Month : April 2012

Chickens Coop Care Health Issues

Scaly Leg Mites in Backyard Chickens

Did you know that there are mites that specifically love to live on your chickens’ legs and feet? They like to burrow underneath of the scales on the legs and feet and live in this moist environment. Unlike the mites that live on the chickens’ bodies, they cannot kill your chickens. However, they can make the chickens irritable, decrease or cease the production of eggs and lead to permanent leg deformities. They are important to treat once discovered in your flock.


Giveaway: Mommy, Me & My Chickens

Holly Berkley is the author and illustrator of the book, Mommy, Me & My Chickens and is one of Tilly’s Nest’s newest sponsors.  Up until recently, keeping backyard chickens was outlawed in the town where Holly lives near San Diego, California.  Recently, backyard chickens became legalized and Holly could not resist getting a flock of her own.  She was inspired by her family’s journey in keeping and raising backyard chickens that she decided to pen a children’s book.

When I received the book for review, I gave it to one of my toughest critics, my five year old daughter.  She brought it over to her big brother and they read it together.  They both commented that the story was cute and were eager to point out that we too have had similar experiences.  It was nice to have made that connection.  Holly’s story touches upon incubators, hatching and hatch rates, the brooder, chicken diet, composting, eggs, free ranging, dust baths, the chicken coop and nesting boxes.
The book is very colorful and her drawings are whimsical.  Holly does a fantastic job sharing just enough information to little ones about chicken keeping.  She keeps it simple, yet covers all the basics.  There is even a glossary and chicken fact section in the back.  This book is perfect for families who have not yet started chicken keeping.  It is also perfect for classrooms hatching their own eggs.  I would recommend this book for ages 8 and under.  Mommy, Me & My Chickens would be well suited in preschools and elementary schools.  It would also make a great gift for any chicken lover who has little ones around.

Here is how you can enter to win a copy!

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. You can earn 4 entries in this amazing giveaway!

2. Visit the Mommy, Me & My Chickens Facebook page and tell them Tilly sent you. (1 entry)

3. Don’t miss out on future giveaways. Follow our blog, Tilly’s Nest (1 entry) Following options are on the right hand side of this website. Current fans will already qualify for this entry.

4. Follow Tilly’s Nest on Facebook.

Good luck!

This contest ends on Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm East Coast Time.
Items ship to US address only.

Photo Credit: Holly Berkley (book cover),  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

NPR, The Chickens are Interviewed

I received a phone call from our local National Public Radio (NPR) radio station. They had read that I learned to speak the chickens’ language.  They came to create a Sonic ID.  If you listen to NPR, you will know the Sonic IDs to be the small, under two minute, stories that assist in transitioning the main stories together.  My favorite part, is that I recognize each and everyone of my girls talking to me in the background.  I’m so proud of my girls!  Click here to listen.  Enjoy!

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


Appetizers Recipes

Chicken Potstickers

When I lived in Southern California, I become close friends with many wonderful people of Asian decent. Tradition and family go hand in hand in their culture.  Often, I would visit one of my Chinese friends and find their entire family sitting at the kitchen table on a Saturday afternoon making dumplings.  The Grandma, Auntie, Mom, Dad and brothers and sisters would all sit around for hours, talking while creating the perfect dumplings.  On days they knew I was coming, there was always an empty seat waiting for me.



1/2 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup minced scallions
1/4 cup Napa Cabbage-minced into fine pieces
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg- beaten
1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
30-40 wonton wrappers (refrigerated section of grocery store)
4 tablespoons Canola oil

Dipping Sauce

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce You can add more to your liking but beware, this is a very hot sauce.


In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, scallions, cabbage, black pepper, egg, ginger, garlic and soy sauce.  Mix until well incorporated.  I use my hands for the best results.

