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Edible Easter Terrarium: Hen on a Nest

To learn how to make this entirely edible sweet broody hen on a nest for an Easter treat, 
take a peek at my post over on HGTV Gardens.

Happy Easter
Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 84 + Early Spring Gardening

Even though we had a bit of snow last night, I have been very busy puttering around the yard with spring clean up and getting ready for the photo shoot with the book. My favorite spring flowers are pansies. They are so lovely, especially the ruffled variety in this pansy sphere on my front steps. I just adore the blooms and they are entirely edible. The chicken love them!

The bird baths have all received a fresh scrub down with water and white vinegar. I love to see the birds taking baths in them from outside the kitchen window. 

The Lenten roses (Hellebores) are in bloom. They are so beautiful and mesmerizing to me. They are some of my all time favorites and slowly I have a growing patch of these beauties tucked away in the garden. Their leaves stay evergreen all year long.

I've tilled the soil in the raised beds and mixed in the composting manure that I topped the beds with off last fall. It is completely cured and ready for fresh veggies. So far we've planted a stir fry mix, lettuces,spinach, beets, kale and swiss chard. I've added Mr. Owl to help deter the critters. So far so good.

Welcome to this week's hop! Thanks all for joining us and welcome new friends. Check out this week's three featured blogs. Try a delicious twist on deviled eggs just in time for Easter. Learn about early garden blooms for spring that anyone can grow and another blogger, like our family, has fallen in love with a Miniature Schnauzer! If you are visiting, I hope you will link up to three family-friendly posts and don't forget to share a link back to this blog hop at the bottom of the post(s) you link up here. You'll need to do that in order to be featured next week.

Summer Acres- Southern Style Deviled Eggs
Once Upon a Time in a Bed of Wildflowers-Snowdrops

Preparing for the New Chicken Coop

We've been busy for the last few months. Dan and his team at Green Chicken Coop are helping us treat Tilly and the girls to a new home. It's the least I could do for them. Afterall, they are responsible for my book. I am so excited to share with you my overall design that Dan is bringing to life.

Dan and his team build each beautiful chicken coop by hand in an eco-friendly manner. Every coop is made in the Bay City, Michigan. This is not the first coop that I have ordered from Dan. It is actually our second one. When we started keeping chickens we purchased the smaller Victoria. We still love it!

This coop will be large enough to house Tilly and the girls as well as the new girls set to arrive later this spring. As our flock grows, with our flock rotation plans, so must the coop and run. The coop will have plenty of windows and the cupola will be functional as well. The mini-coop door for the girls will be able to be closed without us having to step inside the coop or run. The run will also have roofing to keep the girls semi-shaded and protected from the elements. 

The kids and I can't believe that our coop is arriving this week! We've been busy temporarily relocated the girls to prep the area for the new coop and run and digging up all the wonderful plants that surrounded the old coop. I think we are just about ready after one more day's worth of work, bringing in fill and leveling the ground a bit. I'll be sharing lots of pictures during the entire process, so stay tuned!

Being a Mom

Motherhood is fleeting.

It's exhausting, rewarding, and filled with many moments of pride. From the moment little ones are welcomed into the world and take their first breaths, we are there with them every step of the way. We nuzzle them. Take them under our wings. Feed them and nourish them. We teach them to explore, how to be brave and make life-long friends. Some days we go on adventures to new places and we always remember to tuck them in at night. We give them baths and teach them to bathe on their own. We straighten them out when they are out of line. We love them even through their awkward "teenage" years and watch them grow into mature young adults. Soon enough, we've done our job and it's time to let them flee the nest to make a life of their own, carrying so many lessons we have shared with them along the way.

There are so many similarities that I find between myself and a brooding mother hen. Sometimes, I think my time with my children under my roof is half over. I've blinked my eyes and they have grown like weeds reaching toward the sun.

I sit and watch the broody hen with her babies. I think about how her motherhood is wrapped up into a six week period. Perhaps this is the reason why they can have clutches after clutches over the years. It must be hard to savor one of the best jobs in the world over the course of a few weeks.

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 83 + an Heirloom Egg Topiary

I was on assignment this week from HGTV Gardens. My job was to create an egg topiary showcasing how beautiful chicken eggs can be in their natural state. Of course, I wanted to include many natural elements from the gardens. So I added a base made from a birch tree, moss, grapevines and burlap ribbon.
I topped it off with a sweet chalkboard sign that greets guests with any message. My kids asked me to draw a little bunny in the corner.
 To learn how to make a topiary like this on your own, please visit my post on HGTV Gardens for all the easy step-by-step instructions.

Welcome to this week's hop! Finally, for most of us around the country spring seems to have arrived. We had some awesome blogs link up last week to the hop. Thank you. Here are a few that you might enjoy visiting. I found them inspiring and I think you will too. Also, if you are new here, welcome! Glad you are joining us. Oh, and don't forget to share a link back to this blog hop at the bottom of the post you link up here. You'll need to do that in order to be featured next week.
Frugal Little Bungalow- Needle, Thread & Yarn
Preparedness Mama
Lucy's Nashville Nest- Adding Greens

The Editorial Process: A Book Update

I've had these flowers perched on the windowsill as inspiration. Spring is here and the gardens are calling and so are my the first round of edits on my book. It's been a while since I shared some updates with you and I thought that I would get you all up to speed on my backyard chicken book.

A week ago, I received the entire manuscript back from my editor at Storey Publishing. I am now in the process of reviewing the entire book in its edited form. From reading the editor's comments, rewriting certain sections, adding new material, and elaborating on her favorite parts; I've been busy! 

I am really pleased at how well the book is coming along. I never really realized how the entire book process works. There truly must be over 200 deadlines for my book alone. I've been assigned an entire team at Storey. This week the book's photographer is being selected and the photo shoot planning is underway for later this spring. We are also in the process of designing the book as well as finalizing subjects for photos and working with the illustrator. In a couple of week, we will be treated to some sample pages of the book that will determine the overall style and feel of the book. Then later this year, my publicist will help promote the book, schedule a book tour and other fun engagements along the way. I can't wait!

So for now, I'm off to finish the editing. The gardens will need to wait at least one more week until I can come out and play.

If you would like to get involved, have an idea or two for my publicist, suggest where you would like me to visit, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say! ~Melissa

Thinned Seedlings: A Healthy Treat for Chickens

A few weeks ago, the kids and I planted seedlings for the garden. We placed three seeds in each planting hole, hoping that at least one would germinate. We grew terrific seedlings, in fact too many! It was time to thin out the seedlings.

Sometime more than one seed will grow from that same planting hole. If there are too many plants close together, they will compete for nutrients and sunlight. The end result will be smaller plants that do not thrive as a solo one would. Thus, with a pair of scissors, we chose the best plant in each area and snipped the others out.

Some favorites of the chickens were added to the bowl including nasturtium, cucumbers, lettuce, anise, sunflowers, and bean sprouts. We avoided the eggplant and the tomato seedlings. Their leaves are poisonous to chickens.
The girls went wild as I tossed in the seedlings. Seedlings make a very healthy treat for your flock.
Plus, I'd rather give them to the chickens than toss them in the composter anyday! 

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest