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Routines

Enjoying scratch early in the morning

We all have them.  Even the most happy go lucky people tend to have routines in their day.  Some routines are simple like drinking a cup of coffee, driving a certain way to work or talking to someone on the phone everyday.  Other routines are elaborate such as getting ready in the morning, coiffing hairstyles and applying make-up.  I think we all develop routines because in many ways, routines are comfortable.

Unbelievably, our chickens have daily routines.  They are smart.  Their own routines include waking up in the morning, early activities in the coop as dawn arrives before they are let out and their afternoon siestas. These routines, though simple, make up parts of their days.  Interestingly though, I have noticed that they have become accustomed to routines that I have created for them as well.  Just as a dog knows when it is time to partake in a daily stroll, our chickens know just what lies ahead when they see me.

Each morning, our routine is pretty simple.  I refill the outside waterer first and scatter a bit of scratch on the ground in the run.  I open up the coop door and the girls pop out of their coop one by one like pieces of popcorn.  It has been this way for years.  One day, I recall that I mixed up this routine.  I had done everything else that I typically did, except instead of scratch, I scattered fruits and veggies in the run.  They were so confused.  They were so focused on looking for scratch that they neglected to care about the fresh goodies in plain view.  Those fruits and veggies arrived too early.  They are usually given as a late morning snack.  The poor girls were so confused that I actually did go and get some scratch and scatter it about.  Instantly, they set off into their routine as though nothing had ever been askew.  It was at this point that I realized the importance of their habits.  Perhaps, knowing what to expect in some way made them feel safe.

Last week as we left the house around 5:30am to catch our flight from the airport, I decided to open up the coop early.  It was still dark.  Yet, the early morning wild birds had begun to sing and I knew that daylight was mere minutes away.  As I opened the coop, It was very still and quiet.  All of a sudden, I heard one of the chickens say in a quiet deep voice, "Burh, burrrhhh".  I translated it as, "Is that you?"  I whispered back, "It's just me sweeties, have a great day girls, I'll miss you."  I heard no response.  Later that evening, I had called our chicken babysitter to check on the girls.  Despite looking everywhere, she told me that no one laid any eggs that day.

Eggs that chickens lay in the morning are formed in their bodies overnight as they sleep.  When chickens are disrupted or startled in the evening, it can lead to a decrease or lack of egg production.  I guess even something as simple as my opening the coop early contributed to the lack of eggs.

The following evening, I checked on the girls.  Everything was back to normal.  They were back on their schedule and the chicken sitter was graciously thanked with seven beautiful eggs.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest


You can also follow our adventures on Facebook.

Blooms: The Boston Flower and Garden Show

We got in from vacation two days ago and it seems that I have so much that I want to share with everyone! We have so many wonderful things coming in the days ahead including a huge giveaway starting April 2nd. You will not want to miss! But first, we have some catching up to do.

A couple weeks ago, I made the trek to Boston for the annual flower and garden show. Over the past few years, this show has had a rocky existence. A few years back, there was no show. It was a huge disappointment to many of us who looked forward to the show each year. However, despite the struggling economy and times, I am happy that the horticultural society revived the show continues to make an effort. Gardening is timeless. It is therapeutic and always trendy. Whether it be grand or quaint, it can make a huge impact. Much of my inspiration for the Spring and Summer seasons ahead come from gardening shows.

Of course, I am always searching for chickens at these shows, because they are the heart of my garden. They are the personalities that make the garden come alive amongst it's splendor and color. They are the humor. They are the moving composters and exterminators who flit quietly and sometimes quickly across the scene.

There were plenty of beautiful blooms.


Fun sitting areas


Gorgeous floating staircases over water


Exotic birds from Australia


Yet the only place I found chickens was in one of the lovely miniature gardens.



I did however find these adorable succulents in ceramic egg containers.


I just had to have one.


This season, I am looking forward to waking up my gardens again from their winter slumber and creating a garden just for our chickens. Here is what I did last year. The girls absolutely loved it! Even if you don't garden, try creating a few portable container gardens for your chickens that you can introduce into the run. They take up little space and don't require free-ranging to partake in the fun.

