Month : January 2012

IMG_3850-1.JPG
Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Love, Happiness and Cabbage on a String

Never far from me, Oyster Cracker
As I walked across the yard to deliver a cabbage pinata to the girls, I caught Dottie Speckles and Oyster Cracker taking a dust bath together.  There they were nuzzling their beaks as the dust and dirt was being tossed high in the air.  As I approached, they were so content that they did not budge.  Instead, they just rolled over, puffed out their feathers, and began to roll around as if it was an orchestrated show.  They would curl and straighten their legs all the while twisting and contorting their bodies into yoga poses for chickens.  I could not help but smile.
The Silkies too, continue to be the wonderful broody little ones that they are.  It is a constant struggle in their brains from day to day.  Shall I be broody?  How many days shall I allow it to last?  Will I ever get to hatch one of these eggs?  I have become content and happy to open the nesting boxes and find one of my little fluff balls growling at me. I lift their featherless chests up, harvest warm toasty eggs from underneath and praise them for being so sweet.
Everyone is laying their eggs in the nesting boxes.   The Silkies always let me know when their eggs are coming.  They sing their egg songs sometimes so loudly, that I can hear them calling out despite the closed windows of winter. Finally, no one is standing guard at the coop door anymore, regulating who and when one gets to lay their eggs.  For a while, it was a job that Sunshine was taking way too seriously!

Harmony has returned to the coop.  Between the hanging pinata and the Flock Block, the winter boredom has been busted and the pecking order, for now, is clear.  I retrieved seven eggs today; not bad for eight happy chickens in the middle of Winter. It just goes to show you sometimes it is the simple things in life, like love and cabbage on a string, that help us to find happiness.Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

IMG_0605
Chickens Coop Care Health Issues

Getting to Know You: Integrating and Combining Flocks of Backyard Chickens

Before long, it will be time to put these
out there with these.

If you already have an existing flock and plan to order chicks this year, the time will eventually come to integrate the chickens. Since keeping chickens, I have done this twice. I have integrated adult hens and young pullets into the flock. It is never easy, especially watching from the outside. You’ll find yourself wanting to protect each and everyone. You’ll worry about every chicken and just want everyone to get along. The integration process takes about two weeks. During that time, it seems as though the pecking reminders given to each other lessen as each new day arrives. A new pecking order is beginning to form; some are struggling to assert and retain existing positions as others try to gain a higher place within the order. I have found that roosters can make the integration process easier. They will protect and mediate all their hens, new and old, regardless of their place pecking order. Roosters are known for keeping peace. Here are my tips for a successful flock integration.

Tilly's Nest- Viola chick
Chickens Coop Care Health Issues

Spring Fever “Chicklist”

new chicken checklist
By now the seed catalogs and emails are flurrying in. Gardens will soon be planted. Buds on trees will awaken. The earth will thaw and the soil will become ripe for planting. It seems too early, but it is time to order baby chicks. Ordering early in the season, not only guarantees you the best selection, but it also helps to guarantee your preferred week of delivery. In the past, some breeds have sold out for the season as early as March! Breed selections should be based on climate, egg color, temperament of the chicken and their housing needs. The decision is never easy and if you ask anyone who has kept chickens, I think they will agree, that keeping chickens can become addictive! My Pet Chicken has a great breed selector tool to help you stay focused. If you are embarking on the adventure of keeping chicks for the first time, you might want to check out our five part series on starting out. Remember, the early bird gets the worm, pick of chicks and best supplies! Today, I’m sharing my new chicken checklist with you.

IMG_4440-1.JPG
Chickens Health Issues Stories from Our Nest

Flock Block

The chickens are feeling trapped.  Mother Nature dropped 8 inches of snow in their world.  We shoveled out pathways beyond the coop and run.  However, the girls still think we are holding them hostage with this white stuff called snow.  The snow is too deep to go wandering across; one false move and they would surely sink in up to their bellies.  Boredom has set in and no matter the distractions that I create, they never seem to last long enough.  So, I did some research today and discovered the Flock Block which encourages “natural pecking”.

Giveaways

Giveaway: Bainbridge Farm Goods Sign

We are pleased to announce our newest sponsor, Bainbridge Farm Goods. We are so happy and excited to have them with us. Off the coast of Washington State lies Bainbridge Island. It is a magical place, close enough to the city yet far enough away live like a farmer. These fellow chicken keepers and gardeners decided to create lovely signs to accent their property. Suddenly, their handcrafted signs were a huge hit. It is easy to see why. They are incredible! Each sign is made with love on Bainbridge Island. The signs are mounted on heavy duty aluminum and are not only weather proof but their brilliant colors are also UV resistant.

I love the idea of putting the signs outside on the chicken coop.

They are so pretty they can even be hung inside to create a focal wall.

Sometimes it’s the unexpected decorations in the garden that make your visit memorable.


Bainbridge Farm Goods has generously donated this sign below for our giveaway. This sweet red sign measures 12″x18″ and would be wonderful hung near your coop, on a fence or in your home. We all know how wonderful fresh eggs taste, especially from happy chickens!

Here is how you can enter to win!

1. You must leave a comment on this blog for entry. Only comments here on this blog post will be accepted as an entry. Be sure to leave an email address so that we can contact you if you do not have a blog. (1 entry) If you are doing any of the below actions to increase your number of entries, please let us know in your comment(s). You can earn 4 entries in this amazing giveaway!

2. Pay a visit to Bainbridge Farm Goods and let me know which sign is your favorite. (1 entry)

3. Become a fan of Bainbridge Farm Goods on Facebook (1 entry)

4. Become a fan of Tilly’s Nest on our website and on Facebook (1 entry) Current fans already receive extra entry.

Good luck!

This contest ends on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 11:59 pm East Coast Time.
Item ships to US addresses only.
Photo Credits: Bainbridge Farm Goods

IMG_4430.JPG
Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Snowflakes and Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers…Emily Dickinson
 
 

It seems that mid-Winter is upon us. We are finally experiencing our first snowstorm, yet everyone is eager for Spring. Gardening and seed catalogs are abundant in the mailboxes, yet they seem to be the only sign of warmer weather ahead. This time of year can be downright depressing for some. The joys of the holidays are behind us. The skies are perpetually gray and gloomy. The trees are bare, revealing their tangled branches reaching for the sky, and the grass is a dull muted shade of green. I too have fallen victim to the gloom of Winter. After having lived in Southern California for years, where it seems like everyday is filled with brilliant sunshine, adapting to gloomy Winter weather has taken some time.

Even the chickens seem to be done with Winter.  Despite my continuing efforts of smothering them with toys, treats, distractions, hanging balls of cabbages and affection, they too are bored. I can’t blame them. There is not much to see. Birds have migrated away.  The wild turkeys have not been around.   The little chipmunks are busy stuffing their cheeks instead of teasing the girls. Local squirrels are hanging out by the bird feeder and I can’t be out with them for hours at a time.

Yet somehow, this year, I have yet to experience feeling any seasonal depression. I revel in the fleeting sunshine. I enjoy taking care of the girls in the Winter. I thaw their waterers. I keep them entertained.  I think about gardening just for them; filling their own garden with herbs, lettuces and other tasty things. But I think what has made the most difference is the girls themselves. They are so peppy and energetic. Their feathered colors form a moving rainbow on the gray backsplash. They have a lust for life that is overflowing from their tiny little bodies. It is difficult to experience anything but joy when your flock is so incredibly inspiring.
Eventually I know today’s snow will melt.   The birds and wildlife will return for the chickens to see along with budding trees and sunny skies filled with white puffy clouds. I will be out in the yard tilling the warm garden soil and calling to the girls when I discover a fresh juicy worm of Spring.  They will come running, teetering their robust bodies back and forth on their legs, as they happily oblige in a little free ranging and exploring the wonders of Spring.

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

 

Eggs Main Dishes Recipes

South of the Border Quiche

I love quiche! In fact, I have shared many quiche recipes over the years with you here on our blog.  I was craving my Mexican lasagna but I wanted to avoid the carbohydrates that came with using an entire package of tortillas.  Thus, this quiche was created.  I replaced carbs with protein and incorporated Mexican flavors.  It was delicious, easy and satisfying.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Ingredients:

1 premade-pie crust
6 large eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of shredded Mexican cheese mix
4 chicken sausages (I used the Trader Joe’s jalapeno variety)
1/2 cup salsa
1 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
1/3 cup drained sliced black olives


Preparation:


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the pie crust into a pie plate and set aside.

On the stove, over medium heat in a frying pan, brown the sausages on all sides. After about 7 minutes, remove the sausages from the pan, cut them into bite size pieces and then return them to the pan for about another 5 minutes of cooking.  Stir frequently.  Once browned and cooked through, set them aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until well combined.  Next add the sausage, cheese, salsa, olives and cilantro.  Mix until well blended.

Pour the egg mixture into the pie crust.  Be sure that the sausage is spread evenly in the pie crust.

Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes until the quiche is cooked through and the top is golden brown.  A toothpick inserted into the center of the quiche, when removed, should have no uncooked egg residue.

Serve with a side salad or fresh fruit.

For more of our quiche recipes, easy meals and baked goods, click here.


Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

IMG_4221.JPG
Chickens Coop Tours

Tour de Coop: Scratch and Peck

Lauren Scheuer and I have become great friends over our common love for chickens.  We spoil our girls.  We love them deeply and are constantly entertained by their antics.  So, you can imagine my excitement when I finally got to meet the girls I knew so dearly through her blog!

As we stood in her kitchen, there out across the backyard was her beautifully constructed coop.  Lauren designed it herself.  She has made many coops since keeping chickens and this one seems to house the girls perfectly.  The thing I love about Lauren is she is very talented with power tools and design.  If she envisions it, she builds it.
Her menagerie of girls have many different ways to explore and enjoy life.  They have a chicken tractor, they have various mobile pens and they have a fantastic guard dog named Marky.  Marky is the girls’ protector.  He watches over them when they are out and about.  He warns them of imminent danger and takes his job very seriously.

 

It was a cold January morning when I met the girls.  There they were; Fern, Pigeon, Lucy, Daisy and Lil’ White.  Lauren shared some treats as an icebreaker.  At first they were afraid of me, until I squatted on the ground in the run and said hello in my best chicken voice.  Somehow, the language is universal and they all came over one by one to greet me.

There was…

Fern

 

 

Pigeon
Daisy
Lil’ White
and
Lucy
Lucy is Lauren’s special needs chicken.  Years ago, seemingly overnight, Lucy was afflicted with Marek’s Disease that affected her feet and her ability to walk.
 I believe that it was Lauren’s love and special attention to this girl that gave her the will to survive.  Over the past couple of years, Lucy has regained the ability to walk, yet is crippled, slow and very methodical.  During my visit, she walked across the run to meet up with Lauren at her sweet little house made just for her. Sometimes she prefers to stay inside this tiny house. Other times, she can be seen perched on the edge of the platform with a bird’s eye view of the yard, run and her family.  I think her favorite thing is to hop up onto Lauren’s forearm and go for a ride.

Lauren has designed her coop with great attention to detail, both decorative and practical.  She has included outside nesting boxes for easy egg harvesting.

Her run and coop are covered and are designed with an A-frame roof.  It is perfect for rain and snow to melt away and never create too much weight.  She covers the hardware cloth with plastic sheeting in the Winter to help minimize the girls’ exposure to the elements.  This also serves to keep the portion of the run closest to the coop sheltered.  A ramp leads up to the entry door of the coop.  A heated dog bowl in the covered run keeps their water from freezing in the winter and food is available at all times.  Play things are abundant including logs, treat containers and perches.  Lauren tells me that her best idea was adding play sand to this portion of the run.

Inside the coop, there are a variety of perches of different widths and heights to meet every chicken’s desire.  Lauren uses pine shavings on the floor.  Despite her best efforts, poor Fern always needs to retire at night with the help of Lauren.  The coop has a large window that faces the morning sun.  It is perfect for early risers and wonderful to give outsiders a glimpse in.

Soon enough, the cold began to nip at our noses and we needed to return inside to the warmth of the house and get ready for our day trip to the Poultry Congress.

Lauren reminded Marky of his chicken duties. I watched the two of them communicate without words.  It was clear he understood.



If you would like to see more of our Tour de Coops, click here.


Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest

IMG_4276.JPG
Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Magical Chickens

Jan Brett’s entries

One of the wonderful things I spoke of in my last post was networking and meeting people that love their chickens just as much as me.  Many people know of Jan Brett, the magnificent illustrator and author of numerous globe trotting children’s books.  With her amazing attention to the smallest of details, her lovely stories and meticulous illustrations are downright magical.

I had known that Jan Brett was also a fellow chicken keeper and raised show quality Polish Hens.  I also knew that she loved to share the joy of chickens with children.  When I attended the Boston Poultry Expo last month, I had hoped to catch a glimpse of Jan Brett.  I never did see her, but I did meet someone who knew of her.  I met a pre-adolescent girl, whom I will call Kay, and her mother.  As Kay was busy chatting and running around with fellow younger poultry exhibitors, I had a chance to speak to Kay’s mother about the transformation that chicken keeping had brought to her daughter’s life.  With much help, love, and guidance from Jan Brett, Kay was learning life’s lessons through her favorite chicken, Jasmine. Kay was transforming into a well-spoken articulate young lady with a wonderful sense of self and accomplishment.  It was lovely meeting them and I knew that I would not forget them.

This past weekend at the Congress, I saw Jan Brett.  I even went over and politely introduced myself and thanked her for sharing her love of chickens with the children.  She surely did not know what to think of me, but I always feel it is important to let others know when they are making huge positive changes in people’s lives without sometimes realizing the magnitude themselves.  We spoke for a few moments and then she was off, busy discovering that one of her Polish Hens had won!

As the day was winding down, my highlight was running into Kay.  It had been months since I had seen her and I even noticed more changes.  She was more mature and bubbling over with an immense sense of pride and enthusiasm.  I was giddy just being with her.  I was reunited with Jasmine and met two other Polish chickens, including Solomon, that she was showing in the Junior Exhibitor’s category.  I could immediately see the love between these too.  He was docile.  He was gentle.  He was melted butter in Kay’s hands.  She could not control her feelings and naturally kept showering him with kisses.  She even insisted that Solomon sit on my shoulder.  I too was butter in Kay’s hands.  I felt so much pride in knowing her!

As I exited the show, I walked past the sale area.  I passed geese, baby bunnies and a few rows of chickens.  Mid-row, I came to an area with barn red poultry cages and Polish Hens for sale.  It was Folkloric Bantams.  They were for sale.  Some chickens were show quality and some were pet quality.  I soon realized from the sign, that these were Jan Brett’s.  Most cages now stood empty.  This could only mean one thing.  I am sure more children have embarked on a new journey of raising some of Jan Brett’s magical chickens.  These magical chickens help make you believe in yourself and accomplish wonderful things surprising even the most skeptical of grown-ups.


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

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest