Drying tomatoes just makes sense to us. Tomatoes by nature are highly perishable and seasonal. They are used for flavoring and take a lot of room to store whole. You can enjoy the flavor using dried tomato products and make them at home for a fraction of the cost of store bought. If you are a gardener this is ideal for preserving super small batches as all you have to do is slice and place in the dehydrator a few at a time instead of cranking up the canner.
Simple Food Dehydration to Store and Preserve is a great way to cut storage costs, save storage space, extend shelf life, save money and utilize your garden to the max!
We have a large chamber we converted to use for curing tobacco and it now is used for a large dehydrator. It is as big as the now extinct “telephone booth” . It is great for large batches but not so great for those small picking that are common in a garden’s early life and later towards the ends.
We bought a cheapy model from Ebay for $37 and it does great! I will not say how long it will last but so far it is doing what we wanted it to do.
How does dehydration work?
Dehydration removes the water from the object being dried and does so at a temperature that discourages mold from forming during the drying process. Mold and bacteria need water/ moisture to flourish and spoil our foods. Removing the water to a safe level extends the shelf life of the dried foods.
How long will dried foods last?
They will last in most cases well through our desired goal which is from season to season but properly done they can last many years! Google the “prepper” and “homesteading” sites for more detailed information.
How much space do they save in your food pantry?
LOTS! We dried 12 cans of whole kernel corn and 2 cans of carrots and the result fit into 1 quart mason jar! We also dried 10# of roma tomatoes and had a little over 1 pint of tomato paste!
What is the taste of the dried product?
Very similar in taste and texture is sometimes noticed but not a problem. You can add directly to stew and such or re-hydrate to be used similar to fresh
What other way does dehydrating foods help me?
Dehydrated foods do not require electricity to store
They take up less space to inventory
They save you precious time when cooking
You can introduce your family to healthy snacks like banana chips
You can make your own jerky for a fraction of the cost of store bought
You get the pride that goes with doing something yourself
Our first hatch and there growth record. We will weigh them every 7 days and select breeders based on growth and laying rates. All birds in same brooder and fed same food.
EGGS FROM KENTUCKY
WHITE [Texas A&M ]
BROWN [Jumbo Pharaoh ]
Here are the growth charts. All birds in same brooder!
We started weighing on 8-1-17 at 3 days of age and every 7 days after. Weighed all birds and divided by amount living. As of day 10 no fatalities 🙂 This period is using total weight of both sexes as we can not distinguish the 2!
As of 8-17-17 we have not had any mortalities ! They are almost big enough to tell the sexes apart and we will start following the weight gain by sex and breed.
NOTE: As of week 3 it seems that the whites are falling behind on growth!
NOTE: on 8-15-17 we moved the hatch to regular pens with 1"x1/2" wire bottoms. They were a little hesitant to move around for a few hours and we also introduced them to the new watering system. This is a shock to them as they lost their racial diversity and some heat from the heat lamp in the brooder. We hope it does not effect the weight gain.
NOTE: On 8-17-17 we moved the birds outside where nights are about 85 and days are 90. Again, we hope for no slowing of growth but anticipate it.
Here is a short video showing this hatch compared to another hatch a week later!
This little fella or gal showed up in the eggs from Kentucky. It looks like a tibetan or rosette variety. And we are seeing males and females! Breeders all 🙂
After a rough week outside , the birds adapted rather well as their number showed BUT we lost a bird! No… I really mean we lost one! No idea on earth where it went! No sign of trauma or struggle. We are putting a game camera on them to see if it was a snake but rather doubt that as we are not in the country and there are lots of cats around! We had expected a slowing of growth as the birds were usd to 70 deg F temps and their 24 hour a day light but it seemed not to matter 🙂 The browns are outgrowing the whites a little bit. 4.94 ounces to 6.42 is a huge difference!
A lot happened since last update! We had a hurricane hit and we lost power for a week or so and we missed weighing the birds one week. We got all the czges re-modified also. We went from 1″ clearance to 5″+ clearance between bottom of the cage and the poop try!. We also opted to get a 6HP shop vac to deal with the poop collecting! Things were getting a little “SHi**y”
ANyway, with all the commotion from running 2 generators around the birds 24 hours a day plus the activity of us working on the cages , the flock went from 12 eggs a day to 10! No great loss. We made our first sales also! SOld 36 babies and 8 3 week old birds before Facebook stopped our ad on a group sales page 🙁 Facebook can ruin about anything they touch sometimes!
