Chickentertainment

Chickentertainment 1Nearby Team Pugh HQ there are 4 bountiful apple trees, which are jam packed full of lovely cooking apples. We have collected up a few bags full and stewed some for some lovely apple sauce, some crumbles and an amazing Baked Alaska!

But when we were last out picking we noticed just how many there were on the floor, either with a few worm holes or the odd rotten patch, which were too good to see waste away in to the soil. So…………..Ian hatched a cunning plan to make use of them!

The chickens love pecking at things, whether it is food, a mirror, fingers or each other, and love nothing more than pecking lettuces hung by their roots in their hutch, so………….we present the Chickentertainment Centre!Chickentertainment 4

Very easy to make, it is basically one bit of string strung across the chickens’ pen, with downward strings holding apples for the chickens to peck merrily at. We are sure there is an easier and safer way to put the apples onto strings, but Ian went for the ‘ram a pair of scissors through the core and poke the string through’ approach.Chickentertainment 5

The result is 5 very happy chickens, and a happy Lizzie who is enjoying watching the chickens peck at the floating apples, a happy Ian that the chicken’s are getting some excellent free food and a happy Becksie, as the construction kept Ian quiet for half an hour or so!Chickentertainment 3

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Mr Spider Legs

Regular blog readers will know that Team Pugh have, and love several pets, 5 chickens and 3 cats to be exact. It never ceases to amaze us that small furry or feathery animals can co-exist with, communicate with and provide affection to giant human beings (and even little ones)!

We did not start with the chickens, or even the cats, but our first pets as ‘Team Pugh’ were in fact 2 hamster which we had in our first little flat (or not, if you happen to be our old landlord). We then moved on to lovely Katie the cat (again not in the flat, Mr old landlord).

Off for a stroll again

Off for a stroll again

After a move to a house with a garden we adopting a cat we found advertised for free in the local Post Office (helpfully already named La La), who routinely escaped to her old (allergic) owner, meaning we had to troll round with the cat box every 3 days or so for the first 6 weeks to get her, until she eventually gave in to our persistence. Another move and some more small critters, Robert the Guinea Pig and Ray the Rabbit (or Mr Dirty as Ian liked to call him). Robert and Ray headed off to a hopefully better place, and Katie had kittens, two of which were Jake and Jessica.Pets 1

We added the first batch of chickens to the brood and moved the whole lot to our current home of Faringdon. Not long after we moved here we found a spider living on our kitchen window. Neither Ian or Becksie are afraid of spiders, and where they would normally scoop them up and deposit them out of the window, but for some reason neither moved him, and after a few days and quite an impressive web having been spun Mr Spider Legs (as he was known) became an unspoken  Team Pugh pet. We would feed him flies that we had disposed of, tiny meat scraps, and chat to him whilst doing the washing up.  3 months or so went by, Mr Spider Legs grew bigger and bigger, and we were jolly pleased with our new pet. Then one day, completely out of the blue, Katie the cat got up off the sofa, jumped on the worktop, then window, clamped her jaws round Mr Spider Legs and spat his body back onto the window sill. To say Ian and Beksie were unimpressed is an understatement! We are not sure what poor Mr Spider Legs did to offend Katie, but he messed with the wrong cat!

Who, me??

Who, me??

We blogged a little while ago about how Lizzie is enjoying looking after the chickens (today was a 4 egg day, but only 3 made it whole back to the house, oops), and she is really interested in other animals too, from big roars (lions) to tiny ladybirds, all animals seem to fascinate her. This can only mean one thing, lots of pets, and even more requests for pets coming our way. We really want to let Lizzie experience as much as possible, but we have 3 rules; no snakes, no frogs and no ants in the house (once they are in, they are in)! I am sure she will find her own pet spiders, worms, snails and bugs, though we will have to tell her to make sure she doesn’t tell Katie where they are!

Dithdens

We haven’t for some time mentioned our lovely chickens, nor the slightly evil one Sharon (although of late she has mellowed quite a lot).

