Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year's!

Happy 2012! 
Our biggest news around here is the addition of a new-to-us truck! 
1999(.5) F250 7.3l diesel 6 speed Lariat 4x4
I've been wanting a truck like this for a very long time, and as luck would have it we found one for a very reasonable price over Christmas. The mileage was low and the truck in good condition so we made the decision to bring it home. I am super excited about it, and pleased it averaged over 19 mpg on the trip back even with 75 concrete building blocks in the back that we got free, more raised beds! (That's why the back looks a little low).
Here is my other exciting news. The other day, on a pretty warm afternoon I took a chance and peeked in the bee hives to see if the bees were making use of the I sugar I gave them (Post: mid-december part 2 emergency feeding). The larger colony was active but did not seem to be using the sugar. That made we wonder if they were snubbing my attempts to help them. I have read that if the conditions are not right, the bees will take the sugar out of the hive and dump it in a house cleaning effort. Then I opened the smaller colony.

Pictured is the smaller colony, eating the sugar. This made we very happy because it showed they are making use of the sugar and are very active. I am convinced without this help they would be starving now. I am hoping  that the larger colony is still using their honey stores and will use the sugar when they need it.
Also, I signed up for a beekeeping course at the Life Long Learning Center in Missoula this January, so I'm looking forward to that. This is my first attempt at any organized beekeeping education, so I'll keep you posted on the good stuff I pick up.  
That's all my news. Hope everybody has a great New Years and the coming year is even better than the last!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mid December - Part 2: Emergency feeding

As promised, here is my mid December update on the honey bees.
Like I mentioned in the last post: Mid December part 1, I was looking into my options for feeding the bees to keep them from starving. Both of our colonies came from swarms this summer ( Blog post: A Bee Adventure ) one being vacuumed out of the ceiling and the other captured from a neighbor's fence post. Which meant we had very little time for them to build up their honey stores for this winter. Since then I have fed them sugar syrup to help them get this far, but now that it's winter the time for syrup has passed. I  learned about two emergency feeding options: sugar cakes and dry sugar. I was leaning towards the dry sugar option because it sounded easier and I liked the notion that the sugar would help absorb the condensation in the hive. So armed with my 25# bag of sugar, some newspaper and hive tools I headed out today to check the hives.    
What I found was that both hives are alive but in need of help. This (above) is the stronger of the two colonies, what you are looking at is the top of the ball of bees that makes up the colony in the frames of comb. The weather on this day was cloudy, about 30 degrees F. and calm. The bees were active but not flying.
Honey bees can't survive long when exposed to the direct cold so I tried to work quickly. I removed the old syrup feeders since they aren't able to make use of them any more (the bees can't move far enough away from the colony to get at it).  I also took off the upper deep boxes and replaced them with medium boxes. It would have been even better to use shallow boxes, but I don't have any.  Then I placed newspaper over the frames and piled on the sugar.

This is what it looked like after I piled on as much sugar as I could without it dumping over the edges. Like I mentioned, the moisture in the hive will get absorbed by the sugar creating a large cake that the bees can eat for months. The idea is that the sugar is close enough to the colony that the bees can get at it without getting too cold.
That's my hope anyway, because opening the hive is stressful on the bees so I don't plan on opening them again for quite a while. While I was scooping the sugar in, one bee took the opportunity for a "cleansing flight". She flew up in the air to pee/poop and returned to the hive. I was reminded of the amazing ability of the honey bee to hold their waste for months at a time.    
This is what our hives look like now. The bees are living totally in the bottom brood boxes, the medium boxes on top are there only to make room for the sugar (we painted the boxes with left over paint from the chicken coop, but I kind of like the color scheme). The entrance reducers have been on in the middle position for a while now. I may have reduced them to the smallest opening today, but the reducers were swelled by moisture and frozen firmly in place. The only other winter prep I have been considering is a wind break, but haven't gotten to it. Luckily we've had a mild winter and no big wind storms so far.

I read in one of my bee books that the first step to successful beekeeping is keeping the bees. So with that in mind, I am doing my best to not be a bee looser. I just hope my best is enough.
I'll leave you with a view of the lower Clark Fork Valley and Plains, that I took today while hiking with our dogs. This was after I accidentally spooked a herd of Bighorn Sheep. Some days I am in awe of the beauty surrounding us.
Merry Christmas and Happy new Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mid December- Part 1: An Egg update

So what's going on around here the week before Christmas?
After adjusting to the newness of snow, the chickens are doing really well and enjoy getting out in the yard every chance they get. One of us goes out every morning around sun-up to check the girls and open the coop, and by that time they are very ready to be up and about. The cold doesn't seem to bother them a bit, only the really windy days keep them cooped up. We've opened up the chicken run to the garden and they really like pecking and scratching around and in the garden beds.
The coop is a much calmer place since we removed the two other roosters, these days it's downright pleasant. The hens are laying about a dozen eggs a day thanks to the heat lamp which keeps them warm and lighted despite the cold short days. Some people say that the hens need a break in the winter, but we've yet to read a good reason for that and ours seem to be doing fine. We did notice that there were very few hens using the upper boxes, so we added a perch to give them a place to climb in. That seems to have fixed the problem for the most part.
We collect eggs once or twice a day, often reaching under the hens to get them. The hens are generally agreeable to this, although at times one will let you know she's not happy with a sharp peck.
Selling the eggs is going very well too.  Thank you very much to everybody that has bought eggs from us! Lately we've been able to buy chicken feed and scratch using the egg money which was a goal of ours. 
 As near as I can tell, the honey bees are wintering well also. I check them every few days by putting my ear to the box and giving it a quick tap. The bees buzz in response and then go back to their business. What is their business? Keeping the queen warm! The colony forms a tight ball and everybody works together to make heat. The ball moves gradually as the bees consume honey for energy and cycle from the inside to the outside of the ball. Both colonies have access to sugar syrup, but the consumption has gone way down since the fall. Since it's hard for the bees to move far this time of year, I need to switch from the syrup to sugar cakes or dry sugar feeding for the winter. I need to check on them, but hesitate to open the hives because exposure to the cold can kill them. In a well established hive there is enough honey that you don't need to feed, but mine are not that well prepared since we got a late start. 
 Feeding sugar cakes involves making hard sugar rich patties and placing them in the hive, while feeding dry sugar can be done by placing newspaper on the frames and pouring a few pounds of sugar on newspaper. The humidity in the hive will cause the sugar to harden and form a cake.
 I found a very good beekeeping blog with lots of pictures and how to's at These guys keep a very neat blog devoted to beekeeping in St. John's, Newfoundland. I am encouraged by reading about their success in a climate worse than mine. Last year they made and fed sugar cakes and I may need to do the same.
Also, has a good (lengthy) USDA text explanation of winter feeding at

I'll keep you posted on my bee's progress and what I decide to do about feeding.
Until then, Happy Holidays to everybody, Merry Christmas, keep warm and stay safe. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thanksgiving and early December

This year for Thanksgiving we traveled to California to visit my family at my childhood home, the GHJ Tree Farm . It was wonderful seeing everybody and spending time together. 

The weather was fantastic and we had a blast playing outside.

While we were there, it was fun to help sell trees with my Dad. His is a choose and cut operation where families come and pick a tree to cut and take home. For many of the costomers this is a long standing tradition they love. I grew up on the tree farm and that experience is  probably where my interest in Forestry stems from. These trees are planted and cared for for years all with the purpose of someday being chosen to light up someone's holiday.  

Back here in Plains we have a few traditions of our own. We're lucky enough to live in a place where you can choose and cut a Christmas tree off of public land with a permit. Removing trees of this size from areas that are actively regenerating improves the conditions for the rest of the trees in the stand. This year's tree is a beauty!

Whitney really enjoys sewing and quilting in the winter and recently completed this baby blanket.

She made this for some friends of ours who are expecting their first baby soon. 

What would December be with out football? This year the UM Grizzlies are again in the FCS playoffs and doing very well. Maybe it's a championship year? Whit made this sign and did manage to get on ESPN, but only for an instant. 
Hope everybody out there is having a good December. Until next time, Kyle and Whitney.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Filling the Freezer

Whitney and I don't take butchering lightly. It is an important part of the fall, securing the meat that we'll use for the next year, and beyond. Very little gets given away and only to people who appreciate what goes into preparing it.
Why do we Hunt? the plain and simple reason is for meat. Yes, there are many other reasons too, like: recreation, commrodery, exploring new areas and excercise, but you can do all that with out killing animals. Likewise, you can eat meat your whole life and never kill anything personally(this is a subject for a whole different conversation). To me, a true hunter places just as much importance on the meat as he does the trophy. That said, I enjoy a large rack as much as the next guy, but never at the expense of the meat.
For that reason, we clean our meat to a point some people find ridiculous. Many guys I know claim to be able to process 5 or more deer in a day. It takes us a full day to process one animal. However, many people I know also claim venison is gamey, tough and a struggle to eat. In comparison many people we have served venison had no idea it wasn't store bought beef until they were told. We also aim to get every ounce of meat we can from the animals we kill, honoring the animal's sacrafice as much as possible.
Clean meat starts with a clean shot. It continues through dressing and caring for the animal in the field and proper handling at home. We always strive to kill on the first shot, although at times it takes more. In her four animals to date, Whitney has yet to shoot any more than once, always hitting a vital spot. I can't claim this impressive achievement myself, but most of mine fall to one shot, and I have yet to loose a wounded animal. I don't write this as a boast, simply to point out that good stalking before the shot, and followup after are a part of hunting that should never be down-played. A long range or unsure shot that wounds an animal is far less impressive than a long sneek ending in a good shot and clean kill.
All of our game gets hung for seven to ten days, allowing the meat to pass completely through rigor mortis and begin to age slightly. I have skinned animals "hot" before aging and "cold" after the aging. The only real difference I have found is that skinning hot is much easier. It does dry more meat than cold skinning, but use of a game bag to cover the carcass can help keep in the moisture.
The pictures below are from a recent weekend of butchering. We had our good friends Mac and Alyssa over, the Montana State Bobcat Vs. University of Montana Griz rivalry game on the tube, and two bucks to keep us busy. The following is our style of butchering. It is not the only way and I can't say it is the best way, just our way.

Mule deer hind quarter
    The first thing I did was go out to the barn and separate the front quarters from the hanging carcass. We start with the fronts, then the backstraps (loins), neck and ribs and end with the hind quarters. The pieces were brought in and cleaned completely of hair. Next the dark dried out meat was trimmed off and the muscle groups separated from the bone. Venison fat is not enjoyable to eat, it taints the flavor of the meat and ruins the cut. All fat, tendon and sinew gets trimmed completely.
cutting trimmed meat into usable pieces
 Once the muscle is totally cleaned, it gets cut and sorted into various products. We aren't big on roasts, so we don't wrap any. We have found that it is much more enjoyable to pull packages from the freezer that are 100% ready to go, so nothing gets wrapped until it's totally ready. As our friend Alyssa pointed out, we tend to do the work upfront, while some people put off the final trimming until it's time to cook. That's just a personal preference.
the sort top to bottom: meat to grind, jerky strips, steaks.
One product we really enjoy eating is venison jerky. This year I applied for and filled an extra tag, just so that we'd have extra meat to devote to things like jerky and sausage. Otherwise we would have been using steak or stew meat for jerky. In this photo you can see how we sort the meat: bits to grind all the way down to good steaks (stew chunks aren't pictured). In the middle are strips that we'll dry into jerky. These are cut with the grain of the meat as opposed to steaks and stew chunks that are cut across the grain.

Once the meat is cut and sorted, it's time to wrap. This usually falls to Whit, while I keep cutting. First the meat is arranged on plastic wrap, in groups of like cuts one to two pounds at a time. The plastic is wrapped up and all the air is pushed out.  

Then, the package is placed on freezer paper and wrapped again. This double wrapping has never failed us, even with meat staying in the freezer for more that two years at time. However, you should aim to use the meat within a year.

 Finally, the date and cut is written on the package. We also name our deer and write it on the package. This sounds odd at first maybe, but it is a simple way to remember what deer it was and recall the hunt.
At the end of the day, the packages were loaded into the freezer and the jerky strips were loaded into the dehydrator. The meat for grinding was stockpiled in tubs and frozen, waiting for a day this winter when we'll make burger and sausages (future blog post?).
The Griz beat the Cats soundly, making it a good day all around. Thanks very much to Mac for help with the cutting and taking these great pictures.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Snowbirds and Blue Eggs

These past couple of weeks came as a surprise to the chickens, as this has been their first taste of winter. With daytime highs only in the mid teens and a healthy 6" of snow on the ground the girls turned quickly in to coop potatoes. It wasn't until the weather warmed up some and I shoveled a bare spot in the run that they would venture out. The weather has been a learning process for us too, as the shortened daylight and cold weather meant less eggs and frozen water. We overcame these obstacles by adding a heat lamp to the coop and a heated stand for the water. Now we are back up to 10 or 11 eggs a day, and have recently celebrated the first of our Araucana eggs!

