Top Ten Blog Posts of 2013

December 30, 2013

As we near the end of 2013, and realize that our second year of blogging is drawing to a close, I thought it would be fun to go back and look at the top ten blog posts from the year, as ranked by reader page views. If you have recently joined us, you might have missed a few, so let's take a look at what interested blog readers most throughout the year. And here they are:

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

December 28, 2013

This week Christmas came and went, and all the hustle and bustle of baking and visiting with family and friends has finally settled down. We unveiled a brand new blog design this week that we hope is cleaner and crisper and easier for you to navigate, and comes complete with new coordinating profile photos and banners for both of our Facebook pages Fresh Eggs Daily and Ducks Too as well.

Happy Winter and please enjoy these photos from our farm!

Fatty Liver Hemmorhagic Syndrome and Why I Don't Worry About Obese Chickens

December 27, 2013

I've been reading a lot lately about Fatty Liver Hemmorhagic Syndrome (basically obesity) in backyard chickens (I won't bore you with the details you can just check google for all the technical mumbo-jumbo) and warnings about not feeding chickens treats, but I am here to tell you that I DO feed my chickens treats and I DON'T worry about them getting obese or succumbing to Fatty Liver Syndrome. And here's why:

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2013

We're unplugging and spending the day today with family, friends and of course our beloved animals, so we'll see you all back here tomorrow. We hope you all have a very  Merry Christmas!

A Week in Farm Photos Dec 15 - 21

December 21, 2013

It sure has been some year! I hatched chicks and ducklings both in the incubator and under a broody hen, wrote for a few magazines, wrote a BOOK, we adopted a corgi and we've got our house on the market, hoping to move back north to snow country. But I've got a secret for you all ... 2014 is going to be even BETTER! So I hope you'll all stick around for the excitement!  Enjoy these photos of our flock! All happy and healthy and what makes life worth living.

Swinging Chickens: Make an Easy DIY Log Swing for your Run

December 18, 2013

I suppose because I am easily bored, I always worry that our chickens are also bored, so I spend an inordinate amount of my day either just hanging out with them, picking weeds or raking piles of leaves or pine needles for them, or coming up with new and different ways to keep them stimulated.

DIY Yule Log Candle Holder

December 15, 2013

I love rustic Christmas decorations, and part of our decorating always involves gathering evergreen boughs, pine cones and berries from our yard and the surrounding woods to use in our home for the holidays. This year, I got a bit more ambitious and decided to make a true Yule log out of a branch. Free and easy, using just a few basic tools, this couldn't have been quicker to make.

A Week in Farm Photos - Rustic Farm Christmas Decor

December 14, 2013

Living in the country like we do means spending as much time outside as we possibly can enjoying nature and our animals, so when the temperatures drop and being outdoors is curtailed, we merely bring the outdoors inside when we decorate for the holidays. This week was spent decorating using lots of fresh evergreen, berries, pinecones and candles. I even made a Yule log out of a branch I cut from the woods. Enjoy this year's Christmas decor!

Ameraucana vs. Araucana vs. Easter Egger - The Blue Egg Layers

December 10, 2013

Ever since Martha Stewart appeared on television several years ago holding a basket of blue eggs laid by her chickens, the demand for the blue egg laying breeds has skyrocketed. There are predominantly three breeds that come to mind when you're talking blue eggs - the Ameraucana, Araucana and Easter Egger (although Cream Legbars do lay blue eggs as well and are just becoming available in the US) - but only two of the three always lay blue eggs, so you'll want to keep reading and be sure of what you're ordering this spring if you are determined to have blue eggs in your basket come fall!

GIVEAWAY: Win a $100 BOGS® Footwear Gift Card

December 8, 2013

We are super excited to be partnering again with BOGS®  Footwear to give one lucky person the chance to win a $100 BOGS®  gift card! Keep reading to find out how to win...

A Week in Farm Photos December 1st - 7th

December 7, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here! Despite warm temperatures making it hard to really get into the Christmas spirit, I've started decorating. I love rustic and outdoorsy decorations so much and they're inexpensive, quick and easy to put together.  

The week started out with unveiling the new holiday banners and profile pics on Facebook and the blog, continued with some coop decorating, and culminated with us going to get our tree this afternoon.  You'll have to wait until next week to see it all decorated though!

It's hard to believe that a year ago I was wishing for a Corgi under the tree, and this year, we HAVE a corgi under the tree! So I guess this year I'll wish for world peace... Enjoy this peek at our week.

GIVEAWAY: Cinders A Chicken Cinderella by Jan Brett

December 6, 2013

Jan Brett has long been a favorite of mine - first as a bestselling author of beautifully illustrated children's books when I owned my bookstore - and more recently as a fellow chicken keeper, raising show-quality Polish, Silkies and Cochins among others, once I started raising my own backyard flock.

So when I caught wind of her new book Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella, I knew I had to reach out to her and ask if she would be interested in donating a copy for a giveaway.  Jan couldn't have been nicer and agreed to send me a copy of her book to give away to one lucky reader.

Cold Weather Tips for Winter Duck Care

December 4, 2013

Ducks are extremely cold-hardy and actually need very little in order to make it through the cold weather just fine. But there are several things you can do to help your ducks happier and healthier this winter.

Swedish Egg Coffee

December 3, 2013

Everything is better with fresh eggs, we all know that. But what about coffee? Yup, even coffee. If you have never tried Swedish Egg Coffee (also called Norwegian Egg Coffee or Lutheran Church Egg Coffee), you don't know what you're missing!

Repurposed Feed Bag Christmas Stocking Tutorial

December 1, 2013

Start saving your empty feed bags! It's so easy to sew up these cute stockings to give as holiday gifts to your chicken-loving friends - maybe filled with chicken treats or other chicken-themed items.  And if you decorate your coop for the holidays, a row of these stockings would look adorable.

Sturdy, durable and weather-resistant, the stockings are appropriate for indoor or outdoor use.

A Week in Farm Photos November 24th - 30th

November 30, 2013

This week saw a substantial drop in temperatures as well as the Thanksgiving holiday. I used the earlier part of the week to shoot some winter photos for a new project I'm working on (it was finally cold enough to put on a winter coat and gloves!) and then the later part of the week was spent enjoying good food and company with dear friends and family. I love sharing a slice of our life with you all each Saturday night. Hope your week was filled with friends, family and well-loved pets as well.

Happy Thanksgiving from Fresh Eggs Daily

November 28, 2013

As we sit down to eat tomorrow with family and friends, we each should be reminded of all the blessings in our lives: a loving family, close friends, healthy animals, the ability to grow or raise some of our own food and a warm, safe place to live.

A Week in Farm Photos November 13th - 23rd

November 23, 2013

Wow, is it just me or did November fly by? We hope you all have wonderful plans to spend time with family, friends and loved ones over the holiday next week. Please enjoy a glimpse of life on our farm as we get ready for Thanksgiving and the colder weather.

Coccidia | Coccidiosis - Natural Prevention and Treatment for Chicks and Chickens

November 21, 2013

Coccidiosis ... that single word strikes fear in every chicken keepers heart - as well it should since coccidiosis is the #1 killer of baby chicks. But while a healthy dose of caution is necessary, never fear because I want to share with you how to prevent and treat coccidiosis naturally without using medicated chick feed or vaccinations.

Homemade Elderberry Honey Cold Syrup

November 20, 2013

Just like there's no crying in baseball, there are no sick days when you live on a farm. Animals still need to be fed and cared for no matter how cruddy you feel. Fortunately we manage to stay pretty healthy by living the same way as we raise our animals - with a varied diet filled with plenty of healthy food, lots of water, fresh air, exercise and natural preventives and immune system boosters. 

