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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chicken update

Zed made these two big box-halves and cut the communicating door. I added the cereal boxes - see what a good idea it is to hoard them?

The Java chicks really like to roost.

On two occasions I've found a couple of them pacing and screeching on the floor outside their box. They can fly out but they can't fly back in.

Doesn't the outside world look cruel and cold?

If you click to enlarge you'll see how they are getting to the part-fluff part-feather part of chicken adolescence. Their voices are cracking, too.

Here's the "before" picture, from a couple days after they arrived...

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[New York]: I don't give up easy

Today I tried again to make mozzarella - and I also tried to do some yogurt. The yogurt is still 'yog'ing so the jury is still out, but the mozzarella project finally went well.

Put some milk in a pan and heat to 88 degrees with secret ingredients from a kit...

It coagulates into weird looking shreds and whey....

Why did it work this time and not the last time? It's just different milk - some milk gets too damaged by processing to turn into cheese. This milk, from the deli on the corner, wasn't damaged. Weird.

Dump the whey and put the shreds into a bowl and microwave for a minute...

The cat, supervising, notices that whey is Of Interest To Cats and tries to lick it out of the sink....

Knead and heat the cheese until more liquid comes out and it becomes smooth and shiny...

And then it's done! This is how much cheese you can make from a quart of milk. I can eat this much cheese in about five seconds.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pictures from the Dixie Draft Horse, Mule and Carriage Auction, March 28, 2008, Iredell Fairgrounds, Troutman NC

I came home with a few choice pieces of rusty junk. Click on pictures for larger view.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

[New York]: The Ginger Beer Factory

Unable to fit livestock into my Manhattan apartment, I continue to manage microbiota. Last week's ginger beer project proved highly successful. I used this recipe.

First, I put a cup of water, a teaspoon of grated ginger (peel and all) and a teaspoon of sugar into a tupperware and covered it with a cheesecloth. Every two days I added another teaspoon of sugar and another of ginger. Over six days, it went from looking like this:

to this:

Okay, maybe you can't really tell the difference. But it's more bubbly in the second picture, which means that the wild yeasts on the surface of the ginger root have come to life and begun eating the sugar. This means you can start bottling: boil up a whole lot of sugar, ginger, and lemons, strain the starter into your big pot once it has cooled, and bottle:

Over the next week and a half, the yeasts gradually eat the sugar and produce carbon dioxide and alcohol. If you open the bottle after 8 days, it's fizzy and sweet. If you open it after about 12 days, it's fizzier, less sweet, and a very little bit alcoholic. Very tasty.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Melinama does Illustration Friday: "Pet Peeves."

I've had the advertisement for the "Bob Principle" on my refrigerator so long it's turned dark yellow, so I decided to paint a replacement. (You can see the original in my sidebar.)

One of my pet peeves: people who blame their misfortunes and ill humor on the rest of the world. As a career scapegoat (I took the blame for everything as a toddler and have tended to hog blame every since, even when I'm trying not to), I resent the people who abuse my services. Each of us should shoulder a fair share.

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Mark does Illustration Friday: "Pet Peeves."

Mark writes: Peeves are temperamental creatures. They become agitated when given too much attention. Plan carefully before selecting one as a pet.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Difficulties of micro-managing poultry.

Here is a common sight around the yard: my Java rooster, whom I named "Valentino" in an ironic moment of inspiration this past Valentine's Day (which was no more or less awful than all other Valentine's Days), displaying his resplendent feathers and guarding one hen.

Why ONE hen? After all, I have three! Well, I'll tell you why. Hen #2 is very, very busy sitting on an empty nest box inside the coop. Will she hatch a chick if her nesting box is empty? No. Does she care? No.

And no, this is not the one that was sitting on an empty nesting box for 23 days a while back. (She, recovered from her hormonal haze, cavorts here in the background.) This is a second one doing the same pointless thing.

And where is hen #3?

I only found out yesterday when I went looking for a rake...

Hen #3, the most reliable egg-layer and also the best bug-finder, had one nesting box (of three) which was her favorite. But that's the one Hen #1 decided to brood on, rendering it unavailable.

So Hen #3 has instead been, on the sly, secretly accumulating her own personal stash of eggs - far from the henhouse, outdoors, in a secret niche of the retaining wall under the carport. She's trying to hatch a pile of eggs much larger than her butt can cover.

Some of them are rolling out of the nest.

She sat there all last night, in high winds and rain. However, because her brooding is sporadic, I doubt these eggs will ever hatch.

These hens seem to have only bits and pieces of the instincts that would allow them to perpetuate their species. "What do chickens do in the wild, then?" asks Zed. I don't believe there is any such thing as a wild chicken.

But to get back to Valentino: I bought the chickens to be entertainment for Jethro the donkey, and anticipated that he, Jethro, would imagine himself protector of the little flock.

But it turned out quite the other way around: Valentino considers Jethro to be a MEMBER of the flock, which means the donkey is in need of Valentino's protection. When people come to feed or play with Jethro, Valentino rushes up and attacks them, all his neck feathers up in an Elizabethan ruffle. It's very inconvenient.

He isn't so bad with me, maybe because I, too, am a member of his flock, or maybe because every time he tries to play Big Man on Campus with me I scoop him up and take him indoors and rock him in my rocking chair, reminding him that I knew him when he was an egg.

If nobody is watching, he will coo and make contemplative murmuring sounds as I stroke his head. But if a person (or, worse, one of his hens) is watching, he will squawk indignantly.

Before and after: Valentino on Yom Kippur in September 2007, and yesterday.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Muppets sing "Danny Boy."

At our gig last night an Oriental couple asked me to sing "Danny Boy," but I couldn't remember the words. Here is the finest version I have ever heard.


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Seen at "Unusual Life."

Unusual Life pointed to "Jesus cosmetics prove too cheeky for Singapore."

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One of the world's best lawnmowers.

As seen at Present Simple.

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Actions and their consequences, condensed.

Abraham Lincoln:

"When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion."


Monday, March 17, 2008

Visit to an artist's studio.

Bob and I did a performance at the 1908 Historic Courthouse in Independence, Virginia Saturday night and stayed, afterwards, at his friend Carol's house. (Bob's girlfriend took this picture for us.)

Carol is the widow of Robert Broderson and her home is full of his art. Bob helped build the house and the studio up the hill. I thought you might be interested to see what a home full of a lifetime's work in art looks like. Some of Broderson's work is for sale through the website above.

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