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A Week in Farm Photos May 15th - 21st

Dare I believe it's actually approaching shorts weather here in Maine? It's been in the mid-70s and believe it or not, the chickens have actually been panting a bit and holding their wings out! How fast they forget the near 100 degrees days on end they experienced in Virginia! I organized my new potting shed this week, and we planted raspberry and blackberry bushes plus a few more blueberry bushes, and we found a hidden rhubarb patch. 

I have tomatoes and eggplant seedlings in the ground and planted some sunflower, lettuce, snap pea and green bean seeds. We had our first hummingbird of the season stop by to visit and we have both barn swallows and bluebirds nesting in our birdhouses. We have our first broody hen sitting on a nest of eggs..and the Littles are almost five weeks old. Enjoy this peek at our week.

Landscaping our New Chicken Run

As excited as we were to move to Maine last summer and set down roots in New England again, I was sorry to leave our farm in Virginia. There were so many nice features that had taken years to build/raise/grow/create and leaving them behind was tough. One in particular was our landscaped chicken run.

A Week in Farm Photos - May 8th to 14th

There's a spring in everyone's step this week. Literally.  We all enjoyed gorgeous Maine weather - in the 70s by day and down to comfortable sleeping temperatures in the 40s at night. Flowers are popping up everywhere, which is exciting, since we only arrived here in August, so we have no idea what surprises the garden might hold. The Littles are almost a month old and doing great - and a second batch of hatching eggs just went into the incubator and are percolating away! Enjoy this peek at our week.

Causes and Treatment of Scissor or Cross Beak in Baby Chicks

Scissor beak (sometimes also called cross beak or crossed beak), is a deformity that can occur in baby chicks. It happens when the top and bottom of the beak grow in opposite directions instead of aligning normally, making eating difficult. Not necessarily a death sentence for the baby chick, some accommodations do need to be made for it to survive and thrive.

A Week in Farm Photos May 1st - 8th

April was a crazy month. I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina and Epcot in Orlando, Florida to speak and was so happy to meet so many of you in person at each stop. I also appeared at a few local Tractor Supply Chick Days events and spoke at the Bangor Flower Show here in Maine. Somehow I also fit in a trip to Dripping Springs, Texas to visit Urban Coop Company, tour their facility and help develop a new coop design with them. Super exciting!

During the short time I actually was at home, we did manage to plant some blueberry and rose bushes and I recorded a radio show and a few podcasts...oh and was interviewed for a Women in Ag article. I also put the final touches on my third book (yes, you read that right! I have a new book coming out at the end of this year!....more on that later this summer) But I was only actually home about half the month. I missed the first few days of our new chicks' lives, and missed the exact arrival of spring here to Maine. But spring is finally here and I'm looking forward to staying put for awhile and enjoying life on the farm.

How to Pick up Chicks and Handle Them for a Family Friendly Flock

As someone who does lots of public appearances and is photographed holding a chicken fairly often for promotional purposes and photo shoots, as well as someone who occasionally welcomes film crews to my home to record television programs, I need for my chickens to be friendly and be able to handle being picked up and held for sustained periods of time.

Easy Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Now that you raise backyard chickens, you really owe it to yourself to start making homemade ice cream using eggs fresh from your chicken coop. This basic vanilla bean ice cream recipe is the perfect one to start with. It's quick and easy, and  can become the base for a myriad of other ice cream flavors simply by stirring in some add-ins such as fresh or frozen fruit, nuts or chocolate pieces.

Photos from the Epcot International Flower & Garden Show

Several months ago, I was asked to speak at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Show in Orlando at the Disney resort during Fresh Week. Of course I agreed! So this weekend I'm in Florida at the show and I have to tell you that all the staff (or cast members as they call them here)  have been just wonderful giving me white glove treatment and getting me where I need to be.  

The Secret to Hatching Hens not Roosters!

The probability of hatching an equal number of hens and roosters when you set eggs in an incubator is about 50/50 with a slight edge towards hatching more males. Since most people are interested in hatching only female chicks, or at the very least, hatching predominantly more females, wouldn't it be nice if there were a way to hatch improve your odds of hatching hens and not roosters? Well there is!

A Week in Farm Photos - April 17th - 23rd

This week was all about our new baby chicks! They started hatching on Sunday night and continued into Tuesday morning, when I left for Texas, leaving my husband to take care of our new little balls of fluff in addition to the rest of our animals. I am happy to report that all eight Littles are doing great and almost ready to move into their brooder playpen. Enjoy this peek at our new additions!

How to Raise and Breed Mealworms for your Chickens

My chickens love mealworms. In fact, they gobble them up at such an alarming rate that a few years ago I decided it would be more economical for me to try to breed my own. So I found a guy who sold them in bulk and bought a huge box of live ones. I was so excited about this new venture.  After all, what could be better than a continuous, free source of healthy protein for my chickens? 

A Week in Farm Photos The Mother Earth News Fair in Ashevile

This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville, North Carolina. I had never been to Asheville, so I was really looking forward to the trip and it didn't disappoint. Although it was cold and windy - excuse me, it's mid-April! I could have stayed in Maine for this weather! - spring had definitely arrived and I had a great time. It so was much fun to reconnect with old friends and fellow bloggers (like Karen Durand Thompson from Lil Suburban Homestead), meet some new ones, wander through the booths and vendors, plus make some new contacts and talk about some new chicken products coming out soon. I had the opportunity to taste some great Southern cuisine too. I didn't have time to tour the Biltmore, but there's always next year! Enjoy this behind the scenes peek at the Fair!

5 Tips for a More Successful Hatch

Hatching fertile chicken (or duck) eggs in an incubator or under a hen is a fun, rewarding experience. If all goes well, after 21 days (28 for duck eggs) you should have healthy baby chicks popping out of the eggshells like popcorn! But things can go wrong. The hatch rate for incubated eggs isn't as high as for those eggs hatched under a hen, and for shipped eggs it's even lower. But there are several things you can do to ensure the best hatch possible.

A Week in Farm Photos - April 3rd - 9th

Another week in Maine - with one foot solidly set in spring with the other still dragging through winter. Some snow, some warm temps, things sprouting indoors and out. Lots of mud, a bit of rain. It was a good week that culminated with my birthday on Thursday - which we celebrated at a local farm to table restaurant in Bangor called The Fiddlehead Restaurant that grows their own vegetables in season and raises chickens! - and a trip to Asheville to speak at the Mother Earth News Fair. Stay tuned for some photos from the fair next week, and enjoy this peek at this past week. Oh, and happy birthday to me!

How Often Should I Turn my Hatching Eggs?

Many incubators now come with turning trays and can be set to automatically turn the eggs. But I still get asked by lots of people attempting to hatch their eggs either in a homemade incubator or a model without a self-turning feature how many times a day the eggs should be turned.