Month : September 2012


Giveaway: Grand Opening Celebration

One thing that has always been important to me with my flock is feeding them as I do my family, organically.  For many reasons, we have chosen to go organic and three years ago, I wondered if there was a company out there that believed in similar values.  To my surprise and happiness, I discovered Treats for Chickens!  Long before they were a sponsor of ours, I religiously placed my orders for treats, supplies and the like; trying every product they carried.  Fast forward to today.  I am happy to celebrate with them as they open their very first retail store!

The first TWO customers to enter their new retail store located at 606 Portal St., Cotati, CA 94931 and tell them “Tilly Sent Me.” during their grand opening celebration between 11:30am and 1 pm will receive a free bag of Worms and Harvest Flakes!  There will also be free giveaways and prizes as well as 25% off your entire purchase on that day in the store.

If you live too far away like me, don’t fret! We can still celebrate!  From now until midnight PST- September 30, 2012 you will receive 25% off your entire order and you can also enter below to win this amazing giveaway prize pack valued at almost $40!  Enter Tilly25 at checkout.

This awesome giveaway is for three of my very favorite products!

~Organic Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (2 pound bag)- I have yet to find organic food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) anywhere else, but maybe that could be because I have never looked any further.     Treats For Chicken’s DE is reasonable priced and the quality is top notch.  I have never purchased my DE from anywhere else.  I use the DE when I clean out the coop.  I also add 2% volume to their food supply.

~A Pest Pistol–  This tool is amazing!  Fill it with food grade DE and blast the DE into all of your coop’s nooks and crannies without any need for a ladder.  It is important to not only treat your nesting boxes, roosts and coop floor with DE but also the nooks and crannies of the ceiling.  Mites and other insects can lurk there.  With a blast of DE, from the Pest Pistol, you can be sure that you are treating every inch of your coop for predatory bugs. Be careful to cover your nose and mouth and avoid inhalation when applying DE, long term chronic inhalation  can lead to silicosis.

~Nesting Box Blend (4oz bag)- Treats for Chicken is the ORIGINAL company to develop aromatherapy for chickens with their blend of dried herbs and flowers for chickens.  After I clean the coop and add DE, I sprinkle about a tablespoon of nesting box blend into each nesting box.  It is wonderful and helps to make the egg laying process less stressful.  The aroma is delightful and I swear that everyone lays an egg on the days when I clean out the coop!

Here is How to Enter:
You can earn up to three entries.

1.  Follow our Blog (1 entry) see the right hand column for options.

2.  Follow us on Facebook. (1 entry)

3.  Follow Treats for Chicken on Facebook.  Tell them “Tilly says congratulations!” (1 entry)

4.  Leave a comment on this blog telling me which of 1-3 you did.  Be sure to leave an email address so I can notify the winner.

One entry per person.  One winner will be randomly selected from the comments left on this post. Only comments left on this post are eligible   Items ship to US address only.  
Giveaway ends on October 4, 2012-midnight EST.


This post is linked up to Deborah Jeans Farm Girl Friday Blog Hop.

 Comments on this blog post have been closed, as to protect the entrants’ email from spammers.  

Photo Credit:  Treats for Chickens

Findings Gardening

Monarch Butterflies on Cape Cod

Here at Tilly’s Nest this week we have been graced by the annual visit of Monarch butterflies on their way to Mexico for the winter. Every year around this time, they flit from blossom to blossom.  Sometimes, I mistake them for the falling leaves at first, and then I notice that they are infatuated with the plantings that I have grown in my yard specifically for butterflies and hummingbirds.  It has paid off, this year the butterflies were abundant.






Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Bully Hen

On a regular trip to the feed store over a year ago, I fell in love.  Of course, I entered the feed store with blinders on.  It was Spring.  Signs of new life were everywhere.  The leaf buds on the trees were bursting open.  The air was fresh and clean, charged with new life.  New little chicks filled the temporary brooders.  I had guessed it wouldn’t hurt to hold just one of the Silver Laced Wyandottes.  As I held her and shopped she feel asleep in my warm hands.  I stalled.  I looked at waterers, feeders, supplements, treats, wound care, antibiotics, everything to delay the inevitable of returning her to the brooder.  It was clear, I was going home with a new chick.  I would add her to the flock of little freshly hatched Silkies in my brooder in the garage.  And so it went. I placed her in among her new brothers and sisters and her surrogate mother, Dolly, and watched as the family grew.  Rather instantaneously they got along famously.

Dottie Speckles and the little ones grew.  When it was time to integrate them into the flock, I can remember how frightened the 10 week old Dottie Speckles was in a place with older, wiser and big hens.  She would hide behind Dolly.  Dolly protected her, close behind her wing keeping the older larger hens at a bay.  Dottie Speckles was her girl.  It did not matter that Dolly was just a little Silkie protecting a breed that would eventually grow to three times her size.

A few months had passed and as Dottie Speckles grew, I noticed that she was beginning to terrorize every flock member.  At first, it began with the Silkies, including her mother, Dolly.  She maliciously began to pull their little puffs off their heads.  Peck marks replaced feathers.  Even, the older girls were preyed on at night when they were sleeping.  She would cozy up to them, vulnerable on the roosts, and by the light of the moon, she would peck out their feathers one by one.  She was quickly becoming a bully.  Despite a couple of months of intervention, it was clear to me that she could not remain in the flock.  Her behavior was not changing, it was only getting worse and spreading like an infectious disease against everyone.  No one was safe.  Everyone was on edge.  They felt defenseless. They lived in fear, afraid of the unknown and just what Dottie was capable of next!  She wasn’t in a race to become the newest hen at the top of the pecking order as I first had thought.  Her heart was cruel.  Her bullying was relentless.

A dear friend has a lovely farm down the road with three different chicken enclosures.  Like me, she has mixed breeds that have plenty of space and plenty hens to make new friends with and form a new family.  I did not feel guilty. It needed to be done.  Once Dottie Speckles was rehomed, I could sense that the flock was less on edge.  Eggs became abundant again.  Obviously, her presence was affecting the girls on a psychological level.

She began to acclimate to her new home.  She was well behaved and laid her beautiful brown eggs in the nesting boxes.  However, within a few weeks, she began to show her true colors.  The patterns and her behavior had repeated at the farm.  So, she was placed in a larger, different, enclosure with a strong rooster that kept order in his flock.  It didn’t take long there either.  By the light of the moon, she single-handedly removed every feather from the Polish rooster’s head.  The other chickens spent their days hiding high up on the outside roosts.  As she became comfortable, the others lived in fear.  She had now lived in three different settings with three different chicken families and none of these were successful.  My friend called me to tell me the news and said that in all her 40 years of keeping chickens, she had never met a chicken with a personality like Dottie Speckles!

Dottie Speckles was finally placed in a smaller coop and run on her own.  Alone.  She could see the other flocks but could no longer do any harm.  It was clear that she could not co-exist with her species.  She was a hen bully.  My friend made special accommodations for her.  She even had her own solo-free ranging time, different from the other flocks.  She had isolated herself and she did not seem to care.  I would visit her as often as I could and hold her.  She still loved that and loved me.  I had a hard time loving her back for knowing how and what she did.  Yet, every time, I stroked her feathers I somehow seemed to forgive her.  You see, my friend and I believe this is who she is and this is her personality.  She was just born this way.

So the days and months passed, until one day a woman visited the farm and only wanted one chicken for a pet.  She desired no other hens.  Dottie Speckles was perfect.  She held Dottie Speckles and soon enough the two of them happily left together on a new beginning.

I don’t think that the world will ever be free from bullies, but I do think that I have learned from Dottie Speckles.  For me, this was a sad lesson.  Insight into the mind of Dottie Speckles, helped me to understand and have more compassion for those who bully.  There is not much difference between hen bullies and people bullies, it’s just gets a bit more sophisticated.


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

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest, button used with permission and free to share

Chickens Eggs Health Issues

Got Eggs? Top Ten Reasons for Decline in Backyard Chicken Production

The girls are now in the full swing on molting. Tilly molted first.   Finally I am proud to say that both her tail feathers and her eggs have returned. She looked so funny while she waited for those tail  feathers to grow back. Oyster Cracker, on the other hand, never seems to escape with a light molt. She is a heavy molter. Starting with the head and ending with the tail, Oyster Cracker is now molting on her chest and wings. Prickly pin feathers are emerging from her neck. The poor girl is a mess. Of course, with  molting the eggs are less. Molting and egg making require protein. The eggs are few and far between as the chickens use up their protein stores to make feathers. But did you know that in addition to molting each Autumn, there are other conditions that can make chickens cease or decrease their egg production at various times of the year?

