Month : August 2012


Giveaway: Chicken T-Shirt

Once again, the generosity of this family run business, Louise’s Country Closet, has provided us with another wonderful giveaway.  We are so lucky to have them as one of our sponsors!  Louise’s Country Closet was founded based on a need.  There needed to be a way to protect hens from aggressive roosters; enter their hen saddles.  There needed to be a way to keep a chicken in the house,for those that desired, and not worry about them pooping on everything; enter their perfected chicken diaper.  From there, the company grew to offer so much more! It’s not hard to see why they have been able to expand their successful business by offering rabbit, guinea pig and ferret harnesses, collars, clothing items, personalized items, key chains, homemade soap, crafty purses and so much more.  The best part is that they currently are offering a 15% off discount on all orders to fans of Tilly’s Nest!  Enter “Tilly” at the checkout.

Today’s giveaway is for one Crazy Chicken Lady t-shirt in the size of your choice.  This t-shirt is fabulous for anyone who owns chickens, a loved one who keeps a flock or to be given as a gift.

Here’s How to Enter!

Four entries can be earned for this giveaway.

1.  Visit Louise’s Country Closet on Facebook and tell them Tilly sent you. (1 entry)
2.  Become a follower of this blog, see options on the right side of this blog. (1 entry)
3.  Visit Louise’s Country Closet’s website and tell me what you would put on your wish list. (1 entry) When you take a moment to visit their website, don’t forget to bookmark it. You never know when you might need them!
4.  You must leave a comment here below this post with an email address to reach you (1 entry-required). If you have done any or all of the above, please mention it in your comment. Thank you.

Good Luck!

Contest ends 9/5/12 at 12 midnight EST. Item ships to US address only. 1 entry per person.  1 winner will be randomly selected.  Remember to check back on 9/6/12 when the winner is announced.  

Photo Credit:  Louise’s Country Closet

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

The Pilgrim’s Chickens

pilgrim's chickens from Plimoth Plantation

Yesterday I took the kids to Plimoth Plantation on an outing. We love visiting this hands-on “living” museum about the lives of the original colonists and the Wampanoag Indians.  In the 1600s, when the pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower, they brought with them many things from England.  This included items such as pottery, metal cooking vessels, furniture, fabric, clothing and beer.  They also brought various animals as well as heritage breed chickens for meat and eggs.  Once ashore, their chickens spent their lives free-ranging about the plantation.  This might explain why the older heritage breeds to this day have hens that grow spurs.  Protection was very important.

As we walked the grounds, my children paid little attention to anything except for the chickens.  They took great pleasure in finding the chickens dispersed in the vegetable and herb gardens, along the rock walls and tucked into corners underneath planks of wood.  We saw many chickens running away as tourists tried to approach, yet somehow the chickens were never afraid of myself or the kids.

We walked up to them gently, cooing chicken talk.  Despite not knowing us, somehow they did not fear us. We spent a good half hour or so, sitting in the garden to the side of the cottage watching some of the world’s best composters and exterminators till the earth and eat a found bug here and there.  A cool breeze blew off the ocean and we sat amongst the chickens on the ground.  As we sat they came and looked around at us.  Eventually, we were surrounded by about five chickens or so, all happy to have new company at their garden smorgasbord.

Somehow, those hens knew, that we were “one of them”.  Did they smell our chickens on us?  Could they understand our gentle ways or the way that we spoke to them?  People that walked through the garden asked how we got the chickens to come so close to us.  My kids smiled and said, “Maybe they somehow know that we keep chickens too.”

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Loving Bonds

Most of us in our lifetimes have had to deal with someone that we love suffering from a chronic illness. My heart has always found it more difficult to cope with chronically ill pets and children.  I don’t think that they can completely understand what is happening, why they feel the way they do and why we subject them to visits at the doctors.

