2017 in a Nutshell (or Should I Say Eggshell?)

December 31, 2017

2017 has been amazing year! Mostly thanks to YOU my readers who have supported and encouraged me every step of the way and to my wonderfully generous sponsors who make it possible for me to sit at home in my jammies with a cup of coffee in one hand and do what I do! Well, not really, but I always say that a bad day on the farm beats the best day in a cubicle! So I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has made Fresh Eggs Daily not only possible, but a success! So on this, the last day of the year, I thought it would be fun to look back at the past twelve months and recap the highlights.

Take a Peek at our Week - Dec. 24th to 30th

December 30, 2017

This week between Christmas and New Year's was a quiet one that we spent at home enjoying subzero temperatures and lots of snow. I cooked and baked and the girls benefited from all the holiday leftovers.  The Littles are laying eggs for us, which is amazing in this bitter cold. Welcome to winter in Maine! Enjoy this peek at our week!

Extreme Cold Calls for Extreme Chicken Keeping

December 27, 2017

We're heading into a several days long cold snap here in Maine this week. Fortunately, our chickens have been able to slowly grow accustomed to the progressively colder winter weather over the past few weeks and all have a nice new set of feathers after a successful molt, so they can fluff them up to help stay warm. Of course our coop is ready for winter with lots of straw on the floor and good ventilation to let any moisture and ammonia fumes escape, and our and run is winterized with clear tarps wrapped around the sides to serve as a wind block and create a bit of a greenhouse effect, but frigid cold below zero degrees Fahrenheit means a little bit more TLC for our flock.

Christmas Swirl Cheesecake with Sugared Cranberries

December 26, 2017

This delicious Christmas-themed cheesecake is a variation on my Pumpkin Spice Swirl Cheesecake and sure to be a show stopper at your holiday celebration! Fresh eggs from your chickens and berry jelly plus a pretty fresh herb and sugared cranberry garnish will make this dessert a Christmas favorite for years to come.

Finnish Christmas Tradition of Feeding the Birds

December 25, 2017

Sometimes we forget that Christmas isn't celebrated only here in the United States. Being of Scandinavian descent, and having lived in Finland for a year as a child, I love preserving my family heritage. That means cooking and baking lots of traditional recipes that my Mom taught me and decorating our home with Scandinavian-themed decor around the holidays. That also means feeding the birds.

Take a Peek at our Week Dec 17th-23rd

December 23, 2017

What a fun week we've had leading up to Christmas! In between shoveling snow (yes, it looks like we'll have a white Christmas again this year, no surprise there) and a few last minute deadlines to meet, I tried to take some time off to visit with neighbors, bake cookies and enjoy some holiday TV specials (I admit, I'm hooked on those Hallmark Christmas movies!). Fortunately our two spring Littles started laying this week, so I'll have plenty of eggs for all my holiday baking. They're both Blue Ameraucanas and lay beautiful blue eggs. I can't tell them apart, so I just call them the Twins (I'm pretty sure they don't mind).  

My Favorite Holiday Eggnog Recipe

December 21, 2017

A couple of years ago, I shared an eggnog recipe on my blog. I love making homemade eggnog using eggs from our coop around the holidays. In the following years, I have tweaked and simplified and I think perfected my recipe (as well as my photography skills!). 
So, in the name of the holiday spirit, I wanted to share a new eggnog recipe with you that's become a favorite at our house - when our chickens are laying, that is! Instead of the traditional cinnamon and nutmeg, being Scandinavian, I prefer to use cardamom as the spice in this recipe. Enjoy!

5 Quick and Easy Wintertime Chicken Keeping Hacks

December 19, 2017

I love hacks. They're generally easy, inexpensive (often repurposing items you already have) and super practical. So I thought I would share with you five of my favorite wintertime hacks that I use in my own chicken keeping.

How to Fry the Perfect Egg and Care for your Cast Iron Skillet

December 5, 2017

There are only two things you need to fry the perfect egg - fresh eggs and a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. One without the other and you're going to end up with an eggy mess that's stuck to your pan. Frying an egg isn't difficult, but there are a few things you should know.

Take a Peek at my Week - Nov 26 to Dec 2

December 2, 2017

This was an exciting week! Not only did I completely sell out of Coop Confetti, boxes AND packing material (no worries, I have more of everything already on order!) plus give away all the chicken bookmarks I had due to an overwhelming response to  Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday in my Etsy shop, I finally got my advance copy of my new kids book Let's Hatch Chicks! It's even more adorable than I had imagined and I can't wait for copies to start shipping out to everyone who has pre-ordered from Amazon or ordered a signed copy from my shop.

