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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.

GOOD LUCK!


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

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 4


Welcome to Week 4 of our weekly Blog Hop!  I can't even tell you all how much fun I had visiting all of your sites and seeing what you all have been up to.  This blog hop is about what you have been up to lately.  I love hearing about your chickens, homesteading, canning, decorating, baking, cooking, stories, updates, beekeeping and anything else that is family friendly.  

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.






Now it's your turn! Everyone is invited to join in on the fun.   Click the blue "add"  below to link-up any post from your blog.  It's easy, just enter your post's name, a direct link to the post and a contact email. Click next and select one of the photos from your blog.  It's that easy! Don't forget to link back to this blog hop in your post.  I've made it easy for you.  Here is a button for your blog. Now, let's get hopping!

Down Home Blog Hop




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

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?

1. Molting: As mentioned above, both eggs and feathers are almost 100% protein. As feathers are created egg production tapers off.  Here is more information on molting.

2. Predators: The majority of the egg making process occurs as the chickens sleep. If they are startled in the evening while sleeping, woken up or just plain stressed, egg production can halt.  Did you also know that predators will sneak into the coop to eat eggs?  Often snakes will slink into the coop, find the eggs and swallow them whole. Foxes, skunks, rats and weasels will also eat your chickens' eggs.

3. Lack of Evening Food: As the egg forms in the chicken's body overnight, be sure that they are not going to bed hungry.  Provide them with access to food and water right before bed.  You might find your egg production increases.  My girls love to chow down before they roost.  When I pick the Silkies up out of the nesting boxes to place them on the roost at night, I can't help but smile when I feel their full little crops!

4. Lack of Protein: Over-treating the flock with lower protein foods like vegetables, breads, table scraps and fruits can cause a decrease in their productivity. Chickens require their diets to be approximately 17% protein. Try switching out their treats to ones that contain more protein such as sunflower seeds and dried meal worms.

5. Heat Stress: Can you imagine even wanting to lay an egg if you are overheating and not feeling your best? On very hot and humid summer days, egg production can decrease.  Read more about heat stress here.

6. Old Age: Hens are most productive during their first 2 years of laying. After that, their egg production tapers off. With each year, it decreases. This is a normal process of the aging for hens.

7. Broodiness: Hens that are broody will lay a clutch of eggs, typically one per day, until they have reached their maximum sitting capacity. Once a hen goes broody, her focus is on hatching her eggs and raising her chicks. Hormones in her body tell her to stop laying eggs. Egg laying typically returns a few weeks after they hatch their chicks or they are no longer broody.

8.  Egg Bound:  Often when eggs are too large to pass, a hen can become egg bound.  A tell tale sign is a puffed up hen sitting in the nesting box, not looking so good.  She does not feel like walking around.  Her lower half of her abdomen, when gently touched, reveals fullness-the egg that is stuck.  She will not feel like eating or drinking.  This is a medical emergency- not only will she not be laying any more eggs, her life may be in jeopardy.

9.  Egg Eaters:  Don't be fooled.  Sometimes your hens are laying eggs, but you have an egg eater amongst the flock.  Raw eggs once sampled by the hens, are irresistibly delicious.  You have to be quick to break this terrible habit, but it can be done.  Click here for more egg eating information.

10. Lack of sunlight:  Hens require 14 hours of sunlight to stimulate their brains to lay an egg.  Eggs naturally taper off during the winter months.  This is a normal process and egg laying resumes as longer days arrive with spring weather.  Adding windows to the chicken coop can help.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

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
Ingredients:
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

Toppings:
sliced jalapenos
diced lettuce
salsa
sour cream
hot sauce

Directions:
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

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 3


Down Home Blog Hop





Wow! It's hard to believe that we are already on our third blog hop.  It was so much fun to visit each and every one of your blogs.  It's that time to share again.  A few weeks ago, we visited Shelburne Farm for apple picking.  It was a wonderful family outing for the day.

Gala Apples
Hayride through the orchard
Apple shop
We picked peaches too.
Pony rides


Goodies to go
Now it's your turn to share!  I'd love to hear what you have been up to on your blogs!  Feel free to share anything here that inspires you or even just share a story. This blog hop is all about things that bring happiness to your life. Tell me about your chickens, pets, favorite recipes decorating, antiquing, gardening, bees, ducks, horses, goats, crafts, sewing projects, your stories, new ideas, things you'd like to try and the like. The choice is entirely up to you!

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

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

Winner: Randall Burkey Prize Pack



What a fun giveaway!  I am so happy that you all had such a fun time exploring Randall Burkey's website.  If you need a one stop place to shop for all your chicken needs I would highly recommend them for not only their competitive pricing, items they carry as well as their customer service.  A huge thank you is in order for Randall Burkey for sponsoring this fantastic giveaway!  One winner was randomly selected.

Congratulations

kmostbye

You are the winner!


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

Photo Credit:  Randall Burkey

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.

Mission One:  Inspect the honey supers.
Earlier in the summer, I had placed a honey super on each hive.  It was unclear whether I would get honey for myself, as they had a great deal of work just drawing out the foundation.  One hive was slow to draw out the foundation, while the other went like gang busters.  I had to place a second deep on that hive.  Yesterday, when I inspected them, all three had fully drawn out foundation.  One was half full of honey, it would remain in place, and the other two honey supers needed to come off.  Well, here was the beginning of a not so good time.  Each hive had a honey super that had to come off and they were full of bees.  I used the bee brush to "gently" coax them into the other deep super.  Apparently, they HATE the bee brush.  Before I knew it they were buzzing my face, hitting my veil and stinging my gloved hands.  They hated me!  Cool, calm and collected, I walked away.  I returned to remove one frame at a time from the honey supers, all twenty of them, and placed them in the garage. Note to self:  Do not place freshly removed honey supers in the garage.  They still smell like the bees, their queen and their hive pheromones.  Confused bees will soon fill your garage even if there is no honey in the supers. Leave the supers off the hive, near the hive for a few days for the scent to dissipate.

Mission Two:  Check the honey supplies in the top deep supers
After the ordeal of removing the honey supers, I was a bit hesitant to go into the hives deeper, but it needed to be done.  I checked on Briar, the hive closest to the house, first.  Everything was glued like Fort Knox with propolis, the bee's glue.  I used the hive tool to help lift out the first frame.  The top bar pulled right off leaving the frame down below.  Oh goodness, this was not looking good.  I quickly went to the garage and built a new frame and filled it with new foundation.  I skillfully removed the broken frame and beautiful wax from the hive and replaced it with the new frame.  That was a feat!  I inspected the remainder of the hive and found beautiful abundant honey!  The deep super was heavy and full!  Everything looked great.  As the bees were irritated with me, I placed a feeder full of 2:1 sugar syrup on the hive and closed it shut.  I was satisfied for the time being.

Next I went to open up Willow.  Willow was already defensive as it still had a half full honey super on top.  The hive smelled like sweaty gym sock.  Pyew!  They were obviously harvesting the golden rod pollen.  I did not make it very far.  They were already buzzing me and I was spent.  Then I saw a little beetle about the size of an eraser scurry by very quickly.  This hive had small hive beetles.  Oh boy!  I closed it up and knew that I needed to set some traps as they could kill off my bees.  This could wait until tomorrow.

An entrance reducer was inserted by the lower entrance.
Mission Three:  Trap those Invaders Beetles
I love having a very supportive bee keepers association here on Cape Cod.  I am very lucky. Today, I picked up the traps and baited them with some cooking oil and apple cider vinegar.  The bees will chase the beetles into the traps and they will drown in the oil, but first I had to place two of them in the hive.  I suited up and headed over to Willow with the traps.  I removed the outer cover, the inner cover, the honey super and revealed the upper deep super.  On each side between the outermost two frames I had to insert the traps.  With the hive tool, I had to remove some comb.  It oozed with white nectar.  Being on edge, the bees were not happy about these additions to their home.  They whacked into my veil again and told me to "buzz off".  I wondered if everyone was having bees that were this irritable.  My guess was that they probably did. The bees are busy protecting their honey supplies from other robbing honey bees, yellow jackets ,wasps and even bumble bees.

The inner cover entrance plugged with a stick
Mission Four:  Inspect for Robbing
Since placing the feeder on Briar, I had noticed that there was a bunch of activity by the small bee sized entrance hole of the inner cover that lead to the sugar syrup pail inside the hive.  So as I was suited up I watched.  Yes indeed, there were imposter honey bees trying to get inside.  As I watched, I could see five or six bees ganging up on one bee trying to remove them from the entrance.  The guards were doing their job, but the question was, how many robbers were here?  I took a stick from the ground and plugged up the hole.  The hive's bees could still reach the feeder from inside the hive, I just eliminated this shortcut.  Next I went into the garage and retrieved the entrance reducers.  These decrease the size of the entrance and make the guard bees' jobs easier.  I removed the wire mouse guards and inserted the entrance reducers.  Once again, I managed to really upset both hives.  Bees were buzzing everywhere and crawling all over me.  I stood up and stepped back and watched.  I took some deep breaths.  Commotion and confusion was getting sorted out and the "new" entrances were being discovered.  I was done for today and went inside to cook some dinner.  After dinner, I took a peek near the hives.  All was calm.

The honey super can remain on top of the hive here in the Northeast for about another 2 weeks. I am optimistic that I might have some honey, as the golden rod is in full swing here.  In two weeks, I will remove this honey super, restore the mouse guards, vent the outer cover and add a syrup feeder to Willow.  This will take me up to the first frost.  After that, more winter preparation will begin.  Did I mention that I still enjoying keeping these bees?  Yes, all 100,000 of them.

This post is linked up to the Farmgirl Friday BlogHop.

Photo Credit: Tilly's Nest

Down Home Blog Hop~Number 2



Good Morning Friends!  We had such a wonderful time last week with the blog hop and I learned so much from each and everyone of you. I loved taking the time to read each and every one of your posts.  My favorite part learning new things from you.  Many people wanted an update on how my first experience went with the pickling that I talked about last week.  

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?


Now it's your turn to link up to this blog hop!  I can't wait to hear what you have been up to at your place.  Feel free to share anything here that inspires you or even just share a story.  This blog hop is all about things that bring happiness to your life. Tell me about your pets, things you have made, favorite recipes, decorating, your stories, new ideas, things you'd like to try, antiquing, gardening, bees, chickens, ducks, horses, goats, crafts, sewing projects and the like. The choice is entirely up to you!  

Please remember to share a link to our blog hop on your post so that others can find us and participate in the fun.  

This post is linked up to Rural Thursday.




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

Friends Among Hens


I can't imagine my life without friends.  In my travels through this world, I have met friends in expected places  and sometimes very unexpected places.  Some are in my life more than others.  Some it has been years, yet we can pick up right where we left off.  Others are there because of a certain need or cause.  Some are there for as long as you can remember.  I cannot imagine living without them.  Not surprisingly, chickens have friends too.

I often wonder if some of the same breeds from the hatchery are in fact siblings or just friends.  Sometimes, I don't think that even matters in life.  To some of us, friends are our family.  In the world of chickens, they share love.  They chatter with each other.  They snuggle on the roosts near each other and yes, they have a preference.  They eat together.  They share a bond.  They spend time with one another and they have favorite friends too.

Oyster Cracker and Sunshine, our Buff Orpingtons, are great friends.  At first it didn't start this way when they were one day old chicks.  It developed and grew.  They worked at it.  Today, they are thick as thieves, completely inseparable.  A fine example is when one of them needs to lay an egg.  As one sits in the nesting box, the other follows her inside the coop.  Once the nesting box of choice is selected and deemed worthy of the egg, the henny girl sits down and the other goes outside to the run.  As the egg process is occurring inside, the other can not help but come in and check on their bestie every 20 seconds or so.  From the run, she scoots inside and chats with her friend.  Call it coaxing ,words of encouragement or just an "Are you done yet?", it continues on until the egg is finally laid and they can rejoin each other in the run.  Everyday, they reciprocate this behavior only to one another, to their best friend.

When I have to give Oyster Cracker a bath, I take her away from the flock.  This makes Sunshine very upset.  As the bubbles and scrubbing commence, Sunshine pines for Oyster Cracker's swift return.  She calls from the run, non-stop.  "Where have you gone?"  Even when Oyster Cracker, our self-professed lap chicken, wants snuggles and spends countless time on my lap, Sunshine is at my feet, content to wait.  Sunshine has never wanted to snuggle like her friend, but somehow understands the connection.

I received an email from a friend the other day.  One of her poor henny girls has been down.  Earlier, they lost a flock member and now another hen went broody, leaving her henny girl feeling alone.  Her chicken became depressed.  It did not matter to her sweet girl that there were other new recent additions to the flock to become acquainted with, she longed for her old dear friends.  To me this was fascinating.

Chickens love.  Chickens make friends.  Chickens have emotions. Yes, chickens live in a flock and find safety in numbers like most birds.  However, in both places, I have now seen that chickens do have long term memories, sweet henny girl memories that they share between one another.  Memories that make them feel good.  How can I blame them for wanting to make more memories with their best friend?  Isn't that what we do with our best friends?

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

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest

Backyard Cutting Flower Garden Tour & Chickens


Yesterday, I took a quick trip over the bridge from Cape Cod onto the mainland.  I was on my way to visit my dear friend, Deb.  I was inspired by her this Spring when she set out to start her very own backyard cutting garden from seeds.  Like myself, she spent the winter researching her new interest.  She read books, thumbed through countless magazines and gardening catalogs.  Today, I had the pleasure of seeing her gardens in person.  She upcycled and made eight raised beds with her family.  Even after the heavy rain storm a few days prior, the beds are bursting with amazing flowers.  Between the butterflies and bees, it is simply magical, heavenly and intoxicating.  Time melted away.









Of course, I had to pull myself away and say hello to her girls.  The coop called to me through the flowers.  I could not believe how much they grown since the coop tour!






Deb has been so inspired by her latest gardening passion that she is planning on authoring a book about her cutting garden.  I can't wait!  Don't you just love it when you take a leap of faith into the unknown and not only succeed but find pleasure, reward and gratification in ways you did not even imagine?  This is what happened here, all in Deb's backyard.  Sometimes, life blooms in very unexpected ways.


This post is linked up to Deborah Jean's Dandelion House Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop 
and the Coop Hop.


Photo Credits:  Tilly's Nest

Winner: Chicken T-Shirt



I wanted to give a huge thank you to Louise's Country Closet for sponsoring another fun giveaway on Tilly's Nest.  I loved reading all of your comments about what you enjoyed the best on their website.  I am so excited to announce today that one random winner was selected from all the entries to win their very own Crazy Chicken Lady T-shirt.

Congratulations

Cheryl

You are the winner!

Please email me at: melissa@tillysnest.com with your US shipping address and your size.  

The winner has until 9/9/12 9am EST to claim their prize.

Photo Credit:  Tilly's Nest