Tag / Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards: The Ceremony

Surprisingly the night before, despite all of my butterflies, I slept like a rock and woke up fresh and excited.  The butterflies were busy. They seemed to have doubled their population.  I was nervous and had no idea what to expect.  I was also excited to meet so many people from Country Living Magazine that I had been corresponding with over the past few weeks.

The Hearst Publications building was located around the block from the hotel.  As we rounded the corner, we were taken back at the beauty and uniqueness of the building.  I immediately recognized it from the photo.  My husband said, “Wow, look at that building.”  I replied, ” That is where we are going!”

The Hearst tower that we see today was renovated from its original 1928 form in 2003. It was the first green skyscraper constructed in NYC following September 11, 2001.  You can read more about it here.  Hearst Tower is now the centralized infrastructure to all of the Hearst’s publications that can be found in homes all over the country.  Some of these include Good Housekeeping, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Car and Driver, O, The Oprah Magazine, Esquire, House Beautiful and of course, Country Living.

We were greeted in the lobby and then proceeded to 44th floor banquet room.  Even the elevator extended a welcome to the attendees.

As we arrived at the top of the tower, and what seemed to be the top of the world, we finally were able to meet the other winners.  We began to talk and interact as if we were old friends.  We chatted, posed for pictures, met new friends and finally connected faces with familiar names.  It was wonderful to meet the bloggers, judges, editors and employees of the magazine.

We took in the views.

 

We sat down to a gorgeous table, that seemed to be right out of a Country Living photo shoot.  It was perfect.  The program, menu and flowers were incredible.

 

Sarah Gray Miller, Editor-in-Chief of Country Living, led the ceremony and introduced us to the incredibly charming Cooper Boone who presented each and every blogger with their award.  I went second.  Cooper called us up to the podium one at a time.  He said some wonderful, thoughtful and sweet things about my blog.  It was a moment when I realized people truly understand that this blog is about so much more than just chickens.

 

 

 

After lunch, we posed with everyone there.  I even got a pic with Sarah Gray Miller!

and all of the winners and judges too!

The afternoon seemed to quickly melt away.  Time truly flew but I made memories that will last a lifetime.  I will never forget this wonderful day. Thank you Country Living for honoring me.

Please take a moment to visit the other honorees’ blogs.  They are my fellow Blue Ribbon Bloggers!

Judge’s Picks
Collecting: Parismonia: Secondhand with Style 
Crafts: Always a Project 
Decorating: The Shabby Nest 
Food: The Crepes of Wrath 
Gardening: Garden Betty 
Lifestyle: Crafty Farm Girl 
Pets: Tilly’s Nest

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest,  pcrosson

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards: Getting There

I received a quiet email earlier this month notifying me that I was selected as winner in the First Annual Country Living Magazine’s Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards.  I was overcome with emotions; elation, shock, disbelief and pride.  Out of over 700 blogs, Tilly’s Nest was being recognized in the “pet” category as the best by the judges.  The judges, themselves, are all accomplished individuals with wonderful credentials and blogs to match.  I felt incredibly honored.  I also was ecstatic that I would be making the trip to New York City to receive my award.  As the weeks went by, I promised to keep this news secret.  It was so difficult to only tell my husband and the Grandmas who would be babysitting the kids.  I felt like a bubble ready to burst, but I was bound to keep this secret not wanting to jeopardize my award.

November second arrived.  I caught an early 5:20am bus from Cape Cod to the Boston airport.  My trip was arranged by Country Living Magazine, including my flight, car transportation and the hotel.   I felt like a princess about to partake in a royal adventure.  I had my backyard chickens to thank!   If only I could let Tilly and the girls know.  I arrived in Manhattan mid-morning.  The driver took me to the Dream Hotel.  It was beautiful!

 

I was quickly checked in and was presented with a glossy white Magnolia Bakery box and a card tied up with a blue ribbon.  Once settled in my room, I plopped myself on the bed and took a moment, to take it all in.  I untied the ribbon and read the card and  inside discovered two exquisite cupcakes. One was red velvet and the other was chocolate.

My husband met me down in the city.  The award ceremony was not until the following day, so we went on our own walking tour of the city.  We had lunch at this lovely little French cafe just outside the hotel lobby.

We then journeyed over to Times Square and Rockefeller Center.

