Month : January 2013

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Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Feathered Friendship

Oyster Cracker and Sunshine are our big, golden, Buff Orpingtons and they are inseparable.  They have a very beautiful bond that they have shared since they were day old chicks.  I felt nostalgic today and sought out their baby picture.  My how they have grown.  It is so very hard to believe that they are almost three years old.

 

The kids too seem to be growing so quickly too.  I wonder why it is that the older we get the faster the years seem to pass?  Perhaps, it is that we finally come to some sort of realization how precious time can be.

 

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

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Chickens Health Issues

Frostbite and Backyard Chickens

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Frostbitten wattles and comb

During the winter months, chickens can become prone to frostbite.  Frostbite can occur on combs, wattles and even their feet.  Chickens with larger combs and wattles often are the most susceptible.  Cold hardy breeds, such as Wyandottes, Orpingtons, Australorps, and Silkies tend to have smaller combs.  During colder weather, most chickens will poof out and poof up their head feathers and you will notice that their combs become almost entirely covered by their feathers.  Chickens will also naturally roost in the evening.  When roosting, the chicken’s body will cover their feet and toes, keeping them warm from the cold winter air.  These are two ways that chickens’ bodies help to prevent frostbite. Yet, sometimes breeds succumb to frostbite for other reasons.

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Chickens Stories from Our Nest

A Chilly Reminder from the Chickens

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One of our garden birdhouses iced over.
Yesterday, an arctic blast from Canada arrived on Cape Cod.  Typically, our winters are balmy due to the insulating effect of the ocean.  Yet yesterday, temperatures never reached double digits.  The waterers were frozen.  My lips became horribly chapped.  I could not bear to touch the predator proof locks with bare hands.  Everything seemed to be brittle, cold and frozen- yes, dare I say, even the chicken poop.
The past two evenings as I went to bed I thought about the girls. Surely, with temperatures like these their coop would be cold.  So, I feed them extra scratch to help keep them warm before bed.  I topped off their feeders and applied a thin coat of Vaseline to prevent frostbite on their combs and wattles.  Safely inside the coop for the night, they hunkered down in a family style snuggle on the roosts.  All seven of them together on a three foot roost.  One by one they alternated the way they were facing on the roost.  Their acrobatic skills and sense of problem solving never ceases to amaze me.
The chickens could care less about the cold.  They adapt and in fact they thrive.  These past two mornings, they have popped out of their coop like new freshly popped kernels of popcorn.  Their lust for life is undeniable.  They scurry around the run seeking out tasty cracked corn and they sip the warm soothing water from the dish.  With a song in their soul and a giddy skip and a hop, they are happy to be alive.  This got me thinking.  Sometimes, those chickens have a way of reminding us.
Very early this morning, I woke up with the puppy and took her outside.  As she was puttering around the snowy covered yard looking for the perfect place, I was looking up at the trees and skies.  The chickens were still sleeping.  Yet, the wild birds were singing songs of spring.  I could hear the trills of the Carolina Wren, the sing-song of the Black Capped Chickadees  and the chattering of the Gold Finches.  The sun was beginning to peek up from the cold earth. How beautiful this morning was turning out.
A bit later that morning, like clockwork, the chickens emerged from the coop and I was on to tossing scratch in the run and thawing waterers.  The only difference was that I was now embracing this wintry weather instead of loathing its inconveniences.  Soon enough, spring will arrive, but for now, I will try not to wish this chilly time of the year to pass.  It too is important in the circle of life.  Six eggs awaited me this morning in the nesting boxes.  Two were still warm.  New beginnings are just around the corner.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

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Chickens Stories from Our Nest

A Visit to the Poultry Show

This past weekend, I attended the Northeastern Poultry Show.  I must say that I am never disappointed when I go.  There was so much to see and do!

I spent time visiting with children’s author, Jan Brett, and her amazing, prize winning Polish hens and roos. Can I just tell you that her chickens just smell amazing!  As I was holding one of her hens, I could smell this wonderful aroma of eucalyptus, mint, and lavender wafting up to my nose.  I leaned over and smelled her chicken’s poofy head, it was delightful!  Her sweet chicken, fell asleep in my arms while waiting for her beauty treatment.

Children’s Author, Jan Brett, and myself

 

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Jan’s Polish chickens for sale

Soon enough, it was off to see my favorites, the Silkies.  I call this Silkie row.  This is just a portion of the white Silkies all competing for the winning ribbon.

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There is even a showing division just for kids, called the junior division. Here they are sharing their chickens with the judges.
For most of the chickens, life goes on as usual.  They lay their eggs.
They fall asleep.

 

They have deep thoughtful moments.

For the past few years, I have looked forward to everything about the show-the chickens, the vendors, the folks who came to sell livestock and the overall energy of the entire event.  However, this year was different.  For me, it was about meeting up with the same group of ladies that I always meet up with at the shows.  It has become clear to me how important our friendships mean to one another and I could not wait to be together, chatting away like a bunch of cackling hens!  We met up at lunch time with one another.  In no time, we were surrounding a plate of freshly baked brownies, pumpkin bread, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers.  Even though I had not seen some of these ladies in person in over a year, it was just as if time had never passed.

Please feel free to check out my chicken friends’ blogs.  You can visit Terry at Hencam.com or visit Lauren at Scratch and Peck and Wendy at Lessons Learned from the Flock.

Now onto our own party and meet up! Feel free to link up three links to this week’s blog hop. You know that we love reading what you are up to over on your blogs! Share your stories, crafts, cooking, baking, homemade creations, talents, animal keeping and the like and if you please, link back to the hop in your post so others can find and join the party.

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Giveaways

Giveaway: Chicken Sweatshirt

Are you a Farm Chick or a Farm Dude? Our sponsor, Hobby Hill Farm, is giving away one of their crew neck sweatshirts to one of our lucky friends.  Every sweatshirt is made to order and features custom embroidery work.  If you win, they will help you create your very own sweatshirt.  These sweatshirt are pre-shrunk and pill resistant. They feature a 1×1 ribbed spandex collar, cuffs & waistband, set-in sleeves, concealed seam on cuffs, and two-needle coverstitching throughout.
Hobby Hill Farm is located in Virginia. They are a great place to keep in mind when you are shopping for fellow animal lovers.  They have items for the kitchen, wonderful tote bags, gift items, flags and so much more.  Here are a few of my favorites.

I love this chicken rug! I think it would be so sweet greeting folks at the front door or near the kitchen sink.

I also just think these magnets would make a wonderful gift.
Finally, this rooster mug might help me be more of a morning person!

To see all of their available chicken items for sale, click here.

Enter to Win A Farm Chick/Farm Dude Sweatshirt

3 possible entries
1.  Become a fan of Hobby Hill Farm on Facebook. Tell them Tilly sent you.~1 entry
2.  Check out their fabulous website and tell me what you would put on your wishlist.~1 entry
3.  Follow Tilly’s Nest (options are on the right.)~1 entry
4.  Be sure to leave a comment on this post sharing which entries you did.  Please leave an email or an alternative way to contact you.

The Fine Print: Contest ends 1/27/13 at 12 noon EST. Three possible entries per person/one comment only. One randomly selected winner will win. This item will ship to a US address only. 

Photo Credits:  Hobby Hill Farm

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Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Meet Sara

Last Saturday, we picked up the newest addition to our family, a Miniature Schnauzer.  My son named her Sara.  She is such a love and is a very good little girl.  We are so happy to have a dog back in the house.  I am also looking forward to her getting to know Tilly and the girls come warmer weather.  For now, they have glanced at one another from a distance.  Initially, when the chickens would see her outside, they would sound the alarm.  Confused, jealous or a bit nervous, Tilly and the girls wanted me to know their feelings.  I am looking forward to training her to be sweet little guard dog for the chickens.
Tomorrow I am headed to the biggest poultry show in New England, The Northeastern Poultry Congress.  I will be attending with a few other chicken friends. If you happen to be there, meet me near the mini-snack bar at lunch.  Be sure to introduce yourself!  I would love to meet you in person.
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

 

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Crafts Family Fun Seasons Winter

Suet Wreath

Well this week is about the birds again. I hope you don’t mind!  We really have taken up backyard birding at the feeder.  We love feeding the birds a variety of things including sunflower seeds, thistle, suet and even oranges for the Orioles come springtime.  This week I shared over on HGTV Garden how to make a delicious suet wreath feeder for the wild birds in your very own kitchen.  It is easy and the birds just love it especially woodpeckers!  Click here to make your very own.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

 

Giveaways

Giveaway: A BriteTap Combo Pack

It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you our newest sponsor, chickenwaterer.com.  I have to tell you that their product has revolutionized my flocks’ waterer.  No matter who I talk to, providing a clean water source for your chickens is one of the difficulties that chicken keepers face. No matter the flock size, somehow traditional waterers always seem to get a bit mucky by the end of the day.  The Brite Tap waterer is now available as a smart and viable option to keep your flock’s water crystal clear and free from possible water borne illnesses. 
The Brite Tap waterer can be used with an array of various types of containers.  The possibilities are endless.  The Brite Tap Combo Pack, that we are giving away, comes with the red cooler and the BriteTap waterer.
Easily assembled, the waterer is filled and place at eye level with your flock.  Once introduced, it does not take long for the chickens to get the hang of it.  They seem to learn from one another quite quickly.
It took Tilly and the girls a few hours to figure out how to use this waterer.  In the Northeast, it has been cold and the waterer has worked nicely as long as we do not go into freezing conditions.  I fill the cooler with warm water in the morning and at the end of the day, I remove it from the coop and place it in the garage to prevent it from freezing.  There are other helpful techniques on the website too to help deal with freezing temperatures.   On days when I expect icy temperatures, I use the traditional waterers.  The girls do not mind interchanging. Yet, I do have to say that I am most looking forward to filling our Brite Tap Combo Pack with cool refreshing water in the summer.  I know the girls will appreciate drinking crystal clear, chilled water from the cooler that lasts the day during the summer heat!