What we did find is that the birds are starting to slow down in weight gain! They are crowing now but no eggs. Here is the latest weighing chart:
Our goal of 400 grams probably wont be met as the growth curve is flattening out a little AND the fact we are not allowing the birds to be empty of feed before we weigh them. They do have a craw like a chicken and it can hold a lot including water! It is hot and they are always drinking it seems. Time will tell.
UPDATE 9-14-17: First egg from the Kentucky Jumbo Whites!
UPDATE 9-15-17: First egg from the Kentucky Texas A&M!
We raise quail… Ok, we are experimenting at raising quail! We got 3 dozen eggs our first week and will pickle them according to a recipe we found online..
Of course like any recipe, you can modify according to your palate.
We boiled the eggs and forgot they were on the stove and did not stir them. Supposedly , not stirring will cause the yolk to move off center!
Next , we soaked the boiled eggs in vinegar which dissolves calcium from the eggshell and leaves only the membrane which is then rubbery and easier to remove! Never expected this much activity though 🙂
AND THE SPOTS COME OFF TOO! It took about 2 minutes to see this happening! Way cool! They are supposed to soak 12 hours to remove all the shell.
Next is perfecting the spices and covering with vinegar. Process as directed and allow a week to let the vinegar and spices penetrate the egg!
Ok we got impatient! Peeled them all and needed maybe 2 dozen more for a quart and added some pre-made spice! ANd added the mandatory pepper 🙂
Next week of so we will try again 🙂 By the way, I found them identical to a chicken egg in taste.
DIY quail pen plan using pre-made shelving system:
Here we give you our take on a complete balcony/porch/garage DIY quail pen plan using pre-made shelving system for breeders , layers and even for brooders. It is designed to last a long time and be pretty well self running. We have seen plans for units made of PVC and the sittings for joining the PVC are pretty high. We used a ready made shelf system from Walmart.
There in very little possibility of rotting
Easy to build. Few special tools needed.
Simple to run once set up
Makes a 4 tier breeder/ cage system. Our pens are 10″ tall.
Instructions include plans for waste-less feeders and automatic water system
Has sliding “poop” trays for easy odor free removal
For this project we used:
1 shelf system from Walmart [ $35 ]
1 roll 1″x1/2″ x 10′ welded wire [$25 ]
1 roll 1″x1″ X 16 welded wire [$25 ]
j-clips [lots of them.. at least 1 pound ] [$6 ]
30′ Edge trim [ for sharp edges of egg tray and doors ]
3″ pvc pipe [for feeders. You can use knock-out caps if you can find them ]
3″end caps for pvc pipe [ for feeders ]
1 sheet 4’x8′ cheap paneling [ for poop trays ]
2″x2″ wood strips [ for bottom wire support ]
1 8′ 1″x2″ wood strip for poop tray handles
10′ 1/2″ PVC pipe [ for water system]
1 5-gallon bucket [ for water system]
2 4way 1/2″ PVC fittings [ for water system]
4 1/2″ end caps for 1/2″ PVC pipe [ for water system]
1 90 degree elbow 1/2″ PVC fitting [ for water system]
1 1/2″ bulkhead fitting [ to connect bucket to pipe]
1 1/2″ removable union [ for water system]
a good comfortable wire cutting tool!
2″ hole saw [for feeders]
ruler or measuring tape
Walmart Shelf System we used:
All molded plastic and easy to assemble instructions included. Price was $35 when we bought it. Seems almost made with our purpose in mind!
General Layout: Bottom panel
STEP 1: Lay out the bottom panel. Make sure it is flattened out.
SPECIAL NOTE: Also note that the wire that runs front to back should be"on top of" the sideways running wire to allow eggs to travel to collecting trough!
This shows the bottom layout and cutouts. Make sure to pre flatten your wire. Also note the direction of the bottom wire. SPECIAL NOTE: The wire that runs from front to back of the bottom wire MUST be placed as shown with the wires running front to back on top of the wire running side to side or the eggs will not roll!