A friend sent me a gorgeous handmade wooden rolling pin, so I'm all ready to get started on some Christmas cookies (as soon as the Littles start laying eggs for us!) and really get the holiday spirit going. Although I really want to wait until there's snow on the ground to go get our tree and drag out the Christmas decorations. We haven't had any snow yet, but there's heavy frost on the ground each morning now when we get up. 

Other than that, I had a couple of articles to write before I leave for my trip next Friday, so I got those submitted, and I worked a bit more on my next book which will be out next fall. My deadline for that is December 15th, so I'm getting down to the wire. But it's going to be an awesome book, so I can't wait to share more about that in the coming months. I'm also working on a few other BIG announcements that I should be making soon - hopefully right after I get back from New York - so stay tuned! In the meantime, take a peek at our week!

Do Chickens have a Sense of Taste?

November 28, 2017

You don't have to raise chickens long to notice that they will eat almost anything. Bring them a bowl of kitchen scraps and you'll watch as they quickly devour all your vegetable trimmings, meat scraps, soft and squishy fruit, stale cereal and rice scraped from the bottom of the pot. But watch a little closer and you'll notice that your chickens will gravitate to certain treats more than others. So that begs the question - can chickens taste their food?

Take a Peek at our Week - Nov 19th - 25th

November 25, 2017

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. The short week meant a busy few days leading up to the big day, but then a relaxing day or so afterwards. We didn't host Thanksgiving, so it was nice to be able to just bake a pumpkin cheesecake and bring it along with a bottle of wine to our friends house where we indulged in a delicious traditional Thanksgiving dinner - with Indian pudding, roasted chestnuts and all! 

I was content to spend time this week with the girls, our dogs and my husband, and am looking forward to packaging up a lot of signed copies of my books and bags of Coop Confetti that sold during my Black Friday/Small Business Saturday sales yesterday and today!  Enjoy this peek at my week!

Pumpkin Spice Swirl Cheesecake with Candied Walnuts

November 23, 2017

Far easier to make than it looks, this elegant pumpkin spice cheesecake is perfect for the holidays. I originally found the recipe in a magazine (for the life of me I can't remember which one) about fifteen years ago. After it was a big hit one Thanksgiving, I started making it a holiday tradition.  It's nice because you can make it up to two days in advance and keep it refrigerated until you're ready to serve.

Chickens are Omnivores, not Vegetarians

November 21, 2017

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

  An animal or person that eats both plants and animals as their main food.

Take a Peek at Our Week - Nov 12th to 18th

November 18, 2017

Winter is taking it's time to arrive here in Maine. Sure, it's cold, but not terribly frigid, and so far we've only gotten a dusting of snow. At least I have had time to harvest more herbs - I love hanging them right in the coop for my chickens to nibble on and also provide a bit of mouse protection. Mice supposedly don't like the scent of mint or pine, so adding a few evergreen boughs is something I also do each winter. I also did a bit of baking this week. Pound cake and cookies were on menu this week for dessert! Enjoy this peek at our week.

Homemade Herbal Frostbite Salve for Chickens

November 16, 2017

This all-natural herbal salve can be used to prevent and treat frostbite in your flock, as well as treat any minor topical cuts or scrapes on your chickens (our yourself!). It's very soft, so it's easy to gently smear on damaged skin without injuring it more.

How to Winterize your Chicken Coop

November 14, 2017

Chickens do far better in the cold than you might imagine, but there are still a few simple things you can do to winterize your chicken coop and make it more comfortable for your flock. As the temperatures drop below freezing, a few modifications to your coop will help it stay warmer through the winter months (and no, I'm not talking about adding heat!)

Take a Peek at our Week - Nov 5th to 11th

November 11, 2017

What a week! Monday started with work on designing the packaging for a line of products I'm working on developing - look for them to be in retail stores and available online in the spring! Then Tuesday and Wednesday we filmed a special predator episode that will air next fall on the CW here in Maine and also be available to watch online.  Both Bella and Winston, as well as Linus, my husband and our neighbor all got in on the action for this episode!
On Thursday, Winston and I headed to the Bangor Blue Seal store to film a dog food commercial. He did a great job! Of course he thought we were just there for belly rubs and treats, but he still managed to nail all his marks! Friday, Peg from Coop du Jour Photography came out for another photo shoot for my next book coming out next fall. Whew, 2018 is going to be a busy year for Fresh Eggs Daily! 
We also saw our first snow of the season, and I managed to squeeze in some baking and amazing breakfasts featuring ....fresh eggs, of course! This is likely the last of the eggs for awhile until the Littles start laying, so we're treasuring each one. Take a peek at our week! 