Here is how you can enter 
to Win a Brite Tap Combo Pack
4 possible entries
1.  Leave a comment on this post below to enter.  Be sure to leave an email address or an alternative way to contact you.  (1 entry, mandatory)
2.  Say hello to chickenwaterer.com on Facebook.  Tell them Tilly sent you. (1 entry)
3.  Tell us why you think your flock would benefit from the Brite Tap waterer. (1 entry)
4.  Subscribe to our blog,  your options are on the right (1 entry)

The Fine Print: Contest ends 1/19/13 at 12 noon EST. Four possible entries per person/one comment only. One randomly selected winner will win a Brite Tap Combo Pack.  This item will ship to a US address only.  Disclosure:  I have received a complimentary Brite Tap Combo Pack from chickenwaterer.com to use with my own flock.  However, the opinions that I have shared in this post are all my own.


Photo/Video Credit:  chickenwaterer.com

Beekeeping Bees Hive Maintainance

A Peek at the Beehives in Winter

Last, week the hives were covered in snow.

Earlier this week I went to our monthly local beekeeper’s meeting.  As always, it is so wonderful connecting with folks, checking in with them and hearing updates about their lives and the bees.  Over the course, of chatting, I quickly learned that many folks had already lost their hives and were busy ordering nucs and packages to replace their lost colonies in the spring.  As the temperatures were expected to warm up this week, I decided that I needed to take a peek into my hives sooner than later.

I knew that my bees were still alive.  I had seen them a few weeks ago buzzing around the blooming Heath in the yard.  In fact, they were even inside my house!  A contractor working one day left the front door ajar.  I guess the bees were curious.  It took me a while to realize what was flying inside my home.  I was happy to say that they left as quickly as they had arrived.

When keeping bees it is always recommended to start with two hives if finances permit.  This has several benefits.  You can always compare them to one another.  Sometimes, you can identify problems in the hive much quicker.  You can also do some manipulation between the hives to help an ailing or failing hive too.(but that is for another post all together)

Yesterday the temperature reached 46 degrees F and the sun was peeking out from the clouds.  I suited up. I then, with my hive tool in hand, headed over to the hives.  There was no activity to be seen at the entrances.  The hives were quiet.

First, I decided to open the hive closest to the house, the one I have called Briar.  I removed the outer cover and with the hive tool, pried the inner cover open.  I discovered that the bees had begun to eat the candy board that I had placed on the hive.  There were a few dead bees on the candy board but no signs of life.  Were they dead?  I quickly replaced both covers not wanting to chill the bees and then  I squatted on the ground near the hive.  I gave a gently tap on the side of the hive.  A buzz.  I heard lots of buzzing.  They were still alive.  This was a good sign.  They must just be deeper down in the hive utilizing their stored honey as fuel instead of the candy board at this time.

Inside Briar, no signs of activity

Next I opened the adjacent hive. This one is named Willow.  I removed the outer cover.  Through the inner cover’s hole, I could see bees on the candy board.  I gently pried the inner cover off to reveal bees- lots of bees!  They had consumed almost half of this candy board.  These bees were not only hungry, their population was bustling!  I interpreted finding the bees on the candy board as one of two things.  First, the bees could just be clustering near the top of the hive and I happened to catch them there or second, the bee’s population was so large that they have already depleted their stores in the hive and are now relying on the candy board for food.

Willow was buzzing with lots of active happy bees.

Both of the hives were nice and dry inside.  There was no evidence of condensation or moisture near the bees that I have read so much about from folks during the winter.  However, there was a tiny bit of green fuzzy mold on the top of the inner cover and the inside of the outer cover.  To increase the ventilation just a bit and curtail the mold, I placed a 6 inch long stick with a 1/2 inch diameter across the back of the inner cover’s top and replaced the outer cover.  This should help get a bit more air inside the hive and allow any excess moisture to have an easier time escaping.

A bit of mold on the top of the inside cover.
A touch of mold inside one corner of the outer cover

So for now, I am leaving both hives alone and will recheck them in about a month.  I have a feeling that I am going to have to replete the candy board in February and I might just have to make a split from Willow come spring time.  I certainly do not want them to swarm because they have outgrown their home.

This post is linked up to Deborah Jean’s Dandelion House and the Clever Chicks Blog Hop.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest