We have a new addition to our backyard chickens! “Fuzzy Feather” is here! (You can see more adorable baby birds here and here.) We have seen the birth of lots of chicks, but Fuzzy Feather is our first incubator hatched chick.
Out of our dozens of hens, there is usually at least one broody hen able to sit on fertilized eggs when we come by them. “Broody” means the chicken is wanting to sit on eggs to keep them warm and hatch. Before we got our hens in 2010, I though all hens did that, but apparently, it is bred out of most egg-layers. When they are broody, hens lay few eggs, because they are focused on hatching the ones already laid. Heritage breeds, such as Auracana (who lay pretty blue eggs), are more likely to get broody, and most of our broody girls have been Auracanas or Easter Eggers.
If you live in an area, like San Diego, that allows for backyard hens but forbids roosters, you can still hatch chickens! Sometimes a friend gives us fertile eggs. This time City Farmers gave us a few for free. (Smart — for the cost of a few eggs, they gain customers to buy chicken feed!) I have even heard of people hatching the “fertile eggs” from Trader Joes and other grocery stores. I plead the Fifth Amendment as to whether there has ever been an illegal rooster on our property.
Our First Time Using an Incubator to Hatch chicks
As I mentioned, we have hatched chicks many times, but have always had a momma, or adopted momma, hen do the work. This time none of the girls were in the mood, so when Papa Bird brought home some fertile eggs, we ordered an incubator.
Can you see Fuzzy Feather’s cute face though the condensation? I put a video of the freshly hatched chick on my Instagram story, but it’s disappeared. (I love me some IG, but I still don’t really like stories.)
Chicken Incubators and Supplies
Disclaimer: I’m an Amazon affiliate, meaning some purchases made through links on this site may result in us being paid a small percentage. That being said, here are some supplies we like and you might find useful:
Since hatching was just for fun, we ordered a relatively cheap incubator. You do get what you pay for. Out of three fertile eggs, only one has hatched. Papa Bird explains that temperature is relatively easy to regulate, but humidity is harder. If you get more serious about hatching, or want to have better results, check out this incubator. We haven’t used it, but it has better reviews. You can also add a separate humidity monitor, which is what Papa Bird did.
Have You Ever Hatched Chicks in an Incubator?
What was your experience? Did you get a Fluffy Feather Butter Butt Cotton Tail of your own?
The Living Coast Discovery Center overlooks San Diego Bay and sits on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. The zoo/aquarium cares for birds, animals and marine life that would not otherwise survive in the wild.
The 2016 Farm to Bay
Once a year San Diego restaurants, breweries, caterers and vineyards come together to support the non-profit Living Coast Discovery Center and highlight sustainability and coastal wildlife. Event goers are treated to samples from over 40 food and beverage venders, including Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub, Urge American Gastropub, True Food Kitchen, Panama 66, Suzie’s Farm, Viva Pops, Big Front Door, Juice Wave, and Duck Foot Brewing Company.
What the US Olympic athletes eat: sustainable scallop ceviche.
One surprising food partner was not a restaurant or a caterer, yet makes 1,000 meals a day. The Chula Vista Olympic Training Center feeds our hungry athletes during training. They offered us samples of a scallop ceviche (above) and a macadamia poke, made with line-caught yellow tail. Dang Brother Pizza (below) cooks Neapolitan-style thin crust pizza in a wood-burning Italian pizza oven built into a vintage fire truck. The pizza is delicious, and with taps built into the side of the truck, they are ready to pull up to your party.
How would you like a fire truck to pull up to your house party and serve pizza?
One of the event’s sponsors, Home Advisor, did not have anyone local to use their tickets. So a “matchmaker” named Candice from ZipSprout found me through the @BabyBirdsFarm Instagram and thought it would be up my alley. Gourmet, sustainable, farm-to-table food and drinks? Helping spread the word for a great non-profit? Spending a gorgeous summer evening on a wildlife refuge with my husband? Yes, please.
Wrangling Top San Diego Farm-to-Table Restaurants
Willy Wonka wrangled!?
Chef Will Gustwiller of Eclipse Chocolate Bar and Bistro was this year’s Culinary Chair, or as he calls it “Chef Wrangler.” He helped curate the partners and coordinate their offerings. (He told us last year half of the restaurants served ceviche — oops.) We chatted a bit about how they were all sourcing sustainable ingredients and the goal of being a zero waste event. In a large brown top hat, it was hard not to draw a connection between the chocolatier and Willy Wonka. Will shared how he hated being called “Willy Wonka” as a kid, but has since learned to embrace it as the best of marketing. We enjoy both brunch and dinner at Eclipse, and picked up 2-for-1 coupons for our next visit.
Finding Dory, Sharks and Sea Turtles
Saving marine and coastal wildlife.
Sapphire, the loggerhead sea turtle, was injured by a boat. Despite rehabilitation her sense of direction is off and she often winds up with her head in the sand. Yes, like the poor Beluga in the fictional Marine Life Institute in “Finding Dory”! She shares a tank with the leopard sharks swimming behind me in the above picture.
A pretty barn owl socialized at the Farm to Bay – they also visit schools.
Years ago, a coworker of mine was a tour guide at the then named “Chula Vista Nature Center.” I remember discovering and loving the scent of the Cleveland Sage there, and now have it planted throughout our yard. We became reacquainted with the Living Coast Discovery Center after their animal ambassadors visited the Little Birds’ preschool and my husband drove them down to explore.
I got to chat with Tommy, the Fishmonger at Catalina Offshore Products. Catalina is truly at the forefront of sustainable seafood in San Diego. Tommy shared a Portuguese Tuna Salad that the fishermen used to bring with them on the boat. I love any tuna salad that is made without mayonnaise, and this one was great. Fresh yellowtail, steamed, and tossed with a red vinegar dressing; Farm to Bay patrons had a lightened up version in endive. I’m guessing the fishermen did not.
Tip: If you want any easy way to improve your cooking, shop where the chefs get their ingredients.
My Little Birds love going down to Catalina Offshore to shop for seafood. Parallel in concept to Specialty Produce, Catalina supplies local, fresh and sustainable seafood to San Diego’s top restaurants yet allows regular retail customers to shop too.
Another San Diego favorite, caterers Sushi on a Roll, served up line caught blue fin as sashimi and in a cut roll with seaweed salad.
I had thought blue fin was solidly on the “avoid” list due to over-fishing. But chef Jeff started telling me about some of the efforts to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly farms.
Don’t hate me San Diegans, but I don’t really drink beer… So I really can’t write much other than that there were a TON of local craft beer samples at the Farm to Bay. Papa Bird was happy drinking old favorites including Grapefruit Sculpin and finding new up and coming beers like Duckfoot. I, on the other hand, was very happy tasting the “Island Girl” cocktail from Blue Chair Bay Rum. They also provided the recipe, which is at the end of the post. Perfect for a summer evening, it highlights their coconut rum (which is also delicious served chilled on its own), and is not too sweet.
Shocker: My favorite dish was dessert.
Finally, Corn Sorbet and Tres Leches from Mistral at Loews Coronado Bay Resort completed a three-course corn-centric tasting menu. Following brown-butter-bacon popcorn and a pork belly with corn salsa, the pastry chef turned the vegetable into a surprisingly successful sorbet. The sorbet accompanied a personal-size tres leches and mint-jalapeno syrup. I made my husband go back to get his own. Luckily, Cool Down Coffee was at the next table, where I picked up a caramel cold brew.
Are you hungry yet?
I hope so! It’s not too soon to plan to attend the 2017 Farm to Bay. In the meantime, check out one of the San Diego farm-2-table partners. Or if you want to sip a bit of summer just a while longer, try out Blue Chair Bay’s recipe for the Island Girl.
Hanukkah started last Sunday. We had everything we needed for latkes, except for potatoes. In years past, we used Japanese sweet potatoes from our backyard for latkes, but this year’s potato harvest was slim. We could’ve run to any grocery store, but I thought it might be more fun to explore the Specialty Produce warehouse with the Little Birds. I figured we would find more potato varieties there, or at least something fresh and local.
Specialty Produce is known for supplying the majority of the good restaurants in San Diego with fruits and vegetables. They also let the general public shop, seven days a week. That day it was just us, the most recent winner of MasterChef Claudia Sandoval (not to celebrity name drop or anything), and restaurant buyers in the warehouse. I had picked up Farmers’ Market Boxes there before, but this was our first time shopping the warehouse. After signing a liability release, the Little Birds and I were asked to put on gloves before touching any of the produce. The girls thought this was great. They were already dressed like princesses, so gloves only complemented their outfits.
We explored the organic section and the three large walk-in coolers, including the Farmers Market cooler, which is filled with finds from local farms. Tip: wear layers! It was a warm San Diego December day, and I froze in the cooler with just a sun dress on.
Great success! We quickly found organic Russet and sweet potatoes. Diving into the Farmers Market walk-in, we discovered little purple potatoes from the Weiser Family Farms, and “Masquerade” potatoes. I had to look up the Masquerade potatoes on the Specialty Produce App – they are a yellow-fleshed potato, with purple skin, and a lighter gold coloring around the eyes. We also found these pretty potatoes with violet pink lipstick “kisses.” I tried to Google “kiss potatoes,” as the staff called them, but only found a Gene Simmons Mr. Potato Head… My best guess is that they are Klondike Royales.
We also stocked up on fruit, including super sweet, pink-fleshed Cara Cara oranges and crisp Shinko asian pears from Ken’s Top Notch Produce, Fuji apples from Fair Hills Apple Farm, and Pomegranate from Koral’s Tropical Fruit Farm. I kept checking our receipt for a mistake. The medium-sized bag of potatoes (above) and a large bag of fruit was only $12. Try spending only $12 for this quality of produce at a farmer’s market or Whole Foods!
To celebrate Papa Bird’s birthday this year, the four of us went strawberry picking again. Strawberries are in peak season and are super sweet. We picked a flat of strawberries and enjoyed them every which way in the week that followed. Here is a round-up of ways to celebrate strawberry season.
