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Chickens Gardening Stories from Our Nest Tours

A New England Snowy Morning

Last night I could hear the winds whipping and the rain falling.  Then all of sudden around nine o’clock in the evening a serene silence fell upon my ears.  The pounding sleeting rain had turned to snow.  Wonderful huge heavy snowflakes fell from the evening sky.  This morning I woke to streams of brilliant morning sunlight dancing through the windows.  The storm had left the wet heavy snow clinging to all in sight.  The wild birds were awake, alive and singing songs from their hearts.
By the time I journey out, the snow on the chicken coop had begun to melt.
Snow covered branches were beginning to melt.


Branches heavy with snow bent from the weight.


Singing chickadees were some of the first to arrive at the feeders.


Two regular Red Breasted Nuthatches came to investigate too.


Of course, my heart always feels a sense of peace when the Carolina Wrens are visible at the feeders.  We have been sustaining a few generations now of these little ones.  It is not often that they overwinter in the Northeast, but they are happy here in our yard.


The vegetable garden now sleeps.  The trellises are now covered in snow.


I scooped the snow away from our beehive entrances and left the rooftop snow for insulation. The morning sun was just beginning to reach and warm the hives.
We are expecting more wintry weather over the next few weeks.  The magic of winter is upon us.
“What good is the warmth of summer, 
without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
 ~John Steinbeck

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Gardening Tours

Pumpkin Patch Visit

This week all it did was rain, rain and rain.  We have had quite a dismal week.  We spent lots of after school and weekend time inside, playing board games, reading, watching movies and just relaxing a bit.  On Saturday, we did have a bit of sunshine and were able to visit the local pumpkin patch.  I love going to the same pumpkin patch each year.  It has become a family tradition.  Each year, the kids anxiously await and watch for the opening day sign to be posted outside the farm.  I have pictures of us visiting for the last 5 years.  I love to look at these pictures, as the kids themselves seem to  have grown so quickly; like pumpkin vines in fact!



Chickens Gardening Stories from Our Nest Tours

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.

Photo Credits:  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

Gardening Tours

Spring in the Gardens: After the Rain

Whatever happened to April showers bring May flowers?  This April we have set a new record for dry weather on the Cape.  It has been over two weeks since we have had any rain.  Living on this little strip of land jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, many of this year’s Spring storms somehow seem to have just missed us.  The grass is dry.  Flowers need watering and the gardens have been slow to emerge from the ground.  However, last night a storm arrived.

All night, I listened to wind and rain beating against the bedroom window.  I was pulled from my sleep by the sound of torrential rains drumming down on the skylights.  It was hard to return to sleep.  All I could think about was visiting the gardens after the rain.  We needed this so badly.  The morning light could not come fast enough, as I yearned to explore the gardens.

On the other hand, the chickens had been living the good life over the past two weeks.  Putting it mildly, they are not fans of rain and wind.  Thank goodness I believed the rumor of rain last night and covered their run before the storm began.   This morning, happy as can be, one by one they popped out into their dry run.  They had no idea how a good rain seems to make the gardens miraculously grow overnight.  I kept my flip flops on and explored the yard. I could feel the rain from the grass collecting between my toes as a fine drizzle still fell from the sky.  I could feel it kissing my cheeks and my hair beginning to frizz.  I too felt incredibly alive.
The pansies held up in the rain.


Overnight the potted peas reached to the sky twirling tendrils of support.
 Finally the Turkish fig unfurled its leaves.  I had been staring at buds all week.
The crab apple’s buds are ready to burst.


The lettuce in the garden grew at least 2 inches.


The kale’s leaves guided the rain drops to its roots.


A fallen oak leaf hid amongst the creeping phlox.



Spring blooms are arriving in the back garden.
Even the agave welcomed the rain.


Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Gardening Tours

Visiting Itzy Bitzy Farm

Social media is a wonderful thing when it has the ability to connect people that live so close to one another that never would have met if it weren’t for the power of the internet.  One such person is Susan from Itzy Bitzy Farm.  Susan is one very talented horticulturalist who moved up North from the South only two years ago.  She is an amazing gardener who can grow and teach you about anything that grows in the dirt.  The other afternoon I had a chance to swap chicken advice for gardening inspiration and plants.  It was a wonderful day.  We started off touring her garden.  First stop was the greenhouse.  As she rolled up the door, the warm steamy smell of fresh mulch filled the air.  Love that!  Susan also shared an amazing tip.  She keeps an oscillating fan on low blowing across her seedlings.  This helps to make their stems strong and sturdy against the wind.



Tiny asparagus ferns
Next, we toured her raised beds.  She is still building and has at least 10 beds planted with seeds and plants including strawberries, onions, peas, asparagus, broccoli, turnips, garlic, beans and so much more.
New peas emerge from the warm soil.
Her talents are evident everywhere you look and the growing season up North has hardly begun.  We still are without leaves on our trees and the daffodils are just beginning to bloom.  I could sit and talk to Susan about gardening forever but it was time now for me to share with her my knowledge about chickens.  You see, Susan is just getting started in backyard chickens.

