Chicken coops and pink slime

Checking out the chickens at Patrick Ranch, and making your own ground beef

Chicken coops, Part 4
I took my 9-year-old daughter, Lydia, out to the Patrick Ranch Museum—on 28 idyllic acres on the Midway—to visit the chickens that have lived there for about a year. Ranch manager John Chambers (pictured) walked us out to the shingled coop that houses them.

The nine hens and one rooster—Rhode Island Reds and Golden Sex-Links—live in a coop made of recycled materials surrounded by a “hot-wire” (electric) fence that “isn’t so much to keep them in as to keep the raccoons out” at night, said Chambers. (The fence is turned off during the day.)

The base of the coop is the chassis of a 1926 Chevy sedan formerly owned by the Gianella family (of Hamilton City’s Gianella Bridge fame).

“When they got through with [the car], [Mr.] Gianella welded on a hitch to the front axle and made a trailer out of it,” Chambers said. “Here’s a farmer in the 1920s who was already recycling—driving a car and then turning it into a wagon.”

Museum volunteers John and Vickie Whittier added salvaged wooden shingles and windows, rusted corrugated-tin roof material from an old barn, and heavy wire screening from now-defunct Copeland Sports to create the impressive coop-on-wheels. The coop is moved periodically, depending on shade and weed availability.

The coop has two entrances, Chambers pointed out, because “there’s one lead hen—one boss. She will only let her friends in [the one door], so we have to have two doors [so all the chickens can enter].”

Chambers collects eggs daily from the coop’s five nesting boxes, and “We just love to hear the sound of the rooster in the morning.”

The Patrick Ranch Museum (10381 Midway, 521-2012) welcomes visitors every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to see the mansion (built in 1877) and the grounds, including the chicken coop.

Eww—pink slime!
I was set to write about something summer-related like misters or fans. But then I ran across a story at about the “pink slime” in most of the hamburgers that Americans eat, and I figured it would be hard to enjoy the coolness of a mister on your deck if the burger you pull off the barbecue is loaded with pink slime and ammonia.

Apparently, fast-food burger chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King—as well as various hotels, restaurants, retail-ground-beef processors and even the federal school-lunch program—are serving hamburger that includes the ammonia-treated “fatty sweepings from the slaughterhouse floor” formerly only allowed to go into pet food and cooking oil.

A company called Beef Products Inc. (BPI) “grinds [the scraps] into a paste, separates out the fat, and laces the substance with ammonia to kill pathogens,” according to Grist’s Tom Philpott. The resulting pink slime—so named by an FDA microbiologist who looked into the matter, but misleadingly named “boneless lean beef trimmings” by BPI—gets sold as a money-saving additive to ground beef.

Solution? Grind your own fresh, gunk-free beef. Pick up a chuck roast at Chico Locker & Sausage (196 E. 14th St., 343-7370), chop it into one-inch cubes and grind it in a Weston #10 Deluxe Heavy-Duty Meat Grinder ($39.99, pictured) from Collier Hardware (105 Broadway, 342-0195).