Extras recipes

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese with Penne Pasta

This is a great homestyle recipe, using penne pasta instead of traditional elbow noodles. I used to make the box brands. And then I switched to some I found in cookbooks. But some of those were time consuming. Eventually, as I learned more about cooking and my own style, I came up with this easy, homemade macaroni and cheese with penne pasta.

Ingredients for Homemade Macaroni and Cheese with Penne Pasta:

  • 12 oz of penne pasta
  • 1 c whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 c shredded Mexican blend cheese or sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • cracked pepper to taste
prepping homemade macaroni and cheese with penne pasta

Instructions for making Homemade Macaroni and Cheese with Penne Pasta:

  • Cook penne pasta according to package instructions.
  • While noodles are cooking, heat 1 c whipping cream in a small saucepan over med heat.
  • Add 1/2- 3/4 c shredded cheese to saucepan.
  • Add cracked pepper to taste to saucepan.
  • Stir cheese mixture constantly until it is thickened.
  • Drain the water from the penne pasta when it’s finished cooking.
  • Stir the cheese sauce into the noodles.
  • Put the penne noodle mixture into a greased 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inch baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top of the macaroni.
  • Top with more cracked black pepper to taste.
  • And bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese is melted on top ~ 5 mins.
beef and pork meatloaf muffins with homemade macaroni and cheese

This pairs well with so many foods. However it certainly has a Southern charm. So I pair mine with pork or meatloaf.

I hope you enjoyed this post. And if you make it, please let me know what you think. How do you cook macaroni and cheese? Let me know in the comments.

Hens raising happy, healthy chickens

How to Stop Chickens From Eating Their Own Eggs

Today’s post is about a terrible habit that can afflict our backyard birds. And one that’s difficult to break, that can also become almost infectious. It’s about egg eating in chickens. And if the birds leave any evidence, it gets all over the place, producing a sticky, dirty mess. We’re also going to come up with how to stop chickens from eating their own eggs. But first we’ll cover why they do it.

Reasons Why Chickens Eat Their Own Eggs

broken brown chicken egg in a nest
Photo by Klaus Nielsen on

So why does it happen? Well, let’s assume for the moment that you’ve done your homework, (which I’ll go over momentarily). And you still wind up with missing eggs or egg-eaters. I think the number one culprit is that an egg will accidentally get broken. And voila! Now there’s both egg shell and yolk on the ground or in the nest. Chickens are naturally curious. They check out the ooey gooeyiness. And once the birds determine that the yellow gold inside is edible, they’re instantly hooked.

Now, how would an egg accidentally break? Because that’s important. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes you can prevent egg breakages.

Ways Eggs Will Break

Eggs can accidentally break due to thin shells, either caused by a hereditary defect or nutritional deficiency. If the chicken eggs are breaking due to thin shells, put out some oyster shell for your birds.

Now I’m going to list other reasons why chickens will eat eggs.

Other Reasons Why Chickens Eat Their Eggs

multi-colored chicken eggs in nest
  • Not collecting eggs enough times during the day. If you’re experiencing egg-eating with your chickens, collect their eggs more often throughout the day. The longer the eggs sit outside with the birds, the more opportunity the birds will have to peck and possibly eat them.
  • Not enough nesting boxes. Ideally, provide 1 nesting box per 4 hens. Because, if there aren’t enough boxes, the hens will crowd into the same box, and break eggs.
  • Provide plenty of soft nesting material in the nesting boxes. If the material is squished down and flattened, the eggs could get broken. So make sure to change nesting material as needed.
  • Make sure the coop is dark where the birds lay eggs, because hens prefer laying in the dark. So, to discourage non-laying actions in the coop, organize nesting boxes along the inner-most wall, where it’s darkest. You can also add curtains to nesting boxes. And remove artificial light, if you have it.
  • Feeding eggs and eggshells. There are many sources that say you can give your birds eggshells. However, if you do that, make sure the eggshells are ground up. Because birds have good and long memories. And if you don’t, they’ll figure out where you got the eggshells from. If you feed your birds eggs, cook them first, so it doesn’t resemble what’s in a broken egg.
  • Dehydration is another possible cause of egg eating. The thought is that if a chicken is dehydrated, it will get what it needs from the eggs. So be certain to provide fresh, clean water daily.

Now that I’ve covered the reasons why they do what they do, I’ll go over how to stop chickens from eating their own eggs.

How To Stop Chickens From Eating Their Own Eggs

You might have done all of the above suggestions. And still you have egg eaters. I have read recommendations for culling the egg-eating hen. What do you do if you have several birds that are eating eggs? Even after you’ve done the above suggestions? Do you kill all of the egg eaters?

Some people recommend trimming their beaks. And if you have a steady hand, that might be a good idea.

But when we had several hens eating eggs, even after we started collecting eggs more often, I didn’t want to get rid of all of the hens I loved. They would lay an egg, and then eat it. So I found Pinless Peepers. I’ve mentioned them before. They act as blinders, and they prevent bullying and cannibalism. And egg eating.

Therefore I ordered them. And once they arrived, we caught the chickens, and put them on their beaks. It wasn’t easy. And the birds absolutely didn’t like them. Most, if not all, of the hens had one on. I think my rooster was the only chicken not sporting a Pinless Peeper. Because he was the only one who wasn’t eating eggs.

It didn’t take long for those blinders to do their work. All of the hens hated them so much and wanted them off so badly. I think we left them on for 2 weeks. But when we removed them, each bird was a new convert.

After using the Pinless Peepers, we ended up having only 2 unreformed egg eaters. One hen of which we gave away to someone who had a lonely rooster. And the other hen died, but not directly as a result of us. Although, we had discussed it.

Thanks for reading this post. Have you ever had a chicken eat eggs before? If so, what did you try?

Extras recipes Uncategorized

Berries with Pound Cake

I got this pound cake recipe from my mother-in-law. However it was originally her mother’s. But, because my husband’s Aunt Ruth was the one able to get the recipe from his grandmother, it was referred to by her name. She also was the one who predominantly made it. So I hope you enjoy this recipe of berries with pound cake.

Ingredients for Berries with Pound Cake: the pound cake

  • 3 c sugar
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 Crisco
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla or lemon extract
  • 3 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c buttermilk

Instructions for Berries with Pound Cake: the pound cake

  • First, grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 standard loaf pan with either butter or non-stick cooking spray.
  • And pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • With a beater, cream the butter, Crisco, sugar, and egg yolks until light and fluffy.
  • Next, add the vanilla or lemon extract.
  • In a separate bowl, mix your dry ingredients. And then add them alternately into your sugar mixture with the buttermilk.
  • Beat the remaining egg whites till stiff white peaks form. After that, fold them into the batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. And bake for 1 hour – 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
sliced pound cake on a brown plate
This is what your pound cake will look like once it’s cooled.

While your pound cake is baking, you can prepare the berries and whipped cream. For the berries, I typically go with strawberries and blueberries. But if you prefer, you can use raspberries and blackberries.

Ingredients for Berries with Pound Cake: the berries

  • 2 lbs fresh strawberries, washed, de-stemmed, and cut into bite size pieces
  • 18 oz fresh blueberries, washed
  • 1/2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Instructions for Berries with Pound Cake: the berries

bowl of fresh blueberries and strawberries
  • In a medium size bowl, mix your fruit together.
  • Next, add the sugar and the lemon juice to the fruit, stirring it all together.
  • Finally, cover and refrigerate.

At this point, you’re almost finished making the berries with pound cake recipe, even though the pound cake is still in the oven. However all that remains to prepare is the whipped cream. You could use Cool Whip or Reddi Whip if you’re going for convenience. Before I started making my own whipped cream, I would use either of those other options. But then I started noticing that if I left my dessert (that had either Reddi Whip or Cool Whip) out for any length of time, then the topping would just fall apart. Or be watery. Maybe you’ve witnessed this yourself.

So then I found some recipes for diy whipped cream. And I experimented. Additionally, over time I came up with my own recipe that contains just 2 ingredients. Thus, I learned how easy it was to just make my own whipped cream. And it never falls apart when I take it out of the refrigerator. I can’t claim that homemade or diy whipped cream is healthy, because it’s fattening. Since it’s straight cream and sugar. But it doesn’t have anything else in it, unless you add something else to it. And the benefit of that is you know exactly what you’re putting into your body.

Ingredients for the whipped cream:

  • 2 cups of whipping cream
  • 4 tbsp of either white sugar or powdered sugar

Instructions for the whipped cream:

homemade whipping cream in an orange bowl
  • Using a hand mixer, beat the whipping cream on medium-high to high until it’s thick.
  • And then mix in the sugar.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

When the pound cake is finished cooking, turn off the oven. And remove the loaf pan from the oven, allowing it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then, run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan, to make sure the cake is loose. If it is, then flip the pan over onto a serving platter to cool completely.

Once your pound cake is cooled thoroughly, slice and serve with the berries. And top with your diy whipped cream.

Extras non fowl

How to Help Abandoned Animals

This post is about how to help abandoned animals and how to help stop animal abandonment. It’s something I feel especially passionate about. It might have something to do with the number of animals I personally own. And maybe even how much I love animals and have always loved them.

But regardless, I think it’s important. Because I’ve heard of at least 4 separate kittens, all under 5 weeks old, who’ve been rescued recently. (Including the one we now have as of 5 weeks ago.) All of the kittens I’ve heard about were found either in the middle of the road or under bridges on the highway. Which means they were most likely thrown out of moving vehicles. At least the ones found on the highways were.


abandoned calico kitten and how to help an abandoned animals
This is the kitten a neighbor found in the middle of a major road, and subsequently brought her to us.

First, let’s go over how to know if an animal you’ve found is actually abandoned. How do you recognize animal abandonment and cruelty? Well, in the cases of the 4 kittens I listed above, it was easy to identify. The kittens were all without their mothers, too young to be on their own, and in the middle of the road or highways.

However, if the animal or animals are still living in a home or a yard, most animal abandonment or cruelty, is in the manner of neglect. Though, other things to look out for include

  • Animal negligence, which is a lack of veterinary care, food and water, and/or shelter. A pet might have open wounds and appear malnourished.
  • Also, you might witness direct acts of abuse against an animal. Such as the owner throws objects or strikes their pet in any way that is violent.
  • Or hoarding–there are too many animals on the property for the owner to properly take care of them all.
  • Chained or tethered animals. Animals that are tethered or chained non-stop experience a lot of pain and isolation. And if they don’t have adequate shelter, they’re subjected to all of the hazards of the weather and predators. They could also get infections around the chains or tethers.
  • And finally, animals abandoned by their owners. The homeowners left or vacated their house, leaving behind their pets. You might hear meowing or howling, indicating animals have been left behind.


Hopefully you’ll never see any of the above things in your neighborhood. But if you were to observe any or all of them, for the most part, you have the law on your side, since every state has laws prohibiting animal abuse. So, if you know of animals or have seen animals abandoned by their owners or neglected, call animal control. Although, if you live somewhere that doesn’t have animal control, like me, then contact the humane society on this page.

a once abandoned cat
This cat was found and rescued from a trash dumpster.


Now, if you find a stray kitten or dog on the road or in your yard:

  • Try using food to coax the animal to you.
  • And for securing a dog, you need a leash. Or something similar.
  • But since cats typically don’t like being held, you should have a crate or a pet carrier.

Don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger. Older cats, especially if they’ve been on their own for a while, could be feral. So, be cautious and alert.

WARNING: If the animal runs off, appears ill, foaming at the mouth, or is showing signs of aggression, call animal control. And give them the street address where the animal was seen last. And don’t go near the animal.

  • Once you have the animal secured, check for a pet ID tag. If the animal is wearing a tag, contact the owner, so they can be reunited.

However, if you can’t reach the owner, or have to leave a message, file a found report with your local animal shelter. This is in case the owner goes there to look for their pet.

  • The pet might have a microchip and, if taken to an animal shelter, could get scanned there. And then it would quickly be reunited with its owner.

If you live somewhere that doesn’t have an animal shelter, consider taking the dog or cat to a local vet. The veterinarian would then be able to scan the animal for a microchip.

  • Finally, post fliers with the animal’s picture, description, and where you found it. You can also look up info and place ads on Craigslist, Nextdoor, and Petfinder about the animal.


3 dogs in a pen
Photo by Wendy Wei on

Supposing you live in a rural area and don’t have animal control or even an animal shelter, you might decide to just keep the cat or dog. And even after all of your other efforts and still no one has collected it, these are the steps to take.

  • If you already have your own pets, keep the stray cat or dog quarantined. It could have worms, illnesses, fleas, or ticks. Not to mention, it and your current pets would have to meet over a period of time to get used to each other.

It’s generally not a good idea to just throw a new pet into your mix of current pets. It’s stressful to both sets of animals. Which produces fear in cats and possibly urinary tract infections.

Until you get the stray dog or cat seen by a veterinarian, be sure to wash your hands each time you handle it.

  • Next, make sure you inform people in your neighborhood about finding a lost or stray animal. And post fliers.

The law favors the owner if you fail to do this. There’s a holding period for strays that varies by state before anyone else can own that pet. Also, it could be difficult on the dog or cat, if years down the road, they get uprooted to go back to their original owners for your failure to tell people and post the required info.

  • After covering your bases, make a veterinary appointment for the animal, if you haven’t already. Get it seen and make sure it’s healthy. It might need vaccines or de-worming.

Sometimes this step is in conjunction with the step above. If the pet is staying in an animal shelter, you might have to provide veterinary care until you can own it. But if you don’t have an animal shelter where you live, there’s more leeway. However, there’s still a time-frame before you can legally own someone else’s pet. Especially if you haven’t made any attempts to reunite them.

  • And provide the appropriate food for your new pet, along with clean, fresh water, and bedding. If your new pet is a cat, provide a litter box as well.
a dog at a veterinarian's office visit to help stop animal abandonment
how to help abandoned animals


Somewhere ~ 1.5 million healthy cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the United States. And statistics from animal shelters from 2020 indicate that ~70 million strays are living on the streets at any moment. However, just ~6.5 million cats and dogs combined enter shelters. While the rest survive the best they can, some suffer heat exhaustion in the summer. And others freeze during winter.

U.S. citizens pay ~$2 billion annually for the cost of maintaining animal shelters. While pet owners make up ~30% of the animals left behind in those shelters. And only approximately 10% of the animals in shelters are spayed or neutered.

So one of the primary ways you can help stop animal abandonment is to spay or neuter your pet, if you have one. Pets that aren’t spayed or neutered quickly overpopulate shelters. And also the streets.


In addition to fixing your pets, you can also

  • Be an advocate for lost pets. Rather than dropping that lost animal you found off at animal control, try locating the owner first.
  • Avoid buying animals from pet stores and puppy mills. Instead, adopt a pet!

~ 3.2 million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters each year. And during the Pandemic we just experienced, adoptions for dogs were on the rise. However, on average, the Covid-19 pandemic affected pet adoptions last year. And the percentage of adopted cats was rising until the pandemic occurred.

  • Donate to a reputable animal rescue group. There are animal shelters, but there are also many different animal rescue groups.

They can cater to specific animals, types, breeds, etc. Helping these groups financially is necessary to keeping them operational. But also to provide veterinary care and other essentials for the animals.

  • Another way you can help stop animal abandonment and help abandoned animals is to volunteer at a local animal shelter. Not only will you see firsthand the ins and outs of shelter-life for unwanted or stray animals. But you can spend time with them. And oftentimes help them not feel so lonely.
  • Be a foster parent to a pet. Foster parents allow for less animals to be euthanized, which gives those pets more time to find permanent homes. Because, as a foster parent, your home is a temporary refuge for that pet as you help socialize and care for it.
  • Speak up or report animal abuse and neglect.
  • Lastly, be a responsible pet owner. Microchip your pets, update their tags, spay or neuter them, and only adopt another one if you’re in it for the long-haul.
2 people volunteering to help stop animal abandonment
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Your comments are appreciated.

Protecting Your Backyard Birds raising happy, healthy chickens

Best Way to Clean the Chicken Coop

Having backyard birds is fun most of the time. However, very little in life, in any part of our lives, doesn’t require some type of maintenance. And that includes backyard chickens. So, in this post, I’m going to go over the best way to clean the chicken coop.

If you have chickens, or have had chickens for quite a while, by now you’re aware that waiting for the muck to pile up isn’t the ideal way to scrub down a chicken coop. It’s an easier job on us, and healthier for the birds, if we tidy up regularly. Thus, this will be divided into daily, weekly, and monthly duties. Also, it’s important for you to wear a mask while dealing with the dust this can produce.

collection of chicken eggs

Best Way to Daily Clean the Chicken Coop

  • At the end of each day, remove any leftover or remaining food in the feed dishes or feeders.

Allowing any remaining food to sit overnight can attract predators. Or pests and rodents. So, protect your flock, and don’t entice bugs or rodents by leaving food out. Empty out the feeders when your birds go in at night. And refill the feeders and waterers in the morning with fresh food and water.

  • Toward the end of the day, before the birds settle in, scrape off the feces from the chicken coop.

Bird poop, including that of your backyard chickens, has bacteria. So each day it needs to be cleared off, with a trowel or putty knife, from dropping boards and roosts. And then it can be added to your compost, if you have one.

  • Also, be sure to collect eggs.

If you have a lot of backyard chickens, this will need to be done a couple of times a day. Because if you don’t gather the eggs, they’re liable to break and make a big sticky mess when they pile up. Also, if the eggs break, the hens might eat the eggs. And then they might start breaking eggs on purpose, which is a bad habit to break.

putty knife used to scrape chicken coop

Best Way to Weekly Clean the Chicken Coop

  • Change out the nesting materials.

Whatever nesting material you use for your birds collects bacteria and ammonia. Thus, it needs to be refreshed weekly, otherwise, it could lead to health issues for your chickens.

  • Disinfect waterers and feeders.

You can make a DIY solution of equal parts vinegar and water to kill bacteria. And then scrub the waterers and feeders. Though, if you have a lot of birds, you might need to do this twice a week.

  • Wipe down walls and ceilings of the coop.

Spiderwebs/cobwebs and dust accumulate if not cleared away on a regular basis.

vinegar for cleaning chicken coop

Best Way to Monthly Clean the Chicken Coop

If you remember to stay on top of the daily and weekly jobs of cleaning the coop, then the monthly tasks won’t be as difficult to handle.

  • Scrub the chicken coop.

Clean the walls, doors, and ceiling with the vinegar solution. And if you have windows, use a nontoxic glass spray.

  • Scrape the roosts.

Use a trowel or putty knife to scrape the excess droppings that have built up; and then disinfect with the vinegar solution.

person using a hose, spraying water
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Twice Yearly

This is a more in-depth, deep cleaning that only has to be done bi-annually. And ideally you should schedule it in the spring and fall.

  • Remove old nesting material, feathers, and droppings.

Use shovels, brooms, trowels, and a putty knife to accomplish this. Once done, add what you’ve collected to your compost.

  • Remove any remaining dust.

Using a hose, rinse down the coop.

  • Next, wash all the surfaces.

Use a brush and your vinegar solution to cleanse and disinfect the chicken coop. Make sure you clean the nesting boxes too! Afterward, give everything a thorough rinse with the hose.

  • Dry out the coop.

Try to get out as much excess water as you can. And then keep the doors (& windows, if you have them) open in order to dry out the chicken coop. If you have portable nesting boxes, put those and the feeders in the sun to dry faster.

  • Spread more nesting materials in coop.

After everything is fully dried, put more nesting material in the coop and nesting boxes. Wallow out depressions in the boxes where the hens will lay, because otherwise, the hens will scratch out the material.

kn95 or n95 masks for cleaning a chicken coop
Photo by CDC on

Things to Consider When Cleaning the Coop

I already mentioned wearing a mask when cleaning the chicken coop. This is very important, because birds carry diseases, some you’ve never even heard of. Also, you might think of wearing gloves and only shoes for out in the chicken yard. This is so you don’t bring anything into your home from the birds.

Only use natural cleaners like vinegar. And avoid anything that contains bleach, since that can be harmful to backyard chickens. Also, while you’re out cleaning their home, check to see if anything needs to be repaired. If there are sharp edges, a bird can get hurt. Or if there’s a hole in the wire, a predator could slip in.

If you have any questions or anything to add, I’d love to hear from you!

Extras recipes

Sicilian Pasta and Broccoli

This Sicilian pasta and broccoli recipe is one my mom made a lot when I was a kid. She’d tell us how, when she was growing up, her family was poor. So, they ate this meal weekly, because it was inexpensive. Also, it’s typically a meatless dish. However, the first time I prepared this for my own family, my husband complained about the evident lack of protein. Therefore, I have since added ground beef. And although it changes the original somewhat, it makes for an excellent meal.

There are a number of other Sicilian pasta and broccoli recipes to be found on the internet. But most of them are missing the tomatoes that are in this one. Or they add pine nuts. Though a lot of them are also meatless. However, whichever way you prefer, I hope you try this recipe and let me know what you think;.

Ingredients for Sicilian Pasta and Broccoli:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 12 oz broccoli florets, washed
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans whole tomatoes, pulsed or diced in food processor with 2 cans of water
  • 12 oz elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided (you can use extra virgin olive oil, butter, or any kind of oil you choose)
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp each basil and oregano, divided
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, divided
  • Shredded Parmesan or mozzarella cheese

Instructions for Pasta and Broccoli:

  • First, put 2 tbsp olive oil in 4.5 quart saucepan, heat over medium heat, and add ground beef, breaking up with a non-stick cooking spoon.
  • Next, while the ground beef is cooking, add 1 tbsp minced fresh garlic, 1/2 tbsp basil and 1/2 tbsp oregano, 1 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper, and stir till combined. And then stir occasionally.
  • Then cook 12 oz of elbow macaroni according to directions. But don’t drain water completely, because you might need to add some of it to broccoli and beef mixture.
  • When ground beef is browned, drain fat and set aside. In the same saucepan, on medium heat, add last 2 tbsp of olive oil, broccoli florets, remaining basil, oregano, 1 tbsp garlic powder, remaining 1 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper, tomatoes, 2 cans of water, and stir till combined, cooking ~ 6-8 minutes.
  • And add the ground beef to the broccoli mixture and stir till well combined.
  • With a slotted spoon, add the elbow macaroni to the mixture, adding some pasta water if needed. And stir till all combined.
  • Finally, serve and top with your favorite Italian cheese. Enjoy!
Sicilian pasta and broccoli

Thanks for stopping by! If you made this recipe, please let me know in the comments.

Extras recipes

Italian Sausage Sandwiches with Peppers and Onions

The first time I tasted Italian sausage sandwiches with peppers and onions was at Grapevine Mills mall in Texas. It was at this really cool eatery. And it featured all my favorite flavors: garlic, tomato, and onions on a crispy roll. But it was many years until I decided to try my hand at making the recipe.

These sandwiches are great for when you have company like a tailgating party.  And they contain delicious Italian sausage and sautéed vegetables. They are also really easy to make.  So, please enjoy this recipe.

