Cooking Peaches, Preserved, Baked and Delicious

Cooking Peaches- The Ultimate Summer Fruit

Peaches preserved baked delicious

Summer fruit brings to mind tomatoes, nectarines, plums, peaches and more.  My favorite remains peaches. For sweetness and aroma cooking peaches can’t be beat. Preserving this summer goodness is easy. While you’re at it, save enough to enjoy now with ice cream, fruit toppings, fresh fruit salsa and in baked goods.  

Start with fresh ripe peaches with little to no overly ripe soft spots.  Choose for the delicious aroma, also.  Whether you grow your own or buy from the local farmer’s market, harvesting and buying and cooking peaches, at the peak of the season will give you the best taste and texture.  

Peaches

 

Preparing Peaches for Canning or Freezing

Soft fruits, such as peaches, tomatoes and nectarines are easy to prepare for canning or freezing.  Once the fruit has been quickly blanched in a simmering pot of water,then, removed to a pot of ice cold water, the skin slips right off.  The peach often practically splits open for easy removal of the pit.  The peach halves can be canned as is, in a simple syrup or plain water.  Or, you can slice, dice or chunk the peaches.  Add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or citric acid, to keep the fruit from browning.  Mix to distribute the lemon juice throughout the fruit.

cooking peaches

At this point, you can place the peaches into freezer bags or into canning jars. I use a slotted spoon so I don’t get a lot of liquid in with the peaches I am freezing.   Freezing is easy but has a shorter shelf life than canning due to possible freezer burn.  I use a sturdy zip lock style freezer bag, removing as much air as possible.  I flatten out the peaches into a single layer in the bag, which makes it easier to stack the bags in the freezer.  When ready to enjoy, thaw the peaches in the bag in a refrigerator. 

Using the Skins

(note: if you have farm animals or chickens that you like to treat to your kitchen scraps, be aware that pits and seeds can be toxic.  I do not feed peach pits to my farm animals for this reason.  The skin however, is a welcome tasty treat)

Canning Peaches to Enjoy Later

Fill the jars with the cut up or sliced peaches.  Add the peach juice and boiling water to fill the jar within a half inch of the top of the jar.   Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean wet cloth. Add the flat lid and the band to close the jar.  

Process canned peaches for 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts in boiling water in the Water Bath Canner.   Look for other recipes such as brandied fruits, peach jam and jelly and peach pie filling to use your peaches with, also.  Since peaches are a high acid fruit,(pH under 4.5)  you will can most peach recipes using a hot water bath canner.  

Other High Acid Fruits

Apples, peaches, tomatoes, nectarines, citrus fruits, pears and berries fall into the category of high acid fruits.  It is important to use an approved canning recipe when using a hot water bath canner, because the acidity must be in a certain range.  If you add non-acidic ingredients to the peaches, the total acidity will be lower, making it unsafe to can using a water bath canner.  

peaches preserved baked and delicious

Dehydrating/Drying Peaches for Storing

Peeled peaches can also be dried or dehydrated for long term storage.   I use an electric dehydrator,  but you an also use a sun oven for the same purpose.  Store your dehydrated peaches in an air tight container or mason jar with a tight fitting lid.  Use the dehydrated peaches in trail mix, and bake into cakes, or eat plain.

Eat Fresh!

While you have the abundance of good fresh peaches in front of you, don’t forget the obvious opportunity to enjoy them fresh.  Serve peeled sliced peaches with ice cream, cereal, plain, and keep a few on hand for lunch boxes.  We prefer our peaches cold from the refrigerator but they can sit in a bowl on your counter or table, taking a turn at being a summer decoration, too.  Grab one as you run out the door, for a healthy snack. Cooking fresh peaches into a thick topping is delicious when added to homemade vanilla ice cream!

peaches preserved baked delicous

Baking with Peaches

As you can imagine, cooking peaches is amazing when baked. This will be a delicious way to enjoy the harvest.  Peaches taste and smell like summer.    The cakes, pies, crumbles, cobblers, quick breads and triffles you make with your fresh peaches will prolong the taste of summer.  Preserving the peaches from the season gives you the chance to enjoy peach pie and peach cake for any occasion, all year long.  

