Quail Chicks Have Grown Up Already, Plus a Valuable Lesson Learned

We had 20 chicks hatch on September 5th and they started laying eggs late last week.  That’s just over 6 weeks from hatching to laying!  It still amazes me how fast these birds grow up and start laying eggs.  They are fully grown now, and eating and drinking as much as the other birds.

This week I will cull most of the new roosters and the rest of these birds will graduate into the main cages. I will also cull some of the older birds from the main cages to make room.  Then it’s incubation once again to get another hatch going!  And of course, a quail BBQ.

We did have a tragic accident happen.  One night I was taking care of the birds and left the cage with the young birds open as I filled their waterers in the house (their cage isn’t hooked up to the automatic watering system).  When I went back into the bird house I saw one female running around outside of the cage.  I just scooped her up and put her back in the cage.

The next day I found a dead female in that cage.  And she was beat up – murdered by the other birds.  What the heck?  Then I noticed that one of the other cages had a door that was was slightly ajar – just enough for one bird to squeeze out.

Apparently, the bird I found running around wasn’t from the young bird’s cage – it was one of the older birds from a different hatch.  Quail do not like birds from different hatches.  They simply won’t get along and they will fight to the death.  This female didn’t have a chance.

It was an honest accident, but lesson learned.  Be sure the darn quail cages are secure before leaving the bird house!

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Emergency Fuel Storage

It’s a good idea to keep some extra fuel around in case there’s a situation where you can’t simply buy some at the gas station.  Remember Hurricane Sandy?  There were pictures and videos of people walking around with gas cans trying to find fuel to run their generators.  Seriously?  You have an expensive generator, but no fuel to run the thing?

So, what is a good way to store fuel so it’s there if you need it?  Here’s what I do:

Each month, buy a 5 gallon gas can.  I have found the cheapest gas cans at Walmart for about $12-$13 when they’re on sale.  If I had an Amazon recommendation for you I’d share it, but Walmart seems to be the cheapest.  And don’t worry about the quality of the cans so much.  As long as they seal tight, you’re good.  You can get $50 NATO 5-gallon Jerry cans if you want, but these cans will just be sitting in storage.  They really won’t be tossed into the backs of pickups and rolled around, etc.

Fill that gas can at the gas station.  Label it according to what month you filled it.  For example, if you fill you first gas can in February, take a Sharpie and write “FEB” or “2” on it so that you keep track of when you filled them.

Each month, do the same thing:  buy a can, fill it, label it.  If you do this for a whole year, you’ll have twelve 5-gallon cans, or 60 gallons of fuel.  Store the cans in a safe place, of course, like a garage or a shed.  I wouldn’t keep these on your balcony if you live in a condo.

When you get to the month that you started (February in this example), simply take the gas can, pour that fuel into your vehicle, and fill the can back up at the gas station.  Do this each month.

The beauty of this is that you won’t spend  any extra money for the fuel that is stored after the first year.  The 5 gallons that you refilled the gas can with would have just went into your vehicle anyway.

It’s a good idea to add some fuel stabilizer to make sure your fuel doesn’t go bad.  If you only have 12 cans and you cycle through them each month you’ll probably be fine.  But I like to give myself a little insurance and add some Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer.
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On Amazon it’s $10.50 for 32 ounces of this stuff delivered in 2 days with Free Prime Shipping – that’s an awesome deal.  You only need 2 ounces per 5-gallon can of gasoline, so one bottle of Sta-Bil will last quite a while.

To make the process of transferring your fuel from the gas can to the vehicle much easier, I recommend you read this post on how I do it.  It will make the job much simpler and if it’s simple, you’ll do it.  If it’s a pain, you won’t.

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Moeller Primer Bulb

I keep an emergency supply of gasoline at the house “just in case”.  Right now I have six 5-gallon gas cans.  I will have 12 cans eventually – one for each month.

Each month I take one of the cans and pour it into my truck, then fill it back up when I go to the gas station.   It costs me no extra money.  I would have gotten that 5 gallons from the gas station anyway.  Read my Emergency Fuel Storage post for more on my storage system.

I got really tired of trying to use the new EPA approved spouts on the new gas cans.  Have you seen these things? They are worthless and you spill a lot of gas.  So much for being good for the environment.  I ended up just using a funnel, but that was a pain too.

