Chicken-Friendly Backyard Landscaping - Safe and Dangerous Trees, Bushes, Shrubs and Flowers

Lots of you raise backyard chickens that are allowed to roam your backyard, either supervised or unsupervised, and might wonder if your existing landscaping is okay if your chickens happen to nibble on it (which they are prone to do!). I'm frequently asked what kinds of plants, bushes and trees are safe to plant around chickens.

A Week in Farm Photos - October 9th - 15th

With nights dipping into the high 20's, the cold weather is really setting in. The garden has been turned over and mulched with the straw bedding from the coop that I raked out last week, and most of the herbs have been picked and are drying in the barn. The chickens are almost done molting, thankfully, in preparing for winter. The fall foliage here in Maine has already peaked and the leaves are starting to fall in earnest. Here's a peek at our week!

Why are There Blood Spots in my Fresh Eggs?

If you raise your own chickens or buy eggs from a local farm or farmers market, this has probably happened to you on occasion. You crack an egg into the frying pan and notice a bright red blood (or meat) spot on the yolk. You might have assumed that meant the egg was fertile (not true) or that the egg isn't edible (also not true). At the very least, it's a bit off-putting. 

A Week in Farm Photos - October 2nd - 8th

Autumn is my favorite season, and autumn in Maine couldn't be more spectacular! We had our first frost so that did it for the garden. I picked all the pumpkins and corn to use as porch decor and then got some garlic planted. I cleaned out the coop in preparation for winter and used the straw bedding to mulch the garlic. See how that works? Chickens,'s a complete circle! The chickens are all in various stages of molting and have requested no photos until they're looking beautiful again, but I managed to sneak in a few! Enjoy this peek at our week!

Mother Earth News Fair - Pennsylvania 2016

The weekend before last I made the trip to Seven Springs, Pennsylvania to appear at the Mother Earth News Fair. It was my second year at the fair and I have to say the Seven Springs ski resort is the perfect venue. Over the course of the weekend I presented talks on raising chickens naturally, adding ducks to your flock and gardening with chickens to standing room only audiences. I also signed books and got to meet so many of you in person.

A Week in Farm Photos September 25th - October 1st

As we herald in October, we also welcomed our first frost. My peppers and eggplant succumbed to the cold, but I've still got some lettuce and kale going strong in the garden. I had covered my herbs so everything made it through the night, although the basil is not as happy as it could be! The chickens are all in varying stages of molting, so they basically stand around looking miserable and aren't laying many eggs. But the state of Maine is in her glory and we're loving the cooler temperatures. Enjoy this peek at our week!

8 Potentially Harmful or Toxic Herbs to Avoid in Chicken Keeping

Most herbs have wonderful health benefits for both humans and animals and have been used down through the ages to treat, prevent and cure all kinds of ailments, but not all herbs are safe. I do use lots of herbs with my chickens, both in their environment and diet, but I am careful to stick to the common, culinary herbs which are safe and perfectly edible, because some herbs are toxic to chickens (and people).

Do you Hear What I Hear? All about Chicken Hearing

Chickens hear very much like human beings do. They have two ears, one on either side of their head. They have eardrums, and an outer ear, middle ear and inner ear, just like we do. They are able to harness sound waves and send them to the inner ear. 

A Week in Farm Photos Sept 11th to 17th

Brrrrr....there's a definite chill in the air as the temperatures start to dip down into the 40's at night. The leaves are beginning to change and we're looking to a glorious fall season here in Maine. All that's left in the garden now are some herbs, pumpkins and the corn. I'll be drying the herbs and harvesting the pumpkins and corn, then arranging them on the front porch for a bit of seasonal decor.  Take a peek at our week.

10 Healthy Sources of Added Protein for Molting Chickens

The first time your chickens go through a molt, dropping their feathers all over the coop and run, you'll likely do a quick headcount, sure some predator got in. While it seems that some chickens lose their feathers all at once, while others barely show any signs of molting, the first molt will be triggered by the shorter days in the fall, when your chickens are about 18 months old. And there's no need to worry, it's perfectly normal and in fact gets the chickens ready for winter.