"Half Pound" Cake Loaf with Cardamom Glaze

Normally, a traditional pound cake consists of a pound each: flour, sugar, butter and eggs, but since eggs are at a premium this time of year and I only had four, I decided to make a "half pound" cake in a loaf pan. Being of Scandinavian descent, I have a tendency to add cardamom to everything I bake, so in this case, the loaf got some in the batter and then a sugary cardamom glaze on top.

Keep your Chickens' Water from Freezing This Winter with a Solar Sunroom

November 7, 2017

Keeping your chickens' water from freezing in the winter can be a challenge. But in all except the very coldest of regions, this easy hack should help keep the water from freezing. If you do live in an area where the temperatures don't rise above freezing for days on end, then using an electric dog water bowl is probably your best bet. Otherwise, this solar sun room made out of old windows should do the trick.

Take a Peek at our Week - Oct 29th - Nov 4th

November 4, 2017

Well this was some week! We lost power (and a bunch of shingles from our garage roof!) in a wind storm Sunday night when a tree came down on the power lines to our house. At the time I'm writing this, the power is still not back on, but fortunately we have a generator that we've been running for a bit each morning for coffee and showers, and then again in the evening to cook dinner, charge our phones and get a little online work done while we watch the news. We also have a wood stove, so the house is warm and I've even been able to keep mugs of coffee warm on top of it throughout the day too! 

Even without the use of my power tools, I did manage to get some more work done on another project for my next book and I added a bit more decor to the chicken coop. Halloween came and went - we're too far off the beaten path to get any trick-or-treaters - but I did dress the ducks up in tutus to mark the occasion. Enjoy this peek at our week!

How (and Why) to Install a Sliding Barn Door in your Chicken Coop

October 30, 2017

While I certainly love building stuff and tackling DIY projects, I'm far from being an expert. I sort of learn as I go along, and often make mistakes along the way. My scrap pile of mistakes sometimes grows larger, but those scraps always come in handy for a future project! In the end, most things come out just fine. The most recent example of this was my determination to install a sliding barn door in my chicken coop.

Take a Peek at our Week - Oct 22nd - 28th

October 28, 2017

It was so nice to spend the week at home with family, just relaxing from my recent trip and continuing to get our farm, garden and coop ready for winter. I also managed to finish up my coop interior renovation - I'll share more photos of that next week I hope! We're still molting, so eggs are at a premium, but the Littles should start laying soon. Although the foliage this year in Maine was a bit of a disappointment, I'm still not complaining. Fall is a beautiful time here in New England. Enjoy this peek at my week!

The Importance of Keeping a Closed Flock of Backyard Chickens

October 26, 2017

The longer I keep chickens, the more I realize that my decision early on to keep a "closed flock" has been the right one. I hear and read so many heartbreaking stories about someone who adds adult chickens to their flock and next thing they know they have sick (or dying) birds on their hands. My chickens are super healthy, and while I accredit that mainly to a strict regiment of preventive, herbal immune system boosting and good genes, i.e. only getting stock from a reputable source, I also know that not bringing adult birds into my flock is likely the biggest reason my chickens never get sick.

Fresh Eggs Daily on the Hallmark Home and Family Show!

October 24, 2017

If you missed the Hallmark Home and Family show last Monday, you can catch my segment here! I was super excited to appear on the show to talk about my new book Let's Hatch Chicks!  

4 Things Your Chickens Need This Winter...and 3 Things They Don't

October 17, 2017

While it seems natural to worry about your chickens in the winter, they're actually far more comfortable in the cold than you might imagine. Even here in Maine, our chickens do just fine when there's snow on the ground and it doesn't get above freezing for days on end. They do however, appreciate a little bit of TLC to get them through it.

Take a Peek at my Week - Oct 8th-14th

October 14, 2017

Busy week this week! We spent two days filming another episode of my TV show Fresh Eggs Daily with Lisa Steele. You can watch it on the CW in the Portland Maine viewing area( WPME/WPXT) or streaming online HERE. I always love days when the film crew is here. It's so much fun, but totally exhausting at the same time! 

Take a Peek at my Week - Oct 1st to 7th

October 7, 2017

This past week was a busy one here on the farm! We've already had a frost or two, so I've been busy harvesting any remaining herbs and getting them drying to use through the winter, as well as cleaning up the vegetable garden to get it ready so I can plant some garlic. 

