Friday, February 17, 2012

What Kind of Oats Should I Buy?

There are many different ways you can buy oats - oat groats, steel cut oats, rolled oats, old fashioned  rolled oats, quick oats, instant oats, irish oats, and scottish oats. We have been having oats a couple of times a week since learning the correct way to prepare them. I have been buying organic old fashioned rolled oats and I was going to update my amazon subscribe and save account when I decided to research which oats are the least processed and healthiest to purchase. I will explain the differences below:

Oat groats are the the hulled oat grain. This is the most unprocessed version that you can get at the health food store. Oat groats look like brown rice. I have never cooked with oat groats.

Steel cut oats or Irish oats are oat groats that have been cut into three or four pieces with steel blades. This is the most nutritious version of oats that people are used to eating because it still contains the oat bran and it is NOT steamed before it gets to the consumer. These oats are also more chewier when cooked.

Scottish oats are oat groats that are ground up to make a porridge creamy style of oatmeal.

Rolled oats are made by steaming the oat groats and then using a roller to flatten them, hence the name "rolled" oats. Old fashioned rolled oats are thicker because they are made with the whole oat groats. Quick cooking rolled oats are made using steel cut oats.

Instant oats are quick cooking rolled oats that have been steamed longer and are rolled more thinly. These are the least nutritious of all oats because the steaming cooks the oats which reduces the nutritional value.

I am currently using old fashioned rolled oats but I plan on switching back to steel cut oats after learning the differences. I don't like how the rolled oats are steamed before they get to me, the consumer. I do prepare my oats the correct way by soaking them for 12-24 hours in water and sour milk which reduces the phytic acid making the oats more digestable. I then proceed to cook them by making baked oatmeal or soaked oat breakfast bread.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Few More Hens...And A Goat!

We are happy with our three hens but eat more eggs than they can produce so we wanted four more hens. I found a farm on Craigslist that was selling chickens, organic produce, and eggs. We drove an hour away to Okeechobee to purchase more hens for our flock. When we got to the farm, the woman I had spoken to over the phone, Jennifer, seemed very knowledgeable about chickens, goats, and organic farming. We were there a while just talking. I had not met anyone with the same views on on the food we eat until now. People always think that I am crazy and go overboard about the foods that we eat. She understood and has the same views!

On the drive in, we saw her goats (we did not know this was a complete farm with goats.) She had two baby goats in the same pen as the chickens and we got to talking about goats. She then walked us over to the older goats. The baby goats were dwarf nubian goats and she said they were good milking goats and very easy to take care of. Well, we put down a deposit for the baby girl she had. She said that most people buy her goats for meat and she was happy that we were buying her to milk. Jennifer knew that we don't have shelter for the goat yet so she said we could pick her up when we have shelter for her.

We did get four barred rock cochin hens. Fortunately, on the way there we bought a large dog crate at a yard sale for $25. Otherwise we would have had to put them in our animal trap and a cardboard box. The dog crate is also the perfect size for transporting our goat. This was a great yard sale score!

Temporary DIY Chicken Coop

We tried using scrap wood and materials we already had had to make our temporary chicken coop. We had some wood fence panels, pallets, black landscape pot, wood fence post, chicken wire and cinder blocks. A small part of our backyard is fenced in with a chain link fence, so we used the chain link as one side of the coop. We then laid the wood fence panels up against the chain link fence to make a tee pee. Then we put one pallet on each end to work as a door and put a cinder block up against it. We then used chicken wire to cover up any holes that the pallets did not cover.

For a roost, we put down two cinder blocks 2 to 3 feet apart in the coop and put a fence post we had lying around on top of the cinder blocks.

The nesting box was made from a 5 gallon black landscape pot nailed on its side to a small pallet. The pallet was put on to of two cinder blocks to keep it off the ground.

We have every type of predator here that preys on chickens. This coop kept our chickens safe from hawks, raccoons, bobcats, opossum, foxes, rats and any other predator that I am not aware exist in our area.We set up our animal trap near the coop to catch any predators that may try to get our chickens. The first night, we caught a muskrat. I assume this is the same muskrat/rodent that dug up my freshly planted herbs the week before.