Easy Herb Gelatin Treats for Chickens (or humans, I guess!)

With the heat on the rise I have been looking for ways to help keep my small flock cool.

Fresh Eggs Daily had a great post on Beating the Heat. This is my favorite chicken site. Tons of information. The post gave me an idea. I could make Homemade Healthy Gummie Snacks for my chickens! They were such a hit with the kids, the chickens were bound to love them!

I found out that not only could chickens eat gelatin, but gelatin is actually good for them. Just like in humans, gelatin helps support health hair, skin and nails. It is also aids digestion and soothes the digestive tract. Sounds like a winning combo for chickens. And to clarify, gelatin is made form the bones and hooves of bovine. It is not made from chicken products. No cannibalism here.

You can make these treats from the herb of your choice. Or you could not use herbs at all. Maybe just use fruit. Or a fruit herb combo. How ever you make them this is a healthy treat that can help your chicken keep its cool.

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Ingredients:

2 cups herbal infusion (How to make a Water Infusion)

1 cup cold water, fruit juice, or fruit puree (I used strawberries and blackberries (this is a great opportunity to use up that frost bitten fruit you have in the freezer ;))).

4 packs  unflavored 1/4 oz gelatin (you buy it here or any grocery store in the Jello section)

First thing you need to do is make an herbal infusion. Since I want to cool my chickens I decided to go with mint. It has natural cooling properties. Since mint is a strong herb, I only filled my infusion jar 1/4 of the way.

Bring your finished infusion to a boil in a 2 quart pot.

Remove from heat.

Slowly add gelatin while mixing.

Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, just blend it by hand with a wisk or fork. I love my immersion blender and I highly recommend one. You can buy the one I have here or at walmart.

Add cold water juice (or fruit juice or puree).

Blend until smooth.

Pour liquid into a greased, 3 qt 9×13 casserole dish.

Place casserole dish in fridge.

Allow to sit for 1-4 hours (or until firm).

Cut into squares the size of your choice. I like 1/2″ squares.

Serve to chickens.

Watch the chickens steal them from each other and chase each other for the last bit! They LOVE THEM! I tried them as well. I don’t prefer mint jello but I can tell you for sure it has that great cooling effect!

If you made  your own flavor and the chickens didn’t like it, you can put the cubes back into the pot and reheat them until liquid. Try adding something you know they love, like strawberries or bananas. Then re-pour, refrigerate and serve again. Have fun! Try new flavors and let me know which one your chickens like best!

Here is my flock enjoying their gelatin treat! Ravenous!

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Look how sad my little Mango is. The girls stole all the treats! 😦

 

How to Make a Water Infusion

Infusions are a away to make the qualities of an organic item infusion into water. You can make infusions out of pretty much any fruit,vegetable, flower, herb, leaf or bark, etc. Just please make sure what you are infusing is not toxic or poisonous. Do research on the item and get confirmation from an experienced individual before you make your infusion.

What you need

1 quart size glass jar with lid

2 cups of boiling water

item to be infused (usually 2 cups. NOTE:Some Herbs, like mint, Have a very strong flavor , you may want to use less of the herb. You can use as much or as little as you’d like). Make sure the item has not been sprayed/treated with pesticide/herbicide

My Method:

I fill the jar with the item to be infused (say white clover because I love White Clover Jelly). I stuff that jar with just the flower, removing as much greens from the flower as possible.

Most people will rinse the flowers to get any little bugs that may be hiding in the flowers. I just kinda shake them off before I stuff them in the jar. I don’t like the idea of washing away any of the pollen or nectar that are in the flower. BUT if you don’t like the idea of ant infused water, go ahead and give the flowers a quick rinse and put them back in the jar.

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the flowers in the jar.

Put the lid on the jar.

Leave the jar to sit for 4-24 hours.

In a fine strainer, muslin cloth or cheese cloth, strain the water from the flowers into a bowl. Squeeze the liquid from the flowers, through the strainer, to be sure you get all the goodness. (Side note, you can feed the left over flowers to your chickens)

You now have a fusion. TA-DA!

This fusion good for about 24 hours when kept in the fridge. The older a fusion is the less of the qualities of the item infused will remain. Basically, use it or lose it. If you can’t use it right away, freeze it! You can leave it in your glass jar (with room for expansion) or make ice cubes. The qualities will be less, but it is better than wasting.

I am not a professional. I am not a doctor. I am not telling you to do this.

 

 

Make Your Own Citrus Coop Cleaner

Ingredients:

The peel of 2 oranges, or 3 lemons, or 4 limes, or maybe 1 grapefruit? I don’t eat grapefruit so you guess on that one.

White vinegar

1 quart mason jar or bigger. Use what you have, just try to use glass or food grade plastic. You could even use the vinegar bottle.

Place citrus peels into the container of your choice. I had left over orange peels from my Homemade Healthy Fruit Gummies recipe.

