Month : September 2011

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

The Unexpected Discovery

As I was refilling the feeder a couple of days ago, I happened to notice some spilled scratch on the workbench.  Mindful of wasting and little critters, I brushed the 10 pieces or so of scratch into my hand and tossed it in the feeder with the rest of the feed pellets.  Big mistake!

That afternoon, when I went out to check for eggs, I found the entire feeder emptied.  Feed pellets were scattered all over the inside of the coop.  Every pellet, except for a few orphans, was on the coop floor.   The feeder was empty, twirling in the slight breeze!  One of the chickens either smelled or discovered the few morsels of scratch amongst the pellets and decided to search for every last bit.
Did they take their time and methodically search the feeder one pellet at a time?  Or, was it frantic, like feeding time in the shark tank?  I can only imagine pellets flying everywhere in the chicken’s determination in finding those hidden treats.  Even though I missed the show, the two broody girls in the boxes, Dolly and Autumn, were privy to the entire escapade!  I removed the feeder, washed it completely and filled it with feed only.  So far, feeder etiquette has resumed. It has now been 2 days.
I learned my lesson.  Never underestimate the smarts of a chicken and the power of treats.
Their lips are sealed
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Main Dishes Recipes Soups

Island Inspired Chicken Soup

We had many lovely meals on our recent trip to St. John.  A side dish that I was very fond of  was created by simply stewing tomatoes, black beans, cilantro and lime juice.  My mind and palate began to think.  If I improvised, this could easily serve as a main meal.  It was that delicious!   I thought about it last night and decided to put together a soup based on those flavors.  It was simple and easy.  My husband added hot sauce and asked me if I wrote the recipe down.  I guess this one is a keeper.


1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can black beans-drained but not rinsed
2 cups bite sized rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lime juice
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp black pepper
In a stock pot over medium heat, saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil until translucent.
Add the cilantro and cook for 1 minute.
Next add the chicken, tomatoes, beans, chicken stock and lime juice.  Add the black pepper and salt to taste.  Simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.  
Try serving this soup with crusty french bread, perfect for soaking up the broth.
Hungry for more?  Take a peek at all of our recipes here.
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Health Issues

Pumpkin Power

Today I started decorating for Fall. I love it when the air is cool for sleeping at night and the leaves rustled past your feet when you walk.  Even the girls received a little decorating in the perennial garden near the coop; an urn stacked with three gourds.
I can’t wait until the girls get to enjoy a freshly picked pumpkin.  I love to put an entire pumpkin in the run with the chickens.  I watch them enjoy pecking at the rind until they poke through and discover the raw stringy goodness of goo and pumpkin seeds.
Raw pumpkin seeds are a great all natural wormer for chickens. Pumpkins also prevent boredom and help exercise your flock.  Last Fall, I spent hours watching the girls experience their first pumpkin. We are planning on picking our own pumpkins at a local patch.  I hope that you will share these wonderful gourd like squash with your flock too.  You and your flock are guaranteed to be entertained for hours.
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


Chickens Coop Tours

Tour de Coop: Dana on St. John, US Virgin Islands

St. John had many wild chickens roaming everywhere.  After a few days on the island, it soon became clear to me that most likely not many people kept backyard chickens.  However, a girl can try.  I searched everywhere I could trying to discover and share a Tour de Coop.  I watched as homes whizzed by as we were driving, hoping to catch a glimpse of a small coop tucked away in someone’s yard.  I did not have any luck until my husband and I decided to go horseback riding.

We met Dana and her menagerie of wonderful animals including donkeys, horses, goats, cats and, finally, chickens.  As Dana saddled up our horses for our hour and a half scenic tour, I could not help but interact with her chickens.  Some she raised as chicks and some just happened to show up.  She has a few roosters and one in particular that likes to follow her around. For the most part, they are skittish, like those in the wild.

Dana allows them to roam free on her property.  She has a coop and nesting boxes in a small corral with a couple of goats.  The chickens know that there is a supply of fresh food and water here and that keeps her flock nearby.  The chickens and the goats actually get along pretty well, but the goats have been known to interrupt egg laying.  Some of her hens prefer to lay eggs outside of the boxes and coop area.  Dana has found clutches of eggs here and there.  On the day of our visit, she spotted a tiny white egg laid on the top of her roof!

Coop area with nesting boxes

It was heartwarming to meet this woman with such a wonderful heart and compassion for animals.  Some of her animals are rehabilitating from injuries.  Some cannot return to the wild.  A few of her horses are in their retirement and spend their days interacting with other horses and taking visitors to view amazing vistas and island scenery.  We had a wonderful time.  The horseback riding was fantastic and I encourage you to visit Dana and her animals if you are ever visiting St. John.  You can read more about Dana, her company and her animals here.

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Eggs Health Issues

Egg Eater

Yesterday, I went out to the coop.  I could not wait to say hello to the girls.  I missed them so.  It was funny.  At first, I do not think that they recognized me.  I opened up the coop door and tossed scratch onto the run floor.  No one seemed to care that I was home.  I was sad.  I figured we would get reacquinted when I cleaned the coop later. It was on my to do list.  I opened the nesting box door.  I did not find any chickens in the boxes. Yet, I discovered my worst nightmare.  Someone had pecked open an egg and ate the entire contents!