STEP 2: Cut the front corner cutouts: On front side of the bottom panel make corner cutout shown here. This will allow corners to be stronger.
This is the front bottom corner cutout. You will bend the short part to form the egg catching tray. NOTE: You can stop wire at the top of the cutout OR fold it over a few spaces for added strength
STEP 3: Cut the back corner cutouts: On the back side of the panel, make the cutout shown here. Do not attach side wire to the single wire left after making the cutout shown here. You will want to bend the side wire around the corner pipe tightly.
This is the cutout for the bottom back corner of the pen. NOTE: do not attach side wire to the single wire left on outside of the cutout. You will want to bend the wire hard against the corner tube
General Layout: Side and Front Panel
STEP 1: Making the side wire panel:
1] Cut the wire as tall as you want the pen. We went 11"
2] Cut the wire from your roll across the edge of the roll to avoid waste.
3] Cut enough to reach all the way around the entire floor keeping in mind to stretch the wire tightly at corners to help keep wire tight. You can trim wire a square or so when making final joining.
STEP 2: Attaching the side to the floor:
1] Once bottom panel is cut and joined, start adding side wire to the bottom panel starting 2" from the edge of the egg tray as shown below. You will leave 1" on the front edge of the bottom to bend upwards later to form the egg tray.
SPECIAL NOTE:IT IS BETTER TO START THE WIRE 4" PAST THE CORNER AS SHOWN BELOW. BEND AROUND THE CORNER AND CONTINUE TO ADD WIRE FOR THE FRONT. THEN TRIM 1" FOR EGG SLOT!!!!! IT MAKES IT A LOT EASIER AS USING THE METHOD SHOWN IN THE PICTURE BELOW ALLOWS THE WIRE TO SLIDE DOWN!!!
SPECIAL NOTE:Details of the end of the egg tray. It will have trim installed on all sharp edges when finished. NOTE: Make sure your bottom 1x2 wire is running in the direction in picture WITH the wires running front to back ON TOP> Otherwise eggs will not roll!
Sheila has worked the side wire almost half way around the bottom panel as quick as I could cut her more side wire to clip on! Start anywhere adding the sides to the bottom but pay attention to the corners and the front where egg tray will be formed later.
Sheila connecting all the wire as I was cutting it. A sharp pair of wire dykes is a must! Also a "J-clip" tool.
Make sure to flatten your wire more than we did here as it is easier now than later!
TIP: Flatten your wire before connecting! Makes things a lot easier later on!
You can use some really small upholstery clips or hog rings as well as the J-clip pliers. There are some automatic feed hog ring pliers that we may check on but they will need some modifications to hold the rings tighter than they currently do.
Using the "J-clip" tool has a learning curve. Place the wires to be joined in the "J" [bent] side of the clip and then press to deploy them correctly.
It goes really fast once you understand the procedure! There is a new tool out that would work great with a small grinding on the tool face to get tighter crimp. It is Dewalt P7DW Hog Ring Plier and Ring Kit
SPECIAL NOTE: Here is a closeup of the back corner bottom showing the wrapping technique used to get tighter stretch of side wire. DO NOT attach side wire to the single wires left after making the corner cutout!
Closeup of bottom back corner cutout for the quail pen. The rod is used to level the cage at final installation. It works well and holds almost no "poop" compared to the 2"x2" used on back and front of cage.
Wire all secured and joined. It is now ready to be trimmed to allow it to be inserted into the slots in the bottom of the shelves. Disregard the extra square on the left side of the front panel by the corner tubing.
Wire ready to be trimmed to fit into the top shelf groove
Step 3: Installing the “poop tray”:
Our DIY quail pen plan is easily adapted to any shelving system. Regardless of the frame, one requirement is sanitation! Also the manure is so good for your garden. Especially our bucket garden!
Take a 2″ x 2″ or a 1″ x 2″ and lay the 2″ side down.
Using a 2″ hole saw, center the bit on the wood and drill all the way through.
Measure 31 3/4″ to the closest point on a circle drawn using the 2″ hole saw and again drill.
Corner details for back floor brace:
This brace does not reach the floor but sits on the collar as shown. You will run a screw through the tubing into the end of the wood to assist in it staying in place [ we did not use this wood as it was not needed! ]
This will result in a bottom for our pen to sit on. Note that the wood will not sit directly on the shelf! This is to allow the tray to slide under it
CONSTRUCTION TIP: The "Poop" tray will have a wood piece attached to it both to stiffen the tray AND to stiffen the wire
Step 4: Adjusting tubing height:
Our DIY quail pen plan is easy to alter to fit your needs. We used 11″ of wire for our pens. We had to cut 3 1/2″ off the tubing on each level.
Adapting your choice of height to our DIY quail pen plan requires you to keep the following variables in mind:
Height of your wood
Height of your wire
Depth the tubing goes into the shelf itself
How much wire will be inside the groove in the shelf bottom
Step 5: Installing the top:
Once all sides and front are attached to the bottom, we will trim the corners to fit into the groove made into the shelf bottom. The corners of the shelves do not have the slots and the wire needs to be trimmed 1″ to allow the wire to fit properly.
Place wire on tubing and press down to even out the wire. Make any last minute flattening to wire now
Place shelf on tubing and work wire into slot in bottom of shelf as you push shelf downwards. It is best to work one end down then across the back and then leave front until last.
Once all wire is in place you can use a small large-headed self tapping screw to hold wire in place and keep it from falling down until corner supports are in place.
SPECIAL NOTE: LEAVE WHOLE SQUARES , NOT LONG WIRES LIKE THIS PICTURES SEEMS TO BE SHOWING! You will be hiding 1 square into the bottom of the top shelf which will hold wire steady and prevent escape.
Top corner shows cutout to allow the wire to insert into the slots in the shelves. LEAVE WHOLE SQUARES , NOT LONG WIRES LIKE THIS PICTURES SEEMS TO BE SHOWING!
This photo shows the molded in groove in the shelf bottom that we use to secure the wire to the shelf. No need to worry about this until all sides and front are installed.
Here is completed end showing proper placement of wire. It still has about 3/8" further to go down as back and front wire is not fully in the groove in the underside of the "roof" shelf
Step 6: The Poop Tray:
We will use a 1″ x 2″ wood strip nailed to a sheet of painted cheap paneling for our tray. The wood will help catch and support the bottom front wire if it tries to sag at a later date. It will also stiffen the painted paneling as well. It will fit under the wood at the back of the pen bottom.
SPECIAL NOTE: We had planned for a single poop trap but to cover the high traffic ends [ especially the feeder end ] we will use a split tray
Step 7: Final leveling and fancying:
Once everything is positioned correctly, you will need to fasten them permanently:
Add a screw into every top or bottom of the tubing.
Add 1 screw into each end of the back bottom wood brace
Add the wire rod to the front corner of bottom so that the bottom sits flush on the 1″ x 2″ poop tray brace
Waste Less Feeders:
In our version of the DIY quail pen plan, we made ours 13″ so they would fit between the corner tubing on the outside of the pens. We used the recommended 2″ holes placed evenly on the top of the pipe. At this point we will wire tie them in place until we see how an actual bird will “work” to get the feed out and hard attach them when we find the angle that reduces waste the most. Made from 3″ PVC. We decided to use a long continuous slot instead of holes.
Automatic water system:
No DIY quail pen plan is complete without an automatic water system. We have 2 types to use. 1 uses an on-demand trigger and the other uses a float valve which allows more water to stay in the cup. Both are super low pressure and we plan to rig a 5 gallon bucket sitting on top of the battery to supply water to the system.
The waterers are the on demand type. We may change them to a float type later
We added a coupling to the pipes for easy removal of bucket and a drain valve to make flushing easier.
ADDING TRIM: Reduces harmful scratches:
NOTE: The trim can be hot glued or even stapled.
Add to the bottom of the front panel and to the top edge of the egg tray. Work it around the door opening and the door itself!
Pen Configuration Ideas:
We were going to stack all 4 but the bottom one would have been a killer to tend to AND varmint paradise! SO we changed them up a bit.
If you need additional information, post a comment and we will get right back to you!~
Raising quail can certainly provide some relief from your food bill while providing some fun and possibly added income as well!
Quail are deemed easy to grow, cheaper to feed and more free from problems than even chickens are. We have raised plenty chickens and are going to try this venture.
NOTE: Chickens are outlawed in many cities and quail could fill that need for those of us who want a taste of the country life! They are less noisy and since they are in a cage should be easier to maintain.
We will use our own experience in the quail arena as a way to convey to you how easy, fun and rewarding this project can be.
UPDATE: 7-13-17: We built thepenand have theincubatorsset up and running at the right temp. Sheila ordered 6 dozen eggs and they came today! Lost 10 in transit but that is really the last of the problem. The high temps was our main concern! We got them nestled into the incubator and are on our way 🙂
UPDATE: 7-19-17:We received 15 adults from Keith our friend from work and got them settled into our pens! They eat about 1 quart of food a day on average!
UPDATE: 7-30-17: Our first hatch came today! Sheila’s son and wife gave us a new incubator to hatch in and that helped a lot! We can keep our main one turning and separate when the lock down time comes for a hatch. It is important to have the temp on all incubators adjusted prior to using! We had 22 born and lost 1 as he was late and did not fully draw the yolk into his belly like he should have. We had 15 that did not develop at all and another 15 that did not make it through the hatching process. Due to the long in transit time in the middle of July and the rough handling they got, we feel ok with the results. Quail typically do not have the hatch ratio of chickens.
We are on our first bag of feed and as of 7-31-17 we still have over 3/4 bag full! We are feeding 15 adults and get an average of 5 eggs a day from the 10 hens! Some of the hens are young and may not be laying yet.
Today we are boiling 3 dozen eggs we gathered and are going to pickle them. We have some quail egg scissors ordered that work like a cigar cutter and help to open the eggs without a lot of undue trouble! The eggs are thick shelled and ever so small 🙂 I want to make fried eggs and eat on crackers. We will post the recipe in another post soon.
pens and waterers =-$115
Incubators = -$135
1st bag of feed = -$27
hatching eggs = -$39
laid eggs = $9 [3 dozen @ $3]
So far $316 out and $9 in! $307 left to break even
FIRST WEEK FOR HATCH #1: Stay tuned for the details of first week for this hatch! We will start weighing them and looking for breeders.
UPDATE: 8-3-17: HATCH 2: We set a few eggs from Keith and hatched 7 Texas A&M whites. Check the size difference in the 2 hatches!
What a growth rate huh! We are weighing them as they grow and will post results.
*Our egg production is at an astonishing 90%! 9 eggs a day from our 10 hens!
COST UPDATE: 8-9-17
pens and waterers =-$115
Incubators = -$135
1st bag of feed = -$27
hatching eggs = -$39
laid eggs = $24 [8 dozen @ $3] [WE PICKLED 3 AND SET 5 ]
So far $316 out and $24 in! $292 left to break even
NOTE: BIRDS PUT ON ALMOST 400% WEIGHT IN 7 DAYS FROM 8-1-17 TO 8-8-17~~~~~~~ They went from 12.28 grams to 45.99 grams for the Texas A&M whites and from 13.7 grams to 50.56 grams for the Jumbo Pharaoh browns!
COST UPDATE: 8-18-2017
Started 2nd bag of feed. Keep in mind the babies are also now eating the adult food!
pens and waterers =-$205 [Added 4 more pens]
Incubators = –$135
Feed = –$54 [on second bag ]
hatching eggs = -$39
laid eggs = $48 [16 dozen @ $3] [WE PICKLED 11 AND SET 5 ]
So far $433 out and $48 in! $385 left to break even! We are going to try to sell some pickled at $6 a 1/2 pint jar!
COST UPDATE: 9-13-2017
Started 3rd bag of feed. Keep in mind the babies are also now eating the adult food! Raised 36 birds to 2 weeks old and 8 to 3 weeks old which we sold!
pens and waterers =-$205 [Added 4 more pens]
Incubators = -$135
Feed = -$81 [on 3rd bag ]
hatching eggs = -$39
laid eggs = $108 [36 dozen @ $3] [WE PICKLED 11 AND SET 15 ]
SOLD BIRDS! = $81 .. Then FACEBOOOK busted us for selling animals GRRRRRRRRRRR
So far $460 out and $189 in! $271 left to break even! We are going to try to sell some pickled at $6 a 1/2 pint jar!