A Week in Farm Photos - September 4th - 10th

As the summer winds down, I'm busily harvesting the last of the tomatoes and watching our pumpkin patch excitedly.  The leaves are already starting to turn on the sugar maples and there's a chill in the air each morning. I headed down to Portland earlier this week to preview the pilot of my new TV show Fresh Eggs Daily with Lisa Steele which will air on Monday (I'll share the link on Facebook so everyone can watch it streaming online!) and am excited to hear what you all think of the newest 'chicken lifestyle' show to hit the airwaves. I hope that each episode will bring my Facebook page and blog to life for you all - in the meantime, enjoy this peek at our week.

Choosing the Right Fencing for your Chicken Coop, Run or Garden

Keeping your flock safe from predators is something important to consider if you are new to chicken keeping, or building or buying a new coop, chicken tractor or run. Keeping your garden veggies safe from marauding bunnies, deer and wild birds is always a struggle. Not all fencing options are created equal - and using the wrong type of fencing can lead to heartbreaking losses.

A Week in Farm Photos - August 29th to Sept 3rd

What a fun week! We've been picking tomatoes and eggplant from the garden and eagerly watching the progress of our corn and pumpkins. And one of our spring chicks started laying this week! We made a trip to Tractor Supply Co. which is always fun, but seeing my book on the shelf was the icing on the cake. Speaking of dessert....I baked a pie using some rhubarb a neighbor shared with us. 

I sat down earlier in the week for an interview for a magazine article that will come out next spring and yesterday we (finally) picked out our new counter top, so we are ready to start a much-needed mini kitchen makeover. Oh, and I got some good news from my editor about book #4, so stay tuned for more details on that in the coming months. All in all, it was a good week here on the farm. Want to take a peek?

Talking about Raising Backyard Chickens on NPR

Everyone's bucket list* is made up of different dreams and goals. I was excited to be able to cross one item off my bucket list last week when I was invited to be on the NPR radio show Maine Calling on a panel chatting about Raising Backyard Chickens. Yes, appearing on NPR was on my bucket list! (So is seeing a moose and mastering I said, everyone's list is a bit different...)

A Week in Farm Photos August 21st - 27th

It's hard to believe that August is almost over. But despite the continuing warm, sunny days, there has been a bit of a chill in the air first thing in the morning lately. I've seen a few fallen leaves that have already changed color, so the glorious New England fall foliage season will be upon us in no time. We've got pumpkins turning orange, the corn is almost ready to eat and we're picking tomatoes by the basket full. The chickens and ducks are molting - already growing in new feathers for the winter, which is predicted to be cold and snowy. Even by Maine standards.

This week was busy, as usual. We welcomed a renowned freelance photographer (her last gig was for Bon Appetit magazine!) to our farm early in the week to shoot photos for a magazine article, and then I headed to Portland to tape a live show on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.  That was a lot of fun and I have to admit something that had been on my bucket list forever. Enjoy this peek at our week!

Quiz: What Kind of Chicken Keeper Are You?

There are as many kinds of chicken keepers as there are breeds of chickens. And often the breeds you choose to keep can be a clue as to the type of chicken keeper you are. Read these fun, tongue-in-cheek profiles to figure out which kind of chicken keeper you are. Or maybe you already know....

A Week in Farm Photos - Shooting a TV Show Pilot August 14th-20th

Our farm was a flurry of excitement this week as we welcomed the film crew from WPXT/WPME-TV to shoot the pilot for a new television show I will be hosting. The 30-minute lifestyle show will bring to life my Facebook page and blog, encompassing chicken keeping, gardening and cooking with fresh eggs from the coop and fresh produce from the garden.  The chickens did great hitting their marks, but I think the ducks ultimately stole the show. Winston even got to star in one scene and got it perfect on the first take - I, on the other hand, needed two more tries until I got it right. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes peek at our week as I got a crash course in voice-overs and B roll.

A Week in Farm Photos - August 7th-13th

According to the locals up here in Maine, this is the hottest, driest summer they can remember. I'ts been hot and dry around most of the country, so I'm sure you're all busy watering yours gardens and refilling your chickens' water several times a day. Despite the heat and lack of moisture though, our garden and flock are both thriving and life is good up here in the woods of Maine. Enjoy this peek at our week...which did end with a few nice rain showers and the arrival of advance copies of the new Farmers Almanac to which I was asked to contribute an article!