Chicken Pot Pie- The best recipe!

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I love a good from scratch chicken pot pie. The world is so full of quick meals that most definitely were not made with love. I want my children to think of these home cooked pot pies when they in-vision the dish and not something out of the freezer isle. Impress your friends/ family with an honest, unpretentious home cooked meal!

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Pie Dough from scratch! you can do it! My mother made me promise to never buy a fake pie dough and you can do it too. She told me at a young age “It’s simple, just flour, water,and butter. Its easy and will always taste better than store bought” This may be the one place where I admit my mother was right about anything (shhhhh don’t tell her!)

The pie dough I make for this has a little extra ingredients but its still just as simple

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 12 tbs cold butter

cut the butter into the flower with a pastry blender or 2 forks if you don’t have this tool, a food processor works too but I’m too old fashioned for one of those 😉

In a small dish combine

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tbs vinegar (white or apple)
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tbs sugar10816189_10152340135716710_1775758769_n

add the wet ingredients to the dry. Kneed dough adding more water or flour to reach desired consistency.

Separate into 2 balls, one top crust, one bottom, wrap in saran wrap. Later I use this wrap to roll the dough out and transfer onto the pie dish. Chill for 10+ minutes. This makes it easier to work with.

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While the pie dough is chilling start cooking the chicken and boiling diced potatoes. You will start adding ingredients into a  large pot on the stove top.

  • 4 cups cooked chicken. Bite size
  • 4 medium potatoes diced and boiled….firm is good, mushy is bad.
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh  diced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup flour (more or less to thicken, this is the gravy part of the pot pie)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
  • garlic or onion  to taste
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth (if using a can of broth which equals one cup, add 3/4 cup more milk to even it out)
  • 2/3 cup milk

please use less or more of these ingredients to taste, heat it up on the stove top. Exact measuring not required. Taste it

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees and roll out dough. I roll mine out on the saran wrap for easy transfer, a flexible cutting board works well. If you don’t have a rolling pin use a round cup, I used a plastic cup for years!. Place dough in bottom of the dish, it will shrink a bit so extend the edges as for as you can. Then roll out the top.

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Pour chicken pot pie mixture in dish then place on the top. This is a deep dish pan, if you are using a shallow pie dish you may have extra filling to eat with bread for another meal. Do not over fill. My top was rolled really thin so I just folded the edges back rustic style. You could trim the edges and then do something fancy with the dough to decorate the boarder. Some people fork the edges to seal them….. exc. MAKE SURE YOU POKE WHOLES IN THE TOP FOR STEAM TO ESCAPE! This is all caps for a reason 🙂 It will be messy and ugly if you fail to do this, it will still taste good thou… I poke a hole in the center with a knife, then a sun pattern outward, but that’s me.

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Brush with milk to make crust golden, If you do not have a pastry brush a paper towel dabbed in milk will help you moisten the top… I would know 😉 I salt the top of mine lightly, makes it pretty and flavorful, but not healthy…..Place pie on baking sheet (in case of spill over,tin foil is your friend) Bake 425 degrees for about 30-35 minutes you want the crust lightly browned, I turn mine half way through so it cooks even. You are basically heating the filling and cooking the crust everything else was precooked so just watch the crust for doneness 🙂

I hope you enjoy your super fabulous chicken pot pie!

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Duck Hunting

Well 5 months later and Gifford is well on his way to being a duck dog. We’ve been working with him as often as possible although its hard with Cooper the Cattle Dog getting in the way of training…. Gifford has had a few hunts now and is definitely getting the hang of things, he has an eager disposition and is so willing to please, a favorite trait of those Labradors. He has definitely earned the title of “the good child”  Compared to a cattle dog everything about labs is easy! On Gifford’s first hunt he even retrieved a leg banded duck which is a lucky reward for hunters.  On the horizon Gifford will need to be taught how to jump out of a kayak to retrieve ducks in the marshlands but for now his hunting has been down at the coast on the shoreline. We have high hopes for this pup!

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Gifford

Our Farm has had so many new additions this year its hard to keep up. My husband doesn’t usually want to add any new critters to the farm but this one was all him. Meet Gifford the Chocolate Labrador! I have never been a huge fan of labs, but with that said they are the number 1 dog in the USA practically every year, I know they are excellent family dogs, intelligent and have good natures. I just thought they were dopy, which turns out they are.

We picked Gifford at 3 weeks, he was just a rat then and we were looking for the most exquisite gun dog the world has ever seen. I pride myself on puppy picking by temperament testing. Usually you make load noises and look for pups that arnt shy but inquisitive, you run away from the litter and look for the pup that fallows, you open an umbrella and look for the curious dog not the wallflower. But unfortunately all tests like these looking for confidence do not work on a 3 week old pup that doesn’t walk and has just opened his eyes. We selected a good breeder with hunting lines so we knew most pups would be a good choice and the parents looked like what we want our dog to grow up into. So we used the only test available (some hunters recommend just blindly reaching into the litter and selecting on chance since its so difficult at an early age) We knew we wanted a male so we separated the pups 11 total to 6 males. We deselected overly large males as we wanted a medium dog, too many joint issues with extra large dogs. We picked up a pup in each hand and which ever pup whined first went back in the whelping box. That left us with one little pup who never whined! We were looking for a calm disposition, and you know what when we took him home 4 weeks later he really was a calm pup. We are very happy with this new addition and while he is dopy hence the name Gifford (his name sake Gifford Pincho National Forest) he is very easy going, easy to potty train and well behaved 🙂

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update on chickens

So the chickens we purchased in February are now egg laying machines, they started laying at 23 weeks and are one of my favorite additions to our farm. They eat all of our scraps, no need for pigs and my egg business is going great. I sell my eggs for $3.00 a dozen and this covers their feed costs. I have so many people interested in farm fresh eggs that I no longer take order requests and instead just have a few regulars I so weekly orders for.

Of the 14 chickens we started with we ended up eating Mr. Rooster….. he turned rather vicious and with the other critters here on the farm we could take the chance of him hurting someone. Also roosters crow all day especially early in the morning which is worse than i had anticipated and they also eat quite a bit and don’t do much in return.(FYI we learned not to attempt to kill a rooster by shooting it in the head, while it seems like a humane idea inevitably you end up missing since the target is small and you end up hunting him through the woods, also a 9mm Glock probably wasn’t a great idea either compared to a shotgun. We plan on using the old ax technique next time……) We lost one red sex link chick, I assume to predators, she just disappeared…. and another red sexlink we recently found mangled in the yard… I’m not sure what killed her but I’m suspicious it was our new pup or the barn cat 😦 I asked our old cattle dog about it and he didn’t look guilty so I know its not him….

We are planning on getting at least 14 more chicks next spring, we considered getting  more chicks this fall but running a heat-lamp all winter with the fear of power outages and the close care that they need during clam dig season when we travel to the coast a lot seemed impracticable.  We need to build an addition to our coop in the spring and a larger enclosure for when they are locked up for safety. Currently their safety enclosure is the size of a chain-link dog kennel and I would like to at least double it for my growing flock. As to the kind of birds we are planning on those red sexlinks are my favorite for large brown eggs, high laying rates and low feed costs and perhaps a  few leghorns as they have a high lay rate of white eggs.

Its only November and I’m already dreaming of spring… my project list will be huge by the time February rolls around 🙂

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We have goats!

It was like Christmas morning today, waking up and making the 2 hour drive to get our two little girls (Lilly  the mostly white one and Poppy the mostly black with brown and white). But of course we really shouldn’t be trusted to get farm animals ourselves. Like when we wanted 12 chickens and ended up with 14. Yep you guessed it we somehow walked away with 3 baby goats. All eight weeks old, Lilly and Poppy are twin sisters ( they also had two brothers -so quadruplets really) And Prim Rose  (mostly brown with some white )was also born the same day to a different mother, I forget how many brothers/sisters she has.

They made the journey from Gaston Oregon in a dog crate while I sat in the back of the Jeep with them, they did the “Aaaaah” sound a bit but it was endearing. Did I mention how great of a farm/ dairy these goats come from? Such nice people at Quail Run Hallow/ Creamery, you can just tell by talking with them that they are good people who love their animals.

So upon arriving home our heeler was a pain in the tush, lunging, barking and trying to chaise our new babies, and of course whining when we tied him to a tree…. He needs some desensitizing/ training when it comes to settling down around these critters. I do have faith that he will cool it when it comes to the goats, as he used to get worked up about the chickens and now he doesn’t care much about them, also we watched a friends horse here for a while here and he calmed down quite a bit about that as well.