So I got one of these:moeller-primer-bulb-pic

It’s a Moeller Fuel Primer Bulb.  It’s $20.78 at Amazon with Free Prime Shipping.  Here it is in the packaging:
moeller-primer-bulb

There are cheaper primer bulbs out there but based on reviews, I just thought a few extra bucks was worth it for this item.

You will need to buy some 3/8″ fuel line and 2 small clamps as well ($10 or so).  I would just get these at your local hardware store.  I got 6 feet of fuel line and cut 2 feet off.  The short piece is attached to the inlet side of the primer bulb and the long piece is attached to the outlet side.  Put a clamp on each line to secure them to the primer bulb and you’re done.  It took me about 2 minutes to do this, if that.
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It works like this: stick the short end of the fuel line into the gas can.  Stick the long end into the gas tank of your vehicle.  Squeeze the primer bulb a few times and it primes the fuel line so the fuel will just gravity feed into you gas tank.  Your gas can has to be above your gas tank, of course.  I’ll post of video of me doing this soon.
fueling-the-truck

This works awesome!  No more spilled gas or trying to hold 5 gallons of fuel while pouring it into a funnel.  I just prime it and when the fuel starts to flow I walk away and do something else.  When I come back later – done.  And no mess.

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An Introduction to Product Reviews

“Oh shit, he’s gonna push products on us now….LOL”.  No.  If you’ve seen my posts, I really haven’t “pushed” anything.  If I have a product link in a post to Amazon, yeah it’s an affiliate link.  And you don’t pay any more for it if you decide to click and buy this item than you would if you found it yourself, so why not?  Every penny helps support the birds.

I will not post a product review of ANYTHING that I have not tried and used myself.  If I try something that is garbage, I’ll share that too.

And a lot of this won’t even be quail related, but my guess is that anyone raising quail for meat and eggs will understand.

If you are like me, you are prepared for sudden losses of power, communication, food distribution, etc. – like from a hurricane, an ice storm, a tornado, an earthquake, a forest fire, etc.  We all live in areas that are vulnerable to some sort of short term (and maybe long term) disturbances that can make life difficult or at least uncomfortable.

If you are not prepared for these things, you should be.  I’m not talking about building an underground bunker that can withstand an EMP blowing up the entire power grid of the United States, a global pandemic killing 90% of the population or storing 20 years worth of MREs.  That crap is for the “Doomsday Prepper” bullshit reality shows on TV.  What garbage!

Look.  I live at high elevation in the mountains and have had 7 foot snowstorms that socked me into my house for 7 days with no chance of getting anywhere on foot or by vehicle and -50 (50 below zero  F) spells that last for days.  It’s September right now and I have been going crazy building my firewood stack so I am SURE that we have enough wood to get through the winter comfortably.  And by “comfortably” I mean that we have more than we need, just in case.

Does that mean that I’m a “crazy prepper”?  I think not.  It means that I am a responsible husband and father that wants to ensure that his family is safe and comfortable.

Being prepared for other things just in case of an emergency is vital as well.

Anyway, I’m rambling.  I just thought that I’d show you guys some things that I am using around our place to make our lives easier and some “just in case” products.  Some quail stuff too.

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Winter Lighting for Your Quail

It’s late September as I write this.  As winter approaches, daylight gets shorter and shorter every day.  If you want your coturnix quail to continue laying eggs reliably throughout the winter, you will have to provide them some supplemental lighting.

This isn’t complicated, though some think that it is.  I simply string some white LED Christmas lights around the quail cages and set them on a timer so they come on a little before sunset.  The timer is set so the quail get a total of 16 hours of light a day.  That’s it.

For example:  If sunrise it at 7:00AM and sunset is at 8:00PM, that’s 13 hours of daylight.  So set your timer to give the birds an extra 3 hours of light: have it come on at 7:30PM (just before sunset) and go off at 11:00PM.  Roughly adjust the timer over the weeks and months as sunrise/sunset changes.  It doesn’t have to be exact or to the minute.  “About” 16 hours a day will be fine.