I can remember almost immediately after I had my first baby, our family dog became ill.  She was at the near the end of the expected life span of a Schnauzer.   Our little “fur person” was such a part of the family.  She was a wonderful dog.  Yet at this time in her life, she was suffering.  She began to develop sores on her body out of nowhere, her appetite declined and she lost her peppiness. As I rocked my new colicky baby in my arms, I found myself sitting on the floor by her bowls feeding soft food and water to her with a spoon.  We even had to carry her outside as her legs had difficulty supporting her down the steps.

I had thought for a while that she had become diabetic.  We were now new to Cape Cod and we had to find a new vet.  I became so sad.  I was almost certain that it was her time.  We spent the next couple weeks bringing her to the vet and soon it became apparent that there was nothing more to be done.  We were going to have to let go and put her to sleep.  Sadly, six months before our move, our other dog was put to sleep after a stroke.  All I could remember was him licking me as I held him and he went to sleep.  His rough sand paper tongue was thanking me and loving me.  Slowly it stopped and he was gone.  Two dogs in six months were so much for my heart to bear.

With time hearts heal and chicken soon entered our lives as well as another baby.  A few months ago, Tilly became ill.  My heart felt that familiar sadness.  Proactively, I brought her to the chicken vet just to make sure.  She had a full blown case of broodiness.  It lasted for months.  Her comb was dull and she lost almost half her body weight.  As soon as she was through with the broodiness, she went into her fall molt.  I wondered how much her body could take.  Broodiness and molting are two of the most difficult natural processes for hens.  Her comb, an indication of how she felt, should have been bright red.  Instead, it was a limp pale pink like the color of the combs that you see in factory hens.  I could do nothing but be supportive, not knowing if she would pull through.  We spoiled her with high protein snacks to help her gain weight and replenish her feathers, sunflower seeds, meal worm, Worms and Harvest Flakes, scrambled eggs and the like.

Yesterday, she emerged from the coop with no tail feathers.  She has reached the end of her molt.  She was talkative, happy and her comb stayed a brilliant deep red every time I went out to check on her.  Her crop was full and almost pendulous.  All the while when she was ill, I had to come to the place in my heart where I could accept losing her.  I was there.  I also realized that my heart, after almost nine years, is ready to have a new dog in our lives.  You see, the love and happiness that pets whether chickens, mice, guinea pigs, cats and dogs is magical.  It is pure and true.  I imagine this is why sometimes losing them can hurt so much.  Yet, it truly is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Beekeeping Bees DIY Hive Maintainance

Bed of Nails

I came into the house a few days ago after running errands in the afternoon. The kitchen smelled as if a skunk had just been over for a cup of tea.  Thank goodness the windows were closed and locked in my absence.  I could only imagine what it would have smelled like if they had been open.  In broad daylight, it looked as though a skunk had wandered through our yard.  It must have been visiting the bees.

Then the wheels started turning in my head and I made the connection.  The skunk must have been stung by the bees and let out a defensive spray.  Within a few hours the smell dissipated.  I was going to have to do some research.  I knew that skunks could kill chickens but what did they do to bees?

Skunks have a diet filled with insects.  They especially love to dine on bees. How irresistible they must find insects filled with a bit of honey.  In the evenings, they go to the entrances of the hives. Their face, noses and paws are sting resistant as well as their heavily furred bodies.  They scratch at the hive entrance until guard bees come out to investigate, little do they know that they are about to be eaten.  This activity goes on for hours as new bees arrive ready to protect their home.  This decimates a hive rapidly.  Eventually the skunks will bring their young and teach them to feed on the bees as well.  Immediately, with new knowledge I went out to take a quick peek around the hives.

I did not find the hallmarks of a skunk visit, no scratches on the ground, no scratches on the landing board or hive boxes and no evidence of digging.  I soon realized why.  It has been hot outside.  To cool themselves, the bees have been bearding outside the hive.  All along they have been easy pickings!  Could the skunk also be responsible for my bees being so defensive last time I had opened the hive over a week ago?  It seemed as though both colonies were on edge.

Later that afternoon, my neighbor next door called and asked if I could smell the skunk.  He was surprised that they were eating the bees.  I had to brainstorm a solution and I had to do it quickly.  There was no way that I could get honey this season with this craziness going on outside my kitchen window.  I just wondered how long this had been occurring.

Three ways exist to help deter skunks.  You elevate the hive to three feet above the skunk’s reach.  You can fence around the hives or you can create a bed of nails at the entrance.   The latter seemed the easiest.  I called my neighbor back. He is frequently my partner in crime for home/yard improvements.  He was going to make two beds of nails.  As the skunks stand to reach over the bed of nails, their vulnerable bellies receive stings. This is eventually enough to let them know that the bees are no longer available for a midnight buffet.

With visitors in town, my neighbor decided to make the two foot long bed of nails for the hives while we and our company went out for ice cream.  We returned after dark and decided to place the bed of nails in front of the hives that evening.  We went over to the hives.  It was pitch black. I could smell a skunk.  I was so nervous!  I shined the flashlight near the entrances and in the surrounding areas.  I saw nothing.  I walked past the back of the hives.  The bees were keyed up!  They landed on my back.  My husband freaked out as one buzzed his face and he jumped off a 6 foot high wall into my neighbor’s driveway.  It was clear I needed to suit up for this.  My friend and I went to the garage and I suited up in the suit, gloves and big boots.  He shined the flashlight while I worked to place the boards.  The bees were buzzing all around me.  They were angry and on high alert.  Quickly I slid the boards into place and left.  Our work was done, but would the bees be safe?

As of today, the boards have been in place for two evenings.  Today the morning sun was brilliant.  I decided to open the hives and take a peek at the honey collecting boxes (honey supers).  With open hives, the bees were happy, docile and could care less about me being there. I did not even have to use the smoker!  Quickly I inspected them and learned that one honey super is about 25% full of honey.  The others are still being built out with wax.  The bees seemed back to normal.  The beds of nails seem to be working. We haven’t smelled any skunks for days!

bed of nails beehive

Blackiston, Howland. Beekeeping for dummies. New York, NY: Hungry Minds, 2002. Print.
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

This post is linked up to the Beeline Buzz Hop.

Findings Gardening

Tilly’s Nest Debuts on HGTV

Click here to read my first post about plants that thrive on the coast.

I am so very proud to share news with all of your that I am now one of HGTV’s guest bloggers.  I was invited to blog about the unique challenges and joys of coastal gardening.  I am their Coastal Gardener!  I am having so much fun and wanted to take a moment to invite you over to see my first two posts. You can also follow the link here to read all of my posts that will be featured on their website over the course of the next few months.  Thanks so much to all of you for your support, friendship and encouragement.  I am so grateful to each and everyone of you.  I hope you enjoy following our latest adventures in the garden over on HGTV Gardens.  While there, feel free to leave a comment!  I’ll be sure to respond over there too.

Click here to read my second post as Oyster Cracker and I enjoy the back garden.

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Gardening Projects Tours

Gardening with Tiny Hands

One of the favorite things that my kids like to do is pick the vegetables and fruit growing in the gardens.  Even though we had done a thorough harvest a couple days prior, they could not help but want to be involved.  I find that children are more likely to eat things that they have nurtured and watched grow.  How could I possibly say no?   So, out we went.

We pulled a bunch of beautiful onions.  The onions gave way from the soil very easily.  Even my five year old had no problem pulling them.  We placed them on some newspaper to dry out a bit before we use them.  Then the kids went on the ultimate scavenger hunt to find any remaining cherry tomatoes.  They did have some success.

When we went out to pick, I noticed that my daughter was toting the egg collecting basket from the chickens.  She asked me what kinds of eggs it could hold.  I told her lots of different kinds.  She filled it with eggplants.

With all the onions, eggplants and tomatoes that we have picked the last few days, I think that we are going to have to make some Ratatouille.  Last night, we had tomato pie.  It was delicious!

What are you picking and cooking from your gardens this week?