On the enclosed porch sits a lovely brooder that Susan built with her son for her newest family members;  eight little ones altogether in assorted breeds- Buff Orpingtons, Delawares, Silver Laced Wyandottes and Speckled Sussex.  Susan picked them up from a feed store 30 minutes from her home.  She also was able to purchase a coop for her girls there too, but they are still too young.  They are only one week old.  For now they must remain in their brooder.  Susan and her son created the brooder using plywood and hardware cloth.  Inside, 12 inch tall corrugated cardboard surrounds the outer walls preventing drafts from entering.  A heat lamp hangs from above.  One chick feeder contains feed, while the other is filled with water and marbles fill the water tray to prevent accidental drownings.

As soon as Susan opened the brooder door, her little ones came to cautiously say hello.  Her Buff Orpingtons are the most curious.  Soon enough, one hopped up onto her leg to examine a treat.

It is so clear to me how much Susan has already bonded with these adorable one week old babies!

Susan has done her research and it has paid off.  She has even found a wonderful feed store that makes its own feed locally.


chick feed

I am thankful for the role that social media plays in the world of chicken keeping.  In fact, I wish that lived closer to so many of you.  Oh, how I wish we could shrink this big wide world we live in.  To me, there is something to be said for meeting in person. Those are the connections that bring things full circle for me.  Of course, there is something to be said for the chick fever that sets in when I meet them in person too!  How can you resist coming face with this?

Susan is new to blogging but has so much to share.  Please take a moment to stop on by her blog and leave her a word or two of encouragement, for a new blogger they mean so much.  Also, don’t forget you have just a day or so left to enter the coop giveaway!  Click here to enter.

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

Gardening Tours

Blooms: The Boston Flower and Garden Show

We got in from vacation two days ago and it seems that I have so much that I want to share with everyone! We have so many wonderful things coming in the days ahead including a huge giveaway starting April 2nd. You will not want to miss! But first, we have some catching up to do.

A couple weeks ago, I made the trek to Boston for the annual flower and garden show. Over the past few years, this show has had a rocky existence. A few years back, there was no show. It was a huge disappointment to many of us who looked forward to the show each year. However, despite the struggling economy and times, I am happy that the horticultural society revived the show continues to make an effort. Gardening is timeless. It is therapeutic and always trendy. Whether it be grand or quaint, it can make a huge impact. Much of my inspiration for the Spring and Summer seasons ahead come from gardening shows.

Of course, I am always searching for chickens at these shows, because they are the heart of my garden. They are the personalities that make the garden come alive amongst it’s splendor and color. They are the humor. They are the moving composters and exterminators who flit quietly and sometimes quickly across the scene.

There were plenty of beautiful blooms.


Fun sitting areas
Gorgeous floating staircases over water
Exotic birds from Australia
Yet the only place I found chickens was in one of the lovely miniature gardens.
I did however find these adorable succulents in ceramic egg containers.
I just had to have one.
This season, I am looking forward to waking up my gardens again from their winter slumber and creating a garden just for our chickens. Here is what I did last year. The girls absolutely loved it! Even if you don’t garden, try creating a few portable container gardens for your chickens that you can introduce into the run. They take up little space and don’t require free-ranging to partake in the fun.
Update: Our sponsor, My Pet Chicken, has just announced the April 2nd giveaway that I eluded to in the first paragraph of this post! It has been so hard to keep under wraps. We are giving away a chicken coop! Click here for details and be sure to come back on April 2nd and enter to win.

Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest

Gardening Tours

Rhode Island Flower Show 2012

I was so excited to to make the hour long trip to Rhode Island for this wonderful annual flower show.  This show always helps me get over the Winter hump to Spring.  This year’s theme was Simple Pleasures.

Woodland Retreat
Simple garden trellises save room by growing vertically


Herbs and lettuce take up little to no space at all.


Fido’s doghouse has a green roof!
Every year the sand sculptors wow the crowds.


Breast Cancer Awareness Garden


Garden whimsy flying a kite


Woodland fairy garden.


Classic New England gardening shed

The only thing that would have made it better, would have been some backyard chickens tucked away in one of the gardens.  To me, they are the simplest pleasure you can add to your garden.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Gardening Tours

Farm Stands

$5 a bunch, one of my favorites on the Cape


One of the things that I love about Cape Cod are the amount of farm stands that seem to crop up during the summertime.  Preying on the tourists, these lovely little homegrown stands of love, are filled with families’ delights that they wish to share with those lookie loos wandering down New England’s winding roads once traveled by horses and wagons.

Typically, these farm stands have assorted produce that families place at the top of their driveway to sell.  They are a surplus to the family’s need and are placed there for passersby to purchase, usually on the honor system.  What intrigued me the most though, is that people who raise backyard chickens are now placing their eggs on the side of the road in a cooler for sale.  Some of the farm stands are elaborate and others are simply a Coleman cooler filled with ice packs and a coin jar holding payments and sweet little instructions.

The time that you spend there is brief.  There is no dialogue and small talk between you and the seller.  There is not pomp and circumstances in the purchase, having it nicely wrapped in brown paper and twine.

However, this is what is magical about these honor system stands.  These farm stands take you off the beaten path.  They make you feel as though you have just discovered a secret treasure.  Knowing the quantities are small and limited, you feel excited and lucky to have found this little cart.  I love discovering these hidden gems in my travels.  They are a reminder to look forward to the journey as much as the destination.

Photo Credits:  Tillys Nest, flickr, etsy

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