” but I think she must have been a saint!

In an Italian family it’s all about family and the food!

Brenna with chair and highchair USE

I enjoyed this chicken for the first time in the fall of 20145 when we visited Gene’s brother and sister-in-law at their home in Upstate New York. Gene’s brother Pat saved this recipe from oblivion. This chicken is lightly breaded, lightly fried and then baked and is incredibly moist and delicious. We watched the making of this chicken then but needed a quick tutorial to answer a few questions so Gene called his brother for the recipe which I have included here.

Susan Lamberti’s Fried & Baked Chicken (Prep 60 minutes, cook time 60 minutes. Ready in 2 hours.)

INGREDIENTS:

Chicken pieces with skin removed

Salt & pepper to taste

Eggs

Flour

Italian bread crumbs

Olive oil

  1. Remove skin, cut up chicken and dry the pieces well
  2. Roll chicken pieces in the flour
  3. Roll chicken in the egg mixture
  4. Roll the chicken in the Italian bread crumbs
  5. Fry lightly in olive oil, turning often
  6. Drain chicken on paper towels to take out any excess oil
  7. Put the chicken back into the pan and add water, approx. ½ to ¾ cup of water depending on the amount of chicken pieces and the size of the pan. The water will soften the breading and allows you to make gravy in the pan.
  8. Remove chicken from flying pan and put into a baking dish
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

Grandma’s Orange and Cranberry Gelatin Salad (Prep 20 minutes. Ready in 8 hours)

INGREDIENTS:

1 (oz.) package raspberry flavored Jell-O mix

2 cups boiling water

1 (16 oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, un-drained

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup pecans

1 teaspoon orange zest

TOPPING:

1, 4 oz. package cream cheese softened (I used non-dairy)

½ cup whipped topping (I used non-dairy)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Place the gelatin in a bowl and pour in the boiling water, and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Mix in the cranberry sauce, pineapple, celery, pecans, and orange zest until evenly blended. Pour the gelatin mixture into a mold or serving dish.

2) Chill gelatin in the refrigerator overnight or up to 8 hours.

3) To make the topping beat the cream cheese with half of the whip topping. Fold in the remaining whipped topping until well blended. Unmold the gelatin and spread with the topping mixture.

Twice Baked Acorn Squash Quinoa & Kale with Pomegranate: (Prep 15 minutes, initial cook 40 minutes-Mix together and bake another 20 minutes)

INGREDIENTS:

2 acorn squash

Quinoa, red or white

Kale, torn into pieces (amount is as much as you like) I use one whole large bunch for three squashes.)

Garlic, fresh or power (I used a large spoon full of prepared ground garlic)

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

½ cup pecans

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cut acorn squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and coat the inner yellow portion with butter, coconut oil or olive oil. Place in the oven, right side up, and bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the inner portion is soft. For a more seasoned bowl, dust the squash with garlic powder, cinnamon and allspice. When the squash is done, peel out the inner portion and leave enough squash remaining in the bowl to maintain its structure.
  2. Sauté’ the shredded squash, quinoa, kale, spices and /2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic.) and butter in a pan just enough to melt the butter and wilt the kale.
  3. Transfer the mixture into the squash bowls and bake in the oven for 15-30 minutes. Add the pecans and the pomegranates to the top.
  4. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds (toasted or not) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cool slightly and can be made a day ahead.

Holiday Dinner 2015

Enjoy your holidays all!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Just a Few Holiday Decorations This Year

We are keeping Christmas very simple this year…

Most years I go into the forest and harvest holly berry branches, red osier Dogwood and Juniper greens. I like to use natural materials in my décor. Some years I have gone way out on my holiday decorations, both inside and out and have enjoyed the creative nature of designing the displays. But this year my energy was just too low I found it hard to get inspired, so I gave myself permission to take it easy this year.

VERT tree close up

TinyTannenbaum! The rosemary trees in a vintage crock in my dining room.

Oh, Christmas tree – holiday symbol made popular in 16th-century Germany.  These sweet little trees don’t have to be decorated just display them in unique containers for their sweet holiday charm to shine.

We put the white twinkly light on the outside of the house and two strands of colored lights inside; one on the fireplace and one on the antique china cabinet. We hung three socks on the fireplace added some natural rose hips we gathered from the Todd Farm, a few candles and called it a day.

Rosemary tree and dresser

My hand-painted dresser acts as a server when we have company.

Yesterday at Sewall’s Health Food Store I saw this cute Christmas tree shaped rosemary herb and I splurged. I found an old crock warmed it up and put it on our dining room server. It added a bit more festivity to the inside of our home.

VERT medum view of Rsemary tree

A touch of natural materials makes me happy.

We won’t be doing any major holiday entertaining this year, just my son and granddaughter for a holiday meal near Christmas.

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s revisit a few vignettes from previous years here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was inspired to decorate the playhouse two years ago.

House front SNOWY w Thanksgiving text and leaf jpeg

Natures holiday gift, a Christmas eve snowfall!

2013 Xmas Card before text

A collage of the winter wonderland we often have here on the homestead.

Happy holidays all!

Small House homesteader, Donna

I Begin the Long Journey to Better Health

Yesterday’s journal entry….

“It’s been a bad day in River City….I’ve been fighting a bad bacterial infection on my abdomen for more than a week. Today I broke down and went to see my new Grandville doctor today. I ended up having unexpected office surgery to remove two of the three sebaceous cyst she found there. The third one is too deep to take out in the office so we are hoping that the 10 day round antibiotics will take care of that.

Not to bore you with details, but my body parts were not cooperating and it took over 12 shots to numb the area so she could do the surgery. I won’t be moving around much for the next week or so.  I try so hard to avoid meds but here again I am taking antibiotics and pain killers…I HATE THAT. To me this represents just more toxins to detox from my body.

Husband Gene offered to come with me but he had an appointment at the dealer for new tires for his truck so I said “I can handle it.” BIG mistake! I needed his support and to drive me home as well as shop  at the health food store and pick up my prescription on the way home….six hours on the road…..It was a long hard and exhausting day.

Taking Keflex and 800 Motrin now…..and going to bed.  All plans for this week have been cancelled.”

Book Cover Top 5 Mistakes

I haven’t written a lot on this blog about my on-going health challenges. I don’t know if readers want to hear about these things. It’s all part of aging I guess and getting old is a job that is definitely not for sissies!

30 percentof peoplecarr staph

I have long been searching for a new physician one who is interested in and capable of an integrative approach; one who treats the whole body not just the particular system that is having problems at the moment.

The Positive Attributes of Alternative Medicine:

  • Focus on proactive measures
  • Treats the cause of illness and disease, not just the symptoms
  • Is more cost-effective than Western Medicine
  • Methods target whole body, as an interrelated system
  • Generally safe with minimal side effects when used according to directions
  • Best option for chronic diseases
  • Requires more personal education and self-direction because it is not taught to most doctors and most patients never hear about it
  • Can take longer to see results because addressing the root cause is more involved than simply masking symptoms

The roadblock for an alternative physician and treatment has been due to a lack of coverage by our standard health insurance and lack of free to spend money.

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At long last think I may have found an empathetic heart at last, a DO who is an osteopathic physician that is fully licensed able to treat my skin issues and thyroid issues and practices an hour’s drive from my home. She is also voiced in the language of thyroid.

what-is-a-boil leg

I get really frustrated because I feel like all I do is focus on preventative methods like choosing healthy food choices. I grow it, I source it. I cook it. We choose only organic, GM free foods. I thought I make healthy lifestyle choices; I never smoked, I rarely drank. I’ve always exercised. And yet I seem to suffer from  chronic and major health issues. Often I feel like no matter what I do it is not enough…and many days I get discouraged and feel like throwing in the towel.

I believe the core problem is a lifetime of exposure to environmental toxins, overactive and raging hormones and too many antibiotics I am learning that the skin.

I am learning that the skin, which according to the medical field has been called “the third kidney” because it is able to release toxins such as pesticide, solvents, heavy metals, urea & lactic acid from the body.

how-to-get-rid-of-boils-on-inner-thigh

I also know first-hand that bacteria leave behind toxins and harmful by-products in the body long after the infection has ended. Fighting off an infection is exhausting, stressful and takes a lot of energy. All that lost energy can hinder our ability to get well.

The Literature Notes That Chronic Infections Are Due to:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Food allergens
  • Internal inflammation:

As I begin this new journey I do have some concerns.

  • I am not a pill person and working with this practice will mean I will be taking more supplements. That will be hard to swallow for me (no pun intended.)
  • Historically adding supplements has meant an increase in my bacterial infections and cyst eruptions and that is not something I am fond of. Detoxing is a hard thing physically and emotionally to deal with.
  • Much of the costs of this work will not be covered by Medicare or Blue Cross Blue Shield and will mean that our precious cash reserves will be drained.
  • I will need to eliminate sugar, wheat and dairy and I will have to learn and all new way to plan meals, shop and cook. Because food represents one of the most time-consuming tasks of my week and I have taken responsibility for food in our house, this will also be a challenge.

But Gene and I agree that our health is our wealth and we are going to invest in ourselves. It’s now or never.

Wish me luck on my journey.

Small House homesteader, Donna

A Sunday Morning Frost

Our tiny corner of SW Michigan began foggy and cool this morning with a pretty silvery-white coating of frost on all of the remaining plants. Now the day is brightening up and the sun is out and the sky is blue. It’s a beautiful early winter day on the homestead.Gen and sassy winter sky

Yesterday’s walk under a glorious SW Michigan winter sky!

Gene has gone outside to finish wrapping the netting around our first-year fruit trees to keep the deer and rabbits from nibbling on them when food becomes scarce. Although we have finished with our leaf pickup work this season, more leaves have blown back in from the surrounding woods. Gene will be using our faithful sucker/blower equipment to suck more leaves out of the pea gravel landscaped beds around our ranch-style home.

Gene wrapping wire USE

Netting is going up around our new fruit trees today to keep the critters out.

We are having a very mild winter thus far having had only one snowfall. This is fairly unusual for a Michigan winter but is giving us extra time to complete our outdoor chores, plant more spring bulbs and so on.

 

Todd Farm grat sky and road

Country roads take me home…

Yesterday’s weather was a stunner; beautiful, sunny and warm for just a 40 degree early winter day. I sat outside with my face to the sun with the chickens for almost two hours. The girls were happy to be out and about free ranging. They are giving me 7 eggs a day out of 8 chickens now. YEA!!

Rhodie in leaves nice light USE

Free ranging Elsa in our woodlot. Isn’t she a beauty!

Even Snowball, my Cochin-Bantam that I adopted as a chick and who came to me with a wry neck and serious nutritional deficiencies from eating nothing but cracked corn has just started laying again after her fall molt. She still turns around in circles during times of stress, but she is doing well in spite of that not so good start in life. She is a sweet, happy chickens that stands up to the bigger RIR every time they get in what she considers her territory. It’s kind of funny because the Rhodies are twice as big as Snowball and yet they just fade away. It’s like they are saying, “Oh it’s a gnat, move away.”

Snowball puzzled look

Snowball is a feisty little Cochin Bantam ball of energy.

I am moving in slow mode this week as I am battling another bacterial skin infection.This is running right behind a 5-week episode of bronchitis and 9 month of on-going plantar fasciitis pain. I am afraid that my body is just run down.

I am feeling frustrated too because I believe I am doing everything right;  I focus on eating whole organic foods and make almost all of our meals from scratch. I get plenty of sleep and rest, do my yoga stretches and practice good household and personal hygiene. With a mostly indoor dog living with us, we clean weekly and I vacuum nearly every day. While I would not try it, I have been told that you could almost eat off of the floors of my home.

In compst bin heads up best USE

The Rhodies like to free-range in the compost bin.

Gene and I had planned to go out to dinner yesterday to celebrate our 19th anniversary but I just did not feel up to it. I could not see spending the money and then not enjoying the meal.

Gene Donna at Grill house 12113

Last years anniversary celebration dinner out.

I have also started over again with a new physician, a female DO this time ,in the hopes that THIS ONE might be a good fit for me. I need a physician that is more holistic than Western medicine, listens, believes me and understands that I do not want antibiotics every three months and is willing to work with me.