Chickens 1The hot weather seems to have caught up with them and egg production is now a steady 2ish eggs a day, which is about perfect for Team Pugh’s consumption needs. The most exciting thing about the chickens of late though is that Lizzie has become rather attached to them. As soon as Ian walks through the door from work she smiles, says dadda (sometimes) then starts wildly gesticulating and saying dithden dithden (which is Lizzie-speak for chicken, obviously).Dithdens 2

Red wellies on, off Lizzie go to do the most important of jobs, afternoon snacks and egg collecting!Dithdens 3

Lizzie, little bucket in hand, scoops up some pellets and corn and (with a little help from Dad) drops it over the fence. Next job is into the pen to check if we have any eggs, Dad to scramble to the back of the hutch to get them out and Lizzie to put them in her bucket, ready to take up to Mum! The best bit is that Lizzie follows them round stroking them and laughs hysterically if they peck at her clothes or shoes, she is far less scared of them than her mum and only just bigger than any of them, chicken-keeping must run in the family! Let’s just hope that she doesn’t try to play circus chickens with them like Grandpa Pugh used to as a boy!Dithdens 1

Useful Tips on Eggs

eggs 1The little book we recently blogged about contained a useful newspaper clipping all about eggs. As eggs feature highly in our lives we found it rather interesting and thought you might also too. Apologies to whom ever wrote it / printed it all those years ago as we are not sure who you are so can’t credit you but…….if by some miracle you are still alive and happen to be reading our little blog please know that we appreciate the tips and are not trying meaning to plagiarise.

So here you have it folks some useful tips on eggs.

Did you know that:

Very fresh eggs – i.e. less than 2 days old are more difficult to peel when hard boiled than those a day or two older.

A bad egg will float when placed in a bowl of water, whereas a fresh egg sinks.

A stale egg, when broken will spread itself out thinly on a plate, whereas a fresh egg has a yolk that retains a nice rounded dome shape.

It is more difficult to separate the yolk from the white of a stale egg, without it breaking, than a fresh egg.Black Forest 4

Eggs are more easily separated when cold, but they should not be used straight from the fridge as they can cause mayonnaise to curdle and will not mix into cake as well.

In an emergency, cover fridge stored eggs with warm water for about 5 minutes before using for a cake (Team Pugh LOVE the thought of this as an emergency).

Hard – boiled eggs spin like a top, raw eggs topple over – useful to know if both sorts of eggs get mixed up! (Team Pugh feel this would count as a category 1 egg based emergency).friday 1

Store eggs pointed side down and, if kept in the fridge always keep them away from strong smelling foods.

Unbroken yolks, covered with cold water to prevent a skin forming, can be stored in a lidded container in the fridge. They should keep for 4 days.

Egg whites can be stored in a covered container in the fridge (mark the number of egg whites on the container). They will keep for a week. (Team Pugh say failing to mark the number of egg whites stored in a container is a category 5 egg base emergency and probably a low level crime ;)).kevin 2

Eggs set and harden (coagulate) at a temperature below boiling point; egg whites cook at a lower temperature than egg yolks so, when using them for custard sauces and baked custard, it is important not to let the egg mixture boil. If heated too quickly to too high a temperature, the egg whites cook into white streaky ‘bits’. If cooking is continued, the whites shrinks, squeezing out some liquid which gives a cracked, watery look to baked custard and a curdled appearance to a sauce!

So……….. now you know! Just out of interest are you eggs in the fridge people or like Team Pugh eggs out of the fridge folk? Do leave us a comment and let us now.

Eggscetera eggscetera

Those of you who have been with us for sometime know that when we started this blog we had 2 chickens who would contribute around 6 eggs a month between them to our food stock, not exactly that helpful and we were buying eggs every week much to our annoyance.

eggs 2

As you know we found a chicken, lost a chicken and then became proud owners of 3 lovely new birds, Barbara, Sharon and Flo aka Tom, Dick and Harry. Up to 5 birds we were getting about 2 eggs or so a day whilst they all settled in. Pretty much spot on, no need to buy eggs, eggsactly what we needed. A few weeks ago when gardening however we came across a little nest of 7 eggs that our eggscapee chicken Sharon had obviously laid in her favourite hidden spot. Wings clipped, run fence further improved and Sharon contained we waited for a steady stream of an eggstra (sorry we know these are bad) egg a day to come our way.eggs 1

Then something strange happened, summer arrived and our little chickens, who have either lived in a shed or seen only the few days of summer we have had for the last few years, seem to be thriving in our eggcellent weather! We have gone from 2 eggs a day to 4 or 5, one day Ian remarkably came back with 6, busy day for one of our girls!

kevin 1

How very eggsciting, until of course you realise that whilst 2 big and 1 little persons may use 5 eggs in one day, it is not so easy to use 5 eggs every day, coupled with our eggstremely hot weather and a desire to a) not cook much and b) not eat all that much we have what can only by described as a glut of eggs!

Black Forest 4

So what to do with them all? Well it is too hot to bake much, we have been making pancakes but our recipe only uses one egg, Ian made some egg jam (basically very soft boiled eggs spread on bread – another culinary disaster) and we have had cakes, but they are being produced faster than we can eat them so….your best most egg-using-up ideas please!

PS – we don’t really like omelettes hehe