Incubating and hatching your quail eggs is the key to successfully raising quail. You must first incubate them as the broodiness has been almost bred out of the present day quail commonly raised nowadays.
Plastic coated Styrofoam construction with plastic coating on the outside to reduce breakage and make cleaning easier. It also helps hold temperatures constant
It has various size self turning egg racks available
Unit has digital temperature controller
Unit has DIGITAL humidity indicator!
Unit has automatic forced air circulation which greatly improves hatches!
Unit has a count down timer to help you remember hatch date!
Package contains standard thermometer also provided.
Unit has closable air vents built in
Unit comes with a candler but is to large for quail eggs.
Out of box to full usage was less than 30 minutes! We removed the regular egg racks and replaced with the quail size ones. Added water, added an external thermometer through one of the ventilation holes and plugged it in to allow it to cycle. It did this inside of an hour!
Our first hatch came off without any major hitches!. The egg were delivered to us from Kentucky and in early July with temps in the mid 90’s, we were surprised to get such a good hatch!
We lost 10 from breakage and 15 showed no development. From these we hatched 21 babies! The eggs were from 2 strains and it did seem that the brown ones hatched 12 hours ahead of the white ones!
We also scored another incubator from Sheila’s son and family which she set up to hatch in. It is the Hovabator and has better water rings than the one we used to incubate in.
It took only a few hours to get the little fellas to eat and drink. We did have to grind the food in a “bullet” as these wee ones are really “wee ones” 🙂
We will start another post and follow this hatch from egg to table. I already have one little fella nicknamed “Pork CHop” 🙂
Fermented sweet banana pepper rings are one of my favorite condiments and sometimes the store bought ones are nothing but a travesty gaining sales only due to their name.
This recipe we are attempting to reach a “bread and Butter” flavor in our sweet banana peppers using lacto fermenting as a preserving and flavoring method. The lacto fermenting process will give the finished product it’s tang without using vinegar and will allow storing without further processing.
Easy and tasty condiment that can be made a little at a time.
Author: Mike and Sheila
Recipe type: Fermented condiment
Serves: 1 quart
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
⅛ tsp. ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp. ground allspice
⅛ tsp. ground mustard
⅛ tsp. ground ginger
1 tablespoon pickling salt
12 dried stevia leaves.
15 nice 5-6" banana peppers [a few were large hot peppers I am sure 🙂
Choose a slice for your peppers according to preference. We use "rings" in this recipe.
Firmly pack peppers into the quart jar leaving 1" head space
Add spices and then top with salt and leaves.
Add your weight and then add water to cover.
Place an airlock lid securely on the jar and place on the counter until taste is where you want it according to tanginess.
This is an ideal use for small amounts of peppers from your garden. Using the mason jar systems lets you fine tune your recipe without having a large amount of "not so right" results that accompany our learning process. If you fail you can also dehydrate and still retain the probiotic and vitamin goodness of the fermenting process.
We as always recommend the Pickle*Pusher fermenting “weight” to hold down your contents while fermenting. No other system can do what this uniquely designed fermenting aid can do!
Sweet banana peppers often find themselves turned into tangy fermented pepper snacks
Making fermented sweet banana pepper rings
You can use slices or even whole peppers. It all depends on your taste.
It is pretty easy to see why the Pickle*Pusher can hold your ferments under the protecting brine thusly lowering the risk of mold
Pickle*Pusher installed in it's "sweet spot"
The Pickle*Pusher fermenting system in place and ready to hold anything under the brine
These dates are very important to a gardener. WIthout this knowledge we have no idea where to start planning our garden. The dates are not set in stone but offer an average. Always have a plan to protect plants once they are planted. Seeds can withstand a little more cold if not sprouted in the event of an untimely frost event.
Here is a link to theUSA Last Frost date chart: This is from the Farmers Almanac which is a rural planters Bible. It has dates to plant according to the moon phase also. AND NO…………. it is not about pagan rituals 🙂 Think of it like this, if the moon can control massive oceans on earth can it not also effect a tiny seed and pull it skywards a little more as well??? Sure it can. Same goes with all things in life. The moon does effect it all.
Here is another good site: Dave’s Garden which allows you to look up your zone by zip code.