I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving with family and friends. We enjoyed good food and conversation with friends and then brought home two huge 'doggie bags' for the chickens and ducks to enjoy. Here's a glimpse at our week. Enjoy!
Boredom is always a concern with chickens being cooped up during long, cold, dreary winters. Boredom can lead to pecking and bullying, so I work hard to keep my chickens busy. I'm always looking for new ways to amuse them, so imagine my delight when Hentastic® Treats contacted me and asked if I would like to try out some of their products.
The cold weather has really set in here in Virginia. We've got our coop and duck houses piled high with fresh straw and vented with plenty of air flow up high, we've been carrying warm water down to the barn each morning for all the animals, and everyone is taking it in stride, although laying has pretty much slowed except for the ducks. So we're enjoying duck eggs and letting everyone else take a winter break. Enjoy this peek at our week!
So of course on my way to the feed store yesterday morning, I had to stop and try one of Starbucks' new holiday Chestnut Praline Lattes. It was delicious. But between the $5 price tag, the 8 mile drive to the nearest Starbucks, and the reality that the Starbucks latte probably contains some ingredients I really don't want to know about, I decided to try making my own.
While I do enjoy the luxury of spending an afternoon making bread by hand, I have to say my bread machine is a lifesaver for when I can't devote several hours to breadmaking. This honey spice egg bread is light and airy, with just a hint of sweetness and spice. It's based on a basic egg bread to which I have added some of my favorite spices. It has become my go-to bread recipe.
I recently asked the Fresh Eggs Daily® community about questions they had about diatomaceous earth. Some are concerned it can be bad for chickens if they inhale it, others just don't understand what it is and what it can do. So here's the scoop.
This week was an exciting one. I was featured in our local newspaper (front page of the second section no less!) in an article about my book and raising chickens, and I was on the Dave Parker Show on WNIS 790AM Thursday morning again talking about chickens (go figure right?!). I also spoke with the producer of a national reality show about the possibility of being involved in a show next year - not sure about that one, it would have to be exactly the right look and feel for us to sign on the dotted line. And last but not least, my book has been chosen as one of Amazon's editors' choices for Best Books of 2014!
In between my moments of 'fame', I scrubbed water tubs, mucked horse stalls, cleaned coops, harvested the remaining herbs from the garden and got everyone ready for the below freezing temperatures that have arrived here in Virginia. Enjoy this peek at our week. And stay warm where ever you are!
Being very low on the food chain, and adhering to a very strict pecking order within a flock, chickens have been programmed to hide their symptoms extremely well, and by the time you even notice something is wrong, it's often too late. But by spending time with your flock, and being able to recognize what 'normal' behavior is, you can spot even subtle changes that might indicate someone isn't feeling their best.
Chickweed is one of the most prolific, and nutritious, weeds that you most likely have growing somewhere on your property. It loves moist, shady areas and grows nearly year round in much of the country. Here in Virginia it does best in spring and fall and our chickens gobble up every bit they can find. Chickweed is a great addition to your chickens' diet - and they love it!
Typical week here in Virginia weatherwise. Shorts and tee shirt weather one day and a frost the next night. The garden is booming and I'm picking tons of salad greens every day for us and for the chickens and ducks. I go back and forth from closing up the chicken coop windows at night to opening them wide on warm days. The animals all seem to take the wide temperature swings in stride, although our horses and ducks have grown in very thick fluffy coats this fall....hmmm, I'm thinking they know something we don't and we're in for a longer colder winter than usual.
In the years since, I have learned lots more about the healing power of herbs, so when I discovered one of the ducks we recently adopted with the telltale black scab, I decided to make up an all natural treatment plan using some herbs thought to have the power to 'cure' a staph infection - which is basically what bumblefoot is.
If you have chickens, then there are predators keeping a close eye on your coop. No matter where you live - be it an urban, suburban or rural setting - there is something lurking that wants to eat your chickens, and whatever it is, it's just waiting for the chance. Coop and run security should be first and foremost on every chicken keeper's mind.
Fall has arrived to Virginia. We and our animals are loving the cooler temperatures, and although most of our older hens have quit laying due to the shorter days and molting, the new spring chicks are laying up a storm. We've been collecting some gorgeous Marans eggs all week.
The highlight of the week definitely was the blueberry pie that my visiting father-in-law baked for us using blueberries he picked from his farm up in Maine. We sent him off with a dozen fresh eggs as a thank you!
The cold crop garden is flourishing and we've harvested some romaine and spinach already and are looking forward to more greens for us and the ducks in the coming weeks. Enjoy a peek at our week.