The Recipe

When I was on an extended stay in Georgia one summer, when my little Georgia Peach granddaughter was born, I really enjoyed baking for her family.  I came up with a peach cobbler recipe one day, by melding together a few different recipes from the internet search.  Some weren’t quite what I was looking for and some were just full of ingredients that we didn’t have on hand.  I came up with an experimental cobbler that turned out to be very popular!  After all, isn’t this what Grammas do?   One trick I learned while developing the cobbler recipe was to precook the filling for a set time, and then add the top crust batter.  This resulted in a more crispy and less soggy crust on the cobbler.  It also kept the crust from over cooking.  

cooking peaches

Georgia Peach Cobbler

Peaches preserved baked and delicious

for printable version of this recipe click here

FOR THE PEACHES

  1. 10 – 14 peaches, peeled, pit removed and sliced
  2. 2 teaspoons citric acid or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  3. 1/4 cup white sugar (generously full)
  4. quarter cup packed brown sugar
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

FOR THE CAKE TOPPING

  1. 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup white sugar (generously full)
  3.  packed brown sugar -1/4 cup
  4. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 3/4 teaspoons salt
  6. 1/2 cup chilled butter cut into small pieces
  7. 1/4 cup boiling water

FOR THE TOPPING

  1. sugar – 1/4 cup
  2. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  3. 1/8 teaspoons nutmeg (optional)
 

PREHEAT OVEN TO 425 F.

  1. Using a large bowl mix the peach slices and the citric acid together.
  2. Add the sugars, cinnamon, and flour.
  3. Stir to evenly coat the peaches.
  4. Pour the peaches into greased 2 quart baking dish or 7 x 9 baking pan.

BAKE FOR 10 MINUTES

 

FOR THE CAKE TOPPING

  1. combine flour, both sugars and baking powder and salt
  2. mix in the butter with a pastry blender or two forks.
  3. continue to mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  4. add the boiling water and mix until just combined
  5.  Remove the peaches from the oven and drop the cake topping in spoonfuls all over the top of the peaches.
  6. Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg mixture over the whole dish
     
     
    BAKE UNTIL TOPPING IS GOLDEN BROWN ABOUT 30 MINUTES
    1. cool 10 minutes in pan
    2. serve warm

 

More about Peaches!

Peach Butter – Attainable Sustainable

Peeling, Canning and Drying Peaches – Common Sense Homesteading

Spiced Brandied Peaches – Homespun Seasonal Living

Peach Jam Two Ways – Common Sense Homesteading

Georgia Peach Cobbler – Timber Creek Farm

 

September is National Organic Harvest Month and to help you make the most of your harvests, In 2015 I teamed up with these other amazing bloggers. Please be sure to check out their tips and more: Rachel from Grow a Good Life – Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living – Teri from Homestead Honey – Chris from Joybilee Farm – Susan from Learning and Yearning – Shelle from Preparedness Mama – Angi from SchneiderPeeps – Janet from Timber Creek Farm

 

 

 

Peaches, Preserved, Baked, Delicious

 

 




Homestead Truths Minus Sugarcoating

homestead truths

So many times, as I share bits and pieces of our life with readers, the nitty gritty homestead truths are cut from the final edit.  Maybe they aren’t added at all. The final post about a day in our lives is usually meant to entertain, to encourage and to give you a glimpse of what life on a small farm or backyard homestead is like  After all, I’m not trying to discourage you! 

My intended goal is to encourage you to take steps to be more self reliant.  What would you think if you read a post containing the unedited truth, the REAL side of homesteading.What’s the story behind trying to grow food, and raise animals for the table and for eggs. Picking up the remains of a garden after a strong storm, watching your fields turn to dust during a drought.  How does it affect our every day life. Just how many showers do we need to take in one day?  Are you ready to hear my Homestead Truths?

Homestead Truth No. 1 -It’s not the heat, It’s the Humidity!

It’s been at least 90 degrees with 70 percent or higher humidity here this summer. A lot of friends in my age group say they hate being cold, and hate cold weather. I am longing for a February cold front to move through.  I am sweating.  ALL THE TIME.  Not from hormonal changes, mind you, but from being outside. It may feel good for the first minute or two, as you take a few steps to your air conditioned car and drive to the air conditioned store to shop, but after the first few minutes of farm work, I am a sight to behold.