Controlling Poultry Mites and Lice Naturally with Herbs

October 4, 2017

As a longtime proponent of adding herbs to my chickens' diet and environment, I always get excited to read about new studies and research coming out about natural remedies and supplements. 

Take a Peek at my Week Sept 24th-30th

September 30, 2017

This week, the temperatures soared to near 90 degrees, and dropped to almost 40 degrees just a few nights later. But summer is definitely over here in Maine. We enjoyed a week at home, gathering the last of the produce from the garden, getting kindling ready for our wood stove this winter and even had time for a day trip to Freeport for lunch and some shopping. I baked an apple pie using some of the apples we picked a few weeks ago and it was delicious! I love fall. I really really do! Enjoy this peek at our week.

Can You Train Chickens to Play the Xylophone?

September 26, 2017

I'm sure some of you have seen the YouTube videos posted by Two Creative Chicks of their chickens playing the xylophone that have gone viral. Not only is it super cute, the chickens seem to enjoy it, and with our long winters here in Maine, I'm all for anything to help beat the winter "coop fever" that can sometimes set in. So I set out to find out just how easy it is to teach chickens to play.

Take a Peek at my Week - Sept 17th - 23rd

September 23, 2017

I missed posting my weekly photo roundup last Saturday night because I was traveling and completely forgot to put it together before I left! So this week actually encompasses two weeks of photos - minus Friday-Tuesday of last weekend since I was in Texas and shared those photos in a separate post last Tuesday. Anyway....

Take a Peek Inside Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Market at the Silos

September 19, 2017

It's been awhile since I've written, but I hope you'll forgive me when you read this post! Although there isn't a single chicken to be found anywhere, I think it's got a nice, farmhouse vibe going on nonetheless. And after all, there's more to life than chickens..not much, but a little, teeny bit more, right?

Take a Peek at our Week - Sept 3rd to 9th

September 9, 2017

This week we got a lot of rain (nothing compared to what the Southern part of the country already got and will be getting due to the hurricanes battering that area, but enough to keep us inside), which meant some home cooking in the shape of homemade marinara sauce and a delicious pizza. I also did some work on my next book since the deadline is edging ever closer, and got a few articles written that were due to the magazine editors I work with. 

Easy Homegrown Homemade Tomato Sauce

September 5, 2017

Let me preface this by saying that I'm not really a fan of tomato sauce. I'm much more apt to just drizzle a bowl of pasta with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. But when tomato season arrives, and we have lush, green basil growing, along with fragrant thyme, plus onions and garlic recently harvested from our own garden, I can't help but cook up a batch of this easy tomato sauce.

Take a Peek at Our Week - Aug 27th to Sept 2nd

September 2, 2017

As the temperatures dip ever closer to the freezing mark, it's clear that summer is nearing an end, at least up here in Maine. While we might complain about the cold and snow at times, I'm thankful that wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes aren't things that we are faced with - and our hearts go out to all those affected in any way by Hurricane Harvey.

Ducks Molt Too!

August 29, 2017

When you raise chickens, you become accustomed to a flock of molting chickens each fall. The shorter days signal to their bodies to drop their old, broken feathers and grow in a nice new set before winter arrives to help them stay warm. It's easy to spot a molting chicken. She will have bare spots starting at her head and neck and moving down her body, with sharp quills poking through. With ducks, its not as obvious, with your only sign often being a run full of feathers. But ducks molt too!

Take a Peek at our Week - Aug 20th - 26th

August 26, 2017

We've just started picking ripe tomatoes from the garden, but already I can tell that fall is in the air. The nights are cooling down to near 40 degrees, so I potted some of my smaller basil plants and brought them inside and clipped others and have them in water on the kitchen windowsill. My basil always is the first to succumb to the cold, and I'm not quite ready to give up my caprese salads for lunch yet!

How Will the Eclipse Impact my Chickens and Ducks?

August 20, 2017

Never has a single event prompted so many questions from readers as the impending solar eclipse which will occur on Monday, August 21st, 2017. Mainly, chicken keepers have been worried about how the eclipse will affect their flock, concerned about their chickens possibly going blind from staring up at the sun, and to a lesser extent, curious about whether their chickens will not lay on that day or go to roost during the eclipse.