Its hard to get anything done with these little characters running about. They have made us start dreaming about improving their nursery pen and perhaps using the unused half for storage, feeding, and a milk stand. We are quite pleased that these little goats come from such great milking lines as we have plans to breed them and try our hand at milking and cheese making.

As for feeding Ive read so much on what other people do Ive made myself sick. So what we are doing is free choice minerals, salt lick and baking soda, which they seem to know if they need any so that’s pretty amazing. We feed free choice alfalfa which I know is rich but we are keeping an eye on their stools just to make sure they don’t get diarrhea, but it is a very nutritious hay. We have alfalfa pellets, not sure when or if we should use these, but it was on sale…. and then we have a dairy goat grain that they each get a handful of morning and night.

I am starting to fear we may never go on vacation again, but at least the time we do spend on the farm (which is a lot) will be enjoyable and fulfilling.

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Preparing for goats

After much deliberation I settled on the Dwarf Nigerian for our farm. Here are some of their selling features

  • They weigh 50-75lb 9easy to handle
  • They are the smallest dairy breed perfect for our little family producing a pint to a quart of milk per day
  • Since they are small hopefully they wont cost a fortune to feed
  • We are hoping they will help clear the brush/berry brambles that are everywhere on our 5 acre homestead
  • They are said to have dog like personalities
  • They come in fun colors
  • They have very sweet milk, high in butterfat, so great for cheesemaking

After reading Storey’s Guide to dairy Goats and hundreds of web articles I found a breeder on Craigslist that I had noticed the year before. Quail Run Hollow/ Quail Run Creamery is the smallest if not then one of the smallest grade A dairies in Oregon. They have about 100 of these mini milkers and they seemed they great people. Ive read quite a few news articles on them for  having such a happy healthy dairy and producing great cheeses. I added them on facebook and then stalked their posts for updates on new babies. During the February snow storm their dairy had 16 babies so I called them up and arranged a time to pick out our girls and then went online and had a pair of twins held for us.

We made the 2.5 hour drive to Gaston Oregon to meed our little ladies when they were 2.5 weeks old. How darling it was to have them suck on our fingers and prance all around like puppy dogs. This is our first time with farm animals other than a few visit to farms and petting zoos so we are pretty excited. The owner took us around the farm and was so helpful and kind, we are really glad to be purchasing from such a nice place.

In the next 6 weeks we have put together all of their supplies, grain, alfalfa hay and pellets, baking soda, feed bowls, fenced their nursery shed or while they are small, spread hay around their pen, purchased hoof trimmers, brushes, wormer…. Everything we could think of! Cant hardly wait for those new arrivals.

 

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Mini Chickens

During this stage of chickenhood I like to refer to my gals as mini chickens as they seem fully developed just miniature versions of their future form. At this time we let them out in the yard all the time when we are home. The dog is doing great with them however he gets really excited when the fly about and there is still a good chance he might bite one so he is never left untended with them. We occasionally fear we will find him with a mouth full of feathers but mostly he seems to be after their droppings…. yuck!

I’m most surprised by the fact that they eat so much grass, I know all of my literature said they eat grass and to rotate their pasture, and all of that good stuff. But my mind said chickens eat bugs like a carnivore.  Also to my delight they are effective kitchen scrap eaters which makes me feel great about wasting less and keeping my chicken feed bill lower.

With our rainy weather it has become important to make the girls a covered chicken run that will keep them dry and safe from predators while allowing them fresh air any time they wish. My wish list for this project was to have the whole run predator proof by using chicken wire over chain link and covering the top with a roof. Also I wanted the birds to have a pull open door so I could easily let them into their pasture or to free range by pulling a lever/ pulley system at the front of the coup for convenience. I also envisioned a people size door so I could take care of anything inside the pen if needed.

The project took 1 full days time to complete, but due to work schedules it was split into 2 days. One half day with my husbands help and the next day solo…… On the first day we drug over a chain link dog kennel our pup previously used. We had purchased it from a friend a few years back and its completely welded together so transport was difficult. We ended up loading it on a flat utility trailer and pulling it to the chicken pasture before pushing it over the fence and dragging it into position. From there we cut the hatch door out of ply wood and made a track so it could be raised and lowered. This part really took some thinking. We had to measure the opening just right so we could connect it to the chicken shoot the chicks would be using to get from coop to run. We build chicken ladders so our birds would be able to get down into the run, and back into the coop when needed. We placed a pallet in the coop so the birds would be able to have dry feet if need be, and we started on securing the run with chicken wire but ran out of time.