Main Dishes Recipes

Mexican Stacked Lasagna

Sometimes, we are so cramped for time and often, if you are like me, you do not want a huge clean-up after dinner.  Cooler days are here and I don’t mind turning on the oven.  Another easy, family favorite is my Mexican stacked lasagna.  My kids think it is delicious and I am happy to provide them with a meal that has protein, starch, vegetables and dairy.
Mexican Stacked Lasagna       Serves 4
1 pound of ground hamburger, diced chicken or meat substitute
1 medium onion-diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 packet of Taco Seasoning Mix or make your own here.
1 4oz can diced green chilies
1  12oz jar/can of enchilada sauce
3 tbsp diced black olives
12 oz Mexican shredded cheese
Tortillas-my kids prefer flour
sliced jalapenos
diced lettuce
sour cream
hot sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large skillet brown the meat and the onions. Add the taco seasoning mix and prepare as directed and set aside.
In a baking dish, I use a glass pie plate, add a couple of tablespoons of enchilada sauce to coat the bottom of the dish.  Add a tortilla.  Spread a tablespoon of green chilies on the tortilla. Next layer on a 1/2 cup of meat. Top with a sprinkle of black olives.  On top, sprinkle a handful of cheese and drizzle the top with a few tablespoons of enchilada sauce.  Then add a tortilla and repeat the process again until you have used 5 tortillas.  Top the final tortilla with the remaining enchilada sauce and finish it off with cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes until the edges are bubbly.
Serve hot and top with lettuce, salsa and sour cream.  I love hot sauce and jalapenos too, the hotter the better!
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects

Outsmarting the Chickens at the Feeder

Sunshine, the culprit

If your chickens are like mine, they enjoy eating.  As we have a smaller coop, I use the Little Giant 3 pound hanging feeder for the girls.  It fits great in the coop and I only have to fill it every couple of days or so, that is when the girls are behaving.  The chickens enjoy “scratching” around in the feeder as they sort out and pick the best morsel to eat, even though all of them look identical to me. When the girls scratch around, they inevitably scratch some of the food right out of the feeder.  To minimize spillage and waste I did a few things.

1. Used a feeder that has an outer lip/rim.
2. Used a hanging feeder.
3. Used pellets vs. crumbles for feed.

The hanging feeder and Dolly seeking the perfect nesting box.

However, even this was not enough.  Sunshine was on my list.  Her new favorite habit has become emptying the feeder entirely as soon as it was filled.  I would fill the feeder to the top, and by late afternoon, it would hang, empty blowing in the breeze with all the food scattered in with the pine shavings on the floor.  I tried to outsmart her.

1.  I began to fill the feeder with only enough food for the day.
2.  I tried to distract the girls with more free-ranging and hanging cabbage pinatas in the run.
3.  I refused to refill the feeder until they ate most of the food off the coop floor.

And so it went, like this for weeks on end.  I began to research other feeders available that would fit inside my coop.  Sure, they had a plethora of larger ones that could go outside in the run, but I don’t like to keep food or water in the run “after hours”, as I feel it can attract scavengers including mice and rats.  Then, my prayers were answered.  A fellow chicken owner on Facebook, posted their idea to my problem.  So I decided to try it.  All I needed was a small piece of chicken wire and a pair of wire clippers.  I had both.

The idea was brilliant and simple at the same time.  The idea was by placing a layer of chicken wire over the feed, you could eliminate the girls spilling the food, while they still could access all the food.

Here is what I did:

1.  I took apart my feeder by detaching the metal arm and nut that ran through the feeder.
2.  I cut a larger piece of chicken wire in the shape of a circle that over hung the edges by about 3 inches.
3.  I put the feeder back together making sure that the food could still have enough room to get through the dispensing holes.
4.  I trimmed the edges of the chicken wire allowing them to over-extend the edges of the feeder by a tad bit.  These edges were sharp.  I tucked the edges under the lip of the feeder, so they would not be able to harm the girls by scratching them, pecking an eye out or anything else imaginable, chickens have a way of finding trouble.  The sharp edges could also be duct taped with large pieces of tape that the girls could not swallow if they removed them accidentally of course. DISCLAIMER:  If you chose to create something like this for your feeder, there is no guarantee that your chickens will avoid harm.
5.  I then refilled the feeder and rechecked that the edges were still where I had placed them.

Chicken wire runs all the way through the base of the feeder, sharp edges are tucked beneath.

Before placing the feeder back in the coop, I cleaned out all the pine shavings.  This was an experiment.  I had to have a clean laboratory.  All clean, I hung the feeder back.  So far, it has been about 5 days and there  is no spillage whatsoever.  Everyday, I expect to see even one pellet on the floor.  I am happily disappointed to find not a one!

A huge thank you goes out to Cliffside Chicken Ranch from Tilly’s Nest for showing us the way!


Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Beekeeping Bees Hive Maintainance

Robbers and Invaders

Eggplant, cardoon, basil and tomatoes thrive near the hives.

My nine year old son decided to title this post.  You see, I had a heck of a time with the bees yesterday!  It had been a while since I had entered my hives as I was just letting the bees do “their thing”.   During the summer they forage and work hard, but come fall, it’s time to do an inspection and see that their summer has paid off and also to help them where they need it to survive the Winter. It was also time to check for bee pests that propagated during the warm season.

Recipes Sides

Canning Pickles and Kimchi

 I had a “pickle” of a time finding canning jars.  I drove to at least three different stores here on Cape Cod without any luck.  Finally, on the fourth store I had luck except they only had smaller pint size jars instead of the quart size that I was needed.  So, I picked those up and just made smaller batches.
I made the Kimchi first, as the cabbage had to soak in the brine for at least two hours.  After I prepped the rest of the ingredients for the Kimchi, I moved onto the pickles.  Making the pickles was my favorite part!
The pickles were super easy and very fast to make.  I ended up making three jars of pickles and sharing a jar with my neighbor.  After three days of resting, we opened them and took our first bite.  Yum!!!  They are fabulous.  So fabulous that we blew through the first two jars and I made some more last night.  My husband says that we are never buying store bought pickles again.  This weekend, we will try the Kimchi.  The pickling process takes a bit longer but the jars sure look pretty.  I hope it is as good as the pickles.  This past week I tried something new. I was inspired by so many of you.  I just have one question, how can you wait so long to taste all of the wonderful things that pickle and can?
 Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest


Giveaway: Randall Burkey Prize Pack

Randall Burkey has been in the chicken business for over
sixty years.  I consider them one of our
country’s pioneers in helping thousands of people keep flocks of chickens.  We are so lucky to have them as one of our
sponsors. One of my favorite things to get in the mail is their catalog.  I just love looking through it and marking
off all the items on my wish list.  Today
we are kicking off a prize pack of three fabulous items from Randall Burkey
that include a bag of Mealworm Frenzy, a bottle of Happy Hen Coop Cleaner and Sunflower Sensation.
Mealworm Frenzy contains freeze dried meal worms that your
chickens will love.  If you are trying to
train your chickens to eat out of your hand or entice them to come close to
you, look no further.  These will help to
do just that.  Plus they are a great
source of protein that will help your flock get through their fall molt
I also am a huge fan of their Happy Hen Coop Cleaner.  It has a wonderful citrus fragrance and
tackles everything from caked on poopy to shining up your windows.  I use it to clean everything including the roosts,
walls, egg baskets and the coop floor.  I
love that it is all natural and biodegradable!
Sunflower Sensation is another wonderful “trail
mix” just for chickens.  It includes
sunflower seeds, sunflower kernels, oats, oat groats, peanuts and raisins.  What a wonderful way to spoil your chickens!
Here is how you can enter to win this prize pack!
1. Visit Randall Burkey’s website and tell me what you would put on your wish list. (1 entry)
2. Become a follower on our blog (see right side column for options) or on  Facebook. (1 entry)
3.  Leave a comment below just to enter (1 entry-mandatory).  If you did #1 or #2 let me know that too!  Please leave an email address or way to contact you so I can let you know if you win.
Good Luck!

One winner will be randomly selected to win all three items.
1 entry per person. Contest ends 9/14/12 at 12 midnight EST
Item to ship to US address only.  

Photo Credit: Randall Burkey