Monday, March 30, 2015

The Secret to Keeping your Nesting Boxes Clean - Block those Boxes!

Eggs from your backyard chickens stay fresher if they aren't washed before storing them, but no one wants dirt- or poop-covered eggs on their counter, or worse in the refrigerator. So how can you ensure that you always collect clean eggs?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Week in Farm Photos - March 22nd - 28th

It's spring! Everything is muddy and mucky, but there's green popping up all over.  It won't be long now before it's time to get the gardens planted. Spring is my favorite time of year. What's yours?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hatching Do's and Dont's - Egg Selection, Handling and Incubation Tips

Hatching chicken eggs in an incubator (or under a hen) is very simple, as long as you follow a few basic guidelines. While it may seem to be a very easy process, small variations in egg handling, temperature or humidity can cause your eggs to not hatch, or to not hatch into healthy chicks. Follow these simple DO's and DON'Ts to achieve the best hatch rate possible.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Week in Farm Photos March 15th - 21st

This week heralded in the official start of spring, but signs have been in the air for awhile now here in Virginia. Egg production is booming and the first daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses have bloomed. Enjoy this peek at our week.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Chicken Coop Security Measures

Spring is right around the corner and with spring comes baby animals - cute babies like chicks, ducklings and bunnies - but also baby predators, who will soon be trained to try and break into your chicken coop by their more experienced parents. Raccoon, opossums, foxes, coyotes, bears, skunks, weasels and others can all be a threat to your backyard flock, so a secure coop is a must.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Week in Farm Photos March 8th - 14th

Melting snow, crocuses and daffodils pushing through the cool, brown soil and longer days are all sure signs of spring. Another sure sign of spring is increased 'activity' in the barnyard. The boys start to get frisky and the girls start to go broody. Egg production picks up. Once we see these signs, we know spring is right around the corner!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How to Save Money by Fermenting Chicken Feed

Fermentation is nothing new. People have been using the process as a method of food preservation for hundreds and hundreds of years. Foods such as sourdough bread, buttermilk, cheese, pickles, kimchi, apple cider vinegar - even beer and wine - take advantage of fermenting. Animal feeds can also be fermented. There are numerous nutritional benefits to feeding fermented feed, and even better, it can save you money on your feed bill! Once again, the old-timers had it right!

Monday, March 9, 2015

How to Prevent Blossom End Rot Using Eggshell Seed Starters

Each spring I start seeds inside on the windowsill to get a jump on the growing season. It's getting to be that time of year again, so I've been saving my eggshells to make these cute seed starter cups. Functional and practical, they are not only a great way to recycle your eggshells, they also help prevent a fairly common plant disorder called 'blossom end rot'.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Week in Farm Photos - March 1st to 7th

This past week was a weather roller coaster for us here in Virginia, and for much of the country in fact. We saw snow, freezing rain, temperatures near 70 degrees, and everything in between. The slightly longer days have resulted in a plethora of eggs in our nesting boxes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Homemade Ginger Ale and Candied Ginger Slices

ginger ale in mason jar

I'm not a big soda drinker by any means, but I do enjoy ginger ale from time to time. This is my recipe to make your own homemade ginger ale, using just four ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. It's so easy and quick to make - and like everything else homemade, its healthier for your family because its all natural ingredients and you can control the amount (and type) of sweetener you use.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mix Custom Chicken Treat Blends with NaturesPeck

-Sponsored Post-

Those of you who read this blog or follow my Facebook page probably know that I love to make all kinds of fun treats for my chickens. One of my favorites to serve is warm oatmeal on a cold winter morning, with seeds, raisins and other yummy add-ins. I don't know if the treat actually warms their bellies, but I feel better serving them a hot meal first thing in the morning - and they sure gobble it up! 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Week in Photos from the Garden Bloggers Conference February 25th - 27th

-photo credit: Julie of Garden Delights-

This past week I spent a few days in Atlanta at the Garden Bloggers Conference. I was so honored to have been asked to speak at the conference, sharing a stage with the likes of Nate Berkus, Bunny Williams,  Sara Bendrick from DIY Network's I Hate my Yard, Rochelle Greayer author of Cultivating Garden Style and Brett Vankoski, the founder of the wine enterprise Ninety+ Cellars (yes there was wine served during that segment!) along with so many other great speakers and bloggers. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sushi Ball Treats for the Chickens

Several years ago, I took a sushi-making class at the Culinary Institute of Virginia. It was a lot of fun, and since we love sushi, I do make it occasionally at home when I have the time. So as I was going through the pantry the other day and saw all my sushi stuff tucked into a back corner - the nori sheets, vinegar, rice, etc. - a light bulb went off and I realized that the chickens would REALLY love a sushi treat. And so ... this happened.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Week in Farm Photos - February 15th - 21st

I know its not right to rejoice about snow when so much of the country (including my Mom in Massachusetts) is literally buried under several feet of the white stuff, but I really, really love snow - and we don't get near enough of it here in Virginia, so when we got about four inches earlier this week AND it stuck around for awhile, we were thrilled! The animals less so, but everyone rallied and did just fine even though we also experienced a low of 5 degrees - a record in the 12 years we've been living here. So enjoy our meager snowfall!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Are my Chicken Eggs Fertile?

One of the most common questions I get asked is "How do I know if my chicken eggs are fertile?" The short answer is, if you have a rooster, then all of the eggs you collect from your chickens are most likely fertile.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Risk of Avian Flu to Backyard Chicken Flocks

-free range chickens are more at risk than those kept in an enclosed/covered pen-
Whether you keep chickens or not, you've probably been hearing the news about the Avian Flu (avian influenza) which has been found primarily in chicken flocks in the Pacific Northwest. However, unless you live in that proximity, maybe you haven't been all that concerned about it. But the bad news is, it's spread by wild birds and it is spreading. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

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

This week brought us our first crocuses of spring, our second snowfall, and ended on an upnote with a Valentine dinner featuring lobsters shipped in from Maine with a batch of decadent homemade baked donuts for dessert. Oh, and the animals are all fine too! Enjoy this peek at our week!