Licorice for Goats

Even as a child, I preferred fresh, ripe fruit over candy. So, although I indulge in treats for my goats, I’m not wont to give them junk food. It’s not good for them, and since I don’t crave it, I don’t feel that I am keeping them from some unique and amazing delectable treat. Lately, however, I’ve been told by an experienced goat keeper (whom I greatly respect), that goats love licorice. Black licorice. And that I was being stingy and mean-spirited for not providing a bag of this candy for the boys. Then, in one of my favorite goat blogs, I read that this farmer also gives her goats black licorice. I gave in and bought a bag.

The goat boys always anticipate that something good is coming their way when they’re asked to get onto their stumps.



However, they can be quite suspicious of new foods, and they are fussy. For example, Pip likes tomatoes, but Caper doesn’t, whereas Caper likes a certain prickly weed that Pip won’t touch. But, they both agreed that black licorice is yummy. They wagged their tails and smacked their lips.



But, was this munching and crunching any different than when handed green beans?



Nope! They like the green beans just as much, and, in fact, did some joyful burping while snacking on them.



Methinks those other goatmaids are buying licorice for their goats just so that they can have some for themselves. Honestly, I had a piece or two of the licorice, which I confess that I like it much more than overgrown green beans. We goatmaids do need a few treats for ourselves. I think that I’ll share the bag with the boys.

Ameracauna Eggs!

The Literary Ladies are now 22 weeks old. Twiggy has been laying almost daily for a month, and true to her White Leghorn breeding has taken only three days off in that time. Her eggs are bright white, long and smooth as polished shells washed up on the beach. The other hens have been slower to mature, but I’ve been expecting to see eggs from the Ameracaunas, Owly


and Beatrix,


because they’ve been squatting when they see me – sure signs that they are now fully grown.

Two days ago Beatrix left this egg in the nesting box. It is a dull green with a hint of blue.


Ameracaunas are not true blue egg layers like Araucanas. Also known as “Easter Eggers”, the Ameracauna is a mix of breeds, sure to lay colorful eggs, but you never know where on the spectrum from olive-brown to robin’s egg blue they’ll be until they start laying. (I’ve explained how eggs get the colors they do here.)

I haven’t seen Owly in the nesting boxes, but I’m sure that she too, is laying, not because I’ve collected two colorful eggs from one box, but because I’ve found one that is bluer and not as pointy; they are obviously from different hens. Here are the eggs, side-by-side. Both are beautiful in their own subtle way.


Neither of my Ameracaunas are interested in their eggs after they’ve been laid. They hop right down and go back outside. But, Betsy Ross, being a bantam, has gone broody and has huffed up and is trying as best that she can to cover the bigs eggs (including Twiggy’s) with her tiny body. You can tell that  her claim on the nesting boxes and her bad mood has annoyed the ladies because her comb has been pecked at. She doesn’t care a whit. She’ll sit there until the broody spell passes, which could be weeks.


Meanwhile, Phoebe, who has created a cozy home for herself under the nesting boxes, is unimpressed with the hens and their newfound productivity.


“It’s Too Hot” Tomato Sauce

In the garden at the end of August, it’s a race against time. There’s a small window of opportunity to get the crops in when they are ripe. A few days too late and the bugs and rot get them. This week my peaches, basil and tomatoes have all peaked. (As have the cucumbers and chard, but I’m ignoring them!) I have a friend who is an avid canner, and I know she’s working hard in her kitchen, putting up spiced pears, tomato sauce and pickles. Me? It’s just too hot and the last thing that I want to do is to stand over a hot stove. Thank goodness for my crock pot and freezer. I make “It’s Too Hot’ Tomato Sauce.

Before going out to harvest tomatoes, I turn the crockpot on high, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom, and toss in chopped onion (I didn’t grow onions this year, but did purchase some at a farmer’s market.) My neighbor always shares his garlic crop with me, and I peel and mince (I use a garlic press) about 6 big cloves and add them to the pot. I let this sauté to develop flavor while I go out to the garden to get a trug-full of tomatoes.



I also pick oregano and basil. All get a good washing. The tomatoes have cracks and big stem ends. That’s okay. The trimmings go to the chickens.



I chop the tomatoes and put them into the crockpot. (I leave the skins on.) The herbs are tied with string (for easier removal later) and tucked into the pot. I stir in some good sea salt. Cover. And wait.



Six hours later the tomato sauce is ready for the freezer. I’ll eat it this winter, when I want to add some warmth to my days!


How To Dry Basil In The Microwave

This year, my garden has had to cope with wildly swinging conditions that started with a chilly spring, then segued to a brutal heat wave, and onto a stretch of hot and steamy, and now bone dry earth and chilly nights. One plant that has thrived despite (or because of?) the fluctuations has been basil. I’ve snipped and snipped, and it keeps on coming.


I’ve already harvested enough to freeze for use in winter’s soups and stews. (Directions on this blog post.) But, the plants keep growing back, and the leaves are as tender, fragrant and delicious as ever. However, this late in the season, If I leave this patch for a few days, the basil will bolt, flower and turn bitter.  It’s time to store more away for future use. This time, I’ll dry it in the microwave.

First, I cut back the plants so that a third remain, which leaves me plenty of fresh basil for late-summer cooking!


Next, I put the harvested basil in a big bowl of cool water, and swish it around to loosen attached dirt. I lift out the basil, put fresh water in the bowl and rinse again. I do this as many times as it takes to remove every bit of grit. I’m careful to handle the basil gently because any bruising or creasing of the leaves turns the basil black and unusable.

Once the basil is clean, I pick off the leaves and discard the stems (into the compost it goes, the chickens love it!) I spin dry the leaves in a salad spinner. Next, I put the basil, in a single layer, on a paper towel on the microwave platter. Don’t crowd the leaves!



Cover with another paper towel and place in the microwave. The basil takes less than two minutes on high to dry. Microwaves vary. Mine is 1200 watts, and the basil took exactly 1 minute and 45 seconds to become perfectly brittle. The first time you do this, start with one minute, and then continue to microwave in 15 second increments until the leaves crumble in between your fingers.


The aroma was heavenly! Realtors say that the smell of fresh baked cookies helps to sell houses and they have a trick of baking off a batch before open houses. I think they should dry basil in the microwave instead.

I had enough basil to dry five batches in the microwave. I filled this jar.


Now I’ll be able to put a little bit of summer into my winter meals.


Did you know that all hens come fully equipped with a Chicken Global Positioning System, otherwise known as CGPS? Yes, indeed!

The CGPS comes with a highly accurate search capability. For example, the hen thinks “raspberries,” and in no time at all she finds the site!



The CGPS is linked to every member of the flock, so that all individuals can meet at the location.



Once the site is found, the coordinates are never lost or forgotten.


There is no limit to the number of locations that the CGPS can download and store. This flock’s database is soon to be expanded to include the search for grapes.  What’s in your chicken’s CGPS?