On my day off to work on the project it rained….. All day a nice slow drizzle. So I suited up in my coveralls and rubber boots and got to work hauling sand bags for the flooring, chicken wire, tools, and a ladder to my work site. Unfortunately the wheelbarrow got stuck in the mud under the weight and I ended up having to carry the 4x 50lb sand bags the remaining 100 ft along with the fencing material, ladder and tools… Not easy when a sand bag weighs half as much as you do! First step was to push the sand bags into the coop thru the chicken door as I don’t have the strength to carry them up the ladder and drop them over. The chickens looked on in mind amusement….. I then assembled the magic folding aluminum ladder, I think its called a little giant or something first time doing that so it took a bit to figure it out. I then had to lift the ladder over the 6 foot sides to climb over the run in order to spread the sand. Not easy lifting and it took me quit a few tries. Finally I was able to climb over and cut open the sand bags to spread it around the 10×10 enclosure, another bag or two would have been nice but I was able to spread it thin… I may have to add another couple bags this summer. Lifting the ladder back out of the pen was even worse as by then I was quite tired.

The next faze was to chicken wire the top of the enclose to keep out racoons and weasels. This part wasn’t so bad just took moving the ladder around a lot, using a staple gun for the first time and twisting some wire to secure things as the zip ties found their way to work with my husband.  For the roof I had dreamed of using our stash of shingles and creating a nice dry run. Instead I used long wood beams over the top in both directions in hopes the middle wouldn’t sag with water. Lifting the boards into place was a bit challenging, gotta love leverage when your a small person, and did I mention it rained all the while? I then secured the heavy duty weather tarp $24 from Home Depot, our only purchase besides the $4 bags of sand. I used some bricks to tie down the back end of the tarp to allow the water to flow down and keep the tarp extra tight. Perhaps next year we will build a good roof and my elaborate pulley system. for now its just a rope

It wasn’t all that pretty but I added some tree branches for roosts and pushed my girls out the shoot and watched them explore their new run. Success!!!  Then it was off to the showers for me and one for the dog too! As our work site turned into a large mud pit.

Later that night I went to check on the ladies, just to make sure they made it back into the coop for bed and to my surprise only 2 had. That meant crawling into the run threw the chicken door… I just barely fit, quite the tight squeeze, as somehow I ended up not being able to have a small people door 😦 I then picked up each chick and pushed them back threw the chute and into the coop. Then back threw the chicken door for me…. Hopefully never again, I guess the birds need more time to figure out the ladder.

Today, Day 4 of the chicken run. The birds are still not going out of the chute and down the ladder into the run… these birds are not to bright. I was able to throw some tomatoes and alfalfa into the pen and lure half the flock in. The other half I pushed out the chute in hope of teaching them to use it……. They all had a great time in the run and a few birds I noticed were using the ladders to go in and out of the coop. Success!

Unfortunately upon recheck only 5 birds made it back to bed (3 more than last time), the rest were huddled in the dark in a corner of the pen. The remaining 9 birds I pushed threw the chain link fence towards the chicken door and carried them one by one back to the coop. It took a bit longer this way but at least I didn’t have belly crawl thru the chicken door in the mud. So far my birds are dumb…… I build them a nice enclosure for fresh air whenever they want and they cant figure out how to use it. Chickens really are chicken.

 

 

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Chicks to Pullets

As our little chicks grew they were soon banished to the garage and the second heat lamp was needed as the temperatures were falling into the teens at night. We kept holding them as often as possible and even started feeding them some greens. After a few weeks their cuteness decreased and they turned into mini dinosaurs as their feathers grew in. The rooster became even more of a jerk and he pecked me every time I put my hand in to clean the food/ water dishes twice daily. Each time I would grab him and tell him if we wasn’t a good boy he’d end up in the stew pot… I guess we will have to see. At this age they were messy and gross. They pooped everywhere and in large amounts,  and they started flying about so I stole some wire fencing from the scrap pile and bent it into shape for a lid. The count down began until they were a month old and feathered out enough to go out into their big coop with their heat lamp.

Unfortunately the old coop that came with our property needed some work before it was chicken ready. The power didn’t work despite having plug ins and switches… So I ran a 100 ft extension cord from the shop window up into the rafters of the coop and down to connect to their two heat lamps. Weather here in March is still pretty darn cold.  Also our coop has a chicken shoot that goes to a 2/3 acre pen, but as they were too young to be going out we boarded it up and set up some little roosts (also complements of the scrap pile). I was even able to get a piece of scrap decking from my gold mine scrap pile and push it on the wheelbarrow to the coop so it would have a deck. We added some decor, hung the 40 lb feeder and 7 gallon waterer from some chain using clips for east removal during filling and cleaning and our little flock was so happy to be in their new home! They flew about and strutted all over. The hanging large water and feeder proved to be the best things to renew my love in these birds as they only need changed maybe every two weeks? I love not cleaning out chicken poo! 1545139_10151876586176710_796673817_n10151615_10151922745831710_211023794_n10152989_10151922744081710_1833360168_n149318_10151797923731710_2012927769_n76261_10151797924011710_780723198_n10154630_10151922745826710_577114331_n10248894_10151922744061710_1726176533_n10248894_10151922744076710_1227289634_n

Baby Chicks

For our first farm animal we decided chickens would be a good place to start. I read Storey’s Guide to raising chickens, followed by probably a hundred web pages instructing me on the care and raising of chickens. A few of our friends out here in the country had chickens and they seemed entertaining and easy. We did have some reservations about our dog possibly eating them (he’s a Heeler/ Australian Cattle Dog) but he had done reasonably well with full grown chickens so we jumped in.

During the first big snow storm of the year we jumped in the Jeep and drove to town at 7 am when my husband got home from work. He knew he wouldn’t get any sleep until i had my new baby chicks. February 2nd was the first day our local Wilco would have chicks in stock and I wanted to get first picks. Originally I had wanted 8 Buff Orphingtons  and I thought their sweet disposition would be a great way to work my way into chicken farming as I’m a bit timid. Also I reasoned that they would all look the same so I wouldn’t be too attached to a “special”chicken should it die.  My husband thought it would look nicer in the yard if they were a colorful/ mixed flock…. We then settled on 4 Buff Orphingtons,  4 Road Island Reds, and 4 Barred Rocks as they are all good layers.

When we actually got to the store they were all sold out of Road Islands as someone had placed an order by phone the day before… I ‘know you could reserve chicks, but now I do. The chicken department lady convinced us that Road Island/ Sex Link cross chicks would be better producers and still be a nice red color. We put 4 of those in our box, then 4 Barred Rock, and 4 Buff Orphington…… then my husband decided we should get 2 extra/ different chicks for fun. I chose the Americauna in hopes of having easter eggs, and my husband picked an Ancona because she looked cute ( the only chick who lays white eggs with the best laying rate). We also purchased a stock tank, 2 heat lamps with bulbs, a 10 cubic foot bag of pine shavings, feeding devises to attach to mason jars, 1bag of chick starter and 1 bag of scratch and a thermometer which has turned out to be my favorite purchase .  Grand total $220. I would have liked purchased these things ahead of time but we don’t go to town much and wanted to save a trip.

Upon arriving home we relinquished the downstairs bathroom to the stock tank and chicken supplies. We quickly plugged in the heat lamps, spread the shavings, filled the feeders, placed the thermometer and released the chicks. A few times a chick or two would lay down in a death pose which was frightening but the store lady promised us they just lay funny sometimes. After a while they still had not drank any water, so we dipped a few beaks and all the chicks joined in. We made sure the temp was at 95 and left them alone to settle in.

In the following weeks all chicks continued eating and drinking well, started roosting at 1 week old and we continued not to have any losses despite a power outage. The only drawbacks were giving up our down stairs bath to the birds who eventually became a little stinky and how often the waters needed refilled since they seemed to go to the bathroom in them so much. We even quickly noticed we had a Barred Rock Rooster in the mix as he was so aggressive.1661975_10151823690936710_76912440_n 10151077_10151922745851710_1520322863_n972855_10151922747401710_99836664_n 1656176_10151833450511710_454942260_n 10151633_10151922747376710_791690818_n10178444_10151922747396710_1923145569_n 10152796_10151922745841710_369003502_n 10152965_10151922745836710_344410027_n