These are the smaller multi colored hens that have been the slowest to develop. They are special because each has a unique coloring and they lay eggs that can vary between blue and green.
Besides trying to keep the chickens from freezing, we have been very busy butchering the two mule deer and one whitetail that we got this year. More on that coming later.
Until then we hope everybody has a happy, warm and safe Thanksgiving!
Kyle and Whit. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hunt 2011

It's been a great hunting season!

 Early on in the season, we enjoyed a really fun camping trip with friends, and I took some rides looking for elk. While these outings didn't turn up any game, they were both very worthwhile hunting trips. Hunting is about a lot more than bagging a trophy. A big part of the experience is spending time with great people in the places that we love. This season we were really excited to have Whitney's Dad here for a couple of weekends.

We've had a great time with Gary revisiting some old favorite hunting places and trying out some new ones. We took long hikes, at times not seeing anything. Other times we saw many deer, and even a herd of cow elk. One day Gary and I saw nothing but some mountain lion and really large wolf tracks.

 Eventually, Whitney and I were both successful filling our buck tags, each taking nice mule deer. We got to share the experience with Gary which made it even more enjoyable.  We've both shot deer with larger racks in years past, but we are meat hunters first and foremost, and these will be good eating. These two deer will keep us well fed for the next year, I'm really looking forward to the tenderloins! We'll let them hang for a week and then the work starts. Until then we still have some time left to look for elk, and I'm looking forward to hunting with  a good buddy next weekend.
No matter what the outcome, when you spend time in the hills with great people it's a great season!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

3 Roosters is 2 too many

Today was a sad day for our flock. Two of our "girls" had to move on.
For a while now we've had a couple larger chickens that we were watching, hoping they'd be hens. Because there was supposed to be two breeds of black and white chickens, our hope was that one breed was significantly larger than the other, and that we only had two of that large breed. It seemed reasonable. Also, while the Colonel has been crowing and acting quite rooster like for months, these other big birds were rather docile. But sadly, recently these other two have shown their true rooster natures. They grew combs and spurs and began harassing the hens. This apparently caused Colonel to harass the hens with renewed vigor. All of a sudden the chicken yard was getting pretty out of hand, and some of the hens were getting pecked to the point of bleeding. This can become a real problem because chickens are very attracted to red and blood can cause chickens to peck one another to death.
So as a solution first we thought maybe somebody local would like a 4H rooster. Youngsters often show roosters at the fair and we know a few families that do, but they were not interested. Next we hoped somebody may just like to have a rooster, but that turned out to be a long shot also. Finally it became clear that our two barred rock roosters were enough of a problem, they were leaving one way or another. While this was going on, we had also heard about the recent trend of using chicken feathers for earrings and decorating girl's hair. Chicken feathers are quite valuable it turns out, and one of our local hair stylists has gotten in to feather dyeing. Whitney and her are good friends, and they will use these feathers to try some different earrings and things.
I asked around and found a friend that was interested in having the meat, in exchange for skinning the birds. The usable part of the skin is called the saddle, and extends from the back of the head to the top of the vent (Google it if your not sure what a chicken's vent is).  He has a lot of experience with this because at one time he raised chickens for meat and feathers, although at that time the feathers were for fly fishing flies. This option worked well for us since we weren't prepared to butcher and skin our roosters, but didn't want to see the birds wasted. The meat for a clean saddle was a fair trade.
So, tonight I went and learned how to dispatch a chicken. This didn't turn out to be nearly as traumatic as you may imagine. None of the chopping block and cleaver and headless chickens running around that I was imagining. A simple, quiet slit with a small kitchen knife while holding the rooster upside down was all it took. A few seconds later and they were done.
Sad as it is, that turned out to be the best option. The meat will be used, the feathers will be used, the hens can take a break and we don't have to feed extra mouths. Sometimes it's not fun but as animal owners we had an obligation to do the right thing for the hens. Also if we are going to take these chickens seriously at all, we can't feed extra birds for no reason.
On a lighter note, the hens are producing 6 - 8 eggs a day now. And as it is now honest to gosh winter (19 degrees the other day) we've put a heat light in the coop to keep the water from freezing. This should help with our egg production to, as we should be closer to a dozen a day and right now demand is exceeding supply!
Thanks for reading. KJ

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The first $2.50

This was truly a big day. We've sold our first dozen eggs!

We're now gathering six eggs a day, and every other day or so a new hen starts. By next week we should be up to a dozen a day. So, for the first time we've sold eggs. One of Whitney's coworkers bought the lucky dozen, for the sum of $2.50.

The egg money jar

Why $2.50?  We're not trying to get rich here, but the chickens didn't need to be a money sink either.  We believe there is a economic side of hobby farming, it should be able to provide and support it's self. Not buying eggs will save us money, but chicken feed ain't free! From the beginning our idea for the chickens was that they should pay for their own feed. $2.50 is the going price locally and should pay for feed and and fresh bedding every few months. 
And so just like that, after months of planning and waiting, we are in the egg business!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Feeding the Bees

I am now buying sugar 50 LBS at a time. Turns out I had no idea how much bees could eat!
It makes sense really, but like most folks I suspect, I had never really thought about it. A colony will have over 10'000 individuals and often many times that. Some are young and some are old, but they are all working and when there is no nectar or pollen to collect they need sustenance. In an established colony that would be the honey stores, but since my bees are newly established, they need assistance. When you're feeding bees, you feed them sugar in water either in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio (cups of sugar to cups of water). While the days are warm, you can feed the 1:1 syrup, but as the temps drop you switch to the real juice, 2:1. The bees smell the syrup and go to it, craving the sugar like every other critter in nature.
I got these feeders from our bee keeping supply place, and filled them up last weekend. The feeders fit down in the hive, taking the place of one frame. They have little grooves in the sides for the bees to cling to, but on the advice of a bee keeping friend, I put window screen in there to help them climb up.
The feeders each hold about 2 quarts of syrup, that's 8 cups sugar and water each for a 1:1 syrup or 16 cups sugar for a 2:1. To make a batch for both hives, I use 4 quarts water and 32 cups sugar.

Now came the surprise. I checked the hives tonight, and the stronger one had already drained their feeder. That less than four days! It's a good sign really, besides the sugar bill, because it means that they may have a better chance of surviving the winter. As I've said in other posts, the syrup will help them create wax and store honey.
I've also begun to notice quite a difference in the strength of the colonies. The one we vacuumed out of the eaves is very much stronger than the swarm we collected off the fence post. It's common for bee keepers to have strong hives and weaker ones and we certainly do. It is fitting with what I've heard several times, swarms can be awfully hard to establish. They leave a colony with an older qween and generally die if they are not captured. I'm not holding my breath, but we are ever hopeful. If we can get these colonies through the hard times a head, they should be ready to rock and roll come springtime. Until then, we may be buying a lot of sugar!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Goodbye, Garden

After months of starting, sowing, watering and weeding, the harvest seems short lived. Many of these plants were started as seeds in April , so although we were lucky this year to have a long summer, it was still sad to say goodbye to the garden this week.                                                           
 A couple weeks ago there was a light freeze forecasted so we had covered the plants with plastic. A plant can do just fine as long as the water drops on the leaves don't freeze, so putting clear plastic over the plants can extend your season quite a bit. But with more freezing nights forecasted it was time to take stock, harvest the good and toss the bad.  

As we picked the last of the tomatoes, zucc's, cucc's and squash, all the plants and weeds were piled into the chicken run. This made the chore of cleaning the garden a whole lot more enjoyable because with every load of plants that we gave the chickens, there were some very happy hens and excited chicken noises.


This has turned out to be one of my favorite things about this chickens. I love that all of our spoiled fruit and vegis now go to the chickens. It takes all the guilt out of not eating that last zuccinni since it'll go to a good cause. In fact several of our friends have been donating thier zucc's to us this week for the chicken feed.

 After Whitney pulled all the plants, I turned the beds. Later this week, we'll mulch over each and "put them to bed" for the winter. By doing all this now, we'll have clean, well tilled beds all ready to go next spring

Another trick we've learned about gardening here is using season extenders, like these "water walls". The platic tubes are filled with water and the whole thing placed around the plant. This is how you start tomates and peppers early enough to allow them to mature, otherwise they'd never make it. This time we decided to try leaving them on the Jalapeno's for a while this fall to see how they'd do.  

One more trick we've learned is to go ahead and pick the yellow and some green tomatoes at the end of the season. As you use the red ones, the others wil ripen and be ready in a week or so. This will be more than enough for another round of salsa, or maybe some whole canned toms. So even though it is sad to say goodbye, we'll have memories of the garden through the winter. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"World's Greatest" Bee Farm

Check out the Brushy Mountain Bee Farm for a neat video on the "World's Greatest" Bee Farm. There is also some good information on the importance of honey bees in our world today.

This morning I am worried about my bees. Last time I checked on them they did not have nearly as much honey put up as I was hopping for. After some reading I think I understand why. In the honey bee world, the younger bees stay in the hive and do "house jobs" while the older bees go out and forage. Some of the house jobs are caring for the brood and building wax for honeycomb. In order to build wax the bees eat honey, and lots of it. So the older bees are foraging and storing honey, but since the hives were heavy with new frames (frames without wax) the younger bees were eating it to create wax. A chicken and the egg sort of thing, they need honey to make wax and wax to make honey. So now we are headed into winter and I don't think my bees will have enough honey to survive. The  answer is to start regular feeding. I ordered a feeder for each this week, and will now be feeding them sugar syrup to help them survive and make honey. I can also medicate through feeding, and I'll be reading more on this to learn what I need to be doing there. In the mean time, I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope my girls are though enough to make it.

On the brighter side, we hit a landmark yesterday: two eggs in one day! This (small) event is significant because it means now we have two hens laying! Pretty exciting stuff around here :-)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jamming and Canning

It still amazes me that some plums, given to us by a friend can become jam that we'll use for the next year!

It is of course no magic. People have been preserving food for thousands of years. From drying and salting to canning, pickling and freezing, food preservation has always been one of humans primary objectives. I guess what amazes me most is how simple it is to preserve food. Sure, it takes a little time and a few specialized tools, but it really is not hard, and can even be fun. But really the best part is the enjoyment of pulling out a jar of something you've put up and sharing it with friends or family months later. That is the true joy of preserving.
On this day we were making jam from plums from a friend. The recipes are easily found online and after you get the hang of the water bath, canning is pretty simple.
After the plums are pitted and sliced, they get boiled with sugar. Next the jars are filled hot and placed in the water bath. About 30 minutes later, you pull them and they seal as they cool with a nice little pop. Whitney loves to hear the pop!

And just like that, we've got plenty of plum jam for the next year! Simply Amazing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The First Egg!

Today was a big day!
While Whitney was busy canning salsa and plum preserves in the kitchen, one of the hens was hard at work in the chicken coop. I  was outside at the time splitting wood and started hearing the tell tale noises coming from the coop. I got Whitney and we went out to investigate. What we found out there was pretty amazing. One hen, a little barred rock, was sitting in a nesting box. Her beak was open and she looked more than a little upset. She was clucking loudly, but even louder was the rooster, pacing and squwacking in front of her. Ridiculous as it sounds, it really looked like a nervous father waiting for a birth! This show went on for quite a while, so after a time we went back to what we were doing and left the chickens in peace.

After a while things got quiet and we went to take a look. At last there it was! Our flock's first egg!
It's pretty small, and may not be good to eat, but it's an egg and our first. Whitney figured it out and the chickens are 18 weeks old now. Seems amazing that just about 4.5 months ago these little fuzz balls showed up in the mail, and now we have laying hens (well, one at least).  We're pretty dang excited.

So much so in fact we decided to open a bottle of Mead (honey wine) to celebrate the occasion. If you've never tried Mead, I highly recommend it. Mead is a very old drink that is made primarily of honey water and yeast. The website says that mead predates grape wine by one thousand years! This bottle came from a Montana mead maker and features Montana honey. Check out 
And there they are, the happy chicken farmer and not quite as happy hen. Soon all the other hens will follow along and have eggs, but for us this hen will always be special.
That's all for now, I hope you all had a wonderful day. KJ