Ingredients for Italian Sausage Sandwiches with Peppers and Onions:

Italian sausage cooking in a saucepan on the stove
  • ~1-1/2 lb of Mild or Sweet Italian Sausage links
  • 6 Ciabatta Rolls
  • 1 Bell Pepper, Seeded and Sliced
  • 1 Onion, Peeled and Thinly Sliced
  • 1/8 C Butter
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper

You’re probably familiar with cooking sausage. Maybe you grill it or broil it. You possibly even cook it on the stove in some oil.

However, the way I’m going to cover it might seem a little strange. Although, this way is better for cooking the sausages completely through. And also browning them evenly.

Instructions for Cooking Italian Sausage Sandwiches with Peppers and Onions:

  • First, put Italian sausage links in a saucepan. And fill pan with cold water until the sausages are covered.
  • Next, put the saucepan on the stove on med to med-hi heat.
  • Then, in another saucepan, melt the butter on med heat. And add your vegetables, salt, and pepper. Next, cover, cooking on med to med-low until vegetables are tender.
  • When the water begins to simmer in the sausage saucepan, cook ~6‐8 mins.
  • The internal temperature of the sausages should be at least 165 degrees; so, if they’ve reached that, then remove the pan from the burner.
  • Finally, turn off the heat source.
sliced red bell pepper, sliced white onion, and sliced tomato sautéing in pan

Now the sausage links are fully cooked. But they appear to be washed out. Though they won’t be for long.

Final Instructions:

  • Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. And spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Next, place Italian sausage links on aluminum foil.
  • Then, turn the oven broiler on hi heat.
  • Finally, put the jelly roll pan under the broiler for 3-5 mins. Then flip sausages over to the other side. And broiler another 3-4 mins.

When the sausages are browned the way you like, take them out of the oven, and turn off the broiler.

We slice our Italian sausages in order for them to fit the Ciabatta rolls better. Though you can do it however you want. Then add your sautéed vegetables. And that’s it. A lot of times I’ll add sliced and seeded tomatoes as well. But you could also add Mozzarella cheese if you wanted.

Serve with your favorite side like roasted vegetables.

ducks Extras

How to Introduce New Ducks

Maybe you have some ducks and are thinking about getting more. You might be asking yourself whether it’s anything like introducing new chickens. Then this post will help you know how to introduce new ducks to an existing flock.

And the best part of familiarizing your new ducks with the established ones is that ducks, for the most part, are not as adamant in their pecking order as chickens are. It would even appear as if ducks didn’t have one. Unless you’re watching closely.

older duckling in pond

How to introduce new ducks to each other

So, how do you introduce new ducks? What’s the best way, with minimal stress on both the new ducks and established ducks?

  • First of all, the best time of year to introduce new ducks is in the fall. Their mating season, however, happens to be when most people want to introduce new ducks: spring and summer. That is also when hatcheries sell ducklings.

The reason mating season isn’t a great time to bring in new ducks and ducklings is because the drake, or male duck, tends to be more aggressive during this time. Female ducks can also get more assertive, but it isn’t to the same degree as males.

  • Wait to introduce new ducks until the ducklings are at least 7 weeks old. And as with chickens, don’t only introduce one at a time. Also, if you have a drake, I recommend waiting until the ducklings are bigger in order to protect themselves.

With that being said, not all drakes will be murderous. However, it does happen. Though, sometimes it just depends on the breed of duck you have. But, if you just have an all female duck population, or only introduce female ducks, this is the best situation.

  • Most people introduce new ducks on public ground, away from the coop. This is so territorial behavior won’t occur. Or at least will be less likely.

Watch for aggressive behavior. Or signs that your birds are getting stressed. Either are unmistakable. If you have a bird that’s being aggressive or one that’s getting stressed, don’t get discouraged. It might take a few ‘re-introductions’ until everyone is on the same page and ok with the new set-up. You definitely don’t want to rush things.

With our first set adult ducks and then ducklings, we had tried to re-introduce our ducks and ducklings several times. But then we waited for mating season to end, because Kirishima was so out of control. However he never stopped being that way. In the end, we chose the majority over the one.

2 crested ducks in a pond

Sharing a home

After you’ve successfully introduced the new ducks to your existing flock, it’s time to bring the newbies to their new home. You can do this one of two ways. Either let them join the established members in the coop, just as it is. Or you can make a partition in the coop, or run, where they’ll be separated for a few days. Just make sure it’s predator proof and resistant to the elements.

Ducks prefer sleeping outside, in the big wide open, next to a body of water. Even if no one is picking on them. After all, it is their natural habitat. However, if you take care of waterfowl, make sure they go into the coop at night. Because there are predators who will eat them as well as chickens.


A few nights in a row should be all it takes to get everyone used to each other. After that, let all your ducks out to free range together. But preferably when you’ll be available to watch their interactions. If after about 15 minutes, and all looks as it should, and everyone is doing good, then let them be.