Leave the vinegar mixture to rest for about a month. Shake it occasionally.

Filter the vinegar into a spray bottle.

Use the citrus vinegar spray to clean your kitchen or to clean your coop when you are giving it that occasional deep clean.

This stuff smells fantastic and has all of the wonderful benefits of white vinegar.

I got this recipe from my favorite chicken website Fresh Eggs Daily. She added cinnamon sticks and vanilla to the vinegar and oranges before allowing it to rest. I bet that smelled amazing! If you haven’t checked out her site, it is worth your time. She has tons of chicken recipes and raises her chickens naturally with herbs. Lots of great tips.

Try making your own scent of citrus cleaner. Just remember to use White vinegar, a citrus and nothing sticky. How about Lime/Mint or Lemon and cloves? What recipe will you use? Please let me know how it turned out!

Building a Chicken Coop

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Building my first chicken coop was a challenge. I had never build a structure before. I am also a tiny bit of a perfectionist and I detest when I make something to later wish I had done it differently. So I took a lot of time and put a lot of thought into how I wanted my chicken coop to work. I did research on What makes a good chicken coop. I drew up lots of plans, threw them away and drew more.

I had some supplies on hand already. I try to reuse/re-purpose items as much as possible. I hate wasting things, money included. I wanted this coop to be the best coop possible for the smallest amount of money.

I consider myself a handy person. I do much more than I used to before I got over my irrational fear of power tools, that most women seem to have. But I confess, I was nervous to build this coop.

All of my plans were thrown out the window when I found this at the thrift store.IMG_20140321_155910

I know, right!

Seriously, weeks of planning, OUT THE WINDOW.

Now some people, like my husband, would look at this armorer and think “Man, that is ugly!”. But a chicken person would go crazy once they saw the inside:IMG_20140321_165506-1BAM! How can you NOT see nesting boxes?!

My husband couldn’t see the potential but I went with it anyways. I redrew the plans and then I got to work!

Here it is painted. Still ugly??????IMG_20140411_172115

First things first, the foundation. I’m worried about predators around our homestead so I wanted my coop build up off the ground. I’m also, admittedly, cheap and decided that I wanted to use the fence as one of the walls of the coop (free wall!). These things helped me to decide that I wanted one roof for the entire coop and pen. Which gave me the base of my foundation.

I decided where I wanted to position the coop and installed the 4×4 posts. I had never installed posts before. I dug the post holes with a post hole digger, installed, leveled and braced the posts. Then cemented them in.

Proud of my post work.

Proud of my post work.

I measured the pitch I wanted for the roof and marked the angels on the posts. My husband cut them for me. After that I installed the support beams for the roof and floor.

The next step was the floor of the coop. It took a little finagling (because I built it off a crooked fence) but I got it done.

Then came the walls.  I had a few items I had been saving to use on the coop. I basically built the walls around the items. One was the face of an old kitchen cabinet I had found on the side of the road.

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I measured the width of the cabinet and installed two 2×4 posts that width apart from each other, from the floor of the coop to the ceiling, where I wanted the cabinet positioned.

I decided to spend a little extra money to have a good roof over the coop. We live in a heavily wooded ares and I was afraid of limbs and branches falling on the coop. I also only want to build this thing one time, so a good roof will keep it dry and help it last longer.

The roof was special ordered and I had to wait for it to come in before I would install the cabinet. It took about 2 weeks but it was well worth the wait. I installed the roof in about an hour by myself. I siliconed the screws to make a water tight seal.

Finally, the cabinet was moved into place. I tacked trim, to both the cabinet and the coop, around the connection point.

After all 4 walls were solid I climbed into the coop and stapled in bright aluminum bug screen and then stapled 1/4″ hardware cloth over it. I was sure to use heavy-duty staples and hammered them in to set them nicely. I them checked for any protruding nails or staples that my birds could possibly hurt themselves on and set them as well.

The final touches like safety hooks and a perch, for access to the nesting boxes, were added. As well as adding a door to the pen and enclosing the pen with chicken wire.

It took me about 2 weeks to build the coop and I have made a few improvements since then. This was a fantastic experience for me. I have always known that I could do anything I put my mind to. My Mom taught me that I was just as capable as any one else and I could do anything a man could do. But believing that and actually doing it are two different things. I built this coop entirely by myself (minus my husband cutting the 4×4 posts because he was worried I would hurt myself 🙂 ). It was hard work and it wore me out, but I did it. Now I feel like I can build anything! (Insert Super woman photo here!)

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Front view

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Left side

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Left side optional chicken door

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Left side door interior view

 

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Observation window/center door

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Chicken’s coop access door with stained glass above

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Center chicken door/main coop access from pen

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Center door/observation window

 

 

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Right side door

 

 

 

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Right interior view

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No coop is complete without stained glass windows.

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Happy chickens!

 

Do you have any questions on building a coop? I’m no expert BUT I FEEL LIKE ONE! 🙂