I have read some folks that claim that a certain light spectrum is necessary to keep the quail healthy and producing quality eggs – I don’t think so.  Not for the small homesteader anyway.  My birds give me awesome quality eggs all year and I use cheap LED Christmas lights that I bought at Walmart.  And my birds seem as happy as can be.

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Heat for Quail in the Winter Months?

It’s mid-September here in Colorado and Evan K., a subscriber of my YouTube channel, recently asked:  “How cold does it get where you live? Have you had any problems with the watering system freezing?”

Excellent question!  I live at 9,000 feet elevation in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado – it gets REALLY COLD up here in the winter.  I’ve been up here for 16+ years and the coldest I’ve seen it was about 50 below zero (F).  It doesn’t get that cold very often but below zero temps are common in the dead of winter.

So how do I keep the quail water system from freezing – and the eggs too?  It’s pretty simple.

I use a “Thermo Cube“.
thermo-cube

It’s simply an outlet that turns power on at 35F and turns power off at 45F.  I plug a small space heater into the Thermo Cube and turn it on HIGH.  When the air temperature gets down to 35F the Thermo Cube turns the heater on.  When the air temperature gets up to 45F the Thermo Cube shuts it down.  Simple and efficient.

This keeps the temperature of my quail house (a 10′ x 12′ insulated shed) about a balmy 40 degrees F all the time and prevents the freezing of their entire watering system and their eggs.

The Thermo Cube is only $11 at Amazon with free shipping with Prime, so it really will pay for itself by cutting down on energy usage in no time.

Without the Thermo Cube regulating the temperature of the quail house the eggs might freeze before I get home from work, so I really like this little unit.

One other note.  Coturnix quail do not need to be “warm” to lay eggs or survive in a healthy way.  Different varieties of quail survive in the wild in cold climates all over the earth and do just fine.  If you want them to produce eggs all year, it’s not heat that you should be thinking about – it’s light.  Check out my post on Supplemental Lighting for more on that..

However, if you decide to keep your birds warm all the time, you need to ensure that they stay warm because they won’t grow their “winter feathers” when it gets cold outside.  This is important.

If you keep your quail at 70F all the time because they are your pets and you feel bad for them you probably aren’t doing them any favors.  If the power goes out for 3 days due to an ice storm and it’s 20F outside, your birds will suffer badly or die due to the fact that they have not become accustomed to cold temperatures.  So plan ahead to take care of your birds in the event of a power outage or emergency.

For example, my emergency plan is to simply put all of my birds into big plastic storage bins and bring them into the house until the emergency has passed.  Have a few big bins, feeders and waterers around just in case.

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Baked Roaring Fork Smuggler Quail

Here’s what I made tonight:  “Baked Roaring Fork Smuggler Quail”  Simple, easy, yummy.

First thing I did was take the dressed quail and separate the drumsticks from the breasts.
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Then I took the rest of the bird and set it on the cutting board so the breasts were facing up and pushed down with my fingers to crack the bones so the breasts lay flatter.  This will make it easier to pan sear them later.  The one on the right has not been flattened, the one on the left has been.
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A quick dash of salt, pepper and garlic powder and they were ready for the pan.

I heated up a frying pan to medium-high heat with olive oil and got the oven heated up to 350.  Then I simply pan seared the breasts in the frying pan, breast side down first, then I flip them.
pan seared quail breast

When the breasts were close to being done I tossed in the drumsticks.  The drumsticks are small and cook faster than the breasts.
searing quail breasts and drumsticks

Then I took everything and put it in an oil-coated baking pan and splashed some of my favorite seasoning on it, plus a few hunks of butter.
quail in a pan

I used Roaring Fork’s “Smuggler Sweet BBQ Blend” this time.  Roaring Fork Spice Co. is an outfit that we ran into at a farmers market in Glenwood Springs, CO this summer and we were actually their very first customers – cool!  Their spice blends are great and I highly recommend them.

Then the pan got covered tightly with foil and baked in the oven for 20 minutes.

The kitchen filled with aroma of awesome yumminess.  This turned out great.  Serve with a tomato basil salad and some steamed rice…..oh yeah.
baked quail done

Hey, if you have any recipes, share then in the comments.  I’m always looking for new ideas!

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Quail Egg Scissors or Cutters

If you want to fry up some quail eggs for breakfast you just crack them open and pour them in the frying pan, right?  No.  You need to CUT them open because there is a fairly tough membrane underneath the shell that is much stronger than chicken eggs.  If you smack a quail egg on the side of your frying pan you will quickly find this out.

To solve this problem, clever humans have invented quail egg scissors or cutters.  Just insert the FAT end of the egg into the round part of the cutter and slice it off like you are using a pair of scissors.  Don’t worry, you won’t cut the yolk.  Then just pour the contents of the egg where you need it.

These are what I use.  They’re only about $10 on Amazon and ship free with Prime.
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You can find cheaper ones, but having a good set of cutters is a good investment for a few extra bucks.

I have found deals on eBay for 3 pairs of cheaply made cutters for $10 or so, but you get what you pay for there.  I order a few sets of these every so often and just give a pair of cutters to someone who is interested in trying my eggs for the first time.

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Scotch Quail Eggs

With a giant surplus of quail eggs I am always looking for new ways to use these little treasures.  I came across a recipe for “Scotch Eggs”.  They sounded yummy so I tried making some with quail eggs.

First, I hard boiled 20 quail eggs.  Just put them in cold water in a sauce pan and bring the water to a boil.  Let the eggs simmer in boiling water for about 5 minutes.  I live at 9,000 feet elevation, so you may need to adjust your timing a bit.  Go a little longer for harder yolks and a little shorter for softer or even runny yolks.  To each his own.

I keep reading that “you should constantly stir quail eggs while boiling so the yolk doesn’t settle on one side”.  I call BS on this.  I’ve stirred and not stirred and had the exact same results every time, so I no longer bother stirring while boiling my quail eggs.

quail eggs boiling

Next, remove the eggs from the stove and run them under cold water so they cool off.  I usually run water into the pan until the water is cool and then let the eggs sit in water for a while, sometimes hours – it won’t hurt them.

Next is the super-fun part.  Peeling the eggs!  Here’s a little tip that might help.

Once the eggs are cool, roll them gently on your counter to break the shell all over and pinch off the fat end of the shell.  Then toss the egg back into the cool water for a while.  This lets water get in between the shell/membrane and the egg, making it easier to peel later.

OK, so all of your eggs are finally peeled.  Get some ground sausage and make a bunch of patties big enough that you can cover a quail egg with them.  Honestly, I made my sausage patties a little too thick the first time, but they were still yummy.

Season your sausage any way you want.  I bought “hot jalapeno breakfast sausage” for my first try so I didn’t bother seasoning it any further.

Put each egg in the center of a sausage patty and encase each egg with the sausage by rolling it into a ball.
egg in sausageegg sausage balls

Roll the ball in some flour to lightly coat it, dip into some beaten eggs (quail eggs, of course) and then give them a good coating of bread crumbs.  The process goes right to left in the picture.
scotch egg prep

Now they’re ready to cook.
scotch eggs ready to cook
I used a pretty standard Hamilton Beach Deep Fryer set at 375 and let them cook for about 4-5 minutes.  You could pan fry these as well, but I haven’t done that.

When they are golden brown and crispy on the outside, pull them out and let them sit for a minute or two, then dig in.  Depending on what kind of sausage you use, a variety of dipping sauces can be served with them (ranch, blue cheese, fancy mustard, etc.).
scotch eggs cookedsliced scotch egg

I used “hot jalapeno breakfast sausage” for mine the first time, but I think a sweeter sausage might be a better choice for next time.

Give it a try!

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Quail Egg Breakfast Sandwich Update

OK, so I’ve modified the quail egg sandwich routine a bit.  I use a 12 cup muffin baking pan, so adjust amounts accordingly.

First, lightly grease or spray the muffin pan with cooking spray.
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Then scramble about 36 quail eggs with a few tablespoons of water.  I use a KitchenAid  blender that is awesome for scrambling eggs and great for all kinds of things, but scrambling by hand works fine too.
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Pour the scrambled quail eggs into the muffin pan and put it into an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees.
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Check the eggs after about 5 minutes and take them out when they are firm.  Top with American Cheese and ham/bacon/sausage/etc.
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Individually wrap with plastic wrap and put them all in a big zip-lock bag in the freezer.
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The kids then just grab one or two at a time, microwave them and chow down.

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