Susie’s Farm is still our favorite place to pick. The berries are organic and a super sweet variety (Albion.) The above flat was $36. We also met up with some of Little Bird’s friends since she was a little baby. My mama tribe has such a close place in my heart. We are all so busy these days, so it was nice to reconnect with a few.
My heart just about melted seeing Little Bird running with two of her friends… and “Littler Bird” chasing after them.
2. Strawberry, Dark Chocolate and Brie Grilled Cheese
Melt a little butter on a griddle or pan, add bread layered with thick slices of brie cheese, sliced strawberries, and shaved dark chocolate. Top with another piece of bread, flip and enjoy the messy, gooey, tangy warmth.
The farm stand at Suzie’s had par-baked flatbread from Sadie Rose, which made me think semi-homemade pizza would be an easy dinner. I didn’t yet have the strawberry jam made, but inspired by the recipe in the link, I cooked down a cup of ripe strawberries, balsamic vinegar and sriracha for the sauce. Yum!
4. Top and fill a cake with strawberries
Little Bird loves baking as much as me. For Papa Bird’s birthday we made a chocolate sponge cake with chocolate orange buttercream frosting. Can you guess how old he turned? The filling was strawberry jam and whipped cream. Other cakes just begging for strawberries: Baby Bird’s Healthy Smash Cake, and Tres Leches.
We took slightly sugared, sliced strawberries up to my sister’s along with shortcakes and cream. It was easy to assemble traditional strawberry shortcakes and a sweet way to celebrate my niece’s birthday.
For a slightly healthier take, try this parfait version which features vanilla chia pudding. If you are mindful of the sugar you add, it easily doubles as both breakfast and dessert.
Sugar helps fruit break down and get softer, but is not necessary for preserving. If you cook the fruit long enough, it will still get soft. You can also use honey, or another sweetener. Pectin isn’t needed, either! Using super sweet berries, all you need is a little lemon juice. This year I overcame my fear of my steam canner, and canned for the first time.
Now that the littlest Baby Bird is running most of the time, I’m selling our much loved Ocah full buckle baby carrier, so that another family can enjoy it. This “Ocah” is a wrap conversion, made from an organic cotton Didymos black and white Indio wrap. Wrap conversions are made from wraps that are especially woven to be worn with babies, and to be soft and supportive. With a high level of attention to detail, Ocah is one of the very best converters. Operating out of England, custom spots are in high demand and the costs of shipping oversees and back can add up.
I am so pleased with how this Ocah Full Buckle carrier (OFB) has worked out. The Wrap used for this carrier is a Didymos Black and White Indio. This is custom sized at 17″ tall and 18.5″ wide. It comes with a Pixie style sleephood, leg padding, arms out padding, matching chest strap, and it has additional top stitching on the waist.
You can see more pictures in a full feature of this wrap conversion on the Ocah blog here.
We bought this full buckle wrap conversion to be an easy to wear, but comfy, carrier, primarily for my husband. The custom-sized panel is wider than Ocah usually makes them. However, both my skinny/tall girls were still comfy. My husband is 6’2″ and I am 5’2″ and we both found it comfortable for wearing. We bought it second hand. The German-made wrap must have been perfectly broken-in and soft, but in excellent condition, when it was converted. The woman I bought it from (via the babywearer.com) only used it a few times. We didn’t end up using it much, because both my husband and I ended up having other carriers as our “favorites.” But this one has the adorable pixie hood, and is a good size for either small babies or bigger toddlers. We used Red Charlotte Suck Pads to protect against baby drool with our first, but the second left some drooly marks. I use super gentle detergent. They may or may not come out if you clean more aggressively. Detail picture of the stains available upon request.
Here is a petite 6 month-old cuddled close.
Little Bird is almost 2-years-old here and still comfy.
Papa Bird, gardening and babywearing.
For the condition, asking $250 cash for local pick-up in San Diego. Message me for a quote for US or international shipping. For reference, having a carrier made with these features would cost £282 (approximately US $428) NOT including the cost of the wrap or shipping it to England. And not at all factoring in the time you might spend stalking a custom slot.
Send me a message here if you are interested in trying it on:
Our home is smoke-free, and until very recently was pet-free. We now have a cat, but the carrier hasn’t been used since she joined our home, and has been stored in a room she does not go in. Perfume-free and scent-free home, too. Links to buy/sell/trade feedback on the babywearer.com and FB available by request.
Hi! I started Baby Birds Farm after the birth of my first daughter. I started sharing seasonal recipes featuring produce from our garden, eggs from our chicken, and homemade cheeses from our goat milk co-op. Fast forward a few years, another daughter, another business, and now we are just surviving and enjoying our busy life and food as much as we can. Join our journey of good food, farm-to-table restaurants in San Diego and healthy living!
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My Day Job
Abigail Burd, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist, provides women's mental health in San Diego, CA. Specialities include managing anxiety and depression during pregnancy, postpartum and parenting. Learn more about my practice, Burd Psychotherapy, in Clairemont (San Diego) at www.burdtherapy.com.