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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Time to Crush Some Eggshells

Oh eggs within thine oval shell, 
What palate tickling joys do dwell.

As you know, we have chickens at Estle Schipp Farm.  I so love having fresh eggs only a little stroll away from my kitchen door.  We use a lot of eggs every week.

When you keep chickens, you quickly learn that you need to supplement their nutrition with something to help them lay eggs with strong shells.  A strong shell protects the contents of the egg and also acts as a barrier from the introduction of bacteria to the egg inside.

One way to supplement their feed ration is with commercially available oyster shell that from your local feed store.  But, since I want to keep the cost of feed and nutrition at a reasonable level, I wanted a less costly solution and I had to look no further than those eggs I cracked for breakfast this morning! 

Chickens do very well with crushed eggshells as a supplement.  I keep an open bowl on the kitchen counter with the egg shells I used that week.  By sitting in the open air, the shells dry out and are easy to crush.  I have a small (about two cup capacity) food processor that pulverizes those dried shells into very small pieces as you can see in the photo in this post. 

So, once a week, I crush those shells and put them near the chicken feed.  Each hen has free choice for taking as much or as little as she may need.  Since I've used this process, those eggshells are sturdy and healthy. :) 

You may wonder why I crush the shells and that is a very good question.  Never just put down whole pieces of shells for your hens since it will encourage a very bad habit of egg eating. If your flock becomes accustomed to the idea that you want them to eat shells that look pretty much like whole eggs, guess what they will do.....they will start cracking open freshly laid eggs too. Once a hen starts doing that, it is nearly impossible to get her to stop.  

I'm very happy with this method of supplementing the nutrition for my girls with something they need for their health.  The fact that I've found another way to use every bit of a product without waste is an added bonus!  

If you don't have chickens (yet) but have a neighbor who does, offer to save your shells to share with him or her.  If you don't have a friendly chicken lady (or gentleman) near you, consider other uses for those shells - such as composting, fertilizing the garden, pest control, a natural antacid or even make sidewalk chalk - google "uses for eggshells", you will be surprised at all the results. 

After breakfast tomorrow, save those eggshells - Don't TOSS it, CRUSH it instead!  

Peace be with you, 

Star Schipp  

his post may contain affiliate links which means if you make a purchase using one of those links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you.  It is a great way to support your favorite hobby farm blogger.  Thank you!   

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Stevia - How Sweet It Is!

When life gives you lemons, add sweet tea. 

It has been a wonderful few weeks in the garden at Estle Schipp Farm!  Everything is green and growing quickly.  We've enjoyed fresh, crisp salads and are eagerly awaiting that first ripe tomato.  The herb garden is also bringing great growing joy!  

The chives are straight and tall, the basil leaves are fragrant and green and the rosemary has taken root and sprouting new growth.  There is a new addition this year from a find at a local farmers market - Stevia! 

I was strolling through the tables laden with herb plants of so many varieties, enjoying the beauty, the fragrance and all the possibilities and I happened to see a single pot of Stevia.  I picked it up and the lovely lady farmer asked me if I had ever tried it.  I had not, of course.  "Taste a leaf - go ahead" I plucked a small one and placed it on my tongue.  Oh my is a intense sweetness and so different than the herbaceous flavors of other herbs.  I was intrigued, to say the least, to think of how I could use it.

The plant is already growing well in the corner of our herb garden.  The plant is not cold tolerant so I will need to either dig it up and place in a pot to over-winter indoors or else treat it as an annual.  We'll see how the season goes.  

Using Stevia is pretty easy.  The fresh leaves can be crushed and added to your iced tea for sweetness without the calories of sugar.  The leaves can also be dried, whirred into a powder in your food processor and used in recipes.  The sweetness of Stevia is way more than regular sugar so I'll have to do some experimenting to use it as a sugar replacement. I really like the idea of growing this plant myself and have options over white, granulated sugar from sugar cane - especially since I'm pretty sure that growing sugar cane in Indiana would be an exercise in frustration.  ;)

What new herbs are you growing this year? 

Peace be with you, 

Star Schipp

This post may contain affiliate links which means if you make a purchase using one of those links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you.  It is a great way to support your favorite hobby farm blogger.  Thank you!