Mixed flock of ducks

Do you notice any feathers?

The only thing people seem to be concerned about is whether or not there is feather loss. Or feather pulling. And if so, they attribute it to bullying. Though, if you observe your ducks, you’ll know whether you have a bully.

I already mentioned that, during mating season, female ducks can be more ‘assertive’. They won’t let the newer ducks around the watering hole, or the wet ground, where everyone else wants to dig for bugs. But the main thing is, that female duck has her eyes set on the drake she prefers.

We have 2 established female ducks. And when we introduced our new ducks and adolescent ducklings to the group, Aizawa, the female Mallard, didn’t care one bit. She still doesn’t. But Bakugo was the one keeping the new ducks away from her water, her bugs, and I suppose, her drake. Aka, the rooster.

Mallard duckling and mixed flock of chicks outside

This year we have 3 new ducklings, and two of them favor Aizawa, the Mallard. But the third ones still seems to be developing; I wonder if it’s a drake. And so far there have been absolutely no issues. Squirt could care less about the ducklings, and therefore Bakugo could care less. So it made me wonder, are the ducks influenced by the drake’s reaction? Thus far I haven’t been able to discover anything on the subject. However it certainly is an interesting question.

crested duck in a pond

A word about drakes

Drakes can be aggressive both to females and ducklings. So if you have any, as with chickens and roosters, you need to have a proper ratio of 3 or 4 ducks to every drake. Because, if you don’t, it will cause drakes to be even more violent.

Some will even attack and kill their own young. You might not have any issues once you’ve introduced the new ducks to your established flock. But if you do, and you have a drake who is murderous or infanticidal, you’ll have to make a decision of whether you’ll re-home him or let nature take its course.

Quarantine adult birds

If instead you have adult ducks to introduce to your established flock, the main thing you’ll want to add to this list is to quarantine the newcomers first. And that’s to make sure the new ducks are free from diseases and parasites. Quarantine can last anywhere from 7 days to a month. Though, the longer it is, the more time you’ll have to fully know what’s going on with the birds you’ll be introducing.

I hope this helps answer any questions you might have regarding introducing ducks to an existing flock.

Extras recipes

Banana Pineapple Cream Cheese Dessert

When I was very young, I remember my mom made this banana pineapple cream cheese dessert.  But I don’t recall exactly where she got the recipe, except it was through a friend of hers. I also know that I loved it.  And then I started making it when I was old enough. 

Furthermore, there are several ways to make this recipe, as well as different fillings. And it’s a deceptively rich dessert with all of the layers: bananas, pineapple cream cheese, and chocolate, topped with whipped cream.  So, if you have a sweet tooth, this is a very satisfying dessert.

Ingredients for Banana Pineapple Cream Cheese Dessert:

  • 1 box of Nilla wafers
  • 1/2 stick of melted butter
  • 3-4 bananas
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
  • 1/4 c white sugar; 4 TBSP white sugar
  • 1 can crushed pineapple (drained), reserving 1/3 of the can
  • ~5.9 oz package (or family size) of instant chocolate pudding
  • 2 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans or almonds
  • 1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained
layer of bananas on a Nilla wafer crust

Instructions for crust:

  • First, crush Nilla wafers and combine with 1/2 stick melted butter
  • Then press wafer mixture firmly in bottom of 9X13 pan and chill in refrigerator for 10-15 mins

Instructions for banana layer:

  • Slice bananas and add to crust layer
  • Then refrigerate pan with crust and bananas while preparing fillings
cream cheese and pineapple blended in a mixing bowl with a spatula
This is the pineapple layer with drained crushed pineapple, cream cheese, butter, and sugar or Truvia.

Instructions for pineapple cream cheese layer:

  • First, mix cream cheese, remaining 1/2 c of butter, and remainder of sugar together with blender
  • Next, add drained, crushed pineapple, and blend in thoroughly
  • And then spread onto banana layer and refrigerate

Instructions for pudding layer:

  • Prepare instant chocolate pudding according to directions
  • Moreover, when it’s set-up, spread it onto pineapple layer and refrigerate
chocolate pudding layered in 9x13 glass pan
The next level is the chocolate pudding.

Instructions for final layer of banana pineapple dessert:

  • With mixer, beat whipping cream and 4 TBSP white sugar until stiff peaks form
  • Next, spread liberally onto chocolate pudding layer
  • Then, top with chopped nuts, maraschino cherries, and remaining crushed pineapple
  • And refrigerate 8 hours or overnight before serving
  • Finally, serve and enjoy!
banana pineapple cream cheese dessert with layers of whipping cream, cherries, pineapple, chopped nuts

Have you ever made this dessert or one of its variations? What do you think of it? Your comments are appreciated.