The evidence

Strewn on the shavings in the nesting box were pieces of egg shell, gooey strands of yolk and remnants of sticky egg white underneath one of the roosts.  Sunshine, Oyster Cracker and Tilly came into the coop.  Like addicts, they began to peck at anything that seemed like it had raw egg on it.  They pecked at the shell.  They pecked at the egg-soaked shavings.  They pecked at the walls dotted with yolk.  They had glazed over looks in their eyes.  They could not get enough.

Horrified, I chased them out of the coop, scooped up the egg shell and decided that I needed to clean out the coop immediately; so much for those 6 loads of laundry that I had planned on washing.  As quickly as I could move, I cleaned out the entire coop, disinfected the walls, floor and roosts.  I also used an anti-icky spray to rid the coop of any egg smell.  Surely if it worked on pet urine, it should work on raw egg!  I refilled the coop with clean dry shavings and added nesting box blend to the boxes.  Then, the test-I let the girls back inside.

Tilly, Oyster Cracker and Sunshine entered at once.  Still recalling the egg, they searched frantically for signs of that ill fated egg.  After a few minutes, they left disappointed.  I determined that this behavior needed to be nipped in the bud.  For me, it was this chicken owner’s worst nightmare come true.  I was going to have to check on the girls every half hour or so for eggs.  I needed to break this habit.   Thank goodness, that huge laundry pile had me on house arrest.

A half-hour later, I went outside and found Dolly in one of the nesting boxes, still broody.  This time though, she had a friend.  It appears while we were away, Autumn has decided to join Dolly’s broody club.  Just like Dolly, she has removed all feathers from her chest.  For once, I thought that this was great timing.  These two broody girls would be protective of any eggs laid.  I should be able to use them to my advantage.

A couple of hours later, Tilly was in the nesting box on the left.  I waited.  The entire egg laying process takes about 15 minutes.  Soon, I peeked in and saw Tilly standing.  I opened the nesting box.  Outside Tilly’s box were Sunshine and Oyster Cracker.  Tilly’s egg was all the rage.  Everyone was interested.  Risking life and limb from a vicious peck, I grabbed the still wet with bloom freshly laid egg.  Phew, I at least saved that one.  And so the day went.  I ended up with a total of 3 more eggs and not one was damaged.

This morning when I woke, I was anxious as anything to get out there early and rescue any eggs from the girls.  There were no early eggs.  I saw that as a good sign.  Today, the chickens were not interested in the eggs.  I kept them distracted with the chicken toy, the treat ball and lots of TLC.  They laid 4 eggs again and none were disturbed.  Overnight, in one fowl swoop, they seemed to have forgotten about pecking the eggs and suddenly remembered how much they loved and missed me.  Today, after my week-long vacation their little brains remembered their chicken mama.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Chickens in the Virgin Islands

Trunk Bay

We just arrived home last night from our trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands.  As we set off last Friday evening, I said to my husband that I hoped to see some chickens on our adventures.  I thought for certain that we would discover at least one chicken hiding in a backyard.   I doubted that I would come across chickens in such a secluded place.   I could not have been more wrong.

In addition to having mongoose, wild donkeys, lizards galore and a plethora of hermit crabs, the island was inundated with feral chickens.  I could not believe my eyes when I arrived at St. Johns and saw chicken roaming the streets.  Skittish of humans and the like, the chickens roam freely.  Everywhere I blinked there was another chicken.
Streets of St. Thomas
Baby pullet at a local restaurant looking for her Mama
Pretty girl in the grass
The chickens appear to small bantams mostly.  There are plenty of roosters too.  It was not uncommon to see a rooster with a few henny girls by his side.  I even saw a few roosters living together forming larger flocks of about 20 chickens.   My husband chuckled at one point, and thought that I had died and gone to chicken heaven!
Chickens at the Westin
Rooster foraging for scraps

I was able to capture some photos of the chickens from the two islands that we visited, St. Johns and St. Thomas.  Many of them forage for food scraps and through open roll off containers that hold the garbage of the island’s residents.

Mama hen and chicks foraging near dumpster

Seeing the chickens was a little bittersweet for me.  I was happy that there were so many, but I was also saddened by the fact that they were fearful of humans, foraging for their food and were seen as a nuisance by the locals.  If only the locals could begin to keep some of these chickens in their backyard and enjoy their eggs.

Heading into the underbrush

The most amazing thing though was when I recognized the chicken alarm.  I have heard it too many times at home to not recognize when the flock is in danger.  At home, I always investigate when I hear it.  I get a burst of mommy adrenaline and fly out to see what the flock fears.  Typically, it is a large bird or a chipmunk foraging near the run.  One unassuming  day,  I heard one of the island’s chickens sound the alarm in the distance.   I was taken by surprise when I got a burst of mommy adrenaline.  Yet, there was nothing I could do.  No one to protect.  No one to rescue.  It made me realize how much the chickens truly are part of our family.  Instinctually, I was ready to spring into action.

Rooster strutting past above ground cemetery
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


A Week in Photos, The Finale

May 25, 2011
The Ends

We are away this week in the Carribean celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary!  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


A Week in Photos, Friday

August 14, 2011
Taylor Bray Farm

We are away this week in the Carribean celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary! 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


A Week in Photos, Thursday

October 20, 2010
My daughter and I cleaning out the coop

We are away this week in the Carribean celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary! 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


A Week in Photos, Wednesday

February 25, 2011
Providence Rhode Island Flower Show
Chicken tractor with eggs and a Silver Laced Wyandotte

We are away this week in the Carribean celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary! 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