Month : June 2011

Chickens Health Issues Stories from Our Nest

The Mitey Fright!

Well, hello there arugula, don’t mind if I do…

There once was a chicken with mites.

It gave the poor owner a fright.
For when she looked there,
Beneath chicken hair
She saw them there in broad daylight.
~ Tilly’s Nest


Yes, indeed broody Dolly has them.  This is probably because she is broody and has not been dust bathing as usual and keeping up with the hygiene.  You know, those invisible eggs are pretty important to a broody girl!  Immediately, I dusted her with DE and sprayed her with the Poultry Protector.  So far she is the only one.  When I blew on her feathers, I saw five.  Yes, panic has set in!

Mind you, I have been incredibly vigilant about mites this year.  To say the least, upon this discovery, I went a little crazy!  First I dusted the entire run with food grade diatomaceous earth (DE).  Then I locked the girls out of the coop and gave it a nice cleaning.  Before, replacing the pine shavings, I sprayed everything down with Poultry Protector including the removable roosts.  I also sprinkled and dusted the entire coop with DE.  I replaced the pine shavings and dusted the nesting boxes with Nesting Box blend.  I even took it a step further and sprayed around the entire coop and it’s entry ways with the Poultry Protector.  Can you believe that while I was cleaning the coop, I did not find one mite?

Then one by one, I grabbed each girl and dusted her under the wings and on her fluffy bottom with the DE before I even let them step foot back inside of the coop.  Oyster Cracker ended up getting the royal spa chicken treatment.  As she sometimes sleeps on the pine shavings instead of the roost, her fluffy bottom is not as pristine as the others.  Today, she ended up getting a bath and a nice warm blow dry with the hairdryer.  I also dusted her with DE for good measure once she was an adorable dry fluff ball!

Yes, I did go a bit crazy, but could you imagine how you would feel if mites were crawling and biting you?  I even found myself mentallly writing that silly limerick while working to keep me from getting the heebee jeebies!

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Oyster Cracker and Sunshine

Oyster Cracker and Sunshine are my two Buff Orpingtons.  They have been together since they were one day old and have been inseperable ever since.  They truly are best friends and do everything together.  They eat, drink, sleep, scratch and dust bathe together.  They are never apart except for when they lay their eggs and even then, they always go in multiple times to check on each other.  They seem to be coaching each other with the process and sometimes, even impatiently wondering, “Are you done yet, I really want you to play with me!”

These two girls are the sweetest chickens around.  They are incredibly mild mannered.  Our huge super sized chicken, Oyster Cracker’s personality reminds me of a golden retriever.  I guess they both do in a way.  They love treats.  They love to sit on my lap and enjoy a good rub.  They love to nuzzle into the crick of my neck inhaling deeply all the while.  Oyster Cracker always sound like she has nasal congestion!

They are also my best egg layers.  These two lay everyday.  I can only recall a day or two when they have missed laying one of their edible art pieces!  Oyster Cracker’s eggs are huge.  Probably because she is so huge herself.  She is like a chicken and a half.  Sunshine’s eggs are normal sized, as she is the size of a typical chicken.

They both sit right under Tilly in the pecking order.  I rarely see them have to assert their place in the flock like Tilly does.  Most of the others, just accept these two in their ranks.  I have never seen them peck the other girls, just an occasional squawk.  They also enjoy sleeping next to each other at night.  No matter how hot it is outside, they sleep with their wings touching.

Without a doubt, these two girls are best friends.  I have seen this incredible bond develop only between these two over the past year.  Incredibly, chickens are capable of friendships.  I do not need any scientific evidence to prove this.  At least in my flock, these two girls have given me all the proof I will ever need.

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

Sleep on Roosts, Lay in Boxes

Dottie Speckles 11 weeks

Now that Dottie Speckles is 11 weeks old and Fifi is 14 weeks, I have been trying to get these two to sleep on the roosts at night.  Since the beginning of being transitioned into the large coop, they have been sleeping in the nesting boxes with Feathers and Dolly.  Two nights ago, I realized that this needed to change.