Take a Peek at our Week - Aug 13th - 19th

August 19, 2017

As some of you know, I spent last weekend in California doing a Fall Chick Days tour at Tractor Supply stores in Gilroy and Turlock which was sponsored by my friends at Manna Pro. It was a great trip - my first time in California! - but I was happy to come home. The garden is still producing tons of veggies (our tomatoes have finally started to ripen and no one loves sun-ripened tomato sandwich more than I do!), but egg production has ground to a virtual halt due to the shorter days and a few girls who already have started molting. 

Herbs for Hens: Basil

August 15, 2017

Basil is one of my favorite herbs to grow. Not only is it easy to start from seed, seedling or plant cutting, it smells so good when you brush past the plant! I love making homemade pesto and layering fresh basil leaves with slices of tomato picked from the garden and fresh mozzarella. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil ....I could eat that for lunch every day all summer long! 

Take a Peek at our Week - August 6th to 12th

August 12, 2017

The summer is flying by! I can't believe that we already are seeing molting chickens and the leaves changing color! We've got all kinds of pumpkins and squash in the garden and even a little watermelon. We've harvested lots of potatoes and the girls are enjoying a daily ration of lettuce, spinach, kale and other leafy greens from the garden. 

Using a Broody Hen as a Surrogate Mother for Chicks

August 8, 2017

So, maybe you're thinking about adding some chicks to your flock this spring. Well, there are a few ways you can do it. You can buy day-old chicks at the feed store or online from a hatchery or breeder. 

You can hatch some fertile eggs under a broody hen. You can hatch eggs in an incubator. Or you can combine all these methods for the best baby chick hack EVER!

How Do Chickens Eat with No Teeth?

You might have heard the saying "rarer than hen's teeth", which means extremely scarce or difficult to find. This is because, like other wild birds, chickens have no teeth. Oh sure, a baby chick grows an egg tooth which helps it break out of the shell when it hatches, but that sole tooth falls off a few days after hatching. So for all intents and purposes, chickens don't have teeth - instead they have beaks. So how do they chew their food?

Take a Peek at our Week - July 30th to August 5th

August 5, 2017

This week it was good to be home and have a chance to relax a bit. I spent the week catching up on some garden weeding (we're harvesting potatoes, beets, chard, carrots, mini pumpkins and zucchini now), watching the Littles (I can't believe they will be five weeks old on Monday!) and working on my next book which is coming out next fall. I also headed to Bangor for the day on Tuesday to help repaint the raised beds at the Housing Authority community gardens as part of my volunteer work for the Maine Master Gardener program. Take a peek at my week! 

Easy Fall Protein-Rich Apple Treat for Molting Chickens

August 1, 2017

The shorter days heading into fall bring on the molting season for backyard chickens. During this time, which can last weeks or even months, they drop their old feathers and regrow brand new feathers to help them stay warm through the winter.

The Time I Met Dr. Pol at the Las Vegas Superzoo Trade Show

July 29, 2017

One of the perks of my job is meeting all kinds of interesting people - and sometimes some famous people too! That was the case this week when I headed to Las Vegas to attend SuperZoo 2017, which is the country's largest trade show for pet retailers. I was attending the show at the invitation of Byron Parker - you may not recognize his name, but he invented Happy Hen Treats back in the day (yup, seriously!) - and the folks at Red River Commodities. They have a great new line of chicken scratch grains and mixed grain/seed/nut/insect treats coming out and I was honored to be asked to help man their booth and be their on-site 'chicken expert' for the various industry buyers who would be stopping by.

Sweet Potato Sausage Frittata with Farm Fresh Eggs

July 25, 2017

I love making frittatas for dinner in the summer because, unlike a quiche, a frittata doesn't have a crust, so it's super fast and easy to toss some garden veggies and leftover meat in with a dozen eggs and some cheese and throw it in the oven. Oh, and did I mention that this recipe requires a DOZEN eggs? It's the perfect way to use up eggs when your girls are in high gear in the egg production department.

Take a Peek at our Week - July 16th - 22nd

July 22, 2017

This week was a good week, albeit a hot one, at least by Maine standards. The temperatures got close to 90 degrees with higher humidity than we're used to up here. But the three- day heat wave, which featured lots of chilled watermelon, frozen treats and pool time for the ducks, is over and the temperatures are back to their normal 70s-80s by day and 50s-60s by night. The Littles are growing so fast. They'll be three weeks old on Monday, and we're enjoying loads of vegetables from the garden. Enjoy this peek at our week!

Tidbitting - What It Is and Why Chickens Do It

July 18, 2017

Have you ever noticed a mother hen cluck in a series of high-pitched notes while she's scratching in the dirt and then drop something onto the ground? She's doing what is known as "tidbitting".

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