We decided to include the royal flock in our holiday card this year. It was pretty fun to try to get the chickens in our photo when all we had was a cell phone camera and a selfie stick. In this post, I’ll share some of our favorite photos from the experience. Continue reading A Holiday Chicken Photo Shoot→
5 things I add to their feed, and 10 treats I give them
One of the first things people ask me about backyard chickens is about what they eat. Chickens are omnivores. When left to their own devices in the back yard, my royal flock scratches and pecks for seeds, eats blades of grass, and finds insects and little critters. In fact, Antoinette (the leader of the flock) has even caught a baby snake!
But, I don’t just leave them to their own devices. I feed them a mixture of grains every day. And also feed them “treats” (scraps from the garden or the kitchen). Here’s the breakdown of what my backyard chickens eat.
What backyard chickens eat every day
My base feed mixture comes from Scratch and Peck Feeds. I like this company because they offer organic, whole grain feed without a lot of additives. Because the chickens are still young, I choose their organic grower feed. Once the girls begin laying eggs, I’ll begin feeding them the “layer” feed. The base feed includes the following:
• Flaxseed Meal
• Fish Meal
• Ground Limestone
• Flaxseed Oil
• Vitamin and Mineral Pre-Mix
To enhance the feed, I add the following to a 25-pound bag of base feed:
1. 1 cylander of old fashioned oats
2. 6 oz of sliced almonds (for vitamin E)
3. 1.5 cups of sunflower seeds
4. 1 cup food-grade diatomaceous earth (prevents parasites and keeps bugs out of the feed)
5. 1 cup of an herb mix, which includes garlic, ginger, parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, nettle, calendula
In addition to their every day feed, chickens need probiotics and garlic to keep their immune system healthy. So, a few times a week, I mix a probiotic solution with oatmeal and crushed garlic. This combination makes my stomach turn, but my royal flock loves it! It enhances their immunity and keeps them happy. Alternatively, I have also fermented their grains and given them probiotics this way (I’ll have to tell you more about that in another post).
I also leave out oyster shells (for calcium) and grit (for digestion). They eat those two items as needed.
What backyard chickens eat as a treat
When I feed the chickens treats, I whistle at them. This teaches them to come when they are called. Training chickens to come when called helps me a lot when they are roaming around the backyard and I need to gather them (or, I can’t find them).
Treats pretty much consist of kitchen scraps, not-so-perfect veggies from the garden, or fruit/veggies in the fridge that are a little too old to eat (but aren’t moldy). Chickens don’t care if their fruits and veggies are old or aren’t quite perfect.
Some of their favorite treats include:
Figs. Oh the figs. They love to eat the skin, the flesh, and the seeds. Since figs turn quickly, older figs get served to my chickens often. Because Antoinette is the leader, if I feed the chickens figs, she tends to eat all the treats. So, I cut the figs into smaller bits so that Wilhelmina and Tikal can enjoy some figgy treats too.
Watermelon. They love both the seeds and the flesh of watermelon! It is a welcome treat on a hot, dry afternoon.
Carrot shreds. I buy a broccoli and carrot shred mixture to put on top of my salads for the week. By the end of the week, whatever is left in the bag is old, but isn’t moldy. The chickens don’t love the broccoli, but will pick through the shreds to get to the carrots!
Cantaloupe. I feed the chickens the seeds and pulp from any melon or squash. They enjoy both the juicy pulp and the nutty seeds.
Pumpkin. Now that it’s getting to be fall, I eat a lot of canned pumpkin. This afternoon, I scooped a spoonful in with some oatmeal and gave it to the chickens. They went nuts over the orange stuff.
Tomatoes. The seeds are their favorite. I give the chickens both ripe and unripe tomatoes from the garden if a bug has gotten to them. As long as there is some flesh and seeds left, the chickens don’t mind.
Shrimp tails. Reminder: chickens are omnivores! So, the tails from grilled shrimp are a real treat. I have never seem these chickens squabble so much over a treat, especially when there is a little bit of shrimp left in the tail – watch out!
Berries. Any type of berry that is turning south is a treat for these backyard chickens. Even frozen berries are welcome.
Cucumber. While the chickens tend not to eat the skin, they love cucumber seeds. It’s funny to watch them peck the seeds out of a cucumber.
Eggplant. I had some leftover roast eggplant this evening, and I wanted to see if the chickens would enjoy. Boy, did they! Skin and all. Special note: I tend not to roast my veggies with salt (if I need salt, I add it at the table). Salt is not good for chickens, so I don’t give them cooked foods where salt has been added.
Well, there you have it! That’s what my chickens eat. Did you find anything on the list surprising?
Summer is in full swing! For those of you with a garden, a farm share, or a farmers’ market down the street, you know what that means: an abundance of zucchini! I love the humble zucchini – the lovely texture, simple taste… it’s a wonderfully versatile vegetable. Continue reading Zucchini Five Ways: Kitchen Gadget Cooking→
I’m going to share a secret about one of the most productive ways you can get the latest news and information: listen to audiocasts. Why? Because you can do other tasks while listening, you can access the content easily if you have a smartphone, and it prevents you from reading from a screen. Continue reading How to be Productive→
It’s a rainy day (welcome to spring), and you aren’t quite sure what to do with yourself or (if you have them) with your kids. Here are 15 ideas for a rainy day.
Ideas for a rainy day: Get creative
Turn off the TV. Some folks turn to the TV when they are faced with a “stay inside” kind of day. My advice? Give up the TV – even if it’s just for that afternoon.
Learn a new song. If you play an instrument, take the time to perfect a song. If you don’t play, learn the lyrics of a new song or even try a new dance. If anything, turn on Pandora in the background – music can bring more joy to the most mundane activity.
Try a new craft. That can be something as simple as coloring (for adults and kids), or as complex as a new sewing project. A quick trip to the craft store presents endless possibilities.
Forage for usable trash. Not interested in leaving the house? Never fear! Forage through your house for usable trash. Kids love this activity. You will be amazed at the games that come from a few toilet paper rolls, a box, some string, an egg carton, and a pile dried elbow macaroni. As an adult, try covering an old shoe box with fabric or leather to create an expensive-looking container. Or, create a mosaic from broken dishes, shells, or tile.
Ideas for a rainy day: Be productive
Eat that frog. In my post to help you stop procrastinating, I talk about “eating the frog.” What does that mean? Tackle your “frogs,” those ugly items that haunt your to-do list, first thing. 1 How can you tell a task is a frog? Maybe the task that has been sitting in your queue for over a week, or you have danced around this task by completing related tasks.
Grocery shop on the budget. Take the afternoon to buy affordable groceries. And, if you follow my tips, you’ll also be buying healthful food. It might not be the most glamorous activity, but it will set you up for success throughout the week.
Do some spring cleaning. This might be the perfect time to clear out and clean up that fridge, the pantry, or the closet. Just a reminder to use green household cleaners for your health and your wallet!
Focus on Joy. Lift your spirits by practicing gratitude, brightening your thoughts, and observing the world around you. Check out my post on how to bring more joy to your day.
Ideas for a rainy day: Enjoy relaxation
Journal. Taking the time to jot down your thoughts in a journal can be (in my experience) the key to creative productivity. For me, the act of taking a pencil to a blank page opens up endless possibilities in my mind. Sometimes when I journal, I write about my day. Sometimes, I compose my to-do list. Sometimes, I sketch a drawing. A journal is a judgement-free zone.
Practice Yoga. A rainy day doesn’t mean you can’t be active! Yoga can be a relaxing exercise that not only helps you physically, but also can give you emotional space. Here’s what happened to be when I practiced yoga every day for two weeks . And, yes, you can do this with kids – try the kid’s yoga deck to start.
