July 24, 2014

Cucumbers For Chickens, Cucumbers For Goats

First garden pickings of anything are exciting. Eventually, however, things are going gangbusters and the question often becomes, what do I do with it all? Things I can can or freeze are no problem, neither are cucumbers if I need the pickles. But with my pantry shelves full of pickles and relish, I was looking for something else to do with them. To complicate matters, my cukes were getting bitter from so little rain. I managed to keep them watered enough to get small ones for cucumber salads, but when it's dry plants seem to be in a hurry to complete their life purpose of producing seed. Composting is always an option, but with critters, somebody is always happy to eat the surplus!

The goats love them chopped, and I thought perhaps the chickens might enjoy some too. I cut one in half lengthwise, like I cut overripe melons for them, and set it out in the chicken yard.

Chickens discussing cucumber.

They eyed is suspiciously until the bravest ventured a taste. They talked about it amongst themselves and walked away. Oh well.

Another thought was to dehydrate some to feed the goats next winter, along with their homegrown vitamin and mineral mix. The solar oven was tied up with blueberries, so I decided to dry the cukes in my electric dehydrator.

I grated them first in my manual food processor.

Shredded cucumber draining

Because cucumbers have such a high water content, I let them drain overnight in a colander. I gave the juice to the chickens, who loved it! (Go figure). I put the shreds in the dehydrator.

Dried cucumber shreds

I let them dry all day, then cooled, and finally put them in a storage bucket. I still have more to go and I don't know how much I'll end up with, but I'm glad to have a little more stored away for the goats.

14 comments:

Sandy said...

Leigh,

Do the goats really like the cucumbers?

I've heard of people making cucumber jelly. How about some tzatziki sauce, it's great to make and use when eating certain meats.

At home I take cucumbers slice them, place them in a pitcher of water along with some mint leaves, and fresh ginger. Place the pitcher in the refrigerator to get it real cold. It makes a great summer drink when your hot.

I've also used cucumbers for a cucumber mask....very refreshing.

Enjoy your evening!

Nicole said...

my chooks love cucumbers, maybe give it another go and chop them up. good thinking drying them for the goats i would never have thought of that. its winter here at the moment so no cucumber recipes come to mind.

Sandies' Patch said...

My hens like my home-grown cucumbers if, I peel them first! Well at least the peelings can go in the compost bin!
Before I had the hens, I read up about lots of things, what to and what not to feed etc. One of the items said anything red and the hens will peck at it. Not in my garden, they totally ignored the lovely strawberries, brightest red!

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I give my hens any old cucumbers, squashes or pumpkins. I cut them in half lengthways and after a day they are completely hollowed out, with just the skin remaining.
I seem to remember that the goats ate chopped cucumber.
At the moment I have lots of Cucumbers, so I have a sign at the gate and a basketful there.
Gill

Leigh said...

Sandy, what a lot of great ideas. I'll have to look up both jelly and tzatziki sauce. These have gotten bitter from so little rain, however, so would they still be good for those do you think?

Nicole, you know, I seem to recall my chickens eating cukes in the past, so why they haven't been interested this is puzzling.

Sandies' Patch, that's funny about your strawberries. My chickens don't have access to the garden but they love the odd strawberries I toss into the chicken yard. Chickens can be particular creatures!

Gill, that's what I do too, so I was surprised they ignored it. I tried a second day but decided not to waste the cukes!

Sandy said...

Leigh,

I wonder if you added sugar to the recipe if it would help?

Quinn said...

Sometimes my hens are more likely to eat veggies if they are hung on the fence or impaled on a low branch where there is some resistance against the veg skittering away when pecked at. Eventually most everything ends up on the ground anyway, but usually by then the hens are determined to devour it.

Renee Nefe said...

ah,now I've learned why I couldn't grow cucs that taste good! more water.
I'll have to give that a try. This year has been unusually wet so it would have been the year for it. Maybe there is still time? worth a shot.

Teresa @ Simply Farmhouse said...

I would love to be your neighbor I would learn so much from you. Have a wonderful day!

~Bettie said...

So that's why my cucumbers are so bitter. I had no idea, but it makes perfect sense. We have been very short on rain (until just a couple days ago) and I've watered enough to keep everything alive, but it seems I haven't been giving enough water to the cukes. Thanks for that little tid bit!

tpals said...

I've noticed chickens get pickier in the summer when they have lots of bugs and greens available. I gave them some bolted lettuce yesterday and their reaction was 'meh, is this all?' The only cucumbers I give them are overgrown yellowing ones, but they'll keep pecking away until they reach the insides.

Leigh said...

Sandy, I don't know. I've been able to find enough non-bitter ones to have cucumber salads every night. I think the plants are about done, however. They don't seem to be a very disease resistant variety (Boston Pickling) so I doubt I'll grow them again.

Quinn, that's something to try! I was kind of surprised they walked away from what I offered.

Renee, do try more water and let me know! Always worth a shot. :)

Teresa, well I'm still learning too, LOL. I do love to share though.

Bettie, I'd say give them more water and see if you don't notice a difference. It may have something to do with variety as well. I don't recall my cukes getting bitter so quickly in the past.

Tpals, good point about pickiness. I have some overly ripe ones like you describe that I think I'll offer to them. This isn't a variety I want to save for seed, so maybe they'll like the overripe ones.

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

My chickens love cucumbers and i make them into bread and butter pickles check out my recipe http://lifeatarbordalefarm.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/bread-and-butter-pickles_22.html

badgerpendous said...

Our hens love our extra/old cucumbers! Funny how different they are. They also eat the rare zucchini, but without any of the gusto they reserve for watermelon rinds and cucumbers. :)