 

Of course, I discovered some beautiful pigeons, like this one.
As the sun was beginning to set, we strolled in Central Park.

 

It was a wonderful ending to the perfect day.   I could not wait until the award ceremony on the following day.  I too had been kept in the dark about the other winners.  Soon enough, I would find out who else had been keeping this exciting secret.
To be continued tomorrow….
Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Health Issues

Backyard Chickens: Tis the Season to Molt

Molting is serious business
Since spring, Oyster Cracker has been plagued with a bald spot on the back of her head. I kept hoping that feathers would soon grow in that naked little spot, yet none came. I waited for months. Then, through one of my blog followers, Matt, I learned that the spot would remain bare until she molted. Deep within the skin were portions of broken off feathers. Her body was fooled into thinking that those feathers were still intact. Yesterday, I noticed that her bald patch was finally showing tiny barbs of new immature feathers called pin or blood feathers. They are rolled into a cylindrical shaped tube wrapped in keratin. As the chicken preens, the keratin sheaths are removed and new feathers seem to bloom into existence. This could only mean one thing. The girls are beginning to molt.
Molting (or Moulting, as they spell it in Great Britain) is for most chickens, an annual process in which all of their feathers are replaced. Molting typically occurs in the fall and can start anywhere from September to November. All birds molt in order to replace their existing feathers. Replacing their body’s feathers entirely allows birds to insulate their bodies better in winter, remain weatherproof and fly away from predators. The entire molting process typically takes about 12 weeks, keeping in mind that it takes 9 weeks to make a feather.
Molting begins on the head first, followed by the neck, breast, wings, back and tail. Sometimes, it is difficult to notice early molting as the feathers are small. However, by the time molting occurs on the body, the larger sized feathers are difficult to miss and so numerous, that it appears that a chicken has surely disappeared, leaving a copious amount of feathers behind. Molting is a stressful process on the flock. It requires large amounts of protein. Feathers are comprised of 85% protein. The other process that requires high amounts of protein is egg laying. Therefore, during the molting process their reproductive systems will go dormant. Egg laying ceases. Their bodies are focusing on replacing hundreds of feathers.
Even though the molting process is stressful, chicken owners can make a difference to the lives of the hen’s during these times. It is possible to keep molting hens happy. Here are some tips to help the rate of the molting process and promote the health of your backyard flock:
Diet:
Be sure the chickens are getting enough protein. During the molt, instead of treating the flock to vegetables and fruits try dried blood worms, dried meal worms, sunflower seeds, mashed up hard boiled eggs and plain yogurt instead.
Avoid giving the flock too much scratch. It does not contain enough protein.
Add a vitamin and electrolyte supplement to their drinking water.
Add 1 tablespoon per gallon of apple cider vinegar to their drinking water to help minimize stress.
Provide clean drinking water daily.

Environment:
Avoid stressing your birds. Keep them in familiar surroundings. Avoid things like introducing them to the neighbor’s new dog.
Maintain an optimal molting temperature between 70-80 degrees F.
Keep the flock safe from predators.
Avoid disease.
Keep the coop and run clean.
Keeping these tips in mind, should help the flock molt smoothly. Once the molting completes, their feathers will be beautiful and new. They will feel incredibly silky and your tender loving care will be rewarded with their delicious homemade eggs.
Resources:

http://www.thepoultrysite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=859

http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/27_2709.htm

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Breakfast Recipes

Pumpkin Bread

As the fall ushers in cooler weather, I seem to return to baking.  I love the way it makes the house smell.  There is something about it that is entirely comforting.  Maybe it reminds me of apple picking season, carving pumpkins and raking leaves.  As my kids return to two peanut-free schools, lunch restrictions can be a challenge. Baking assorted breads every couple of weeks have been a welcome solution for the family.  Homemade breads pack beautifully in their school lunches and seem to be an easy favorite with my kids.  I had been searching quite a while for a moist and delicious pumpkin bread recipe that would get my kids to eat pumpkin without even knowing it.  My friend shared this one with me.  I have adapted it to fit my family’s needs and I think you will find that it is incredibly delicious as well.  This recipe makes 2 loaves.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1 can of solid pack pumpkin (not pie filling)

Preparation:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two loaf pans and set aside.

2.  Combine all ingredients except for pumpkin and mix well.  Finally add pumpkin and mix until well incorporated.

3.  Split the batter and pour it into the two loaf pans.

4.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes to 1 hour, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

5.  Cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  Invert and continue cooling on wire rack.

Although not required, I keep this bread refrigerated.  It should last approximately one week.

This recipe can be found in our very own cookbook available for purchase.



On as side note, I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone for taking the time out of your busy schedules to vote for Tilly’s Nest in the Country Living’s  Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards.  I truly appreciate all of your kindness.  I have blogged for the last 331 days about life with pet chickens, not missing a single day. However, the neatest thing about this experience was a sweet surprise.  Unbeknownst to me, one of the fellow nominees is one of my chicken keeping friends, Terry.  Please be sure to visit her lovely blog about Little Pond Farm.


Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects

Leaky Roof

Peering in the front door

I love my chicken coop.  It has been wonderful for the girls and they are very happy in it.  The coop is well made.  However, one design flaw exists:  the nesting box roof leaks.  Cape Cod winters are very wet, snowy, and windy. Unfortunately, the coop has fallen victim to the weather. The leak has plagued me since the coop first arrived last Fall.

I worked so hard at trying to figure out where and how the water was seeping into the nesting boxes and surrounding walls.  I caulked.  I added weatherstripping.  I was continually changing the wet pine shavings in the nesting boxes.  Sometimes, even after waking in the night from the kids, I would return to bed, with my mind fully awake, and think about the leak.  It drove me nuts.  Finally, in the middle of winter last year, I covered the entire coop with plastic and waited.  The plastic solution that I had previously created in December cracked in the cold.  Spring would soon be here.  The freezing weather was no match for my bare hands and brittle frozen sheets of plastic.

Eventually Spring came, and after a trip to Home Depot, I came home with a roll of clear plastic carpet protector and shelf liner.  Over the course of an hour, I created a weatherproof barrier that worked like a charm.  Although it was not very pretty, it kept the girls dry and that to me, is what mattered the most.  I was happy with my solution, despite never getting to the root of the problem.

These past few weeks, the contractors have been in and out of our house, repairing our bathroom after a pipe in the wall leaked and required the bathroom to be gutted.  The finishing carpenters arrived and spent a couple of days at our house.  They were intrigued by the chickens.  When they took their breaks, I would find them both saying hello to the girls.  As they were visiting the girls on the last day, one of them asked me about the plastic.  I had explained the situation and he told me that he could fix it so that it didn’t leak.  Apparently, in addition to the design flaw, it was shingled incorrectly.  As I lured the girls out of the coop into the run with treats, the carpenter went to work.   Little did the girls know that their home was undergoing an “extreme makeover”.

 

 

Within no time, the nesting boxes’ roof was repaired.  It came out beautifully and the best part is that there is no more plastic covering the coop.  This labor day weekend the new roof will be put to the test.  Rain is in the forecast.  The carpenter was happy to help.  I think there was some novelty for him working on the coop.  I don’t quite think he had ever imagined coming to the rescue of our feathered ladies.

 

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

I Just Might Win!

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Well, I entered a few months ago.  As I was reading one of my favorite magazines, Country Living, I came across this contest to enter your favorite blog in their Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards.  I immediately thought, I have a blog.  I decided to give it a go and enter.  I also asked for your nominations.  I guess it worked.  Late afternoon yesterday, at 4:47pm, I received an email notifying me that my blog is one of the finalists in the award contest!  I did not win yet, but wow, I got goosebumps!  I could not believe it!

I also was notified that from September 1st through the 15th, fans of Tilly’s Nest can enter us in the Reader’s Choice Category.  Would you be so kind?

Tilly’s Nest has become so much more than just keeping an online diary about our chicken adventures.  Keeping backyard chickens has been life changing as many of you know through our experiences and your own.  If selected, Tilly’s Nest will be featured in the February 2012 issue of County Living and I will be able to share the joy of backyard chickens with their readers.

Thank you in advance to all of you who have made Tilly’s Nest what it is today.  I certainly would not be here without all of your love, encouragement and support in my endeavors keeping backyard chickens with my family.

Much love and thanks~ Melissa

P.S. Would someone please pinch me?

Photo Credit:  4JPhotography