Hen House Drama, a Timely Pardon, and Cornmeal Pancakes

Before I get started, I want to give a warm welcome and sincere thank you to any of you who found life, in recipes through Freshly Pressed.  I was completely surprised (pleasantly so) when I saw that one of my posts had been featured the other day.  I am beyond grateful for all of your thoughtful comments and words of encouragement.  If you like what you’ve seen so far, I invite you to keep up with the blog through Facebook, Twitter, or RSS feed.  You can also follow me on Pinterest

In the spirit of full disclosure, our adventures in backyard poultry rearing have not been without, um, shall we say,  challenges.  We started back in April with three Rhode Island Reds – Fred, Tweety and Sally.  Things seemed great at first – we were getting three eggs a day, the chickens seemed happy (we let them free range during the day, and put them back in the coop at night), and it wasn’t a tremendous amount of work.  We made sure they had food, water, and fresh air, and they provided us with a dozen eggs every four days. It seemed almost too good to be true.

And that’s because it was.  We lost Fred in August to what we believe was a black widow spider bite, and we lost Tweety in October to a predator of some sort or another.  We didn’t want Sally to be lonely, so we found her four new friends – Spot and Dot, two lovely black and white Barred Rock hens, and Fred, Jr. and Tweety, Jr., a couple of Ameraucanas.  We promised to keep them safe, well fed and watered, in exchange for eggs.  We were looking forward to four or five eggs a day, perhaps enough to share with our friends and neighbors.  This was in November.

At first, Sally wasn’t terribly keen on her new coop-mates.  In particular, she decided that Tweety, Jr. was her nemesis.  Every time that poor hen would get close to Sally, she would peck at her and pull her tail feathers out.  Tweety, Jr. became scared to leave the corner by the nesting boxes – she would huddle there, trembling, trying to make herself as small as possible.  Sally was like the schoolyard bully, exerting her dominance over the new kid on the block.  I’m not sure what it was about poor Tweety, Jr. (maybe it was her name), but after a while Sally left her completely devoid of tail feathers.

In addition to this little pecking-order drama, the egg production was not what we’d hoped it would be.  For a while, it was only Sally laying.  Then occasionally one of the Rocks would lay – either Spot or Dot.  We know it wasn’t an Ameraucana because all of the eggs were of the brownish variety – Ameraucana eggs are greenish blue (part of the reason we chose the breed).  From late October to late January, there was nary a green egg to be had.  We’d been told that the hens were 8 months old when we got them, so they should have been of prime laying age.  Had we been swindled?  Were these gals completely infertile?  Was the trauma being inflicted upon them by that bully Sally too much to handle?  We weren’t sure.  What we did know was that they were eating an awful lot of feed and not producing anything in return.

Over time, the drama subsided, and Tweety Jr.’s tail feathers began to fill in again.  Both Rocks began laying regularly, and things seemed to be on a more even keel in the hen house.  When the weather began to get cold (for those two days back in January) we decided we need to put a heat lamp in the coop to keep the water from freezing overnight.  The light seemed to make things even better – the egg production from Sally, Spot and Dot increased.  Tweety, Jr. and Fred, Jr., though?  Not so much.

My mother and my husband have “joked” on more than one occasion about sending the Ameraucana’s to the stew pot.  I chose to ignore them.

The other day I went out to the coop, as I do in the afternoon, and I lifted the door to the nesting boxes.  There, nestled in the straw, were four eggs.  Three brown and one green (!).

And there was much rejoicing.

The (theoretical) trip to the stew pot has been stayed.

This morning I used that beautiful green egg in some cornmeal pancakes I’ve been wanting to tell you about.  I made them for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking about them ever since.  I make whole-grain pancakes all the time – usually a mixture of rolled oats and freshly ground wheat – but this is the first time I’ve really delved into the cornmeal variety.  I think it’s because I’ve been getting all of this lovely freshly ground meal from Rockin’ S Farms – I really want to showcase it.  The sweetness of the corn lends itself really nicely to a pancake application.  Together with some local raw honey, cultured buttermilk, and those coveted eggs from our backyard flock, they make for a delightful breakfast. 

Honey, Buttermilk and Cornmeal Pancakes
prep time: 5 minutes
cook time: 20 minutes
yields: 16 4-inch pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup honey (I’ve also used molasses here, for a deeper flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, honey, eggs and melted butter
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Do not overmix.
  4. Ladle by quarter-cupfuls onto a hot griddle.  Allow to brown on the first side before flipping to the second side.
  5. Serve warm with warm maple syrup, honey or fruit compote (I used some warm blueberry jam).
  6. Enjoy!
About these ads

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Breakfast

find l.i.r.

subscribe, follow, like

15 Comments on “Hen House Drama, a Timely Pardon, and Cornmeal Pancakes”

  1. 5 February 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    WooT for the green egg! B10 said it needed to be eaten (at least the first one) with ham, but I pointed out that hopefully there would be plenty more. :)

    Also, congrats on being Freshly Pressed! You deserve all the beautiful things that come your way. Love you!

    • 6 February 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Tell B-10 I also thought about green eggs and ham (great minds definitely think alike). Not to worry – we’ve gotten more green eggs where that one came from.

  2. 5 February 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Yum. Will have to try these cornmeal pancakes very soon! (Not quite ready for chicken raising yet though I enjoyed reading about it!)

  3. 5 February 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    I enjoyed reading about your chickens. You know I do love chicken drama! I think they need their own reality show, “The Real Yard Chickens of Saddle Lake.” Congrats on being in Freshly Pressed and for that green egg!

    • 6 February 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      Maybe I’ll set up a coop-cam and post updates to YouTube periodically. I see it as the next internet sensation (of course I’ll credit you with concept). Chicken drama is so much more interesting than human drama.

  4. 6 February 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I hope, in time, you can figure out why there was so much tension between those two. Or, perhaps even better, they’ll get along so splendidly that you’ll forget there was ever any trouble between them.

    My guess is that the Ameraucanas weren’t laying because they were skeered. Who has the time to be productive when you’ve got a fierce, plucky overlord on your tail from dusk til dawn?!

    In all seriousness, I’ve done my fair share of reading about chicken breeds because we hope to someday have a small brood of our own for eggs. From what I’ve read about Ameraucanas, they’re often slow to start laying and aren’t exactly prolific. But — with such beautiful eggs — it’s easy to see why the discerning egg enthusiast would want at least a few of them mixed in.

    • 6 February 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      Thanks for the info. I had also heard that Ameraucanas were slow to start, and it’s nice to have that corroborated. Those green eggs are pretty, though.

  5. 6 February 2012 at 10:01 am #

    Your ingredient photo is one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve seen on your blog. I love it. Congrats on the fresh-pressing. You TOTALLY deserve it. Sounds like between eggs, chickens and blog-fame, you had a good week. Enjoy it.

    • 6 February 2012 at 12:54 pm #

      Thanks, man! It was a pretty good week. Here’s hoping for more of the same!

  6. 9 February 2012 at 8:25 am #

    Chickens need daylight to lay eggs continuously. The winter months (shorter daylight) do slow them down or even stop laying altogether. I love your naming of the chickens. We had chickens while our children were young and it was a great experience for all. We had Rhode Island Reds, Tiny and Teeny, as our big birds. The pecking order is so true as your Sally wants to be the boss. Our smaller chickens pecked the daylights out of Tiny and Teeny, so much in fact, we had to seperate one of them for an actual head puncture!
    Just made your pancakes and they are delicious, can’t wait to share them with the hubby. Thanks for sharing.

  7. 14 February 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    Nothing like fresh eggs and Helena is right. Daylight has everything to do with laying. And everyone has stories of when it didn’t go so well.

  8. 15 February 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    I am completely smitten with your photography. Gorgeous!

    • 16 February 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      Wow – thank you so much! I’m so flattered – I’ve been a long-time fan of your blog and photos.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. oat bran pancakes for one | Health Freak College Girl - 18 February 2012

    [...] Cornmeal Pancakes from Life, In Recipes  [...]

  2. Царевичен грис и мътеница | Кулинарно — в кухнята с Йоана - 27 February 2012

    [...] Адаптирано от lifeinrecipes.com [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 165 other followers

%d bloggers like this: