The Crappy Composter’s Secret To Perfect Compost

Delegate_Your_Composting

Maybe you are a compost geek. Maybe you totally adore balancing greens and browns and maybe the challenge of maintaining a 155 degree pile for days on end really hits your g-spot (g for “gardener,” naturally). If that describes you, this post isn’t for you. This post is for those of us who basically suck [Continue Reading...]

Battling Mulch Mountain at the Chicken Coop Door

Chicken Coop Sand Bed and More (7)

I suspect anyone who has a chicken coop with a human-sized door has encountered the problem of door-blockage. Chickens adore kicking and scratching in the straw and dirt and debris of the coop floor, and tend to make little mountains and valleys from their scratching efforts. Mulch Mountain The mountain chickens create is always immediately [Continue Reading...]

Coop Improvement: Nesting Box Failures and Successes

Chicken Coop Sand Bed and More (6)

The nesting box is a pretty important part of the coop – it’s where the chickens, hopefully, lay their eggs. Our nesting box has seen a couple of modification lately. One worked. One really didn’t. Let’s start with the failure, shall we? Fail! Using Shredded Paper For Nesting Box Material In an effort to turn [Continue Reading...]

Chicken Coop Update: Sand Bed-Deep Litter Hybrid System

Chicken Coop Sand Bed and More (3)

I’ve had a few readers ask for coop updates since we switched the area under the rooting bars from straw to sand. Ask and ye shall receive. Sand Bed Update The sand bed under the roosting bars is working out very well. The sand works like kitty litter and dries the chicken poop out. There is [Continue Reading...]

Giveaway: Free Range Chicken Gardens and The Fresh Egg Cookbook

Free Range Chicken Gardens - Jessi Bloom

Edible gardeners want to eat what they grow. Chicken owners want happy egg-laying helpers. But happy, free-ranging chickens will mess up a veggie patch faster than you can say cotyledon. And that is the conflict garden-growing chicken-owners face. Thankfully, Free-Range Chicken Gardens, the new book by landscape designer and chicken expert Jessi Bloom, tells you how [Continue Reading...]

Solitary Confinement for Chickens

Chicken Isolation Cage (1)

When I let the hens out for some free range time yesterday, I noticed one of the Austra Whites was bloodied about the comb. We have two of this breed, and the other one was bullied a few months ago in the same way. I was so concerned about the mess of blood on our [Continue Reading...]

The Real Bounty of The Coop (Hint: It’s Not Eggs)

Chicken Litter Compost

Chickens have changed the way I think about gardening, and I’m not just talking about bull-rushing a garden bed to shoo the little cluckers out of my arugula. Again. No, something is happening to the way I think about garden inputs and outputs, and it all hinges on chicken shit. Before we got our hens [Continue Reading...]

More Coop Improvement Projects: Sand Bed-Deep Litter Hybrid and More

Sand Bed in Hen House - 2x2 "Lip" Between Walls and Center Support

I like working on the coop. This past weekend I swapped the raised hen house area of the chicken coop from a straw-bed floor to a sand-bed floor. When I bought our first two hens, who we acquired as grown layers, the owner kept an immaculate coop with a sand bed under the roosting area and swore [Continue Reading...]

3 Myths About Chickens, Debunked

Chickens in Arugula

Chickens are not what you expect. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my hens. I love their enthusiastic productivity, their damn near egg-a-day fecundity. I love their retirement plan (soup) almost as much. But there are a lot of myths about chickens floating around out there, and they deserved to be debunked. Myth One: [Continue Reading...]

Backyard Eggs vs. Store Bought Eggs: A Side-by-Side Comparison

I did some entertaining last weekend which necessitated purchasing two dozen eggs. I had a few eggs left over, which allowed me to perform a side-by-side comparison of good quality store bought eggs with my backyard hen’s eggs. Left: store bought eggs. Right: backyard eggs. The backyard eggs come in various other shades as well. The store bought [Continue Reading...]

Herding Chickens

If you had told me ten years ago that I’d spend part of my Sunday herding chickens through a vegetable garden, I never would have believed you. But as I spent part of last Sunday herding chickens through our vegetable garden, something struck me: herding chickens is essentially – perhaps entirely – probabilistic. Gently persuade [Continue Reading...]

Morning Chores On The Modern Homestead

I’m not what you’d call a morning person. Years of culinary training hardened my own bio-rhythms into a preference for about a 1 am bedtime and a 10 am wake-up. Life, school, work, chickens and kids laugh at my own sleep preferences. And so, every morning, I get up, brush my teeth, pull my hair into [Continue Reading...]