Last Week On The Homestead: A Vet Visit, Chilly Weather, And What's Cooking!


I don't know if you can tell from this photo, but the current outdoor temp is negative 13 and the lowest outdoor temp from the weekend is on the right, negative 17.

January 30 - February 5, 2023

Hello Friends!

Like many of you, we received a couple days of brutally cold weather this weekend.  Thankfully, it was only for 2 days.  Since we knew it was coming, Jay and I ran some errands on Thursday, and got things done around the house to prepare such as getting the Coop girls set for a 2-day stay inside (in their coop, not in the house....), pellets brought in, and outdoor projects wrapped up.  

The weather didn't disappoint.  It was cold.  Painfully cold.  Friday was windy and temps in the negatives and by Saturday our actual temps were negative 17 at one point with a wind chill bringing it to negative 30's.  Since Oliver refuses to go to the bathroom in the house, including on a puppy pad, we did take turns bringing him out every hour and a half, checked on the Coop girls a couple of times each day, and otherwise stayed hunkered down inside.  

We were incredibly thankful for the above freezing temperatures on Sunday.  Thirty-six degrees Fahrenheit never felt so good.

Last week Jackson went for his semi-annual cardiology check-up.  He is very funny at the vet.  He hates (and I mean HATES) the ride down and being stuck in a cat carrier, but as soon as we get in the room and his cat carrier is opened up, he is friendly, purring, inquisitive, and loving on everyone he comes into contact with.  He doesn't mind the check-up or testing although they took his blood pressure this time and he wasn't fond of that.  Actually, the testing he didn't mind but he's not a guy who sits still.  They tried to get him to stay in one spot while they took it and he chattered up a storm, letting them know that wasn't going to happen.  So they did the best they could, and his doctor was happy with all of the results.  He is now going to see him annually instead of semi-annually which is fantastic!

During the 45-minute drive down to the specialty vet I started thinking about the first time I took a chicken to a vet.  Did I tell you about that?  When we adopted our first chickens 15 years ago, we purchased young adult and pullets, so we didn't have to deal with chicks.  We were going to use the old, dilapidated chicken coop that came on the property for a few months and then Jay would build a new one.  We purchased 6 young adult Araucana's from University of Connecticut (they have an impressive poultry program) and 6 Plymouth Barred Rock Hen pullets and 1 Barred Rock Rooster from a farmer near UCONN that the University had recommended to us for that breed.  We threw all of the birds together both in the crate we transported them in as well as the coop once we got them home.  I had no idea that it would have been best to have isolated the 2 groups to ensure there were no diseases or illnesses (I certainly know now).  

Within the first week and a half, almost all of the chickens were coughing and sneezing.  When they sneezed, a clear liquid would come gushing out of their beak.  Obviously, an upper respiratory issue, but what to do?  I had drastically underestimated how difficult it would be to find a vet willing to help us with a chicken and ended up having to take one chicken to an exotic bird vet.  They told me that if I brought one in, they could run testing and diagnose and then provide me enough medication, if needed, to treat the entire flock.  They weren't sure of the cost as it would depend on testing.

A very long story short, it was the middle of summer and HOT.  I decided to take one of my favorite chickens, Lucy Lou.  I packed her up in a cat crate and put her in the car.  She and I headed off, her experiencing air conditioning for the first time.  We got to the vet and the veterinarian told me she'd need to run one test before prescribing an antibiotic, but from what she could see, they would need antibiotics, or we'd risk losing the entire flock.  I should have just left at that point because she was awful.  But I didn't.  I was worried about them and afraid I wouldn't be able to care for them without medication.  So, I agreed, and she had an assistant wrap Lucy Lou up in a towel and take her out of the room.  Twenty minutes later I was still sitting in the room waiting for their return.  I went out to the front desk and inquired about the doctor, assistant, and my chicken.  I was told that Lucy Lou was missing.  She'd been brought into a room for testing and now they couldn't find her.  

Come to find out that one of the cleaning staff had scooped up Lucy Lou from the room her testing was being done in and had taken her outside to take photos of her.  Someone had gone outside when they couldn't find her anywhere inside and spotted them.  The entire appointment was more than a little frustrating.  We did not lose any of the chickens as had been predicted, they all made a full recovery - I ended up using VetRX.

So now I always recommend to anyone considering bringing a flock (of pet chickens) to their property for the first time, to prepare themselves with books or online sources that allow them to quickly look up any signs or symptoms they are seeing in their flock.  Also, either knowing where you can purchase or keeping on hand, a few items such as VetRX (we've used this quite a bit over the years) to quickly treat a chicken if needed is handy.

roasted veggie, hummus, and greens panini

In the last homestead update I said I was going to make a loaf of Oatmeal Sandwich Bread since I hadn't made it in a while.  I've been making it weekly ever since!  We forgot how much we love that bread!  I also began making roasted veg and hummus paninis for lunch with it - absolutely delicious!  I forgot that I have a grill pan which we haven't used in years.  I built the sandwich, placed it on the hot grill pan, placed a fairly heavy enameled cast iron casserole dish on top, and a perfect panini!  I'm going to make the bread this week with spelt flour. 