Add water to a small dish.  On a plate, place one wonton wrapper.  Dip your finger in the water and rub water around all the edges of the wonton wrapper.  Transfer the wrapper to the dumpling press. In the center of the wonton wrapper, place 1/2 tablespoon of the chicken mixture. Close the dumpling press.  Open and remove the finished potsticker.  Repeat until you have finished using all of the meat mixture.  If you do not have a dumpling press, Dip your finger in the water and rub around all the edges of the wonton wrapper.  Fill the wonton wrapper on the plate.   Fold the wonton in half and then rub your finger on the edges to seal the meat into the wonton wrapper.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the dumplings one by one. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pan for approximately 3 minutes.  Do not touch them.  After a couple of minutes, check the bottom of the potstickers.  Once they are golden brown, turn the potstickers and add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and return the lid.  Steam for approximately 10 minutes.  Once done remove from the pan and start the process again with the remaining potstickers.

To prepare the sauce, add the soy sauce, vinegar and Sriracha to a small dish and whisk until well incorporated.

Click here to view our cookbook.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Visiting Turkey

I had just finished dropping my son off at the bus and returned home to find four male turkeys on my front lawn.  At first, I did not see them but I knew something was askew.  All the girls were hiding in the coop while sounding the chicken alarm.  I looked up and scanned the sky for hawks.  Nothing.  Then I looked around the coop for a brave squirrel.  Nothing.  Then I looked out in the front lawn and saw them.  Wild turkeys were walking toward me!  Last year on the Cape we had one that kept attacking the mail truck down by the Kennedy Compound.  Click here for video.  Eventually, it was claimed by Ethel Kennedy, but boy was it aggressive and made headlines quite a few times before the saga ended.  I decided to go inside and grab my husband.  I had seen the video and listened to the locals that were interviewed.  I was nervous.  My husband came out and was able to take a few photos of the boys.  By the time we had found them, the chicken alarm had ceased and they had set off across the neighbor’s driveway.

Last year the girls were visited by a lone male turkey.  I wonder if he was in this year’s group?

Photo Credit:  Mr. Tilly’s Nest

Gardening Tours

Spring in the Gardens: After the Rain

Whatever happened to April showers bring May flowers?  This April we have set a new record for dry weather on the Cape.  It has been over two weeks since we have had any rain.  Living on this little strip of land jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, many of this year’s Spring storms somehow seem to have just missed us.  The grass is dry.  Flowers need watering and the gardens have been slow to emerge from the ground.  However, last night a storm arrived.

All night, I listened to wind and rain beating against the bedroom window.  I was pulled from my sleep by the sound of torrential rains drumming down on the skylights.  It was hard to return to sleep.  All I could think about was visiting the gardens after the rain.  We needed this so badly.  The morning light could not come fast enough, as I yearned to explore the gardens.

On the other hand, the chickens had been living the good life over the past two weeks.  Putting it mildly, they are not fans of rain and wind.  Thank goodness I believed the rumor of rain last night and covered their run before the storm began.   This morning, happy as can be, one by one they popped out into their dry run.  They had no idea how a good rain seems to make the gardens miraculously grow overnight.  I kept my flip flops on and explored the yard. I could feel the rain from the grass collecting between my toes as a fine drizzle still fell from the sky.  I could feel it kissing my cheeks and my hair beginning to frizz.  I too felt incredibly alive.
The pansies held up in the rain.


Overnight the potted peas reached to the sky twirling tendrils of support.
 Finally the Turkish fig unfurled its leaves.  I had been staring at buds all week.
The crab apple’s buds are ready to burst.


The lettuce in the garden grew at least 2 inches.


The kale’s leaves guided the rain drops to its roots.


A fallen oak leaf hid amongst the creeping phlox.



Spring blooms are arriving in the back garden.
Even the agave welcomed the rain.


Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Soul Food

The eyes are the window to the soul.
~traditional Proverb
Today, I stole a quiet moment.  It had been long overdue.  The kids were playing so nicely and quietly together that I took time to sneak off into the gardens and brilliant sunshine where I have been working all week long.  I found a place in the grass and sat.  From my vantage point I could see the chickens, the garden and the new beehives. As hard as it was, I refrained from calling out to the flock.
Tilly and Oyster Cracker were wing to wing just sitting in a huge dusty crater they had made; a perfect bath for two.  I felt like a spy.  There I was like a fly on the wall, peeping into their moment together.  What were they doing in there?
There they sat.  I could hear them talking a low sort of muttering under their breath.  Then one would see something on the other’s back and they would gently remove it with their beak.  It would be quiet and then their conversation would resume.  There were no awkward moments of silence.  There was no rush to jump up and grab treats from me.  Their guards were down.  They too were just chilling out relaxing.  This was their stolen moment.
Moments like today are so few and far between for so many of us.  It was strange, this realization that the chickens needed time for themselves too.  They needed quality time for themselves, without the pecking order in the way, other family members showing up trying to squeeze their way into the dust bath or any unplanned visitors to interrupt their day.
Sometimes by doing nothing at all, we accomplish what we truly need.  Hearts are filled.  A sense of peace is restored and we are enveloped in the warmth of the sun’s arms.  Our souls come alive.  If I pay close enough attention, I swear sometimes I can feel it dancing in my heart.

Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.  ~Oscar Wilde

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest


Giveaway: The Fresh Egg Cookbook

A few weeks back, I received two copies of The Fresh Egg Cookbook from Storey Publishing.  One for me to review and one to giveaway to our blogging friends.  This cookbook is part chicken memoir and part cookbook.  Jennifer Trainer Thompson shares personal stories from her flock and from her kitchen where cooking is truly a family affair.  She even interlaces some general chicken information, which is always fun to read.  Whenever I review a cookbook, it is important for me to create a few of the recipes that intrigue me.  I love to see how they turn out in my kitchen and I love to see how they taste.  Here are three delicious ones that I made during the review of this cookbook.
Shirred Eggs p.40
Creamy Italian Dressing p.18

Southwestern Egg Burrito p. 117

I found the recipes to be simple and easy to prepare with short cooking times.   A few recipes will require an extra trip to the grocer for items that you may not necessarily stock in your pantry, but can be found at most grocers across the country.  From what we sampled, everything had nice fresh flavor and accented the fresh eggs.  The author shares all sorts of recipes, some expected and some new.  Appetizers, main courses, vegetarian dishes and desserts as well as snacks are all included.  This cookbook is wonderful.  I am always looking for new ways to serve eggs to my family.  It certainly exceeded my expectations.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a flock of backyard chickens.

Ms. Thompson does include quite a few dishes that include serving raw or under cooked eggs. Readers should be aware of the implications and risks associated with consuming eggs that have not been cooked to 160 degrees F.

Here is how you can enter to win a copy!

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 3 entries in this amazing giveaway!

2. Visit Storey Publishing’s website and tell me your top “wish list” book. (1 entry)

3. Don’t miss out on future giveaways.  Follow our blog, Tilly’s Nest  (1 entry)  Following options are on the right hand side of this website.  Current fans will already qualify for this entry.

Good luck!

This contest ends on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 11:59 pm East Coast Time.
Items ship to US address only.

Photo Credits:  (book cover) Storey Publishing, (food photos) Tilly’s Nest

Beekeeping Bees DIY Hive Maintainance

Placement of the Beehives

We rarely see honeybees in our gardens, only the large bumblebees.

So as many of you know, I am starting out on my newest adventure, beekeeping.  Finally the weather warmed up literally overnight and it was time this week to kick things into high gear.  The bees are scheduled to come in May and I had so much yet to do.  I had to finish building the hives, paint them and find a suitable place in the yard following the guidelines.  The hives also needed time to “air out” after their painting. So, I have been busy as a bee these past few days. Proper placement of beehives is key to success as a beekeeper.


Winner: Chicken Coop from My Pet Chicken

First a huge thank you is in order to My Pet Chicken for sponsoring such an amazing giveaway this month!  This was by far our most popular giveaway yet with over 1100 entries.  One lucky winner was selected at random with the help of a random number generator to win the Clubhouse Chicken Coop.  The winner will have to identify where they found the 5 hidden Tilly emoticons in order to claim the prize within the next 24 hours (deadline is April 18, 2012, 1:15pm East Coast Time).  The winner should email me at: with links to all 5 Tillys.  If the winner fails to locate all the Tilly’s in the time frame allowed, a new winner will be randomly selected.

Susie H.
Check your inbox an email has been sent to you!

Thank you again everyone for entering.
Stay tuned for a brand new giveaway happening later this week.

Photo Credit:  My Pet Chicken