One of our chickens, a Silver Hamburg to be exact, had been acting funnily for some time: puffing up and squawking whenever any one came near her; chicken, dog, cat or human. Of course I had no idea of what to make of it so I left her alone. Now we also had a broody hen, a Buff Rock, that we moved to a big tub where she sat on a dozen eggs. The tub was covered in metal wire. She is a hen that we hatched out a few years ago, as is the Silver Hamburg, and the roosters too.
A few days later I went out to care for our chickens and I saw the Silver Hamburg strutting about and behind her were two little fuzzy blobs. They were chicks! I was very excited! Me and my brother and sisters chased the Mama hen and her two chicks into the run and locked them in so Clover, our dog, could not get to them and eat them up. The hen had hatched out the chicks under our coop, going unnoticed by everybody all this time!
One day the broody hen in the tub hatched out eight chicks; she had sat on the eggs for about twenty days. They were fuzzy and very sweet. The next day I went to check on both Mama hens. The Silver Hamburg still had her chicks but the Buff Rock had no chicks at all!!!! I searched the tub and found no dead bodies. They were not outside the tub and they could not have flown out at two days old for they have no feathers at that age. It was a mystery.
Several days later I spotted a huge Black Snake in one of the nesting boxes in the run! It gave me a start! It was at least ten feet long with black scales and a yellow underbelly and beady, milky grey eyes. It was looking straight at me as well. Turns out Black Snakes eat eggs and . . . . . Small Chicks! We believe that the Black Snake ate our chicks and eggs from the coop because eggs had been disappearing and we had assumed it was Clover. It appears that it was both snake and dog.
We gave the Buff Rock more eggs to sit on because she was still broody. Three out of thirteen eggs disappeared from the new batch of eggs.
I saw the Black Snake again. It was stretched out on the roof of our nesting boxes in the run.
And so the Silver Hamburg hatched out chicks unaided and remained safe while the Buff Rock stayed safe and had her chicks eaten. It is amazing!
As it turns out the Black Snake is still there in the run, hiding in the straw. Sneaky thing!! We thought it had left long ago. But it has not. I poked at it with an old broom. It is all coiled up in the nesting box. It flicked its tongue at us and moved. It is fun watching snakes move. We all like it.
We have an acquaintance who has a small farm. He has snowy white geese with bright orange beaks, brown-black huge nosed guinea hogs that eat all their kitchen scraps and scrub and whatever they can dig into (they’ve cleared the garden space where the potatoes grow and all the underbrush just from rooting around, it’s quite a sight . . . . beats tilling and hand digging if you have a small farm, as opposed to a big garden *wink*, and if you’re into turning over/disturbing the soil in the first place) and really good potatoes that we dug up last fall. We got a bone in ham from him that I thought I’d like to cook on the grill. So I did. Like this:
I rubbed a mix of 1 tbsp. cinnamon, 1 tbsp. thyme, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, and 1 tbsp. turbinado sugar into an uncooked 6 lb. bone in ham
Heated up the gas grill on medium-low (between 250- 300 degrees).
Placed the ham fat side down on the grill for about 5 minutes till it was smoking and sizzling!
Moved it to foil with tongs and wrapped it.
Left it on the grill cooking while dead applewood chips were prepped, added to grill in foil, and burnt.
Added green applewood shavings to the coals in the dead applewood foil packet, got smokey!
Opened the ham foil a bit, added a cup of water half way through.
Kept cooking and adding green applewood to the coals.
The ham was done in about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. The temperature inside the ham was about 145 – 150, lower by the bone (saved that for split pea soup in the fall or winter).
The lid was closed unless I was adding wood/checking on the ham.
It was THE BEST ham ever and would’ve been just as good with hickory chips or some other chips or even none at all, maybe with a whole peach tucked into the foil instead :)
Maybe I’ll try it on a live fire or in a pit next time . . .