Update: Our sponsor, My Pet Chicken, has just announced the April 2nd giveaway that I eluded to in the first paragraph of this post! It has been so hard to keep under wraps. We are giving away a chicken coop! Click here for details and be sure to come back on April 2nd and enter to win.

Photo Credits: Tilly's Nest

Winner: Solar Nite Guard

Thank you so much everyone for entering.  We also wanted to give a huge thank you to our sponsor, Nite Guard, for allowing us to giveaway one of their fantastic predator proofing Nite Guards.  Here at Tilly's Nest, we have been so impressed with the quality and ease of use with this product for well over a month now.  Click here to see a video of them in action. We love that they are solar powered, require no maintenance and that we never have to remember to turn them on. One lucky winner was randomly selected with the help of a random number generator.

Congratulations



Please email me at melissa@tillysnest.com with your shipping address.

Thank you to everyone who participated and entered!

Tuesday: A Week in Photos


October 2010

Tom the Turkey, resident of Audubon Sanctuary, Long Pasture


We are away this week visiting Mickey! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week's photos. I can't wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos. 


Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

Monday: A Week in Photos


June 2011

Free ranging fluffy butts of summer.


We are away this week visiting Mickey! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week's photos. I can't wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos.


Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

Sunday: A Week in Photos


March 2011

Proud Momma Dolly looks over her little ones as they eat, drink and explore in their private brooder.


We are away this week visiting Mickey! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week's photos. I can't wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos.

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

Saturday: A Week in Photos


June 2011

Tilly and Oyster Cracker were enjoying digging and scratching in the same hole.  When one would pick their head up, the other would put their head down.  Chicken Teamwork.

We are away this week visiting Mickey! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week's photos. I can't wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos. 

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest


Friday: A Week in Photos



March 2011

I went to visit my good friend's poor little Silkie that was egg bound.  Here she is after she passed the egg.  During her treatment, she was kept warm under a heat lamp and was placed here to rest.  She made a full recovery.


We are away this week visiting Mickey! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week's photos. I can't wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos.

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

Thursday: A Week in Photos


May 2011

Mr. Tilly's nest was out birding in Beech Forest at the Cape Cod National Seashore and discovered these Canadian Geese with their goslings.


We are away this week visiting Mickey! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week's photos. I can't wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos.

Photo Credit:  Mr. Tilly's Nest

Wednesday: A Week in Photos


May 2011

While out free ranging this past Spring, Tilly found an oak branch and took it with her all over the gardens.  It was so funny to watch as she dragged it from place to place.


We are away this week visiting Mickey! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week's photos. I can't wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

Signs of Spring Interpreted By Chickens

Our littlest one feeding the girls scratch in a Spring dress and snow boots.

Chickens are the only ones excited about daylight savings.

Chickens spend more time outside of the coop in the run.

Chickens begin to find bugs and goodies when out and about.

Chickens sing along to the morning chorus of wild bird songs.

Chickens begin to be more alert and on the lookout for flying predators.

Chickens go to bed late.

Chickens begin to lay eggs regularly.

Chickens go broody.

Chickens begin to enjoy a good dust bath again.

Chickens and their human family begin to spend more time together.

The waterers are no longer frozen in the morning.

The gray veil of Winter is no longer the backdrop of the landscape.

You find your chickens free ranging among the bulbs of Spring; tulips, daffodils and crocuses.

New life emerges from the ground, from buds and from clutches of eggs.

Happy Spring from Tilly's Nest


Photo Credit:  Mr. Tilly's Nest

Giveaway: Solar Nite Guard

Like many of you around the country, we have had to take extra precautions to keep our flock safe from predators. Cape Cod is home to many predators including but not limited to foxes, coyotes, skunk, raccoon, opossum, weasels, fisher cats, owls and hawks. Any of these would love to make a meal out of one of our flock members. We have always had to be very safe. Our free-ranging is always supervised and mostly takes place after in the early evening before dusk. This gives the flock just enough time to stretch their legs and explore before nightfall.

We are continually striving and looking for additional ways to keep our chicken safe. We try to stay one step ahead of the predators. A couple of months ago, we teamed up with our newest sponsor, Nite Guard. Over the past month, we have been using solar Nite Guards on our chicken coop and run to help keep predators at bay. Since installing the Nite Guards, we have not seen any footprints or scat near the coop and run. Here they are in action. ( Please don't mind my stuffy voice, I still have that nasty head cold.)


In addition to the keeping livestock safe, they keep deer and wildlife out of gardens and help to protect your property. They are weatherproof, solar powered, eco friendly and easily install in minutes. In this video by Nite Guard, they share with us how Nite Guards appear at various distances and stand up to the elements.



Here is how you can enter to win (1) Solar Nite Guard

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. Become a follower of our blog. (1 entry) See the right sidebar of this website to become a follower either through "Join this Site" or "Networked Blogs".

3. Stop over to Nite Guard's Facebook page and tell them Tilly's Nest sent you. (1 entry)

Good Luck!

This contest ends on Tuesday, March 27,2012 at 11:59pm East Coast Time.

Item ships to US addresses only.


Friday Night Fish

Living on Cape Cod we have access to great seafood year round.  I have many ways I love to prepare fresh seafood.  I found a similar recipe on the internet years ago and adapted it to suit my family's taste.  This is very easy, quick and delicious and I usually serve it with french fries.  I suggest only using a mild white fish such as haddock or cod.

Ingredients:

4 cod fillets
1/4 cup of your favorite Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup of Italian Bread Crumbs
Lemon wedges for garnish

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley.  Mix well and set aside.

Spread the breadcrumbs on a plate.

On one piece of cod, spread a thin layer of the mayonnaise mixture on one side the fish.  Dip the fish, mayonnaise side down, into the breadcrumbs.  Gently shake off the excess breadcrumbs.  Once one side of the fish is coated, place it breadcrumb side up in the baking pan.  Repeat until all pieces of your fish are in the pan.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and the breadcrumbs begin to brown.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

For more great recipe from Tilly's Nest, click here.


Backyard Chickens: Planning for Vacation

Epcot's Flower and Garden Show 2010

There comes a time in every backyard chicken keeper's life when you will take a vacation.  It might be just overnight or it might be for a week or longer.  Whatever the length, it can provoke some anxiety.  The first time I left my chickens with the chicken sitter, they were about six months of age.  My heart felt like a parent leaving a child home with the babysitter for the first time. Of course I worried.  Would they be well cared for?  Would they remember to harvest the eggs?  Would predators know we were not home?  What if one became ill?  With some thought, planning and preparation, your flock should do just fine. Most people will want to watch your chickens for the eggs alone.  As you know, there is nothing like a freshly laid egg.

Your chicken sitter should:
Live Nearby
Enjoy backyard chickens
Be Responsible

Chicken sitting for a flock is also a wonderful way for someone who is thinking about getting chickens to experience keeping chickens without the full commitment.

Who would make a good chicken sitter?
Neighbors
Family
Friends
Local Dog walkers/Pet sitters~some will chicken sit if you call and ask
Local 4-H Club members
Don't forget to ask if your local feed store knows of anyone who could help too.

Pre-Trip Planning:
1.  Clean the coop and the nesting boxes a day or two before you leave.  This makes chicken sitting much more pleasurable for your sitter.  When the coop is clean, it is much easier and welcoming.
2.  Be sure you have extra food available.  Always keep extra food, grit, oyster shells on hand just in case.
3.  Label everything and tidy up.  I would strongly encourage you to label even the obvious to you.  Label feed, scratch, grit and the like.  Chicken scratch to a newbie could easily be confused as feed.  Also, tidy things up so that everything they need is visible and they do not have to spend time sifting through a cluttered place of chaos.
4.  Give directions.  In addition to reviewing directions in person, write them down.  This serves as a great reference when you are not available.
5.  Be sure the sitter keeps the routine as close to what you do when you are with the chickens.
6.  Harvest eggs frequently.  This should still be done in the morning, afternoon and evening.  If this is difficult for one person, than perhaps this task could be shared with another friend, such as a neighbor.
7.  Prevent boredom.  Leave some suggestions, such as tossing in a whole cabbage every few days or so.
8.  Leave a phone number of a fellow chicken keeper.  This is so important.  You might not be available when a question or concern pops up.  It helps to have a knowledgeable chicken keeper available to make an on-site visit if necessary.
9.  Keep a chicken first aid kit.
10. Provide a phone number of a local avian vet.
11,  Inspect the coop and run.  Be sure all of your latches function properly.  Be sure all aspects of your coop are in good working condition.  Be sure to inspect your predator proofing.  Make any repairs as necessary.
12.  Predators will know when things are different.  They will notice the absence of the family dog.  If you always lock up your chickens, then the chicken sitter should do the same.  Do not leave the coop pop-up door open if this is not your common practice.  Predators will and do take note. Be extra vigilant.  Utilize motion sensor flood lights.  Keep the porch light on.
13.  Let your neighbors know you will be away.  Encourage other neighbors, friends and family to stop in and visit the flock while you are away.
14.  Leave a thorough, easy reference book that is not intimidating for the chicken sitter.  How could anyone feel intimidated by a copy of Raising Chickens for Dummies?

A day or two before your trip, schedule a quick training with your chicken sitter.
Review all of your planning.
Demonstrate coop locks and have them work them while you are there.
Encourage phone calls to you with flock updates.
Discuss a plan on how to handle an escaped chicken or if one does not return in the evening from free ranging.
Talk about treats including types, amount and frequency.
Alert them to any current issues such as molting, wounds, health concerns, pecking order or egg problems.

General Tips for Smoother Chicken Sitting:
1.  Let the chickens out in the run in the morning.  Once they are all are out of the coop, lock them out into the run and perform your chicken sitting duties.  Refill feeders and waterers.   Check for eggs and do any other necessary housekeeping.  This is less stressful for the chicken sitter and also helps to prevent chickens from inadvertently escaping or distracting the sitter who may not be accustomed to the flock's behavior. Do not forget to re-open the pop door once the daily tasks are complete.
2.  Double up on feeders and waterers just in case something happens during the day that might not get noticed quickly.  This also helps to prevent problems if a feeder or waterer malfunctions.
3.  Keep a few spare egg cartons or an egg basket near your chicken supplies in case your sitter forgets to bring one from home for the eggs.

We have been away a few times and I can honestly say that the flock does very well with a little preparation.  Typically our chicken sitter is my Mother.  She is the only one who has gorgeous blond hair and the chickens, I believe, have come to recognize her for it.  The chickens and her get along very well.  Even when she comes over to visit, they perk up and call to her as soon as they see her get out of the car.  They know her voice and they expect treats!    It is always nice to know that she, the neighbors and friends are there and visit when we are away. The girls are well cared for.  Yet, one of the things that I look forward to when we come home is seeing the chickens giddy with excitement.  They do remember us!  It warms my heart to look into Tilly's eyes and tell her that her chicken Momma has returned, just as promised.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

Winner: Poultry in Motion T-shirt


What a fantastic time we had with this amazing giveaway! We love this embroidered t-shirt and know that the winner will to! Did you know that Hobby Hill Farm does all of their embroidering? They are such a talented company. This embroidered chicken can also be found on baseball caps and kitchen towels. When you get the chance stop on in and visit their website and blog. They have wonderful products for all animal lovers and share their love of the outdoors, cooking, family life and animal adventures on their brand new blog. Now for the drum roll please...

Congratulations

Martha

Thank you everyone for entering this giveaway!

Update: As in all of our previous contests, Martha was chosen by the help of a random number generator that can be found at www.random.org

Martha, please email me at: melissa@tillysnest.com with your shipping information.