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Coop Tours

Tour de Coop: Mike and Wendy in West Barnstable

I met Mike two years ago when he came over to my house on business.  As he was leaving, he inquired about the chickens in the yard.  Of course, I had to take him over to the coop, introduce him to the girls and give him my 15 minute schpeel on the glory of keeping backyard chickens.  It wasn’t long until Mike emailed me to tell me the news, they were the proud owners of baby chicks!

Mike soon sent me pictures of the beautiful coop he and his wife had made for their new flock. As time passed, they added new members and their flock has grew from four to ten.  The chickens were officially members of the family with names to match their personalities and looks.  I was also happy to hear that, Mike and Wendy are now the proud parents of two call ducks, Fletch and Flash.  Yesterday, I was invited over to visit their human and feathered family for the first time.  I was so excited to meet everyone.
The yard is beautifully landscaped.  Fruit trees, a Kousa dogwood and a spectacular koi pond lace the property.  The koi pond is gorgeous!  The sound of the waterfall fills the air.  Lily pads, water hyacinth, cattails, assorted koi and the occasional bullfrog croak are all part of this magical oasis.


Their flock of ten chickens is a combination of Buff Orpingtons, Australorps, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks and Golden Laced Wyandottes. With names like Patches, Honey, and Puddles, you can tell these chickens are well loved.
After researching many different internet sites and books, Mike and Wendy designed the coop, making sure that it had plenty of ventilation, windows and easy access for cleaning.  One of the challenges of building their coop is the slope of their backyard.  With a little bit of innovation, Mike and Wendy leveled the coop and built the run into the hillside.
Inside the coop, there is plenty of room to roost and three nesting boxes.  A large hanging feeder is in the corner and the waterer sits perched upon some blocks in the center.
They created windows covered with plexiglass.  I love this!  This coop has windows on three sides and all can open and close depending on the weather.  They are screened with hardware cloth.  The run is over 32 feet long with the width matching the coop.  It was created in eight feet sections covered with a corrugated roof, pitched for snow and rain run off.  The run is enclosed with hardware cloth. Hardware cloth also lines the outside perimeter of the run.  These extra measures, help ensure that the run and coop are predator proof.  Living in a wooded area, it is not uncommon to see coyotes and fox running through the yard as well as hawks overhead.
All of the chickens are docile and gentle.  They are lucky enough to have chickens that love to be held by the kids and receive snuggles. One of their chickens loves to swing on the swing set with their eldest little one.  This sweet chicken below fell asleep in Mike’s arms as we chatted.
Of course, my visit would not have been complete without meeting their two male call ducks, Fletch and Flash.  These two are the newest members of the family.
Mike and Wendy built their duck coop with left over scrap lumber and supplies from the chicken coop.  It has a house with an attached run and a swimming pool just for the boys.  I learned that male ducks are much quieter than females.  With a bit of handling, these boys should become just as docile as the chickens.
Soon enough, our visit was over.  They always seem to pass too quickly.  It was a lovely afternoon and I was so overjoyed to see how much happiness the chickens and ducks have added to this family’s life. One of Mike’s friends from work plans to come over this week for a tour of Mike and Wendy’s coop and run.  He too is planning on adding a flock of his own to his yard.  One thing is for sure, with a little inspiration from a friend that keeps chickens, it is so easy and clear why keeping a small backyard flock is not only possible but incredibly rewarding.

Click here for all the Tour de Coops featured on Tilly’s Nest.

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

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest


Giveaway: Worms and Harvest Flakes

If you are like us, we love to spoil our chickens!  One of our favorite companies helping us to do just that is Treats for Chickens.  Even before they became a sponsor of ours, we have been loyally placing orders for so many of their amazing products.

One of our girl’s favorite products is the Worms and Harvest Flakes.  Made with assorted oats, wheat and dried meal worms this product is perfect for a protein punch as your flock begins to enter molting season.  Molting season can be a very stressful time for your flock with the demand for both new feather production and eggs.  This is one treat that I feel good about sharing with my flock as it’s crude protein analysis is 53%!

Our girls love the Worms and Harvest Flakes…
tossed directly into the run.
mixed with a cup of plain yogurt.
sprinkled into warm oatmeal in the winter.
sprinkled on top of scrambled eggs.
added into a treat ball mixed with some scratch.

Today’s giveaway is for a 3 pound 5 oz bucket, a $39.99 value, surely enough to get you through molting season.

Here’s How to Enter:

1.  Become a fan of Treats for Chickens on Facebook and tell them Tilly sent you. (1entry)
2.  Follow our blog (1entry).
3.  Visit Treats for Chickens and find a product you would like to try. (1 entry)
4.  Leave a comment here below this post with an email address to reach you  (1 entry).  If you have done any or all of the above, please mention it in your comment.  Thank you.

Good Luck!

Contest ends 8/23/12 at 12 midnight EST.  Item ships to US address only. 1 entry per person.

Disclosure:  Treats for Chickens has provided complimentary Worms and Harvest Flakes for Tilly and the girls to try.  However, all opinions regarding these products are entirely mine and my chickens’.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

No Place Like Home

Chicken Abbey Road

It is always such a wonderful feeling to return home after some time away.  I am always eager to check on the girls and see how they adapted to life without us.  We are fortunate to have some of the best chicken sitters around, but somehow, I can’t help but think they can never replace us.

I often wonder if the chickens even care who feeds them, who waters them or, especially who gives them treats.  I tend to think that for them visualizing a handful of fresh greens can help them overcome any fear.  Yet, time and time again when we return from being away the girls,we are greeted with giddy excitement.

As we pulled the car in the driveway, the girls must have known and made a bee-line to the coop door.  Wiggling, dancing and stepping on each other’s toes, they could not wait to get out and be reunited with the family.  As we quickly got the youngest one’s shoes on, the girls were calling out.  My husband and I busily unpacked the car as the kids went over to see the chickens.

Once unpacked, I grabbed some fresh greens, a tomato from the fridge and some celery tops that had seen better days.  There the girls were, with the kids so happy.  I could feel my heart smile.  I sat down near the coop and the girls showered me with their affection.  Oyster Cracker could not wait to sit in my lap.  I took a peek in the run.  Just what had the girls been up to during our absence?

They dug holes; big, huge, all consuming holes in the run.  Dolly and Autumn as suspected went broody.  Tilly is done with being broody and continues to molt terribly and the rest seemed to just as they were when we left.  Despite the heat, they had also laid a dozen eggs.

Our two families were once again reunited.  It is amazing how much you can miss feathers and fluff, but somehow, it happens the same every time.  The chickens know and love who we are as much as we feel for them.  Home is a feeling that you get deep down inside; when you feel content, in a safe place and loved.  Returning “home” for us happened yesterday outside the coop sitting in the grassy lawn.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Appetizers Recipes Sides

Tomato and Cucumber Relish

Arugula dressed with relish and feta cheese

If you are like us, you now have an abundance of cucumbers and tomatoes from your garden. One thing that I like to do is make this relish.  It is so quick to make, versatile and delicious.  We use the relish in many ways including:

As a side dish
Place it on top of a bed of mixed greens sprinkle it with feta cheese and make a salad.
Use it on sandwiches
Serve it with fresh crusty bread
Use this instead of salsa with tortilla chips
Toss with fresh pasta-serve hot or as a cold pasta salad
Add a generous spoonful to the top of grilled meats prior to serving

The best part is that it takes no more than ten minutes to create!


Three medium tomatoes-diced
1 cucumber cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tbsp of fresh basil cut as chiffonade
2 tbsp capers
3 tbsp diced kalamata olives
drizzle of your favorite balsamic vinegar
drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste


Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, basil, olives, and capers in a medium sized bowl.  Drizzle the vinegar and oil over the top.  Add salt and pepper (don’t skimp on this one) and mix well.  Store in the refrigerator for up to four days.(but it probably will not even last that long once you try it).

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest