Top 3 reasons to have a second coop November 21, 2014 No Comments

Let’s talk luxury. After all, there are chicken needs, and there is chicken indulgence. I’ll be the first to admit that most people view a second coop as an indulgence, not a need. But there are certain circumstances where the second coop can quite literally be a lifesaver for your flock.

second coop with chickens and child

Because you just don’t want anything to happen to your family’s pet chickens!

Top 3 reasons to have a second coop

1. Second coop as a broody coop: If you’re having your hens hatch and/or raise chicks of their own, Read the rest of this entry »

Unexpected Coop Visitor: the Cardinal November 10, 2014 No Comments

On a snow covered winter morning, to my surprise, I found a wonderful but unexpected coop visitor in my coop’s window. This darling little red cardinal, in all his genius, found his way into our silkies’ coop through an opening in the run wire. Our unexpected coop visitor then came in an open door in the floor to get inside where it was warm. With the ground covered in snow, and the bird feeders were iced over, he found an easy meal from the chickens’ feeder. Surrounded by hay and pine shaving he must have gotten in the day or evening before, and spent the night warmed by our little silkie chickens.

unexpected coop visitor: cardinal

Look how beautiful our unexpected coop visitor is!

This lucky little cardinal got a warm meal, a nice bed and great view of the melting snow. But he couldn’t stay. Sadly, I spoiled his free ride opening the coop door and shooing him out.

He didn’t go far though, just flying over and landing on the bird feeder across from the coop. I’d found him back a few times in the mornings. I see him in the chickens’ run snacking on scratch grains that I put out for everyone in the morning. It’s funny how well the chickens tolerated him. Maybe they had daily discussions over their morning breakfast with their new-found friend. I wonder if they also discuss the crazy lady who gave him a good scare that morning of the deep snow when he tried to move in unnoticed with my girls.

My mother loved this story when I shared it with her, and told me she believes it is my grandfather coming to visit me to see what we’ve done on our land. He always loved gardening and was really the one who got me so interested to begin my gardening adventures and the keeping chickens. My heart swells at the thought that he may have wanted to look in on my chicken keeping, because his adventures never got so far as to add chickens to other animals to his gardening list.

My Grandfather with his corn in 1976

My Grandfather with his corn in 1976

With this in mind we added another bird feeder and fill it with sunflower seeds to just keep the cardinals visiting all year now.  I kind of hope it was my grandfather’s spirit, because he’d love the chickens’ company as I much as I do.

Any strange, but much welcome visitors to your chickens?

Artsy way to preserve autumn leaves November 7, 2014 No Comments

When I was a kid, one of the things I loved to do in the fall was to find and preserve autumn leaves. When I walked with my grandpa, we’d identify each leaf before we picked it up. I learned about simple and compound leaves, and how to tell if they were toothed or lobed, and so on.

ROYAutumn

A warm rainbow of colors in our forest

So when I walked to school and back, I also often picked leaves up on my own. Because of grandpa’s instruction, I knew my favorites were usually sugar maple leaves. They could be so brilliant and vivid: reds, oranges and yellows.

preserve autumn leaves: spotting an autumn maple

This looks like a good candidate

My mother would help me preserve them: we’d Read the rest of this entry »

Egg Show-Off: Carbonara November 2, 2014 2 Comments

I love trying new recipes and making novel dishes for company, but like everyone, I have a few tried and true favorites that I fall back on in a pinch. And call me a show off, but I love to serve my homemade and homegrown goodies. And I’m a total Egg Show-Off. So when possible, I serve at least one item featuring the beautiful eggs produced by my beautiful backyard flock. Sometimes it’s a simple Caesar dressing as a first course for a steak dinner, while on other occasions the eggs take center stage, as is the case when I prepare a brunch frittata or quiche. A recent Egg Show-Off favorite—that also happens to be a full blown homage to my chickens and all they produce—is homemade pasta with fresh Carbonara sauce.

My current favorite egg show off dinner!

Carbonara sauce over home made pasta is my current favorite egg show off dinner!

Both the pasta and sauce feature rich, delicious backyard eggs, and guests are always wowed. I only make this treat when guests are limited to one or two close friends because the meal has to be composed just before serving, so it’s not really suitable for entertaining a large group or one you have to worry will judge your messy in-the-throws-of-cooking-kitchen. But your besties, especially if they are foodies, will really appreciate it…

Some people make the dough for pasta in a food processor but I prefer to get a good forearm workout. Plus, I think the time gained by using a machine is just about canceled out when you take into account the cleanup. No matter how you do it, though, preparing homemade pasta adds a lot of legwork to this meal. You can use boxed spaghetti or go to a local pasta shop for the fresh variety if you prefer (but then you sacrifice an opportunity to show off your glorious eggs!).

Without further ado, here’s the recipe.

Egg Show-Off: Homemade Pasta

1) Measure 2 cups flour into a mound. My favorite flour to use when making pasta is ‘00.’ Of the Italian flours, graded by how finely they are ground, ‘00’ is the most finely milled. Only one grocer in my town carries ‘00’ but it is worth the special trip as it results in perfectly, silky smooth pasta.

Pasta_Crop_txt

I love the pretty colors my girls lay!

2) Next, Read the rest of this entry »

Graveyard Eggs from your Pet Chickens October 24, 2014 No Comments

One of the things I loved about living in China was the street food. There was delicious, delicious food available almost everywhere for next to nothing. (The same goes for New York, but it’s a lot more expensive!) I remember lucking into some delicious steamed red bean paste dumplings for about twelve and a half cents each. My other favorite were the Tea Eggs, which are eggs that have been hard cooked, and flavored with tea and spices. I call my take “Graveyard Eggs.”

Graveyard Eggs on an autumn morning

Graveyard Eggs are perfect for a cool, foggy October morning.

The 4 best things about Graveyard Eggs

  1. They’re easy to make.
  2. They look gorgeous.
  3. They taste wonderful.
  4. They are fun for Halloween.

If you follow our blog, you’ll know how much I love Halloween, so making Graveyard Eggs is something I love to do. When you make them with eggs laid by your own backyard hens like I do, they’re even better, because you know they’re so much more nutritious than store bought–PLUS, you know your own backyard hens are treated humanely (usually even spoiled!).

Most Tea Egg recipes I’ve seen call for boiling the eggs for Read the rest of this entry »

Day of the Dead Eggs October 17, 2014 1 Comment

I love Halloween. I love dressing up. I love decorating. And I love making fun Halloween treats. This year, I decided to make some Day of the Dead Eggs.

Day of Dead Eggs

Day of the Dead Eggs

Yes, I know! Day of the Dead is NOT the same as Halloween, of course. The Day of the Dead is observed chiefly on November 1st and 2nd, and is a celebration and remembrance of the lives of departed loved ones. However, because the holidays fall at the same time, some of the traditions are melding, to a certain extent. For instance, in some areas children will dress up in costume and knock on doors for treats, or calaveritas. So, please forgive my license! I think Day of the Dead Eggs are nice for either tradition. Personally, I’ll be eating freshly made Day of The Dead Eggs for breakfast the day after Halloween, but I wanted to share this with you now, in plenty of time for you to create your own Day of the Dead Eggs!

A traditional Day of the Dead decoration is the skull—often made in sugar. My version is painted on a hard-boiled egg: Day of the Dead Eggs. For my Day of the Dead Eggs, I used a white-shelled egg, but you could use any color. I loved the starkness of the black and white.

Directions for Day of the Dead Eggs

Hard cook your eggs. We’ve discussed the best way to cook hard boiled eggs before. When the eggs are cool and dry, you can decorate them.

Special note: Don’t use raw eggs. Would Read the rest of this entry »

Chicken Poop Cookies for Halloween October 10, 2014 2 Comments

Not long ago, I posted a recipe for Chicken Poop Dog Treats. In preparation for Halloween, and in the tradition of gross-looking Halloween food like Lady’s Finger cookies, Meat Heads, Monster Mouths and so on, I thought I’d share a recipe for Chicken Poop Cookies (for people). Chickens aren’t the only ones that enjoy treats at our house!

Don’t these look tasty?

chicken poop cookies

Not!

Chicken Poop Cookies

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 1-1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c rolled oats (I used a combination of spent grain and oats)

Preheat oven to 400. Cream Read the rest of this entry »

Laverne, the Godzilla of Broody Hens October 8, 2014 4 Comments

This post was written by Joyce.

You have to admire the perseverance of a would-be mother hen.  I have a Salmon Favorelles named Laverne who would starve on the nest before she would give up being a broody hen, even when there are no eggs under her.  As a rule, when I’d like a broody hen to hatch some special eggs, I will put her in a separate pen where chicks would be safe upon hatching.  Usually a broody hen will quickly settle into the new nest full of precious eggs and happily go about hatching.  Not this one.  Laverne refuses to be relocated to a safer place. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 5 most cold hardy chicken breeds October 3, 2014 8 Comments

One of the most important things you can do when choosing which breeds you want for your flock is to choose breeds appropriate to your climate. With cold winter weather on the way for most of the US, let’s have a look at cold hardy chicken breeds. Our website makes it easy to choose from a list of cold hardy chicken breeds, but if you live in the bitter, bitter north, you may need the MOST cold hardy chicken breeds.

Here are the top five most cold hardy chicken breeds:

Read the rest of this entry »

Feather Sexing: Why it Won’t Work September 30, 2014 1 Comment

Going to the feed store with my daughter to see the chicks in the spring is a favorite past time with her. Occasionally, we see a new breeds we’re interested in taking home with us. The signage often contains vital information about the chicks that help us decide which to take home. To us these details hold familiarity, but for some people these terms can be confusing and bear some explaining.

8 Week Old Buff Brahma Cockerel.

8 Week Old Buff Brahma Cockerel. He was purchased as a Straight Run chick.

Here are the terms you’ll see when looking for your chicks and what they mean:

  • Pullets: Young females sexed by the hatchery, can be 1 day old to under 1 year to use this term.
  • Mixed Pullets: Females of different breeds, including hybrids sexed by the hatchery
  • Straight Run: Unsexed chicks including a mix of males and females. These were never sexed by a professional.
  • Cockerels: Young males sexed by the hatchery. Ages from 1 day old to under 1 year use this term.

Your local feed store will have chicks available to you based on these choices. They receive them from hatcheries around the country. Some shops will get it whatever is available at the time they order. Breeds and sexing choices can change on a week to week basis due to availability.

Last spring we were looking at a bin of straight run Wyandottes that just came in that morning. They were about 3 days old at the time. A farm retiree that liked to sit up there on warm mornings and chat with the customers started picking up chicks and looking at their wing feathers, then showing why he thought this one was a female or that one was male. He expounded about how he used to hatch thousands of chicks every year, and how he knew which ones were of value to him for their eggs and which ones he would later put into his freezer.

In the end I didn’t take home those chicks…. but I can fill you in about why you can’t rely on methods like these at the feed store.

Feed stores get their chicks Read the rest of this entry »