For those of you who were wondering about the chickpea loaf I mentioned in the last post, I have not yet made it.  I ended up making panini's instead but plan to make it this week.  I am going to alter it slightly (leaving out the BBQ sauce) as I want to serve it with the yummiest mushroom gravy (also a Vegan Richa recipe - I omit the pasta and thicken the sauce to make a gravy).  I'll report back in the next post.

Last post I shared a food preservation fail so this post I'll share a food preservation win.  I always cut the corn off of the cob when I preserve it, but because Ollie is OBSESSED with corn-on-the-cob (I hold the cob - no safety issues), I blanched and froze a few bags of corn left on the cob.  It is a bit watery, but it is really good.  I found that steaming it from frozen for about 10-12 minutes works perfectly.  It takes up more freezer space, but I will definitely do that again.

Oliver LOVES his bed and the pellet stove!

The Coop girls are doing well.  They made it through the cold spell although egg production went right down to only 1-2 eggs.  Not surprisingly, they were not at all happy about being kept inside during the coldest of it, but we did let them out for a short while and they came out, looked around, and went right back inside.  

Oliver is doing well.  Our grassy areas are currently covered in ice with the exception of a couple small spaces so we are hoping with this week's warmer temps, some of the ice will melt and give him more choices for his bathroom breaks.  He has LOVED the warmth from the pellet stove this past weekend!

hamburger potato casserole

Meal plan for this week (we eat differently, Jay eats meat and I eat WFPB so 2 different meals are listed per day):
J - White Chicken Enchiladas (,Tortilla Chips & Salsa
S - Black Bean Crockpot Soup, Steamed Greens

J - Chipotle-Honey Pork Tenderloin, Rice, Green Beans
S - leftover Black Bean Crockpot Soup, Steamed Greens

S - leftover Black Bean Crockpot Soup, Steamed Greens

J - Whole Roasted Rotisserie Style Sticky Chicken (, a new recipe for him), Rice, Roasted Carrots
S - Chickpea Veggie Loaf with Mushroom Gravy ( - see note above), Steamed Greens

J - Instant Pot Meatballs, Pasta & Sauce, Broccoli
S - leftover Chickpea Veggie Loaf & Gravy, Steamed Greens

J - Chicken & Dumplings (using leftover chicken)
S - leftover Chickpea Veggie Loaf & Gravy, Steamed Greens

J - Tacos
S - Tacos

That's last week on the homestead.  Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!


  1. Such good news about Jackson! I'm glad to hear you made it comfortably through those very frigid temps. That's quite a story about taking a chicken to the vet. The care sounds like over the top bad! I'll admit I often feel clueless when it comes to chicken illnesses. I have used VetRX, which has helped at least one time. Your sandwich is beautiful. I miss making (& eating!)bread, but haven't had time to explore trying more GF recipes yet. Sounds like you'll be eating very well this week. Enjoy your week!

    1. Laurie - yes, good news indeed. The care (or lack of) at the exotic bird vet was indeed over the top bad. Chickens are tough because, like all birds, they mask their symptoms quite well. I have a book on chicken illnesses and made a list of the most common, along with symptoms, to keep on hand.

      I can't imagine having to give up bread. From the few GF versions I've tried, there just doesn't seem to be a good replacement out there. I hope you can someday eat it again!

  2. Oh my word, what an ordeal at that vet! Ugh. I will have to get some of that Vet Rx.
    Glad Ollie and Jack are faring well.
    Hoping you have warmer temps this week!

  3. What a horrid vet - absolutely no compassion, how rude! And the do you lose a chicken, and then to sneak it outside for photos? Oh good grief, I'm shaking my head...what is wrong with people?! Sorry...I'm just passionate about treating animals with love and care, as well as worried clients. But you know my story...

    Anyway, off my soapbox. Oh your bitter temperatures...that's brutally cold, add a wind chill and it's unbelievable. The weather here is out of's 47 today with predictions to be in the low 50's. Not a typical February at all. Appreciate your menu, I'm always looking for new dinner ideas...the panini looks amazing...magazine worthy photo! I'll have to try that. And Oliver looks so delighful in the last our daughter tells Bailey when she does that, "It's tummy time!" Glad you're all warm & safe...enjoy the rest of your week.

    1. Mary - it was indeed brutally cold but now we are back to above average temps so, like you, we will hit the 40's this week! Wishing you a wonderful week as well!

  4. The chicken vet story is a doozy......thankfully they all survived.


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