Month : July 2012

Chickens DIY Projects Health Issues

A Chicken Safe Place: DIY Instructions

A removable enclosure is created to keep the injured chicken with the flock.

I received a call this past Saturday from a fellow chicken keeper that lives a few miles away from me.  While she was out running errands somehow one of her chicken, Midnight, had injured her comb.  Unbeknownst to her, the rest of the flock quickly spotted the injury and attacked Midnight.   Within no time, they had created a large deep bleeding crater at the base of her comb.  Thankfully, her husband heard the ruckus and went outside to investigate.  He immediately separated Midnight into a cardboard box for safety.  Unsure what to do, she called me.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Recipe for Happy Chickens


3 part Fresh Air
2 parts Food
1 1/2 parts Clean Water
2 parts Shelter
4 parts Companionship
2 parts Safety and Protection from Predators
1 part A Home to Rear their Young
1 part Sources of Entertainment
 a sprinkle of Love
a dash of Peace


Recipe for Happy Chickens

Recipe for Happy HumansImportant: Recipe amounts can be adjusted to your own preference.


Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

Privacy Please


Is there such a thing as egg laying etiquette?  I’ve often wonder about this. I have heard stories of hens lining up just to lay their eggs in a favorite box, each patiently waiting until the hen in front of them has had her turn.  Often in our nesting boxes, I will discover two chickens laying their eggs at the same time in the same box.  It is so cute to see them stuffed into the box, chatting together and singing the “egg song” duet.  It must be a bonding experience and one that they enjoy as I discover them this way quite a bit.  However, yesterday things were a bit different.

I was enjoying spending sometime outside with the girls in the morning.  As most everyone was scratching around in the fresh moist dirt I saw that Fifi had to lay an egg.  She popped up the ramp and into the coop to have her pick of all the nesting boxes.  No sooner had she entered the coop, I saw Sunshine make a bee line inside and shoo her out.  This happened repeatedly with lots of squawking and feathers flying.  Fifi came out almost as soon as she went in.  Poor little Fifi, all she wanted to do was lay her sweet tiny little egg in one of the boxes. She would even take the middle one if forced to.  Why didn’t Sunshine understand?  Why was Sunshine so bossy all of a sudden?  Then it dawned on me.
Sunshine was bossy.  Clearly this otherwise docile chicken had begun to transform.  With Tilly being on and off broody, Sunshine has bestowed upon herself the position of head hen!  At first it began with some naughty behavior, like eating eggs (thank goodness she stopped), completely emptying the feeders and bullying the others away from treats.  What had gotten into her?  Power.  She had control and she liked it.  She could do good and naughty and no one was there to stop her.  Her rule is so different from sweet Tilly’s.
I intervened that morning.  I tossed some black sunflower seeds into the run to provide distraction.  Sunshine quickly commanded the scene, gobbling up as many as she could.  Fifi took note and ran into the coop and hid in the nesting box on the far left, the favorite one.  I had bought Fifi about 5 minutes.  Soon enough, Sunshine noticed that Fifi was missing.  She marched on into the coop.  She saw Fifi in the nesting box on the left and determined she decided to occupy the box on the far right.
I returned to the coop about a half hour later to discover Tilly back inside sitting in the middle box with Sunshine’s and Fifi’s eggs underneath of her.  She had been busy.  With her beak, she carefully rolled each egg out of their respective boxes and into her favorite box, the middle one.  With feathers puffed and some cautionary growls from Tilly, I reached underneath of her and retrieved the two warm gifts.
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Appetizers Recipes Sides

Rustic Grilled Bruschetta

Sometimes it is just too hot to cook.  No one feels like eating anything too heavy and we certainly do not feel like cooking in the house.  This is when we take our cooking to the grill.  It is very easy to make a wonderful light meal for warm summer nights that is both easy delicious and keeps the kitchen clean!  Who doesn’t love that part!?  One thing that we find incredibly delicious and simple is a rustic crusty bread with fresh from the garden tomatoes and basil, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Some days, this serves as our main course paired with an assortment of summer salads.  Other days it’s a side.  Either way, it is fast, delicious and easy!

Ready for the grill

Makes 4 toasts

4 slices of fresh rustic bread~ I used a Fresh Batard loaf
1 medium sized tomato-8 slices
4 leaves of Fresh basil into chiffonade
Cheese of your preference-I used goat but fresh mozzarella works nicely too
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Heat grill to medium heat.

On a slice of the bread arrange two tomato slices.  On top of the tomatoes, place 1/4 of the fresh basil and some cheese on top.  Salt and Pepper to taste and drizzle with olive oil.

Place on the upper rack of the grill keeping the cover closed for approximately 5 minutes,  Be sure to keep checking on the bread often to be sure it does not burn. Remove when the bread is toasted and the cheese is slightly browned.


Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

From One Chicken Keeper to Another

Just checking on you Tilly.  Still broody…yep.  Thought so.

Just like raising children, people have many different opinions and styles regarding how to raise and keep a flock of backyard chickens. Time and time again my heart breaks when I see people telling others that there is only one correct way to do things. There are many ways to do things and do them well. We are very lucky to have so many wonderful options out there to help provide our chickens with a wonderful quality of life.