Road moslty right hand side

One of the beautiful back roads of Allegan County, MI.

My skin issue is a hereditary condition; many others in my family also have it. We get frequent boils and cysts and that turn into nasty, hot and painful infections. This week I was told to stop eating wheat, sugar and dairy so this has thrown me for a loop as I will not eat packaged, processed foods with chemicals in them or soy and substitute foods often have these ingredients in them.

I spent a large portion the day on-line researching yogurt, breads and so on that I will be able to eat. We live in a very rural area and do not have a lot of healthy food choices here so it takes planning ahead and a lot of kitchen time.

VERT road and trees

I find peace in the beauty of my rural home.

I am trying to focus on my many blessing today….not the negatives. I go back to see the doctor tomorrow and will stop at one of my favorite large health food stores on my way home.

Things I am grateful for this week:

  • I am grateful that this health food store is well stocked and available to me.
  • I am grateful I have a vehicle that will get me to this appointment and back.
  • I am grateful that I have the choice to start over with a new physician.
  • I am grateful to have insurance and Medicare that will help with these new bills.

Remembering today to find joy in the simple things of my home centered life.

Small House homesteader, Donna

News from the Coop-Eggs as Reward for a Job Well Done

Brenna 2 eggs Thanksgiving

My granddaughter loves to help collect eggs from the nest box.

I have been accused lately of pampering my chickens and I suppose that is true. If pampering them means feeding them, loving them and taking care of them as well as I feed my family… then I am definitely guilty.

mealworms in tin and bucket in snow USE

Herbs and mash are a tasty chicken treat.

I do feel strongly that their health comes through in their egg production numbers as well as in the quality and taste of their eggs. And I want the healthiest chickens and eggs possible. So I feel my efforts are worth it. I want eggs with the highest quality of healthy fat, Omega 3’s possible.

My girls get fed layers feed, greens, herbs, “high-test” (a special high protein concoction I make that is intended to fill them up and keep them warm at night in colder temperatures) and some kitchen scraps. Their live greens includes sprouted barley greens and mung beans.

Herbs and mash

Wet feed and fresh greens are a hit in the coop.

Currently when many flocks have stopped laying an egg production is down my flocks egg production is going up-up-up. This tells me I must be doing something right!!Eggs in blue bowl USE

Beautiful brown eggs!

This week our 8 girls are now laying seven eggs most days. I am thrilled! After months of planning, building, growing, teaching and feeding; these eggs are our reward for a job well done.

The four-year-old Cochin/Phoenix mix’s are good layers and quite winter hardy in spite of their petite and delicate look. Fluffy Snowball, Sweet Pea, Freckles and Goldie, had a 6-week long broody this fall followed by a hard molt. At the same time we thought we might lose Freckles as her comb went gray and she acted as if she was not feeling at all well but some extra TLC and lots of extra protein brought her back around. Her comb is red again and while she is still the lowest chicken in the Cochin flock, she is happily eating, ranging and laying eggs again. She and Snowball are best buds.

Chicken conversation

The Cochin/Phoenix mixes are have quite the conversation.

The four Rhode Island Reds are teenagers now at 7-months-old and full of piss and vinegar. Named by our North Carolina granddaughters they are; Elsa, Crystal, Anna and Alice they are names of course come from the Frozen movie phenomena. What do I expect with granddaughters ages 6 and 4!!

Totally spoiled, they see me and come running and begging for food and asking to get out of the coop for supervised free range time. I try to accommodate them as often as possible. All the Rhodies are finally all laying and clamoring for scratch and peck time in the woods. These Rhodies are sturdy birds that are very serious about their free ranging….they live to dig and hunt!

Three Rhodies 11-11-15 USE

Fully grown Rhode Island Reds are masterful egg layers.

All kidding aside;  I am happy to see our chickens healthy and prospering. They have glossy feathers, bright red combs and healthy bodies. They lay delicious eggs and make great fertilizer for our garden. They work the soil and keep the bugs at bay.

Working chickens on the homestead are part of our path to sustainability.

Small House homesteader, Donna