Read. What a luxury it can be to pick up a book and read quietly. If you have kids, this is a great time to choose a classic story and act out the voices the characters as you read. If you are by yourself, this might be a good opportunity to develop your knowledge of holistic health and wellness. Snuggle up in your favorite chair with a cup of tea and enjoy!
Ideas for a rainy day: Focus on health and wellness
Cook a bunch of healthy food. I tend to make meals “in bulk” once every 6-8 weeks. These meals sit in serving-size portions in my freezer, ready to be warmed up for a quick lunch at work or a simple dinner at home. Here’s how to get started cooking in bulk.
Enjoy spring veggies. What an amazing time to enjoy butter lettuce, tender asparagus, spicy radishes, and sweet young carrots. Here are some ways to prepare spring veggies.
Practice Gratitude. It’s amazing how good you can feel if you let yourself look out the window, daydream a little, and feel thankful for your life. Take a minute to observe those little things. Then, write a thank you note to someone in your life for whom you feel thankful. You can get the kids involved here too!
We’ve all been there. You come home after a long day and the last thing you want to do it cook. So, you begin thumbing through the same-old takeout menus for dinner.
What if that could be different? Instead, you start a pot of water boiling on the stove. You mosy over to the pantry for some essentials: onion, garlic, canned tomato, and whole grain pasta. While the water comes to a boil, you sauté chopped onion and minced garlic, then pour in canned tomatoes. You add whole grain pasta to the pot of boiling water. Voila! You have a homemade dinner filled with veggies and whole grains that you cooked from pantry essentials in 25 minutes (about the same amount of time it would have taken to order and pick up dinner).
Cooking at home can be:
1. Healthier (you have control over your ingredients)
2. Less expensive (many meals you can do in less than $4 a serving)
3. Faster (yes, faster!) than takeout
Don’t we all want to cook more at home? Cooking at home is so much easier (and do-able!) if you have some of these basic ingredients in your kitchen. Even if you are behind on grocery shopping, having a well-stocked pantry can save the day. Here are 32 pantry essentials I keep on hand for those nights when I haven’t had time to go to the grocery store.
(here are some ideas from my kitchen…I think some of these items are pretty to keep out of the pantry)
32 Pantry Essentials to Cook more at Home
Spices and Herbs (if you don’t have fresh herbs)
Legumes – I choose low-sodium canned or dried
7. black beans
8. garbanzo beans
9. pinto beans
Oil and Vinegar
10. olive oil
11. canola oil
12. sesame oil
13. balsamic vinegar
14. apple cider vinegar
Fruits and Vegetables
28. pineapple (canned, in own juice)
29. tomato (canned, low sodium)
BONUS! I also keep a number of fruits and veggies (and mixes) ready to go in my freezer. This way, I am getting a good serving of fruits and veggies available to me at all times. Here’s what I like to keep
• Greens. I add frozen spinach or kale as a side for any meal. And, I also incorporate into sauces and soups.
• Bell peppers. These get added to eggs, rice and beans, or chili.
• Asian veggies. There are many mixes out there. I personally love the mixes that have broccoli, snow peas, water chestnuts, mushrooms, carrots, and red bell peppers. Stir frying with fresh onion, garlic, and ginger is delicious with brown rice.
• Frozen strawberries. These tart and sweet fruits blend well into a smoothie with plain low-fat yogurt and orange juice. They are also a great topping to french toast or pancakes.
• Mixed berries. I love frozen mixed berries in my oatmeal, in a smoothie, or warmed as a dessert.
What pantry essentials do you keep stocked in your kitchen? Let me know in the comments!
It’s the holiday season – and that means gifts… to friends, to family, to co-workers, and to bosses. Personal gifts makes sense for friends and family, but what can you give folks at the office (while also not breaking the bank)? Here are a dozen office gifts for less than $10 each that may inspire your gift giving.