 

homestead truths

 Its all well and good if I could just stand there and look around, toss some scraps to the chickens and go back home.  But, that is not what I signed up  for.  From the moment I grab the feed buckets and start distributing feed, I  am drenched in sweat.

Then its water buckets. Buckets and buckets of water to distribute because all these cute animals need a lot of water. They are hot too. We are all just looking at each other in awe. Wishing for a breeze. And then, I hear it.  Thunder.  Another storm is about to break.  No breeze. Just a pop up storm and more water draining from the sky. Everything is wet. Sometimes the ground has mold growing on top.

Homestead Truth No. 2 -This is NO Place for a Farm

I joke that we are farming in the swamps. At one point on this property, the chicken yards would be nothing but mush.  We spent hours, actually days, scraping mud out of the chicken run. Finally the area was regraded and it no longer floods. Over the years we have learned a lot about utilizing swales and trenches for water run off.

 

homestead truths

Pulling smelly bedding from the rabbit house

The Homestead Truth Behind my Wardrobe Choices

Someone recently pointed out to me that I was hot because I was wearing a long sleeve t-shirt.  Yes, it is either that or be eaten alive by mosquitoes, biting flies and other stinging insects. Because, our farm is near a river the insect population is happy here. That and the shaded woods, combine to make it an insect paradise. And, they think I am sweet.  I should have been anemic earlier this spring from the blood loss.  So I decided to just wear long sleeves. Its easier than finding new skin.  

One Day of Homestead Truth

My days are pretty much the same routine, with weekly bigger cleanings done every few days.  I start the day by leaping from my bed because I can’t wait to start. Actually, my morning starts pretty much the way it always has. I bury my head in the pillow and pray for more sleep.  I drag myself to the kitchen and make coffee. Lots of coffee fuels this farm. 

homestead truths

No One is Going to See Me Anyway and the Goats Don’t Care

I pull on the same clothes that had mud and ick on them from the day before because, well, its just gonna happen again. The barns are about a half mile from the house and I am lazy so I drive there. I do feel a little better when I hear all the morning wake up sounds from the barn. The animals know the sound of my car and they are ready to eat.  So, grabbing the feed buckets, I get started.  

After feed, water and hay for all the ruminants, the ducks are checked on to make sure they still have some food. Occasionally we have a broody duck hen.  I encourage mama to get off the nest for  a few minutes so she can stretch her legs, get a bath and something to eat.  

homestead truths

A persistent snake is making its way into the duck house every two or three nights and stealing an egg.  I have added decoy eggs, and unfertilized eggs but it seems to know which are the developing embryos and takes those.  It is heartbreaking. There is a fair amount of heartbreak with homesteading.   

The Chicken Care Routine

The chickens are tended to and after they have feed bowls filled, water refilled, and some greens for treats, I collect up the morning eggs.  I love this part.  It never gets old.  And its always like a little mini egg hunt. But there are the days that the egg eaters beat me to the eggs and I reach for a messy half broken pile of yolk and shell.

Oh and those pretty pictures of chickens roaming through green fields? Well in our area that’s the best way to provide a chicken dinner for the fox and coyote. Or the hawk. Any number of predators will grab your free ranging chickens. Even the neighbors dog. We let our chickens free range when we can be on site to supervise.

Homestead Truth No. 3 -Flies!

Time to do some cleaning so that the flies will not want to stay around. I use the kitty litter scoop to scrape out any chicken poo which is attracting the flies. Over the years I have tried different products to repel flies and pests. My favorite choice has been using First Saturday Lime, formulated to be safe for humans, poultry and livestock. A generous sprinkling of herbs in the nest boxes is the most glamorous part of my day. Fluff up the nesting area and check for any wet spots or broken eggs. 

Fresh Eggs!

A true heartwarming moment in every morning is the egg collection. Since I have never subscribed to the practice of culling egg eaters, I am always happy when I win the egg collecting game. Currently two of my coops have at least one egg eater. Now maybe this egg eater thinks they are doing me a favor and eliminating the eggs before I have to pick them up. I don’t know. I combat egg eating by frequently picking up eggs throughout the day. Not a solution, but a method I can live with.

homestead truths

On to the rabbit pens.  We don’t use cages for our rabbits. Instead they have wooden housing built up off the ground so they can burrow under in this heat and cool down a little.  I remove any spilled food (rabbits are messy) and add fresh food and water.  They spend most of their days lying in a cool spot during the heat.  