There are many ways to feed your chickens…
Do you chose organic feed?
Which brand?
What kinds of treats?
Do you add supplements like food grade diatomaceous earth?
Do you let them have free access to as much food as they like or do you limit their daily intake?
Do you share scraps from you table with them?
Do you give them dairy products?
What types of feeders do you use-hanging, trough, PVC tube dispenser, a rubber bowl?

There are many ways to give water to your chickens…
Do you use tap water?
Do you give them water from the hose?
Do you use a metal or plastic waterer?
Do you use a nipple waterer?
Do you use a large black rubber bowl?
Do you add anything to the water like vitamins and electrolytes, apple cider vinegar or make them tea?
If you do add supplements to their water, how often do you do it?

When your chickens are ill…
Do you take them to the vet?
Do you cull them?
Do you separate them from the flock?
Do you keep them in with the flock?
Do you bring them in the house?
Do you give them medicine?There are many ways to house chickens…
Do they have a little house or a big house?
What material is it made out of?
How do you provide shade for your flock?
Do you cover the run?
Do you keep a light on in the coop in the Winter to keep up egg production?
Do you use straw, pine shavings, hay or a combination?
Do you keep decoy eggs in the nesting boxes?

There are many ways to predator proof…
Do you use hardware cloth or chicken wire?
Did you bury the wiring all the way around the coop?
Do you let your flock free-range?
Do you keep them confined?
Do you lock up all the coop doors at night?

My advice is to investigate for yourself. When you discover something that might work for your flock or your coop seek out more than just opinions.Seek out reputable sources with evidence based facts. As you can see from above, just like life there is never one way to do things. Sometimes, certain thing work better for different breeds, during different seasons and climates and in different places across the globe. Sometimes you may have to try a few things in order to determine what works best.  Sometimes what works for one person will not work for you.  The best advice I can share is to do what works best for you.  After all, no one knows your flock better than you.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Main Dishes Recipes

Mini-Muffin Tin Cheddar BBQ Meatloaves

Today we went exploring.   So when we returned home in time for dinner, I decided to make something quick and easy with the ground beef that I had pulled out of the freezer early this morning.  One of my family’s favorite things is when I make mini meatloaves in a muffin pan.  They love it for the novelty and I love it because it cooks in half the time.  This one is especially easy with a yummy gooey cheesy surprise in the middle.

Makes 8 mini-loaves


1 pound ground beef (90/10)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup of French Fried Onions
1/2 cup of diced yellow onion
1 large egg
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Cheddar cheese-cut into 8 1 inch cubes


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Set aside 1/3 cup of  French Fried Onions.

In a large mixing bowl combine the meat, egg, Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce, french fried onions, yellow onions and salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop out enough of the meat mixture to just fill one spot in the muffin tin.  Make sure the top is flush with the pan.  With your finger, poke a hole into the center of the meat and place a piece of cheddar cheese into the hole.  With a tablespoon or so of meat mixture flatten it and place it over the cheese.  Continue the following steps until all eight spots in the muffin tin are filled.

Top each of the meatloaves with a few french fried onions.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the thermometer reads 165 degrees F.  To remove from the pan, slide a fork down the side and under the meatloaf then slowly lift.

For more recipes from Tilly’s Nest, click here.

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Health Issues

How to Trim A Chicken’s Toenails

All toenails, beaks and feathers are made from a protein called keratin. When chickens are allowed to be out and about to scratch in the dirt and explore, they do a good job at keeping their nails and beaks nice and trim. However from time to time it is not unlikely that your chickens’ toenails and beak will require a little maintenance. For example, our Silkies frequently need their fifth toenail trimmed as it never touches the ground. Keeping the nails from overgrowing is very important for overall general foot health, the ability to walk and the ability to hold the foot in a normal position. Trimming your roosters’ spurs and toenails can also help to keep them from digging their nails into the backs of your hens. Cutting the toenails is relatively easy to do and takes only a matter of a few minutes per chicken.

Findings Gardening

Hummingbird Moth

Yesterday, I peered out into the gardens through the kitchen window.  I watched as an assortment of butterflies flit from flower to flower and bush to bush dancing on the light breeze.  I saw a female hummingbird sip nectar from the flowers on the deck.  A daily visitor, she has also been enjoying the red bee balm that is blooming outside the dining room window.  As I looked across the garden, I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be two baby hummingbirds buzzing around the magnificent butterfly bush.  I had to go outside and get a closer peek.

Soon enough, I caught a glimpse through the zoom lense of my camera. Unafraid of me, eventually I was able to stand about two feet from the magnificent creature, only to realize that it wasn’t a hummingbird at all.  It had two thick black antennae coming from its head.  I snapped a bunch of photos hoping to get a good one to help us identify this mystery visitor.  This was some sort of insect.  With a quick phone call to Mr. Tilly’s Nest, he immediately told me that it must be a Humming Bird Moth.  He was right.  It sure was and this was the first time I had seen one in my life!  Here is the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth that visited Tilly’s Nest today.

The curled proboscis ready to sip on nectar


Wings flutter so quickly they are almost invisible.


Love this one with the wasp zooming by at the top!


Heading over to another blossom

I also found this fabulous YouTube Video of one in action.  I hope you enjoy it and I hope you too will be on the lookout in your own gardens for these amazing moths!

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Giveaways

Giveaway Duo: Hen Saddle and Keychain

As many of you might remember, during one of Dolly’s numerous times being broody this past Spring, she was bullied by the other hens higher up in the pecking order.  Bullied to get out of the nesting box, bullied to share the eggs she sat upon and just plain jealously from the others ended Dolly with a bloody bare back picked clean of feathers.  It happened within a matter of a couple of hours.

Early that morning she was fine and when I returned with late morning treats I discovered her in one of the nesting boxes badly injured.  It was at this point that I realized I need to keep her protected during her broody periods, especially because she seems to always be broody.  I started searching as to what I could do-enter Louise’s Country Closet.  They immediately sent one out to me in Dolly’s size and I immediately put it on her.  Her back was covered, safe from harm.  Over the next few weeks, the scab healed and new little quills, pin feathers, began to emerge.  She wore the hen saddle for months.  Finally, the feathers returned to normal and I was able to remove the saddle.  She has been saddle free for 2 months now.

Advantages to using Hen Saddles
1.  Cost effective.  You don’t need to have a hospital for your chicken to recover.
2.  Speeds up recovery.  Out of sight, out of mind. The chickens stop picking.
3.  Keeps your girls comfortable with overzealous roosters.
4.  Ensures that your hen keeps her place in the pecking order.
5.  Helps decrease your anxiety about your poor hen’s injuries.
6.  Keeps them warm during the Winter months when their backs are bare.

Tips for using Hen Saddles
Having used the saddles now for almost six months I thought I’d share some words of advice from our personal experiences.
1. Check daily for proper placement.  Be sure that the affected area is still covered and the straps are lying flat and untwisted.
2. Be sure to check weekly for mites and lice hiding under the saddle.  With a saddle on, these insects are protected during dust bathing.  A gentle weekly dusting under the saddle with food grade DE should keep those little buggers in check.
3.  Launder the hen saddle once a week.
4.  Measure your hens before you order to ensure a proper fit.
5.  Order an extra one for your henny girl to wear when the other is in the laundry.
6.  Order one in each size of your hens for your first aid kits.
7.  Do not be tempted to remove your saddle too early.  New beautiful feathers still wrapped in their quills are very tempting for other chickens to peck at.  Better to leave the saddle on until the new feathers completely match the existing ones.
8. In days with extreme heat, consider removing the hen saddle during the hottest times of the day if you notice your hens panting and/or showing signs of overheating.  You might need to separate your hen from the bunch when you do this.

The Giveaway



One Hen Saddle & One Custom Keychain

Hen saddles come in a variety of sizes and patterns.  You will have your choice of one in any combination that you choose.  Want help choosing and getting a perfect fit?  Click here.  So hard to choose, there are over four pages of keychains.  My favorite is the crazy chicken lady! Customizable, durable and lightweight, I’ve had mine for months now and it still looks brand new.


Here’s How to Enter:

Visit Louise’s Country Closet and pick a favorite item.  Come back here and leave a comment with your name, email address and tell me about that item!  One more thing, an added bonus!  If you can’t wait until the giveaway winner is drawn, take advantage of 15% off your order. Just enter Tilly at the check-out.


This giveaway ends on July 22, 2012 at midnight EST.  One entry per person. 
Items ship to one US address only.
Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest, Louise’s Country Closet


Chickens Stories from Our Nest

A Sunday Drive

Tilly is still on and off again broody.  Just when I think the broodiness has ended, I find her back in the nesting boxes. Yesterday I was glad she was broody.  As we were out and about exploring for the day,  I knew that she would keep all the eggs safe underneath of her.  Sunshine has been known to explore with eggs.  She loves to roll them out of the nesting boxes and into the run.  When they break, she enjoys eating them.  This is not a good thing.  Even their tough thick eggshells are no match for a chicken playing kick ball with eggs!
On the other hand, the Silkies love that Tilly is broody.  They have been helping themselves to all the treats.  The hens share the treats that I toss into the run during the day.  Yesterday I shared some arugula, tomatoes and cucumbers before we left.  Tilly did not budge from her nesting box.  She was uninterested.  It’s funny,  nowadays Tilly only comes running out into the run when she hears the crinkling of the Manna Pro Harvest Treats bag.  Filled with peanuts, tomatoes, raisins and more, it must taste really good to draw a broody girl off her nest!

Sometimes, we love to get into the car and explore without any agendas or time restraints.  It is often the best way we discover new favorite places.  We have found delicious ice cream stands, farm stands selling delicious jams and produce, hidden beaches and hiking trails. Days like this make me welcome getting lost. If we hadn’t taken a turn down that tiny inviting road, I would have never discovered this rooster weather vane perched up upon the cupola overlooking the gardens and Atlantic Ocean.

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest