5 Tips to Keep your Chickens Mite-Free Naturally

March 20, 2018

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard, "If you use straw in your coop, your chickens will get mites" or "If you raise chickens long enough, you'll eventually have a mite problem." I can tell you, I would have a LOT of dollars! I am constantly amazed at how many people email me or contact me through social media asking for help getting rid of poultry mites in their coop and on their chickens. In fact, this article on how to treat chickens for a mite infestation is one of my most popular month after month.

Take a Peek at my Week Mar 11-17

March 17, 2018

The calendar may say spring is just around the corner, but apparently New England didn't get the memo because we saw snow nearly every day this week, amounting to more than 18" on top of the foot or so we already had on the ground. Winston was in grave danger of being completely buried, but he still seems to really enjoy the snow! The girls aren't fans at all but are still popping out eggs - which is nice, and we've even got two girls who are thinking about going broody, so I've spiffed up the nesting boxes for them with new nesting pads and Coop Confetti nesting herbs. But we're all kind of ready for some green grass, fresh herbs and flowers. We love snow, but enough is enough...enjoy this peek at our week.

Choosing Chicken Breeds

March 13, 2018

Choosing which breeds of chickens you want to raise can be overwhelming, since there are more than one hundred different breed to choose from. Do you want good layers? Friendly hens? Different colored eggs? Let me help guide you through the process in this article I wrote recently for my friends at Lehman's. They offer a great selection of chicken supplies and a chicken delivery service that makes it easy to purchase baby chicks online. To read the original post on this topic, check out my article on Lehmans.com.

With more than a hundred breeds of chickens to choose from here in the United States online from hatcheries, breeders or your local feed store, it can get pretty overwhelming trying to choose a breed to raise. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose just one breed. And in fact, a mixed flock will give you a more colorful egg basket and more interesting group of chickens.

Which breeds you choose will depend largely on what’s important to you and your family. Do you want great layers for maximum egg production? Or is having a friendly flock of backyard “pets” more important to you? Are you excited about the thought of a colorful basket full of eggs? Or maybe you want some fancy chickens with cheek muffs, feathered feet or fancy top knots. These are all questions you should ask yourself before decide which breeds your flock will consist of. 


While there is no “right” or “wrong” breed, and all the breeds generally will get along with each other, one of the more important considerations is the climate where you reside. Although most chickens are generally okay in cold climates, there are many breeds that struggle in hot climates. So if you live in an area where it’s warm and humid for much of the year, then choosing heat-tolerant breeds will be important. 

The Mediterranean breeds are good choices if you need heat-tolerant chickens. Breeds such as Leghorns, Penedesencas and Andalusians examples of some of the Mediterranean breeds. They tend to have small, sleek bodies and large combs which help them stay cool.

Conversely, if you live in a cold climate, then a larger bodied chicken with a smaller comb will do better. Both Golden Buffs or Barred Rocks are great choices.


If egg production is going to be one of your deciding factors in choosing breeds, then you can’t go wrong with a Barred Rock or Rhode Island Red. Both breeds are known for their egg laying prowess. While no chicken lays an egg every day, a good layer will grace your family with 5-6 eggs a week during the spring and summer months.


If you have small children, or have visions of a flock of “lap” chickens who love to snuggle and eat out of your hand, then Australorps or Buff Orpingtons are a great choice. Both breeds are known for being extremely docile and friendly, as are Cochins and Brahmas.

Egg Color

There’s nothing more exciting than a multi-colored egg basket! While most breeds lay brown eggs, the Mediterranean breeds tend to lay white eggs. Marans lay extremely dark brown, almost chocolate brown eggs. There are several breeds that lay blue eggs, including Ameraucana, Araucana and Cream Legbar. Olive Eggers are a relatively new mixed breed that lays olive green eggs. And Easter Eggers are the most fun of all. They can lay any color egg from blue-ish to green to pink or tan - and you don’t know what color you’ll get until your hens start laying! 

Fancy Breeds

So-called fancy breeds, include those with feathered feet like Cochins, Marans or Faverolles, those with cheek muffs and “beards” such as Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers, and those with crazy hair-dos like the Polish breed. Not known for being the best layers, their job in the flock is to entertain and delight with their unique appearance.

No matter which breed of chicken you choose to raise in your backyard, you are guaranteed baskets full of delicious, fresh eggs and hours of relaxation and entertainment watching your little flock roam the yard scratching for weeds, chasing bugs and softly clucking to each other.

Disclaimer: I was compensated for this article by Lehman's® , but all opinions are my own.

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Salt Cured Egg Yolks

When you raise chickens, it seems to always be "feast or famine" when it comes to eggs. When your hens are laying, you'll spend hours surfing Pinterest looking for new ways to use up all those extra eggs. Maybe you'll  try freezing them or experiment with other methods of preserving them. You might even try making your own mayonnaise. I've done all those things when eggs are plentiful, but one thing I had never tried was salt curing eggs. Until now.

"Pannukakku" Finnish Cast Iron Skillet Oven Pancake

March 8, 2018

Each culture seems to have its on unique take on various foods. Whether it be burritos, crepes or eggrolls, the basic idea is the same, but different countries have put their own twist on the concept of food enclosed in a wrapper.  Same with the dumpling and ravioli. In the case of Pannukakku or Finnish Oven Pancake, it's Finland's answer to a Dutch Baby or German pancake. Sort of a cross between a popover and a souffle, the Pannukakku is a custardy version of the dish that is baked in the oven, and it's the perfect way to use some of your delicious fresh eggs.

Using Chicken Manure in the Garden

March 6, 2018

As an avid gardener as well as a chicken keeper, I love having all that nice nitrogen-rich chicken manure for my vegetable garden each spring.  Chicken manure is one of the best garden fertilizers you can use on your garden. In addition to being high in nitrogen, it's higher in calcium than other types of livestock manure. And of course, unlike commercial products like Miracle Gro, it's all natural and safe for your family, plants and the environment.

Take a Peek at my Week Feb 25 - Mar 3

March 3, 2018

This week we finally started to see a light at the end of the tunnel - spring is just around the corner! Just when we had resigned ourselves to eating bagels for breakfast forever, egg production all of a sudden ramped up, with a few of our older girls even joining the young ones in the nesting boxes, and a few even acting like they might be considering going broody. We had rain instead of snow (although there are still snow banks here and there) and green grass is even starting to poke up through the ground. Enjoy this peek at our week.

What Do You Do when Your Chickens Stop Laying Eggs?

February 27, 2018

We just lost our eldest chicken, Charlotte over the weekend. She was nine years old. Even though I knew the end was coming - she had slowed down quite a bit in the last few months and her zest for life just wasn't there like it had been - it was still hard to lose her.

Take a Peek at our Week - Feb 18-24

February 24, 2018

This week was punctuated with a bit of snow, some nice warm sunny days, a couple of lovely walks in the woods with our dogs Bella and Winston, and then ended in sadness when we lost our oldest chicken, our Australorp named Charlotte, last night. She was part of our very first batch of chicks we got back in February of 2009 from My Pet Chicken

How Much Feed Does a Chicken Eat?

February 20, 2018

A fairly common question I get pretty consistently is "How much feed does a chicken eat?" Fortunately, it's a fairly easy question to answer. An adult, laying chicken will eat about 1.5 lbs of feed a week. That translates to about 3.5 ounces a day which roughly measures out to about 1/2 cup of feed per chicken per day. 

Take a Peek at our Week - Feb 11-17

February 17, 2018

Happy Valentine's week everyone! I hope you shared the day with a loved one - or at least treated yourself to a day that was all about YOU. My husband brought home the most gorgeous rose bouquet for me and I normally cook or we go out to dinner, but this year we decided to treat ourselves to coffee and donuts instead that morning ... and oddly enough, one of my donuts appeared to have chicken feet drawn in icing on it..or maybe that's just how my mind works, but see what you think! 

Beginners Guide to Getting Started Raising Baby Chicks

February 13, 2018

So you've decided to start raising chickens! I assume you've checked with your town or municipality and know the rules as far as how many chickens you are allowed, if you need a permit for either the chickens or their coop (or both), if you can have roosters, etc. And now you're ready to get started.

Behind the Scenes with the Ducklings at Metzer Farms

February 12, 2018

WARNING! This article contains some seriously cute duckling photos, and as such, I take full responsibility if you decide to add ducks to your backyard!  

Take a Peek at our Week - Feb 4th to 10th

February 10, 2018

This week was all about snow. Despite the fact that we're almost halfway through February and the rest of the country is dreaming of planting seeds and choosing their baby chicks for this year, here in Maine, we're still squarely sitting in the middle of winter.  The chickens made themselves scarce, but the ducks didn't let the snow faze them. I used the snow days to work on my next book (we're coming down to the wire now and I should have a cover and title to share with you all very soon!), cook some comfort food, enjoy a lobster dinner (out-of-staters don't hate me, but lobster is under $8/pound here in Maine right now!) and finalize the details for a bunch of book signings and appearances for this spring (more details on that soon too!) Enjoy this peek at our week.

What Makes Blue Eggs Blue?

February 6, 2018

All Eggs Start Out White

All chicken eggs start out with white shells which are made primarily of calcium carbonate. The calcium in chicken layer feed supplemented by crushed eggshell or oyster shell and the calcium in other foods your flock consumes creates the shells.  

Take a Peek at my Week - Jan 28th to Feb 3

February 3, 2018

I love all four seasons, but I think this is one of my favorite times of the year. The rush of the holidays is over, the pressure and time commitment of garden season hasn't started yet. I'm usually in between books, so no crazy deadlines, and I haven't started traveling for spring chick days yet. That gives me time to kind of unwind and relax and enjoy the life we've built here in Maine.

Setting Your Chicken Hatching Eggs by the Moon

January 30, 2018

The age-old practice of setting hatching eggs under certain moon phases is part folklore, part old wives tale. Whether or not you actually believe that chicks hatched under these signs will do better than chicks hatched at other times during the month, what do you have to lose by giving it a try?

Take a Peek at my Week - Jan 21st to 27th

January 27, 2018

Although my trip last weekend to warm, sunny California was a nice change from winter in Maine, I have to admit that I missed the snow a teeny little bit, and I'm super happy to be back home, sitting in front of the fire sipping some hot spiced tea (check out the Hot Cinnamon Spice from Harney & Sons, it's my new favorite!) writing about chickens! Like the chickens, I'm very routine-oriented, so it's nice to be home and back into the family routine. Hope you're staying warm! Why not pour yourself a nice hot beverage and enjoy this peek at my week.

Take a Peek at my Week - Jan 14th to 20th

January 23, 2018

Much as I love being at home, I have to admit that every trip I've been on has been so wonderful! I've had the opportunity to see parts of the country I've never been to before and meet so many nice people. 

Help! It's Winter and my Chicken is Molting!

January 16, 2018

In a perfect world, your chickens would all molt at the end of the summer as soon as the days start to get shorter and grow in nice new feathers to keep them warm through the winter well before the temperatures drop. But we all know that things don't always go as planned, and sometimes you'll end up with a chicken who decides to start molting in the dead of winter. 

Take a Peek at our Week Jan 7th - 13th

January 13, 2018

Well, the big news this week was that my new kids book Let's Hatch Chicks! was released! And I'm happy to announce that it was the #1 new release in Childrens Zoology books on Amazon - even beating out a book published by National Geographic that came out the same day! My new book is getting great reviews so far from kids and adults alike, and I hope you'll pick up a copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local library or you can order a personally signed copy directly from me. 
This week we got some more snow (this is Maine and it's winter after all!), but the weather warmed up considerably and we enjoyed temperatures above freezing for the first time in awhile. That made for a perfect opportunity to squeeze in the last photo shoot with Peg from CoopDuJour Photography (who took this awesome headshot of me and Violet) for my next book which will be coming out this fall. Stay tuned for more details on that. 
We also had swinging chickens and flying chickens this week. Honest! And I think most exciting of all - I finally finished organizing my spice drawer! I have to thank Linda over at Garden Betty for the idea. I love having the little jars in a drawer where I can see them all instead of shoved on a shelf in the cabinet.
Anyway, I'm working on so many exciting things for the coming year! I'll share details in the coming weeks, but think TV show, DVD, product line, more book announcements and hopefully a few book signing dates.  Stay warm and dry, give your girls extra treats and hugs and enjoy this peek at our week!

Will Salt Water Keep my Chickens Water from Freezing?

January 9, 2018

During the cold winter months, I think we all struggle to find ways to keep our chickens' water from freezing. You may have seen on Pinterest a trick that supposedly will keep water from freezing - filling a plastic soda bottle with salt water and the setting it in your chickens' water tub. I had never tried it, but set out to see if it would work.

Take a Peek at our Week - Dec 31 to Jan 6

January 6, 2018

We rang in the new year with more than a foot of snow this week. That meant lots of shoveling and plowing by us humans, and lots of frolicking done by the dogs. The snow was received with varying levels of excitement overall though. Despite the extra work, my husband and I love the snow (it's partly why we moved to Maine, after all!), and our dogs, Bella and Winston, enjoy playing in it too. Bella actually loves to eat snow. Our ducks also seem to really enjoy snow. Then on the other end of the spectrum you have our cat Linus and the chickens. They have gone into hibernation and on strike, respectively, until spring. Enjoy this peek at our week!

Holiday Leftovers Frittata

January 2, 2018

I love making frittatas. They're basically a "lazy girl's" quiche. Think of a frittata as a quiche with no crust. Super quick and easy to make for breakfast, brunch/lunch or even dinner, they are a great way to use up leftovers. Any combination of meat, veggies and cheese will work, along with a few fresh eggs from your chickens, so making a frittata after the holidays is a great way to use up the last of that holiday meal.
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