Health and Welfare Checks

homestead truths

Next up, time to do any upkeep or extra tasks. Currently, a hen is recovering from two bumble foot infections.  The bandages need to be changed at least once a day. We have far less incidence of bumble foot after installing rubber stall mats in the chicken coops. I get everything ready and then go pick up the patient. By now I am so sweaty and disgusting that holding muddy chicken feet against my body doesn’t even phase me.

The first day when I discovered the bumbles I had to clean the feet first in a foot bath of water, iodine and antiseptic.  One of the cysts had burst so it was quite messy and draining. At this point it is just a matter of re doing the bandage and adding more antibiotic wound ointment. Unfortunately these take a long time to heal up, so we will be doing this procedure every day for a few weeks.  

Meanwhile, Back at the Barnyard….

Don’t forget the Sheep and Goats. They are probably the least needy on a day to day basis.  No grain when it’s this hot. Fresh hay and water and are brought to them. They are ready to take  on the day. Depending on the forecast, I may let them out to free range, or decide to keep them in because it’s cooler in the barn. They had a nice shelter in a grassy field but a couple of large trees came down in a thunder storm and that was the end of the shelter. 

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Since I am already a big mess, I go ahead and pick the wine berries.  They grow wild all over our property so I am getting quite a lot of them this year.  They love the wet weather and the berries are large and sweet and plentiful this year.  

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The Rest of the Homestead Truth

Our farm is also home to two breeding sows and one boar, and however many piglets are currently here.  We have also raised beef cows but currently have none in the fields.  I am not the primary caretaker of the pigs or the cows so my job with them is to get all the cute photos I can while they are here.  Its a tough job!  Actually, its one of the highlights of my day. My camera is almost always with me.  

homestead truths

 

The rest of the day

Now I am back home and its time for something to eat and then I must get to work!  Yup that was just my farm work.  We also run a family business and I am the bookkeeper. So I have to do a few hours of that work. Any errands and house chores are fit in around the work.  Our children are grown so the laundry monster isn’t as angry as he used to be. A few loads of laundry a week is normal for us. 

Somewhere in the midst of all the rest, I manage to do some writing. Honestly, I have no idea how that even occurs.

homestead truths

 

And guess what?  It’s time to go back to the barns and do it all again!  

We normally try to feed as late as possible in the summer. One, its cooler and the animals have had time to cool down a little too.  And I hate to lock the chickens, ducks and rabbits in their houses when its still so hot. Usually we are returning to the house before dark to get dinner. So that is why we have little to no social life!  It’s all about trade offs in this land of homesteading. It’s still my dream come true and I am happy, mud and all.  My homestead truth defines who I am. I still believe the benefits out weigh the negatives, although I would love a cool breeze.  

Take care and if you don’t think that this is the life for you, be sure to thank your local farmer!

save for later! Pin this image.

Homestead truths

 

Want to Read More?

There’s more to the story!  The links to my friends homestead tales are below.  I hope you will continue reading and in some cases, enjoy the fun video’s they made of a day in the life at their homesteads.  These are some amazing women, taking care of gardens, children, large livestock, flocks of poultry and doing what ever needs to be done, all in the course of a day. Is this lifestyle for everyone?  No, of course not.  But it’s a good life.  

Enjoy their stories by following the links.  

updated 7/17/2019 from original post 7/15/2015

 A Day in the Life by Ashley of Whistle Pig HollowOn The Farm: A Peek Into Our Life by Ashley of The Browning HomesteadThe Answer to “And what did YOU do today?” by Chris of Joybilee Farm, I want to be a Homesteading Housewife by Ann of A Farm Girl in the Making   A Day in the Life of an Urban Homesteader by Connie of Urban OverallsA Day in My Shoes, by Emilie of The Toups AddressHomesteading Rhythm with Little Kids & A Bump by Isis of Little Mountain HavenHomestead Truths, Minus the Sugarcoating by Janet of Timber Creek FarmA Day of Homestead Living by Jessica of The 104 HomesteadA Day in the Life of a Homesteader by Katie of Livin Lovin FarminA Typical Day of Homesteading by Laurie of Common Sense HomesteadingIt’s Not About The Work by Leona of My Healthy Green FamilyLife, Unfiltered by Melissa of Ever Growing FarmA Day in the Life of This Urban Homesteader by Meredith of ImaginAcresA Day in the Life of a Homestead by Quinn of Reformation AcresA Day on Acorn Hill Homestead by Teri of Homestead Honey




Grow Calendula for Use in Chicken and Livestock Care

 

grow calendula

After beginning to use more herbal treatments on my farm animals, I realized that I need to also grow Calendula. The correct name for Calendula is Calendula officinalis, and the common name is Pot Marigold. Calendula flowers and leaves are edible and it is a useful companion plant in the garden. Calendula helps repel damaging insects.

Until this past year, I had trouble getting Calendula to grow. After reading some more tips on this herb, I planted it in a planter and it took off! Calendula isn’t actually hard to grow, I just needed to provide a sunny location and not over water the soil. I had plenty of Calendula blossoms all summer and into the fall. The sunny yellow flower is so bright it is hard not to smile when you see it. As each blossom began to open I would enjoy if for a moment and then snip it off to dry it with the others. 

What were my main reasons for wanting to grow Calendula? First, I did a lot of reading on using it for livestock care in the areas with inflammation, infection, and fungus. In many cases, the same herbs we would use to topically treat inflammation, burns, abrasions, and fungal problems on our skin, can be safely used on our animals. Always address any questions you might have on treating livestock, with a veterinarian or licensed herbalist.

Using Calendula Remedies for Chickens 

One common use for this herb is to grow Calendula to add to chicken feed. The bright yellow petals are tasty to the birds and the vitamins and color enhances the yolk color, naturally. Calendula helps with inflammation in the mouth or thrust or yeast overgrowth. I wish I had read last year. I had a favorite hen that became ill.  A side effect of her illness was a bad case of thrush.  If I had known that making a tea from the petals of the Calendula flower might have helped get rid of the thrush! 

To make a tea from the petals of the herb, use about 1 tablespoon of dried petals and one cup of boiling water. Allow to steep for approximately 15 minutes. This could be administered by syringe, carefully making sure the bird swallows the liquid.  The Free Range Life has a great post on 30 Uses for Calendula.  

No matter if you are treating an illness or preventing one through good herbal care, grow Calendula for treating your chickens.

Note – Do you want to learn more about herbs? There are online courses offered by Herbal Academy. From beginner level herbal course to expert, they have a class for you!  Want to sign up? 

Two Ways to Use Calendula in Livestock Care 

As noted above, making a tea from the dried petals will help with many skin irritations and infections. Put the Calendula tea in a spray bottle and keep it refrigerated. There has been evidence that Calendula can interfere with pregnancy, so do not administer to any pregnant animal or take it yourself, if pregnant. 

Use the spray for cases of ringworm, hot spots, skin wounds, scrapes, and flea dermatitis. Now that I know this, I can try it on my barn cat. He has a patch near his tail that the vet said was caused by flea bites.  I will let you know how it works. Keep in mind that cats metabolize herbs and oils differently than other species. Use with care and observe for any adverse reactions to using Calendula oil or tea on cats. Calendula is a very gentle herb but it is better to be aware of the potential health issues. 

grow calendula

Another good product to  have on hand is a salve made from the Calendula blossoms. If you grow Calendula, save the blossoms until you have enough to make an infused oil. The Nerdy Farmwife has a post on using Calendula and making the infused oil and then making a salve. I used a similar method when making dandelion salve this past summer. 

Making a Salve after you Grow Calendula 

The first thing you will need to do to make a salve is make an infused oil. The proportion should be 1:2, using 1 part dried petals or dried herb and 2 parts oil. In simple terms, fill a canning jar of any size, half full of dried petals. Add olive oil to fill the jar. Almond oil or sunflower oil can also be used, if you prefer.  

Set the jar into a pan of simmering water or use a crock pot which may be easier to maintain since the oil needs to stay warm for a few hours.  I filled the crock pot with water to about half way up the jar height. Set the jar of oil and petals into the crock pot and allow to heat for several hours.

The photo shows herbal oils being infused in the crock pot but the herbs are not Calendula. The process is the same for any dried herb.

grow calendula

Strain the oil and save the petals.  You can feed the oily petals in small amounts to the chickens. 

Grow Calendula and Make an Easy Salve 

(I learned this method from Grow Forage Cook Ferment)

Use approximately 1 and a half cups of infused oil.  

2 ounces of bees wax cut into small chunks or use 2 ounces of bees wax pellets

2 ounces of solid coconut oil

Add the beeswax and coconut oil to the strained warm oil and continue to heat until the three oils are melted together.  Have small containers, tins or jars ready to pour the mixture into. The salve will setup quickly when removed from the heat. 

grow calendula

Add Labels to Your Containers!

Remember to label all containers with the ingredients used to make the salve.   Are you growing an herb garden? Are you ready to use the herbs from your garden to make healthy healing salves and oils?  

grow calendula

 

 




Wild BlackBerry Pie Recipe

blackberry pie recipe

A recent foraging day on the property led to trying a new blackberry pie recipe. That’s how things work around here. First you see what is in abundance, and then you plan a meal around that. Since pie is often thought to be a dessert, just go with the rule of “life is short, eat dessert first”.

Over the last two years, the natural ground covers have returned, along with some new species that had not been seen before. While we have been harvesting wild wine berries from our wooded land for years, we had not come across freely growing red raspberries and blackberries. Seemingly overnight, a large tangle of all three berries has appeared. I am sure I didn’t notice them until the red caught my eye, and a friend took a closer look and noticed the blackberries too. Let the snacking begin!

Before long I had enough to try a blackberry pie recipe with the foraged fruit. You can read more about all the wild edibles found on our property in this blog post. I love finding and learning what food is available right here.

Before I give you my version for wild blackberry pie recipe, I should warn you that I am one of those people who cook by taste. In other words, every measurement in the recipe is subject to adjustment as needed to suit your own personal taste buds. Pies are extremely forgiving, as long as you don’t vary far from the basic premise of fruit, sugar, a little spice, and a delicious pie crust, you will end up with a delicious pie.

Gather the following items :

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Sturdy wooden spoon
  • 8 or 9 inch pie pan

Mixing the Blackberry Pie Filling

Now for the ingredients :

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 5 cups of blackberries. (most berry pie recipes are similar, so mix in blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries if you have those on hand)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar (use less if berries are sweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 pie crusts. (1 box of pre-made pie crust, or make your own 2 crust recipe)
  • 1 Tablespoon chilled butter

Ready to tackle the Blackberry Pie Recipe? In a saucepan, combine the berries, flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix gently but well. Heat the mixture over medium heat until mixture simmers. Keep stirring and simmering a few more minutes until the fruit mixture begins to thicken slightly.

blackberry pie recipe filling

Assemble the Pie and Bake

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place one of the pie crusts into the pie pan. Spoon or pour the berry pie filling into the bottom crust. Dot the filling with tiny pieces of the cold butter.

Lay the top crust over the filling and crimp the edges together to seal in the pie filling.

filling the blackberry pie recipe

Place two or three small slits in the top crust to allow steam to release during baking. If your feel creative, use a small cookie cutter to create a cut out shape BEFORE placing the crust on top of the pie filling.

Blackberry pie recipe ready to bake

Bake at 425 degree Fahrenheit for 15 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Continue baking for an additional 30 to 40 minutes until crust is lightly browned.

blackberry pie recipe

Pie Baking Tips

Tips! Place the pie on a cookie sheet to bake. This will keep your oven clean if the pie filling should bubble out of the pie during baking.

If the crust begins to get too dark, cover the pie with foil while continuing to bake until done.

Do you love simple down home cooking like this. Take a look at the cookbook by Kelly Gray, Then I Thought of Home.




Pullet or Cockerel? How to Know

 

pullet or cockerel

Are some of your chickens looking different than the others? Do you know how to determine, early on, if you are raising a pullet or a cockerel? Lets say you wanted to raise chickens for eggs and purchased some hatching eggs.  Or, perhaps, you couldn’t resist the fluffy little munchkins at the feed store this spring.  In any event you now have chickens growing up in your backyard.  You are feeding them and caring for their every need. But wait! Some of the chicks are starting to look different than the others. One or two in particular seem, odd. Could they be roosters? There are ways to identify the pullet or cockerel as they develop.