It needed to change for a few reasons but the one that was most important to me was keeping the nesting boxes free from chicken poop.  Okay, I know this is weird, but all my “grown up” chickens hold their poop until the morning.  Once outside, they all seem to pass their evening’s accumulations.  Yes, gross, to talk about, but could it be that my chickens are potty trained?  If only it were so easy with little kids.  Does this ever happen to you?

Anyway, for the last two nights, when it was almost dark, I have opened the nesting boxes to find all the Silkies and Dottie Speckles snuggled together.  In fact, last night Feathers, Fifi, and Dolly were all in the same box!  Each night it is the same.  I gently lift all of them from the boxes and place them on the roosts.  They fuss all the while but I have yet to see them return to the boxes.  The best part is that this morning the nesting boxes were unsoiled.

I am trying to avoid placing any sorts of cones or blockades in the nesting boxes for now.  I hope that they get the hint.  They say it takes 3 days/nights to change a behavior with children.  I wonder if the same thing goes for chickens?

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


Giveaway: Eggcellent Sprout and Grass Kit for Chickens!

Our friends over at Treats for Chickens have graciously provided Tilly’s Nest with our first giveaway! Treats for Chickens is a company in Northern California that grew from a passion of raising chickens over the years. They specialize in products for your flock that are wholesome, healthy, fun, non-toxic and eco-friendly. You have heard me rave about a few of their products that I love including the nesting box blend, their organic food grade diatomaceous earth and their pest pistol, now it’s your turn to get in on the action.

This giveaway is for their Eggcellent Sprout and Grass Kit. This kit contains everything you need to grow delicious sprouts and grass for your feathered friends:

~Two tier sprouter with water reservoir

~4 packs of certified organic sprouting seeds: red winter wheat (2), buckwheat groats (1) and sunflower seeds (1). Over one pound of seeds enclosed – enough for 10-15 trays of treats

~Handy instructions, tips and suggestions.
Enter the Giveaway!

1. Visit Treats for Chickens, then come back and tell me about the product(s) that you would like to try with your flock and why. If you do not have a blog, please leave your email address so I can contact the winner.

2. Become a fan of Treats for Chickens and Tilly’s Nest on Facebook and receive two extra entries.

3. Enter a third time by blogging or facebooking about this giveaway so that others can learn about this wonderful company that loves to spoil our flocks.

4. Followers of Tilly’s Nest will get another vote.

Don’t miss this terrific giveaway and your chance to earn 5 votes toward this fantastic kit. You’re flock is going to love you for it! Good Luck!

This giveaway ends on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time. This item will only ship to addresses in the United States.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Soaking Wet

Two nights ago it was pouring out by 5 pm.  I was hoping when I went out to the coop, the girls would be safely tucked inside and dry.  However, that was not the case.  Standing there in the rain were Feathers, Fifi and Dottie Speckles; soaked.  As I was going out on a dinner date with my husband, I did not have time to go into the run and get muddied up retrieving them.  I threw a small towel over a portion of the run and hoped for the best.  I had heard terrible things can happen if you let your chickens get too wet from soaking rain.

I returned around 7:30 pm and the rain had subsided.  I changed my clothes and then ventured out to the coop area.  There were the three wet chickens in the same spots where I had left them, standing there like statues!  I can make sense of the fact that Dottie Speckles and Fifi were outside.  Feathers, I assumed was just being maternal.  She usually does not have a problem with the larger girls in the flock.

One by one, I caught them and wrapped them in warm dry toasty towels from the dryer.  Feathers absolutely LOVED it!!  She nuzzled right in against my body as my hands worked quickly to dry her off.  Her head feathers were soaked, completely covering her eyes. She was sopping wet from the rain.  However, the most interesting thing I noticed when I was drying her, was that when I peeked between the feathers, the downy portion underneath was completely dry.  The chickens, like ducks, have down.   After all, why wouldn’t they?  I suppose all birds do.

The other two I dried with new warm towels.  They did not enjoy it as much.  At first, I think they were afraid.  I had never had to pamper either of them before.  The best part was hearing them talk to me.  Dottie Speckles, as large as she is, has a very high pitch peeping that still sounds like a baby chick, even now at 11 weeks.  On the other hand, Fifi, the most delicate little girl, has a rather deep alto like voice. 

As I was drying Fifi, she sounded her own version of the “chicken alarm”.  Every single warm and dry chicken came out of the coop to see what was wrong.  The light rain did not stop them.  It was nice to see that they were concerned for this little girl at the bottom of the pecking order.  They had confirmed to me that she definitely is considered family. 

As I prepared to return Fifi to the coop, I had noticed that all the others had already ventured back inside the coop.  Then with a quick little nudge, I popped Fifi through the coop door and locked it, tucking everyone in the dry coop for the night.

Chickens Gardening Tours

Summer’s Gardens at Tilly’s Nest

The warmth of summer is upon the gardens of Tilly’s Nest.  It seems as though we have had a late start this year as compared to last.  The coral bells greet you at the gate as you begin to enter the gardens.

Early hydrangea blossoms begin to bloom and are dotted amongst the gardens.  Our soil tends to be quite acidic, so all of our hydrangea blooms have tinges of blue.


Subtle garden sculpture accents the blooms, such as this immortalized shell sculpture.


I am particularly fond of succulents given my Southern California roots.  Every chance I get, I incorporate them inside and out.


I love mossy clay covered pots and keeping a natural feel to the gardens.


In my succulent container garden, a bunny hides amongst the leaves.  At least, this one doesn’t steal nibbles.


With the rain we have had the last few days, tiny clumps of mushrooms have popped up in the lawn.  I like to tell the children that fairies live amongst them.  Next month, we are going to create a fairy garden.


An oak leaf and pollen were dancing in the bird bath, as the daylily’s leaves reflected in the water.


The foxglove has the most gorgeous little speckles peeking out from it’s trumpetlike blooms.


The bees too are happy the rain is over, they have been very busy today.


Finally, as we make our way through the garden we reach Tilly’s Nest.  The fennel and marjoram are growing nicely and the lovely flowering tree by the coop is done with its show of beautiful white little flowers.

I enjoy gardening very much and love the addition of backyard chickens to the gardens.  I believe that gardens and backyard chickens compliment each other beautifully.

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Predators



Terrible news has come from across town.  Three chicken coops have been invaded by a weasel and the flocks had been wiped out.  I got news yesterday from Viola that her flock was attacked in the night.  She had a mixed flock of about 20 girls.  Only 3 escaped harm.  When she arrived at her coop, she noticed bodies and feathers everywhere.  Thankfully, the children were not home.  Not knowing what to do or where to start, she ran to her neighbor’s house.

Together, they began to clean up the coop and run.  As she was picking up the bodies, she had discovered that her beloved rooster, Dusky, was still barely alive.  Slowly dying, she held him.  He was probably responsible for saving the lives of her three remaining girls, her Hamburg and two buff Orpington pullets.  Dusky had always had a sweet spot in Viola’s heart and now, he was near the end.  He passed on as Viola was desperately trying to reach her husband and physician friend to help ease Dusky’s transition.

Thoughts are that the same weasel is responsible for Viola’s tragedy.  The birds were left, no bodies were taken.  As I have been talking with Viola, she believes that the weasel was able to access the chickens through their pop-up door.  You see, Viola and her family are moving a few streets away.  She had been busily setting the new coop at her new location and the old home is now vacant except for the chickens out back.  The dog is away and so are her cats.  They are already at the new house.  The night of the attack, she did not lock the girls up.

Viola’s loss is a terrible reminder on how important it is to lock-up our flocks and do our best to prevent predators.  Weasels can be tough.  Even with doors locked, they can fit through 1 inch openings.  Please take the time today to examine and investigate any tiny openings in and around your coop and run that you have been meaning to fix.  Your flock’s life may depend on it.

Today, I am helping Viola to rebuild her flock.  Her remaining girls are safe in her garage.  She is taking the Hamburg to the vet today for a foot injury that most likely occurred in the invasion.  She is placing an order for new chicks and we will be taking a visit over to my friend’s farm where she raises Silkies.  I am happy to be there for Viola who inspired me to take the first step on my own adventures with backyard chickens.


Photo Credit


Chickens Health Issues

You Might Have Mites on Your Backyard Chickens

The last few times when I have cleaned out the girls’ coop each week, I have discovered a couple of mites in the litter.  I instantly got the heebee jeebees and thought that they were crawling all over me.  Then I thought of the poor girls.  How did they feel?  In the little research that I had done, I knew that most mites on chickens like to feed off the chickens at night when the girls are fast asleep.  A bad infestation can kill chickens due to anemia.  So, I decided to do some research and share with you what I learned.  

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Rogue Eggs

Today its raining on the Cape.  It has been cloudy all day with occasional showers from the skies.  I went to check for eggs this afternoon and I found Dolly and Autumn both sitting in adjacent boxes.  Dolly was sitting on two eggs and Autumn was sitting on air.  Then in front of the nesting boxes, lay 2 rouge eggs.  The buff Orpingtons were also in the coop.  They went back and forth, staring at the two Silkies in the nesting boxes then staring at the eggs.  They must have been thinking, ” Not this again!”.  Funny, the same thing crossed my mind.  Yes, I had been waiting for Autumn to become broody since she was the last of the Silkies that had yet to this Spring.  However, Dolly is now, once again broody.  This will be the fourth time since December.  She was an excellent mother this Spring, but as Chocolate is no longer with us, her chances at motherhood are no more.

So, how do rouge eggs get there anyway?  I am not sure what exactly happens.  I guess this is where a coop cam would come in handy!  Sometimes these eggs are warm and sometimes they are stone cold.  Sometimes they are the Silkie eggs and sometimes they are from one of the larger girls.  They are never broken and I have been finding them everyday for the last 5 days.

I have seen the broody girls attempting to roll eggs from adjacent nesting boxes into their own.  I also have seen the chickens higher up on the pecking order, evict the broody hens from their preferred nesting box when they are ready to lay.  Could it be that sometimes the hen that is ready to lay her egg clears the nesting box of any preexisting eggs?  All I know, is that there is an awful lot of confusion over these rogue eggs from the Buff Orpingtons and myself.  I wonder if this mystery will ever be solved?

Chickens Desserts Recipes Stories from Our Nest

Happy Birthday

Today our original flock is 1 year old.  We decided to bake an apple peanut butter cake with yogurt frosting topped with fresh strawberries and a sprig of mint.  The kids were very eager to help this morning.   The ingredients were incredibly simple.  I must say, it was not that easy finding a cake recipe without sugar.

We started out preheating the oven to 350 degrees and then cut an apple into tiny little pieces.  We decided to leave the skin on because it was for the chickens.

Next we added flour and baking powder, water and peanut butter and combined well.

We sprayed a non-stick cake pan with cooking spray and then shaped it into a small circle.

While the chicken cake was baking, we sliced up a strawberry and picked some mint from the garden.


Once the cake finished baking, we removed it from the oven to cool and transferred it to a plate.


Next we spread the organic plain yogurt on the top.  This would serve as frosting.


Finally, the kids put the strawberries on top and my son finished it off with the sprig of mint.


Next, we went outside to see the girls.  They were very excited!  As I placed the cake on the ground they could not wait.  Of course, there was a delay in giving it to them.  I, as always, split everything in two.  I do this to be sure that any treats are spaced far apart to ensure that all chickens get a taste, even those on the bottom of the pecking order.

Finally, we placed the cake in the run.  Everyone was very happy!  They seemed to love it!  In fact, there was such a frenzy that it was very difficult to take some pictures.

The girls really had a nice time.  Even broody Autumn came out to see what the fuss was outside the coop.  We checked for eggs and found some really beauties.  Here is what we saw when we opened the nesting box lid.

Tilly’s Nest Birthday Cake for Chickens

1 apple–chopped into small pieces
4 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup plain organic yogurt
2 sliced strawberries
1 sprig of mint
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a mixing bowl, combine flour, water, peanut butter and baking powder.  Mix until well combine.  Next, mix in the apples.

Spray a baking pan with cooking spray then shape the cake batter onto the pan in a circular shape about 1 inch thick.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

Top with yogurt, strawberries and mint.

Photo credits:  Tilly’s Nest