Understanding Chicken Behavior: The Submissive Squat or "Lordosis"

November 18, 2013

Recently you might have noticed that your pullets, who used to scatter and run when you approached them, now stop, drop and squat at your feet. But before you pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself that all these weeks of bringing them treats has finally paid off and now they are cool with you petting them, keep reading to find out what that 'squat' really means.

A Week in Farm Photos November 10th - 16th

November 16, 2013

Just when we think that winter has settled in on us, with the temperatures dipping into the high 20's at night, we have a beautiful sunny day in the 70s. Such is the weather here in Virginia. I'm not quite sure how the animals adapt, but they are all doing beautifully. Enjoy this photos of life on the farm from this past week.

Meet the Newest Student at the Herbal Academy of New England

November 15, 2013

herbal academy mission
-photo courtesy the Herbal Academy of New England-
I freely admit I am mostly self-taught in many areas of homesteading and chicken keeping.  Over the years, I have read as much as I can from reputable sources including books and magazines, forums and websites moderated by experts in their field, etc. but have not embarked on any formal training or course of study ... until now.

Cold Weather Chicken Care Guide

November 14, 2013

As a general rule, chickens handle cold far better than heat, but in the winter they still will appreciate being provided a draft-free, dry coop, a sunny area in the yard out of the wind, fresh water and some treats that provide extra energy and warming properties. Boredom is also a worry in the winter, so keeping them busy can help alleviate pecking and other issues. I've put together my best advice to help your chickens through the winter.

A Week in Farm Photos November 3rd - 9th

November 9, 2013

It's autumn with a hint of winter here in Virginia. Frost on the ground in the mornings has forced me to pull out my lined barn jacket and gloves for morning chores.  By afternoon it's crisp and sunny. The leaves are turning, creating a kaleidoscope of fall colors .... and there's a chance of snow next week. Fall into farm life with us! 

Flock Block Knock Off - Homemade Chicken Boredom Buster Winter Treat

November 5, 2013

Usually on the cutting edge of backyard chicken keeping (ha!), I feel like we're a bit late to the party this time.  It seems there's a growing trend of making your own Flock Blocks and all the other chicken bloggers are all over that. You know, the Flock Block, the ubiquitous boredom-busting solid block of seeds and grains to help keep your chickens busy? (Just search Pinterest for Flock Block Substitute to see what I mean.) 

So anyway, I decided to try my hand at making my own.  After reading through a whole bunch of recipes on Google and Pinterest and taking stock of what I had on hand, this is my version of the Flock Block Knock Off (try saying that three times fast!)

A Week in Farm Photos October 27th - November 2nd

November 2, 2013

And another week draws to a close. Fall is a beautiful season both visually and temperature-wise here in Virginia, so we're enjoying it immensely. The week flew by, a flurry of book interviews, writing assignments, organizing my first book signing and of course the regular 'farm stuff' ... because apparently writing a book doesn't exempt one from doing their chores!

Five Easy Ways to Keep your Chickens' Water from Freezing this Winter

October 28, 2013

One of the most-often asked questions we get from readers is how to keep their chickens' water from freezing in the winter. Chickens need access to unfrozen water every day in order to stay healthy, laying well and alive, so it's very important to keep their water from freezing.

A Week in Farm Photos October 20th - 26th

October 26, 2013

We're expecting our first frost any time now, with the temperatures dipping down into the low 30s the last few nights. The coop has been winterized, the chickens are just about done molting and have grown beautiful new feathers, our horses are growing nice thick furry coats, and funny how our cat now appears at the door a bit earlier for his dinner and then once his belly is full, he gets comfortable on his favorite chair in the living room.  I've planted a few cold crops including kale, Swiss chard, lettuce and this random sweet potato that I hope will produce before winter sets in...enjoy a peek at the past week.

Do You See What I See? 12 Fascinating Facts about Chicken Eyesight

October 23, 2013

Have you ever wondered just how well your chickens can see?  Or if they see in color or black & white? Or have you marveled at how they can spy a tiny bug or seed in the grass? Well wonder no more! I've assembled some fascinating facts about chicken eyesight for your reading enjoyment.

A Week in Farm Photos

October 19, 2013

This week started with rain - lots of rain - which led, of course, to lots of mud and happy ducks! We welcomed my father-in-law and his Sheltie into our home for a few days midweek and then ended the week with a trip to our local Barnes & Noble where we found copies of my new book displayed prominently on the shelf! (Yes, I was pretty giddy about that!)  All in all, I have to say .... life is good.  Raising chickens (and ducks) has brought me so much enjoyment, allowed me to meet so many nice people, and sent amazing opportunities my way.  Here are a few photos from around the farm. Enjoy!

Winter Challenges on the Farm - Guest Post for Ram Trucks

October 14, 2013

Earlier this year, I was asked by Ram Trucks to write several articles for their Ram Zone blog to celebrate the year of the farmer in conjunction with the release of their amazing Year of the Farmer video that aired during the Superbowl game.

The third article in the series has just gone live .... I hope you enjoy it!

A Week in Farm Photos...The Countdown to my Book Release Date

October 12, 2013

I can't believe that my book will hit the shelves on Tuesday! It's been more than a year since I got that fateful email from Paul, the publisher at St. Lynn's Press, (while standing in line at the supermarket no less!) to say that they wanted to publish Fresh Eggs Daily for me. This past 13 months has been a whirlwind of writing, editing, and proofreading with Cathy, my amazing editor, who made my words come alive (and made sure all my commas were in the right place!) and Holly, the art director, who laid out and formatted the entire book so beautifully using all my original photos.

Handling a Contagious Illness in your Backyard Chicken Flock

October 9, 2013

Of course all of us backyard chicken keepers want to concentrate on hanging pretty curtains in our coops, making fun treats for our chickens and taking pictures of our cute chicks surrounded by flowers. On our Fresh Eggs Daily Facebook page and here on the blog, we try and keep things fun and upbeat, but the reality is that the cutesy side of chicken keeping has to take a backseat to good biosecurity practices, proper sanitation and flock management.

DIY Anti-Pick Antibacterial Blu-Kote Knockoff Spray For Backyard Chickens

October 7, 2013

I would venture a guess that most backyard chicken keepers have heard of Blu-Kote. If you have not actually used it, you probably at least have some in your chicken first aid kit. It's widely recommended as an anti-pick spray with antiseptic and anti-fungal properties for use on wounds and raw skin due to pecking. In fact, we have long recommended it based on its widespread use among the backyard chicken community. We just assumed it was safe to use on poultry. But is it? After fielding a question from a fan recently which prompted a bit of research, we're starting to wonder...

A Week in Farm Photos - September 29th to October 5th

October 5, 2013

This sentiment from George Washington could not have said it any better.  We had a death in the family this past week and we realized that sometimes memorializing a family member and celebrating their life makes you stop and take a closer look at your own. Enjoy this glimpse of our life on the farm....

5 Essential Tools for Backyard Chicken Keepers

October 3, 2013

When you first decide to raise chickens and you start doing your research, you will quickly learn that you will need feeders, waterers, grit dispensers, nesting boxes, and a coop/run for them. But here are five essential everyday tools that I bet no one told you about.

A Week in Farm Photos September 22nd - 28th

September 28, 2013

I think it's nearly impossible to be unhappy when you raise animals and spend lots of time outside enjoying them. Our menagerie of dogs, a cat, chickens, ducks and horses make me smile, if not laugh out loud, every single day ... many times a day. Animals offer comfort, companionship, enjoyment, tranquility and amusement in so many unexplainable ways that even other people many times have a hard time doing. Animals add to a sense of peace in life. Enjoy some photos of our merry band of stress relievers, plus some of their bounty, from this past week...

Vent Gleet in Backyard Chickens

September 26, 2013

I'll spare you the gory photos of a chicken afflicted with vent gleet, but suffice it to say, these girls don't have it - and if they did, it would not be at all pretty to look at. You can google images of 'chicken with vent gleet' if you really want to see what it looks like, but to find out how to easily prevent and treat vent gleet naturally, just read on....

5 Common Mistakes First-Time Chicken Keepers Make

September 24, 2013

The journey from picking up your day-old chicks at the feed store or post office until you collect your first egg can be filled with joy and wonderment ... or fraught with anguish.

Over the years, I've noticed that there seems to be a pattern to the common mistakes that first-time chicken keepers make. I wanted to share them with you to help you avoid some oft-repeated missteps - and help you prevent heartache of your own.

A Week in Farm Photos - September 15th to September 21st

September 21, 2013

Caring for another living thing that is completely and entirely dependent on you for their food, water, care and safety is a tremendous responsibility.  When you do it right and your animals are happy and healthy, and you know you have done the very best you can for them, you sleep well at night and feel such a sense of satisfaction. Putting their animals first is the most selfless act anyone can perform. I am rewarded each and every day for my work and attentiveness to the needs of our chickens, ducks, horses, dogs and cat with loving pets who are such a joy to spend my days with....not to mention fresh eggs!  I wish you all the same blessings.

What Causes a Double-Yolk Chicken Egg?

September 20, 2013

Annie, one of our Australorps, has always been a big girl who lays big eggs. So when she laid a whopping 4.2 ounce egg one day last week, I wasn't all that surprised.  It turned out to be a double-yolker. Then yesterday she laid another giant 4.1 ounce egg, that dwarfed even our duck eggs. It was also a double-yolker. So I decided it was time to share what I know about double-yolk eggs.

Easy Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

September 17, 2013

Ducks eggs are superior for baking due to their higher fat content and lower water content than chicken eggs, but either duck or chicken eggs will work just fine in this easy, decadent Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding.

Isle of Wight County Fair

September 16, 2013

Yesterday morning dawned clear and cool, sunny without a cloud in the sky. A perfect day to go to a fair. Each fall we look forward to spending an afternoon wandering around the Isle of Wight County Fair, and this year was no different.

A Week in Farm Photos - September 8th - 14th

September 14, 2013

As the final days of summer wind down, I can't say I'm sorry to see the end of the heat and humidity. We are all (including the animals) much more comfortable in cooler temperatures. As displaced New Englanders, my husband and I look forward each year to the crisp, fall feeling in the air and the promise of snow one day not too far off (yes, Virginia does get snow!).  Enjoy this peek at our week on the farm where things are still blooming like crazy, but we've already got some cold crops started...

Homemade Butter and Buttermilk Biscuits

September 10, 2013

I have wanted to try making my own butter for such a long time, but just never got around to it. Then a recipe I saw in the latest issue of Grit magazine inspired me to finally give it a try ... and it couldn't be easier - using your stand mixer!

Marigolds for Orange Egg Yolks and Healthy Chickens

September 8, 2013

Marigolds, as well as other plants that contain the pigment xanthophyll, are routinely added to commercial layer feed to artificially boost the color of egg yolks of the chickens eating the feed. I also add dried, crushed marigold petals to our chickens' feed, not only because I love the vibrant orange yolks, but because marigolds provide numerous health benefits for our flock.

A Week in Farm Photos September 1st - 7th

September 7, 2013

As summer winds down and I put the finishing touches on my book, I took a moment this past week to reflect on the year so far and realize that we really are blessed to have such an amazing stable of animals who all get along so wonderfully and are so happy and healthy - to include horses, a cat, dogs, the chickens and ducks. In addition, to be able to turn my passion into a career of sorts surpasses my wildest dreams. It's been some ride and it will all prove to get even more exciting as 2013 comes to a close in a few months and I look forward to 2014. So glad you're all along for the ride!

GIVEAWAY: Chickens Magazine

Hard to believe but the cold weather is just around the corner. Whether this is your first winter raising chickens or you're an old pro, both my post here on the blog on How to Winterize your Flock and my article in the next issue of Chickens Magazine might prove to be interesting and helpful to you in prepping for dipping temperatures.
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