Pullet or Cockerel – How to Know the Difference

pullet or cockerel

There are a few ways to sex chicks and maturing chickens. At hatching the method that has been used for generations is called vent sexing. Sometimes it is referred to as the Japanese method.   Using this method, look inside the tiny vent opening and notice the difference in the cloaca.  I have not seen this done but hatcheries use this method with 85 to 90 % accuracy.  

pullet or cockerel

Wing Feather Sexing

Another method is wing feather sexing.  Look at the wing feathers of a chick on the first or second day after hatching.  Cockerel chickens wing feathers would be all the same length.  Pullets wing feathers would be in two layers of different length.  A note of caution on this method. It does not work on all breeds of chickens.  Certain breeds such as leghorns have the genetic trait that allows this method to be used.  Not all breeds have this trait.

pullet or cockerel

Sex Linked Breeds

Sex Linked Traits – For certain genetic pairings, a predictable and identifiable appearance gives a fool proof method of determining sex of the chick.  For this method you need to understand that the hen contributes genetic material to the cockerels and the rooster contributes genetic material to the pullets.  Any sex linked characteristics will be passed on in this way. Color is one of the sex linked traits.  

Knowing this, if you mate a hen that carries a sex linked color trait with a rooster that does not carry the trait, the cockerels will have the trait.  This makes it easy to separate the pullets at hatching.  There are some popular hybrid breeds that utilize this method.  Black Stars or Black Sex links are the result of a Barred Rock Hen crossed with a Rhode Island Red Rooster.  The cockerels have a white spot on their heads.  Red Stars and Golden Comets are two other breeds that are bred for this reason and for increased egg production.

pullet or cockerel

Black Star or Black Sex Link Hen

If you absolutely cannot have a rooster or don’t want to deal with one, buying sex linked breed pullets is your most fool proof method of obtaining pullets. Using this genetic makeup to choose your flock helps you avoid the hassle and heartbreak of having to re-home or cull a backyard pet. If you are living a self sufficient lifestyle, and utilizing the protein provided from your flock, you might consider roosters as an additional meat. I realize this is a sensitive subject for many backyard chicken keepers and culling rooster for the stew pot is not something all chicken keepers can handle. Keep reading for more on re-homing roosters.

 

Developing chicks 

pullet or cockerel

As your chicks develop, you may begin to notice some differences in the growth and characteristics showing up.  The two chickens shown in the photo are showing classic developmental differences between a pullet and a cockerel.  The young cockerel grew up to be the best rooster we ever had on the farm.  I am glad that the hatchery made that error and sent us King! 

Cockerels will often hold themselves differently, in a more upright stance.  Their neck feathers will be longer and pointy as compared to the more rounded feather ends of the pullets.  The combs and legs will also begin to look different.  Combs on a developing cockerel will be darker colored, and larger than the pullets of the same breed.  By ten weeks of age, you can be fairly certain if you have a developing rooster in the flock.  

 

The Crowing and the Egg

 

keep the rooster

Of course, the final answer to the question comes when you find the egg.  Or the morning noon and night crowing that is hard to dispute.  Although, hens of some breeds, in the absence of a rooster may take up crowing.  

One last anecdotal test.  I have found that my roosters are often the chicks that were the most easily handled and didn’t mind being cuddled.  It doesn’t last though!  Somewhere around 8 months to a year, the hormones fully kick in and the rooster is no longer so cuddly. Before that point be sure you have made it clear that you are in charge. Roosters will look for weakness and begin to strike out when you enter the area where the hens are housed. You can read more about keeping roosters and tips for success in this post. 

 

pullet or cockerel

 

Re-Homing Roosters

If you are totally against using your roosters as food for your family, re-homing is another option that may work out. There are people with larger flocks that keep roosters for protection of the hens. I would check with a local feed store or agriculture supply store about a community bulletin board. Posting your available rooster there might bring some leads. When the rooster is a particular breed, posting on a local community forum might lead you to someone who is looking for a new breeding rooster.  It’s not easy to re-home a rooster. Occasionally the right person comes along and all ends well.

 

This post appeared first on Backyard Poultry Magazine.com   

Last updated and edited June 2019