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October 31, 2011

Costumed Eggs

 Halloween preparations took up most of the day along with a few errands.  When I went to grab the kids a snack after school, I noticed that Tilly's egg was shrouded by a dainty Silkie feather.  It was as though it had its own Halloween costume.  It was beautiful.  So pretty, that I snapped this photo inside of the fridge.
Happy Halloween 
from Tilly's Nest.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 30, 2011

Heating the Chicken Coop

Winter 2010
Chicken owners that live in cold climates often have to make some decisions when it comes to colder Fall and Winter weather.  One such dilemma is whether or not to heat your coop.  We live on Cape Cod,  where we have windy winters and temperatures that occasionally dip below zero. The Cape is a man-made island surrounded entirely by the ocean. The ocean greatly affects our weather and causes us to experience small temperature fluctuations between day and night.  Snow fall varies from year to year.  Some years we have very light snowfall and others deliver a wallop of 2 feet or more.

One decision that people need to make just as important as personalities and egg color is weather hardiness.  I will never forget hearing that Martha Stewart one year wanted to add "exotic" chickens to her Connecticut flock.  She soon realized that they were not cold hardy.  They perished early their first Winter.  My Pet Chicken has a wonderful breed selector that includes cold hardiness here.  All of our eight chickens are cold hardy, including the Silkies.  Choosing the right type of chicken for your environment is a very important factor not to be overlooked.

Chickens are birds and not mammals. Their bodies, circulatory system, respiratory system, reproductive systems are different. Therefore, we can not assume that they interpret, adapt or react the same way as our mammal bodies do in the cold.
We do not heat our chicken coop.  Knowing that we do experience occasional power outages, we did not want our flock to become accustomed to an artificially warmed coop.  Tales of flocks perishing from lack of a heated coop after an extended power outage was just something that we did not want to encounter.

Here are some tips for you to consider to help keep your coop warm without an additional heat source:

1. Consider the size of your coop.  Smaller coops heat up more quickly from the heat produced by the chickens than larger ones.  Coop size and flock size should match.

2.  Insulate around your coop with bales of straw.

3.  Keep your flock away from drafts, yet allow for adequate ventilation (usually vents in the rafters).

4.  Provide a thicker layer of pine shavings in colder weather than you do in the Summer.  Introducing, straw on the floor of the coop can also be a welcomed addition.

5.  Provide your flock with warm treats and warm water throughout the day.

6.  Feed your flock scratch 1 hour before they retire for the night.  Chickens' metabolism is higher in the Winter as they burn more fuel keeping warm.  A full tummy of scratch helps them to generate heat and an egg if they desire.

7.  Ensure that your chickens' roosts are wide enough and their feet are completely covered by their bodies when perched.

8.  Allow for Winter's sunshine to warm the coop by clearing away unnecessary trees and shrubbery.

9.  Repair areas of the coop that are vulnerable to water leaks.

10.  During the coldest evenings, apply Vaseline to the flock's combs and wattles to prevent frostbite.

11. In areas with sub-zero temperatures, consider insulating the inside of your coop.

Unexpectedly, yesterday the Northeast experienced a strong storm, a Nor'easter, with strong winds and lots of snow.  Most of our trees on the Cape are still with leaves. Still warmer than the rest of the state due to the ocean, we were spared any snow.  However, over 600,000 homes in Massachusetts are without power and many received 2 feet of snow.  A Nor'easter this early in the season is rare.  This storm was a great reminder to me that I cannot rely on the power company to keep my flock out of harm's way.

Here is a link to more tips on Winterizing your Coop and Flock. For over 130 more posts about everything chickens from yours truly, click here.

This post is linked up to Homestead Revival's Homestead Barn Hop.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 29, 2011

Love and Patience

Feathers is so patient.

Memorable Moment
June 9, 2011
Our yard~Osterville, MA

Our daughter was newly three years old when we first got our chickens.  From day one, she has loved to hold them, especially the Silkies!  She is incredibly gentle and loves to have her photo taken with the girls.  I help her to get a nice comfortable hold on a girl.  Then, as she is posing for the camera, the little chicken slowly slips down...down.....down.  I smile just thinking about rescuing the chickens from her tiny loving arms.  Our daughter will turn five next year.   I'll miss her holding the girls this way.  The girls on the other hand, maybe not so much.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 28, 2011

Feta and Spinach Quiche

I was inspired last night to bake a quiche that had many flavors familiar with Mediterranean and Greek cooking.  Quiche are so incredibly versatile. Anyone can easily create their own.  The pie crust, eggs and milk are all necessary, the rest can be up to you.  Here is what my creativity blossomed into last night.  It was so good, I even had a slice for breakfast!