If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

Chicks Hens raising happy, healthy chickens

Hens Adopting Chicks

Today I’m going to talk about hens adopting chicks. But not just about broody hens, though that will be brought up too. I’ll also discuss when there’s a broody hen that hatched chicks and another hen decides to co-parent with that hen.

Will Broody Hens Adopt Chicks that are Not Their Own

The first question we’re going to try to answer is Will broody hens adopt chicks that are not their own? Technically speaking, none of the eggs a setting hen is on are really her own eggs. Not long ago I covered the topic of broody hens. But when the eggs hatch, the broody hen then becomes the new generation’s mother, in effect.

However, some people have tried fooling a broody hen by placing chicks from elsewhere under her. And they’ve succeeded in getting the hen to adopt the chicks. I can also verify that it works.

Broody hen with chick
This is Davis with her chick that survived the snake attack.

2019 was our first year we had success with broody-hen chicks hatching. But only a couple of days later a chicken snake got one of the chicks. And it devastated Davis, our broody hen. She was scared, and her remaining chick was lonely without its sibling.

So we went to the feed store and found one that looked the most like the chick we lost. We weren’t sure what Davis would do. We reasoned that it would be a 50/50 shot either way. She would love it or hate it.

We brought it straight out to her, in daylight, prepared to rescue it at any moment if she rejected it. Davis sniffed the store bought chick and walked away. She knew it wasn’t her baby. But at least she didn’t kill it. Her remaining chick, on the other hand, immediately gravitated toward the bigger, store bought chick. They became inseparable. And over time Davis started treating the imposter chick like her own.

It is best to make sure your hen is broody before attempting to fool her. And it’s recommended to introduce a chick or chicks to the broody hen at night in the coop. Although, we didn’t and it still turned out ok. However, the hen we tried to fool is one of the sweetest hens we have. I doubt I would try this during the day on a hen that doesn’t have as nice a disposition. Read this for more information on introducing chicks to a broody hen, if you’re interested.

2 hens, 1 broody, 1 non-broody with chicks
Davis with her adopted spotted chick, and the hen in front of her is the co-parent, Soundwave.

Will a Non Broody Hen Adopt Chicks?

So what about non-broody hens adopting chicks? Strictly speaking, no, they don’t. Though, some people believe that you can encourage a hen to go broody. But whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. My birds do not have problems going broody. In any case, the hen would no longer be non-broody if you made conditions favorable to broodiness. And the result was that she turned broody.

co-parenting hens w/chicks
Our newest broody hen, standing on the right, with Plo, the co-parent, and their chick is on top of Plo.


What do I even mean by the word co-parenting? Well, the dictionary basically describes co-parenting as the sharing of parental responsibility. This is actually in reference to human children. However, it can certainly apply to chickens as well. Because, when there’s a co-parenting hen, that is exactly what she does. She helps the hen, who did the work of incubating and hatching the eggs, raise and take care of the chicks.

But I bring up co-parenting in a blog about hens adopting chicks, since that is essentially what the co-parent is doing. The co-parenting hen adopts the chicks as her own. She did not labor for them, and yet she treats them as her own.

The first time I saw this behavior, it was in Soundwave, Megatron’s hatchery-mate. When she first came to us, she was the tiniest hen we had. Although, she was one of the meanest hens and took every opportunity she could to abuse the hen on the bottom of the pecking order. So, naturally I was surprised when this mean hen started displaying maternal instincts.

At first I thought, maybe she’s going to kill the chicks that Davis hatched. However, over the course of a few days, she’d cuddle with Davis and allow the chicks to sleep with her. And soon Soundwave was spending her days with Davis and the chicks, trying to teach the babies how to forage for food.

I’d never heard of chickens doing this before: Assisting broody hens raise chicks. My mother-in-law, who’s had chickens for at least twice as long as me, has never had a hen co-parent. She never heard of it either until I brought it up to her 2 years ago.

hen w/ chick and 1 adopted chick
Davis and her two chicks. Her adopted chick is on the right.

Since our first experience with co-parenting hens, we’ve witnessed it happen two more times. And one hen is a repeat co-parent. She helped raise a chick last year. And this year she assisted one of our Easter Eggers with a clutch of 3 chicks.

Plo, the hen who’s co-parented twice, actually starts out broody first, before she co-parents. And throughout her co-parenting, she acts broody, though she isn’t mean like the hen who did all of the work. But when Soundwave co-parented, she never acted broody at all. She was just slowly drawn toward the chicks and Davis, until she was helping Davis out.

There isn’t a lot of information out there about this phenomenon. But I think it’s amazing that these birds, which normally aren’t close like this, would raise chicks together.

If you have backyard birds, have you ever witnessed this behavior yourself? I would love to hear your stories!