A Broody Adventure & Tips on Broody Hens

Silkie Bantams frequently go broody.
Broody hens are quite interesting.  Dolly, one of our Silkie Bantams, seems to be broody about every 8 weeks.  Thus, we have developed a broody routine.  A couple times a day, I remove her from her nesting box and set her out into the run with the rest of her flock to scratch and peck and take a drink.  Usually, I lift her from the nesting box, set her on the ground, lock up the box and then place her in the run.  However, yesterday, she preferred to free range instead of going in the run.  Usually, I can call her and she will come right back to me.  Yet, I think the beauty of the weather and the 66 degrees, enticed her to scratch and enjoy a little freedom.  I can't blame her.  I know scratching in the woods and leaves is one of the girls' favorite activities.

At first I tried to catch her.  It has always been easy to do.  She usually squats down and then I lift her up into my arms.  Today, she wanted nothing to do with me.  I have learned to never chase a chicken, so I decided to entice her with treats.  I went into the garage and retrieved some.  I shook the jar of meal worms and called her name.  Nothing.  Surely, tossing sunflower seeds at my feet would work.  Nothing.  I admitted defeat.  For now, I was on Dolly's agenda.  So I plopped myself in the sun on the warm ground next to the chicken run.

I watched Dolly.  She was having a great old time.  Unfortunately, the flock soon realized she was missing.  Poor Autumn was calling out the saddest little call looking for her friend.  If only they knew that Dolly was having a grand old time, scratching in the compost pile, exploring the leaves under the pine trees and hiding underneath humongous rhododendrons.  Today was definitely not the day for this.  I had a meeting to attend in an hour.  I was nervous about the possibility of leaving Dolly free ranging.  Hawks have been abundant.  I had no idea how to catch Dolly.

Then, it dawned on me.  I had a thought that just might work.  I went into the nesting boxes and retrieved a large egg.  Dolly looked on from the underbrush. I could see her watching me.  I purposefully ignored her and placed the egg in a nest of dried leaves.  Then I sat down near the nest and watched with my peripheral vision. Dolly began to talk to the egg.  Slowly, she hesitantly walked over to the egg.  She continued to talk to the egg and then she sat on it, rocked it back and forth and settled down.  I gently scooped her and her egg in my hands and returned them both to the nesting box.    I have learned over time, that the broody instinct always prevails. I decided to let her keep the egg for the rest of the day.

Dolly's clutch from last year, a little one waits for the others to hatch.

Broody Hen Tips and Facts:

Before a hen goes broody she will lay an egg everyday.  This is called a clutch and depending on the size of your chicken, the clutch will be anywhere from 9-15 eggs.

Clutches usually consist of an odd number of eggs.  Odd numbers help the eggs to fit closely together.

Broody hens will lose weight.

Broody hens will sit in the nesting box 24 hours a day.  They will come off of their eggs once or twice in a 24 hours period to eat, drink and poop.

Broody hens while sitting on the nest, will go into a trance.

Broody hens make broody poops.  Oh my goodness, those are nasty!

Broody hens will pull their chest feathers out to help make a nest.  They will also place the eggs against their bare skin to help maintain the proper humidity for hatching eggs.

Broody hens will not venture far for food and water.  Be sure there is a supply next to them.  They can starve themselves to death being so dedicated to their eggs.

If you let nature take it's course, the broody period typically lasts about 3 weeks.

There are ways to break a hen of being broody.  I would not recommend these unless you fear that the hens' life may be in danger.

If you are not hatching chicks, you should remove eggs promptly from a broody hen.  However, that may not break her broodiness.

Broody hens will hatch out fertilized eggs in 21 days.

Broody hens will steal other hens' eggs to sit upon and can often be seen rolling them into their nest from neighboring nesting boxes.

Broody hens talk to their eggs the entire time.  Broody hens also rock and rotate their eggs every few hours.

When the eggs begin to peep at about 19-20 days of incubation, the broody hen will no longer leave the nest.

