Monthly Archives: January 2013

Chicken Coop Progress

This post has been a looong time coming. I have really let you down, blog readers. I apologize for the lack of posting lately. Every year as the holidays approach I think about all the great holiday-related posts I could write. And every year, I fail. Maybe I should write my holiday-related posts in the summer in preparation, huh? ūüôā
Anyway, hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of things soon. In the meantime, here’s a post I’ve owed you for a long time. Rockstar husband¬†started building the coop back in October right after we got our chicks. He spent 3 or 4 weekends working all day on it. I helped with some small parts, but really this was his¬†project. He designed the coop after spending many hours researching coops on¬†www.backyardchickens.com. He’s almost done with it now. There are a few last things to finish that haven’t happened because it was rained almost every single weekend since he last worked seriously on it. We plan on painting it and sealing the wood once it dries out completely in the spring. Ideally, that would have been finished BEFORE the rain started, but oh well.
Now for pictures!
Work station
Rocks that little man¬†and I collected in the yard to backfill the trench. These are the make the run more “predator proof” because an animal trying to get in wont be able to dig through the rocks.
The footprint of the coop and run. Our goal was to make the run completely predator proof. That way, if we are away overnight, we can leave the coop door open and the chickens can let themselves out into the run in the morning. Without a predator-proof run, we’d have to make sure to be home everyday at nightfall to lock the chickens up.¬†
We borrowed a friend’s jackhammer to dig through some of the tougher parts of the dirt. Thank you friend! If you’re wondering why there’s a stump in the middle of what will be the run, it’s because we just cut down a tree that was there. We left the stump so that the chickens can perch on it.¬†
Framing out the run.
Rockstar husband demonstrating his jackhammering skills.
Lots of progress done at this point! It’s still missing a door for the coop, door for the run, nesting boxes, perching rack, welded wire on top of the run, and probably lots more.¬†
See that irrigation tube? We dug it up while digging the trench. Eventually we’d like to add a hose right by the coop to make filling water and cleaning easier. It’s not top priority but it’s on our list.
Here’s where the chickens will go in and out of the coop. And see how the coop is raised up, allowing extra run space under it? It’s perfect for rainy days and hot summer days so that the hens can get out of the elements but still be outside ¬† if they want to be.
Adding paneling over the welded wire so that¬†varmints¬†can’t rip it off and get in. You can’t see it here, but we also ran the welded wire down into the trench before backfilling. This adds to the predator protection.¬†
Nesting boxes done. A feature that most nesting boxes don’t have that I LOVE is that it is¬†designed to open UP instead of DOWN. Know why? So that little man¬†can eventually open it up himself to collect the eggs. If it opened down, it would be hard for him¬†to reach the eggs inside. I love that rockstar husband¬†thought of a little detail like that. What a good papa!¬†
Almost done! The run has a door now, there’s a ramp in place for the chickens to get up and down from the coop, the chicken door for the coop is in place. You can’t really tell because the ladder is blocking it, but the coop door is on a pulley system so that we can just run out and open or close the coop door from the outside of the run without having to unlock the run on a cold winter morning.
Chickens exploring their new home. I think they like it!
Advertisements

Bourbon Butternut Squash Risotto

Bourbon Butternut Squash Risotto, huh? Isn’t risotto Italian? Isn’t Bourbon…deep south? Well, yes on both counts. But that doesn’t mean they cannot be amazing together. I thought of this combination when I decided that we were going to have Butternut Squash Risotto the other night. That much was certain. We grew butternut squash last summer and have been getting them weekly in our CSA. I try to keep up, but I think we have about 10 butternut squash in our garage right now. They must be used up! We also had arborio rice in the pantry that was just waiting to be made into risotto. And being the beginning of the year, I’m newly motivated to clean out our pantry, use up stuff that has been in there too long, etc.

As I gathered my ingredients I realized that we didn’t have ANY white wine in the house (not even a bottle of 2 buck chuck chardonnay). It was cold, rainy, 5pm. All factors to make me not want to leave the house with my toddler to buy a $2 bottle of wine. I wondered if risotto could be made with any other kind of alcohol and immediately thought bourbon would be pretty tasty with butternut squash. I did a quick google search and found out that I wasn’t the first to think of this (dangit…you mean this isn’t an original idea?!). Then I texted my foodie friend to make sure I wasn’t crazy. He approved of the experiment and off I went a-cookin’.

The end result was delicious. Probably the best risotto I’ve ever made. I highly suggest you try it if you have some extra butternut squash laying around. And if you don’t want to use bourbon, I’m sure it would be very delicious regular butternut squash risotto without (or with the more traditional white wine)…this was just a very fun twist.

Ingredients:
1 Butternut squash
Olive Oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup bourbon (note: most risotto recipes call for 1 cup of white wine. I reduced it to 1/2 cup of bourbon…figured a cup of bourbon would be a bit much).
6 cups chicken broth (you might need more…keep an extra couple cups on hand)
Creme fraiche (about 1/4 cup…you can omit it, or substitute cream cheese. As much as it pains me to type that.)
A good handful of shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash in half. Remove the seeds. Lightly coat a baking dish with olive oil and place the butternut squash face down on the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, until a sharp knife pierces and goes into the squash easily.
2. Heat a heavy-bottom pot over medium heat (I used my Le Creuset). Lightly coat bottom of pot with olive oil. Sautee onion until it begins to “melt.”
3. In a separate pot, pour all 6 cups of chicken broth. Heat broth until it begins to simmer. Then turn down so that it stays hot, but doesn’t boil.
4. Add butter to the onions and allow it to melt.
5. Add arborio rice and stir to coat the rice with butter. Stir continuously until the outside of rice grains start to become translucent. The inside will stay white.
6. Add bourbon. Stir until bourbon cooks down to about half. Start to slowly add hot broth, one ladle-full at a time. Make sure to stir fairly continuously, but especially right after each ladle of broth goes into the rice.
7. Continue until you have no more broth. If you’re not serving immediately, save one ladle of broth to add right at the end.
8. Scoop butternut squash out from skin and roughly chop. Mix into the risotto.
9. Mix in creme fraiche and parmesan cheese. If you’ve reserved a ladle-full of broth, add it now. Crush the dried thyme over the risotto with your fingers.

Serve and enjoy!

IMG_4398