1 ready made pie crust (I only use Pillsbury.)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup of milk
2/3 cup of feta cheese with Mediterranean herbs (I use the Trader Joes variety.)
2/3 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil
1/4 cup diced kalamata olives
1 1/2 cups frozen chopped spinach
1 medium tomato-diced
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard (I used Guldens.)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure out a cup and a half of frozen spinach and defrost it in the microwave.  Once defrosted,  in the palm of your hand take small amounts of the spinach and squeeze out all the excess water.  This is necessary to prevent a watery quiche.

Line a pie plate with your pie crust.

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk.  Next add the spinach, cheeses, tomatoes, olives, basil and mustard.  Whisk until all are well incorporated and then pour into the pie crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes, until quiche begins to brown slightly and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Hungry for more recipes? Click here.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 27, 2011

Hug a Chicken Day™

Earlier this month, the world celebrated World Egg Day.  This got me to thinking. Why aren't we celebrating the chicken?  So easily overlooked by many, it seems fitting to draw attention to these amazing animals.  Chickens not only deliver fresh delicious eggs to our door, but they also make fantastic pets.  They are capable of emotions and bring much joy to my family on so many levels.  I felt that there ought to be a day celebrating the backyard chicken.

During the entire day on November 5th, Hug a Chicken Day™,  people across the globe will be hugging and posting their pictures to this Facebook event.  On this day, please take the time to honor your chickens for all that they provide to your family and the world.  I hope to be joined by fellow chicken keepers in saying thank you.  All are welcome to attend and celebrate.  Last, but not least, mark your calendars.  I think this one might just set some sort of world record.

Please visit this link to Hug a Chicken Day™ on Backyard Chickens.  Feel free to post on here too.

Photo Credit:  4JPhotography

October 26, 2011

Inner Beauty

This week I had noticed some larger buff colored feathers in the run.  I did not notice anyone losing many feathers until today, when I noticed Oyster Cracker.  My most beautiful Buff Orpington, overnight lost most of her feathers!  The best part is, she doesn't even seem to notice.  Still loving the camera, her curiosity could not stop her from posing.  She is midway through her molt and it she will probably become worse before her new feathers arrive.  It can take up to 9 weeks for her body to create new feathers.  Even mid-molt, I still think she is gorgeous.   Her spirit is infectious and her spunk can brighten any dreary day.  Today her inner beauty sparkled with less feathers eclipsing her brilliance.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 25, 2011

Sleep Walking

I had a meeting this evening and my husband locked up the girls.  We are expecting rain tomorrow, so I double checked the coop's windows.  I also wanted to be sure that no one was sleeping in the nesting boxes. Under the cover of darkness, I approached the coop.

Checking the nesting boxes for sleeping chickens seems to be a regular habit.  Yet when I checked the last three nights, I found the nesting boxes had been empty.  Last night, I had even noticed that the sleeping arrangements had changed on the roosts.  Instead of eight girls cramming themselves onto a 4' roost, yes unbelievably that is what they preferred, they are now evenly distributed between roosts.  Two larger girls and two Silkies now sleep comfortably with room to breathe on their own roost.

I was not surprised when I checked in the boxes this evening.  I found a Buff Orpington egg in the right box and Dolly in the far left.  I scooped up the egg and then I scooped up Dolly.  She was fast asleep.  I first placed her on the pine shavings outside of the box.  I needed to reposition myself to place her on the perch.  After turning my body, I gently lifted her up and guided her feet to the roost. Still sound asleep, her body slowly sank like a rag doll off the back of the roost.  I picked her up again, using two hands this time, and ensured her feathered feet were properly placed on the roost.  She settled in next to Autumn.

I closed up the coop and whispered my good nights.  I know that chickens cannot see in the dark.  Therefore, they typically stay in one place once darkness falls.  I wonder if they realize when they wake up that they are  in a different place from where they started?  Its times like this when I wish we could communicate better.  I'd love to tell them that I am responsible for their sleep walking.

October 24, 2011

Now You Show Us Yours

Fall Perennial Garden
I had been talking to a fellow blogger about my ideas about the future of Tilly's Nest.  We shared ideas with one another, provided feedback and support.  Well the time has come to introduce an idea that I shared with her.  She loved it and I think you will too.

Our run
As you know, chicken coops and chickens can be addictive to say the least!  People love to see and share their coop, flock and technique that make their life easier in keeping a small backyard flock.  So, from now until the end of December, you can link up stories about your flock, pictures of you coops, share your ideas and so much more.  As long as we are talking about backyard chickens, feel free to share away!  I can't wait to meet and greet you and your chickens.

Coop and Run
3 nesting boxes, small feeder and roosts
Hanging waterer

Now it is your turn!  Show us what is going on in your backyard flock.  Link up below to join in on the fun and then hop on over to Homestead Revival for another great hop.
Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 23, 2011

Full Circle

This past weekend, we went on a road trip.  This was the first time that I brought my children back to see the house that I first lived in.  It had been over 22 years since I had visited rural New Jersey; a lot had changed.  My best friend's dairy farm was long gone and the corn fields that we would run through were now filled with large homes.  We took a drive up to see my old house.  It looked so different.  I expected it would, as so much time had passed.  Small trees were now giants.  Memories came flooding back.  As we continued up the road, there was an organic farm with a  farm stand.  Somethings had changed for the worse and some for the better.  

I felt on this trip that I came full circle.  I had forgotten a lot about my early childhood years after living in Los Angeles for almost 15 years.  As I returned to the car after snapping up these photos, my husband said to me, "I can understand now, why you wanted to raise chickens."  I thought about it for a minute.  He was right.  I suddenly had a better understanding too.  Farming experiences from my early childhood must have made a stronger impression on my character than I had ever realized.  Coming "home" suddenly made sense.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 22, 2011

You Can Do It!

Playing with the babies

Yesterday, I had to have the internet connection inspected by the cable company.  For some reason, the cable was dropping out intermittently, causing me major grief.  Amazingly, the technician showed up on time and closer to the beginning of the appointment window than the end.  I was impressed.  I was also very happy that he was able to correct the problem.

Like most visitors, he noticed the chickens.  He was interested, so I went into my quick "chicken infomercial" mode and we spent time talking about the girls.  We talked about what they eat, housing and predators.  We discussed the ease of keeping chickens and he was thrilled about the possibility of having a flock of his own.

Keeping chickens is not difficult.  Some say that they had never thought of keeping chickens as pets.   Their upkeep exists somewhere between keeping a cat and a dog.  For the most part, given food and shelter, they are pretty self sufficient.  A couple of times during the day, you will need to check for eggs.  They are incredibly social animals.  They make for wonderful learning opportunities with children and are fabulous conversation starters. You can do it.  It's easy and here is a great place to start.  The rest can be found here.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 21, 2011

Hancock Shaker Village

Memorable Moment
April 28,2008
Hancock Shaker Village
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Every Spring we make an annual trip to Hancock Shaker Village to see the baby farm animals.  There are flocks of chickens and turkeys that free range during the day and intermingle among the guests.  These were two hens that we met on that day.  This was the first day that I thought it could be possible to keep a flock of our own.  When did you realize that keeping a backyard flock could be a reality for you?

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 20, 2011

Tilly's Holiday Cards

Tilly's Nest Holiday Cards
approx 4"x6"
20 notecards per set

Plus Shipping and Handling


October 19, 2011

Good Morning Sunshine

It was dark and gloomy this morning.  Rain was surely coming.  I was out at 7am and there was a damp chill in the air.  I decided to cover the run with its plastic cover so that the girls would be able to stay dry outside despite the rainy forecast.  After I covered the run, I opened the coop door for the girls to run out and greet the day.  Out they popped one by one, in search of scratch that was freshly strewn.  Usually, this is the perfect opportunity for me to do the daily upkeep in the coop without any curious visitors.  As I opened up the nesting box lid, this is who greeted me looking for love this morning.

Curious as ever, Sunshine poked her head out of the nesting box as I refilled the waterer and feeder.  Cautiously, she stayed in the box and conversed with me as I attended to their needs.  She cocked her head from side to side, perhaps looking for hawks or taking in the view from a different perspective.  It was a sweet surprise to spend one on one time with our own Sunshine on such a gloomy morning.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 18, 2011

A Sewing Project

I have double pink eye.  So, I don't get to spend too much time with the chickens.  I do not like handling them when any of us are ill.  We try to keep our interactions to a minimum on sick days.  I realize that it is rare that illnesses cross between humans and animals but we like to err on the cautious side. My daughter was off from school and we needed a project to keep us away from the chickens.

Late in September, my kids decided that they wanted to be Angry Birds for Halloween.  The evening that they told me, I hopped on-line and ordered the red bird costume for my four year old daughter and the yellow bird costume for my eight year old son.  They were scheduled to ship from Toys R Us on October third.  Well, October third came and went.  We waited.  Yesterday, I received an email that they cancelled the order.  The costumes were never coming.  After the kids went to sleep, I quickly popped on line and scoured the internet searching for two children's Angry Bird costumes.  They were available, for over $80!  I then decided that maybe I could sew them myself.  My kids had their hearts set on these costumes.  With my talents, they would either end up being the talk of their classrooms in a good way or in a "My mom made this ridiculous costume and I'm wearing it because she made me".

I learned to sew a drawstring handbag in the fourth grade at 4-H with Mrs. Freu's guidance.  It took 6 agonizing months!  I never did sew much after that.  Now and then, I would sew a straightforward quilt, a baby blanket, a bag for the beach.  Today, I decided that I would take a trip to the fabric store with my daughter.  We would make those Angry Bird Costumes even without a pattern.

I guesstimated the amounts of fabric and grabbed felt squares for the faces off of the shelves based on the photo I had in my IPhone.  We came home and quickly got to work.  I laid my daughter on the fabric and sketched the basic shapes.  I pinned, I sewed, I cut for 3 hours.  My daughter helped me along the way.  Her favorite part was being my model and stuffing.

Finally, they were complete.  They didn't turn out too badly if I do say so myself.  If I know my kids, they will put these on after my son gets home from school and go show the chickens.  They share everything with the chickens; report cards, new toys, stories from the day and now their Halloween costumes.  I wonder what the girls will think?

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 17, 2011

A Rare Occasion

It is rare when all four of our Silkies lay an egg in the same day.  Today was such an occasion.  It made me smile.  Silkie Bantams are not known to be the best egg layers, laying only 2 eggs or so per week.  With our four Silkies, I typically  find one or two of their eggs per day.  However, they are incredibly lovable, great mothers and sweet pets.  Dolly's eggs usually are cream colored.  Today it was white as snow.  These girls are always amazing me.  I shared this with my kids today and they told me that this egg was special because it was different.  This made me smile even more; another lesson learned from chickens.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 16, 2011

Leaf Peeping

We went peeping of a different sort this weekend.  We left the chickens with our faithful babysitter and were off to the Berkshires of Massachusetts.  Wonderful fall foliage was a plenty.  Apple picking, a trip to Norman Rockwell's Stockbridge and Mount Greylock were on the agenda.   Fall in New England is nothing short of spectacular.

Bartlett's Orchard

Map of Barlett's Orchard

Mt. Greylock
The chickens received an excellent report from the babysitter.  They were happy to have us return.  This week, as we put the apples to good use making apples pies, bread and crisp, the chickens are going to love eating the fresh apple cores and skins.  

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 15, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Chili

This chili recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray.  I loved the idea of a spicy buffalo chicken style chili but it was lacking something. With a few adjustments and a little tweaking, It is a hearty delicious meal great for a chilly evening.  It is also great to serve on game day over tortilla chips, garnished with blue cheese and extra hot sauce on the side.


2 pounds of ground chicken
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 large chopped onion
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
2 (15oz) cans of white Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup of Frank's Hot Sauce
2 (15oz) can crushed tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
Crumbled Blue Cheese for garnish


In a large pot over medium high heat lightly brown the chicken, celery, onions, garlic and carrots in the olive oil for about 5 minutes.

Next add the paprika, salt and pepper and the bay leaf.  Continue cooking for about 2 minutes and then slowly add the chicken broth, loosening any bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the hot sauce, beans, tomatoes, bayleaf and simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Serve as a soup or on top of tortilla chips.  Garnish with blue cheese crumbles.

Want more recipes?  Find them here.

October 14, 2011

Happy World Egg Day

Happy World Egg Day!  World Egg Day is celebrated annually on the second Friday in October.  Today is when the world celebrates and raises awareness about the benefits of eggs.  World Egg Day was first established in 1996 at the International Egg Commission’s conference in Vienna.  Eggs have played a huge role in feeding families around the world and thus they were given their own day of celebration.   They are perfectly packaged by the chickens and affordable for many around the globe.   They have fantastic health benefits and are full of protein and vitamins.  They are a great source of choline for developing brains and memory and have been proven to help prevent deteriorating eyesight due to macular degeneration.

Here are some ways that you and your family can celebrate World Egg Day!

Eat eggs today.  You can serve them at all meals of the day.  Get creative!
Participate in an Egg Hunt
Read stories about eggs.
Debate the age old question, which came first the chicken or the egg.
Have an egg throwing contest.
Share World Egg Day with your friends.


Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 13, 2011

Missing A Friend

My heart was heavy today.  For some reason, I was thinking about Chocolate, the rooster that we rehomed this past Spring. I think a lot about him and see memories of him, like old movies scrolling through my mind.  I can still remember how it felt to hold him, his wiry neck feathers and his strong feathered feet.  His warm comb against my cheek.  I wonder if he is happy?  Does his family love him as much as I did?  Is he spoiled?  Is he alive?  Does he remember me?  Does he miss his old girls?

 I used to have to hold him like a baby on his back and remind him who was the "boss".

He was a gorgeous fellow that looked out so carefully for his girls.  We just could not keep him, as he took his job too seriously.  I waffled with the decision for months.  I did my best to keep him.   My experiences with Chocolate made me realize how much I truly do love these chickens as my pets.  I don't think,even though I have tried, I will or could ever forget.

Photo Credit:  GLC

P.S. For those of you interested, Appliances Online is selecting a winner from those that comment on this post.  All you have to do is comment as usual.  Good Luck! 

October 12, 2011

Not in My Backyard or Yours

My friend, Terry Golson, keeps chickens and a bunny together.

Recently I read the book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  It was excellent.  It served as a reminder that people form, spread and create laws based on opinions and not facts.  If you look carefully, history has taught us this lesson time and time again with many different scenarios, yet many ignore it, continuing to base their beliefs and practices on hearsay or another's opinion.  Even animals receive stereotypes, take the backyard chicken for example.  Below in bold is what many believe, yet many have never met a small flock of backyard chickens in their life.  I beg to differ.

Chickens are stinky and filthy animals.  All animals whether you keep dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbit, reptiles, snakes, hermit crabs or parakeets require upkeep and maintenance from time to time.  If neglected, those animals would and can give off unpleasant scents and attract flies.  A small flock of 4-10 hens is easy to maintain.  When properly cared for on a regular basis, your chickens will be free from odor.  In fact, they do care about being clean.  Yes, they take daily dust baths.  They also roost in the evening which helps keep their feathers clean and away from poop.  Sometimes, like all animals, they need a little help.  You can bathe chickens when necessary if they are not doing a good enough job.  How clean you keep your chickens is up to YOU. 

Chickens lure predators and rodents to my yard.  At night even large cities have animals that arrive under the cover of darkness.  They are out looking for food.  In addition to seeking a chicken dinner, predators will seek left over scraps that the chickens did not eat.  They will also drink from your chickens’ water source.  Rodents will do the same.  At night, take a moment to clean the run of any left-over food.  Take the waterers inside.  Be sure that all food/scratch is locked up in metal containers.  Predators and rodents are smart.  Once they realize that food and water sources do not exist around your coop and run, they move on.

Chickens will make me sick.  As with any animals, people should always wash their hands after coming in contact with them.  If one's clothing becomes soiled while handling animals they should be changed and laundered.  The greatest risk with chickens is Salmonella.  The risk of salmonella decreases with hand washing.  All domestic animals are capable of carrying and spreading diseases. What about Avian Flu?  Here is what the CDC has to say:

We have a small flock of chickens. Is it safe to keep them?
Yes. In the United States there is no need at present to remove a flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian influenza. The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors potential infection of poultry and poultry products by avian influenza viruses and other infectious disease agents.

Chickens are noisy.  If you have a rooster(s), this is sometimes the case.  Roosters can and will crow at any hour day and night.  There are techniques to help keep roosters quiet and neighbors happy.  However, without roosters in a flock, backyard chickens are virtually undetectable.  Sometimes there is an occasional “Bawk-Bawk-Bawk” as a proud hen declares that she has laid her egg.   You might also hear your flock call out if they are in danger.  Chickens will sound the alarm and notify all in hearing distance that something is askew.

Chickens will decrease the value of homes in the neighborhood.  We are not talking about starting up a chicken farm.  A small flock will live in a small coop.  The coop and run are removable if the new owner decides chicken keeping is not for them.  Some people will choose to take their set-ups with them.  If people think that a small flock of chickens tucked into a backyard garden will bring down their property value then, what about a dog run?  What about those people who allow junk to collect all over their property?  What about hoarders? 

What chickens will do is create beautiful compost.  They will eat bugs, including ticks, mosquitoes, slugs, and black widows.  They will fertilize your gardens and eat weeds.  They will lay wonderful eggs and  make wonderful pets.  Click here to see the resume of a chicken.  Please help educate local residents and lawmakers about keeping backyard chickens.  Responsible people should be able to keep backyard chickens nationwide.  A little education can open many peoples' eyes.  Fear of the unknown is not reason enough.  

By the way, thought you should know that the CDC, part of the US. government, is now considering backyard chickens as pets!


Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 11, 2011

If at First You Don't Succeed

Fifi is at the bottom of the pecking order.  It is not such a bad thing in our flock. Some chickens in other flocks are terrorized in that position.  Not in ours, Fifi is left alone for the most part until she needs to lay an egg.  I am not sure if it is due to her rank in the pecking order or just plain confusion as she is learning to lay eggs, but every other day or so, she lays an egg in one of the large dusting holes.  She seems to think that is a nest.

I have added fake wooden decoy eggs in the nesting boxes to try and lure her into laying in the coop.  I have also tried to feed the others snacks more frequently, so she can get into the nesting boxes when the bigger girls are distracted.  Nothing has worked.  Over the past two weeks, I have scooped out 10 eggs.  Yesterday, I had accepted that I would be scooping her delicate tiny eggs from the bathing bowls as they were laid.  At least everyone else was laying in the nesting boxes.

This afternoon, I went to check for eggs and found, Feathers in the nesting box.  Usually, she lets out a growl as I pet her captive body in the box waiting for the egg to arrive.  Strangely today, she did not growl.  She was quiet and let me pet her.  This could only mean one thing.  I was petting Fifi, not Feathers.  Fifi was in the nesting box laying her egg!  I quickly ran into the garage and distracted the others with dried meal worms.

Fifteen minutes later I returned.  Inside the nesting box, was the tiny cream colored egg laid by Fifi.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 10, 2011

Tilly's Necklace

Handcrafted from brass wire and turquoise beads
each nest, due to wiring variations, is one of a kind.
Lovingly created by Melissa of Tilly's Nest, 
the nest is approximately the size of a quarter and is strung on leather cording.


Please email 

Here is what customers are saying:

" I just got the necklace. So pretty!!!!"

" I got my Nest necklace yesterday. It was wrapped up so pretty I almost didn't want to open it, I love it. I put it on right away and wore it to dinner."

This post is linked up to Homestead Revival's Homestead Barnhop.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 9, 2011

Doing Nothing

Approaching my lap

The week has been incredibly busy.  So busy that it just seemed to whiz by and when I tried to recall what I had done, it was just a big blur.  Unfortunately this weekend is also jam packed with to do lists, sporting events and errands that remained from the week.

I knew that I had to clean out the coop.  In my mad rush, I accomplished this very quickly yet I could not help but notice that the chickens were needing some attention.  They missed me this past week.  In typical fashion, Oyster Cracker came over.  As I sat on the stoop of the run door, she nestled and tucked her head in between my knees.  I scooped her up.  She immediately sat there in my lap and snuggled.  She shook her head and tried to bury it into my elbow, arm pit and underneath my neck;  she could not get close enough.  There we sat together for a few moments and then I lifted her up and placed her on the floor of the run.  No sooner, she returned and asked to be held again.  So it went, six more times!  Finally, I gave in and just decided to hold her.  She needed me and I think I needed what was about to happen next.

I took some deep breaths and could suddenly smell the fire from a wood burning stove in the cool crisp air.  I could feel it filling my lungs and could feel myself exhaling the week's demands.  I held her feathers and admired them, all unique yet forming the most delicate blanket of downy softness, her heart beating rapidly and her breast bone tucked in the palm of my hand.  I listened and could hear the leaves rustling in the trees and some crows yelling in the distance.  We sat there for about 20 minutes together, just content to be with each other.  I think she might have even taken a nap.  This was the longest time that we spent together.  Oyster Cracker had reminded me about taking a minute to breathe, to clear my mind and to allow myself stolen moments like this to just do nothing.  Doing nothing turned out to be just what I needed.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 8, 2011


Yesterday in the brilliant sunshine and cover of a warm garage, I did a photo shoot with Viola's new little chicks for Tilly's Nest holiday cards.  We had a great photo shoot and by the end, all of the chicks fell asleep in the hay.  The kids had a blast helping and we could not have wished for better supermodels.  They still need editing, but I loved, how wonderfully warm the sun made this little chick feel and how she was absolutely glowing!

As requested by many of you, holiday cards are coming in the next week.  

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 7, 2011

Recycling Your Backyard Chicken Eggshells

Eggshells are entirely compostable. However, instead of throwing them into the compost bin, why not feed them back to your flock? They are a great source of calcium for your flock and you can't beat the price, free.

Start by leaving the larger cracked egg shells intact and drying them completely on low heat (200 degrees F.) in your oven on a baking sheet for about 1 hour. It is important to bake them to kill off bacteria or mold that still may be present and that can harm your flock.

Once completely dried, place them on newspaper. Then use a rolling pin to crush them into smaller than a dime, bite size pieces for your chickens. Crushing them ensures that your chickens will no longer recognize them as eggs. This is important because you do not want your chickens to start eating their freshly laid eggs as a source of calcium. important to bake them to kill any bacteria or mold

No need to worry if you only eat a few eggs at a time. A great place to save those egg shells is in a metal pie tin on top of your toaster oven. Over the course of a few days, your egg shells will not only collect but dry as you use the toaster oven.

This post is linked up to Deborah Jean's Dandelion House Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop.

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

October 6, 2011


Today's post is number 365. 

I have been blogging about backyard chickens everyday for a year.  I began to keep an online journal about backyard chickens when it became clear to me that a one stop source about backyard chickens did not exist on the internet.  When I needed information, I would find myself searching for hours, piecing together data like a jigsaw puzzle from many sources; feeling lost and sometimes completely alone on my adventure.  In addition, I also wanted to remember the girls' endearing stories and lessons.   So I began to collect the information and write the stories down.  Tilly's Nest was born.

Then I began to get followers...

I expected that some people would eventually find us; those that kept chickens and were seeking out information.  However, I found it amazing that people actually wanted to read about chickens without even having a flock of their own.  People from all over the world are tuning in!

My chickens, my pets.

I have always believed that backyard chickens can be pets.  Many beg to differ, but over the course of the year, I have come to realize that these feathered girls know me, respect me and love me in their own chicken ways.  I can say that I feel the same about them.  We are family.  They are taking us on a  journey even if we never venture further than our yard.

The best is yet to come.

I am amazed at what this little blog has become.  Tilly's Nest has provided us with many opportunities and blessings and we certainly would not still be blogging if it weren't for all of the support and encouragement from our fans!  Thank you so much everyone!  We have lots planned for the upcoming year and hope that you will continue to stop in and visit us once in a while.

Thank you.

Photo Credit:  3Liz4

October 5, 2011

Self Containment is Not Possible...

...when treats are involved!  It never gets old.  Happy little chickens knowing that they are about to get their daily treats.  As I squatted today in front of the run fumbling with the lock, I snapped this picture. When they hear me yell out "giiiiiiiiirrrrrrrllllllsss" they come running.  Leaping up from their dust baths or out of a nesting box from freshly laying an egg; they are there at the door, like exuberant dogs greeting their owners.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 4, 2011


Today we had to go to Boston for an appointment.  We left late morning.  Right before, I went out and visited with the girls.  I fed them scratch, gave them their treats, meal worms and then asked them not to eat any eggs.  I knew that we would be out until sometime after dinner.

When I am out, I am curious.

Will they get along?
Will someone pull rank?
Will they snuggle when they are cold?
Will they be kind to one another?
Will they share treats that they find in the run with each other?
Will they eat their eggs?
Will they eat their meals together?
Will they have deep discussions?
Will they do any housekeeping?
Will they have any unexpected visitors?

Interestingly, I often have the same worries about the chickens as I do about our children when my husband and I go out on a date and leave the kids with the babysitter.  Despite the obvious differences between feathered families and human ones, we are not much different.  Interpersonal dynamics are parts of all families.  We assume multiple familial roles and we all experience sadness, joy, happiness, worry, and love.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

October 3, 2011

In the Name of Love

You love them so as much as I
Simply put, they are our pets
Like the family dog and cat
They all have names;

Puff, Fluff, Sparkle, Shaniqua, Ray, Mr. Big Stuff, Lanie, Silver, Fudge, Snow Whites number 1-4
Living in the Nuthouse~Butternut, Coconut, Honeynut, Peanut, Nutcracker (head hen)
Yoda, Obi-Wan, Miss Fancy Feathers, Chicken Little, Ginger
Rockettes, Chickpeas, Wyonnia Wyonette, Elvira, Spots, Snickerdoodle, Cinnamon, Coffee Bean, Nick
Peanut, Pumpkin, Pickles, Peppers, Peaches, Hayley, Helen, Hazel, Hanna, Harriet, Henny Penny, Pistol Pete
Ruby, Checkers, Goldie, Melba, Billie Jean, Roxanne, Fern, Piper
Momma, Honey, Rosie, Snowball
Daisy, Daphne, Big Red, Gladis
Gerty, Rhonda, Tati, Betty, Kim, Lefty, Claire, Scarlett, Pru, Aubry, Tilly, Leslie, Gwen, Sylvie
Cock a doodle
Popcorn, Sprinkles, Dotty, Baby~aka Chicken Nugget
Amelia, Henrietta, Georgia, Penny, Patty, Ruby, Riley, Buffy, Bonnie
The Spice Girls~Ginger, Coco, Pumpkin, Poppy
Mittens, Milky, Rainbow, Rosie, DSK
Mrs. Threadgood, Evelyn, Ruth, Issie, Smokey Lonesome, Feathers, Blanche, Eva, Estelle, Honary, Aroar
Jack, Gerdie, Bojangles, Penny, Maybelline, Henrietta, Cheepie
Sassy, Sadie, Dixie, Daisy, Rosie
Snooki, Gaga, Oreo and Dilly-Pearl, Butter, Angel, SkullCrusher, ShinerBock, Logan, Smidge, Nate-Nate, Ashes
Peanut, Chocolate, Tilly, Oyster Cracker, Sunshine, Dolly, Autumn, Meesha, Feathers, Fifi, Dottie Speckles, Percy Peepers

These brought many smiles to my face
Some will never understand 
how we feel about our chickens.

Thank you friends for sharing these all on our Facebook page today!

Photo Credit:  4J Photography

October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Picking

Today was a gorgeous Fall day here on Cape Cod.  We took the family this afternoon out for pumpkin picking, apple cider, a hay ride and freshly popped popcorn at Cobwebb Farm.  We picked out some lovely items for our home and two sugar pumpkins for the chickens; one for now and one for later.

Our selections

When we returned home, someone had laid an egg in our absense.  My son placed it on the cinderlla pumpkin decorating the front porch for safe keeping and then helped me introduce the sugar pumpkin to the girls.

As usual, they were suspect and afraid of the new orange round thing.  I am not worried.  It will only take one brave soul, probably Dottie Speckles, and soon they will be indulging in fresh slimy pumpkin goodness.  Oh, did I mention that raw pumpkin seeds are natural wormers for chickens?

Cobwebb Farm is open on Weekdays and Weekends
and by appointment

1525 Osterville West Barnstable Road
West Barnstable, MA

Photo Credits:  Tilly's Nest