Thursday, November 29, 2012

Basic Chicken Etiquette for the Family Dog - The Importance of Training

~Bella and Violet checking each other out through the safety of fencing~
When we got our first chickens several years ago, we had an aging (10 year old) German Shepherd. It never even dawned on us to worry about Sadie around the new chickens because she was naturally so intelligent and well-behaved, she seemed to instinctively know what was expected of her.  

~Sadie and our very first chickens sharing the back patio~

Monday, November 26, 2012

A is for Albumen - Decoding Chicken Terms

When you start raising chickens, you are bound to run into terms, abbreviations and phrases that might seem like a foreign language at first. Here is my non-scientific, layman's guide to some of the more common terms and their meanings:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Week in Farm Photos - November 18th-24th

Thanksgiving is but a distant memory, and winter is fast approaching.  We're expecting our first real frost tonight, so we tried to finish up a few last-minute outdoor chores today despite the 46 degree weather.  Please enjoy these few scenes from the previous week around the farm.



Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our Thanksgiving Feast and Giving Thanks

As we prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, I decided to take a break from baking and cooking and share with you some of the reasons, both big and small, monumental and inconsequential, that I am thankful for the life I lead.

Of course there are the big, serious reasons to give thanks:

I am thankful that my husband didn't get sent to Afghanistan and that our friends who did all came home safely.  

I am also thankful that due to his years of service, we have access to affordable medical care and as long as the government is running, he will get a paycheck. In this economy, I realize that isn't something that everyone can take for granted.

I am thankful that we are healthy and that our parents, although we don't see them nearly as often as we would like, are healthy, thriving and only a phone call, Facebook post or email away.

I am thankful that we live in a place where are are given the opportunity to raise any kind of animals we want to, and in a country that if we choose not to eat them (which we don't!), there are grocery stores, farmers markets and local farms where we can buy fresh produce and meat.

On to some more frivolous, but important to me, reasons to give thanks:

I am thankful that the kitchen in our house was SO ugly when we bought it that we didn't have to feel guilty about ripping it all out and redoing it into my dream kitchen.

I am thankful that Fresh Eggs Daily has proved to be so popular and brought me many opportunities in literary and poultry circles that I never would have thought possible or have been able to achieve otherwise, thereby negating the need for me to go back to being accountant (blech!) or selling on ebay (double blech!).

I am thankful for all the fans friends I've met over the past two years who don't think I'm crazy for hanging curtains in my coop or baking bread for our chickens and actually LIKE seeing photos of fluffy butts.  And I am thankful for being able to help teach new chicken keepers how to raise happy, healthy hens on such a large scale and give advice when they run into trouble.

I am thankful that, despite my husband saying 'no funny-looking' chickens when we first started raising them, I managed to slip in a few Cochins and Faverolles when he wasn't looking anyway (feathered feet = funny-looking in case anyone was wondering).

So many reasons to be thankful really.

As I was preparing the food for tomorrow, I thought about my grandmother setting out all the serving dishes on the dining room table each holiday with a slip of paper in each one naming what was to go in the dish so she would remember to take everything out of the oven and refrigerator. I thought about my Mom organizing themed holiday celebrations where we cooked foods from a different country each year and dressed up in that country's native clothing.  

We generally go a bit more traditional.  My husband is descended from the Pilgrims and can actually trace back to ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower. 

Since we are both from New England originally, we prepare a traditional menu and serve it in a Colonial-inspired dining room.  

Potatoes waiting to be mashed.

Macaroni & Cheese in individual ramekins (okay not traditional, but yummy!)
Shaped butter pats

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

We will also be serving a fried turkey, creamed spinach, homemade bread, herbed cornbread stuffing, and scalloped potatoes with cheesecake and pumpkin pie for dessert.

A beautiful floral arrangement arrived this afternoon from dear friends.  It was such a lovely surprise and the colors coordinate wonderfully with our holiday table setting. 

Of course my table had to include a nod to our feathered friends.

Chicken feathers in stuck a silk flower arrangement

My rooster figurine standing center stage.
I like to incorporate items from nature into holiday tablescapes and this holiday I used pine cones to accent the place settings as well as personalized placeholders made from twigs.

Ready and waiting....quiet now but tomorrow our dining room will be filled with fine wine, good food and great friends.

There is so much to be thankful for just because we are fortunate enough to live in the United States. We never have to worry about having a roof over our head, enough to eat or warm clothing.  I also feel very thankful this year, and every year, for our liberties and freedoms.

What are YOU thankful for?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The All-Natural Chicken First Aid Kit - Fourteen Essential Items

Too often in backyard chicken keeping, injury or illness occurs that needs to be treated quickly.  Since many products used to treat poultry are not readily available locally, and many vets don't treat chickens, it is my recommendation to be prepared and keep these critical items stocked at all times. Hopefully you will never need them, but at least you'll be ready if you do.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sometimes Less is More

Once upon a time, eons ago, when we only had five hens, I knew which egg belonged to each hen.  Grace, our Buff, laid plump pale tan eggs. Charlotte, our Australorp, laid almost round pinkish eggs.  Orange Chicken, our Rhode Island Red, laid bullet-shaped tan eggs.  Lucy, our Marans laid dark speckled eggs. PeeWee, our Easter Egger, laid mint green eggs and PJ, our other EE, laid pale green eggs.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Week in Farm Photos - November 11-17

This week our ten photos celebrate the fall colors and beauty of nature. Enjoy!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Plastic Easter Egg Scratch Treat Balls

Plastic Easter eggs are a wonderful way to teach young pullets where to lay their eggs. Leave a few in the nesting boxes and they will soon catch on.  But when you're done with the eggs, don't toss them in the trash.  Here's a simple way to re-use them as treat balls for the chickens.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hobby Farms Magazine and Book Giveaway

Several weeks ago I was contacted by the editor of Hobby Farms/Bowtie Publications and asked to be their Featured Chicken Keeper in the upcoming issue of Chickens magazine. I immediately accepted! A huge fan of Hobby Farms, and especially their bimonthly Chickens publication, I was honored that I (and Fresh Eggs Daily) had somehow come up on their radar.

It's been hard keeping quiet and waiting patiently for the issue to be published, but it's finally here!  My issue arrived several days ago and I couldn't be more excited to read the article that resulted from my interview.

Keep reading to find out how to win a copy of the January/February issue of Hobby Farms Chickens magazine AND a  copy of Urban Farming published by Hobby Farms.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

S is for Salmonella ... and for Sage! Treat your Chickens Naturally

When someone says 'Salmonella' you most likely immediately think uncooked eggs or poultry, and you would be right (although it can be contracted from eating contaminated produce as well).  Salmonella IS most often contracted from un- or under-cooked poultry products, and in fact it is estimated that 1 in 20,000 eggs contain Salmonella.  So should you be concerned about salmonella in your backyard flock?  Well, let's take a look at what Salmonella is, how it is contracted and if it can be prevented.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Week in Farm Photos November 4th - 10th

The last two weeks have brought some weather challenges to much of the country. We have been lucky here in Virginia to escape with only rain followed by much cooler temperatures.  No hard frost yet, but getting close.  I hope you enjoy this glimpse of life on our farm.