It is sometimes easier to separate the broody hen into her own brooder if you plan to hatch eggs.  This way, she will not be in danger of another hen stealing her chicks or causing harm to them.  If you do keep your broody girl in a separate brooder away from the flock, be sure to provide her daily visits of at least 15 minutes off the eggs and with her old flock.  This ensures that her old flock remembers her and helps her to maintain her place in the pecking order.

Broody hens after hatching their chicks will stay with them until about 4 weeks of age.  After that time, the mothering instinct ends.  After Dolly left her chicks, she returned to being broody two months later, ready to hatch more eggs.

Two broody Silkies share a box

Photo Credits:  Tilly's Nest


Pulling Worms with Love

Today, the smell of Spring was in the air.  The sunshine was out and I could not resist letting the girls out on a lazy Sunday.  Happy as can be, they sprinted into action.  I like to take a seat on the ground and enjoy watching their adventures.  Today, Tilly stayed close to me instead wandering off with the flock.

I sat there and watched as the wind danced in her tail feathers.  She found the perfect spot and began to scratch in the soil.  I could smell the freshly thawed soil as it wafted through the air.  Ever so quickly she went to work, pulling one, then two, then three worms.  I put the camera down and went to closer to her.

There I sat observing her, scratching in the dirt and quickly pecking out the worms.  She was fast.  I never did spot most of the worms she pulled from the ground.  She did not mind that I petted her as she worked.  Her black feathers absorbed the rays of the sun and she felt so silky and warm.  As she was enjoying pulling worms, I was enjoying spending time with Tilly and listening to her narrate her every move. We enjoyed one another's company.

Searching

Searching

Pulling a worm
After a bit, I could see Tilly's bulging crop and the other girls had had their fill.  The after meal sleepies were on their way.  Gently I coaxed the girls back into the run for dessert, dried meal worms.  Somehow, like us, they tend to find room in their "tummies" despite feeling full to the gills.

Some of  life's best memories are made eating with the family.  Simple meals, even with chickens such as a few found worms and grubs, somehow allow us to reconnect with one another.  Somehow, what is being served at the table is never quite as important as what occurs.  The journey of trying new things, exploring favorite places and getting lost in time and conversation with those we love is incredibly valuable.  Simple joys in life are often the most satisfying.  Families, whether chicken or human, all feel the need to connect and share.  Breaking bread while sharing love, sadness, laughter and triumph is what brings us all together and reminds us of how important it is to foster these moments and memories in our hearts.

Photo Credits: Tilly's Nest

Bogs: Footwear for Chicken Keepers


It seems that every Spring, I purchase a new pair of boots.  A good pair of waterproof boots is essential for chicken keepers.  Whether I am in the garden or tending to the chickens, I love to slip on a pair of boots that keep my feet dry in any weather.  Come to think of it, I can't recall any times that I am have been out in the yard working in anything other than boots.

This past Winter, we purchased a pair of Bogs for my son's winter boots.  He is incredibly hard on all his shoes and they seem to instantly reflect an eight year old boy and his activities.  Most days, his Bogs have been his shoes of choice.  He has worn them almost everyday since Fall in the rain, snow and mud, yet they show very little wear.

I also realized this year, that I had to make some personal changes in my own life.  Living in denial, I have finally realized the seriousness of living in the Northeast with Raynaud's Disease.  Reality set in when I lost a portion of my toe to frostbite.  My thin rubber boots and wool socks were no match for Old Man Winter.  So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that they made Bogs for all ages and I received a pair in the mail for a product review!


For about two weeks, I have been wearing my Bogs.  When I took them out of the box, I was very impressed with the quality, workmanship and the durability.  The lower portion of the boot is rubber while the upper portion of the boot is a thick waterproof fabric.  I loved the fact that the tag hanging from the boots reminded me that they are waterproof, insulated to -40degree F temperatures, have a slip resistant sole and an antimicrobial barrier inside.  As I slid my feet into the boots, I could not believe how snug and comfortable they felt.  It was like I was wearing my slippers.  The best part, since I have been wearing them, is that my feet are warm, happy and never cold.

I find myself sometimes forgetting to change them out when I go to pick the kids up at the bus or fetch the mail.  I could wear these boots everyday.  From Agricultural to casual use, they have a boot, clog or shoe for everyone's lifestyle.  I am a convert.  I can't wait to wear these more as I muck around the yard, spend time with the chickens and tend to the bees.  These truly are a four season boot that I would highly recommend.


Currently, Bogs is offering free shipping and free returns to the US lower 48 States only.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

A Good Friday


Today I removed the hen saddle from Dolly.  Just as expected, it took three weeks for her wound to heal and new feathers to return.  Her feathers have grown back beautifully.  Truthfully, I was a bit sad to remove the hen saddle from her.  When it was on, she didn't seem to mind it and she just looked so darn cute.  My kids loved the fact that she was wearing an outfit just her size!


In addition to the hen saddle, we also treated her wound with Vetericyn spray gel and fortified her diet with Manna Pro's Poultry Conditioner.  The Vetericyn gel helped to speed up the healing process and prevented the wound from becoming infected.  We used the The Poultry Conditioner to boost her nutrition aiding her to regrow gorgeous feathers.  


Just as I was finishing taking photos of Dolly for this post, in came my camera hog, Oyster Cracker.  Dolly and Autumn continued to have a mid-morning snack while Oyster Cracker wanted love.  Soon enough, she hopped out the coop door into my lap.  Dolly and Autumn left the coop and settled in to take a nice dirt bath. It is so nice to have our Dolly happy, healthy and feeling good again.  It was also nice to get a bit of love from my snuggle chicken.  What a wonderful way to start the weekend.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

Giveaway: Poultry in Motion T-Shirt


A few weeks ago, we highlighted a few of our favorite Spring items from Hobby Hill Farm in our Spring Sponsor's Shopping Guide.  One of the featured items was their embroidered Poultry in Motion baseball cap.  We were delighted this week, when Hobby Hill Farm asked us if we would help launch their new Poultry in Motion t-shirts.  One lucky entrant will receive their very own Poultry in Motion t-shirt just in time for warmer weather.  This t-shirt is sure to be a conversation starter and a wonderful addition to any chicken lover's wardrobe.

Here is how to enter:

1. You must leave a comment on this blog post for 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. Take a visit over to www.hobbyhillfarm.com and visit their brand new blog! (follow the link on the top of their home page) Be sure to leave an inspirational comment about their newest endeavor. You might even decide to follow along! (1 entry)

3. Becomes a fan of Hobby Hill Farm on Facebook (1 entry)

4. Become a follower of Tilly's Nest here or on Facebook (1 entry)


Good luck!

This contest ends on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 11:59 pm East Coast Time.
Item ships to US addresses only.



In Like a Lion...

Oyster Cracker holds a seed in her beak.

March certainly has come in just as always, like a lion.  The first few days of March have brought us colder temperatures, freezing rain and little sunshine.  Last night it dipped down to 19 degrees F.  I could not seem to warm up.  This morning, the air is still cold, in the twenties, yet the sunshine is brilliant.  I heard the girls calling early this morning. I think they could not wait to get up and play in the sun. They love to sit perched on a roost, a top a log or in a dust bowl where they close their eyes and absorb the sun.  They remind me of cats that find a sunny spot and curl into a ball to take a nap.  Sometimes, they are alone and sometimes they snuggle together in their sunny spots.  However, first eggs needed to be laid and their morning scavenger hunt for a bit of scratch, dried meal worms and sunflower seeds had commenced.

Each morning, as the chickens scratch in the run for treats, I take a daily assessment of each girl.  Are their combs bright and red and free from frostbite?  Is everyone out of the coop?  Do they all seem perky?  Are they acting normal?  Does anyone have a droopy tail or anything else out of the ordinary?  Are they making normal poop?  Thankfully, most days the answers are yes, business as usual continues.

Dolly's feathers are almost completely grown in and you would never know that she had been wounded in the first place. She has resumed laying eggs again.  This is how I know that she has made a full recovery.  She is her happy peppy self and I imagine she should return to being broody in about a week's time.  For Dolly, being broody is a year round never ending cycle.

