Month : February 2012

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Nighttime Rituals

We all have our nighttime rituals.  Most of us wash our faces and brush our teeth.  Some fall asleep while watching TV.  Others find a final escape in a good book or pillow talk before drifting off to dreamland.  Chickens are no different.  They too have bedtime rituals.

It all starts at dusk, with the ever so entertaining, who gets to go into the coop first.  If the Silkies are broody, they are all set.  They are all ready hiding in the nesting boxes.   They do not have to fear the wrath of the bigger girls, jockeying for their favorite places on the roosts.  It always seems that Dolly and Fifi are the last to sneak in under the cover of almost complete darkness.  Goodness knows that if they try to sneak in too early, after a few squawks, they are shooed back out into the run to wait a bit longer.  Finally, once everyone is inside, Tilly always pops out for a quick look to be sure her entire flock is secure for the night.  Sometimes she come completely out into the run for surveillance and other times, she pokes her head out of the coop door.

Most of them have a snack and drink right before bed.  They take sips from the waterer and they peck at the pellets in the feeder.  For chickens, these snacks are essential in forming perfect eggs as they sleep in the night.  Once content, they find a place on the roost.

Just as we have our own bedrooms and beds, the girls have a roosting order.  The Silkies prefer to sleep in the nesting boxes, most likely because they are broody all the time.  It seems like every evening, I scoop them up and place their drowsy bodies onto the available roost.  Last night was no different.

I opened up the coop’s nesting box lid and found a Silkie in each box.  Dolly was snuggled in next to Oyster Cracker on the roost closest to her Silkie sisters.   One by one, I scooped up three growling Silkies and gently placed them on a roost all in a row.  Then, it happened.  Dolly hopped off the roost and began to walk around the coop in the darkness.  Guided by the light of the moon, she took a few bites of food and joined her Silkie sisters on their roost.  As I watched my four sweet Silkies, they gently wriggled their bodies side to side moving and squeezing in wing to wing.  I watched as they nestled down to cover their toes with feathers and fluff.  Apparently, not only is snuggling universal but who you wish to snuggle with is universal too.


Chickens Coop Care Health Issues Seasonal Care

How To Clean the Chicken Coop

After keeping chickens for a while, you will soon find yourself developing habits that work for you and your flock.  Over time, I have learned to implement a few things.  We view our chickens as our family pets, so we do make extra efforts to spoil them more so than individuals keeping chickens as livestock.  All of these tips are not necessary, but in my opinion, help keep their eggs clean and the girls healthy and happy in their daily lives.  I typically clean the coop every 1-2 weeks, depending on the need and the weather.  The entire process takes me about 15 minutes start to finish.     Here is how I clean the coop for Tilly and the girls.

Gardening Tours

Rhode Island Flower Show 2012

I was so excited to to make the hour long trip to Rhode Island for this wonderful annual flower show.  This show always helps me get over the Winter hump to Spring.  This year’s theme was Simple Pleasures.

Woodland Retreat
Simple garden trellises save room by growing vertically


Herbs and lettuce take up little to no space at all.


Fido’s doghouse has a green roof!
Every year the sand sculptors wow the crowds.


Breast Cancer Awareness Garden


Garden whimsy flying a kite


Woodland fairy garden.


Classic New England gardening shed

The only thing that would have made it better, would have been some backyard chickens tucked away in one of the gardens.  To me, they are the simplest pleasure you can add to your garden.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Eggs Health Issues Stories from Our Nest


Fifi is broody for the very first time.  She just celebrated her first birthday.  She has been in the nesting box for 3 days now and has plucked out all of her chest feathers. She is so adorable.  She has not quite realized that other girls are laying warm eggs in the boxes next to her.  My older, professional broody girls, Dolly, Feathers and Autumn, can roll fresh eggs from another box to their box, secretly stealing other’s eggs to make a clutch of their own.  I just love it when she lets out a quiet low growl when I open the nesting box to check for eggs.

Chickens DIY Projects

Cabbage Pinata

I love to make a cabbage pinata about once a month for the girls during the winter.  They can’t resist as it dangles, twirls and just calls out to be pecked. Initially, they are fearful of this newcomer, but by the end of the day, I always find it pecked with holes.  For my flock of eight, an entire cabbage lasts about 2-3 days.
 Here is what you will need:

1 fresh head of cabbage
1 ball of twine
1 pair of scissors
a place to attach it in your run.


Cut a piece of string about 6 feet long.  It is important to keep the string in one long piece to prevent your flock from trying to eat it when the cabbage is gone.  Sometimes, they finish the cabbage when you are out.  This helps ensure the safety of your flock.


Wrap the string completely around the middle of the cabbage and tie it together once.



Flip over the cabbage and thread the two loose pieces of string underneath of the existing string.


Tie those two pieces of string together and make a knot.


It is that simple.  Now you are ready to take it out to your flock to enjoy.  You can tie off the loose ends together to hang it on an existing hook or chain or  try looping the string through a support beam in the run.

It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.
~Paulo Coelho
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest and Keller and Keller

Chickens Eggs Health Issues

Egg Eating: Prevention and Treatment

A freshly eaten egg

Egg Eating, a form of cannibalism, is a terrible habit that some chicken develop over time.  It can start for numerous reasons including nutritional deficiencies, curiosity and boredom.  Chickens are very smart and it does not take long for them to realize that not only do eggs taste good but they are a great source of protein. It is important when keeping a backyard flock that you are aware of this potential problem and take steps in your flock’s living area and life to help prevent this problem from ever beginning.


Book Review: Free Range Chicken Gardens

A little over a week ago, I was sent a copy of Free Range Chicken Gardens to review by the publisher, Timber Press. I was so excited and could not wait to dive into this book that involved two of my favorite hobbies, gardening and chickens.
This book is wonderful. Right from the start it is clear that the author, Jessi Bloom, loves her flock and is not only incredibly knowledgeable about chickens but also about her full-time landscaping profession. She share tips and tidbits along the way that help to steer newbies away from potential pitfalls. The book covers all the bases and could easily be a place for people to start off when they are considering adding a flock to their landscape. She covers it all.
Landscape design/planting suggestions
Protecting plants and gardens from the flock
Growing worms for your flock
Poisonous Plants
Creating chicken tractor and coops
Urban and Rural chicken gardens
Introducing a dog to a flock of chickens
Chickens relating to other livestock, game birds, and bees.
Health Issues

Things I love about the book:
It is thorough and innovative.
It gives ideas and examples along the way and makes it “real” by sharing personal vignettes.
It has gorgeous photos (photographer Kate Baldwin)
It has several blueprints.
It covers yards and spaces of various sizes.
Where my opinion differs:
Feeding and encouraging your chickens to eat slugs.
This book is well-written and would be a true asset to every chicken owner. Even if you never plan on creating a garden oasis, in your backyard, you would be remiss if you did not purchase this book. If you keep a flock in your yard, large or small, this book will help you optimize your set-up for healthy happy chickens.
This book has now become one of my favorite chicken books. Thank you Timber Press!
I have not received any compensation for my review other than a copy of this book.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Desserts Recipes

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Yesterday, my daughter and I decided to bake some cookies.  We baked up a batch of these moist and chewy oatmeal raisin cookies.  My husband claims that these are the best cookies that I make.  I just might have to agree, so I thought that I would share these with you today.  I think the secret is using fresh eggs from the girls.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
~makes 2 dozen
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar-packed firmly
2 large eggs
3 cups of non-instant oats
1 1/2 cups of raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, add the butter, eggs, sugar and brown sugar.  On low mixer setting combine until well blended.  Increase the mixer speed to high and “cream” the ingredients until the mixture becomes fluffy and lightens in color a bit.
Slowly stir in the flour mixture until the flour is no longer visible.  Do not over mix.  Stir in oats and raisins on low until evenly incorporated.
Grease a cookie sheet and spoon about 2 tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheet to form the cookies.
Bake for 11-13 minutes until bottoms are golden brown and the tops are still slightly moist.  
Allow to cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
Craving more great recipes.  Click here for over 40 more from Tilly’s Nest.

This recipe has been adapted from the original.
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens DIY Projects Health Issues

Hen Apron

Yesterday afternoon, I visited with the girls as they enjoyed some sunflower treats in the run.  I have not seen too much of Dolly as she has been broody for the past couple of weeks.  She typically hides in a zen-like trance in the right nesting box.  I check on her twice a day.  She never minds feeling my hands taking the warm and toasty eggs from underneath of her.  She seems to understand that soon enough, someone else will lay another egg for her to rest upon.