Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The safety of edibles!

Each year around this time I start frequenting thrift stores.  Okay, who am I kidding?  I always frequent thrift stores but at least this time of year I have a purpose, sort of.  I start combing through the ties, and men's boxer shorts, and old lady blouses, and scarves, etc.  I'm looking for silk so I can wrap up store bought eggs and dye them for the upcoming Easter holiday.  I'm not religious but I'm faithful about putting color to white eggs. 

As I was putting a pile of ties on the checkout counter at Goodwill yesterday, the clerk asked me if my husband had gotten a new job.  The question made me stumble and step on my tongue.  Obviously the clerk saw the shoe print on my taste buds and explained that since I was buying so many ties, she thought maybe my husband had gotten a new job and needed some new accessories.  I told her the ties were going to be used for tinting eggs.  I really wanted to give a long, detailed, lecture with a power point presentation about my NON-marriage to the most beautiful, caring, giving, intelligent, hard working, super cuddling, and over all magnificent person on the Earth who just happens to be a WOMAN.  I didn't.  My phone rang instead, saving the clerk from my outburst.  Not what this particular blog is about so let's just move on.

The point is I like to dye my eggs with silk.  Textile dye is just a tad different than the run of the mill PAAS egg dye that you'd buy at your local Woolworth's.  (Ha..Woolworth's....I'm OLD.)  I'm not sure what PAAS is made of or if it's safe but I'm guessing it's not lethal since my younger brother is still roaming the countryside after eating the little colored tablets thinking they were candy.  Of course his mental stability has been in question ever since so I can't be absolutely sure.  I recently had an online chat with a friend about the Tie-Dyed eggs and if they should be consumed.  It made me step back and think a minute.  Honestly the thought of textile dye on my eggs didn't bother me near as much as the store bought egg did in the first place.  Each year when I dye eggs I have to purchase white eggs from the local grocery.  The brown and green eggs my hens lay come out muddled when dyed and I think they beautiful the way they are.  Since I only do this once a year and I give away the eggs anyway and I'm cheap, I usually buy the cheapest eggs available, not caring where they came from or how happy the hens were that popped them out.  Shame on me.  I spend  time and effort preaching to anyone that will listen or even pretend to about knowing where your food comes from.  I truly do not understand how my own (lovely) partner can consume KFC chicken without looking into how those birds were raised and harvested.  So this year when I dye my eggs, I will dye white eggs from local hens.  I don't know about shell differences between store bought and locally raised eggs but when I give them away I will also do so with a warning about the textile dye. 

The other edibles on the ranch are doing swimmingly!  No textile dyes, no ammonia dipping, no live electrocution found at Rolling Thunder.  

The broiler chickens are two weeks old and growing wonderfully.  They will be ready for harvest in about 6 more weeks.  They have a short life but I hope I'm making it happy, as happy as a chicken can be.  They are currently housed in the barn in a 12X12 stall.  The stall door is opened when the sun is shining and the wind isn't too bad.  Drafts and wind are not good for my little birds.  When they are about 4 weeks old they are transferred to another coop with a covered yard.  They are kept separate from the layer hens and are allowed to free range every other day.  When not allowed to free range they can still spend their day outside in the coop yard. 
There are a few layer pullets in with the broilers.  They will be placed in the layer coops as soon as they grow up a bit.  Since I'm bringing in young blood, I have a few older hens up for adoption.  They are free to a home without a stew pot.  I appreciate my layer hens and am thankful that they provide me and many friends with tasty eggs.  I couldn't imagine popping out a baby 5 times a week. Since they work so hard to give me eggs,  I have promised them a life without fear of a killing cone.  I'm not sure how much of the commitment they remember but I explain it to all of them when they arrive.  I'm not a bird lover, the flapping feathers really freaks me out but I love my chickens.  I have favorites that will never leave the ranch and I will express a bit of emotion when they pass on. 

 The pigs are doing well.  I am enjoying watching them play.  They are still locked in their shed at night.  I'm not ready for bear season and I've learned from the past that bears love pork.  The neighbor's dogs like to chase them too.  We've been pigless for about 3 years but I'm confident that this year will be a successful hog season. 

The chickens have been enjoying the sunny weather and the opportunity to roam the ranch.  Eggs are once again found in the nest boxes.  We've had a few skunk thieves sneak in and out but I'm mulling over some coop alterations in an effort to curb their egg shopping habits. 

We've had a few tears lately too.  Drago the Presa Canario dog that we've had for the past several years started having seizures and we had to have him put to sleep.  Along with Drago, Banshee the 400 year old lamb babysitter made the trip across the rainbow bridge in the same week.  This brings our dog population to down to nine.  It's always hard to lose them.  I'm sort of feeling a blessed that it all happened in the same week.  I don't think I cried any less. 

With death comes new life...or vice versa...or maybe there's not even a cliche like that.  At any rate we've had a few new additions. 

My Cotswold ewe lambed a little darling.  The new ewe lamb has already charmed Jezabel and Shelly too.  Along with her, two of the Cheviots have lambed.  The second lambing was a nauseating experience for a friend.  Judy and Pam came calling the other morning to look at fence and pigs and to trade out hay.  In the middle of things a ewe came into labor and after watching feet ooze out then get sucked back up for more than an hour, I enlisted Judy's help.  I had Judy hold the ewe down while I helped the lamb move along.  Apparently it was not a pleasant experience for Judy.  I'm so blind to things.  I just shout orders and expect people to hop to!  The outcome was positive, at least for the lamb.  Hopefully Judy is not too traumatized. 
I do hope to see Judy and Pam around the ranch again in the future.  They both make me giggle and giggling is GOOD for Dawn.  Mama and baby are doing fine.  The ewe refused to produce any milk at all even after a long talk and a couple doses of oxytocin.  Baby got powdered colostrum and is being bottle fed in the house.  Since I don't have  Banshee Dog to babysit anymore, Shelly has accepted (as if I had to ask her) bottle feeding duty.  We've decided that the little ewe will join our flock and will remain here at the ranch.  So my flock of sheep now consists of a Mini-Southdown/Babydoll ewe, a Cotswold ewe, two Cotswold X Mini Cheviot ewe lambs, Babs the wether and now a Mini Cheviot ewe lamb and of course Nubie the Shetland ram.  What a mix!

Spring is here!  Now go dye some eggs with toxic textile dye from thrift store silk boxers....Or whatever!  Life is GRAND and I have the best life EVER!  

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