How to Cook an Old Rooster (or Hen!)

how to cook old chicken

 I realize this post will probably elicit a variety of reactions…

Some of you will be thrilled that I’m writing on this topic, since you have old hens or roosters that need a new “job,”

Some of you will be amused to have a post on this topic showing up in your email inbox

And some of you will probably be horrified that I would ever consider eating one of our chickens.

So allow me to explain myself…

For us a huge part of homesteading (pretty much the #1 part, in fact) is food production. Although we are animal-lovers, the main purpose behind us having cattle, chickens, pigs, and turkeys is so we can grow as much of our own food as possible.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t relish killing animals I’ve “known.” It’s not my favorite part of homesteading, but as someone who has made the conscious decision to eat meat (and I am at peace with that decision 100%), I feel it is important I don’t shy away from being able to grow and process that meat ourselves.

As much as I enjoy having chickens, I don’t really consider them pets–more like partners, if you will, in our homesteading experience. And I do have heartburn over the trend over turning chickens over to animal shelters when they pass their point of usefulness.

If we are trying to follow in the footsteps of our homesteading ancestors, let’s be honest: Great-Grandma didn’t give her old hens to the animal shelter. Chickens past their prime were destined for the stew pot where Great-Grandma extracted every last bit of flavor out of the meat and bones. In my opinion, this is “waste not, want not” at its finest.


Enter Mr. Rooster

We got Mr.… [Continue Reading]

Can You Use Essential Oils on Livestock??

essential oils livestock

I like to post a variety of content here on The Prairie Homestead, and for the most part, we keep it pretty light and fun. But every once and a while, I like to dive in a little deeper and explore the science behind some of my crazy natural choices. I am ecstatic to be welcoming Eric Zielinski back to the blog today. He is a health coach and skilled researcher who specializes in natural topics that are right up my alley! From time to time, he’ll be joining us and helping me out by digging into research, as is the case for today’s oily livestock post!

Essential oils… for Livestock??

This past year, the Journal of Parasitology Research highlighted the findings from an interesting study that surveyed Kenyans in Bungoma County to see which essential oils they used to repel brown ear ticks (Rhipicephalus appendiculatus) on their cattle. Evidently, they use essential oils quite a bit.

Can you imagine what a survey like that would look like in the U.S.?

They’d probably get a lot of blank stares and “I don’t use oils on my livestock” kind of answers! Well, after some digging around, they uncovered that Kenyans favor these eight to keep ticks at bay:

1. Southern cone marigold (Tagetes minuta)
2. Tree marigold or “Mexican sunflower” (Tithonia diversifolia)
3. African juniper or “Kenya cedar” (Juniperus procer)
4. Solanecio mannii (no common name in English)
5. African or “popcorn” senna (Senna didymobotrya)
6. White sage or “tickberry” (Lantana camara)
7. African violet tree (Securidaca longepedunculata)
8. Orange bird berry (Hoslundia opposita)

After testing the oils further, the researchers uncovered that they were naturally rich sources of chemicals like cis-ocimene, dihydrotagetone, piperitenone and some other ones that I couldn’t pronounce if I had to. So, what’s the big deal?[Continue Reading]

How to Whitewash Your Barn and Chicken Coop

how to whitewash a barn or chicken coop

Wanna know how you can instantly feel like a homesteading rockstar?

Whitewash something.

I say this because:

(a) It’ll make all your friends give you a weird look (I always enjoy that)

(b) It’s delightfully old-fashioned

(c) It actually does provide some benefits to your barn/coops (besides just making you feel cool)

Whenever I think of whitewashing, my mind instantly goes to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. But before we dive into a bucket of whitewash, let’s talk a bit about why this is something you’d even want to mess with.

What is Whitewash?

Sometimes you’ll hear people referring to “whitewash” as simply painting something with white paint, but in the most traditional sense of the term, whitewash is powdered lime (lime as in limestone, not the green fruit!) mixed with water.

Whitewashing has been a favorite paint/sealant in farms and homestead for centuries because it is effective, simple, and cheap. It’s also safe for animals, and you don’t have to worry about paint fumes.

It’s important to pay attention to what type of lime you are using in your whitewash–be sure to select hydrated lime (also called mason’s lime)– NOT dolomite lime or garden lime. We were able to find ours at our local building supply store, although you might check feed stores too. Hydrated lime is different than the type of lime you spread on the ground/garden, so make sure you have the right stuff!


Why to Whitewash?

Whitewash is the perfect coating if you want a bit of old-fashioned charm, but it also has some practical applications too. The main reason I chose to whitewash my chicken coop is to brighten the dingy, dark wood. Whitewash also has some antibacterial properties, which makes it a handy option for sealing tough-to-clean surfaces against bacteria and insects.… [Continue Reading]

All About Guinea Fowl {And why you need them on your homestead!}

raising guinea fowl

Today I’m learning just as much as you are! I’ve often wondered about raising guinea fowl, but have not yet taken the leap. After reading this post by Charles of The Chicken Review blog, I’m ready to bring home some guinea keets from the feed store next spring. I think they’ll make the perfect addition to our homestead–especially as snake repellent!  Read on as Charles shares the scoop on why you need guineas on YOUR homestead—->

The guinea hen is often referred to as a guinea fowl. This unique bird is not native of the United States but actually comes from Africa, south of the Sahara.

The helmeted or domesticated guinea hen is a larger species than other guineas. This particular guinea fowl weighs almost 3 lbs.  This is the common guinea we find here in the USA, and it displays grey body plumage sprinkled with small, white spots. This domesticated Guinea does not fly well, but is very apt at running and they are very fast. Their flight is a short glide and they are running upon touching the ground.

I still remember being raised around this unique bird and finding it was one of the hardest creatures ever to sneak up on! Our next door neighbor owned a good-sized farm and raised these birds, along with hundreds of chickens. They had a large, long chicken house and the chickens and guineas would all roost together. I was never able to to go to their home without the guineas announcing my arrival.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider adding guineas to your homestead:

The Benefits of Owning Guinea Hens

  • Guineas are excellent free range birds
  • They provide excellent bug control
  • Guineas are talented at catching small snakes and small rodents
  • Guineas give loud warnings when they spot a stranger or predator
  • Guineas will consume about 90% of their food when free ranging
  • Guineas will not scratch up your garden seed like chickens do

(Jill: I’ve always heard that Guineas were excellent at keeping snakes away from the barnyard![Continue Reading]