A Healthy Fall Treat for our Hens – Pumpkin Oatmeal

A Healthy Fall Treat for our Hens – Pumpkin Oatmeal

1840 Farm CoopFall is here. Our landscape is becoming more colorful every day. The foliage has been just glorious this year, the most beautiful I have seen in several years. Each day, I am astounded by the intense colors Mother Nature has treated us to this year.  Even the hens are enjoying a more colorful backdrop as the beautiful red maple leaves collect around their coop and run.

Now that fall has enveloped our farm, it is time to admit that we all know what is coming next: the long New England winter. A cold, snowy winter is to be expected here in New England. It simply goes with the geography. We don’t have to love the thought of months on end spent shoveling snow, watching the sun go down before 4:00 pm, and battling the perils of a drafty farmhouse built a full two decades before Abraham Lincoln became President. No, we don’t have to love it, but it’s coming and we might as well prepare ourselves to endure it in gritty New England fashion.

Long Island Cheese Heirloom Squash at 1840 FarmAs we ready the farm and its animals for winter weather, the meals served at our farmhouse table begin to celebrate the best of what is available during the season when our gardens are at rest. We begin to utilize the food we have put up in the pantry and freezer, pairing it with locally raised meat and produce from our favorite farms. The cast iron skillets go in the heavy rotation and tall pots of homemade chili and soup become a common sight.

One of those warm, comforting meals is our Smoky Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash. It’s full of the deep flavors of chilies, tomatoes, and coffee from the fresh chili paste that flavors the bubbling pot. It has an intoxicating aroma which always brings my family to the kitchen to ask if their nose has correctly informed them of the meal that will grace that evening’s dinner table.

Our heritage breed hens are equally enthusiastic about my fall menu Pumpkin Seeds at 1840 Farmplanning. When squash and pumpkin are featured on our dinner table, the hens are treated to the pulp and seeds for days to come. On warmer days, I serve the seeds as is and the girls gobble them quickly. On brisk mornings, I often mix a hearty amount of the seeds and pulp into a bowl of warm oatmeal for them. On a cold morning, a steaming bowl of oatmeal is a welcome treat and doesn’t last more than a few minutes.

As a chicken keeper, I can’t help but love finding a healthy treat for our chickens that they love to eat and makes use of kitchen scraps. Not only do our girls love the flavor of the squash or pumpkin seeds and pulp, they deliver amazing nutritional and health benefits with every bite. Seeds from cucurbits are delicious and hold the incredible power of helping our hens to fight off internal parasites.

While you’re carving up Halloween Jack O’Lanterns and serving up squash and pumpkins to your family, save the seeds and pulp for your flock. They’ll be happy to enjoy their healthy treat and reward you with good health and fresh eggs.

You can learn more about the health benefits of feeding your flock pumpkin and squash along with other natural chicken and duck keeping strategies from our friends at Fresh Eggs Daily. While you’re reading, I’ll be carving up a Halloween Jack O’Lantern for the front porch, putting on a pot of chili, and taking out a bowl of nutritious pumpkin seeds to our girls!

Butternut Squash/Pumpkin Oatmeal for the Hens at 1840 Farm
This recipe is a great place to use the remaining butternut squash or pumpkin from your favorite fall recipes. Remember to include the seeds and you’ll find that only the peel will be making its way to your compost pile.

4 – 6 ounces winter squash or pumpkin, peeled and cubed (seeds included)
16 ounces water
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 ounces yogurt or kefir

Place butternut squash and seeds in a large microwave-safe bowl with the water. Select a large bowl as the oatmeal will expand greatly as it cooks. Microwave on high for 4 minutes.

Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and add the oats, stirring to combine. Return bowl to microwave and cook on high for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove bowl from the microwave. Add yogurt or kefir and stir to combine. Allow to cool slightly and serve to the lucky residents of your coop.


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