Dolly decides on a box to lay her egg.
The days are getting longer.  The sunset is delayed a bit as each day comes to a close.  This weekend the clocks will "spring forward".   The chickens seem happier as they seem to know that Spring is around the corner.  I love these times as the chickens will be able to spend more time out in the gardens.  I too will be able to spend more time with them.  One of my favorite things is waking the gardens up from their Winter slumber.  I spend most Spring days in the gardens clipping back last year's growth and discovering delicate buds of life emerging from the ground.  The chickens helps me aerate the mulch and can't help digging along side of me.  I love it when the flock stays close.  We talk, share found worms and often I am forced to take a break when my lap chicken, Oyster Cracker, is in desperate need of a snuggle.  I can't wait for the "out like a lamb" days.

Photo Credits:  Tilly's Nest

The Birds and the Bees



One of the biggest questions that I had prior starting out on my honey bee keeping journey had to do with how the chickens and the bees will coexist in my yard.  I was nervous.  I knew nothing about keeping bees, yet I knew a lot about keeping chickens.  I wondered to myself.  Will the bees sting the chickens?  Will the chickens bother the beehives?  What will happen if the bees swarm?  Can my chickens still free range in the yard with beehives present?

I have read beekeeping books cover to cover multiple times and I've been busy browsing the internet for videos and resources. This Winter, I have had the pleasure of taking a beekeeping class though our local Beekeeping Association.   The learning curve has been huge.  I feel as though I have learned so much yet have only touched the tip of the iceberg.  I look forward to attending each new class.  When I'm there, my mind is no longer focused on kids' homework, laundry and dinner plans, but on the intricacies of colony life and the hive.

Apparently, bees and chickens can get along famously.

Chickens can happily free range even with bee hives present.  Sometimes, they like to hang out in front of the hive snacking on bees that are fully loaded with pollen coming in for a landing returning to the hive.  If this is the case, chickens can be deterred with temporary fencing.

People who live in areas with bears keep their hives inside of the chicken's run for safety. Chickens will hop on top and roost on the hives, happily coexisting.  Flock keepers, as a precaution, will lock the chickens into the coop when the hives need to be opened or manipulated.

Chickens will pick clean the areas under the hives, cleaning up hive debris and dead bees.  They will also eat live bugs and beetles that prey on the hives.

Chickens will pick honey comb clean of unwanted and unnecessary debris.

Some people place their hives on the roofs of their chicken coops.

Sometimes, chickens will get stung, but not often.

Swarming bees will not bother chickens.  Apparently, swarming honey bees are rather docile.

My two hives are now completely built.  They are sitting in the garage waiting for the warmth of Spring to receive a fresh coat of paint and to be located outside in a sweet sunny spot.  In the beginning of May, I am scheduled to pick up my bees from a beekeeper in New York State.  Our adventures are certainly about to become much more interesting for us and for our chickens.

Click here to read more on my beekeeping adventure.


A clever homeowner constructs a coop with hives on top.

Disclaimer:  In certain parts of the United States, Africanized bees exist.  We do not have these bees anywhere near Cape Cod.  Keeping honey bees in an area where Africanized bees are known to exist, may require additional safe guards that I have not researched and are necessary for keeping your honey bees and chicken healthy in your area.  I would strongly advise you to investigate if you live in an area with Africanized bees.



Photo Credits: noah.w, jordan

Winner: Chicken Saddle



Thank you all for participating in a wonderful giveaway by our newest sponsor, Louise's Country Closet.  Their chicken saddles are amazing and I believe helped Dolly make a complete recovery from her injury.  One lucky winner is going to receive a $10 gift certificate to their store.  Be sure to check out all of Louise's Country Closet's wonderful items for chickens, turkeys, bunnies, doggies, ferrets, guinea pigs, horses and cats.  So, with help from a randomizer, we are excited to announce our winner.

Congratulations!


Please email melissa@tillysnest.com so you can start shopping!

Thank you all for participating!




Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest